• King County to require proof of vaccination or negative test for many outdoor and indoor events and establishments to address COVID-19 spread

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    Reprinted from: https://kingcounty.gov/elected/executive/constantine/news/release/2021/September/16-proof-of-vaccination-negative-test.aspx

    Summary

    To protect customers and workers, preserve hospital capacity and help prevent business closures, King County will require verification of full vaccination status or a negative test to enter outdoor public events of 500 or more people and indoor entertainment and recreational establishments and events such as live music, performing arts, gyms, restaurants, and bars.

    Story

    With continued high levels of preventable COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations and increased deaths driven by the Delta variant, serious stress on our regional healthcare system, and concern for a significant outbreak resurgence this fall and winter, King County Executive Dow Constantine, Seattle Mayor Jenny A. Durkan and community, health care, small business, and arts and culture partners joined in support of requiring verification of full vaccination or a negative test to enter certain indoor and outdoor activities and establishments.

    A Health Order issued today by Public Health – Seattle & King County Health Officer Dr. Jeff Duchin, going into effect on October 25, will protect customers and workers through providing safer spaces, protecting our health care system, and helping prevent business closures. It will apply to:

    • Outdoor events with 500 people or more – such as professional and collegiate sports and entertainment events
    • Indoor entertainment and recreational events or establishments – such as professional and collegiate sports, entertainment, performing arts, museums, theatre, live music, gyms, and conferences/conventions.
    • Restaurants and bars (including indoor dining) – this does not apply to outdoor dining, take-out customers, and places that aren't primarily used as a restaurant, such as grocery stores.

    The order gives the option for a longer preparation period for smaller restaurants and bars with a seating capacity of 12 or less, with an implementation date of December 6. The entire order is not expected to be permanent. It will be reviewed no later than six months after the October 25th implementation date to assess its continued need based on future outbreak conditions.

    An analysis by the University of Washington's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) conducted for King County found that the vaccine verification policy at restaurants, bars, and gyms/fitness centers alone could have a significant positive impact, preventing between 17,900 and 75,900 infections, 421 and 1,760 hospitalizations, and 63 and 257 deaths locally over six months with the order in place.

    We are at a critical point in this pandemic, with high levels of new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, and no certainty as to what will follow the Delta variant," said King County Executive Dow Constantine. "Vaccination is our best shield against this deadly virus. With over 85 percent of King County residents having received at least their first vaccine dose, vaccine verification will help keep people safe and keep businesses open."

    "Seattle was the first region in the country to feel the devastating effects of the COVID-19 virus, and we innovated and brought nation-leading testing and vaccination sites to our residents. That work is why we have one of the highest vaccination rates and the lowest cases, hospitalizations, and deaths of any major American city," said Seattle Mayor Jenny A. Durkan. "But Seattle is not immune to the surge in cases and hospitalizations caused by the Delta variant. We must act now – and act boldly – to change the trajectory of the virus and keep our communities safe. After extensive engagement with community partners, small businesses, venues, and hospitals, Seattle is proud to implement a vaccination verification policy. It's the right thing to do for our workers, our customers, our economy, and the health and vitality of our city."

    "Our COVID-19 response must continue to adapt to the difficult, changing reality of this pandemic. The Delta virus is much more contagious, airborne, causes severe illness, and is seriously stressing our hospitals and healthcare providers," said Dr. Jeff Duchin, Health Officer for Public Health – Seattle & King County. "King County's vaccine verification program will prevent infections, hospitalizations and deaths, safeguard our healthcare system, and provide safer spaces for the public and for workers."

    Several forms of vaccination proof will be permitted under the order, including:

    • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) COVID-19 vaccination record card or photo of card.
    • printed certificate or QR code (available in late September) from MyIRMobile.com. (MyIR Mobile is currently limited to English language only. For language assistance, or additional help getting your records, call the Washington State Vaccine Helpline at 833-VAX-HELP (833-829-4357) or email waissrecords@doh.wa.gov).
    • other official immunization record from within or outside the United States, including from your health care provider. A photo or photocopy of this card is also acceptable.

