Vashon infections: Two new COVID-19 cases have been added to the Vashon total since the last edition, bringing the tally to 31 since record-keeping began in March, according to statistics from Public Health — Seattle & King County (PHSKC).
Positive case and closure at Roasterie: Vashon Island Coffee Roasterie has closed for one week, one of several precautionary safety steps the business is taking, after a staff member tested positive for COVID-19 late last week. At press time, the store hoped to reopen tomorrow, Friday, Nov. 6, assuming follow-up testing of staff goes well. The only public exposure to the employee at the Roasterie took place on Saturday, Oct. 24. The Vashon Medical Reserve Corps asks anyone who was served at the barista counter last Saturday, Oct. 24, to call the testing site helpline so you can be screened for possible testing. The Medical Reserve Corps number is (844) 469-4554. Please call only if you were served at the barista counter last Saturday, Oct. 24.
Roasterie safety measures: During the closure of the Roasterie, the space is being deep-cleaned, using procedures that go beyond the usual safety guidelines from the state Department of Health and Public Health — Seattle & King County. All employees who worked at the same time as the employee who tested positive were tested and asked to quarantine for a full 14 days, a total of nine individuals, or half the total staff. Minglement Marketplace remains open but isolated from the Roasterie.
Worker safety: Washington’s Department of Labor & Industries emphasizes that workers and employers can help to halt the fall surge by following five key COVID-19 safety requirements required by law. The general workplace requirements are available in full online at tinyurl.com/y26hdwgz.Employees must practice social distancing and mask up.
- Employees must wash their hands frequently and thoroughly.
- Workplaces must be routinely sanitized.
- A plan must be written and in place to address worker illness.
- Employees must be educated about COVID-19 and how to work safely.
If there’s a workplace infection: Sick workers or those believed to have been exposed should self-quarantine. If workers show symptoms of COVID-19 or have been in close contact with someone with the virus or its symptoms, they should self-quarantine for 14 days. This may be a difficult conversation to have with a worker reliant on their wages, but they may use paid leave to cover the absence. Employees may use accrued sick leave if asked to quarantine. Under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), an additional budget of sick leave is available to symptomatic workers. Up to two weeks (80 hours) of paid sick leave is to be provided at their regular rate of pay. More information about the FFCRA is available online at tinyurl.com/yx5jtyv8.
COVID vaccine safety vetting: Washington State has joined the multistate COVID-19 Scientific Safety Review Workgroup, which will independently review the safety and efficacy of any vaccine approved by the Food and Drug Administration for distribution. California Governor Gavin Newsom originally assembled the panel made up of nationally acclaimed scientists with expertise in immunization and public health. Oregon and Nevada have also joined the Safety Review Workgroup.
Increasing infection levels = delays in going back to classrooms: Every week, Vashon Island School District (VISD) tracks COVID-19 activity levels to see how they might affect school reopening, especially bringing back students in small groups for both learning and extracurricular activities. Unfortunately, COVID-19 levels for King County continue to increase, and a District announcement indicated it will be some time before kids can be back in their classrooms. The disease level for King County was at 105 cases per 100,000 over 14 days ending on Oct. 30. The state school reopening framework requires that cases fall below 75 cases per 100K, to begin a slow phase-in of in-person learning.
Available academic support: Vashon Youth and Family Services staff are available to support all families with in-person and distanced academic support and personal tutoring at the newly opened VYFS Family Resource Center. The services are offered from 3 to 5 p.m. every Thursday and noon to 4 p.m. every Friday. Contact VYFS at (206) 463-5511 or firstname.lastname@example.org. VYFS also has a dedicated telephone number and email for Spanish-speaking families to contact them with questions or concerns: (206) 348-4488 or email@example.com.
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 Vashon Chamber of Commerce. It has been 239 days (7 months, 25 days) since the EOC activated on March 12th.
Medical Reserve Corps/Community Engagement: The EOC assembled a team of six people to assess the COVID-19 case at Vashon Island Coffee Roasterie on Oct. 24, and any potential contact exposures stemming from it. The team includes physicians as well as experts to help with public communications as the situation unfolds. For more details, see above in this report.
Medical Reserve Corps/EOC Team: A team from Vashon Center for the Arts has met with Medical Reserve Corps and EOC Team representatives to launch a project to help VCA safely conduct a major streaming event around a music festival. Next week, the team will make a site visit to the Kay White Hall and the historic Blue Heron classroom building to help assess, among other things, building ventilation systems as well as the organization’s existing extensive procedures for COVID-19 safety.
Medical Reserve Corps/Flu Vaccination: Over 400 flu vaccinations were added to the island tally this past week, now at a total of about 3,600 from island providers. The total includes nearly 2,900 by Vashon Pharmacy, and more than 600 served by the Seattle Visiting Nurse Association’s drive-through vaccination event two weeks ago. An unknown additional number of islander vaccinations have taken place at mainland locations. Flu vaccination is especially important this year due to the double-whammy of seasonal flu combined with the COVID-19 pandemic. Remember: free flu vaccinations are available at Vashon Pharmacy for those without health insurance, paid for by the Vashon COVID Relief Fund, operated by VashonBePrepared.
Winter watch: Four EOC Team members, including Situation Section members, attended the annual winter weather emergency response workshop last week, presented by the King County Office of Emergency Management. The Situation Section has been monitoring potential seasonal impacts on the pandemic response. For example, road access to the MRC COVID-19 testing site might be limited, and volunteers at the drive-up outdoor site may have to deal with harsh weather. In addition, a severe winter could drive people indoors in greater numbers, potentially increasing the chances of spread.
VashonBePrepared: The VashonBePrepared Board of Directors approved the 2021 budget. The budget plan assumes there will be some reimbursement of funds expended by the Vashon COVID Relief Fund for ongoing emergency disbursements to the island’s social service agencies, although the amount and timing of those funds remain uncertain. The budget also sets aside reserves for sustaining the MRC COVID-19 testing program well into 2021, in addition to funds for rapid emergency response in case of a major outbreak spike on the island.
Volunteers: A total of 32 volunteers contributed 290 hours of work to VashonBePrepared’s pandemic emergency response in the previous week. That brings the total volunteer time since activation to over 17,000 hours. The total includes hours contributed by the Vashon EOC Team, Community Emergency Response Team (CERT), Medical Reserve Corps (MRC), and Community Care Team (CCT).
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.