COVID-19 Information

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The City of Mercer Island is committed to sharing up-to-date information on the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic with the community. These pages share the latest information, resources, and more.

Click on the shortcut buttons below to access the most requested information.



The City of Mercer Island is committed to sharing up-to-date information on the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic with the community. These pages share the latest information, resources, and more.

Click on the shortcut buttons below to access the most requested information.


  • New School and Long-Term Care Guidance

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    Governor Inslee announced new guidance for returning to school this fall as well as guidance for visiting long-term care facilities.

    Guidance for 2020-2021 School Year

    On August 5, Gov. Inslee announced new recommendations from the Washington State Department of Health for resuming in-person instruction in public and private K-12 education for the upcoming 2020–2021 school year. Inslee was joined by Chris Reykdal, state Superintendent of Public Instruction at a press conference.

    Similar to the state’s county-by-county phased approach to reopening, the plan allows local health departments and school districts decide if and how they will allow students back in the classroom.

    Counties have been grouped into three categories – High Risk, Moderate Risk, and Low Risk based on the number of cases per 100,000 residents over 2-week period.

    • For High Risk (more than 75 new cases per 100k residents), the state (a) strongly recommend distance learning, and (b) strongly recommend canceling or postponing all in person extracurricular activities.
    • For Moderate Risk (more than 25 new cases per 100k residents), the state (a) recommend distance learning – middle/high school, (b) possible in-person learning options for elementary, and (c) strongly recommend canceling or postponing all in person extracurricular activities.
    • For Low Risk (fewer than 25 new cases per 100k residents – just 5 counties), the state (a) encourage hybrid in-person and distance model for middle/high school, and (b) full-time in-person learning for elementary.

    Additional for the 2020-2021 school year includes that all in-person instruction should be able to implement state recommendation and health requirements that protect staff and students like physical distancing measures, hygiene and cleaning measures, daily screenings, etc.

    To help low income families, the state is providing $8.8M of CARES Act funding to purchase internet plans and other technology needs.

    For more information, click here.


    Guidance for Long-Term Care Facilities

    On August 6, Gov. Inslee announced guidance that allows long-term care facilities to offer visitation and other activities. Many long-term care facilities were forced to curtail social activities for residents and visitors earlier this year due to COVID-19.

    The plan goes into effect August 12, and even after it becomes effective, individual facilities must meet additional parameters before re-opening. The graduated restart plan for long-term care will give providers, residents and families direction for resuming normal activities, like visitation. The plan includes a number of public health metrics that must be met in order for facilities to move through the phases. It is modeled after the Safe Start plan.

    • Facilities in Phase 1 are can only allow window, remote, or outdoor visits (except compassionate care visits).
    • Facilities in Phase 2 are able to allow the same activities, with the addition of limited indoor visits for those residents unable to participate in virtual or outdoor visits.
    • Facilities in Phase 3 may include all activities allowed in Phase 2, but limited indoor visits are extended to all residents.
    • Normal visitation is not reinstated until Phase 4 of the long-term care plan. See the image below for more inormation.

    For more information about the guidance for long-term care facilities and visitors, click here.


  • COVID-19 transmission increasing in western Washington, rates flat but higher in eastern Washington

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    On October 14, the State Department of Health (DOH) released the latest statewide situation report on COVID-19 transmission. Report findings include:

    Transmission is increasing in western Washington and recently plateauing in eastern Washington. The best estimates of the reproductive number (how many new people each COVID-19 patient will infect) were 1.12 in western Washington and 0.94 in eastern Washington as of September 27. The goal is a number well below one, which would mean COVID-19 transmission is declining.

    The situation in eastern Washington is unstable and efforts to control the spread of the virus must be strictly maintained or intensified to avoid a backslide. This instability is clear in case and hospitalization numbers, where we’ve seen increases and decreases at various points in September rather than the desired steady downward trend. The proportion of positive tests to total tests also remains high. Per person, the case rate in eastern Washington is twice as high as in western Washington and the daily hospitalization rate is more than twice as high.

