COVID-19 Community Resources

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This page is dedicated to the many resources available to the Mercer Island Community.


This page is dedicated to the many resources available to the Mercer Island Community.

  • Resources for the Week of October 19

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    Check out the latest grant funding, job opportunities, emergency assistance resources, and more.

    Grants for Local Businesses

    Relief Grants Available for MI Businesses and Organizations. On October 20, the Mercer Island City Council unanimously approved a new grant program to support Mercer Island businesses and nonprofits impacted by COVID-19. Apply for a relief grant today!

    Vaccine Care for Older Adults and People with Disabilities

    King County launches new webpage on flu resources for older adults and people with disabilities. Why is it important to get a flu shot this year? Getting a flu shot will make it easier for you and your primary care provider to decide how to treat any viral infection this winter. There is a lot of overlap between flu symptoms and early COVID-19 symptoms. If you have any symptoms and you have had the flu vaccine, that will be useful information to help decide on the best course of testing and treatment for you. Free to low-cost flu vaccine is available in King County. Learn more at www.kingcounty.gov/findaclinic

    Job Opportunities with King County

    King County is hiring – join the COVID-19 response team. See latest job opportunities the County is offering related to managing the pandemic. Visit their main jobs homepage for a list of all other job opportunities with Public Health - Seattle & King County.

    Food, Health Screenings, and Health & Social Service Assistance

    WIC Helps Families in Many Ways. Washington WIC gives families access to nutritious food and provides health screening, risk assessment, nutrition education, breastfeeding support, and referrals to health and social services. The program provides essential services for pregnant people, new and breastfeeding moms, infants, and children under five. Most pregnant people and young children on Medicaid or Basic Food (SNAP) qualify for WIC services. Given layoffs and other economic consequences related to COVID-19, people may be seeking WIC services for the first time. WIC has capacity and welcomes new families. To find WIC services in your area: Text "WIC" to 96859, visit ParentHelp123's Resource Finder, or call the Help Me Grow WA Hotline at 1-800-322-2588.

  • Extended: Foster Care Eviction and Rent Assistance, Eviction Moratorium, and Protections for Energy Customers affected by COVID-19

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    The eviction moratorium and resources for foster care eviction and rent assistance as well as protections for energy customers have been extended.

    Foster Care Eviction and Rent Assistance

    Washington's Office of Homeless Youth allocated $1 million in CARES Act funding to the Department of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF) to provide stipends to young adults who will age out or have aged out of Extended Foster Care at age 21, between March 1 - December 31, 2020.

    The purpose of the funding is to support housing stability for youth who exited the Extended Foster Care Program at age 21.

    Eligible youth will receive $800 per month for each month that they were eligible. Example: youth who turned 21 years old in March 2020 could be eligible for up to $8,000 over the 10-month period. Youth who turned 21 years old in April will have nine months of eligibility and will receive a total of $7,200.

    Youth who receive Social Security Income (SSI) will receive $100-$800 per month based on their current benefits. This range allows these youth to receive additional funds without jeopardizing their SSI and putting them over in resources per social security rules. These youth will be assessed on a case-by-case basis.

    The youth who turned 21 years old between March 2020 and September 2020 will receive one check for every month they have been out of foster care through October. They will then receive one check per month, including the month of December 2020. There is a possibility that all eligible youth will receive an additional check at the end of this period to ensure that all funds have been allocated.

    If you currently work or have worked with a young adult that meets these qualifications, please reach out to them directly and assist them in applying.

    How to Apply

    Send an email to dcyf.adolescentprograms@dcyf.wa.gov with the youth’s name, address and contact information before Nov. 13, 2020. If you do not have access to email, please call Sherrie Flores at 360-489-5280.

    Moratorium on Evictions

    On October 14, the Governor extended the Moratorium on Evictions. This extension makes modifications to the prior moratorium, including:

    • Clarifying that tenant behavior which is imminently hazardous to the physical safety of other persons on the premises is included among the existing permissible reasons for seeking to evict a tenant.
    • Authorizing landlords and property owners to send advance notices of future rent increases in limited circumstances, as long as the notice clearly provides that the rent increase will not go into effect until after the moratorium expires.
    • Establishing clearer guidance on permissible communications between landlords and tenants.
    • Requiring that any 60-day notice to vacate if an owner intends to occupy or sell the premises must be in the form of an affidavit signed under penalty of perjury.

    The moratorium also directs the governor’s staff to continue working with stakeholders over the next 30 days to consider additional amendments to the moratorium to ensure that the moratorium’s protections for non-payment of rent apply narrowly to those persons whose ability to pay has been directly or indirectly materially impacted by the COVID-19 virus.

    Read the full proclamation here.

    Protections for Energy Customers affected by COVID-19

    On October 6, state regulators approved protections for electric and natural gas utility customers who are struggling to pay their bills due to financial impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic.

