Seattle/King County COVID-19 Updates: Mayor Durkan Presents COVID-19 News and Defends Not Defunding Police at Virtual Town Hall

curated by Emerald Staff


Welcome to Seattle/King County COVID-19 Updates

For our “Thriving in the Pandemic” South End resource guide, click here.

8/2/2020

New COVID-19 Testing Site to Open at Rainier Beach High School

7/30/2020

COVID-19 Testing Available in South Seattle, but Turnaround Times a Concern

7/29/2020

New Pandemic Vaccine Could Emerge From Seattle, Here’s How You Can Help

7/28/2020

Mayor Durkan Presents COVID-19 News and Defends Not Defunding Police at Virtual Town Hall

7/27/2020

Skyway’s Barbershop Row Returns, in Limited Form, Adjusting to Coronavirus Restrictions

7/26/2020

Young Latinx Raise $5.2 Million in COVID Relief for Undocumented People Shunned By Government

7/23/2020

As State Hits 50,000-Case Milestone, South King County Appears to Be Next Potential Outbreak Hotspot

Can Washington Avoid a Looming Eviction Crisis?

7/20/2020

Inslee Meets With South King County Leaders to Address Surge in COVID-19 Cases in the County

7/17/2020

South End Dining Options During Phase 2

7/16/2020

COVID-19 Cases in Washington State Double to Twice April’s Peak in Less Than A Month

First Jail Health Services Employee at King County Jail Tests Positive for COVID-19

7/15/2020

Vietnamese-Owned Salons Fight to Stay Afloat Amidst COVID-19

King County Library System Is Distributing Face Masks, Hand Sanitizer to Community and Faith-Based Organizations

With the surge in recent coronavirus cases, King County is partnering with the King County Library System (KCLS) to provide cloth and disposable face coverings and hand sanitizer to community members via nearly 650 community and faith-based organizations. According to King County Executive Dow Constantine’s office, supplies will be distributed to organizations at eight KCLS branches across the county beginning this week. 

“While it’s easy to feel helpless in the face of this pandemic, everyone in King County can help pave the road to recovery by wearing face coverings and following public health guidelines,” said Constantine. “Face coverings are a crucial element in controlling COVID-19, along with frequent hand washing, avoiding gatherings, maintaining physical distance around other people, and staying home when sick.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends face coverings and masks to effectively help control the spread of the novel coronavirus and prevent the disease COVID-19. Gov. Jay Inslee last week issued the “Mask Up Washington” directive requiring people to wear face coverings in most public settings.

For more information about how to acquire face masks, hand sanitizer, and other resources, visit KingCounty.gov/maskdistribution.

7/14/2020

Most of the Continuing Increase in Novel Coronavirus Cases Throughout the State Is Among 20-Year-Olds

7/13/2020

Ask A Therapist: Tips for Weathering Parental Burnout

“We Just Can’t Do It.” Seattle Debates Moving Those Experiencing Homelessness From Hotels Back to Mass Shelter

7/10/2020

Undocumented Workers Must Wait on COVID-19 Relief Fund, Will Not Be Eligible for State’s First Public Option Health Program

7/9/2020

Lawyers, Car Dealerships, Burger Joints, Newspapers, and Strip Clubs: Which Seattle Companies Got Federal Loans

OPINION: It’s Time for a People’s Budget for SeaTac

7/8/2020

OPINION: Domestic Workers Continue to Deserve Better

7/7/2020

As State’s COVID-19 Case Rate Surges Past April Numbers, King County Sees Increase in Cases Among Young People

Pediatrician Ben Danielson Sees Stress in Children Visiting Odessa Brown Clinic, but He Still Sees Cause for Hope

7/6/2020

Seattle City Council Passes “Historic” Big Business Tax

7/4/2020

OPINION: A Good Time to Rethink Our Holiday Celebrations

7/3/2020

Stay-at-Home, Read-at-Home With KCLS: Black Lives Matter

7/2/2020

Inslee Issues Mandate That All Businesses Require Mask Use Among Patrons, But Stops Short of Active Enforcement

Community Collective Providing Students And Families in Renton and Skyway With Resources During COVID-19

7/1/2020

Seattle Council Big Business Tax Will Move Forward After Passing Budget Committee

Life on the Margins Special Episode: Pandemic, Racial Justice and the Arts

Staying Afloat: How Children of Immigrants Are Helping Family Restaurants Weather the Pandemic

6/30/2020

Port of Seattle Initiative Seeks to Save Youth Jobs

Farm Stand in Rainier Beach Provides Free and Low-Cost Produce for the Community

State Gives Out Almost $365 Million in Federal Support Funds to Support Low-Income Renters, Tribal Relief Efforts, and Testing, Contact Tracing in Yakima

Inslee announced in a press release on Tuesday that the state has doled out almost $365 million in federal funds for COVID-19 relief efforts to seven state agencies and the University of Washington.

Composed of $351 million from the federal CARES Act and $13.5 million from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), these funds are meant for those hit hardest by the current novel coronavirus pandemic. Via the Department of Commerce, these funding efforts include $100 million towards rental assistance to low-income renters at risk of homelessness, $40 million towards grants for small businesses and nonprofits, and $20 million in support for Tribal pandemic-related recovery efforts. 

The state also gave $45 million to the Department of Health to support emergency response efforts, and testing and contact tracing in Yakima, which is the current epicenter of the newest outbreak in Washington State. Earlier today, the University of Washington announced that COVID-19 patients from Yakima who required critical care were being transported to Western Washington hospitals, due to a strain on Yakima’s current hospital system’s resources.

