Summary for November 20, 2020

  • In this section we are providing a summary of the current changes in the Situation Report on Tuesdays & Fridays. For a PDF of the full Situation Report click on the link to the right. To receive these updates via email, sign up for alerts here or view email version here. See archived items in the PDF section to the right on this Situation Report page.

Current Virus Statistics:

Vashon Island COVID-19 Case Count as of 11/20/20: 

  • 2,690 Total persons tested, 57 persons tested since last Situation Report on Tuesday
  • 42 confirmed positive COVID-19 cases, 4 new cases since last Situation Report on Tuesday
  • Date of last positive test: November 20  
  • 1 person had been hospitalized. Date of last hospitalization: April 10
  • 0 Vashon deaths

King County COVID-19 Case Count as of 11/20/20: 

  • 37,435 confirmed positive cases, 2,226 new since last Situation Report on Tuesday
  • 835 deaths, 6 new since last Situation Report on Tuesday 

Washington State COVID-19 Case Count as of 11/19/20:

  • 139,543 confirmed positive cases, 8,011 new since last Situation Report on Tuesday
  • 2,619 deaths, 71 new since last Situation Report on Tuesday

NOTE: Federal law prohibits Public Health - Seattle & King County from releasing the names of patients (HIPAA Act). For consistency of day-to-day data reporting for Vashon, the EOC uses only the Zip code data from the Public Health – Seattle & King County (PHSKC) dashboard.

Local COVID Activity:

Vashon's positivity rate continues at around 2% over the last two weeks, less than one-third the rate being reported over the last two weeks in mainland King County. That means 2% of all Vashon residents being tested at all on- and off-island locations are coming back positive for COVID-19. Over the last six weeks, Vashon has recorded 15 positive tests. With thousands of people commuting off island daily, it's important to understand that many islanders are being exposed to the disease as they go about their business off island and then come home, potentially carrying COVID-19. 

Vashon restaurant closed today and will stay closed tomorrow, pending some just-in-case COVID-19 tests that are being expedited by the Vashon Medical Reserve Corps.  O Sole Mio and Cafe pizza restaurant and Cafe Vino Olio coffee shop owners elected to close as a special precaution because an employee had a secondary exposure to someone who tested positive, which isnot normally considered a close contact. The closure exceeds normal practice, but the owners took the step pending some precautionary testing with results expected back over the weekend. 

The Sugar Shack restaurant closed today due to a COVID-19 exposure and will remain closed all next week until a planned reopening on November 30th. Deep cleaning is underway. An employee who worked a few lunch shifts last week and Monday of this week has tested positive for COVID-19. The affected employee did not handle food and was asymptomatic, but got tested as a precaution based on a possible exposure. All employees have been tested and the restaurant awaits results of those tests. The location has followed COVID-19 safety protocols since the pandemic began, including masking employees, good ventilation, and sanitizing credit card equipment after every use.  

Vashon Island School District notified the community this morning that there has been a positive COVID-19 case on the construction site for the new District maintenance building. A contractor for the District is isolating at home and any close contacts have been asked to get tested and to quarantine.  

Health Tips:

With the extreme spike in of COVID-19 cases, a seasonal flu vaccination takes on significant importance. COVID and the flu have similar symptoms, making it difficult to know which you have without COVID testing. The flu is known to suppress your immune system, making it easier to contract COVID. An outbreak of the flu could cause strain on an already overloaded hospital system, so flu shots have both personal and societal benefits. Our best estimate is that about 3,600 Vashonites have received flu shots through Vashon Pharmacy, the big drive-through clinic event last month, or at the two local clinics. Other residents have likely been vaccinated off-island.  

Islanders who still need to get their flu vaccination have a way to find out where they can get one. The Medical Reserve Corps has compiled a directory of island providers who will provide vaccinations, including hours, cost, insurance coverage, and appointment info. Visit the Vashon Flu Vaccine Provider Directory in English or Spanish at https://vashonbeprepared.org/fluvaccine.

Flu vaccinations are available for uninsured Vashon residents. Arrangements have been made for VashonBePrepared to cover the cost of vaccinations for residents without insurance, or whose insurance is not accepted at Vashon Pharmacy. This is possible thanks to two generous donors as well as a decision by Vashon Pharmacy to provide the vaccinations at their cost.  For more information on vaccination providers, go to our English/Spanish Flu Vaccine Provider Directory at:  https://vashonbeprepared.org/fluvaccine

New Developments since Last Report:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends against Thanksgiving travel.  As COVID cases explode across the nation, the CDC on Thursday recommended against traveling or gathering for the holiday, urging Americans to consider celebrating in their own households instead. “At the individual household level, what’s at stake is basically the increased chance of one of your loved ones becoming sick and then being hospitalized and dying,” said Henry Walke, the CDC’s COVID-19 incident manager. For holiday pandemic tips, visit https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/holidays/thanksgiving.html 

Thanks to a local initiative, Vashon Island now has available a zero-risk antidote for a particular type of drug overdose. It's an easy to use nasal spray called Naloxone and it helps answer an increasing problem in King County and on Vashon. “The pandemic has made the problem much worse," according to Jinna Risdal, leader of the Community Care Team unit of the Vashon Medical Reserve Corps. "The last eight months have been very hard for many people, really making an already bad problem much worse." Naloxone (brand name Narcan) can immediately revive someone who has taken an overdose of opioid pills or powders, including other types of pills or powders that have been laced with fentanyl. To be effective, the antidote must be available right when it's needed -- in the right place and the right time. The new Vashon nonprofit Project Narcan Vashon will answer questions or respond to Naloxone requests any time of day or night at (877) 463-7685. All requests are strictly confidential. The remedy is also available at Vashon Pharmacy or Seattle Needle Exchange. More distribution will be available soon. You can get an update at the website:  https://projectnarcanvasho.wixsite.com/pnvsaveslives 

Vashon Community Care Rolls Back: Vashon Community Care residents had a brief respite from strict COVID-19 safety restrictions, but the facility has now responded to the Governor’s orders to tighten up. VCC has rolled back to Phase 1 COVID-19 control. Executive Director Wendy Kleppe said in a note to VCC families that she was announcing the roll back “with a very heavy heart.” She said: “While it feels very much like a yo-yo, we are keeping our smiles on and staying strong.” Phase 1 guidelines mean residents may still have outdoor visits with two people from the same household for an hour per day. But residents will not be able to have visitors inside the building, with some very narrow exceptions, and residents will not be able to mingle in common spaces. Meals will be taken in rooms instead of the dining area for everyone’s safety. There are more details in the notification sent to VCC families. 

Vashon Center for the Arts (VCA)plans to keep their retail gallery open to help artists sell their works. A VCA announcement committed to continued stringent safety measures. New State restrictions call for no more than 25% capacity, but VCA will reduce further to 5% (no more than 25 visitors), and will continue to require mask wearing, hand sanitizing, social distancing, and require guests to register so guests can be properly traced if the need arises. All visitors will be limited to no more than 30 minutes to view and/or purchase art.

Department of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF) is providing direct support grants to licensed child care providers for stabilization, to assist with reopening and staying open, to offset increased costs associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, and to incentivize providers to serve school-age children. The goal of the grants is to help ensure a stable, functional and flexible child care system that supports providers and families during COVID-19. Learn more at https://www.dcyf.wa.gov/coronavirus-covid-19/early-learning/covid19-grant 

New round of financial assistance coming soon. Governor Inslee and the State Department of Commerce announced expanded economic support for small businesses and renter, in the form of loan and grant program totaling $135 million – more than double the previously announced programs. The programs will include $70M in grants for business support. Priority will go to hard hit business sectors including small businesses, restaurants and fitness centers, while another $30M program will provide recovery loans to businesses. A residential rental assistance program will have $20M in funding for rent payments that will help both tenants and landlords. A further, $15M will be allocated to utility assistance for those struggling to pay utility bills. The State Department of Commerce will have information about eligibility and maximum grant/loan amounts on its website within about a week.

Eviction moratorium has been extended through Dec. 31.  The statewide moratorium on evictions requires tenants to be responsible for rent and past-due rent, but late fees may not be assessed. The proclamation's requirements are detailed at  https://www.governor.wa.gov/sites/default/files/proclamations/20-19.3%20Coronavirus%20Evictions%20%28tmp%29.pdf

Gov. Inslee announces cap on third-party delivery fees to help restaurants. The proclamation caps food delivery fees at 15% and total fees at 18% of the purchase price of an order, to help more diners patronize restaurants. Third-party delivery platforms have seen increased usage as fewer people are dining indoors this year due to health restrictions and concerns over contracting COVID-19.  https://www.governor.wa.gov/sites/default/files/proclamations/proc_20-76.pdf

The Washington Exposure Notifications phone app will be made available statewide on November 30th. The phone app, currently in pilot testing, provides an easy, automated way to find out if you might have been close to another person who tested positive for COVID-19 for a sustained period of time, and connects you with the resources you need if you are exposed. Using WA Exposure Notifications is entirely your choice and you can turn the system off or deactivate the app at any time. The stated promises that WA Exposure Notifications will never collect, track, or store your location, GPS information, or personal information. Visit: https://wanotify.uw.edu/index.html

The Seattle Office of Emergency Management has a new YouTube channel offering free online training videos. The channel includes a variety of videos to improve personal disaster skills and training. The short videos can be particularly useful to Vashonites, due to our remoteness and limited services. Some of the most recent training videos includes the skills to stop the bleeding. Visit  https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCTKDB2o9nET_Q97nKPH78Fw

The King County Water Taxis to West Seattle and Vashon Island will not operate on Thursday, November 26 or Friday, November 27 for Thanksgiving. Both routes return to full commuter service on Monday, November 30. For the water taxi's sailing schedule, please visit the Water Taxi homepage at https://kingcounty.gov/depts/transportation/metro/travel-options/water-taxi.aspx 

As reported positive COVID cases in King County continue to skyrocket, concerns have also focused on availability of hospital beds.  In the current 14-day average, the percent of positive cases that required hospitalization have increased from 3% to 7.9%. This, along with the increase in positive tests could quickly fill open hospital beds. A couple of hospitals report they have already started to reduce elective procedures and surgeries in anticipation of a hospital surge. While current ICU capacity across the county remains at approx. 23%, it is normal for the hospitalization numbers to lag behind testing numbers by a week or two. https://www.kingcounty.gov/depts/health/covid-19/data/daily-summary.aspx  

CDC continues to watch for links between COVID-19 and animals. Based on the limited information available to date, the risk of animals spreading COVID-19 to people is considered to be low. COVID spreads mainly from person to person through respiratory droplets from coughing, sneezing, and talking. At this time, there is no evidence that animals play a significant role in spreading the virus. Treat pets as you would other human family members – do not let pets interact with people outside the household. If a person inside the household becomes sick, isolate that person from everyone else, including pets. Do not wipe or bathe your pet with chemical disinfectants, alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, or other products, such as hand sanitizer, counter-cleaning wipes, or other industrial or surface cleaners.  https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/animals.html

Progress on Community Support Operations:

Emergency Operations Center (EOC): The EOC activated in response to the pandemic emergency more than 8 months ago (254 days ago). Incident Commander Fire Chief Charlie Krimmert and the VashonBePrepared Board of Directors have set operational priorities on health, food, housing security and economic recovery. Work continues with over a dozen community partners to achieve those goals. The process is underway to reaffirm those priorities for 2021.

Medical Reserve Corps: The MRC COVID-19 testing site set a new record this week, testing 120 people. The team of MRC and CERT volunteers also set a record today by testing 40 people in a single day. For context, there were long periods during the initial activation when 40 tests would have been a big week but today that number will be completed in one day. The weekly testing volume has more than doubled from an average of 55 tests per week just a month ago.

EOC/Situational Awareness: The Situational Awareness Section and Medical Reserve Corps have been closely watching the spike in cases on the mainland. Even though the positive test statistics on Vashon remain low compared to King and Pierce counties, about one-third of the island's population take ferry round trips each day to work, shop, attend school, and go to medical appointments. That means the "moat" around the island does not protect island residents from COVID-19 and the spike of mainland cases continues rising to alarming levels. The seven-day running average of new daily cases is up to well over 500, roughly double the number seen a few weeks ago.

Vaccination Planning: A team of representatives from the EOC and the MRC have been gathering information on potential COVID-19 vaccine capability on Vashon, when the COVID vaccine becomes available. Although it will be some time before the vaccine is widely available to the public, Vashon Pharmacy and Vashon Natural Medicine report that they are on the list to receive quantities. Nationally, vaccine developments have dominated the news media but both the Pharmacy and the VNM clinic emphasized that the initial vaccine availability will be prioritized for those who most need it, such as hospital workers and residents of care facilities. So, even though quantities have been ordered it is not yet clear when supplies would be available on the island. The Vashon MRC is not planning to dispense vaccinations but will be available to support the work with logistics and public information communications.

Sustaining the Arts: Vashon EOC and MRC have completed a consultation project with Vashon Center for the Arts. We collaborated with VCA on their safety procedures for keeping their retail gallery space open safely, taking into account the new capacity controls ordered by the Governor and other measures such as a step-by-step procedure for customers to be safe as they enter the space.

