Statistics: The COVID-19 case count for Vashon has stayed flat since the last edition. There have been a total of 19 positive tests among Vashon residents since pandemic record-keeping began, according to Public Health — Seattle & King County (PHSKC). There was some data confusion last week when the count was put at 20 for one day, but that has been corrected in the public health dashboard.
Household cluster continues in isolation: The household that had four positive COVID-19 tests, as reported in the previous edition, continues to do well. They nearly completed their self-isolation period. The positive family members had only mild or no symptoms and it appears the family had no concerning close contacts with others. The family has been monitored daily by a member of the Medical Reserve Corps plus a household support liaison from the Emergency Operations Center, who connected them with one of the island social service agencies for any required support.
Food bank operations to meet increased demand: The Vashon Food Bank reports that the pandemic has increased food needs on the island. In 2019, before the pandemic, one in seven households on Vashon (about 14%) depended on the Food Bank to get by. That number has gone up, with about 20% of Vashon households now shopping at the food bank. Due to the pandemic, in-person shopping was replaced by COVID-safe drive-up ordering or home delivery. In a recent typical week, around 150 households received food delivery at home by food bank volunteers, while another 110 or so went to the food bank at Sunrise Ridge to place their grocery orders. Customers can pick up groceries between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Wednesdays at Sunrise Ridge, or between 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. If they prefer, they can request Thursday home delivery by calling (206) 463-6332 or emailing email@example.com.
Food bank takes a rest: The Vashon Food Bank will be closed for the week of Sept. 21 to provide staff and volunteers a reprieve and to prepare for the impending seasonal shift. Due to the staff reprieve, grocery pickup, on Sept. 25, and home delivery, on Sept. 26, will be canceled. The food bank is offering customers extra food in the weeks before the closure and there will be extra boxes of non-perishable emergency food at select locations across the island. You may call the office at 206-463-6332 or email firstname.lastname@example.org with questions.
Contact tracers at work: Public Health – Seattle & King County reported some encouraging performance statistics for the county’s contact tracing operation over the most recent reporting week. Of 583 positive tests, the contact tracers reached 88% within 24 hours. These efforts identified 923 contacts, and the county was able to reach 94% of them. Over this period the median age of the positive tests was under 40 and the largest group was under 30.
Smoke and COVID-19: Wildfire smoke and COVID-19 are a bad mix. Wildfire smoke making air quality “unhealthy” to “unhealthy for sensitive groups” has been a problem for the past week. There were already limited ways to protect ourselves from wildfire smoke, and COVID-19 makes it even more challenging. Public health recommends you stay indoors, with just members of your household, to reduce physical activity and keep indoor air clean. Keep wearing your cloth face covering to protect yourself and others from COVID-19. Unfortunately, the cloth face-covering masks don’t help that much with smoke. For more information and air quality reports, visit wasmoke.blogspot.com.
Suicide prevention replay: If you missed VashonBePrepared’s Community Care Team Suicide Prevention Day program, “Tales from the Edge: Suicide Survivors Share Their Stories”, it can be streamed at tinyurl.com/y4hjulwd.
COVID and pets: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has updated its guidance on how to keep your pets safe in the context of COVID-19. It appears that the virus can spread from people to animals in some situations. A small number of pets worldwide, including cats and dogs, have been reported to be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19, mostly after close contact with people with COVID-19. Infected pets might get sick, or they might not have any symptoms. Of the pets that got sick, most only had mild illness and fully recovered. Visit tinyurl.com/yd9jkfnt.
COVID risk when dining out: A CDC study found that people who tested positive for the coronavirus were about twice as likely as those who tested negative to have eaten at a restaurant in the two weeks before developing symptoms. The study on community exposure looked at 314 adults. Reduced ventilation of indoor dining and the inability to wear a mask while eating may make dining out a higher-risk activity. Visit tinyurl.com/y444rule.
Health insurance still available: Washington Healthplan Finder has extended its application deadline to Sept. 30th. This offering is a special enrollment for individuals/families that experienced loss of coverage or drop in income so that they will now be eligible for a health insurance subsidy. On Vashon, the Brown Agency offers free health insurance consultation and assistance. Call (206) 567-4600, or visit Washington Health Plans at wahealthplanfinder.org.
Emergency Operations Center (EOC): It has been 190 days (27 weeks, 1 day) since our EOC was activated on March 12. We continue at the Maintenance & Monitoring level of activation. Our current operational priorities are health, food and shelter. Our chamber of commerce partner continues our collaboration on community economic recovery.
Vashon COVID Relief Fund: A plan has been put in place to spread disbursements through the end of the year in monthly payments. Funding will go to Vashon social service agencies working on food and shelter, two of the four operational priorities set at the beginning of the activation. A reserve has already been set aside to sustain the Medical Reserve Corps COVID-19 testing program.
Situation Section: The EOC Continues to monitor fire weather and air quality conditions, noting that Vashon, with its more humid marine weather, was not included in the recent Red Flag Warnings from the National Weather Service.
School Reopening – Outdoors: The EOC’s “Tent Team” has presented to the Vashon Island School District a catalog of five options for outdoor classroom space. The options have been ranked for cost, size to allow social distancing, resistance to wind, and several other factors.
School Reopening – Connecting: The EOC Team has provided two technical experts to work with a group of volunteers who are helping families get connected for online learning. Family Ambassadors for Virtual Education (FAVE) has been helping families get their connections up and running and optimized.
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.