Coronavirus 1309 results

CORONAVIRUS: This week’s update with local trends

After a second week of reduced restrictions, here’s where key local numbers stand, as drawn from the Public Health – Seattle/King County dashboard.

*7 percent more cases countywide in the past week than the week before
*Currently averaging 183 new daily cases countywide (up from 170 when we checked a week ago)

*19 percent fewer hospitalizations countywide in the past week than the week before
*Currently averaging 4 new hospitalizations daily (up from 3 a week ago)

*25 percent fewer deaths countywide in the past two weeks than the two weeks before (the dashboard doesn’t offer a one-week increment)
*Currently averaging 3 deaths daily (unchanged from a week ago)

For West Seattle, we have two-week comparisons (these are the combined totals from two “health reporting areas,” labeled West Seattle and Delridge):
*137 cases between 3/7 and 3/21, down from 187 between 2/20 and 3/6
*2 hospitalizations between 3/7 and 3/21, down from 3 between 2/20 and 3/6
*No deaths between 3/7 and 3/21, down from 1 between 2/20 and 3/6

And checking vaccination rates:
*80.3 percent of all King County residents have completed the series (up .1% from a week ago)
*85 percent of all King County residents ages 5 and up have completed the series (up .1% from a week ago)

*In West Seattle, here are the zip-code vaccination rates for ages 5 and up (note that 98106 and 98146 are not entirely within WS):
98106 – 87.4% (up .2% from a week earlier)
98116 – 92.1% (up .1% from a week earlier)
98126 – 83% (up .2% from a week earlier)
98136 – 93.1% (unchanged from a week earlier)
98146 – 82.1% (up .1% from a week earlier)

VACCINATION AND TESTING: Although the city’s West Seattle clinic is closed, you can still find vaccination locations via this statewide lookup. If you want to get tested and don’t have a kit at home, public testing sites include the city-supported site at Nino Cantu Southwest Athletic Complex (2801 SW Thistle, Mondays-Saturdays), the Curative kiosk at Don Armeni Boat Ramp (1220 Harbor SW, Monday-Friday), and the Curative van at Summit Atlas (35th/Roxbury, Tuesday-Friday).

CORONAVIRUS: This week’s check of West Seattle and countywide trends/stats

After the first full week of semi-masklessness, here’s our weekly update of key local numbers, from the Public Health – Seattle/King County dashboard.

*25 percent fewer cases countywide in the past week than the week before
*Currently averaging 170 new daily cases countywide (down from 226 when we checked a week ago)

*53 percent fewer hospitalizations countywide in the past week than the week before
*Currently averaging 3 new hospitalizations daily (down from 6 a week ago)

*48 percent fewer deaths countywide in the past two weeks than the two weeks before (the dashboard doesn’t offer a one-week increment)
*Currently averaging 3 deaths daily (down from 4 a week ago)

For West Seattle, we have two-week comparisons (these are the combined totals from two “health reporting areas,” labeled West Seattle and Delridge):
*153 cases between 2/28 and 3/14, down from 254 between 2/13 and 2/27
*1 hospitalization between 2/28 and 3/14, down from 6 between 2/13 and 2/27
*No deaths between 2/28 and 3/14, down from 1 between 2/13 and 2/27

And checking vaccination rates:
*80.2 percent of all King County residents have completed the series (up .1% from a week ago)
*84.9 percent of all King County residents ages 5 and up have completed the series (up .1% from a week ago)

*In West Seattle, here are the zip-code vaccination rates for ages 5 and up (note that 98106 and 98146 are not entirely within WS):
98106 – 87.2% (up .2% from a week earlier)
98116 – 92% (unchanged from a week earlier)
98126 – 82.8% (unchanged from a week earlier)
98136 – 93.1% (up .1% from a week earlier)
98146 – 82% (up .3% from a week earlier)

Although the city’s West Seattle clinic is closed, you can still find vaccination locations via this statewide lookup. Public testing sites include the city-supported site at Nino Cantu Southwest Athletic Complex (2801 SW Thistle, Mondays-Saturdays), the Curative kiosk at Don Armeni Boat Ramp (1220 Harbor SW, Mondays-Fridays), and the Curative van at Summit Atlas (35th/Roxbury, Mondays-Fridays).

CORONAVIRUS: Mid-March check of West Seattle and countywide trends/stats

With many pandemic-related requirements now lifted or scaled back, it’s time for what will serve as a baseline update of key local numbers. So here’s what we’re seeing on the Public Health – Seattle/King County dashboard.