    The commission ordered investor-owned electric and natural gas utilities in Washington to continue a moratorium on disconnections for nonpayment until April 30, 2021. Also, utilities will continue to waive deposits for new customers and all late fees through Oct. 27, 2021.

    Utilities must also work with customers to establish long-term payment arrangements for up to 18 months for residential customers, and 12 months for small commercial customers.

    In addition to payment arrangements, all utilities must also create a COVID-19 bill payment assistance program funded at 1% of their Washington state retail revenues, in addition to any existing local and federal assistance programs. For more information click here.

    On October 14, the Governor also extended the Ratepayer Assistance proclamation which prohibits energy, water and landline telephone companies from:

    • Disconnecting any residential customers from energy, landline telephone or water service due to nonpayment on an active account, except at the request of the customer.
    • Refusing to reconnect any residential customer who has been disconnected due to nonpayment.
    • Charging fees for late payment or reconnection of energy, landline telephone or water service.
    • Disconnecting service to any residential customer who has contacted the utility to request assistance from the utility’s COVID-19 Customer Support Program.

    This proclamation does not relieve customers from the obligation to pay for utility services. Customers and utilities are expected to continue to communicate in good faith with one another, and to work together, on the timing and terms of payment and repayment solutions.

    Read the full proclamation here.

  • Supporting Others In Crisis

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    From King County's | Adapted from the King County Balanced You blog


    “I’ll never forget the day the phone rang. I felt powerless, I felt stuck. I wanted to help but I didn’t know how, who to call, or what to do. I wanted to solve the problem, but I didn’t know the first place to start.”

    Being on the receiving end of a phone call or text when someone is experiencing a mental health crisis is difficult. When a loved one is struggling, you want to do everything you can to help them. And sometimes, you don’t know what that is. As a family member or friend, it can be hard to know what to do, how to act, or what to say when someone is in crisis. If you find yourself in this situation, here are some supportive resources and strategies to consider, adapted from the National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI) and Mental Health First Aid.

    Understand the signs

    It’s important to note that a mental health crisis can take many forms: self-harm, panic attacks, suicidal ideation, planning or considering hurting one’s self or others, and more. Unlike other health emergencies, mental health crises don’t often have consistent signs, instructions, or resources on how to help or what to expect.

    Learning all you can about mental health is an important first step. NAMI created this video so people experiencing mental health emergencies and their loved ones can have the answers and information they need when they need it. It equips you with tools to assess the situation and questions to ask.

    If a loved one is actively talking about suicide, make sure to stay with them while they’re at risk and do not hesitate to get them additional help.

    Practice clear, empathetic communication

    Listening deeply and without judgment is essential to providing support in the moment. Encourage your loved one to talk about what they’re thinking, how they’re feeling, and how long they have been feeling that way. You might offer, “Sometimes when people go through __, they may have thoughts of ending their life. I want to check in about your safety. Have you had any of these thoughts?” Asking clearly if someone is considering suicide creates a safe opportunity to intervene.

    NAMI notes, “Don’t be afraid to ask directly if they are thinking about suicide. If they need time to respond, allow them to process. You can always repeat the question after a moment of silence, if necessary.” Listening in a kind and patient way can allow others to feel comfortable and safe enough to share what they’re going through. What’s important is that you’re showing up, listening deeply and non-judgmentally, and can connect them to more support, if needed.

    Reach out for additional support

    If you’re concerned, but it’s not an urgent situation, ask if they’re open to building a crisis plan or connecting to others together. Re-visit what care and connection has helped in the past. Perhaps a therapist, family member, friend or spiritual leader has given them support. It’s important to tap into those systems as much as possible during this time. Support might also include researching treatment options, making phone calls, or even setting up an appointment with the person.

    If you are concerned for the person’s immediate safety, call 9-1-1 or an alternative resource. Remember: police intervention may not feel safe to everyone, particularly people of color. If this is the case, there are additional supports available within the community. Here are a few resources you can contact 24/7:

    • If you are immediately concerned about someone, text Crisis Text Line at 741741 to connect with a trained crisis counselor to receive crisis support via text message.
    • You may call your local county crisis line to request assistance for you, a friend, or a family member (24/7/365). Safety and wellness checks can be requested and completed anonymously.
    • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – Call 800-273-TALK (8255) to speak with a trained crisis counselor.
    • National Domestic Violence Hotline – Call 800-799-SAFE (7233) to speak with trained experts who provide confidential support to anyone experiencing domestic violence or seeking resources and information.
    • Call 9-1-1 if the crisis is a life-threatening emergency. Make sure to notify the operator that it is a mental health crisis and ask for an officer trained in crisis intervention.