Of the funding provided throughout the state, $61 million went towards supporting the Department of Children, Youth, and Families, mainly to aid child care providers and families receiving services from the Working Connections Child Care Program. The Department of Agriculture received $15.2 million to support increased demands for the state’s Emergency Food Assistance Program. The state gave $24 million to the University of Washington to primarily support its testing efforts and reimburse UW Medicine’s public health response to the current crisis.

To date, the state has distributed more than $950 million in federal pandemic relief funds.

6/29/20

Stay-at-Home, Read-at-Home With KCLS: Celebrating Pride

6/26/20

The Never-Ending Resilience Required to Be Black in America

6/25/20

Real Change Vendors Return, Now With Hand Sanitizer

6/24/20

A Modest Car Caravan to Downtown Federal Building Raises Awareness to #SavethePostOffice

6/23/20

Masks Required Statewide Starting Friday

Washington Can’t Afford Austerity

Local Millennials Have Second Thoughts About Raising Children in Chaotic Times

6/22/20

Grandma’s Hands Sew Masks to Strengthen Community Ties in Skyway

6/20/20

“We’ve Had Lots of Reports of People Not Wearing Face Masks”: On the Eve of King County’s Move Into Phase Two, Coronavirus Cases On the Rise

6/19/20

King County Moves to Phase 2 of “Safe Start” Plan 

King County has moved to Phase 2 of Gov. Jay Inslee’s “Safe Start” plan.

The county’s application, submitted earlier in the week, was officially approved by State Secretary of Health John Wiesman Friday.

Under Phase 2 guidelines, restaurants can now have 50% occupancy. In-store retail is allowed, but customer occupancy is restricted to 30% of the building’s capacity. Staffed indoor fitness studios can reopen with five participants or fewer.

More detailed information on Phase 2 guidelines can be found here.

6/18/20

Mosqueda Introduces New Big Business Tax to Fund COVID-19 Relief

King County Distributing 25 million Face Coverings to Residents, Workers and Businesses

With King County preparing for a transition to Phase 2 of the Governor’s Safe Start Plan, and county and state directives about face coverings in effect, the county is distributing 5 million cloth face coverings and 20 million disposable face coverings to residents, workers and businesses.

“We made good progress at flattening the curve, and saved thousands of lives, but with increasing activity comes the need for ever-increasing vigilance to protect each other from COVID-19,” said King County Executive Dow Constantine. “The county is providing these face coverings at no cost so that everyone who needs them can get them.”

The county’s goal is that each resident could receive two cloth face coverings, which can be washed and re-used. The disposable face coverings are intended for use by customers and community members who don’t have their own face coverings at government offices, retailers, faith-based organizations, and other gathering places. The distribution plan is being finalized with the help of various government agencies and community organizations, including cities, chambers of commerce, the King County Department of Local Services, community-based organizations, religious institutions and unions.

“We have received the first shipment of 1.5 million cloth face coverings and have already distributed them to 16 cities in the county and the Bellevue Chamber of Commerce,” said Brendan McCluskey, director of King County Emergency Management.

Due to the high volumes of face coverings, not all will arrive or be shipped out at the same time, and distribution may take about a month.

The King County Council received a supplemental budget request on June 11 which includes about $11 million for the purchase of the 25 million face coverings.

In addition to the recent purchase of 25 million face coverings, King County will receive another 800,000 cloth face coverings from the state which will be distributed by community organizations to residents in need. The county also bought 75,000 17-ounce bottles of hand sanitizer for distribution through the same groups as above, for use by employees and customers.

Separately, King County Emergency Management has already distributed 50,000 cloth face coverings received from the state to community-based organizations, more than 31,500 to cities for employee use, and 48,000 (22,000 from the state and 26,000 purchased) to King County employees.

Durkan Issues Executive Order to Extend City of Seattle COVID-19 Closures and Relief Policies

Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan issued an Executive Order to extend the City of Seattle’s COVID-19 closure and relief policies. This Executive Order follows King County’s application to be in Phase Two of the Governor’s Safe Start Washington plan. Phase Two allows some businesses and activities to resume under strict public health guidance, but continues to ban almost all gatherings and makes clear that residents and businesses should follow public health measures like social distancing, face coverings, and good hygiene.

“Right now, our city and country are facing the crises of a nationwide civil rights movement to reckon with police violence and systemic racism, a global COVID-19 pandemic, and job losses and economic devastation not seen since the Great Depression. In Seattle, even as communities protest, heal, and work to find a path forward together, the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and job losses cannot be ignored,” said Durkan.

Durkan’s Executive Order extends the City’s moratoriums on nonprofit, residential, and small business evictions through August 1, 2020. The extension follows Proclamation 20-19.2 by the Governor, which extends the statewide moratorium on residential evictions and statewide commercial tenant protections through August 1, 2020. While the moratorium is in place in Seattle, property owners may not issue notices of termination or otherwise initiate an eviction action with the courts unless there is an imminent threat to the health and safety of the community. Tenants who receive any eviction notice during the moratorium should contact the Renting in Seattle hotline at 206‐684‐5700 or go online to submit a complaint.

The City has also extended its rent relief policies for City tenants through July 31, 2020. For nonprofit organizations and renters with artist studio licenses, the relief is in the form of rent forgiveness. Businesses’ rent will be deferred.

The Mayor’s Executive Order extends the City’s COVID-19 relief programs, including:

  • Temporary parking and/or loading zones for restaurants, health care and human services workers, and retail stores are extended until further notice;
  • Flexible payment plans and shutoff policies with Seattle City Light and Seattle Public Utilities are extended until further notice;
  • The City’s small business, arts and nonprofit, food access, and housing and homelessness COVID-19 relief programs are extended until further notice; and
  • The Utility Discount Program Self-Certification Pilot Program is extended until July 31, 2020.

