Situation Report #161

March 12th, 2021 - Posted in Alerts, Uncategorized

  • 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 at www.VoiceofVashon.org/alertsignup or view current email version here. See archived items in the PDF section to the right on this Situation Report page.

Vashon Vaccine Availability: 
Vaccination eligibility for Washington State currently includes those in tiers 1a and 1b1, including pre-K to 12 educators and staff as well as licensed daycare workers.  For full definitions of eligibility visit  https://www.doh.wa.gov/Emergencies/COVID19/Vaccine. The Emergency Operations Center (EOC) recommends that you check the following four websites to see if there is updated information beyond what we compile in these Situation Reports, which are published Tuesday and Friday.

The Overview: Vaccination availability for new first dose patients has ebbed as Vashon has reached saturation for the current eligibility group.  Second dose commitments are being met.  No new vaccine shipments are anticipated this week.Overall Vaccination Progress: The data dashboard published by Public Health — Seattle and King County (PHSKC) shows that vaccination of the general population on Vashon, aged 16+, exceeds 37%. The vaccination rate of the island’s seniors, aged 65+, has reached saturation level and is pegged at 105% on the PHSKC dashboard. It’s important to understand that it is a challenge to be precise about vaccination rates. Vashon’s vaccination metrics remain significantly higher than other areas of King County.  One factor may be the older population on Vashon, which matches the current high priority 1b1 vaccination eligibility group.Educators/Child Care Workers: Vaccination of employees of schools and license child care facilities may also have reached saturation.  We estimate more than 300 people in that category — newly added to the 1b1 group — have received a first dose of vaccine.Vashon Pharmacy: The Pharmacy did not receive any new doses this week and may not get any next week, given the very high vaccination rate on the island.  State Department of Health (DOH) planners will likely send vaccine to other areas still trying to catch up before eligibility shifts to the 1b2 group around March 22.  The drive-through operation at the Pharmacy reduced days of operation this week but is covering all second dose needs.Sea Mar at Sunrise Ridge: The clinic at Sunrise Ridge currently has no plans to hold any public vaccination clinic this week. Sea Mar has been receiving small batches of vaccine on an irregular schedule but no new first dose allocations are currently expected.
Current Virus Statistics: 


Vashon Island COVID-19 Case Count as of 3/9/21:*

  • 108 confirmed positive cases, 0 new cases since last Situation Report on Friday
  • Date of last positive test: March 3
  • 0 new positives in past 7 days and 3 positives in the past 14 days  
  • 3 people have been hospitalized. Date of last hospitalization: December 28
  • 3 Vashon deaths per the King County dashboard, last death reported 2/27/21

King County COVID-19 Case Count as of 3/9/21:*

  • 83,274 confirmed positive cases, 911 new since last Situation Report on Friday 
  • 1,421 deaths, 9 new since last Situation Report on Friday

Washington State COVID-19 Case Count as of 3/7/21:*

  • 345,731 confirmed positive cases, 2,641 new since last Situation Report on Friday
  • 5,063 deaths, 31 since last Situation Report on Friday

*Note 1:  The statistics above are from the Public Health – Seattle & King County dashboard as of the date listed. Numbers may not be complete, as data processing lags and the actual number of cases, hospitalizations, and deaths may not yet match the dashboard.Note 2: Federal law prohibits Public Health – Seattle & King County (PHSKC) 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 dashboard


Health Tips:
The Vashon Medical Reserve Corps has analyzed the new CDC guidance that says small groups of fully vaccinated people can safely get together indoors.  “We want to help Vashon folks implement the new CDC guidance.  Everyone probably understands that there is no such thing as zero risk,” said Dr. Zach Miller, the MRC’s lead contact tracing investigator.  “So, we suggest islanders do what we do.  Since no vaccine can possibly provide perfect protection, ask yourself five simple questions to evaluate the small but real risk for even fully vaccinated people.”

  1. Do I feel sure that everyone at the gathering has actually been vaccinated?  Have they waited the necessary two weeks after their 2nd shot?
  2. How careful have the people been that I’ll be seeing?  Have they been traveling, working with the public, attending parties, or living with people who are not careful to avoid COVID exposure?
  3. How do I personally feel about the risk of the new COVID variants, knowing my vaccine might not cover some variants?
  4. How healthy am I?  What’s my personal risk? Do I have heart disease, lung disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, altered immunity?
  5. If I were to get asymptomatic COVID-19, would I pose a risk to people in my household or others I’m planning to see?

New Developments since Last Report:
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Monday issued guidance for Americans fully vaccinated against Covid-19.  The CDC defines persons as being fully vaccinated 2 weeks after completing the COVID-19 vaccine regimen of two doses for the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, or two weeks after a single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Fully vaccinated persons may gather indoors with fully vaccinated people without wearing a mask and can gather indoors with unvaccinated people from one other household. If you’ve been around someone who has COVID-19, you do not need to stay away from others or get tested unless you have symptoms. In public, vaccinated people must continue to wear masks, maintain social distance, wash hands often and follow any other protocols that are in place. You should still avoid medium or large-sized gatherings and avoid poorly ventilated spaces. CDC did not revise its travel recommendations, and continues to advise that all Americans refrain from travel unless absolutely necessary.  Current COVID-19 vaccines are effective at preventing COVID-19 disease, especially severe illness and death, however researchers are still learning how effective the vaccines are against variants of the virus. Data is still being collected as to how well COVID-19 vaccines keep people from spreading the disease and how long COVID-19 vaccines can actually protect people.  CDC studies have shown that wearing masks, social distancing, and frequent hand washing are effective against virus transmission, and should be continued in public places.  Also see the Health Tips above, and read the full CDC guidance at  https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/fully-vaccinated.html Vashon Island School District (VISD) has posted a number of documents for Vashon families and the community outlining the many safety protocols necessary to limit the spread of COVID-19. These documents provide important safety information related to VISD’s Healthy Start Return. To view the documents, visit https://www.vashonsd.org/Page/2517. Also join the VISD Healthy Start Q&A Zoom Meeting: March 10th, 5:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. at https://us02web.zoom.us/j/84647395398   State Employment Security Department data shows that Vashon’s unemployment active claims are at 387, a small drop from the last report of 402 claims one month ago.  If you need assistance filing claims for unemployment benefits, or have questions on eligibility with the COVID-19 relief programs, the Chamber of Commerce’s Ask the Expert is available for free consultations, and will guide you on how to proceed with filing for unemployment, PPP loans, or tax returns. Email deborah@vashonbeprepared.org, or call (206) 200-3236.   Career counseling is available free through the Chamber of Commerce’s Ask the Expert program. If you are struggling with COVID career transitions, need support to uncover your unique talents, or assistance crafting strategies to assure good job fit, Ask the Expert is available to support your efforts. Contact barb@mcmahonconsult.com.The Washington State Department of Health (DOH) reports that the state has reached its goal of vaccinating 45,000 people per day.  As of March 3, an average of 45,221 COVID-19 vaccine doses have been given over the past seven days.  More than 1,865,640 doses of vaccine have been given across the state, which is more than 77% of the 2,414,000 doses that have been delivered to providers and long-term care programs.  Over 2.3 million people are currently eligible for COVID-19 vaccine under phases 1a and 1b1 in the state of Washington, including roughly 260,000 educators.  https://www.doh.wa.gov/Emergencies/COVID19/DataDashboard  Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler extended his emergency order until April 4, directing all state-regulated health insurers to make additional coverage changes to aid consumers during the coronavirus pandemic. The order continues coverage for providing telehealth, coverage of all medically necessary diagnostic testing for flu and certain other viral respiratory illnesses billed during a provider visit for COVID-19 with no copay, coinsurance or deductible, and for insurers to treat drive-up testing sites for COVID-19 as provider visits with no copay, coinsurance or deductible.  https://www.insurance.wa.gov/sites/default/files/documents/emergency-order-20-02-eleventh-extension.pdf 
Progress on Community Support Operations:
Emergency Operations Center (EOC):
 Four operational priorities established by the Incident Commander, Fire Chief Charlie Krimmert, and approved by the VashonBePrepared Board, continue to guide our work:  health, food security, housing security and economic recovery.  The EOC and other elements of our island emergency response coalition were activated in response to the pandemic emergency on March 12th, 2020. That was 11 months and 26 days ago (363 days).Vaccination Operations: The major focus of our efforts has turned to the future high demand for vaccination, as new phases and tiers open up eligibility to more people, beginning with a move to tier 1b2 on March 22.  At the same time, there are signs that vaccine availability will generally be increasing in the state.  Those two factors will likely significantly increase the need for high volume vaccination operations..

  • Analysis is underway for options to increase throughput at the Vashon Pharmacy drive-through vaccination operation.  The steps may include additional adjustments of the traffic flow and the check-in process.  At the same time, alternate locations are being evaluated for backup, in the event a move from the main part of town is required.
  • If a new site location or design could fulfill project requirements and at the same time increase throughput, that could reduce the load on the MRC and CERT volunteer workforce by concentrating vaccination into fewer days of the week.

Community Engagement/MRC: As vaccination eligibility opens up for new, younger eligibility groups, we estimate there may be increased hesitancy about being vaccinated among that population.  To help people make their personal choices, public education initiatives are being strategized and designed.Community Care Team/Spiritual Resources Group: The Gratitude Project has launched.  The teams have designed thank you cards that are being mailed to dozens of volunteers who have played a role over the last year of the emergency response to the pandemic.Volunteers: Hours contributed by volunteers in the VashonBePrepared coalition continue to run at a high level as we operate both the drive-through vaccination site and the testing site, in addition to ongoing EOC and public information activities.  For the most recent reporting period, 49 volunteers contributed 584 hours of work to VashonBePrepared’s pandemic emergency response.  That brings the total contributed hours to nearly 25,300 since the activation began.  At the FEMA reimbursement grant rate of $31.72/hour, VashonBePrepared volunteers have logged more than $801,000 of in-kind value available to be applied to the 25% match requirement for reimbursement grants. VashonBePrepared gives thanks as well for the many hours of extra work logged during the pandemic in support of the Vashon community, by the staff and volunteers at local social services agencies.

Items from Previous Situation Reports:

PDF Archive of items from January here (previous months available to the right)
See Food and Housing security items below Previous Developments

Previous Developments:

Gov. Jay Inslee and the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) have set dates for moving to the next phases of COVID-19 vaccine eligibility.  Vaccine supplies have been tight but DOH is seeing federal vaccine allocations increase each week. The Governor and DOH anticipate that the allocation to the state will support the new timeline.  These dates are tentative and subject to change based on vaccine supply and demand.

