City of Sammamish COVID-19 Information & Resources

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Please note that King County Public Health should remain your primary source of information on the COVID-19 (coronavirus) outbreak. Please check out their COVID-19 Data Dashboards for the latest statistics. To see recent news on this page, click here.

For the latest Washington State-level COVID-19 health guidance, statistics and resources, visit Coronavirus.wa.gov.

What is COVID-19?

COVID-19 (formerly known as the “novel coronavirus”) is a new virus strain spreading from person-to-person.

How does COVID-19 spread?

  • Through respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes
  • Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet)
  • By touching

Please note that King County Public Health should remain your primary source of information on the COVID-19 (coronavirus) outbreak. Please check out their COVID-19 Data Dashboards for the latest statistics. To see recent news on this page, click here.

For the latest Washington State-level COVID-19 health guidance, statistics and resources, visit Coronavirus.wa.gov.

What is COVID-19?

COVID-19 (formerly known as the “novel coronavirus”) is a new virus strain spreading from person-to-person.

How does COVID-19 spread?

  • Through respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes
  • Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet)
  • By touching a surface or object with the virus and then touching the mouth, nose, or eyes

What are the symptoms?

People who have been diagnosed with novel coronavirus have reported symptoms that may appear in as few as 2 days or as long as 14 days after exposure to the virus. Those symptoms include fever, cough, shortness of breath, and/or difficulty breathing.

Who is most vulnerable?

People at higher risk include those:

  • Over 60 years of age
  • With underlying health conditions including include heart disease, asthma or other lung disease, or diabetes
  • With weakened immune systems
  • Who are pregnant

Anyone who has questions about whether their condition puts them at risk for severe COVID-19 illness should consult with their healthcare providers. Be sure to call your provider before going to the office in person.

What is the City of Sammamish doing?

On March 3rd, the City of Sammamish activated its Emergency Operations Center (EOC) in response to the coronavirus outbreak and formed an internal COVID-19 Task Force. The operational objectives of the City were to:

  • Adopt and widely promote the below Non-Pharmaceutical Intervention recommendations (NPIs) from the WA State Public Health Agency; and
  • Update Continuity of Government/Operations Plan for pandemic response to ensure continuity of all essential government functions while protecting the health and welfare of City personnel; and
  • Provide clear public information that directs to or is consistent with State and Local Public Health messaging regarding the outbreak and protective actions.

On March 5, the City of Sammamish issued a proclamation of local emergency in order to support measures to be taken to protect public health, safety and welfare within the City. This declaration was approved by City Council at their March 10 meeting. The full proclamation is available here, and the press release can be found here.

The City of Sammamish Emergency Manager continues to participate in daily conference calls with the King County Office of Emergency Management, Public Health - Seattle & King County, jurisdictions from across the region, and community stakeholders, to facilitate the regional coordination of information and resources.

COVID-19 is an active situation that changes daily. The City of Sammamish is proactively working to mitigate the impacts from COVID-19 on our community. This portal will continually be updated to provide up-to-date information and resources to assist you through the coronavirus outbreak.

  • Emergency Manager's Report to City Council on COVID-19 (February 16, 2021)

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    17 Feb 2021
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    Andrew Stevens, CEM - Emergency Manager - Eastside Fire & Rescue

    Good evening Mayor, Council members, and City Manager.

    I would like to take the first minute of this report to step away from COVID and touch on the fantastic response by the City’s Maintenance and Operations crews, who over the holiday weekend, worked around the clock to mitigate the impacts of the winter storm. I would also like to thank the City’s communications team for providing continual updates on road and weather conditions, as well as safety tips for winter driving and recreation. Lastly, I would like to thank the residents of Sammamish for limiting all unnecessary travel which assisted in the City’s ability to service the roadways. The storm did not result in any major incidents or damages, but it is a reminder to all that severe winter weather can certainly impact the region, and that preparedness for such events begins with the individual.