Per the Mayor’s Executive Order, the following COVID-19 policy suspensions are extended:

  • The ban on permitted events, with the exception of farmers markets, is extended until June 30, 2020;
  • Enforcement of paid parking requirements on City streets; select hourly parking time limits outside of no-parking or special zones; and the 72-hour rule is suspended until further notice; and
  • Booting vehicles with unpaid parking tickets is suspended until further notice.

The following City facility closures are extended by the Mayor’s Executive Order:

  • All Seattle Public Library (SPL) locations are closed through June 30, 2020, however, restroom access and several SPL locations will remain open and the City is evaluating curbside library services;
  • Seattle Public Utilities’ (SPU) Cedar River Watershed Education Center and Rattlesnake Ledge Trail will remain closed through June 30, 2020;
  • In-person access to all City departments’ public-facing customer service counters will remain closed through June 30, 2020, with digital and telephonic access still available. The Seattle Animal Shelter in March launched a new appointment-based adoption system that enables animals to still find forever homes even while the shelter’s counters are closed; and 
  • Seattle Parks and Recreation facilities, such as community centers, pools, environmental learning centers, and select parking lots serving the City’s largest parks are closed until further notice.

SPR is working to reopen facilities and activities as it relates to Phase Two guidance for indoor and outdoor activities, outdoor youth team sports, and outdoor adult recreational team sports.

The City says it will continue to work with Public Health – Seattle & King County and the farmers markets organizers to help farmers markets open in a way that meets public health requirements. Currently, Ballard, Columbia City, Madrona, Queen Anne, U District, and West Seattle farmers markets are open.

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

6/17/20

Inslee Prepared to Move Counties Back to Earlier Safe Start Phases, Mandate Mask Use

King County Metro restores some transit service starting June 22

With stabilized workforce levels and the state’s “Safe Start” plan moving forward, King County Metro will restore service on dozens of bus routes, increase water taxi service, and partially restore Via to Transit on Monday, June 22.

The move fully restores 23 bus routes that were canceled in March and April and adds trips to other routes. A few recently canceled peak commuter routes will be restored, while other routes will remain suspended due to financial constraints and lower anticipated ridership.

The result is Metro will operate more than 11,000 weekday bus trips, or 85% of its pre-COVID service level. Saturday service will be 8,200 trips (99%) and Sunday service will be 7,000 trips (99%). Starting Monday, Metro’s will increase the number of transit operators providing service from 64% to about 80% of pre-COVID levels.

Revised schedules will be posted on Metro’s Reduced Schedule page by June 20 for weekday service starting June 22. An updated Canceled Trips page will show which trips are still not running. Weekend schedule updates for service beginning Saturday, June 27 will be posted next week.

Metro says it continues to monitor evolving customer travel behavior and ridership, which remains about 70% lower than this time last year. As demand increases on particular routes, Metro says it will add extra trips where possible throughout the summer and fall. Social distancing requirements continue to significantly reduce the number of customers that each bus can carry.

In September, Metro plans to further adjust service, adding additional weekday peak routes and service, along with some modifications to weekend schedules, targeting a total service level that will be about 85% of pre-COVID levels. For more information, read “Metro plans September service change amid budget challenges.”

Reminders for King County Metro riders

  • To support public health and prevent the spread of COVID-19, riders are still required to wear masks when riding transit and in situations where they cannot maintain six feet of distance from other people.
  • Fares are not yet being collected on Metro services. Riders should board at the middle or back doors unless they need to access the ADA area or boarding assistance.

6/16/20

UW Medicine Continues Offering COVID-19 screenings in South King County

UW Medicine has two mobile vans offering COVID-19 tests in communities where data shows disproportionately high rates of COVID-19, specifically our Black, Latino, Pacific Islander, and limited-English-proficiency communities. No appointment is needed and the testing is free. 

People are screened for symptoms and, if they are a candidate for the test, they will undergo a nasal swab.

Locations:

  • Rainier Beach High School – Wednesdays and Saturdays 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.
  • South Seattle College – Fridays 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.
  • Auburn City Adventist Church – Tuesdays 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
  • Kent Public Health Center – Thursdays 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

UW Medicine is separately working with the City of Seattle on COVID-19 testing at two other locations; UW Medicine virologists are processing samples collected at those sites. 

Although community screenings are important to flatten the curve, UW Medicine says it continues to stress the importance of wearing masks in public.

6/15/20

Article:
“It’s Labyrinthine”: Workers Filing for Unemployment Benefits Face Dropped Calls, Confusing Online Systems, and Hours-Long Wait Times

Update:
King County Applies For Phase 2 of Safe Start Recovery Plan

King County Executive Dow Constantine and King County Council Chair Claudia Balducci submitted an application to the state Department of Health to move King County to Phase 2 of the Safe Start recovery plan following approval of the plan by the King County Board of Health.

“After two weeks in what has been called Phase 1.5, our case counts, health care system capacity and other metrics are holding steady, and we are ready to move to Phase 2,” said Executive Constantine. “But make no mistake – successful economic recovery will depend on everyone in King County carefully following the recommendations of our Public Health experts, including wearing face coverings and avoiding unnecessary contacts, so together we can keep re-opening our community while holding the line on the pandemic.”

Under Phase 2, businesses can operate at twice the indoor capacity permitted in the modified Phase 1, provided they meet all re-opening requirements set out by the state’s guidance. Businesses with questions about their operation can also call the Public Health Business Compliance Line at 206-296-1608.

