COVID-19 antibody testing available on Vashon
Antibody testing to help people determine if they have had COVID-19, the illness caused by the novel coronavirus, is now available on Vashon.
Vashon Natural Medicine announced last week it is offering the antibody, or serology, test to its established patients. Practice Manager Pamela Courtney said the test is the same test the University of Washington is using and is considered to be highly reliable. The tests are processed through LabCorp/Abbott, which received an emergency use authorization from the FDA for the test.
A news release from Abbott said the test detects the IgG antibody to SARS-CoV-2. An antibody is a protein that the body produces in the late stages of infection and may remain for up to months and possibly years after a person has recovered. It is detectable even in those who never had symptoms or had just mild to moderate respiratory illness. Antibody tests do not detect active infections.
Patients who are interested in the test should contact their insurance provider to determine if the cost will be covered. Courtney said that LabCorp has not yet released a fee schedule for private pay patients.
Neighborcare patients who are interested in antibody testing are asked to make a phone appointment with their health care provider, who will determine what test is appropriate: a COVID-19 swab test, an antibody test, or possibly no test, according to Neighborcare spokesperson Mary Schilder.
Public health officials say that antibody testing will help scientists better understand how long antibodies stay in the body, determine if they provide immunity and indicate how widespread the outbreak is. The testing could also help support the development of treatments and vaccines for COVID-19.
WSF may be ‘bit player’ in West Seattle Bridge transit solutions
Some ferry riders and public officials have requested that Washington State Ferries consider routing ferries from Vashon/Southworth to downtown Seattle while the West Seattle Bridge is closed.
On Monday of this week, WSF spokesman Ian Sterling said WSF wants to be a good partner with those working to address the transportation challenges the bridge closure has created, but he also expressed caution. He noted that the downtown Coleman dock is still under construction with reduced slips and already serves two typically busy ferry routes. Moreover, he said that according to a 2013 study, only 40% of traffic from Vashon/Southworth crosses the West Seattle Bridge. The remainder heads south or stays in West Seattle, and those passengers might not want to be routed to downtown. WSF is open to any suggestions, he added, but any routing changes must work for the three communities on the Triangle Route.
“It’s got to make sense for the most number of people,” he said.
The West Seattle Bridge previously carried 100,000 vehicles and 25,000 transit riders a day. Such high numbers will mean that no matter what routing changes the ferry system might make, WSF will be a “bit player” in transit solutions, Sterling said.
“There is not enough ferry capacity to replace the West Seattle Bridge,” he said, noting that ferries typically carry about 140 vehicles maximum — a small fraction of the bridge traffic.
The bridge is not scheduled to reopen until 2022 at the earliest.
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Strawberry Festival postponed until 2021
The Vashon-Maury Chamber of Commerce has announced that the 111th annual Strawberry Festival, originally scheduled for July 17 to 19, will be postponed until a later date next year.
The decision to cancel the longstanding event was the result of discussions with island residents and businesses, according to a press release.
“This was done with careful consideration for the health and safety of our community,” wrote Cheryl Lubbert, president of the chamber of commerce in the press release. “So much of the Strawberry Festival is about people coming together. It’s been difficult to figure out how to do that responsibly during a time of social distancing.”
Lubbert continued that the chamber is proud of the annual festival. Last year’s event drew more than 30,000 attendees and hosted 159 vendor booths, according to the chamber, raising more than $60,000 for local nonprofits while partnering with island eateries and organizations, including the Vashon Island Farmers Market and the Vashon Theatre.
The chamber is in the process of contacting vendors and partner organizations about the festival’s postponement and is already working to plan next year’s festival. Organizers are also exploring other opportunities for the community to come together this season that better fits the state’s social-distancing guidelines.
“We realize that the Strawberry Festival is something lots of people look forward to every year and that a lot of businesses participate in, artists, everybody, the whole community,” Lubbert said in a follow-up conversation. “And so we are trying to think about how we can come up with something that is appropriate for social distancing but still is something that people can get excited about. Because you know, I think that’s something else that is really important in times like these.”
Those who have already paid registration fees for this year’s event will have the option to receive a full refund or simply apply them to the 2021 Strawberry Festival.
“We’re looking into ways that on-island residents can still come together, support each other, and have something to look forward to during this difficult time. We already have a few ideas, so stay tuned,” Lubbert said. “We want our community not only to survive but to thrive, and the only way we do that is together.”
More information is available at vashonchamber.com/strawberryfestival/.