    The order defines full vaccination as two weeks after the second dose of Pfizer or Moderna vaccine or two weeks after one dose of Johnson & Johnson vaccine, or two weeks after completing another approved vaccine. No personal identification with proof of vaccination will be required.

    For people who are unvaccinated or cannot prove vaccine status, they will be required to show proof of a negative PCR COVID-19 test in the last 72 hours, or a negative rapid test result from a testing provider conducted on site at an event or establishment just prior to entry. Individuals under 12 years of age, who are not eligible to be vaccinated, are not required to be tested for entry.

    Establishments will be responsible for checking vaccination proof or negative test status. Public Health, King County, and City of Seattle will be working with partners to provide technical support and educational materials to businesses and organizations implementing the order.

    King County, the City of Seattle, and Public Health developed the vaccine verification policy in consultation with Public Health's Pandemic and Racism Community Advisory Group, cities, small businesses, chambers of commerce, labor unions, trade associations, sports teams, entertainment venues, community groups, and faith-based leaders throughout the county to create a policy that aims to be workable, fair, and equitable for businesses and residents.

    Several jurisdictions have already adopted some form of vaccine verification policy, including New York City, San Francisco, Los Angeles County, the State of California, British Columbia in Canada, and Clallam and Jefferson counties in Washington state. Last week, several local sports teams and venues, including the Seattle Kraken, Seattle Mariners, Seattle Seahawks, Seattle Sounders FC, Seattle Storm, Seattle Thunderbirds, University of Washington Huskies, and all events at Climate Pledge Arena adopted vaccination verification policies.

    The Delta variant is more than twice as contagious as the original COVID-19, which makes increasing vaccination rates even more important to slowing disease spread and protecting people from hospitalization and death. UW's IHME projects our outbreak to worsen in the next six months with hundreds of thousands of additional cases, thousands of additional hospitalizations, and approximately a thousand additional deaths, with the majority among unvaccinated people.

    Currently, 68% of the total King County population and 79% of eligible King County residents (those 12 years of age and up) have completed their vaccination series against COVID-19, including more than 70% of every eligible age group and all racial groups tracked by Public Health. There are nearly 300,000 King County residents who are eligible but have not yet started their vaccination series.

    Anyone needing COVID-19 vaccine can visit KingCounty.gov/vaccine to find a vaccine in their neighborhood. To date, more than three million vaccine doses have been administered in King County.

    For more information on King County's COVID-19 vaccine verification policy, visit KingCounty.gov/verify

  • MASKS REQUIRED AT LARGE OUTDOOR GATHERINGS IN KING COUNTY, STRONGLY RECOMMENDED IN OTHER OUTDOOR SETTINGS

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    Reprinted from Public Health Insider: https://publichealthinsider.com/2021/09/02/masks-required-at-large-outdoor-gatherings-in-king-county/

    King County, like much of the nation, is in the midst of a surge in COVID-19 cases driven by the highly contagious Delta variant. With high rates of disease spread, and our health care system straining to keep up, it is time to take additional steps to keep ourselves and our communities safe.

    Therefore, Public Health – Seattle & King County is issuing a Local Health Officer Order. Beginning Tuesday, September 7:

    • Face masks are required at any outdoor event with 500 or more people in attendance. This requirement applies to all vaccinated and unvaccinated people, 5 years of age and older.
    • Masks are strongly recommended for everyone 5 years of age and older – both vaccinated and unvaccinated – in any other outdoor setting where people cannot remain at least 6 feet apart from non-household members.

    Masks are still required for everyone 5 and older in indoor public settings, such as grocery stores, malls, gyms, and community centers. This requirement supports Washington’s statewide order for wearing masks indoors.

    Why outdoors?

    The virus that causes COVID-19 spreads through the air. We know that outdoors, with its natural ventilation and airflow, is much safer than indoors. However, the virus that causes COVID-19 can still sometimes spread outdoors, especially in large groups where physical distancing is difficult or impossible. This is an even greater risk now that the highly contagious Delta variant is dominant in King County.

    Well-made, snug-fitting masks provide crucial protection against COVID-19.

    Why do unvaccinated and vaccinated people need to wear masks?