  • ●Phase 1A and 1B1 are currently open and have been expanded to include educators and staff.
  • ●Phase 1B2 will open on March 22 for all critical workers in certain congregate settings and people age 16 or older who are pregnant or have a disability that puts them at higher risk.
  • ●Phase 1B3 will open April 12 for people with 2 or more comorbidities age 50 or older, and expand to persons 16 and older with 2 or more comorbidities on April 26.
  • ●Phase 1B4 opens to people who live in congregate housing, and staff and volunteers who work in congregate settings not covered in 1B tier 2 
  • https://www.doh.wa.gov/Portals/1/Documents/1600/coronavirus/VaccinationPhasesInfographic.pdf   (3/5/21)

Gov. Jay Inslee announced the authorization of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine by the Western States Scientific Safety Review Workgroup.  “The Workgroup’s authorization gives us further confidence around the safety and efficacy of the J & J vaccine,” Inslee said. “Like the other two, this vaccine offers strong protection against serious illness from COVID-19, which is critical in our fight against this deadly virus.  “With the delivery of the J & J vaccine this week, and overall increase in the number of vaccine doses coming to Washington, we have increased our capacity to get vaccine to all parts of the state.  We are making good progress on vaccination rates, and this third vaccine will help our efforts to get as many people vaccinated as quickly as possible.”   https://www.governor.wa.gov/sites/default/files/Governors%20Statement%20from%20Scientific%20Safety%20Review%20Workgroup%20JanssenFinal030221.pdf   (3/5/21)

Washington State Department of Health expects the first shipment of Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine in the coming days.  Our state allocation will be slightly over 60,000 doses of the one-shot vaccine.  However, manufacturing is still just ramping up and DOH does not expect any additional J & J vaccine until the end of the month.  For more about the J & J vaccine, visit https://medium.com/wadepthealth/a-new-covid-19-vaccine-is-almost-here-74d89db70247(3/5/21)

Washington State has had more than 5,000 deaths from COVID-19 since the pandemic began.  Gov. Jay Inslee issued a statement   “As we recognize the loss of 5,000 Washingtonians to COVID-19, let us both mourn for the families who have lost loved ones and be thankful for the Washingtonians who have pitched in to prevent further passing. ….. At the same time, it is fitting and proper to be thankful for the efforts of our citizens to fight COVID-19.  Our residents have kept each other safe. If we had suffered the same death rate as other states, such as South Dakota, we would be mourning an 11,000 additional Washingtonians right now.  Washingtonians do right by each other.  We will continue to do all we can to help reduce infections, hospitalizations and deaths, so that more Washingtonians can emerge from this pandemic to enjoy healthy lives.”  https://apnews.com/article/health-washington-coronavirus-pandemic-jay-inslee-2b6d478b8e84d2af982605169818a0ab    (3/5/21)

●The Veterans Administration (VA) is offering COVID-19 vaccine to Veterans already receiving care from the VA.  Veterans of the Puget Sound who are enrolled in the VA system — no matter their age, health or living situation — can now get a COVID-19 vaccine at VA Puget Sound Health Care Systems facilities.  VA Puget Sound is proactively contacting eligible Veterans to make vaccine appointments when it is their turn.  Vaccines are administered by appointment only, no walk-in vaccinations will be accepted. Veterans now eligible to receive a vaccine may call 206-716-5716 to schedule a vaccination, or contact their primary care team.  The VA COVID Vaccine Hotline, 206-277-4040 (recorded message only), is updated daily with current vaccine scheduling.  Veterans who are not enrolled or do not currently receive care at VA can visit VA’s Eligibility web page to learn more at https://www.va.gov/health-care/eligibility/    (3/5/21)

Creating Strength, the island-wide resilience campaign, aims to help all of us become stronger against the stresses of the pandemic, which ripple outwards into related personal crises such as unemployment, housing and food insecurity, racial injustice, isolation, and political unrest.  This week’s feature focus is on ‘Hope’.  This nine-week campaign of mental health communications and videos is produced by VashonBePrepared’s Community Care Team, which is a unit of the Medical Reserve Corps, with support from the EOC’s Community Engagement Team.  Mental health tips and videos are available online at: https://VashonBePrepared.org/CreatingStrength(3/5/21)

●The Washington State Department of Health (DOH) wants to support the safe reopening of buildings that may have been closed for an extended period of time due to COVID-19 related restrictions.  Stagnant water conditions during the COVID-19 may increase risk of exposure to bacteria.  Guidance for safe building reopening at https://www.doh.wa.gov/Newsroom/Articles/ID/2658/Reminders-for-safe-building-re-openings-after-COVID-19-closures(3/5/21)

●The Washington State Department of Health (DOH) has increased its capacity to identify new strains of COVID-19.  Both the B.1.1.7. and B.1.351 variants identified in Washington state were detected during routine genome sequencing.  The equipment DOH has purchased includes next-generation genome sequencing tools.  “This is a vital tool in quickly identifying virus mutations so that important public health decisions can be made to protect the health and safety of all those in Washington state.” said Dr. Scott Lindquist, Acting State Health Officer and State Epidemiologist for Communicable Diseases:  https://www.doh.wa.gov/Newsroom/Articles/ID/2659/Washington-State-Department-of-Health-provides-next-generation-genome-sequencing(3/5/21)

The Overview: Vaccination availability for next week will be low, working from stocks of vaccine left over from the past week, although commitments for second doses will be taken care of by both of the active vaccinators on the island. Both operations have been able to vaccinate a large percentage of newly eligible education employees this week.

Educators/Child Care Workers: By the end of this weekend nearly 300 teachers, paraeducators and other staff of schools and licensed child care facilities on Vashon will have received their first dose of vaccine. That’s the rough total of doses administered since last Saturday and scheduled for appointments through tomorrow at the Sea Mar clinic and Vashon Pharmacy drive-through. That total has been possible because Vashon’s 1b1 tier vaccination progress is very high, leaving extra vaccine doses available to help cover the needs of the education and child care community. When the news broke on Tuesday night that educators were being added to the 1b1 eligibility group, the EOC worked with Vashon Pharmacy to quickly notify schools and childcares, and to design a special appointment system for them. Since then, a steady stream of education and childcare employees have been served at the drive-through site, brought in by outreach to the School District, Harbor School, Vashon Wilderness Program, Camp Sealth, Camp Burton and perhaps a dozen others. As previously reported, Sea Mar clinic got a head start last Saturday by opening up to administer doses that were going to expire and in danger of being wasted. Sea Mar received another batch of vaccines yesterday and virtually all of them went to educators.

NOTE: New eligibility and dates have been announced for vaccination tiers 1b2 through 1b4. See details below.

Overall Vaccination Progress: The data dashboard compiled by Public Health — Seattle and King County (PHSKC) shows more than one-third of the island’s population over age 16 has received at least one dose of vaccine. According to the PHSKC tabulation, almost 97% of seniors aged 65 and over have received at least one dose. Other areas of King County are beginning to catch up with Vashon but their vaccination rates remain far below the comparable statistics for Vashon.

Vashon Pharmacy: The Pharmacy does not expect to receive any new vaccine doses next week, likely because the vaccination rate on Vashon has climbed to a very high level for the currently eligible group and vaccine doses are being allocated to other areas instead to help them catch up. The drive-through operation at the Pharmacy has enough doses to fulfill second dose needs and will also be continuing to vaccinate educators through early this coming week using existing stock.

Sea Mar at Sunrise Ridge: The clinic at Sunrise ridge currently has no plans to hold any public vaccination clinic in the coming week but Sea Mar has been receiving small batches of vaccine on an irregular schedule, so that could change.

Gov. Jay Inslee issued a statement today following President Joe Biden’s directive that all states must prioritize vaccinations of teachers and childcare workers. “Therefore, we are adding educators and licensed childcare workers to Washington’s Phase 1B-1 immediately. The Washington State Department of Health will have more specific information soon on how those workers can access vaccines. Phase Finder may take time to reflect these changes, but educators and licensed childcare workers can schedule with providers right away.

The Overview: Vaccination availability has been better this week than in most previous weeks. Second dose requirements have been met or are scheduled to be met, and first doses have been available at both of the active vaccination sites.

Overall Vaccination Progress: The data dashboard compiled by Public Health — Seattle and King County (PHSKC) indicates that nearly one-third of the island’s 16+ population has received at least one dose of vaccine.  In addition, according to the PHSKC tabulation, more than 95% of seniors aged 65 and over (tier 1b1) have received at least one dose.  The vaccination rates on Vashon continue to be substantially higher than other areas of King County.

Vashon Pharmacy: The Pharmacy’s appointment portal web page opened last night for new first dose appointments, the first time it has been open since the first week of February.  The arrival of new vaccine shipments made that possible and the drive-through vaccination site will be operating each day this week.  Primarily, the vaccine has been allocated to second doses, although about 300 first doses have been made available.

Vashon Pharmacy has created a help document to prepare for scheduling a vaccine appointment.  The document shows you what the actual registration form looks like and points out some important sections that have created confusion or delays in completing the appointment request.  A visit to the document before you try to schedule an appointment will help smooth out the process.  Visit https://vashonpharmacy.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/Vaccine-Registration-Help.pdf

Sea Mar at Sunrise Ridge: Sea Mar held first-come, first-served walk up clinics last Friday and Saturday – when it is normally closed.  Nearly 150 doses were administered over the two days.  Some of the scarce doses at Sea Mar were in danger of expiring so, to prevent them going to waste, the EOC alerted the SchoolDistrict and a phone tree operation mobilized teachers to hurry to Sunrise Ridge for shots.  Just under half of the Saturday injections went to 45 School District teachers, paraeducators, and other staff.  The other half went to members of the general public. School Superintendent Dr. Slade McSheehy said they “were very thankful that many of our in-person learning staff were able to receive their first vaccinations.”

Vashon Natural Medicine: VNM reports that it has been told it will not receive any shipments until the vaccine is available in much greater supply. The Vashon Natural Medicine website directs patients to Vashon Pharmacy.

“The best choice of the vaccine is the one that’s available,” said Dr. Scott Lindquist, state Epidemiologist for Communicable Diseases.  The single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine should start arriving in some areas of the country this week, with Washington state expecting over 60,000 doses.  Studies show the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is slightly less effective in preventing mild illness than Moderna and Pfizer, but it’s still a powerful tool that doctors say will save lives and is comparable as the first two vaccines in preventing severe illness.  For now, most people will not have a choice which vaccine they receive.  “If you are eligible, and you have an opportunity to get the vaccine, and you have an appointment, get the vaccine regardless of which vaccine it is,” advised Washington’s Secretary of Health, Dr. Umair Shah.  “All three of them are really quite good, and people should take the one that’s most available to them,” Dr. Anthony Fauci said.  For more information on the vaccines visit https://www.yalemedicine.org/news/covid-19-vaccine-comparison

Public Health – Seattle & King County (PHSKC) reports an additional death due to COVID-19 on Vashon. The death reported on the PHSKC statistics dashboard on February 27, brings the total to three.  At this time, the identity and date of death for the deceased is not known by the EOC or MRC and this information is protected by federal privacy law.   (3/2/21)

Vashon Island School District (VISD) has commenced its Healthy Start return to school plan.  The District will host a third parent and family Q&A on Wednesday March 3rd at 5:00 pm.  The public is also invited and encouraged to attend.  At the Zoom Q&A, VISD will share many details for the remaining grades who will be returning (1st-3rd March 15th, 4th-5th March 29th) and will be available for other questions as they are asked.  Spanish interpretation will also be available.  The Zoom link is https://us02web.zoom.us/j/88228509254    (3/2/21)

●The FDA has authorized a third COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use, this one made by Johnson & Johnson (J&J).  This is a major advancement in the fight against COVID-19.  In clinical trials, the vaccine was shown to be 85% effective in preventing severe illness from COVID-19.  The J&J vaccine only requires one dose and has more convenient refrigeration and storage needs. https://publichealthinsider.com/2021/03/01/5-reasons-to-celebrate-a-third-covid-19-vaccine/(3/2/21)

