Skip to content
all inclusive • community driven • non-military

                                                    

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Inslee issues update to proclamation to
rescind statewide face covering policy

March 11, 2022
Today, Gov. Jay Inslee updated Proclamation 20-25 (Washington Ready) to rescind the face covering requirement in most places.

The face covering requirement will remain in place in healthcare settings, long-term care facilities, and correctional facilities and jails. In addition, Proclamation 20-25 is also updated to protect the right of all persons to continue wearing a face covering in any setting, except that individuals may be required to remove their face coverings briefly for identification purposes or in order to comply with state or federal law. 

Due to the continuing COVID-19 threat, it is critical to continue protecting and supporting those individuals who are immunocompromised or medically vulnerable, or who remain concerned for their own health or the health of their family or community. Inslee encourages people to be kind and compassionate to individuals, students and businesses that choose to continue wearing face masks. 

This emergency order is effective March 12, 2022.

Proclamation 20-25.19

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Washington’s mask mandate ending 9 days earlier on March 12 following CDC guidance

The date was initially March 21, but the change comes amid updated guidance from the CDC.

OLYMPIA, Wash — Gov. Jay Inslee announced Monday that Washington state is lifting its indoor mask mandate on March 12 and not March 21.
The masking requirements will be lifted at 11:59 p.m. on March 11 and come as a result of the latest guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released last week.

King County announced that it would also be ending its mask mandate at 11:59 p.m. on March 11.
“We’ve continued to monitor data from our state Department of Health (DOH), and have determined we are able to adjust the timing of our statewide mask requirement. While this represents another step forward for Washingtonians, we must still be mindful that many within our communities remain vulnerable. Many businesses and families will continue choosing to wear masks because we’ve learned how effective they are at keeping one another safe. As we transition to this next phase, we will continue to move forward together carefully and cautiously,” Inslee said in a statement.

 The CDC updated its masking guidance on Friday, saying that only counties with high transmission levels should continue to wear masks inside most places.According to the CDC’s map, all but nine counties in Washington fall into this category. Previously, the CDC had recommended masks in all communities regardless of transmission levels.

King County, the state’s most populous, is currently classified as low transmission.

Health leaders from Washington, Oregon and California discussed the guidance over the weekend and determined the new date. California is lifting its mask mandate on March 1, while Oregon and Washington are both lifting theirs by March 12.

The indoor mask requirements for Washington schools will ease and become recommendations on March 12, but the DOH is expected to release further guidance for schools next week. King County said it would not be extending any mask mandates for schools once the state’s requirements ease.

Inslee on Monday also gave three reasons for why he isn’t yet ending the emergency order that has given him additional powers during the pandemic.

First, he said the order allows a mask mandate at hospitals. It also protects individuals’ rights to use masks at work if they choose to. Finally, it allows the state to continue receiving federal funding.

The CDC’s guidance eased mask recommendations for more than 70% of Americans, but universal masking is still required in airports, on airplanes, buses and other forms of public transit.

Washington’s previous target date of March 21 was chosen since it was the date the state said COVID hospital admission rates would hit 5 per 100,000 residents.

As of Feb. 25, the statewide COVID hospitalization rate is about 13 admissions per 100,000 residents.

Officials have urged residents to be patient as some businesses may choose to keep mask requirements even after the mandate lifts.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Statewide indoor mask mandate lifting March 21

Gov. Inslee announced today that the statewide mask mandate for indoor public places will be lifted on Monday, March 21, citing decreasing COVID-19 case and hospitalization rates. Until then, masks continue to be required in indoor public places, including schools.

Continuing to consistently wear masks in indoor public places will be important over the coming weeks. While the COVID-19 case rate is decreasing in Clark County, it remains high at 1,017 cases per 100,000 people over 14 days. Masks will continue to be an effective tool for further reducing virus transmission in our community and reducing your risk of getting and spreading COVID-19.

People can also choose to continue wearing masks after the mandate is lifted, and businesses can choose to require masking for employees and customers. Beginning March 21, masks will no longer be required in most indoor public places, including schools and childcare facilities. Masks will still be required in long-term care, health care, and jails/corrections facilities. The federal mask mandate for planes and other public transportation is also currently still in place. With masking requirements lifting next month, it’s important to be up to date on your COVID-19 vaccines. Everyone 5 years and older should get vaccinated, and those 12 years and older should get a booster dose as soon as they’re eligible.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Inslee issues emergency order on non-urgent
health care services

January 13, 2022 – Gov. Jay Inslee today issued an emergency order to temporarily restrict non-urgent health care services, procedures and surgeries that are performed in hospitals as part of a package of measures taken to address the current COVID-related state of crisis in hospitals. The emergency order also prohibits all hospitals from utilizing personal protective equipment (PPE) other than according to a conventional capacity strategy. This emergency order is effective at 12:01 on Monday, Jan. 17 and will remain in effect until 11:59 pm on Feb. 17 unless rescinded sooner.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Booster news!

The Latest on COVID-19 Boosters
November 4th, 2021

COVID-19 booster doses are now recommended by the CDC for all three vaccines in the US, for certain populations. This means up to 99 million Americans are now eligible for an extra boost of protection.

Chances are, you or someone you know may now be eligible for a booster. But with different requirements for each vaccine, it can be tough to tell when it’s your turn; or even which vaccine booster you may need.

Read on for the latest guidance.

Who’s eligible for a booster?

Anyone 18 or older who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine at least two months ago should get a booster. And that’s for any adult — regardless of their risk level.

People who got their second dose of the Moderna vaccine at least six months ago and are in one of the following groups should get a booster:

People in the groups listed below should also consider getting a booster, depending on their individual risk factors:

The above recommendations are the same as those for Pfizer vaccine boosters.

Just because I can get a booster, should I?

While all vaccines approved by the CDC are safe and effective, the single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine has a lower efficacy rate than the mRNA vaccines (Pfizer and Moderna). The booster for the J&J vaccine brings its efficacy up to 94%, which is about the same as the mRNA vaccines. Researchers also found that a Johnson & Johnson booster shot given two months after the initial dose increased antibody levels by four to six times, compared to the single dose. So, if you got the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, the added protection is an important consideration.

Still on the fence? A booster of any type helps provide continued protection against severe disease from COVID-19, especially for those who are at higher risk. People in higher risk groups (like older adults and those in long-term care settings) should get a booster dose since their immunity can decrease faster.

Clinical trials have not found any new or unusual side effects from boosters.

It’s also important to remember that some populations may be better suited for a third dose (which is different from a booster). Talk to your provider if you have questions about which one may be right for you.

I don’t fall into one of the eligible populations. Will I be able to get a booster?

Right now, boosters are only available for certain groups. Others may become eligible once more data is available.

Don’t worry if you’re not eligible for a booster just yet. The FDA authorized and approved COVID-19 vaccines are still very effective at reducing the risk of severe disease, hospitalization, and death from COVID-19, even against the delta variant.

Booster or no booster, you’re still considered fully vaccinated (for travel, access into restaurants, events, etc.) — so long as you’re two weeks past your second dose in a two-dose series or two weeks after a single dose of the J&J vaccine.

Can I mix and match vaccines?

Yes, you can, but it’s not necessary. The FDA authorized mixing and matching — which means you can get a different vaccine for your booster dose than you got for your primary series. This can make it easier for you to get an available booster, if your original vaccine is not available at your provider. There are no safety concerns with mixing and matching. In fact, some might benefit from receiving a different vaccine if they have particular health risks or concerns.

 f you have any questions or concerns about mixing and matching vaccines.

How can I make an appointment?

To find a vaccine location near you, visit Vaccine Locator or call the COVID-19 Information Hotline at 1–800–525–0127, then press #. Language assistance is available.

Remember to take your vaccination card with you so you can show that you already had your initial vaccine(s). If you don’t have your card, the provider can look up your record — or you can access your records using MyIR or WAverify.

You can also self-report if you are eligible for a booster. You don’t need to show proof or have a note from your doctor.

To add an additional immunity “boost,” you can also get your flu vaccine at the same time. Talk to your provider to see if that’s an option.

More information

This blog is accurate as of the date of posting. Information changes rapidly, so check the state’s COVID-19 website for the most up-to-date info at coronavirus.wa.gov. You can also sign up to be notified whenever we post new articles.

The COVID-19 vaccine is now available to everyone 12 and older. For more information about the vaccine, visit CovidVaccineWA.org and use the vaccine locator tool to find an appointment. The COVID-19 vaccine is provided at no cost to you.

WA Notify can alert you if you’ve been near another user who tested positive for COVID-19. Add WA Notify to your phone today: WANotify.org

Answers to your questions or concerns about COVID-19 in Washington State may be found at our website. You can also contact the Department of Health call center at 1–800–525–0127 and press # from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday, and 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday — Sunday and observed state holidays. Language assistance is available.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

September 24, 2021
Public and constituent inquiries | 360.902.4111
Press inquiries | 360.902.4136
 
