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