FOLLOWUP: West Seattle Junction fire victim – city councilmember Lorena González’s mother-in-law – has died

(WSB photo, post-fire, from Friday night)

10:49 AM: Last night’s fire in a West Seattle Junction condo building (WSB coverage here) has turned deadly. Last night, City Councilmember Lorena González disclosed the fire broke out in her building – and today, she has announced that the 79-year-old woman who was pulled from the burning unit was her mother-in-law and did not survive. Her statement, received by email:

My family is deeply saddened to share that last night we said goodbye to my 79-year old mother-in-law, Mary Lou Williams, who passed away after sustaining significant injuries from a fire in her condo unit located just two floors above our condo. My husband Cameron and his brother Carlos have lost their beloved mother and my daughter Nadia has lost her Grandma. Our loss is unimaginable. She was a member of the West Seattle Senior Center, where she often taught art classes and sold her own art. Her artistic ability was incredible and we live in a home with her art and memories on every wall.

“Thank you to the Harborview Medical Center nurses, doctors, therapists and other staff for doing everything you could to help our family and allowing us to be at her bedside the entire time. We know our first responders and all the medical staff did everything they could to make her comfortable.

“While our unit was spared, our building is uninhabitable. We are staying with friends while we assess our long term housing plans and assess the physical damage to our home. We are sustained by the outpouring of love and support, and offers of housing and basics from all of you during this devastating time. We appreciate your understanding as we embark on our journey to grieve and celebrate the life and memory of one of our matriarchs, our sweet Mary Lou.”

The statement adds, “Council President González and her family ask for privacy at this time as they grieve the loss of their family member and evaluate damage done at their home.” Last night she said she, her husband, and their daughter were not home when the fire started. SFD is investigating its cause.

11:51 AM: SFD spokesperson David Cuerpo says, “I spoke to our fire investigators and they determined the fire was accidental and likely caused by an electrical failure. “

UPDATE: Almost 100 vaccinated at West Seattle Junction pop-up

10:29 AM: That’s the setup at the West Seattle Junction vaccination pop-up, on until 1 pm. One table signs you up, the next table is the inoculation station, then you get your Husky Deli coupon – until they hit 100 – and you’re on your way. The line is along the north end of the parking lot and then northward to 42nd/Oregon.

This is among the first of the pop-up clinics the city’s Mobile Vaccination Team is having around the city, in hopes that making vaccination more convenient will continue boosting the numbers of people who get vaccinated.

12:15 PM: No line, per commenter.

1:04 PM: Final count was 93 in two and half hours, reports Lora Radford of the West Seattle Junction Association.

Vaccination pop-ups, benefit sales, ‘Instruments of Change,’ movie talk, much more for your West Seattle Saturday

(Friday photo by Marc Milrod)

Another sunny day, with a lot going on!

TRAFFIC ALERT: Sidewalk work is planned on the west side of West Marginal Way, north of the Duwamish Longhouse, 8 am-3 pm.

HIGH POINT VACCINATION POP-UP: At Neighborhood House High Point (6400 Sylvan Way SW) with Pliable, 8 am start (check the appointment page for updated end time), Pfizer vaccine, so ages 12+ are eligible.

PLANT SALE FOR LUNG CANCER: 9 am-3 pm, 3703 SW 107th, encore day for Lung Force Walk-benefiting sale that started last weekend – details here.

BLOCK SALE FOR ANIMALS: 9 am-3 pm, down the block from the plant sale, you’ll find a huge yard sale raising money for PAWS Walkdetails here.

JUNCTION VACCINATION POP-UP: First West Seattle pop-up by the city’s Mobile Vaccination Team, in partnership with the Junction Association, 10 am-1 pm in the 42nd SW parking lot just south of SW Oregon. Coupons for free Husky Deli ice-cream cones for the first 100 to get vaccinated. Your choice of all three vaccines, so ages 12+ are eligible.

SOLSTICE P-PATCH PLANT SALE: 10 am-3 pm, come support the P-Patch and its Giving Garden by buying plants/starts raised by the gardeners! 7400 Fauntleroy Way SW – details in our calendar listing.

