New case total for Vashon: The island added another COVID-19 case last week. A ninth person tested positive for COVID-19. It’s important to note that the official total of nine includes one false-positive test for a resident at Vashon Community Care (VCC). All residents and staff were retested and the tests came back 100% negative, including two negative tests for the initially positive resident. The Situation Report maintains data consistency by relying on the official counts provided by Public Health — Seattle & King County (PHSKC).
King County spike continues: For King County as a whole, key indicators show the infection rate continues in the wrong direction. New cases per day have surged to levels not seen since April. The cases per 100,000 residents of King County hit 86 over the weekend, more than three times the goal of fewer than 25. The reproductive rate is at 1.7, far exceeding the goal of 1.0 or below. King County as a whole is in the red in four of the eight key indicator metrics.
Safe Start rollbacks and warning: In response to the statewide disease spike, Gov. Jay Inslee rolled back some of the reopening steps. Inslee also said he can’t rule out a new stay at home order if we do not follow the rules and contain the spread of the virus. Among the rollbacks was a ban on all live entertainment — indoors and outdoors — including drive-in concerts, comedy clubs and music in restaurants.
Read about school opening plans: Vashon Island School District provided a new link to an online planning document to help families seeking information about the school opening plan. An earlier link was not working correctly. The plan can be read at tinyurl.com/VISDopening. As stated in that document, if King County is still in Phase 2 — which restricts gatherings to 5 persons — all students will participate in distance learning 2.0 at home. The 2.0 home learning version will include more structured time and programming than the version experienced in the spring. The plan also outlines how classroom teaching would work, if that becomes possible under pandemic conditions when school opening plans are finalized. VISD will send a survey to families in early August to further gauge the community’s current thinking about school reopening.
Unemployment status quo: Unemployment filings stayed flat for the last few weeks, the first time that’s happened since the pandemic lockdown in March. The number of filings to date totals 1,420 or about 25% of the island’s workforce. Taking into account Phase 2 openings and other factors, the “Ask the Expert” unemployed worker support consultant at the Chamber of Commerce estimates that around 1,000 unemployment filers remain out of work. For assistance with filing, contact Deborah Diamond at (206) 200-3236 or Deborah@VashonBePrepared.org.
Library curbside service expanded: The Vashon library is now accepting new item holds and expanding its Curbside to Go pickup system. Up until now, the library had been clearing the backlog of old holds from before the library closure. Now you can pick up new hold items. You can also request “Genre Bags” with five surprise titles in a subject area of your choice. Arrange pickup appointments via the myLIBRO mobile app or by calling the library at (425) 507-3252. Hours are 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday. For more details, visit kcls.org/curbside.
Are you lonely? Public health officials have detected an uptick in loneliness among isolated adults, particularly elders, who may suffer from a lack of social interaction during the pandemic. Vashon Youth and Family Services encourages all ages to call for counseling, at 206-463-5511. They offer counseling via phone, Zoom, or outdoors with social distancing. The Medical Reserve Corps Community Care Team Help Line at 206-701-0694. The helpline is staffed from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. every day for referrals to spiritual support as well as mental health counseling.
Emergency Operations Center (EOC): This is day 134 (19 weeks, 1 day) since EOC activation on March 12.
Volunteer contributions: A key goal of the Phase 2 EOC reorganization has been achieved, a reduction in weekly hours worked, giving our volunteers a break from the lengthy activation so we can bring the EOC back up to full speed if required by a COVID-19 spike. Weekly hours are averaging around 400, less than 40% of the weekly rate at the peak. So far, 11,900 hours of service have been logged by volunteers from the EOC Team, Vashon Medical Reserve Corps (MRC), and Community Emergency Response (CERT). Many more have been contributed by our social service and economic recovery partners.
Finance: The VashonBePrepared Board has approved a revised budget for the remainder of the year. The conservative budget estimates Vashon COVID Relief Fund disbursements will continue into August. It includes a reserve to ensure the Vashon Medical Reserve Corps COVID testing project remains in place into next year, and also includes a reserve in case the current King County spike in cases requires a ramped up emergency response.
Relief and recovery: The Relief Fund purchases goods and services from partners including the Food Bank, Vashon Youth and Family Services, Interfaith Council to Prevent Homelessness, St. Vincent de Paul Vashon, Senior Center, DOVE Project, Vashon Island School District nutrition program, Vashon Island Growers Association and the Chamber of Commerce. Including next week’s newly approved disbursement of funds, the Vashon COVID Relief Fund has funded:
- 11,470 meals (many of them delivered to homes and neighborhoods)
- 1,500 bags of groceries (many delivered into the community)
- 322 cases of housing and other forms of relief
- 100 attendees at back-to-business workshops to aid safe reopening during Phase 2
In addition, in economic recovery efforts, a volunteer expert has completed over 600 one-on-one counseling sessions to help unemployed and self-employed workers file for benefits.
COVID-19 testing: Vashon residents have now had more than 1,000 COVID-19 tests. Combining all testing sources, more than 160 people are now being tested each week, counting the Vashon Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) site, the two local clinics, SCAN and off-island healthcare providers for island residents. About 40% of the tests are being done at the MRC location. About 1.6% of the island population is being tested each week, well above the 1% mark recommended by epidemiologists. The new local laboratory being used by Vashon MRC has been delivering results within 24 hours, a major improvement over the seven to ten-day lag from the former national laboratory which was being overwhelmed with testing demand triggered by the major spikes in other parts of the country.
Documentation unit: The partnership with the Vashon Heritage Museum, Voice of Vashon and VashonBePrepared to document the pandemic emergency on Vashon has been working well. Over 50 individuals working on the emergency response have been interviewed as well as more than 20 members of the general public.
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/Alerts.