COVID-19 Information

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King County is in Healthy Washington Recovery Phase 3

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.


Still not finding what you're looking for? Use the search bar! There is A LOT of information on our coronavirus information and resource pages. If you can't find something, just type the topic in the search bar at the top of the page and you should be able to find it!


King County is in Healthy Washington Recovery Phase 3

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.


Still not finding what you're looking for? Use the search bar! There is A LOT of information on our coronavirus information and resource pages. If you can't find something, just type the topic in the search bar at the top of the page and you should be able to find it!

  • March 3 Virtual Town Hall with Patty Hayes

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    03 Mar 2021

    On March 3, 2021, King County Councilmembers Rod Dembowski, Jeanne Kohl-Welles, Joe McDermott, and Girmay Zahilay hosted a virtual town hall with Public Health - Seattle & King County Director Patty Hayes. The event covered the County’s vaccination efforts and continued COVID-19 response along with some of the big ideas before the Council in 2021.

    Video of the event is available on the King County Council Facebook page at www.facebook.com/KingCountyCouncil. You do not need a Facebook account to watch.


    On March 3, 2021, King County Councilmembers Rod Dembowski, Jeanne Kohl-Welles, Joe McDermott and Girmay Zahilay will be hosting a virtual town hall and we want to hear from you! We’ll be covering our County’s vaccination efforts and continued COVID-19 response along with some of the big ideas before the Council in 2021 and your voice is essential. Public Health - Seattle & King County Director Patty Hayes will join the Town Hall.

    Submit questions for the town hall here.
    If you or someone you know has trouble accessing the internet, you can call-in to join the town hall. Please call:

    Phone: 1-253-215-8782
    Meeting ID: 829 3377 5200
    Passcode: 725301 Patty Town Hall with CM McDermott next Weds:
    https://twitter.com/GirmayZahilay/status/1364344800212701184

  • News for the Week of February 22

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    26 Feb 2021

    News highlights for the week of February 22.

    Latest Numbers. In Mercer Island, there have been 476 positive cases reported as of February 26. DOH reported a total of 319,498 confirmed cases as of February 24. There have been 4,942 COVID-19 deaths in Washington. For the latest city and county data, click here.

    Virtual Event: COVID-19 Town Hall on March 3. Several King County Councilmembers and Patty Hayes, Director of Public Health - Seattle & King County will be hosting a live-streamed Town Hall on Facebook. You do not need to have a Facebook account to participate. Interested members of the public are invited to submit questions in advance via this link.

    Appearance of variants of concern in King County reinforce need to stay vigilant. The variant known as B.1.351 was originally identified in South Africa in December and has been found in ten states in the U.S. At this point, it is not known to cause more severe disease, and it is not clear whether it spreads more readily than other strains. It appears that this strain can reduce the effectiveness of some vaccines, but the vaccines still provide strong protection against severe illness and death. Click here for more.

    Variants of COVID-19. Information about the characteristics of these variants is rapidly emerging. Scientists are working to learn more about how easily they spread, whether they could cause more severe illness, and whether currently authorized vaccines will protect people against them. Click here for more.

    Inslee signs $2.2 billion COVID relief bill. Last Friday, Gov. Jay Inslee signed House Bill 1368, which appropriates $2.2 billion in federal funding that has been allocated to states in response to the ongoing COVID emergency. The legislation takes effect immediately. The bill provides: $714 million in assistance for K-12 schools; $618 million for public health’s response to COVID, including testing, investigation and contact tracing; and funding for vaccination efforts; $365 million for emergency eviction, rental and utility assistance; $240 million for business assistance grants; $50 million for child care; $26 million for food banks and other food programs; $91 million for income assistance, including $65 million for relief for the state’s immigrant population.

    Situation Reports. The City has moved to monthly Situation Reports (SitReps), available the first Friday of the month. The next SitRep will be available the afternoon of March 5. Click here to catch up on the latest information and reports.