President Joe Biden predicted today that the United States will have enough doses for every adult American by the end of May.  The timeline speeds up by two months the administration’s previous goal of having enough shots by the end of July.  Biden said it will take additional time to inoculate everyone and he urged people to remain vigilant by wearing masks. Biden’s prediction followed word that drugmaker Merck will help manufacture the vaccine developed by Johnson & Johnson.  (3/2/21)

Reminder: King County Council Virtual Town Hall with Patty Hayes, Director of Public Health — Seattle & King County.  This virtual event will be held tomorrow, March 3, 2021, and will cover the County’s vaccination efforts and continued COVID-19 response.  The event will be livestreamed from 6:00 to 7:30pm on the King County Council Facebook page at www.facebook.com/KingCountyCouncil/live.    (3/2/21)

Herd immunity from COVID-19 in Washington State is a long way awayand there is no set timeline for when Washington will reach it.  Some experts believe that at least 70% of the population needs to build resistance to COVID-19 to reach herd immunity, and vaccines are the safe way to reach that.  Washington is far from that mark, with only about 12.9% of our state’s total population has received at least their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.  Many experts believe that herd immunity for COVID-19 can be reached, but the Washington State Department of Health said the state has no set goal percentage for vaccination. “COVID-19 has not been around long enough to determine for sure what percentage is needed to achieve community immunity.  The number is different for every disease, and this one hasn’t been around long enough to know yet.  We also do not yet know how long immunity might last, either from natural infection or from the vaccine,” the DOH said in a statement.  The DOH encourages as many people as possible to get the vaccine to keep from getting sick.  “This is a journey not a destination,” said Dr. Umair Shah, State Secretary of Health.

The Washington State Department of Health (DOH) along with Public Health – Seattle & King County and the UW Medicine Virology Lab, announce that the B.1.351 (South Africa) variant of SARS-CoV-2 has been detected in King County.  The lab also found evidence of 19 additional cases of the B.1.1.7 (United Kingdom) variant strain in Washington State, bring the total to 39.  Currently, there are no confirmed cases of the P.1 variant that originated in Brazil.  The detection of these COVID-19 variants in the state reminds us that this pandemic is not over.  Despite the decrease in the case count, DOH is very concerned about the emergence of these variants and how it will affect future case counts.  “COVID-19 is threatening us in new ways, and we need to rise to the challenge,” said Dr. Jeff Duchin, Health Officer, Public Health – Seattle & King County.  https://www.doh.wa.gov/Newsroom/Articles/ID/2639/First-case-of-B1351-variant-identified-in-Washington-State-as-cases-of-B117-increase

Vashon Island School District Healthy Start plan will begin the first phase of reopening in-person education, with preK and Kindergarden this Monday March 1st.  Dr. Slade McSheehy has said that with full consideration of WA Department of Health and L&I safety protocols, in-person learning can be accomplished in a way that limits the spread of infection, and in a way that improves student well-being and learning.  VISD remains fully committed to following the DOH recommendations and at the same time, is in full support of school staff getting immediate access to vaccinations and will continue advocacy efforts until each and every staff member has access. The timeline for the return to in-person learning will continue after next week with:

  •  March 15th – Grades 1-3
  •  March 29th – Grades 4-5
  •  April 16th – Grades 6-12 (Still in planning phase)
  • Each of these phases are allowable when trends in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are flat or decreasing and the school can demonstrate the ability to limit transmission in the school environment.

New modeling report explores options for safer return to in-person learning.  On Feb. 24, DOH and the Institute for Disease Modeling (IDM) released a report that explores how to minimize COVID-19 introductions in schools, and what can be done to mitigate its spread within schools and the larger community.  The study found that the number of infected people who show up to school is proportional to spread in the community. More involved or costly safety measures — like vaccinating teachers and coronavirus testing at schools — may offer limited protective benefit when basic protocols like masking and distancing are in place, they say, but could be key to keeping case counts down if more transmissible coronavirus variants become common.  The conclusions don’t significantly change the conversation about coronavirus and schools.  But, “Now we can really say how much and say precisely why [community transmission] matters,” said Dan Klein, who led the study and is senior research manager at IDM.  https://www.doh.wa.gov/Newsroom/Articles/ID/2643/New-modeling-report-explores-options-for-safer-return-to-in-person-learning

Creating Strength, the island-wide resilience campaign, aims to help all of us become stronger against the stresses of the pandemic, which ripple outwards into related personal crises such as unemployment, housing and food insecurity, racial injustice, isolation, and political unrest.  This week’s feature focus is on ‘Nurture’.  This nine-week campaign of mental health communications and videos is produced by VashonBePrepared’s Community Care Team, which is a unit of the Medical Reserve Corps, with support from the EOC’s Community Engagement Team.  Mental health tips and videos are available online at: https://VashonBePrepared.org/CreatingStrength(2/2621)

King County Councilmembers Rod Dembowski, Jeanne Kohl-Welles, Joe McDermott and Girmay Zahilay will be hosting a virtual town hall on Wednesday, March 3rd from 6:00 to 7:30pm.  The town hall will be dedicated to making sure the council understands your priorities for the County and region.  The town Hall will also discuss the County’s vaccination efforts and continued COVID-19 response.  Patty Hayes, Director, Public Health – Seattle & King County will be available to answer questions on COVID-19.  The event will be streamed on the King County Council Facebook page and you can submit your questions in advance of the meeting at https://www.facebook.com/KingCountyCouncil/ . 

●The state Utilities and Transportation Commission has extended protections for electric and natural gas customers struggling to pay their bills due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The order prevents investor-owned energy utilities from disconnecting customers has been extended to July 31.  In addition, utilities will continue to waive late fees and deposits through Jan. 27, 2022.  https://www.utc.wa.gov/Pages/default.aspx

FEMA: Youth Preparedness Council will host a webinar on Friday March 5th at 5:30pm.  The Youth Preparedness Council (YPC) seeks to bring together youth leaders interested in supporting disaster preparedness and making a difference in their communities by completing disaster preparedness projects nationally and locally. The YPC also provides young people an opportunity to present their perspectives, feedback, and opinions to FEMA staff.  Learn more about YPC visit https://www.ready.gov/kids/youth-preparedness-council. Register for the YPC’s webinar at Meeting Registration – Zoom (zoomgov.com)

Gov. Inslee announced Thursday that all 28 Washington counties will remain in Phase 2 of reopening for at least the next two weeks.  The state is putting a pause on assessing metrics for the next two weeks “in recognition of the fact that we’ve made incredible progress in knocking down the infection rate of COVID in these last few weeks,” said Inslee.  The governor did not provide details on what any later phases might look like for counties whose metrics continue to improve, but said he expects to have answers to that question sometime in the “next several weeks as we look at the development of the science”.

●The Small Business Administration (SBA) is taking steps with the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) to further promote equitable relief for America’s small businesses.  The changes demonstrate the commitment of the Biden-Harris Administration to racial and gender equity, reaching low and moderate-income, rural, urban, and other underserved areas.  The PPP enhancements will:

  • ●Establish a 14-day, exclusive PPP loan application period for businesses and nonprofits with fewer than 20 employees, 
  • ●Allow sole proprietors, independent contractors, and self-employed individuals to receive more financial, 
  • ●Eliminate a restriction on access for small business owners with prior non-fraud felony convictions,
  • ●Eliminate restrictions on small business owners with federal student loan debt delinquency; and
  • ●Ensure access for non-citizen small business owners who are lawful U.S. residents.
  • The 14-day exclusivity period will start on Wednesday, Feb. 24 at 9 a.m., while the other four changes will be implemented by the first week of March. https://www.sba.gov/funding-programs/loans/coronavirus-relief-options/paycheck-protection-program

Vashon Island Fire and Rescue (VIFR), VashonBePrepared, and the Vashon Emergency Operations Center (EOC) have signed on to participate in FEMA’s Cascadia Rising 2022 earthquake exercise. “We will play and perform a functional exercise over all four days of Cascadia Rising”, said Rick Wallace, EOC Manager.  “A functional exercise is where the participants inside the EOC experience things as if the earthquake response was actually underway, very realistic, except there won’t be fire trucks and ambulances rolling around the island.  Vashon’s participation will also include as many of the community partners who have been such a big part of our pandemic response as want to participate.  There will likely be several drills for Medical Reserve Corps (MRC), Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) and Ham Radio operators (Auxiliary Communications Service, ACS).  We will also invite our social service agency partners such as the Food Bank, Senior Center, and others.  “Planning has been delayed for many months due to the pandemic, so we are just getting started and have a lot of work to do,” Wallace said. Cascadia Rising 2022 National Level Full Scale Exercise, scheduled for June 13th – 16th 2022.  https://mil.wa.gov/cascadia-rising

Vashon Pharmacy: Early notification has been received that second doses of vaccine will be coming next week. That means, if all goes well and the shipments arrive as promised, there will not be any need to change second dose appointments next week. In addition, there may be doses remaining to do some small number of first doses for people in the 1b1 priority category this coming week. Plans will be finalized over the weekend pending vaccine shipment arrival expected Monday morning. If there is an opportunity for new first dose appointments it will be announced on the VashonPharmacy appointment website (VashonPharmacy.com/covid) and through a message on the Voice of Vashon Emergency Alert Service via email, Facebook and 1650AM.

Sea Mar at Sunrise Ridge: Sea Mar held a first-come-first-served walk up clinic for first doses this morning, dispensing Pfizer vaccine injections. There will be another limited clinic tomorrow morning. The total doses for the two days will be less than 150. Sea Mar asks patients not to line up before 6:00am. To reduce the need for lines at the doors, patients will be given times to come back later in the day.

Vashon Natural Medicine: VNM reports that it has been told it will not receive any shipments until the vaccine is available in much greater supply. The Vashon Natural Medicine website directs patients to Vashon Pharmacy.

Washington State’s vaccination program is currently averaging 25,346 doses given each day. On Feb. 11, the vaccination centers set a record, administering 44,872 doses in a single day, which is the DOH goal of vaccinating 45,000 people per day.  Washington’s 3-week allocation forecast from the federal government continues to increase.  This information allows DOH to develop a multi-week strategy that helps with consistency and predictability.  As of Feb. 22, more than 1,411,453 doses of vaccine have been given across the state.  https://www.doh.wa.gov/Newsroom/Articles/ID/2647/COVID-19-vaccine-distribution-update-from-the-Washington-State-Department-of-Health

●A third vaccine will be coming to Washington in March if the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) grants Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for the Johnson & Johnson – Janssen COVID-19 vaccine.  The FDA independent advisory committee will meet Friday to review the EUA application.  If the EUA is granted, the vaccine will be further vetted by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) and the Scientific Safety Review Workgroup as part of the Western States Pact.  The Scientific Safety Review Workgroup includes experts appointed by Washington state, other member states, and nationally recognized scientists with expertise in infectious diseases, immunization, and public health.  The Johnson & Johnson vaccine only requires one dose, which will help people get protected against COVID-19 without having to worry about finding or scheduling an appointment for a second dose.  If granted authorization, Washington will likely be allocated 60,900 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine next week.

