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.


  • More Support for Businesses and Workers via the State Legislature

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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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    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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    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.

  • The New Variant COVID-19 Strain is Here

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    The new strain has arrived in Washington, here’s what you need to know.

    It is worrisome, but not surprising, to learn that the new COVID-19 variant strain that has been reported in many U.S. states has now been detected in Washington state.

    Washington State Department of Health and Snohomish Health District announced that UW Medicine Virology Lab detected two cases of the COVID-19 variant, known as B117, in specimens collected from two Snohomish County residents.

    The strain spreads more easily than others and quickly became the dominant strain circulating in the United Kingdom, where it was first identified. The CDC recently predicted the B117 strain will be the predominant strain in the US by March.

    As we confront this more contagious strain of COVID-19, here’s the important thing to understand: The variant strain spreads in the same ways as other COVID-19 strains, it’s just better at it. That means we need to get better at our countermeasures: masks, physical distance, good ventilation and staying home when possible.

    “We should expect the variant strains to become widespread here, and that will make the outbreak harder for us to control. But we have the advantage of early warning to help us prepare,” said Dr. Jeff Duchin, Health Officer for Public Health – Seattle & King County.

    Steps we can take

    The appearance of the B117 variant in Washington reminds us that it’s important to do all we can to stop the spread of COVID-19 – in our homes, workplaces, social lives, and wherever we gather – and to push cases down as low as possible BEFORE the B117 strain can spread widely and gain an advantage. This means we need to meet this new challenge by going all in on the steps that we know work, starting now.

    If you have symptoms of COVID-19, isolate yourself away from others and get tested. Stay in isolation while waiting for your test results and until your healthcare provider or a Public Health investigator lets you know when to end your isolation (usually 10 days after symptom onset if you are improving and have not had a fever in at least 24 hours). The person with COVID-19 and others in the home should wear masks until all ill people are out of isolation.

    If you think you have been exposed to someone with COVID-19, get tested even if you don’t have symptoms and be diligent about quarantining and staying away from others, including wearing a mask in your home around other people.

    Minimize your contacts and activities with people outside your household, wear a well-fitted face mask around anyone you don’t live with and stay six feet or more apart, wash your hands often, avoid crowded indoor spaces and remember that a well-ventilated area is safer. These are our most effective tools in the fight against COVID-19, including this new, more infectious B117 strain.

    Lastly, when you are eligible, get vaccinated to protect yourself. Vaccination is ultimately our best defense, but at this time, it can’t be our only defense. New, more contagious strains of COVID-19 are concerning, but we’ve had a year to get to know this virus and how to prevent its spread. We can beat this variant strain, but it will require serious and renewed effort from all of us for a few months. And we need to start right now doing all we can to stop the spread, before the variant spreads too widely and gains momentum that could make our situation even tougher to manage.

    More information from Washington State Department of Health’s blog on identification of the new variant.

    Originally posted 1/23/2021 in Public Heath Insider

  • State to Text Every Person Who Tests Positive

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    The State is now texting a verification code to every person in Washington state who tests positive for COVID-19.

    People who test positive for COVID-19 will still receive notification from their health care provider or testing facility – that won’t change. But everyone who tests positive will now also receive a text. That text includes a link to activate a verification code within WA Notify, and anonymously alert users they may have been exposed.

    People who test positive can expect to receive a text from DOH within 24 hours after they get the result. Anyone who receives a text and isn’t using WA Notify can simply disregard it.

    Learn more:

    • Visit WANotify.org to see how easy it is to add WA Notify to your smartphone.
    • Information about WA Notify is available in multiple languages: WANotify.org/languages.
    • View a video that describes how WA Notify works.

    The goal is to help WA Notify exposure notification users alert fellow users faster if they’ve been exposed. This began on January 11.

    Questions can be directed to the State COVID-19 Assistance Hotline, 1-800-525-0127.

  • Healthy Washington COVID Recovery Plan

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    In a news conference on January 5, Governor Inslee announced an updated COVID recovery plan that takes effect on January 11.

    The new two-phased Healthy Washington plan aims to ease some restrictions while also maintaining crucial hospital capacity and paving the way for economic recovery. Eventually, businesses like restaurants and fitness facilities will be allowed to reopen at service levels comparable to those seen before the current pause, which was first implemented on November 16, 2020.

    The new Healthy Washington plan breaks the state up into 8 healthcare regions: King, Pierce, and Snohomish County are grouped together. All regions will begin in Phase 1. In general, most sectors of the economy will not reopen significantly until a region advances to Phase 2 (except for some limited entertainment and fitness scenarios).

