EDMONDS — Across Snohomish County, governments took action Sunday in response to the spread of the new coronavirus and its disease.
Another city wants people to stay home, the county is closing park bathrooms and access gates, and the health district is gearing up for drive-thru testing for high-risk residents and select workers in critical infrastructure, healthcare and public safety.
Edmonds Mayor Mike Nelson issued a stay-at-home order for the city’s business owners and more than 42,000 residents after the Edmonds City Council gave the mayor wide-ranging emergency powers during a special council meeting Sunday afternoon. The order allows several exceptions such as people getting groceries or seeking healthcare. It takes effect at 11:59 p.m. Sunday.
“These are extraordinary times,” Nelson said during the virtual meeting with all seven council members and the city attorney. “I believe the circumstances that we are currently under right now warranted this.”
Starting Sunday night, some Snohomish County parks will have certain areas closed. Bathrooms and gated parking lots at parks will be restricted, but the open areas can be used for “responsible activities” such as walking if social distancing is adhered to by people, Snohomish County Executive Dave Somers wrote in an email.
“Our intent is to reduce the crowds we have seen at some parks, reduce the possible exposure to the public and staff in restroom facilities, and just in general encourage social distancing,” he wrote.
The Snohomish Health District is set to offer appointment-only drive-thru testing for high-risk people with symptoms of the novel coronavirus disease COVID-19. In addition to having a cough, fever of at least 100.4 degrees, sore throat and/or shortness of breath, eligible people must be 60 years or older, have an underlying health condition or weakened immune system, be pregnant, or work in child care, correctional facilities, gas stations, grocery stores, healthcare, public safety, public utilities, restaurants or shelters.
Registration is available at https://redcap.link/Snohomish-COVID-19. The supplies and lab services, provided by the Washington State Department of Health, Federal Emergency Management Agency and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, will be free.
Edmonds City Council President Adrienne Fraley-Monillas said she saw groups of people who were far too close to each other. Councilmember Diane Buckshnis said throngs of people at the city’s dog park and waterfront beaches forced the closure of those locations.
“There were summer crowds,” she said.
The new coronavirus spreads through respiratory droplets and may live on some surfaces for days, according to the World Health Organization. It has hit people older than 60 and those with underlying health conditions especially hard.
As of Saturday, 28 people in Edmonds tested positive for COVID-19. More than 21 percent of Edmonds’ population is 65 and older, according to the 2018 American Community Survey.
Edmonds’ actions follow Everett Mayor Cassie Franklin’s proclamation Friday urging people to stay home except for essential trips such as food and healthcare. Violators can be fined up to $500 or receive up to 90 days in jail, according to the draft amendments to the city’s emergency code.
Some of the emergency powers granted to the mayor include banning the distribution and sale of alcohol, closing businesses and public places, and setting a curfew. Aside from a stay-at-home order, Nelson did not say which other measures he may take.
He was expected to announce the first order Sunday night.