Sammamish Emergency Manager's 6/16 Report to City Council on COVID-19

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

Good evening Mayor, Councilmembers, and City Manager.

Thank you again for providing me with the opportunity to discuss the current state of emergency management here in Sammamish.

Across the globe, Coronavirus numbers continue to rise. Since my last report two weeks ago, the world has seen an increase in roughly 1.75 million cases and 60,000 more fatalities. Please allow me to put that into context. The world has been dealing with COVID-19 since January. It took until mid-April to hit 1.75 million cases globally. We hit that number in the past two weeks.

That is a nearly 1/5 increase in total cases in the past two weeks alone.

In the past two weeks, the U.S. has seen an additional 320,000 cases and 10,000 deaths, and as states continue to lift stay-at-home orders and other COVID-19 mitigations, surges in new infections are again on the rise.

Locally, King County has requested to move into Phase 2 of the Washington Safe Start plan, loosening restrictions on non-essential businesses, retail establishments, and limited social gatherings. If these restrictions are lifted and individuals choose to participate in these various activities in unsafe manners, ignoring public health recommendations on facial coverings or social distancing, then we too can expect an increase in infected individuals in our City.

I want to make it extremely clear to everyone listening. Nothing has changed as far as COVID is concerned. There is no vaccine, and there is no effective treatment. The risks posed are still very much a reality, with the only advantage we have now is better knowledge of how the disease spreads and a far greater availability of protective mitigations like PPE. You cannot gaslight your way out of a pandemic, pretending as if the threat no longer exists. Understanding that people need to return to work and businesses need to reopen their doors or risk closing them forever, it is then all our responsibility to ensure that they can do so safely. If you can physically wear a face covering when in public, then you need to. If you can socialize or conduct meetings remotely, then continue to do that. Knowing that the threat is still here, we all need to do everything to minimize our own risk and the risk to others. I think it is important to recognize that while some businesses are resuming operations, those employees are there to earn a living and not to place themselves at unnecessary risk from those they serve.

The past several weeks have brought additional challenges to communities across the nation, as protests against systematic racism, inequality, and instances of police brutality are organizing in nearly every community. While the vast majority of these incidents have been conducted peacefully, some have resulted in civil unrest or violence. On June 4th a peaceful protest of roughly 500 individuals took place in Sammamish, beginning here at the Sammamish Commons, then transitioning to a march northward looping back down through 228th. I would like to express my personal appreciation to Sammamish PD for the time and effort they spent preparing for the event and all the work done to ensure that those attending the peaceful protest were able to so in a safe environment. In addition to the fantastic work of our police department, nearly every city department and numerous external stakeholders assisted in the preparation and coordinated management of the event.

While this year has certainly been challenging, it has highlighted many successes. I’m proud of the way Sammamish has approached each of these incidents. Since 2017, Sammamish has implemented an all-hazard emergency management program focusing on strengthening inter-agency coordination, equity in assistance, and whole-community disaster resiliency. This has provided us with the confidence and ability to respond effectively to any range of disaster or emergency. From severe weather and floods, to pandemics and civil unrest, the City of Sammamish and its residents continue to lead the way in preparing for, mitigating against, responding to, and recovering from whatever seems come our way, and we're only halfway through the year.

Thank you.

Categories: emergency management
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