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.


  • News for the Week of September 21

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    Here are the latest headlines, resources, and information for the week of September 21.

    Free Drive-Thru Vaccination Clinics and More Vaccination Opportunities. The Seattle Visiting Nurse Association (SVNA) is hosting a series of drive-thru flu clinics for community members ages 4+ on various dates and times, and at different locations. All insurances accepted, no cost to uninsured and underinsured community members. Register and learn more here. Please note: additional clinic date and locations will be added in late September and early October.

    Celebrating Fall with Local Farms. Local farms offer a wide variety of seasonal produce, fresh-cut flowers, cider, pumpkins, and more. Help support local farmers, hit especially hard by the pandemic, by visiting a local farm and buying local. Click here for farm directories.

    New Standards for Washington Airports. On Thursday, Gov. Jay Inslee announced that Washington is setting new requirements for commercial airports and recommendations for airlines. This is to help protect the health and safety of workers, passengers and crew in the aviation sector. For more information, follow this link.

    Halloween Tips from Public Health and the CDC. Halloween has some good celebration options since many activities can be outside and mask wearing is part of the holiday, but there are still some risks with COVID circulating. King County Public Health and the CDC have tips to prevent illness, help our community stay on track for reopening. Follow these links for information from Public Health and the CDC.

    Renewing Your Drivers License in the time of COVID-19. Washington’s Department of Licensing has moved to online services. If you need to meet with a representative in person, you’ll need an appointment. Get all the details about DOL’s updated services here.

    Guide for Convention Centers, Meeting Rooms, and Other Venues. Earlier this week, Governor Inslee issued guidance for venues like event and convention centers, hotel meeting rooms, etc. allowing for meetings, training, testing, and more. For more information on the guidelines for opening, click here.

    Interactive Economic Recovery Dashboard lets you track the state’s economic recovery, with information on employment, businesses, assistance programs, and consumer behavior. Click here for more.

    King County’s COVID-19 Contact tracing efforts gain strength. The case investigators at Public Health—Seattle & King County are able to reach the vast majority of people who test positive for COVID-19 in King County. And most people are taking the important step of isolating themselves during their contagious period. To check out their new data dashboard that shows the numbers, and it demonstrates the rapid growth of Public Health’s contact tracing efforts, click here.


  • News for the Week of September 7

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    Here are the latest headlines, resources, and information for the week of September 7.

    Alongside the ongoing transmission of COVID-19, common colds are on the rise in Seattle and King County. At the beginning of 2020, the Seattle Flu Study partnered with Public Health – Seattle & King County to launch a program to track and monitor COVID-19 mitigation efforts as well as other respiratory viruses. Click here for more information on the study.

    Temporary cancellation of COVID-19 testing sites for Friday, Sept. 11. Due to poor outdoor air quality from regional wildfires, the following outdoor COVID-19 testing sites have been canceled for Friday Sept. 11th: Valley Regional Fire Authority in Auburn, HealthPoint - Renton Drive-Through, and Downtown Seattle Public Health Center. All other testing locations remain open since testing is done indoors. Click here for testing sites.

    Wildfire smoke & COVID-19 are a bad mix. Not only do we need to continue to protect our communities against COVID-19, but now there are life-threatening fires throughout the state. Some of our neighbors have had to save their lives by leaving their homes, and hoping the fire spares their property. Many of us are struggling with the poor air quality from wildfire smoke. Follow this link for more on the effects of wildfire smoke on your health and COVID-19.

    Suicide prevention in focus for the month of September. Everyone has a role in suicide prevention. In observance of National Suicide Prevention Month, Washingtonians are asked to #BeThe1To help prevent suicide. Vigilance is especially important this year due to the increased stress, anxiety and depression people may be experiencing with COVID-19. Normalizing conversation around mental health helps break stigma. Click here to learn more about how to be present, supportive and strong for those who may be going through a difficult time.