*23 percent fewer cases countywide in the past week than the week before
*Currently averaging 226 new daily cases countywide (down from 291 when we checked a week ago)

*40 percent fewer hospitalizations countywide in the past week than the week before
*Currently averaging 6 new hospitalizations daily (down from 11 a week ago)

*49 percent fewer deaths countywide in the past two weeks than the two weeks before (the dashboard doesn’t offer a one-week increment)
*Currently averaging 4 deaths daily (down from 5 a week ago)

For West Seattle, we have two-week comparisons (these are the combined totals from two “health reporting areas,” labeled West Seattle and Delridge):
*192 cases between 2/21 and 3/7, down from 330 between 2/6 and 2/20
*3 hospitalizations between 2/21 and 3/7, down from 4 between 2/6 and 2/20
*1 death between 2/21 and 3/7, down from 3 between 2/6 and 2/20

And checking vaccination rates:
*80.1 percent of all King County residents have completed the series (up .2% from a week ago)
*84.8 percent of all King County residents ages 5 and up have completed the series (up .2% from a week ago)

*In West Seattle, here are the zip-code vaccination rates for ages 5 and up (note that 98106 and 98146 are not entirely within WS):
98106 – 87% (up .3% from a week earlier)
98116 – 92% (up .3% from a week earlier)
98126 – 82.8% (up .2% from a week earlier)
98136 – 93% (up .2% from a week earlier)
98146 – 81.7% (up .2% from a week earlier)

Although the city’s West Seattle clinic is closed, you can still find vaccination locations via this statewide lookup.

CORONAVIRUS: What you need to know as masks become optional in most – but not all – indoor settings

As of tomorrow (Saturday, March 12), the county and state indoor mask mandates are over. But that doesn’t mean masks are optional everywhere. Here’s the thumbnail reminder:

Also, Seattle Parks and Recreation said today that its mask requirement will stay in effect until April 4th – as explained here.

Plus, some businesses can and will choose to continue to require masks. Among them, Pegasus Book Exchange in The Junction. Eric emailed today to ask us to mention this: “For the time being, until we see the stats in a few weeks, we will be continuing to require customers and staff to wear masks in our shop.” Mashiko noted a similar sentiment via social media, saying they’re continuing to require masks at least a little while longer: “We just want to feel this out for few weeks before we tear off the bandaid.” Youngstown Coffee in Morgan Junction says it’s requesting masks but not requiring them. (Any other businesses/venues requiring/requesting masks, you’re welcome to email us so we can mention you too.)

Most masking may be over, but, officials stress, COVID-19 is not. Among them, King County Public Health Officer Dr. Jeff Duchin, who held a briefing/media Q&A session this morning – here’s what he said:

P.S. If you’re not vaccinated/boosted yet but thinking about it, the West Seattle YMCA (3622 SW Snoqualmie; WSB sponsor) has its next pop-up clinic tomorrow.

CORONAVIRUS: Masks no longer required at Seattle Public Schools as of next week; teachers’ union ‘disappointed’ in unilateral decision

12:07 PM: The state and county indoor-mask requirements end as of this Saturday, and Seattle Public Schools just announced they’re following suit. As of next week, SPS no longer will require face coverings. From the announcement we just received:

Beginning Monday, March 14, 2022, Seattle Public Schools will shift its masking requirement from mandatory to optional.

This change applies to all SPS students, staff, volunteers, and visitors both indoors and outdoors at any SPS building. In addition, masks will also be optional on school buses.

Through March 13, 2022, the current rule requiring masking on all district property and on school buses remains in place.

The new mask-optional rule aligns with Washington Governor Jay Inslee’s updated statewide health guidance announced two weeks ago. SPS has informed its labor partners, including the Seattle Education Association, of the change.

You can read the full announcement on the SPS website.

1:30 PM: We asked neighboring Highline Public Schools (White Center and other points south of West Seattle about the status of their mask policy. A spokesperson replied that they expect an announcement tomorrow.

2:03 PM: Thanks for the tip. The Seattle Education Association has told its members the district is doing this without the union’s agreement:

You may have received notice from SPS that they are making masks optional starting Monday, March 14. SPS unilaterally implemented this change in masking policy. We are deeply disappointed that SPS has violated our collective agreement to bargain the change. This causes chaos and confusion for staff and families. Bargaining was scheduled to start Friday. More info to follow.