Items from Previous Situation Reports:

PDF Archive of items from September here

Housing Security:

  • St. Vincent de Paul Society on Vashon (SVdP) offers assistance to all in need, regardless of creed, race, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation or citizenship. Since the start of the pandemic, they have provided nearly $50,000 of rent, utility and food assistance to 37 island households, including 56 children. All are individuals or families whose livelihood has been adversely affected by COVID-19. For rental assistance, SVdP has coordinated with Interfaith Council for Prevention of Homelessness (IFCH). In addition to rental assistance, SVdP has been helping islanders throughout the pandemic with other types of support, including for utilities as well as store vouchers for folks to purchase non-food necessities such as diapers and toothpaste. SVdP is among the social service groups this year that received support from the Vashon COVID Relief Fund. If you or a neighbor you know needs help with rent, utilities, food, or other basic needs, leave a message in English or Spanish on the St. Vincent de Paul help hotline at 206-450-7577. 
  • The King County Library System provides a service that helps point King County residents to the financial assistance programs they need—such as business loans, unemployment claims, and rent assistance. Residents looking for guidance may visit the website to complete an online form detailing their small business and/or personal financial needs. Visit https://kcls.org/find-financial-assistance/ or call 800-462-9600 for assistance.
  • Home Base, the United Way Rent Relief program, offers assistance for those needing help paying rent due to the COVID-19 virus, for information in English visit:  https://www.uwkc.org/renthelp/ or for Spanish: https://www.uwkc.org/renthelp-spanish/
  • The Washington State Department of Commerce’s Eviction Rent Assistance Program (ERAP) is distributing approximately $100 million in state Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding through its existing network of homeless services grantees and organizations serving homeless youth to operate the rental assistance program.  The program has been extended until Dec. 31. The program will focus on preventing evictions by paying up to three months of past due, current and future rent to landlords for eligible participants. https://www.commerce.wa.gov/serving-communities/homelessness/   
  • Eviction Rent Assistance Program (ERAP) for Vashon residents is administered by King County Department of Community and Human Services.  They have recently created $41 million in funding for a new rent assistance and eviction prevention program.  Visit https://kingcounty.gov/depts/community-human-services/COVID/eviction-prevention-rent-assistance.aspx  
  • Gov. Jay Inslee has extended and expanded the moratorium on evictions and imposed a new freeze on increases of residential rents.  The temporary statewide ban on evictions has been extended through October 15.  The order includes a ban on residential and commercial rent increases during the public-health emergency.  https://www.governor.wa.gov/sites/default/files/proclamations/20-19.3%20Coronavirus%20Evictions%20%28tmp%29.pdf 

Food Security:

  • The Vashon Maury Community Food Bank has been nourishing our community for over forty years. The Food Bank’s mission is to ensure that no one on Vashon goes hungry, so the Food Bank is available for anyone who needs food.  In 2019, before the pandemic, one in seven households on Vashon (about 14%) depended on the Food Bank to get by.  As of last week, that number has risen to about 20% of Vashon households have shopped at the Food Bank. Due to the pandemic, in-person shopping was replaced by COVID-safe drive-up ordering or home delivery. Last week, 148 households received food delivery by Food Bank volunteers, while 111 households went to the Food Bank to place their grocery orders at Sunrise Ridge.  Customers can pick up groceries at Sunrise Ridge on Wednesdays between 10am and 2pm, or between 4pm and 7pm. If they prefer, they can request home delivery on Thursdays, by calling (206) 463-6332 or emailing admin@vashonfoodbank.org.
  • Vashon Food Bank will be closed for the week of September 21, to provide staff and volunteers a reprieve and to prepare for the impending seasonal shift.  Due to the staff reprieve, grocery pickup, on 9/25, and home delivery, on 9/26, will be cancelled.   The Food Bank is offering customers extra food in the weeks before the closure and there will be extra boxes of non-perishable emergency food at select locations across the island.  They are also offering folks information about food and groceries that are available through partner programs.  Please, call the office at 206-463-6332 or email admin@vashonfoodbank.org with questions or concerns.
  • Meals on Wheels offers relief to older adults and caregivers by delivering reliable, nutritious meals on a weekly basis. For many older adults, circumstances can make shopping or preparing food difficult and that may have been exacerbated by the pandemic.  The Meals on Wheels program serves King County residents aged 60 or more, who have difficulty shopping or cooking. For those under 60, a private pay option is available at the cost of $7 per meal. On Vashon, Meals on Wheels currently delivers an average of 100 meals per week to about 20 clients.  You can order 7 to 14 meals per week. Meals are delivered frozen once per week and packaged in trays that are ready to heat in a microwave or conventional oven.  Many meal options are available including vegetarian, vegan, low-sodium, kosher, and halal-certified. Vashon folks who want to apply and who speak English should call the Vashon Senior Center at 406-463-5173. The local Meals on Wheels representative will call them back and fill out their application online while talking with the client on the phone. Non-English speakers should call Sound Generations at (206) 448-5767 or 1-888-308-6325 or email them at mealsonwheels@soundgenerations.org.  For more information visit: https://soundgenerations.org/our-programs/food-security/meals-on-wheels/
  • Since March 11, the Senior Center has been delivering hot, nutritious lunches to seniors three days a week, totaling almost 4000 meals.  This fall the meal delivery program will continue.  Regardless of household income the program delivers lunch to anyone age 55 and older who requests it.  Just as with their on-site meals pre-COVID, the Senior Center asks for a donation of $5.00 per lunch to help cover actual cost of $10.38 per meal, but no one will be turned away due to inability to pay.  The delivery program has a secondary benefit of helping with seniors’ feeling of isolation that can have a negative impact on a person’s mental well-being and can lead to depression.  You can sign up for lunches, via phone at (206) 463-5173, by email to lunch@vashoncenter.org, or by using a form at the website https://www.vashoncenter.org/lunch-delivery.
  • Food Access Partnership (FAP), a part of Vashon Island Growers’ Association, provides a channel for island farmers to help feed island residents. FAP provides two programs. The original of the two programs, Farm Bucks, provides scrips (like vouchers) that can be used for shopping at participating island farm stands.  Farm Bucks require shoppers to find a farmer source, and also to affiliate with a social service agency such as VYFS or the Food Bank.  A new program provides a more convenient way for folks in need of fresh local food to shop at participating farm stands. The new Farmstand Credit program launched on August 30th. It operates on the honor system and you can opt in right at the farm stand.  To use the Farmstand Credit program find the FAP Credit clipboard at one of the seven participating farm stands.  Choose the foods you need, then record the foods on the Farmstand Credit sheet. FAP will pay the farmers for the foods that are recorded on the Farmstand Credit sheet.   For more information or participating partners, email foodaccesspartnership@vigavashon.org or visit: https://foodaccesspartnership.vigavashon.org/
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced it has extended summer meals program so operators may continue serving free meals to all children into the fall months and through December 31st to help with the response to the COVID-19 pandemic. https://www.usda.gov/media/press-releases/2020/08/31/usda-extends-free-meals-kids-through-december-31-2020
  • Vashon Island School District food service will offer breakfast and lunch every school day for all VISD students, even during this pandemic remote learning period.  Island-wide meal delivery service begins tomorrow September 1st and meals can also be picked up at High School for all VISD students, between 8 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. on scheduled school days.  Delivery locations, pricing for meals and applications for free meals can be found at https://www.vashonsd.org/Page/2516
  • The Washington State Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) announced a new emergency program for ALL children in grades K-12 in Washington who receive free or reduced-price school meals.  The benefit allows up to a maximum of $399 of P-EBT for families to buy groceries while schools are on pandemic remote learning.  The program will not affect immigration status. The deadline is September 11th.   Apply at https://www.washingtonconnection.org/home/
  • Public Health – Seattle & King County has released a new study on the county’s food needs.  The study found about 9% of adults in King, Pierce, and Snohomish counties combined reported in June 2020 that their households did not have enough food, compared to about 5% experiencing this before March.  Enrollment in basic food assistance program increased by 18% among King County households from January to June 2020.  The report noted that younger adults (ages 18-44), low-income adults (<$25,000/year), adults with less than a high school education, and adults who had never been married were more likely to lack sufficient food.  The study did not release information by detailed race/ethnicity information and so American Indian/Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander, people of multiple races, and people identifying with another race are reported together and are unable to be disaggregated.  This group was the most likely to not have enough food (31%), followed by Black and Hispanic/Latinx respondents (both 13%).  Full report at: https://www.kingcounty.gov/depts/health/covid-19/data/impacts/~/media/depts/health/communicable-diseases/documents/C19/food-insecurity-brief-report-august-2020.ashx

Previous Developments:

  • November:

    • This morning Governor Jay Inslee announced rollbacks that will severely effect of our social, economic and cultural life in Washington.  The rollbacks are needed to reverse the trends of COVID spread before our hospitals and medical staff are overwhelmed.  Inslee said our statewide cases have “doubled in the last two weeks” and “inaction is not an option”, and that this virus wave is ”more dangerous than the March wave”.  The Governor continued “There is light at the end of this tunnel. We will continue to fight, adapt and persevere. It may be months before we’re totally in the clear, but medical advances are putting us closer to the goal of restoring all activities eventually. For now, we have to keep everyone’s interests in mind and take steps that protect all Washingtonians.”  

      All rollbacks are effective midnight Monday, November 16th, and will remain in place until December 14th.  The modified restrictions of restaurants, however, will take effect Wednesday, November 18 at 12:01 am.  The announced rollbacks by Gov. Inslee include: 

      • Restaurants and bars must shutdown indoor service and limit outdoor service to parties of five or less.  To-go service is permitted following current guidelines.
      • Indoor gatherings with people outside your household will be prohibited unless participants have followed one of two protocols.  They may quarantine for fourteen (14) days prior to the gathering or they may choose to quarantine for seven (7) days prior and receive a negative COVID-19 test within two days of the planned gathering.
      • Outdoor social gatherings should be limited to no more than five people from outside your household
      • Religious services may continue, but indoor attendance must be limited to 25% of capacity, or 200 people, whatever is less.  Choirs, bands or ensembles are prohibited from performing. 
      • Wedding and funeral ceremonies will be limited to 30 people. Receptions of all sizes are prohibited at the ceremonies.
      • Retail stores, including grocery and convenience stores must limit occupancy to 25% and must close food court seating.
      • Long-term care facilities can accept visitors only in outdoor settings, with limited exceptions for end-of-life care and essential support personnel.
      • Movie theaters and museums are to close for indoor service.
      • Indoor gyms and fitness centers must shutdown. 
      • Personal services, such as barber shops and salons, are limited to 25% capacity

      Offices are required to mandate employees work from home, if possible, and must limit occupancy to 25% if they remain open for staff.  They must be closed to the public.

      • Personal services, such as barber shops and salons, are limited to 25% capacity.
      • Real estate open houses are prohibited. 
      • Youth and adult sports are limited to outdoor only intra-team practices and athletes must wear masks.
      • Schools and childcare facilities may continue under current restrictions and are exempt from the new restrictions.
      • Professional and college sports following stringent safety COVID protocols can continue.

        Visit: https://medium.com/wagovernor/inslee-announces-statewide-restrictions-for-four-weeks-c0b7da87d34e    (11/15/20)

      Gov. Inslee is establishing a $50 million fund for grants to help small businesses with the impacts of the rollbacks.  Full details will be available in the next couple days.  (11/15/20)

      COVID-19 cases continue to soar in King County.  In the past four days of reporting, the daily 7-day average in King County has increased over 16% (422 vs 362).  Pierce County is seeing a similar outbreak rate of increase, reporting an average 149 daily cases over a 14-day period.  Hospitalizations and deaths lag the rise in positive cases, but are showing increases over the past couple weeks.  Most of the new cases in King County are in the 20 to 29 year-old age range followed by 30 to 39 year-olds.  Transmission sources are largely from non-household family and friends, where patients felt it was safe to relax their precautions.  Vashon case numbers are still low compared to the mainland, but have increased over the past six weeks.  But that does not mean we can relax, because the Ferry is not a disease proof boundary – quite the opposite.  Although ferry traffic is down from a year ago, it’s not down by much. Washington State Ferries statistics show that 3,300 people per day make round trips on our ferries in order to go to work, school, medical appointments and shopping. That shows transmission from mainland hotspots is very possible. https://www.kingcounty.gov/depts/health/covid-19/data.aspx   (11/13/20)

      King County hospitals are on a trend to run out of ICU and Acute Beds.  King County hospitals are listed with a rating of ‘Caution’ by the Healthcare Emergency Coordination Center in the latest weekly report. Across the US, hospitals do not have adequate bed space, ventilators, PPE, and other critical supplies. Field hospitals have been established in some cities —and humanitarian hospital ships deployed—because even large urban hospitals in some locations are not able to handle the patient surge. Notably, the US CDC ensemble model forecasts that weekly mortality could reach more than 8,600 deaths by the first week of December, which would equate to approximately 1,230 daily deaths (50% prediction range: 1,052 to 1,536 deaths per day).  (11/13/20)

      COVID-19 is spreading rapidly across Washington. The best estimates of the reproductive number (how many new people each COVID-19 patient will infect) are 1.29 in western Washington and 1.36 in eastern Washington as of October 30.  As of November 11th, the King County reproductive number was at 1.2. The goal is a number well below one, which would mean COVID-19 transmission is declining.  “I am extremely concerned about what seems to be an accelerating trend in the spread of COVID-19.  Immediate action is needed from all of us to avoid new restrictions and prevent our hospitals from becoming overwhelmed.” said State Health Officer Dr. Kathy Lofy. “This situation is extraordinarily urgent, and we’re running out of time to change direction. We need everyone in Washington State to take action now to stop the spread of COVID-19.”  PHSKC recommends you wear a mask around people you don’t live with (even close friends and family). Stay home as much as possible, limit the number, size and frequency of gatherings, and only attend gatherings that are essential. Wash your hands frequently, get your flu shot, and stay home if you’re sick. People who want to visit family for Thanksgiving should limit themselves to only the most essential activities now, and essentially quarantine for two weeks before even a small outdoor gathering.  For full report see: https://covid.idmod.org/data/WA_Situation_Report_20_COVID-19_transmission_across_Washington_State.pdf   (11/13/20)

      The Washington Post reports the United States again shattered pandemic records, reporting more than 153,000 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, as some 66,000 people were hospitalized nationwide. It was the seventh time in nine days that reported U.S. infections reached new heights. The alarming increases in nearly every state are primarily the result of small social gatherings that take place behind closed doors, experts say, including dinner parties, game nights, sleepovers and carpools.  https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2020/national/coronavirus-us-cases-deaths/?itid=lk_inline_manual_3    (11/13/20)

      Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a statement that using masks does protect wearers.  This is a step beyond its previous declaration that wearing masks would only protect others.  CDC encourages Americans to wear masks, and advises that mask use could prevent an infected person from spreading the virus to others. “The main protection individuals gain from masking occurs when others in their communities also wear face coverings,” the CDC said.  The new document listed several studies that “have confirmed the benefit of universal masking.”  https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/more/masking-science-sars-cov2.html   (11/13/20)

      Researchers at Georgia Tech have built a COVID-19 Risk Assessment Planning Tool. The tool is designed to help policymakers, event planners and individuals easily grasp the risks associated with gatherings of different sizes throughout the United States and, increasingly, across the world.  The risk level is the estimated chance (0-100%) that at least 1 COVID-19 positive individual will be present at an event in a county, given the size of the event.  Visit https://covid19risk.biosci.gatech.edu/    (11/13/20)

      Public Health – Seattle & King County issued a statement on this week’s announcement about the Pfizer vaccine candidate. PHSKC said it’s hopeful that a safe and effective vaccine against COVID-19 vaccine will be available before the end of the year but added that it’s important to remember no vaccine is approved for use in the United States yet. Many vaccine candidates are in clinical trials and must still apply for an Emergency Use Authorization from the Food and Drug Administration.  We won’t know many details about a vaccine until that happens.   PHSKC said it wants to give residents the highest confidence that they are getting clear and accurate information about COVID-19 vaccines. Vaccines are held to very high safety standards, and the COVID-19 vaccine will be no different.  In addition to the safety studies done before its emergency use authorization, any approved vaccine will continue to be monitored for safety concerns. https://www.doh.wa.gov/Newsroom/Articles/ID/2461   (11/13/20)