 
Western States Scientific Safety Review Workgroup recommends Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine booster shot after six monthsThe Western States Scientific Safety Review Workgroup today completed its review of the federal process and has recommended a booster dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine at least six months after their primary vaccination series for people older than 65 and people at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19.The Workgroup provided its confirmation to the governors of Washington, Oregon, California and Nevada today. The Workgroup recommended the following groups of people who received the Pfizer vaccine should receive a booster dose of the Pfizer vaccine after six months:People 65 and older,People living in a long-term care facility, andPeople 50-64 with underlying medical conditions.In addition, the Workgroup recommended that the following groups of people ages 18-64 who received the Pfizer vaccine may also receive a booster dose of the Pfizer vaccine after six months:People with underlying medical conditions, andPeople who are at higher risk of COVID-19 exposure and transmission due to occupational or institutional setting.“Vaccines work and I am pleased that the Western State Group is taking this step in endorsing boosters for those who are most vulnerable. We need to protect Washingtonians most at risk for severe COVID illness. Providing boosters will help keep our residents safe and allow us to have an added layer of protection as cases, hospitalizations and deaths continue to rise in our state. I am pleased that we are focusing on all of those at the greatest risk, including those who face inequities in our system. Together, vaccinations will get us out of the COVID pandemic,” Gov. Jay Inslee said.The Workgroup strongly endorsed the CDC’s recognition that long-standing health and social inequities have increased the risk of severe illness from COVID-19, and recommended that social determinants of vulnerability be included in the assessment of medical conditions that qualify individuals for booster doses. Because unvaccinated individuals remain at much higher risk of COVID-19 than vaccinated individuals, the Workgroup also reiterated that its members strongly support vaccination against COVID-19 for everyone 12 years of age and older.On Wednesday, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized booster shots of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for people 65 and older and those that are at higher risk for COVID-19, and the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices affirmed that decision on Thursday. On Thursday, the CDC also recommended people at higher risk due to occupational or institutional setting also be eligible for Pfizer booster doses. The Workgroup reviewed and affirmed the federal decisions in meetings Thursday evening and Friday morning. Recognizing that only Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines have been authorized for booster doses, the Workgroup implored the FDA and CDC to quickly find solutions to sustain the protection of the most vulnerable individuals who have received a Moderna or Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) vaccine.The Workgroup also applauded the donation of COVID-19 vaccines to nations in need and called for an expansion of those efforts to protect the global community, save lives, and prevent the emergence of new COVID-19 variants.Washington, Oregon and Nevada joined California’s COVID-19 Scientific Safety Review Workgroup in October 2020. The workgroup, made up of nationally-acclaimed scientists with expertise in immunization and public health, has concurrently and independently reviewed the FDA’s actions related to COVID-19 vaccines. It will continue to evaluate other COVID-19 vaccines as they go through the federal process.Statement from Oregon Governor Kate Brown: “COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective, and vaccination continues to be our path out of this pandemic. Seniors who have received the Pfizer vaccine, as well as Oregonians who have underlying health conditions, live in long-term care facilities, or who are at higher risk due to occupational or institutional setting will now be able to receive the additional layer of protection provided by a booster shot. Everyone eligible who wants a booster will get one, and I’m committed to ensuring our most vulnerable Oregonians are protected from COVID-19, including those who are at higher risk due to systemic health and social inequities. I’d like to thank Oregonians for their patience as boosters become available while our hospitals and health care workers continue to respond to the ongoing Delta surge.”Statement from California Governor Gavin Newsom: “Vaccines are how we end this pandemic. With today’s Western States Scientific Safety Review Workgroup recommendation, California has built the infrastructure necessary to begin administering ready to administer has built the infrastructure necessary to immediately begin administering Pfizer-BioNTech boosters to eligible Californians, protect high-risk individuals and those over 65 from COVID-19. As California leads the nation in both vaccines administered and low case rates, we have the necessary infrastructure to mobilize additional vaccine distribution. Vaccines save lives. Please protect yourself and your loved ones by getting vaccinated if you are eligible for a booster or have not yet gotten vaccinated.”Statement from Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak: “Again, I offer my thanks to my fellow Governors and the members of the Western States Scientific Safety Review Workgroup. The group was able to come together quickly for a robust discussion of the recommendations related to the Pfizer vaccine that will increase protection for our vulnerable residents and work to end this pandemic. The inclusion and recognition that health disparities exist in our communities is a vital addition to the federal recommendations and I hope this independent review gives Nevadans confidence in the process. Every vaccination moves us one step closer to recovery and our State team and vaccinating providers stand ready to implement the latest guidance.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 

For immediate release: September 23, 2021   (21-206)

Media contact: DOH Communications

Public inquiries: State COVID-19 Assistance Hotline, 1-800-525-0127

COVID-19 transmission increasing; future hospital admissions and occupancy uncertain

‘Current surge of patients overwhelming our hospitals’ says state’s top epidemiologist

OLYMPIA – The latest COVID-19 modeling and surveillance situation report from the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) shows the majority of counties now have case rates above 500 per 100,000. Washington is likely to see continued high levels of cases and hospital admissions, with increasing deaths.

Report findings include:

  • COVID-19 prevalence is at a new high. The current best estimate of prevalence is 0.94%, or about 1 in every 106 Washingtonians. The previous reported high was 0.64% in August 2021, or about 1 in every 156 Washingtonians. About 39% of the population remains susceptible to COVID-19 infection.
  • Transmission continues to increase, but at a slower rate. On Sep. 2, the best estimate of the effective reproductive number (Re, which tells us how many new people each COVID-19 case will infect) was 1.14. On Aug. 6, this estimate was 1.49. A reproductive number above one means that cases will continue to increase. To see cases decline, the reproductive number needs to stay well below 1.0 for a substantial amount of time.
  • COVID-19 deaths are increasing. The seven-day rolling average of deaths has increased rapidly, from 5-10 deaths per day in July to 27 per day by the end of August.
  • Hospital admissions and occupancy for COVID-19 are still very high. After a peak of 190 daily admissions (seven-day rolling average) at the end of August, the currentaverage has declined only slightly to 186. Both admissions and occupancy remain at very high levels. Although some recent declines are apparent as of September 18, current occupancy levels still far exceed those observed during the previous highs of winter 2020.
  • Hospital projections indicate high levels of admissions and occupancy for COVID-19 are likely to persist through the fall. The projections pose two scenarios based on increasing rates of transmission, one with a lower or “modest” rate, and another with a higher or “moderate” rate. Under these scenarios, hospital admissions by the end of December could decrease, or they could increase to between 141 and 240 admissions daily. The number of beds occupied through December could decrease, or they could increase to between 1100 and 2000 beds per day.

“What this tells us is that our individual choices and behaviors today are going to determine whether or not our friends and families will have full access to health care in the near future, for any medical need, not just COVID,” said Scott Lindquist, MD, MPH, state epidemiologist for communicable diseases. “The current surge of patients is overwhelming our hospitals. With school in session and flu season almost here, our best option for getting through the surge is to wear our masks and get vaccinated.”

Washington’s rate of immunity would be enough to control hospital admissions and occupancy given a lower or “modest” increase in transmission. Under higher or “moderate” transmission, however, the rate of immunity would not be enough, and hospital admission and occupancy would increase, especially among the estimated 39% of the population susceptible to infection. Vaccinations remain highly effective at protecting against hospitalization. The best way to increase immunity and slow down transmission are to get vaccinated and wear face coverings in indoor or crowded public places.

More COVID-19 data can be found on the DOH data dashboard.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 

For immediate release: July 27, 2021  (20-174)

Contact: DOH Communications

Public inquiries: State COVID-19 Information Hotline, 1-800-525-0127

COVID-19 cases are increasing across the state

Vaccination rates not increasing fast enough to control the virus

OLYMPIA – The latest COVID-19 modeling and surveillance situation report from the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) shows a new surge: cases are increasing in the state as the Delta variant becomes more widespread. As cases stemming from the Delta variant rise, anyone who has signs or symptoms of COVID-19 should get tested, regardless of vaccination status or prior infection.

Report findings include:

  • Statewide case counts and hospital admissions flattened starting in mid-June, and case counts began increasing over the first week of July. Multiple counties were experiencing an uptick in case counts as of July 8, and additional counties appear to be seeing increases in more recent incomplete data.
  • As of July 8, case rates flattened in age groups that were previously seeing declines, and rates were increasing in people ages 20-39. Hospital admission rates began to flatten across all age groups in the last week of June. As of July 8, admission rates were increasing in people ages 40-49 and 70-79 and may have been starting to increase in ages 20-39 and 60-69. More recent daily reports from hospitals showed admissions increasing in all adult age groups over the week ending July 18.
  • Around the end of June, estimates of statewide transmission increased sharply. The best estimate of the reproductive number (which tells us how many new people each COVID-19 case will infect) on July 2 was 1.46. The high degree of uncertainty in the estimate make it difficult to know for sure how big of an increase we may be seeing, but a reproductive number above one means the virus is spreading faster. To see cases decline, the reproductive number needs to stay well below one for a substantial amount of time.
  • The delta variant, a more transmissible strain of the virus, is now the dominant strain in circulation. The latest genetic sequencing data show delta variant cases made up almost 58% of sequences with specimens collected between June 20 and July 3. Model-based projections estimate that on July 19 92% of cases may be attributable to the delta variant.
  • While overall population immunity continues to increase, the pace has slowed considerably and more vaccination is needed to keep cases from spiking higher. On July 8, the best model-based estimate of statewide population immunity (including from vaccination and from prior infection) was 51.9%. However, it is important to keep in mind that immunity levels vary widely across counties, communities and social groups.
  • Despite increasing transmission and a bigger presence from the delta variant, vaccination is still working to protect people from severe COVID-19 illness. As of July 4, estimated hospital admission rates among unvaccinated people ages 45-64 were about 20 times higher than rates among people of the same age who were fully protected by vaccination. For ages 65 and older, the estimated admission rate for unvaccinated people was about nine times higher than for those who were fully protected.

“I’m deeply concerned about areas of the state with lower vaccination rates now that a more infectious variant is likely to be the one that reaches those communities,” said Acting Chief Science Officer Scott Lindquist, MD, MPH. “If you’ve been waiting to get vaccinated for any reason, now is the time to protect yourself, your family and everyone around you. With transmission increasing and immunity levels dangerously low in many communities, every vaccine matters.” 

More vaccination is needed to keep the virus in check. If you have been waiting to get vaccinated, now is the time. Vaccination is the best way to protect yourself, your loved ones and everyone around you. If you are already vaccinated, you can help by encouraging people you know to get their vaccine.

If you have questions, reach out to your healthcare provider or visit DOH’s Frequently Asked Questions page. To find vaccine near you, you can use the state’s Vaccine Locator website, text your zip code to GETVAX (438829) or VACUNA (822862) to receive addresses of nearby available vaccination sites, or call 833-VAX-HELP.

DOH has partnered with the Institute for Disease Modeling (IDM), Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, University of Washington and the Microsoft AI for Health program to develop these reports every other week since the early months of this pandemic. As our experts at IDM transition away from this project, we at DOH would like to extend our sincere gratitude for their dedicated partnership in the production of these reports.. More COVID-19 data can be found on the DOH data dashboard.

The DOH website is your source for a healthy dose of informationFind us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. Sign up for the DOH blog, Public Health Connection.

###

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Inslee issues housing stability “bridge” proclamation

06/29/2021 – Gov. Jay Inslee today issued a housing stability ‘bridge’ emergency order, Proclamation 21-09, intended to bridge the operational gap between the eviction moratorium (which will expire at 11:59 PM on June 30) enacted by prior proclamations and the protections and programs subsequently enacted by the Legislature. The bridge, which was initially announced last week, will also reduce uncertainty as the state implements post-COVID long-term housing recovery strategies contained in legislative enactments such as SB 5160.

“COVID has created a significant economic impact on our state and many Washingtonians are still experiencing financial hardships. This bridge creates reasonable steps that will help ensure that renters have the opportunity to receive support and resources available to them and that the Legislature intended to be in place to help both landlords and tenants,” Inslee said.

Recent legislative actions include appropriating an additional $650 million for landlord and tenant rental assistance and also establishing certain programs, like the eviction resolution pilot program, which were intended to be in place after the eviction moratorium ends. However, the funding has not yet been disbursed and these programs are not yet operational statewide. 