    Information for Businesses

    SBA prioritizes smallest of small businesses in the Paycheck Protection Program. The U.S. Small Business Administration is taking steps with the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) to further promote equitable relief for America's small businesses, offering PPP loans to businesses with fewer than 20 employees and sole proprietors only beginning Feb. 24 through March 10, 2021. Read more here.

    Vaccine News

    Have Questions about the vaccine? Check out the state’s resource hub. It’s natural to have questions about the vaccine. And when it comes to vaccines, like many other complicated health topics, the line between fact and fiction can quickly get blurred. That’s where CovidVaccineWA.org comes in. Think of CovidVaccineWA.org as your all-in-one hub for the most up to date and reliable information about the COVID-19 vaccine in Washington. Click here for the full article.

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

    COVID-19 vaccine distribution update from DOH. As of Feb. 22, more than 1,411,453 doses of vaccine have been given across the state, which is more than 75 percent of the 1,821,705 doses that have been delivered to our providers and long-term care programs. Washington is averaging 25,346 vaccine doses given each day. We hit a new record Feb. 11, administering 44,872 doses in a single day, which is extremely close to our goal of vaccinating 45,000 people per day. Read the full news release here [to be posted soon].

    School News

    New modeling report explores options for safer return to in-person learning. On February 24, the State DOH and the Institute for Disease Modeling (IDM) released a new report that explores how to minimize COVID-19 introductions in schools, and what can be done to mitigate its spread within schools and the larger community. Click here for the press release.

    Resources

    Introducing Blind COVID, a community resource for blind and low-vision individuals. Blind COVID is a grant funded by the Washington State Department of Health that was given to the Washington State School for the Blind. The goal of this grant was to create and find accessible resources for people who are blind that specifically deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. The COVID Access line is open at 360-947-3330 for more support with access to COVID-19 resources. No medical advice, but access advice to info that might be otherwise difficult to locate.

  • Variants of COVID-19

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    26 Feb 2021
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    We are learning more about new strains of COVID-19.

    Information about the characteristics of these variants is rapidly emerging. Scientists are working to learn more about how easily they spread, whether they could cause more severe illness, and whether currently authorized vaccines will protect people against them.

    What We Know

    Viruses constantly change through mutation, and new variants of a virus are expected to occur over time. Sometimes new variants emerge and disappear. Other times, new variants emerge and persist. Multiple variants of the virus that causes COVID-19 have been documented in the United States and globally during this pandemic.

    The virus that causes COVID-19 is a type of coronavirus, a large family of viruses. Coronaviruses are named for the crown-like spikes on their surfaces. Scientists monitor changes in the virus, including changes to the spikes on the surface of the virus. These studies, including genetic analyses of the virus, are helping scientists understand how changes to the virus might affect how it spreads and what happens to people who are infected with it.

    Multiple variants of the virus that causes COVID-19 are circulating globally:

    1. The United Kingdom (UK) identified a variant called B.1.1.7 with a large number of mutations in the fall of 2020.This variant spreads more easily and quickly than other variants. In January 2021, experts in the UK reported that this variant may be associated with an increased risk of death compared to other variant viruses, but more studies are needed to confirm this finding. It has since been detected in many countries around the world. This variant was first detected in the US at the end of December 2020.

    2. In South Africa, another variant called B.1.351 emerged independently of B.1.1.7. Originally detected in early October 2020, B.1.351 shares some mutations with B.1.1.7. Cases caused by this variant have been reported in the US at the end of January 2021.

    3. In Brazil, a variant called P.1 emerged that was first identified in travelers from Brazil, who were tested during routine screening at an airport in Japan, in early January. This variant contains a set of additional mutations that may affect its ability to be recognized by antibodies. This variant was first detected in the US at the end of January 2021.

    These variants seem to spread more easily and quickly than other variants, which may lead to more cases of COVID-19. An increase in the number of cases will put more strain on health care resources, lead to more hospitalizations, and potentially more deaths.