The Washington State Department of Health (DOH) along with Public Health – Seattle & King County and the UW Medicine Virology Lab, reported that the B.1.351 variant of SARS-CoV-2 has been detected here in King County.  The variant, initially identified in South Africa, was detected yesterday through genomic sequencing at the UW Medicine Virology Laboratory.  At the same time, a virology lab found evidence of 19 additional cases of the B.1.1.7 variant strain in Washington state, first identified in the United Kingdom.  “The detection of these COVID-19 variants in our state reminds us that this pandemic is not over. Despite the decrease in our case count, we are very concerned about the emergence of these variants and how it will affect future case counts. As a community, we need to redouble our efforts to prevent the spread of this virus and its variants by following public health guidance,” said Acting State Health Officer Scott Lindquist, MD, MPH.  https://www.doh.wa.gov/Newsroom/Articles/ID/2639/First-case-of-B1351-variant-identified-in-Washington-State-as-cases-of-B117-increase   (2/23/21)

Misinformation can spread fast in a digital world.  The Washington State Department of Health has established a COVID-19 Vaccine Frequently Asked Questions hub, which should be your first stop when you have a question. The hub provides answers to some of the most frequent questions heard from people throughout the state.  To take the guesswork out of vaccination information, the hub answers are based on the most reliable and up to date science.   Visit: https://www.doh.wa.gov/Emergencies/COVID19/VaccineInformation/FrequentlyAskedQuestions#heading62073    (2/23/21)

An earthquake warning test will be run on Thursday, February 25, at 11:00am. The Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA) test message will run on your wireless devices if you sign up to participate in the test alert. Washington Emergency Management Division and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) will test the alert system on the 20th anniversary of the 6.8 Nisqually earthquake in 2001.  To receive the test messages, mobile phone users must opt-in.  Most newer Apple and Android phones have the option to receive WEA 2.0 and WEA 3.0 test messages.  Do not assume that your carrier has opted in for you.  For directions on how to opt-in, visit mil.wa.gov/alerts or check with your cell phone carrier.   (2/23/21)

Evidence on vaccination efficacy is emerging that vaccination efforts are significantly reducing the risk of both severe COVID-19 disease and transmission.  A study by Public Health England found that the risk of COVID-19 disease among healthcare workers decreased by 65 to 72% after the first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, and more than 85% after the second dose.  Similar data has been reported from Public Health Scotland and Israel’s Ministry of Health.  These reports provide some of the earliest evidence demonstrating the SARS-CoV-2 vaccines’ effect on transmission.  https://www.gov.uk/government/news/first-real-world-uk-data-shows-pfizer-biontech-vaccine-provides-high-levels-of-protection-from-the-first-dose    (2/23/21)

CDC COVID-19 Response Team published data on vaccine safety monitoring inMorbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR).  The study reviewed safety monitoring data for the first month that Pfizer and Moderna vaccines were being administered in the US from December 14, 2020, to January 13, 2021.  During this period, 13.8 million doses of vaccine were administered, and there were 6,994 post-vaccination adverse events reported.  The most common symptoms were headache (22.4%), fatigue (16.5%), and dizziness (16.5%).  Anaphylactic reactions were reported in approximately 4.5 out of every million vaccinations, which is similar to the rate expected for inactivated seasonal influenza vaccines. Adverse events were more likely to be reported after an individual’s second dose than their first dose.   https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/70/wr/mm7008e3.htm    (2/23/21)

WA COVID Vaccine Finder (CovidWA.com) is a volunteer-driven effort to help Washingtonians find appointments for the COVID-19 vaccine by listing which sites currently have vaccine available.  Before booking an appointment through the vaccine finder site, you MUST confirm your eligibility with the Washington State Vaccine Phase Finder at findyourphasewa.org.   (2/23/21)

Pfizer and Moderna project a major increase in vaccine deliveries that will result in 140 million more doses over the next five weeks, saying they have solved manufacturing challenges.  The Biden administration told governors Tuesday that doses allotted to states would grow from 13.5 million to 14.5 million per week, and it also directed 2.1 million doses to pharmacies.  CDC data indicates that about 75 million doses had been delivered as of Monday — about 10 million fewer doses than the companies said in their prepared testimony that they have provided.   (2/23/21)

The Overview: This week, the island will be receiving roughly twice the doses received in any previous week. However, most of the injections will be for second doses. Second doses take priority this week because the clock is ticking to complete vaccination courses before the required deadline. Much of the vaccine arriving this week was originally scheduled for last week, but was delayed by severe weather snarling the country’s transportation systems, thus requiring rescheduling of hundreds of vaccination appointments on Vashon.    (2/23/21)

Overall Vaccination Progress: By the end of last week, the island’s registered vaccination providers had administered over 2,800 first vaccination doses. All of the vaccinations so far have been done at the Vashon Pharmacy drive-through site or at the Sea Mar clinic. The total number of first dose vaccinations at island vaccination points equals nearly one-third of the adult population of the island, based on the latest Vashon EOC tracking.  The Public Health dashboard reports nearly 85% of Vashon residents 65 or older have received at least one vaccination dose.  That compares to other King County regions, which are in the range of 43% to 58% first dose vaccination of residents 65 or older, about 30 to 40 points behind Vashon.   (2/23/21)

Vashon Pharmacy: Virtually all of the Pharmacy drive-through vaccinations this week are for second doses, potentially more than 1,600 of them, a mix of Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. As indicated above, much of this week’s schedule was supposed to take place last week, but had to be rescheduled because shipments were delayed by weather. MRC and CERT volunteer shifts were expanded this week to handle the largest number of projected vaccination injections since the drive-through site opened. The current one-day record for injections will likely be surpassed this week, since two days have 280 injection appointments scheduled, which is 40 more than the previous one-day record. The appointment reservation web page will not be opened this week, since no first doses will be available.  (2/23/21)

Sea Mar at Sunrise Ridge: Sea Mar received 300 doses of Moderna vaccine this week, which will be devoted entirely to second dose needs of patients who had previously been vaccinated at the clinic. However, the clinic indicates there is a possibility of receiving a shipment of additional doses that may become available for first dose use. Notice of vaccine availability at the Sea Mar walk-up clinic will be posted at: https://seamar.org/covid-vaccine.   (2/23/21)

Vashon Natural Medicine: VNM reports that it has been told it will not receive any shipments until the vaccine is available in much greater supply. The Vashon Natural Medicine website directs patients to Vashon Pharmacy.   (2/23/21)

Vashon Island School District is one of the 46 districts invited to participate in an expansion of the state’s Return to Learn COVID-19 testing program for schools.  The Return to Learn program began with a pilot program of about a dozen districts. As reported this week in the Seattle Times, Vashon has been put on the list of possible participants, but the District has indicated that many fundamental details remain to be worked out, such as who would be tested and what type of test might be used. The District has told the Return to Learn managers that all available resources are tied up at this time getting kids back into classrooms, and it will be a month or more before Vashon schools will be able to make a decision about proceeding.  The state-sponsored school testing program is part of the ongoing effort to expand in-person learning to more Washington students.  Read more at https://www.doh.wa.gov/Newsroom/Articles/ID/2627/DOH-expands-school-testing-initiative-to-encourage-more-in-person-learning     (2/19/21)

The Biden administration is announcing more federal funding to expand Covid-19 testing in different sectors and “better prepare for the threat of variants.”  The administration will invest $650 million in federal funding for Covid-19 testing for schools, $815 million for domestic manufacturing of testing supplies, and nearly $200 million toward genome sequencing.  “We need to test broadly and rapidly to turn the tide of this pandemic. But we still don’t have enough testing and we don’t have enough testing in all the places it needs to be,” said Carole Johnson, White House COVID-19 testing coordinator.     (2/19/21)

Special enrollment period for health insurance is now open through May 15 for people who are uninsured.  Anyone who doesn’t have health insurance can buy a plan directly from an insurer or through the Washington Health Benefit Exchange.  If you buy a plan through the Exchange, you may qualify for federal help paying your premium.  https://www.wahealthplanfinder.org/     (2/19/21)

On Vashon, the Brown Agency is one of the Chamber of Commerce Ask the Expert providers. The agency offers free health insurance consultations and assistance for applications and coverage options through the Affordable Care Act or Washington Apple Health. Call (206) 567-4600 (2/19/21)

Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler has extended two emergency orders 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 are both extended until March 21, 2021.  https://www.insurance.wa.gov/news/kreidler-extends-emergency-orders-coronavirus-testing-and-surprise-billing-march-21 (2/19/21)

Employment Security Department data shows that Vashon’s unemployment has dropped about 6% over the past two weeks, from 402 to 378 active claims.  If you need assistance filing claims for unemployment benefits, or have questions on eligibility with the COVID-19 relief programs, the Chamber of Commerce’s Ask the Expert is available for free consultations, and will guide you on how to proceed with filing for unemployment, PPP loans, or tax returns.  Email deborah@vashonbeprepared.org, or call (206) 200-3236.    (2/19/21)

Creating Strength, the island-wide resilience campaign, aims to help all of us become stronger against the stresses of the pandemic, which ripple outwards into related personal crises such as unemployment, housing and food insecurity, racial injustice, isolation, and political unrest.  This week’s feature focus is on ‘Discover’.  This nine-week campaign of mental health communications and videos is produced by VashonBePrepared’s Community Care Team, which is a unit of the Medical Reserve Corps, with support from the EOC’s Community Engagement Team.  Mental health tips and videos are available online at: https://VashonBePrepared.org/CreatingStrength(2/19/21)

Coping with COVID: Depression and anxiety, is a Washington State Department of Health behavioral health podcast on coping with COVID-19.  In the latest episode, Kira Mauseth, PhD and Doug Dicharry, MD discuss how depression and anxiety can show up during a disaster, and simple steps for managing those feelings.  Visit https://medium.com/wadepthealth/coping-with-covid-depression-and-anxiety-4c958282a9e5    (2/19/21)

Washington Listens helps people manage stress and anxiety they may be experiencing because of COVID-19.  If you or anyone you know is having difficulties managing stress, call the Washington Listens support line at 1-833-681-0211. Hours are from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. TTY and language access services are available by using 7-1-1 or their preferred method.  Resources and self-help tips are available athttps://waportal.org/partners/home/WaListens.   (2/19/21)

King County Executive Dow Constantine submitted his sixth supplemental budget relating to the COVID-19 pandemic.  The $91 million budget includes $45 million in additional rental assistance and $5 million to support community organizations.  The budget also includes funding for COVID-19 vaccination sites, purchase of PPE, and funding for COVID-19 testing and tracing. https://www.kingcounty.gov/elected/executive/constantine/news/release/2021/February/18-covid-supplemental-budget.aspx(2/19/21)

Gov. Jay Inslee signed legislation Friday distributing $2.2 billion in federal money for COVID-19 relief.  The bill includes funds for: 

  • $714 million for K-12 schools
  • $618 million for public health, including testing and contract tracing
  • $100 million for epidemiology and laboratory grants, and vaccines
  • $365 million for rental assistance and other housing-related programs
  • $240 million for business assistance grants
  • $91 million for other income-assistance programs
  • $50 million for a variety of childcare-related items; and
  • $26 million for food banks and other food related programs.   (2/19/21)

