In late August, King County began reaching out to “cities, small businesses, chambers of commerce, labor unions, trade associations, sports teams, venues, community groups, and faith-based leaders throughout the county” to attempt an equitable arrangement on a vaccine verification policy for businesses and residents.
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.
Because of Washington State’s decision to follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations to indefinitely pause the use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine against the novel coronavirus, following incidents of serious blood clots in a handful people in the United States who have gotten the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, thousands of King County residents now do not know when they will be able to get vaccinated.
There appear to be a small, but growing number of COVID-19 outbreaks among youth sports teams in King County, most of which have occurred in the South End. As of this writing, there have been 10 outbreaks this year, sickening 34 youths and eight adults.
With Washington State entering Phase 3 and increasing COVID-19 cases — including brand-new variants of concern — both within King County and throughout the state, Public Health Seattle & King County Health Officer Dr. Jeff Duchin said that the proverbial ice Washingtonians are skating on is “beginning to crack a bit beneath us.” He predicted a fourth wave may now be beginning.
Cases of COVID-19 have slightly increased over the past two weeks in King County, which could be an indicator of the “storm clouds on the horizon” that Public Health – Seattle & King County Health Officer Dr. Jeff Duchin has been warning the public about throughout late February and March.
“We still have a serious threat,” Duchin said during an online Public Health – Seattle & King County (PHSKC) press briefing on Friday, March 19. “We can’t give up on it now. As my friend Mike Osterholm says, ‘It’s too late to tap the breaks after your car is wrapped around the tree.’”
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.
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.
In early February, The Seattle Times published a report that provides a preliminary glimpse at who has had access to the first set of COVID vaccines that were doled out. As much as I want to tell myself that this is an incomplete picture and that the first set of vaccines is reflective of a strategy to inoculate first responders and medical personnel, I still feel that the preliminary rollout failed to address a key consideration. Namely, the disproportionate impact that the pandemic has had on people of color and economically marginalized folks.
Seattle/King County COVID-19 Updates *Through 8/14/20
The Emerald is pivoting rapidly to respond to the current needs of the community in COVID times. We now have several ways for you to get the latest Seattle and King County-area COVID-19 updates — including information about the status of Washington’s phased reopening plan, government guidelines and mandates, free and subsidized testing, mask-giveaway events, and more: