Seattle/King County Public Health Update on Coronavirus: Gov. Inslee to host Twitter Q&A today at 12 p.m.

curated by Emerald Staff

4/2/20

Washington State Gov. Jay Inslee will be hosting a COVID-19 Twitter Q&A today at 12 p.m. Those interested in participating are asked to tweet at Inslee with the hashtag #AskGovInslee.

While some have already started tweeting their questions, the Q&A session won’t begin until the designated time. There is no RSVP required.

4/1/20

April Fool’s Jokes

Today is the day that normally is filled with spoofs, elaborate tricks on friends and family and gotcha moments. But, the COVID-19 coronavirus is no joke. So, no elaborate stories that are as fake as some Rose Garden press conferences.

At the same time, it’s a real challenge to entertain and motivate children every day. So, here’s a harmless set of jokes for you to share with the kids in your life. These can be used by grandparents on the phone or Skype, parents needing to take a break to home schooling, or shouting at the park from a safe distance.

Alternative Routes for Metro Bus Riders

With many essential service providers needing to still rely on public transportation to get to an from work, King County Metro has maintained some routes, even as it has cut some entirely.

Route 9 ,traveling along Rainier Avenue, was a casualty of those cuts and Metro is advising riders to alternatively use routes 7 and 106 if traveling between Rainier Valley and First Hill. Riders can then transfer to/ from the First Hill Streetcar or route 60 at S. Jackson St. and 12th Ave S.

3/31/20

Council member Tammy Morales Hosting Virtual Town Hall on COVID-19 Crisis

Seattle City Council Member Tammy Morales (D2: South Seattle/ C-ID) will host a virtual Town Hall on Friday, April 3 from 3pm to 4:30pm to discuss the City’s COVID-19 measures.

Friday’s town hall is intended for the public at large. Those interested can RSVP to lakecia.farmer@seattle.gov.

King Council Approves $2.2M for Emergency Childcare for First Responders and Other Essential Workers During COVID-19 Crisis

First responders and other essential workers in King County struggling with childcare needs will soon get some relief thanks to emergency legislation approved Tuesday by the King County Council.

The measure, requested by Executive Dow Constantine and approved unanimously by Council, provides $2.2 million in unspent Puget Sound Taxpayer Accountability Account funding to provide free childcare to eligible families of first responders and other essential workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many of these hardworking families have had difficulty finding childcare because many childcare providers and many child care providers and early learning facilities have closed due to declined enrollment.

First responders and essential workers include front-line essential medical professionals and support staff, first responders, childcare providers who are providing emergency care, grocery and pharmacy employees, and transit workers.

The legislation is a first step to ensure that first responders and critical essential personnel who live or work in King County outside the City of Seattle have access to safe, consistent and uninterrupted care, while supporting a network of childcare providers that need to fill vacant slots.

The County will work with Childcare Resources to identify providers and match families with vacant slots. Eligible providers will be reimbursed at higher rates to reflect start-up costs associated with new health and safety guidelines, health insurance offsets, or whatever is most needed for the site to continue operating. This effort will help ensure these facilities are still operating when the pandemic ends and families return to their normal working lives.

King County’s Department of Community and Human Services will oversee the program, while the City of Seattle will administer service agreements and payments.

New modeling reports suggest positive impact of social distancing measures on COVID-19 epidemic, but more progress needed

(From Public Health Insider)

Reductions in person-to-person contact through a variety of social distancing measures appear to be making a difference in slowing the spread of COVID-19 in King County, but those measures need to continue to succeed in decreasing and delaying the outbreak peak, according to two new reports by the Bellevue-based Institute for Disease Modeling (IDM).

Working with Public Health – Seattle & King County and using data from both Washington State Department of Health and Facebook, IDM first looked at changes in population mobility (people going to school, work, etc.) following increasing levels of social distancing measures in King County and Washington state, culminating in the statewide “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order. Using anonymized mobility data, results showed reductions in mobility beginning in early March. See full report here.

The IDM researchers then looked to see if these reductions in mobility could be related to reductions in COVID-19 transmission. Using a simulation of COVID-19 testing, diagnosis and death data for King County, they found that a measure of transmission, called the effective reproductive number, dropped by about half from about 2.7 in late February to roughly 1.4 on March 18th. This number represents the number of new transmissions stemming from each infection. In order to sustain a drop in new cases, each infected person, on average, must infect fewer than one person. See full report here.

“We are seeing a positive effect from the social distancing and other measures we’ve put in place, although significant numbers of cases and deaths continue to occur,” said Dr. Jeff Duchin, Health Officer for Public Health – Seattle & King County.

Though Duchin cautions that the findings are based on relatively few cases, and therefore come with a great deal of uncertainty.

“No one should take these findings as an indication to relax our social distancing strategy. The threat of a rebound that could overwhelm the healthcare system remains and will remain for the foreseeable future if we let up too soon,” continued Duchin.

The results may indicate some headway has been made, Dr. Daniel Klein who leads the IDM computational research team says any excitement should be tempered by the fact the epidemic was still growing in King County as or March 18th.

“The main takeaway here is though we’ve made some great headway, our progress is precarious and insufficient,” said Klein.

Seattle Has New #SupportSmallBiz Map

Seattle Mayor Jenny A. Durkan today announced the City of Seattle’s new #SupportSeattleSmallBiz map, which helps residents find small businesses providing takeout or delivery in their neighborhood. The map allows users to search for open small businesses in their neighborhood and navigate directly to a business’ website or third-party delivery service page.

The map is part of the City’s #SupportSeattleSmallBiz campaign, which asks residents to post pictures and videos from their favorite Seattle restaurants, bars, cafes, and breweries that are doing delivery, to-go, and drive-through with #SupportSeattleSmallBiz and #WeGotThisSeattle, and tag @SeattleEconomy. City staff are working to add these locations to the map as quickly as possible.

“At the City, we’re doing everything we can locally to support our small businesses during this unprecedented moment in history,” said Mayor Durkan in a statement sent to media.

Small businesses have been significantly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and preventative measures to slow its spread. Earlier in March, the State and County issued orders prohibiting in-person dining, and requiring all restaurants, bars, cafes, and breweries to transition to delivery, curbside pickup, and takeout only. These unprecedented measures to limit gatherings are critical to flattening the curve of the outbreak and savings lives. A recent study emphasizes the devastating impact COVID-19 could have on local small businesses and workers.

To use the map, residents can enter their location or drop a pin and find all the available restaurants near them. Once they select their restaurant, they can place a takeout or delivery order directly through the app or can receive directions to the restaurant. The map also connects users directly to third-party delivery services like Uber Eats, DoorDash, and Caviar to easily patronize a restaurant. Seattle Information Technology (ITD) built the map, and City staff partnered with community leaders and small business owners to populate the map with initial businesses.

Restaurant, bar, café, and brewery owners can enter their information into a brief survey to see their business appear on the public-facing map within minutes. To help ensure quality and consistent data, ITD has created an internal map and survey that business owners can use to enter their information. If you’re a business owner interested in adding your information to the #SupportSeattleSmallBiz map, please contact the City at supportsmallbiz@seattle.gov. 

3/30/20

Council Unanimously Passes Resolution Calling For Immediate Moratorium on Residential and Commercial Rent, Mortgage Payments

Councilmember Tammy J. Morales (District 2, South Seattle and the CID) and her Council colleagues passed her resolution calling on Gov. Inslee, federal legislators, and the Trump administration to use emergency powers to place a moratorium on commercial and residential rent and mortgage payments, providing necessary relief to thousands of Seattle residents and business owners struggling with the economic impacts of the coronavirus crisis.

Morales’s resolution is part of a nationwide movement calling for relief for renters, landlords and homeowners with mortgages. In San Francisco, elected leaders introduced a resolution calling for a moratorium on rent and mortgage payments to provide relief to those economically impacted by California’s shelter-in-place order. Councilmember Morales joins San Francisco Supervisors Hillary Ronen, Dean Preston, and Matt Haney, as well as New York State Senator Michael Gianaris, in calling for a nationwide moratorium to help all residents and business owners impacted by this health crisis and the growing economic crisis.

“I’ve heard from hundreds of constituents asking for us to fight for them on this. Just over this weekend, I heard from 200 or so constituents who said that a moratorium on rent and mortgage would be the only way for them to survive this crisis. As elected leaders, we must be bold in fighting for the economic futures of renters, homeowners, property owners, and business owners,” said Morales.

Forty-seven percent of Seattle area renters are rent burdened. This means those experiencing loss of income due to the coronavirus crisis are accumulating significant amounts of personal debt, putting them on unstable financial footing in the future. Morales’s resolution requests for a rent freeze, so all rent due is forgiven when the crisis is over.

Additionally, mortgage-holders are still obligated to pay their lenders, creating a financial crisis for homeowners and landlords, which is why Morales is also calling for relief from mortgage payments. 

“I really welcome this resolution because it provides support for our movement of renters and working people, who are fighting for their rights during this pandemic,” said Councilmember Kshama Sawant (District 3, Central Seattle), in support of Councilmember Morales’ resolution.

The Council expressed support for additional moratoriums on residential rental and homeowner costs such as renters’ insurance, property tax, and mortgage insurance.

Morales acknowledged her appreciation of her Council colleagues who are also prioritizing the “protection of our neighbors.”   

King County Extending First-Half Property Due Date to June 1

King County Executive Dow Constantine announced that the county would extend the first-half property tax deadline to June 1 due to the financial hardships caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Constantine’s executive order only applies to individual residential and commercial taxpayers who pay property taxes themselves, rather than through their mortgage lender. Banks and other financial institutions that pay property taxes on behalf of their lending customers will still need to meet the original April 30 deadline.