New coronavirus variants could lead to a rapid rise in the numbers of Covid-19 cases, warned a report from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  Researchers from the CDC and Minnesota health department detailed cases of the B.1.1.7 variant, first identified in the United Kingdom.  Earlier modeling data suggested this variant, which may be more transmissible, could become the predominant variant in the United States in March, and the CDC has urged people to take action to reduce spread.  Dr. Anthony Fauci said in an interview with Spectrum News, “We hope we can contain this particular outbreak and all of its ramifications throughout the world in a way that doesn’t have the … cycling of various versions of the virus so that you have to address it differently each year.”  There are a number of new variants that have emerged recently.  Here are the top four that are most worrying:

  • B.1.1.7 was first seen in the UK. It appears to be transmitted the same way — but is more contagious and easily spread, experts say.
  • B.1.351 was first seen in South Africa and has since been reported in more than 30 other countries, according to the World Health Organization.
  • P.1 is suspected of fueling a resurgence of viral spread in Brazil. It has since been reported in the US and Japan, carried by travelers from Brazil.
  • L452R was seen in California as well as a dozen other states. Experts are still investigating the significance of this strain.   (2/19/21)

The U.S. Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention continue to underscore that there is no credible evidence of food or food packaging associated with or as a likely source of viral transmission of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the virus causing COVID-19. Read FDA statement at https://www.fda.gov/news-events/press-announcements/covid-19-update-usda-fda-underscore-current-epidemiologic-and-scientific-information-indicating-no   (2/19/21)

COVID-19 guidance for farmers markets, food pantries, grocery stores, restaurants, and other food establishments has been updated.  This guidance is now combined into one document for all Food Workers and Establishments (PDF).  The individual links on DOH’s Resources and Recommendations page for farmers markets, food pantries, grocery stores, and restaurants will soon be redirected to the Food Workers and Establishments document.  The new guidance document is at  https://www.doh.wa.gov/Portals/1/Documents/1600/coronavirus/FoodWorkerEstablishment.pdf   (2/19/21)

The governor’s office also released a new FAQ on Outdoor Seating Requirements and Open-Air Structuresas part of theHealthy Washington – Roadmap to Recovery plan.  Visit  https://www.governor.wa.gov/sites/default/files/COVID19%20Outdoor%20Open%20Air%20Seating%20Guidance.pdf  (2/19/21)

Vashon Community Care (VCC) Executive Director Wendy Kleppe reported that a third round of COVID-19 tests of residents and staff were negative.  “Today marks 14 days since our positive cases.  The Department of Social & Health Services does require a 28 day period without any positive cases before we can move into our Safe Start Re-opening plan”, Kleppe reported.  This means that their communal dining, activities, and salon services will be delayed until March 3rd, regardless of current test results.  VCC will hold a Town Hall Meeting on March 9th. Hosted by Torsten Hirche, President and CEO of Transforming Age, the event will engage industry experts on the topic of COVID-19.  For more information and the Zoom link, visit  https://www.transformingage.org/vashoncommunitycare/upcoming-events/    (2/19/21)

Vashon Pharmacy: If the allocated shipments arrive, virtually all of the Pharmacy drive-through vaccinations will be for approximately 1,500 second doses. Much of the next week’s schedule was supposed to take place this week and some days next week are being doubled up, due to the weather delay mentioned above, as well as some issues revolving around access problems for the new state online ordering process. MRC and CERT volunteer shifts have been expanded to accommodate what promises to be the greatest number of projected vaccination injections since the drive-through site opened. The current record for injections has grown from 60 per day when the site first opened, to a one-day record last week of 240 injections. Two days next week have 280 injections scheduled, again assuming the vaccine arrives in spite of the bad weather around the country. Given the emphasis on second doses, the online appointment portal will probably not be open to schedule first doses during the coming week.    (2/19/21)

Sea Mar at Sunrise Ridge: Sea Mar continues to primarily serve the second dose needs of patients who had previously been vaccinated at the clinic. Like the Pharmacy, Sea Mar has had to reschedule a number of appointments into next week because anticipated vaccine doses did not arrive due to the severe weather back east. Patients are being notified by phone if they are being rescheduled.   (2/19/21)

Vashon Natural Medicine: VNM reports that it has been told it will not receive any shipments until the vaccine is available in much greater supply.  (2/19/21)

It is important to note that no Social Security number or other government identification is required in order to receive a vaccination. The state Department of Health has confirmed that vaccination is available regardless of citizenship or immigration status, assuming patients are eligible in the current vaccination priority phase. DOH issued the guidance to help reduce fears that Immigrations and Customs Enforcement might use vaccine clinics to detain and deport people due to their immigration status.https://www.doh.wa.gov/Emergencies/COVID19/HealthcareProviders/VaccineInformationforHealthcareProviders/ToolkitandResources  (2/19/21)

Washington State Department of Health (DOH) announced that as of Feb. 15, more than 1,201,120 doses of vaccine have been given across the state, which is nearly 83 percent of the 1,453,425 doses that have been delivered to our providers and long-term care programs.  Washington is currently averaging 26,204 vaccine doses given each day, still short of its goal of 45,000 per day.  As mentioned above, winter storms are causing vaccine shipment delays across the nation. DOH estimates that more than 90% of the state’s allocation for this week is arriving late due to severe weather around the country.  Moderna vaccines have not shipped yet this week in Washington state.  Pfizer vaccines did not ship as usual on Monday, and only a limited number of vaccine shipments were processed Tuesday and Wednesday..  https://www.doh.wa.gov/Newsroom/Articles/ID/2632/COVID-19-vaccine-distribution-update-from-the-Washington-State-Department-of-Health (2/19/21)

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said on Wednesday that “discrepancies and difficulties” in vaccine distribution from state to state are going to disappear as more vaccine supply becomes available.  Every state is handling who gets the vaccine differently and Fauci said there’s a need “to respect the ability and the right of the states who know their own situation well to make their own decisions,” and avoid dictating from above, but “there should be some sort of consistency, not necessarily identical, from state to state.”  “Hopefully that will smooth out as we get more vaccine doses,” he said. “The cure of all of this is when the supply-demand gap closes because right now the demand far exceeds the supply. As we get into the later months, April, May, June and July … I think those kind of discrepancies and difficulties are going to disappear.”   (2/19/21)

Is the COVID-19 vaccine safe for me? It’s normal to have questions and concerns.  Washington State Department of Health (DOH) has a website with answers to common vaccine questions and concerns, based on the science behind the vaccinations.  Visit https://medium.com/wadepthealth/is-the-covid-19-vaccine-safe-for-me-b7457a60f1fa   (2/19/21)

Overview: Washington state continues to prioritize completing second doses for all patients who have received their first dose. However, vaccine supplies to Washington state are currently falling short of the overall demand for vaccine dosesThis is resulting in statewide second-dose allocation challenges. System changes also led to delayed delivery of this week’s anticipated second-dose vaccine supply to Vashon Pharmacy. Consequently, appointments for second-dose vaccinations from Vashon Pharmacy are being rescheduled to next week. Second doses (also known as vaccine boosters) that are received next week will still be administered within the CDC’s recommended window after the first dose, for both Moderna and Pfizer.


Vashon Pharmacy: After two snow-day cancellations, operations resumed today at Vashon Pharmacy’s vaccination drive-through operation. The anticipated supply of second-dose vaccine was delayed (see Overview, above), resulting in second-dose appointments being postponed to the same times and days next week.  Patients are being notified via automated phone messages about the rescheduling.  The small supply of vaccine left over from the two snow-days will be used to administer first doses to folks whose appointments got rescheduled from last Saturday and Monday to this Wednesday.  The drive-through vaccination site hours this week will remain 9am till noon, and 1pm to 4pm, as in past weeks.

Sea Mar at Sunrise Ridge and Vashon Natural Medicine do not have vaccine available for the general public this week, although Sea Mar did receive a small quantity to do the required second doses for patients who received their first injections at Sea Mar.

Washington Department of Health (DOH) will focus on second doses of COVID-19 vaccine this week, meaning appointments to get a first dose of COVID-19 vaccine will be extremely limited in Washington State the week of Feb. 14.  Vaccine shipments in Washington have been delayed this week due to weather conditions.  DOH will prioritize state and local mobile vaccination teams for long-term care facilities and adult family homes; mass vaccination sites in King, Pierce, Snohomish, and Spokane counties; and other sites throughout the state that address equity.  Dr. Umair A. Shah, Secretary of Health said, “While the limited availability of first doses will be challenging this coming week, focusing on second doses will help pave the way for an improved and more sustainable allocation of vaccines in future weeks.”  https://www.doh.wa.gov/

Researchers at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington have released their latest model, which predicts a COVID-19 death toll of 614,503 Americans by June 1 — down slightly from the previous forecast released last week, which projected 631,000 deaths.  Warmer weather and wider vaccination could help drive transmission down between now and August, according to the IHME.Progress could also be reversed if people let their guards down, said IHME.  “Transmission has been contained over the winter through mask wearing, decreased mobility, and avoidance of high-risk settings such as indoor dining,” IHME said. “As daily case counts decline and vaccination increases, behaviors are likely to change towards increased risk of transmission.”  https://covid19.healthdata.org/united-states-of-america    (2/16/21)

Governor Inslee also authorized the Department of Commerce to distribute another $87 million for additional rental assistance and business assistance programs. That distribution will be split evenly toward those goals, about $43.5 million each, funded through the state’s Disaster Response Account.  The additional $43.5 million going to business assistance grants can be used to provide for expenses for businesses impacted by the pandemic. These funds can be used for rent, mortgage and utility assistance, technical assistance, and to help prevent permanent closure of a business.   Visit https://www.commerce.wa.gov/(2/16/21)

Governor Inslee’s Healthy Washington – Roadmap to Recovery has made some clarifications for child care, youth development, and day camps.  The guidance includes license-exempt programs operated in a manner that complies with the child and staff cohorting and group size, and not programs where parents remain on-site for purposes other than employment, or Play and Learn groups where parents and caregivers remain on-site.  The full guidance is at https://www.doh.wa.gov/Portals/1/Documents/1600/coronavirus/DOH-OSPI-DYCF-SchoolsChildCareGuidance.pdf     (2/16/21)

President Joe Biden is extending a ban on housing foreclosures to June 30 to help homeowners struggling during the coronavirus pandemic.  The moratorium on foreclosures of federally guaranteed mortgages had been set to expire on March 31.  The White House says more than 10 million homeowners are behind on mortgage payments and Biden’s actions are to help keep people in their homes amid “a housing affordability crisis” triggered by the pandemic.    (2/16/21)

Vashon Community Care (VCC) Executive Director Wendy Kleppe reported that the results of last Friday’s COVID-19 tests of residents and staff were negative. That makes three rounds of tests with no further positive COVID-19 cases. Kleppe noted that they await instructions from Public Health – Seattle & King County as to whether any further testing or other steps will be needed.   (2/16/21)