    So far, studies suggest that antibodies generated through vaccination with currently authorized vaccines recognize these variants. This is being closely investigated and more studies are underway.

    Rigorous and increased compliance with public health mitigation strategies, such as vaccination, physical distancing, use of masks, hand hygiene, and isolation and quarantine, is essential to limit the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19 and protect public health.

    What We Do Not Know

    Scientists are working to learn more about these variants, and more studies are needed to understand:

    • How widely these new variants have spread
    • How the disease caused by these new variants differs from the disease caused by other variants that are currently circulating
    • How these variants may affect existing therapies, vaccines, and tests

    What it Means

    Public health officials are studying these variants quickly to learn more to control their spread. They want to understand whether the variants:

    • Spread more easily from person-to-person
    • Cause milder or more severe disease in people
    • Are detected by currently available viral tests
    • Respond to medicines currently being used to treat people for COVID-19
    • Change the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines

    What CDC is Doing

    CDC, in collaboration with other public health agencies, is monitoring the situation closely. CDC is working to monitor the spread of identified variants, characterize emerging viral variants, and expand its ability to find new SARS-CoV-2 variants. CDC is collaborating with EPA to confirm that disinfectants on EPA’s List N: Disinfectants for Coronavirus inactivate these variant viruses. As new information becomes available, CDC will provide updates.

    Source: CDC's "About Variants of the Virus that Causes COVID-19"

  • News for the Week of February 15

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    19 Feb 2021

    News highlights for the week of February 15.

    Latest Numbers. In Mercer Island, there have been 468 positive cases reported as of February 18. DOH reported a total of 314,655 confirmed cases as of February 17. There have been 4,803 COVID-19 deaths in WA. For the latest city and county data, click here.

    Seattle Times: How some frustrated COVID-19 vaccine hunters are trying to fix a broken system. From The Seattle Times - The WA COVID Vaccine Finder, or covidwa.com, is a privately developed, one-stop site for vaccine appointments and is the project of a team of “guerrilla techies” from Microsoft and the UW. The team set up a system of robots that troll the 330 vaccine websites to search for available appointments. Click here to read the article (may be paywall restricted).

    AARP-WA COVID-19 Town Hall Discussion. Public Health - Seattle & King County Director, Patty Hayes participated in AARP of Washington's Town Hall yesterday to share information and answer questions about COVID-19 and vaccine distribution in King County. Watch the recording here https://fb.watch/3Jg4507FgL

    COVID Resource Website. State DOH has partnered with Fred Hutch to launch a COVID resource website. Get on-click answers to common questions like “When can I get a COVID-19 vaccine?” and “What are vaccine side effects?” on https://preventcovidwa.org/. The site has short videos addressing common questions about about vaccines and masks for download as well.

    Washington state experts to host webinar on COVID-19 vaccine phases. State DOH hosted a webinar February 18 discussing the phasing and rollout of COVID-19 vaccines in our state. A recording of the webinar, “Understanding WA’s COVID-19 Vaccine Phases,” will be available shortly and shared on the Let’s Talk coronavirus page.

    Managing COVID-19 at Home. Public Health has created an infographic on managing COVID-19 at home. It has tips to reduce the spread of COVID-19 when someone in a household is sick. This infographic was designed for large households whose members cannot isolate or quarantine away from their home. Click here for the infographic.

    Situation Reports. The City has moved to monthly Situation Reports (SitReps), available the first Friday of the month. The next SitRep will be available the afternoon of March 5. Click here to catch up on the latest information and reports.