    While we have some of the highest vaccination rates of any large metro area in the United States, there are still approximately 750,000 people in King County who remain unvaccinated and susceptible to COVID-19. This includes children under 12 who don’t yet have the option of getting vaccinated.

    Vaccinated people are at much lower risk of catching and spreading COVID-19 than unvaccinated people, and the vaccines offer extremely good protection against severe illness, hospitalization and death. But the risk is not zero, even for vaccinated people, and the fast-spreading Delta variant raises the risk for everyone.

    The latest surge of COVID-19 cases is taking a heavy toll on hospital capacity. Hospitals are more crowded than at any point since the pandemic began, and our healthcare workers are stressed and stretched thin.

    Other counties and cities around the country are reporting their healthcare systems have run out of beds and oxygen because of the overwhelming number of COVID-19 cases. They are having to turn away people in need from hospital care. We do not want this to happen in King County, and that’s why we’re taking action.

    The high rates of community spread and the large burden on the health care system mean that both vaccinated and unvaccinated people need to take extra precautions right now, including wearing masks.

    King County’s new order is consistent with the latest guidance from the Washington State Department of Health, which strongly recommends that all people, regardless of vaccination status, wear a face covering in crowded outdoor settings.

    Originally published on September 2, 2021.

  • Inslee announces educator vaccination requirement and statewide indoor mask mandate

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    Reprinted from: https://medium.com/wagovernor/inslee-announces-educator-vaccination-requirement-and-statewide-indoor-mask-mandate-3da2ada64951

    Education vaccine mandate does not impact students

    Gov. Jay Inslee today announced a vaccination requirement for employees working in K-12, most childcare and early learning, and higher education, as well as an expansion of the statewide mask mandate to all individuals, regardless of vaccination status. The governor was joined for the announcement by Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal and Secretary of Health Dr. Umair A. Shah.

    Educator vaccine requirement

    K -12 educators, school staff, coaches, bus drivers, school volunteers and others working in school facilities will have until October 18 to be fully vaccinated as a condition of employment. The requirement includes public, private and charter schools, and comes as schools across the state prepare to return for the 2021–2022 school year amid rapidly increasing case and hospitalization numbers. This does not impact students, regardless of age.

    “It has been a long pandemic, and our students and teachers have borne their own unique burdens throughout,” Inslee said. “This virus is increasingly impacting young people, and those under the age of 12 still can’t get the vaccine for themselves. We won’t gamble with the health of our children, our educators and school staff, nor the health of the communities they serve.”

    “As our school buildings reopen this fall for in-person learning, vaccination of our school employees will be a key mitigation measure to protect the health and safety of our students, staff, and families,” said Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal. “Our ability to maintain continued in-person learning without major COVID-related disruptions will depend on low virus transmission within our schools. I appreciate the governor’s leadership in taking this important step in the fight against the spread of this virus.”

    As with state employees and private healthcare workers, there will be no test out option. Unions may bargain with school districts to negotiate time off to receive the vaccine or recover from symptoms of the vaccine. Just like the state worker mandate, there are limited exceptions under law which employees may apply for, including legitimate medical reasons and sincerely held religious beliefs. Individuals who refuse to get vaccinated will be subject to dismissal.

    Higher education and childcare/early learning

    Inslee also announced a vaccine requirement for employees in Washington’s higher education institutions, as well as for most childcare and early learning providers who serve children from multiple households.

    Education staff, faculty and contractors are required to be fully vaccinated by October 18, consistent with the state worker vaccination requirement timeline.

    Childcare providers affected by the requirement include the following groups

    • Licensed, certified and contracted early learning and childcare programs
    • License-exempt early learning, childcare and youth-development programs
    • Contractors (coaches, volunteers, trainers, etc.)

    Not included in this mandate are providers delivering FFN (family, friends and neighbors) care.

    Statewide mask mandate

    The governor also announced that the existing statewide mask mandate will be expanded to once again include vaccinated individuals in indoor settings effective Monday, August 23.

    The expansion comes after Washington recently broke the previous record for COVID hospitalizations set in December. Every county in the state currently falls within the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) substantial or high transmission, and each of the state’s 35 local health officers recently recommended all individuals wear masks indoors.

