COVID-19 is an illness caused by SARS-CoV-2, a new form of coronavirus first seen in late 2019. There are many different types of Coronaviruses, they are usually mild and cause common colds and minor illnesses. However, this new virus (COVID-19) can cause much more serious respiratory illness in people, particularly the elderly and people already in poor health.

Current symptoms reported from patients with COVID-19 include:

  • 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

Like the common cold or influenza viruses, COVID-19 spreads:

  • through droplets of moisture that carry small virus particles, produced when an infected person breaths, coughs, or sneezes.
  • between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet for 15 minutes over the course of a day).
There is no specific treatment for COVID-19.

Vaccine distribution will be coordinated by the Washington State Department of Health (DOH). Please visit their  COVID-19 Vaccine page for the latest updates.

Most people with COVID-19 have mild illness and are able to recover at home without medical care. However, some people have severe illness that leads to hospitalization, ventilation, or even death. Certain people are at higher risk of experiencing severe illness than others, including people who are older, people with underlying health conditions, those who have weakened immune systems, , and pregnant women.  However,  many people under the age of 60 who are otherwise healthy have experienced severe illness or death.  While less common, being young does not make you immune to COVID-19 or the severe illness that can result.

Anyone who has symptoms consistent with COVID-19 should get tested.

We also recommend testing for people who have been in close contact with an individual who has tested positive for COVID-19 or has been exposed to an outbreak situation.

See our Symptoms and Testing web page for a list of testing sites in Okanogan County.

It is currently unknown how long COVID-19 immunity lasts after the initial infection with disease. It may be possible to become infected with COVID-19 twice. See the CDC information on reinfection.

Practice everyday prevention actions to help reduce your risk of getting sick and remind everyone in your household to do the same.  These actions are especially important for older adults and people who have severe chronic medical conditions:

  • Wear a mask in public places
  • Avoid group gatherings
  • Practice physical distancing by keeping 6 feet between yourself and others that not members of your household in public places
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water. If not available, use hand sanitizer with more than 60% alcohol.
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue and throw the used tissue in the trash
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick
  • Do not touch your face unless you have just washed your hands and fingertips
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces and objects (e.g., tables, countertops, light switches, doorknobs, and cabinet handles)
  • Designate a separate room and bathroom (if possible) for sick household members and clean and disinfect these rooms often
  • Avoid sharing personal items like utensils, food, and drinks
  • Make sure sick household members self-isolate and monitor their symptoms.
  • All members of the household should wear a mask while in shared spaces
  • If symptoms worsen, please call your healthcare provider or seek medical attention immediately.

Contact Tracing is a public health tool with a proven track record of success in combating even the most dangerous of diseases. Please refer to our Contact Tracing, Isolation & Quarantine page for more information.

Yes, people in self-quarantine are not sick and can still have contact with their household members. Should they develop any symptoms, they need to quickly and safely isolate from all others, including those in their household, and to contact their medical provider. Read more about quarantining HERE!

Yes. As of June 26th, Washington State requires people to wear facial coverings when in both indoor and outdoor public spaces. For more information, see our Facial Covering webpage.

We know people with COVID-19 may not show symptoms and can still spread the virus to others. Recent research indicates wearing a face covering can significantly reduce the spread and incidence of COVID-19.

This is explained very well in an article by Dr. Butler, Health Officer for Chelan and Douglas Counties: Why you should wear a mask (It’s the air you share)

Visit our Okanogan’s Safe Reopening webpage for current information on which Phase we are currently in along with what is open and what is not.

We learn more every day about COVID-19 and how to care for people during pregnancy, birth, and postpartum.  See the Pregnancy, Birth, and Caring for Your Newborn webpage from the Washington State Department of Health. 

For general questions about how to best protect yourself and what to know, see CDC’s Pregnancy and Breastfeeding information.

See our Travel Guidance webpage for current travel recommendations.

The Incidence Rate tells us about the number of new cases of a disease in a specific period of time  , adjusted to a specific population size. The incidence rate is calculated by the following equation:

In Okanogan County, the population estimate we use is 42,730 [1]. 