CORONAVIRUS: How one West Seattle business has decided to handle masks after mandate ends

This is the last week that our state and county will require people to wear masks in many indoor settings. The end of the mandate does not mean that people can’t choose to continue wearing masks, nor does it mean that businesses or other facilities/institutions can’t choose to continue requiring them. Shandon Armstrong, proprietor of the gift shop Alair (3270 California SW), told us, “I’ve been struggling with how to handle masks this time around. … I finally came up with a solution that I’m happy with and my staff is comfortable with. I thought it might help other businesses that are also struggling with what the right thing to do is …” So as of next Saturday, March 12th, this will be Alair’s policy:

*Masks (will be) no longer required in Alair

*Our staff will usually still wear masks per their own wishes and we are all fully vaccinated and boostered

*Masks are still awesome and keeping everyone safe, so:

*Anyone that chooses to wear a mask while shopping will receive an appreciation discount of 5% off their total purchase

Even after next Saturday, masks will continue to be required in health-care and long-term-care facilities, aboard transit, and in correctional facilities.

CORONAVIRUS: March’s first check of West Seattle, King County trends and stats

The King County vaccination-verification requirement is lifted; most indoor mask requirements end one week from today. But the pandemic’s not over, so how are the key numbers going locally? Here are the latest countywide and West Seattle trends and totals, via the Public Health – Seattle/King County dashboard.

*29 percent fewer cases countywide in the past week than the week before
*Currently averaging 291 new daily cases countywide (down from 407 when we checked a week ago)

*1 percent more hospitalizations countywide in the past week than the week before
*Currently averaging 11 new hospitalizations daily (up from 10 a week ago)

*36 percent fewer deaths countywide in the past two weeks than the two weeks before (the dashboard doesn’t offer a one-week increment)
*Currently averaging 5 deaths daily (down from 6 a week ago)

For West Seattle, we have two-week comparisons (these are the combined totals from two “health reporting areas,” labeled West Seattle and Delridge):
*272 cases between 2/14 and 2/28, down from 560 between 1/30 and 2/13
*5 hospitalizations between 2/14 and 2/28, down from 9 between 1/30 and 2/13
*1 death between 2/14 and 2/28, down from 3 between 1/30 and 2/13

And checking vaccination rates:
*79.9 percent of all King County residents have completed the series (up .2% from a week ago)
*84.6 percent of all King County residents ages 5 and up have completed the series (up .2% from a week ago)

*In West Seattle, here are the zip-code vaccination rates for ages 5 and up (note that 98106 and 98146 are not entirely within WS):
98106 – 86.7% (up .2% from a week earlier)
98116 – 91.7% (same as a week earlier)
98126 – 82.6% (up .1% from a week earlier)
98136 – 92.8% (up .1% from a week earlier)
98146 – 81.5% (up .4% from a week earlier)

Though the city’s West Seattle clinic is closed, you can still find vaccination locations via this statewide lookup. We’ll also continue spotlighting pop-up clinics, such as the one the West Seattle YMCA (3622 SW Snoqualmie; WSB sponsor) is hosting next Saturday, March 12th, noon-4 pm.

READER REPORT: Anti-mask tirade targets autistic student

Many mask mandates are ending. That doesn’t mean mask-wearing is ending for everyone. Some people will still be required to; some will still choose to. Many elected and community leaders have stressed the importance of not hassling those who continue to wear them. We received this report from Gary about an incident today:

Our son is 19 years old and high-functioning autistic. He is part of the Seattle Public Schools BRIDGES program, aimed at helping Special Needs kids integrate into adult life / society.

After getting off the bus [with his teacher] and walking around 26th and Roxbury on the way to class [at the former Roxhill Elementary building], a large truck decided to stop, pull out his phone, start recording them, yelling and swearing how he is brainwashed and doesn’t need to wear a mask outside. Although not “illegal,” I’m sure many parents can understand the emotions that it brings. We now have to pay attention if this has caused additional apprehension about riding Metro, the community, and people in general. All of which are difficult for kids with special needs.

It was handled well by the teacher, and the truck moved on… just truly a shame how selfish and rude people are, unaware of the damage and setbacks something like this could actually cause to somebody.

CORONAVIRUS: 3 upcoming vaccination pop-ups

March 2, 2022 9:31 am
|    Comments Off on CORONAVIRUS: 3 upcoming vaccination pop-ups
 |   Coronavirus | West Seattle news

Last weekend brought the end of West Seattle’s long-running city-supported COVID-19 vaccination clinic. But three local pop-ups have been announced for this month. For everyone eligible, the West Seattle YMCA (3622 SW Snoqualmie; WSB sponsor) is offering a community vaccination clinic noon-4 pm Saturday, March 12th; limited walk-in opportunities are expected, but you can also make an appointment – this flyer explains how. Meantime, for Seattle Public Schools students and staff, the district is promoting two upcoming clinics – 3-5 pm tomorrow (Thursday, March 3rd) at Upton Flats (35th/Graham) in High Point, and 9 am-1 pm Saturday, March 19, at Concord International (723 S. Concord) in South Park. For other availability, the state continues offering an online locator tool.