FURRY FACES FOUNDATION PLANT SALE: 11 am-4 pm at 3809 46th SW, this pets-and-people-advocacy group is reviving its legendary annual plant sale for the first time in 6 years. As noted in our calendar listing, you might encounter some live music too.

LOG HOUSE MUSEUM: Though the official public reopening isn’t until next Friday, if you’re a Southwest Seattle Historical Society member, you’re welcome to visit the home of West Seattle’s history today (noon-4 pm, 61st/Stevens). Details here.

WEST SEATTLE SKYLINK VOLUNTEERING: The gondola advocates are starting a new phase of community outreach and inviting volunteer support – meet at noon at Dakota Place Park (California/Dakota).

‘INSTRUMENTS OF CHANGE’: 5:30 pm online celebration to support the West Seattle Food Bank, with silent auction (bid now!) and live auction (pre-bid now!) – links for watching and registering are in our Friday preview.

‘PAPER TIGERS’ + Q&A AT ADMIRAL: As previewed here, the 6:30 pm showing of the new Seattle-set/filmed movie “The Paper Tigers” at The Admiral Theater (2343 California SW) will be followed by Q&A with its editor, West Seattle resident Kris Kristensen.

Event coming up? Email info to westseattleblog@gmail.com – thank you!

CORONAVIRUS: Friday 5/14/2021 roundup

Tonight’s pandemic headlines:

VACCINATION EVENTS TOMORROW: Saturday brings the city’s Mobile Vaccination Team to The Junction, 10 am-1 pm in the 42nd SW parking lot (just south of SW Oregon), with all three vaccines available so it’s open to 12+, no appointments needed, first 100 people to get vaccinated will snag coupons for free Husky Deli ice-cream cones. … There’s also a mobile team from Pliable in High Point, 8 am-11:15 am Saturday – you can make an appointment by going here.

KING COUNTY NUMBERS: On to the daily stats from the Public Health daily-summary page, cumulative totals:

*102,526 people have tested positive, 645 more than yesterday’s total (SKCPH says that includes 406 “delayed PCR positive cases” added to the state database now, from 4/26-5/6)

*1,554 people have died, 2 more than yesterday’s total

*6,006 people have been hospitalized, 2 more than yesterday’s total

*1,064,605 people have been tested, 962 more than yesterday’s total

Now our weekly check of key numbers on the COVID Vaccination Among King County Residents dashboard:

*1,316,460 people have received one dose (71.1% of everyone 16+)

*988,215 people have received both doses (53.4% of everyone 16+)

*2,025,315 doses have been allocated to King County (not counting pharmacy programs)

One week ago, the first four totals were 100,485/1,536/5,926/1,053,287, and the vaccination totals were 1,248,950/853,646/1,888,395.

STATEWIDE NUMBERS: See them here.

WORLDWIDE NUMBERS: 161.9 million cases, 3,357,000+ deaths – see the nation-by-nation numbers here.

GOT INFO OR PHOTOS? westseattleblog@gmail.com or text/voice 206-293-6302 – thank you!

UPDATE: Fire on 44th SW, 1 person to hospital

6:15 PM: Seattle Fire has arrived at what they are calling a “working residential fire” in the 4400 block of 44th SW in The Junction. Updates to come.

6:19 PM: Added top photo sent by Brenden. SFD reports “rescuing at least one person from the building.” Here’s a photo sent by WSB’s Katie Meyer:

(Added – photo from Aaron)

SFD crews are continuing to battle the flames. Another view from Brenden – the smoke has turned white:

6:34 PM: SFD says the fire’s out and the person they rescued is a 79-year-old woman who’s being taken to the hospital in critical condition.

(Photo by Katie Meyer)

(Photo by Larry Shaw)

The cause is under investigation.

7:17 PM: Some units are being dismissed. Along with investigating, there’s a lot of aftermath cleanup – such as broken window glass on the sidewalk below the building.

8:10 PM: This building is home to City Council President Lorena González, and we’ve been trying to find out her status. She has just commented via Twitter:

This evening, a significant fire occurred at our home. My husband, daughter, and I were not at home when the fire began. Thank you to all who have reached out, I want you to know that my immediate family is safe.

I am grateful to Seattle Police Department, the Seattle Fire Department, and our first responders for their efforts to stop the fire from spreading further and for their rescue efforts.