    Regarding COVID, I think the topic on everyone’s mind is the lack of access to vaccine. Over the past several weeks, I know that many of you have been personally contacted by individuals who qualify to receive a COVID-19 vaccine but cannot secure a reservation. While I understand the frustrations of every single one of those individuals, I would like to highlight that this is not a problem specific to Sammamish, King County, or even WA. This is a global problem of extremely high demand for an extremely limited amount of available vaccine. While it will not bring comfort to those still seeking vaccine, I would like to highlight that while the State of WA has administered over 1 million COVID-19 vaccinations, there are 130 countries that have yet to administer a single dose. That is a huge concern because this is not an American problem but a global pandemic.

    While the vaccine availability is not what many expected, the numerous public and private partners involved in these efforts are all forging ahead and making progress, and every day more vaccines are finding their way into the arms of the most vulnerable. As I briefed two weeks ago, the County has also begun operations of two mass vaccination sites, in the cities of Auburn and Kent. These sites are delivering roughly 500 vaccines per day and can scale up to accommodate greater capacity as time goes on and access to vaccine becomes greater. Another site stood up by a public-private partnership of hospitals and Microsoft recently opened and is targeting Medicaid home-care clients, their caregivers, and other highest-risk older adults who have previously not been able to secure a vaccination.

    Eastside Fire has established mobile vaccination teams that have been operational for the past two weeks to adult care homes and senior living facilities in Sammamish and Issaquah. We are also working with the human services personnel from each jurisdiction to identify and schedule the mobile teams once they are authorized by King County Public Health to move beyond these adult care facilities.

    Unfortunately, the planning for a mass vaccination site which was to be held at Issaquah High School has stopped. This was due to multiple reasons, but primarily because our partners in Swedish hospital had their allocation of vaccines cut due to statewide shortages and Issaquah School District was hoping to return some student extracurricular activities to the location.

    We have made considerable progress towards the establishment of a mid-volume, drive-through vaccination site. Right now, we are working with WA State Parks to secure the site location, have begun obtaining quotes for the necessary logistical requirements, and have drafted an agreement between the City of Sammamish, the City of Issaquah, and Eastside Fire and Rescue to cover the operational costs of this venture. While the agreement is still in draft form and being reviewed by all parties involved, Chief Clark has expressed to me that Sammamish’s cost share would equal roughly $450K - $500K. We have also been in frequent contact with our county and state partners, coordinating our efforts to establish this vaccination site and hoping to secure a dedicated line of vaccines once the regional supply increases. Our goal, if the vaccine is obtained, is to have the site open for operations in early March.

    While it is expected that the City would be able to seek FEMA Disaster Assistance reimbursement for vaccine-related operational expenses, I wanted to also ensure that I provided an update as to the remaining balance of CARES Act reimbursement that the City had earmarked for ongoing COVID-19 response and recovery. To date, the City has spent roughly $2,138,000 of the $2.9 million that was reimbursed to the City. That includes roughly $187K on internal COVID-19 expenses, $215K on expenses necessary to ensure continuity of government, $1,211,000 in two rounds of small business and non-profit grants, and $525K to support human service organizations assisting those impacted.

    For residents seeking information on vaccine availability, state or local COVID-19 updates, or links to resources that may be able to provide additional assistance, I urge them all to visit the City’s Connect Sammamish COVID-19 portal.

    With that, I would be happy to address any questions you may have. Thank you.

  • Update from the Vaccine Community Partnership (February 8, 2021)

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    08 Feb 2021
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    Eastside Fire & Rescue’s mobile vaccination teams have delivered vaccines to every adult family home (long term care facilities) in Issaquah, and nearly all adult family Homes in Sammamish last week. EF&R will deliver vaccines to one more remaining adult family home in Sammamish this Wednesday, February 10. In all, over 100 doses will have been administered by EF&R to adult family homes in Issaquah and Sammamish. EF&R receives all its vaccine supply for King County Public Health, which has restricted the very limited supply to only adult family homes.