    “In Washington we continue to see an increase of cases, hospitalizations,” said Umair A. Shah, MD, MPH, Secretary of Health. “Vaccines are safe and effective, but they take time to work. As our vaccination efforts continue, we are asking the public to take additional protections to help slow the spread of COVID in communities. Wearing a mask helps to protect yourself and each other.”

    The mask mandate will apply to most all public places across the state, including restaurants, grocery stores, malls and public-facing offices, regardless of vaccination status.

    There will be limited exceptions when face coverings won’t be required, such as office spaces not easily accessible to the public where individuals are vaccinated, and when working alone indoors or in a vehicle with no public face-to-face interaction. Small, private indoor gatherings where all attendees are vaccinated are also exempt.

    “We have seen over the last year how widespread masking also saves lives by reducing infection,” Inslee said. “I know this will frustrate some vaccinated folks who thought they wouldn’t have to do this anymore. There are not enough people vaccinated. The result is the explosive growth of a much more infectious strain, the Delta variant, and its increasingly concerns impacts on people of all ages.”

    While not required, the Department of Health strongly recommends individuals also wear masks in crowded outdoor settings, such as outdoor concerts, fairs and farmers markets.

    Resources:

  • Inslee announces vaccination requirement for most state employees, private health care and long-term care workers

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    Reprinted from: https://medium.com/wagovernor/inslee-announces-vaccination-requirement-for-most-state-employees-private-health-care-and-7c765161cbb6

    Gov. Jay Inslee today announced a requirement for most state workers, and on-site contractors and volunteers to be vaccinated against COVID-19 as a condition of employment. State employees and workers in private health care and long-term care settings will have until October 18 to be fully vaccinated.

    The requirement applies to state workers, regardless of teleworking status. This applies to executive cabinet agencies, but the governor encouraged all others such as higher education, local governments, the legislative branch, other statewide elected officials and organizations in the private sector to do the same.

    “It is the mission of public servants and those providing health care to serve our fellow Washingtonians. These workers live in every community in our state, working together and with the public every day to deliver services,” Inslee said. “We have a duty to protect them from the virus, they have the right to be protected, and the communities they serve and live in deserve protection as well.”

    The governor made the announcement at a press conference on Monday at Kaiser Permanente in Seattle. He was joined by Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan, King County Executive Dow Constantine, Kaiser Permanente Washington President Susan Mullaney, Washington State Secretary of Health Dr. Umair Shah, and Seattle-King County Public Health Officer Dr. Jeffrey Duchin.

    “State employees, health care and long-term care workers are extremely pivotal in the fight against COVID-19, and we hope these steps will further our goal of getting as many people vaccinated,” Secretary of Health Dr. Umair A. Shah, MD, MPH, said. “We should all be concerned with the increases of COVID-19 cases in our state and we know that vaccines are our best tool to end this pandemic.”

    The announcement comes as Washington is experiencing a severe increase in COVID cases and hospitalizations in every county, due to the Delta variant, with the overwhelming majority of cases and hospitalizations being among unvaccinated Washingtonians.

    Prior to the governor’s announcement, Kaiser Permanente WA mandated that it would be requiring all its employees to be vaccinated.

    “The growing threat of the Delta variant has put our unvaccinated communities in a serious and precarious situation. We have at our disposal the key to ending this deadly surge and even the pandemic — vaccines,” said Susan Mullaney, president of Kaiser Permanente Washington. “As the largest integrated health care provider in the state of Washington, Kaiser Permanente has taken the important step of requiring that all employees and physicians be fully vaccinated. We look forward to working with the governor, the state, labor partners and our fellow health care systems to protect our state.”

    King County leads the state in vaccinations, with approximately 81.5% of eligible residents 12 years of age and older having initiated their vaccination series, 12% higher than the statewide average as of August 2.

    “No patient should have to worry about getting COVID-19 from their health care provider, period,” said Jeff Duchin, King County Public Health officer. “Requiring COVID-19 vaccination for health care personnel protects not only patients and health care workers, but also their families and our community — including those who cannot be vaccinated or do not respond to the vaccine due to being immunocompromised. I thank Governor Inslee for taking this important action as the threat of COVID-19 is increasing locally and nationally.”