“Many homeowners are facing extraordinary financial challenges during this public health emergency,” said Executive Constantine. “My order provides short-term relief for individual taxpayers who own residential or commercial property, while allowing the state, county, cities and special purpose districts to continue meeting community needs as we all pull together to get through this unprecedented crisis.”

The extension applies to both real property taxes (buildings and structures) and personal property taxes (equipment used in business). For those who can do so, King County is encouraging taxpayers to pay by the regular April 30 deadline or as soon thereafter as possible. The county will not add interest charges to the tax bill for individual taxpayers who pay the first half amount of their 2020 property taxes by June 1.

3/28/20

The Army will be sending 300 soldiers to staff a field hospital set up next to CenturyLink Field, Gov. Jay Inslee announced at a press conference on March 28.

The makeshift hospital will be used to treat patients who do not have COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, in order to make more beds available in permanent hospital spaces to treat people who have COVID-19. The makeshift hospital will have at least 148 beds, and is expected to be operational within a week.

The news comes after the number of confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus in the United States doubled within the space of two days, to stand at more than 124,000 cases on the morning of March 29. The country has the most number of confirmed cases in the world.

In Seattle, the number of confirmed cases stood at 4,310, with 189 deaths, as of the late afternoon of March 28.

3/27/20

Mayor Durkan To Issue Emergency Order to Fund Childcare for First Responders and Essential Workers

Mayor Jenny A. Durkan announced she will issue an Emergency Order later today to allow the City of Seattle to fund emergency childcare for essential workers including health care professionals, first responders and grocery store workers.

In partnership with Seattle Preschool Program providers, the City announced a proposal for more than $1 million per month which will allow the implementation of more than 75 emergency childcare classrooms in five locations near hospitals and 22 other preschool sites across the city, which could serve more than 700 kids of front line workers under current Public Health – Seattle & King County guidance. These classrooms, which will serve preschool as well as school-aged children, will be staffed with Seattle Preschool Program staff and substitute teachers.

The Mayor’s emergency order will allow the City of Seattle to use the Families, Education, Preschool and Promise funding for emergency childcare. The contracts under this emergency order will be in effect for 30 days and may be extended up to additional terms.

Essential worker childcare classrooms will begin to identify children on Monday, March 30th. The City’s Department of Education and Early Learning will coordinate with the Northwest Healthcare Response Network, the Seattle Police Department, the Seattle Fire Department and others to enroll families to ensure all medical personnel and first responders are aware of this new resource. Other eligible families can access care by visiting  http://www.seattle.gov/education on Monday with classrooms expected to begin to open next week.

On March 12, 2020, the Governor of Washington state issued an order closing schools in King, Snohomish, and Pierce counties then the following day expanded his order to require the statewide closure of K-12 public and private schools until April 24, 2020. The closure of schools and many childcare facilities has created an urgent need for childcare among those still required to come to work. A recent directive the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction indicates priority populations for childcare include essential workers like health care workers, first responders, pharmacy workers and grocery store workers among others.

House Passes Emergency Relief Bill

Today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Emergency Relief Bill that the Senate passed on Wednesday. The $2 trillion bill was passed by a voice vote after sufficient members had to risk leaving home to get back to Washington D.C. to vote. Most drove to remain isolated as much as possible.

The CARES Act, as it is named, has relief for workers, small business and corporations. This will provide one-time checks to workers of up to $1,200; higher paid workers will get less. While this is much needed relief, $1,200 may not even cover one month’s rent in the South End. Below is a clear summary from Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, a former state senator and resident of the South End.

The CARES Act includes:

·  $150 Billion for a State and Local Coronavirus Relief Fund: The bill creates a $150 billion State and Local Coronavirus Relief Fund to provide states and localities additional resources to cope with the coronavirus pandemic. It is estimated that Washington State will receive approximately $2.9 billion.

·  $260 Billion in Dramatically Expanded Unemployment Benefits: The bill includes numerous provisions to improve unemployment benefits, including providing an additional $600 per week for the next four weeks, providing an additional 13 weeks of federally funded benefits, and expanding eligibility to include workers in the gig economy and self-employed workers.

·  Immediate Direct Cash Payments to Lower and Middle-Income Americans: The bill provides for immediate, direct cash payments to lower-and middle-income Americans of $1,200 for each adult and $500 for each child, beginning to phase out at an annual income of $75,000 for an individual and $150,000 for a household. 

·  $375 Billion in Small Business Relief: The bill provides more than $375 billion in small business relief, including $349 billion for forgivable loans to small businesses to pay their employees and keep them on the payroll; $17 billion for debt relief for current and new SBA borrowers; and $10 billion in immediate disaster grants.

·  Worker-Centered Industry Assistance: The bill requires businesses receiving federal assistance to maintain existing employment levels to the extent possible and prohibits stock buybacks or dividends for the length of any loan provided by the federal government plus one year and restricts any increases to executive compensation for two years. The bill also provides direct payroll payments to keep millions of airline workers on the job and receiving paychecks, while also prohibiting airline companies from stock buybacks and dividends for the entire life of a federal grant, plus one year.

·  $200 Billion for Hospitals, Health Care Workers, and Health Research: The bill provides an investment of about $200 billion in our hospitals, health systems, and health research, including expanding funding for the personal protective equipment desperately needed by our health care workers, including ventilators, n95 masks, gowns, gloves, etc.

·  More Than $100 Billion in Emergency Appropriations:

o Transit Agencies: The bill provides $25 billion to transit agencies, which have all seen a drastic drop in revenues as social distancing has been implemented.  This funding is to be used to protect the jobs of the employees of the transit agencies, funding their paychecks during this public health emergency. Washington state will receive approximately $695 million under this program.

o HUD Emergency Solution Grants: The bill provides $2 billion for HUD Emergency Solution Grants to states that will be distributed by formula. These grants are designed to address the impact of the coronavirus among individuals and families who are experiencing or are at risk of homelessness, and to support additional homeless assistance, prevention, and eviction prevention assistance.  Of this $2 billion, Washington state will receive approximately $34 million.  In addition, the bill provides an additional $2 billion for these grants that will be allocated by HUD to the most hard-pressed areas.

o Child Care and Development Block Grant: The bill supports childcare and early education by providing $3.5 billion for the Child Care and Development Block Grant. Washington state will receive approximately $ 58 million under this emergency appropriation.

o Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP):  The bill provides $900 million to help low-income families pay their heating and cooling bills. Washington state will receive approximately $11 million.

o Byrne-Justice Assistance Grant Program: The bill provides $850 million for this program, giving additional support to state and local law enforcement agencies, thereby allowing them, for example, to obtain the personal protective equipment and other medical items they may need during this public health emergency. Our state will receive approximately $16.7 million under this appropriation.

o CDC Coronavirus State, Local and Tribal Grants Minimum Awards: The bill provides about $750 million in CDC State, Local, and Tribal Grants Minimum Awards to help agencies cope with the public health emergency. The minimum award for Washington state is $12.7 million. In addition, states can apply for additional funds above their minimum award, based on their needs.

o Election Assistance: The bill provides $400 million for Election Assistance Grants for states to help prepare for the 2020 elections. Funding can be used, for example, to increase the ability to vote by mail, expand early voting, and expand online registration.  

City of Seattle Expands Resources for Those Experiencing Homelessness

Building on the 1,900 new sites across the City to help individuals experiencing homelessness, the City of Seattle announced the deployment and maintenance of six hygiene facilities throughout the City, which augment the more than 128 Seattle Parks comfort stations that remain open for hygiene needs. This expansion of resources is a continuation of ongoing work by the City and County to bring critically needed resources to those most in need during the COVID-19 pandemic.  

Beginning tomorrow, the City will deploy and maintain 14 toilets and 6 handwashing stations near City Hall Park, Lake City Community Center, Jefferson Park, Westcrest Park, Cal Anderson Park, and Benvenuto Viewpoint. All areas are in close proximity to individuals experiencing homelessness. This is in addition to the more than 128 locations in parks throughout the City, available to all residents, and are currently being serviced by Seattle Parks and Recreation. The new facilities will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., seven days per week. Daily maintenance will be provided including sharps disposal, waste removal and supplemental cleaning. 

In addition to the portable toilets, the City expects to soon deploy at least four hygiene trailers with showers, toilets, and hand-washing stations. Currently under procurement, the trailer locations and staffing will be determined by Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) in partnership outreach teams and other departments and Public Health – Seattle & King County.  

Thee Navigation Team has continued to do outreach during the outbreak to help those experiencing homelessness receive the hygiene resources they need with the distribution of nearly 600 hygiene kits over the past two weeks.  

3/26/20

Army Corps of Engineers Chief Says Areas of CenturyLink Field Could be Retrofitted for Medical Usage.

Speaking to talk show host Rachael Maddow Thursday evening, Gen. Todd Semonite, Commanding General of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, said that unutilized areas of CenturyLink Field could be converted into a temporary field hospital.

Seattle Comes Together to Celebrate People on the Front Lines in #MakeAJoyfulNoise

Seattle’s cultural community in association with the Seattle Office of Arts & Culture (City of Seattle) is encouraging residents to participate in a civic wide celebration of people on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic response.

Starting 8 p.m. sharp Thursday evening, they’re asking Seattleites to join a movement that began in European countries, opening their windows, standing on their balconies, from their front yards, backyards and or anywhere people can to make a joyful noise letting the healthcare and front line workers know how much we appreciate them. People can clap their hands, raise their voices, bang some pots and pans to show solidarity and let the front line know how much they are appreciated.

