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Jackson High School student tests positive for coronavirus

The school was closed Monday, March 2, during a 3-day deep clean following the news

Series: Coronavirus | Story 22

Last updated 3/23/2020 at 3:59pm

First published Feb. 28; updated March 20.

Update – As of March 20, there were 1,524 cases in the state and 83 deaths according to health department data; Snohomish County had 385 cases and eight deaths. As of March 20 data, 11 of the county's cases came from Mill Creek, specifically, according to the Snohomish Health District.

A week prior, on March 12, there were 457 cases in Washington and 31 deaths. Snohomish County had 108 cases and three deaths. Check for daily updates from the state.

Check for Snohomish Health District data and city-specific counts.

A Jackson High School student tested positive for the novel coronavirus, known as SARS-CoV-2, resulting in the school closing for three days for a deep cleaning. Classes and athletics resumed Tuesday, March 3.

According to an Everett Public Schools news release Feb. 28, "The student was not in school most of this week, but was on campus briefly this morning." A spokesperson said the student came to the school Friday morning but left before classes began after learning about their test results. Other students that the infected student came into contact with were then told to be in quarantine for 14 days following exposure.

The infected student also has a sibling at Gateway Middle School, but they were not showing symptoms. A spokesperson for the school district said Gateway was also cleaned over the weekend but did not specify if it would at the same level as Jackson.

It is not known how the Jackson student became infected with the virus, and authorities are working to establish how the student was infected and who else may have exposed. The student had recently visited Seattle Children's North Clinic Monday, Feb. 24.

The family of the infected student released a statement in a Snohomish Health District news release:

“Our child became ill with flu-like symptoms on Monday morning. We took the necessary steps to have him seen by medical professionals and to be tested for the flu. We didn’t learn of the testing of COVID-19 until Friday morning, after our now symptom-free child left for school. He promptly returned home before school started.

“We are taking this situation very seriously. Please know that we have been following all guidance and instructions from both the health-care providers that treated our son, as well as the Snohomish Health District. We understand the concerns and anxiety raised, but we ask that the community and media please respect our family’s privacy.”

In a statement, the City of Mill Creek said March 3, "while the threat of contracting novel coronavirus (COVID-19) remains low for the general public, the City of Mill Creek is reminding residents and employees to remain calm and take extra precautions for their safety as the virus continues to spread among vulnerable populations."

“The City of Mill Creek understands that this outbreak is causing our residents to be concerned and anxious,” City Manager Michael Ciaravino said in the statement. “The most important thing we can do is to be prepared and informed, and take the same illness prevention steps that we would to reduce the spread of flu and other respiratory illnesses.”

A Snohomish County man who had traveled in Wuhan, China, the epicenter of the virus, was the nation’s first confirmed case of COVID-19, the disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2. Health officials announced he had the virus Jan. 21 and that he had had close contact with about 16 people. He was treated at Providence Hospital in Everett and recovered. He returned home Feb. 3.

According to information at the time, it appeared that the virus was not spreading in the United States.

Then, the Jackson High School student tested as a “presumptive positive,” by the Snohomish Health District Feb. 28. A presumptive positive test means a person has tested positive for the virus at a local testing facility, but that the diagnosis will be confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

The same day, a woman in King County also tested as a presumptive positive. She had recently traveled to Daegu, South Korea, an area experiencing a large outbreak. She was at home in isolation according to a release from the Washington State Department of Health Feb. 28. “Given the extent of global spread, we expect to identify more individuals with COVID-19 in Washington. We want to emphasize the importance of practicing good health habits," State Health Officer Dr. Kathy Lofy said.

However, health officials did not know how the Jackson high school student was infected and warned about community spread.

More cases came to light over the weekend. Officials confirmed the nation’s first death Saturday, Feb. 29; he was a man in his 50s with underlying health conditions and died at Evergreen Health Medical Center in Kirkland. How the man was infected is unknown. Several more cases were identified, including multiple at Life Care Center, a nursing and rehabilitative facility in Kirkland.

By Tuesday, nine people had died from the virus. Two of the deceased were only found to have been infected with the virus after they had died days earlier. Health officials warned that the virus has likely been spreading undetected for weeks, and to expect more cases in the future.

To protect you and your family, the Centers for Disease Control recommends:

-wash hands often, and for 20 seconds at a time with soap and warm water

-limit touching your eyes, nose, mouth, or face

-use a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol content if no hot water and soap are available

-cover your mouth and nose when sneezing or coughing

-stay home if you are sick; and

-clean regularly touched items with a household cleaning spray or disinfecting wipe


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