The latest data shows that COVID-19 disproportionately hurts communities of color in King County. This graph comes from the PHSKC dashboard pages and compares rates of COVID-19 infection among races and ethnic groups. The rate of infection for blacks is about three times greater than for whites. The rate for Hispanic/LatinX people is more than five times greater than whites. That’s noteworthy for Vashon because Spanish speakers are the second largest demographic on the island (Courtesy Photo).

The latest data shows that COVID-19 disproportionately hurts communities of color in King County. This graph comes from the PHSKC dashboard pages and compares rates of COVID-19 infection among races and ethnic groups. The rate of infection for blacks is about three times greater than for whites. The rate for Hispanic/LatinX people is more than five times greater than whites. That’s noteworthy for Vashon because Spanish speakers are the second largest demographic on the island (Courtesy Photo).

Vashon Emergency Operations Center COVID-19 Pandemic Situation Reports

Here’s what you need to know about June 1 to June 8.

  • Saturday, June 13, 2020 8:17pm
  • News

THE VIRUS

Vashon Continues to Stay Safe: According to Public Health – Seattle & King County (PHSKC), there have been only four confirmed positive cases in zip codes 98070/98013, only one hospitalization and zero deaths. PHSKC reports that more than 460 have been tested from our community. Federal law and PHSKC privacy policies prohibit access to individual patient outcomes.

RE-OPENING PROGRESS

Welcome to Phase 1.5: King County’s application to relax some restrictions has been approved, opening the door to some limited restaurant dining and allowing people to visit barbers and salons. Washington State Department of Health accepted King County’s plan to allow for a modified Phase 1 (Phase 1.5) status in the Governor’s Safe Start reopening plan. Although King County’s COVID-19 metrics do not quite meet Phase 2 standards, nearly all approved types of activities that are allowed under Phase 2 are now allowed in Phase 1.5. However, in all cases, the Phase 2 activities are permitted only with lower numbers of people and in some cases with a 30-minute time limit. Safety requirements continue, such as wearing face coverings in public spaces both indoors and outdoors when 6 feet of social distancing cannot be maintained. Guidance also requires washing or sanitizing hands frequently and getting tested if you feel sick. Allowed Phase 1.5 activities (with safety limitations) include:

  • Restaurants can offer indoor dining at 25% of capacity and outdoor dining at 50% capacity.
  • In-store retail can operate at 15% capacity.
  • Personal Services (such as barbers, salons and tattoo studios) at 25% capacity.
  • Professional services (such as accountants and attorneys) can return to their offices at 25% capacity.
  • Fitness studios can only offer one-on-one services indoors.
  • Real Estate offices can operate at 15% capacity and a 30-minute limit on indoor services.
  • Pet grooming can operate with occupancy below 25%.
  • In-home/domestic services such as house cleaning permitted with safety restrictions.

Find detailed business-specific guidance links and Phase 1.5 limitations at kingcounty.gov/depts/health/covid-19/safe-start.aspx

Enforcing the Safety Requirements: Washington businesses that open or operate in direct violation of Gov. Inslee’s order may be cited and fined for unsafe workplace conditions under emergency rules filed by the state Department of Labor & Industries. Submit workplace safety and health complaints to the State Department of Labor and Industries Call Center at 1-800-423-7233.

Workers Must Wear Masks: The current Safe Start order includes a new requirement that all workers must wear masks unless they work alone and have no interaction with others. Employers are required to supply the masks. The mask requirements took effect this week.

Reopening Workshop Seats Still Available: More than 70 people have attended back to business workshops by the Vashon Chamber of Commerce to help businesses reopen safely. The Chamber program is funded by VashonBePrepared through its Vashon COVID Relief Fund. Each participant receives a toolkit that includes masks (provided by Masks for Vashon), hand sanitizer, floor signs for six-foot distancing, and signage for the establishment’s safety commitments. Sign up for a workshop at vashonchamber.com/re-opening-round-tables/

COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENTS

Unemployment Inches Up: The EOC Unemployed Worker Support Branch reports 18 additional islanders filed unemployment applications in the past week according to the state Employment Security Department (ESD). That is a smaller number than in recent weeks. It brings the total of Vashon unemployed benefit applicants to 1,363 — over one-fourth of the island’s workforce. Many who have filed for unemployment benefits are still waiting to receive funds due to the slowdown related to investigating fraudulent claims, many of them filed by a Nigerian crime ring. To access free assistance for obtaining unemployment benefits, email deborah@vashonbeprepared.org or call (206) 200-3236.