    Check in on yourself as you check in on others

    Remember to take care of yourself as you’re supporting others. Practice deep breathing and tuning into how you’re doing during and after the experience. Navigating crisis can be difficult and overwhelming. You may notice many feelings including frustration, sadness, loss, or lack of control. Creating a plan that focuses on what and who you know may help. Whether managing crisis situations or day-to-day mental health, remember that you are not alone.

    Support and counseling

    If you could use additional support, check out the resources below.

    • Washington Listens is a program to support anyone in Washington experiencing stress due to the COVID-19 pandemic or any of the events that have occurred because of it. Call 1-833-681-0211, Monday – Friday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. and weekends from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. TTY and language access services are available.
    • Crisis Connections provides many resources and support for anxiety, loneliness, recovery, and more. Language interpretation in more than 155 languages is available. Call 866-427-4747 or text HOME to 741741 for support.
    • SAMHSA Disaster Distress Helpline provides trained counselors and support for stress, anxiety and more. Support available 24/7, 365 days a year. Call 1-800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUS to 66746. Spanish-speakers can call the hotline and press “2” for bilingual support. Interpreters are available for 100 other languages.
    • King County’s Department of Community and Human Services provides publicly funded mental health and substance use services to low-income people in need.
    • A list of additional Community Mental Health Resources helps connect King County residents to 24/7 emotional support resources, ways to connect to a counselor, and information for both people living with a mental health condition and their family members and caregivers.

    We recognize that mental health impacts us all. We’re committed to keeping the conversation going. Let’s do what we can to connect ourselves and each other to the resources that we need.

    Originally posted on October 7, 2020.

  • K–12 Internet Access Program Allows More Students to Learn from Home

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    A program, offered through the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction allows students from low-income families to connect to their learning online from home at no cost to them.

    OLYMPIA — October 1, 2020 — In mid-August, the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) announced a new program to connect students to their online learning from home.

    OSPI will cover the costs of internet connectivity for eligible students for the remainder of the 2020–21 school year.

    This week, OSPI finalized contracts with three internet service providers — Ziply, Presidio, and Comcast — to provide the service to up to 60,000 students and their families through the end of the 2020–21 school year at no cost to the family. The program is reserved for students who are low-income and did not have internet access before August 2020.

    To participate in the program, potentially eligible families should receive information, including a promo/offer code from a provider, from their local school district. Families may also contact their district to request information. OSPI is compiling a list with a contact person for this program at each district.

    Families will sign up with the provider, install the equipment, and then be able to connect to remote learning.

    For more information visit the OSPI's website: https://www.k12.wa.us/about-ospi/press-releases/novel-coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-resources/k%E2%80%9312-internet-access-program

  • COVID-19 Child Care Support

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    Do you need help with child care costs?

    You may qualify for financial assistance to pay for child care if you live or work in King County, fall within income guidelines and your income, work schedule, or access to child care has been negatively impacted by COVID-19 or you are an essential worker.

    The CARES emergency funding for COVID-19 child care supports will provide vouchers to eligible families to pay for child care costs at licensed child care providers between September and December 2020. The amount of vouchers depends on a child’s age and will be paid directly to the provider. Funding is also available to assist eligible families with the cost of child care co-pays under the Working Connections Child Care program or other subsidies.

    Program eligibility
    • Must be under 400% FPL
    • Must live or work in King County
    • Must be an essential worker or have been impacted by COVID-19
    • For children aged 0-12 at licensed child care sites

    To apply

    For more information, click here.

  • New Study Shows Vaping Increases COVID Chances

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    As COVID-19 spikes among young adults, research shows vaping is associated with catching COVID.

    Recent state data show adults ages 20 to 39 represent a higher percentage of coronavirus cases than any other age group in the state. This comes as vaping among teens and young adults in our state has also skyrocketed, with nearly 30 percent of high school seniors saying they use vapor products.

    A new study shows young people who reported ever having used e-cigarettes were five times more likely to test positive for COVID-19 than non-users.

    Teens and young adults who want to quit vaping or smoking can get access to several resources in Washington state. In January, the state Department of Health (DOH) began offering This is Quitting, from Truth Initiative. This first of its kind, free teen-friendly texting program for quitting vaping, was created with input from teens and young adults who attempted or succeeded in quitting e-cigarettes. This is Quitting is tailored by age group to give supportive text messages and information about quitting vaping.

    To enroll, teens and young adults can text VAPEFREEWA to 88709. Washington youth over the age of 13 can also call 1-800-QUIT-NOW to speak confidentially with a Quit Coach in English, Spanish, or receive support in more than 200 other languages.

    On Island, our YFS outpatient mental health counselors and school-based counselors provide substance abuse intervention and referral. We encourage Mercer Island residents seeking services or information to connect with YFS via our confidential intake line at 206-275-7657 or www.mercerisland.gov/yfs or contact their child’s YFS school counselor directly. To learn more about how you can get involved with the Healthy Youth Initiative visit: https://www.mercerisland.gov/yfs/page/healthy-youth-initiative-project.

