3 Island County residents positive for COVID-19, South Whidbey schools closing for 6 weeks

Three Island County residents have now tested positive for the coronavirus, Island County Public Health reported.

In addition, South Whidbey School will be closed to students from Monday, March 16 to April 24. The district sent out the closure notice following Washington Gov. Jay Inslee’s announcement this afternoon that he is ordering schools in Snohomish, King and Pierce counties to close for the same period.

Today, public health officials in Island County released information about two additional adults who tested positive for the novel virus. One individual is an Oak Harbor woman in her 50s. She is in isolation and care outside of the county.

The other is a man in his 70s, who is also in isolation and care outside of the county.

Officials at Island County Public Health were notified of the first positive COVID-19 test in the county Tuesday. An Oak Harbor man with coronavirus is in his 50s and is currently in care at a location outside of the county.

In a notice to families, South Whidbey School District officials explained that among the reasons for the closures is the district’s proximity to Snohomish and King counties, the fact that some students attend programs in Snohomish county, the fact that many South Whidbey residents commute each day and because “a significant number of community members fall within the high risk category.”

In a message to families, the Oak Harbor School District explained that officials are taking direction from Island County Public Health and the governor, who is asking districts to act in coordination with his directions. School officials, however, urge families to plan for a future closure.

“It is best to think of this as not a matter of if we will be directed by the Governor’s Office to close, but when,” the notice states.

Island County Public Health Director Keith Higman said the department has updated its recommendations on events and gatherings based on the ever-evolving circumstances. The recommendations are as follows:

• Non-essential events should be discouraged. Some examples of non-essential events include, but are not limited to parades, concerts, festivals, conventions, fundraisers and similar activities.

• Cancel events involving more than 250 people.

• Don’t cancel outdoor activities of less than 250 people, provided that people can maintain six feet of distance between each other (i.e. social distancing).

• People in high-risk groups — like those over 60, people with underlying health conditions, and pregnant women — should avoid contact with others, including attendance at large events.

• Implement changes to the workplace, such as maximizing telecommuting options for as many employees as possible, and implementing social distancing in the workplace within reason.

Contact Island County with questions or concerns about COVID-19 in Island County. Start by visiting our website or our Facebook page. You can also contact the Island County call center at 1-360-678-2301 during 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.Saturday and Sunday.