The state is expected to process the application this week, and King County could move to Phase 2 as early as Friday.

You can read a full list of what activities would be permitted under Phase 2 here.


Editor’s Note: For aggregated COVID-19-related stories and updates between March 6, 2020 and June 12, 2020, visit our guide archives.


6/10/20

Seattle Announces 500 Permanent Homes in Response to COVID-19 Public Health Crisis 

Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan announced Wednesday that the City’s Office of Housing is taking action to create 500 new permanent supportive housing units through alternative construction. The City says this initiative will leverage Seattle’s expertise in funding evidence-based housing for people experiencing homelessness while also requiring reduced cost limits and encouraging new approaches to bring homes online in record time, by fall of 2021. 

These new homes will be in addition to the 3,700 permanent supportive housing units currently in service and over 350 units under construction that have been awarded funding.  

 “As we struggle with COVID-19 as a public health crisis, we also know that systemic racism has led to more Black, Indigenous and people of color who are experiencing chronic homelessness,” Durkan said in a statement. “With today’s announcement of 500 permanent supportive housing units, we are building on our commitment to help individuals on their path towards housing.  

 The Office of Housing issued a Notice of Funding Availability inviting applications for housing serving individuals experiencing homelessness that must deliver strict cost and time savings. The funding pilot is unique in its large scale and narrow focus, and also in its express emphasis on new partnerships and approaches to project delivery, like partnerships with experienced builders, alternative construction methods or acquisition of existing market-rate buildings already under construction. The application and funding review timeline is condensed to ensure the new units will come on-line as quickly as possible. The City is committing funds from the Seattle Housing Levy to be leveraged with state and federal resources to build and operate the housing units.  

Historically, the City has utilized critical federal resources to support provider operations and maintenance of the buildings and supportive services for residents through Project Based Housing Choice Vouchers and the Continuum of Care Program of the McKinney Vento Homeless Assistance Act. The City of Seattle is joined by a coalition of philanthropic investors to recognize the importance of these federal resources to ensure these 500 homes come to fruition. 

Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH) offers non-time limited affordable housing and voluntary supportive services, that may include counseling, behavioral and physical health support and alcohol and drug treatment. Local research shows that 90-95% of PSH residents remain housed a year later. PSH also delivers public cost savings because people who are stably housed do not access public services such as emergency medical services and in-patient behavioral healthcare.   

Applications for funding are due by 12:00 PM, July 8, 2020. 

Find application materials here.

6/5/20

A plan drafted by King County Executive Dow Constantine, King County Council Chair Claudia Balducci, and King County Board of Health Chair Joe McDermott and approved today by state Department of Health Secretary John Wiesman immediately allows limited and modified openings for a wide range of businesses, recreation, and personal activities in King County.

Businesses are required to follow the state Department of Health’s specific guidance but must adjust their occupancy to the levels identified below. The State defines an establishment’s capacity as the fire code. The intent is to limit business operations to a level that allows for social distancing. Additionally, businesses in retail, professional services, and real estate must take steps to reduce indoor operations to thirty minutes. This is not meant to be timed to the second – no one is expected to have a stopwatch – but customers should be informed why it is important to limit close interactions.

Here is an overview of what’s happening in key sectors across King County:

Restaurants
    • Outdoor dining activities is allowed at 50 percent of capacity with all tables and chairs maintaining 6 feet of distance, though additional seating will be allowed provided it follows Public Health – Seattle & King County’s best practices. Restaurants will also need to go through the normal process within their city – or King County if the establishment is located within unincorporated King County – to seek approval to expand outdoor seating.
    • Indoor dining services may operate at 25 percent of capacity, provided such tables and chairs are more than 6 feet away from each other.

In-store retail
    • All non-essential retail activities may operate but an establishment’s occupancy may not be not be higher than 15 percent of capacity.
    • Businesses are directed to provide signage encouraging indoor visits to less than 30 minutes, with face-to-face interactions limited to 30 minutes.
    • Essential retail activities may continue to operate according to the existing state regulations.

Personal services: Cosmetologists, Hairstylists, Barbers, Estheticians, Master Estheticians, Manicurists, Nail Salon Workers, Electrologists, Permanent Makeup Artists, Tattoo Artists, Cosmetology Schools and Esthetics Schools
    • All activities may operate but the number of clients served will be limited to no more than 25 percent of capacity or one person if it is a single bed/chair studio.

Professional services: Accountants, architects, attorneys, engineers, financial advisors, information technologists, insurance agents, tax preparers, and other office-based occupations that are typically serving a client base
    • All activities allowed but an establishment’s occupancy should not be higher than 25 percent of capacity.
    • Businesses are directed to provide signage encouraging indoor visits to be less than 30 minutes, with face to face interactions limited to 30 minutes.

Construction
    • All construction, including those activities for which social distancing may not be maintained and the start of new construction projects, is authorized to resume.

“This important step in our COVID-19 response reflects all the sacrifice and hard work that our community has put into fighting this disease. The success of this guidance depends on business owners and community members embracing public health best practices, and understanding that one size doesn’t fit all,” said Executive Constantine. “By opening our economy carefully and deliberately, we make sure to stay healthy and continue down the path to full recovery.”

6/2/20

Gov. Jay Inslee extended protections for renters today as COVID-19 continues to impact the finances of Washingtonians statewide.

The governor first proclaimed a moratorium on evictions in mid-March, then extended and expanded the moratorium in mid-April. 