      Gov. Jay Inslee issues travel advisory for Washington.  The Governor joined the Governors of California and Oregon by recommending a 14-day quarantine for interstate and international travel.  It strongly asks residents to stay close to home and urges visitors entering the state or returning home from travel outside their home state to self-quarantine to slow the spread of the virus.  As hospitals across the West are stretched to capacity, we must take steps to ensure travelers are not bringing this disease home with them,” said Oregon Gov. Brown. “If you do not need to travel, you shouldn’t. This will be hard, especially with Thanksgiving around the corner. But the best way to keep your family safe is to stay close to home.”   https://www.governor.wa.gov/news-media/inslee-issues-travel-advisory-washington    (11/13/20)

      Nashi Orchards has temporarily closed their tasting room and orchard to the public until further notice.  The orchard and cider production facility on Wax Orchard Road is open by appointment only for to-go purchases. Text Jim at 206-734-5551.  Or visit https://www.nashiorchards.com/    (11/13/20)

      Governor Jay Inslee has extended 27 proclamations relating to COVID-19 ranging from requirements for long term care facilities to waivers for late penalties and fees.  Some of these proclamations impact the Employment Security Department by waiving and suspending statutes relating to job search requirements to collect unemployment insurance and the waiver of the one-week waiting period.  All proclamations have been extended until December 7th.   For the full list, visit https://www.governor.wa.gov/news-media/inslee-extends-27-proclamations-relating-covid-19   (11/13/20)

      New study in journal PLOS found coronavirus to be stable on human skin for up to 14 days at 4 Celsius, compared to at least 96 hours at 22 Celsius under laboratory conditions. The virus also exhibited greater stability on paper currency and clothing at colder temperatures. Refrigerated conditions also enhance stability of coronavirus across all tested surfaces. The study demonstrates the continued need for strict public health measures to combat the ongoing pandemic particularly during cold weather months.   https://journals.plos.org/plosntds/article?id=10.1371/journal.pntd.0008831   (11/13/20)

      Public Health – Seattle & King County is investigating a new confirmed measles case in a child, with possible exposures at Sea-Tac Airport.  Measles is a highly contagious and potentially severe disease that causes fever, rash, cough, and red, watery eyes.  It mainly spreads through the air after a person with measles coughs or sneezes.  If you were at Sea-Tac Airport, North Satellite (Gate N-11) to Baggage Claim (Carousel 13) on Thursday Nov. 5th, between 10:00 p.m. – 12:30 a.m., contact your healthcare provider.  https://www.kingcounty.gov/depts/health/news/2020/November/11-measles.aspx   (11/13/20)

      Vashon Youth & Family Services (VYFS) is partnering with Granny's Attic to distribute Community Wellness Vouchers.  As part of the VYFS Case Management program, they plan to distribute thousands of dollars in vouchers to low-income island residents or those facing extraordinary medical costs.  Vouchers are redeemable for medical care at a variety of island medical providers, the Vashon Pharmacy, and a variety of other medical and wellness-related expenses. Ferry travel vouchers are also available to cover transportation to off-Island medical appointments.  To obtain vouchers, you must first complete an intake with Wellness Voucher Coordinator Deborah Rieschl, call (206) 463-5511 to make an intake appointment. For more information visit https://vyfs.org/vouchers.    (11/13/20)

      Department of Employment Security reports a leveling off in Vashon unemployment claims.  As of the week of October 26th, Vashon unemployment claims show a slight increase to 414 from 409 reported two weeks prior. To date the Chamber of Commerce Ask the Expert program has completed 946 telephone consultations.  If you need help filing for unemployment, the Chamber’s Ask the Expert person will consult with you on how to proceed.  Email deborah@vashonbeprepared.orgor call (206) 200-3236.   (11/13/20)

      King County has seen the highest COVID-19 case counts experienced to date.  Dr. Jeff Duchin, Health Officer for Public Health – Seattle & King County said “We can choose our path forward or we can let the virus choose it for us. Ignoring COVID-19 prevention is a recipe for unnecessary suffering.  We need to do things safer, smaller, and smarter. We need to come together to support one another and protect each other in this difficult time. We still have time to change course, but we must act now”.  A video of Dr. Duchin’s talk is at https://publichealthinsider.com/2020/11/09/video-november-6-2020-update-on-covid-19-in-king-county-with-dr-jeff-duchin/    (11/10/20)

      On Vashon, seven new cases have been confirmed in the past 30 days, bringing the total positives to 34.  “People think we are safer because we live on an island and are somehow isolated from the mainland infection. But that's just not true. We all know that hundreds of people are on the ferry every day for work, school, shopping and to visit friends and family.” said, Dr. Zach Miller, infectious disease expert, Vashon Medical Reserve Corps.  Dr. Miller continued “I worry very much about what we will be facing as the weather gets colder and more people are inside, especially with the holiday seasons coming. People should think long and hard about gatherings of any kind. Already, we know that most of our Vashon cases are from off-island social events such as family gatherings”.    (11/10/20)

      Vashon Medical Reserve Corps has made an initial assessment of the Pfizer announcement this week of its preliminary vaccine trial result. MRC describes the announcement as welcome news, but points out that the vaccine is still a long way off for general distribution, in particular for distribution on Vashon. "As exciting as this development may be, everyone needs to keep in mind that right now, today, the danger of infection in our region is worse than it has been since the pandemic started, with new case count records being set almost daily," according to Dr. Jim Bristow. "The focus right now needs to be on keeping yourself, your family and your friends safe by practicing all the COVID-19 safety measures we have been learning about since March. Also, gatherings with people outside your household are dangerous, even though everyone really wants to get together for holidays." Dr. Ina Oppliger points out several factors that will be major challenges for anyone trying to administer the Pfizer vaccine on Vashon. She reminds everyone that the state Department of Health plan is to distribute the limited amount of vaccine for prioritized categories such as health care workers, first responders and individuals at higher risk and it may be many months before the vaccine is generally available to clinics and the pharmacy on Vashon. In addition, the Pfizer vaccine requires a level of cold storage not currently available on the island.   (11/10/20)

      Washington State Coronavirus Response Joint Information Center today stressed the disturbing trend of accelerated COVID cases throughout Washington State.  Dr. John Wiesman, Secretary of Health, Washington State Department of Health called for action now, to flatten the curve and avoid rollbacks of Safe Start reopenings.  Dr. Kathy Lofy, State Health Officer, Washington State Department of Health noted that exponential growth in cases, while testing has been flat, represented a real increase in positive cases.  Increased cases are starting to translate in to hospitalizations and will start to stress these facilities and the medical workers.  To flatten the curve we need to wear face coverings, gather only with household members or limit the size of gatherings with people outside our household, and maintain social distance of 6 or more feet from people outside the household.    (11/10/20)

      Public Health – Seattle & King County has a page of frequently asked questions about COVID symptoms, prevention and testing.  The site also provides information on current health orders and sources for more information.  Visit: https://www.kingcounty.gov/depts/health/covid-19/FAQ.aspx    (11/10/20)

      Vashon Senior Center has capacity to add more people to the list to receive delivered lunches three days per week. The service is available to anyone age 55 or older, and it's free, although a $5/meal donation is welcomed. The organization currently delivers 70 to 75 lunches on each of the three delivery days, about 35% more lunches than this time last year.  The Senior Center also notes that the extended isolation has been hard, resulting in some seniors feeling lonely, depressed, and even afraid.  Meal deliveries give seniors a brief respite from being alone.  If you would like to join the volunteer effort, email Pamela Wickard at coordinator@VashonCenter.org. If you would like to receive meals, call (206) 463-5173.    (11/10/20)

      Suicide Prevention with LEARN, a step-by-step easy to understand suicide prevention technique.  This week, the second part of the LEARN program is step “E”. The “E” in LEARN stands for Empathize and Listen. The short video features high school senior Laila Rhenifel as she shares her experiences about suicide. https://vimeo.com/472822200   For more on suicide prevention or where to get help, visit https://intheforefront.org/learn-saves-lives/    (11/10/20)

      King County COVID numbers continue to rise sharply.  Data from the Public Health – Seattle & King County Dashboard reports the county daily positive cases at 303, based on a 7-day average.  This compares to the week prior where the average was at 213 and has greatly surpassed the July peak of 195. Positive cases are led by the 20-29 age range at 21.5%, followed by the 30-39 age group with 18.6% of the COVID-19 infection cases, meaning more than 40% of all cases are between 20 and 39 years old. These two groups also account for over 12% of the hospitalizations. However, older patients have much more serious trouble with COVID-19 and patients aged 50+ dominate the hospitalization and death statistics.  “Increasing cases over the past two weeks means we are having more contact with one another but not taking more precautions, giving COVID-19 too many opportunities to jump from person to person. There seems to be a misconception that because we are reopening, the risk of COVID-19 has receded. But the truth is that the virus is still widespread in the community and the risk for infection remains serious,” said Dr. Jeff Duchin, Health Officer for Public Health—Seattle & King County.  “We face a long-term challenge from COVID-19 that requires us to fundamentally change the way we interact with one another for the foreseeable future if we are to move forward safely,” said Dr. Duchin.   (11/6/20)

      The Interfaith Council to Prevent Homelessness (IFCH) responds to the needs of those who are either currently experiencing homelessness or are at risk of becoming homeless.  If you need assistance with rent or utilities during this pandemic, call Hilary Emmer at 206-463-7277 or email her at hilonvashon@yahoo.com    (11/6/20)

      The Eviction Rent Assistance Program (ERAP) Grant is part of Washington State’s response to the COVID-19 disaster. The program intends to prevent evictions that would contribute to the spread of the virus by paying past due, current due and future rent.  The ERAP is targeting limited resources to those with the greatest needs while working to distribute funds equitably.  Visit: https://www.commerce.wa.gov/serving-communities/homelessness/ (11/6/20)

      Washington State Department of Health (DOH) released a new report by the Institute for Disease Modeling (IDM) which quantifies how various diagnostic screening scenarios could help mitigate the risk of COVID-19 transmission associated with reopening schools.  The study concluded that transmission in schools is greatly reduced through a combination of school-based countermeasures and hybrid or phased-in scheduling.  The report also reaffirms the importance of reducing community transmission prior to reopening K-12 schools for in-person learning and implementing school-based countermeasures. Full report at:https://covid.idmod.org/data/Testing_the_waters_time_to_go_back_to_school.pdf (11/6/20)

      New study examines COVID-19 in children.  According to data published by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), more than 61,000 pediatric cases of COVID-19 were reported in the US in the last week of October, the highest weekly total to date. Through October 29, more than 850,000 pediatric cases have been reported nationally since the onset of the pandemic, representing 11% of all US cases.  The data continue to indicate that severe illness is relatively rare among children; however, a number of states recently reported deaths in teenagers.  The AAP calls for expanded efforts to evaluate the risk of longer-term health effects due the virus, including physical and mental health issues.  This is particularly important for Black and Hispanic children, who are disproportionately affected by COVID-19. The AAP also notes that the pediatric data likely underestimate the true COVID-19 incidence in children. While many pediatric infections result in mild illness or asymptomatic infection, they can still lead to longer-term health effects or allow transmission of the infection to higher-risk individuals.  https://services.aap.org/en/news-room/news-releases/aap/2020/american-academy-of-pediatrics-reports-highest-one-week-increase-in-child-cases-of-covid-19-since-onset-of-pandemic/ (11/6/20)

      Medical Reserve Corps and VashonBePrepared Community Care Team will be running weekly LEARNmodel stepsto Suicide Prevention.  Look for the videos in local social media postings and in emails. The program will provide weekly information and short videos on the 5-steps of suicide prevention.  The first part, ‘L’ in LEARN stands for Look for Signs, was posted this weekat https://tinyurl.com/L-LookForSigns.  More LEARN tips can be found at https://intheforefront.org/learn-saves-lives/     (11/6/20)

      The Roasterie coffee shop will reopen on Thursday, November 12th, instead of November 9th, as originally planned. All staff who worked at the same time as the employee who tested positive for COVID-19 have also been tested and the tests all came back negative. The extended closing is to be doubly cautious and allow time for staff members involved to be tested a second time as they come off a 14-day quarantine period.  The only exposure for the general public took place on Saturday, October 24th. The Medical Reserve Corps has asked anyone who was served at the barista counter on that day to call the testing site help line. You will be screened for possible testing.  The Medical Reserve Corps number is: (844) 469-4554.  (11/6/20)

      Vashon's Eyeland Optical and the Vashon office of 20/20 Eyecare Centers is scheduled to re-open next Monday, November 9th, after being closed most of the week as a precaution.  No COVID-19 exposure took place here on Vashon but 20/20 Eyecare Centers decided to take extra care and closed four of its six locations because two staff members at two different mainland offices tested positive for COVID-19.  The two cases were determined to be unrelated.  All of their co-workers have been tested and all tests have come back negative.  Once reopened, the Vashon location will continue to maintain its COVID-19 safety protocols, including limited hours, a requirement to call ahead for an appointment, and a pre-entry screen and health check.   (11/6/20)

      As announced earlier this week by Vashon Island School District, a District custodial employee tested positive for COVID-19. The Vashon Medical Reserve Corps has worked closely with the other six members of the staff member's family. All of the family have been tested and all of the tests came back negative. All will remain in voluntary quarantine for the rest of the recommended period of 14 days. One of the family grouping members has a connection with Camp Sealth, including the student computing program for remote learning. That member also has a connection with the Vashon High School football team. The MRC has studied those two connections for potential exposure risk and concluded that there was no actionable exposure and that no further testing will be needed for either situation. However, as a precaution, Camp Sealth and the High School football program both shut down for a few days until the negative tests came back.(11/6/20)

      The south end ferry, M/V Chetzemoka, was removed from service for two hours today, cancelling 5 crossings.  The entire vessel was deep-cleaned because two employees in the vessel’s engine room – which is not accessible to the public – tested positive for COVID-19.  While these employees did not work in any passenger/public areas, all the vessel’s surfaces were sanitized and disinfected.  You can read WSF’s COVID Response Service Plan at https://wsdot.wa.gov/sites/default/files/2020/09/15/WSF-2020COVIDResponseServicePlan.pdf    (11/6/20)

      How to take care of ourselves during stressful times.  When we are anxious and fearful, working some of these things into our lives can be empowering and comforting.  Public Health Seattle & King County recommends you focus on establishing new practices of self-care.  That can support your immune system and overall physical and mental health.  Types of self-care include:

      King County offers assistance through WA Listens, a program that provides nonclinical support to people experiencing elevated stress due to COVID-19. Call (833) 681-0211 to be connected to a live support specialist. The support specialist will listen and connect you to community resources in your area. The program is anonymous, and no identifying information is maintained.  https://www.walistens.org/

      On Vashon the Care of The Spirit Team (COST), an interfaith project sponsored by MRC and VashonBePrepared, offers free and confidential phone support to the Vashon-Maury Island community. The term "spirit" is intended broadly, to embrace the universal mysteries within, between, and beyond us as humans.  COST welcomes callers from all beliefs and religious affiliations, as well as those with none.  The Team respects and is guided by the values, beliefs, experiences and goals of each caller. Islanders might call COST for supportive listening, or perhaps they want help in processing major questions, or decisions made more urgent in the pandemic.  COST members are islanders. They can be reached from 8am to 8pm seven days a week at 206-701-0694, Option #2.  