CORONAVIRUS: City’s resource reminder on last day of eviction moratorium

February 28, 2022 2:06 pm
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 |   Coronavirus | West Seattle housing | West Seattle news

If you’ve been affected by the city’s pandemic-related eviction moratorium, as a renter or landlord, the city wants to remind you that it’s ending today, and wants to be sure you know about an informational resource. Here’s the announcement:

As directed by Mayor Harrell in Executive Order 2022-02 on the City’s eviction moratorium, the City has set up an Eviction Assistance web page as part of the broader Renting in Seattle online resource. The Eviction Assistance page offers renters and small landlords key information they should know about the expiration of the moratorium, set to end on February 28, 2022, and post-moratorium tenant protections. It also provides links to resources and more detailed information. We will be adding translated information as it becomes available. 

The website – seattle.gov/EvictionAssistance – lists resources available to tenants once the moratorium ends, including:

-Free legal assistance from the Housing Justice Project
-Assistance for rent and utility payments due to COVID financial hardships
-Rules limiting eviction of tenants with delinquent rent accrued between March 3, 2020, and up to 6 months after the end of the moratorium
-Rules limiting eviction from September to June based on Seattle Public Schools’ calendar for households with students (childcare—under 18), educators, and employees of schools

For a more complete look at the City’s renter protections look at seattle.gov/rentinginseattle.

$59 million has been allocated for rental assistance during the COVID-19 pandemic to help Seattle renters stay in their homes. This includes a variety of federal dollars allocated to respond to the pandemic, as well as City General Fund designated for rental assistance.

CORONAVIRUS: State, county indoor-mask requirements ending earlier – now March 12

11:34 AM: Just in: As of March 12th, the state and King County will lift their indoor-mask rules. That’s nine days earlier than Gov. Jay Inslee announced last week. His new statement – issued in conjunction with the governors of Oregon and California – says in part:

This new date does not change any other aspect of the updated mask requirements Inslee announced last week. Masks will still be required in certain settings including health care, corrections facilities, and long-term care facilities. The Washington State Department of Health will be issuing new guidance for K-12 schools next week so schools can prepare to implement updated safety protocols.

Here’s a graphic from the governor’s office, with more details:

The governor’s office says the new date is possible because “of new [CDC] guidance and continued decreases in hospitalization rates.” We’ll add to this as more information becomes available.

11:55 AM: Gov. Inslee plans a media briefing at 1 pm – you can watch here. You can read the three governors’ joint statement here.

1:08 PM: The governor has just begun speaking. Meantime, the King County decision is explained here.

1:56 PM: The governor’s briefing/Q&A has just concluded. He said he does not anticipate changing the date again. He also says (as he did last week) that the emergency declaration regarding the pandemic will remain in place, in part because that facilitates some policies staying in place such as the health-care masking requirement.

8:02 PM: If you’re wondering about schools, Seattle Public Schools has reiterated that its policy will remain in place TFN.

CORONAVIRUS: February’s final check of West Seattle, King County trends and stats

Monday (February 28th) will mark two years since the first King County COVID-19 case was announced. It’ll also be the last day of the King County vaccination-verification requirement. And today was closing day for the city’s West Seattle vaccination clinic. Amid all this, the key pandemic numbers continue dropping. Here are the latest countywide and West Seattle trends and totals, via the Public Health – Seattle/King County dashboard.

*42 percent fewer cases countywide in the past week than the week before
*Currently averaging 407 new daily cases countywide (down from 798 when we last checked a week ago)

*29 percent fewer hospitalizations countywide in the past week than the week before
*Currently averaging 10 new hospitalizations daily (down from 22 a week ago)

*35 percent fewer deaths countywide in the past two weeks than the two weeks before (the dashboard doesn’t offer a one-week increment)
*Currently averaging 6 deaths daily (down from 7 a week and a half ago)

For West Seattle, we have two-week comparisons:
*343 cases between 2/7 and 2/21, down from 1,030 between 1/23 and 2/6
*4 hospitalizations between 2/7 and 2/21, down from 16 between 1/23 and 2/6
*2 deaths between 2/7 and 2/21, down from 4 between 1/23 and 2/6

And checking vaccination rates:
*79.7 percent of all King County residents have completed the series (up .2% from a week ago)
*84.4 percent of all King County residents ages 5 and up have completed the series (up .3% from a week ago)

*In West Seattle, here are the zip-code vaccination rates for ages 5 and up (note that 98106 and 98146 are not entirely within WS):
98106 – 86.5% (up .3% from a week earlier)
98116 – 91.7% (up .1% from a week earlier)
98126 – 82.5% (up .3% from a week earlier)
98136 – 92.7% (up .1% from a week earlier)
98146 – 81.1% (up .4% from a week earlier)

Though the city’s West Seattle clinic is now closed, you can still find vaccination locations via this statewide lookup – for example, it brings up a clinic at the West Seattle YMCA (3622 SW Snoqualmie; WSB sponsor) on March 12th.