Proclamation 20-19.2 extends the prior eviction moratorium for 60 days (through August 1), and makes modifications to the prior moratorium. The modifications include, but are not limited to:

  • Prohibiting retaliation against any tenant who invokes rights or protections under the proclamation;
  • Permitting eviction based on property damage, except for damage that is not urgent in nature, including conditions that were known or knowable to the landlord prior to the COVID-19 crisis;
  • Establishing a defense to any lawsuit for tenants if a landlord fails to offer a reasonable repayment plan;
  • Establishing a minimum of a 14-day length of stay at a hotel, motel or at other non-traditional dwelling situations in order to trigger the application of this proclamation to those dwelling situations; and
  • Allowing owners to evict tenants if the owner plans to occupy or sell the property, after providing at least 60 days’ notice; and
  • Exempting commercial property rent increases that were executed in a rental agreement prior to the date the state of emergency was declared, on February 29.

Other restrictions, including the prohibition on assessing late fees or other charges, are continued in this order.

The proclamation also encourages landlords and tenants to communicate in good faith with one another, and to work together on the timing and terms of payment and repayment solutions.

5/21/20

Mayor Durkan to Host Southeast Seattle “Community Needs” Virtual Town Hall to Share COVID-19 Resources

Today, Mayor Jenny A. Durkan will host her fourth virtual town hall for residents of Southeast Seattle to hear about their specific needs during the COVID-19 pandemic. Representatives from the Department of Transportation, Human Services Department, Office for Civil Rights, Office of Arts and Culture, Office of Economic Development, Office of Housing, Office of Labor Standards, Office of Sustainability and the Environment, and Seattle Public Utilities, will join Mayor Durkan for today’s virtual event. 

A webinar will immediately follow the town hall, providing residents the opportunity to hear directly from City departments about essential services, resources, and other support available to residents and businesses.

In previous weeks Mayor Durkan has virtually visited the Central District, North Seattle, and West Seattle. 

WHEN: Today, May 21, from 4:30–6:15 PM

WHERE: You can join the meeting from any PC or mobile device browser with this link.

King County Council Member Dunn Proposes New Plan for Property Tax Relief

On Wednesday, King County Council Member Reagan Dunn introduced legislation that would offer more tax relief for property taxpayers affected by the COVID-19 crisis. His proposed payment plan would give taxpayers the option to make smaller property tax payments over a six-month period, rather than make a lump sum payment on June 1.

“In our current crisis, a mere delay on property taxes isn’t enough to meet the great financial need of many King County residents,” Dunn said. “We should act now to help taxpayers who are doing everything they can to make ends meet, but still face a due-in-full property tax bill even as the economic fallout intensifies.”

On March 30, King County Executive Dow Constantine extended the due date for the first half of 2020 property taxes from April 30 to June 1, 2020. Since then, economic activity in the region has plummeted and unemployment rates have skyrocketed, greatly increasing financial hardships for many King County residents.

Dunn’s legislation would allow the County Treasurer to instate property tax payment plans for both first-half and second-half taxes for 2020 and 2021, extending up to six months past the due date. This would allow property tax bills to be split into five payments, with the first payment of first-half taxes due June 30, 2020, and the first payment of second-half taxes due November 30, 2020.

This legislation will be introduced at the full King County Council on May 26, 2020. 

5/19/20

“Seattle Protects” Online Marketplace Connects Local Manufacturers and Those in Need of Face Coverings

Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan today launched Seattle Protects, a new online marketplace to connect local manufacturers with organizations, businesses, nonprofits, community groups, and individuals in need of cloth face coverings. Seattle Protects is a new economic development and public health effort by the City to encourage local organizations in search of face coverings to purchase from Seattle-region midsize manufacturers and businesses that have pivoted to creating face coverings and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) during the COVID-19 pandemic.

On May 11, 2020, Public Health – Seattle & King County announced a new directive instructing King County residents to wear cloth face coverings in all indoor public settings and outdoor settings where physical distancing could be difficult, such as farmers markets. Residents must continue to practice good hygiene and continue physical distancing in addition to wearing cloth face coverings.

“At the City, we’ve heard from many business owners who are searching to buy both small and large quantities of face coverings. And we’ve also heard from our midsize manufacturers, who are the backbone of Seattle’s economy, that many of them are changing their output to better serve the needs of their customers during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Durkan.

Seattle-region manufacturers interested in joining the Seattle Protects marketplace must fill out this application and must manufacture masks in accordance with vetted specifications to be considered. These specifications were developed by Kaiser Permanente, Unity Point Health, and Made @ Generate to help ensure all manufacturers amplified on the Seattle Protects marketplace meet health and safety best practices. Once a manufacturer’s application has been approved, they will be added to the Seattle Protects marketplace.

Organizations and businesses interested in purchasing face coverings for their workforce can explore all Seattle Protects manufacturers to find available face coverings that can be customized to meet the needs of their business. Seattle Protects vendors have committed to sell face coverings at a bulk price between $5.00 to $7.00 per face covering. Community members are also able to find manufacturers selling individual face coverings at market price. Many of the manufacturers participating in the Seattle Protects program are women and minority-owned businesses.

Seattle Protects is a collaboration between the Seattle Mayor’s Office, OED, and Seattle Information Technology (ITD). It was made in collaboration with the City of Los Angeles, which launched LA Protects to help Los Angeles residents procure necessary PPE.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that in communities like Seattle and King County, where there is significant community-based transmission, all individuals cover their noses and mouths with a cloth face covering to prevent inadvertently spreading the COVID-19 virus while interacting with others outside their homes when they are unable to maintain six feet of distance. Recognizing that access to face coverings can be a barrier, the City of Seattle is providing over 45,000 free cloth face coverings to community-based organizations that serve immigrants and refugees, older adults, people with disabilities, and people experiencing homelessness. The City will also distribute masks to food banks and meal providers including Seattle Public Schools and Meals on Wheels, and the City will reserve a selection of masks to distribute at the City’s own hygiene centers and shelters.

