West Seattle, Washington
ORIGINAL 8:52 PM REPORT: Hours after county health experts briefed the Seattle City Council, saying there were no known swine-flu cases here, they have announced three “probable” cases – here’s a news release we just received:
Today, three probable cases of swine influenza A (H1N1), also known as swine flu, have been identified in King County. The laboratory samples have been sent to U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and Public Health – Seattle & King County is awaiting final confirmation.
The CDC has determined that the swine flu virus H1N1 is contagious and is spreading from human to human. Symptoms of swine flu include a fever of more than 100°F, coughing, joint aches, severe headache and, in some cases, vomiting and diarrhea.
“Now that swine flu is likely in King County, we expect to see more infections, but it’s too early to say how severe the illnesses will be. We are working to provide needed information and assistance to these people and their families. We are also working with health care providers and community partners to prepare in the event that the situation becomes more serious,” said Dr. David Fleming, Director and Health Officer for Public Health – Seattle & King County.
“We’ve prepared for this day for the past four years, and now we must all do our part to reduce its spread,” said Ron Sims, King County Executive. “We encourage everyone to get prepared at home, find out about plans at your job, and take steps to protect yourself, your family and the community by staying home when you are sick, washing your hands often and covering your coughs and sneezes.”
“In the last few years, Seattle has prepared for pandemic flu. We will activate our Emergency Operations Center at the first level so our emergency operations personnel can coordinate procedures and communications,” said Greg Nickels, Seattle Mayor.
As of today, April 29, there are three probable cases of swine flu in King County, in addition to two cases in Snohomish County and one case in Spokane County.
The three King County residents with probable swine flu include:
o a male child of Seattle who was hospitalized and is improving
o a male in his 20s from Seattle, not hospitalized and improving
o a woman in her 30s from Seattle, not hospitalized and improving
Human cases of swine influenza virus infection also have been identified nationally and internationally.
When should you seek medical care?
Use the same judgment you would use during a typical flu season. Do not seek medical care if you are not ill or have mild symptoms for which you would not ordinarily seek medical care. If you have more severe symptoms of fever, cough, sore throat, body aches or are feeling more seriously ill, call your health care provider to discuss your symptoms and if you need to be evaluated.
Public Health will continue to work with health care providers to test flu patients who develop severe illness or are associated with clusters, but does not currently recommend testing for all flu patients.
If the following flu-like symptoms are mild, medical attention is not typically required: runny nose or nasal stuffiness; low-grade fever for less than 3 days; mild headache; body aches and mild stomach upset.
What can I do now to get prepared?
This is an excellent time to get prepared at home and work for a possible influenza pandemic. See www.kingcounty.gov/health/swineflu
Everyday behaviors to stay healthy
o If you are sick, stay home from work or school.
o Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
o Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. If you don’t have access to soap and water, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
o To further prevent the spread of germs, avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
o Avoid close contact with sick people
What is swine flu?
“Swine flu” is an influenza A (H1N1) virus normally found in pigs. There are many such viruses and they rarely infect humans. The virus currently causing human illness is a new type of swine flu that has developed the ability to infect people and be transmitted from person to person.
Although this new virus is called “swine flu,” it is not transmitted from pigs to humans, or from eating pork products. Like other respiratory diseases, it is spread from person to person through coughs and sneezes. When people cough or sneeze, they spread germs through the air or onto surfaces that other people may touch.
For more information and frequent updates: www.kingcounty.gov/health/swineflu
Public Health Hotline: 206-296-4949
We have a message out to the Health Department to ask if they can or will be any more specific about what part of the city the Seattle patients are from. (9:18 pm addition: KING5 says one case is an 11-year-old Madrona Elementary student.) But we do want to reiterate one thing that we heard in the briefing on which we reported earlier today: Most of the U.S. cases so far have been fairly mild. This is NOT necessarily an automatically deadly/severe illness. Take the steps that authorities are counseling – but don’t panic. The county’s official swine-flu information page is here.
9:47 PM UPDATE: Also wrote this in comments – Just talked to James Apa with King County Public Health. Beyond the information about the child, which they provided because of the school aspect of the story, he says they are not going “lower than city level” in terms of descriptive information about the two patients – trying to balance privacy with public information. So for now, unless the two patients or someone close to them decides to independently inform a media outlet, there is NO info publicly available on where they are from. Also note, Seattle Public Schools is making recorded phone calls to ALL district families to let them know about the Madrona case and to reiterate that schools are open, no changes at this point – several people in comments, and on Twitter (@westseattleblog) and Facebook (WS Blog), have already reported getting those calls.
