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.

  • 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.

    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:

  • 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.

  • Mask-Giving Day!

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    As COVID-19 cases and infection rates spike, the City’s trained Emergency Volunteers are ready to help ensure all Islanders are able to Mask-Up for the Thanksgiving holiday and beyond!

    The “Mask-Giving” giveaway will coincide with the upcoming Thrift Shop Donation day, this Saturday, November 21, at the Community and Event Center (MICEC).

    From 10:00am to 3:00pm, volunteers will be assisting with donation traffic flow, while also handing out FREE masks to anyone who comes through the MICEC parking lot.

    No need to donate to receive a mask, and walk-ups are welcome.

    At last night’s online City Council meeting (see photo), the entire Council emphasized its support for using a mask, following the Governor’s latest guidance, and not gathering for Thanksgiving with people from outside the home.

  • COVID-19 Relief Grants Available for MI Businesses and Organizations

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    Apply for a relief grant today!

    On October 20, the Mercer Island City Council unanimously approved a new grant program to support Mercer Island businesses and nonprofits impacted by COVID-19.

    The Mercer Island COVID-19 Relief for Small Businesses Grant Program provides $270,000 of the City's second round of CARES Act funding to help assist local organizations who have been significantly impacted by the COVID-19 Pandemic, including those organizations that were required to modify or close operations per the guidelines outlined in Governor Inslee’s Safe Start Washington Plan and other COVID-19 related mandates.

    With these funds, we hope to help Island businesses and nonprofits remain open, retain/hire employees, and stay in business to continue serving the Mercer Island community.

    Not a local business owner? Help us get the word out! The next time you order takeout, schedule a salon service, or visit your favorite Island retailer, encourage them to apply for a grant.

    For more program details and information on how to apply, click here.

  • "Stay Safe - Vote Safe" Proclamation

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    Stay Safe - Vote Safe Proclamation issued to ensure voters and voting centers are protected during the pandemic.

    Governor Inslee issued a "Stay Safe - Vote Safe" proclamation that temporarily suspends any COVID-related orders that could be interpreted to restrict access to voting centers and student engagement HUBS by persons intending to register to vote, obtain a ballot, receive assistance with a ballot, deposit a ballot or use other voting-related services.

    Under this proclamation, gathering restrictions do not apply to voters who are in attendance at a voting center for the purpose of registering to vote or to cast his or her vote. Both individual voting and voting centers are protected under this proclamation.

    All elections personnel and voters should practice physical distancing and use face coverings. Click here to read the proclamation and guidance memo.

    How To Vote

    King County elections recommends that you vote and return your ballot as soon as you receive it. Returning your ballot early allows time to correct any issues with your signature so your ballot can be counted.

    There are three ways to return your ballot:

    1. Ballot Drop Box

    Ballot drop boxes are a secure and convenient way for voters to return their ballot. Boxes opened October 15. In Mercer Island, there is a drop box located in the parking lot of the Mercer Island Community and Event Center (MICEC), 8236 SE 24th Street.

    Ballot drop boxes will close at 8 p.m. sharp on Election Day (November 3).

    2. By Mail King County elections recommend dropping your ballot in the mail by the Friday before Election Day to make sure it gets postmarked in time to be counted. Your ballot must be postmarked by Election Day.

    3. At a Vote Center

    Due to COVID-19, King County elections has urged voters who can, to vote early by mail or drop box. If you can’t, there will be seven Vote Center locations for you to register or vote:

    • Bellevue: Bellevue College Gym: 3000 Landerholm Cir SE, Bellevue, WA 98007
    • Federal Way: Federal Way Performing Arts Center: 31510 Pete von Reichbauer Way S, Federal Way, WA 98003
    • Kenmore: Kenmore City Hall: 18120 68th Ave NE, Kenmore, WA 98028
    • Kent: Accesso ShoWare Center: 625 W James St, Kent, WA 98032
    • Renton: Elections HQ in Renton: 919 SW Grady Way, Renton, WA 98057
    • Seattle: CenturyLink Field Event Center: 800 Occidental Ave S, Seattle, WA 98134
    • Seattle: University of Washington Seattle Campus - Dempsey Indoor Center on the UW Campus in Seattle, Walla Walla Road, 98105

    If you have any questions, give King County Elections a call at 206-296-VOTE (8683).

    "The right to vote is one of the cornerstones of our democracy. Even in the middle of a pandemic, it's vital that everyone’s voices are heard. We are dedicated to ensuring that anyone can cast their ballot in a safe manner and we are protecting the crucial election personnel and volunteers that make this democratic process possible." Governor Jay Inslee

  • Reminder: Second-Half 2020 Property Taxes are due November 2

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    The deadline will not be extended.

    King County property owners who pay their property taxes themselves, rather than through a mortgage lender, have until Monday, November 2 to pay the second half of their 2020 bill. After that date, interest charges and penalties will be added to the tax bill.

    As you may recall, the first half payment deadline of April 30 was extended due to the COVID-19 pandemic. If the County were to extended the second half deadline, it could create substantial financial risk for many cities, counties, school districts, fire districts, hospital districts, and other special purpose districts. These jurisdictions rely heavily on the timely receipt of the year's second installment of property tax revenue to make December debt service payments.

    Find out more, including how to pay property taxes, at the full news release here.

  • A Socially Distanced Halloween

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    Enjoy Fall while keeping your family safe and healthy.

    The kids have been asking the all important "Are We Going to Trick-or-Treat This Year" question, and you're not quite sure how to answer.

    King County Public Health, the CDC, and the state Department of Health have plenty of tips and guidelines for keeping Trick-or-Treaters, candy handerouters, and teenagers safe during Halloween. Visit their Halloween pages (Public Health, CDC, DOH) for some spooktacular ideas, including:

    • Organize a neighborhood costume parade with social distancing.
    • Decorate your yard or neighborhood.
    • Do a Halloween scavenger hunt while kids are walking outdoors, keeping a distance from people outside your household.
    • Hold a virtual costume party online.
    • Exchange candy with families you know. Do a drop-off delivery at their doorstep for a Halloween surprise for the kids.
    • Trick-or-treat inside your home by hiding candy for your kids.
    • Have a spooky movie night or Halloween craft party with the family.

    Enjoy the season by visiting local farms!

    Local farms offer a wide variety of seasonal produce, fresh-cut flowers, cider, pumpkins, and more. Help support farmers, hit especially hard by the pandemic, by visiting a farm and buying local. Not sure where to find an open farm? Visit the Local Food Finder page or a special pumpkin patch page.

    It goes without saying... wear your face mask and make sure you are socially distancing while you tromp through rows of pumpkins!

Page last updated: 21 January 2022, 11:21