With community need for face coverings currently outweighing what local governments can provide alone, Durkan is calling on interested and able members of the public to donate cloth face coverings to help vulnerable communities stay safe and healthy. More information on how to donate cloth face coverings can be found on the Seattle Protects marketplace.

Members of the public with questions about the new countywide face covering directive should visit kingcounty.gov/masks. Please note that N95 masks or other medical-grade masks should not be purchased to comply with this directive; those materials must be reserved for health care workers and first responders on the frontlines. To donate N95 masks or other PPE, please fill out this survey or email the City of Seattle at PPEdonations@seattle.gov.

5/14/20

Food Lifeline to Distribute Free Food Boxes in South Seattle Friday

Food sourcing nonprofit Food Lifeline will distribute several thousand free emergency food boxes at two of its locations on May 15.

The boxes contain up to 25 lbs. of shelf-stable food, as well as fresh produce that has a longer shelf life. Distribution is confidential, and no paperwork will be involved. Individuals and families do not have to show proof of citizenship. Food Lifeline will only ask for residential zip code to track efforts.

The nonprofit will hold the first no-contact distribution from 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. at its SODO Warehouse, located at 4140 East Marginal Way South, Seattle, WA, 98134.

The second distribution will take place from 2 p.m. – 5 p.m. at Food Lifeline, located at 815 South 96th Street, Seattle, WA, 98108.

Read more here.

Washington State Potato Commission to Distribute Free Potatoes Thursday

The Washington State Potato Commission will distribute up to two bags of potatoes per family at the Tacoma Dome starting at 11 a.m. on May 14.

The 200,000 lbs. of potatoes were originally meant to be used as french fries, hash browns, and other restaurant menu items. The potatoes will be pre-washed and pre-bagged. The commission is asking that people consider giving a voluntary donation to support the effort, as it costs roughly 7 cents per pound to wash, bag, and transport potatoes.

Read more here.

5/13/20

QFC and Fred Meyer Announce Partnership with the City of Seattle and the Seattle Mariners for FREE COVID-19 Drive-Thru Testing

On Tuesday, QFC and Fred Meyer announced a partnership with the City of Seattle and the Seattle Mariners for free COVID-19 drive-thru testing. The first testing will be at the T-Mobile Park in Seattle, May 13-14.  

Testing Site Information: 

● Dates: Wednesday, May 13 and Thursday, May 14 

● Time: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. 

● Location:  T-Mobile Park Parking Garage at 1250 1st Ave S. Seattle – south entrance (Massachusetts and Occidental)

● Registration is required. Register at krogerhealth.com/covidtesting or call 1-888-852-2567 (select option 1, then option 3). 

Seattle area residents MUST register at krogerhealth.com/covidtesting or call 1-888-852-2567 (select option 1, then option 3). 

People seeking a test will use a virtual screening tool based on Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines to see if they are eligible.  

Those eligible will next select a testing location and appointment time. Then, registrants will receive an email confirmation with pre-appointment paperwork to complete. When a person arrives for their test, they should have their photo ID ready and should leave their window rolled up for check-in, until a health-care practitioner comes to the car to administer the test. 

For the testing, patients remain in their cars throughout the process, which is completed in just a few minutes using self-administered test kits. The test uses self-administered nasal swabs, which are less painful and designed to increase safety. This onsite testing is supported with laboratory services provided by eTrueNorth, a contractor of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Test results are expected within approximately 48 hours. The Seattle testing site is estimated to have capacity for 250 vehicles per day. 

King County Council Approves $60M for Continued COVID-19 Response

The King County Council on Tuesday approved $60 million in supplemental funding for continued response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The legislation provides funding for a variety of programs, including: funding to respond to youth homelessness, relief for small businesses; expanded funding for the Community Development Block Grant; increased capacity for newly added isolation and quarantine facilities; support for the hard-hit tourism and creative sector (arts, culture, heritage, science and music) venues in order to attract visitors back to fill convention and events centers, hotels, restaurants; and more.

Further, the plan includes much funding to small chambers of commerce and community-based organizations whose primary mission is to provide marketing and technical assistance to small businesses in King County communities.

“This is a robust spending plan aimed at helping small businesses, organizations and our most vulnerable communities throughout the county weather the storm caused by COVID-19 and put us in a strong position to bounce back once the skies have cleared,” said Councilmember Jeanne Kohl-Welles, Council Budget Chair.

The Council approved $28.2 million in the first COVID-19 emergency funding measure in March, and another round of funding is expected later this month. King County expects all or most of the emergency spending to be reimbursed by state and federal funds.

5/11/20

City Allocates Nearly $4M in CARES Act Funds to Rental Assistance Programs

Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan today announced the allocation of  nearly $4 million in federal CARES Act Community Development Block Grant (CDBG-CV), Emergency Solutions Grant (ESG), and Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA) funding to provide rent support. The allocation of funds is the latest in a series of measures by the City aimed at keeping Seattle residents impacted by COVID-19 from losing their housing. The City will provide equitable access to rent assistance resources through community-based organizations with strong connections to diverse communities. 

The funds were approved by City Council on Monday as part of a broader proposal to accept $14.1 million from the federal CARES Act. $12.7 million were approved by the council and $4 million of those funds will provide rent assistance to families and individuals with unpaid rent due to COVID-19. The resources will be distributed four ways: $426,000 for housing assistance for people living with AIDS, $700,000 through the United Way Homebase Program, $1.45 million through the City’s Homelessness Prevention programs, and $1.4 million through affordable housing providers funded by the Seattle Office of Housing.  

