Virus statistics: Public Health – Seattle & King County (PHSKC) reports 94 positive cases of COVID-19 on Vashon since the pandemic began. At press time, there had been one new case since the last edition of this report.
Data lag: A data-reporting lag continues on the official dashboard of pandemic statistics maintained by Public Health — Seattle & King County. For example, although there have been two COVID-related deaths of Vashon residents to date, the PHSKC dashboard was still showing only one death at press time.
Still in Phase 1: Washington State Department of Health announced that based on Governor Jay Inslee’s Healthy Washington – Roadmap to Recovery plan, all eight regions in Washington will remain in Phase 1 until at least Monday, Jan. 25, 2021 (the date of the next weekly review). Regions must meet four metrics to move into the more relaxed guidelines in Phase 2.
• A drop of 10% or more in the two-week rate of COVID-19 cases per 100k population.
• A drop of 10% or more in the two-week rate of new COVID-19 hospitalizations.
• Less than 90% Intensive Care Unit (ICU) occupancy.
• COVID-19 test positivity of less than 10%.
Vashon Vaccine Availability Survey
Immediately moving to Phase 1B: Late Monday, Governor Inslee ordered an aggressive new initiative for ramping up the vaccination rate for Washington residents. He moved the vaccine eligibility down to age 65 and older immediately, lowering the eligibility age by five years. As the Governor pointed out, about 80% of the state’s COVID-19 related deaths are among people 65 and older. The Governor set a goal of administering 45,000 vaccine doses a day going forward but it’s important to understand that vaccine is still in short supply since the current federal government allocation to the state falls far short of the amount that would be needed to meet Inslee’s goal. The new more aggressive vaccination plan includes a state Vaccine Command and Coordination Center, a public/private partnership made up of multiple health care agencies, tech companies, retailers, the National Guard and others.
Many provider options: When vaccine doses are available, there will be three primary providers here on Vashon. They are Sea Mar clinic, Vashon Pharmacy, and Vashon Natural Medicine. In addition, mainland providers such as Kaiser, Multicare, Polyclinic, and CHI Franciscan are beginning to offer vaccinations according to the state Department of Health rollout schedule. Public Health — Seattle & King County says it will be opening two vaccination sites in south King County in early February. Pharmacy chains such as CVS, Safeway Pharmacy, Walgreens and others are ramping up and promise vaccination availability soon.
Vashon Pharmacy: Vashon Pharmacy was planning to open its high volume drive-through vaccination site this morning (Thursday). An appointment is absolutely mandatory. To make an appointment go to VashonPharmacy.com/covid to be screened and get a time slot. If you do not have access to the Internet, you can call during pharmacy open hours to make an appointment at 206-463-9118, Option 9. It is important to understand that only a small number of vaccine doses are arriving at this early stage of the operation. Appointments will be available only for the known number of vaccine doses and when they are taken, no appointments will be available until new supplies are known to be on the way. The pharmacy expects to open the calendar for each week on Monday mornings after the pharmacy gets advance notice of how many doses it will receive for the week. The drive-through site will be accessible only through the south end of the alley between Vashon Theater and Chase Bank, although there will be an appointment option for those who arrive on foot. Detailed instructions for where to go and what to do will be provided at the time an appointment is made. VashonBePrepared, Medical Reserve Corps (MRC), and Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) volunteers are providing support for the vaccination site, including logistics, patient check in, traffic direction, and required post-vaccination medical observation. The pharmacy and the VashonBePrepared volunteers hope everyone will be patient with any start up glitches as systems are refined during this startup period.
Sea Mar Clinic at Sunrise Ridge: Sea Mar clinic at Sunrise Ridge has a small number of vaccine doses and has been reaching out to established patients to schedule appointments, initially on Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays. The Sea Mar clinic welcomes calls from the general public after 4 p.m. each day (206-463-3671) on the possibility that a few vaccine doses might be available at the end of the normal vaccination schedule so leftover doses won’t go to waste. An appointment will be required. The other island clinic, Vashon Natural Medicine, also will be notifying established patients but had not yet received any vaccine.
VITAL VACCINATION & TESTING ADVICE
Finding your “when”: Many people are asking when they can get vaccinated. One helpful tool is the new online survey, online at findyourphasewa.org. The phase finder tool went fully live last week and the web address was changed as shown here. Many people will go through the tool’s form and learn that they are not yet eligible to get the vaccine, but stick with it. There’s an opportunity to provide your contact information, and if you fill out that part the Washington State Department of Health promises to notify you when you become eligible.
Get your flu shot NOW: No vaccinations will be administered to anyone who has had or plans to have any other type of vaccination, such as seasonal flu vaccination, two weeks before or after the COVID-19 vaccination. People who have not yet had a seasonal flu vaccination should do that now, in order to be ready for COVID-19 vaccination. Flu vaccinations not covered by insurance can be received for free at Vashon Pharmacy. Costs for uninsured flu vaccines will be covered by VashonBePrepared.