9:58 PM UPDATE: County Councilmember Julia Patterson, who chairs the county Board of Health, just sent this statement:
“Now is not the time to panic, but to use every day common sense precautions, like washing your hands regularly, covering your cough, and staying home from school or work when you are sick.
“Our public health department is one of the most prepared in the nation. They have prepared for the most severe form of this influenza, even though the cases thus far are more mild.
“I am confident that they are making every effort to reduce the spread, by educating those infected or at risk, and by keeping residents informed and protected.”
And minutes after that, a news release with a statement from West Seattle-residing County Council Chair Dow Constantine:
Metropolitan King County Council Chair Dow Constantine was present at tonight’s briefing on the suspected local swine flu cases, and has this statement:
“I’ve been briefed tonight by Public Health and I am impressed with their swift action to identify and report these suspected local cases of swine flu to the CDC for confirmation. We were briefed Monday on their plans for heightened monitoring and we are now seeing the results of that work.
“We have one of the finest public health agencies in the nation, with whom we have been making plans for an event such as this since 2006. The plans are good and I’m confident they will be well-executed.
“The best way we can all minimize the spread of infection now is by ensuring we have an educated and prepared public.”
11:14 PM UPDATE: One comment asks about how these people might have gotten the virus, if indeed they have it. That information has not been released. One is a doctor, said to have possibly seen patients on one day while she might have been contagious, and they will be notified.
In the throes right now of making The Map for the big day (Saturday, May 9) – you can be among the first to get a copy by stopping by the West Seattle Blog table at the Sustainable West Seattle Festival this Sunday in The Junction, 10 am-3 pm in and around the Wells Fargo parking lot north of the Farmers’ Market. The count’s still not final but we know we’ve passed 180 sales, far surpassing last year’s record – and as we go through the listings, we’ve come across some unique items – a car, a treehouse, a “cuddle couch.” We’re promoting WSCGSD citywide and you can help: PLEASE PRINT THIS 11 X 17 POSTER if you can spare the time and paper, and tack it up at your workplace, your church, your kids’ school, anywhere (not just in West Seattle) you can think of. Thanks! And keep an eye on westseattlegaragesale.com for more-frequent updates (like this one from earlier today).
(WSB photo from December 2008)
This just in from the city – councilmembers and the mayor have agreed to “hire an independent consultant to manage a plan” for future snow response. That’s in the wake of the issuance of a report on how things could work better, given the problems and challenges during our recent winter storms. We’re looking for a copy of the report itself (the Times has some highlights)
(WSB photo from West Seattle Summer Fest 2008)
Only two and a half months till West Seattle Summer Fest in The Junction, and while that may sound like forever, if you’re a business, musician, food vendor or artist thinking about participating, now’s the time to nail down your plans. When we heard Susan Melrose from the West Seattle Junction Association mention that local businesses are offered the best rates for space, we said “tell us more” – so here’s the scoop:
The 27th annual West Seattle Summer Fest planning is under way and local West Seattle businesses are invited to participate at special neighborhood rates. The community event draws over 30,000 people and is a great way to meet your neighbors and showcase your business. Depending on your type of business, spots in vendor row can cost as much as $1500. But all West Seattle businesses will be charged only $300 per 10×10 spot. Artists can join the Art Dive for only $125. West Seattle musicians, we’ll pay you! Details at www.westseattlefestival.com.
And West Seattle businesses get a discount on sponsorships too! There are several sponsorship levels. The minimum to get your logo on the poster is $1000 for West Seattle businesses. Note that it’s $3500 for “across the bridge” sponsors.
Why the deal? This is a community-wide event and we want to encourage all of West Seattle to benefit from and participate in this festival. Many of us enjoy living in West Seattle because all of our needs can be met in our own neighborhood – so let’s show it off!
Dates are July 10, 11, 12.
To reserve a booth, visit www.westseattlefestival.com, download the vendor application and put “West Seattle Business – $300!”
To sponsor, please e-mail Susan Melrose at email@example.com or call at 935-0904.
Hope you can join the fun!!
And Summer Fest is bound to be bigger than ever – as reported here earlier this month, Mudhoney will headline the music slate for night one on June 10th.
