Words of warning – and encouragement – from the governor top tonight’s virus-crisis roundup:
EXTENDING ‘THE PAUSE’: During his media briefing this afternoon (see the video here), Gov. Inslee said he’s extending the “pause” on phases – no county gets to advance to the next one for at least two more weeks. While we’re not in nearly as bad shape as other states, he said, the pandemic is by no means under control – the current trend is “unsustainable,” he said – and if it isn’t tamed soon, rollbacks are possible.
NEWEST KING COUNTY NUMBERS: Here’s the daily summary from Public Health, with cumulative totals:
*12,244 people have tested positive, up 145 from yesterday
*606 people have died, up 2 from yesterday
*1,706 people have been hospitalized, up 8 from yesterday
*217,633 people have been tested, up 3,245 from yesterday
One week ago, those totals were 11,206/596/1,631/191,865.
STATEWIDE NUMBERS: Find them here.
WORLDWIDE NUMBERS: Find them here.
NEW REPORT ON DEATHS: From the state Department of Health today:
In the continuing effort to collect, maintain and publish the most useful data available to mitigate the COVID-19 pandemic, the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) has published a new death data report that includes different categories of COVID-19 deaths. Among those who have tested positive for COVID-19, these categories include confirmed due to COVID-19, suspected of being due to COVID-19, non-COVID-19 deaths and deaths pending or missing cause of death. In addition, there are 77 deaths that are probably due to COVID-19, but they are not among those who have tested positive for COVID-19.
Since the first COVID-19 case in Washington in January, DOH has worked to transparently release data in near real-time so that the public, health care providers, policy makers, the media, and public health professionals can access current information. This additional information gives context for decision makers working to stop the spread of the virus.
Read the full DOH announcement here.
RESTAURANT REOPENS: Six days after Public Health shut it down, Duke’s on Alki has reopened. (Our story also includes Q&A with Public Health that we’d initiated before the closure, and PH has called our attention to this post about what restaurants are doing successfully to work with new safety rules.)
GOT INFO? firstname.lastname@example.org or text/voice 206-293-6302 – thank you!
South Seattle College (WSB sponsor) is co-sponsoring a webinar next week that might interest you if you’re thinking about a new career:
The Future of Work: Upgrade Your Building Science Toolkit
Live Webinar Panel with Interactive Q&A
Thursday, July 23, 2020, 5:30 PM – 7:00 PM
The Sustainable Building Science Technology and WSU Energy programs co-present this Future of Work webinar. Are you prepared for the jobs of the future in building science, operations, and management? Join us for this panel discussion about how the building science and technology field is changing and what roles are in demand. Our panel discussion will explore:
What are the skills needed to operate, manage, and tune-up buildings that are becoming smarter and greener?
How might trends and policies in sustainability and energy efficiency impact the built environment and jobs?
What opportunities exist to build new skills including continuing education and academic programs?
What new strategies do candidates need to differentiate themselves in a post-COVID job market?
Go here to register, and to find out more.
Seal Sitters Marine Mammal Stranding Network has an important reminder:
Harbor seal pupping season has begun in Puget Sound, and pups will soon appear on West Seattle beaches.
DON’T TOUCH SEAL PUPS! Seals regularly haul out to rest and get warm. Undisturbed, stress-free rest is crucial for their survival. Please don’t pick them up, put them in the water, or attempt to feed them.
DO NOT APPROACH! If a nursing pup has become separated from the mother, she will be scared away by humans and dogs and may not return to her pup. It’s a matter of life and death for young seals.
When you see a seal on the beach, stay back, leash your dog, and call Seal Sitters at 206-905-SEAL (206-905-7325). We respond to reports of marine mammals, both dead and alive.
How far should you stay away from seals? NOAA guidelines say 100 yards, which is the length of 15 parked cars or one city block. At our public beaches, it may be hard to to keep that distance, but simply put: if the animal notices you, begins to fidget, or starts to flee into the water, YOU ARE TOO CLOSE. Please, back off.