      The Vashon Community Care Team is organized to help islanders with the challenges of, isolation, self-care, relationships, and financial hardships that have been made more pronounced because of COVID-19. The Community Care Team Help Line providers on both the mental health and spiritual health extensions, provide a caring compassionate listener, comfort and engagement, stabilization (if needed), needs assessment, information on coping practical assistance, and linkage with collaborative services.  All assistance is treated confidentiality to allow safety in discussion.  To learn more or participate, email vashoncct@gmail.com or call the CCT Helpline at (206) 701-0694 (8am – 8pm) and leave a message with your contact information. Someone will call you back.    (11/3/20)

      New Island health care provider starts next week. Vashon Healthcare District has signed an agreement to have Sea Mar Community Health Centers as the new service provider for Vashon’s health center at Sunrise Ridge.  The health center is currently closed for a brief transition to Sea Mar from the previous provider, Neighborcare. The clinic reopening next week on Monday Nov 9.  The clinic hours will be Monday-Friday from 8am to 5 pm.  To learn more about Sea Mar visit https://www.seamar.org.  They also offer telehealth services at https://www.seamar.org/telehealth (11/3/20)

      King County is seeing rapidly increasing daily case counts (226 7-day average) resulting in record high numbers – 13% higher than peak levels in April and July.  Fortunately, thus far in King County, COVID-19 related hospitalizations remain below critical levels. However, health officials are raising alarms over the increasing COVID-19 caseloads we are experiencing.  Dr. Kathy Lofy – State Health Officer and the Chief Science Officer for Washington State: said “Winter weather will challenge us to move gatherings indoors where COVID-19 spreads more easily, so we have to stay vigilant and find safer alternatives.”  Dr. Jeff Duchin – Health Officer, Public Health – Seattle & King County said: “When COVID-19 cases rise too high from too much risk-taking in the community, we lose the ability to track cases & contacts to prevent further spread & identify sources of infection. There’s just too much out there.  Please take steps to stop the spread.”  We all know what we need to do – but we need to recommit and work even harder to make it happen:  Avoid gathering in groups and limit the time when you must gather; wear masks, both outdoors and indoors when you are around anyone outside your household; and keep physically distanced.  Gathering indoors is riskier than outdoors. Ventilation helps, but doubling down by keeping gatherings small, wearing masks and staying at least 6 feet apart is even more important.  For more information visit https://www.kingcounty.gov/depts/health/covid-19/support.aspx     (11/3/20)

      Affordable Care Act (ACA) health insurance enrollment has now opened.  Due to COVID, many people are now in a different financial situation because of unemployment or reduced working hours.  ACA offers low cost health insurance based on income.  Or, you may qualify for the free health insurance through Washington State’s Apple Health.  Open enrollment will remain open through December 15, 2020 for health insurance that becomes effective starting January, 2021.  For information on either program visit https://www.wahealthplanfinder.org      (11/3/20)

      King County will be here on Vashon to help residents sign-up or renew insurance coverage through the Affordable Care Act.  The two in-person sessions are both on Saturdays; November 14th and December 12. This year it will be held at Vashon Youth and Family Services (VYFS) at 20110 Vashon Hwy SW.  No appointment needed, Se Habla Espano! All COVID Precautions will be observed: Masks and temperature checks are required.   (11/3/20)

      Washington Healthplanfinder has opened enrollment for health and dental insurance coverage. New for 2021 is Cascade Care, a group of plans that offer high value with standard benefits. Cascade Care is expanding access, choice, and value for Washingtonians at a time when they need it most. These plans offer deductibles that are on average $1,000 less per year than other plans, and cover more services prior to meeting a deductible, including primary care visits, mental health services, and generic drugs. For more information and enrollment visit www.wahealthplanfinder.org/ or contact customer support at 855-923-4633.  (11/3/20)

      On Vashon, the Brown Agencyoffers free health insurance consultation and assistance as part of the Chamber of Commerce Ask the Expert program. Call (206) 567-4600   (11/3/20)

      Department of Employment Security reports a continued reduction in Vashon unemployment claims.  As of the week of October 12th, Vashon unemployment claims are down to 409 (8.4% of approx. 4,850 working population), from a high in April of 1,200 (24.7% of the working population).  To date the Chamber of Commerce Ask the Expert program has completed 912 telephone consultations.  If you need help filing for unemployment, Ask the Expert person will consult with you on how to proceed.  Email deborah@vashonbeprepared.orgor call (206) 200-3236.   (11/3/20)

      The Interfaith Council to Prevent Homelessness (IFCH) is responding to the needs of those who are either currently experiencing homelessness or are at risk of becoming homeless.  In March they set up a fund to specifically assist those affected due to impacts COVID-19.  Since April they have provided monthly rental assistance for an average of 29 families.  In the current month of November, IFCH has provided rental assistance to 29 families (62% were Latino) and provided utility payments for three families.  IFCH is one of several social service agencies that has been supported by the Vashon COVID Relief Fund operated by VashonBePrepared. If you need assistance or want more information visit www. https://ifchvashon.org/     (11/3/20)

      King County Department of Local Services will hold a free PPE distribution event on Vashon.  The no-contact drive-through event will offer free masks, hand sanitizer and educational materials.  The event will be on Thursday, November 5th from 3 to 6 pm in the Vashon IGA parking lot.   (11/3/20)

      Governor Jay Inslee announced the allocation of $24 million in Coronavirus Relief Funds to purchase approximately 64,000 computing devices for students across the state. These devices will enable students to receive their education in the new COVID-19 remote learning environment. The first shipment of 20,000 devices is expected in the coming weeks.  This is in addition to the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) allocation of $8.8 million in CARES Act funds to buy internet plans for 60,000 families who cannot afford them.  https://medium.com/@WAStateGov/inslee-announces-technology-investment-for-washington-students-and-staff-9a10a05a9a25    (11/3/20)

      LEARN Model Steps reminds us that everyone has a role in suicide prevention, it’s a step-by-step easy to understand suicide prevention technique. The ‘L’ in LEARN stands for Look for Signs.  “....check in on your family and friends...are they particularly isolated, are they withdrawn...showing signs of depression, anxiety...?”  This short video helps with this first step, at https://tinyurl.com/L-LookForSigns (11/3/20)

      Suicide Prevention Lifeline at (800) 273-8255 or chat online. Confidential support is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. Visit: https://intheforefront.org/LEARN/    (11/3/20)

      If you missed VashonBePrepared’s Community Care Team Suicide Prevention Day program -- "Tales from the Edge: Suicide Survivors Share Their Stories", it can now be streamed at https://vimeo.com/vashoncenterforthearts/download/453355602/cdf0eed652   (11/3/20)

