COURTESY Photo                                A custodian sprays a surface with disinfectant at Grove Elementary in Marysville. Ten minutes later the spray is wiped down. Work will continue into the evening so both schools can reopen Wednesday.

COURTESY Photo A custodian sprays a surface with disinfectant at Grove Elementary in Marysville. Ten minutes later the spray is wiped down. Work will continue into the evening so both schools can reopen Wednesday.

What city, schools, first responders are doing to stop the coronavirus from spreading

ARLINGTON – As coronavirus concern grows in the Arlington area, school districts, local governments and first responders are taking extra precautions to be prepared in case of a potential outbreak.

The reality of the virulent flu-like illness hit close to home when a Marysville resident tested positive for the coronavirus, causing the school district to close Grove Elementary School and the Early Learning Center Tuesday for a thorough sanitizing of the buildings.

In Washington state, Snohomish County has reported 8 coronavirus cases and 1 death, and King County 31 cases and 9 deaths, while statewide figures show 39 confirmed cases and 231 people under public health monitoring, according to the latest state Department of Health update.

Arlington Mayor Barb Tolbert signed a state of emergency declaration Thursday in lockstep with the county and several of its cities supporting requests for state and federal funding tied to costs for keeping the public safe.

Fire and Paramedics

“The public should know that we know of no coronavirus cases in the city,” City Administrator Paul Ellis said. “This emergency declaration is a proactive step in ensuring we have resources if the virus becomes a challenge.”

Tolbert said the city’s first responders are following safety protocols and taking extreme personal protection precautions when being dispatched to calls, and working proactively with the Snohomish Health District.

The city has also consulted with their janitorial services to deep clean surfaces in public areas, asked employees to use their sick leave when not feeling well, and encourages residents to be more vigilant and wash their hands more frequently, keeping hands away from their face to avoid transferring germs.

The coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, has Arlington firefighters and paramedics training daily and following heightened protocols steps above how they would typically respond during a seasonal influenza outbreak.

“It’s otherwise heightened awareness in our jobs, and all the changes that come with it,” said Deputy Chief Chris Dickison, who is coordinating response for Arlington and North County Fire.

Even before they leave to a call, Snohomish County 9-1-1 dispatchers are already screening emergency callers with target questions to determine what if any coronavirus symptoms may be a factor, and sharing those details with responders. Medics then conduct triage from the door, Dickison said, asking whether people in the household show any signs of fever, cough or shortness of breath. If there’s a risk, responders are prepared with gloves, specialized masks, goggles and protective outerwear.

Dickison is also following Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations such as screening off driver compartments from sealed care, turning the exhaust on during an entire transport, and using other options than non-aerosol medications to treat patients.

Firefighters are well-trained and accustomed to responding to medical calls during the flu season, and outbreaks such as the coronavirus, H1N1 and SARS raise the level of response commensurate with the level of threat.

So far, over 37 firefighters – all in Washington state – have been quarantined from exposure to the coronavirus, the International Association of Firefighters reported.


Arlington police are also benefitting from 9-1-1 call interrogation screening to provide the best information when arriving at a scene, Chief Jonathan Ventura said.

In addition, officer sare equipped with disposable gloves, respiratory masks and eye protection and encouraged to use them with any indications that they are warranted.

“Better safe than sorry,” Ventura said.

He added they are following CDC and Health District guidelines to maintain safe distance of six feet if interacting with high-risk contacts, and coordinating with EMS when necessary.

Police are also routinely cleaning and disinfecting their vehicles and coordinating extra cleansing of shared work spaces, using disinfectant wipes and hand sanitizer in their office, washing hands frequently and straying home if displaying any signs of illness.

“We are being extra cautious and aware, but not panicking,” Ventura said.


Arlington Public Schools is also taking precautions to be prepared. The district is keeping students, teachers and families in the loop daily to help alleviate concerns, district spokesman Gary Sabol said.

The district team and a medical professional are meeting for short daily updates, and providing teachers with information to help students. Hand-washing videos are being shown, including one for younger children that asks them to sing Happy Birthday to themselves twice to meet the recommended 20-second rule.