Vashon Vaccine Doses Reported: Because Public Health – Seattle & King County’s data reporting tends to lag behind what has actually occurred, the correct number of vaccine doses received on Vashon may be higher than reported by the county. As of February 16th, 20.2% of Vashon’s residents over age 16 have received at least one dose. That percentage increases with age groupings, to 59.8% over 65 and 58.1% of Vashon residents over 75 having received at least one dose. COVID-19 data for King County shows that on a per-100K basis, Vashon has by far the lowest rate of positive tests, hospitalizations and deaths, and the highest rate of vaccinations. https://www.kingcounty.gov/depts/health/covid-19/data/vaccination.aspx    (2/16/21)

Vashon Community Care (VCC) has completed two rounds of building-wide testing (residents and staff). Wendy Kleppe, Executive Director, announced that all tests to date have resulted in negative results, outside of the two initial cases of the current outbreak.  As requested by Public Health, they have completed additional testing of all residents and staff.  Once they receive those results, VCC will meet with Public Health, which will determine next steps.  The facility must be clear for 28 days since the last positive test, which was on Feb 19th, before they can follow the Safe Opening plan.  This week, in an unannounced visit, a King County Public Health and Department of Social and Health Services investigative nurse reviewed infection control practices, and found no errors or shortcomings with VCC’s infection control practices and protocols.  So far, more than 92 percent of staff and residents have been vaccinated, far surpassing the national average in long-term care facilities.    (2/12/21)

Vaccine Fear Health Tip:  Vashon is no different than other areas when it comes to fear.  Vaccine fear has arrived in several ways, and our Community Care Team (CCT) wants you to know how to get help.  “The fear comes in two ways,” said CCT leader Jinna Risdal.  “Some people are afraid of the vaccine, often because of misinformation circulating on the Internet.  Other people, a lot of people these days, fear that they will not be able to get vaccinated and put the pandemic behind them.”  If you have vaccine fear, or know someone who does, check out the Coping with COVID page:  VashonBePrepared.org/COVID-Resources/For-Our-Mental-Health/Coping-with-COVID  “It helps to remember that everyone who wants the vaccine will get one,” Risdal said,  “We also worry that it’s easy for fear to turn into anger, and we need everyone to treat our VashonBePrepared volunteers and Vashon Pharmacy staff nicely.  They are working hard in challenging conditions to serve Vashon. The Vashon Community Care Team Helpline is available to help. (206) 701-0694 and is open from 8:00am-8:00pm daily.

Epidemiologist Dr. Zach Miller of Vashon MRC advised that the COVID variants we’re hearing about, from Brazil, South Africa, and the UK, are likely already here in greater numbers than are being reported, because in the United States, sampling of virus material is not yet as widespread as in some other countries. Mutations are likely also occurring with the virus that’s active here in the US, so even if we don’t travel far, we may be exposed to new, more infectious variants. As Dr. Miller noted, “That’s a compelling reason to protect our communities with continued safety steps, such as masking up, maintaining distance, avoiding crowded indoor spaces, and washing hands frequently.”

Dr. Jim Bristow of Vashon Medical Reserve Corps remarked that we need to re-dedicate ourselves to maintaining safe behaviors. “We sympathize with folks feeling a pent-up desire to be free of all these annoying restrictions and hygiene measures, but the fact is that we still have a long way to go before it’s safe to let down our guard. Even after someone has gotten their second dose of the vaccine and waited two weeks for fullest immunity, there’s still a chance they can spread disease to friends and family, and a chance they’ll get sick with the virus despite the vaccine, because it’s only 94-95% effective, meaning as many as five or six percent of vaccinated patients are still susceptible to infection.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced new guidelines that include wearing well-fitting face masks or two masks at a time to help curb the COVID-19 pandemic.  The new recommendation says wearing tight-fit masks or double-masking with cloth and surgical masks increases protection.  New research by the agency shows that transmission of the virus can be reduced by up to 96.5 percent if both an infected individual and an uninfected individual wear tightly fitted surgical masks or a cloth-and-surgical-mask combination.  Dr. Rochelle P. Walensky, director of the CDC, announced the findings during a White House coronavirus briefing, and coupled it to President Biden’s challenge for Americans to wear masks for the first 100 days of his presidency.  Dr. Walensky said that masks were especially crucial, given the concern about new variants circulating.  There is clear evidence that the more of us who wear masks and the better the mask fits, the more each of us benefit individually. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/your-health/effective-masks.html

Winter mask tip: Wet masks won’t protect you.  Change your mask when it becomes wet.  A wet mask is harder to breathe through, is less efficient at filtering, and vents more around the edges of the mask.  Keep a spare mask to replace one that becomes wet from the moisture in your breath, snow, or rain.   

Vashon Pharmacy: With the help of CERT and MRC volunteers, the drive-through vaccination site is setting new records for the number of patients served. From Tuesday through Thursday of this week, over 600 vaccination doses were administered.  Next week’s activity will be dedicated to administering second doses of both Moderna and Pfizer vaccines.

Sea Mar at Sunrise Ridge: For the third week in a row, Sea Mar received only a small number of doses to support providing second doses for patients who had previously been vaccinated at the clinic. A request for a large shipment of primary doses has still not been fulfilled, and the Sunrise Ridge health center does not plan to conduct a public vaccination clinic next week.

Vashon Natural Medicine: VNM continues to be on hold for shipments until the vaccine is available in much greater supply.

Washington Department of Health acknowledges that there has been confusion surrounding second COVID-19 vaccine doses.  DOH is committed to ensuring there is a second dose of vaccine for everyone who receives their first dose.  They have asked providers to prioritize vaccine series completion.  This may mean using first doses to vaccinate people who need second doses.  Providers are encouraged to schedule second dose appointments when patients receive their first dose.  The second dose should be administered as close to the recommended interval as possible. 

  • Two doses of Pfizer-BioNTech should be given 3 weeks or 21 days apart.
  • Two doses of Moderna should be given 1 month or 28 days apart. If people are not able to get a second dose appointment following the recommended interval, the second dose of Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines may be scheduled for administration up to 6 weeks or 42 days after the first dose.  https://www.doh.wa.gov/Emergencies/COVID19/VaccineState-level adjustments: As mentioned above, the federal government announced this week that it will be providing states with three-week advance forecasts of how much vaccine will be shipped. The state Department of Health (DOH) reacted positively to the news, saying it would be a big help to planning vaccination operations. One major challenge around the state, and particularly on Vashon, has been the difficulty of being able to reliably offer first dose appointments more than one week at a time. The DOH at the same time warned that it would be taking steps to even out distribution statewide, that vaccination phases and tiers would be rolled out simultaneously in all counties, not a county at a time. The state also indicated that it may reallocate vaccines so counties that are having trouble meeting the phase and tier targets would be brought along to catch up. This could mean that some areas get less vaccine for a while, until the county vaccination rates have been equalized.

Vashon Island School District Healthy Start plan has announced a timeline for reopening in-person education.  Dr. Slade McSheehy has said that with full consideration of WA Department of Health and L&I safety protocols, in-person learning can be accomplished in a way that limits the spread of infection, and in a way that improves student well-being and learning.  VISD knows this because of new information based on experience, data, and science.  Dr McSheehy said he remains fully committed to following the DOH recommendations and at the same time, is in full support of school staff getting immediate access to vaccinations and will continue advocacy efforts until each and every staff member has access.  The timeline for the return to in-person learning is currently planned as:

  • March 1st – preK – Kindergarten 
  • March 15th – Grades 1-3
  • March 29th – Grades 4-5
  • April 16th – Grades 6-12 (Still in planning phase)Each of these phases are allowable when trends in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are flat or decreasing and the school can demonstrate the ability to limit transmission in the school environment.   (2/12/21)

New report furthers understanding of COVID-19 transmission in schools.  On February 11, DOH released the “COVID-19 Outbreaks in Washington State K-12 Schools” report. The report is yet another tool that school districts and local health jurisdictions (LHJs) can use to inform decisions about when and how to bring students, educators and staff back for in-person learning.  https://www.doh.wa.gov/Portals/1/Documents/1600/coronavirus/data-tables/420-312-K12SchoolsOutbreakReport.pdf(2/12/21)

 Nonessential travelers entering Canada at the U.S.-Canada land border will need to provide proof of a negative polymerase chain reaction (PCR) COVID-19 test beginning Feb. 15.  Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that the test must be taken within 72 hours before arrival at the border. He said that while border agents can’t legally deny entry to Canadian citizens or permanent residents, those who fail to present a negative test could face fines of C$3,000 (US$2,360) or other penalties.    (2/12/21)

Nonessential air travelers arriving in Canada will have to quarantine in a hotel at their own expense beginning Feb. 22, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Friday.  They will require nonessential air travelers to be tested for the coronavirus upon arrival and to await their results in a government-approved hotel for up to three days.  Those who test negative for the coronavirus will complete the rest of their mandatory 14-day quarantine at home. Those who test positive for the virus will be transferred to a different facility for the rest of their quarantine. The cost could exceed $1,500 per person.   (2/12/21)

King County Metro encourages riders to be prepared, or to wait until the storms subside to travel.  When Metro’s service area is affected by snow or ice, there could be service disruptions including reroutes, delays or individual trip cancelations, due to vehicle, staffing or other resource shortages, or due to road conditions in specific areas. Unlike regular service days when Metro staff can send Transit Alerts about some individual trip cancelations, it may not be possible to proactively send those alerts for all canceled trips during a snow event.  Known canceled trips are shown in the Next Departures tool in Metro’s online trip planner at:  https://tripplanner.kingcounty.gov/#/app/nextdeparturesMetro’s Text for Departures tool is another quick way to find the next departures at your bus stop. Text your transit stop ID (on the sign at your bus stop) to this number: 62550, and you will receive a message a few seconds later with up-to-date schedule information. https://kingcounty.gov/depts/transportation/metro/alerts-updates/winter.aspx    (2/12/21)  

Creating Strength, the island-wide campaign, aims to help all of us become stronger and more resilient against the stresses of the pandemic which ripple outwards into related personal crises such as unemployment, housing and food insecurity, racial justice, isolation, and political unrest.  This week’s feature focus is on ‘Move’.  This nine-week campaign of mental health communications and videos is produced by VashonBePrepared’s Community Care Team, which is a unit of the Medical Reserve Corps, with support from the EOC’s Community Engagement Team.  Mental health tips and videos are available online at: https://VashonBePrepared.org/CreatingStrength(2/12/21)

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has adjusted quarantine requirements for those that have been fully vaccinated.  The most notable update addresses quarantine requirements for vaccinated individuals after exposure to known COVID-19 cases.  The new guidance largely eliminates quarantine recommendations for fully vaccinated individuals.  Individuals who meet all of the following requirements do not need to quarantine after a known exposure:

  • ●Received all required doses of the vaccine (ie, 2 doses for a 2-dose vaccine; 1 dose for a single-dose vaccine)
  • ●Received their final doses 2 weeks or longer before the exposure
  • ●Are within 3 months since their second dose
  • ●Remain asymptomatic following the exposureThe guidance indicates that the timing associated with these requirements will be updated as additional information becomes available.  Presumably, this will include extending the 3-month limit as new data are reported from clinical trials regarding the duration of immunity conferred by the vaccines. Notably, the CDC continues to emphasize that vaccination is not recommended as post-exposure prophylaxis, and that eligible individuals with known exposure should wait until after the completion of their quarantine period to schedule their vaccination.  https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/covid-19/info-by-product/clinical-considerations.html    (2/12/21)