    This new requirement includes well-defined exemptions to the vaccine. Individuals with legitimate medical reasons or sincerely held religious reasons will be exempt. The exemptions do not include personal or philosophical objections.

    To keep staff, families and communities safe, there will be no test-out option for employees. Past opt-out testing policies in congregate facilities for unvaccinated staff have not been efficient at preventing outbreaks that impact employees, clients and families, resulting in the loss of life of dedicated staff. Providing a test-out option would be both a financial burden for staff and taxpayers and ineffective at protecting the lives of Washingtonians.

    Employees who refuse to be vaccinated will be subject to dismissal from employment for failing to meet legal job qualifications. The state will work with labor organizations on meeting collective bargaining obligations and adhering to civil service rules.

    The City of Seattle and King County also announced a COVID-19 vaccination requirement for their employees.

    “From the initial days of the COVID-19 pandemic to today, Governor Inslee, Executive Constantine and I believe in the importance of speaking as one government. So many small businesses have stepped up to require vaccines and as some of Washington’s largest employers, we are too. The spread of the Delta variant has required that we continue to make decisions that are safe for our employees, their families and our community. There is no doubt that vaccines work, and that they are our best defense against the highly contagious Delta variant,” said Mayor Jenny Durkan. “Seattle has led the way by listening to our public health officials- it’s why we have the lowest cases, hospitalizations and deaths of every major city. It is crucial that in our workplaces where we work, eat, have meetings, and laugh together, we make sure we are doing what we can to keep ourselves and our colleagues, our children and families, customers, and members of the public safe from serious illness, hospitalization, or death from this virus.”

    “A healthy King County depends on every eligible resident getting vaccinated. With the Delta variant surging, it is high time for everyone to do their part to protect one another, our children and our economy,” said Dow Constantine, King County executive. “Joining with the state and the City of Seattle, we’re helping close the vaccination gaps in our community and our workforce, to get everyone across the finish line and move our community forward into recovery.”

    “Getting vaccinated against COVID is a public good. We have come so close to defeating this deadly disease,” Inslee said. “We have the tool — the vaccine — to get this era behind us. It is safe, it is effective, and you will never regret getting it.”

    Additional information:

  • Inslee announces statewide indoor mask mandate

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    Gov. Jay Inslee today announced a vaccination requirement for employees working in K-12, most childcare and early learning, and higher education, as well as an expansion of the statewide mask mandate to all individuals, regardless of vaccination status. Read complete news release here: Gov. Jay Inslee News Release

  • From the CDC: Interim Public Health Recommendations for Fully Vaccinated People

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    Reprinted from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

    Summary of Recent Changes

    • Updated information for fully vaccinated people given new evidence on the B.1.617.2 (Delta) variant currently circulating in the United States.
    • Added a recommendation for fully vaccinated people to wear a mask in public indoor settings in areas of substantial or high transmission.
    • Added information that fully vaccinated people might choose to wear a mask regardless of the level of transmission, particularly if they are immunocompromised or at increased risk for severe disease from COVID-19, or if they have someone in their household who is immunocompromised, at increased risk of severe disease or not fully vaccinated.
    • Added a recommendation for fully vaccinated people who have a known exposure to someone with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 to be tested 3-5 days after exposure, and to wear a mask in public indoor settings for 14 days or until they receive a negative test result.
    • CDC recommends universal indoor masking for all teachers, staff, students, and visitors to schools, regardless of vaccination status.
  • Emergency Manager's Report to City Council on COVID-19 | June 15, 2021

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    Good evening Mayor Moran, Councilmembers, and City Manager.

    I wanted to take this evening to reflect upon the City of Sammamish’s response to Covid-19 over the past year and a half and highlight many of the successes of those citywide efforts.