Because of COVID-19, Seal Sitters may not be setting up yellow tape perimeters as in the past and may not be present at all times. You can help by respecting our signage, alerting others and asking them to leash their pets. Marine mammals are protected by law; disturbing them is considered harassment and is illegal. Please report violations to the Seal Sitters hotline at 206-905-7325.
For more information, check out the Blubber Blog at BlubberBlog.org. (Seal Sitters has temporarily suspended our volunteer training until the COVID situation improves.)
(Dragonfly, photographed in Arbor Heights by Mark)
We had hoped to publish this list a few hours ago, but news got in the way. Not too late, though, to share three things happening the rest of today/tonight:
LIBRARY DROPOFFS BEGIN: Seattle Public Library branches are still closed but starting today, some are accepting dropoffs – including two in our area. From SPL:
This week we will begin accepting returns of Library materials at the High Point, Rainier Beach and Southwest branches. This is a limited operation to help us refine our processes of accepting and processing book returns safely, effectively and efficiently before accepting returns at more locations. Bookdrops will be open limited hours.
You are welcome, but not required, to return your borrowed items at these locations beginning this week. Due dates are extended until at least Aug. 15, and we are a fine-free Library system, so there is no rush to return and you can take the time you need.
When can I return my books? Locations and hours are as follows:
Beginning Tuesday, July 14, the High Point, Rainier Beach and Southwest bookdrops will be open Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays from noon to 6 p.m. or until bookdrops are full.
All returned items will be quarantined – and remain on your account – for a minimum of 3 days before being checked in.
Later this month, SPL expects to expand this to more locations.
SHOWING SUPPORT FOR BLACK LIVES: Tuesday/Thursday streetcorner protests continue:
Come stand in Solidarity with Black Lives Matter
Tuesday, July 14th, 4 to 6 pm, corner of Delridge Way and SW Orchard
Come show support for BLM and ending systemic racism. Hold signs, meet neighbors and stand for racial justice. –Scott at PR Cohousing, endorsed by Hate-Free Delridge. Signs available.
If you miss today, Scott and others will be there 4-6 pm Thursday too.
FAUNTLEROY COMMUNITY ASSOCIATION: 7 pm board meeting online tonight, community members welcome. Agenda includes hearing from the Southwest Precinct’s new commander and operations lieutenant. Go to this page on the FCA website to get the link for registering to attend, so you can get the Zoom link.
Six days after Public Health Seattle-King County closed Duke’s on Alki because COVID-19 was spreading among its staff, the restaurant says it has clearance to reopen today. (The PHSKC website confirms the reopening.) Subscribers to its email list received a message from founder Duke Moscrip, including:
… When the health authorities examined our Alki location and took the action to shut us down, we were devastated. Frankly, we thought we were following the safety protocols precisely. After cooperating with them fully over the past few days, we earned their approval to reopen today. Specifically, they approved the distance between our tables and the occupancy levels that allow us to keep everyone safe.
As a new layer of safety at Duke’s restaurants, we ordered and are installing new air purification technology over the next few weeks at all our locations to stop COVID-19 particles, other viruses, and bacteria in internal spaces.
Safety. That is the only thing important to us as we all begin to venture out more and enjoy our unique way of life here in the Pacific Northwest.
Despite every safety measure available, we expect we will see more cases of COVID-19 among our valued team. Today we are better prepared to properly react.
I know that many of you believe that Duke’s let you down. For that, we are truly saddened.
The message also says an unspecified number of staff members remain quarantined. This statement from the restaurant following last week’s shutdown noted 7 Alki employees had tested positive for the virus.
(ADDED 12:55 PM: PHSKC has since published this statement about the reopening.)
Before the shutdown announcement, after our previous report about two cases at Duke’s, we had asked Public Health some questions about how outbreaks are handled; we’d noticed while covering other businesses that no two seemed to be handling cases the same way. We have since received the replies, published below in Q&A format, with our questions and Public Health’s answers:
WSB: “What if anything are businesses required to report to PHSKC regarding employees testing positive?”
PHSKC: “Notify health department within 24 hours if you suspect COVID-19 is spreading in your workplace, or if you are aware of 2 or more employees who develop confirmed or suspected COVID-19 within a 14-day period.”
WSB: “What are they required to tell customers?”