There’s also word that an off-duty firefighter helped in the early going, according to SFD spokesperson David Cuerpo, with whom we spoke at the scene:

Witnesses say neighbors were heroes too, “grabbing ladders and helping people out,” according to Wes Olsen, who sent this photo:

9:30 PM: Nearby streets have reopened; Metro Routes 50 and 128 have resumed service in the area.

SATURDAY MORNING UPDATE: Separate story to come – the victim did not survive. She was Councilmember González’s mother-in-law.

SCHOOLS: Boiler project at Lafayette Elementary starts Monday

Seattle Public Schools is circulating this notice sent to the Lafayette Elementary community, since it’s of potential wider interest to neighbors as well as nearby businesses and their customers who might see the crews:

This summer, Lafayette Elementary School will undergo construction improvements including seismic, sprinkler, and HVAC upgrades that were already planned as regular maintenance.

Included in the upgrades, is replacing the existing boiler and associated piping. Asbestos abatement of insulation materials will be required prior to removal of the various mechanical components. The abatement, or removal process, is a monitored process to safely remove or handle any asbestos that may be in our older buildings in compliance with applicable federal, state, and local regulations.

Due to the limited number of work days this summer, and the time required for removal and replacement of the various mechanical systems, asbestos abatement activities are scheduled to begin on Monday, May 17. The abatement activity will be confined within the Boiler Room and associated sub-surface utilidor tunnels. Work will only take place during non-school hours and in areas where no students have access to.

SPS has hired an independent third-party environmental consulting firm, NOVO Laboratory and Consulting Services, who are certified to oversee this work and will ensure the work is being performed safely and in compliance with the project manual as well as all applicable federal, state, and local regulations.

Questions? Capital projects manager Tom Gut is the contact at twgut@seattleschools.org.

WHALES: Mystery sightings today

Two reports of whale sightings today – maybe you’ve had a sighting too? Around noon, Philip reported a whale (“not an orca”) off Three Tree Point headed north. About two hours later, Susan saw this: “I glimpsed the back half of an orca as it rolled northward, not far from the Fauntleroy ferry slip. I waited for it to resurface north of the dock… and waited… saw a blow, but its source didn’t appear to be the B&W of an orca. It surfaced again, and definitely was something other than an orca or humpback. What happened to the orca?” Humpbacks and grays are in regional waters now too; if you see a marine mammal you can’t identify, try a species guide like this one offered by The Whale Trail.

DELRIDGE PROJECT: Here’s what’s next

SDOT’s preview of what’s ahead for the next week of work in the Delridge RapidRide H Line preps project is in. Key locations:

Landscaping and irrigation installation continues throughout the corridor

Asphalt overlay paving between the West Seattle Bridge and SW Dakota St scheduled to begin as early as May 24.

This work will happen between 7 PM and 6 AM

Residents and businesses will be notified in advance of any impacts to their access

Electrical utility upgrades at the intersection of SW Findlay St and Delridge Way SW delayed

We will provide additional details about this work and notify residents and businesses of any potential impacts prior to this work starting

Roadway upgrades at SW Orchard St and Delridge Way SW nearly complete

This week, we will begin installing vehicle-detection loops at the intersection

Roadway upgrades at 21st Ave SW and Delridge Way SW nearly complete

21st Ave SW has reopened to traffic

Demolition between SW Holden St and SW Thistle St was completed last week

We will now upgrade underground electrical utilities in the area

Parking will be restricted while this work takes place

A reader asked when SW Thistle will reopen east of Delridge; before Memorial Day, SDOT replied. The full list of work zones for the week ahead is here.

HELPING: Bidding begins for West Seattle Food Bank’s ‘Instruments of Change’

Registered yet? It’s free to sign up for Saturday night’s 14th annual “Instruments of Change” online benefit to help the West Seattle Food Bank continue keeping people fed and housed. Live and silent auctions are part of it; silent-auction bidding is on now, while live-auction pre-bidding starts at 5:30 tonight. You can go here now to browse what’s been donated for the auctions – travel, food, fitness, fishing, beverages, and beyond. Registration is free – go here to get that done. Then watch the event starting at 5:30 pm Saturday – the livestream will be here.

