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 March 1

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    News highlights for the week of March 1.

    Latest Numbers. In Mercer Island, there have been 476 positive cases reported as of March 4. DOH reported a total of 323,839 confirmed cases as of March 3. There have been 5,032 COVID-19 deaths in Washington. For the latest city and county data, click here.

    New guide for securing vaccine appointments. Click here for a visual guide explains how to make, change or cancel a high volume site appointment online. This document is housed under the "Getting vaccinated in King County" webpage.

    Western States Scientific Safety Review Workgroup Approves Johnson & Johnson Vaccine. On Wednesday, the Western States Scientific Safety Review Workgroup approved the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) vaccine. Click here to read the announcement.

    A New COVID-19 Vaccine is Almost Here. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently granted emergency use authorization (EUA) for the Johnson & Johnson (J&J), or Janssen, COVID-19 vaccine. The J&J vaccine is the third vaccine is authorized for emergency use in the United States. And its arrival will soon make an impact on our state’s supply. Click here to read more from the State Department of Health.

    WA DOH Statement on Federal School and Childcare Vaccination Plan. On Tuesday, federal and WA state officials announced a directive to all states to get every pre-K educator, K-12 teacher, and childcare worker at least one shot of COVID-19 vaccine in the month of March. Gov. Inslee announced that educators and childcare workers were immediately added to the current vaccine group – Phase 1B-Tier1. Read more here.

    New Mass Vaccination Site at Lumen Field in the Works. On Monday, Seattle City officials announced that a mass vaccination site is in the works for Lumen Field (formerly Century Link Field). The site will be open to the entire region and officials anticipate that the site could administer 21,000 vaccinations daily. Click here for the Komo News article.

    Air travel proclamation updated. Gov. Jay Inslee updated proclamation 20-83 regarding quarantine requirements for air travel now requiring air passengers to obtain a negative viral COVID-19 test within 3 days of travel or to present proof of recovery from COVID-19. Read the full news release here.

    All Regions to Remain in Phase 2 - Rollbacks Paused. On February 25, the Governor announced that he was pausing any region moving back down to Phase 1, due in large part to how well the entire state is doing to bring the number of cases down. The State is in the process of answering how and when regions will move into the next Phase.

    March 5 Situation Report. For highlights and information from the 52nd week of the City’s response to the pandemic click here.

    Information for Businesses

    SBA prioritizes smallest of small businesses in the Paycheck Protection Program. The U.S. Small Business Administration are 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.

    Employee screening tool for restaurants and other food businesses. Scroll midway down page to the 10 measures to help you comply with COVID-19 requirements for food establishments and select the first one for the employee screening tool now available in Chinese (Simplified), Korean, Russian, Spanish and Vietnamese. Click here for the doc.

    Updated document/COVID-19 plan requirements for vendors and Farmers Markets. Click here for the document (also found on the main Farmers Market permit homepage).

    Reminders for safe building reopenings after COVID-19 closures. Low or no water use in vacant or underused buildings increases the risk to plumbing systems and potential for Legionella. Read the full news release here.

    Vaccine News

    Video: Why should BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Color) people communities trust these vaccines? Watch as Dr. Michele Andrasik, Senior Scientist in the Vaccine and Infectious Disease Division at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, discusses equitable inclusion of BIPOC people in the COVID-19 vaccine trials and emphasizes the importance of getting vulnerable communities vaccinated.

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

    More than 70,000 COVID-19 vaccines given at state-led mass vaccination sites. Thanks to the hard work of DOH staff, the Washington National Guard, and local and private sector partners, 70,774 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered at the four state-led mass vaccination sites as of Feb. 27. Read the full news release here.

    Resources

    Isolation and Quarantine Calculator. If you test positive for COVID-19, do you know how long to isolate yourself to keep others safe from infection? What if you learn you are a close contact of someone who tested positive — do you know how long to quarantine? What date can you point to on your calendar that will signal the end of your isolation or quarantine? The Washington state Department of Health recently created an Isolation and Quarantine Calculator tool to take the guess work out of it. Visit www.doh.wa.gov/CovidCalculator and follow the instructions based on your particular situation.

  • Johnson & Johnson Vaccine

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    FDA, CDC, and Western States Scientific Safety Review Workgroup approve Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

    On Wednesday, March 3 the Western States Scientific Safety Review Workgroup joined the FDA and CDC in approving the Johnson & Johnson (J&J or Janssen) vaccine.

    The Western States Workgroup, comprised of vaccine experts from Washington, California, Oregon and Nevada, has met to review the data and analysis to ensure the safety and efficacy of all FDA-authorized vaccines.

    According to the CDC, the J&J/Janssen vaccine was 66.3% effective in clinical trials (efficacy) at preventing laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 illness in people who had no evidence of prior infection 2 weeks after receiving the vaccine. People had the most protection 2 weeks after getting vaccinated. Additionally, the vaccine had high efficacy at preventing hospitalization and death in people who did get sick. No one who got COVID-19 at least 4 weeks after receiving the J&J/Janssen vaccine had to be hospitalized. The CDC also notes that early evidence suggests that the J&J/Janssen vaccine might provide protection against asymptomatic infection, which is when a person is infected by the virus that causes COVID-19 but does not get sick.

    CDC will continue to provide updates as we learn more about how well the J&J/Janssen vaccine works in real-world conditions.

    Click here for the CDC factsheet on the Johnson & Johnson vaccine and here for more information on Operation Warp Speed a joint venture of the federal government and U.S. private sector in 2020 to accelerate the testing, supply, development, and distribution of safe and effective vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics.

  • Educator and Licensed Childcare Workers Vaccination Directive

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    DOH Statement on Federal School and Childcare Vaccination Plan.

    On Tuesday, March 2, the President announced a directive to all states to get every pre-K educator, K-12 teacher, and childcare worker at least one shot of COVID-19 vaccine in the month of March.

    The Washington State Department of Health (DOH) recognizes the importance of vaccinating educators, school staff, and childcare workers. School staff and childcare workers were already in the next group to become eligible for vaccines, and our state was moving to vaccinate them in a matter of weeks. This announcement represents a faster timeline than originally planned, and the department is engaging partners on a robust plan to support this directive.

    DOH is working quickly to get clarity from the Biden Administration to ensure roll-out in our state will result in ample vaccine supply through various providers and equitable access for education and childcare workers. Vaccine supply will likely primarily be delivered through the federal pharmacy program, and the directive indicates all vaccine providers should prioritize these workers.

    DOH remains committed to continued vaccination for older adults and others who are currently prioritized for vaccinations under the current plan. DOH also remains committed to vaccinating all Washingtonians as quickly and equitably as possible.

    DOH acknowledges these announcements may cause a mix of excitement, concern, and confusion for different communities. The department will share more information in the days ahead as DOH learns more from our federal partners.

    Visit the DOH newsroom for more or click here for the Governor's statement.

  • March 3 Virtual Town Hall with Patty Hayes

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    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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    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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    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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    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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    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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    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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    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/