      October:
    • Washington’s Department of Labor & Industries notes that virus activity is accelerating dangerously throughout the United States, including Washington. Virus spikes threaten our health, our schools and our economy. Workers and employers can help to halt the fall surge by following five key COVID-19 safety requirements required by law:  https://www.lni.wa.gov/forms-publications/F414-167-000.pdf
      1. Employees must practice social distancing and mask up. 
      2. Employees must wash their hands frequently and thoroughly. 
      3. Workplaces must be routinely sanitized. 
      4. A plan must be written and in place to address worker illness. 
      5. Employees must be educated about COVID-19 and how to work safely.   (10/30/20)
    • Sick workers or those believed to have been exposed should self-quarantine.  If workers show symptoms of COVID-19 or have been in close contact with someone with the virus or its symptoms, they should self-quarantine for 14 days. This may be a difficult conversation to have with a worker reliant on their wages, but they may use paid leave to cover the absence. Employees may use accrued sick leave if asked to quarantine.  Under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), an additional budget of sick leave is available to symptomatic workers. Up to two weeks (80 hours) of paid sick leave is to be provided at their regular rate of pay.  https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/pandemic/ffcra-employee-paid-leave    (10/30/20)
    • Gov. Jay Inslee issues "Stay Safe - Vote Safe" proclamation.  This proclamation temporarily suspends any COVID-related orders that could be interpreted to restrict access to voting centers and student engagement HUBS by persons intending to register to vote, obtain a ballot, receive assistance with a ballot, deposit a ballot or use other voting-related services.  "The right to vote is one of the cornerstones of our democracy," Inslee said.  https://www.governor.wa.gov/sites/default/files/Gov.%20Inslee%20Voting%20Memo%2010.27.2020.pdf(10/30/20)
    • Washington State Department of Health reports COVID-19 activity intensifying across Washington State.  The best estimates of the reproductive number (how many new people each COVID-19 patient will infect) were 1.34 in western Washington and 1.12 in eastern Washington as of October 10. The goal is a number well below one.  “Any spike in COVID-19 cases will jeopardize our progress toward reopening schools, strain our healthcare system and increase risks during holiday gatherings,” said Deputy Secretary of Health for COVID-19 Response Lacy Fehrenbach. “High rates in the community increase the chance that someone at your gathering—even people you know well and trust—could have COVID-19. If we act now, we can get these increases in control in time for the holidays.”  For the full report, visit  https://covid.idmod.org/data/WA_Situation_Report_19_COVID-19_transmission_across_Washington_State.pdf(10/30/20)
    • King County Elections reminds residents to practice social distancing and to wear a face covering that covers their nose and mouth for voter safety.  On Vashon, ballots can be dropped of at the secure Voting Box located at the library. County voting box ballots are picked up daily by King County Elections.  If you choose to visit a Vote Center in person you will be required to wear a mask.  https://www.kingcounty.gov/depts/elections.aspx     (10/30/20)
    • Washington State Department of Health warns health care professionals with Washington licenses: Beware of scammers falsely claiming to represent the Washington State Department of Health – and don’t send money to anyone without being certain of the recipient’s identity.  There have been at least two apparent attempts to defraud Washington providers.  https://www.doh.wa.gov/Newsroom/Articles/ID/2441/(10/30/20)
    • Governor Jay Inslee announced Washington State has joined California’s COVID-19 Scientific Safety Review Workgroup, which will independently review the safety and efficacy of any vaccine approved by the Food and Drug Administration for distribution. Last week, California Governor Gavin Newsom announced the panel made up of nationally acclaimed scientists with expertise in immunization and public health. Oregon and Nevada have also joined the Safety Review Workgroup. See Governor Inslee’s full press conference here. Read Governor Newsom’s press release at https://www.gov.ca.gov/2020/10/27/ .   (10/30/20)
    • Global Entrepreneurship Month will offer free training and support for small businesses.  Nearly 50 online sessions aim to help small businesses start and restart, and aim to bolster a historical trend of new business formation during economic downturns.  Programs are provided by the Washington State Department of Commerce. Visit: http://startup.choosewashingtonstate.com/    (10/30/20)
    • Gov. Jay Inslee issued a directive to the Department of Retirement Systems (DRS) to produce an emergency rule regarding continuity of pension benefits for school district employees continuing to experience work disruptions as a result of remote learning.  The order also directs Employment Security to include DRS' forthcoming emergency rule in their evaluation of eligibility for the Shared Work Program.  https://www.governor.wa.gov/sites/default/files/directive    (10/30/20)
    • Vashon Island School District (VISD) continues to track COVID-19 activity levels in relation to efforts to bring back students in small groups for both learning and extracurricular activities. COVID-19 levels for King County continue to increase, currently at 105 cases per 100,000 over the last 14 days ending on 10/30/2020.  The state school reopening framework requires cases fall below 75 cases per 100K, to begin a slow phase-in of in-person learning.  https://www.doh.wa.gov/Portals/1/Documents/1600/coronavirus/DecisionTree-K12schools.pdf(10/30/20)
    • Vashon Youth and Family Services staff are available to support all families with in-person and distanced academic support and tutoring at the newly opened Family Resource Center.  These services are offered every Thursday 3-5pm and Friday 12-4 pm.  Contact VYFS at 206-463-5511 or info@vyfs.org.  VYFS has a dedicated telephone number and email for Spanish-speaking families to contact them with questions or concerns: 206-348-4488 or apoyo@vyfs.org.   (10/30/20)
    • Vashon Island Coffee Roasterie has closed for one week, one of several precautionary COVID safety steps the business is taking after a staff member tested positive for COVID-19. The safety closure began today and the store plans to reopen next Friday, November 6, assuming follow up testing of staff goes well.  The only public exposure to the employee at the Roasterie took place a week ago, and was limited to Saturday, October 24th.  The Medical Reserve Corps asks anyone who was served at the barista counter last Saturday, October 24th, to call the testing site help line so you can be screened for possible testing.  The Medical Reserve Corps number is: (844) 469-4554.  The number may be busy. If so, leave a message and you will get a return call as soon as possible.  Please keep the line free and only call if you were served at the barista counter last Saturday, October 24th.   (10/30/20)
    • During the closure of the Roasterie, the space will be deep-cleaned, using procedures that go beyond the usual safety guidelines from Washington State Department of Health and Public Health -- Seattle & King County.  All employees who worked at the same time as the employee who tested positive were being tested today and are being asked to quarantine for a full 14 days, a total of nine individuals, or half the total staff.  Minglement Marketplace will remain open but isolated from the Roasterie.  The annual display of pumpkins on the Roasterie front porch will be lit tonight and tomorrow night, the store's traditional celebration for Halloween.  Safe drive-by viewing is encouraged. The previously announced root soup and roll handout will not be happening after all this year.   (10/30/20)
    • Domestic violence patterns during the pandemic have raised concerns in King County.  Unfortunately, the social isolation and stress resulting from the pandemic, combined with reduced access to outside support, may be increasing incidents of family violence.  Public Health – Seattle & King County has a dashboard to track these social impacts at https://www.kingcounty.gov/depts/health/covid-19/data/impacts.aspx/violence.aspx.  For domestic violence support services on Vashon, contact The DOVE Project Advocacy Line: (206) 462-0911 or visit  www.vashondoveproject.org   (10/27/20)
    • A new study by University of Washington's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation suggests that If 95% of Americans wore masks in public, more than 100,000 lives could be saved from COVID-19 between now and February.  The study notes that in September, only about 49% of US residents reported that they "always" wear a mask in public.  If mask-wearing is only 49% through February and states continue to relax social distancing mandates, the COVID-19 death toll across the United States could reach about one million deaths by February 28, according to the study.  An alternate scenario assumed 49% mask wearing but states would shut down if the daily death rate hits a certain point. In that scenario, the number of deaths was cut in half. "When you look at the states and when they implemented a mask mandate and you look at their cases per million and you look at their fatalities per million, they are lower than states that chose to recommend masks but not to mandate," said Dr. Deborah Birx, from the White House coronavirus task force.   http://www.healthdata.org/    (10/27/20)
    • COVID relief grant now open for nonprofits and tribes, with a focus on organizations led by and serving communities of color.  The grant program from Philanthropy NW and WA Chamber of Commerce seeks to address disproportionate pandemic impacts onBlack, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) communities.  Grant applications from eligible 501c3 organizations are due by Nov. 6, 2020.  Find all information and application materials at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/62SK6RK    (10/27/20)
    • The state Department of Social Health Services (DSHS) and the Economic Services Administration (ESA) has published a Reduced Cost Services Guide to help Washington residents that meet certain income levels.  The guide means progress toward achieving a unified goal to reduce the number of individuals and families living in poverty.  Get an electronic copy of the guide at https://www.dshs.wa.gov/sites/default/files/publications/documents/22-1841.pdf    (10/27/20)
    • Vashon’s Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) and Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) have erected a check-in booth and service tents at the COVID test site to continue operations during the winter months.Funding came from VashonBePrepared and generous reductions in costs by Ace Hardware and Island Lumber. The teams believe testing will need to continue well into next year and:“It’s important to get tested early, even if you have only mild viral symptoms”, in order to slow the spread of the disease, said Dr. Jim Bristow of Vashon MRC. For a list of symptoms, or questions about getting tested, call 844-469-4554, or visit https://testing.vashonbeprepared.org/.    (10/27/20)
    • Transitioning the Health Center:  Vashon's health center will be closed for a bit more than a week in November, according to the Vashon Healthcare District.  Neighborcare’s last day to see patients at the clinic is October 30.  The new operator of the health center, Sea Mar Community Health Centers, expects to reopen at Sunrise Ridge on November 9th after a transition period for computer system updates and other logistics tasks. The Healthcare District approved a clinic services agreement with Sea Mar on Oct. 15. Sea Mar has offered to retain all of the clinic's current staff.   (10/23/20)
    • New COVID-19 cases continue to increase in Washington and have passed two milestones.  According to the Washington State and King County dashboards, the state has passed 100,000 persons infected with the virus and King County has exceeded 25,000 COVID cases.  The current increase in infection rate can be attributed to the change in weather, with more activities being indoors, and more social contact with persons living outside your household.  Family disease clusters – where one household member passes the virus to the rest of the household – have been increasing this fall.  That has been the primary transmission scenario on Vashon, were we have had four family clusters – which have accounted for 16 of our 29 cases.   (10/23/20)
    • Vashon’s drive-through flu vaccination clinic drew over 600 people at Vashon High School on Tuesday.  The clinic was arranged by the Vashon Medical Reserve Corps, the Vashon Island School District and Seattle Visiting Nurse Association. If you missed this opportunity, Vashon Pharmacy will be running an outdoor clinic this Saturday, October 24 in the parking area behind the Pharmacy.  VashonBePrepared has arranged to cover the cost at the Pharmacy for anyone who does not have insurance for the shot, thanks to two generous donors. The pharmacy has administered over 2,500 vaccinations so far this year, and will soon receive another 450 doses of the high-dose vaccine recommended for seniors, in addition to its ongoing supply of regular doses. To date, easily more than one-third of the island population has been vaccinated against seasonal flu.  (10/23/20)
    • Vashon Community Care has had to reinstate some of its COVID restrictions due to the increased case rate of King County.  The County’s 14-day average is over the 74 cases per 100K level meaning VCC will limit access and contact of residents with off-campus persons as well as on-campus group activities For example visits are limited to two people, outdoors. The dining room is closed and meals are being delivered to resident rooms..  https://www.vashoncommunitycare.org/2020/10/19/back-to-phase-1-a-memo-to-residents-and-families-from-wendy-kleppe/    (10/23/20)
    • The state Department of Health (DOH) released its Interim COVID-19 Vaccination Plan for distributing COVID-19 vaccines in several phases.  The plan outlines a phased approach for who will have access to vaccines and how they will be administered.  In the first phase, when number of vaccine doses is likely to be limited, high-risk workers in health care, first responders, other essential workers, and adults in long-term care are likely to be prioritized.  DOH has noted that this is just version one of the plan, which will change as more is known about the vaccine and its availability.  https://www.doh.wa.gov/Emergencies/COVID19/vaccine    (10/23/20)
    • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has changed the definition of who is a “close contact” of an infected individual, which greatly expanding the pool of people considered at risk of contracting the coronavirus.  The updated guidance, which health departments rely on to conduct contact tracing, now defines a close contact as someone who was within six feet of an infected individual for a total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period, according to the CDC statement.  The change is likely to have its biggest impact in schools, workplaces and other group settings where people may be in contact with others for long periods of time.  Wearing face coverings in these situations is critical.  https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/php/contact-tracing/contact-tracing-plan/appendix.html#contact(10/23/20)
    • Gov. Jay Inslee has announced updated guidance for religious and faith based organizations as part of Washington's Safe Start phased reopening plan.   The update provides that physical distancing between non-household members must be 6 feet in all directions; and permits brief physical contact among up to five individuals, excluding religious leaders, if the brief contact is a critical component to the organization’s religious service, so long as masks are worn and hands are sanitized immediately before and after the contact.  Visit: https://www.governor.wa.gov/sites/default/files/COVID19%20Phase%201%20to%203%20Religious%20and%20Faith%20Based%20Organization%20Guidance.pdf    (10/23/20)
    • Gov. Jay Inslee announced the Washington COVID-19 Immigrant Relief Fund to provide $40 million in federal funds for workers who miss work due to COVID-19, but are unable to access federal stimulus programs and other social supports due to their immigration status.  While the fund is operational, eligible recipients will receive $1,000, with a limit of $3,000 per household.  For information and applications visit https://www.immigrantreliefwa.org/   (10/23/20)
    • King County Library System has opened Study Zone Plus, a free online homework help and tutoring service. Students in grades K-12 can work with a tutor or find recharge activities, language and reading support.  The program can be accessed through Zoom or by dial-in using a landline or smartphone.  For more information visit www.kcls.org/studyzoneplus    (10/23/20)
    • Chambers of Commerce and community-based organizations in unincorporated King County can apply for a COVID-19 grants of up to $10,000.  Organizations have until 5 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 30 to apply online at https://www.kingcounty.gov/depts/local-services/programs/economic-development/chamber-grants.aspx.    (10/23/20)
    • Washington residents can dispose of prescription drugs and vaping products at take-back events, to be held at locations around the state tomorrow Saturday, October 24.  Prescription, over-the-counter medications, vape pens, and other e-cigarette devices will be accepted. Medications can remain in their original containers and labels do not need to be removed.  On Vashon the event will be at Vashon Pharmacy.   (10/23/20)
    • The Washington State Department of Health (DOH) is releasing new data about how many cases of Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C) are occurring statewide.  “While rare, MIS-C is a serious complication that appears to be associated with COVID-19. Children who suffer from MIS-C can become critically ill and some can even die.” said Dr. Kathy Lofy, State Health Officer. “That’s why it’s important that children also take measures to decrease their risk of COVID-19 like masking, hand washing, and social distancing. These are the best ways to limit the spread of COVID-19.”  Visit: https://www.doh.wa.gov/Portals/1/Documents/Pubs/420-290-MIS-COVID-Report.pdf   (10/23/20)
    • Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler has extended his order requiring health insurers to waive copays and deductibles for any consumer requiring testing for coronavirus (COVID-19) and his order protecting consumers from receiving surprise bills for lab fees related to medically-necessary diagnostic testing for COVID-19.  Both orders are extended until November.24.   https://www.insurance.wa.gov/news/kreidler-extends-emergency-order-coronavirus-testing-and-surprise-billing-nov-24   (10/23/20)

  • Flu vaccinations are available now for uninsured Vashon residents.  Arrangements have been made for VashonBePrepared to cover the cost of vaccinations for residents without insurance, or whose insurance is not accepted at Vashon Pharmacy. This is possible thanks to two generous donors as well as a decision by Vashon Pharmacy to provide the vaccinations at their cost. For more information on vaccination providers, go to our English/Spanish Flu Vaccine Provider Directory at: https://vashonbeprepared.org/fluvaccine(10/20/20)