Washington State Ferries invites you to online meetings this month

(Photo by Bill Schrier, via Twitter)

As home to one of the two Washington State Ferries terminals that are within Seattle city limits, West Seattle has a sizable stake in the system’s plans and operations. This week WSF announced plans for two online community meetings later this month:

Ferry riders, commuters and terminal neighbors are invited to attend one of two upcoming Washington State Ferries virtual public meetings to hear updates and ask questions about the ferry system.

“We learn so much from our community engagement efforts,” said Patty Rubstello, head of Washington State Ferries. “I’m excited that we’re able to offer our spring community meetings virtually this year and hope that even more people are able to join in the conversation.”

The meetings will take place at 11 a.m., Tuesday, May 25, and 6 p.m., Wednesday, May 26.

WSF staff will give a brief presentation on service updates, proposed tariff changes and the agency’s continued response to COVID-19. Participants will be able to ask questions and provide comments during the meeting. Both meetings will cover the same material and are designed to give participants the option to join the meeting that best fits their schedule.

Members of the public can participate in the meeting from a laptop, desktop or mobile device, but advanced registration is required to participate.

Registration for the virtual meetings:

· Register online for the 11 a.m. meeting on Tuesday, May 25, at: bit.ly/WSFSpringMeeting1

· Register online for the 6 p.m. meeting on Wednesday, May 26, at: bit.ly/WSFSpringMeeting2

These public meetings are held in coordination with the Ferry Advisory Committees. WSF will also hold a special meeting for members of all 13 FACs at 4 p.m. on Thursday, May 27, to discuss their role in advising WSF on customer service and schedules. Members of the public are invited to attend and can register by going to: bit.ly/SpringFACMeeting2021.

One big topic for West Seattle – ongoing planning for the Fauntleroy terminal replacement; the next meetings for that project are expected this summer.

WEST SEATTLE SCENE: Flower-basket time in The Junction

(WSB photos)

They’re here! The West Seattle Junction Association‘s spring/summer hanging flower baskets were delivered today, and a crew’s been at work all morning hanging them:

As you probably know (unless this is your first spring/summer here), the baskets get ever-more vivid as the season continues. Again this year, they’re underwritten by donors (including WSB) who “adopted” one or more baskets, and placards will be placed by each basket in honor of its “adopter.”

WEST SEATTLE FRIDAY: 3 notes, and a view from above

Thanks to West Seattle pilot/photographer Long Bach Nguyen for the view of West Seattle (and beyond)! Three notes as we enjoy another sunny day:

LOG HOUSE MUSEUM: Though the official public reopening isn’t until next Friday, if you’re a Southwest Seattle Historical Society member, you’re welcome to visit the home of West Seattle’s history starting today (noon-4 pm, 61st/Stevens). Details here.

GRAB-N-GO FOOD BOXES: If you need food, it’s available today at another drive-up/ride-up/walk-up distribution outside Highland Park Elementary (1012 SW Trenton), 2-5 pm.

‘PAPER TIGERS’ + Q&A AT ADMIRAL: As previewed here last night, the 6:30 pm showing of the new Seattle-set/filmed movie “The Paper Tigers” at The Admiral Theater (2343 California SW) will be followed by Q&A with its editor, West Seattle resident Kris Kristensen.

Event coming up? Email info to westseattleblog@gmail.com – thank you!

Remembering Greggory S. Ratigan, 1976-2021

Family and friends are remembering Gregg Ratigan and sharing this remembrance with his community:

Greggory Scott Ratigan
July 22, 1976 – May 4, 2021

Gregg passed away peacefully at Swedish Hospital with his sister Kristina and cousin Jennifer by his side. Greggory Scott Ratigan was born in Seattle to parents Jeff and Karen Ratigan. He was raised in West Seattle with older brother Tim and younger sister Kristina. Gregg attended Holy Rosary Catholic School, John F. Kennedy High School, and the University of Washington, where he graduated with a degree in Sociology and Criminal Justice.

Gregg was a sweet, quiet, kind, caring, and compassionate person. He loved spending time at home with his family, holidays and celebrations with the Norbergs and Ratigans. Growing up, he loved playing soccer, baseball, football, and his favorite, basketball. Gregg cherished the lifelong friendships he made with kids in the neighborhood, Holy Rosary, Kennedy, and his many co-workers.

