A round-up of news and announcements we don’t want to get lost in the fast-churning news cycle!
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.
Every day, Lynda Greene and her fellow staffers at the SouthEast Seattle Senior Center field about 30–45 phone calls from community elders trying to schedule an appointment to get vaccinated against the novel coronavirus.
Most of these callers are crying. Most of them are Black.
Nearly one year after the first outbreak of COVID-19 in King County and the nation, public health officials and King County Executive Dow Constantine say they are cautiously optimistic about the spread of the virus. Effective prevention measures combined with slow but steadily increasing vaccinations have the potential to “put the pandemic in the rear view mirror,” said Public Health Officer Dr. Jeffrey Duchin in an online press briefing on Friday. But concerns remain, including the discovery of two new SARS-CoV-2 strains in the county, and pressure among those tiring of restrictions to let up on prevention strategies such as masking and limits on gatherings.In addition, inequitable access to vaccines remains a concern.
by the Staff of Dearborn Park International School
In response to the recent unilateral announcement by Seattle Public Schools (SPS) that they intend to reopen pre-K/kindergarten/first grade for in-person instruction beginning in March, the staff of Dearborn Park International Elementary School came together for a series of conversations to share our thoughts and concerns about this proposal. The conversations involved the majority of the staff — dozens of staff members over multiple days and included classroom teachers from every grade as well as specialists, instructional assistants, secretaries, and other staff.
We were especially concerned that SPS has not been clear in their communications to families and staff. The decision to reopen schools is not yet official and will have to be negotiated with the Seattle Education Association (SEA) first — there currently is no actual plan in place that would meet the needs of the impacted schools.
Though roughly 62,000 first doses of a vaccine to prevent COVID-19 will be available starting next week, it will only be available for highest risk healthcare workers, Department of Health officials said in a press briefing on Dec. 9. And even though health officials expect the state to get a total of 400,000 combined doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine — if Moderna’s vaccine gets emergency authorization approval from the United States Food and Drug Administration — this number only represents the first dose of the vaccine, which requires two doses to be effective.
The state projects that the first round of doses will be administered by mid-January, Department of Health (DOH) Acting Assistant Secretary Michele Roberts said. She said that this includes highest risk healthcare workers and first responders, as well as long-term care facility residents and staff. She said that these first doses will be matched with the same number of second doses for these same people.
As the state braces for the potential infection fallout of those who chose to gather for Thanksgiving, Gov. Jay Inslee in a Nov. 30 press conference encouraged Washingtonians to download or activate a new app that anonymously alerts users if they have been in close contact with someone infected with COVID-19. He also shared that the first shipments of a vaccine will be available by mid-December, with more on the way.
(This article previously appeared on PubliCola and has been reprinted under an agreement.)
As the Seattle City Council wrapped up their 2021 budget deliberations, representatives from King County Equity Now’s (KCEN) Black Brilliance research project held a press conference on Monday afternoon to announce an ambitious slate of potential City investments and social programming aimed at replacing police and improving community safety in Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) communities.
While COVID-19 cases have increased in King County since the beginning of the month overall, South King County, one of the most diverse parts of the Seattle area, has recorded disproportionate numbers of cases.
Whereas 3.2% of all tests in King County come back positive for the novel coronavirus, simply looking at the map of positive tests in the county on King County’s Daily COVID-19 Outbreak Summary webpage (you must choose the “Geography tab” in the dashboard to view the map) will show you that these numbers increase the more you travel south. For example, overall positivity rates in Auburn stand at 8.4% and of individuals tested at the Auburn testing site at 2701 C Sreet Southwest, 12.8% of tests have come back positive since Sept. 1, according to a Seattle Times article.
Public Health – Seattle & King County (PHSKC) will be opening two new, free, drive-up novel coronavirus testing sites in Auburn and Renton, Public Health Director Patty Hayes announced at a briefing on Aug. 31. The new sites will bring the county’s overall testing capacity up by about 1,500 tests per day, Hayes said.