President Biden said Thursday that his administration had finalized deals for another 200 million doses of the two coronavirus vaccines authorized in the United States, giving the country enough vaccine by the end of July to cover every American adult.  The federal government has purchased 100 million more doses from Pfizer and German company BioNTech, as well as 100 million more from Moderna, using options built into existing contracts with those companies.   (2/12/21)

Warning, do not post your vaccine confirmation card online.  “Unfortunately, your card has your full name and birthday on it, as well as information about where you got your vaccine,” the Better Business Bureau said last week. “If your social media privacy settings aren’t set high, you may be giving valuable information away for anyone to use.”  Scammers can sometimes figure out most digits of your Social Security number by knowing your date and place of birth, and can open new accounts in your name, claim your tax refund for themselves, and engage in other identity theft, said Maneesha Mithal, associate director of the Federal Trade Commission’s Division of Privacy and Identity Protection.  https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/blog/2021/02/social-media-no-place-covid-19-vaccination-cards    (2/9/21)

Call 2-1-1 for emergency shelter. The National Weather Service has forecast a potential for cold and snowy weather this week.  But, unlike in past winters, there’s no emergency shelter at Vashon Methodist Church, due to the pandemic.  Anyone on Vashon who’s experiencing homelessness and wants to get space in a shelter will have to go to the mainland.  The best resource for finding a space is to call 2-1-1, because shelter status may change, depending on the weather and the demand for space.  Right now, the nearest active shelter is the Jefferson Day Center (420 4th Ave. Seattle, WA 98104). This shelter is currently serving men, and has space for 25.  No reservations are needed, but calling 2-1-1 is still the best first course of action.  Transportation vouchers are available from VYFS and other agencies.  Warm clothes, hand warmers, and blankets collected by community members are also available at the community grab and go dinners, hosted six evenings per week at the Methodist church.   (2/9/21)

The Department of Health sent a message to all approved vaccine providers across the state which said in part, “VIP scheduling, reserving doses for inequitable or exclusive access, and similar practices will not be tolerated.  If we find out a provider is giving out vaccine inequitably or is doing behaviors listed above or similar, we may reduce or stop allocations to that provider.“ The Department of Health issued a statement calling this practice “egregiously inappropriate behavior,” and that this kind of practice is inequitable, wrong, and must stop immediately.   https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/health-department-to-vaccine-providers-we-may-cut-your-supply-if-you-allow-vip-scheduling/     (2/9/21)

Washington State hospitals find fake N95 masks in their inventory. The Washington State Hospital Association (WSHA) said that 300,000 counterfeit masks were purchased and distributed to some 40 member hospitals.  N95 masks are considered the gold standard for mask usage, but counterfeit masks may threaten Americans’ safety.  Masks that do not meet US safety standards may not filter out airborne particles effectively, the CDC said.  N95 masks can also be mistaken with KN95 masks, which meet standards in China yet are not certified by the US National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).  https://www.wsha.org/articles/alert-from-3m-leads-to-discovery-of-counterfeit-n95-respirators-in-washington-state/     (2/9/21)

When buying masks online, there are a few things you can ask yourself, according to CDC guidance on spotting fake PPE.  The most important thing: NIOSH approval.  If you are buying online, look for these warning signs on the website:

  • Are there typos, bad grammar or other errors on the site?
  • Are there website flaws, like unfinished or blank pages, dummy text, broken links and misspelled domains?
  • Does the listing call the product “genuine” or “real”? Legitimate companies don’t need to tell buyers their products are real — at least not in the product name.
  • Have reviews been left on the product, or on the seller?
  • For more on counterfeit masks visit:  https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/npptl/usernotices/counterfeitResp.html    (2/9/21)

●Employment Security Department data shows that Vashon’s unemployment remains steady at 402 active claims.  If you need assistance filing claims for unemployment benefits, or have questions on eligibility with the COVID-19 relief programs, the Chamber of Commerce’s Ask the Expert is available for free consultations, and will guide you on how to proceed with filing for unemployment, PPP loans, or tax returns.  Email deborah@vashonbeprepared.org, or call (206) 200-3236.    (2/9/21)

Rapid vaccination and early reactive partial lockdown could minimize deaths from emerging highly contagious SARS-CoV-2 variants.  A study based on a mathematical model calibrated to King County suggests that rapid vaccination (8,000 people per day) and more case-sensitive partial lockdowns are the two most influential factors that would lower COVID-19 adverse outcomes, considering a more contagious variant may become the dominant strain by summer 2021. The study by two scientists has not yet been through the peer review process for publication in a journal.  https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2021.02.02.21250985v1    (2/9/21)

Washington State Ferries (WSF) is hosting a series of upcoming virtual public meetings so staff can be available to answer questions and give an update on WSF COVID-19 response.  New director Patty Rubstello will lead the webinars and report on progress made on key projects in 2020.  Register for the 6 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 10, meeting at: bit.ly/WSFWinterMeeting2.  If you miss the meeting, a video will be available at http://bit.ly/WSFCommunityParticipation    (2/9/21)

Vashon-Maury Chamber of Commerce will host a new Chamber Chat on SBA Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Loans.  Heather Russell, Branch Manager at US Bank, will review the details of submission and forgiveness of PPP loans, and field questions.   The 45-minute Zoom meeting will be held Thursday February 11 at 9:00 am.  Register at https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZIkcOqrpjMjGd2XGmxQw-HDaXKXemyxNgSK (2/9/21)

The Washington State Department of Health recently created an Isolation and Quarantine Calculator tool to take the guesswork out of knowing how long to stay quarantined.   When your time in isolation or quarantine ends, don’t forget to continue protecting others. Even though you may have antibodies in your system, it’s still important to wash your hands, wear your mask, and maintain distance, to prevent spreading the virus to others.  https://medium.com/wadepthealth/check-out-the-isolation-and-quarantine-calculator-189cccc584eb     (2/9/21)

The Washington State Department of Health recommends that employers screen staff and visitors (excluding customers in retail) at the beginning of each shift or each visit to the business location, to reduce the spread of COVID-19.  They have published a screening tool with a checklist and log for employers.  Visit https://www.kingcounty.gov/depts/health/covid-19/~/media/depts/health/communicable-diseases/documents/C19/employee-screening-tool.ashx     (2/9/21)

Gov. Jay Inslee signed legislation providing relief for businesses and workers impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. SB 5061 will increase minimum unemployment benefits for workers and provide significant tax relief for businesses over the next five years, to support recovery from the economic impacts of COVID shutdowns.  The bill relieves employers of individual benefit charges for claims that occurred between March 22 and May 30, 2020, the period of the governor’s “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order, and increases the minimum unemployment benefit starting July 1.  https://medium.com/wagovernor/inslee-signs-bipartisan-bill-to-support-business-and-workers-d550a3a52551 (2/9/21)

Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler issued an emergency order directing state-regulated health insurers to open a special enrollment from Feb. 15 through May 15 for people who are uninsured.  “Over 600,000 people in Washington State don’t have health insurance,” said Kreidler.  Anyone who doesn’t have health insurance can buy a plan directly from an insurer or through the Washington Health Benefit Exchange.  If you buy a plan through the Exchange, you may qualify for federal help paying your premium.  https://www.wahealthplanfinder.org/      (2/9/21)

Vashon Community Care (VCC): The Island’s residential care facility reports it has received two positive COVID test results. A staff member tested positive during VCC’s weekly random safety testing. That triggered a full testing sweep for all residents and staff, and the follow up testing produced an additional case. VCC completed its vaccination program last week, and nearly all staff and residents opted to get the vaccine. However, the COVID vaccinations are not mandatory, and the staff member who tested positive is yet to be vaccinated. (A report last week that all had been vaccinated resulted from a misunderstanding by EOC staff.) The two cases fit the state’s technical definition of an “outbreak.”  Therefore, VCC has fallen back to strict quarantine and outdoor visits. Communal dining and communal activities have been cancelled until the state Department of Health provides an all-clear. After proactively reporting the cases, VCC implemented the strict Department of Health and Department of Social and Health Service protocols for outbreaks, including repeated testing of staff and residents for 14 days, and monitoring residents for COVID symptoms three times a day.   (2/9/21)

Vashon surpassed 100 positive tests on Sunday and is now at a total of 103.  This gives us a 7-day average of 6.7 per 100K, up from an average of 3.4 so far this year.  While this compares very favorably to the county as a whole at 212 per 100K, it still reflects a short-term rise in Vashon transmission.   (2/9/21)

Public Health – Seattle & King County (PHSKC) has revised the vaccine dashboard to provide some age-based data for the county, including Vashon.  County data still continues to lag in reporting, so the actual number of doses received is higher than reported.  As of February 4th, 13.4% of Vashon’s residents over age 16 have received at least one dose.  That percentage increases with age to 37.1% over 65 and 35.8% over 75 having received at least one dose.  COVID-19 data for the county shows that on a per-100K basis, Vashon has by far the lowest rate of positive tests, hospitalizations and deaths. https://www.kingcounty.gov/depts/health/covid-19/data/vaccination.aspx

Vashon Island School District (VISD) sent a note this week to all school student families indicating that no final decision has been reached yet on when to launch the District’s plan for a return to in-person classroom teaching. The District management is working with staff, including the two District unions, to finalize its Healthy Start reopening plan. Initially, the plan would bring back Chautauqua elementary students in three phases of two weeks, starting with Kindergarten, then first through third grades, and then the rest of the elementary students. A key contribution to the District’s decision making, according to Superintendent Dr. Slade McSheehy, has been meeting earlier this week with Vashon Medical Reserve Corps, the Vashon Emergency Operations Center, and the local Public Health Seattle & King County health officer.  McSheehy said “I’m committed to our collaborative process and will communicate more once we’ve had a chance to meet and discuss what we learned and how we would like to move forward.”   (2/5/21)

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Wednesday that teachers do not need to get vaccinated against Covid-19 before schools can safely reopen.  “There is increasing data to suggest that schools can safely reopen and that safe reopening does not suggest that teachers need to be vaccinated,” said CDC Director Rochelle Walensky.  The CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices voted to put “frontline essential workers,” which include teachers, next in line to receive a Covid-19 vaccine after first prioritizing health-care workers and long-term care facility residents.  However, it may take a while for most teachers to get their shots as U.S. officials work to pick up the pace of vaccinations.   https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/70/wr/mm7004e3.htm     (2/5/21)

Gov. Jay Inslee outlined support for a return to on-site learning in a letter to the president of the Washington Education Association (WEA), detailing his support for educators and students to return to in-person learning.  The governor included data and research that he and other leaders have used to help determine when and how to safely return to the classroom.    https://www.k12.wa.us/about-ospi/press-releases/novel-coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-resources     (2/5/21)

This year, every taxpayer should electronically file a 2020 federal income tax return as early as possible.  Even if you are not required to file, because you only have Social Security, you could get any additional stimulus payments sooner based on your tax record.  Filing electronically is faster, more secure, and allows more accurate processing.  Taxpayers who file electronically can also have their refunds directly deposited into their bank accounts for faster access to these funds.  For free assistance with e-filing, contact deborah@vashonbeprepared.org or call/text Deborah at 206-200-3236.  (2/5/21)