Gregg had a variety of jobs growing up, from delivering papers for the Seattle Times, Thriftway, and Pegasus Pizza. For the last 17 years he was a proud Union Longshoreman of ILWU Local 19.

Gregg will be deeply missed and always remembered by his brother Tim, sister Kristina, many uncles, aunts, cousins, friends, co-workers, and neighbors. He is preceded in death by his parents Jeff and Karen.

A private funeral mass and burial will be held at a later date. Please share memories of Gregg on the obituary page and online guestbook at emmickfunerals.com/obituary/Greggory-Ratigan

If you wish, donations may be sent to Holy Rosary Catholic Church West Seattle or Children’s Hospital.

(WSB publishes West Seattle obituaries by request, free of charge. Please email the text, and a photo if available, to editor@westseattleblog.com)

ROAD WORK, TRAFFIC, WEATHER: Friday watch

6:12 AM: Good morning. More sunshine!

ROAD WORK UPDATES

West Marginal Way – SDOT says the sidewalk work on the west side of the street north of the Duwamish Tribe longhouse will happen this weekend and next – work hours 8 am-3 pm.

35th/Graham – The work zone has expanded into both southbound lanes of 35th at Graham, so it’s one lane each way using the northbound side.

Delridge projectThis week’s plan spotlights the 21st/Delridge closure and says Delridge/Orchard is close to completion. Next week’s update should arrive later today.

SW Yancy east of Avalon – Still closed for utility work related to housing construction.

FERRIES/BUSES

Washington State Ferries is delaying the return to 3-boat service on the Triangle Route until June.

The West Seattle Water Taxi continues on its spring/summer schedule – all day, 7 days a week, plus Friday and Saturday evenings; the free 773 and 775 shuttles are running daily too.

Metro is on its regular schedule.

BRIDGES AND DETOUR ROUTES

417th morning without the West Seattle Bridge. Here’s how it’s looking on other bridges and routes:

Low Bridge: 18th week for automated enforcement cameras; restrictions are in effect 5 am-9 pm daily – except weekends, when the bridge is open to all until 8 am Saturday and Sunday mornings. (Access applications are now available for some categories of drivers.)

Here’s a low-bridge view:

West Marginal Way at Highland Park Way:

Highland Park Way/Holden:

The 5-way intersection (Spokane/West Marginal/Delridge/Chelan):

And the 1st Avenue South Bridge (map):

For the South Park Bridge (map), here’s the nearest camera:

Are bridges opening for boats or barges? Check the @SDOTBridges Twitter feed.

See all local traffic cams here; locally relevant cameras are also shown on this WSB page.

Trouble on the streets/paths/bridges/water? Please let us know – text (but not if you’re driving!) 206-293-6302.

CORONAVIRUS: Thursday 5/13/2021 roundup

Big day in pandemic news:

JUNE 30TH: That’s the day Gov. Inslee says businesses can fully reopen – or sooner if 70 percent of everyone 16+ in our state gets at least one dose of vaccine before then.(Right now, it’s at 57 percent.)

SEPTEMBER 1ST: That’s the day Seattle Public Schools will start the 2021-2022 school year – with full-time in-person learning, interim Superintendent Dr. Brent Jones announced today.

GOT VAXXED? DROP MASK! Well, it’s not entirely that simple, but close. The CDC declared today that fully vaccinated people could quit wearing masks in most situations, and the governor announced he’d align our policy with that, immediately. Businesses still have the right to require you to wear one.

NEWEST NUMBERS: Now the update from the Public Health daily-summary dashboard:

*101,881 people have tested positive, 285 more than yesterday’s total

*1,552 people have died, 5 more than yesterday’s total

*6,004 people have been hospitalized, 17 more than yesterday’s total

*1,063,643 people have been tested, 1,339 more than yesterday’s total

One week ago, the four totals we track were 104,256*/1,533/5,924/1,051,030. (*Last Thursday’s case total turned out to be a King County typo.)

STATEWIDE NUMBERS: Find them, county by county, on the state Department of Health page.

