Sammamish Emergency Manager's July 21 Report to City Council on COVID-19

This is the complete text of the report that was delivered live to City Council at their Regular Meeting the evening of Tuesday, July 21, 2020.

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

Good evening Mayor, Council members, and City Manager.

Thank you again for allowing me with the opportunity to provide a brief situational update on COVID-19

In the past two weeks, the global coronavirus case count has risen by roughly 3 million, with the United States’ total positive count increasing to nearly 4 million cases. Two weeks ago, I reported that the majority of states across the nation were again experiencing rapid increases in case counts, hospitalizations, and fatalities. That unfortunately still holds true today, even in Washington.

A recent statewide situation report published by the Washington State Department of Health outlined a grim reality, highlighting the alarming trends statewide in both COVID-19 transmission rates and hospitalization data. Currently, most areas of the state are at extreme risk of negating all the gains made during the past several months of lockdown. Daily case counts are surpassing any of the State’s previous peaks from back in March. The greatest increases in positive cases are tied to the younger population, especially among the 20-29 year-old age group, highlighting the fact that these increases are more tied to social and workplace exposures than any other factor.

Sammamish is also seeing an increase in cases. We are currently sitting at 152 positive cases, with an increase of 9 new cases from yesterday. That is the single highest daily new case total for the City since the outbreak began. There have been multiple other days in July with new daily case counts of 4 or 5. To put that in context, the daily counts for Sammamish were averaging around 1 or 2, with numerous days showing no new cases through most of April, May, and June. By most metrics, everything is looking worse. The Washington Department of Health stated that we are in the early stages of an exponential statewide outbreak that would have zero chances of being reversed without widespread changes in behavior and policy. One could assume that we will begin to see rollbacks in the State’s phased reopening plan soon.

In previous City Council meetings, I have been asked questions during my report which, if I could not provide an answer to then, responded to Council via email following the meeting. I would like to address some of those question now for the public. Two weeks ago, Councilmember Stuart asked a question concerning the enforcement of statewide orders related to COVID-19, such as the mandatory wearing of face coverings. Yes, the orders are enforceable by law under RCW 43.06.220(5). However, as stated by the governor himself, he would prefer that compliance with these orders be done through persuasion and not prosecution. The Council could mandate that Sammamish PD strongly pursue and cite those not complying with these orders, but we would most likely be the only jurisdiction in the state doing so. To complicate the issue, exemptions in the governor's order for reasons why individuals may not be required to wear a mask or comply with any other section of the order, would make it nearly impossible for an officer to prove otherwise in the field.

A question regarding Sammamish PD’s and Eastside Fire & Rescue's use of PPE was also asked. Both PD, EFR, and City staff are required to comply with the statewide face covering mandate and have all developed the internal polices and directives requiring all employees to do so.

Lastly, due to the success of this month’s earlier mask distribution event, Sammamish has requested an additional 16,000 masks from King County and a plan to again provide the free cloth face coverings to the public will be announced soon.

Thank you.

Categories: emergency management
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