STATUS OF THE VIRUS:
Public Health – Seattle & King County (PHSKC) reports that the transmission rate of COVID-19 is no longer decreasing in western Washington and could be rising again. This data comes from the Bellevue-based Institute for Disease Modeling. Previous reports suggested the spread of the disease had dropped below a critical threshold for the effective productive number, a measure of how many new cases are spreading from each confirmed COVID-19 case. That number is no longer below the critical threshold of 1.0.
COVID-19 CASE STATISTICS (as of Thursday, May 14):
Vashon Island: 4 confirmed positive cases (date of last positive test: April 13)
King County: 7,307 confirmed positive cases, 514 deaths
Washington State: 17,773 confirmed positive cases, 983 deaths
The Vashon Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) has tested more than 55 people for COVID-19. All have tested negative for COVID-19. The MRC estimates that more than 250 islanders have been tested by the MRC testing project, Neighborcare, Vashon Natural Medicine and the Seattle Coronavirus Assessment Network (SCAN). In the last report from Public Health – Seattle & King County, only four Vashon residents have tested positive since testing began.
Safe Start Phases: Stay Home Stay Healthy remains in effect through the end of May. However, Phase 1 of the Safe Start plan allows some relaxing of the restrictions. Travel is still restricted to essential travel or to permitted activities or business. Travel in a car or boat is limited to one household, no shared transportation with non-household members. There will be at least three weeks of space between phases to assess the effects of relaxation utilizing the COVID-19 Risk Assessment Dashboard. The earlier Phase 2 could begin the week of May 24. Meanwhile, all social distancing rules are still in place for Phase 1 relaxed activities. The following are now permitted while following social distancing and mask guidelines.
- Ongoing construction
- Retail curb-side pick-up orders only
- Some pet services (not including grooming)
- Drive-in spiritual services with one household per vehicle
- Some park access
- Auto/RV/Boat/ORV sales
Vashon unemployment filings have gone up again according to the latest report from the state Employment Security Department. An additional 115 people applied to bring the total Vashon unemployed to approximately 1,075. That means the Vashon unemployment rate is higher than the current national rate. The national unemployment rate, the worst since the Great Depression, is at 14.7%. The estimated rate for Vashon is 20%.
Unemployment Support Branch expert Deborah Diamond reports that unemployment benefits are flowing quickly now, after earlier logjams. She worked with one person who filed on a Tuesday and within two days received payment for six weeks, including the $600 per week boost from the federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program. Get help with filing by contacting Diamond through the Chamber of Commerce Ask an Expert program online at VashonChamber.com/Ask-an-Expert/ or email Deborah@VashonBePrepared.org.
Psychological and spiritual assistance is available at the Community Care Team Help Line. Counselors are available for psychological and spiritual assistance. Counselors are available every day from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. at 206-701-0694. The emotions that the Stay at Home order brings up are real and different for each of us. Many must deal with the stress of coping with logistical nightmares and economic fears. ^
Washington State Ferries domestic service continues on the winter schedule with previously announced service reductions through June 21st. A general fare increase took effect on May 1. These changes include a 2.5% fare increase for all vehicles, a 2% fare increase for passengers and a 25 cent increase for the capital surcharge now totaling 50 cents. These changes are in addition to the peak season rate increases through September 30. International service between Anacortes and Sidney, B.C. remains suspended until June 20th.
King County Parks has re-opened some parks and trails, including regional and backcountry trails. Visitors are asked to Keep it Moving! –use parks and trails for walking, running, riding, and rolling, no congregating in parking lots or trailheads. Visit kingcountyparks.org/covid/
Neighborhood Emergency Response Organization (NERO) meetings can now be held online via Zoom. Neighbors can help each other stay safe by organizing together, even while maintaining social distancing. For information, or to arrange a speaker, email NERO@VashonBePrepared.org.
VASHON EMERGENCY OPERATIONS CENTER (EOC):
The EOC activated on March 12th, and Wednesday, May 13th was day 63 of activation for the all-volunteer EOC Team. Operations include standard FEMA Incident Command System functions, including Logistics, Planning and Finance/Administration. The Community Support Operations Section includes the following five support branches. The EOC, in partnership with VashonBePrepared and VIFR, will pursue FEMA reimbursement for emergency response costs as well as potential aid from the federal CARES act.
The Household and Neighborhood Support Branch has finalized details of Disbursement #2 from the Vashon COVID Relief Fund for social service and economic recovery partners. This second disbursement totals $27,000 to purchase goods and services for community support and includes the Food Bank, Senior Center, VYFS, DOVE Project, the School District, Interfaith Council to Prevent Homelessness and St. Vincent de Paul. Provided services include groceries, meals and rent relief. The first Relief Fund social service partner disbursement in April totaled $25,000. These figures do not include some other costs associated with the activation and emergency response. Fundraising for the Vashon COVID Relief Fund has reached the halfway mark of the $425,000 goal.
Unemployed Worker Support Branch: Tracks Vashon unemployment filings and offers consultation interviews. The Branch has conducted more than 225 consultations with islanders, helping roughly one-fifth of all unemployed islanders file their unemployment claims.
Business Support Branch: Continues working with the Vashon Chamber of Commerce to put together a series of business-to-business round tables with a range of industries to help plans for re-opening, toolkits are being funded by the Vashon COVID Relief Fund.
Medical Support Branch: Is working with EOC Logistics Section and Vashon Island Fire and Rescue on relocating the testing site presently based at Mukai. MRC operations include the COVID-19 testing project, the PPE Task Force and the Community Care Team Help Line.
Community Engagement Branch: Mounted a public information campaign over Mother’s Day weekend urging islanders to Take Care of Your Mom, Wear Your Mask. The campaign aimed to blunt the possibility of increased spread of COVID-19 as families gathered or traveled to Vashon to enjoy the warm temperatures timed with Mother’s Day weekend. The campaign included the wide distribution of the message via email list partners, road signs at both ferry terminals and island reader boards, Voice of Vashon announcements and more.
This information has been compiled from the daily Situation Reports produced by the EOC Situation Section. Situation Reports are normally internal updates, but for this emergency, VIFR Fire Chief Charlie Krimmert ordered sharing these reports with the public to help islanders stay informed and safe. This partnership with The Beachcomber helps achieve that goal. To sign up to receive the daily reports and other emergency information emails, go to voiceofvashon.org/Alerts.