    Information for Businesses

    Updated guidance for farmers markets, food pantries, grocery stores, restaurants, and other food establishments. This guidance is now combined into one document for all Food Workers and Establishments (PDF). The individual links on DOH’s Resources and Recommendations page for farmers markets, food pantries, grocery stores, and restaurants will soon be redirected to the Food Workers and Establishments document. For additional requirements in this sector, please also see the governor’s COVID-19 reopening guidance for businesses and workers site for Restaurants, Taverns, Wineries, Breweries and Distilleries; and a new FAQ on Outdoor and Open-Air Structures. Updated guidance has also been posted by DOH for Transient Accommodations (Hotels, Motels, B&Bs, etc.) (PDF) to include information outlined in the governor’s Healthy Washington – Roadmap to Recovery plan.

    Reopening guidance for religious and faith-based organizations updated. Under the accordion menu item for "Reopening guidance for religious and faith-based organizations", updated information about hosting in-person services has been posted stating: that virtual services remain the best way to reduce the risk of COVID-19 spread in our communities. If hosting in-person services, Public Health—Seattle & King County recommends: Wearing a snug-fitting mask with at least 2 layers; We recommend everyone to wear a mask, including soloists; Hosting outdoor services if possible; Limiting the number of people; and Improving ventilation and airflow when indoors

    Vaccine News

    Vaccine shipments delayed due to severe winter weather across the U.S. In King County, this delay will impact most vaccination appointments scheduled for Friday, February 19, and likely into the weekend. Vaccine providers will reach out to reschedule appointments. If your second dose appointment is cancelled, make sure to reschedule with the same provider as your first dose appointment. See full details at www.kingcounty.gov/covid/vaccine

    COVID-19 vaccine distribution update from the Washington State Department of Health. As of Feb. 15, more than 1,201,120 doses of vaccine have been given across the state, which is nearly 83% of the 1,453,425 doses that have been delivered to our providers and long-term care programs. Washington is currently averaging 26,204 vaccine doses given each day. This information can be found on the DOH data dashboard under the vaccines tab, which is updated three times per week.

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

    School News

    DOH expands school testing initiative to encourage more in-person learning. The Washington State Department of Health (DOH), in partnership with the Washington Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) and Health Commons Project, is expanding its COVID-19 testing service for school and adding voluntary testing options to its toolkit for school districts. This is part of the ongoing effort to expand in-person learning to more Washington students. Read the full news release here.

    Resources

    Improve how your mask protects you. Correct and consistent mask use is a critical step everyone can take to prevent getting and spreading COVID-19. Masks work best when everyone wears them, but not all masks provide the same protection. When choosing a mask, look at how well it fits, how well it filters the air, and how many layers it has. Learn more here.

    Last Call…

    Executive Constantine's sixth COVID-19 emergency budget to fund $45 million in rental assistance and support community organizations. King County Executive Dow Constantine today sent the sixth COVID-19 supplemental budget to the King County Council. The $91 million budget includes $45 million in additional rental assistance, $5 million to support community organizations, and funding for COVID-19 vaccination sites. Click here for more information.

  • Managing Symptoms and Caring for Others at Home

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    18 Feb 2021
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    Public Health has created an infographic on Managing COVID-19 at Home.

    It has tips to reduce the spread of COVID-19 when someone in a household is sick. This infographic was designed for large households whose members cannot isolate or quarantine away from their home.

    It’s available in 30 languages, with additional ones on the way. A full blog post about managing COVID at home is on Public Health Insider in English and Spanish.


  • News for the Week of February 8

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    11 Feb 2021

    News highlights for the week of February 8.

    Latest Numbers. In Mercer Island, there have been 459 positive cases reported as of February 11. DOH reported a total of 307,867 confirmed cases as of February 8. There have been 4,558 COVID-19 deaths in Washington. For the latest city and county data, click here.

    Executive Constantine announces expanded vaccination site in Redmond. As part of King County’s regional strategy to equitably, efficiently and quickly vaccinate as many King County residents as possible to get the pandemic under control, Executive Constantine announced that the vaccination site at Microsoft’s Redmond campus will now focus on reaching highest-risk, eligible older adults. Click here for more information.

