Editorial: It’s time to step up to help the helpers on Vashon

We must not ever take these deeply community-minded experts and volunteers for granted.

  • Wednesday, October 6, 2021 4:20pm
  • Opinion

Last week, the pace of news on Vashon finally slowed a bit, after September’s breathless rush of stories about a fire chief’s vaccine hesitancy, a school board resignation, the closure of Vashon Community Care, and outbreaks of COVID in public school classrooms.

Agent 007 returns to our movie theatre on Friday, and dancers are set to leap across the stage at Vashon Center for the Arts this weekend, so we know the world is still turning.

But one thing, sadly, has not changed in the past few weeks — except to have gotten worse.

Just look at the graph on page 3 of this newspaper. It shows that local cases of COVID-19 are now as high as they were at the peak of last winter’s surge.

The Delta variant doesn’t care how well prepared we are — it has still found a way to infiltrate our island, disrupt the education of our young people and severely overtax our Emergency Operations Center (EOC) and Medical Reserve Corps (MRC).

We must not ever take these deeply community-minded experts and volunteers for granted.

In the past month, the MRC has partnered with the school district four times to provide pop-up testing sites following significant exposure events, testing approximately 160 individuals including students, their family members, and school staff.

This isn’t counting the other work being done by the MRC to test islanders in its parking lot site at Vashon Pharmacy — a place where many of the index cases in the school district were first discovered, because the school district does not yet have its own testing program up and running.

The MRC doctors follow up each positive test at that site with intensive and expert contact tracing, and they have also made themselves available to advise the families of those deemed to be close contacts in school district cases.

The diligence and dedication of our EOC and MRC members are remarkable, as are the efforts of our school district’s nursing staff to keep our community safe and informed during this surge.

Look at the graph again on page 3, and imagine these people’s endless days and nights in recent weeks. If you think you are tired of COVID, just think how tired they must be. Actually tired. Bone tired.

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could help them?

We can, by slowing down the pace of our interactions with those outside our households, whenever possible. We can, by masking diligently, and being extremely cautious as we go about our business.

So many of us want to be done with COVID. But COVID is clearly not done with us. Even on well-vaccinated Vashon, where thousands are protected against the most severe outcomes of the virus, there are still too many unvaccinated children and vulnerable elders to let our guard down.

If you are eligible but still not vaccinated, please join our formerly vaccine-hesitant fire chief in taking a deep breath, rolling up your sleeve, and finally deciding to get the shot.

And do it soon, because beginning Oct. 25, people ages 12 and older will be required to show proof of full COVID-19 vaccination or a negative test result to enter many indoor and outdoor events and establishments in King County, including restaurants, bars, gyms and other indoor entertainment spaces.

It’s time. Do it now.

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Don C. Brunell is a business analyst, writer and columnist. He retired as president of the Association of Washington Business, the state’s oldest and largest business organization, and lives in Vancouver. He can be contacted at thebrunells@msn.com.
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