by Carolyn Bick
The Washington State Department of Health (DOH) today announced that it, along with Public Health – Seattle & King County and the UW Medicine Virology Lab — have detected yet another novel coronavirus (also known as SARS-CoV-2) variant in the state, in addition to the already-present B.1.1.7 variant. The new variant was detected in King County, the DOH said in a press release. At the same time, the DOH also announced on Tuesday that it has confirmed an additional 19 cases of the B.1.1.7 variant in the state.
Continue reading State Detects First Case of New Coronavirus Variant With Higher Vaccine Resistance
by Chetanya Robinson
While he was in Afghanistan as an executive officer during the Obama-era “surge,” Chris Franco’s life gave him a shove that would eventually inspire him to work in public service for the King County government and, in January this year, to run for a seat on the Metropolitan King County Council in Position 9 as a first-time candidate.
“Unfortunately I had a very toxic and self-serving leader that was responsible for helping us out and getting us what we needed during our deployment,” Franco recalled in an interview with the South Seattle Emerald. This leader, Franco said, withheld engineering support for barriers to protect people from attacks. “Unfortunately because of that negligence, one of our interpreters was killed.”
Franco’s disdain for the poor leadership he experienced in Afghanistan grew over the years. “That was a wakeup call to what happens when you have leaders who don’t give a damn, that are vindictive or complacent or just apathetic,” he said.
Continue reading Chris Franco, Veteran and County Office of Equity & Social Justice Leader, Is Running for King County Council
by Asqual Getaneh, MD
In February 2020, International Community Health Services (ICHS) was the first of the nation’s nearly 1,400 federally qualified health centers — serving 30 million people, most of them low-income immigrants and refugees — with a positive COVID-19 diagnosis.
Our staff have seen the tragic costs of a pandemic that has infected more than 100 million people worldwide and claimed more than 2 million deaths. So, when the first doses of the Moderna vaccine rolled through our doors on Dec. 23, we felt ready.
Continue reading OPINION: More Will Die From Covid Without Meaningful Change to Health Care
by Jack Russillo
Last weekend’s nationwide stormy weather affected vaccine shipments from the east coast to the west coast, meaning that Washington State health care providers will see delays in vaccine shipment arrivals.
The Washington State Department of Health (DOH) estimates that more than 90% of this week’s allocation to the state will arrive late due to stormy weather across the country, DOH officials said in a virtual press conference on Thursday, Feb 18. Moderna vaccines have not shipped yet this week and Pfizer vaccines did not ship Monday, with only a limited number of vaccine shipments processed Tuesday and Wednesday. These delays caused the DOH to close its Kennewick and Spokane vaccination sites through the weekend, and others might follow suit.
Continue reading Delay of Vaccine Delivery a Concern, But Washington DOH Guardedly Optimistic About COVID-19 Cases
by Ronnie Estoque
On Monday, Feb. 15, the National Alliance for Filipino Concerns (NAFCON), Kabataan Alliance, and the Filipino Health Board led a virtual town hall via Zoom to discuss ways in which the community in Seattle can rally together in support of health care workers that are on the front lines of the pandemic. The event was a part of nationwide virtual town halls organized by NAFCON to discuss the Filipino American Agenda, which is a comprehensive list of demands that will be presented to the Biden administration this spring.
Continue reading National Alliance for Filipino Concerns Hosts Virtual Town Hall for Local Health Care Workers
by Marilyn Watkins
COVID-19 has hit the hardest smack at the intersection of racial, gender, and economic disparities, disproportionately impacting the most vulnerable amongst us. Black and Brown communities have been much more likely than whites to suffer illness and financial hardship due to COVID-19. The closure of schools and childcare facilities has put a whole generation of kids at risk while throwing a double whammy at women of all races, who provided the bulk of unpaid family care pre-COVID-19, and are now struggling to juggle work with full-time childcare plus supervision of schooling.
We need both our state and federal governments to commit to investments and policies that build health, economic security, and educational opportunity for women and children, with special emphasis on families of Color.
Continue reading OPINION: ‘Building Back Better’ Requires Big New Investments in Women and Caregiving
by Carolyn Bick
Washington State has expanded the number of days school districts may offer in-person learning, but teachers will not be moved into earlier phases of vaccination, Gov. Jay Inslee said in a press conference on Feb. 16. Inslee did not immediately provide details on the number of days included in the increase. The State’s rationale for encouraging in-person learning without ensuring that all teachers are vaccinated is that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has not included vaccinating teachers in its base-level guidance that can help to determine whether in-person learning is safe. The State will allow parents to keep their children on remote learning plans, if they so choose.
In his announcement, Inslee pointed to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) recently updated publication regarding operational strategy for schools to open for in-person learning. He said that the CDC’s guidance “broadly aligns” with the State’s suggestions and that the CDC has “also made very clear that mass vaccination of our teachers is not a prerequisite to going back to school.”
In its guidance, the CDC also says that “[t]he following public health efforts provide additional layers of COVID-19 prevention in schools” and lists “[t]esting to identify individuals with a SARS-CoV-2 infection to limit transmission and outbreaks” and “[v]accination for teachers, staff, and in communities as soon as supply allows.”
Continue reading State Officials Push School Reopening Plan, Drawing on Data From Studies of Predominantly White Student Groups in Handful of U.S. Studies
by Ben Adlin
A statewide partnership of public officials and private groups on Monday, Feb. 15, announced plans to put $30 million toward a new equity initiative intended to boost COVID-19 vaccination rates among Black, Brown, Indigeneous, and People of Color (BIPOC) communities and other groups disproportionately affected by the pandemic.
“The goal on this initiative is to raise $15 million to match government dollars around vaccine outreach and education,” said Lilliane Ballesteros, executive director of the Latino Community Fund of Washington. “Now is the time to mobilize our collective resources quickly to those in need.”
Continue reading Statewide Pandemic Relief Fund Sets $30M Goal for Vaccine Equity
by Kevin Schofield
This weekend’s read is written by the most unlikely of co-authors: the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Football League (NFL).
Continue reading Weekend Reads: The CDC and the NFL
by Carolyn Bick
Cases of COVID-19 in King County and throughout the state of Washington may be going down, but Public Health — Seattle & King County’s Health Officer Dr. Jeff Duchin says that this is just the calm before the “serious storm on the horizon.”
Continue reading As Inslee Allows More Counties to Open, King County’s Public Health Officer Warns of ‘Serious Storm on the Horizon’