Emergency Manager's Report to City Council on COVID-19 (November 2, 2020)

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

Good evening Mayor, Council members, and City Manager.

Thank you again for allowing me the opportunity to provide an update on the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Less than two weeks ago, I reported that the majority of U.S. States were seeing an increasing number of COVID cases. I wish that I could report better news this evening, but the reality is, that the U.S. is experiencing uncontrolled, and record-breaking, increases in both the number of daily new cases and the number of fatalities. The U.S has registered over 9.2 million cases since this crisis began and more than 232,000 people have died. Last week, the country shattered the record for most cases in a single day, nearly 100,000. We have seen a nationwide increase of 45% in new cases in the past two weeks alone. The U.S. alone accounts for more than a quarter of the global COVID-19 case count, and roughly one-fifth of all deaths. Of all the sobering COVID-19 statistics, one of the more troubling things I learned in the past day was that the City of El Paso just got assigned its fourth mobile morgue. I want that to sink in, an American city had to establish four separate morgue sites to assist in managing all their COVID-19 deaths.

U.S COVID-19 Positive Cases

Confirmed cases in Washington have gone up nearly 10% in the past two weeks. King County is seeing record numbers of increasing in daily case counts, averaging well over 200 new cases a day, with 295 news cases since yesterday. Sammamish is still seeing new cases daily, and unfortunately, another fatality, bring the total number of COVID-19 deaths in the city to 8.

King County COVID-19 Positive Cases Dashboard

Halloween was a strong reminder to me that people are getting too comfortable in our COVID mitigations. Sure, I saw some inventive methods to pass out candy, through chutes, or individually wrapped grab-bags. Yes, these precautions certainly reduced the risk of inadvertent exposure, but the risk was still there. So, I must ask, is any amount of candy worth the risk of contracting a virus that is on average resulting in the death of an American every 1.5 minutes? The news for the past several weeks has been reporting on how out of hand this current surge is, but so many of us are still looking for ways to resume normal day to day life. Wearing a mask and socially distancing are essential to help slow the spread of this virus, but that is not all. We must continue to be vigilant. Yes, you can go to the grocery store, but should you go several times a day? No. Limit those trips, limit all non-essential contact, and do not become complacent.

We all need to remember that we are still responding to this disaster, we are not yet in recovery. When a hurricane or tornado is directly overhead, that is not the time to open the cellar door and begin trying to rebuild. The difference is this storm is lasting for months. The fortunate part is that we, through our collective actions, can determine the severity of this disaster going forward. We can pretend it’s gone away and watch the numbers continue to rise, or we can band together – listen to the science, and demand a strategic, national approach to combatting this virus.

To conclude this report, the Sammamish City Council requested ongoing updates on how the City is spending money on COVID-19 response and recovery. Please note, there was an error in my previous report. A non-profit grant of $14K awarded to St. Vincent DePaul was included within the total counted for emergency protective measures.

Here is a summary of the corrected expenses to date are as follows:

  • $216K to ensure continuity of government – primarily IT related telework expenses
  • Roughly $12K in personnel overtime
  • $105K in emergency protective measures that include PPE, sanitation and hygiene, signage, external communications, towing, temporary personnel, and more.
  • $420K in small business grants – which includes $98K in pass-through CARES Act funding from King County
  • $315K in non-profit/human services grants

In all, the City has spent roughly $958K in COVID-19 response and recovery, not including the pass-through CARES funds from King County. Currently, the City is accepting applications for a second round of small business and non-profit COVID-19 support grants. Information on how to apply, as well as the criteria for eligibility, can be found at www.sammamish.us/support-grants

With that, I would be happy to answer any questions you may have. Thank you and stay safe.

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