Virus statistics: Public Health – Seattle & King County (PHSKC) reports 106 positive cases of COVID-19 on Vashon since the pandemic began. That’s an increase of two in the number of cases since last week’s edition. In addition, a Vashon death has been added to the PHSKC statistics dashboard, bringing the total to three. At this time, the identity and date of death for the deceased are not known by the EOC and are protected by federal privacy law.
VASHON VACCINATION AVAILABILITY
The overview: Vaccination capacity has been strong this week, but for the second week in a row was still primarily devoted to second doses. There were a limited number of first dose opportunities at both the Vashon Pharmacy and Sea Mar Sunrise Ridge sites.
Overall vaccination progress: The data dashboard published by Public Health — Seattle and King County (PHSKC) says over 30% of the island’s 16-and-over population has received at least one dose. By comparison, other communities in the county are in the 14% to 18% vaccinated range, about half of Vashon’s vaccinated rate. More than 94% of the current high-priority group of Vashon seniors aged 65 and over (tier 1b1) has received at least one dose according to Public Health. This island age group’s vaccination rate is running far ahead of other areas of King County. Other areas of King County are in the 45% to 60% range for their 1b1 population, 30 to 45 points behind Vashon.
Three providers: VashonBePrepared continues to support the three providers who are approved by the state to do vaccinations on Vashon. They are Vashon Pharmacy, Sea Mar at Sunrise Ridge, and Vashon Natural Medicine. The Emergency Operations Center (EOC) recommends that you check the following four websites to see if there is updated information.
Vashon Pharmacy: Shipments of vaccine arrived again this week. That means second dose appointments should hold steady, no rescheduling required — a relief after the uncertainty of the past several weeks. A small number of remaining doses made it possible to give some first doses this week to the currently eligible 1b1 category of patients and the Pharmacy’s website portal was opened for new appointments again on Monday evening.
Sea Mar at Sunrise Ridge: Sea Mar held two days of first-come-first-served walk-up clinics for first doses as last week was ending, dispensing Pfizer vaccine injections. Nearly 150 doses were administered over the two days, including opening up the clinic on Saturday when it is normally closed. About 45 school district teachers, paraeducators, and other staff were vaccinated. Some of the scarce doses at Sea Mar were in danger of timing out so, to prevent them going to waste, the EOC alerted the District and a phone tree operation mobilized teachers to hurry to Sunrise Ridge for shots.
Vashon Natural Medicine: VNM reports that it has been told it will not receive any shipments until the vaccine is available in much greater supply. The Vashon Natural Medicine website directs patients to Vashon Pharmacy.
Vaccine number three: A third vaccine will be coming to Washington in March, now that the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has granted Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for the Johnson & Johnson – Janssen COVID-19 vaccine. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine requires only one dose, which will help people get protected against COVID-19 without having to worry about finding or scheduling an appointment for a second dose. Washington will likely be allocated 60,900 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine next week.
School days: The Vashon Island School District’s Healthy Start plan began the first phase of reopening in-person education this week. Children in Pre-K and kindergarten went back to class on Monday, March 1. Dr. Slade McSheehy said that with full consideration of the Washington Department of Health and the Labor and Industries safety protocols, in-person learning can be accomplished in a way that limits the spread of infection, and in a way that improves student well-being and learning. He said that VISD remains fully committed to following the DOH recommendations, and at the same time, is in full support of school staff getting immediate access to vaccinations and will continue advocacy efforts until each and every staff member has access. The timeline for the return to in-person learning will continue in coming weeks with:
- March 15 — Grades 1-3
- March 29 — Grades 4-5
- April 16 — Grades 6-12 (Still in planning phase)
Cascadia Rising 2022, the earthquake: Vashon Island Fire and Rescue (VIFR), VashonBePrepared, and the Vashon Emergency Operations Center (EOC) have signed on to participate in FEMA’s Cascadia Rising 2022 earthquake exercise. “We will perform a functional exercise over all four days of Cascadia Rising,” said Rick Wallace, EOC Manager. “A functional exercise is where the participants inside the EOC experience things as if the earthquake response was actually underway, very realistic, except there won’t be fire trucks and ambulances rolling around the island. Vashon’s participation will also include as many of the community partners who have been such a big part of our pandemic response as want to participate. There will likely be several drills for the Medical Reserve Corps (MRC), Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) and Ham Radio operators (Auxiliary Communications Service, ACS). We will also invite our social service agency partners such as the Food Bank, Senior Center, and others. “Planning has been delayed for many months due to the pandemic, so we are just getting started and have a lot of work to do,” Wallace said. The Cascadia Rising 2022 National Level Full Scale Exercise is scheduled for June 13 to 16, 2022.
Sticking to Phase Two: Gov. Inslee has announced that all 28 Washington counties will remain in Phase 2 of reopening for at least another two weeks. The state put a pause on assessing metrics for the next two weeks “in recognition of the fact that we’ve made incredible progress in knocking down the infection rate of COVID in these last few weeks,” said Inslee. The governor did not provide details on what any later phases might look like for counties whose metrics continue to improve, but said he expects to have answers to that question sometime in the “next several weeks as we look at the development of the science.”
The variants are here: The Washington State Department of Health (DOH) along with Public Health – Seattle & King County (PHSKC) and the UW Medicine Virology Lab, announced that the B.1.351 (South Africa) variant of SARS-CoV-2 has been detected in King County. The lab also found evidence of 19 additional cases of the B.1.1.7 (United Kingdom) variant strain in Washington State, bringing the total to 39. Currently, there are no local confirmed cases of the P.1 variant that originated in Brazil. The detection of these COVID-19 variants in the state reminds us that this pandemic is not over. Despite the decrease in the case count, DOH is very concerned about the emergence of these variants and how it will affect future case counts. “COVID-19 is threatening us in new ways, and we need to rise to the challenge,” said Dr. Jeff Duchin, Health Officer, Public Health – Seattle & King County.
Emergency Operations Center (EOC): Four operational priorities established by the Incident Commander, Fire Chief Charlie Krimmert, and approved by the VashonBePrepared Board, continue to guide our work: health, food security, housing security and economic recovery. The EOC and other elements of our island emergency response coalition were activated in response to the pandemic emergency on March 12th, nearly 51 weeks ago (356 days).
EOC/CERT/MRC: Intensive coordination work continues in order to meet vaccination demand and optimize operations, and get information about vaccination availability to the public, along with public health education information on how to stay safe. The assignment of a volunteer as the liaison between the VashonBePrepared elements of our response and Vashon Pharmacy has been helping to optimize operations.
EOC logistics/CERT/MRC: Study continues for vaccination site options and alternative traffic flow models for when the existing patient reception/staging area needs to move to a different location.
Community Care Team/Spiritual Resources Group/Community Engagement: Planning and design have begun for a gratitude project, a card writing campaign to thank volunteers for working on the emergency response.
EOC Team/community engagement: No party is planned because of COVID, but there will be activities to commemorate one year of our emergency activation in about a week’s time from today.
Volunteers: Hours contributed by volunteers in the VashonBePrepared coalition continue to run at a high level. For the most recent reporting period, 41 volunteers contributed 489 hours of work to VashonBePrepared’s pandemic emergency response. That brings the total contributed hours to just under 24,000 since the activation began. At the FEMA reimbursement grant rate of $31.72/hour, VashonBePrepared volunteers have logged more than $761,000 of in-kind value available to be applied to the 25% match requirement for reimbursement grants. VashonBePrepared gives thanks as well for the many hours of extra work logged during the pandemic in support of the Vashon community, by the staff and volunteers at local social services agencies.
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.