VIDEO: State, federal health officials come to West Seattle with a message: Protect your older relatives and friends.

West Seattle’s Providence Mount St. Vincent was the venue today for a simple, urgent message delivered by federal Health and Human Services regional director Ingrid Ulrey and state Department of Health director Dr. Umair Shah: Before you spend time with senior friends and relatives during the holidays, be sure you’re not bringing them something unwanted as you bring gifts and good cheer – disease.

Briefing media after a private roundtable, they spotlighted the “tripledemic” that’s a factor right now – flu, COVID, and RSV – stressing that COVID in particular is not a thing of the past. It’s “not the disruptive force it used to be,” said Ulrey, but it’s still killing more than 300 people in the U.S. each day, and 90 percent of them are seniors. So, she urged, “show your love for your loved ones” – before gatherings, be up to date on vaccines and boosters, and take a COVID test. Here’s our video of the full briefing:

The other speakers were The Mount’s administrator Charlene Boyd, state AARP director Marguerite Ro, King County’s long-term-care ombudsman Pamela Williams, Mount residents’ son Chris Robert, and Public Health -Seattle & King County‘s adult-vaccine program manager Caren Goldenberg. In addition to urging everyone to get current on vaccines, the officials said that’s something long-term-care facilities nationwide have to work on, too, with only 47 percent of residents and 22 percent of staff up to date. Between the two sides of the effort, Williams said, it’s important to remember that care-facility residents have rights including “the right to be free of communicable diseases.” Indoor masking – as recently recommended by health officials – and good ventilation are important too.

The health officials also pointed out that federal and state programs offering free home COVID tests are still active. But some COVID-related resources have ended; we asked about their status. Dr. Shah called it a “complex issue”; Ulrey explained that Congress has failed so far to pass the White House request for resources including preparing for future pandemics. But in the short run, the bottom line of the briefing was that it’s time for you to do what you can and protect the people you love.

6 Replies to "VIDEO: State, federal health officials come to West Seattle with a message: Protect your older relatives and friends."

  • neighbor December 20, 2022 (6:13 am)

    This is an important message and I wouldn’t have taken it seriously had I not just recently come out of a month long virus just 2 months after covid. This flu and virus season is a killer! Sister in law had the same thing and it turned into pneumonia. She spent hours riding around in an ambulance while they called ahead looking for an availability in hospitals reaching from Federal Way all the way to Everett, and nothing! Stay safe!

  • waikikigirl December 20, 2022 (7:11 am)

    I for one are wearing a mask (again) out in public and washing, washing, washing  my hands! UGH  they are so dry but that’s better than getting sick. My sister and brother in law who live out of State are still trying to get over Covid, got it around the 8th, both are vaccinated and gotten their boosters and still got it. So don’t think just because you’ve gotten your vaccines you are immune from any of these virus’. Stay safe and healthy and don’t spread the Joy (germs) this Holiday season! 

    • Brian December 20, 2022 (11:47 am)

      Washing your hands when necessary is great and all (before eating, after using the restroom) but compulsively washing them all the time as some kind of ritual to ward off covid is unnecessary. A good mask that is properly fitted to your face is the best thing you can do stay safe when you can’t avoid being in close quarters with people for whatever reason.   Save those hands!   

      • waikikigirl December 20, 2022 (3:59 pm)

        I don’t compulsively wash, just when needed. LOL!!! 

      • Pat t December 20, 2022 (10:02 pm)

        Washing your hands it’s a great idea. I think the idea behind washing hands is that maybe it’s not that uncommon for people to put their hands and fingers in their nose and their eyes. Fingers and hands a good transfer points for viruses to get into the nose and maybe the eyes. So, if you plan to do that, wash your hands first.

  • Ty December 20, 2022 (12:03 pm)

    An important message. After just visiting Seattle, I returned to the Northeast with RSV. I masked everywhere, but it wasn’t enough apparently. While RSV endangers the lives of toddler and babies, it’s no fun for a 70 year old to get.  Severe sinus congestion, a mouth and throat that felt as if it was razor-bladed (very painful), coughing and trouble swallowing were symptoms. Be vigilant, and don’t go to family gatherings unless you’re sure you’re well, and those in attendance are well. Please.

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