CORONAVIRUS: Last two days for city’s West Seattle vaccination clinic

February 24, 2022 4:18 pm
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 |   Coronavirus | High Point | West Seattle news

In case you’ve been procrastinating on a COVID-19 vaccination or booster shot, here’s your reminder that the city-run clinic in West Seattle is about to close. As announced two weeks ago, Friday and Saturday are the final days for the clinic at Neighborhood House High Point (6400 Sylvan Way SW). The clinic is scheduled to be open to walk-ins as well as those with appointments 4:30-7;30 pm Friday and 8:30 am-4:30 pm Saturday. The city also is closing its Rainier Beach clinic in early March.

CITY COUNCIL: Eviction moratorium won’t be extended; free street-café permits will

Two pandemic-related votes of note at this afternoon’s City Council meeting:

EVICTION-MORATORIUM EXTENSION FAILS: District 3 Councilmember Kshama Sawant proposed a resolution to extend the city eviction moratorium until the pandemic public-health emergency ends, countering Mayor Bruce Harrell‘s decision to end it on February 28th. The proposal was rejected, 3-5. Only West Seattle/South Park Councilmember Lisa Herbold and West Seattle-residing citywide Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda joined Sawant in voting for the extension. (Councilmember Tammy Morales did not attend the meeting.)

EXTENSION PASSES FOR FREE STREET-CAFE PERMITS: Councilmembers unanimously approved extending the pilot program that “enables restaurants and other retail storefronts to utilize streets outside of their businesses for outdoor dining or displays,” as described by its sponsor, District 6 Councilmember Dan Strauss. The program was previously set to expire at the end of May; now it will continue through January 31, 2023. In the meantime, the city is expected to develop the rules and fees for a permanent program.

CORONAVIRUS: One more weekend for city’s vaccination clinic at Neighborhood House High Point

February 20, 2022 1:38 pm
|    Comments Off on CORONAVIRUS: One more weekend for city’s vaccination clinic at Neighborhood House High Point
 |   Coronavirus | High Point | West Seattle news

As announced earlier this month, the city-supported COVID vaccination clinic in West Seattle – at Neighborhood House High Point – is closing after its next Friday/Saturday sessions. NH, a regional nonprofit, sent this announcement to thank the community:

Next Saturday, February 26, 2022 is the last day of the West Seattle Vaccination Clinic run by the city at Neighborhood House High Point.

Neighborhood House is honored to be have been able to partner with the city to provide this clinic space in our High Point building to connect community members to the COVID-19 vaccines and boosters.

Thank you to the West Seattle community – we were so proud to serve you! Since the clinic opened in late October 2021, the Seattle Fire Department along with inaugural health partners Pliable have administered tens of thousands of shots, to children as young as 5 and grandparents and great-grandparents of all ages.

The dates and hours of operation as well as appointments for the High Point clinic can be found at www.seattle.gov/covid-19/vaccinations.

For over 100 years, Neighborhood House has created opportunities for those facing cultural, language, and systemic barriers to live longer, happier, and healthier lives. Learn more about this work throughout King County and Seattle at nhwa.org.

The city-supported COVID testing site at Nino Cantu Southwest Athletic Complex will remain open.

CORONAVIRUS: Checking West Seattle trends and stats

In the wake of this week’s major announcements about end dates for mask requirements and vaccination verification, we checked countywide and West Seattle trends via the Public Health – Seattle/King County dashboard.