    Last February, roughly two weeks into new City management, the City of Sammamish began executing what would be its greatest exercise in the continuity of operations. Facing a never-before-seen deadly threat, and regulations and public health orders that seemed to change or evolve daily, City departments and divisions quickly came together to develop strategies and tactics that ensured that 100% of the City’s essential government functions were maintained without disruption. I would like to highlight just how rare that is. You have to remember that the U.S.’s response to COVID-19 began just north of Sammamish, and I would say that most jurisdictions in the area were directly impacted by the virus as outbreaks spread throughout their workplaces. However, due to the expedient nature of Sammamish’s response, the flexibility and competence of its staff and leadership, Sammamish was able to quickly enact workplace protections, enhance social distancing and environmental hygiene protocols, and develop a robust telework program that not only ensured that continuity of operations was maintained, but more importantly, not a single instance of workplace COVID-19 exposure was reported. The countless hours and effort put forth by every Sammamish employee to strengthen and ensure the city’s resiliency while facing this new and extremely dangerous threat should most definitely be celebrated by this council.

    While continuing the day-to-day work of city governance, Sammamish also took on the responsibility of developing and managing community recovery programs. Staff worked directly with the WA Department of Commerce and Treasury to ensure that Federal Cares Act monies were spent efficiently and in a manner that would ensure the full reimbursable amount was achieved. It would also streamline the reporting requirements and provided the city with the flexibility to continue providing COVID-19 relief even after the federal timeline for spending CARES act funding had expired. Through these efforts, the City provided several rounds of small business and non-profit grants, greatly assisting those most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and the cascading consequences of state and county mandated restrictions. You may remember, that when the city developed its strategy for how its CARES Act funding would be spent, the WA Commerce Deputy Assistant Director, described it as one of the more intelligent ways he had seen a jurisdiction utilize the funding. I was not planning on providing a detailed report on any remaining funds this evening since I believe that you have an upcoming agenda item that further discusses any remaining CARES Act reimbursements and ARPA funding.

    The residents of Sammamish also overwhelmingly came together and adhered to the COVID-19 restrictions and mitigations. Over the past 15 months, Sammamish’s record for positive cases, hospitalizations, and deaths due to the virus were always some of the lowest per capita in the county. The vast majority of residents sought to comply with COVID-19 mitigations such as mask mandates and social distancing. They supported local businesses and restaurants through a variety of delivery options and by purchasing gift cards and donated to non-profits assisting in COVID-19 relief. While 14 Sammamish residents lost their lives to the disease, that number is a fraction compared to neighboring jurisdictions in the region. Without the whole community approach to combating and slowing the spread of the virus taken by most those numbers surely would have been higher.

    The will of Sammamish’s residents to overcome this pandemic and contribute to the greater public health good could not be made more evident by the vaccination rates seen across our community. While 70% of the population being vaccinated against COVID-19 has been seen as the benchmark for the nation and most communities, the majority of the City of Sammamish is sitting far above that figure. Over 95% of all residents aged 12 and older have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and roughly 85% of the same population has completed their entire series. This is a remarkable achievement that Sammamish residents should be extremely proud of.

    A strategic partnership consisting of the cities of Sammamish and Issaquah, the Snoqualmie Tribe, and Eastside Fire & Rescue undoubtedly contributed to the extremely high vaccination rates not only of Sammamish but of communities throughout the eastside.

    Saturday marked the final day of vaccine operations of the Snoqualmie Tribe Vaccine Partnership, a drive-through COVID-19 vaccination site located at Lake Sammamish State Park. Since April 8th, we delivered over 15,200 doses of COVID-19 vaccine to populations primarily residing here in the Eastside. Seeing where the patients came from, and the equity in which these operations were conducted was extremely validating and goes to show everyone that all the hard work that went into to establishing a mass vaccination site on the Eastside was well worth the effort.

    Along with the drive-through operations at Lake Sammamish, Eastside Fire & Rescue personnel delivered nearly 6800 vaccines at the Snoqualmie Casino and roughly another 1000 doses through our Mobile Vaccination Teams, targeting the most vulnerable populations in our service area. EFR conducted pop-up clinics are cultural centers, faith-based facilities, pedestrian shopping centers, and HOAs in both Issaquah and Sammamish. EFR personnel also assisted our local school districts with their vaccination efforts, serving as the post-vaccination medical observers for thousands of school-aged children. We worked with human services personnel to identify and schedule vaccination appointments for vulnerable populations and individuals who may have otherwise had difficulties navigating the traditional public health system and communications staff to help get the word out and share useful information on vaccine-related efforts. We also partnered with the business community to provide incentives and take-aways to our patients post-vaccination.

