News for the Week of March 15

News highlights for the week of March 15.

Latest Numbers. In Mercer Island, there have been 486 positive cases reported as of March 19. DOH reported a total of 331,820 confirmed cases as of March 17. There have been 5,168 COVID-19 deaths in Washington. For the latest city and county data, click here.

Mercer Island Mobile Vaccine Teams. Last week, the Mercer Island Fire Department EMT’s started administering the COVID-19 vaccine to eligible Island residents. MIFD Mobile Vaccine Teams are assisting mobility-challenged residents or those who have experienced difficulties in securing appointments. Emergency Management staff have reached out to local long-term care facilities and adult family homes, but if you or a loved one (a resident over the age of 65) needs assistance scheduling a vaccine appointment, YFS Geriatric Specialist, Marjorie Carlson may be able to help. She can be reached at (206) 275-7752 or marjorie.carlson@mercerisland.gov.

State Advances Phase 1B2 Vaccine Eligibility; Next Two Vaccine Eligibility Tiers Open March 31. On Wednesday, Washington moved into Phase 1B2. People in Phase 1A, 1B1, and 1B2 can now get vaccinated. For information on who falls into this new phase, the state's new vaccine locator website, and next phases, follow this link. Additionally, people in Phase 1B3 and 1B4 will be eligible for the vaccine beginning March 31. Vaccination appointments will open to anyone age 60 and older, as well as to many workers in congregate settings such as foodservice, manufacturing, and construction. Follow this link for information about these upcoming tiers.

Phase 3. This coming Monday, March 22, the entire state will move into Phase 3. Phase 3 will allow 50% occupancy in most indoor venues including gyms, restaurants, retail, and theaters. Click here for details from the Governor’s office.

City Facilities Closed Through June 1. During Tuesday’s City Manager’s Report, Jessi Bon announced that City facilities will remain closed through at least June 1. Those facilities include City Hall, Mercer Island Community and Event Center (MICEC), and the Luther Burbank Admin Building (Municipal court is open for scheduled cases and hearings and following COVID protocols). Staff will re-evaluate as we get closer to June and can assess vaccine eligibility and distribution. Click here for the full City Manager’s report.

Long-Term Care Visits Now Allowed. Visits at long-term care and nursing home facilities have now resumed. The state eliminated visitation phases, in accordance with guidance from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the CDC. Outdoor visitation remains the safest, preferred option, but indoor visitation will be permitted for visitors or residents who are fully vaccinated. Compassionate care visits will still be permitted, regardless of vaccination of either party. Click here for the announcement.

March 19 Situation Report. Given the significant updates to vaccine eligibility, mandate to provide in-person learning at public schools by April, and the statewide move into Phase 3 on March 22, the City is issuing a special SitRep. Click here for highlights and information from the 54th week of the City’s response to the pandemic.

Information for Businesses

How to create a COVID-safe work environment. Employers are responsible for reducing the risk of COVID-19 in the workplace. See the new flyer with information for businesses and workers on how to make your workspace safer. Flyer is available in Amharic, Arabic, Chinese (Simplified), Chinese (Traditional), Dari, English, Japanese, Korean, Marshallese, Oromo, Farsi, Punjabi, Russian, Somali, Spanish, Tagalog, Tigrinya, Ukrainian, Vietnamese. This flyer also shares information on how to make a safer breakroom. The place workers go to relax on the job can be a high-risk location for transmission of the coronavirus, but these tips can reduce risk.

Vaccine News

King County COVID-19 Vaccine Data At-a-Glance. Page updated daily here.

School News

CDC Updates Guidance on Physical Distancing for Students. New guidance from the CDC revises physical distancing recommendations to reflect at least 3 feet between students in classrooms and 6 feet between adults (teachers and staff), and between adults and students. Follow this link to the CDC's updated operational strategy for schools.

Resources

Need a ride to get the vaccine? The vaccine is an important part of ending the COVID-19 pandemic. If you’re eligible in Phase 1B1, you should get yours now! And if you have Apple Health (or Medicaid), you might even be able to get a ride there. Transportation barriers shouldn’t keep you from getting protected from COVID-19. Click here to learn more.

King County Household Assistance Request program updated. Do you and your family need financial support to successfully isolate or quarantine? Anyone living in King County who tests positive or is exposed to COVID-19 may be eligible to receive a one-time household bill payment of up to $1500 to help pay their current rent, mortgage, utility, water, phone and internet bills. See updates to eligibility to the program and how it works by clicking here.

Inslee announces extension of eviction moratorium. Gov. Jay Inslee announced that the statewide eviction moratorium will be extended through June 30. Read the full news release here.

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