Vashon infections: No new COVID-19 cases have been added to the Vashon total since the last edition. For more than two weeks, the positive test count has held steady at 29 cases, the total tallied since record-keeping began in March. That count has held steady for more than two weeks, according to statistics from Public Health — Seattle & King County (PHSKC).
King County’s COVID-19 count still spiking: Looking at King County as a whole, the trend for COVID-19 infections has been spiking sharply upward over the last month. The 7-day average of new King County cases per day hit 170 cases this week, more than double the daily number one month ago.
Transitioning the health center: Vashon’s health center will be closed for a bit over a week in November, according to the Vashon Health Care District. Neighborcare Health’s last day to see patients at the clinic will be Oct. 30. The new operator of the health center, Sea Mar Community Health Centers, expects to reopen at Sunrise Ridge in November after a transition period for computer system updates and other logistics tasks. The health care district approved a clinic services agreement with Sea Mar on Oct. 15. Sea Mar has offered to retain all of the clinic’s current staff. There has so far been no word on whether Sea Mar will be conducting its own COVID-19 testing or will continue the practice of referring patients to the Vashon Medical Reserve Corps testing site on the island.
VCC restrictions return: Vashon Community Care has had to revert to some stringent COVID restrictions due to the increased case rate of King County. The county’s 14-day average is over the 75 cases per 100K level, meaning VCC will limit access and contact of residents with off-campus persons as well as on-campus group activities. For example, visits are limited to two people, outdoors. The dining room is closed and meals are being delivered to resident rooms.
Initial COVID vaccination plan: The state Department of Health (DOH) released its Interim multi-phase COVID-19 Vaccination Plan. The plan outlines who will have access to vaccines and how they will be administered. In the first phase, when vaccine doses are likely to be limited, high-risk workers in health care, first responders, other essential workers, and adults in long-term care are likely to be prioritized. DOH has noted that this is just version one of the plan which will evolve as information comes in.
Close contact concern expanded: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has changed the definition of who is a “close contact” of an infected individual, greatly expanding the pool of people considered at risk of contracting the coronavirus. The updated guidance, which health departments rely on to conduct contact tracing, now defines a close contact as someone who was within six feet of an infected individual for a total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period. The change may have a significant impact in schools, workplaces and other group settings where people may be in contact with others for long periods of time.
Guidance for faith-based organizations: Gov. Jay Inslee has updated the COVID-19 guidance for religious and faith-based organizations as part of Washington’s Safe Start phased reopening plan. The update provides that physical distancing between non-household members must be 6 feet in all directions, and permits brief physical contact among up to five individuals, excluding religious leaders, if the brief contact is a critical component to the organization’s religious service, so long as masks are worn and hands are sanitized immediately before and after the contact.
Free online study help: The King County Library System has opened Study Zone Plus, a free online homework help and tutoring service. Students in grades K-12 can work with a tutor or find recharge activities, language and reading support. The program can be accessed through Zoom or by dial-in using a landline phone or smartphone. For more information visit kcls.org/studyzoneplus.
Emergency Operations Center (EOC): Activation level is Maintenance & Monitoring. Operational priorities have been set at health, food and shelter. Community economic recovery efforts continue through our partnership with the Vashon-Maury Island Chamber of Commerce. It has been 232 days (33 weeks, 1 day) since activating on March 12.
Medical Reserve Corps (MRC): An analysis of island COVID-19 testing operations and regional statistics shows Vashon residents are being tested at an increasing rate — now at almost 22 tests per 10,000 people per day. Vashon’s rate is not far off the rate in the City of Seattle, which is now 27 tests per day per 10,000 population. Both are well above 15 tests per 10,000 people per day, a level that many epidemiologists view as an “adequate” baseline testing rate. The MRC has been doing about 40% of the total Vashon tests but has picked up eight of the nine positive cases this past month, an indication of the crucial importance of having an on-island testing site and the effectiveness of the MRC homegrown testing program. About 60% of the island resident tests were done by a combination of the SCAN program, Neighborcare or off-island healthcare providers such as Kaiser, Multicare, or Franciscan. “These statistics show that our on-island testing strategy is efficient and effective,” said testing program lead Dr. Jim Bristow. “But we should not forget that we are also being successful because Vashon residents are doing the right thing — calling and getting tested when they have symptoms or believe they may have been exposed to the novel coronavirus.”
VCA reopening: A Medical Reserve Corps team has begun a study on the needs of Vashon Center for the Arts as the organization works on its eventual reopening plans. It’s the same MRC team that recently received accolades for its work with the Seattle Symphony, which faced similar reopening challenges.
School reopening: An Emergency Operations Center team member continues to provide support to the Vashon Island School District as it works on reopening plans. A representative serves on the district’s reopening committee and is also engaging with an outdoor learning planning team.
Volunteers: Nearly 30 VashonBePrepared volunteers contributed 343 hours of work to the pandemic emergency response in the most recent weekly tabulation. That brings the total volunteer time since activation to over 16,700 hours. At the FEMA standard rate of $31.72 per volunteer hour, that means VashonBePrepared volunteers have logged time that’s worth more than $530,000, 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 own organizations that are not included in the total.
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.