The message is simple, starting at 8 p.m #MakeAJoyfulNoise asks residents to:

Applaud their healthcare workers and celebrate those on the front lines, including grocery store workers, supply chain specialists, janitors, Fire, Police, nurses and doctors and health care workers, sanitary workers, and so many more .

People can take a picture, make a video and post #MakeAJoyfulNoise as well as #SeattleTogether

Record Number of Unemployment Claims Due to Coronavirus

A record 3.3 million Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week, the Labor Department said Thursday, as restaurants, hotels, barber shops, gyms and more shut down in a nationwide effort to slow the spread of the deadly coronavirus.

Last week saw the biggest jump in new jobless claims in history, surpassing the record of 695,000 set in 1982. Many economists say this is the beginning of a massive spike in unemployment that could result in over 40 million Americans losing their jobs by April.

Laid off workers say they waited hours on the phone to apply for help. Websites in several states, including New York and Oregon, crashed because so many people were trying to apply at once.

In Washington, the Unemployment Security Department’s call center has seen an 827% spike in calls.

Chris Mefford, the CEO and President of Community Attributes Inc. prepared a report for the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce that found 40% of all jobs (or about 900,000 people) in King, Pierce, and Snohomish counties are going to be affected immediately.

Senate Passes $2 trillion Emergency Relief Bill, Awaits House Vote Friday

(From Washington Post) Facing one of the worst economic downturns in American history, one that is unsparing in its trauma, the Senate late Wednesday unanimously approved a $2 trillion emergency relief bill that attempts to arrest the financial havoc caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Lawmakers acted with unusual speed and cooperation to produce the largest economic rescue package in U.S. history, just hours before the release of a Labor Department report showing a record 3.3 million Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week.

The sprawling legislation, which passed 96 to 0, would send checks to more than 150 million American households, set up enormous loan programs for businesses large and small, pump billions of dollars into unemployment insurance programs, greatly boost spending on hospitals, and much more.

The unanimous vote sends the legislation to the House, which is expected to pass it Friday morning.

Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan praised the Senate’s action in a statement sent to media at 9:09pm Wednesday night.

“The Senate’s legislation rightly includes an expansion of unemployment insurance to cover gig workers and other vulnerable workers. I am grateful to see other needed investments in affordable housing, services for people experiencing homelessness, small business owners, and workers. […] I am grateful to Senator Patty Murray, Senator Maria Cantwell, and our Congressional delegation for ensuring our city and state’s priorities were at the forefront of this bill.”

About 80% of Americans will receive stimulus checks once the bill passes. You can calculate how much you’ll likely receive here.

3/25/20

All King County Parks Are Closed

As part of its ongoing efforts to protect public health and curb transmission of COVID-19, King County Parks is closing parks Wednesday, March 25. Parking lot and trailhead gates will be locked, and restrooms will be closed. King County does not have the resources at this time to actively enforce Parks closures and social distancing guidelines and will rely upon the public to follow the guidelines.

The closure comes on the heels of Gov. Jay Inslee’s “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order, which included guidance to further restrict groups from gatherings.

We ask that everyone respect parks closures and refrain from using King County parks, including regional and backcountry trails. We are unable to physically block off all entrances to parks and trails. We appreciate our park users helping us slow the spread of this virus and their patience as we work through this challenging time. King County also urges visitors to not park illegally on roadways near parks and trails, or block park gates

Essential Businesses Hiring During the Coronavirus Crisis in Washington

(King 5) Many essential services allowed to continue under Gov. Jay Inslee’s stay-at-home order are seeking additional employees during the coronavirus pandemic due to increased demand. Those include but are not limited to healthcare workers, grocery services, and marijuana growers and stores.

The growing list of essential businesses advertising for new hires include: 7-Eleven, Amazon, CVS Pharmacies, and PCC.

View the full list here.

Senate to vote Wednesday on $2 trillion Coronavirus Bill

(From the Washington Post) The United States Senate plans to vote Wednesday afternoon on a $2 trillion stimulus package that is designed to flood the U.S. economy with money in an effort to stabilize households and businesses that have been floored by the coronavirus outbreak.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) announced the breakthrough on the Senate floor around 1:30 a.m., after a long day of talks with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and other administration officials.

The Senate reconvenes at midday, and a vote could come shortly after that.

The legislation, unprecedented in its size and scope, would send $1,200 checks to many Americans, create a $367 billion loan program for small businesses, and establish a $500 billion lending fund for industries, cities and states.

Other provisions include $150 billion for state and local stimulus funds and $130 billion for hospitals.

3/24/20

Public Health Seattle & King County announced Tuesday additional guidance for child care and early learning programs that are considered part of the essential workforce. In addition, King County will expand support services to providers.

New health and safety guidance for child care providers remaining open during the COVID-19 outbreak are available on a new website, and include directives on encouraging more physical space between children. The full rundown of guidelines can be read here.

Trump Wants “Country Opened by Easter”

(From the Washington Post) The White House coronavirus task force, citing concern about the high infection rate in the New York City area, is asking everyone who has left that area recently to self-isolate for 14 days, wherever they are.

Deborah Birx, the response coordinator for the task force, said at a Tuesday news conference that 60 percent of all the new cases in the United States are coming out of the New York City metro area.

“To everyone who has left New York over the last few days, because of the … number of cases, you may have been exposed before you left New York,” Birx said.

President Trump said Tuesday that he wants the country “opened up” by Easter — April 12 — and continued to play down the dangers of the coronavirus pandemic even as experts warned of a worsening crisis.

City of Seattle Urges Residents and Businesses to Continue to Visit Community Resource Page to Help People Experiencing Significant Disruptions due to COVID-19

To help communities significantly impacted by COVID-19 in Seattle, the City of Seattle created a new centralized website where residents can find information about relief programs offered by the City, the County and the State. This site pulls together resources for workers, artists, small businesses, non-profits, parents, homeowners, and community members to make it easier for City of Seattle residents to find assistance during this unprecedented public health crisis. You can visit the statewide website here.

“We know families and small business are already hurting as we grapple with the full effects of COVID-19 and critical preventative measures. To help reduce the impact of this outbreak on our communities, the city has been working on a number of unprecedented efforts as it relates to housing assistance, meals, and small businesses,” said Mayor Jenny Durkan. “We know there must be additional resources from federal and state government to help provide help for businesses and families. In order to maximize these resources in our community, we’ve launched this site to serve as a hub of all tools available to working families and businesses during this challenging time.”

Currently, the site contains information about programs related to healthcare, food, utilities (including electricity, water, sewer, garbage, and internet), unemployment benefits, tax deferment, home education, small business stabilization, and more. The Mayor’s Office also plans to roll out an interactive map for small businesses as part of the City’s #SupportSeattleSmallBiz campaign in the near future. As more resources become available, the site will be updated.

UW researchers to study resilience, well-being among King County residents during pandemic

As the COVID-19 pandemic prompts governments to close schools, shutter restaurants, ban many gatherings and curtail travel, researchers at the University of Washington want to understand the impact of the disease and these new restrictions on our lives. The King County COVID-19 Community Study — or KC3S — is gathering data through April 19 on how individuals and communities throughout King County are coping with the measures put in place to combat the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

“We want to start collecting this information now — as the COVID-19 pandemic is unfolding — about how families and communities are being impacted, and how they are adapting,” said Nicole Errett, a lecturer in the UW Department of Environmental & Occupational Health Sciences, who is one of the leaders of the new study.

Errett is working with Tania Busch Isaksen, who is a senior lecturer in the department and a UW clinical assistant professor of health services. Any adult King County resident can take part in the study, which consists of an online questionnaire and a written piece, prepared by the participant, of up to a page in length.

The study’s goals are to determine the ways in which communities, families and individuals are being impacted by the disease and capture community displays of resilience. Ultimately, the researchers hope to use the results to provide recommendations to public health officials on measures that can promote well-being while still protecting the public at-large.

The online questionnaire, which can be found on the KC3S website, asks participants about particular behaviors they may have engaged in — such as hand-washing and avoiding large crowds — as the pandemic unfolded, as well as concerns they have about COVID-19, their well-being and demographic information. The questionnaire is currently available in English and Spanish, with other languages planned, according to Errett.

The written description — which can be as short as a sentence or as long as a page — invites participants to describe in their own words the ways that the COVID-19 pandemic has affected them, and how they, their families and communities are adapting and coping.

The researchers plan to analyze the stories to see if common problems, issues and displays of resilience arise as public health restrictions were put into place.

Humanity has faced pandemics before, such as with influenza in 1918. But the COVID-19 pandemic is the largest such event in modern times. The social-distancing measures put in place are an opportunity to study their effects, according to Errett.

Though these restrictions are put in place to limit the spread of COVID-19, concerns have been raised about their unintended effects. For example, social-distancing measures may leave certain at-risk populations, such as the elderly, feeling isolated, which can negatively impact mental health and well-being. As businesses close, hourly workers are concerned about income and job security.

Few studies have measured how current public health restrictions impact well-being, or how communities could try to come together to help individuals adapt, according to Errett.

King County residents who would like to participate in the study should visit the KC3S site at https://deohs.washington.edu/covid-19.


3/23/20

Washington has joined at least a dozen other states in issuing orders for residents to “stay-at-home,” in an effort to slow the growing coronavirus outbreak. Only “essential businesses,” may remain open to the public.  

Gov. Jay Inslee announced the statewide order at Monday at 5:30 p.m. The order takes effect immediately for residents, and in 48 hours for businesses. The order will be in place for a minimum of two weeks.


3/22/20

President Trump orders National Guard to Washington State

President Trump on Sunday ordered the National Guard to Washington State, California, and New York, in order to provide additional aid and resources to the three states. More medical supplies will be shipped to these states, and National Guard troops will help construct additional medical facilities in specified locations. Washington State will get 1,000 more hospital beds, and a number of stations.

