NEWS GLEAMS | King County Health Recommends Indoor Masking; Council to Hear Appointment of Permanent Police Chief

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

curated by Vee Hua 華婷婷

✨Gleaming This Week✨

King County Recommends — but Does Not Require — Masking Indoors

Over two dozen local health officers and health care leaders — including Seattle & King County Health Officer Dr. Jeff Duchin — have released a joint message in support of masking in indoor public spaces and for the public to take other prevention measures, given the high level of respiratory viruses currently circulating. 

The U.S. is presently experiencing a surge in a number of viral respiratory illnesses, including COVID-19, the standard flu, and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). Health experts encourage high-quality, well-fitting masks to protect against spreading and acquiring infections, as well as vaccinations to protect against the flu and COVID-19. All who are 6 months or older are now eligible for an updated COVID-19 vaccine booster, and flu vaccines are recommended for the most sensitive groups, including children under 5 years, adults 65 years or older, those who are pregnant, and those with pre-existing health conditions such as asthma, diabetes, or heart disease.

The Emerald has previously reported on COVID-19 resources for the holiday season. To the South Seattle Emerald’s knowledge, the recent closure of the DOH’s COVID-19 website does not affect the King County COVID-19 Dashboard.

photo of Seattle Police Chief Adrian Diaz
(Photo: Alex Garland)

Seattle City Council Will Consider Approving Permanent Police Chief

On Tuesday, Dec. 13, Seattle City Council’s Public Safety and Human Services (PSHS) Committee, led by Councilmember Lisa Herbold, will hear the appointment of Adrian Diaz as permanent Chief of Police. Diaz will be present in person to answer councilmember questions, then be held for discussion and a possible vote. If approved by the PSHS Committee, the full council will consider Diaz’s appointment during its last meeting on Jan. 3.

Prior to this meeting, councilmembers have already submitted and received answers to questions from the interim police chief. That Q&A can be viewed via a Seattle Police Department record.

The Seattle City Charter dictates that all potential police chiefs must by confirmed by the City Council. In September 2020, Diaz was appointed by Mayor Bruce Harrell as interim chief, following the departure of former Police Chief Carmen Best.

The meeting begins at 9:30 a.m. on Dec. 13. It will be broadcast live on the Seattle Channel.

Photo depicting a row of Indigenous women dressed in traditional wear with red hands painted over their mouths.
Laverne Wise, center, and her daughter Jessica Dominy, left, wear the symbol of the red hand on their faces to acknowledge missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, during a rally celebrating Indigenous Peoples’ Day at Westlake Park in Seattle, Washington, on Oct. 14, 2019. (Photo: Susan Fried)

Washington State Was the First to Create a Statewide Alert System for Missing Indigenous People

Earlier this year, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee signed a bill into law that solidified Washington State as the first to have a statewide alert system for missing Indigenous people. Similar to the state’s Amber and Silver Alerts — which are used for missing children and vulnerable adults, respectively — the system attempts to help curtail the nationwide epidemic of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women/People (MMIW/P). The Seattle City Council met recently with the Seattle Police Department and Mayor Bruce Harrell about the program’s implementation in Seattle.

According to NBC News, “A 2021 report by the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office found the true number of missing and murdered Indigenous women in the U.S. is unknown due to reporting problems, distrust of law enforcement and jurisdictional conflicts. But Native American women face murder rates almost three times those of white women overall — and up to 10 times the national average in certain locations, according to a 2021 summary of the existing research by the National Congress of American Indians. More than 80% have experienced violence.”

The MMIW/P Alert System is in part guided by the Washington State Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and People (MMIW/P) Task Force, which is a 21-member task force that assesses the systemic causes behind these high rates of disappearance. It includes tribes and tribal organizations across the state. In August 2022 they produced a data-and-recommendation-heavy Interim Report; they will produce another on this topic in June 2023.

Relatedly, Inslee had also signed HB 1571 into law in early 2022. That bill requires county coroners or medical examiners to make efforts to contact family members and tribes of deceased Indigenous persons so they may be able to conduct spiritual practices or ceremonies, as well as facilitate remains of returns; it also establishes “two grant programs related to services and resources for Indigenous survivors of human trafficking.”

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