  • Canada will extend the land border restrictions with the United States until Nov. 21.  The land border is closed to nonessential travel for another month, as it has been since March.  The Trudeau government expresses concerns about coronavirus caseloads south of the frontier. "We have committed to keeping Canadians safe and we keep extending the border closures because the United States is not in a place where we would feel comfortable reopening those borders," Trudeau said.   (10/20/20)
  • At Harborview Medical Center, acoronavirus outbreak in a surgical unit has infected four patients, killing one, reports the Seattle Times.  The patient died in the intensive care unit, said Dr. John Lynch, medical director of infection prevention and control at Harborview Medical Center.  Ten Harborview staffers have tested positive for the virus and are isolating. Thirty more staffers are in quarantine after possible exposure.  Lynch said the patients who contracted the virus all had been at Harborview for more than 14 days, indicating they likely contracted the virus at the hospital.  https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/health/outbreak-of-covid-19-at-harborview-medical-center-infects-10-staffers-and-4-patients-1-patient-has-died/    (10/20/20)
    • MasksForVashon.orgis still making well made, reusable cloth masks on a donation basis for Vashon Island residents and businesses.  To date they have sewn and distributed well over 9,000 masks throughout our community.  To order masks and/or donate, visit MasksForVashon.org, or visit Vashon Alliance to Reduce Substance Abuse (VARSA, next to Northwest Sports, across from ACE) during office hours, typically 9-1 M-F.    (10/20/20)
    • Cloth Mask Care:  Hand wash or machine wash and dry.  It's best to remove the nose wire if you are going to put masks into a washing machine, unless you have a washing bag and can use a gentle cycle.  You do not have to remove the nose wire if putting masks directly into a dryer.  Thank you for wearing a mask when in public to help protect yourself your Vashon Island neighbors, employees, and visitors.   (10/20/20)
    • Act now to reverse the trend. The ‘fall surge’ is starting.  Washington State Department of Health(DOH) show that case numbers in western Washington counties are climbing at an alarming rate, including cases in King County.  “It’s time to flatten the curve again,” says Dr. Kathy Lofy, State Health Officer. “I’m optimistic we can get our kids in school, keep our businesses open, and control the spread of COVID-19 if everyone does their part.”  DOH recommends wearing a mask, even with people you see regularly and in your smallest social circles and anytime you are using shared transportation, including while in your own vehicle with other people.  https://www.doh.wa.gov/Newsroom/Articles/ID/2423/Concern-that-climb-in-cases-means-fall-surge-is-starting-Experts-say-we-must-act-now-to-reverse-trend(10/20/20)
    • King County Metro and Sound Transit are now offering a new annual pass at no cost for customers who have no income or very low income.  The new program is intended to serve people who cannot afford the reduced fare on public transportation already available through ORCA LIFT, the Regional Reduced Fare Program, or the ORCA Youth fare.  Sound Transit committed to join the program for a two-year pilot period. The effort is focused on serving people enrolled in certain state benefit programs, which makes it easier for eligible customers to apply and streamlines income eligibility review. Visit https://www.kingcounty.gov/elected/executive/constantine/news/release/2020/October/15-Metro-fares.aspx(10/20/20)
    • Blood Drivehas been rescheduled for two days, November 23 and 24 at Vashon Lutheran Church, 18623 Vashon Hwy SW. Donations will be taken 10am - 5pm. Drive is open to the public, face coverings are required.  Make an appointment at https://schedule.bloodworksnw.org/DonorPortal/GroupLanding.aspx?s=2930    (10/20/20)
    • Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington School of Medicinelatest forecast, released on Oct. 10, projects more than 389,000 U.S.Covid-19 deaths by Feb. 1.  That is 6,000 fewer deaths than the previous forecast, even though IHME researchers say the spread of the virus is worsening.  The model shows the pandemic is moving into younger populations -- thus the forecast of fewer deaths.  “Daily cases have begun to increase and transmission has intensified in the northern half of the United States,” the IHME said in its new forecast. “We expect deaths to stop declining and begin increasing in the next one to two weeks”, due to a winter surge as more people collect in close contact situations indoor due to colder weather.  https://covid19.healthdata.org/united-states-of-america    (10/16/20)
    • Washington State Department of Health (DOH)reports that COVID transmission is increasing in western Washington.  The best estimates of the reproductive number (how many new people each COVID-19 patient will infect) were 1.12 in western Washington.  Case counts in western Washington are increasing across all age groups and over broad geographic areas.  “As COVID-19 activity intensifies, it’s incredibly important that we all take precautions to reduce the impact of seasonal changes like spending more time indoors,” said Washington Secretary of Health John Wiesman. “We must be especially careful to avoid gathering in groups inside, including with family and friends outside of our immediate household. That includes limiting group size, gathering outside or improving ventilation inside, cleaning and washing hands frequently, wearing face coverings (including inside our homes) and staying over six feet apart.”  https://www.doh.wa.gov/Newsroom/Articles/ID/2417/COVID-19-transmission-increasing-in-western-Washington-rates-flat-but-higher-in-eastern-Washington(10/16/20)
    • CDC updates guidance on how COVID-19 spreads.  COVID-19 is most commonly transmitted by respiratory droplets among people in "close contact". Close contact generally means direct interaction at a distance less than six feet. However, there is evidence that under certain conditions, people with COVID-19 seem to have infected others who were more than 6 feet away.  The CDC also maintains that spread is possible through surface transfer and potentially through airborne particles in poorly-ventilated spaces. CDC transmission guidance may inform safety practices at your workplace.  https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/how-covid-spreads.html    (10/16/20)
    • Did you miss the Great Washington ShakeOut 2020?  The ShakeOut is part of earthquake preparedness and can be practiced on any date.  This year with COVID the events were virtual and practicing earthquake drills at home, instead of school or work.  Check out the Emergency Management ShakeOut website for age oriented PowerPoints, videos, and health and safety guidance. Visit: https://www.shakeout.org/washington/    (10/16/20)
    • All In Washington COVID Relief Fund grants are due by October 23rd.  Seattle Foundation’s All In Washington grants program was established to mobilize community, business, and philanthropic leaders across the state to address the profound effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on vulnerable people, workers, and families. The Aggregate Fund, one of several funds under All In WA, will provide grants to community-based organizations that are providing emergency flexible financial assistance to disproportionately impacted people and families in the hardest-hit communities in Washington.  Visit: https://seattlefoundation.smapply.org/prog/all_in_wa/   (10/16/20)
    • Vashon Island School District has announced they will need to adjust hybrid learning and reopening timelines they had hoped to begin this fall. In a weekly bulletin to Vashon families, the District stated that in-person learning will no longer be possible in early November as earlier planned, as COVID-19 cases in King County are continuing to rise. The state Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction has set a goal of a defined “low level of COVID activity” in King County, set at 25 cases per 100,000 people on a 14 day average in order to safely reopen schools in-person. The latest rate on the PHSKC key indicators dashboard (as of Oct 14) shows a 140 day average of 92 cases per 100,000, almost four times the goal of 25 cases. (10/16/20)
    • The Interfaith Council to Prevent Homelessness (IFCH) is responding to the needs of those who are either currently experiencing homelessness or are at risk of becoming homeless.  In March they set up a fund to specifically assist those affected due to impacts COVID-19.  Since April they have provided monthly rental assistance for an average of 29 families. In the current month of October, IFCH has provided rental assistance to 31 families (61% were Latino) and provided utility assistance to 2 families.  IFCH is one of several social service agencies that has been supported by the Vashon COVID Relief Fund operated by VashonBePrepared. If you need assistance or want more information visit www.https://ifchvashon.org/
    • The Langland Dental office has re-opened after a week of precautionary COVID-19 quarantines, double testing of staff, and deep cleaning of the office during the closure. The initial affected staff member (the index case) remains in isolation and is doing well. Four patients potentially exposed in the office are nearing the end of quarantine with no evidence of infection thus far.  All remaining Langland staff have now been tested twice.  All the staff tested negative, except the index case and one additional person who was exposed during the original family cluster event. That person did not expose patients or other staff at the Langland office and remains in isolation.  (10/13/20)
    • Drive-through flu vaccination event: Vashon residents have an innovative drive-through flu vaccination option coming up on October 20th. The School District and VashonBePrepared’s Medical Reserve Corps have collaborated with the Visiting Nurse Association clinic to have a 100% drive-through vaccine operation at the Vashon High School campus for COVID-19 safety.  The clinic accepts Aetna, Premera, Kaiser, Regence, United, Medicare and Apple Health insurance plans. Uninsured King County residents can click the “uninsured” box during signup, and the vaccine cost will be covered by special county funding. Slots are limited and you must pre-register, so sign up now at www.SeattleVNA.com.   (10/13/20)
    • Flu vaccinations are available now for uninsured Vashon residents. There are two options for those without health insurance. At Vashon Pharmacy, arrangements have been made for VashonBePrepared to cover the cost of your vaccination. That's possible thanks to two generous donors as well as a decision by Vashon Pharmacy to provide the vaccinations at their cost. Uninsured residents also have the option to get vaccinated at the drive through event on October 20th by the Visiting Nurse Association (see above). For more information on vaccination providers go to our English/Spanish Flu Vaccine Provider Directory at: https://vashonbeprepared.org/fluvaccine(10/13/20)
    • The Care of The Spirit Team (COST), under the auspices of VashonBePrepared, offers free and confidential phone support to the Vashon-Maury Island community. The term "spirit" is intended broadly, to embrace the universal mysteries within, between, and beyond us as humans. COST welcomes callers from all beliefs and religious affiliations, as well as those with none.  The Team respects and is guided by the values, beliefs, experiences and goals of each caller. Islanders might call COST for supportive listening, or perhaps they want help in processing major questions, or decisions made more urgent in the pandemic.  COST members are islanders. They can be reached from 8am to 8pm seven days a week at 206-701-0694, Option #2.   (10/13/20)
    • Vashon Alliance to Reduce Substance Abuse (VARSA), is the island organization focused on the reduction of substance abuse by the youth of the island. They are now distributing their annual Community Survey, with the results informing VARSA’s planning for youth substance use prevention needs and programs.  The survey informs VARSA of islanders’ concerns about the mental health of the whole island and aims to understand the impacts of COVID on the community.  To participate in the Vashon Community Survey visit www.varsanetwork.org(10/13/20)
    • Washington Office of Superintendent of Public Instructionstrongly encourages all eligible families to apply for free and reduced-price meal programs now while funding is still in place for all who need the meals. Starting in January, the money will run out and students will need to qualify for the meal programs. Those who get into this year's program now will be grandfathered into next year's program. The process to get into the meals program is simple and confidential. There are no citizenship requirements for participation, and immigration status is not requested or disclosed. Visit: https://content.govdelivery.com/accounts/WAOSPI/bulletins/2a44253   (10/13/20)
    • Department of Employment Security reports a continued reduction in Vashon unemployment claims.  As of the week of September 26th, Vashon unemployment claims are down to 461 (9.5% of approx. 4,850 working population), from a high in April of 1,200 (24.7% of the working population).  To date the Chamber of Commerce Ask the Expert program has completed 860 telephone consultations.  If you need help filing for unemployment, Ask the Expert person will consult with you on how to proceed.  Email deborah@vashonbeprepared.org,:or call (206) 200-3236.  (10/13/20)
    • The Washington State Department of Commerce has developed a new Community Small Business Resiliency Grant Program intended to reach small businesses impacted by COVID-19 that have had a difficult time accessing grant dollars. Successful grant applicants will be eligible to receive up to $10,000.  Details at https://omwbe.wa.gov/about/news/grant-opportunity-small-business-resiliency-program(10/13/20)

