Lumen Field is hidden in smoke as seen from the Dr. Jose P Rizal Bridge on Oct. 20.

When Jessica Godwin went to open yet another rapid test, she asked herself the question many other Seattleites had asked near-daily in mid-October: Is it COVID-19 that’s making me feel crappy, or is it the wildfire smoke hanging around for weeks?

With her nasal drip, sore throat and fatigue, it was hard to tell the difference. Godwin doesn’t consider herself a member of a group sensitive to wildfire smoke — for example, people with preexisting conditions or outdoor workers — but her symptoms were popping up even as smoke concentrations fell below what the Air Quality Index deems unhealthy. She was positive that wildfire exposure was behind her health challenges: Her eyes burned when the smoke spread into King County from the Bolt Creek Fire near Skykomish and other fires, even on days this fall when she wasn’t frequently outside. She tested negative for COVID-19.


A ferry wades through the wildfire smoke, seen from Kerry Park in Puget Sound on Sept. 27.


Downtown Seattle surrounded by wildfire smoke on Sept. 27.

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