PHSKC: “No requirements.”
WSB: “Under the new state guidance, what circumstance constitutes “spreading” at a workplace that would need to be reported?”
PHSKC: “We would consider ‘spreading’ when any person in the workplace, whether an employee, contractor or customer, might have been potentially exposed in the workplace. We would recommend that a workplace call us if they have any questions or concerns as it generally takes some investigation to try to determine the most likely location of exposure (e.g., community exposure vs. workplace exposure, etc..).”
WSB: “Once PHSKC gets a report of ‘spreading,’ what will you do with that information? How/is it investigated? Might orders for closure ensue?”
PHSKC: “- We first try to confirm any reported cases through our public health databases and if any non-household contacts have been identified already.
“- We then do an initial investigation call to (i) confirm whether transmission occurred in the workplace, (ii) identify any exposed workplace contacts (coworkers or customers), and (iii) assess steps that employers have taken to reduce the risk of transmission within the workplace and provide technical assistance when necessary.
“- If this investigation identifies conditions indicating a higher risk to employees or the public, we may schedule a site visit to the workplace. A public health order or closure could ensue if the risk level is deemed to be very high and we believe there is an ongoing risk to employees or the public that isn’t being mitigated.”
WSB: “What about employees who feel their employer isn’t taking appropriate action – is there anything they can do?”
PHSKC: “Workplace safety complaints about coronavirus or other issues can be filed with L&I (1-800-423-7233). Employees can also file a written safety/health complaint.”
(Again, we had those questions out to PHSKC *before* the Duke’s closure – the first of its kind in our area – was announced.)
9:14 AM: The West Seattle low bridge has cracks- but don’t panic.
That’s one of the low-bridge updates SDOT has just posted.
From the post:
… It is normal and expected that all concrete bridges will eventually form cracks which help relieve stress from this movement. Small cracks in the Low Bridge have been closely monitored and tested to ensure that they do not affect the bridge’s structural integrity.
Fortunately, these cracks are only a few inches deep and are not progressing at rates remotely like the sudden crack growth that led us to close the High-Rise Bridge. We are confident that the Low Bridge’s crack depth, growth patterns, and type do not indicate that the bridge is unsafe for live traffic. …
However, SDOT says it’s taking steps to be sure things don’t get worse:
*Monthly inspections (federal standard, SDOT says, is every two years)
*Lowering the speed limit from 30 mph to 25 mph
*Banning low-bridge access “for the largest and heaviest trucks at 70+ ft and weighing over 207,000 pounds, about two-and-half times the maximum weight allowed on highways under state and federal law without a special permit to drive over the legal weight limit (the technical term for this is Over-Legal 2 or OL-2 class trucks). This will only affect about a dozen trips per week, and will not affect any emergency vehicles, buses, or freight trucks within legal weight limits.
*Carbon-fiber wrapping “as a precautionary measure” – we asked SDOT communications director Michael Harold for the timeline; his reply, “We are working with our consultants and contractors, as well as FHWA, to finalize plans and then move forward with haste, but don’t have a specific timeline to share at this time.”
Read all the details on SDOT’s site here.
1:53 PM: In our original exchange with SDOT this morning, we asked for any available related reports. So far they’ve sent this letter (and the linked document) written by acting roadway structures director Matt Donahue on June 30th about the load rating:
The attached PDF is the draft load rating summary table that we recently received from Jacobs… the difference between page 1 and page 2 is the amount of strength calculated using the Resal Effect Method… page one is for 0.9(Resal Effect) and page 2 is for 1.0(Resal Effect). As you can see from the differences in the Rating Factors (RF) the result is very sensitive to only a 10% change in the Resal Effect. Note that load rating calculations were made using live load test data.