  • Emergency Manager's Report to City Council on COVID-19 (February 2, 2021)

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    03 Feb 2021

    Andrew Stevens, CEM - Emergency Manager -Eastside Fire & Rescue

    Good evening Mayor, Council members, and City Manager.

    Lots to discuss on the COVID-19 front this evening, but I’ll begin with a brief global, national, and regional update. Across the world, there have been over 103 million confirmed cases of COVID-19, with the United States accounting for more than a quarter of that total figure with 26.4 million cases and nearly 450K fatalities. Across Washington, there have been 313K cases and over 4,300 fatalities. King County is reporting 77K positive cases, 4,815 COVID-19 hospitalizations, and 1,264 deaths. Lastly, the City of Sammamish has reported 965 positives cases and 8 fatalities.

    While nothing about the beforementioned statistics sounds promising, the good news is that in many areas we are seeing sharp decreases in COVID-related case counts, hospitalizations, and deaths from the dramatic surge experienced over the holiday season. In King County, for example, seven-day averages for positive cases dropped 50% between Jan. 1st and 31st, and the seven-day average for deaths was down 71% from Jan 1 as well. This is great news, not only to the general population but to the healthcare systems that were struggling to stay afloat during the surge.

    Changes were also recently made to the Governor’s Healthy Washington plan, the evaluation criteria for regions to move from Phase 1 to Phase 2, as well as the timeframe in which regions can advance were modified. With the changes, the Puget Sound region, which encompasses King, Snohomish, and Pierce Counties progressed to Phase 2. Phase 2 allows for some lessening of non-pharmaceutical COVID-19 mitigations. For example, indoor dining is now available however limited to 25% of normal capacity.

    While the region’s advancement to Phase 2 will come as a welcome relief to many, I would strongly caution any change to anyone’s COVID-19 precautions. With new, highly contagious strains of COVID-19 now being transmitted in the region, now is not the time to lay down your guard and partake in activities that increase your likelihood of exposure. We have all seen dips in COVID transmission rates resulting in complacency in COVID-19 protections, which in turn leads to another surge. Countless experts warned that relaxing COVID-19 mitigations prior to the holiday season would result in a catastrophic resurge in the pandemic, and that is exactly what happened. So, while it is ok to celebrate these advances and small victories, I urge Sammamish residents and anyone else listening to continue to prioritize your safety and the safety of others in every choice you make.

    The last two weeks have led to advancements in the availability of vaccinations as well. Across the region we are seeing more and more medical care providers gaining access to COVID vaccine. We are seeing distribution at medical facilities, such as hospitals and pharmacies, as well as pop-up clinics hosted through public-private partnerships.

    The County has also begun operation of two mass vaccination sites, in Auburn and Kent. These sites will initially be able to deliver 500 vaccines per day and scale up to accommodate greater capacity as time goes on and access to vaccine becomes greater. Because of the massive amount of need these sites have limited operations to those 75 and over, and reservations have either been filled or are nearly fully booked at this time.

    Waiting for the infrastructure needed to support widespread vaccination efforts to be constructed by others is not doing residents of Sammamish and other Eastside communities justice. To proactively engage in these efforts, the City of Sammamish has joined a collaborative, public-private partnership with the City of Issaquah, Eastside Fire and Rescue, Swedish Healthcare, the Issaquah School District, and Costco. The goal of this partnership is to ensure that vaccines are delivered to our communities in a safe, equitable, and timely manner. We are tackling the vaccination operations through multiple approaches to ensure those objectives will be met. These efforts include mobile vaccination teams, a pedestrian mass vaccination site, and a vehicular mass vaccination site.

    Eastside Fire has established mobile vaccination teams that will be deploying this week. EFR personnel have received training and the logistical/operational capability to deploy mobile vaccination teams to vulnerable populations. EFR will begin vaccination efforts tomorrow in Issaquah, and Sammamish on Thursday. Currently, the teams are focusing on deploying to adult care facilities that have not been able to partner with medical care providers (such as pharmacies) for the in-house delivery of vaccines. EFR will be expanding these efforts as time grows and will be utilizing the mobility of the teams to target vulnerable populations who may otherwise have difficulty navigating or access vaccine through an established point of dispensing. Human services personnel from each jurisdiction will be coordinating with these teams to identify and schedule vaccine delivery to the most vulnerable populations.