    Case counts in western Washington are increasing across all age groups and over broad geographic areas. This suggests increases are due to broad community spread, not driven by a single type of activity or setting. Though all age groups are seeing increases, the rising trends among older people are particularly concerning because these groups tend to experience more severe illness.

    Recent growth in cases is widely distributed across a number of counties. Some larger counties (Clark, King, Kitsap, Pierce, Snohomish and Thurston) are seeing steady increases. Several smaller counties (Lewis, Mason, Pend Oreille and Skagit) are clearly experiencing increases, though the total number of recent cases remains low. Benton and Franklin counties are seeing gradual but steady increases as well.

    Trends are also mixed in counties with flat or decreasing case counts. In Spokane County, the steep increase in cases in early to mid-September may have reached a plateau. Case counts are fluctuating in Whitman County, with some likely increases in older people following a recent spike in the college-age population. Cases remain flat in Yakima County. Grant and Grays Harbor counties are seeing steady declines, and Whatcom County is starting to see decreases as of the start of October.

    Click here to read the latest WA SitRep: https://covid.idmod.org/data/WA_Situation_Report_18_COVID-19_transmission_across_Washington_State.pdf

  • COVID-19 Cases Spreading Very Quickly in the Puget Sound Region

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    Issued on November 10 from the Washington Department of Health:

    The fall surge, which is showing no signs of stopping, has erased the progress that we made this summer. Western Washington, specifically King, Snohomish and Pierce counties, are hot zones for disease transmission.

    As the holidays approach, everyone should take steps to reduce the spread of COVID-19, including:

    • Limit in-person gatherings as much as you can. That means reducing the number of times you gather, how many people attend and how long you spend together. Gather outside if possible, or open windows and doors to maximize ventilation inside.
    • Always wear a face covering when you’re around people who don’t live with you. This includes close friends and family. It may feel awkward to do this around people we know well and trust, but many people get COVID-19 from someone who doesn’t have symptoms yet. Even if you’re keeping some physical distance, it’s still a good idea to wear a face covering.
    • Talk to your family and friends about alternate ways to celebrate the holidays. Brainstorm ideas for virtual celebrations so you can still enjoy spending time together without putting each other at risk.
    • Make a safety plan for in-person gatherings. Have a conversation with your family and friends about what you’re going to do to reduce risk of spreading COVID-19 when you gather.
    • Stay home if you’re sick or have been exposed to COVID-19. If you’re feeling a little under the weather but aren’t sure if you’re getting sick, take the cautious approach and protect others by staying home.
    • Keep up your good hygiene habits. Wash or sanitize your hands often and avoid touching your face.

    Read the full news release here.

  • Thursday Situation Briefings

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    Update: The May 28 Situation Briefing was the eleventh and final live briefing.

    City Manager Jessi Bon will continue to update the community on City operations and coronavirus-related information via her City Manager Report at the beginning of each regular Council Meeting. The City Manager Report video and PowerPoint Presentation are available here. Also, the Let's Talk coronavirus pages will continue to be updated regularly. Continue to look for the latest updates in the MI-Weekly E-Newsletter and on the City's social media pages.

    Links to all Thursday Situation Briefing videos and presentations are below.

    - - - - - - - - - -

    City Manager Jessi Bon hosted eleven live City situation briefings on Thursday afternoons from mid-March through May. City Manager Bon and leaders from the City as well as the City leadership team shared the latest information on the response to the coronavirus pandemic and City operations. Briefings were broadcast live on Thursdays via MITV-21 and the City's YouTube Channel.

    May 28 - Video and PowerPoint Presentation

    • This is the eleventh episode in the City's coronavirus video briefings.
    • Topics covered include: easing of restrictions on religious gatherings, update on fraudulent unemployment claims and steps to take to protect your identity, and other City updates.

    May 14 - Video and PowerPoint Presentation

    • This is the tenth episode in the City's ongoing series of live video conferences.
    • Topics covered include: an update on the state's Safe Start, contact tracing, testing, and other City updates.

    May 7 - Video and PowerPoint Presentation

    • This is the ninth episode in the City's ongoing series of live video conferences.
    • Topics covered include: an update on the state's Safe Start phased approach to opening and other City updates.

