Virus statistics: The COVID-19 case count remains at status quo with twelve Vashon residents testing positive for COVID-19 since pandemic record-keeping began at Public Health — Seattle & King County (PHSKC). One of the twelve cases was later retested and the result was negative. The Vashon EOC Situation Report maintains data consistency by relying on the official counts by zip code provided by PHSKC.
Incident Command reacts: Fire Chief Charlie Krimmert, Incident Commander of the island’s pandemic response activation, commented last week on the recent jump in new COVID-19 cases on the island. “In less than 30 days, we have added five cases. In just one month, we equaled the number of cases in the entire first four months of our activation. That’s a very troubling trend.” Chief Krimmert cautioned islanders that COVID-19 is all around us and this is no time to let down our guard. “Nobody wants family or neighbors to get sick, especially when it is so easy to take the steps to stay safe. We all know what to do by now. Keep your distance. Wash hands frequently. Wear a mask if you must go out.”
Progress towards reopening long term care facilities: Governor Inslee announced a phased plan for reopening long-term care facilities to visitation. The care facility phases are not the same phases as the Safe Start county-by-county reopening plan. Long-term care facilities that have gone 28 days without a positive test in the facility will be eligible to allow visitations if they meet a list of safety criteria. In the first phase, which is essentially all of the long-term care facilities at the moment, the plan would allow compassionate care visits, window visits, remote visits, and outdoor visits that are limited to two a day. Regardless of their reopening phase, facilities must continue to practice social distancing, universal masking, and other COVID-19 safety measures.
Vashon Community Care next steps: Vashon Community Care Executive Director Wendy Kleppe described the Governor’s announcement as a first step but said many details must be handled, and the Governor’s final proclamation had not been released at press time for this edition. She pointed out that visitation is still prohibited at VCC until everything is final and VCC has taken the required steps. (Editor’s Note: For more on this, see story on page 5.)
School reopening phases announced: Governor Inslee announced a framework for opening Washington schools based on pandemic risk levels in each county. King County, including Vashon, joins most Washington counties in the high-risk group, based on the number of new cases per 100,000 over a two-week period. For the high-risk counties, the Governor and the state’s top education and health officials recommended remote or distance learning, saying classroom learning would be unsafe given the rate of community spread. All after-school and extracurricular sports and activities are recommended to be canceled. Any group or in-person learning is still subject to the health requirements previously announced. For more information, go online:
- Plan Summary: tinyurl.com/y2qb3tva
- Decision Tree: tinyurl.com/yyegsr6k
- Counties and risk status: tinyurl.com/CountyRiskStatus
(Editor’s Note: For more on VISD’s reopening plan, see story on page 1.)
Vashon Island School District next steps: Vashon Island School District (VISD) had already announced it would be reopening with online distance learning. Plans have been underway to provide an improved online learning approach — Distance Learning 2.0 — compared to the one rolled out on very short notice in March. More details on VISD plans will be announced over the next couple of weeks.
Emergency Operations Center (EOC): This is day 155 (22 weeks and 1 day) since EOC activation on March 12. Currently, we are activated at the Maintenance & Monitoring level.
Contingency planning: Work continues on a rapid response checklist to support Command Group decision-making in the event Vashon must deal with a second major emergency on top of the COVID-19 pandemic (e.g., earthquake, landslide, wildfire, etc.). For example, an action item emerged to create responder/victim caches of COVID-19 PPE and other support materials, so they would be quickly available at the location of a non-COVID-19 emergency.
Business community: At the request of the Vashon Medical Reserve Corps, based on experience from the recent Chase bank exposures, the Vashon Chamber of Commerce has started work on a second set of workshops for businesses. The workshops will be aimed at helping island businesses and organizations pre-plan action steps if they have a public exposure situation such as an employee testing positive for COVID-19. The workshop format will be similar to the series of re-opening workshops held by the Chamber over the last few months, that was funded by the Vashon COVID Relief Fund.
School reopening: An initial set of requirements has been developed for the expansion of classroom space to the outdoors at Chautauqua Elementary School. The goal is to set up sturdy tents or other types of suitable shelter for safe learning outdoors, including social distancing. Vashon Island School District has decided to open the school year with online distance teaching only, but outdoor space would potentially make it possible for very small groups of high needs students to be safely served under those circumstances. No decision has yet been made about offering the service, and the planning is being done is to test the feasibility and identify costs. The EOC Team has assigned four volunteers to work on a School District task force examining the possibilities.
Vashon COVID Relief Fund: The EOC Team continues to monitor negotiations in Congress and at the White House regarding a potential new pandemic relief package. The outcome of the negotiations regarding federal boosts for unemployment, stimulus checks, and other issues will help the EOC Team make decisions going forward about how to allocate remaining Relief Fund dollars. A new major donation of $50,000 has breathed new life into the Relief Fund, which had run out of funds last week.
Community engagement: Work continues on two major communications campaigns coming up in the next two months. First, there will be a blitz encouraging visitors and those they are visiting to wear masks and comply with other pandemic safety measures. Second, a suicide prevention and mental wellness campaign will be timed with Suicide Prevention Day on September 10.
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.