    The partnership is also in the operational planning phase of a pedestrian mass vaccination site capable of delivering hundreds of vaccinations per day at Issaquah High School. This effort is a massive undertaking, utilizing considerable personnel, volunteers, and resources provided by Swedish Healthcare. Operational and logistical planning is still underway; however, the Task Force is aiming to conduct a functional exercise on location soon.

    Lastly, I have been tasked with overseeing the development and operation of a long-term mass vaccination site. A drive-through operation was agreed upon by the partners to simplify the logistical strain required by Task Force partners and provide for greater scalability as vaccine eligible phases are opened. The proposed strategy is to design a modular system capable of providing 500, reservation based, vaccinations per every 2 lanes, based upon the King County run mass vaccination site estimates. We are currently identifying the personnel and logistical needs for such operations, as well as conducting site visits of potential POD locations. Our current objective for standing up this operation is March 1 with the site potentially operational for many months.

    I would like to reiterate to both the Council and to the public listening, that currently, only the mobile vaccination teams have a dedicated source of COVID-19 vaccinations, and even that is limited. However, the Task Force is operating under the assumption that we will be able to secure the vaccine allocations from the State and King County once we have demonstrated our commitment and capability to deliver mass vaccinations to our communities. We must show that we have the infrastructure in place before we will ever stand a chance of obtaining the amount of vaccine required for such operations. This is no different from the response and recovery operations of more traditional disasters. By definition, a disaster is when you have more problems than resources to deal with them, but eventually, those resources come flooding in and those tasked with managing the crisis better be ready to accept them. With COVID, our problem is the virus and vaccines are the resources in high demand. Eleven months ago, it was PPE. However, the operational objectives set out by this partnership will ensure that Eastside communities will be ready and able to provide vaccines the moment the supply is there.

    Through every step of the way, City staff and partners will be ensuring the public is informed and access to vaccine will be well communicated. The partnership is utilizing a joint information system to provide “one-voice” messaging to all partners involved to ensure broad public outreach and involvement throughout these efforts. The City will continue to be utilizing the Connect Sammamish COVID-19 platform, as well as a variety of other media, to provide timely information to your residents.

    Regarding operational funding, vaccine-related operations are reimbursable to local governments through FEMA Disaster Assistance, and I will be designing the operations to best capture those eligible costs. We currently are operating under the assumption that vaccine-related expenses will be reimbursable at 75%; however, there has been preliminary communication from the federal government hinting that vaccine-related expenses may be reimbursable at 100%. That being said, the City still has roughly $1 million remaining in CARES Act reimbursements that are earmarked for COVID-19 response and recovery, a portion of which could be earmarked for vaccine distribution operations. To date, the City has spent roughly $1.9 million of the $2.9 million that was reimbursed to the City. That includes roughly $168K on internal COVID-19 expenses, $215K on I.T. expenses necessary to ensure continuity of government, $1,211,000 in two rounds of small business and non-profit grants, and $315K to support human service organizations assisting those impacted.

    As you can see, there are many moving pieces and partners involved in ensuring our communities are well served through this response. I would like to thank the residents for their continued patience, as well as the Council for their continued support.

    With that, I would be happy to address any questions you may have. Thank you.

  • Slides from Sound Cities Association Briefing with Patty Hayes, Director, Public Health - Seattle & King County

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    03 Feb 2021

    To view and download these slides, please click here.

  • Update from the Vaccine Community Partnership

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    02 Feb 2021

    • Fire Chief Jeff Clark of Eastside Fire & Rescue (EF&R) has appointed Emergency Manager Andrew Stevens to lead the mass vaccination site coordination for the Issaquah Vaccine Community Partnership
    • EF&R’s mobile vaccination teams will begin delivering vaccines to vulnerable populations in Issaquah and Sammamish this week.