    Update on COVID-19 vaccine distribution & planning progress in Washington State. The Washington State Department of Health (DOH) continues to make progress with our COVID-19 vaccine distribution planning efforts. Visit the DOH newsroom for the latest.

    What happens when you get a COVID-19 test? Maybe it’s happened to you: you wake up one morning with a new cough and a slight fever, and you’re not sure what to do. You’re worried it might be COVID, so what are your next steps? Getting tested is one of the best ways to protect your family, friends, and community, but if you’ve never been tested before, you might be a little nervous. Check out what really happens when you get a COVID test.


  • Special Shopping Hours

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    To help Island seniors and other at-risk populations, local grocery stores and pharmacies have implemented a special shopping hour(s).

    QFC (both locations): 7:00-8:00 AM, Monday-Friday

    Walgreens: 8:00-9:00 AM, Tuesday (offering Senior Discount)

    Rite-Aid: 9:00-10:00 AM, Monday-Friday


    Questions? Contact individual stores.

    It takes all of us to stay healthy during this pandemic. Please follow these guidelines from Public Health when you go out:


  • News for the Week of September 14

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    Here are the latest headlines, resources, and information for the week of September 14.

    Additional weekly $300 unemployment benefit payment to be paid to eligible claimants. The state's application for the Lost Wages Assistance program has been approved. ESD will start processing payments of $300 to eligible claimants for this new program on Monday, Sept. 21. Payments will be retroactive for all weeks for which the claimant was eligible, and for which funding is available from the federal government. Upon the processing date, eligible claimants will receive the funds as soon as their bank processes the payment. Refer to the Employment Security Department website for details.

    Schools Preparing for a Measured Return to In-Person Learning. King County’s K-12 schools are back in session. For most students, the 2020-2021 school year is starting remotely and Zoom is the new classroom. Even though the majority of the county’s school districts are teaching students remotely, they are also hard at work behind the scenes to be ready to provide in-person learning once COVID-19 transmission rates are lower. Click here for more information.

    King County’s COVID-19 Contact tracing efforts gain strength. The case investigators at Public Health—Seattle & King County are able to reach the vast majority of people who test positive for COVID-19 in King County. And most people are taking the important step of isolating themselves during their contagious period. Follow this link for the full article.

    A Conversation on Hope and Hopelessness. Adjusting to the changes COVID-19 has imposed has been very difficult for everyone. Some are navigating different layers of grief and loss. Many are feeling varying waves of hope and hopelessness. For those with mental health conditions, this time has been a continuation and possibly, an amplification of those thoughts and feelings. For more, click here.

    Department of Health releases initial case investigation and contact tracing performance metrics. The Washington State Department of Health (DOH) today published new data related to COVID-19 case investigation and contact tracing efforts in Washington state. These data will now be available for the public to view via PDF and updated weekly. Click here for more.

    COVID-19 activity declining in Washington state with the help of face coverings and distancing. The Washington State Department of Health (DOH) released the latest statewide situation report, which reflects an overall decline in COVID-19 activity as of late August. The report also highlights encouraging signs that keeping our distance, limiting gathering size and wearing face coverings are working to slow the spread of the disease. Click here for more information.

    September 18 Situation Report. Click here for highlights and information from the 29th week of the City’s response to the pandemic.

  • Public Health: The Danger of Ending Social Distancing too Early

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    Published by Public Health Insider, a publication of Public Health Seattle - King County (PHSKC)

    The danger of ending social distancing too early: A conversation with our Health Officer

    By , PHSKC

    You may have heard about a couple of recent studies that suggest that our social distancing measures appear to be making a difference in slowing the spread of COVID-19 in King County. That’s encouraging news.

    The studies also emphasize that we need to continue to stay strong with the stay at home order if we are to continue to succeed in decreasing and delaying the outbreak peak. But we also see the enormous economic toll that social distancing orders are creating.