    Where to look for available COVID-19 vaccine appointments. An update from King County notes that all appointments at the Kent and Auburn COVID-19 Vaccination Sites have been filled at this time. They will share updates as vaccine supplies increase and more appointments become available. If you're eligible for vaccination please visit https://www.doh.wa.gov/YouandYourFamily/Immunization/VaccineLocations for additional locations.

    King County Unified Regional Strategy COVID Vaccine Delivery Progress Report. King County’s aim is to efficiently and equitably vaccinate as many eligible residents as possible in order to suppress the spread of COVID-19 and minimize the impact of the pandemic on our community. This report is listed on the main COVID-19 vaccine homepage under the "Vaccine progress and strategy" dropdown menu. Click here for the report.

    Video Update from the City Manager. At the February 16 City Council meeting, City Manager Jessi Bon will provide an update to the Council and community. Tune in at 5:00pm on the Council’s YouTube Channel to watch the update or view it on MI-TV Channel 21.

    Situation Reports. The City has moved to monthly Situation Reports (SitReps), available the first Friday of the month. The next SitRep will be available the afternoon of March 5. Click here to catch up on the latest information and reports.

    Information for Businesses

    Inslee signs bipartisan bill to support business and workers. This week, Gov. Jay Inslee signed legislation providing relief for businesses and workers impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. SB 5061 will increase minimum unemployment benefits for workers and provide significant tax relief for businesses over the next five years. Read the full news release here.

    Vaccine News

    COVID-19 vaccine distribution update from the Washington State Department of Health. The DOH continues to make progress with their COVID-19 vaccine distribution and administration efforts. As of Feb. 6, more than 940,000 doses of vaccine have been given across the state, which is nearly 80% of the 1,195,207 doses that have been delivered to providers and long-term care programs. Washington is currently averaging 26,857 vaccine doses given each day. This information can be found on the DOH data dashboard under the vaccines tab, which is updated three times per week.

    School News

    New COVID-19 Outbreaks in Schools Report. On February 11, the State DOH released the COVID-19 Outbreaks in Washington State K-12 Schools report. The report includes data about K-12 schools across the state that experienced a COVID-19 outbreak between August 1-December 31, 2020, including both public and private schools and all learning modalities. An outbreak is defined as two or more positive COVID-19 cases among students or staff with an onset of symptoms within a 14-day period of each other. During that timeframe:

    • 13 counties reported COVID-19 outbreaks associated with schools
    • 84 K-12 schools experienced COVID-19 outbreaks
    • 305 COVID-19 cases were associated with outbreaks in schools
    • 64% of outbreaks involved two or three cases
    • 50% of COVID-19 cases were students age 18 or under

    Click here to read the full report.

    Resources

    Containing COVID-19 at Home. Over the past year, we have learned that COVID-19 spreads easily within households, possibly making our homes one of the riskiest places. You can even spread the virus without having any symptoms. Now that more contagious variants have been detected in the United States, including one in Washington state, this may be even more true. Click here for tips and information.

    Last Call…

    The monthly Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children Associated with COVID-19 in Washington State report is available. Multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C) is a condition that causes inflammation in different body parts, including the heart, lungs, kidneys, brain, skin, eyes, or gastrointestinal organs. Read the full report here.

  • About Masks

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    09 Feb 2021
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    Reposted from the Public Health Insider

    To help us get through the next phase of the pandemic safely, as the vaccine roll-out continues, a mask that’s well-made and fits well can make a big difference. Masks are one of the most important ways we can prevent COVID-19 – even with new, more contagious variants of the virus spreading.

    There’s more evidence that wearing a mask protects everyone – the person wearing the mask (personal protection) and others around them (source control). Although masks alone are not 100% effective, they are a powerful tool.

    “When everyone wears a mask, we’re all safer,” said Dr. Jeff Duchin, Health Officer for Public Health – Seattle & King County. “Always wear your mask whenever around people who don’t live with you, especially indoors.”

    “The key is to use a mask that’s well made and fits snugly against your face,” said Duchin.