    The Vaccine Community Partnership is working to deliver COVID-19 vaccines to residents in Issaquah and Sammamish through mobile vaccination teams, a pedestrian mass vaccination site, and a vehicular mass vaccination site. All efforts are dependent on securing vaccine supply.

    The Issaquah Vaccine Community Partnership is a public / private partnership with the goal of ensuring safe, equitable, and timely vaccinations in Issaquah and Sammamish. The partnership includes the cities of Issaquah and Sammamish, Eastside Fire & Rescue, Swedish Issaquah, Issaquah School District, and Costco.

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  • King County is in Phase 2 of the state's Healthy Washington - Roadmap to Recovery plan. Effective Feb. 1, 2021.

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    02 Feb 2021

    Reprinted from https://www.kingcounty.gov/elected/executive/constantine/covid-response/current-guidance.aspx

    Update 1/28: On January 28, Governor Inslee announced King County and the Puget Sound Region will move to Phase 2 of the state's Healthy Washington - Roadmap to Recovery plan on Monday, Feb. 1. based on new criteria that requires regions meet three of the state’s four metrics. Read the Governor's announcement.

    Phase 2 allows for additional indoor activities, including dining, fitness, museums and more at 25 percent capacity. As we face new more contagious COVID-19 variants, we must stay as vigilant as ever to keep businesses open and COVID activity trending down. In addition to wearing well-fitted masks and social distancing, Public Health—Seattle & King County encourages businesses and facilities operating indoors to prioritize ventilation and air flow, plus outdoor, takeout and curbside offerings. For activities and gatherings allowed in Phase 2 that require advanced planning, such as wedding and funeral receptions for example, keep in mind that the state evaluates our region’s status every two weeks and can move us back to Phase 1, if we aren’t meeting their criteria.

    Learn what workplaces, community and faith-based organizations, schools and childcare, and residents in King County need to know, plus important COVID-19 resources for you or your business.

    What's Open?

    Phase 2 - Healthy Washington

    Updated Jan. 29

    Activities

    Phase 2

    Social and at-home gathering size - indoor

    Max of 5 people from outside your household, limit 2 households

    Social and at-home gathering size - outdoor

    Max of 15 people from outside your household, limit 2 households

    Worship services

    Indoor maximum 25% capacity

    Retail stores (includes farmers' markets, grocery and convenience stores, pharmacies)

    Maximum 25% capacity, encourage curbside pick-up

    Professional services

    Indoor maximum 25% capacity

    Eating and drinking establishments (establishments only serving individuals 21+ and no food remain closed)

    Indoor dining available 25% capacity, end alcohol service/delivery at 11 PM. Outdoor or open-air dining available, max 6 per table, limit 2 households per table

    Weddings and funerals

    Ceremonies and indoor receptions, wakes, or similar gatherings in conjunction with such ceremonies are permitted and must follow the appropriate venue requirements. If food or drinks are served, eating and drinking requirements apply. Dancing is prohibited.

    Indoor recreation and fitness establishments (includes gyms, fitness organizations, indoor recreational sports, indoor pools, indoor K-12 sports, indoor sports, indoor personal training, indoor dance, no-contact martial arts, gymnastics, climbing)

    Low and moderate risk sports competitions permitted (no tournaments). High risk sports permitted for practice and training. Fitness and training and indoor sports maximum 25% capacity.

    Outdoor sports and fitness establishments (Outdoor fitness organizations, outdoor recreational sports, outdoor pools, outdoor parks and hiking trails, outdoor campsites, outdoor K-12 sports, outdoor sports, outdoor personal training, outdoor dance, outdoor motorsports)

    Low, moderate, and high-risk sports competitions allowed (no tournaments), maximum 200 including spectators.

    Indoor entertainment establishments (includes aquariums, indoor theaters, indoor arenas, indoor concert halls, indoor gardens, indoor museums, indoor bowling, indoor trampoline facilities, indoor cardrooms, indoor entertainment activities of any kind, indoor event spaces)

    Maximum 25% capacity or 200 people, whichever is less. If food or drinks are served, eating and drinking requirements apply.