  • Islanders who still need to get their seasonal flu vaccinations have a new way to find out where they can get them. The Medical Reserve Corps has compiled a directory of island providers who will provide vaccinations, including hours, cost, insurance coverage, and appointment info. Visit the Vashon Flu Vaccine Provider Directory at VashonBePrepared.org/FluVaccine.   (10/9/20)
  • The CDC has published new guidance on the potential for airborne transmission of COVID, as reported by Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. The updated guidance distinguishes between droplets and airborne transmission (as well as contact transmission); however, it emphasizes that respiratory droplets exist in a spectrum of sizes, ranging from large droplets “that fall out of the air rapidly” to smaller droplets or particles “that can remain suspended for many minutes to hours and travel far from the source.” The guidance goes on to state that most COVID infections are principally spread through “close contact,” primarily through respiratory droplet transmission within a short range of 6 feet or less, rather than airborne transmission. The guidance highlights certain conditions that can facilitate airborne transmission—including enclosed spaces, inadequate ventilation, and prolonged exposure (e.g., greater than 30 minutes)—due to the accumulation of suspended respiratory droplets that could increase exposure. The CDC emphasizes that certain protective measures can mitigate airborne transmission risk in enclosed spaces, such as increased ventilation, avoiding crowded indoor spaces, mask use, and enhanced hand hygiene and disinfection practices.  https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/more/scientific-brief-sars-cov-2.html    (10/9/20)
  • Department of Labor and Industries (L&I) reports that some businesses face fines for coronavirus mask violations however, the agency says most are complying. Since mid-July, L&I has looked into mask complaints for more than 4,200 retailers, restaurants and other businesses in the state. In the vast majority of cases, the businesses that were violating the rules complied after L&I staff explained the requirements, or the initial complaints to the state were not substantiated.  State regulations require businesses to ensure customers and visitors wear masks.  https://content.govdelivery.com/accounts/WADLI/bulletins/2a4bfdf    (10/9/20)
  • As reported in the last Situation Report, Safe Start reopening has been revised, affecting a number of local businesses and activities. While King County and Vashon remain in Phase 2, the new guidance will allow some local businesses to open or expand services.  For full guidance visit: https://www.governor.wa.gov/news-media/inslee-announces-updates-safe-start-reopening-plan    (10/9/20)
  • Vashon Library will offer a Spanish language program, to help the community protect against scammers, on October 24 at 11 am.  A representative from the Washington State Attorney General's Office will provide information about identity theft and scams, particularly those related to COVID-19, how you can protect yourself and your loved ones, and how to recover your identity if it is stolen or you fall victim to a scam. An opportunity to ask questions and get answers will be provided.  Registration is required and you will be emailed a Zoom invite the day before the program.  https://bit.ly/36DMYC9   (10/9/20)
  • Gov. Jay Inslee has extended and expanded the moratorium on evictions and the freeze on increases of residential rents.  The temporary statewide ban on evictions has been extended through December 31.  The order includes a ban on residential and commercial rent increases during the public-health emergency.   (10/9/20)
  • Backpack Pantry Vashon will be offering weekend meals for children from any family currently experiencing financial difficulties, beginning Friday October 16.  This will be a four week trial and will continue if successful.  For times and locations of meal pickups visit https://www.facebook.com/BackpackPantryVashon or call 206-463-2142.    (10/9/20)
  • Langland Dental Associates took a series of precautionary COVID safety steps this weekend after a staff member tested positive on Friday. The office will be closed this week. The action steps have been taken in collaboration with VashonBePrepared, including the Vashon Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) and the Emergency Operations Center (EOC). "We all wish for a day when we don't have to worry about COVID-19. But, until then, we need to know our island businesses and other institutions will do the right thing. That's what happened here. Marc Langland and his team responded to this situation perfectly, every step of the way. They knew what to do, and they did it. It's a model response that every business can follow if they face a similar situation," said Rick Wallace, EOC Manager.   (10/6/20)
  • Winter storm season is quickly approaching, and the national Climate Prediction Center has issued a La Niña Advisory, historically associated with above normal rainfall and below normal temperatures in western Washington.  Puget Sound Energy is encouraging customers to take steps to prepare their homes and emergency kits now – before disaster strikes.  PSE and VashonBePrepared recommend you make an emergency preparedness plan and pack an emergency kit.  For sample kit checklists visit: https://www.pse.com/pages/create-a-kit   (10/6/20)
  • Current forecast by the National Weather Service predicts a significant weather system expected to bring widespread moderate to locally heavy rainfall, breezy to locally windy conditions, and higher elevation mountain snow Friday through Saturday. Showers will continue through Sunday with the potential for another wet/breezy system on Monday.  See forecast at: www.weather.gov/Seattle   (10/6/20)
  • Coping with the stress of today’s COVID pandemic.  The Community Care Team (CCT) of Vashon, a unit of the Medical Reserve Corps and VashonBePrepared, is offering Suicide Prevention Training for Parents and Caregivers. The discussion sessions will be held on Zoom tonight October 6th at 7pm and tomorrow October 7th at 10am, and are open to all community members.  Join the Zoom meetings at  https://zoom.us/j/9807000211?pwd=bktNYzJ5YTJCa0w5TUROaFEwcVdnUT09    (10/6/20)
  • The Community Care Team offers connection groups so that neighbors can connect with neighbors. There will be two facilitated groups for seniors, one utilizing Zoom and the other utilizing the telephone. Anyone is welcome for these drop-in groups and no commitment of any kind is required. Groups will be small, perhaps four to eight people. To learn more or express interest in participating in one of these groups, email vashoncct@gmail.com or call the CCT Helpline at 206 701 0694 (8am – 8pm) and leave a message with your contact information. Someone will call you back.  (10/6/20)
  • Vashon CCT has organized a drop-in Parenting Group.  The topics covered go far beyond COVID and have included: making space for work and school, custody challenges, isolation and self-care, relationships, and financial hardships. Typical developmental challenges have been made more pronounced because of COVID.  The group meets 1:30pm - 2:30pm on Thursdays on Zoom. Discussions are confidential unless there is danger to a child. The confidentiality allows safety in discussion. The philosophy is that there is collective wisdom in the group which surpasses any one single person’s wisdom.  To learn more or participate, email vashoncct@gmail.com or call the Help Line at (206) 701-0694, extension 1 and leave a message with your name and phone number so we can contact you.  (10/6/20)
  • Vashon Island School District updated plans for a phased-in approach to in person learning providing some initial timing.  The District notice puts forth a slow, cautious, phased-in approach to resuming in-person instruction which has already begun with very small groups of students who are most in need of in-person instruction such as special needs students and English Language Learners. The District will continue to closely monitor COVID-19 statistics before moving on to additional in-person instruction for elementary classrooms.  The approach conforms to the Washington State Department of Health (WSDOH) Decision Tree, which provides guidance to school districts about when and how to provide some forms of in-person learning.  Visit: https://docs.google.com/document/d/10J72uVmtpdkj9jkQOLh4WSFCaze0YiB7eGLrkdgkicA/edit    (10/6/20)
  • Gov. Inslee today announced loosening of restrictions on some activities. For Phase 2 counties, which includes King County and Vashon, movie theaters would be able to operate at 25% capacity with the customary face mask requirement and six feet distance between households. Phase 2 area restaurants will be able to increase table size to six and will be allowed to serve alcohol until 11:00pm. Real estate open houses will be allowed with the size-limit for gatherings under Phase 2 guidance. Still to come are some relaxed protocols for some outdoor group sports such as bicycles rides, runs, and a few others. There will not yet be any advancement of counties from their current phase status.   (10/6/20)
  • Vashon Island School District will participate in an Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) program to connect low-income families to no-cost internet to support online learning for the remainder of the 2020/21 school year.  Through internet providers Comcast and Presidio, students who are low-income and did not have internet access before August 2020 can receive internet through the end of the 2020–21 school year at no cost to the family.  https://content.govdelivery.com/accounts/WAOSPI/bulletins/2a3ba61   (10/2/20)
  • The Washington State Department of Health (DOH) continues to make progress with COVID-19 vaccine distribution planning efforts.  On Friday, October 2, the National Academies is expected to release the final Framework for Equitable Allocation of COVID-19 Vaccine. This report will help guide equitable allocation of a limited initial supply of COVID-19 vaccine. However, some vaccine planning cannot be completed until the final vaccine candidates are identified.  DOH has received $5 million in federal funding for COVID-19 vaccine response preparation.  (10/2/20)
  • Washington State Arts Commission (ArtsWA), in collaboration with the Washington State Department of Commerce, is providing CARES relief funding to Washington State arts and cultural organizations impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Grants provide support for general operating expenses up to $10,000, with no funding match requirement.  Visit: https://www.arts.wa.gov/cares-act-grants    (10/2/20)
  • Governor Inslee has announced that the job search requirement for unemployment benefits will remain suspended through Nov. 9.  This means the soonest claimants will be required to actively seek work is Nov. 15.  If you are claiming unemployment benefits, you can continue to answer “no” to the job search question on your weekly claim until the suspension is lifted.  If you need help filing for unemployment, the Chamber of Commerce Ask the Expert person will consult with you on how to proceed.  Email deborah@vashonbeprepared.org:or call (206) 200-3236.    (10/2/20)
  • The U.S. Department of Agriculture has extended the waivers that allow the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) to offer remote services to participants. The waivers make it possible for Washington State’s WIC to enroll new applicants, provide health screening, nutrition education and breastfeeding support, make referrals, and issue food benefits by phone or video chat. WIC normally requires in-person meetings.  “Many new moms and families with young children may qualify for WIC; we encourage them to reach out to us. If a young family has someone on Apple Health Medical (Provider One), they are especially likely to qualify.”  WIC recently expanded the list of allowed foods to give families more choices.  Visit: https://www.doh.wa.gov/youandyourfamily/wic    (9/30/20)
  • The Washington State Department of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF) announced additional COVID-19 relief funds for child care stabilization.  This is the second round of child care funding to help strengthen the existing child care market for working families and providers. The Governor and Legislature approved over $70 million for the child care industry to address the ongoing economic impacts of COVID-19. These additional relief funds build on the investments made in the spring. https://www.dcyf.wa.gov/news/additional-covid-19-relief-funds-child-care-stabilization   (9/30/20)
  • Mental health support on Vashon.  This year, with the extra stress of the pandemic, getting help when needed is more important than ever. On Vashon, we have two free support groups ready to help.  Vashon Youth and Family Services (VYFS) can provide counseling for residents of all ages, via phone, Zoom, or outdoors with social distancing.  Contact VYFS at 206-463-5511. A VashonBePrepared volunteer unit also offers a mental health resource, the Medical Reserve Corps Community Care Team Help Line at 206-701-0694. The Help Line is staffed from 8am to 8am every day, for referrals to spiritual support as well as mental health counseling.   (9/30/20)
  • COVID-19 makes it especially important to limit exposure to wildfire smoke. The National Weather Service says smoke is expected to arrive later this afternoon into Thursday, but should remain mostly aloft (above the surface). This will likely lead to milky/hazy skies. At this time, air quality agencies do not expect a major impact at the surface. Most sites should remain in the good category with perhaps a few sites falling into the moderate category.  Public Health –Seattle & King County recommends you limit exposure to smoke, reduce physical activity, and keep indoor air clean.  To monitor Vashon air quality reports, visit: https://tinyurl.com/VashonAir   (9/30/20)
  • Xfinity WiFi has extended its COVID-19 program to open its WiFi hotspots across the county for free to non-Xfinity subscribers.  This program is meant to help those with weak or not internet service.  On Vashon they have about 32 hotspots, these are normally located in business areas, retail locations and transit areas. https://wifi.xfinity.com/    (9/28/20)
  • Washington State Department of Commerce has expanded the Small Business Resiliency Assistance program to include culturally and linguistically relevant help for dealing with COVID-19.  Numerous aid and grant programs are available to help businesses, non-English speaking and business owners of color  The programs goals; are “ensuring equity in small business resiliency – giving every business owner equal access to the help they need – is crucial to protecting the incredible diversity of businesses that call Washington home,” according to Commerce Director Lisa Brown.  Visit: https://www.commerce.wa.gov/serving-communities/technical-assistance-from-trusted-community-messengers/    (9/28/20)
  • The University of Washington's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation's model forecasts a Hugh surge in COVID related deaths for the fall and winter based on current U.S. response to the pandemic.  Their models forecast that daily deaths from the coronavirus could surge from 765 to 3,000 by late December with a total of over 371,000 by January 1.  Data from Johns Hopkins shows that at least 24 states are reporting an increase in new cases compared to the previous week.  https://www.upi.com/Top_News/US/2020/09/27/Experts-warn-of-huge-surge-in-COVID-19-cases-in-fall-winter/4701601226955/    (9/28/20)
  • King County Water Taxi will resume fare collection on Thursday, Oct.1. To minimize contact between passengers and crew when paying fare, use your ORCA card. Cash, debit/credit cards and Transit GO tickets will continue to be accepted.  Masks are required for both passengers and crew.  Visit:  https://kingcounty.gov/depts/transportation/metro/travel-options/water-taxi.aspx    (9/25/20)
  • Governor Inslee issued guidance for miscellaneous venues, including convention/conference centers, designated meeting spaces in hotels, events centers and other similar venues as part of Washington's Safe Start phased reopening plan. The guidance allows business meetings, professional development training and testing, and substantially similar activities to occur away from business premises and with additional attendees, as long as all requirements are met.   https://www.governor.wa.gov/sites/default/files/COVID19%20Phase%202%20and%20Phase%203%20Misc%20Venue%20Memo.pdf    (9/25/20)
  • New cases related to travel.  So far this month, six new positive cases of COVID-19 have been added to the Vashon total. All six were related to travel. "It's essential that people quarantine themselves as they come off travel," said Dr. Jim Bristow, leader of the Vashon Medical Reserve Corps testing operation on Vashon. "That means quarantine for 14 days, even from family," he emphasized. The six new positive cases this month occurred in two household clusters where people who had traveled infected loved ones. Fortunately, in both cases there were few contacts outside the household and no spread into the community, thanks to timely testing and quarantines.  The important message is that travel to Vashon from hotspots, even by family members, poses a risk, Bristow indicated.  Up until this month, Vashon had been doing quite a bit better than the mainland urban area. However, Vashon's recent positive test rate now roughly matches the rate of new infections for King County as a whole.
  • Vashon Island School Board’s regular board meeting will be held on Thursday Sept 24.  The meeting agenda includes a review of reopening progress and future plans, and an opportunity for public comment.  Also to be discussed are the results of the VashonBePrepared Outdoor Learning Task Force report.  https://go.boarddocs.com/wa/visd/Board.nsf/Public.  To provide public comment, email to board secretary, Jodi Burwell at mjburwell@vashonsd.org.  (9/23/20)
  • Camp Sealth Outdoor Connections offers programs to support youth, teens, and families who are impacted by COVID-19 and school closures.  The programs provide opportunities for children from pre-K through grade 12, to get outdoors for exercise and free play, supplement educational needs with the ability to interact with peers and gain social skills, and to fill a need for childcare for parents who need to work.  Visit https://campfireseattle.org/outdoor-connections/   (9/23/20)
  • Washington State Department of Commerce has launched a new Economic Recovery Dashboard.  It is a tool for analyzing and visualizing data from public and private organizations to reliably examine the impact of COVID-19 on the state’s economy. The dashboard details numerous metrics on regional, demographic and industry sector levels. The Department says the Dashboard could help guide state and local leaders as they chart a path to an equitable, statewide economic recovery.  Visit: https://www.commerce.wa.gov/datadashboard/    (9/23/20)
  • King County Executive Dow Constantine has launched a Business and Workplaces website with tools and support needed for reopening. The site contains the Phase 2 requirements for businesses to reopen, and instructions on how to fulfill those requirements. The site also has checklists and training support. Visit: https://www.kingcounty.gov/elected/executive/constantine/covid-response/safe-start/workplaces.aspx    (9/23/20)
  • Washington State Department of Health reports the reproductive number (how many additional people each COVID-19 patient will infect) was close to one in Washington as of August 29.  They report an overall decline in case counts in western Washington, and an overall plateau in eastern Washington. These trends are not uniform very different trends are present from county to county. The risk remains high throughout the state. Because the vast majority of the population does not have immunity to COVID-19, an outbreak can quickly spread through a community and into the most vulnerable populations.   https://covid.idmod.org/data/WA_Situation_Report_16_COVID-19_transmission_across_Washington_State.pdf    (9/23/20)
  • Washington State Department of Health has updated the Phase 2 guidance for Personal Service Providers, any service that necessitates removal of a customer’s face covering (i.e. facial treatments or beard trimming).  Providers are required to wear N95 face coverings, meet maximum time requirements and have customer refrain from speaking while face coverings are removed.  Full guidance at https://www.governor.wa.gov/sites/default/files/COVID19Phase2PersonalServicesGuidance.pdf    (9/23/20)
  • Vashon Food Bank is looking for weather-proof bins to use for the expanded home delivery service due to COVID. Bin donations must be clean, with functioning lids, and large enough for at least two bags of groceries.  Bins can be left on the northside of the building at Sunrise Ridge if the office is closed. The Food Bank will reopen on Monday September 28th after this week’s break.   (9/23/20)
  • Based on the latest Key Indicator Dashboard, King County’s COVID-19 cases are declining, but they are still more than twice the target rate of 25 cases/100K residents over the past 14 days.  The positive rate in the County has slowly declined to about 2% (with tests remaining over 4K/day) which is good news.  However, according to Dr. James Bristow, leader of the MRC testing program, the positive rate on Vashon has increased to 2% for the month of September.  While the numbers are small and may be a statistical artifact, this is not because testing has increased (remaining at about 100 tests per week from all sources).  Dr. Bristow said “Continued caution in our daily lives remains essential for keeping us all safe!”  See the dashboard at https://kingcounty.gov/depts/health/covid-19/data/key-indicators.aspx   (9/21/20)
  • Coronavirus Food Assistance Program 2 (CFAP 2).  USDA will expand the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program for farmers or ranchers whose operation has been directly impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.  CFAP 2 applications will be accepted from September 21 through December 11, 2020.  For more information, Visit: https://www.farmers.gov/cfap   (9/21/20)
  • Canada extended the agreement to keep the U.S. border closed to non-essential travel to Oct. 21 during the coronavirus pandemic. Essential cross-border workers like healthcare professionals, airline crews and truck drivers are still permitted to cross. Americans who are returning to the U.S. and Canadians who are returning to Canada, are also exempted from the border closure.
  • On Saturday, September 19, Metro’s fall service revisions began.  Part of the revised schedule is to Vashon’s 118 and 119 buses, which will now only service the island stops.  To continue to Seattle riders now need to connect with the RapidRide C bus at the Fauntleroy ferry terminal.  https://kingcounty.gov/depts/transportation/metro/schedules-maps/service-change.aspx   (9/21/20)
  • The Seattle Metro Chamber opened a new round of grant funding, with $580,000 total to be awarded to King County small businesses and 501 (c)(6) non-profit business service organizations.  Businesses with 20 or fewer full-time employees can apply for awards of $5,000, $7,500 or $10,000 through the program, called the Federal CARES Act Small Business Emergency Grant Program.  Priority will be given to applications from minority and women-owned businesses and most impacted industries such as: Hospitality and Tourism, and Retail.  The Chamber is accepting applications through Monday, September 28 at 5:00 p.m.  Visit: https://www.kingcountyado.com/    (9/21/20)
  • The CARES Act Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) provides an additional 13 weeks of unemployment benefits (on top of the initial 26 weeks), which can cover through 12/26/2020.  To receive these benefits you must login and only click on Request PEUC Benefits.  If you need help filing for unemployment, the Chamber of Commerce Ask the Expert person will consult with you on how to proceed.  Email deborah@vashonbeprepared.org:or call (206) 200-3236.   (9/21/20)
  • The state's application for the Lost Wages Assistance program has been approved for a total of 6 weeks, between Aug 1 and Sept 5. Employment Security Department will start processing payments of $300 to eligible claimants for this new program on Monday, Sept. 21. Payments will be retroactive for all weeks for which the claimant was eligible, and for which funding is available from the federal government. Upon the processing date, eligible claimants will receive the funds as soon as their bank processes the payment. Visit: https://esd.wa.gov/unemployment/lwa   (9/18/20)
  • If you need help filing for unemployment, the Chamber of Commerce Ask the Expert person will consult with you on how to proceed.  Email deborah@vashonbeprepared.org:or call (206) 200-3236.   (9/18/20)
  • A Safe Start update will now allow Wedding and Funeral receptions to resume, as long as they meet specific requirements.  Receptions and ceremonies must be capped at 30 people, or 25% of venue occupancy, whichever is less.  In addition, all tables at the reception must be seated by household, with table sizes capped at 5 people.  Requirements for facial coverings, and social distancing must be maintained.   (9/18/20)https://www.governor.wa.gov/sites/default/files/COVID19%20Phase%202%20and%20Phase%203%20Wedding%20and%20Funeral%20Guidance.pdf  
  • Real Estate guidance has been amended to expand viewings, inspections, and other common activities. The number of people permitted at in-person real estate activities has expanded from three to five. This allows families and other parties to conduct walk-throughs, viewings, appraisals, and inspections. Physical distancing and cloth face coverings remain required precautions.  https://www.governor.wa.gov/sites/default/files/COVID19Phase2RealEstateGuidelines.pdf    (9/18/20)
  • The Washington State Department of Health (DOH) has been working on a COVID-19 vaccination plan, in order to be ready for whenever the vaccine becomes available.  The plan is being developed is based on the CDC prioritization playbook.  Because there won’t be a lot of vaccine available in the first round, the state will work on further prioritization. Some likely possibilities for the first priority groups to receive vaccine are: essential workers, health care workers and residents and workers at long-term care facilities.  The DOH says that all possible vaccine candidates are in various stages of testing in humans to ensure they are both safe and effective and that the Department will be closely monitoring the FDA approval process to make sure it is thorough and transparent.  https://www.doh.wa.gov/Newsroom/Articles/ID/2380/COVID-19-vaccine-update-Prioritization-and-pilot-project-plans   (9/18/20)
  • Two free classes are being offered to help parents detect and deal with substance abuse by their children. Vashon Alliance to Reduce Substance Abuse (VARSA) points out that dealing with COVID-19 for the past 6 months has been stressful for adults, teens and children alike. Parents need to be aware of the signs that their children, or the friends of their children, are suffering from depression or using drugs or alcohol to cope. One of the most effective ways to reduce and prevent underage substance use is to educate parents of teens. VARSA is offering two parent education webinars: (Registration is required, use the links below)   (9/18/20)
  • Tuesday, September 22  6:30-7:50 p.m.
    High in Plain Sight: Current Drug Trends, Concealment, and More
  • https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/8688774498342000908 
  • Thursday, September 24  6:30-7:50 p.m.
    Vape Pens & Dabbing: Various Vapes and Marijuana Concentrates
  • https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/8390937689098341900 
  • The National Weather Service and AirNow.gov forecasters say to expect continued smoke conditions into Saturday, although the situation should be improving. Tomorrow will be EPA-rated unhealthy due to particulates, improving gradually each day into the weekend. Most forecasts agree that the air quality rating could improve to Good on Sunday.   (9/16/20)
  • COVID-19 makes it especially important to limit exposure to wildfire smoke. Public Health –Seattle and King County recommends you stay indoors, with just members of your household, reduce physical activity, and keep indoor air clean.  To monitor Vashon air quality reports, visit: https://tinyurl.com/VashonAir   (9/16/20)
  • Puget Sound Clean Air Agency recommends some additional steps to limit your wildfire smoke exposure. Stock up on necessities like food, medications, and other items you may need for your family. so you can avoid going out. If your HVAC system can take one, install a high-efficiency HEPA filter and keep the system running on inside circulation on to help clean the air. You can also use a portable air cleaner or filter fan that has a HEPA filter to make the room even cleaner. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has detailed instructions and information on how to create a clean room.  Visit: https://www.epa.gov/indoor-air-quality-iaq/create-clean-room-protect-indoor-air-quality-during-wildfire    (9/16/20)
  • Department of Employment Security reports a small reduction in Vashon unemployment claims for the week ending September 5.  Vashon claims totaled 563, down from 578 the week prior.  The unemployment rate on Vashon is 12% compared to King County as a whole of 8.3%. If you need help filing for unemployment, the Chamber of Commerce Ask the Expert person will consult with you on how to proceed.  Email deborah@vashonbeprepared.org:or call (206) 200-3236.    (9/16/20)
  • Wildfire smoke & COVID-19 are a bad mix.  Wildfire smoke is making air quality “unhealthy” to “unhealthy for sensitive groups” expected in the area through the early next week. There were already limited ways to protect ourselves from wildfire smoke, and COVID-19 makes it even more challenging.  Public Health recommends you stay indoors, with just members of your household, reduce physical activity and keep indoor air clean.  Keep wearing your cloth face covering to protect yourself and others from COVID-19; unfortunately, the cloth face covering masks don’t help that much with smoke.  For more information and air quality reports, visit: https://wasmoke.blogspot.com/    (9/14/20)
  • Puget Sound Clean Air Agency recommends the following actions while air quality is hazardous:
  • To limit your time outdoors, stock up on necessities like food, medications, and other items you may need for your family.
  • If your air cleaner or HVAC system is designed to accommodate a high-efficiency HEPA filter, installing one and running the system during a smoke event can help keep your indoor air clean.
  • Designate a room in your home to be a “clean room.” This room should have as few windows or doors as possible, or they should be closed, to keep smoke out. Use a portable air cleaner or filter fan to make the room even cleaner. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has detailed instructions and information to create a clean room.  Visit: https://www.epa.gov/indoor-air-quality-iaq/create-clean-room-protect-indoor-air-quality-during-wildfire
  • If you have an air conditioner, use it in recirculation mode or close the fresh air intake to keep smoky air out of your home.   (9/14/20)
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says the best way to protect against the potentially harmful effects of wildfire smoke is to reduce your exposure to it.  It is also good to know the difference between symptoms from smoke exposure and COVID-19. Both wildfire smoke exposure and COVID-19 can produce symptoms such as dry cough, sore throat, and difficulty breathing.  But symptoms like fever or chills, muscle or body aches, and diarrhea are not related to smoke exposure.  If you have these symptoms, you should self-isolate and get tested.  https://www.cdc.gov/disasters/covid-19/wildfire_smoke_covid-19.html    (9/14/20)
  • King County Metro has announced fall service changes that are effective Sept. 19th.  These changes impact Routes 118E and 119E which will only serve stops on Vashon Island. For service to/from downtown Seattle, board the Fauntleroy/Vashon ferry and transfer to/from RapidRide C Line at the Fauntleroy ferry terminal.  Metro recommends you check schedules and service advisories before you travel.  Metro fares remain suspended through September.  For new schedules visit https://kingcounty.gov/depts/transportation/metro/schedules-maps/service-change.aspx    (9/14/20)
  • Story Time at Vashon Library.  Vashon Library is offering two Zoom story times for toddlers to preschool each Tuesday.  The programs encourage early literacy, early learning, and connect with other caregivers.  Baby and Young Toddler Story Time will be at 10:30am, bit.ly/vashonbabystorytime. The Preschool Story Time, will be at 2pm, bit.ly/vashonpreschoolstorytime.  To register visit the links above.    (9/14/20)
  • King County’s Key Indicators are showing positive results in the latest update posted this week.  The county is now missing the target levels for only two out of the eight indicator measures, down from four last week.  The targets met this week are the Re (reproductive number) and the number of persons tested.  The county still falls short on the total cases reported per 100K residents and how quickly testing is done after first symptoms.  County health officials said these results are encouraging but still only represent one week, the indictors need to meet the targets for three weeks before they are truly meaningful.  https://www.kingcounty.gov/depts/health/covid-19/data/key-indicators.aspx     (9/11/20)
  • Public Health – Seattle & King County reported some performance statistics for the county’s contact tracing operation over the most recent reporting week.  Of 583 positive tests, the contact tracers reached 88% within 24 hours.  These efforts identified 923 contacts and the county was able to reach 94% on them.  Over this period the median age of the positive tests was under 40 and the largest group were under 30.  (9/11/20)
  • September is National Suicide Prevention Month.  Washington State Department of Health reminds us that everyone has a role in suicide prevention.  LEARN Model Steps can help everyone identify the steps they can take to offer support:
  • Suicide Prevention Lifeline at (800) 273-8255 or chat online. Confidential support is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. Visit: https://intheforefront.org/LEARN/    (9/11/20)
  • If you missed VashonBePrepared’s Community Care Team Suicide Prevention Day program -- "Tales from the Edge: Suicide Survivors Share Their Stories", it can now be streamed at https://vimeo.com/vashoncenterforthearts/download/453355602/cdf0eed652   (9/11/20)
  • CDC has updated the guidance on how to keep your pets safe in the context of COVID-19. It appears that the virus can spread from people to animals in some situations. A small number of pets worldwide, including cats and dogs, have been reported to be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19, mostly after close contact with people with COVID-19. Infected pets might get sick or they might not have any symptoms. Of the pets that have gotten sick, most only had mild illness and fully recovered.  You should also avoid petting or playing with another person’s pets.  Visit:  https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/pets.html    (9/11/20)
  • A CDC study, found that people who tested positive for the coronavirus were about twice as likely as those who tested negative to have eaten at a restaurant in the two weeks before developing symptoms.  The study on community exposure looked at 314 adults.  Reduced ventilation of indoor dining and the inability to wear a mask while eating may make dining out a higher-risk activity. “As communities reopen, efforts to reduce possible exposures at locations that offer on-site eating and drinking options should be considered to protect customers, employees, and communities,” the study said.   https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/69/wr/mm6936a5.htm     (9/11/20)
  • A new forecast from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) now projects there will be 205,000 to 217,000 coronavirus deaths in the United States by Oct. 3. That forecast projects approximately 13,000 to 25,000 more people could die in the next three weeks. The previous forecast, projected up to 211,000 coronavirus deaths by September 26.  https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/covid-data/forecasting-us.html     (9/11/20)
  • Washington Health Plan Finder has extended the application deadline for the special enrollment period to Sept. 30th.  This allows individuals/families that experienced loss of coverage or drop-in income to gain insurance and be eligible for a health insurance subsidy.  On Vashon the Brown Agency offers free health insurance consultation and assistance, call 206.567.4600, or visit Washington Health Plans at www.wahealthplanfinder.org.   (9/11/20)
  • Washington State Department of Health (DOH) continues to make progress with COVID-19 vaccine distribution planning efforts.  However, they still do not know when a vaccine might be available.  “DOH is committed to science and the need to critically evaluate these new vaccines for their safety and efficacy in an unbiased way before their use,” said Dr. Kathy Lofy, State Health Officer. “We will be watching the FDA approval process closely to make sure it is thorough and transparent.”  https://www.doh.wa.gov/Newsroom/Articles/ID/2366/Update-on-COVID-19-vaccine-distribution-planning-progress-in-Washington-State     (9/11/20)
  • Congresswoman Jayapal is partnering with the Small Business Administration (SBA) to provide local businesses and organizations with a resources and planning workshop on the economic impacts from COVID-19.  Business or non-profit owners in the 7th Congressional District that are looking for resources to mitigate losses from COVID-19, should join the workshop and discussion on September 30th at 10AM.  SBA will provide an overview of programs and services for accessing federal funding, existing funding programs including EIDL, PPP loans and forgiveness, and funding to make your business more environmentally sustainable. There will also be time for you to ask SBA your questions directly. RSVP is required, register at https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSfywcgTG_Na53DMiVamobASW75RNWrgJYoeAiDYJVnRWeA6pQ/viewform    (9/11/20)
  • September is National Suicide Prevention Month. This year, with the extra stress of the pandemic, getting help when needed is more important than ever. On Vashon, we have two free support groups ready to help.  Vashon Youth and Family Services (VYFS) can provide counseling for residents of all ages, via phone, Zoom, or outdoors with social distancing.  Contact VYFS at 206-463-5511. A VashonBePrepared volunteer unit also offers a mental health resource, the Medical Reserve Corps Community Care Team Help Line at 206-701-0694. The Help Line is staffed from 8am to 8am every day, for referrals to spiritual support as well as mental health counseling.   (9/9/20)
  • King County Fire Marshal Chris Ricketts has issued a Stage 2 burn ban for King County, which prohibits all outdoor recreational fires. Outdoor cooking and heating appliances are limited to approved manufactured gas and charcoal units only.   (9/9/20)
  • Puget Sound Clean Air Agency has posted that air quality is considered unhealthy for all groups (not just sensitive groups) in many areas of the central Puget Sound region due to wildfire smoke. Variable winds are making it difficult to know how long these conditions will persist.  See a map of the region’s air quality at: https://secure.pscleanair.org/AirQuality/NetworkMap    (9/9/20)
  • Washington State Department of Health strongly discourages employers from requiring their employees to test negative before returning to work after a confirmed COVID-19 infection. People with confirmed COVID-19 infection who are not hospitalized can return to work after:
  • At least 10 days since symptoms first appeared, and
  • At least 24 hours with no fever without fever-reducing medication, and
  • Other symptoms of COVID-19 are improving (Note: Loss of taste and smell may persist for weeks or months after recovery and need not delay the end of isolation)