Keep Filing: The EOC Unemployed Worker Branch advises that if you have started returning to work, especially if work is with reduced hours, DO NOT STOP filing your weekly claims. If everything shuts down again weeks or months from now, you will be able to restart benefits easily. If you do not file weekly claims, you will need to start all over again.

Give Your Input: The Vashon Emergency Operations Center asks your help. We are seeking community input. The EOC wants to understand the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on you and your family. The EOC asks all islanders to take five minutes to complete the survey. Your completely confidential answers will be aggregated for the research and help prioritize our initiatives to assist the public. The survey will also help the EOC gain a better understanding of your communication needs and impacts of unemployment on individuals and families. Find the survey at tinyurl.com/vashonsurvey

Lonely Seniors: The EOC Households and Neighborhoods Support Branch reports the Senior Center has noticed an uptick in loneliness among isolated adults, particularly elders, who may suffer cognitive decline from lack of social interaction. Mental health resources are available to help. Vashon Youth and Family Services encourages folks of 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 also offers a Help Line at 206-701-0694. The Help Line is staffed from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. every day, for referrals to spiritual support as well as mental health counseling.

More Eviction Protection: Gov. Jay Inslee extended protections for renters financially impacted by the COVID-19 virus. The moratorium on evictions extends through August 1 and protects tenants from retaliation by landlords. Visit governor.wa.gov/news-media/inslee-extends-eviction-moratorium.

More Rides Available Now: Metro Community Van has expanded service to four vans on Vashon Island. You can book essential island trips in advance via phone or email. Rides will be more available with the additional van, operated by Metro bus drivers living on the island. The van program operates around the clock. For a Community Van trip, contact Megan Lockart, Community Transportation Coordinator for Vashon at 206-773-7003 (normal business hours) or at VashonVan@KingCounty.gov.

EMERGENCY OPERATIONS

Emergency Operations Center (EOC): This is Day 92 since EOC activation on March 12. A five-member team has built a decision framework for long-range planning as the EOC begins adjusting to the evolving emergency. We will need to increase focus on the growing social and economic impacts of the pandemic while monitoring for a possible spike in disease as Safe Start Phase 2 and 3 unfold. The team will also establish targets for winding down the response.

VashonBePrepared: More than $247,000 has been raised for the Vashon COVID Relief Fund, about 58% of the total goal of $425,000. Funds have so far purchased 10,000 meals, 1,000 bags of groceries and funded more than 200 partner client cases of rent and household needs relief. The organization has so far spent more than $125,000 on the emergency response, not including $50,000 set aside to ensure long term operation of the Medical Reserve Corps COVID-19 testing site.

Medical Reserve Corps and Community Emergency Response Team crew demonstrate social distancing before getting down to work at their new location. Testing for COVID-19 is now at the Open Space for Arts & Community (Michelle Bates Photo).

Medical Reserve Corps and Community Emergency Response Team crew demonstrate social distancing before getting down to work at their new location. Testing for COVID-19 is now at the Open Space for Arts & Community (Michelle Bates Photo).

Household and Neighborhood Support Branch: At a weekly meeting of our social service agency partners, some organizations reported starting to run low on funds to provide meals, groceries, rent and help with household needs. As funds for this help run low, the island’s social service agencies expect increased demand among hard-hit residents. Federally augmented unemployment benefits run out in late July and the School District nutrition program runs out in a few weeks. Several leaders made requests for help from the Vashon COVID Relief Fund.

Business Support Branch: With the approval of King County’s modified Phase 1 (Phase 1.5) plan, the branch has been working with the Vashon Chamber of Commerce and island businesses to take advantage of the reduced restrictions as part of the island’s economic recovery effort.

Unemployed Worker Support Branch: The branch has been investigating specifics of worker benefits programs, searching for opportunities, as well as monitoring the total unemployment benefit applications in our community. To date, the branch has provided over 400 counseling sessions to assist those needing to receive unemployment benefits.

Medical Support Branch: MRC has now been operating for more than a week at the new testing site located at the O Space. The operation has been going well. Nearly 100 patients have been tested by MRC since the operation began, originally at Mukai. Plans are in progress to assist Vashon Community Care in complying with the Governor’s order requiring a proactive testing program for staff and residents.

ABOUT

This information is 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 the EOC to share 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.


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