by Enrique Cerna, Jini Palmer, and Marcus Harrison Green
A public health study reveals that King County has significant racial disparities in the number of coronavirus cases and deaths. Among Latinos, the study shows the virus death rate is two and a half times higher than white people. The study mirrors what is happening nationally as communities of color are being hit hard by the coronavirus. In episode 3 we break down the data in King County with Matias Valenzuela, equity officer for Seattle-King County Public Health, and we also meet registered nurse Jessica Esparza; an ICU nurse at Central Washington Hospital in Wenatchee, who is risking her life to save others amid the Covid-19 pandemic. Continue reading Life on the Margins Episode 3: Communities of Color and the Covid-19 Pandemic
by Elizabeth Turnbull
Standing around luminarias made from candles and brown paper bags, a small group of SEIU6 Property Services NW (SEIU6) union members gathered late on Thursday night under the Bank of America building located at 800 5th Ave. in downtown Seattle.
At roughly 10:00 p.m., the union members took turns placing roses on a sign that read, “in remembrance of our fallen essential worker.” Continue reading “This is not a game” — Union Members Hold Vigil for Essential Workers Struck by COVID-19
by Carolyn Bick
The mountain of trash that caught fire in South Seattle on the afternoon of May 18 has been sitting under Interstate 5 for several years, according to both residents of the encampment in which the trash pile is located, and outreach workers. But though officials from both the City of Seattle and Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) have in that time visited the encampment, and the city’s Navigation Team appears to have done a full encampment sweep in late May 2018, neither city nor state officials have taken action to remove the trash.
Continue reading Encampment Residents, Outreach Workers Say Trash Pile Beneath I-5 Six Years Old, But Officials Haven’t Taken Action
by Carolyn Bick
The Seattle City Council has unanimously adopted a resolution asking Washington State Gov. Jay Inslee to create a relief fund for undocumented workers affected by the current novel coronavirus pandemic.
The resolution, which was championed at the grassroots level by several immigrants’ rights organizations and introduced by sponsors Seattle City Councilmembers Lorena Gonzalez and Teresa Mosqueda at the City Council’s May 18 meeting, asks that the governor create the fund, because undocumented workers are ineligible for regular federal or state unemployment benefits or relief, despite paying taxes like official United States citizens.
Continue reading Seattle City Council Passes Resolution Asking Gov. Inslee to Create Relief Fund for Undocumented Workers
by Carolyn Bick
The wind catches Dee Powers’ short, wavy hair as they lean out of the window of the mobile home they share with their partner. Squinting in the sun, Powers banters with Daniel Ojalvo, who has come to drop off jugs of bleach and other supplies that Powers will divide into small amounts for distribution among the homeless community.
Both Ojalvo and Powers are part of the homeless mutual aid network, a grassroots effort that formed to serve the homeless community during the novel coronavirus pandemic. The community often doesn’t have access to regular sanitation or food in normal times, and has even less access now as the pandemic sweeps across the world. Much of the regular homelessness outreach has dried up, since it’s more difficult to do outreach safely these days. That’s where the mutual aid network, in partnership with existing nonprofits and other community organizers, comes in.
Continue reading Grassroots Mutual Aid Network Provides Services for King County’s Unsheltered Community
by Jessie McKenna
This is the second in our series of articles checking in on the neighborhoods of South Seattle, produced by community members living within them. Read our first, a Rainier Beach and Dunlap check-in, here.
Per the new norm in the era of COVID quarantine, I don’t see people out on Beacon Ave as much or at the coffee shops, restaurants and grocery stores like I normally would, and I miss my community — our interactions and checking in with each other, sharing news and resources. I miss being connected to my neighborhood in a way that feels organic and authentic (vs. awkward and/or virtual).
I’m grateful for the online realm where my friends and neighbors are sharing stories and information, but nothing beats face-to-face conversation and we’re not getting as many of those these days. But I caught up with some neighborhood folx to check in on them one-on-one (virtually), and then later we arranged a time for me to snap their pics from a safe distance.
Continue reading Neighborhood Check-In: Beacon Hill
by Carolyn Bick
A bill that would create a public emergency ordinance to restrict the City of Seattle’s ability to sweep encampments during the current novel coronavirus crisis will be introduced to the Seattle City Council on Monday, May 18, with a vote to be taken on May 25, the Emerald has learned.
Continue reading Bill to Create Public Emergency Ordinance to Restrict Encampment Sweeps Set to Be Introduced at Seattle City Council on May 18
by Erica C. Barnett
(This article previously appeared on The C is for Crank and has been reprinted with permission)
Nearly two years after King County first announced that it planned to open a modular shelter for people experiencing homelessness on county-owned property in Interbay, the project is almost ready to open for a new purpose: Providing non-congregate shelter for between 45 and 50 homeless men over 55 from the St. Martin de Porres shelter, run by Catholic Community Services. The modular buildings, which are essentially trailers with windows, fans, and high-walled cubicles to provide privacy and protection from disease transmission between the four men who will share each unit, were originally supposed to be dorm-style shelters housing up to eight people on beds or cots.
Continue reading As County Opens More Non-Congregate Shelter to Prevent Spread of COVID-19, City Plans to Remove Two More Encampments
by Carolyn Bick
Washington State Gov. Jay Inslee unveiled the state’s novel coronavirus contact tracing plan in a press conference on May 12.
The plan is meant to “box in the virus,” Inslee said, and work in tandem with the state’s phased reopening plan. The contact tracing plan will involve almost 1,400 contact tracing team members, including 351 members of the Washington State National Guard and a combination of more than 600 local and state health department officials. The effort will not directly involve law enforcement, and the National Guard will not have law enforcement capabilities.
Continue reading Washington State Gov. Jay Inslee Unveils Novel Coronavirus Contact Tracing Plan
by Carolyn Bick
It’s sunny, and beginning to get warm on an afternoon in early May, when people start to line up outside the White Center Food Bank. Clad in masks, they patiently wait an adequate distance from each other to choose food the National Guard is helping food bank workers distribute.
This outdoor model is the latest iteration of food service the food bank has tried, Associate Executive Director Carmen Smith said. So far, it’s also the most successful, she said. Usually, the food bank operates in a grocery store model, which allows patrons the freedom to choose their own items, and mitigate the stigma associated with needing to use a food bank. But once the novel coronavirus pandemic hit the state, Smith and her fellow food bank employees found that the inside of the food bank was just too small to allow for safe social distancing practices. Having volunteers shop for the patrons’ food was also a no-go, because it’s just too hard to shop for someone else, Smith said.
Continue reading South King County Food Banks Face Severe Shortages — And There’s No End in Sight