    April 30 - Video and PowerPoint Presentation

    • The eighth episode in the City's ongoing series of live video conferences will feature Police Chief Ed Holmes and Emergency Manager Jennifer Franklin.
    • Topics covered include: Chief Holmes and Officer Franklin will provide an update on the easing of portions of the Governor’s “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” Order, information crime prevention, and other City updates.

    April 23 - Video and PowerPoint Presentation

    • We apologize for the technical difficulties with the live stream on the City's YouTube Channel. We will make sure that is corrected for next week's live briefing. You can watch the full, archived version here.
    • The seventh episode in the City's ongoing series of live video conferences featured Mercer Island Community Fund Board Member, Sharon Perez and Small Business Liaison, Sarah Bluvas.
    • Topics covered include: Sharon and Sarah shared the latest information on the WeLoveMI Campaign and resources for Mercer Island businesses, as well as other timely updates.

    April 16 - Video and PowerPoint Presentation

    • The sixth episode in the City's ongoing series of live video conferences featured Geriatric Specialist, Betsy Zuber and MI Emergency Management Volunteer Liaison, Dave Uhler.
    • Topics covered include: Betsy and Dave shared the latest resources for Mercer Island seniors and City volunteer efforts, and other timely updates.

    April 9 - Video and PowerPoint Presentation

    • For the fifth episode in the City's ongoing series of live video conferences, City Manager Jessi Bon had Small Business Liaison, Sarah Bluvas and Interim Parks & Recreation Director, Ryan Daly join her in providing updates and information on small business resources and parks updates.
    • Topics covered include: They shared the latest information and resources for local businesses, parks updates and etiquette review during the Governor’s Stay Home Order, as well as an update on City services.

    April 2 - Video and PowerPoint Presentation

    • The fourth episode in the City's ongoing series of live video conferences featured Officer Jennifer Franklin, the City's Emergency Manager.
    • Topics covered include: Officer Franklin explained how the City’s Emergency Operations structure works, how the City executes incident coordination and procurement region-wide, emphasized social distancing mandates, and covered other timely topics.

    March 26 - Video and PowerPoint Presentation

    • The third episode in the City's ongoing series of live video conferences featured Dr. Hal Quinn, a board-certified physician practicing at Mercer Island Pediatrics. Dr Quinn also serves as the Medical Director on the City’s emergency response team and works closely with MIPD Emergency Manager Franklin on medical oversight and protocols for major City incidents.
    • Topics covered included: Doctor Quinn shared his observations about the regional COVID-19 outbreak and suggest appropriate measures for parents and the community to consider during this unprecedented time; the City’s response to Governor Inslee’s “Stay Home” Order and impacts to City operations; updates from MIPD and MIFD; and a Community Call to Action (what you can do to help).

    March 19 - Video and PowerPoint Presentation

    • The second episode in our ongoing series of live video conferences to update the community on the City's coronavirus response and continued preparations for extended impacts featured Donna Colosky (MI School District Superintendent), Laurie Givan (Exec Director of the MI Chamber of Commerce), Cindy Goodwin (Director of the City’s Youth & Family Services Dept), Ed Holmes (Police Chief), and Steve Heitman (Fire Chief), will all join the briefing to provide updates and help answer questions from the community.
    • Topics covered included: Police and Fire situation briefings; City service changes; Support for local business; New Public Health orders, and more.


    • City Manager Jessi Bon hosted a live video conference to update the community on the City's coronavirus response and ongoing preparations. The Police Chief, the Fire Chief, and the Director of Youth & Family Services joined the briefing to help answer questions from the community.


  • Governor Relaxes Some Phase 2 Restrictions

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    Newly relaxed restrictions on movie theaters, restaurants, real estate, youth sports, adult recreation, league games, and more.

    On October 6, Governor Inslee announced more activities will be permitted in each county statewide, depending on their specific Recovery Phase.

    Under the new protocols, in Phase 2 counties, movie theaters will be able to operate at 25% capacity, but facial coverings and 6 feet of distance between households will be required.

