NEWS GLEAMS: COVID Spike, Byrd Barr Changes, Happy B-Day to RAR!, and More

curated by Emerald Staff

A round-up of news and announcements we don’t want to get lost in the fast-churning news cycle! 

Photo by Alex Garland.

Spike in COVID Cases, Testing, and the Latest in Vaccines

COVID Spike Prompts Update to Rainier Beach COVID Testing & Vaccine Hub  Mayor Jenny Durkan announced last week that the City’s Rainier Beach and West Seattle COVID testing hubs — which recently began offering vaccines in addition to testing — would transition to vaccine-only hubs in the middle of this week, but data from Public Health — Seattle & King County revealed a spike in COVID cases in the county over the last two weeks. As a result, COVID testing at these sites will now be extended, says the City.

While the most significant spikes in cases reported are in ZIP codes north of I-90 (98115 and 98105), demand for testing at across the city has increased and, over the last seven days in particular, the Rainier Beach and West Seattle sites have seen a significant increase in positivity rates. “We can only end the pandemic if we work together as a community,” Mayor Jenny Durkan said in a press release on March 29. Find more information on COVID testing on the City of Seattle website.

Proof of Vaccine Eligibility No Longer Required  The state officially advances in the phased COVID vaccine roll-out plan to Phase 1B – Tiers 3 and 4 (simultaneously) on Wednesday, March 31 — however, people will no longer be required to prove eligibility in order to receive a vaccine. Beginning Wednesday, the Washington Department of Health (DOH) Vaccine Phase Finder tool is slated to disappear from their website and the DOH will instead refer people to their Vaccine Locator tool to help them connect with vaccine providers in their area.

The phased vaccination roll-out timeline (available in Spanish) still applies, but the DOH says they trust people to schedule appointments as they become eligible for the vaccine. Wednesday, March 31, the following people will become eligible: Those 60 years or older; those 16 or older with two or more co-morbidities or underlying conditions; people, staff, and volunteers in certain congregate living settings (correctional facilities, group homes for people with disabilities, and places where homeless people live or access services); and high-risk critical workers in the food service industry, construction, and manufacturing.

Durkan, on March 29 urged the community to “please, get vaccinated as soon as you’re eligible,” and “continue wearing masks, practicing social distancing, and following all public health guidance. As the days get longer and warmer, our desire to gather as a community will no doubt increase. But we have to be smart and cautious, or else we risk a prolonged surge in cases that will put the health and safety of our city in jeopardy.”

Getting a Vaccine Locally — In addition to the DOH Vaccine Locator tool, Seattle residents can sign up for the City of Seattle’s vaccine notification list to make an appointment to get a vaccine at a local site when an appointment becomes available. People can also call 206-684-2489 from Mon. to Sat., from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. for assistance (interpretation available). Note: due to high call volumes, you may have to leave a message and await a call back.

International Community Health Services (ICHS) continues to vaccinate South Enders. Current patients should call for an appointment; new patients will need to schedule online. Note that the online appointment schedulers can be confusing and fussy — patience and diligence pays off when attempting to book an appointment. Learn more about using the Solv appointment scheduler on our Vaccine Eligibility and Appointments for South Seattleites page.

UW Medicine is also vaccinating community members. Call 844-520-8700 to join their vaccine appointment waitlist. When an appointment is available, you will receive a call to schedule it (only first-dose appointments will be made through this system).

Learn more about the current vaccination roll-out phase/determining eligibility, locating a vaccine provider, and scheduling appointments online on our Vaccine Eligibility and Appointments for South Seattleites page.

Rainier Avenue Radio Celebrates Four Years

Four years ago, Rainier Avenue Radio (RAR) started broadcasting community-based news, commentary, sports, music, diverse language programming, youth shows, education and training programs, plus live broadcasts of events in the South End. In fact, RAR’s very first broadcast was a South Seattle Emerald birthday party at the Royal Room, so we’re happy to turn around and help the community celebrate RAR’s birthday! 

The online celebration happens throughout the week, and at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 31 RAR will host an online event in which the South Seattle community is invited to attend and shape the future of independent, BIPOC-run media in the Rainier Valley. What do you want to hear? Want to volunteer or financially support this great community-led radio station? Tune to RAR online to learn more and demonstrate your thanks for community radio. You can join the Zoom by pre-registering on Eventbrite or you can call in live at 425-761-2025.

Rainier Avenue Radio will be kicking off fundraising during the event, asking members of the community to give what they can in support of the South End’s community radio station. Donate on their website or Venmo @RainierAvenueRadio.

Stream RAR live on YouTube, Facebook, and Twitch.

Happy Birthday Rainier Avenue Radio, from all of us at the Emerald!

Image: Byrd Barr Place on Facebook.

Byrd Barr Place Food Bank Moves as Renovations Begin

On March 30, Byrd Barr Place (BBP) relocated its food bank to 420 East Pike Street, where the food bank will operate temporarily while the former site undergoes a 15-month renovation process. Essential services like energy and housing assistance will continue uninterrupted. Access those services on the Byrd Barr Place website. You can also call 206-812-4940, Mon,–Fri., from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The food bank is open at the new location on Tuesdays, 11 a.m.–4 p.m., Wednesdays, 12 p.m.–4 p.m., and Thursdays, 10 a.m.–2 p.m. Learn more about the renovation of the historic Firehouse 23 property that houses Byrd Barr Place on their BBP Renovation page.

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