Seattle Public Schools TV to begin Monday

On Monday,  the Seattle Public School District will begin providing educational programming on SPS TV. The short videos will feature teachers providing optional instruction a variety of subjects and grade levels. The district will also offer related, printed materials at school lunch distribution sites for families who do not have access to TV or internet. More information is available at this link.

Downtown Link Light rail  tunnel construction concludes

 Link light rail will return to two-track service in downtown Seattle stations beginning Monday. The return follows the conclusion of Connect 2020, an 11-week period of major light rail service impacts while construction crews connected the existing light rail system in downtown Seattle to East Link in preparation for the 2023 extension of service to Mercer Island, Bellevue and Redmond.

With the project’s completion, riders through Downtown Seattle will no longer need to transfer at Pioneer Square, and restrictions on bicycles will end.

With light rail ridership down nearly 70 percent as the region battles the spread of the novel coronavirus, trains will continue to run every 14 minutes under temporary service reductions announced last week. Because of these reductions, which also affect Sounder and some ST Express routes, as well as King County Metro Transit services, resources such as Google maps, One Bus Away and other apps and websites may not have accurate schedule information for all trips.

With the end of the Connect 2020 disruption, the existing tunnel is now configured for East Link in preparation for 2023, when light rail expands to 10 new East King County stations. Before then, three new stations — U District, Roosevelt and Northgate — will begin service in 2021, boosting ridership and increasing the importance of completing this work now.

3/21/20

Everett Mayor Tells Residents to Stay Home

As reported by KING 5, Everett Mayor Cassie Franklin has issued a directive for all residents to stay home as the coronavirus continues to spread.

“I had to act in this way to protect my local community. From what I’m seeing in our city I feel that this was the right time to issue this directive,” she told the news station.

The directive does not apply to people working in fields considered essential, such as healthcare, grocery stores, pharmacies, gas stations, and even childcare facilitates, and more.

Mayor Franklin said they consulted other cities under similar directives as to what job and businesses are essential. She said, “If we have a business that is developing ventilators, we want to make sure they stay operational. And obviously we don’t want to interrupt the food supply chain, we need those businesses to stay operational.”

Gov. Jay Inslee has not yet ordered a similar directive for the state of Washington. Everett is one of the first cities, in the state to do so.


King County Joins with Harborview Medical Center to Open COVID-19 Recovery Site for Unhoused Population

King County has joined with Harborview Medical Center to plan for opening an isolation and recovery center in the county’s Harborview Hall building, located at 326 Ninth Avenue.

Harborview Hall, which is across the street from Harborview Medical Center, will be repurposed to serve as a recovery site primarily for people who do not have a home to rest and recover and who may have other health needs requiring a level of monitoring.

This location will offer a very vulnerable population a safe place to recover, with onsite clinical support provided by Harborview Medical Center staff. This may include people who are awaiting the result of their COVID-19 test result or a COVID-19 patient who has mild symptoms and doesn’t require  hospitalization.

Seattle Temporarily Suspending Enforcement of 72-Hour Parking Violations, Booting and Towing

Mayor Jenny A. Durkan announced today that the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) and Seattle Police Department (SPD) are implementing temporary changes to parking enforcement in the City of Seattle. As parking and transportation needs have changed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, SDOT is adjusting its parking rules to better support residents’ and businesses’ needs during this time.

Rule changes will be made to the following three areas:

  1. 72-Hour Parking Rule
  2. Booting and Towing
  3. Temporary Restaurant Loading Zones

“We’re implementing new parking regulations to better meet our community’s needs during this unprecedented moment in history,” said Mayor Durkan. “As the pandemic continues, we’re seeing more and more residents smartly stay in their homes, and no one should be punished for following public health guidance and preventing community spread.”


3/20/20

Inslee Decides Against Shelter in Place

Gov. Jay Inslee said Friday he would not legally order Washington residents to shelter-in-place, but he did plead with everyone to stay home, especially those over age 60.

However, Inslee did say that he would consider stronger action should people continue to defy his imperative to avoid gathering in groups, self-isolate when possible, and stay six feet away from other people.


King County and City of Seattle close playgrounds and sports courts, parks and trails users directed to follow social distancing guidelines

To follow COVID-19 social distancing guidelines established by Public Health—Seattle & King County and the Washington Department of Health, King County Parks and Seattle Parks and Recreations are closing sports courts, playground equipment, and other active recreation areas where it could be difficult to maintain recommended social distancing guidelines.

Ballfields and playfields are open for walking and other non-team activities.

The closure includes picnic shelters, basketball and tennis courts, ballfields, and other active recreation locations. Parks, natural lands, regional trails, backcountry trails, and beaches where social distancing can be maintained remain open.

“With schools closed and people adapting to new work habits, our parks and open spaces can provide an important break in these stressful times. It is clear, however, that we must continue to be vigilant in these places as well, and make sure all our residents put into practice Public Health directives,” said King County Executive Dow Constantine. “Go for a hike. Take the family for a stroll. Kick a soccer ball around with your kids. But use good sense and avoid gatherings, team sports, pick-up games, and playground equipment.”


King County’s Online “Marketplace” Connects Donors With People and Organizations in Need

The King County Regional Donations Connector is now available online to link up individuals, businesses, non-profits, and others who have resources with those who need them during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Donations Connector will help make sure services, supplies, and funding reach health care providers, first responders, and social service entities working on the front lines.

The website at kingcounty.gov/emergency/donate serves three major functions:

  1. A system that allows donations and offers of assistance to be used in the response effort.
  2. An online “marketplace” where offering organizations can be matched to those in need.
  3. An easily searchable list of ways the public can get help.

Donating businesses, agencies, and individuals are invited to share what they have to contribute (such as funding, medical supplies, masks, counseling, or other goods and services) and link up with organizations involved in the COVID-19 pandemic response.

Who is the Donations Connector for?

  • Private and public entities with items or services to donate
  • Community and faith-based organizations
  • The general public

What types of donations are requested?

  • Funding
  • Food (both perishable and non-perishable)
  • Medical supplies
  • Sanitary supplies
  • Facility space
  • Services such as counseling (legal, mental health, etc.), labor, janitorial, catering, event planning, and more

People who want to volunteer their time should contact local volunteer groups or register through the United Way of King County at volunteer.uwkc.org/volunteer-response-covid-19. Also, the Connector is intended for donations of goods in bulk quantities – smaller donations should go through existing community donation channels. Once donor and recipient are connected, they will need to independently arrange for pickup and delivery as needed.


King County Metro to Discontinue Fare Collections Beginning Saturday

Effective with the start of service Saturday, March 21, riders will not be required to pay fare when riding King County Metro services, including buses, water taxi and Access paratransit, until further notice, according to a statement issued by King County Executive Dow Constantine’s office.

Riders also will be directed to board and exit at the rear doors of buses, reserving front-door access for customers using mobility devices or who require use of the boarding ramp.

Later in the day, Sound Transit also announce it will suspend fare requirements on buses and trains until further notice to help protect transit employees and riders through social distancing.

“As this crisis evolves, we are constantly reviewing all of our practices and policies to provide the best service while keeping people safe,” said Executive Constantine. “Changing how riders board and exit our bus fleet and also suspending all fares is part of that effort. It is essential to keep this community on the move, and I thank all the operators, mechanics, support staff, and riders who are helping us get through this, together.”

These moves acknowledge the direction of public health to take steps necessary to limit the spread of COVID-19 and we continue to call on riders to do all they can by avoiding traveling when sick, covering coughs and sneezes.

Metro is relaying these planned changes to our partners at Sound Transit and the City of Seattle as they consider changes to ST Express bus service, Link light rail and Streetcar.

Metro is communicating this upcoming change with transit operators today and working to develop and install signage directing customers to board and exit at the rear doors unless and that fare payment is not required starting March 21.


City of Seattle to Provide Immediate Rent Relief for Nonprofit and Small Business Tenants

Mayor Jenny A. Durkan announced today that the City of Seattle will provide $400,000 in rent relief to arts and cultural and other nonprofits, small businesses, and artists’ studios that are located on City-owned facilities. An estimated 90 tenants on the Seattle Center grounds and on Parks and Recreation facilities will receive immediate financial relief in the form of rent waivers or rent deferment for April and May.

“Earlier this week, we announced an eviction moratorium to help our small businesses and nonprofits retain their livelihoods and a first-of-its-kind Arts Recovery Package. We’re building on that work by providing immediate financial relief for renters of City-owned facilities,” said Mayor Durkan. “We know that the economic impacts on our small businesses, nonprofits, and cultural community will be devastating, and that many might not be able to pay rent for weeks and months to come. I urge property owners throughout the City to adopt this practice immediately if they’re able to. Now more than ever, we must be compassionate with one another, and look after each other during this unprecedented time.”

“Providing rent relief for our nonprofit partners and small businesses in City-owned buildings will allow them to continue to do their important work serving our community during this uncertain time. Our nonprofit human service providers are on the front lines, serving vulnerable communities who are most impacted by the coronavirus, and small businesses keep our local economy strong. Together, with the workers who keep them running, they make up the fabric of our community and we must protect them.” said Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda (Position 8, Citywide).

While rent arrangements vary across City-owned facilities, the City will provide rent relief in the equivalent of two months. For nonprofit organizations and renters with artist studio licenses, including Seattle Children’s Theatre, Pacific Northwest Ballet, and Cascade Bicycle Club, the relief is in the form of rent forgiveness. For businesses including Arena Sports, Marination Station, and vendors in the Armory their rent will be deferred.

