New Cases: For the first time in nearly two months, new cases of COVID-19 have been recorded on Vashon. Public Health – Seattle & King County (PHSKC) reports three new positive tests for COVID-19 in zip codes 98070 and 98013. That means there have now been seven confirmed positives on the island, one hospitalization, and zero deaths since the pandemic began. (Federal law and PHSKC privacy policies strictly prohibit access to individual patient outcomes.)
Contact Tracing: Public Health operates a centralized contact tracing program in conjunction with the state Department of Health. Vashon Medical Reserve Corps has not been incorporated into that centralized effort. However, according to the latest published reports, about 90% of King County cases have been contacted within 24 hours of a positive finding. About 90% of the contacts resulting from those tracing investigations are being notified within 48 hours. Contact tracers are telephoning contacts every two days to check on infection status or additional contacts.
Lots of Testing: More testing means a greater likelihood that cases will be identified and be able to isolate themselves to avoid spread of COVID-19. PHSKC reports that nearly 600 Vashon residents have been tested to date. About 100 of the tests were conducted by Vashon Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) with no positives. The other tests were performed by the two island clinics, SCAN, or mainland healthcare providers such as Kaiser, Multicare and others. Vashon Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) provides testing for Vashon residents or those working on island. If you do not have a healthcare provider, you can receive tele-screening by a Vashon MRC volunteer healthcare provider to determine if a test is appropriate by calling (844) 469-4554 from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. If you do not have insurance, the cost is covered by the Vashon COVID Relief Fund, administered by VashonBePrepared.
Welcome to Phase 2: The state Department of Health approved King County’s application to move to Phase 2 of the Governor’s four-phase reopening plan. However, public health experts say it is crucial to continue social distancing, regular hand washing and wearing masks. There’s no vaccine for COVID-19, and there’s still an active disease in our community. Taking steps for safety not only protects you but all those around you.
What’s Allowed: Phase 2 allows one gathering per week with no more than five people living outside of a single household. Phase 2 also allows significantly reduced restrictions on a range of businesses. Some examples:
- Restaurants may offer indoor and outdoor dining at 50% of capacity, but no bar seating.
- In-store retail service may operate at up to 30% capacity.
- Personal services (such as barbers, salons and tattoo studios) at 50% capacity.
- Professional services (such as accountants and attorneys) may return to their offices at 50% capacity.
- Fitness studios may offer group workouts limited to five or fewer participants.
- Real Estate offices may operate at 50% capacity and no more than three people at an appointment.
- Pet grooming may operate with occupancy below 50%.
Workers must wear masks: The Governor’s worker mask order remains in place. All workers must wear masks, unless they work alone and have no interaction with others. Employers are required to supply the masks.
Religious services: The Governor has updated health guidance for religious services. Under Phase 2, indoor services are permitted up to 25% of building capacity or 200 people whichever is less. The allowance assumes that 6-foot social distancing can be achieved and masks will be worn. The full guidance document is available at tiny.cc/FaithBased.
Latest restaurant information: Vashon Events now maintains a list of restaurants with information on takeout, delivery and dining in. The list will be maintained on the Vashon Events website, and updated as frequently as possible. Restaurants should send any updates directly to Vashon Events for inclusion in the list. For the latest information on island restaurants, visit vashonevents.org/togo.
Food assistance: The Vashon Food Bank’s Picnics-to-Go program will run from June 22 to Aug. 21, and offer free lunches to anyone who needs one, regardless of age or income. Nobody will be turned away, although donations will be accepted for adults who wish to chip in. Previously the program was offered at Ober Park. This year the meals will be for pickup at the School District on weekday mornings from 9:30 to 1:30, and via limited school bus stops on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. For more details and bus stops serviced, visit vashonfoodbank.org.
Bus and Water Taxi restored but reduced: King County Metro has restored some transit service this week. Vashon bus routes 118 and 119 resumed service on the island at a reduced level compared to the pre-pandemic schedule. The Water Taxi resumed its full schedule to Vashon of three morning and afternoon trips. For a complete schedule, visit tinyurl.com/yclml8vg.
Unemployment continues to inch up: The state Employment Security Department (ESD) reports an additional 20 applications this week for unemployment benefits from Vashon. This brings the total since the start of the pandemic to 1,402, more than 25% of the island workforce. The EOC Unemployed Worker Support Branch offers free assistance for obtaining unemployment benefits. Email or call (206) 200-3236.
Young COVID-19 infections: Public Health reports that over 50% of the COVID-19 positive test results last week were people aged 40 or less. This change in age demographics should not be taken lightly. Persons under 40 with preexisting health issues are very susceptible to unusually serious illness from the virus. If you think you have been exposed to someone with the virus, get tested, regardless of age.
Racism and Public Health: County Executive Dow Constantine spoke last week on the topic of racism as a public health crisis. “King County government and Public Health – Seattle & King County are committed to working in stronger and better-resourced partnerships with community organizations and leaders to disrupt and dismantle racism and protect the health and well-being of Black, Indigenous People and People of Color.” He continued: “We recognize that historically and currently King County has been complicit in maintaining and perpetuating structural racism and that as an institution we must be a vital player in dismantling oppressive systems that are grounded in white supremacy.” For more, visit tinyurl.com/y849cj2a.
Emergency Operations Center (EOC): This is day 106 since EOC activation on March 12. The volunteers from the EOC Team, Medical Reserve Corps, Community Care Team, and CERT have logged over 10,000 hours of service. FEMA values a volunteer hour at $31. By that reckoning, the volunteers have donated well over $300,000 worth of their time.
Long-range planning: The Phase 2 reorganization plan, a planning framework for the next phase of the emergency response, was approved by the Long Range Planning Team and the Command Group. It’s now headed for review by the board of VashonBePrepared. The framework for the next steps keeps vital work going but moves the Emergency Operations Center to Maintenance and Monitoring activation status.
Business Support Branch: So far, the business recovery workshop program has put on 13 workshops, with more in the works. A total of 81 people have attended, representing 79 Vashon businesses. Each participant receives a free customized toolkit of masks, sanitizer, signage, and potentially a Plexiglas shield. The workshops and tool kits are provided by the Vashon-Maury Island Chamber of Commerce and funded by the Vashon COVID Relief Fund, administered by VashonBePrepared.
Community Engagement Branch: Work continues with the chamber of commerce group planning the 4th of July community caravan parade. An all-island postcard mailing of key social service and COVID testing resources will be arriving this week in mailboxes.
EOC Finance Section: Vashon COVID Relief Fund Disbursement #4 is almost complete. This disbursement totaled just over $28,000 to the food bank, school district, senior center, Vashon Youth and Family Services, The DOVE Project, Interfaith Council on Homelessness, St. Vincent de Paul and chamber of commerce.
Households & Neighborhoods Support Branch: The plan for disbursement #5 from the Vashon COVID Relief Fund has been approved by the VashonBePrepared Executive Committee and now goes to the full Board.
EOC Finance Section: The latest burn rate projection suggests the social services and economic recovery support from the Vashon COVID Relief Fund will be able to continue through mid-August, given the current pattern of disbursements for food and shelter support. The projection includes a reserve to support an urgent surge of activity in case of a spike in disease.
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.