WORLDWIDE NUMBERS: 161.1 million cases worldwide, 32.8 million of them in the U.S. See the nation-by-nation breakout here.

VACCINATION OPPORTUNITIES: Saturday in The Junction or High Point – updated details here … City-run West Seattle hub remains open Monday-Saturday 9 am-5:30 pm at Nino Cantu Southwest Athletic Complex (2801 SW Thistle), no appointment needed … Campus clinics for Seattle Public Schools students 12+ start Monday … Check this lookup for other sites such as local pharmacies.

NEED A RIDE TO GET A SHOT? Free and discounted transportation is available.

GOT INFO/PHOTOS/TIPS? 206-293-6302, text or voice, or westseattleblog@gmail.com – thank you!

FOLLOWUP: Extra reason to go see ‘The Paper Tigers’ at Admiral Theater

Last Sunday, we reported on why The Admiral Theater‘s general manager is so excited that they’ll be screening The Paper Tigers,” a Seattle-set/filmed martial-arts comedy, starting tomorrow. We learned via a comment that the film’s editor is a West Seattle resident, Kris Kristensen, who then emailed today with an announcement: “Since the producers are all in NYC this weekend promoting the film, they’ve asked me to hold down the fort on the West Coast. I will be in attendance at both the Friday and Saturday evening (6:30) screenings at the Admiral Theater to do a Q&A following the screening.” The movie is scheduled for two showings a day during its weeklong run here – you can see the schedule and/or buy advance tickets by going here.

YOU CAN HELP: Donate food, clothes, socks Sunday

Another chance this Sunday for neighbors to show their generosity: Alki UCC is having another donation drive to collect food, men’s casual clothes, and socks. Here’s the announcement:

Sunday, May 16, 11:00 am to 3:00 pm
Outside our main entrance at 6115 SW Hinds

While ALL nonperishable food donations are welcome for distribution through the White Center Food Bank, a food bank volunteer shared the following insights:

Sugar and Flour are treats.

Boxed milk is a treasure.

Canned foods should be pop-top OR donate a can opener.

Cooking oil is a luxury and much appreciated.

Spices, salt and pepper are a real gift.

Tuna and crackers make a good lunch.

Don’t forget the sandwich bread and jelly for PBB&J’s.

Pet food should be in clearly-marked containers.

Essential supplies include:

• Toilet Paper
• Diapers/Similac Formula/Baby Wipes
• Can Openers
• Personal hygiene items
• Hand Sanitizer

Donations of Men’s Casual/Work Clothes are also being taken, as well as NEW socks — the clothing item most requested by our neighbors experiencing homelessness.

HAPPENING NOW: West Seattle Art Walk on a warm May night

Painter LCP (Lester C. Pearson) is one of the artists you can meet during tonight’s West Seattle Art Walk. LCP is at Snip-Its (4506 California SW) until 8:30 pm, showing paintings of musical artists who have inspired him.

Also in The Junction, we visited CAPERS (4525 California SW).

Abstract pencil artist Jan Dale Koutsky is featured tonight, there until 7 pm.

See featured artists and food/beverage venues – specials when you mention you’re out for the Art Walk! – by going here. Art Walk night is a great time to explore local businesses as well as discover local art. Second Thursday every month, year-round.

WAYS TO GET VACCINATED: West Seattle Junction pop-up update; High Point event; brewpub clinic

In his briefing today, Gov. Inslee said the key to getting more people vaccinated is convenience. So here’s the latest on three upcoming opportunities:

WEST SEATTLE JUNCTION ON SATURDAY: Two updates on the pop-up in the 42nd SW parking lot, 10 am-1 pm this Saturday – the city’s Mobile Vaccination Team will bring Pfizer too, so ages 12+ are eligible, and the West Seattle Junction Association has doubled the number of coupons for free Husky Deli ice cream cones – they’re now available to the first 100 to get vaccinated. Enter the lot just south of SW Oregon for free parking if you’re going to the clinic, too.

HIGH POINT EVENT ON SATURDAY: Pliable LLC is returning to Neighborhood House High Point (6400 Sylvan Way SW) for a first-dose Pfizer clinic, 8 am-2 pm. Go here to sign up.

