During a press conference on Tuesday afternoon, just before The Beachcomber’s press time, Gov. Jay Inslee, announced that a widely anticipated rollback of his reopening plan would not happen statewide. All counties, including our own, get to stay where they are for the next two weeks, at least.
The news will be welcomed by many in King County and on Vashon, perhaps most of all by small business owners. Capacity for eating and drinking establishments, retail outlets, personal and professional services and worship services will remain at 50%. The sense of recovery that has emerged with the arrival of spring will stay in the air.
The capacity for indoor and outdoor recreation, wellness, and entertainment will also remain at 50%. And for now, at least, there are no changes to the rules around indoor and outdoor social and at-home activities, either.
Still, it’s not an occasion to throw a party. Even with so many islanders vaccinated, it is still a cautious new world out there.
In short, cases and hospitiliazations are still high, especially among young people, though The New York Times reports welcome news that the FDA is preparing to approve the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine for adolescents aged 12 to 15 years old by early next week.
Vashon has shined when it comes to vaccinations. Our first-dose vaccination rate is currently at 76.4% for those 16 years and over, surpassing that in other communities — because islanders are concerned about their own health and the health of their loved ones, and they take health officials’ warnings seriously.
Dear reader, who has already received your first or second dose of a vaccine, this is a more resilient community because of you.
That we have access to vaccines in the first place is an immense privilege.
Island residents are now well-protected against the threat of COVID-19, but this disease will continue to lash other populations and places even harder, mere miles away in Washington state and far beyond. And let’s not forget that our island is a summer tourist destination for people coming from many places with far less protection than ours.
Vashon cannot afford to slip into ignorance as we eventually turn the corner on this pandemic. Being vaccinated is not a chance to forget how COVID-19 continues to terrorize our neighbors and world. While the county remains in Phase 3, let’s face it: it also remains in a pandemic. It isn’t over, not by a long shot. Just look at what is going on now in India and South America. The virus can come roaring back.
Continue to do your part for as long as it takes.
There is hope, and more is coming. If you are feeling low, reach out to the support you have and know that there are resources available, including from our island Medical Reserve Corps, at vashonbeprepared.org/en-us/MentalHealth. Continue to patronize local businesses that help make this island as spectacular as it is any way you can. Visit The Vashon-Maury Island Chamber of Commerce online at vashonchamber.com/covidsafe-vashon for an up-to-date list of availability and offerings during this time and as the county proceeds with reopening.
Hang on and stay sharp. And thank you for reading The Beachcomber.