    Outdoor entertainment establishments (includes zoos, outdoor gardens, outdoor aquariums, outdoor theaters, outdoor stadiums, outdoor event spaces, outdoor arenas, outdoor concert venues, rodeos)

    Groups of 15, limit 2 households per group, maximum 200 including spectators for events.

    Note: Live entertainment is no longer prohibited but must follow guidance above for the appropriate venue. Long-term care facilities, professional and collegiate sports remain governed by their current guidance/proclamations separate from this plan.


  • Inslee announces metric changes to Healthy Washington — Roadmap to Recovery

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    30 Jan 2021
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    Reprinted from Governor Jay Inslee's Medium page

    Regions will now only be required to meet three of the metrics, not all four, to progress to Phase 2

    Gov. Jay Inslee today announced several changes to the state’s Healthy Washington — Roadmap to Recovery. The governor first announced the regional, phased reopening plan Jan. 6.

    The plan will be changed in two ways; first, the evaluation criteria for regions to move from Phase 1 to Phase 2, and the timeframe in which regions can progress.

    “We are getting closer to finding our way out of this mess, but we aren’t there yet,” Inslee said during a press conference Thursday. “We have sacrificed too much to let our frustrations get the best of us now when the finish line is in sight, however distant that may seem in our field of vision.”

    The changes come after further conversations with public health partners and the state’s increasing vaccination rates.

    Phase 2

    In accordance with the roadmap, several regions will be eligible to enter Phase 2 beginning Monday. The progression is contingent on whether their metrics continue their positive trends.

    Regions moving to Phase 2 effective Monday are:

    • West (Grays Harbor, Pacific, Thurston, Lewis)
    • Puget Sound (Snohomish, King, Pierce)

    “The fact that these two regions are moving into Phase 2 is encouraging news,” said Umair A. Shah, MD, MPH, secretary of health. “As we continue our community efforts, we hope more such progress will be made. Ultimately our goal remains ensuring the health and safety of all of Washington.”

    Metrics

    Under the new plan, regions will only be required to meet three of the four public health metrics to progress to Phase 2. The original roadmap required regions to meet all four.

    The four metrics remain the same. They are:

    1. Trend in case rate: Trend in 14-day rate of new COVID-19 cases per 100K population;
    2. Trend in hospital admissions rate: Trend in 14-day rate of new COVID-19 hospital admissions per 100K population;
    3. Percent ICU occupancy: Average 7-day percent occupancy of ICU staffed beds; and
    4. Percent positivity: 7-day percent positive of COVID-19 tests.

    The metrics provide an overview of current COVID-19 trends and health care system readiness in

    each region, ensuring that health care systems will efficiently and equitably respond to potential future outbreaks.

    The requirement to maintain three metrics to remain in Phase 2 remains unchanged. If any region fails to meet any two metrics, they will still regress to Phase 1.

    Timeframe

    The governor also announced that the Department of Health’s timeline for region’s evaluation will change. Beginning next week, regions metrics will be evaluated every two weeks instead of every week.

    Read the full Healthy Washington — Roadmap to Recovery plan here.



  • City of Sammamish joins the Issaquah Vaccine Community Partnership

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    26 Jan 2021
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    The City of Sammamish has joined the Issaquah Vaccine Community Partnership, a public / private partnership with the goal of ensuring safe, equitable, and timely vaccinations in Issaquah – and now, Sammamish.

    Along with the two neighboring cities of Issaquah and Sammamish, the partnership includes Eastside Fire & Rescue, Swedish Issaquah, Issaquah School District, and Costco. The partnership is now meeting regularly to coordinate possible vaccine distribution sites, funding needed to support these efforts, and plans for volunteer recruitment. The partnership is focused on protecting the most vulnerable in our communities.