The City of Seattle is committed to providing immediate relief for small businesses and arts and cultural and other nonprofit organizations financially impacted by COVID-19. Through this initiative the City will work with organizations and businesses on an individual basis to develop longer-term responses. The City will be looking at all components of rent arrangements including cash, public benefit, in-kind and capital investment rent.

“These arts and cultural organizations and small businesses make the unique fabric of this city a place we all want to call home. We are doing everything we can to ensure that they will still be here when this crisis is over and we can celebrate once again this incredible city,” said Seattle Office of Arts & Culture director Randy Engstrom.

“Our parks and recreation tenants are our partners in extending our recreation offerings in diverse, innovative, and accessible ways. I am pleased that the City will be able to offer this critical support to these partners at such a challenging time for our city,” said Seattle Parks and Recreation superintendent Jesús Aguirre.

The City has created a comprehensive resource page for residents and small businesses impacted by COVID-19. This page will be updated as more information becomes available.

3/19/20

No Shelter in Place Announcement From Inslee, Yet

Though Californians are under a shelter in place order, Governor Jay Inslee has yet to announce a similar mandate for Washington state.

Speaking on behalf of Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan, spokesperson said current social distancing practices like working from home, are comparable to sheltering in place.


Metro announces temporary service reductions starting Monday

Metro will temporarily move to a Reduced Schedule starting Monday, March 23. This shift comes two days after Metro’s pre-scheduled Spring Service Change goes into effect on Saturday, March 21.

Under this temporary Reduced Schedule, buses will run less frequently throughout the day. Bus service may also start later in the morning and end earlier in the evening. Some routes will not operate and nearly all routes will see individual trip cancellations. Metro is also suspending its Via program indefinitely. 

The Reduced Schedule is in response to reduced ridership since the emergence of COVID-19. These service reductions are also designed to maintain a resilient and sustainable transit system that’s able to keep our region moving every day and to ramp back up when this chapter closes.

Routes with fewer bus trips and/or reduced hours of operation: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 17, 18, 19, 21, 24, 26, 27, 28, 31, 32, 33, 36, 37, 40, 41, 43, 44, 45, 48, 49, 50, 55, 56, 57, 60, 62, 63, 64, 65, 67, 70, 71, 73, 74, 75, 76, 77, 101, 102, 106, 107, 111, 113, 114, 116, 120, 121, 122, 123, 124, 128, 131, 132, 143, 148, 150, 153, 156, 157, 158, 159, 164, 166, 167, 168, 169, 177, 178, 179, 180, 181, 182, 183, 186, 187, 190, 192, 193, 197, 212, 214, 216, 217, 218, 219, 221, 225, 226, 230, 231, 232, 239, 240, 241, 245, 246, 249, 252, 250, 255, 257, 268, 269, 271, 301, 303, 304, 311, 312, 316, 331, 342, 345, 346, 347, 348, 355, 372, 373, A Line, B Line, C Line, D Line, E Line, F Line, ST 522, ST 541, ST 542, ST 545, ST 550, ST 554, ST 555, ST 556, 907, 913, 931, 952, Des Moines Community Shuttle (635)


Council Passes Emergency Legislation to Help Small Businesses, Provide Utilities Relief

(from press release)

As part of a Special meeting of the City Council, members voted unanimously to approve two amended pieces of emergency legislation intended to help provide relief for small business and utility customers.

The focus of the meeting was on two pieces of legislation related to the COVID-19 (coronavirus) crisis:

Council Bill 119757, sponsored by Councilmember Tammy J. Morales, (District 2 – South Seattle and C/ID), passed with a vote of 9-0 and transfers $1.5 million in city funds to the Small Business Stabilization Fund, which will support vulnerable small businesses in Seattle that are facing financial uncertainty due to the public’s economic response to COVID-19. 

“The city is creatively thinking of every way it can to support Seattle businesses. Small Business Stabilization Fund grants will provide emergency working capital to small businesses to help them through this crisis. An additional amendment I sponsored included a request that the Office of Economic Development prioritize racial equity to the grant program, and requires OED to provide reports to my committee to ensure accountability,” Morales said. 

A forthcoming second council bill will further expand the Small Business Stabilization fund by transferring an additional $1 million in City funds. The legislation will be posted to the Introduction & Referral Calendar on Friday (March 20), and will be voted on during a future meeting of the Full Council.

Council Bill 119758, sponsored by Councilmember Alex Pedersen, (District 4 – Northeast Seattle) passed in a 9-0 vote and waives interest charges on delinquent utility bills during this crisis. This legislation relates to Mayor Jenny Durkan’s announcement that Seattle City Light and Seattle Public Utilities will provide other utility relief for residential, small business, and nonprofit customers, including flexible payment plans and no shut-offs during this crisis.

The Small Business Stabilization Fund is geared toward businesses with 5 or less employees that have experienced a loss of income due to impacts related to the COVID-19 emergency. Business owners must have a household income at or below 80 percent of Area Median Income. 

For information on eligibility criteria and how to apply, visit OED’s website. Applications are expected to close on Wednesday, March 25, 2020.


Sound Transit to Temporarily Reduce Service on Link light rail, Sounder Trains, Some ST Express Routes

As a result of the COVID-19 outbreak, starting Monday Sound Transit will respond to its greatly reduced ridership by temporarily reducing service on Link light rail and Sounder trains. ST Express routes operated by King County Metro will also see a reduction in service.

ST Express buses operated by Community Transit and Pierce Transit, as well as service on Tacoma Link service will remain unchanged for the time being. However, service could be reduced in the future based on reduced ridership and/or staffing impacts.

“The changes that we are implementing respond to our dramatically reduced ridership while still preserving reliable service and maintaining ample flexibility for social distancing by riders,” said Peter Rogoff, CEO of Sound Transit. “In this challenging time we will continue to treat transit as a lifeline for people who need to travel, including people caring for relatives, first responders, health care workers and other essential personnel.”

The changes in service reflect significant declines in ridership since the beginning of the COVID-19 emergency. As of the beginning of this week, system total ridership was down approximately 69 percent. The new service levels also reflect the fact that the outbreak has led to operations and maintenance staff staying home in higher numbers, making it difficult to maintain existing service.

While implementing service reductions, Sound Transit remains committed to serving the public and will continue to meet the needs of transit-dependent riders as well as services for low-income, minority and limited-English-proficiency populations.  We will continue to run trains and buses at our earliest and latest service hours.  However, staffing availability, further ridership reductions and/or government directives related to COVID-19 could impact service further as the regional response continues.

Link light rail

Closures of Downtown Seattle Link stations will begin Friday evening and extend through the weekend as crews wrap up the Connect 2020 construction process, through which Sound Transit has connected East King County tracks to the system in preparation for the 2023 opening of East Link. Upon the scheduled Monday reopening of service, Sound Transit will respond to greatly reduced rider demand by retaining the 14-minute train frequencies that have been in place during the construction period, which provide ample capacity for current ridership while maintaining space for social distancing. With the conclusion of Connect 2020, passengers will no longer need to transfer at Pioneer Square and bicycle restrictions will be lifted.

During the weekend closure shuttle buses will connect riders for travel between downtown stations and Capitol Hill and SODO stations. Shuttle buses will operate every 17-10 minutes. Fares will not be required for train or shuttle bus passengers.

Sound Tranist is advising riders to sign up for alerts to ensure that they receive up-to-date information about service changes, or visit www.soundtransit.org.


Seattle Designates COVID-19 Testing Site for First Responders, Conducted by First Responders

Mayor Jenny A. Durkan, Fire Chief Harold Scoggins, and Police Chief Carmen Best today announced the nation’s first COVID-19 testing for first responders, conducted by first responders. The pilot program began on March 14 for Seattle firefighters and police officers and similar models are expanding in the coming weeks throughout the county.

First Responders who have been placed in isolation and are showing symptoms of COVID-19 are prioritized and eligible for testing at this new site. The City is also allowing neighboring fire department personnel and private ambulance company employees who are symptomatic to receive testing as capacity allows with approval from their own agency’s leadership.

 “Limited access to testing hampered our ability to respond and made protecting our most vulnerable communities and saving lives a challenge. Chief Scoggins and Seattle Fire Departments didn’t wait for the federal government – they acted, and I am grateful for their leadership to keep our first responders safe.  A pandemic response requires robust testing and modeling so leaders can escalate effective, science-based policies, and access to the proper equipment to protect our frontline workers. This pilot is a very promising pivot in the right direction and will help us combat the spread of COVID-19.”

Personnel are instructed to drive to the site in their personal vehicles at a designated time and are tested by Seattle Fire Department (SFD) and Seattle Police Department (SPD) emergency medical technicians through the vehicle window. Testing takes approximately one to two minutes and consists of taking nasal swabs. The testing swabs are sent to the University of Washington Virology lab for processing, and results are received within 72 hours. Personnel administering the tests are wearing a more durable level of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to minimize PPE consumption during the process of collecting nasal swabs.

Testing for first responders at this site was approved on March 13 by the Washington State Department of Health and is funded by King County Emergency Medical Services (EMS) and the City of Seattle. First responders were initially trained on March 14. The site currently has capacity to test over 50 first responders per day. As of March 18, a total of 38 local first responders have received testing at this site.


 UW Advising Against  Cherry Blossoms Visits Amid COVID-19 Outbreak

The University of Washington is advising Cherry blossom enthusiasts to avoid coming to UW’s campus this spring to see the trees and instead enjoy a virtual viewing experience at home, via a statement sent to media publications this morning.

Thousands of people ritualstic visit campus each spring to see the cherry blossoms. The university’s order is in compliance with state and local public health proclamations that prohibit gatherings of more than 50 people in an effort to combat the spread of COVID-19. Additionally, parking on campus to view the blossoms is discouraged.

