Health Advisory: Influenza and COVID-19 Updates

Published Oct. 16, 2020.

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Influenza in congregate care settings

October marks the beginning of influenza season.

Report influenza-associated deaths and influenza outbreaks in congregate care settings to the Health Department. An influenza outbreak in a congregate care setting is defined as a sudden increase in acute febrile respiratory illness over the normal background rate OR a single case of lab-confirmed influenza in a resident.


Our influenza surveillance relies on reporting from healthcare facilities and providers. Call us at (360) 414-5599 to report:

  • Lab-confirmed influenza death—within 3 days.
  • Patient with suspected novel influenza virus—immediately.

Outbreak of influenza-like illness or lab-confirmed influenza in congregate care (e.g., long-term care facility)—immediately

Influenza and COVID-19 testing and isolation

SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) is also circulating this influenza season. It may be difficult to distinguish between COVID-19 and influenza. DOH released guidance to clarify isolation precautions for symptomatic individuals with no clear exposure history.

  • DOH strongly recommends, when testing a symptomatic person for influenza or other viral pathogens, also test for COVID-19.
  • Asymptomatic people are often tested for COVID-19. Do not test asymptomatic people for influenza.
  • A positive test for influenza does not necessarily rule out COVID-19.
  • When community transmission of COVID-19 is moderate to high (greater than 25 cases per 100,000 population over 14 days), a negative rapid antigen test should be confirmed with a PCR test performed in a clinical lab.

Additional resources

COVID-19 test processing

Labs report varying amounts of time to process COVID-19 tests. To support faster turnaround, we encourage providers to use in-state labs. See current COVID-19 test processing times for in-state private labs below.

Lab  Time to process test  Tests processed daily 
FidaLab 24-72 hours 3,000
Kaiser 48 hours 800
LabCorp 1-3 days 100,000 nationally
Northwest Pathology 24 hours 15,000
Quest 24 hours 1,000
UW Virology 20-24 hours 10,000


Immediately report COVID-19

  • To report a notifiable condition, call (360) 414-5599 x 6431 during business hours, (360) 636-9595 after hours or use the Reportable Disease Fax Form.
    • Cases in the following people—call (360) 414-5599 x 6431
    • Healthcare workers (e.g., EMS, medical, nursing, any healthcare facility employee).
    • Public safety workers (e.g., law enforcement, firefighter).
    • Staff or resident of long-term care facilities, senior living centers, permanent supportive housing or similar congregate settings (e.g., shelter, correctional facility).
    • Anyone who dies with COVID-19.
    • Anyone with suspected MIS-C.

Patient communication

Share these materials with patients.

Additional resources