In response to this unintended gap, this order requires, among other things, that:   

  • Landlords and tenants avail themselves of rental assistance and eviction resolution pilot programs pursuant to SB 5160 to resolve any COVID-related past due rent (February 29, 2020 through July 31, 2021);  
  • Tenants take steps to pay rent or avail themselves of rental assistance in order to pay future rent (beginning August 1, 2021 throughout the effective dates of this order);
  • For any tenant who is or becomes in arrears, landlords offer a reasonable repayment plan to tenants per SB 5160; and
  • Tenants respond to notice of funding and other available programs within the timeframes established by SB 5160. 

In short, an eviction for non-payment of past due rent is not permitted until such time as the resources and programs established by the Legislature are in place and operational, and eviction for non-payment of future rent (August 1, 2021 through September 30, 2021) is not permitted if the tenant has demonstrably taken action to pay rent.  Evictions for other reasons allowed under state law are permitted. 

In addition, although late fees are prohibited, rent increases are permitted as provided under state law (RCW 59.18.140). 

Finally, the non-traditional and other transient housing previously covered by the eviction moratorium are not included in this order, including hotels/motels, Airbnbs, and camping areas.

This order is effective July 1, 2021 and remains in effect until 11:59 PM on September 30, 2021.

Questions regarding this order may be directed to the Attorney General’s Office.

      

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Inslee announces statewide reopening date of June 30 and short-term statewide move to Phase 3

05/13/2021 – Gov. Jay Inslee today announced that the state is moving toward a statewide June 30 reopening date and that all counties in Washington will move to Phase 3 of the Healthy WA: Roadmap to Recovery reopening plan effective May 18 until June 30.

The announcement comes after the governor paused phase movement for two weeks to review an emerging flattening trend in statewide COVID-19 data. As of today, the plateau observed in COVID-19 activity has become a decline.

“What we know now gives us the confidence to close this chapter in this pandemic and begin another,” Inslee said at a press conference Thursday. “This next part of our fight to save lives in Washington will focus on increasing vaccination rates and continuing to monitor variants of concern as we move toward reopening our state.”

The full reopening could happen earlier than June 30 if 70% or more of Washingtonians over the age of 16 initiate vaccination. Washington has administered over six million doses of vaccine, and 56 percent of Washingtonians have initiated vaccination.

Inslee also announced that Washington will fully adopt masking guidance issued by the CDC earlier today. He stressed that this guidance is for fully vaccinated people — meaning people who are two weeks removed from their second shot of Pfizer or Moderna, or the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

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

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

For immediate release: April 14, 2021                         (21-100)

Contact: DOH Communications

Public inquiries: State COVID-19 Assistance Hotline, 1-800-525-0127

Update on vaccine breakthrough cases in Washington state

OLYMPIA — The Washington State Department of Health (DOH) is reporting a total of 217 COVID-19 vaccine breakthrough cases among vaccinated individuals in Washington state as of April 3, 2021. That is up from 102 since we first reported cases of breakthrough on March 30, 2021. Breakthrough cases have now been identified in 24 of Washington’s 39 counties.

Vaccine breakthrough occurs when a person tests positive for COVID-19 two weeks or more after receiving the full course of an approved COVID-19 vaccine. Large-scale clinical studies found that COVID-19 vaccines prevented most people from getting COVID-19 illness. However, the vaccines are not 100% effective. This means a very small number of fully vaccinated people will still get sick with COVID-19. Scientists note that breakthroughs are expected with any vaccine.

To date, more than 1.7 million people have been fully vaccinated in Washington state. The breakthrough cases represent a small portion, about .01 percent, of the fully vaccinated population.

DOH is investigating a total of five suspected deaths of individuals who experienced vaccine breakthrough. The people who died were between 67-94 years old and all had multiple underlying conditions. Four were residents of long-term care facilities.

In Washington state, the median age of those with confirmed vaccine breakthrough has shifted downward since the first cases were reported, with more people in the 40-59 year old demographic compared to previous weeks. Some breakthrough cases sent for sequencing showed evidence of variants.

While the majority of individuals with confirmed vaccine breakthrough experienced only mild or no symptoms, some people have been hospitalized. DOH is still gathering information for approximately half of the breakthrough cases. However, the agency can say that among breakthrough cases with hospitalization information available, 12% were hospitalized.

A person is confirmed with vaccine breakthrough if they test positive for COVID-19 using a PCR test or antigen test and received their final dose of the COVID-19 vaccine more than two weeks prior to the positive test. Additional investigations help us better understand clinical and outbreak information when vaccine breakthrough happens.

“Finding evidence of vaccine breakthrough cases reminds us that, even if you have been vaccinated, you still need to wear a mask, practice social distancing, and wash your hands to prevent spreading COVID-19 to others who have not been vaccinated,” said Umair A. Shah, MD, MPH, Secretary of Health. “We encourage everyone to get vaccinated as soon as they are eligible, and encourage friends, loved ones, and co-workers to do the same.”

The Department of Health will provide a regular report regarding vaccine breakthrough in Washington state beginning in late April.

The DOH website is your source for a healthy dose of informationFind us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. Sign up for the DOH blog, Public Health Connection.

###

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Talking points that outline what the law does and provides guidance on how veterans can register to receive the vaccination as vaccines become available.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

For immediate release: March 17, 2021  (21-076)

Contact: DOH Communications

Public inquiries: State COVID-19 Information Hotline, 1-800-525-0127

Phase 1b-2 expansion: Individuals with disabilities that put them at high risk become eligible for vaccines

OLYMPIA — As the state advances to the next tier of vaccine eligibility, the Washington State Department of Health wants to emphasize that the expansion will include some people with disabilities.

People with disabilities continue to experience access barriers to the COVID-19 vaccine and certain disabilities can put someone at increased risk for severe illness. This prioritization is intentional to provide access to a high-risk group that experiences more barriers to access.  

Governor Jay Inslee announced last week that Washington state will make an early move to Phase 1b-2, advancing on March 17 instead of March 22. Phase 1b-2 includes pregnant people and individuals with disabilities that put them at high risk for severe COVID-19 illness. Phase 1b-2 also includes a number of high-risk worker groups. Read more about who is eligible here.

Individuals with disabilities are eligible for the vaccine in Phase 1b-2 if their disability alone puts them at higher risk for severe illness, or if they have a disability coupled with another underlying condition identified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

If people are unsure if their disability puts them at greater risk, they should have a conversation with their health care provider.

“These prioritization recommendations came directly from disability partners, families of people with disabilities, and members of our COVID-19 Vaccine Implementation Collaborative. We appreciate the willingness of communities and partners to provide us feedback so we can strive for equitable access to the COVID-19 vaccine,” said Katie Meehan, Equitable Policy & Access Manager for the Washington State Department of Health.

It’s also important to remember that caregivers are still eligible for a vaccine.  Anyone who supports the daily, functional and health needs of someone who is at high risk of COVID-19 illness due to advanced age, long term physical condition, co-morbidities, or developmental or intellectual disability is considered a health care worker and is therefore eligible.  They can be licensed, unlicensed, paid, unpaid, formal or informal. The person for whom they are providing care can be an adult or child. 

For more information on underlying medical conditions, visit the CDC’s website.

The Department of Health website (doh.wa.gov) is your source for a healthy dose of information. Also, find us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

For immediate release: March 3, 2021         

Contact: Teresa McCallion, Communications, 360-701-7991

Washington passes somber milestone: 5,000 COVID deaths

The Washington State Department of Health (DOH) shares today that the state has marked a devastating milestone. Since the first COVID-related death here on February 29, 2020, more than 5,000 people in Washington have died of COVID-19. The announcement coincides with another milestone – the death of more than 500,000 Americans from the virus that has ravaged communities across the nation and throughout the world.

Umair A. Shah, MD, MPH, Secretary of Health, asks Washington residents to pause to remember those lost to the pandemic and those they left behind by observing a moment of silence on March 4 at noon or at a time of their choosing.

“I stand with all Washingtonians who are profoundly impacted by this heartbreaking milestone,” said Secretary Shah. “We extend our deepest sympathy to those who have lost a loved one. We honor their lives and are united in grief and sorrow.”

New data from the Washington State Department of Health appear to show that COVID-19 deaths, infections, and hospitalizations are decreasing. An increasing number of vaccines is also cause for optimism. However, now is not the time to let down our guard. 

“The sad truth is that this pandemic is not over,” said Secretary Shah. “But there is also hope. We have the power to stop the spread of this virus. Please wear a mask, wash your hands, and watch your distance. It’s up to all of us to protect our families and communities. We will heal. We will recover. And we will never forget those we have lost.”

###

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

For immediate release: March 2, 2021                         

Media contact: DOH Communications

Public inquiries: State COVID-19 Assistance Hotline, 1-800-525-0127

Statement on Federal School and Childcare Vaccination Plan

As you heard today, President Biden announced a directive to all states to get every pre-K educator, K-12 teacher, and childcare worker at least one shot of COVID-19 vaccine in the month of March.

The Washington State Department of Health (DOH) recognizes the importance of vaccinating educators, school staff, and childcare workers. School staff and childcare workers were already in the next group to become eligible for vaccines, and our state was moving to vaccinate them in a matter of weeks. This announcement represents a faster timeline than originally planned, and the department is engaging partners on a robust plan to support this directive.

DOH is working quickly to get clarity from the Biden Administration to ensure roll-out in our state will result in ample vaccine supply through various providers and equitable access for education and childcare workers. Vaccine supply will likely primarily be delivered through the federal pharmacy program, and the directive indicates all vaccine providers should prioritize these workers.

DOH remains committed to continued vaccination for older adults and others who are currently prioritized for vaccinations under the current plan. DOH also remains committed to vaccinating all Washingtonians as quickly and equitably as possible.

DOH acknowledges these announcements may cause a mix of excitement, concern, and confusion for different communities. The department will share more information in the days ahead as DOH learns more from our federal partners.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Schedule Your COVID Vaccination

Dear VA Portland Veteran:

(To stop receiving further COVID vaccination invitations, you can unsubscribe at the bottom of this email.)

We are pleased to offer you the COVID vaccination!

We are using a new online reservation system that we hope will allow many more eligible Veterans to be scheduled without delay.   We have expanded our online schedule, and now have appointment slots available on both the Portland and Vancouver campuses, February 24th through 26th.

If appointments are all taken when you are signing up…

Our Vancouver location has more appointments slots available, as well as easy parking.

Keep checking your email – we will be offering both the Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines and will be sending out emails frequently with new appointment slots.

This service is available now BY INVITATION ONLY to select Veterans 62 years or older who are ENROLLED for care at VA Portland Health Care System.  Do not forward this message to friends or family; if they sign up they will be turned away when they arrive.