A webcam overlooking the Quad is available for viewers to enjoy the trees remotely. Over the coming weeks, the university will share progress photos and videos on the cherry blossoms’ Twitter account, @uwcherryblossom and on UW News.


After Spike in Hiker Related Calls, King County Sheriff’s Office Issues Safe Practices

After calls related to injured and lost hikers spiked during the ongoing COVID-19 Crisis, The King County Sheriff’s Office has released a list  of 10 essentials and safe practices while outdoors. Wishing to devote more resources towards the ongoing crisis, they’re hopeful the list diminishes the number of  searches for wayward mountaineers.

10 Essentials

·       Navigation- map, compass, GPS

·       Sun Protection- glasses, sunscreen, hat

·       Insulation- extra clothes, avoid cotton

·       Illumination- headlamp, flashlight

·       First aid supplies- know how to use

·       Emergency fire- camp stove, matches

·       Repair kit and tools- what can break

·       Nutrition- enough and extra food

·       Hydration- enough and extra water

·       Emergency shelter and Communication- cell phone, whistle


Trump: FDA will fast track anti-viral treatments for coronavirus patients

During the White House’s morning Covid-19 press conference, President Trump said the FDA will be fast-tracking anti-viral treatments for coronavirus. The agency plans to research the effects of a drug called chloroquine, which is an existing anti-malarial drug, on treatments for COVID-19. 

A vaccine trial is currently underway in Washington State. But FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn said at the press conference it could take 12 months before a vaccine for the virus will be approved. 

Another drug, called remdesivir, is currently in clinical trials for treatment of the virus. Hahn says medical professionals use the drug through a process called “compassionate use.” Compassionate use allows doctors to request experimental drugs for their patients under certain circumstances. The FDA can then monitor how the drug affects the patient.


Hospital Workers Produce DIY Masks as Medical Supplies Dwindle

Workers at Providence St. Joseph Health in Renton, WA purchased vinyl sheets, foam and industrial tape from Home Depot and began manufacturing their own face shields and masks after supplies began to dwindle. President Trump said he was immediately deploying two Navy hospital ships to free up capacity in civilian hospitals, but the Pentagon acknowledged Wednesday the USNS Comfort and USNS Mercy will take weeks to deploy. 


3/18/20

Inslee announces relief for businesses, workers, renters and more in response to COVID-19 outbreak

Gov. Jay Inslee announced substantial measures for Washington state businesses and workers, as well as renters and other residents who may struggle financially to pay utility bills while dealing with loss of income during the COVID-19 outbreak. This is in addition to the state support for workers and businesses, and the state financial, export, insurance and unemployment assistance that has already been made available.

“These are unprecedented times,” Inslee said. “We must do everything we can to support the resiliency of Washington workers and employers.”

Among the measures announced by the governor is a statewide moratorium on evictions of residential tenants for the next 30 days.

Inslee said that as Washington faces the economic impacts of COVID-19, no person should be put out of their home as a result.

Residential landlords are prohibited from serving a notice of unlawful detainer for default payment of rent. Residential landlords would also be prohibited from issuing a 20-day notice for unlawful detainer, unless the landlord attaches an affidavit attesting that the action is believed necessary to ensure the health and safety of the tenant or other individuals.

Under these measures, law enforcement may not enforce eviction orders based solely on non-payment of rent. This excludes other circumstances, such as the commission of a crime on the premises or nuisance issues.

Additionally, residential landlords would be prohibited from initiating judicial action seeking a writ of restitution involving a dwelling unit if the alleged basis for the writ is the failure of the tenant or tenants to timely pay rent.

Attorney General Bob Ferguson and his legal team helped craft the proclamation temporarily halting evictions.

You can read about Inslee’s additional measures here.


Trump Signs Coronavirus Relief Bill Providing Paid Leave to Small Fraction of U.S. Workers

President Trump Wednesday signed a coronavirus relief package providing unemployment benefits and free coronavirus testing to millions of Americans suddenly out of a job.

The aid package guarantees paid sick leave to less than 20% of American workers. It does not apply to companies with 500 or more employees, and workplaces with fewer than 50 employees can request to opt out. On Wednesday, the White House also ordered the suspension of evictions and foreclosures through April.


Washington Safeways and Albertsons will reserve time for “at-risk” shoppers.

Safeway and Albertsons stores in Washington announced that they will be reserving Tuesdays and Thursdays from 7 – 9 a.m. for “at-risk shoppers,” including seniors, pregnant woman, those with compromised immune systems or people who have been advised to avoid leaving home.


Durkan Signs Emergency Order to Temporarily Halt Evictions of Small Businesses and Nonprofit Organizations, Announces $1 Million Expansion of Small Business Stabilization Fund

(From press release)

To further support small businesses and nonprofits impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, Mayor Jenny Durkan signed an Emergency Order on Wednesday that temporarily halts evictions of small business and nonprofit tenants in the City of Seattle. The order’s temporary moratorium on small business and nonprofit tenant evictions is effective immediately for any action related to the non-payment of rent or due to the expiration of the lease’s term during the moratorium. It will be in effect for at least 60 days or until the termination of the civil emergency declared in the Proclamation of Civil Emergency dated March 3, 2020. The decision to extend the moratorium will be evaluated and determined by the Mayor based on public health needs. 

Earlier in the day, Mayor Jenny A. Durkan announced today that the City will invest an additional $1 million in the City’s Small Business Stabilization Fund, bringing the total new amount of available funding for small businesses impacted by COVID-19 to $2.5 million. Eligible small businesses will receive a grant of up to $10,000 to mitigate revenue lost by COVID-19.

In addition, small businesses in Seattle and King County are now eligible to apply for up to $2 million in low‑interest Small Business Administration (SBA) Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) to offset economic losses because of reduced revenues caused by the impact of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. With currently $1 billion in loan subsidies available from the federal government, the City’s Office of Economic Development (OED) will be offering technical assistance and launching resources to help small businesses apply for SBA loans.

The City of Seattle is one of the first cities in the country to operationalize direct investments in small businesses impacted by COVID-19. Since launching the expanded Small Business Stabilization Fund on Thursday, March 12, the City’s Office of Economic Development (OED) has seen an unprecedented influx in applications. As of 12 p.m. on March 17, OED received over 3,300 applications, with approximately 1,800 eligible applications currently under review.


White House Coronavirus Plan Could Send $2,000 to Many Americans

The Washington Post reports that White House officials are working with congressional Republicans on an emergency stimulus package that could send two $1,000 checks to many Americans and also devote $300 billion towards helping small businesses avoid mass layoffs, according to two senior administration officials and a Treasury Department fact sheet.


US and Canada Closing Border to Nonessential Travel

The U.S. and Canada have agreed to temporarily close their shared border to nonessential travel.

President Donald Trump made that announcement Wednesday on Twitter as the two nations work to stem the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. Trump says the decision will not affect the flow of trade between the countries.

Trump writes that “We will be, by mutual consent, temporarily closing our Northern Border with Canada to non-essential traffic.”


Washington Adopts New Guidelines for Unemployment Benefits

Seeking to aid workers impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak, new federal guidelines from The U.S. Department of Labor allows anyone who  has worked at least part-time over the last year to likely qualify for Washington state unemployment benefits.

One of the new federal rules is that someone must meet a minimum of 680 hours worked in the last 18 months to have an unemployment claim.

In response, Washington’s Employment Security Department (ESD) authorized a set of emergency rules to relieve the impacts of COVID-19.

For example, a worker falling ill due to coronavirus can qualify for paid sick leave and unemployment under the emergency rule.

Under Washington emergency rules, workers can qualify for unemployment if an employer shuts down due to quarantine by a public official, due to business slowdown or lack of demand, or if an employer reduces available hours.

It is important for workers to keep in mind that as in normal times, unemployment benefits are not full-wage replacements.

To apply, and for more information on the new unemployment insurance rules visit here.


3/17/20

Durkan Announces Initial $1.1 Million Arts Recovery Package to Support Creative Workers and Arts and Cultural Organizations Impacted by COVID-19

Building on the City’s initial measures to provide financial relief for small businesses, Seattle Mayor Jenny A. Durkan announced $1.1 million in City of Seattle funding to invest directly in creative workers and arts and cultural organizations financially impacted by COVID-19. The investment is a combination of funding strategies designed to help the arts and culture sector through direct grants to organizations and creative workers most impacted by this crisis.

The Mayor’s Arts Recovery Package is composed of two key initiatives:

  1. $100,000 in immediate relief for artists and creative workers through two private artist relief funds; and
  2. $1 million Arts Stabilization Fund to invest in arts and cultural /organizations to help mitigate revenue losses due to the moratorium on events and public gatherings.

“Our creative industries are the heartbeat of Seattle, and we know that organizations and workers in this sector have been devastated by this crisis,” Durkan said in a statement.

“Seattle wouldn’t be the city it is today without its musicians, artists, performers and cultural institutions. I want to thank the community for coming together to organize creative solutions during this crisis. By the City contributing $50,000 to the Seattle Artists Relief Fund, which was started by artists for fellow artists, we recognize the best ideas on how to help community come from community,” said Councilmember Tammy J. Morales (District 2, South Seattle and the CID), current chair of the Council’s Arts Committee.


King County Sheriff’s Office Will Not Execute Court Ordered Evictions

Sheriff Mitzi G. Johanknecht continues to make adjustments to our public facing, non-emergency services to increase social distancing, in light of the COVID-19 health crisis.

Sheriff Johanknecht has informed Presiding Superior Court Judge James Rogers that, effective immediately, the King County Sheriff’s Office will not execute court-ordered evictions in King County until further notice.

Commissioned staff assigned to our Civil Unit must be healthy and ready to deploy to other assignments where needed during this emergency.