    For the past several months, dozens of EFR Firefighters contributed to the various vaccine operations that were simultaneously underway, working long days, and sometimes evenings, beyond their traditional shift work. Besides our staff, over 200 volunteers from eastside communities stepped up and contributed nearly 4,200 hours of their time to assist at the Lake Sammamish site, filling all the non-medical roles and responsibilities rain or shine.

    I want to personally thank everyone who was involved in supporting or contributing to these critical vaccine operations. It is a great feeling to know that while many would have been content to let others step up and fight this pandemic, we were not. From early on, all the partners involved rose to the challenge and proactively found solutions where others may have found dead ends.

    COVID-19 has been the greatest disaster of any of our lifetimes, with over 600,000 fatalities here in the U.S. alone, and 3.8 million deaths worldwide. And while this pandemic is nowhere near over, I do believe that we have most definitely reached a turning point where we no longer have to fear that things may once again turn drastically for the worse. We are beginning to see states lift COVID-19 restrictions, and it is widely expected that Washington with soon follow with reopening the state. This is welcome news and relief to many, who for the past 15 months have desperately sought for a return to normalcy. I do however urge caution and I request that we all remain vigilant and respectful to those populations who cannot yet be vaccinated. I hope that during this crisis my updates provided both you and the residents listening with useful information, and I would be happy to come back as needed if the situation warrants any additional updates.

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

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

  • King County completes 70 percent vaccination; mask directive to end June 29

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    King County has crossed the 70 percent threshold for residents age 16+ to complete the COVID-19 vaccine series, and is the largest county in the nation to reach 70% amongst adult residents. The Local Health Officer’s directive on mask use will end on June 29.

    You can read the rest of the advisory here.

  • Inslee announces two-week pause on phases

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    Gov. Jay Inslee today announced a two-week pause on movement in the Healthy Washington: Roadmap to Recovery reopening plan. Under the pause, every county will remain in its current phase. At the end of two weeks, each county will be re-evaluated.

    The decision was made in consultation with the Department of Health, and reflects current data suggesting Washington’s fourth wave has hit a plateau.

    “We are at the intersection of progress and failure, and we cannot veer from the path of progress,” Inslee said Tuesday. “Our economy is beginning to show early signs of growth thanks to some of our great legislative victories and we know vaccines are the ticket to further reopening — if we adhere to public health until enough people are vaccinated.”

    For the past several weeks, epidemiologists have been following the state’s fourth COVID-19 wave, which now appears to be leveling out. The fourth wave has been less severe and case counts and mortalities have not been tied in rates of increase as they have in the past.

    The changes in data throughout the fourth wave have been attributed to increasing vaccination rates, shortening hospital stays and lessening the severity of the illness. The state’s early vaccine prioritization has also been tied to improved data and decreasing mortality rates in the state’s most vulnerable populations.

    Vaccines are now available to all Washingtonians 16 and up. To find an appointment, visit VaccineLocator.doh.wa.gov.

    Read the rest of the story on the governor's Medium page.

  • Snoqualmie Tribe Vaccine Partnership to Supply Vaccines for Eligible Eastside Residents Living on Snoqualmie Tribal Ancestral Lands

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    The cities of Issaquah and Sammamish with Eastside Fire & Rescue have been working together for the past few months to bring COVID-19 vaccinations to East King County residents. Now, the establishment of the first community-based mass vaccination site on the Eastside is made possible through a partnership with the Snoqualmie Tribe. As a sovereign nation, the Snoqualmie Tribe is providing the vaccine necessary to turn the planned the mass vaccination site at Lake Sammamish State Park into a reality.

    The Snoqualmie Tribe’s Vaccine Clinic, which first opened on the Snoqualmie Tribal Reservation in February, will now operate at the Lake Sammamish State Park site. The mass vaccination site will be named the Snoqualmie Tribe Vaccine Partnership and will open on April 12, 2021.