Our schedulers are actively calling eligible Veterans by phone to make vaccination appointments.  If you have not already received a phone call and scheduled your vaccination, we invite you to try the online reservation tool to sign up for your first shot.

A few other things to be aware of:

VA Portland will have the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine on this date, which requires two doses.

The second dose is due 21 days (+/- 4 days) after your first shot and will be scheduled when you arrive for your first vaccination appointment.  

If you will not be available in 3 weeks, do not sign up now for your first dose.  There will be other opportunities.

You should NOT sign up to be vaccinated if:

You have had a major allergic reaction to other vaccines or any ingredient of this vaccine, including polyethylene glycol (PEG)0 or polysorbate, or 

You have received another immunization in the last 14 days.

The CDC DOES recommend vaccination for almost everyone else, including people who have had other types of allergic reactions (e.g., to food, pets, venom, latex, or oral medications).  If you are immunocompromised or have an autoimmune condition, or you are pregnant, there is not much information to guide your decision.  You should consider talking to your provider but can choose to be vaccinated.

 On the day of your vaccination:

Do not come to the vaccine clinic if you have a fever, cough, or are otherwise feeling ill.  Please cancel your appointment, and we will work with you to reschedule it.

Please arrive 5 minutes early to your appointment, not sooner.  If you arrive earlier, please stay in your car until your appointment time.  This will help us keep the clinic from becoming overcrowded.

You will be required to wear a mask and maintain social distancing during your vaccination visit.  If a caregiver accompanies you, they should stay in the car during your visit unless you absolutely cannot manage without them.

You will be observed for at least 15 minutes after your vaccination to ensure you don’t have a reaction to it.  The risk of a serious reaction appears to be very low – approximately 1 in 100,000.

 Thank you for your service!

Click here to reserve your vaccination appointment.

Instructions:

Choose the location you prefer (Portland or Vancouver).

Ensure the date is highlighted on the calendar and select your preferred time. If you see no available appointments, this means all slots have already been taken. 

Enter your:

FULL NAME
Email address
Phone number
Age
Last 4 of SSN

Please double check for typos, paying special attention to your email address. 

You will receive an email confirmation. There is an option to cancel or reschedule on the confirmation email.  You will not be able to cancel or reschedule after 12pm the day before your scheduled appointment.

Do not reply to the confirmation email; it will not be monitored.

 Additional information:

VA Portland Health Care System
CDC vaccine fact sheet
Pfizer/BioNtech vaccine info
Moderna vaccine info
What to expect after getting the vaccine
Salem Clinic info
How to enroll for VA care

###

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

For immediate release: February 11, 2021            

Contact: Ginny Streeter, Communications, 360-810-1628

New report furthers understanding of COVID-19 transmission in schools

OLYMPIA – Today, the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) released the COVID-19 Outbreaks in Washington State K-12 Schools report . The report is yet another tool that school districts and local health jurisdictions (LHJs) can use to inform decisions about when and how to bring students, educators and staff back for in-person learning.

The report includes data about K-12 schools across the state of Washington that experienced a COVID-19 outbreak from August 1, 2020 through December 31, 2020, including both public and private schools and all learning modalities. An outbreak is defined as two or more positive COVID-19 cases among students or staff with an onset of symptoms within a 14-day period of each other. During that timeframe:

13 counties reported COVID-19 outbreaks associated with schools

84 K-12 schools experienced COVID-19 outbreaks

305 COVID-19 cases were associated with outbreaks in schools

64% of outbreaks involved two or three cases

50% of COVID-19 cases were students age 18 or under

“There’s encouraging news here,” said Laura Newman, PhD, MHS, COVID-19 Outbreak Response Senior Epidemiologist. “We are seeing fairly low levels of COVID-19 transmission within school settings so far. The majority of COVID-19 outbreaks in schools involve three or fewer cases, and school administrators, teachers, and staff are doing a good job of implementing preventative measures that limit the spread of COVID-19.”

“Our goal is to help schools protect the health of their staff and students, the families they go home to and the broader community. We are sharing these data so that educators, families, local public health, and communities can see and learn from what’s happening in schools with regards to COVID-19.” added Lacy Fehrenbach, MPH, Deputy Secretary of Health, COVID-19 Response.

The next COVID-19 report about outbreaks in schools will be released at the end of February and will include outbreak data from August 1, 2020 through January 31, 2021.

More COVID-19 Resources for K-12 Schools and Child Care are available at https://www.doh.wa.gov/Emergencies/COVID19/ResourcesandRecommendations.

                                                                 ###

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

For immediate release: February 4, 2021                   

Media contact: DOH Communications

Public inquiries: State COVID-19 Assistance Hotline, 1-800-525-0127

COVID-19 vaccine distribution update from the Washington State Department of Health

OLYMPIA – The Washington State Department of Health (DOH) continues to make progress with our COVID-19 vaccine distribution and administration efforts.

As of Feb. 1, 773,346 people have received the COVID-19 vaccine, which is more than 60% of the 1,160,850 doses delivered to providers and long-term care programs across the state. Currently, Washington is averaging 27,902 vaccine doses given per day, inching closer to our goal of vaccinating 45,000 people per day. Those numbers can be found on the DOH data dashboard under the vaccines tab and they are updated three times per week.

This week we also have data to showcase how effective the state’s mass vaccination sites have been. As of today, more than 20,000 people have received a COVID-19 vaccine at one of the state’s four sites. The locations in Spokane, Ridgefield, Wenatchee, and Kennewick opened on January 26.

Vaccine demand

We are still in a place right now where demand for vaccine greatly outpaces the amount of vaccine we have available. This week, more than 600 facilities requested more than 358,000 first doses of vaccine. Our first-dose allocation from the federal government was only 107,125 doses, which is less than one-third of what providers asked for.

We also had more requests for second dose allocations than our allocation from the federal government. Our total state allocation for second doses was 58,725, and providers requested 14,000 more than that.

Allocation expansion

Recently DOH has been expanding vaccine allocation beyond hospitals to help with access. In the beginning it made sense to send most of the vaccine to hospitals to reach the most at-risk workers in health care settings. Now, we are spreading limited vaccine among many more sites where people can get vaccinated, including pharmacies, community health centers, local public health, and mass vaccination sites.

Allocation process explained  

We’ve received a lot of questions recently regarding the state’s allocation process. This week, DOH allocated 19% of vaccine to community health centers, federally qualified health centers, local health jurisdictions and private practitioners, 23% to hospitals, 36% to mass vaccination sites, 19% to pharmacies, and 3% to tribes and Urban Indian Health Programs. State allocations of vaccines go to sites that are locally run, as well as the mass vaccination sites. 

Each week, the state allocates vaccine from our limited supply to enrolled providers through a multi-step process that starts Saturday and is completed by Thursday night to meet the CDC’s Friday morning ordering deadline. Enrolled providers place their requests through the state’s Immunization Information System (WAIIS) and DOH gathers information from Local Health Jurisdictions to help determine their priorities of where vaccine should go. Decisions are made based on several factors: proportional population of those eligible in the county, data from providers, provider’s current inventory and documented throughput, equity, and access at all provider types (hospitals, pharmacies, mass vaccination sites, and clinics).

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

For immediate release: January 25, 2021                            (21-020)

Media contact: DOH Communications

Public inquiries: State COVID-19 Assistance Hotline, 1-800-525-0127

Four mass vaccination sites opening statewide this week

OLYMPIA – The Washington State Department of Health (DOH), with assistance from the Washington National Guard and local and private sector partners, will launch four mass vaccination sites throughout the state this week. Announced by Gov. Jay Inslee on Jan. 18, the sites are located in Kennewick, Ridgefield, Spokane and Wenatchee. They will be open by appointment only to people who pre-registered and are eligible for the vaccine under Phase 1A or 1B-1.

Based on current allocations for the state of Washington, the initial goal is to have enough vaccine to provide approximately 500 vaccinations per site, per day. In the beginning it will be less, as sites ramp up to that goal and beyond. To ensure success, a limited number of initial appointments will be accepted to start, and some sites will have reached capacity for week one quickly. Washingtonians should not be discouraged. Sites will eventually have the capacity for larger numbers of people as more vaccine becomes available.

To get a vaccine, individuals should first confirm they are eligible using Phase Finder. Once confirmed, the next step is to make an appointment. Details are available on the DOH mass vaccination page. Each mass vaccination site is currently using a different registration system.

To make an appointment in Spokanego here

  • Location – Spokane Arena: Open seven days a week. Mon-Fri, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sat-Sun, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

To make an appointment in Ridgefield, go here or call 1-800-525-0127, then press #

  • Location – Clark County Fairgrounds: Tue-Fri, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

To make an appointment in Wenatcheego here or call 1-800-525-0127, then press #

  • Location – Town Toyota Center: Tue-Sat, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m

To make an appointment in Kennewick, go here or call 1-800-525-0127, then press #

  • Location – Tri-Cities Fairgrounds: Tue-Sat, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Start dates were determined by the arrival of vaccine. Ridgefield, Wenatchee and Kennewick will administer Pfizer BioNTech, which will be delivered Monday afternoon and requires time to thaw. Spokane will administer Moderna. On Monday, sites will focus on pre-vaccination planning and preparation.

Advanced registration is required for vaccine appointments and individuals should not expect to make appointments onsite. Those without appointments will be turned away. All sites will have language access lines available, and some sites may have bilingual staff.

“As our vaccine allocations increase, these sites will provide additional capacity to get people vaccinated quickly and efficiently across the state,” said Umair A. Shah, MD, MPH, Secretary of Health. “With much less supply of vaccine than people currently eligible, it is going to take time which will require patience from all of us. I want to thank our partners who are working together to help us build the infrastructure needed to reach our goal of 45,000 vaccinations a day.”

Clinics, pharmacies and health care providers will still be offering vaccine. If a health care provider or pharmacy reaches out with the opportunity to get vaccinated, Washingtonians should not wait to get vaccinated. More information on other sites across the state that are open to the public can be found on the DOH vaccine locations page.  

The DOH website is your source for a healthy dose of informationFind us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. Sign up for the DOH blog, Public Health Connection.

###

 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

For immediate release: January 22, 2021  (21-018)

Contact: Ginny Streeter, Communications, 360-810-1628

New “Roadmap to Recovery” dashboard now live; All regions to remain in phase 1 for now

OLYMPIA –Today, the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) announced that based on Governor Jay Inslee’s Roadmap to Recovery phased reopening plan, all eight (8) regions in Washington will remain in Phase 1 until at least Monday, February 1, 2021.

