Planning for the worst: Limiting travel, canceling public gatherings possible to slow the spread of coronavirus

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SEATTLE -- State emergency management and public health officials are working around the clock to slow the spread of novel coronavirus in Washington state, but they're also planning for what to do next if the situation gets worse.

Washington state has become the epicenter of U.S. coronavirus response as the state reported the second highest number of cases in America (13) and the first two coronavirus deaths in the United States - as of Monday morning (March 2).

More than 50 people associated with LifeCare Center, a nursing home in Kirkland, have showed signs of respiratory illness, and four new cases of COVID-19 announced Sunday are all linked to LifeCare. One of those four cases, a man in his 70s, died on Saturday, bringing the total deaths in Washington state to two.

Six schools in western Washington were closed Monday out of an abundance of caution.

Here's a list of things that could happen if the number of cases rises drastically (Remember, these are possible solutions should the situation worsen. There are no plans to implement any of these yet):

  • Involuntary quarantine of people who had direct contact with sick persons
  • Forced cancellations of large public and private gatherings
  • Prohibiting non-emergency travel
  • Forced closure of schools, child care centers and workplaces
  • Establishing a cordon sanitaire (or a geographic boundary where movement is limited)

Officials remain optimistic that they can slow the spread of the virus here at home.

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