‘A SHOT AND A BEER’: Washington Beer Blog (headquartered in West Seattle) reports that breweries are hosting clinics – including The Good Society in The Admiral District, on Saturday, May 22nd. More details forthcoming.

SIDE NOTE: West Seattle is already at the statewide goal, at more than 70 percent of 16+ people having had at least one dose of vaccine. Choose the maps tab on this page of the King County website – scroll down to the zip-code maps, and you’ll see that 98136 leads the way with 83 percent, followed by 98116 with 81 percent, and 98126 with 70 percent. (West Seattle also has parts of the 98106 – 74 percent – and 98146 – 67 percent – zip codes.)

UPDATE: Governor says most business restrictions will be lifted June 30th – sooner if vaccination goal is met

With big news today including new CDC guidance on masks for vaccinated people and Seattle Public Schools’ plan to fully reopen this fall, plus days to go until the end of the 2-week pause in the reopening plan, we’re carrying Gov. Inslee‘s pandemic briefing live. Notes as it goes.

He starts by saying “a huge number of business restrictions … will be lifted June 30th.” This is because of a move to “full focus” on vaccinations as the primary weapon against COVID-19. He says cases and hospitalizations are “both coming down … and we’re very pleased. … And there is universal access to the vaccine now.”

In the “immediate future,” the governor says that as of next Tuesday, every county “will have the opportunity to be in Phase 3,” even if they are now in Phase 2, but it’s up to local decisionmakers. “The basic bottom line is that most of our businesses will stay at 50 percent indoors,” until that full reopening on June 30th – or earlier if the state gets to 70 percent vaccination (at least the first dose) of people 16+. Right now, he says, trends suggest that won’t happen until late June, but it could happen sooner, with capacity/supply for more vaccinations to be given every day than are being given right now.

2:52 PM: Inslee says the new CDC mask guidance for fully vaccinated people will be adopted by our state, effective immediately. That’s two weeks after the second shot if you got Moderna or Pfizer, or after the one and only shot if you got Johnson & Johnson. However, he says, businesses can require workers/customers to wear masks – the new guidance just means that if you’re fully vaccinated, the state won’t require it in most places.

Again, he says, regarding vaccination, “this is a different pandemic strategy, but we need the same level of commitment.”

2:56 PM: He moves on to schools, saying he expects that all will fully open for in-person learning this fall – an announcement that Seattle Public Schools made earlier today. Whether they’ll have any rules depends on the vaccination rate. COVID testing will be “ramped up” in the fall, he says. He also mentions more money for business relief.

3 PM: Now on to media Q&A. The first two questions are for clarification of the new mask guidance. Again, they’ll still be required some places – including health care and public transportation. But businesses CAN still require masks if they choose to. How would businesses check someone’s vaccination status? he’s asked. The state is not planning to require that they check – “but again, they are legally entitled to do so” if they choose, he says. State health secretary Dr. Umair Shah added that what the CDC said today is further recognition that vaccines are effective in both protecting the vaccinated person and preventing people from spreading the virus to others. If you’re still uneasy about getting vaccinated, the governor added, talk with your health-care provider “and get their advice.”

Will the governor follow what Florida is doing and canceling fines/penalties for business violators of COVID rules? No, Inslee says.

Will our state follow what other states are doing and offer incentives (like the Ohio lottery)? The governor “would not rule out these kind of incentives. It is something we’re giving some thought to.” He says to wait and see for possible news “next week.”

The state is not planning to call for “vaccine passports,” but again, individual businesses have the right to ask for proof.

3:27 PM: The briefing has wrapped up with the governor making one more pitch for vaccination, saying there’s no reason to not do it. “We’re looking for leaders here” – if you’re vaccinated and know someone who isn’t, talk to them about it. Overall, today he declares today “one of the most remarkable days” since the start of the pandemic.

The window atop this story will soon feature the archived video. Here’s what the governor’s office has published online about today’s reopening announcement.

