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Health Advisory: COVID-19 Updates for Providers (Mar. 20, 2020)

Published March 20, 2020.

Requested actions

Saturday, March 21, Tacoma-Pierce County is setting up a drive-through COVID-19 testing site for people who work in critical industries or who are in a high-risk group.

Testing is for people who have symptoms—fever, cough, shortness of breath—AND:

  • Work in healthcare.
  • Work in public safety (e.g., law enforcement, firefighter, EMS, pharmacist).
  • Work in critical infrastructure (e.g., grocery store, restaurant, gas station, public utility, homeless shelter).
  • Are in a high-risk group (e.g., over age 60, underlying health condition, pregnant).

Testing is not open to the general public. Limited tests are available. People in the above categories must complete an online survey to determine eligibility. Those who qualify will receive an identification number to present at the testing site.

Situation update

COVID-19 infections have significantly increased in Pierce County. As of March 20, we have 83 cases and 1 death.

2020 03 20 COVID-19 Updates for Providers graph

Reporting

Providers, including emergency departments, should call (253) 798-6410 to report COVID-19 cases in the following people:

  • Healthcare personnel (e.g., EMS, medical, nursing, any healthcare facility employee).
  • Lives or works in a long-term care facility, senior living center, permanent supportive housing or similar congregate setting (shelter, correctional facility) housing people at high risk for severe outcomes.
  • Public safety personnel (e.g., law enforcement, fire fighter).
  • Anyone who died with COVID-19.

Guidance for healthcare workers

  • Instruct employees to check for any signs of illness before reporting to work each day. If sick, they must immediately notify their supervisor.
  • Healthcare workers with a high or medium risk exposure to COVID-19 should check their temperature twice a day. If they develop fever (measured temperature >100.0°F or subjective fever) OR respiratory symptoms consistent with COVID-19, they must immediately self-isolate and notify their supervisor.
  • Asymptomatic healthcare workers with an exposure to COVID-19 may continue to work after alternate staffing options have been exhausted, and in consultation with their occupational health program. They should check their temperature twice a day. If they develop any symptoms consistent with COVID-19, they must immediately cease patient care activities, don a facemask and notify their supervisor or occupational health services.
  • Instruct healthcare workers who develop fever, cough or shortness of breath and have no known exposure to COVID-19 to not return to work until 3 days after fever resolves or 7 days after symptom onset, whichever is longer.
  • Ensure your sick leave policies are flexible and consistent with public health guidance, and employees know about the policies.
  • Develop and review your facility’s emergency plan. COVID-19 could lead to staff absenteeism. Prepare alternative staffing plans to ensure as many staff are available as possible.
  • See updated guidance for healthcare workers and first responders returning to work.

Patient communication

Share these educational materials with patients.

Contacting the Health Department after business hours

  • Urgent issues—Call (253) 798-6410 and press 0 to reach a live person.
  • Non-urgent issues—Call (253) 798-6534 and leave a message. Includes reporting notifiable conditions 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Leave the patient’s name, date of birth and disease.

Additional resources

 

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