Vashon Island: The last confirmed positive case for an island resident was on April 13th. According to Public Health – Seattle & King County (PHSKC), there have been only four confirmed positive cases from Vashon. There have been zero COVID-19 deaths of Vashon residents.
Still in Phase 1: As of today, we are still in Phase 1 of the Governor’s four-phase reopening strategy and three days remain in the Stay Home, Stay Safe order. If you suspect violations of the Governor’s orders regarding essential business functions or social distancing they can be reported by calling King County Sheriff’s 24-hour non-emergency number 206-296-3311 or at bit.ly/2ztsa25
Phase 2 timing: The Governor’s office has been moving on plans for reopening businesses and other activities in Phase 2. Guidance has been issued for retail and restaurants, professional services, increased outdoor recreation services and personal services. There are currently more than 20 counties that have been granted Phase 2 status. However, King County remains well over the threshold for new cases (see graph on this page).
Chamber Back-to-Business Program: The Chamber of Commerce will hold the first in its back-to-business planning workshop series this week. Working with the EOC Logistics Section, sources have been identified for all the items in the toolkit that will be given to businesses completing the workshop, including masks, sanitizer, floor signs for six-foot distancing, and signage describing the establishment’s safety commitments. One option in the free toolkit will be Plexiglas sneeze shields fabricated by volunteers from the Makerspace/Tool Library group and the first shield will be for Vashon Center for the Arts. VashonBePrepared’s Vashon COVID Relief Fund is underwriting the cost of the workshops and toolkit.
Seniors will graduate: Because of new graduation specific guidance from the WA Department of Health, the traditional football field graduation will not be held this year. However, Vashon High School grads will still have their moment. A graduation parade will start at 4 p.m. on Friday, June 13, beginning at Ober Park. A virtual graduation ceremony will follow at 6 p.m.
Planning for next school year: The School District is preparing for the reopening of schools in the upcoming 2020-21 school year by calling together stakeholders to help make a plan for the reopening. A group of staff and community members will come together to work on four specific parts of a reopening plan: 1). Operations, 2). Learning, 3). Whole Child, and 4). Family and Community. The state has convened a planning group in Olympia to consider a range of seven options for reopening.
Islanders out of work: Unemployment Support Branch reports 125 more islanders filed unemployment applications in the past week according to the state Employment Security Department (ESD). That brings the total of Vashon unemployed to 1,300, about one-fourth of the island’s workforce. To access free assistance for obtaining unemployment benefits, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 206-200-3236.
Hot meals for seniors: Vashon Senior Center lunch delivery will continue for the foreseeable future. Anyone age 55 or older can have a hot, nutritious lunch delivered right to their front door on Monday, Wednesday or Friday. To sign up, go to vashoncenter.org/lunch-delivery and complete the online form. You can also email email@example.com, or call the Senior Center at 206-463-5173.
Community Resources Hub closed: The Community Resources Hub is closed. The hub was created to help community members who had relied on the library for connectivity and rest rooms. The Hub was created because the library was closed due to the pandemic. The EOC’s Households and Neighborhoods Support Branch conducted a usage and needs assessment because, despite extensive outreach efforts, low usage continued and was even declining. The EOC has determined that the resources utilized by the Hub could best be deployed for other community needs.
The Vashon Emergency Operations Center (EOC) was activated on March 12. Wednesday, May 27 marked day 77 of activation for the all-volunteer emergency response team. Over 50 volunteers have so far logged more than 8,000 hours of work time for the response.
VashonBePrepared: Nearly $240,000 has been raised for the Vashon COVID Relief Fund, about 55% of the total goal of $425,000. Since the emergency activation began, VashonBePrepared has spent about $95,000 on the response. An additional $50,000 has been set aside in reserve to ensure long term operation of the Medical Reserve Corps COVID-19 testing site.
Household and Neighborhood Support Branch: The Branch has been helping neighborhoods pull together during the emergency through a program of weekly tips and information distributed to Neighborhood Emergency Response Organization (NERO) leaders, in addition to facilitating virtual neighborhood meetings. The Branch has so far purchased 7,700 meals for needy families as well as nearly 800 bags of groceries by working with social service agency partners such as VYFS, Interfaith Council to prevent Homelessness, Senior Center, and Food Bank.
Medical Support Branch: National media discovered the Medical Reserve Corps testing site operation this week. A New York Times article, a Seattle Times article, an interview on MSNBC all helped the group draw attention to their program which they have been exporting to other rural and tribal communities. A similar model distribution effort is underway for the MRC’s Community Care Team for psychological and spiritual support.
Business Support Branch: The back-to-business planning workshop project has been launched in collaboration with the Chamber of Commerce. As indicated above, workshops begin this week with a free toolkit of basics provided free to all businesses taking the Phase 2 reopening planning workshop.
Unemployed Worker Support Branch: The Branch has so far conducted more than 300 one-on-one assistance sessions with those needing help applying for unemployment benefits. A particular challenge this week has been the slowdown in granting of benefits due to fraud prevention efforts at the state Employment Security Department. Fraudulent claims went way up, apparently due to a Nigerian crime ring.
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 receive daily reports and other emergency information emails, go to VoiceOfVashon.org/Alerts