DOH, in partnership with Microsoft AI for Health, has launched the new Roadmap to Recovery dashboard that provides a detailed overview of the metrics used for measuring regional progress. The metrics and corresponding thresholds help determine if it is safe for a region to enter into a new phase of reopening. The four metrics presented in the dashboard include:

Trend in 14-day rate of new COVID-19 cases per 100k population

Trend in 14-day rate of new COVID-19 hospital admissions per 100k population

Average 7-day percent occupancy of ICU staffed beds

7-day percent positive of COVID-19 tests

DOH will reassess the metrics for all eight (8) regions each week and announce any changes to current phase status every Friday.

The new Roadmap to Recovery dashboard will replace the original dashboard on coronavirus.wa.gov, but both are still publicly visible.

The launch of this key dashboard underscores the importance of public-private partnership and DOH appreciates the work of the Microsoft team in this endeavor.

                                                                 ###

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

COVID-19 BULLETIN


Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Contact: Public Information Desk
doh-pio@doh.wa.gov

Recap of Recent COVID-19 News and Updates

Statewide Response Updates

Newest numbers. The Department of Health reported a total of 279,421 confirmed cases as of 11:59 p.m. on January 18. There have been 3,940 COVID-19 deaths in Washington.

For the most recent tally of cases by county, demographics, and more, visit the Department of Health’s dashboard and the state’s COVID-19 risk assessment dashboard.

When is it your turn to get the COVID-19 vaccine? The COVID-19 vaccine is here in Washington and it brings the hope of a pandemic-free future. The vaccine is one of the best strategies we have now to protect ourselves and our loved ones from the virus that defined 2020. Eventually every adult and teen in Washington who wants the vaccine will be able to get one this year, but, for now, there is a limited supply. Read more about the vaccine roll out here.

Weekly COVID-19 response media briefing moved to Thursday 1/21. The weekly COVID-19 response media briefing with leaders from the state’s COVID-19 response will be Thursday, Jan. 21. Details to come.

Washington’s new vaccine dashboard will offer new window into progress. The Washington State Department of Health (DOH), in partnership with Microsoft AI for Health, is proud to announce vaccine data is now available on our dashboard, an addition that will help us share progress being made statewide as we endeavor to get COVID-19 vaccine to millions of people across the state of Washington.

The dashboard now includes a high-level vaccination snapshot under the Current Status tab as well as a new Vaccinations tab with statewide and county-level data on where, when and how many people are getting vaccinated. In the new tab, you can view the number of doses given in each county and statewide in a map view or by date. Read the full news release here.

Moving to the next phase: Vaccine expansion plan meant to accelerate the pace of vaccinations statewide. The Washington State Department of Health (DOH) announced Monday the state is moving into Phase 1B tier 1, expanding access to COVID-19 vaccine to thousands more people per week. As of January 16, DOH has given almost 294,386 doses of vaccine, which is 42.3% of the 696,075 total doses of vaccines delivered to Washington state.

Read the full news release here.

Inslee announces state plan for widespread vaccine distribution and administration. Gov. Jay Inslee Monday announced an updated statewide distribution and administration plan to increase the number of Washingtonians vaccinated and establish infrastructure capable of mass vaccinations in the coming months. With the expanded vaccine distribution system, the state set a goal of vaccinating 45,000 Washingtonians per day.

Read the full plan here.

Governor Inslee Press Conference on COVID-19 on January 18, 2021. Gov. Jay Inslee held a press conference at the State Capitol to announce a series of changes to vaccine administration and unveil a new statewide public-private partnership for the state’s vaccine distribution plan. The recording is available from TVW here.

Is it time to get the COVID-19 vaccine? Information from the Federal VA, TRICARE, and Dept of Health. For veterans enrolled in VA health care, the VA is now offering vaccines to these 2 groups:

  • Veterans living in long-term care facilities, and
  • VA health care personnel. Vaccinating VA health care personnel helps the VA continue providing care for Veterans.

After these first 2 groups, the VA will begin to offer vaccines to more Veterans who are at high risk of severe illness from COVID-19. If you’re eligible to get a vaccine, your VA health care team will contact you. You don’t need to reserve a vaccine or come to a VA facility to request or receive a vaccine until we contact you. Read the full news release here.

January 19, 2021 data note: Negative test results data from November 21-30, and January 2 through today, are incomplete. Thus, percent positivity (Testing tab) should be interpreted with caution.

Today’s data on hospitalizations is incomplete due to an interruption in the data reporting processes. Therefore, hospitalization data should be interpreted with caution. We expect to be able to make a full update tomorrow (January 20, 2021).

Roadmap to Recovery: All regions staying in Phase 1 for now. Friday the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) announced that based on Gov. Jay Inslee’s Healthy Washington – Roadmap to Recovery plan, all eight regions in Washington will remain in Phase 1 until at least Monday, January 25, 2021. Read the full news release here.

Inslee extends 26 proclamations relating to COVID-19. Gov. Jay Inslee Tuesday issued extensions of 26 emergency proclamations, which were extended by the Legislature on Jan. 15 with the passage of Senate Concurrent Resolution 8402

The proclamations cover a broad range of statutory waivers that support state and local services during the COVID pandemic, including those necessary to support long term care and behavioral health facilities, to provide access to government, to provide relief from tax penalties and fees, and to protect federal stimulus payments from collection for consumer debt. Read the full statement here.

Job search requirements continue to be suspended during pandemic. The Washington State House of Representatives and Senate voted to continue the suspension of job search requirements until the Pandemic State of Emergency is withdrawn by the governor or legislative action, whichever is first. This means you can continue to answer “no” to the job search question on your weekly claim until the suspension is lifted. Read more here.

Third COVID-19 related incarcerated death at Stafford Creek. On Saturday, January 16, an individual incarcerated at Stafford Creek Corrections Center in Aberdeen, Wash., passed away at a community healthcare facility due to COVID-19. As of January 15, Stafford Creek Corrections Center has had 661 COVID-19 cases in the last 30 days among the incarcerated population. Read the full news releases here.

Resources

Latest COVID-19 reopening guidance for businesses and workers. A full list of current reopening guidance is available here.

Find a COVID-19 testing location near you. To make it easier to find a test near you, the Department of Health has created a webpage to help people find COVID-19 testing locations throughout the state.

Guidance and resources for employers and business owners. Sign up for the weekly business and worker newsletter here.

The State COVID-19 Assistance Hotline is a general information line related to COVID-19. If you need information or have a general question, call 1-800-525-0127, then press # or text 211-211 for help. You can also text the word “Coronavirus” to 211-211 to receive information and updates on your phone wherever you are. You will receive links to the latest information on COVID-19, including county-level updates, and resources for families, businesses, students, and more.

Washington Listens helps people manage stress and anxiety they may be experiencing because of COVID-19. If you or anyone you know is having difficulties managing stress, call the Washington Listens support line at 1-833-681-0211. Hours are from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. TTY and language access services are available by using 7-1-1 or their preferred method. Resources and self-help tips are available on walistens.org.

###

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Contact: Public Information Desk
doh-pio@doh.wa.gov

Recap of Recent COVID-19 News and Updates
Statewide Response Updates

Newest numbers. The Department of Health reported a total of 266,701 confirmed cases as of 11:59 p.m. on January 11. There have been 3,789 COVID-19 deaths in Washington.

For the most recent tally of cases by county, demographics, and more, visit the Department of Health’s dashboard and the state’s COVID-19 risk assessment dashboard.

January 12, 2021 data note: Total case counts may include up to 550 duplicates and negative test results data are incomplete from November 21-30, 2020 and December 29 through today. Today’s positive test results data are also incomplete; we expect to resume regular reporting tomorrow. Thus, percent positivity (Testing tab) and case counts should be interpreted with caution. The Epidemiologic Curves tab is the most accurate representation of COVID activity and is updated daily as new cases are identified and duplicates are resolved. Today’s unusually high number of reported deaths is due to a backlog from January 8, 2021 through today.

Weekly COVID-19 response media briefing tomorrow at noon. The weekly COVID-19 response media briefing with leaders from the state’s COVID-19 response will be Wednesday, Jan. 13 at 12:00 p.m. TVW will livestream the briefing here.

Department of Health announces all regions will remain in Phase 1 until at least Monday, Jan. 18. Based on Gov. Jay Inslee’s Healthy Washington – Roadmap to Recovery plan released last week, all eight regions in Washington will remain in Phase 1 until at least Monday, Jan. 18, 2021.

As outlined in the governor’s COVID-19 phased recovery plan, regions must meet each of the following four metrics in order to move into Phase 2.

Decreasing trend of 10% or more in two-week rate of COVID-19 cases per 100k population.
Decreasing trend of 10% or more in two-week rate of new COVID-19 hospitalizations.
Less than 90% Intensive Care Unit (ICU) occupancy.
COVID-19 test positivity of less than 10%.
DOH will reassess all the metrics each week and announce any changes to current phase status every Friday. For more detailed information on where each of the eight regions fall with regards to the four metrics visit the DOH website.

Read the full news release here.

Get a text, click the link: New texts from DOH will speed exposure notification across the state. The Washington State Department of Health (DOH) will now text a verification code to every person in Washington state who tests positive for COVID-19. The goal is to help WA Notify exposure notification users alert fellow users faster if they’ve been exposed.

People who test positive for COVID-19 will still receive notification from their health care provider or testing facility, but everyone who tests positive will now also receive a text. That text includes a link to activate a verification code within WA Notify, and anonymously alert users they may have been exposed.

Read the full news releases here.

Inslee signs Healthy Washington – Roadmap to Recovery proclamation. Gov. Jay Inslee Monday signed the “Healthy Washington – Roadmap to Recovery” proclamation, which he had initially announced last week.

The new plan, which follows a regional approach, will ease some restrictions while focusing on the health and safety of all Washingtonians. The plan outlines the metrics that will be used to determine phases for each region, and the Department of Health will evaluate these metrics weekly and announce any changes to current phase status every Friday.

The proclamation is effective immediately and extends through the COVID-19 state of emergency. Read the full “Healthy Washington – Roadmap to Recovery” plan here.

Guidance for businesses and employees is available here.

Emergency order on telehealth coverage extended to Feb. 7. Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler extended his emergency order directing all state-regulated health insurers to make additional coverage changes to aid consumers during the coronavirus pandemic. His order is in effect until Feb. 7 and requires health insurers to:

Continue coverage for providing telehealth via methods including telephone and video chat tools such as Facetime, Facebook Messenger video chat, Google Hangout video, Skype and Go-to-Meeting.
Cover all medically necessary diagnostic testing for flu and certain other viral respiratory illnesses billed during a provider visit for COVID-19 with no copay, coinsurance or deductible.
Treat drive-up testing sites for COVID-19 as provider visit with no copay, coinsurance or deductible.