    Why are masks still so important now?

    For starters, it’s important to remember that COVID-19 often spreads from people that look and feel well and who don’t have symptoms. So, we need to always take precautions. Also remember, the virus spreads primarily through the air, particularly with close contact. And (less commonly), it can also spread over longer distances indoors, especially when ventilation is not good.

    That’s why we need to keep using multiple types of prevention at the same time – such as wearing masks, along with decreasing indoor activities with people who don’t live in your home, keeping as much physical distance from others as possible, avoiding crowded indoor spaces, improving indoor ventilation, and washing hands.

    What are the most important considerations for the general public when selecting a quality cloth mask?

    Fit and filtration are the keys. Your mask should be:

    • 2-3 fabric layers
    • Made of tightly woven fabrics such as cotton and cotton blends
    • Breathable
    • Snug fitting, without gaps around the face

    Wearing a mask with at least two layers is important. And for the mask to work well, a snug fit is key. Masks that are loose with gaps around your face or nose are not as helpful in protecting you or others.

    How do I know if my mask fits properly?

    The mask should snuggly cover your chin and nose, with no gaps. In order to more effectively filter out virus particles, your breath should go through the mask and not around the sides or out the top. If your glasses are fogging, the fit needs improvement. A nose wire in the mask helps improve the fit.

    There are products, such as Fix the Mask and Badger Seal that you can add to your mask to improve the fit and prevent air leaking out the sides. This news report offers more details for how to improve mask fit.

    Why are 2+ layers important?

    The more layers you have, the harder it is for virus particles to get through. So, masks that have two or more layers are more effective at protecting the person wearing the mask and others around them.

    There are a number of 2+ layer mask options. Cloth masks should have two or more layers. A filter acts as a layer, and some cloth masks have an option for a paper filter inside the mask, which adds a second or third layer.

    Studies have shown that multiple layers of cloth with higher thread counts (tighter weave) have demonstrated superior performance compared to single layers of cloth with lower thread counts. Some other materials, such as polypropylene and silk, also can enhance the quality of a mask.

    So, should I be double masking now?

    Double masking (wearing two masks) is a way to add layers and create a snug fit. This improves filtration. That can be done by using two masks with a tighter fitting mask on top, or by making sure a single mask has multiple layers and fits very well.

    Is a surgical mask or N95 a better option than a cloth mask?

    Currently, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) doesn’t recommend “medical grade” FDA-regulated N95 masks or surgical masks for the general public. The main reason is to preserve limited supplies for healthcare workers and certain essential workers.

    Although very effective when worn properly, N95 masks are expensive and remain in short supply. If enough affordable supplies and quality control standards were available, N95 or similar masks could be a potential option for use by the public, particularly in high-risk settings.

    Some types of non-medical, disposable surgical-style masks are an option, but it can be difficult to determine the quality of these masks. In the absence of national standards for rating masks for the public, people can look for disposable surgical-style masks that are “ASTM” rated. If a surgical-style mask is worn, a snug fit is important just like with cloth masks.

    Note regarding healthcare workers: Cloth masks and surgical-type masks available to the public are generally not medical grade. Healthcare providers at work should use the masks provided through their employer.

    What about KN95 masks?

    Right now, we don’t have enough evidence to be able to make a recommendation for the public about using KN95 or similar masks. They might be as good or better than cloth masks, assuming they have a snug fit. But we don’t know enough yet about how to ensure the quality of these masks, as there is wide variation by manufacturer and the quality is not well-regulated.

    If you order masks online, please beware that counterfeits and poor-quality masks are also sold.

    If I get vaccinated, can I stop wearing a mask?

    The vaccines are effective in preventing you from getting sick with COVID-19 (typically starting a couple of weeks after getting your second shot). But we don’t yet know if you may still be able to get infected with the virus and pass it on to others. At this time, everyone, including people who get vaccinated should continue to follow current public health guidance. This includes limiting close contact with other people outside your household, avoiding crowds, avoiding poorly ventilated indoor spaces, keeping as much distance as possible from others, washing hands frequently – plus consistently and correctly wearing a well-fitting, good quality face mask.