    Eastside Fire & Rescue is receiving training on vaccine administration to offer mobile vaccinations to adult family homes beginning in the next two weeks

    Vaccine supply continues to be a limiting factor. “There is currently not enough vaccine available to meet demand. When that changes, we will be ready,” said Issaquah Mayor Mary Lou Pauly.

    “Demand for vaccinations is high and supply is low, and we understand how frustrating it has been to secure vaccination appointments,” said Sammamish Mayor Karen Moran. “We intend to accelerate and streamline vaccination efforts for our two cities’ residents through this partnership, as we patiently await more vaccine supply.”

    For up-to-date COVID-19 testing and vaccine distribution information, please visit Connect Sammamish’s COVID-19 Information & Resources page.

  • New COVID-19 variant hits Washington State, but Washingtonians know how to handle it.

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    24 Jan 2021
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    Reprinted from the Washington Department of Health

    Today, almost a year to the day after the very first US case of COVID-19 was diagnosed in Washington, we learned that the COVID-19 variant that has been spreading in London, has arrived here too.

    The UW Medicine Virology Lab found that two people in Snohomish County who knew they had COVID-19, actually have this new variant. So far it seems like this variant is pretty rare in Washington, although it is likely that there are other people here who also have this variant. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention predicts that this new variant will be the most common strain in the coming months.

    What, exactly, is a new variant? Viruses are constantly changing. Part of the reason we need to get flu shots every year is because the influenza virus changes slightly. Similarly, the virus that causes COVID-19 is constantly changing. When enough changes happen, it starts to act a little different and we track it as a new variant. We expect new variants of a virus to occur over time. Sometimes new variants emerge and disappear. Other times, new variants emerge and persist. Multiple variants of the virus that causes COVID-19 have been documented in the United States and throughout the world.

    Does it have a name? Well, yes. It’s known as B.1.1.7 or SARS-CoV-2 VOC 202012/01. That’s why we usually just say “new variant.”

    If you get COVID-19, does it make a difference what variant you have? Not for you! According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there is no conclusive evidence that it causes more severe illness or increased risk of death. But, this variant does spread more easily and quickly than other variants, so we all need to be extra careful to do our best to protect each other.

    Does the vaccine work on the new variant? So far, it looks like it does. This is great news, but it is a topic that is still being studied, so there may be more information soon.

    How do we protect ourselves from the new variant? By doing all the same things we’ve been doing, as consistently as we possibly can:

    • Wear a mask, even with people you see regularly and in your smallest social circles;
    • Keep gatherings outside whenever possible;
    • Avoid any social gatherings indoors, but if participating, wearing a mask and ensuring windows and doors are open to maximize ventilation;
    • Wear a mask while in the car with other people, including with family who do not live in your household;
    • Wash hands often, not touching your face, and carrying hand sanitizer for use when water and soap are not available;
    • Stay home if you are sick or if you have been exposed to COVID-19; and,
    • Get tested for COVID-19 if you have symptoms or were exposed to someone who tested positive.

    Practice compassion. Viruses mutate inside your body. Preventing yourself and others from getting COVID-19 also helps to prevent new variants from arising.

  • Emergency Manager's Report to City Council on COVID-19 (January 19, 2021)

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    20 Jan 2021
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    Andrew Stevens, CEM - Emergency Manager - Eastside Fire & Rescue

    Good evening Mayor, Councilmembers, and City Manager.

    One year ago, the first case of COVID-19 was reported in the United States, just north of us in Snohomish County. One year later COVID-19 continues to spread like wildfire across the nation and has resulted in over 400,000 fatalities and one in every 14 Americans being infected. More than 200 Americans die every minute yet every day I still see or hear debates over the severity of this pandemic or the need to continue to comply with COVID-19 mitigations. While most areas of the county are struggling under the massive increases in cases and hospitalizations following the holiday peak, statistics for King County are beginning to trend downward, hopefully highlighting that the worst of the current surge is over. That does not mean that restrictions should be lifted, or it is now safe to socialize outside of your families. It simply means that we are finally seeing numbers lower to pre-Thanksgiving rates again, however, they are still higher than any of the months prior to last November.

