We can’t ignore coronavirus | Editorial

As islanders, it can be unsettling when the “outside world” comes slipping into our daily lives.

We don’t have to battle traffic, navigate large crowds or stand in a grocery line with strangers. We’ve made a conscious decision to lead a more slower-paced, rural existence that is very separate from the rest of the world.

I like to joke that we aren’t really part of the United States or Canada — we are our own country governed by a love of the Salish Sea and each other.

Novel coronavirus, also called COVID-19, slowly but surely weaseled its way into our communities. In the past two weeks, nearly all public events have been canceled; some students have been chosen to take classes via video conferencing; business owners began discussing closure plans; and the county dedicated itself to daily online coronavirus updates.

As we’ve watched every nearby county announce its first coronavirus patients, it became clear that life is going to continue to look a little different for a while.

The World Health Organization declared the disease a global pandemic on March 11. This has significant implications for all of us.

While we still urge you to not panic or behave erratically, we must prepare ourselves for the implementation of drastic measures to curb the spread of COVID-19.

What’s next

• Gov. Jay Inslee has instructed all school districts in the state to prepare for potential closures.

• Gov. Inslee banned gatherings of more than 250 people in Snohomish, King and Pierce counties.

• Washington Health Plan Finder is offering a limited 30-day special enrollment people for qualified people who do not have insurance in response to the number of COVID-19 cases in the state. Enrollees must apply by April 8 and coverage will begin April 1. For more information visit https://www.wahbexchange.org/new-customers/who-can-sign-up/special-enrollment-period/. Interested parties may also call the Customer Support Center between 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday-Friday at 1-855-923-4633; TTY: 1-855-627-9604; or a local certified broker or navigator.

• An experimental treatment called remdesivir by American biotechnology company Gilead is being tested on patients in Washington state. The drug was originally created to treat Ebola. Officials from both the CDC and WHO have said it’s one of the most effective — if not the most effective — promising antiviral to fight the new strain of coronavirus. The test subjects are selected using a “compassionate use” provision, meaning their illness is life-threatening.

• The CDC granted Washington state $14.2 million to help combat the coronavirus outbreak.

• Washington legislature devoted $125 million out of its “rainy day” fund in response to the outbreak.