By Tracy Record,White Center Now editor
(This article originally appeared on White Center Now and has been reprinted with permission)
New information on the King County quarantine/isolation facility planned at 206 SW 112th in the Top Hat neighborhood, just east of White Center, first announced Tuesday. The new details emerged in a Friday morning conference call meeting that county reps organized for community members.
The site will start up with two 4-room trailers, with up to six more when a vacant building on the site is demolished. (Above are our photos after the first trailer was delivered Tuesday – the county had 14 in storage on Harbor Island.) The county has now decided NOT to open the site until utilities including water/sewer are hooked up to the trailers’ built-in bathrooms – they originally had said they would start with portable toilets and hand-washing stations but have scrapped that plan. They expect the connections will be complete by the middle of next week.
The site will NOT have medical staff – but the county plans to “check in” with people at least twice a day. They also plan to deliver food and other supplies. And they will have 24-hour security who will “notify” county reps if someone leaves the site.
Who will be there? Criteria are still being developed, the county reps said. Three scenarios were mentioned for starters – people who are traveling and have nowhere else to go, people who are unhoused, people who can’t “self-quarantine” because of a situation at their home such as an at-risk person also living there.
How long will someone stay? If they’re being tested – until the test results are in, if those results are negative. If they’re ill, “until they’ve recovered.”
The call wasn’t strictly informational – strong opposition was voiced, primarily by people pointing out that the area is home to low-income people and other marginalized populations and should not have to bear this burden and risk. “10,000 people are opposed” was mentioned – apparently a reference to this online petition. But county reps were clear – this decision has been made and will not change.
Those on the call, besides several staffers from various county departments such as Local Services, included County Councilmember Joe McDermott and Burien Mayor Jimmy Matta. McDermott said County Executive Dow Constantine‘s request for emergency funding will be approved at next Tuesday’s King County Council meeting.
We have a few other details to add shortly.
The county has provided these addresses for the two other quarantine sites – 531 Elliott Avenue West [map] in Interbay and 1132 N. 128th Street [map] in North Seattle. The Top Hat site was formerly home to the Wilderness Technology Alliance.
Julie Hiatt of the North Highline Fire District, which serves the area, was on the call and said NHFD had not even had a meeting with the county to talk about this; one was promised. County reps also said they were not intending for NHFD to have to transport patients to/from the site; they are working with potential providers such as Tri-Med.
One community member on the call was aghast at the single-security-guard plan: “You’re bringing this into poor communties and telling us there’s going to be one security guard for people who might leave?” Security plans would be re-evaluated along the way, county reps said. Another community member: “If this is going to spread, this is not the community you want it to spread in – most (nearby) people don’t even have health insurance.” The site is in a densely populated area of North Highline, with neighboring apartment complexes including the huge new Southside by Vintage across SW 112th.
Another community member: “It seems like an experiment. … The community does not want this facility here. It’s going to cause death … There is death attached to this facility.” County reps countered that this was meant to save lives; Local Services director John Taylor countered, “The consequence to the community of not doing this could be disastrous.”
The call ended after an hour but more communication including an email list was promised.