A test is not a get-out-of-jail-free card: It’s important to understand that a COVID-19 test is not a magic shield against infection. “The majority of our recent Vashon cases have involved people who got COVID from relatives who had been tested before a family visit”, according to Dr. Jim Bristow, lead physician for the Medical Reserve Corps testing site. “People are, of course, very pleased when they get a negative COVID test. But many mistakenly believe the test means they have some sort of “get out of jail free” card. They feel fine and they fool themselves into thinking it’s safe to be around family they haven’t seen in months. As a result, people are putting themselves, their family and others in danger.” Dr. Bristow points out the only way to be sure you are safe before seeing others outside of your household is a 14-day quarantine, where you stay away from people outside your household, and away from people inside your household who are venturing out.
Latest on school reopening: Vashon Island School District has released a draft timeline for a return to in-person learning (see story, page 1). The timeline is still subject to meeting certain Public Health targets and will be adjusted as needed. The draft timeline includes:
• Feb. 1: Health Services Team, PHSKC, MRC, Labor Leadership, and Building Leadership meet to review current COVID activity, vaccine updates, and other relevant information that will inform return to in-person learning.
• Early to Mid-February: Kindergarten returns to in-person learning if health conditions allow.
• Expansion to Follow: Grades 1-3 then Grades 4-5 every two weeks after review of COVID activity levels and the state Department of Health Guidance.
• No sooner than April 16: Grades 6-12.
Free WiFi: The pandemic has been tough on people who relied on being at work, school, or inside the currently closed library to get online. Vashon Library has received a grant to boost the WiFi signal within and around the library building. The new equipment allows the signal to cover the whole parking area, so those who need it can access the internet from outside while the library remains closed. It’s free 24/7 and does not require a password, just choose the kcls.org connection from the list of networks on your laptop, smartphone, or other internet devices.
Emergency Operations Center (EOC): The EOC activated in response to the pandemic emergency on March 12, over 45 weeks ago (316 days). Four operational priorities established by the Incident Commander, Fire Chief Charlie Krimmert, and approved by the VashonBePrepared Board, continue to guide our work: health, food security, housing security and economic recovery.
EOC/MRC/CERT/Vashon Pharmacy: Plans are being finalized for a high-volume drive-through COVID-19 vaccination operation at the Pharmacy. A no-vaccine dry-run rehearsal was held last week to test and refine procedures and traffic flow through the site. Details will be widely publicized soon, including how to get the vaccination safety screening and make the mandatory appointment to be vaccinated. The online scheduling system for the drive-through vaccination operation is in testing but is not yet online.
EOC/MRC/Community Engagement Team: Initial concept design is underway for a VashonBePrepared public education campaign to help islanders get a COVID-19 vaccination on Vashon. The campaign will support all three Vashon vaccination providers: Vashon Pharmacy, Vashon Natural Medicine, and Sea Mar. The campaign will focus on helping islanders understand where and when they can be vaccinated. It will draw on lessons learned during the recent season flu vaccination campaign.
Community Care Team/Community Engagement Team: After weeks of preparation, the Creating Strength mental health and resilience campaign went live last week, and the second of the nine steps is going out this week. You can get it in the usual email and Facebook locations such as the Voice of Vashon Emergency Alert opt-in email system or the VashonBePrepared Facebook page. The steps are also posted on the dedicated webpage at VashonBePrepared.org/CreatingStrength.
King County Office of Emergency Management/VIFR/VashonBePrepared: Progress continues on a plan between King County, Vashon Fire, and VashonBePrepared to improve coordination of disaster response and emergency management activities. Representatives of the three organizations have held meetings over the past two months, and agreement has now been reached on basic principles. The agreement includes clarified roles and responsibilities, how money gets spent on a response and the mechanisms for going into action. The next step will be a jointly drafted document that describes the agreement in detail. The discussions were inspired by lessons learned from the current activation for the COVID-19 pandemic emergency.
Vashon COVID Relief Fund: Based on the adopted 2021 budget, the EOC has been working with VashonBePrepared to project a disbursement plan for the first half of the year. The plan is a conservative but flexible one, assumes no major new sources of income, and estimates that economic and social conditions will be improving by mid-year as COVID-19 vaccination efforts bear fruit and hopefully prevent major spikes in disease. Contingency funding will be held in reserve, in case the scenario takes a bad turn.
Volunteers: A total of 41 volunteers contributed 392 hours of work to VashonBePrepared’s pandemic emergency response in the most recent reporting period, bringing the total contributed hours to 20,750. That’s an uptick due to work underway on the impending COVID-19 vaccination effort. At the FEMA reimbursement grant rate of $31.72/hour, VashonBePrepared volunteers have logged nearly $659,000 of in-kind value that can be applied to reimbursement grant applications. The total includes hours contributed by the Vashon EOC Team, Community Emergency Response Team (CERT), Medical Reserve Corps (MRC), and MRC’s Community Care Team (CCT). VashonBePrepared also gives thanks for the many hours of work in support of the Vashon community by the staff and volunteers at local social services agencies.
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.