Although we have 42,730 people in Okanogan County, we calculate incident rates for a population of 100,000 people. By adjusting for the size of the population, we are able to compare rates across different size populations. For example, we can compare the incidence rate in Okanogan County to the incidence rate in King County.  If we were to only compare the number of cases between these two counties, the data would be misleading because King County has such a bigger population than Okanogan County. 

The incidence rate is important to track because it lets us compare the number of new cases in Okanogan County to other counties in Washington, other states, and even other countries.

It is important to note that the incidence rate can be calculated in different ways. On our Okanogan COVID-19 Data webpage, we use a very simple calculation:

  • Time period: 14 days prior to today
  • Cases Included: Cases reported to WDRS during the time period

On Washington State’s COVID-19 Risk Assessment Dashboard, they use a different calculation , which leads to a slightly different incidence rate:

  • Time period: The prior 14 day period starting 6 days prior to today
  • Cases Included: Cases with a specimen collection day during the time period


[1] Washington State Office of Financial Management, Forecasting Division, single year intercensal estimates 2001-2019, Community Health Assessment Tool (CHAT), March 2020.

There are two different types of tests, diagnostic tests and antibody tests, each is used differently. Molecular tests (see “diagnostic test” below) are typically highly accurate. Antigen tests (see “diagnostic test” below)  are usually highly accurate when a positive test result is received, but negative results may need to be confirmed with a molecular test. 

  1. A diagnostic test can show if you have an active coronavirus infection and should take steps to quarantine or isolate yourself from others. Currently there are two types of diagnostic tests which detect the virus: molecular tests, such as RT-PCR tests, that detect the virus’s genetic material, and antigen tests that detect specific proteins on the surface of the virus.
  2. An antibody test looks for antibodies that are made by your immune system in response to a threat, such as a specific virus. Antibodies can help fight infections. Antibodies can take several days or weeks to develop after you have an infection and may stay in your blood for several weeks or more after recovery. Because of this, antibody tests should not be used to diagnose an active coronavirus infection. At this time researchers do not know if the presence of antibodies means that you are immune to the coronavirus in the future.

Source: U.S. Food and Drug Administration

All people who test positive for  COVID-19 are being asked to participate in contact tracing.  Each case is investigated by the local health department that is located in the county where the person who tests positive resides. Through contact tracing, the individual who has tested positive will be asked to identify all of their close contacts, including those who reside outside of their county. The local public health departments will then reach out to all close contacts to let them know about the potential exposure, regardless of location. 

You can report a Safe Start violation directly to Washington State on their Report a Violation webpage.

Okanogan County Public Health staff are investigating and contact tracing all reported cases in Okanogan County.  If you have been exposed to someone with a known COVID-19 infection, a staff person from Okanogan County Public Health will likely contact you to let you know that you have been exposed.  In addition, public health staff will follow up with people who have been exposed to learn if they have developed symptoms and recommend they get tested.  This can be done via phone call or text message. If you receive a text message, it will look similar to the image shown below.  If you receive a  text message, and you are unsure if it is from Public Health or if it is a scam, please call us at 509-422-7140 to confirm.

It can take from 2-7 days to receive test results. The time it takes depends on a number of factors, including the lab that is processing the results and the number of tests submitted.  When there is a surge of cases and testing, it will typically take longer to get results back.

The number used to determine whether schools are open to in-person instruction is the incidence rate, or number of active COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people over the past 14 days. The target for in-person school is less than 75 cases/100,000/14 days in Okanogan County. The superintendents, public health district, and the health officer monitor case numbers closely and make decisions together regarding the status of schools. The schools will not immediately open or close when cases drop below or rise above 75, but it is an important number that is considered when making these decisions. There have been no outbreaks at schools in Okanogan County as a result of in-person schooling, but the number of cases in the community determines whether schools are in-person or virtual. That is why it is critical that cases in the county remain low. We all have to work together to keep the schools open.

Read more about how school decisions are made in this interview with the Okanogan County health officer.

Yes, WA Listens offers nonclinical support for people experiencing elevated stress due to COVID-19. Call 1-833-681-0211. The line is staffed Mon – Fri from 9am to 9pm, and weekends from 9am to 6pm.

If you need urgent help, the Okanogan County 24-hour Crisis line is: 1-866-826-6191 or 509-826-6191.

Submit a Question

Send us a question to add to the list!
Español »