    In addition, restaurants in Phase 2 counties can now serve alcohol now up to 11:00pm (instead of 10:00pm), maximum table size has been increased to six individuals, and indoor dining groups need not be comprised solely of household members.

    Real estate open houses will now be allowed within each county’s size-limit for gatherings, and some indoor activity is allowed at libraries, at 25% occupancy.

    Additional protocols will also be released for a variety of outdoor group sports with more than a dozen participants, such as: bicycle rides, fun runs and marathons, kayak and canoe races, triathlons, ski races, and others.

    More youth sports and adult recreation, including some league games, in both indoor and outdoor settings, will be allowed depending on specific risk factors for each sport, without spectators. Youth football is not yet allowed due to the amount of close contact.

    Wedding reception limits in Phase 2 Counties remain at 30 individuals.

    Click on the links below for Phase 2 updates:

    All issued guidance is posted on the Governor’s COVID-19 webpage.

  • Governor Announces More Changes in an Effort to Slow COVID-19

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    On Thursday, the Governor announced changes to the state's Safe Start approach including face coverings, restaurants, fitness centers, weddings and funerals, and entertainment.

    On July 23, Gov. Jay Inslee and Secretary of Health John Wiesman announced changes to “Safe Start,” Washington’s phased approach to reopening. The changes target activities that data have shown provide a higher risk of COVID-19 exposure.

    To combat the rising numbers, the governor and secretary are changing guidance and regulations around restaurants, bars, and fitness centers, as well as weddings and funerals. The changes will also affect family entertainment centers, movie theaters and card rooms.

    Restaurants
    Restaurant guidance will now require parties to be members of the same household in order to dine indoors. Outdoor dining and take-away remains available for small parties from different households.

    Table size for dine-in in Phase 3 will be reduced to five individuals and occupancy reduced from 75% to 50%.

    Restaurants must also close gaming and social areas, such as pool tables, dart boards and video games.

    Bars will be closed for indoor service, but can continue outdoor service. Alcohol service inside of restaurants must end by 10 p.m. These regulations take effect in one week, on July 30.

    Fitness centers
    The number of individuals allowed to use fitness centers and other physical health venues at a given time will also be reduced.

    In Phase 2, only five individuals — not including staff — will be allowed for indoor fitness services at a time. This includes gyms, fitness studios, and indoor pools, ice rinks, volleyball courts, and tennis facilities. These are limited to small group instruction or private training.

    Fitness center occupancy in Phase 3 will be reduced to 25%. All group fitness classes are limited to no more than 10, not including the instructors. The changes are effective July 30.

    Entertainment regulations
    Indoor family entertainment and recreation centers — like mini golf, bowling alleys, and arcades — are prohibited from opening, as well as indoor card rooms. Indoor movie theater occupancy will be reduced from 50% to 25% in Phase 3.

    Weddings and funerals
    Under the new guidance, ceremonies will remain permitted, but receptions are prohibited. Ceremonies must adhere to current guidance; for all phases, maximum indoor occupancy is 20%, or up to 30 people, whichever is less, as long as social distancing can be observed.

    The changes will take effect in two weeks, on Aug. 6, providing a grace period for weddings and funerals previously scheduled to take place or readjust their plans.

    Face coverings
    In addition to those changes, Wiesman announced an expansion of his face coverings order that will go into effect Saturday, July 25.
    The expansion will require face coverings in all common spaces, such as elevators, hallways and shared spaces in apartment buildings, university housing and hotels, as well as congregate setting such as nursing homes.

    Eviction moratorium extension
    Inslee also announced an extension of the state’s eviction moratorium to Oct. 15. Details on the extension will be released in the coming days.

  • A Message From City Manager Jessi Bon On Finances and Layoffs

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    Apr 29, 2020 - A Message From City Manager Jessi Bon:

    Mercer Island Community,

    Today, I regrettably share with the Mercer Island community that I have implemented a number of workforce reductions in response to revenue shortfalls resulting from the impacts of the COVID-19 Pandemic. This unparalleled situation has led to very difficult and painful actions that deeply affect staff and residents alike. The decisions I’ve made over these past two months are choices no City Manager ever wants to face.