    To understand more about where we are in the outbreak and what it would take to relax some of the social distancing measures, we asked our health officer, Dr. Jeff Duchin to talk about both the communicable disease aspects and undesirable consequences of COVID-19.

    If the initial studies suggest that our efforts at social distancing are working to “flatten the curve,” why is it so important to stay steadfast with the Stay Home order and other social distancing measures?

    People in King County deserve the credit for making a real difference in the course of this outbreak by staying at home and decreasing non-essential close contact with others. I understand how difficult this is. Everyone should know that these sacrifices are preventing many illnesses and deaths throughout our community, including family members, friends and loved ones, and co-workers.

    The modeling done by IHME at the University of Washington is somewhat reassuring, but the conclusions are not certain. For example, the model assumes that our outbreak is similar to Wuhan, China and that the current social distancing efforts are unchanged over time. It doesn’t show what happens if people stop complying or are not as effective as they assume.

    Our success at distancing has limited the number of people that have been infected, and that also means most of us remain susceptible to the virus. If we go back to business as usual, many people will be infected relatively quickly because COVID-19 remains circulating in the population. We remain at risk for a large outbreak that would overwhelm the healthcare system. That’s why the recent studies clearly state that we need to continue to stay strong with the Stay Home order for now.

    No one should take these findings as an indication to relax our social distancing strategy at this time. The threat of a rebound that could overwhelm the healthcare system remains if we let up too soon.

    What does it look like if the healthcare system is overwhelmed?

    Right now we’re witnessing that in other places, such as New York City, where they are short on healthcare workers and critical resources to provide the usual level of care that people expect from our hospitals. And even though we’ve “flattened the curve” and decreased the number who are infected locally, our hospitals have needed to care for large numbers of COVID-19 patients, many of whom are seriously ill.

    Because of our current success at distancing, today our hospitals are able to safely provide the usual level of care to the people who need it. This is also because of many major changes hospitals and healthcare systems have made to their usual operations in order to prepare to care for large numbers of COVID-19 cases.

    But if we should get a dramatic spike in people who need to be hospitalized, it will badly stretch the system. In the worst scenarios, it could result in severe scarcity issues where it could be extremely difficult to meet the demand for lifesaving care. We must do everything we can to prevent getting to that level of crisis. It’s the most compelling reason to stay steady with social distancing as best we can.

    There seems to be a local historical lesson from the influenza pandemic in 1918. What happened then and what can we learn from it?

    During that influenza pandemic, the health officer and the mayor of Seattle put some pretty strong social distancing measures in place, and the city fared much better than other cities at the beginning. But when victory was declared in World War One, people emerged out of their homes in celebration, and then all the closures and prohibitions against mass gatherings ended. Shortly thereafter, there was a serious second wave of illness that lasted for several months. It’s a sobering lesson about the danger of prematurely relaxing social distancing.

    At the same time, we need to consider the hardship that a prolonged Stay Home order could have on those who are struggling to get by. So we’ll be continually evaluating what aspects of social distancing need to stay in place, and what could be scaled back.

    What needs to happen before social distancing measures could scale back?

    When it appears safe, we will need to consider the gradual relaxing of one or more of our social distancing measures and carefully begin resume of our normal “pre-COVID-19” activities. These measures include the Governor’s Stay at Home order and school closures, cancellation of gatherings, and directive to stay six feet apart. During this time we will need to carefully monitor COVID-19 illnesses and deaths and our healthcare system’s ability to cope so that we can adjust course quickly if things head in a dangerous direction.

    Some key indicators we’ll look closely at include:

    How many people are getting sick from COVID-19:

    We would want to see a steady decrease in the number of people getting sick and needing hospitalization for at least 2 weeks before we do anything that may make those numbers go up.

    Health care system readiness:

    When social distancing measures loosen, we should expect to see an increase in cases. We need to make sure our health care system has what it needs in terms of staff, bed space, medical supplies, and equipment to take care of the sick people in our community before we discontinue social distancing measures.