*42 percent fewer cases countywide in the past week than the week before
*Currently averaging 798 new daily cases countywide (down from 1,415 when we last checked a week and a half ago)

*5 percent fewer hospitalizations countywide in the past week than the week before
*Currently averaging 22 new hospitalizations daily (down from 29 a week and a half ago)

*13 percent fewer deaths countywide in the past two weeks than the two weeks before (the dashboard didn’t offer a one-week increment)
*Currently averaging 7 new deaths daily (down from 8 a week and a half ago)

For West Seattle, we have two-week comparisons:
*559 cases between 1/31 and 2/14, down from 1,618 between 1/16 and 1/30
*8 hospitalizations between 1/31 and 2/14, down from 15 between 1/16 and 1/30
*2 deaths between 1/31 and 2/14, down from 6 between 1/16 and 1/30

And checking vaccination rates for the first time in a while:
*79.5 percent of all King County residents have completed the series
*84.1 percent of all King County residents ages 5 and up have completed the series
*In West Seattle, here are the zip-code vaccination rates for ages 5 and up (note that 98106 and 98146 are not entirely within WS):
98106 – 86.2%
98116 – 91.6%
98126 – 82.2%
98136 – 92.6%
98146 – 80.7%

FOLLOWUP: Seattle Public Schools says mask policy will ‘continue until further notice’

One day after Governor Jay Inslee‘s announcement that most statewide mask mandates, including schools, would end March 21st, Seattle Public Schools has just published its reaction:

Seattle Public Schools is aware of Governor Inslee’s plan to lift the state mask mandate on March 21, 2022.

Implementation in the school district must meet the unique health and safety needs of our students, families, and staff. Seattle Public Schools continues to look to guidance from Public Health – Seattle & King County.

SPS will:

-Continue until further notice with our current policy requiring mask use by all students, staff, visitors and others while they are indoors and outdoors at all SPS buildings;

-Continue to require mask use on school buses, as required by federal law;

-Base updates to current masking policy on the specific needs of the district, informed by local public health guidance.

-Negotiate with the Seattle Education Association, as required by the current collective bargaining agreement, to arrive at a mutually agreeable position regarding any permanent change to mask use requirements throughout the district.

Future decisions on mask use within the district will be made in partnership with public health, and its implementation will be established after consultation and mutually agreed upon guidelines that are reached through bargaining with our labor partners.

COVID case numbers in the district, as in the general local population, continue declining, according to the SPS dashboard.

UPDATE: Governor announces most statewide mask mandates will end March 21

2:06 PM: Happening now in Olympia – click into the livestream here or above – Governor Jay Inslee is announcing “the latest COVID-19 trends and plans for transitioning to the next phase of Washington state’s COVID-19 response.” He’s being joined by state school superintendent Chris Reykdal and state health secretary Dr. Umair Shah. We’ll update as it goes.

He opened by hailing a “significant decline” in COVID cases though he said the case and hospitalization rates are still “high” and still need to be “knocked down.” He says modeling projects that the “knocking down” to a safe point is likely to happen by March 21st. “Considering these projections,” he said, the state mask mandate for schools and public indoor spaces will be removed on that date. There will be exceptions, he noted, such as health-care facilities and transit (the latter, he said, is federally required). He thanks people statewide for what they’ve done on this “long, long journey” but cautions it would not be safe to “do this today” – “We need to finish this job and do what’s scientifically safe.”

2:18 PM: He says people will have the right to continue choosing to wear masks if they want to “and we will protect that right.” Next, Dr. Shah speaks, saying he is “hopeful for where this pandemic is going,” nationwide as well as in our state. He reiterates the “strong protection” provided by vaccines. He adds, “Living with COVID means we don’t know how long it’s going to be around.” He also points out that the statewide mandate end will not rule out local health jurisdictions, businesses, etc. keeping their. own rules in place. Overall, this is an “incredibly important milestone,” he concludes.

2:25 PM: Now state superintendent Reykdal is speaking. He echoes what the previous speakers have said, thanking everyone for what they’ve done to stay safe. Then back to the governor, who says he knows some may think the mandate should end sooner – “We lost a thousand people in January to this disease, and when we make decisions, we should have a recognition of how dangerous and deadly this is … and we’re not yet where we need to be as a state to be safe.”

2:30 PM: On to reporter Q&A. Will the emergency order be lifted March 21 too? No, says the governor – for one, it needs to stay in place for the state to be eligible for federal funds, plus it confers protections of various kinds, such as allowing testing in schools. “There’s no dedicated end date to the emergency order.” … In response to another question, Dr. Shah reiterates, “March 21st is such an important milestone, but it does not mean the pandemic ends then.”

2:56 PM: The Q&A continues. One question was about the declining case rate; what’s on the state dashboard is most current, was the reply, showing a peak of 1,740 cases per 100,000 people over 7 days in mid-January, and then by early February that was down to 645 cases per 100,000 people over 7 days.

3:10 PM: The briefing has concluded. The video window above should show the recording soon. When the governor’s office issues a written version of today’s announcements, we’ll link it here. We also have a followup out for clarification with Seattle Public Schools regarding what the end of the statewide mandate would mean in local schools.