You can watch live on channel 21 or online at seattlechannel.org. We’ll summarize afterward but will also add any major toplines here as it happens. City Council President Richard Conlin opened by noting that the World Health Organization has just raised the pandemic-preparedness alert level to 5 on a scale of 6, so the briefing is “timely.” County public-health managers are leading the briefing, same ones who briefed the County Council earlier this week (WSB coverage here).
2:56 PM UPDATE: Briefing’s over. Here are the toplines:
-No local cases, not even any reports of increased absenteeism or severe illness of any kind that might point to something suspicious
-U.S. cases have acted more like typical flu, “on the mild side” (aside from one toddler death reported today)
-Northern Hemisphere less at risk right now than Southern Hemisphere since prime flu-spreading weather is ending here
-King County’s been prepping for a pandemic since 2004; its stockpile of antivirals – with more on the way – eventually will be enough to treat 25% of the county’s population if that many people got sick; would be distributed through pharmacies, clinics, doctors; what’s on hand now should retain its potency through 2013
-If you feel sick, STAY HOME – don’t expose others; face masks, by the way, are mostly good for sick people who can’t stay home trying to minimize spreading their illness to others – might have some protection use – two most important things you can do to keep anything from spreading: Wash your hands, cover your cough
-Symptoms would be sudden onset, high fever, achy joints and muscles, cough
-If you were immunized against swine flu in the ’70s, doesn’t help, this is a different virus
If you remember this space at Fauntleroy/California as the Corner Inn, you probably won’t recognize it now that the work transforming it into West Seattle’s first Zeeks Pizza is almost done. We just got the chance to take a quick look inside, though crews are still working hard on finishing touches to get it ready to open Friday as planned (4 pm). Here’s a closer look at the counter in the background of the top photo, followed by a peek inside the kitchen:
Only thing we have for pre-Zeeks comparison is video we shot inside the day the Corner Inn fixtures were auctioned last July (less than two months before news broke of impending pizza):
Our full report on that July 2008 auction, including more video, is here. (Added 2:18 pm) Here’s a video clip from today, including a look at the roof/ceilings, quite different from the Corner Inn configuration:
While Zeeks does some franchising, this one is a company-owned store; for delivery, the chain offers online ordering, too. The new pizza restaurant is opening eleven months after the Corner Inn‘s sudden shutdown.
Concord Elementary is in South Park but it’s part of the West Seattle “region” of Seattle Public Schools, so some local families’ kids are there, and we’re sharing this: KIRO is reporting on a suspected “home invasion” nearby (800 block of South Henderson, kitty corner from the rear of the school; here’s a map), and because of the police investigation, the students at Concord are reported to be “sheltering in place.” Here’s the latest from KIRO, online.
12:19 PM UPDATE: Police are still searching the neighborhood, with K-9, according to live coverage that’s on right now. (Side note, South Park is part of the coverage area for police from West Seattle’s Southwest Precinct.)
2:16 PM: Seattle Public Schools spokesperson David Tucker confirms the “shelter in place” is over. We will work to find out the status of the investigation.
At this month’s North Delridge Neighborhood Council meeting (WSB coverage here), NDNC co-vice chair Betsy Hoffmeister reported a new development in the campaign for playground improvements in the area – instead of focusing on Cottage Grove Park, the attention turned to a proposal targeting the Delridge Community Center‘s playground. We got this update from her late last night – it includes some concern about the process, an offer of help, and the potential need for more:
Amazing things keep happening in Delridge! Kaboom, a national nonprofit organization, works with communities to help them build safe places to play. Occasionally, a corporate sponsor approaches Kaboom!, offering to fund a playground in a specific area. The organization helps the community group plan the playground, and comes in on one specific day and builds the whole thing.
In late March, Kaboom asked the Delridge Community Center to make a proposal to overhaul their 15 year old playground which, by the way, no longer meets federal safety standards. A donor corporation targeted the Delridge area, and the Community Center specifically and asked them to put together a proposal – by April 11. When the North Delridge Neighborhood Council (playground committee) heard this amazing news, we dropped our Neighborhood Matching Grant Proposal about Cottage Grove Playground, asked all the donors to switch allegiance to the Community Center proposal, and asked all the volunteers if they’d be willing to help out one mile north. Every single donor and volunteer agreed.
The Delridge Community Center whipped together a proposal which Kaboom really liked. Their advisory council recommended they apply to the City’s Small and Simple matching fund for additional resources, knowing they would need City oversight as the project is part of the Parks Department. They had less than two days to get a Small and Simple proposal together but managed to get everything together and get their proposal in.