    Testing:

    Our ability to keep COVID-19 cases at a manageable level after relaxing social distancing measures requires widespread availability of rapid testing and reporting of results so that people who are infected can take quick action to prevent the spread of COVID-19. That is not yet available.

    Testing is necessary to have the most accurate picture of the extent and spread of the outbreak to inform strategies for relaxing social distancing. Widespread testing is also necessary for public health disease investigation to decrease community spread of infection.

    Public Health readiness:

    Public health agencies will need capacity to do a large number of thorough case and contact investigations in order to identify people who are infected and their close contacts. This would be necessary so that these people are quickly isolated or quarantined in order to limit spread to others. This is the main thing that needs to happen to allow us to start resuming normal activities safely while avoiding a dangerous increase in new illnesses. People will need to understand the critical importance of isolating themselves when ill and rapidly helping inform their close contacts so they can quarantine themselves away from others and be tested if necessary based on guidance from public health.

    To be successful, this work will need to occur at an unprecedented scale and speed, many times beyond what public health departments across the country can do currently. It requires a massive and rapid infusion of resources including disease investigators and information management tools.

    Availability of proven treatments:

    There are multiple therapies currently under evaluation to treat people with COVID-19, and the availability of these therapies will also be considered in our calculus of when to ease up on the mitigation measures.

    How do we consider the threat of a rebound of COVID-19 along with the needs of the community?

    We must continue to advocate for and provide support to those who are suffering from unintended economic and social impacts of this necessary disease control strategy.

    If people cannot practice social distancing or stay in isolation and quarantine because they fear losing their jobs, or because there is no one to help them get the food or medication they need, not only are will they be at increased risk for infection but it will prolong and worsen the outbreak for all of us. The degree to which we can provide support for all of our residents so that they can make safe choices will have benefit to the entire community. This includes access to wage and employment security, food security, childcare, sustainable rent assistance and evictions protections, and paid sick leave. It also includes strong support for seniors and people with disabilities.

    Small businesses should have access to grants and loans to keep business open should they need to close due to lack of staffing for a period of time while employees are recovering.

    Keep in mind that we may be able to relax some measures while retaining others so that we can take a more measured approach. For example, it’s possible that the Stay Home order or school closures could be lifted while the directive to stay six feet apart will stay in place. It will depend on what the key indicators tell us about the safety of relaxing the measures.

    For frequent updates on COVID-19, follow Public Health Insider or go to http://www.kingcounty.gov/covid.

    Originally posted on Public Health Insider, a publication of Public Health Seattle - King County on April 10, 2020.

  • News for the Week of August 31

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    Here are the latest headlines, resources, and information for the week of August 31.

    Back to School Info & Resources. We recognize that the start to the 2020-2021 school year is a little different. Click here for information and resources from MISD, King County, the State and more.

    COVID is Brutal. A survivor’s tale from the Washington State Department of Health.

    New Study Shows Vaping Increases COVID Chances. As COVID-19 spikes among young adults, research shows vaping is associated with catching COVID. Click here to read the study and for resources.

    Supporting Recovery Throughout the Pandemic. National Recovery Month is celebrated in the U.S. each September to promote access to recovery. YFS provides community-wide substance abuse prevention and mental health promotion services via the Healthy Youth Initiative. Click here for more information.

    Extended! Summer Meals and Resources for Families in Need. On August 31, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will extend several flexibilities through as late as December 31, 2020. Click here for a list of several resources available to MI families.

    King County Metro is "Ready When You Are" with new safety innovations and route changes. Metro is installing automated safety partitions between passengers and the driver and will be equipping over 100 buses with on-board dispensers to provide masks on the busiest routes. Follow this link for more information.

    New analysis of COVID-19-associated deaths in King County. A new reportfrom Public Health—Seattle & King County provides information about the overall count of deaths associated with COVID-19 and the toll that the virus is taking on segments of our community.