Read the full news release here.

Resources

Latest COVID-19 reopening guidance for businesses and workers. A full list of current reopening guidance is available here.

Find a COVID-19 testing location near you. To make it easier to find a test near you, the Department of Health has created a webpage to help people find COVID-19 testing locations throughout the state.

Guidance and resources for employers and business owners. Sign up for the weekly business and worker newsletter here.

The State COVID-19 Assistance Hotline is a general information line related to COVID-19. If you need information or have a general question, call 1-800-525-0127, then press # or text 211-211 for help. You can also text the word “Coronavirus” to 211-211 to receive information and updates on your phone wherever you are. You will receive links to the latest information on COVID-19, including county-level updates, and resources for families, businesses, students, and more.

Washington Listens helps people manage stress and anxiety they may be experiencing because of COVID-19. If you or anyone you know is having difficulties managing stress, call the Washington Listens support line at 1-833-681-0211. Hours are from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. TTY and language access services are available by using 7-1-1 or their preferred method. Resources and self-help tips are available on walistens.org.

###

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Department of Health announces all regions will remain in Phase 1

OLYMPIA – Today, the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) announced that based on Governor Jay Inslee’s Healthy Washington – Roadmap to Recovery plan released earlier this week, that all eight (8) regions in Washington will remain in Phase 1 until at least Monday, January 18, 2021.

As outlined in the Governor’s COVID-19 phased recovery plan, regions must meet each of the following four metrics in order to move into Phase 2:

  • Decreasing trend of 10% or more in two-week rate of COVID-19 cases per 100k population;
  • Decreasing trend of 10% or more in two-week rate of new COVID-19 hospitalizations;
  • Less than 90% Intensive Care Unit (ICU) occupancy; and,
  • COVID-19 test positivity of less than 10%.

“When we look at the data from each one of the eight regions, we are seeing some positive trends. This is encouraging, and we are hopeful these trends will continue, and we will see regions begin to move into Phase 2 very soon,” said Deputy Secretary for COVID-19 Response Lacy Fehrenbach.

“We know that all people in Washington want to move forward as quickly as possible with respect to COVID-19. However, these metrics show that we are just not ready to do so now,” said Umair A. Shah, MD, MPH, Washington’s Secretary of Health. “We have made progress but need to continue to work together to reduce the transmission of COVID-19 across our state.”

DOH will reassess all the metrics each week and announce any changes to current phase status every Friday. For more detailed information on where each of the eight regions falls with regards to the four metrics please visit the DOH website.

  

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Who goes next: Washington releases next phase of vaccine prioritization

For immediate release: January 6, 2021     

OLYMPIA – Today the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) released guidance for the next phase of COVID-19 vaccination. The department worked closely with the Governor’s Office to finalize prioritization for phase 1B, and we are pleased to be able to share eligible groups for this next phase of vaccination. This phase is broken up into four separate tiers.

In addition to partnership with Gov. Inslee and reliance on federal guidance, nearly 20,000 people across the state weighed in on the prioritization through focus groups, interviews, and surveys over the past few months. This feedback directly informed our recommendations for COVID-19 vaccine prioritization and allocation, and continues to help us make sure our vaccine plans are equitable and protect those most at risk from COVID-19 infections.

“Vaccine prioritization decisions are complex, but based in a need for equitable distribution,” says Secretary of Health Umair A. Shah. “Our priority has been to get the vaccine to high-priority people first.”

This graphic shows the groups and the timeline for phase 1B. Broadly, groups eligible for vaccination in phase 1B include:

Phase 1B1 – (Tier 1)

  • All people 70 years and older
  • People 50 years and older who live in multigenerational households

Phase 1B2 – (Tier 2)

  • High risk critical workers 50 years and older who work in certain congregate settings: Agriculture; food processing; grocery stores; K-12 (teachers and school staff); childcare; corrections, prisons, jails or detention facilities (staff); public transit; fire; law enforcement

Phase 1B3 – (Tier 3)

  • People 16 years or older with two or more co-morbidities or underlying conditions

Phase 1B4 – (Tier 4)

  • High-risk critical workers in certain congregate settings under 50 years
  • People, staff and volunteers all ages in congregate living settings:
    • Correctional facilities; group homes for people with disabilities; people experiencing homelessness that live in or access services in congregate settings

Additional details of phase 1B will be posted on our website.

It’s important to note that we are not moving into phase 1B right now. Our state is still in phase 1A (PDF) of vaccinations, and will continue to be for the next few weeks. Many pharmacies, clinics and hospitals are vaccinating people in 1A1 (tier 1), and others have moved to 1A2 (tier 2). While phase 1A is still the priority, we hope that the release of phase 1B guidance will help facilities, counties and individuals plan for the months ahead. Once we’re ready to start phase 1B, we will let our communities know how and where to get vaccine.

Next steps

We appreciate the ongoing partnership with local public health and the health care system in supporting this critical aspect of our response and recovery from the pandemic.

The DOH website is your source for a healthy dose of informationFind us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. Sign up for the DOH blog, Public Health Connection

  ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Inslee announces “Healthy Washington–Roadmap to Recovery”

Gov. Jay Inslee today announced “Healthy Washington — Roadmap to Recovery,” a COVID-19 phased recovery plan. Beginning on January 11, the state will follow a regional recovery approach with every region beginning in Phase 1.

“No one was untouched by the effects of the pandemic in 2020; many have and continue to suffer through no fault of their own,” Inslee said during a press conference Tuesday. “We aren’t out of this yet, but we are close to turning the corner on COVID-19 and this third wave of infection.”

Washington has avoided overwhelming the state’s health care systems throughout this pandemic so far through rigorous safety measures, such as physical distancing and masking, as well as social and economic restrictions. This new recovery system aims to safely ease some restrictions while also maintaining crucial hospital capacity, ensuring care for Washingtonians that need it and paving the way for economic recovery.

Regions

Image for post

The regions are mostly based on Emergency Medical Services (EMS) regions used for evaluating healthcare services. There will be eight regions of four or more counties, divided according to available health care services based on metrics such as hospitalizations, case data and disease mobility.

The eight regions are as follows:

  • Central: King, Pierce, Snohomish
  • East: Adams, Asotin, Ferry, Garfield, Lincoln, Pend Oreille, Spokane, Stevens, Whitman
  • North: Island, San Juan, Skagit, Whatcom
  • North Central: Chelan, Douglas, Grant, Okanogan
  • Northwest: Clallam, Jefferson, Kitsap, Mason
  • South Central: Benton, Columbia, Franklin, Kittitas, Walla Walla, Yakima
  • Southwest: Clark, Cowlitz, Klickitat, Skamania, Wahkiakum
  • West: Grays Harbor, Lewis, Pacific, Thurston

“Our intent is to ensure that regions, the communities within them, and our state as whole have a balanced path toward recovery from the pandemic that relies on multiple key metrics that look at disease trajectory and health system capacity” said Deputy Secretary for COVID Response Lacy Fehrenbach. “This plan offers the start of clear way forward as we continue to slow the spread of COVID-19, while we get more people vaccinated over the next few months.”

Metrics

A region’s phase will be determined by the Department of Health (DOH) in response to four metric requirements. The final metrics for regions will be calculated on Friday, January 8 and will be effective January 11.

To go forward from Phase 1 to Phase 2, regions must meet all four metrics:

  • Decreasing trend in two-week rate of COVID-19 cases per 100K population (decrease >10%)
  • Decreasing trend in two-week rate new COVID-19 hospital admission rates per 100K population (decrease >10%)
  • ICU occupancy (total — COVID-19 and non-COVID-19) of less than 90%
  • COVID-19 test positivity rate of <10%

To remain in Phase 2, regions must meet at least 3 metrics:

  • Decreasing or flat trend in two-week rate of COVID-19 cases per 100K population
  • Decreasing or flat trend in two-week rate new COVID-19 hospital admission rates per 100K population
  • ICU occupancy (total — COVID-19 and non-COVID-19) of less than 90%
  • COVID-19 test positivity rate of <10%.

Regions that fail to meet two or more of the above metrics will be moved back to Phase 1.

The metrics for each region will be updated on the Risk Assessment Dashboard every Friday. Dependent on a region’s metrics, DOH will move into a new phase — forward or backward — the following Monday.

DOH and local health departments reserve the right to move a region outside of this timing, and additional phases may be added as the state’s COVID-19 situation changes with continued vaccine distribution and other changes in public health response.

“Our goal is to reopen our economy safely, and to do it as quickly as possible. Every week, we plan on tracking our ongoing progress in protecting our communities against COVID-19,” said Secretary of Health Umair Shah. “The governor’s new plan will allow all of us to understand what measures are being used for the path forward including when it makes sense to ease restrictions across the state.”

Image for post

Phase 1

All regions will begin in Phase 1, because of current metrics.

Phase 1, for the most part, aligns with restrictions current in place for most counties today, with a few key exceptions. Indoor fitness and outdoor entertainment, for example, were both previously prohibited, but will now be permitted with restrictions.

Currently, all indoor fitness is entirely prohibited. DOH now believes that the state can safely allow appointment-based fitness and training where there is no more than 1 customer per room or 500 square feet for large facilities. This will allow gyms to schedule people wanting to come in to work out in a safe way to ensure activity during winter months. Masks and physical distancing are required.

Outdoor entertainment establishes will be permitted to reopen in Phase 1, including zoos, outdoor theaters and concert venues, and rodeos, among other outdoor venues. Operation must be by ticketed event only with groups of 10 maximum with a limit of two households. Timed ticketing is required, as well as facial coverings and physical distancing.

Indoor gatherings and indoor dining remain prohibited. Outdoor dining with a maximum of six and limit for two households per table is permitted with an 11:00 PM close.

Retail, worship services, personal services, and professional services — where remote work isn’t available—are limited to 25% capacity.

Phase 2

Once a region meets all four required health metrics for three of the four past weeks, they will be permitted to move from Phase 1 to Phase 2. This phase sees some relaxation in regulations, but masks and physical distancing are still required statewide for all activities.

Indoor social gatherings with people outside of the household begins being permitted in Phase 2 with a max of 5 people from outside the household and limit of two households. Outdoor social gatherings maximum in this phase is increased to 15 individuals from two households.

In Phase 2, indoor dining will be permitted with a maximum 25% capacity and an 11:00 PM close. All other indoor activities must also follow a 25% capacity limit. This includes retail, entertainment and groceries, as well as personal and professional services.

Indoor fitness must also follow the 25% capacity limit.

