Vashon infections: No new COVID-19 cases have been added to the Vashon total since the last edition. The total positive tests sit at 29 since pandemic record-keeping began, according to statistics from Public Health — Seattle & King County (PHSKC).
COVID-19 increasing in King County: The overall trend for COVID-19 infections has been spiking for the last several weeks in King County as a whole. The Key Indicators Dashboard for PHSKC shows 92 cases per 100,000 population on a 14-day average. The more recent 7-day average is worse at 144 cases per 100,000.
COVID-19 increasing throughout Western Washington: The state Department of Health (DOH) reports that COVID transmission is increasing all over western Washington. The reproductive number (how many new people each COVID-19 patient will infect) has been at 1.12 in western Washington, and case counts are increasing across all age groups and over broad geographic areas. “As COVID-19 activity intensifies, it’s incredibly important that we all take precautions to reduce the impact of seasonal changes like spending more time indoors,” said Washington Secretary of Health John Wiesman.
School reopenings pushed back: Vashon Island School District has announced it will need to delay the limited, phased school reopenings they had hoped to begin this fall. In a weekly bulletin to Vashon families, the District stated that in-person learning will no longer be possible in early November as planned because COVID-19 cases in King County are continuing to rise. The state Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) has set a goal of a “low level of COVID activity” in King County in order to safely reopen schools in-person, meaning 25 cases per 100,000 people on a 14-day average. The latest rate on the PHSKC key indicators dashboard (as of Oct 14) shows a 14-day average of 92 cases per 100,000, almost four times the goal of 25 cases. (See School District story on page 5.)
Have a safe Halloween: The Vashon-Maury Island Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with the Vashon EOC and VashonBePrepared, has decided not to close downtown streets for the traditional Halloween celebrations. The decision was based on safety concerns for the transmission of the COVID virus. If you plan any Halloween activities, the chamber encourages social distancing, recommends reducing exposure time, and advises limiting group sizes to five people or fewer. Wearing masks is critical to a safe Halloween. Remember that Halloween costume masks are not effective in preventing the spread of COVID-19, so consider an option that will allow you to wear your COVID-19 mask comfortably while in costume, or decorate your COVID-19 mask in a Halloween theme. For details see vashonchamber.com/halloween. (See story on page 5.)
Online costume and pumpkin carving contests: The chamber of commerce will hold online costume and pumpkin carving contests as alternative Halloween activities due to the COVID pandemic. Visit the chamber website for more information on how to join, and submit your photos to be entered in one of five costume categories to win a festive prize. Vashon’s Unofficial Mayors, Vashon Sisterhood, will be the panel of judges picking the winners. For more information, visit vashonchamber.com/costume-pumpkin-contest. (See story on page 5.)
Unemployment slightly improved: The Washington Department of Employment Security reports that unemployment claims on Vashon continue to gradually trend downward. As of the latest report (week of September 26th), Vashon unemployment claims were filed by 461 unemployed workers (9.5% of our approximately 4,850 workers), from a high in April of 1,200 (24.7% of the working population). To date, the chamber of commerce Ask the Expert program has completed 860 telephone consultations. If you need help filing for unemployment, the Vashon chamber of commerce Ask the Expert person will consult with you on how to proceed. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (206) 200-3236.
Check in with King County Local Services: Local Services will hold a Town Hall meeting for Vashon-Maury Island residents from 7 to 9 p.m. on Oct. 22. At the Town Hall, you will hear from elected and appointed King County leaders and staff members about how your local government is delivering services on Vashon during the COVID-19 pandemic. Participants can ask questions directly or type them into Zoom’s chat feature. Join the Zoom meeting online using the following link,kingcounty.zoom.us/j/99334407319 (case-sensitive passcode is VOTE2020!). You can also join via phone by calling 253-215-8782 and providing the meeting ID number: 993 3440 7319 (passcode 556041651).
Emergency Operations Center (EOC): It has been 225 days (32 weeks, 1 day) since activating on March 12. Activation level is Maintenance & Monitoring. Operational priorities have been set as health, food and shelter. Community economic recovery efforts continue through our partnership with the chamber of commerce.
Volunteers: More than 30 VashonBePrepared volunteers contributed 338 hours of work to the pandemic emergency response in a single week this month. That brought the total volunteer time since activation to nearly 16,400 hours. At the FEMA standard rate of $31.72 per volunteer hour, that means VashonBePrepared volunteers have logged time that’s worth almost $520,000, including hours contributed by the Vashon EOC Team, Community Emergency Response Team (CERT), Medical Reserve Corps (MRC), and Community Care Team (CCT). The staff and volunteers for Vashon’s numerous social services agencies have contributed many thousands of hours to their organizations that are not included in this total.
Medical Reserve Corps – flu vaccination (MRC): Arrangements have been completed for several flu vaccine support measures in addition to the new raccoon posters and banners. The MRC has finalized plans for the Seattle Visiting Nurse Association drive-through vaccination event after press time at Vashon High School on Tuesday, Oct. 20. Details are available in the online directory (VashonBePrepared.org/FluVaccine). VashonBePrepared has made an agreement with Vashon Pharmacy to cover the cost of flu vaccinations for those who do not have insurance, thanks to contributions from two generous donors.
Reopening the arts: Vashon Center for the Arts (VCA) will be getting support from VashonBePrepared, the Medical Reserve Corps, and the EOC Team as the organization makes plans for reopening at some future date. The request for assistance from VCA is similar to the help the organizations provided to Seattle Symphony for its reopening for recording sessions at Benaroya Hall. Members of the team that helped the Symphony are planning to meet next week to start work on the VCA project.
Business: VashonBePrepared partnered with the chamber of commerce in producing a flyer of suggestions for businesses to safely conduct Halloween festivities. This year will be different than previous years where kids (and parents) went from store to store trick-or-treating in the downtown area. The guide has been emailed to the chamber’s list of businesses (see the item above in the Developments section).
COVID-19 Testing: Construction has started on a winterized shelter for CERT staff who check in patients arriving at the COVID-19 test site. Materials were provided at cost by island Lumber. A tent has been installed for the testing area of the site, provided at a discounted rent by Ace Hardware.
Finance: Applications for FEMA and CARES reimbursement grants for Vashon COVID Relief Fund expenditures continue to make progress. Invoices have been submitted to and accepted by the King County Office of Emergency Management for food and shelter expenses. Two other applications are pending.
This information is compiled from the Situation Reports produced by the EOC Situation Section and provided to The Beachcomber to help islanders stay informed and safe. To receive reports and other emergency information emails, go to VoiceofVashon.org/AlertSignup.