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.


  • 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/


  • 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.

Page last updated: 06 December 2021, 11:06