In Phase 2 moderate risk indoor sports and all sports outdoors gain flexibility to have league games and competitions, which will help ensure opportunities for kids to be active, which is especially important during winter months and as kids navigate virtual or hybrid schooling.

Outdoor entertaining may host groups of up to 15 with the two-household limit and an overall 75 person maximum. Wedding and funeral ceremonies and indoor receptions may take place following the appropriate venue requirements. Food and drink service limited to restaurant guidance.

Read the full phase activity chart here.

“It’s a new year, and COVID-19 is no longer new to us,” Inslee said. “We’ve learned a lot; we’ve struggled a lot; we’ve accomplished a lot. Washingtonians are undeterred. This battle continues, but the turning point is on its way.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Inslee announces one-week extension of statewide restrictions

December 30, 2020

Gov. Jay Inslee today announced a one-week extension of the “Stay Safe–Stay Healthy” proclamation, along with the statewide restrictions imposed. The extension of the statewide restrictions will now expire on January 11, 2021. No changes were made in the proclamation aside from the expiration date.

“Our consistent mission has been keeping Washingtonians safe and ensuring health care system and hospital capacity,” Inslee said. “We understand the profound impact COVID is having on our healthcare system, families, and businesses, but I am heartened by the number of Washingtonians who continue to do the right thing. If we continue distancing from others, wearing facial coverings and avoiding social gatherings, we will make it to the other side of this pandemic together.”

An updated reopening plan is currently being developed to provide a pathway for businesses and workers impacted by this order to reopen safely. The updated plan will be released next week. 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


December 31, 2020  

Contact: Danielle Koenig, Center for Public Affairs  

Public inquiries: State COVID-19 Assistance Hotline, 1-800-525-0127 then press #  

COVID-19 vaccine distribution update from the Washington State Department of Health  

OLYMPIA – The Washington State Department of Health (DOH) continues to make progress with our COVID-19 vaccine distribution and administration efforts.  

Yesterday DOH updated phase 1A guidance, with the goal of expediting vaccine administration efforts across Washington state. Read our statement.    

As of this week, 69,349 people in our state have received their first dose of vaccine. We expect to order second-dose allocations of the Pfizer vaccine this weekend. This means that initial recipients of the Pfizer vaccine will be receiving their second dose soon. We expect to start receiving second-dose allocations of the Moderna vaccine the week of Jan. 12. As a reminder, all vaccine recipients must receive two doses of vaccine from the same manufacturer for maximum protection against COVID-19.  

We anticipate the following for our week three allocation: 
Pfizer: 57,525 doses Moderna: 44,500 doses (this includes 200 doses originally from week two due to order cancellations)  

Locations: 43,375 doses will go to 87 sites in 26 counties 58,650 doses will go to support long-term care facilities and 17 tribes and Urban Indian Health Programs  

Long-term care facilities Vaccinations have started for residents and staff of long-term care facilities. Last week, a local long-term care pharmacy began vaccinating as part of the state program. This week and next, under the federal Pharmacy Partnership Program, Walgreens and CVS have several onsite clinics planned specifically for long-term care facilities. Walgreens and CVS have a shared goal to complete the first dose of vaccinations in nursing homes in the next three weeks.   

Future phases We hope to know more next week about prioritization decisions in Washington state. We’re using the broad ACIP guidance as a framework, but will need to prioritize within it to match projected vaccine supplies. Gov. Inslee is playing a crucial role in this decision-making process alongside public health experts here at DOH. When this document is available, it will be published on the DOH website, and we will share information that informed the decisions. The DOH website is your source for a healthy dose of information. Find us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. Sign up for the DOH blog, Public Health Connection

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Contact:Public Information Desk
doh-pio@doh.wa.gov

Recap of Recent COVID-19 News and Updates

Statewide Response Updates

Newest numbers. The Department of Health reported a total of 231,724 confirmed cases as of 11:59 p.m. on December 28. There have been 3,369 COVID-19 deaths in Washington.

For the most recent tally of cases by county, demographics, and more, visit the Department of Health’s dashboard and the state’s COVID-19 risk assessment dashboard.

Weekly COVID-19 response media briefing tomorrow at noon. The weekly COVID-19 response media briefing with leaders from the state COVID-19 response will be Wednesday, Dec. 30 at 12:00 p.m. TVW will livestream the briefing here.

Corrections receives limited COVID-19 vaccine for prioritized patients and staff in Phase 1A. As of December 28, 2020, the Washington State Department of Corrections has received limited COVID-19 vaccine doses and started vaccinating staff and a limited number of incarcerated individuals, according to the approved Phase 1A dosing prioritization. This process will occur over a period of several weeks based on the vaccine supply availability.

The Phase 1A vaccine recommendation is that workers in healthcare settings, who are most at risk for becoming infected, such as those working in units that care for people with COVID-19 as well as residents of long-term care facilities, be offered the first available doses of the vaccine. Read the full press release here.

Update on federal stimulus and state pandemic relief payments. On Dec. 27, Gov. Jay Inslee announced a one-time payment of $550 to many recipients of Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA). Later, on the same day, President Trump signed the bill that changes and extends federal CARES Act unemployment benefits. The Employment Security Department is working to deliver Washington’s Pandemic Relief Payment (PRP) program this week and the newly extended federal benefits, which begin the week of Jan. 3.

Read the full alert here.

Commerce invests record $97 million in affordable housing projects serving thousands of people statewide. The Washington State Department of Commerce announced Tuesday $97 million in grants and loans for affordable housing projects in communities across the state. These funds will help provide an estimated 1,404 multifamily rental units/beds, 121 homes for first-time homebuyers, 86 units of modular housing, and 74 units in cottage-style communities. $85.3 million of funding comes from the state’s Housing Trust Fund, with $11.7 million provided through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) HOME and National Housing Trust Fund programs, also managed by Commerce in Washington state.

Read the full news release here.

Resources

Latest COVID-19 reopening guidance for businesses and workers. A full list of current reopening guidance is available here.

Find a COVID-19 testing location near you. To make it easier to find a test near you, the Department of Health has created a webpage to help people find COVID-19 testing locations throughout the state.

Guidance and resources for employers and business owners. Sign up for the weekly business and worker newsletter here.

State COVID-19 Assistance Hotline is a general information line related to COVID-19. If you need information or have a general question, call 1-800-525-0127 or text 211-211 for help. You can also text the word “Coronavirus” to 211-211 to receive information and updates on your phone wherever you are. You will receive links to the latest information on COVID-19, including county-level updates, and resources for families, businesses, students, and more.

Washington Listens helps people manage stress and anxiety they may be experiencing because of COVID-19. If you or anyone you know is having difficulties managing stress, call the Washington Listens support line at 1-833-681-0211. Hours are from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. TTY and language access services are available by using 7-1-1 or their preferred method. Resources and self-help tips are available on walistens.org.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Contact:Public Information
doh-pio@doh.wa.gov

COVID-19 Response Update Media Briefing

WHOUmair A. Shah, MD, MPH, Secretary of Health, Washington State Department of HealthLacy Fehrenbach, MPH, CPH, Deputy Secretary of Health for COVID-19 Response, Washington State Department of HealthScott Lindquist MD, State Epidemiologist for Communicable Diseases, Washington State Department of HealthMichele Roberts, MPH, MCHES, Acting Assistant Secretary, Washington State Department of HealthKira Mauseth, PhD, Behavioral Health Strike Team, Washington State Department of Health
WHATUpdate on the COVID-19 response in Washington state.
  
  
WHENWednesday, December 30, 2020 12:00 – 1:00 p.m. PTPlease join the call 5-10 minutes early. Before the briefing begins, we will test the system to ensure we can answer your questions without technical issues.
WHERETVW will livestream the briefing here.Reporters participating in the Q&A need to register here with name, email, phone and news organization:https://mildep.webex.com/mildep/onstage/g.php?MTID=ee00bf81209558ffc1f4876d0bd038409If you would like to ask a question, you must register and log in to the teleconference via WebEx, and send an email to doh-pio@doh.wa.gov with subject line Briefing Question. You do not need to include your question in the email. We will call on and unmute individual reporters for questions, and will not open the phone line or take questions submitted by chat. For ideal audio quality, download the WebEx Meetings Application.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

December 28, 2020

The Washington State Department of Health Influenza Update for week 51 is available at the link below.

https://www.doh.wa.gov/Portals/1/Documents/5100/420-100-FluUpdate.pdf

State Summary: Flu activity is low

  • Zero lab-confirmed influenza deaths have been reported for the 2020-2021 season to date.
  • Zero influenza-like illness outbreaks in long term care facilities have been reported for the 2020-2021 season to date.
  • During week 51, 0.8 percent of visits among Influenza-like illness Network participants were for influenza-like illness, below the baseline of 1.6 percent.
  • During week 51, 0 percent of specimens tested by WHO/NREVSS collaborating laboratories in Washington were positive for influenza.
  • No influenza A or B was reported to the ILINet surveillance system during week 51.

Please Note – the next influenza update will be published on 01/04/2021.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, data reported from the various influenza surveillance systems may not represent an accurate reflection of influenza activity. Results should be interpreted with caution, especially where comparisons are made to previous influenza seasons.

Historic influenza reports and DOH influenza information for healthcare providers and public health:

  • Historic influenza reports from past seasons are available here.
  • Influenza information for healthcare providers and public health professionals is available here.

While this is a no-reply email, you may contact us at Communicable Disease Epidemiology mailbox.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

December 24, 2020    

Media contact: Kristen Maki, Communications, 360-545-2944
Public inquiries: State COVID-19 Assistance Hotline, 1-800-525-0127

OLYMPIA – Today the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) released the latest statewide situation report on COVID-19. The report shows substantial decreases in transmission that are still not enough to return to the lower levels of disease activity seen earlier in the fall. Based on the timing of this trend, the plateaus may be due in part to the current restrictions on gatherings and certain businesses.