    During Phase 1 of the new Healthy Washington Recovery Plan, indoor gatherings and indoor dining remain prohibited; outdoor dining with a maximum of six and limit of two households per table is permitted with an 11:00pm close. In addition, retail, personal services, and professional services — where remote work is not possible — and worship services are limited to 25% capacity.

    A region’s phase will be determined by the Department of Health (DOH) in response to four measured requirements, to be calculated weekly, on Fridays. To advance from Phase 1 to Phase 2, regions must meet all four of the following metrics:

    • A 10% decreasing trend in case rates per 100,000 individuals
    • A 10% decrease in COVID-19 hospital admission rates
    • Hospital ICU occupancy (COVID and non-COVID-19 cases) of less than 90%
    • COVID-19 test positivity rate of less than 10%

    Worsening metrics may result in reverting from Phase 2 back to Phase 1. Learn more, and view details, on the Governor’s blog page.

  • New Quarantine Guidelines

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    The CDC currently recommends a quarantine period of 14 days but there are circumstances that allow for a shortened quarantine.

    As we all know, public health officials, including the CDC recommend, a quarantine period of 14 days. However, based on local circumstances and resources, the following options to shorten quarantine are acceptable alternatives.

    • Quarantine can end after Day 10 without testing and if no symptoms have been reported during daily monitoring.
      • With this strategy, residual post-quarantine transmission risk is estimated to be about 1% with an upper limit of about 10%.
    • Quarantine can end after Day 7 if a diagnostic specimen tests negative and if no symptoms were reported during daily monitoring (when diagnostic testing resources are sufficient and available).
      • The specimen may be collected and tested within 48 hours before the time of planned quarantine discontinuation (e.g., in anticipation of testing delays), but quarantine cannot be discontinued earlier than after Day 7.
      • With this strategy, the residual post-quarantine transmission risk is estimated to be about 5% with an upper limit of about 12%.

    In both cases, additional criteria (e.g., continued symptom monitoring and masking through Day 14) must be met and are outlined in the full text.

    Washington and King County are both following the new CDC guidelines.

    For more information visit the CDC's quarantine information page.

  • WA Notify: New COVID Exposure Notification App

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    New smartphone app can help you know if you've been exposed to COVID-19.

    On Monday, Governor Inslee announced that Washington residents have a new way to help stop the spread of COVID-19. WA Notify is a completely private app for smartphones that can inform people if they have been exposed to COVID-19 by another app user who later tests positive. Here's how the app works:


    The app uses a Bluetooth signal to determine when app users are in proximity, and exchanges a random, anonymous code for use in future notifications.

    What it can't do? Share data on your activity with anyone. It doesn’t collect data and doesn’t need to know who you are or where you go to work to function effectively.

    The app has been thoroughly reviewed by an independent privacy oversight committee which included security and civil liberties experts and community leaders. The free app can be enabled from the settings of Apple iPhones or downloaded for other phone brands. It is designed to work in tandem with the traditional contact tracing by phone call that is already underway statewide and has been launched with 29 languages built in.

    Similar technology has been deployed in Virginia, New York, and Colorado, as well as in other countries such as Ireland, Canada, and Germany.

    Visit WANotify.org today to learn more and read FAQ.

  • How COVID Vaccines Are Made

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    Have questions about the COVID-19 vaccine? The Washington State Dept. of Health put together this video to help answer them. Check it out!


  • Emergency Warning Signs of COVID-19

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    As we head into cold and flu season, it is important to understand the symptoms of COVID-19 and when to seek medical help.

    The CDC reminds us to keep an eye on our flu-like symptoms that could be COVID-19. If you or a family member is showing any of these signs, seek emergency medical care immediately:

    • Trouble breathing
    • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
    • New confusion
    • Inability to wake or stay awake
    • Bluish lips or face

    Call 9-1-1 or call ahead to your local emergency facility. Make sure to notify the operator that you are seeking care for someone who has or may have COVID-19.


    As a reminder, people with COVID-19 have had a wide range of symptoms reported – ranging from mild symptoms to severe illness. Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. People with these symptoms may have COVID-19:

    • Fever or chills
    • Cough
    • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
    • Fatigue
    • Muscle or body aches
    • Headache
    • New loss of taste or smell
    • Sore throat
    • Congestion or runny nose
    • Nausea or vomiting
    • Diarrhea

    This list does not include all possible symptoms. Contact your medical provider for any other symptoms that are severe or concerning to you.

    Learn more about caring for yourself or others:

    For more information or to use the CDC's Coronavirus Self-Checker, click here.