    Read the full news release here.


  • Supporting Recovery Throughout the Pandemic

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    National Recovery Month is celebrated in the U.S. each September to promote access to recovery, celebrate those participating in services, and educate communities about overcoming the barriers of stigma and discrimination.

    Together as a community, we remember that behavioral health is essential to overall health and wellness and that prevention works, treatment is effective, and people do recover.

    The City's Department of Youth and Family Services (YFS) provides community-wide substance abuse prevention and mental health promotion services via the Healthy Youth Initiative. Derek Franklin, YFS Clinical Supervisor encourages us to connect during these unprecedented times, "I hope Recovery Month serves as a reminder that an important part of getting through the COVID-19 pandemic is to focus on personal connections, grow resiliency, set aside any stigma around seeking help, and get support for mental health or substance use issues - we're all in this together."

    YFS outpatient mental health counselors and school-based counselors provide mental health treatment and substance abuse intervention and referral. Mercer Island residents seeking services or information are encouraged to connect with YFS at (206) 275-7611 or www.mercerisland.gov/yfs or contact their child's YFS school counselor directly.

  • King County dedicates $41 million to COVID-19 related rental assistance and eviction prevention

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

    Individuals and families throughout King County economically impacted by COVID-19 due to illness, lost wages, and unemployment may apply for assistance through the King County Eviction Prevention and Rent Assistance Program as announced on August 20 by King County Executive Dow Constantine.

    The new program dedicates $41.4 million for emergency housing aid and is expected to assist 7,700 to 10,000 households across the region, including:

    • Eviction Prevention – United Way of King County ($5M)
    • Large Residential Property Fund ($17.9M)
    • Individual Household/Small Landlord Fund ($10M)
    • Manufactured Home Park Fund ($2M)

    Click here for more information.

  • COVID-19 Behavioral Health Toolbox for Families

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

    The experience of children, teens, and families during the COVID-19 pandemic can be complicated and challenging. Some families will experience job losses and financial worries about basic necessities, such as housing, food, and insurance. Parents, children, and teens may lose contact with friends and family due to school closures and social distancing measures. They may worry about older adults or other family members who might have a bigger risk of serious

    Washington State's COVID-19 Behavioral Health Group and Behavioral Health Strike team have developed a toolbox that provides tips on how to understand emotional responses to the COVID-19 pandemic.

    The toolbox highlights behaviors and responses for age-specific groups including (1) toddlers/preschool children, (2) school-age children, and (3) teens. Each age-specific section includes information on common emotional responses, helping children heal and grow, and managing feelings and behaviors children may experience.

    The document also provides information on the impacts of disasters on education as well as self-care recommendations for parents and caregivers. Click here to open the COVID-19 Behavioral Health Toolbox.

    The Behavioral Health Strike Team includes seven doctoral-level psychologists, one psychiatrist, and one Board Certified Couple and Family Psychologist.

  • Isolation and Quarantine Assistance through King County

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    King County continues to offer community members a safe place to isolate, quarantine and recover from COVID-19. A new video shows what guests can expect.

    If you’ve been exposed to COVID-19 and are awaiting a test result or tested positive for COVID-19 and need a comfortable place to stay, King County’s isolation and quarantine centers are here for you.

    Having a safe place to isolate or quarantine away from vulnerable family members, group settings or if you don’t have a home, is critical to slowing the spread of COVID-19 and can also make your recovery more comfortable. King County’s Department of Community and Human Services quickly stood up centers throughout the County at the onset of the pandemic for this reason, and in partnership with Public Health—Seattle & King County, continues to operate and care for our community members who need a place to isolate or quarantine.

    Click here for more information about the difference between isolation and quarantine, facilities, and how King County can help. (Also available in Russian, Spanish, Chinese, and other languages.)

    To show guests what you can expect during a stay at one of King County’s isolation and quarantine centers, we took a tour and spoke to the team at our Issaquah site about the experience and care they provide.

    King County’s isolation and quarantine facilities have served more than 700 people so far and stand ready to serve more residents in our community as the pandemic continues. Isolation and quarantine are important and proven public health practices to prevent the spread of disease, and these facilities are doing just that, saving lives.

    Families with children. Individuals. Essential workers. People living in multigenerational households. First responders. Travelers. People experiencing homelessness. If you need a place to isolate or quarantine, we welcome you.

    Call the King County COVID-19 Call Center at (206) 477-3977 to see if isolation and quarantine services are right for you.

    Visit kingcounty.gov/community-human-services/COVID for more information.

    Originally published on August 10, 2020 in Public Health Insider.

Page last updated: 03 September 2021, 16:26