People with confirmed COVID-19 infection who were admitted to a hospital may need to stay in isolation up to 20 days since their symptoms first appeared. Repeat testing after COVID-19 is not generally recommended because recovered persons can shed pieces of the SARS-CoV-2 virus at very low levels in their nose and test positive for up to 3 months after illness onset. However, these individuals are not likely infectious to others.  https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/if-you-are-sick/isolation.html   (9/9/20)

  • Vashon Park District reminds residents that Ober Park Playground is closed.  The playground lacks the required sanitizing stations and staff to preform disinfections as required by state Safe Start orders.  Park’s plans to reopen the playground when Vashon moves to Phase 3 reopening.    (9/4/20)
  • Washington State Department of Health has said it “is closely monitoring progress toward development of a vaccine for COVID-19. We are engaged in vaccine planning efforts and we will be ready to distribute a safe and effective vaccine as soon as the time comes. However, all vaccine candidates are still in clinical trials to determine their safety and efficacy.  DOH’s position is that any COVID-19 vaccine should complete Phase 3 trials before being distributed, unless an independent board of scientists reviewing the data finds otherwise based on data from those trials. At this crucial juncture, it is incumbent upon the federal government to critically evaluate these new vaccines for their safety and efficacy in an unbiased way”.   (9/4/20)
  • The Department of Employment Security is offering monthly small business webinars to provide up-to-date information to assist businesses during the pandemic recovery.  Topics include unemployment insurance, returning employees to work, PPP and EIDL loans, workplace safety, face covering requirements, and other topics important to employers.  The next webinar will be held on Sept. 9 at 1:30 p.m.  Visit: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/small-business-requirements-and-resources-sbrr-covid-19-impact-webinar-tickets-105298340170    (9/4/20)
  • Department of Employment Security reports a small reduction in Vashon unemployment claims for the week of August 29.  Vashon claims totaled 578, down from 598 the week prior.  The unemployment rate on Vashon is 12% compared to King County as a whole of 8.3%.  If you need help filing for unemployment, the Chamber of Commerce Ask the Expert person will consult with you on how to proceed.  Email deborah@vashonbeprepared.org: or call (206) 200-3236.    (9/4/20)
  • Lost Wages Assistance:  The federal Lost Wages Assistance program has been approved by the federal government for up to five weeks of additional relief funding. This will allow the Washington Employment Security Department (ESD) to pay a boost of $300 per week for the weeks ending August 1st, 8th, 15th, 22nd, and 29th, to workers who received state unemployment benefits due to COVID-19 disruptions during those weeks. Participating states will be applying each week for funds from the LWA program, until LWA program funds are depleted. Payouts will be sent out starting on September 21st.  More info at https://esd.wa.gov/unemployment/lwa   (9/2/20)
  • Governor Inslee has announced that job search requirements for unemployment benefits remain suspended through Oct. 1. This means the soonest claimants will be required to actively seek work is Oct. 4.  If you need help filing for unemployment, the Chamber of Commerce Ask the Expert person will consult with you on options. Email deborah@vashonbeprepared.orgailto: or call (206) 200-3236.    (9/2/20)
  • King County Eviction Prevention and Rent Assistance Program announced a new $41.4 million program for emergency housing aid to for individuals and families throughout King County who have been economically impacted by COVID-19.  To be eligible for assistance, all tenants must have an income that is at or below 50 percent of the Area Median Income over the past 60 days, and must be partially or fully behind at least one month of rent since March 1, 2020. Tenants must also meet one of several secondary criteria, such as having high rent burden, a history of homelessness or eviction, or a disability. Visit:  https://kingcounty.gov/depts/community-human-services/COVID/eviction-prevention-rent-assistance.aspx  (9/2/20)

Situation Reports

The Situational Awareness team of the Vashon Emergency Operations Center is tasked with monitoring the COVID-19 event and reporting relevant information and updates to the VashonBePrepared teams and public.

Below you'll find links to PDF's of the full Vashon Situation Reports. As of June 29, 2020, they will be published Monday, Wednesday and Friday only.

To the left we have posted the first three sections which contain the latest report updates.

We update Voice of Vashon Alerts: Subscribe for email updates and check Vashon Emergency News for additional sources of regional emergency news.