Report findings include:

  • The state remains in a highly precarious situation. The estimated proportion of the population with active COVID-19 infections is around the same as mid-November, and hospitalizations are higher. If we don’t maintain the behaviors that have lowered transmission over the past month, we could see exponential growth again—this time starting from a much higher baseline.
  • COVID-19 transmission is plateauing, but hasn’t decreased enough. The best estimate of the reproductive number (how many new people each COVID-19 patient will infect) on Dec. 5 was 1.03 in western Washington and 1.11 in eastern Washington. The goal is maintaining a reproductive number well below one—meaning COVID-19 transmission is declining—for a substantial amount of time.
  • 31 of 39 counties had rates above 200 new cases per 100,000 people over the past two weeks. 16 counties had two-week rates above 500 new cases per 100,000 people. This indicates COVID-19 activity is still high and widespread in the state.
  • Cases and hospitalizations started to plateau just before Thanksgiving, then rebounded again after the holiday. This drop was likely due to fewer people seeking care or getting tested over Thanksgiving, rather than an actual decrease in COVID-19 activity. There have been some declines in cases statewide and in hospitalizations in western Washington since then. Hospitalizations in eastern Washington have remained level.
  • Daily hospital admissions of patients with confirmed COVID-19 have been relatively flat statewide since early December. Admissions increased gradually through Oct. 31, accelerated through Nov. 23, briefly dropped over the week of Thanksgiving, then rebounded until early December. We expect high hospital occupancy to last beyond drops in admission since COVID-19 patients generally stay in the hospital longer than one day
  • Despite some hints of progress, hospitals and intensive care units (ICUs) remain stressed.  In western Washington, the number of hospital beds occupied by COVID-19 patients increased rapidly in early November then slowed in early December. In eastern Washington, increases were slower but have continued through mid-December. The number of ICU beds occupied by these patients plateaued in western Washington at the start of December then dropped in mid-December, and have remained flat throughout December in eastern Washington.
  • Some counties are seeing declining case counts. The five largest counties (Clark, King, Pierce, Snohomish and Spokane) have seen recent declines in case counts. Some medium-sized counties (Franklin, Thurston and Whatcom) and small counties (Chelan, Kittitas, Stevens, Whitman) had recent declines to mid-November levels.
  • Other counties are plateauing. Some mid-sized counties (Benton and Cowlitz) and some small counties (Douglas, Okanogan and Walla Walla) have seen flattening to pre-Thanksgiving levels. Other mid-sized counties (Grant, Kitsap, Skagit and Yakima) and small counties (Grays Harbor, Lewis and Mason) have seen flat or declining trends, but still have higher case counts than before Thanksgiving.
  • The estimated overall percentage of Washington state residents with active COVID-19 infection was still higher than the peak in late March. The best model-based estimate as of Dec. 5 was 0.41%. Prevalence estimates started to flatten in mid-November, but remain several times higher than at the start of October.

“Because of the high levels of disease activity Washington state has seen this fall, we are looking for more than just a flat trend. We need to see a significant decrease in cases and hospitalizations, and the only way to get there is to intensify our current efforts to control the spread of the virus,” said Dr. Umair A. Shah, secretary of health at DOH. “It is encouraging to see that those efforts have helped the state avoid a post-Thanksgiving spike. If we want to maintain this progress going into the new year, we must take every precaution possible including limiting in-person celebrations to our immediate households.”

DOH partners with the Institute for Disease Modeling, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, University of Washington and the Microsoft AI for Health program to develop these reports every other week. More COVID-19 data can be found on the DOH data dashboard and in the state’s risk assessment dashboard.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

December 22, 2020 

Media contact: Kristen Maki, Communications, 360-545-2944

Public inquiries: State COVID-19 Assistance Hotline, 1-800-525-0127

COVID-19 quarantine guidance updated as new strain of coronavirus circulates in some countries

OLYMPIA – The Washington State Department of Health (DOH) is updating quarantine guidance for some travelers and planning to test flight crews arriving from some countries where a new variant of COVID-19 is circulating.

Yesterday, Governor Jay Inslee issued a proclamation requiring all people who travel to Washington state from these countries, which include the United Kingdom and South Africa, to quarantine for 14 days after arriving. The proclamation follows a travel advisory the governor issued last month recommending a 14-day quarantine for all interstate and international travel.

Additionally, people who enter Washington after travel to the U.K. or South Africa should get tested if they develop symptoms. If no symptoms develop, they should get tested five to seven days after leaving the U.K. or South Africa.

Scientists have seen many genetic variations of the virus as it continues to spread throughout the world, but not all changes are significant from a public health perspective. With any new strain, public health officials are looking at whether the strain causes more serious illness or allows the virus to spread more easily. Variations in new strains could also impact the effectiveness of the tests and vaccines currently being used, but to what degree they could be impacted is currently unknown.

U.K. health officials say the new strain may spread more easily, but they are not seeing more serious illness or an impact on vaccine effectiveness at this time.

“This is not the time for panic; it is the time for patience. Our information about this new strain is still limited, and we need to stay the course with our current efforts to control the spread of the virus while we learn more,” said Umair A. Shah, MD, MPH, secretary of health at DOH. “We are tracking new developments closely and will continue to adjust our recommendations and response as needed.”

Plans for testing flight crews arriving from impacted countries are still in development. DOH will provide more info as it becomes available.

Current quarantine guidance includes these options:

1. Stay in quarantine for 14 days after your last contact. This is the safest option. Monitor your symptoms during this time, and if you have any COVID-19 symptoms during the 14 days, get tested. Certain high-risk settings or groups should use the 14 day quarantine option:

People who have recently been in countries where the new variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, 501Y.V, has been identified.

  • People who work or stay in an acute or long-term healthcare setting,
  • People who work or stay in a correctional facility,
  • People who work or stay in a shelter or transitional housing,
  • People who live in communal housing such as dormitories, fraternities or sororities,
  • People who work in crowded work situations where physical distancing is impossible due to the nature of the work such as in a warehouse or factory,
  • People who work on fishing or seafood processing vessels.

2. If this is not possible, stay in quarantine for 10 days after your last contact, without additional testing. If you have any COVID-19 symptoms during the 10 days, stay in quarantine the full 14 days and get tested. Keep watching for symptoms until day 14.

3. Under special circumstances it may be possible to end quarantine after 7 full days beginning after your last contact and after receiving a negative result from a test (get tested no sooner than 48 hours before ending quarantine.) This will depend on availability of testing resources. Keep watching for symptoms until day 14.

The DOH website is your source for a healthy dose of informationFind us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. Sign up for the DOH blog, Public Health Connection

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

November 13, 2020
Correspondence from the local VA Hospital ; Due to this being the holiday season there is a major concern over spread of Virus:


From your local Portland metro area heath care systems; “What’s most important now is that everyone protects themselves and others as much as possible by pausing or canceling social gatherings, staying home to the extent possible, wearing a mask, using hand hygiene and physical distancing.”


November 13, 2020  –  Governor Inslee issues travel advisory for Washington. Gov. Jay Inslee issued a travel advisory for Washington today, recommending a 14-day quarantine for interstate and international travel and asks residents to stay close to home. Inslee joined California Gov. Gavin Newsom and Oregon Gov. Kate Brown in urging visitors entering their states or returning home from travel outside these states to self-quarantine to slow the spread of the virus. “COVID-19 cases have doubled in Washington over the past two weeks. This puts our state in as dangerous a position today as we were in March,” Inslee said. “Limiting and reducing travel is one way to reduce further spread of the disease. I am happy to partner with California and Oregon in this effort to help protect lives up and down the West Coast.” “California just surpassed a sobering threshold – one million COVID-19 cases – with no signs of the virus slowing down,” said Newsom. “Increased cases are adding pressure on our hospital systems and threatening the lives of seniors, essential workers and vulnerable Californians. Travel increases the risk of spreading COVID-19 and we must all collectively increase our efforts at this time to keep the virus at bay and save lives.” “COVID-19 does not stop at state lines. As hospitals across the West are stretched to capacity, we must take steps to ensure travelers are not bringing this disease home with them,” said Brown. “If you do not need to travel, you shouldn’t. This will be hard, especially with Thanksgiving around the corner. But the best way to keep your family safe is to stay close to home.” In addition to urging individuals arriving from other states or countries to self-quarantine for 14 days after arrival, the states’ travel advisories recommend individuals limit their interactions to their immediate household. The advisories define essential travel as travel for work and study, critical infrastructure support, economic services and supply chains, health, immediate medical care, and safety and security.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Where to go, who to contact with COVID-19 questions

Our state Emergency Operations Center is still activated in response to #COVID19. For more information on anything related to COVID-19, visit the state’s website coronavirus.wa.gov. If you have questions about what is happening in Washington, or how the virus is spread, please call ‪1-800-525-0127‬. Phone lines are currently staffed ‪from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m‬, seven days a week.

What does it mean to stay home?
To help stop the spread of COVID-19, Governor Inslee has asked Washington residents to stay home. You might have questions about what that means. Here are some answers that may help.

Can I go outside?
Yes. In fact, it is good for you to go for walks, check your mailbox, and sit in the sunshine. Just remember to stay at least six feet away from others, avoid travel, and avoid crowds.

Can my family or friends come visit?
You should cancel or postpone in-person visits. But, you don’t have to isolate yourself! Keep in touch with your family and friends through phone and video calls, emails and letters, and virtual gatherings. You can use phone apps and social media platforms for group conversations and video chatting.

I live with other people who come and go. What do I do?
Encourage everyone in your household to stay home unless they need groceries, prescriptions, or if they are still required to work. Anyone who goes out should wash their hands immediately when they get home. In your house, clean and disinfect all frequently touched surfaces, such as remote controls, phones, countertops, and doorknobs.

How can I protect myself if I have to go out?
If you have to go out, carry hand sanitizer or disinfecting wipes, stay at least six feet away from others, cough and sneeze into your elbow or a tissue, and wash your hands when you get home. It’s a good idea to also clean off any items you bring home with you before you use them.

How can I get groceries and prescriptions?
Many grocery store chains will deliver goods and prescriptions. Stores are also reserving times for people who are older, pregnant, or have health conditions to shop. Check your local grocery store for more information. You can also ask friends and family to help you get what you need.

Should I cancel my vacation plans?
Yes. It is best to cancel or postpone any plans that involve traveling or being around people.

Should I cancel my doctor appointments?
Talk to your doctor about whether you should cancel your appointments. If you have a condition that requires treatment, your doctor may ask you to come in. Or, your doctor may be able to conduct your appointment over the phone or online.

Are my pets affected?
There is no evidence that people can get sick from their pets. However, the CDC recommends that you wash your hands after touching your pets, their food, waste, or supplies. Call your veterinarian of you have questions about your pet’s health.

Should I wear a facemask?
You don’t need to wear a facemask if you are not sick. If you are sick, you should wear a facemask, if you have one. You should also put on a facemask when you go to your doctor’s office.

Can I go to my place of worship?
No. Governor Inslee’s directive prohibits all gatherings, public and private. However, many places of worship are offering services over the internet. You can work with your leaders or other community members to provide services online.

Will I get my Social Security benefits?
Yes. If you get a phone call from someone who says there is problem with your Social Security account, hang up. Unfortunately, people are scamming others.

What should I do if I start to feel sick?
Call your doctor before you leave the house to get medical care. Be sure to get care if you have symptoms that are getting worse, have a chronic health condition, or have shortness of breath. If you are experiencing an emergency, call 9-1-1.

Washington COVID phases