2 FOR TONIGHT: West Seattle Art Walk + Words, Writers, SouthWest Stories

Two reminders for tonight:

WEST SEATTLE ART WALK: Celebrate spring, art, and local businesses by joining in tonight’s Art Walk! The official preview has been updated and expanded since we mentioned it last weekend, with a full list of who’s participating this month. Here’s a quick list of who’s open with in-person artist receptions – all over the peninsula from Admiral to Arbor Heights:

West Seattle Grounds (5-8 pm)
West Seattle Runner (5-7 pm)
Wend Jewelry (4-8 pm)
Fogue Gallery (5-8 pm)
Mystery Made (5 pm “till late”)
Verity Credit Union (5-8 pm)
Capers (5-7 pm)
Wild Rose’s (6-8:30 pm)
Snip Its (5-8;30 pm)
Brookdale West Seattle (3-5 pm)
Canna West Seattle (6-7 pm)
Viscon Cellars (5-8 pm)
Resolve Chiropractic (5-8 pm)
Brace Point Gallery (5-8 pm)

Multiple restaurants/bars have food and drink specials, too! For locations, artist details, links, maps, go to the official Art Walk preview.

WORDS, WRITERS, SOUTHWEST STORIES: If you’d rather cozy up with an online author presentation, this monthly series presented by the Southwest Seattle Historical Society is happening tonight too. At 6 pm, hear from author David Williams about jhis book Homewaters: A Human and Natural History of Puget Sound.” Free but you have to register to get the link – go here.

After 10 months, Alki Beach fire rings have returned

(WSB photo)

11:20 AM: Seattle Parks announced last month that it would return the fire rings to Alki Beach by Memorial Day – and today, with the holiday weekend still two weeks away, they’re back. Thanks to Guy for the tip; we just went over for photographic proof. In the early pandemic weeks, Parks locked the fire rings to discourage “crowding and congregating,” and then removed them last July. Neither of those steps kept people from having beach fires; many nights in the ensuing months, we heard Seattle Fire crews dispatched to “illegal burn” reports. (During one recent callout, the arriving crew radioed to dispatch that no lives or property were in danger, so they were canceling the dispatch.) Here’s a recap of beach-fire rules; we’re checking with Parks to see when they’ll be officially open (unlocked).

2:34 PM: Not until Memorial Day weekend, says Parks spokesperson Rachel Schulkin.

UPDATE: New superintendent says Seattle Public Schools will fully reopen this fall

10:30 AM: Seattle Public Schools‘ new interim superintendent Dr. Brent Jones has just announced the district is preparing to fully reopen schools this fall. In an open letter published on the district website, Dr. Jones said, “My staff know how to successfully open school across 104 sites and that is exactly what we plan to do in September, while continuing to follow public health and state guidelines.” District schools closed in mid-March 2020 and reopened for part-time in-person learning less than a month ago; (corrected) June 18th is the last day of this school year, while the 2021-2022 school year is currently scheduled to start for most SPS students September 1st (see the calendar here).

11:31 AM: More details from the official news release, which has since arrived:

… While the focus is on in-person instruction for all students, the plan does include a remote option for students who may be unable to attend full-time in-person for health-related or other significant reasons. …

… Dr. Jones identified important areas of collaboration and partnership that will be prioritized as the plan is developed:

• Working in partnership with the SPS Board of Directors to approve the final plan for submission to the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI);

• Working in partnership with the Seattle Education Association during development of the best possible instructional environment that will ensure the highest student outcomes;

• Including input from key stakeholders, community groups, students and families, with a particular focus on students and families furthest from educational justice.

With the return to full-time in-person instruction, Superintendent Jones plans a range of student and staff-focused supports:

• Focus on student mental health – SPS will use federal emergency funds to invest in additional mental health services, trauma-informed practice and working with families and staff to create a “culture of care” as students return to classrooms.

• Supporting student growth – Focus on each student’s individual learning path in collaboration with parents and caregivers. Additional academic supports, community partnerships, and learning opportunities will be in place to support those students with the most need.

• Robust wellness supports for SPS staff.

• Continuing to use new and innovative instructional practices that have evolved over the past year.

Fall implementation planning teams will be convening to design the plans for the full-time in person model.

The SPS Board of Directors will hold a special board meeting on May 26, 2021 to review the Washington LEA Academic and Student Well-Being Recovery Plan, which is required by OSPI. On June 1, 2021, SPS will submit the board-approved plan to OSPI.