On April 18, Kaboom had a conference call with the Community Center, representatives of the Parks Department, the SSCC, NDNC, and their advisory council. Kaboom was thrilled what they heard and asked for a second round which took place today, April 28. They as much as said as this proposal is the top contender. Unfortunately, the funding from the Parks Department, to cover the Parks Department oversight and the preparation of the site is far from certain. There are 74 proposals to the Small and Simple round from all over the City, with much less money available to spread around. The Kaboom folks were extremely worried to hear that the City wouldn’t be able to make a decision until after the Kaboom deadline. They called the NDNC (and basically said look, you are our top contender, it would be really sad if you didn’t get the grant because the City’s deadline is after ours) to ask if there was anything the neighbors could do … any way to come up with the site preparation/excavation without the city.
Amazingly, a neighbor who happens to be a licensed and bonded excavator volunteered to do the site preparation for FREE! We do not yet know whether the City will allow this company to volunteer their services to prepare the site. We also don’t know how we can pay the Parks employees to usher the playground designs through all of the reviews it needs to go through, and to oversee site preparation and installation. We are waiting extremely anxiously to hear from the City whether they will permit such an unorthodox approach. They have so many rules!
If you’ve read this far, you are a diehard Delridge Groupie. And you can ask yourself, how can I be helping make this amazing thing come true? And you might be feeling a little frustrated – why does the City tend to make things harder – here’s a golden opportunity to leverage a really big grant and upgrade a really needy playground really fast. So, what can you do? Approach any business that is not suffering horribly right now and ask them for a pledge – just a pledge – of $250, $500, $1000, or more. We don’t need cash in hand, we need pledges that folks will follow through on. Think about your tax return and see if you have a spare $50 (or $100, or $1000) to pledge. Go to the Community Center and sign a form stating you will pledge volunteer hours. Think if you know a licensed and bonded contractor who might be willing to donate excavation services. Imagine your vision of the Delridge Community Center with a new, safe, up to date, accessible playground for children of all ages, and respond to this with enthusiasm so I can send your responses on to the City, Kaboom, and maybe even our Councilmembers to ask for their help. Write to me with suggestions. If you are an artist or musician, think about how you could help hold an instant fundraiser for the playground to help us raise a few hundred or thousand bucks. (before you ask, we have a huge donation already from Nucor and from BECU).
Best case scenario – the people who need to respond, respond very quickly in the morning, and we have our answer right away, and they say “yes, of course the volunteer can do the excavation,” and then Kaboom is happy, and we’re happy, and it’s all good. But if Delridge needs help – and needs it fast – we need to know who is on deck to help out.
So far today, she hasn’t heard from the city – but you can e-mail her with offers of help, ideas, etc., at betsy (at) hoffmeisters.com.
The photos are courtesy of WestSide Baby’s Nancy Woodland, who’s at IKEA in Renton right now for the car-seat safety event that her group is co-sponsoring till 1 pm – first photo, the cars lined up as it began an hour ago, photo below, the car seats that had been brought in for recycling. If you can make it to Renton and are interested, full details are in our original preview on partner site White Center Now.
(note: since original publication of this item, Neighborhood House has changed banner installation date to “approximately May 7”)
As previously reported, the Neighborhood Center that Neighborhood House is building in High Point will make solar-powered history. It opens in September, but days from now, NH just announced, a huge banner touting that fact will go up in a can’t-miss-it spot – on the Nucor plant, alongside The Bridge. The timing is aligned with this Sunday’s Sustainable West Seattle Festival in The Junction. Read on for the big news about the big banner:Read More
That’s Southwest Youth and Family Services director Steve Daschle front and center, with students and staff from one of the high-school re-entry classes in the Southwest Education Center at SWYFS HQ in North Delridge. The photo op was to thank the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades’ regional council for a $10,000 donation to SWYFS. The money was raised by the union’s community-assistance effort PATCH, from the proceeds of an annual golf tournament (the next one’s coming up June 20 at Fort Lewis – contact Cara at SWYFS if you’re interested). SWYFS administers a variety of area programs, and is ramping up with its most high-profile assignment yet, managing this area’s section of the city’s new Youth Violence Prevention Initiative; Daschle says the city money for that work starts coming in July, but SWYFS already is well into its planning and preparation for components such as anger-replacement therapy work.