December 9, 2022
Skagit County Health Officer Recommends Wearing Masks Indoors to Reduce Respiratory Illness Risk
Communities across our state and nation are experiencing an unprecedented surge in viral respiratory illnesses, including respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), influenza, and COVID-19. As a result, our local emergency departments, urgent care clinics, and walk-in clinics are severely strained, and many have reached full capacity.
"I recommend that everyone wear a high-quality, well-fitting mask when around others in indoor spaces to protect yourself and others" says Dr. Leibrand, Skagit County Health Officer. "As a reminder, N95s and KN95s provide you the best protection".
In addition, we urge you to take the following actions to prevent illness.
- Stay up to date on your vaccinations. Vaccinations are your best defense against flu and COVID-19.
- Everyone 6 months and older should be vaccinated against COVID-19 and flu and those who are eligible for an updated COVID-19 booster should get it now.
Skagit County Public Health provides no-cost, no insurance required COVID-19 vaccines for everyone 6 months and older.
- To schedule an appointment, please visit https://prepmod.doh.wa.gov/appointment/en/clinic/search or call (360) 416-1500 for assistance.
- To find a flu vaccine provider near you, visit vaccines.gov.
- Stay home from work and school if you have symptoms of COVID-19, Influenza, or RSV. Test for COVID-19 if you develop symptoms.
- Order no-cost at-home test kits at https://sayyescovidhometest.org/. If you have insurance, your insurer is required to cover the cost of 8 at-home tests for each person enrolled in your plan each month. Some insurance plans will also cover the cost of tests at pharmacies like Walgreens and CVS. Please contact your health insurance provider for information regarding the specifics of coverage for at-home COVID-19 tests, as coverage varies by provider.
- COVID-19 testing is also available throughout the county. To find a COVID-19 testing location near you, visit https://doh.wa.gov/emergencies/covid-19/testing-covid-19/testing-locations.
- Wash hands often and cover coughs and sneezes. If hand washing isn't available, use hand sanitizer.
- Clean and disinfect surfaces that are touched frequently.
- Have a plan for treatment for COVID-19 and Influenza, especially if you are at increased risk for severe complications.
- Think about others and protect the most vulnerable. Don't put the very young, elderly, individuals who are pregnant, or those who have fragile health at risk.
- Know when and where to seek appropriate care. Your primary care provider is the best place to go for non-urgent care, which includes illnesses like the cold or flu. If your primary care provider is not available, urgent care and walk-in clinics are a good alternative. For life-threatening emergencies, including difficulty breathing, loss of consciousness, severe cuts and burns, and mental health concerns, the emergency department is appropriate.
In addition to RSV and influenza, new COVID-19 variants are taking hold and immunity from past vaccination is waning for many people who have not yet received an updated booster shot. In Western Washington, the surge in these viruses is resulting in many illnesses, with a record number of schools reporting more than 10% absenteeism this fall. This impact extends to businesses, workers, families, and our entire community. Everyone eligible for the COVID-19 updated booster should get it now. To schedule COVID-19 updated booster appointment, visit prepmod.doh.wa.gov/appointment/en/clinic/search or call (360) 416-1500 for assistance.
Working together and using multiple, layered strategies to limit the spread and impact of these viruses will provide benefits to us all this fall and winter respiratory virus season and will help relieve serious stress on our healthcare system.
We all play a part in keeping our community safe and healthy. Thank you to everyone for doing what you can to help.