“We know that in order to meet the full scope of needs in our City and region, we need critical investments from the federal government, and I will continue to advocate for the resources we need to combat this virus and to rebuild,” Durkan said in a statement. 

Demonstrating the great need for rent support in King County, United Way received nearly 7,000 applications for rent assistance in the first 48 hours after the Homebase program opened for applications for assistance with April rent. Over 70 percent of the applications received were from community members of color. The $700,000 is in addition to city investment of $1 million made in April. The first round of funds had the capacity to serve only 2,000 households. Given that many eligible people were not served, this new investment of funds will be used to help Seattle renters who applied for the first round.

5/7/20

City’s Stay Healthy Streets Will Become Permanent

Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan announced Thursday that at least 20 miles of Stay Healthy Streets will become permanent and the construction of bike infrastructure will be accelerated in 2020. In addition, 3 more miles of Stay Healthy Streets will be added in Rainier Valley and 1/3 mile of Beach Drive SW in Alki this weekend.

“We are in a marathon and not a sprint in our fight against COVID-19. As we assess how to make the changes that have kept us safe and healthy sustainable for the long term, we must ensure Seattle is rebuilding better than before. Safe and Healthy Streets are an important tool for families in our neighborhoods to get outside, get some exercise and enjoy the nice weather. Over the long term, these streets will become treasured assets in our neighborhoods,” said Mayor Durkan.  

Durkan says that Stay Healthy Streets provide an effective option for travel to essential services like grocery stores and small businesses open for pickup. The City hopes that as the weather gets warmer, these Stay Healthy Streets will allow people to recreate or exercise outdoors safely.  The installation of bike infrastructure will also be accelerated throughout the rest of 2020 to provide more mobility options for residents as the City begins the process of reopening.   

“Just like we must each adapt to a new normal going forward, so, too, must our city and the ways in which we get around. That is why we’re announcing a nimble, creative approach towards rapidly investing in a network of places for people walking and people biking of all ages and abilities and thinking differently about our traffic signals that make pedestrians a greater priority,” said Sam Zimbabwe, Seattle Department of Transportation Director. 

The 3 additional miles of Stay Healthy Streets in Rainier Valley will be added to the existing Neighborhood Greenway from the Mount Baker neighborhood to Columbia City and Othello Neighborhood.

Major Seattle Parks to Begin Closing at 8 p.m.

Seattle Parks and Recreation (SPR) announced that starting Friday, May 8, major parks will close at 8 p.m. (instead of 11:30 p.m.) to further deter the BBQs, bonfires, parties, and gatherings that are reportedly taking place in parks. 

The parks now closing at 8 p.m. are: Alki Beach, Cal Anderson, Carkeek, Discovery, Gas Works, Golden Gardens, Green Lake, Kubota Garden, Lincoln, Magnuson, Seward, Volunteer, Washington Park Arboretum, West Seattle Stadium, Myrtle Edwards, Judkins, and Woodland parks. Social Distancing Ambassadors will be out reminding people of this change, and the Seattle Police Department will be assisting in closing these parks at 8 p.m.  

Most parking lots, motorized boat ramps, tennis courts, basketball courts, play areas, athletic fields (except for walking through), picnic tables/shelters, and other high touch amenities will remain closed at other popular parks.

SPR says its goal is to severely cut down on the crowding that its ambassadors are observing at city parks. Expecting an uptick in visitors this Mother’s Day weekend, they are reminding people that parks are open for running, walking, and biking but should not be used for picnics or gatherings.

5/6/20

King County Parks and Trails to Re-open May 8

King County Executive Dow Constantine announced Tuesday that County parks and trails will re-open on Friday, May 8, with some restrictions.

In addition to parks and regional and backcountry trails, parking lots and trailheads will be open, as well as fields, docks and boat launches, and the off-leash dog area at Marymoor Park.

Facilities such as restrooms, play areas, sports courts, and picnic shelters, will remain closed. The campground at Tolt-MacDonald Park remains closed, as does the Weyerhaeuser King County Aquatic Center, the Jim Ellis Preston Community Center, and the White Center Community Center.

Organized activities and programs, such as team sports and practices, race events, swimming lessons, volunteer work parties, and public gatherings remain suspended.

King County Parks’ decision follows Gov. Inslee’s recent announcement about the May 5 re-opening of state recreation lands. The County says it is taking a phased approach to re-opening, which will depend on visitors practicing safe distancing and following public health guidelines.

5/5/20

Gov. Jay Inslee Announces Creation of Three Recovery-Focused Advisory Teams

Washington State Gov. Jay Inslee announced in a May 5 press conference the creation of three advisory groups to help guide the state through its efforts in recovering from the effects of the novel coronavirus.

These three groups will be comprised of community leaders, business leaders, and nonprofits, Inslee said, all of whom represent a broad demographic of Washingtonians. The groups are the Public Health and Healthcare Systems Group, the Safe Work and Economic Recovery Group, and the Social Services Group. 

The Public Health and Healthcare Systems Group will be led by the Washington Department of Health Secretary John Wiesman, and will be involved in broadening the state’s testing capability. Helmed by state Commerce Secretary Dr. Lisa Brown, the Safe Work and Economic Recovery Group will be focusing on safely moving the state through its phased reopening effort. The last group, Social Services, will be headed by Department of Social and Health Services Secretary Cheryl Strange. It will be focused on meeting the increased public need for food, shelter, and access to healthcare. Inslee said the latter will have a heavy emphasis on equity.