Further, Sheriff Johanknecht is concerned about those who would be without housing during the COVID-19 outbreak.

“This is no time to be putting vulnerable people and families on the street without shelter” said Sheriff Johanknecht. “I have committed to suspending evictions during this difficult time when we need to embrace our neighbors rather than remove them from their homes.”


Amazon donates $50,000 in supplies for Kent facility in response to COVID-19

Amazon has donated about $50,000 worth of linens, towels, shelf-stable food and other supplies to help King County transform the former Econo-Lodge in Kent into temporary housing for patients in quarantine, isolation and recovery due to Covid-19.

An Amazon delivery truck pulled up at the motel this morning at 1233 Central Avenue North in Kent. King County employees unpacked boxes of bedding and supplies and put together welcome kits for incoming patients.


Trump Administration Looking Into Giving Cash to Americans

President Donald Trump wants the government to send checks to Americans in the next two weeks in an effort to curb the economic cost of the coronavirus outbreak. That’s according to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

“We’re looking at sending checks to Americans immediately,” Mnuchin said during a Tuesday morning coronavirus task force press briefing at the White House.

Mnuchin gave no specifics on how much people would receive other than saying millionaires would be exempt from any financial stimulus. He added the Trump administration is looking to begin financial assistance within the next two weeks.

3/16/20

Gov. Jay Inslee has announced a temporary shutdown of restaurants, bars, theaters and clubs as the state fights a coronavirus outbreak. Restaurants will be allowed to have take-out and delivery services, but no in-person dining. Gatherings are also expected to be further limited to 50 people.


Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan announced the city will provide $5 million in grocery vouchers to families in need during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Vouchers will be mailed out in two $400 installments to 6,250 qualifying households currently enrolled in city-supported child care programs and food assistance programs.

The vouchers can be used at any Safeway in Washington state, and the money will help families purchase food and other household goods.


UW Medicine rolled out a soft launch Monday for drive-thru coronavirus testing, according to UW Medicine spokesperson Susan Gregg.  Testing is by appointment only and exclusive to UW Medicine patients exhibiting symptoms.

Testing is located at the UW Medical Center – Northwest Outpatient facility in Seattle’s Northgate neighborhood.


King County Sheriff Mitzi G. Johanknecht announced Monday additional measures to increase social distancing, in light of COVID-19, regarding some of our public facing services.

Effective immediately, the King County Sheriff’s Office will not process any new Concealed Pistol License (CPL) applications. These applications require fingerprinting in close quarters that we do not think is safe for our community members or our employees at this time.


They latest reports from  Washington State Department of Health confirms 904 cases of coronavirus in Washington state. 48 deaths are among them.

3/15/20

In his most drastic action yet to limit the spread of COVID-19, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee announced Sunday that he will sign an emergency proclamation to temporarily shut down bars and restaurants and further limit the size of gatherings during the coronavirus outbreak.

Expected to be signed Monday, the order will limit crowds to 50 people or fewer, a decrease from Inslee’s initial ban of gatherings of 250 or more. 50 is the recommended crowd size number from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Restaurants, bars, dance halls, clubs, theaters, health and fitness clubs, and other similar indoor social or recreational venues must cease operations until March 31, 2020. Restaurants will, however, be allowed to have take-out, drive-through and delivery services, but no in-person dining.

King County Executive Dow Constantine also announced a Local Health Order, allowing retail such as groceries, pharmacies, banks, gas stations, hardware stores, shopping centers, to remain open provided they meet certain Public Health directives.

“It is time, right now, for people to assume that they and everyone they meet is infected, to avoid any unnecessary interactions that might lead to further infection, and to wait and monitor to see if they have in fact been infected so that they can isolate and recover without presenting a risk to others,” Constantine said in a statement sent to media.

3/14/20

Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan signed an emergency order to put into place a temporary moratorium on residential evictions, which will keep Seattle families from losing their homes as a result of impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The temporary moratorium will begin immediately in the City of Seattle for any residential eviction action related to the non-payment of rent. Tenants are required to continue paying their rent if they are able and should work with their landlords on payment plans if they are experiencing financial hardship.   

The moratorium suspends residential evictions related to the non-payment or partial payment of rent for 30 days and also prohibits late fees or other charges for late payment of rent. Property owners may not issue “Pay or Vacate” notices for nonpayment of rent during this period nor initiate an eviction action with the courts. The order further directs that action upon existing pay or vacate notices cannot be taken. For tenants who must appear in court, the moratorium should be used as a defense. If a tenant does not appear in court, the court may grant a continuance to allow the matter to be heard at a later date, after the moratorium has lifted. 

Columbia City Gallery Temporarily Closed

Out of concern for it’s staff, volunteers, and visitors, and to help slow the spread of the coronavirus, the Columbia City Gallery has decided to close to the public  through  at least March 31.
 
The Gallery will tentatively be open by appointment by contacting Betsy Fetherston at betsyf@columbiacitygallery.com.
 

How to hold events with fewer than 250 people

In King County, an Order from the Health Officer on March 11 prohibited events of fewer than 250 people, unless event organizers take steps to minimize risk of COVID-19. For people who are planning events for fewer than 250 people, take all of these required steps so that your event can be held:

· Precautions for older adults and those with underlying health conditions: Specifically encourage older adults age 60 and above and those with underlying health conditions not to attend the event. Note that CDC recommends that individuals at risk of severe illness should stay at home, avoiding gatherings or other situations of potential exposures, including travel, church attendance, and social events with 10 or more people.

· Social distancing to prevent prolonged close contact. Event organizers should ensure that the event is organized in such way to avoid close contact between people. Close contact is being within 6 feet of someone for about 10 minutes or more.

· Health screening for event organizers including employees and volunteers at event: Have a plan to health screen event organizers, employees and volunteers just prior to participating in the event.

· CDC guidelines identify these key symptoms to watch for: fever, cough and shortness of breath.

· In advance, organizers should discourage attendance for any person who has these symptoms. Throughout event, event organizers should require anyone who has the symptoms to leave.

Sanitation

· Enable strict adherence to hygiene and sanitation protocols at all events. Provide ready access to hand sanitizer and hand sanitizer stations, and actively request participants to abide by personal hygiene recommendations.

· Clean and disinfect setting for the event. Ensure a clean and sanitary environment for the event. Have employees or volunteers ready to disinfect frequently-touched surfaces such as doorknobs, tables, desks, and handrails.

Any event—such as weddings, dinner parties, sports team practice, choir concerts, religious services, and office meetings—that have fewer than 250 people and meet all of these requirements can be held. More detailed guidelines are available to help event organizers: http://www.kingcounty.gov/covid/events

3/13/20

Governor Jay Inslee announced the statewide closure of all public and private schools, to begin at 12:01am on March 17, 2020, until 12:00pm on April 24, 2020, unless extended beyond that date.

During closures, students and families in need will have access to meals, and should check their school’s communication channels for information regarding meal availability. Child care will also be made available to families who need it, with priority to children whose parents or primary caretakers are health care workers. The The Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction is working closely with districts on contingency planning. 

The King County Library System (KCLS) also announced it would be closing all library locations to the public. These closures will remain in effect until at least April 13, or further notice, to help mitigate the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19).

KCLS joins the library systems of Seattle, Pierce and Snohomish Counties, this decision was made out of the utmost concern for the health, safety and well-being of library patrons, staff and the community. 

During the closure, library customers should keep items currently checked out until KCLS reopens or until further notice. All due dates have been automatically extended until April 30 and KCLS is waiving all late fees accrued between March 1 and April 30. Library staff will continue to work while buildings are closed.

Durkan Announces Small Business Fund

Building on measures focused on supporting small businesses, Seattle Mayor Jenny A. Durkan announced a $1.5 million City of Seattle fund to invest directly in small businesses financially impacted by COVID-19. The fund is an expansion of the Office of Economic Development’s (OED) Small Business Stabilization Fund, which the Mayor created to support small businesses whose operations were jeopardized by a destabilizing event. Eligible small businesses will receive a grant of up to $10,000 to mitigate revenue lost by COVID-19. Mayor Durkan formally signed an Executive Order to provide immediate relief for small businesses impacted by COVID-19. Actions include the ability to defer B&O taxes and utility payments, direct technical assistance with SBA loans, and the creation of the Small Business Recovery Task Force to advise on long-term policy recommendations.  

The Mayor’s expanded Small Business Stabilization Fund will focus outreach on historically underserved small businesses who may be overlooked by the federal government’s Small Business Administration (SBA) disaster relief program. To qualify for a grant from the stabilization fund, small businesses must have five employees or less, the owner must be at or below 80 percent of the Area Median Income, the business must have a physical establishment, and the business must be financially impacted by COVID-19. OED will conduct targeted outreach to small businesses in high displacement areas, as those businesses carry a greater burden in trying to thrive in today’s economy. 

 

3/12/20

With mounting numbers of COVID-19 cases in King County, Seattle Public Libraries announced they’d be closing down all 27 branches effective Friday at 6pm. The closures will extend to at least April 13.

“Decisions like these do not come easy, as it means a temporary loss of access to the in-person learning services and gathering spaces the Library is known for providing to so many in our community,” Marcellus Turner, SPL’s Chief Librarian, said in a statement.

SPL will, however, continue providing digital services digital services including e-books,  e-audiobooks ; movies streams, TV and music services;  and free access to magazines and newspapers.

King County Libraries have not yet announced if they’ll follow suit.

SPL”s annoucment was just one on a fast and furious day of pending public closures.

Earlier on  Thurday, Gov. Jay Inslee ordered all K-12 schools in King, Snohomish, and Pierce counties closed through late April, as the state responds to the spread of the new coronavirus.