    The bulk of what I would like to discuss this evening is around vaccinations, as there is still a lot of concern over eligibility and access from many in the community. First and foremost, the Governor recently made modifications to the State’s vaccination phases and raised the state to Phase 1B, Tier 1. This change, along with the revisions, means that healthcare professionals, high-risk responders, long-term care facility residents, and other workers in health care settings are eligible. The recent changes also opened vaccination eligibility to all individuals 65 years old or greater and people 50 and over who live in multi-generational housing. The State has also released a new COVID-19 dashboard, which besides offering insights into statewide case count, hospitalizations, deaths, and testing, is now offering vaccination data broken down by County.

    The situation around vaccines and their distribution is ever-evolving. In fact, just this evening I discovered that several QFCs in the region are now providing the vaccine, including the QFC in Klahanie. This was not communicated to me by any public health official, I was reviewing the list of facilities available on the Washington State Department of Health website and noticed the recent additions. Some of the frustrations and confusion we are encountering is centered around understanding one’s eligibility, navigating the web-based platforms, and booking appointments for the vaccine if you are eligible. The State’s primary tool for doing this, Phase Finder, has been encountering technical issues since its release and often crashes. When the tool is operational, it guides users through a series of questions confirming eligibility, urges users to take a screenshot of their status, and then provides a list of sites where the vaccine is available. However, many are also encountering issues with scheduling their appointments through these third party sites or finding that the providers are booked out for several weeks to come or already fully reserved. Individuals who are having trouble accessing or managing the Phase Finder tool are urged to work directly with their healthcare providers or to call 1-800-525-0127, the King County COVID Assistance Line, for assistance.

    Understandably, the rollout of the State’s vaccination program has been frustrating to many, but with stronger federal support, greater collaboration and public-private partnerships, and plans to open larger mass vaccination sites, should hopefully result in more vaccines being distributed to those who need them most.

    Due to the lack of centralized communication from State and County Public health officials, there is also widespread confusion over the role local jurisdictions should be playing in the establishment of vaccination distribution sites. Unfortunately, the selection of where these vaccination sites are and who is eligible to be a vaccination provider is in the hands of state and county officials, not local jurisdictions. While the county has plans to establish multiple vaccination sites throughout the county, it has not been communicated where or exactly when these sites will be up and running. King County will be aiming to provide as many vaccinations as possible to already approved providers and the soon to be established mass vaccination site in south King County.

    While this is unfortunate, it is also subject to change, and that is why we are proactively leaning forward. The City of Sammamish has identified potential Community Points of Distribution (CPOD) and is revising plans to accommodate the additional COVID-19 vaccine protocols. We have trained volunteers and staff in the operations of such sites, which have already been exercised and practiced during our earlier mask distribution event. Eastside Fire and Rescue is working tirelessly to ensure that our firefighters and EMTs are trained to administer the COVID-19 vaccine and operate mobile vaccination clinics. We are communicating with partners, neighboring jurisdictions, community stakeholders, and coordinating several times a week with public health officials. When information changes the City’s communications team provides these updates to the public through a well-established outreach strategy that includes social media, email blasts, printed newsletters, and regular maintenance of the COVID-19 Information page on Connect Sammamish, the City’s go-to informational hub for the pandemic for the past 11 months. So, while there remain roadblocks in the city’s ability to establish its own vaccination sites, your continued advocacy may open doors to greater vaccination availability to our residents and our preparedness will ensure the ability and readiness to complete the mission when it comes.

    As with every report, I will end with a brief update regarding CARES Act funding that was specifically earmarked for COVID-19 response and recovery expenses. The City has spent roughly $1.9 million of the $2.9 million that was reimbursed to the City. That includes roughly $163K on emergency protective measures and internal COVID-19 expenses, $215K on I.T. expenses necessary to ensure continuity of government, $1,211,000 in two rounds of small business and non-profit grants, and $315K to support human service organizations assisting those impacted.

    With that, I would be happy to address any questions you may have. Thank you.