    Traditional sources of budgeted revenue such as rental fees, programming fees, sales tax, as well as Thrift Shop sales, have slowed or completely vanished. At this time, our best forecasting indicates that the City will end the year with a deficit of approximately $4.3 million in the General Fund and $1.3 million in the YFS Fund. The impacts of these losses are expected to extend into 2021. This situation, coupled with the unexpected expense of managing a lengthy emergency response and an already uncertain budget forecast, required immediate action.

    I recently provided a detailed memo to the City Council describing the current financial projections and workforce reductions (available here). To address the revenue shortfalls, I made the decision to lay off over 20 employees from the Youth and Family Services Department, the Parks and Recreation Department, and the Facilities Division, and furlough another 11. These decisions unfortunately come on the heels of a prior round of layoffs at the end of March, in which I made the decision to lay off almost 40 temporary and seasonal staff.

    All staff have been, and will continue, searching for any and all potential cost saving options. Just last month we reviewed all open contracts for cancellation options, suspended non-essential project work, ended 2020 travel and training, and turned off the heat and power in unoccupied buildings. All options are on the table. Just as we are looking at all possible cuts, I have also assigned a team to pursue all possible grant and other funding options.

    We are truly grateful for the ongoing and generous support of the Youth and Family Services Foundation, and contributions made by residents to the We Love MI campaign for parks and social services.

    The Road Ahead

    An updated financial forecast will be presented to the City Council at its May 5, 2020 meeting, kicking off a critical public discussion about the road to recovery. I encourage you to watch or listen to the meeting.

    In closing, I want to reassure residents that we will indeed get to the other side of this event – together. But as much as I, and I’m sure all of us, wish things would get back to normal, I believe that’s no longer realistic. Instead, we have the opportunity to build our new normal and I ask for your support in that endeavor.

    I continue to be incredibly proud of the staff’s professionalism, hard work, and dedication, especially over these past two months of unrelenting demands. And thank you to the community for staying home, looking out for each other, and supporting our local businesses and the City of Mercer Island. I am confident we will get through this together.

    Jessi Bon,

    Mercer Island City Manager

  • News for the Week of November 2

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    News and highlights for the week of November 2.

    MInext: A New Campaign to Support Local Businesses. This week, a coalition of local organizations helped launch MInext, a new marketing campaign to support the Mercer Island business community. Learn how you can help support local business here.

    November 2 City Manager’s Report. Click here to watch City Manager Jessi Bon’s video update where she provides the latest information on City services.

    November 6 Situation Report. Click here for highlights and information from the 36th week of the City’s response to the pandemic.

    Top Headlines

    How to Take Care of Ourselves During Stressful Times. It is a challenging time for everyone right now and it’s hard to find stability in our lives. While many things are beyond our control, there are many things that we can control. When we are anxious and fearful, working some of these things into our lives can be empowering and comforting. Click here for tips to help take care of ourselves and family.

    Scammers pose as Department of Health officials in fraudulent schemes targeting medical providers. Warning to health care professionals with Washington licenses: Beware of scammers falsely claiming to represent the Washington State Department of Health – and don’t send money to anyone without being certain of the recipient’s identity. Read the full news release here.

    State reports more than 1,000 cases in a day for the first time since summer. On October 30, Washington state reported 1,047 new COVID cases in a single day. Today’s number is a new daily high since mid-July. In light of a potential fall surge, the Department of Health recently encouraged Washingtonians to flatten the curve once again.

    "Close contact" redefined. Matching Washington State Gov. Jay Inslee's redefined wording on 'close contact', King County has updated close contact. "If you have been in close contact for a combined total of 15 minutes or more within a 24-hour period with someone who has COVID-19, it's important to get tested right away, even if you don't have symptoms." Click here for more.

    Resource: Health insurance feels more important than ever, and Public Health Navigators can help. King County’s health insurance Navigators are once again offering personal help with the enrollment process through Washington Healthplanfinder — with special adaptations to protect against COVID-19. Follow this link for information about virtual/online enrollment events, drive-through enrollment events, video-kiosks and more.

