by Jonathan Mulenga and Fatima Zavala
The coronavirus pandemic has exposed racial health disparities, specifically impacting African American and Latino communities. Coronavirus hit at disproportionate rates for communities of color. On May 9, 2021 the rate of cases for COVID-19, for instance, in white communities was 2,754 per 100,000, while Latino communities had a rate of 9,992 per 100,000 people. In King County, 62% of white communities are vaccinated while only 46% of the Latino population have been vaccinated. Latino Americans are four times more likely to be hospitalized from COVID-19 than their white counterparts. Though jarring, this is not surprising.
Continue reading OPINION: Communities Forgotten — Latinos During the Pandemic
by Elizabeth Turnbull
Though COVID-19 disease activity remains high, and there are suggestions the pandemic curve might be starting to flatten, King County remains in Phase 3 of the Gov. Inslee’s reopening plan. And in South and Southeast King County there are concerns that certain communities of color have received the least vaccine coverage.
Continue reading King County Still in Phase 3, South King County Remains Less Vaccinated
by Shann Thomas
Dr. Stephaun E. Wallace already had a lengthy list of job titles: the director of external relations for Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center’s (Fred Hutch) HIV Vaccine Trials Network (HVTN), faculty appointments at Fred Hutch and the University of Washington (UW), as a staff scientist and clinical assistant professor respectively, in addition to launching the inaugural Office of Community Engagement for the UW/Fred Hutch Center for AIDS Research.
After the COVID-19 pandemic hit, however, Wallace expanded his current job as director of external relations for HVTN to include the COVID-19 Prevention Network (CoVPN), which coordinated all major COVID-19 vaccine efficacy trials except Pfizer-BioNTech’s.
Wallace smiles, and says, “My mother and my team accuse me of … being a triplet; because they’re like ‘We don’t understand how one person can do all that you do and still … absorb as much information’ as I do, and have the mastery of having to categorize it and spit it back out without much concern or draw there.”
Continue reading Behind the Mask: Public Health Innovator Dr. Stephaun E. Wallace
by Carolyn Bick
Even as Washingtonians mark their calendars for April 15, the day everyone aged 16 and older in the state will be able to get vaccinated, the viral storm clouds on the horizon are growing darker.
In the last week, the average daily COVID case rate in King County alone has risen to 250 new cases per day, Public Health — Seattle & King County (PHSKC) Public Health Officer Dr. Jeff Duchin told listeners in an April 2 press conference. This represents a 26% increase from the week before, and an 86% overall increase from the beginning of this most recent rise, which likely represents a fourth wave beginning, Duchin said.
Continue reading New COVID Cases Outpacing Vaccinations, Highest Among 18 to 24-Year-Olds
by Senator Patty Murray
Every day for the past year, I’ve heard from families across Washington State about just how hard this year has been. Single moms who were struggling to find quality affordable child care for their kids because the pandemic has closed down so many child care centers. Hardworking parents who were laid off because of COVID-19 and are unable to make ends meet. Kids who struggled to adapt to online learning. Grandparents raising their grandchildren who were afraid to send them to school for fear of bringing home the virus. When I hear from communities of color, I hear about how long-standing inequities made the effects of the pandemic even more dire.
Every day for the past year, I’ve heard these stories, and I’ve taken them with me back to the other Washington to fight for all our state’s families and make sure no community gets left behind. After a year of Republicans saying “no” to the kind of bold relief families in Washington State have been demanding for months — and after voters in Washington State and across the country made their voices heard in November and January — Democrats have finally passed a bill that begins to acknowledge the scope and scale of the crisis Washington State families have been facing.
Continue reading OPINION: Help Is Here for Washington State Families With the American Rescue Plan
by Ben Adlin
A year into a pandemic that has killed half a million people in the U.S. and magnified deep inequities in the country’s core institutions, it’s extraordinary that Vicky Navarro and Thyda Ros aren’t more exhausted.
A typical week might find Navarro crisscrossing King County with boxes of face masks and public health pamphlets in three different languages — English, Spanish, and Tagalog — while Ros plans a socially distanced dinner dropoff of deep-fried fish and green mango salad to a Khmer community elder. Then it’s off to the next webinar, the next worried call from a neighbor, the next social media rumor to bat down.
Continue reading Helping Under-Served Communities Navigate Health Barriers During the Pandemic
by Carolyn Bick
Homebound elders who have no way to access community or mass COVID-19 vaccination sites will be able to get vaccinated in their own homes in the coming weeks.
In a press conference on March 12, Public Health – Seattle & King County (PHSKC) Health Officer Dr. Jeff Duchin said that plans are in the works to create mobile vaccination teams that will be able to visit homebound elders who live in King County.
Continue reading Homebound Elders Will Be Able to Be Vaccinated in Their Own Homes
by Carolyn Bick
Though cases of COVID-19 and hospitalizations are down significantly from where they were before the third wave of virus activity in autumn 2020, King County isn’t out of the woods yet. In a virtual press conference on March 5, Public Health – Seattle & King County’s Health Officer Dr. Jeff Duchin said that the case rate and hospitalization rate have plateaued, and that at least one viral variant, B.1.1.7, remains poised to become the predominant variant in the state and throughout the country, based on expert projections.
Continue reading County Not Out of Woods Yet, As Case Rates Plateau and Variant Gains Traction
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 Sally James
People who provide health care at a variety of clinics around South Seattle are getting vaccines against COVID-19, including some of the staff at International Community Health Services (ICHS), Neighborcare Health, HealthPoint, and Country Doctor.
Last February, ICHS was the first community health center in the United States to see a positive COVID-19 diagnosis. However, despite being early hit by the pandemic, the center managed to avoid an outbreak the entire year. Since then, the nonprofit has helped set best practices guiding the response of the nation’s nearly 1,400 federally qualified health centers.
In December, ICHS became one of the first Seattle-area health centers to receive doses of the Moderna vaccine. The center immediately began vaccinating its frontline health workers and then residents of the ICHS Legacy House Assisted Living facility. Once Legacy House residents are vaccinated, the center will begin vaccinating non-clinical ICHS staff, eventually moving to high-risk patients with multiple comorbidities.
Continue reading Community Clinics Hopeful as They Begin Vaccinating Against COVID-19