    Ultimately, the most important tools against COVID-19 will be vaccines, but it will take many months before enough vaccines are available and enough people vaccinated to reach broad protection in our community.

    Over time, as more people in the community are vaccinated, we will likely be able to relax other COVID-19 prevention measures that are currently needed. But definitely not yet.

    Our understanding of masks continues to evolve, and Public Health will continue to update guidance as knowledge improves. We hope to see more information from the federal government on certification of effective masks for those who choose to upgrade.

    Want to dig further into the science behind what we are learning about face masks for the public?

    These are some scholarly and medical articles about masks and face coverings:

    Originally posted February 9, 2021

    https://publichealthinsider.com/2021/02/09/its-a-good-time-to-improve-our-masks-and-how-we-wear-them-as-more-contagious-covid-19-variants-emerge/


  • More Support for Businesses and Workers via the State Legislature

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    09 Feb 2021
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    A piece of the state’s COVID-19 recovery plan has passed with bipartisan support in both chambers and was signed by the Governor on Monday.

    On Monday, Gov. Jay Inslee signed legislation, otherwise known as SB 5061, providing relief for businesses and workers impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

    The bill will increase minimum unemployment benefits for workers and provide significant tax relief for businesses over the next five years, to support recovery from the economic impacts of COVID shutdowns.

    SB 5061 relieves employers of individual benefit charges for claims that occurred during the governor’s “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” (March 22 – May 30, 2020), and caps certain tax rates through 2025. Together, these actions prevent a $1.7 billion spike in unemployment taxes over the next five years, including just over $920 million in rate increases this year.

    The legislation also addresses the hardship being faced by workers, putting more money into the pockets of those experiencing unemployment by increasing the minimum benefit starting July 1.

    Additionally, SB 5061 makes policy updates to ensure that Washington’s unemployment insurance system is more nimble and responsive during public health emergencies. This includes eligibility for individuals at high risk for severe illness and their family members.

    Businesses and individuals won’t have to go through any additional processes in order to receive the deductions or increased benefits.

  • News for the Week of February 1

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    05 Feb 2021

    News highlights for the week of February 1.

    Latest Numbers. DOH reported a total of 302,782 confirmed cases as of Feb. 3. There have been 4,416 COVID-19 deaths in WA. In Mercer Island, there have been 452 positive cases reported as of February 4. For that latest city and county data, click here.

    Understanding Phase Finder and vaccine distribution. Are you eligible for vaccination but need help using Phase Finder? The Washington State Dept. of Health explains how their online tool works and what to do if you need additional help. Click here for more.

    What are the side effects of COVID-19 vaccine? It is common to have mild side effects one to three days after getting the vaccine. Common side effects are tiredness, muscle pain, a sore arm, fever, headache, joint pain, chills, nausea, or vomiting. This is a sign that the vaccine is working. Learn more about COVID-19 vaccine safety and effectiveness by clicking here.

    Accessible COVID-19 Interview Series for Community Members who are Deaf and Hard of Hearing. Public Health – Seattle and King County created a COVID-19 video series that is accessible to community members who are Deaf and Hard of Hearing including ASL interpretation, captions, and transcripts. Click here to access the video series.

    Video Update from the City Manager. At the February 2 City Council meeting, City Manager Jessi Bon provided an update on the City and regional response. Click here to watch the update.

    February 5 Situation Report. For highlights and information from the 48th week of the City’s response to the pandemic click here.

    Information for Businesses
    Paycheck Protection Program is Still Open. Application process open through March 31. In mid-January the Federal government reopened the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) portal for first and second draw applications. Click here for details on how to apply.


