Statistics: The COVID-19 case count held at status quo this past week — no new positive COVID-19 tests since last week’s edition. There have been a total of 14 positive tests among Vashon residents since pandemic record-keeping began, according to Public Health — Seattle & King County (PHSKC).
Remember the basics: Testing is essential to identify people who could spread COVID, but the best thing of all is to prevent contagion in the first place. “Vashon is doing pretty well. We have had some cases but that is to be expected,” said Dr. Jim Bristow, leader of the Vashon Medical Reserve Corps testing program. “What we want the Vashon community to do is prevent community transmission of the virus. That means washing hands, wearing face coverings, social distancing and getting tested early if you develop any viral symptoms. I know this routine is getting old, but it’s what’s needed to keep us all safe!” Call 844 469-4554 to be screened for testing.
Time to look for work: The Washington State Employment Security Department job-search waiver expired on September 1st. To keep your state benefits flowing, you need to report job-search activities for Sept. 6-12, 2020. ESD has published a job-search log sample and a list of job-search requirements for unemployed workers but has not yet published anything specific for the self-employed. Visit esd.wa.gov/unemployment/job-search-requirements.
Businesses and COVID-19: Washington State Department of Health has updated recommendations for businesses that suspect or confirm an employee has COVID-19. Businesses must notify Public Health within 24 hours if virus spread is suspected in the workplace. Visit tinyurl.com/y24v2yua.
Stay tuned for Vashon advice: In September, Vashon Chamber of Commerce will collaborate with the Medical Reserve Corps to offer webinars so businesses and other island organizations can learn what to do if an employee tests positive for COVID-19.
Supporting school support: Gov. Inslee has issued a proclamation enabling greater use of transportation resources for remote learning for K-12 students. The order came just in time for the start of school this week. It permits using buses and bus drivers to deliver educational materials (homework, educational packets, and other tangible instructional materials), meals, and technology such as WiFi hotspots to support students learning remotely. School districts also may transport students to and from learning centers. See tinyurl.com/y57nhn4y.
Shifts in disease transmission: Public Health – Seattle & King County reports some changing trends in the transmission of COVID-19 in the last 14 days, compared to averages since the start of the pandemic. In the most recent 14-day period, 45% of the positive cases have been linked to transmission within the household, an increase from 38%. The other noteworthy change is a decrease in transmission linked to essential workers at 19% down from 25%. The two other transmission categories are within the community (26% vs. 24%) and infection from close contact (21% vs. 23%). In 19% of the cases, there was no known transmission source.
A place for kids: Camp Sealth Outdoor Connections will offer programs to support youth, teens, and families being affected by COVID-19 and resulting school closures. The programs provide opportunities for children from Pre-K through grade 12, to get outdoors for exercise and free play, supplement educational needs with the ability to interact with peers and gain social skills, and to fill a need for childcare for parents who need to work. Programs start Sept. 14. Visit campfireseattle.org/outdoor-connections online for more information.
Suicide prevention campaign launches next week: The Vashon Suicide Prevention Campaign will open with a live broadcast on September 10, World Suicide Prevention Day, streaming at VashonCenterForTheArts.org. It will include two suicide survivors and a clinician, sharing their stories with host Susan McCabe. The broadcast will be followed by six weeks of webinars, emails, and social media posts breaking the L.E.A.R.N suicide prevention tool into three modules: how to recognize someone is in trouble, what to say to the person, and how to act to help them.
Emergency Operations Center (EOC): It has been more than 25 weeks (176 days) since our EOC was activated on March 12. We continue with our operational priorities of health, food and shelter. We are activated at the Maintenance & Monitoring level. In addition, work continues for economic recovery through our Chamber of Commerce partnership.
Volunteers: VashonBePrepared volunteers have now contributed well over 14,000 hours of work on the emergency response since activation. At the FEMA standard rate of $31.72 for volunteer hours, that means VashonBePrepared volunteers have logged time that’s worth more than $445,000. The hours count as in-kind contributions to cover the 25% local portion of any received FEMA reimbursement for the emergency response.
School reopening: Vashon schools opened this week in an online, distance-learning mode, with no in-person teaching. The EOC team continues to work on a task force with Chautauqua Elementary School and the School District facilities experts to plan for some rain and shade protected outdoor space for preschool and special education students. In addition, the team has launched a survey of all the island youth care and education programs that have been doing in-person kids’ classes of various types. We will compile a list of lessons learned, a list of tips and tricks that will be shared with the School District and also offered to all island organizations who are working with kids in these pandemic conditions.
Finance/FEMA: Scoping and detailed submissions continue for the three FEMA grant applications of VIFR, VashonBePrepared and the Vashon portion of the King County Office of Emergency Management filing. The FEMA Public Assistance program cutoff has been extended past the late September deadline. There is some indication that FEMA will not, after all, fund PPE reimbursement.
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.