The closures are expected to begin on Tuesday March 17 and be in effect through April 24, with students returning to school April 27.

On Wednesday, Public Health- Seattle & King County (PHSKC), under an order from Health Officer Dr. Jeff Duchin, announced the prohibition of public events with fewer than 250 attendees, unless event organizers can take steps to minimize risk.

Guidelines for event organizers are as follows:

  • Older and vulnerable individuals have been encouraged not to attend
    • This includes staff, volunteers, and people you serve – will this impact ability to offer services?
    • What is your communication plan and how will it reach people whose first language is not English?
  • Recommendations for social distancing and limiting close contact are met
    • Can people be a full arm’s-length apart (6 feet is ideal)?
    • Do you have verbal and written messages about not having interpersonal contact such as hugs and handshakes?
  • Employees or volunteers leading an event are screened for symptoms each day
    • Do you have a process to ensure each person is screened daily prior to arrival?
  • Proper hand washing, sanitation, and cleaning is readily available
    • Do you have enough handwashing stations and cleaning supplies?
    • How are people getting verbal and written instructions about when and how to wash hands?
  • Environmental cleaning guidelines are followed (e.g., clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces daily or more frequently)
    • Is there a schedule to ensure high-touch surfaces are adequately cleaned?

PHSKC says it is working on more specific guidance, especially for faith-based organizations with less than 250 people. Any organization wishing to provide feedback about how the guidelines might potentially impact them, can fill out this survey.

Earlier in the day, Seattle Public Schools announced a  district-wide closure beginning Thursday, March 12, and lasting at least two full weeks.

The action came after the district’s first confirmed case of COVID-19 was reported Tuesday, at Aki Kurose Middle School.

“The decision to close the district was extremely difficult. We know that closing our schools will impact our most vulnerable families and we recognize that working families depend on the consistency and predictability of supports and services our schools offer. We are working with partners and the city to determine how to best mitigate the impact closing schools will have on working families,” the District said in a letter sent to families Wednesday afternoon.

The news prompted some Seattle parents to create a Facebook group (SPS Covid 19 School Closure Parent Survival Page) as a place to get information about child care, wrap-around services, and homework during the shutdown.

The SPS closures followed Washington Gov Jay Inslee’s  morning announcement that events taking place in King, Snohomish, and Pierce counties with more than 250 people would be prohibited by the state. 

Governor Jay Inslee surrounded by local elected officials as he announces an emergency proclamation capping most public gatherings to less than 250 people. (Photo: Office of the Governor)

“This is an unprecedented public health situation and we can’t wait until we’re in the middle of it to slow it down,” Inslee told gathered media. “We’ve got to get ahead of the curve. One main defense is to reduce the interaction of people in our lives.”

Inslee’s emergency order applies to gatherings for social, spiritual and recreational activities. These include but are not limited to: community, civic, public, leisure, faith-based, or sporting events; parades; concerts; festivals; conventions; fundraisers and similar activities.

As of Wednesday morning, the virus had hit King County the hardest out of anywhere in the country, with 24 deaths and 267 people with confirmed cases of COVID-19.

“We recognize this new limitation will impact thousands of people, their plans, and their investments in these events,” Inslee said. 

Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan, who attended Wensday’s press conference alongside other local officials, agreed with Inslee’s decision and spoke to its repressions for local business owners.

“I have no doubt that this decision will impact our local economy and community here in Seattle. From the onset, we’ve known that this virus would disproportionally impact vulnerable communities and that the economic effect of our response would disproportionally impact small businesses and workers without a safety net,” said Durkan.

The city has  recently taken several measures to help mitigate the ramifications of the outbreak on small businesses, including:

Expanding shelter capacity for our neighbors experiencing homelessness;  

Keeping utility services on for the duration of the COVID-19 Civil Emergency; and 

Launching an initial recovery package for small businesses to provide immediate relief for establishments impacted by COVID-19.

In a press release, The King County Sheriff’s Office also reminded community members not to call 911 or their non-emergency line to report gatherings of over 250 people. 

Prevention tips that Seattle City Councilmember Tammy Morales (South Seattle) shared with constituents.

Those needing to contact someone in relation to a gathering can call the King County Novel Coronavirus call center at 206/477-3977.


Latest updates From Seattle King County Public Health: 

  • Avoid bringing large groups of people together, and consider postponing events and gatherings.
  • Stay home when you are sick. Do not go out in public when you are sick. If you are ill in any way call your doctor’s office first before going in.

King County has set up a special website for local residents to sign up for email alerts on the latest developments with the virus.

King County Public Health has issued the following recommendations:

  • Avoid large groups of people.
  • Telecommute whenever possible.
  • Postpone in-person meetings for the next 3 weeks and/or have them virtually.
  • Keep at least 6 feet away from other people when you can.
  • Practice excellent personal hygiene:
    • Increase frequency of handwashing, scrubbing for at least 20 seconds. It may seem like a long time, so try singing “happy birthday” twice to yourself.
    • Increase usage of alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
    • Cough and sneeze into your sleeve or a tissue.
    • Avoid touching your face, especially your eyes, nose and mouth.
    • Clean frequently touched surfaces, like doorknobs, light switches, smartphones, etc. Regular household cleaners will do the job.
  • Stay home when sick.
  • Do not go to the emergency room unless it’s essential.
People at higher risk should stay home / away from groups of people as much as possible. Higher risk people include those:
  • Over 60 years of age
  • With underlying health conditions including include heart disease, lung disease, or diabetes
  • With weakened immune systems
  • Who are pregnant

Additional Recommendations:

  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth, as you can pick up the virus that way.
  • Clean frequently touched surfaces and objects like doorknobs and countertops. Evidence suggests that disinfectants with 62% to 71% ethanol, 0.5% hydrogen peroxide or 0.1% sodium hypochlorite (bleach) can “efficiently” inactivate coronaviruses within a minute, though it’s not yet known how the new coronavirus reacts to these products.
  • Get the flu shot if you haven’t already! Although the seasonal flu vaccine cannot protect you from COVID-19 directly, you may be more likely to develop severe pneumonia if you contract both diseases simultaneously, The New York Times reported. By avoiding the flu, you may also avoid making a trip to the doctor in the middle of a COVID-19 epidemic, when health care workers may be overwhelmed with other patients.

Travel and illness: People who are traveling should be aware of the impacted countries, and if they become ill after traveling, call a doctor or hospital.

Discrimination based on ethnicity or ancestry will make the situation worse. Having Chinese ancestry – or any other ancestry – does not make a person more vulnerable to this illness. Coronavirus doesn’t recognize race, nationality nor ethnicity.

Additional updates are available from the federal CDC and Washington Dept. of Health

HELP OUR NEIGHBORS

If you don’t have a computer or a wi-fi connection, how do you get clear information about COVID-19, the coronavirus?

Seattle Information Technology did a study that indicates, despite being a very heavily tech society, there’s still a digital divide, especially in lower income neighborhoods like Southeast Seattle. While nearly every adult/teen has a cell phone, many families do not have a computer/printer or wi-fi connectivity.

Panic and misinformation can be costly to our entire community if people are not receiving accurate information that’s important to all our health and safety.

So, here’s the ask: If you have a neighbor, family member, coworker or friend who needs COVID-19 information in another language or simply doesn’t have access to a computer, ask them if they need a printout and provide it.

Below is the Seattle King County Public Health message in English and eight other languages including two dialects of Chinese.

Novel coronavirus fact sheet

FROM INTERNATIONAL FEDERATION OF RED CROSS, UNICEF AND THE WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION:  

Today (3/11/20):  from LA Times

“This is the first pandemic caused by a coronavirus,” WHO Chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said. “We have rung the alarm bell loud and clear.”

Coronaviruses typically cause the common cold, but deadly viruses SARS and MERS were also coronaviruses. Tedros emphasized that countries can still take aggressive steps to beat back the spread of the new coronavirus and believes that united action can effectively combat the spreading illness.

Yesterday (3/10/20):  The International Federation of the Red Cross (IFRC), UNICEF and the World Health Organization (WHO) today issued new guidance to help protect children and schools from transmission of the COVID-19 virus. The guidance provides critical considerations and practical checklists to keep schools safe. It also advises national and local authorities on how to adapt and implement emergency plans for educational facilities. 

In the event of school closures, the guidance includes recommendations to mitigate against the possible negative impacts on children’s learning and wellbeing. This means having solid plans in place to ensure the continuity of learning, including remote learning options such as online education strategies and radio broadcasts of academic content, and access to essential services for all children. These plans should also include necessary steps for the eventual safe reopening of schools.

Where schools remain open, and to make sure that children and their families remain protected and informed, the guidance calls for:

  • Providing children with information about how to protect themselves;
  • Promoting best handwashing and hygiene practices and providing hygiene supplies;
  • Cleaning and disinfecting school buildings, especially water and sanitation facilities; and
  • Increasing airflow and ventilation.

The guidance, while specific to countries that have already confirmed the transmission of COVID-19, is still relevant in all other contexts. Education can encourage students to become advocates for disease prevention and control at home, in school, and in their community by talking to others about how to prevent the spread of viruses. Maintaining safe school operations or reopening schools after a closure, requires many considerations, but if done well, can promote public health.

For example, safe school guidelines implemented in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone during the outbreak of Ebola virus disease from 2014 to 2016 helped prevent school-based transmissions of the virus.

UNICEF is urging schools – whether open or helping students through remote learning – to provide students with holistic support. Schools should provide children with vital information on handwashing and other measures to protect themselves and their families; facilitate mental health support; and help to prevent stigma and discrimination by encouraging students to be kind to each other and avoid stereotypes when talking about the virus.

 

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