Sabol said custodians are being meticulous in their school cleaning, spraying, wiping down desktops, door knobs and other touch points that aren’t typically cleaned as often. The same goes for school bus seats, window, the door pull handle and the driver’s area.

“We want to keep our students safe and healthy,” Sabol said. “We’re taking the Coronavirus situation seriously and trying to be pro-active.”

Health care

Among area clinics, residents are being asked to contact family physicians with concerns about potential Coronavirus symptoms. Under Health District and new state guidelines, testing for the Coronavirus is only being conducted on hospitalized patients with severe medical conditions, not in local clinics.

Health care providers recommend patients stay home with mild-to-moderate symptoms, using home monitoring and care. There are no antiviral medications to treat Coronavirus, and antibiotics are ineffective in treating viral infections.

For details on how to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, contact the Health District at or call 425-339-5200.

Concerns about the virus has led to some facilities closing temporarily, such as the Stillaguamish Senior Center.

The Health District said the most-effective preventative measures to help fight the spread of illness:

• Wash hands often – with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds. Hand sanitizer is good in a pinch

• Keep hands away from mouth, nose or eyes to avoid transferring germs

• Clean and disinfect frequently used surfaces like counters, light switches, doorknobs and remotes

• Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue, then throw tissue away and wash your hands

• If you feel stick, stay home and avoid close contact with others

More in News

Arlington Times Logo
Inslee: Stay home for 2 weeks

By Jerry Cornfield and Zachariah Bryan The Herald OLYMPIA — Gov. Jay… Continue reading

Fences have been put up around Marysville playgrounds to keep kids off. (Steve Powell/Staff Photos)
Marysville leaders concerned as (almost) everything’s closing

By Steve Powell MARYSVILLE – Within hours of Gov. Jay Inslee’s… Continue reading

Arlington Times Logo

Beware of coronavirus scams SEATTLE – U.S. Attorney Brian T. Moran is… Continue reading

Jennifer Thompson, left, and her father Ron Thompson secure a new remembrance plaque to the Oso slide site gate on Sunday, near Oso. Ron Thompson handcrafts a new plaque for the gate every year. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Community remembers Oso slide victims, survivors

By Ben Watanabe The Herald OSO — The power of remembering the… Continue reading

People gather to pick up special allergy meals before leaving Lakewood High School on Wednesday in Marysville. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Districts taking meals to students since schools are closed

By Stephanie Davey The Herald LAKEWOOD — Children wearing pajamas stood outside… Continue reading

Jon Nehring
Letter about coronavirus from Marysville Mayor Jon Nehring

This is an edited version of a letter Marysville Mayor Jon Nehring… Continue reading

DOUGLAS BUell/Staff Photos                                Lead cook Keina Gowins with Presidents Elementary hands out free grab-and-go breakfasts and lunches to students and parents outside the school Wednesday. Presidents and AHS serve as central kitchen sites for preparing meals, which starting next week will expand to 12 delivery sites from Silvana to Oso. Right, Arlington Food Bank executive director Carla Gastineau and Mike Simpson, food bank board president and owner of Arlington Grocery Outlet, partnered with the district with their Meals Til Monday program, and gave a woman a box of donated food while at Presidents.
Arlington students won’t go hungry during the COVID-19 school closures

ARLINGTON – Arlington schools are closed through April 24 to help fight… Continue reading

Scott Beebe hands out Chromebooks to people in their cars. (Steve Powell/Staff Photos)
Marysville parents anxious to pick up school materials for kids

By Steve Powell MARYSVILLE – A few days ago Marysville schools… Continue reading

Jon Nehring
Marysville leaders’ trip to D.C. productive

MARYSVILLE – City leaders recently obtained advice on how to get more… Continue reading

Crews will blow garbage into the street and sweep it up over the next few weeks. The city is asking people to move their cars, trash cans and recycle bins when they come around to help them do a thorough job. (Courtesy Photo)
Marysville shuffles workers due to virus, seeks public’s help for sweepers next week

By Steve Powell spowell@marysvilleglobe. MARYSVILLE – From working from home to teleconferencing… Continue reading

City of Arlington carries out operational changes to encourage social distancing
City of Arlington carries out operational changes to encourage social distancing

ARLINGTON – The city has made a series of operational changes in… Continue reading