    - - - - - - - - - -

    In case you missed it…

    The following headlines and information were posted throughout the month of August.

    King County dedicates $41 million to COVID-19 related rental assistance and eviction prevention. King County to provide over $41 millionfor eviction prevention and rental assistance that will help up to 10,000 households experiencing COVID-related economic challenges remain safe and stable in their homes.

    COVID-19 Behavioral Health Toolbox for Families. Help your family cope with emotional responses to COVID-19 by learning how to recognize the signs of pandemic stress and knowing what actions to take.

    New report shows COVID-19 cases hitting a plateau in some areas of Washington state

    Isolation and Quarantine Assistance Through King County

    FDA advises consumers not to use hand sanitizer products manufactured by Eskbiochem

    Waiting for your COVID-19 test result? Here’s what you can do.

    Why am I coughing? What to do if you have COVID-19 symptoms.

    New Guidance for Long-Term Care Facilities

    Washington state changes negative test reporting for COVID-19


  • Emergency Response by the Numbers

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    Have you been wondering what City staff are doing during the emergency? Much of the response is done by staff busily working behind the scenes, so we’ve pulled together information to help tell their story.

    The week of April 20 marks the 8th week of the City’s response to the pandemic. The City’s Emergency Operations Center (EOC) was opened on March 5 and has been activated at Level 1 (full activation) since March 25.

    Staff, 37 to be exact, are filling numerous unique and specific roles within the EOC organizational structure. As of April 21, those staff have worked approximately 3,798 hours since full activation. Staff from every department have been incorporated into the EOC structure and are working remotely to assist with the response, including:

    Parks & Recreation 12 staff
    City Manager, City Attorney, HR, IGS 10 staff
    CPD 6 staff
    Public Works 3 staff
    Police Department 2 staff
    Fire Department 2 staff
    YFS 2 staff


    So, what are staff doing? During an emergency, staff are typically deployed in one of three sections – operations, planning, and logistics.

    Operations section staff are the “boots on the ground" and include first responders. Planning section staff are responsible for developing short- and long-term plans for all aspects of the response while the logistics team provides all necessary support not only to our boots on the ground but to the entire response.

    Here’s a peek into what some of the EOC team have been doing:

    • Policy team reviews City policies related to emergency response (ex. B&O tax relief).
    • Planning staff develop short- and long-term plans for emergency response. They are also responsible for producing Situation Reports.
    • The timekeeper reviews and reconciles response-related forms and timecards.
    • Supply Unit staff procures and tracks supplies (PPE, hand sanitizer, disinfectant and cleaners, contracts with cleaning companies, etc.).
    • Facilities Unit staff manages facilities, ensuring a safe and disinfected work environment for police and other staff.
    • Finance Unit staff track expenses and overall finances for the emergency.
    • Service Branch staff provide personnel, IT, and HR support. An important part of the response has been ensuring staff have the ability to work remotely so emergency response, and other essential City functions, could be managed from home. This has required a tremendous amount of time from the City's IT department. Other teams have also been involved in this process, ensuring invoices, payments, contracts, timecards, etc. can be processed electronically. Staff have also worked to ensure continuity of Council meetings through new videoconferencing technology - this has also required hours of testing and training.
    • Call center staff respond to calls from the community, seven days a week. The call center is managed by 6 staff who answer phone calls and 1 staff member who responds to emails. Staff have answered over 622 calls and responded to over 85 emails. Almost all inquiries receive same-day responses. Most phone inquiries are answered immediately, emails tend to be more complex and may take several hours. At its highest point, the Call Center had 9 staff members responding to calls and emails.

    This certainly isn't representative of all of the staff and work involved in the response, but hopefully it helps provide a better picture.

