Tag Archives: Public Health

As State Prepares to Reopen, Some Communities Still Have Lower Vaccination Rates

by Elizabeth Turnbull


After over a year of pushing through the pandemic, state and county health officials are hopeful about declining COVID-19 cases and hospitalization rates. But at the same time, significant pockets of Washington State and King County residents remain unvaccinated as restrictions are set to be lifted statewide next week.

“We still have people that have not been vaccinated, we still have people who are unprotected, and we still have people that are going to be at risk for COVID-19,” said Dr. Umair Shah, the Washington Secretary of Health at a press conference on Wednesday, June 23. “We want to make sure that that message of vaccination continues to be there.”

Continue reading As State Prepares to Reopen, Some Communities Still Have Lower Vaccination Rates

City Finally Funds Street Sinks Six Months After Funding From City Council

by Erica C. Barnett

(This article was previously published at PubliCola and has been reprinted with permission.)


Six months after the City Council allocated $100,000 to “develop and implement a publicly accessible sink program that utilizes the Street Sink style handwashing station model developed by the Clean Hands Collective,” Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) has finally chosen two vendors to receive the money.

Slightly more than half, $60,000, will go to the Clean Hands Collective, an organization founded by Real Change that includes landscape architects and public health experts; the rest, $40,000, will go to Seattle Makers, a South Lake Union “makerspace” that designed a prototype “handwashing station” at an estimated cost of $7,250 per unit — about 10 times the price of Clean Hands’ Street Sink. According to Seattle Makers’ website, the City reached out to them to design the sink.

Tiffani McCoy, the advocacy director at Real Change, said she thinks “we can easily put up 45 sinks for the $60,000,” assuming it will cost about $10,000 to roll out the program — a process that will include building and maintaining the sinks as well as finding new locations for many of them.

Continue reading City Finally Funds Street Sinks Six Months After Funding From City Council

Seattle and King County 12-15-Year-Olds Become Vaccine-Eligible

by Carolyn Bick


There was nothing but good news at the Public Health – Seattle & King County COVID-19 briefing on Wednesday, May 12.

Public Health – Seattle & King County (PHSKC) Health Officer Dr. Jeff Duchin announced in the press conference that the data suggests that not only has the County started to “turn the corner” on its most recent surge of COVID-19 cases, but that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) has officially approved the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) emergency use authorization (EUA) for the Pfizer vaccine to be administered to young people aged 12-15.

Continue reading Seattle and King County 12-15-Year-Olds Become Vaccine-Eligible

Behind the Mask: Public Health Innovator Dr. Stephaun E. Wallace

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

OPINION: More Will Die From Covid Without Meaningful Change to Health Care

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

King County Commits $7 Million to Increased Vaccination Efforts, Won’t Change Jail COVID Protocols

by Carolyn Bick


King County will be committing $7 million to ramp up vaccination efforts to prevent against COVID-19, with two high-volume vaccination sites slated for South King County in the near future, King County Executive Dow Constantine announced in a public health briefing on Jan. 8.

Continue reading King County Commits $7 Million to Increased Vaccination Efforts, Won’t Change Jail COVID Protocols

BREAKING: Four New COVID Cases Detected at King County Jail

by Carolyn Bick


Four new cases of COVID-19 have been detected at the King County Jail in downtown Seattle, according to an internal email shared with the Emerald on Jan. 4.

Continue reading BREAKING: Four New COVID Cases Detected at King County Jail

State Avoids Post-Holiday Surge, Won’t Share Personal Information With Federal Government in Vaccination Plan

by Carolyn Bick


Washington State has avoided a post-Thanksgiving surge in COVID-19 cases, but the state — particularly its hospital system — isn’t in the clear yet.

In a press conference on Dec. 16, Washington State Department of Health (DOH) Health Officer Dr. Kathy Lofy shared graphs from the DOH’s COVID-19 tracking dashboard that show case counts and hospitalizations, including ICU bed occupancy, are levelling off. The Emerald has shared these graphs below. But the trends aren’t yet level, and the state must go beyond just flattening the curve, DOH Health Sec. Dr. John Wiesman said.

Continue reading State Avoids Post-Holiday Surge, Won’t Share Personal Information With Federal Government in Vaccination Plan

Even With Incoming Vaccine, PHSKC Warns Against Relaxing Masking, Social Distancing Practices

by Carolyn Bick


Though a vaccine is on the way, the COVID-19 situation throughout the state, including in King County — particularly in South King County — appears as though it is going to get much worse, before it gets better.

In a press conference on Dec. 11, Public Health – Seattle & King County (PHSKC) Health Officer Dr. Jeff Duchin laid out the increasingly bad situation the County is facing. Over the past seven days, he said, the County has seen an average of 650 new cases of COVID-19 per day. The number of COVID-19-related deaths per day have ceased to gradually rise, and instead are rapidly rising, currently standing at seven deaths per day. This is up from two deaths per day in September. 

Continue reading Even With Incoming Vaccine, PHSKC Warns Against Relaxing Masking, Social Distancing Practices

State Expects First Doses of COVID-19 Vaccine By Next Week, But Most Washingtonians Won’t Get Vaccine Until Mid-2021

by Carolyn Bick


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.

Continue reading State Expects First Doses of COVID-19 Vaccine By Next Week, But Most Washingtonians Won’t Get Vaccine Until Mid-2021