3:56 PM: Here’s what the governor’s office has since posted. Key point:

Businesses and local governments can still choose to implement vaccination or face mask requirements for workers or customers, and school districts can still choose to have students and teachers wear masks. Federal law still requires face masks in certain settings such as public transportation and school buses.

CORONAVIRUS: King County to end vaccine-verification policy

As noted in our morning preview, King County Executive Dow Constantine and Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell planned to announce a change in the vaccine-verification policy this afternoon. From the announcement (which you can read in full here):

The vaccine verification policy in King County will no longer be in effect as of March 1. Businesses will no longer be required to check customers’ proof of vaccination, or a negative COVID-19 test, to enter restaurants and bars, indoor recreational events and establishments, or outdoor events.

With new COVID-19 cases and hospitalization decreasing, and over 87% of King County residents over age 12 fully vaccinated, King County Executive Dow Constantine announced Public Health – Seattle & King County is lifting the local health order requiring proof of COVID-19 vaccination for entry into indoor recreational settings, or outdoor events. The vaccination verification policy will no longer be in effect as of March 1. Businesses and organizations may continue to implement their own vaccination verification rules for their establishments. Additionally, King County and the City of Seattle announced their remote employees would begin returning to offices in March.

“From the beginning of this pandemic, our aim has been to protect the health of our community and save lives. Our public health experts believe that now is the appropriate time to lift vaccine verification, based on high rates of vaccine coverage and the decrease in new cases and hospitalizations across the county. We are moving in the right direction, and can continue taking additional steps toward recovery,” said King County Executive Dow Constantine. “King County businesses and community members have been instrumental in encouraging nation-leading vaccination verification rates, and I’m grateful for the extra effort to keep our community safe over these last several months.”

“The steady decline in positive cases is much needed positive news. Seattle will continue to follow public health guidance and adopt strategies that best keep our communities safe,” said Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell. “These steps forward show we are moving in the right direction and reflect that our region’s strong COVID response is the result of a united team effort. With City employees who had previously been working from home beginning to return to office in mid-March, I look forward to keeping up this collaborative spirit as we drive forward an equitable, community-focused recovery.”

“We announced the vaccination verification policy in anticipation of a fall and winter surge in cases. The intent was to reduce COVID-19 transmission in high-risk indoor settings and thereby reduce the burden on our hospitals, while providing time for more people to get fully vaccinated,” said Dr. Jeff Duchin, Health Officer, Public Health – Seattle & King County. “Following the record-breaking Omicron surge, we’re have seen a steady reduction in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, and hospital capacity is improving. In addition, since this policy was adopted, over one-quarter of a million King County residents have gotten vaccinated, meaning nearly 80% of King County residents are now fully vaccinated and 92% of those eligible have started the vaccination series.”

“Although our mandatory vaccine verification requirement is ending, COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations remain elevated and layered COVID-19 prevention remains important. Everyone should continue to take steps to reduce COVID-19 risk, including getting vaccinated and boosted when eligible, using high quality, well-fitting face masks, improving indoor air quality through ventilation and filtration, and limiting time in crowded and poorly ventilated indoor spaces. Businesses should continue to support employees in getting vaccinated and staying home when sick.”

“We are thrilled to hear that recent public health data has encouraged King County leaders to move our community and our businesses into the next phase of the pandemic and prepare for the sunset of vaccine verification,” said Rachel Smith, president and CEO of the Seattle Metro Chamber of Commerce. “This is our moment to celebrate the tremendous work the county, businesses, and customers did to make public health a priority – saving lives and keeping our economy moving. Vaccine verification was a win-win: our businesses got to keep their staff on payroll and keep their doors open, while prioritizing safety. Our top priority has been to support the King County business community as it navigated changes in regulations, and it can expect that same high level of support and resources from the Chamber to help ensure safety for our community moving forward.”

King County’s vaccination verification policy went into effect on October 25, 2021. The policy required either verification of full vaccination or a recent negative test to enter indoor entertainment and recreational events or establishments, indoor restaurants and bars, and outdoor events with 500 people or more.

The policy was announced in September 2021 as a temporary measure during the Delta variant surge and to prepare for a potential fall and winter surge. The intent of the policy was to give additional COVID-19 protection to employees and patrons in high-risk indoor settings while providing more time for people to get fully vaccinated. Modeling produced by the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) predicted the vaccine verification could have a significant positive impact in reducing infections, hospitalizations, and deaths.

The policy was supported by healthcare organizations, business groups, and arts and culture organizations. Multiple King County business owners and major sports teams had already implemented their own vaccination verification policies. King County worked with the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce to gather business feedback to inform the policy and conduct outreach and technical assistance once the policy was in place.

