by Andrew Engelson
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.
Continue reading One Year After First COVID-19 Outbreak, County Health Officials Cautiously Optimistic
by Ashley Archibald
Novel coronavirus vaccination efforts are ramping up in Washington State while hospitalization rates and deaths are declining statewide, but Washingtonians need to continue prevention strategies to keep the curve down and keep stress off the health care systems, Washington health officials said in an online briefing on Thursday.
Continue reading Washington DOH Cautiously Optimistic About COVID-19, Urges Vigilance on Variants
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 Roy Fisher
When I first thought about getting vaccinated, it wasn’t about whether I would or not, it was about when. I did not want to be part of the initial rollout, figuring some kinks would need to be worked out. I likened it to getting the newest cell phone when they’re released. The first edition consistently seems to have something not quite right but then they get it figured out over subsequent releases. I thought the vaccine would follow a similar course. Let’s get the first year under our belts and see what kind of outcomes there are. No way did I think there would be an effective vaccine available in 2020.
Continue reading OPINION: I Got Vaccinated to Support My Community
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 Ansel Herz
Congresswoman Marilyn Strickland made history in January, becoming the first Korean-American woman ever elected to Congress and the first African-American representative from Washington State. A former Tacoma mayor and head of the Seattle Chamber of Commerce, she succeeded Denny Heck as the congressperson for the 10th District — spanning Tacoma, Lakewood, Puyallup, and Olympia, with a median income of $55,000 — winning handily over self-identified progressive Democrat Beth Doglio.
The Emerald spoke to Strickland about her first month in office, the January 6 attack on the nation’s capital, COVID relief, her goals for her first-term, and police brutality.
Continue reading Rep. Marilyn Strickland Talks About Historic First Session in Congress
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 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’