How Puget Sound Energy (PSE) prepares for power outages throughout the year.  Join PSE for this local outreach presentation, co-sponsored by VashonBePrepared.  PSE will share information on the work it does to minimize the frequency and impact of power outages due to climate related events such as windstorms, and share customer emergency preparation tools, best practices, and safety education and awareness guidelines.  The presentation will be held on Tuesday February 9th at 6:30pm on Webex, log in at https://pse1.webex.com/pse1/onstage/g.php?MTID=eb9ecf39a33600a9f87c7242f0e4cc830, Event ID: 177 648 8839, Event password: PSE@Storm1.  Video Address: 1776488839@pse1.webex.com You can also dial 173.243.2.68 and enter your meeting number.   (2/5/21)

King County Local Services offers free help to eligible low-income RV residents to properly dispose of septic waste without leaving Vashon Island.  COVID-19 restrictions highlighted a longstanding problem on Vashon Island – the island lacks a public facility that allows RV residents to properly and legally dispose of sewage from RV blackwater tanks.  Local Services worked with the Interfaith Council to Prevent Homelessness to establish a partnership in which eligible RV residents can have their septic waste collected once a month.  To determine whether they qualify, low-income RV residents can contact Hilary Emmer, Program Coordinator for the Interfaith Council to Prevent Homelessness, at 206-463-7277.  Waste collection will be scheduled after a resident is determined to be eligible.   (2/5/21)

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published a forecast that projects 496,000 to 534,000 coronavirus deaths in the United States by Feb. 27.  Unlike some individual models, the CDC’s ensemble forecast only offers projections a few weeks into the future.  The previous forecast, published Jan. 27, projected up to 514,000 coronavirus deaths by Feb. 20.  At least 446,910 people have already died from Covid-19 in the United States, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.  https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/covid-data/forecasting-us.html     (2/5/21)

While there is no official recommendation on double-masking, or layering two masks on top of each other, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said, “If you have a physical covering with one layer, you put another layer on, it just makes common sense that it likely would be more effective.”  Studies have shown that a single-layer mask is helpful for preventing spread of infection but isn’t really effective in protecting the wearer from aerosols.  Even two and three-ply fabric masks are only partially protective, somewhere in the 50% to 60% range of effectiveness.  A 2020 study found surgical masks were about 50% effective at protecting the wearer and about 60% to 70% in protecting others.  But if you put a surgical mask under the cloth mask, experts believe it’s more than 90% effective at removing particles.  CDC is currently evaluating the science and is looking at its recommendations on double-masking based on the latest science.  https://www.cnn.com/2021/01/28/health/double-masks-covid-19-wellness-trnd/index.html     (2/5/21)

Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler extended his emergency COVID-19 order until March 7.   Under this order, health insurers are required to continue coverage for providing telehealth, to cover all medically necessary diagnostic testing for flu and certain other viral respiratory illnesses billed during a provider visit for COVID-19 with no copay, coinsurance or deductible, and to treat drive-up testing sites for COVID-19 as provider visits with no copay, coinsurance or deductible.  As a reminder, the COVID-19 vaccine is free to all recipients. https://www.insurance.wa.gov/news/emergency-order-telehealth-coverage-extended-march-7    (2/5/21)

The Washington State COVID-19 Assistance Hotline is a general information line related to COVID-19.  If you need information or have a general question, call 1-800-525-0127, then press #. You can also text 211-211 for help. You can also text the word “Coronavirus” to 211-211 to receive information and updates on your phone wherever you are.  You will receive links to the latest information on COVID-19, including county-level updates, and resources for families, businesses, students, and more.   (2/5/21)

Creating Strength, The island-wide campaign aims to help all of us become stronger and more resilient against the stresses of the pandemic which ripple outwards into related personal crises such as unemployment, housing and food insecurity, racial justice, isolation, and political unrest.  This week’s feature focus is on ‘Plan’.  This nine-week campaign of mental health communications and videos is produced by VashonBePrepared’s Community Care Team, which is a unit of the Medical Reserve Corps, with support from the EOC’s Community Engagement Team.  Mental health tips and videos are available online at: https://vashonbeprepared.org/creatingstrength(2/5/21)

Self-Care Practices for Parents. VYFS Family Place and The DOVE Project are offering a virtual event to care for the parents in our community. You can join DOVE Advocate and yoga teacher Nyn Grey to explore practices to calm your mind and care for your body during the stress of COVID-19. She will share some simple breathing practices and gentle stretches to help you relax. She will also share ideas about how to create small pockets of self-care in daily life.  The free online workshop will be held on February 17th from 7 to 8pm.  Email familyplace@vyfs.org for the Zoom link.  (2/5/21)

There was an encouraging development today regarding supply of vaccines to retail pharmacies, and it may help Vashon Pharmacy have a more consistent supply. The White House announced that shipments would begin from federal stocks directly to pharmacies. That’s the beginning of a long-planned vaccine supply program, and the pharmacy signed up for it some time ago. Up until now, the pharmacy has relied only on supplies from the state, but this program, which will be on a slow ramp-up, offers another potential source of vaccine.

King County has two mass vaccination clinics that will provide vaccinations to eligible residents, although all appointment slots are currently full.  Two clinics, one at the accesso ShoWare Center in Kent and the other at the General Services Administration (GSA) Complex in Auburn, expect to deliver 500 doses per day at each site.  Appointments are required and can be made on the Public Health website (https://www.kingcounty.gov/depts/health/covid-19/vaccine/distribution.aspx). Note that at these sites, the eligibility age for getting vaccinated is 75, unless the resident is unable to live independently or resides in a multigenerational household.  This change is to get vaccines to those most at risk. https://publichealthinsider.com/2021/01/29/king-county-opens-covid-19-vaccination-sites-in-kent-and-auburn-to-provide-access-for-vulnerable-older-adults-and-their-caretakers/

A new federal mask requirement order, signed by Dr. Martin Cetron, director of CDC’s Division of Global Migration and Quarantine, says people must wear a mask that covers the nose and mouth while on public transportation and while waiting for their ride. The mask needs to feature at least two layers of breathable fabric and be secured to the head with ties, ear loops or elastic bands.  Masks need to fit snugly and should not have exhalation valves or punctures.  If someone chooses to wear a gaiter, it must be made with two layers of fabric or folded to have two layers. Face shields and goggles can supplement a mask, but cannot be worn in place of a mask. Scarves and bandanas do not fulfill the new requirement.    (2/2/21)

Multi-layer Masks with a snug fit protect you and those around you.More evidence keeps showing that wearing a mask protects the wearer from COVID-19 infection as well as others they are around. The basics of an effective mask are that: 1) It is made of 2-3 layers of fabric, 2) It has tightly woven fabrics like cotton and cotton blends, 3) It is breathable, and 4) It fits snugly without gaps. When a mask fits correctly, your breath should go through the mask instead of through gaps against your face.  Wearing masks, limiting time with those from outside your household, avoiding crowded indoor places, and maintaining as much physical space as you can when you are around others, will prevent the spread of all known COVID-19 variants.  The CDC has stated that N95 and other medical grade masks are currently needed for the healthcare workforce. The agency provides a guide to masks at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/about-face-coverings.html      (2/2/21)

Masks For Vashon offers Vashon residents and workers handmade cloth masks.  Masks can be picked up in person at VARSA at 9920 SW Bank Rd, across from ACE Hardware and next to Northwest Sports.  VARSA’s office hours vary, but it is typically open Mon-Fri 10 am to 1 pm..  If you’re unable to visit VARSA during its business hours, email to masksforvashon@gmail.com to make other arrangements.  Suggested donation is $5 or more per mask, but there is no financial requirement to receive masks.    (2/2/21)

Understanding Phase Finder & Vaccine Distribution.  Washington recently introduced Phase Finder, an online tool that determines if you’re currently eligible to receive the vaccine.  With limited vaccine supplies, high demand and a new scheduling system with an unprecedented amount of web traffic presented some new challenges to the rollout of the online tool.  Phase Finder is still a great tool to get vaccine assistance and information.  https://medium.com/wadepthealth/understanding-phase-finder-vaccine-distribution-581d873bdd9d    (2/2/21)

The Office of the Washington State Auditor (SAO) was recently made aware of a security breach of the personal data files of those who filed for Washington unemployment benefits in 2020. The breach occurred as the State Auditor’s office was investigating the massive fraud that occurred in March 2020.  It is anticipated that free credit monitoring services will be offered for anyone affected.  In the meantime, you can also take other actions to reduce the chances of identity theft or fraud on your accounts, including reviewing your account statements and credit reports, notifying your financial institutions of any suspicious activity, and promptly reporting any suspected incidents of identity theft to law enforcement, the state attorney general, and/or the Federal Trade Commission. Claimants should follow the guidance at https://sao.wa.gov/breach2021/ to protect your identity to the extent possible.    (2/2/21)

The Vashon Library has received a supply of IRS Form 1040 booklets (Form 1040, Schedules 1 – 3, and Form 1040-SR).  The Form 1040 Instructions (covering Form 1040, Schedules 1 – 3, and Form 1040-SR) have not arrived yet.  These are the only forms/instructions the Library will receive from the IRS this year.  Forms can be requested through the Library’s Curbside to Go.  If patrons want any forms other than the Form 1040 booklet, they can request that the IRS mail them directly, or print off downloadable copies from the IRS website irs.gov. Patrons can use their weekly print allowance (10 black and white copies) and/or pay for copies outside of the free allowance ($0.15 per side of a page). An all-access library card and an appointment are needed to use library printing services.  Form 1099 (multipart can be ordered from the IRS: https://www.irs.gov/businesses/online-ordering-for-information-returns-and-employer-returns    (2/2/21)

IRS encourages filing taxes electronically, citing faster returns and more secure processing.  Paper forms should be used as worksheets to prepare returns.  Information on electronic filing options is at the IRS website: https://www.irs.gov/filing/e-file-options If you need tax preparation assistance, The Chamber of Commerce’s Ask the Expert is available for free consultations, and will guide you on how to proceed if you need help filing for unemployment, PPP loans, or tax returns.  Email deborah@vashonbeprepared.org, or call (206) 200-3236.    (2/2/21)

Public Health – Seattle & King County (PHSKC) dashboards of key metrics and data trends are showing post-holiday reductions in case numbers for both King county and Vashon.  Health Officer Dr. Jeff Duchin attributes the reductions in new positive cases, hospitalizations, and deaths to high adherence to safety protocols: wearing masks, social distancing, and frequent hand washing.  Our latest tool is the vaccinations, which are initially going to the most vulnerable segments of the population.  As the vaccine rollout continues to expand availability, it is important to note that getting the vaccine is not the end of the pandemic.  Until a sufficient percentage of the population is vaccinated (likely in the 80-90% range), we must continue to be vigilant in following the safety protocols for the health and safety of those around us.  Hear Dr. Duchin’s comments at https://publichealthinsider.com/2021/01/29/video-dr-jeff-duchin-on-covid-19-trends-vaccine-rollout-2/ .    (2/2/21)

COVID-19 vaccine is for everyone, even the Terminator.  Watch Arnold Schwarzenegger get his COVID-19 jab. Yes. He says THE line from the movie! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Hf1iM6dhUU    (2/2/21)

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.
  • 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/
  • 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 1stand 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

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