New cases: At press time, Vashon has had seven confirmed positive cases of COVID-19. That’s unchanged from a week ago when three new cases were added in a single week according to Public Health – Seattle & King County (PHSKC). One of the seven positives was hospitalized and no Vashon COVID-19 patients have died. The rate of positive cases for Vashon is 0.6 per 1,000 residents. That compares favorably to the 4.3 per 1,000 rate of positive cases on the mainland, seven times worse than on Vashon. (Federal law and PHSKC privacy policies strictly prohibit access to individual patient outcomes.)
Key indicators: The dashboard of key indicators from PHSKC has taken a slight downturn since the last report. King County as a whole is in the red for half of the eight indicators. That means King County is not meeting targets for a number of reported cases, the rate of spread of the disease and both of the indicators measuring testing performance.
Mask up. It’s the law: The success of the Safe Start reopening relies on Washingtonians wearing face coverings and now it is the law. You must wear a face-covering in indoor public settings like the grocery store, pharmacy, hardware store, health clinic, and other locations. If outside, you must wear a face-covering if you cannot keep six feet away from other people at all times. Failure to comply is a misdemeanor.
Need a Cloth Mask? VashonBePrepared and the Vashon Emergency Operations Center (EOC) picked up 10,000 masks provided by King County. A bulk distribution network has been set up with cooperation from the Chamber of Commerce, Vashon Social Services Network, Community Council and Greentech. Street-level distribution of masks has reached several dozen organizations and businesses so far. Some examples include the two supermarkets, The Vashon Senior Center, The DOVE Project, Vashon Youth and Family Services, The Vashon Care Closet, Vashon Community Care, Granny’s Attic and many others. A quantity of masks has gone to the Vashon Medical Reserve Corps testing project for distribution to patients.
Early word on school reopening: The Vashon Island School District (VISD) has developed a set of potential models for reopening of schools. Superintendent Dr. Slade McSheehy said in his announcement: “It is imperative that we make the Health and Safety of our community our primary goal. VISD will follow all health and safety guidance by the King County Department of Health (DOH) and the Department of Labor and Industries (L&I).” Meanwhile, the state Superintendent of Public Education released a set of questions and answers about the K-12 reopening plan announced in early June. This Q & A can be found online at tinyurl.com/y7fdlkos.
Two ways to get business reopening details: The Vashon-Maury Island Chamber of Commerce has been refreshing its listing for food, restaurants & other businesses. In order to be listed go to vashonchamber.com/virtual-essential-vashon/. In addition, Vashon Events maintains a list of restaurants with information on takeout, delivery and dining in. Restaurants should send any updates directly to Vashon Events for inclusion in the list. For Vashon Events listings, go to vashonevents.org/togo.
Severe unemployment continues: More than 25% of Vashon’s workforce has applied for unemployment benefits during the pandemic, including wage earners, as well as gig economy or self-employed workers. In the last few weeks, the rate of new filings has leveled off.
Return books: The Vashon Library Book Drop is now open 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday to Thursday and 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Friday & Saturday. All materials must be returned through the manual book drop. Materials will not be accepted in person by staff. Returned materials will be quarantined – and remain on patron accounts – for a minimum of 3 days before being checked in. Any fines or fees accrued during that time will be waived. The library will not fully reopen until King County achieves Phase 3 status.
Time payment plan for taxes: Property owners in King County who have not yet paid the first half of their 2020 property taxes now have the option of setting up a payment plan. Payment plans are available for taxes on homes, commercial businesses, land, and mobile homes and the plans can spread payments out over a period of up to 18 months. For more information, visit kingcounty.gov/propertytax/paymentplans.
Emergency Operations Center (EOC): This is day 113 since EOC activation on March 12. This week the EOC shifted from a full Type 1 activation to a Maintenance and Monitoring status. For example, the weekday Situation Report moved to a three day-schedule of publishing on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. The reduced footprint allows volunteers who have been working full time for many weeks to rotate out and get some relief. Relieving volunteer staff now will make it possible to return to full activation if there is a spike in COVID-19 cases. The timing of the reorganization coincides with the achievement of Phase 2 reopening status for King County.
EOC Finance: Vashon COVID Relief Fund Disbursement #5 payments are going out this week. This fifth disbursement of approximately $25,000 goes to support community relief operations by a number of social service and economic recovery organizations, including the food bank, senior center, VYFS, DOVE Project, the Interfaith Council to Prevent Homelessness (IFCH), St. Vincent de Paul, and the chamber of commerce.
Business Support: A total of 100 businesses took advantage of the business recovery workshop program put on by the chamber of commerce and funded by the Vashon COVID Relief Fund, administered by VashonBePrepared. Participants also received a free toolkit of masks, sanitizer, signage, and other back-to-business reopening essentials.
Community Engagement: Work continued 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 arrived in each island mailbox.
EOC Planning: Work began on capturing lessons learned so far from this activation. A survey tool will collect suggestions from the approximately 80 volunteers who have at one point or another worked during the activation. The survey will include not only volunteers who are winding down but also ones who are continuing to work. This approach is unusual because it is a mid-stream capture of information rather than waiting until the end of an activation. The objective will be to improve future EOC emergency responses.
Medical Support Branch: Volunteers of the Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) are planning for an early warning system, to monitor for COVID-19 disease spikes. Although the EOC is scaling back with its Phase 2 Reorganization, key volunteers will alert EOC operations of the need to scale back up if there is a COVID-19 spike. The MRC testing project continues at full strength in the reorganization and, in fact, the testing volume has recently doubled as awareness of the need has increased.
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.