    Information for Businesses

    Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) forgiveness applications still being accepted. There has been some confusion about whether applications for PPP loan forgiveness were due Oct. 31, but the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has reassured applicants there is no defined deadline. Business owners can still apply and use the simplified application which significantly reduces the time and paperwork needed for PPP loan forgiveness. Read the SBA’s “6 Things About PPP Loan Forgiveness You Should Know” for more info.

    New Phase 2 & 3 Restaurant Guidance Video. King County's Safe Start for Taverns and Restaurants (SSTAR) program provides education and materials to help restaurants implement state and public health guidance to prevent the spread of COVID-19. It also increases the accountability of food service establishments to abide by the health and safety standards that support a safe reopening. Watch the video here.

    Five key COVID-19 safety requirements for all Washington employers. Emergency law requires five key workplace safety practices for all employers. Employees must practice social distancing and mask up. Employees must wash their hands frequently and thoroughly. A plan must be written and in place to address worker illness, and more.

    Vaccine News

    New COVID-19 vaccine preparedness page from King County. Multiple vaccines are under development and several are in large scale clinical trials with tens of thousands of volunteers to ensure they are both safe and effective. While we wait for vaccines to be approved, King County is working with the DOH on plans, procedures, and systems for eventual vaccine distribution. Click here to visit the new vaccine preparedness page.

    COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan update from the Washington State Department of Health. The DOH continues to make progress with their COVID-19 vaccine distribution planning efforts. Click here for the latest information.

    School News

    New report explores role of diagnostic testing in school reopening. The Department of Health released a new report by the Institute for Disease Modeling (IDM) that quantifies how various diagnostic screening scenarios could help mitigate the risk of COVID-19 transmission associated with reopening schools. The report affirms that while there are still risks associated with returning to full in-person instruction, the risks could be significantly reduced through school-based countermeasures, hybrid scheduling, and a phased-in approach that brings back K-5 grades first. Read the full news release here.

    Media briefing. The DOH and the Institute of Disease Modeling held a media briefing today to discuss the new IDM report. Watch the recording here.

    Inslee announces technology investment for Washington students and staff. On October 30, he announced the allocation of $24 million in Coronavirus Relief Funds to purchase approximately 64,000 computing devices for students across the state. These devices will enable students to receive their education in the new COVID-19 remote learning environment. Click here for more.


  • Time to Play!

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    City Playgrounds Now Open Again!

    Closed for many months due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, all of the City’s playgrounds are now open again!

    Please follow these tips to recreate safely and responsibly:

    • Wash your and your child’s hands, or use hand sanitizer, before and after playing
    • Practice physical distancing – you and your child should stay 6 feet apart from others outside the household
    • Wear a face covering – this applies to both adults and children
    • Avoid crowded play areas – enjoy other activities or find another play area
    • Do not visit a park or play area if you or your child are feeling sick

    You can view a list of all the City’s playgrounds here: www.mercerisland.gov/parksrec/page/play-structures-mercer-island

  • King County Approved for Phase 2

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    On June 19, King County's Phase 2 plan was approved by the WA Department of Health, allowing an expansion of retail operations and dining opportunities, additional professional services, as well as other activities.

    The new phase (click for details) now allows up to 50% usage of indoor seating capacity at restaurants, and 50% of outdoor dining (both with tables at 6-foot spacing). It also allows social and recreational gatherings with up to 5 people outside your household per week.

    Public Health - Seattle & King County emphasizes that it will still be important to maintain the safety principles that led to the success against the outbreak, such as: continuing physical distancing, minimizing contact with others outside the home, frequent hand washing or sanitizer, and use of cloth face coverings in public.

    Each Washington County is moving through the four-phased “Safe Start” process at its own pace, depending on how much success it has had in slowing the virus. Counties must remain in each stage of Safe Start for at least three weeks, until health authorities can measure their progress towards eliminating the virus.

    Get more details from King County here.

Page last updated: 14 Apr 2022, 01:11 PM