Inslee also briefly addressed the projected state revenue reduction of $7 billion through 2023, with more than half that amount attributed to the current budget cycle. He said that he has not made a decision whether or not to order a special session of the state legislature, but said “it is a probability that there will need to be a special session before next January.”

Though the state has a $3 billion reserve to help Washington through this time, Inslee acknowledged that this projection is “an enormous hole.”

Durkan Extends Moratoriums on Residential, Nonprofit, and Small Business Evictions Until June 4

Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan signed an Executive Order Monday to extend the moratorium on residential, nonprofit, and small business evictions in the City of Seattle until June 4, 2020. The extension follows Proclamation 20-19.1 issued by the Governor, which extends the statewide ban to June 4, 2020.

“The moratorium on evictions is one critical tool we have at the City to keep people in their homes and keep businesses afloat. It was one of the first measures we took to bring relief to our City and why it is critical to maintain during this unprecedented time,” said Durkan.

The mayor first announced the moratorium on residential evictions on March 14, 2020 to keep Seattle families from losing their homes as a result of impacts from the pandemic. While the moratorium is in place in Seattle, property owners may not issue notices of termination or otherwise initiate an eviction action with the courts unless there is an imminent threat to the health and safety of the community.  The order also prohibits late fees, and when paired with Governor Inslee’s April 16 proclamation, increases to rent and security deposits are prohibited through June 4. Tenants who receive any eviction notice during the moratorium should contact the Renting in Seattle hotline at 206‐684‐5700 or go online to submit a complaint.

The moratorium on nonprofit and small-business evictions impacts independently-owned businesses with 50 employees or fewer per establishment, state nonprofits, and 501(c)(3) nonprofits. Along with halting evictions, the order also prevents eligible small businesses and nonprofits from incurring late fees, interest, or other charges due to late payment during the moratorium. 

Residential, nonprofit, and small business tenants who must appear in court should use the moratorium 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.  

5/4/20

Durkan Issues Executive Order to Extend City Closure Policies to Align With New ‘Stay Home, Stay Healthy’ Order

Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan issued an Executive Order Saturday, May 2 to extend deadlines for the City of Seattle’s policies on facility closures and City personnel policies to align with Governor Inslee’s statewide ‘Stay Home, Stay Healthy’ order, which is now extended until May 31. The Governor’s order was first announced on March 23 and bans all gatherings, closes all non-essential businesses unless employees can work from home, and requires all Washingtonians to stay home unless they are engaging in an essential activity.

“Governor Inslee has led our state in COVID-19 crisis by relying on science and data – extending the Stay Home, Stay Healthy order and creating a phased approach to reopening is critical to saving lives and preventing an exponential resurgence of the virus,” Durkan said in a statement.

The following closures will be extended through May 31:

  • Seattle Parks and Recreation (SPR) community centers, playgrounds, athletic fields, sport courts, pools, environmental learning centers, and select parking lots serving the City’s largest parks, except for those centers offering childcare, shower services, and social distancing shelters.
  • Seattle Public Library (SPL) locations, except those open 10 am – 6 pm for restroom use only
  • Cedar River Watershed Education Center and Rattlesnake Ledge Recreation Area
  • In-person access to all City departments’ public-facing customer service counters. Online and telephonic access will continue.
  • All permitted City events, as announced on March 13, 2020, with the exception of farmers markets which will continue to be evaluated for permit renewals on a weekly basis

Changes to parking enforcement will also be extended:

  • Enforcement of paid parking requirements on City streets
  • Enforcement of select hourly parking time limits outside of no-parking or special zones
  • Enforcement of parking restrictions at health care facilities
  • Enforcement of the 72-hour parking rule
  • Booting of vehicles with unpaid parking tickets

The City of Seattle also announced today the reopening of all four of the city’s municipal golf courses with limited hours: Jefferson Park Golf Course, West Seattle Golf Course, Jackson Golf Course, and Interbay Golf Course effective Tuesday, May 5. Courses will follow new operational guidelines and strict physical distancing practices which include: signage to indicate social distancing guidelines, minimized face-to-face interactions, removing high touch surfaces, increasing sanitization practices, converting sit-down food and beverage service to take-out only, eliminating equipment rentals, closing mini golf and using golf ambassadors to enforce social distancing. Seattle Parks and Recreation is also developing a pilot to provide hours when the public can run, bike, or walk within the golf courses.

Four major boat launches (Stan Sayres, Don Armeni, Magnuson, and Atlantic St) remain closed while the City further considers the guidelines and supports needed to create a safe environment for public access to these spaces. Hand-carry and smaller launches are open for use.

5/1/20

New Analysis Shows Pronounced Racial Inequities Among COVID-19 Cases, Hospitalizations and Deaths

Seattle & King County has released updated data on COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths by race and ethnicity. The updated data shows that in King County, COVID-19 is disproportionally impacting communities of color.

Hispanic/Latinx, Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islanders and Blacks had significantly higher rates of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations as compared to Whites. The rates were also higher among American Indian/Alaskan Natives (though not statistically significant due to small population numbers) and slightly lower among Asian populations as compared to Whites.

While the total number of deaths from COVID-19 is highest among Whites, the rate of death per 100,000 for Hispanic/Latinx and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islanders is more than double that of Whites.

The updated analysis reinforces findings from other metropolitan areas and states across the United States. In King County, Public Health and community-facing task forces have been concerned since the beginning of this epidemic — that COVID-19 is exacerbating health inequities and is likely to take the biggest toll on communities already disadvantaged due to a long history of structural racism — ranging from housing policies to discrimination in health care, and more.

You can read the full report here.

For Seattle/King County COVID-19 Updates prior to 5/1/20, view our archives. To go to our resource guide, click here. To view our resource guide archives, click here.


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