    New guidelines for cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfecting for food establishments. Cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfecting are all similar but different ways to help prevent COVID-19. These guidelines can also be found on our COVID-19 resource page for food establishments under accordion menu item #4. Proper sanitation procedures. These guidelines are also available in Chinese, Korean, Russian, Spanish, and Vietnamese

    Vaccine News
    Vaccine distribution update from the Washington DOH. As of February 1, 773,346 people have received the COVID-19 vaccine, which is more than 60% of the 1,160,850 doses delivered to providers and long-term care programs across the state. Currently, Washington is averaging 27,902 vaccine doses given per day, inching closer to the goal of vaccinating 45,000 people per day. Those numbers can be found on the DOH data dashboard under the vaccines tab, updated three times per week.


    King County Unified Regional Strategy COVID Vaccine Delivery Progress Report as of February 1, 2021. Strategic goal: To quickly, efficiently and equitably vaccinate as many eligible King County residents as possible in order to suppress the spread of COVID-19 and minimize the impact of the pandemic on our community. This report is indexed on our COVID Vaccine homepage under the "Vaccine and progress strategy" accordion menu item.


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

    Resources

    Washington Listens helps people manage stress and anxiety they may be experiencing because of COVID-19. If you or anyone you know is having difficulties managing stress, call the Washington Listens support line at 1-833-681-0211. Hours are from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. TTY and language access services are available by using 7-1-1 or their preferred method. Resources and self-help tips are available on walistens.org.

  • Fastest way to make vaccine appointments

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    27 Jan 2021
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    The fastest service is self-service.

    Due to the State's COVID-19 hotline's high call volume, the fastest service is self-service. The DOH recommends the following:

    1. Confirm Eligibility. Use Phase Finder to see if you're eligible to get vaccinated: www.findyourphasewa.org
      • If you are currently eligible, you will get a confirmation.
      • Print or take a screenshot of this page.
      • If you sign up for emails, it will be sent to you automatically.
    2. Schedule Appointment. Call your doctor's office or health care provider to see if they have available vaccination appointments.
      • Or use the link provided in your confirmation to schedule your appointment (it will show you locations where you can get the vaccine).
    3. What to Bring. Take your printed confirmation (or bring your phone with the screenshot) from Phase Finder with you to your appointment and identification (with birth info).

    Washingtonians without internet access, or who may not be comfortable using online tools, can call the COVID-19 hotline (1-800-525-0127) for help making appointments for three of the mass vaccination sites.

    Please note: The hotline does not have special access to appointments -- they use the same scheduling tools available to the public for self-scheduling.


    High-Volume Sites Open in King County

    On February 1, King County opened two new community vaccination sites in Kent and Auburn to expand vaccine access to the most vulnerable older adults in King County. Establishing these sites now will help prepare for high-volume community access once more vaccine becomes available.

    • Kent ShoWare Center 625 W. James St. Park, walk, or arrive by transit and enter building. Wheelchair accessible.
    • Auburn General Services Administration Complex 2701 C St SW. Drive-through site

    More information is available at Public Health’s vaccination website.


    Four mass vaccination sites opened statewide

    The DOH, with assistance from the Washington National Guard and local and private sector partners, is launching four mass vaccination sites throughout the state this week in Kennewick, Ridgefield, Spokane and Wenatchee.

    Given the limited supply of vaccine that is available at this time and our state’s commitment to equitable and fair access to vaccine, the state is requiring that those seeking COVID-19 vaccines in its four mass vaccination sites must either live or work in Washington state.

    People who register for vaccines at these four sites may be asked to provide one of the following:

    • driver's license or work/school ID,
    • letter with your address,
    • utility bill,
    • statement/letter with a Washington state address, or
    • voucher from an employer, faith-based institution, health care provider, school, or other registered organization or agency, etc. that the person lives or works in Washington state.

    The vaccine site will not make a copy or record this information in any way. This is only to show that the person currently resides or works in Washington state.

    Click here for information on mass vaccination sites.