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April 13, 2020

Stay Home, Stay Healthy updates from Skagit County

News about COVID-19 changes often. We want to make sure you have the most up-to-date information so you can make the best choices for yourself and your family. Here are your updates from Skagit County:

  • As of 4 p.m. today Skagit County has 193 laboratory confirmed cases of COVID-19, including 55 people who have recovered and 6 deaths. Daily updates are posted at 4 p.m. at http://www.skagitcounty.net/coronavirus.
  • On Monday April 13, the County Board of Commissioners passed a resolution endorsing the Skagit Valley Disaster Relief Fund. The Fund was created in response to COVID-19 and will be administered by the Skagit Community Foundation with support from EDASC, the United Way of Skagit County and other philanthropic partners. Distributions from the fund will focus on supporting nonprofit organizations in Skagit County who directly support vulnerable populations and critical needs affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. All donations will go directly to meet community needs. You can learn more at Skagit Health Connection. 
  • Don’t forget about the Census! We know we are all very busy these days, but it is absolutely vital that people fill out their census forms. An accurate count of our residents is important for federal and state funding, representation and planning. It’s ten questions, takes less than fifteen minutes and can be completed online at my2020census.gov. Please complete your census form today!
  • We’re all under a lot of mental, emotional and financial stress these days. Skagit Public Health has recommendations to help Skagitonians take care of themselves during these unprecedented times. Read their new blog post on Ten Way to Protect Emotional Wellness here.
  • Governor Inslee and Secretary of Health John Wiesman have kicked-off a new Q&A series for older adults who are particularly vulnerable to the risks of COVID-19. New episodes air at 6 p.m. Thursdays on TVW and online. Email aarpwa@aarp.org to submit a question for future Q&A programs, and include “Spread the Facts” in the subject line. You can submit a short video of your question, and you might appear on air as part of the program. 
  • Reminder: Governor Inslee’s Stay Home, Stay Healthy proclamation has temporarily prohibited in-person attendance at public meetings. The Skagit County Commissioners still want to hear from you. Public comments can be provided by sending an e-mail to commissioners@co.skagit.wa.us or by calling the Commissioners’ office at (360) 416-1300.

Mental Health during social distancing:
COVID-19 is stressful for you and your loved ones. Fear and anxiety can be overwhelming and cause strong emotions in both adults and children. It’s important that we continue to stay home and stay healthy; for a lot of us, that means giving up the distractions we typically use to deal with emotional or stressful times.
Symptoms of stress and anxiety can be different for everyone. This list, compiled by the Centers for Disease Control, outlines some of the changes you may be noticing, as a result of stress from COVID-19 and related life changes:

  • Fear and worry about your own health and the health of your loved ones
  • Changes in sleep or eating patterns
  • Difficulty sleeping or concentrating
  • Worsening of chronic health problems
  • Worsening of mental health conditions
  • Increased use of alcohol, tobacco or other drugs

You may notice symptoms not on this list. Remember, there is no wrong way to feel as we all cope with stress differently. Be kind to yourself and others. If you find yourself in crisis, reach out to the Volunteers of America Western Washington crisis hotline at 1-800-584-3578 or visit www.imhurting.org
Our Skagit County team wants to share with you what we’re doing to help keep ourselves sane, safe and grounded during this uncertain time:

  • Go for a walk! Studies have shown that getting outside for at least twenty minutes a day can drastically reduce stress levels. It’s important that you only go with people you live with, and stay close to home to follow social distancing guidelines. Check out these Whatcom Trails Association tips to turn your Neighborhood Stroll into an Adventure.
  • Stay connected with your support system. Friends and family are so important during stressful times, and social distancing can make it feel like connection is out of reach. Luckily there are many free apps like Zoom and Skype that allow us to safely connect with our love ones we don’t live with.
  • Don’t put too much pressure on yourself. With school closures, many parents and guardians are concerned about their kids’ education and worried about coming up with high-quality home school activities for their kids. It’s important to manage your expectations. Your kids won’t be learning at the same breadth or pace as a normal school day, and that’s okay. If you’re looking for ideas on how to keep your kids learning, check out this Common Sense Media article. Remember: Keeping your kids safe and mentally well is the most important thing you can do- don’t stress over long division too much.
  • Related: Stay patient with the kids in your life. Your kids’ routines and lives have been disrupted as well, and they’re probably feeling some big emotions that they don’t quite know how to cope with. Respond gently to the kids in your life, and trust that you’re just as good of a parent, guardian or support person as you’ve always been. If you’re interested in professional help during this time, Brigid Collins Family Support Center Parenting Academy is offering free online seminars and one-on-one coaching sessions via video chat.
  • Eat well, sleep well and exercise. Our mental health suffers when we don’t take good care of our physical health. Maintaining your eating, sleeping and exercise routines can help cope with stress..
  • Keep plants around! Its spring time, and that means garden season! If you’re able, taking care of and keeping plants in your home has shown to reduce stress and anxiety levels.
Finally, recognize its okay not to be okay. This is a stressful and uncertain time for everyone. It’s okay to feel anxious, scared, and lonely. It’s okay to not be getting that long to-do list done, even though you’re home all the time. Be kind to yourself. Acknowledge that you are doing the best you can right now, and that’s good enough!