    During this emergency, information has proven to be a commodity as important as toilet paper. A communications team has been working around-the-clock since the first cases were announced in late February. As of April 21, they have:

    • Issued 31 press releases.
    • Published 24 MI-Weekly E-Newsletter articles.
    • Shared over 268 social media posts across Facebook, Twitter, and NextDoor.
    • Produced six live video briefings that have been viewed over 2,703 times on the City’s YouTube Channel alone. (Data not available from Comcast.) Approximately 40-150 live event viewers are tuning in on YouTube to each briefing.
    • Developed 3, interconnected Let’s Talk pages to share the latest information, resources, and ways residents can help. These pages have been visited 6,500 times.
    • Uploaded 107 documents, prompting over 1,000 downloads.
    • Published 61 articles (and counting) featuring information ranging from:

    The City team has tirelessly responded to this unprecedented event and will continue to do everything it can to ensure the health and safety of the Mercer Island community. Click here for more information about the City's Pandemic Plan and here for information about the Mercer Island Emergency Management Department. Click here to view the City’s COVID-19 Response EOC organizational structure.

    *These are initial, approximate numbers. The City continues to track the entire emergency response.

  • Volunteers Hand Out Over 100 Homemade Masks

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    Emergency Management volunteers passed out homemade masks during Senior Hours at Mercerdale park again on Friday, May 1. All available masks (50) were distributed by 8:50am. Thank you to all of the volunteers who made the masks and to those who handed them out!

    If you are in need of a facemask, please call the City's Call Center at 206-275-7626 or email coronavirus@mercergov.org.

    Senior Hours at Mercerdale Park are Monday-Friday between 7:00am-10:00am.

    See pictures from the mask handout from Friday, April 24 when volunteers handed out over 50 masks.


  • Enjoying the Great Outdoors

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    Summer is here! Time to get outside and play - safely.

    Updated July 17: Mercer Island parks and trails, athletic fields and courts, the boat launch, P-Patch, dog park, skate park, and beaches are open for non-organized recreation!

    Continue to practice physical distancing in parks, on trails, and while boating.

    Remember, King County is in Phase 2 which only allows for gatherings of up to 5 people. Please keep your distance from others and avoid gatherings. Wear a mask when you can't maintain a distance of 6 feet from others.

    Consider visiting early in the morning when parks are much less crowded.

    With our limited staffing, City parks won’t look as maintained as you may be used to. You can help by following “pack it in, pack it out” practices.

    Remember, Safety First when playing around water.

    The MI Boat Launch and beaches are open. As you make your plans to get out on the water, please remember your water safety. Lake Washington is still COLD, and all swimmers and boaters should always wear a life jacket. (See below for more information.)

    Mercer Island beaches are not staffed with lifeguards.

    Many Federal, State, and County parks and trails are open.

    Here are a just few tips to help you and your family stay healthy while enjoying the outdoors:

    1. Plan ahead.
    2. Keep your distance.
      • Recreate with those in your household and up to 5 others.
      • Give others plenty of room, communicate who will step aside on the trail, and don’t forget that trail etiquette gives hikers coming uphill the right of way.
    3. Stay local.
      • Don’t stray too far from home when recreating.
      • Help keep rural communities safe by minimizing stops and bringing all that you’ll need for your outing.
    4. Play it safe.
      • Reduce the risk of injury and adding to the strain on our health care and emergency services by keeping your activities within your comfort and skill level.
    5. Leave no trace.

    Some of the ways we recreate have changed in the era of COVID-19, but don't worry - there are plenty of resources to help you navigate your favorite pastimes. Check out the links below:


  • 2020-2021 School Year Planning Community Webinar - July 30

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    On July 30, District leaders hosted a Zoom webinar to share the Learning Forward plans for the 2020-21 school year with the community. The webinar was recorded for those unable to attend. Click here to watch the recording.

    The PowerPoint Presentation from the August 6 School Board Presentation is now available by following this link.

    For more information on planning for the 2020-21 school year, visit mercerislandschools.org/fall2020.

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