As the State of Washington responds to the continued spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, you may have questions.  Below is some information and resources to help you stay informed. For more information on the outbreak in Washington, see the Washington State Department of Health webpage on COVID-19.

What is the novel coronavirus?

According to the Washington Department of Health and the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):

  • The novel coronavirus is new respiratory virus that was first detected in China and has been spreading person-to-person in other countries, including the United States. The virus has been named SARS-CoV-2 and the disease it causes is called COVID-19 (short for “coronavirus disease 2019.”) There are no known treatments for the disease. Most people will recover on their own, but some people can develop severe illness and pneumonia and need medical care or hospitalization.
  • In Washington state, many people have tested positive for COVID-19 and there have been deaths.
  • As new information emerges from across the globe, please remember that the risk of COVID-19 is not at all connected with race, ethnicity. Seeking and sharing accurate information during a time of heightened concern is one of the best things we can do to keep rumors and misinformation from spreading.

What’s the risk?

The risk posed by a virus outbreak depends on several factors. These include how well the virus spreads between people; the seriousness of the illness it causes; and the medical or other measures we have to control the impact of the virus (for example, vaccines or medicines that can treat the illness).

  • COVID-19 is spreading in several communities in Washington, the risk of exposure is increasing for people who live in our state.
  • Health care workers caring for patients with COVID-19 are at higher risk of exposure.
  • Those who have had close contact with persons with COVID-19 are at higher risk of exposure.
  • Travelers returning from affected international locations where community spread is occurring are at higher risk of exposure.


  • Wash hands often with soap and water. If not available, use hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home while you are sick and avoid close contact with others.
  • Cover your mouth/nose with a tissue or sleeve when coughing or sneezing.
  • Getting plenty of rest, drinking fluids, eating healthy foods, and managing your stress may help you prevent getting COVID-19 and recover from it if you do.
  • Masks are not recommended for wear by the general public.

Currently, there are no vaccines available to prevent novel coronavirus infections.


  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath

People with COVID-19 have reported symptoms that usually appear from 2 days to 14 days after exposure. People are thought to be most contagious when they are the sickest, though some spread is possible before people show symptoms.

COVID-19 spreads:

  • through respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes
  • between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet)
  • by touching a surface or object with the virus and then touching the mouth, nose, or eyes

When should I seek medical attention?

If you have symptoms like cough, fever, or shortness of breath, contact your regular doctor first. Do not go to the emergency room. Emergency rooms need to be able to serve those with the most critical needs. 

If you’re over 60 and you have underlying conditions like diabetes, heart disease, and lung disease, come up with a plan with your doctor to identify your health risks for coronavirus and how to manage symptoms. Contact your doctor right away if you do have symptoms.

If you have symptoms and you were exposed to someone confirmed to have the virus, call your health care provider.

If you are sick, stay home unless you are going to a medical appointment. When seeking medical care, wear a facemask and keep your distance from others. If someone in your house is sick, stay home to avoid unknowingly spreading the virus to others.

See more information and guidance on the Washington Department of Health's coronavirus webpage.

Questions about plan coverage?

For information about Community Health Plan of Washington coverage, call our Customer Service department at 1-800-440-1561 (TTY Relay: Dial 711). We are available Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Stay informed

Information is changing frequently. Please see the section below for resources.

Public Health Resources