VIDEO: Rain City Relief @ Easy Street Records

February 12, 2022 10:28 pm
|    Comments Off on VIDEO: Rain City Relief @ Easy Street Records
 |   Coronavirus | West Seattle news | WS culture/arts

That’s Seattle singer/songwriter Ariana DeBoo performing at Easy Street Records in The Junction tonight during the record-release party for Rain City Relief. Along with her solo work, you might also know her from Macklemore‘s 2016 song “Drug Dealer.” She’s one of 10 artists featured on the Rain City Relief album, one of three to play mini-sets at tonight’s party. The record is part of an ongoing campaign to raise money for musicians suffering because of pandemic disruptions. You can donate here, with the limited-edition-vinyl record available for a donation of $25+.

CORONAVIRUS: Pop-up vaccination clinic at West Seattle YMCA next Saturday

Though the city is making plans to close its ongoing vaccination clinics in a few weeks (as reported here Friday), Seattle/King County Public Health will continue to partner with community organizations for pop-up clinics. And we have word today of one set for next Saturday, February 19th, at the West Seattle YMCA (3622 SW Snoqualmie; WSB sponsor). You can make an appointment now (limited walk-in spots are expected that day) by going here – everyone welcome, not just Y members, for first/second shots or boosters. Next Saturday’s pop-up is set for noon-4 pm; here’s the flyer.

CORONAVIRUS: City’s West Seattle vaccination clinic to close at month’s end

Today’s second pandemic-related announcement from the city, another one that’ll kick in at month’s end: The city-run West Seattle vaccination clinic will be shut down. It will continue operating at Neighborhood House High Point (6400 Sylvan Way SW) 4:30 pm-7:30 pm Fridays and 8:30 am-4:30 pm Saturdays – all ages, walk-ins or appointments – through February 26th. The city will close its Rainier Beach vaccination clinic in early March, too. The announcement (see it here) basically says the clinics aren’t being utilized enough, so the city “will pivot to a mobile, partner-led strategy to better reach unvaccinated families.” The Neighborhood House clinic opened in late October, more than four months after the city closed its original West Seattle vaccination site at Nino Cantu Southwest Athletic Complex. (That location still has a testing site, which is not part of today’s clinic-closure announcement.)

Mayor announces plan to end Seattle eviction moratorium

On the second anniversary of the first King County COVID cases, Seattle’s pandemic-related eviction moratorium will expire. So says this announcement sent by the mayor’s office:

Today, Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell announced that residential and commercial eviction moratoria will expire at the end of the month of February. Mayor Harrell will issue an Executive Order extending the residential eviction moratorium from February 14 through February 28, after which the moratorium will not be renewed.

“With COVID cases steadily declining, the time has come for the City to move on from the broad approach of the eviction moratoria and instead drive more deliberate and focused efforts to support those most in need,” said Mayor Harrell. “In addition to distribution of all available emergency rental assistance, truly vulnerable tenants – those still suffering significant pandemic-related financial hardships – will continue to have enhanced eviction protections, while at the same time small landlords have needed clarity as they evaluate how to move forward.”

All residential tenants who demonstrate enduring financial hardship preventing them from paying rent will receive continued eviction protections for at least six months after the end of the moratorium, providing additional security for those most at risk through a specific legal defense created by ordinance. Seattle residents facing eviction are also afforded a right to legal counsel and additional eviction protections based on time of year. Landlords will be able to move forward with evictions proceedings for other purposes, such as those listed in the Just Cause Eviction Ordinance.

Mayor Harrell’s latest Executive Order comes after convening a work group of tenant advocates and small landlords, who through multiple meetings with Mayor Harrell provided input around impacts of the pandemic and the effects of the eviction moratorium informed by lived experience.

During the next two weeks, Mayor Harrell will review reports created by interdepartmental City teams defined in his previous Executive Order to evaluate data, improve existing efforts, and seek additional solutions.

As part of those efforts, Mayor Harrell has directed the Office of Housing to urgently distribute over $25 million in identified funding to support renters and small landlords, complementing funding being allocated by King County.

Mayor Harrell has also directed the City staff to develop a website to connect tenants and small landlords to available financial resources, information on rights and protections, and other critical updates needed as the moratoria ends.

“As we work together toward to a new normal, we know we’re not yet out of the woods of this pandemic,” said Mayor Harrell. “The City of Seattle will continue to take action to support those most in need – striving to protect the health and well-being of our residents, prevent homelessness and undue financial hardship, and build One Seattle with abundant opportunity for all and thriving, vibrant, connected communities.”