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Information & Testing

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What is COVID-19?

Novel coronavirus (COVID-19) is a new virus strain spreading from person-to-person that has not been previously identified. It is currently in the United States and most other countries in the world. Health experts are concerned because this new virus spreads easily and has the potential to cause severe illness and pneumonia in some people especially people over age 60 or who have weakened immune systems.

How does COVID-19 spread?

COVID-19 is thought to spread mainly through close contact from person-to-person. Some people without symptoms may be able to spread the virus.

COVID-19 may also be spread by a person touching a surface or object that has the virus on it, then touching their own mouth, nose, or eyes. This is not thought to be the main way this virus is spreading.

The virus that causes COVID-19 spreads very easily between people in the following ways:

  • Between people who are in close contact with one another (generally being within 6 feet (2 meters) for a combined total of 15 minutes or more over the course of 24 hours).

  • Through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people nearby or be inhaled into the lungs.

  • COVID-19 may be spread by people who are not showing symptoms.

What are the symptoms?

People with COVID-19 have had a wide range of symptoms reported – ranging from mild symptoms to severe illness. Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. People with these symptoms may have COVID-19: fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting, diarrhea. This list is not all possible symptoms. Please consult your medical provider for any other symptoms that are severe or concerning to you.

How can I protect myself from COVID-19?

It's important that everyone take steps to reduce the spread of COVID-19. The following can protect you and others:

  • Wash hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If not available, use hand sanitizer.

  • Limit non-essential trips out of the house and minimize contact with others who don't live with you.

  • Stay at least 6 feet away from others outside of your home.

  • Wear a cloth face covering or mask to cover your mouth and nose when outside your home.

  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.

  • Stay away from others who are sick. Stay home if you are sick or showing symptoms.

  • Avoid group gatherings and poorly ventilated spaces.

  • Fewer, shorter and safer interactions are crucial.

  • Cover your mouth/nose with a tissue or sleeve when coughing or sneezing.

If you must travel, check for the latest COVID-19 Travel Alerts and follow the CDC's Travelers' Health guidance.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has authorized the emergency use of the first COVID-19 vaccines. Multiple other vaccines are under development and several are in large-scale clinical trials with tens of thousands of volunteers to ensure they are both safe and effective.

Very limited quantities of COVID-19 vaccines will start to arrive in Washington state before the end of 2020. We expect supplies to increase gradually and COVID-19 vaccines should be more widely available to anyone who wants to be vaccinated in spring or summer 2021.

Am I required to wear a face-covering?

The Washington Department of Health requires anyone in Washington State to wear a cloth face-covering in public when unable to stay 6 feet away from others.

You are directed to wear face coverings over your nose and mouth while in an indoor public setting where you may be within 6 feet of someone who does not live with you. You are also directed to wear a cloth face-covering in an outdoor public setting – like a farmers market or a crowded park – where it is difficult to maintain six feet of physical distance at all times.

A face covering is not needed when you are outside walking, exercising, or otherwise outdoors if you are able to regularly stay 6 feet away from other people who do not live with you.

To protect yourself, wear face coverings properly. Your mask should cover your nose and mouth at all times. Always wash your hands with soap and water or use hand sanitizer before you put on a face covering and after removing it. Change your face covering when it gets moist. Wash your face covering after each use.

For more information, including DIY face-covering instructions and business signage resources, visit

Where can I get tested for COVID-19?

Most testing is completed through healthcare providers. You should call your healthcare provider if you feel sick, live in the same household as someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, or have been in close contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19. Each healthcare system has its own testing processes. Many providers require appointments to prevent overcrowding and to be sure that they have supplies.


King County

If you need to be tested and don't have a provider who can do the test, check out the list of FREE testing locations in King County or call the King County COVID-19 call center from 8 AM – 7 PM at 206-477-3977.

State Wide

Here you will find a map of community-based sites, local clinics, drive-through sites, your local health department phone number, and additional lists and maps of sites in areas around the state of Washington.

Search locations statewide here!

HealthierHere COVID-19 Resource Hub

A great collection of COVID-19 resources that are updated daily!

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