This sensitivity indicates that there is likely real world behavior and additional strength capacity in the bridge that is not captured in the load rating calculation. As such I intend to handle management of the bridge with administrative methods that include the following:
Reducing the inspection frequency from every two years to:
Real time monitoring with Structural Health Instrumentation that takes crack width gauge readings every 20 seconds, reduces them to an average over 5 minutes and then reports off of the bridge to an interactive website. Similar to the WSHB SHMI this system will be set with alarm thresholds that contact RS engineering staff 24/7/365 via cell phone with any issues
Monthly arm’s length inspection of the interior girder surfaces at crack locations
Yearly inspection of accessible exterior girder surfaces via UBIT
Reduction of the speed limit over the bridge to 25 mph along with installation of flashing speed monitoring signs
Close coordination with SDOT Commercial Vehicle Enforcement to make sure that any permit applications for OL1 and OL2 vehicles receive the appropriate level of review by Roadway Structures
Engagement with WSDOT Commercial Vehicle Enforcement to coordinate receipt of permits they issue for loads terminating within Seattle so that we can contact operators that may try to use the low bridge for permit loads without an application to SDOT CVE due to their lack of knowledge of the need to do so
Outreach to the Commercial Vehicle Freight Board and other commercial carrier stakeholders to make sure that they are aware of the situation
Maintenance of the centerlock shimming system to reduce the impact of loads transiting the bridge
Implementing a strengthening program to return RFs to ≥ 1.0 that will likely involve addition of a combination of post tensioning strand and CFRP for completion by the end of 2022.
Meantime, a commenter asked about other bridges around the city and we noted that City Councilmember Alex Pedersen (the council’s Transportation chair) had requested an audit three months ago. We asked about the status. His response sent by a staff member via email:
ADDED 8:19 PM: From another exchange tonight with SDOT, they told us:
To clarify, there are no new cracks. The cracks being discussed have been there since the late 1990s. We observed some growth during an inspection last summer, but since then we have conducted numerous tests which verified that the cracks are only a few inches deep, do not penetrate through the girder walls, and are not growing. As you know, it is normal and expected that all concrete bridges will eventually form cracks which help relieve stress, and there is are no indications that this type of crack should affect the Low Bridge’s structural integrity.
The cracks are mentioned in this March document from the load-rating process.
That big smile belongs to Chief Sealth International High School athletic director Ernest Policarpio, who shared the big news that the Metro League has honored the Seahawks again:
A great way to finish the year for athletics was to win the Sportsmanship Award again! We’ve won it 3 out of the last 6 years in Metro. A true testament of all the hard work of our kids, faculty, and coaches to show a positive experience and to be great leaders on and off the field! #ROLLHAWKS
6:03 AM: It’s Tuesday, the 118th morning without the high-rise West Seattle Bridge.
Major work continues on Delridge Way, with lane reductions, as road-rebuilding and utility work lead off the RapidRide H Line conversion project – here’s what crews are working on this week;.
Here’s the 5-way intersection camera (Spokane/West Marginal/Delridge/Sppkane/Chelan):
Here’s the restricted-daytime-access (open to all 9 pm-5 am) low bridge:
The main detour route across the Duwamish River is the 1st Avenue South Bridge (map) – which has up to 14 overnight closures planned to start this Sunday, July 19th. Meanwhile, here’s that camera:
The other major bridge across the river is the South Park Bridge (map). The camera was still down as of early today. P.S. Going through South Park? Don’t speed.
Check the @SDOTBridges Twitter feed for info about any of those bridges opening for marine traffic.
You can see all local traffic cams here; locally relevant cameras are also shown on this WSB page.
Metro – Still reduced service and distancing – details here.
Water Taxi – Back to its “winter” schedule, with the 773 and 775 shuttles – see the schedule here.
Trouble on the roads/paths/water? Let us know – text (but not if you’re driving!) 206-293-6302.
It’s the first clear night since Comet NEOWISE came into view in the evening sky (as explained by Alice Enevoldsen) and many were out looking for it tonight. The photo above is from John Hinkey, who says it was visible to the west starting around 10:30 pm. The one below is by Jan Pendergrass, taken from Luna/Anchor Park:
And from Jamie Kinney, comet-watching from Alki:
(Added 2:31 am) Two from Jason Enevoldsen:
(added 10:22 am) From Larry Gilpin:
NEOWISE was discovered just four months ago. It should be visible again Tuesday night, with a clear sky forecast, but don’t procrastinate if you’re interested in seeing it … its next swing out this way isn’t expected for another 6,000+ years.
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