Vashon infections: Three more COVID-19 cases have been added to the Vashon total since the last edition, bringing the tally to 34 since record-keeping began in March, according to statistics from Public Health — Seattle & King County (PHSKC).
It’s really here: “The last month has shown us that COVID-19 is now really here,” Dr. Jim Bristow points out. The leader of the island’s MRC test site project says: “As a result, island businesses and organizations can expect that sooner or later they are likely to have a case — that simply can’t be avoided right now. But by observing CDC and PHSKC guidance for facial covering, social distancing, hand washing and cleaning of surfaces, we can prevent community transmission at work and at play. Following these guidelines will keep us all safe when we’re outside of our homes.”
How to have the COVID chat: Cooler weather and holidays traditionally bring people together but during this pandemic, gatherings should be fewer, shorter, smaller, and safer. The Washington Department of Health suggests some tips for having the COVID chat.
- Respectfully say “no. “Saying no to people you love is never easy. Be clear, offer alternatives, and be honest. Don’t feel pressured to keep the conversation going.
- Respect others’ boundaries. Hearing “no” from family and friends can be hard. It helps to remember they feel bad too — no one enjoys turning down invitations.
- Establish ground rules. To avoid surprises, hurt feelings, or situations where you feel unsafe, be sure to set expectations in advance.
Roasterie reopening: The Vashon Island Coffee Roasterie was scheduled to reopen today, Thursday, November 12th. All staff who worked at the same time as an employee who tested positive have also been tested, and their tests all came back negative. The reopening was then delayed in order to be doubly cautious and allow time for a second round of precautionary testing as staff members came off a 14-day quarantine period. The only exposure for the general public took place on Saturday, Oct. 24. The Medical Reserve Corps asked anyone served at the barista counter on that day to call the testing site helpline to be screened for possible testing. The Medical Reserve Corps number is (844) 469-4554.
Eyeland reopened: Vashon’s Eyeland Optical and the Vashon office of 20/20 Eyecare Centers reopened Monday, Nov. 9, after being closed a week as a precaution. No COVID-19 exposure took place here on Vashon, but the company decided to take extra care and closed four of its six locations because two staff members at two different mainland offices tested positive for COVID-19. The two cases were determined to be unrelated. All of their co-workers have been tested and all tests have come back negative. The Vashon location continues its COVID-19 safety protocols, including limited hours, a requirement to call ahead for an appointment, and a pre-entry screen and health check.
School district, football team, Camp Sealth: A School District custodial employee tested positive for COVID-19 and the Vashon Medical Reserve Corps worked closely with the other six people in the staff member’s family. All of the family have been tested and all of the tests came back negative. All will remain in voluntary quarantine for the rest of the recommended period of 14 days. Members of the family had connections with Camp Sealth and Vashon Island High School athletics. As a precaution, two of the six cohorts for the Outdoor Connections program at Camp Sealth were suspended, one reopening this week and the second reopening next week. High school football and wrestling practices were also briefly suspended. After studying the situations, the Medical Reserve Corps concluded that there was no need for mass testing at Camp Sealth and the high school.
Scrubbing the ferry: The south end ferry, M/V Chetzemoka, was removed from service for two hours last week, Friday, Nov. 6, canceling five crossings. The entire vessel was deep-cleaned because two employees in the vessel’s engine room – which is not accessible to the public– tested positive for COVID-19. While engine room staff do not normally work in passenger/public areas, all the vessel’s surfaces were sanitized and disinfected.
Screening for school reopening: Washington State Department of Health (DOH) released a new report by the Institute for Disease Modeling (IDM) exploring how diagnostic screening scenarios could help mitigate the risk of COVID-19 transmission when reopening schools. The study concluded that transmission in schools is greatly reduced through a combination of school-based countermeasures and hybrid or phased-in scheduling. The report also reaffirms the importance of reducing community transmission prior to reopening K-12 schools for in-person learning and implementing school-based countermeasures.
Rent relief help: The Interfaith Council to Prevent Homelessness (IFCH) responds to the needs of those who are either currently experiencing homelessness or are at risk of becoming homeless. If you need assistance with rent or utilities during this pandemic, call Hilary Emmer at 206-463-7277 or email her at email@example.com.
Eviction assistance: The Eviction Rent Assistance Program (ERAP) helps prevent evictions, with a priority on preventing homelessness and thus preventing the spread of the virus. ERAP grants pay past due, current due and future rent. The ERAP is targeting limited resources to those with the greatest needs while working to distribute funds equitably. Visit tinyurl.com/rencb9u online for more information.
Learn to LEARN: Medical Reserve Corps and the VashonBePrepared Community Care Team will be running weekly LEARN model videos in a suicide prevention awareness and education campaign. The videos will come to you via local social media postings and emails. Each three-minute video features an “everyday person” sharing his or her story about dealing with suicide and the five LEARN-steps of suicide prevention. LEARN tips can be found online at intheforefront.org/learn-saves-lives.
Emergency Operations Center (EOC): It has been 246 days (8 months, 1 day) since the EOC activated on March 12. The EOC remains activated at the Maintenance & Monitoring level. This week’s work has focused primarily on the need to help islanders stay healthy, and to support efforts to maintain food and housing security for islanders. Community economic recovery work also continues through our partnership with the Vashon-Maury Island Chamber of Commerce.
Medical Reserve Corps/COVID-19 testing: The MRC testing group ran a record total of more than 100 tests last week. The recent weekly average has been running around 50 to 60 tests, so that’s a near doubling of the testing activity. One driver of the increase has been precautionary testing as the group assists local businesses and organizations with workplace infections, in an effort to guard against community spread. The recent cases have included the Roasterie, the School District, and Eyeland Optical. See the Community Developments section for more details.
VashonBePrepared: The Vashon COVID Relief Fund has prepared another month’s set of disbursements to social service agencies to support local efforts to provide food, shelter and economic recovery. Disbursements will be paying for goods and services in support of the community by the Food Bank, Interfaith Council for Prevention of Homelessness, the Senior Center, the School District, and the Chamber of Commerce. A separate reserve fund ensures that money will be available for COVID-19 testing for the foreseeable future.
Vashon Island Fire & Rescue/VashonBePrepared: FEMA has formally approved the Regional Hazard Mitigation Plan. VIFR has a chapter in the regional plan, and the Hazard Mitigation Plan is a pre-requisite for some types of federal grants such as local emergency planning and strengthening existing facilities against hazards such as earthquakes or storms.
Volunteers: A total of 33 volunteers contributed 296 hours of work to VashonBePrepared’s pandemic emergency response in the previous week. That brings the total volunteer time since activation to over 17,300 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.