    Vaccines will be available to individuals with an appointment only. Individuals must meet the current vaccine eligibility requirements as defined by Washington State Department of Health. Snoqualmie Tribal Members, Tribal Staff, and members of their household will continue to be eligible for appointments at the new clinic location. The mobile vaccination unit operated by Eastside Fire & Rescue will still be making visits to senior citizens and other vulnerable populations who may not be able to access the vaccination site.

    “The Snoqualmie Tribe is proud to be able to provide these vaccines to individuals living in the Snoqualmie Tribe’s ancestral lands. In the 1860’s, the Snoqualmie people and other Northwest Natives experienced great loss as white settlers adopted a smallpox vaccine policy that discriminated against Natives,” said Robert De Los Angeles, Snoqualmie Tribal Chairman. “Now, the Snoqualmie Tribe is exercising sovereignty through our Tribal values by caring for the people and communities living on our ancestral lands 160 years later during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

    “The Snoqualmie Tribe Vaccine Partnership is an amazing story of just that – a successful partnership,” said Issaquah Mayor Mary Lou Pauly. “Issaquah and Sammamish, along with numerous private and public partners, worked tirelessly to bring a community-based vaccination site to the Eastside. However, with vaccines in short supply, we had limited options. We are forever grateful for Snoqualmie Tribe’s partnership and care for our communities and look forward to educating our residents about the tribe’s deep history on these ancestral lands.”

    “Our commitment from Sammamish is to continue the respectful partnership between our city and the Snoqualmie Tribe. We want to honor what the Snoqualmie Tribe has brought to our communities, not only in the form of vaccines, but also your culture, your history, your legacy, and your lands. We are so grateful to the Snoqualmie Tribe for this partnership, it will truly help save lives,” said Mayor Karen Moran of the City of Sammamish.

    “Eastside Fire & Rescue has been working with the Snoqualmie Tribe since 2015, when the Tribe contracted EF&R to provide fire and EMS services on the Snoqualmie Reservation. It is an honor to be able to partner with the Tribe on vaccination efforts for their community and now the broader Eastside,” said Fire Chief Jeff Clark.

    The mass vaccination site will be administered by Eastside Fire & Rescue personnel and trained volunteers and will follow all COVID-19 guidelines and protocols. The site is designed to accommodate two rows of cars with the potential of vaccinating up to 300 persons a day, depending on vaccine supply. There will be no walk-up or waitlists available at the site. More information, including appointments, eligibility, and how to volunteer is available at: snoqualmievaccine.snoqualmietribeweb.us.

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    About the Snoqualmie Tribe

    The Snoqualmie Indian Tribe is a federally recognized tribe in the Puget Sound region of Washington State. Known as the People of the Moon, Snoqualmie were signatories to the Treaty of Point Elliott in 1855 and hold reserved Treaty rights under the Treaty. Tribal enterprises provide over 1,700 jobs in the Snoqualmie Valley, and the Snoqualmie Tribe has donated more than $10 million to nonprofit organizations in Washington State since 2010.

    About Issaquah

    Issaquah, named Best Burb by Sunset, one of the Best Towns for Families by Family Circle and one of the Best Towns by Outside, is a great place for residents and visitors alike. Our community of more than 37,000 is conveniently located off the Interstate 90 corridor, just 16 miles east of Seattle. Issaquah — nicknamed Trailhead City — is centered within the Issaquah Alps (Cougar, Squak and Tiger mountains), and is a destination for countless outdoor enthusiasts, including hikers and paragliders.

    About Sammamish

    Sammamish is a vibrant bedroom community blessed with a well-preserved natural environment, and a family-friendly, kid-safe culture. From its expanding tree canopy, to its peaceful neighborhoods, to its multi-modal transportation resources, Sammamish captures the best of the past even as it embraces a burgeoning digital future.

    About Eastside Fire & Rescue

    Eastside Fire & Rescue proudly serves the communities of Issaquah, North Bend, Sammamish, Carnation, Preston, May Valley, Wilderness Rim, and Tiger Mountain. The Agency provides high quality fire, rescue and emergency medical services.