As a ‘Community COVID-19 Vaccination Clinic’ opens at Seattle University, Washington lowers threshold to 65+ and ramps up rollout — UPDATE

Community COVID-19 Vaccination Clinic at Seattle University (Image: Swedish)

Gov. Jay Inslee announced Monday an effort to speed the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine across Washington that includes lowering the current threshold for those eligible to people 65 years old and up. There will also be a major new push from Washington’s department of health to coordinate statewide vaccinations — especially in a “high throughput” core across Snohomish, King, and Pierce Counties.

The changes come amid hope of a nationwide acceleration with the National Guard and FEMA deploying across the country to establish clinics. The federal government says it has distributed more than 31 million doses of vaccine around the country but so far only about 12 million doses have been administered. The Biden administration will also invoke the Defense Production Act to “maximize the manufacture of vaccine and vaccine supplies for the country.”

Washington’s vaccinations have reached around 201,000 people — around 41% of the prioritized population in the state’s first tiers focused on health system workers and high-risk seniors — but far fewer than had been planned by this point and a pace that officials said must be ramped up given worries of increasing spread of COVID-19 and variants.

The state’s new goal is to reach 45,000 people a day — nearly twice as many as are being vaccinated against the virus now.

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Here’s why this Capitol Hill restaurant is open for indoor dining — and why others will probably soon follow

(Image: Boca)

King County and the entire state may be still facing high levels of new cases and remain mired in Phase 1 of COVID-19 restrictions but, yes, those were real people you saw dining inside a restaurant on Capitol Hill.

New “open air” guidelines from the state are allowing certain venues to restore indoor service at limited capacity. One restaurant quick to move forward under the new rules is Broadway’s Boca Resto Bar and Grill.

The move has also made the 400-block Broadway E Argentine style eatery a popular subject of news tips to CHS from readers concerned about a possible violation of health departments restrictions.

But Boca is playing fair and square by the rules, its ownership says.

“We have been working with officials to ensure we are up to date on the ever changing dining restrictions,” Connor Casas Beaux tells CHS. Continue reading

FEMA and National Guard COVID-19 vaccine clinics are coming — Meanwhile, first Washington reopening assessment leaves state stuck in Phase 1

(Image: Washington State Department of Health)

President-elect Joe Biden Friday announced a plan to deploy the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the National Guard to set up COVID-19 vaccine clinics across the country.

Biden’s plan will also “jumpstart” distribution to pharmacies and retail chains as the number of vaccinations has lagged the goals promised by the Trump administration.

Meanwhile, Washington’s new region-based reopening phase process is continuing its slow start with the state announcing each of the eight regions organized under the “Roadmap to Recovery” plan will remain in Phase 1 this week (PDF). Each region’s status is assessed against a set of metrics on a weekly basis. Continue reading

Insurrection in the Capitol: Jayapal tests positive for COVID-19 after D.C. lockdown

The fallout from the deadly storming of the U.S. Capitol in Washington D.C. continues. Seattle area Rep. Pramila Jayapal has tested positive for COVID-19 after being exposed to unmasked congressional leaders in the lockdown during last Wednesday’s violence:

United States Representative Pramila Jayapal (WA-07) received a positive COVID-19 test result tonight after being locked down in a secured room at the U.S Capitol where numerous Republican lawmakers recklessly refused to wear masks in the moments after the January 6 attack. Dr. Brian Monahan, the Attending Physician of the United States Congress, advised representatives and Congressional staff on Sunday that those in the secured room could have, “been exposed to another occupant with coronavirus infection.” The duration in the room was multiple hours and several Republicans not only cruelly refused to wear a mask but mocked colleagues and staff who offered them one.

“While I am isolating per the Capitol Physician’s instructions, I will continue to work to the best of my ability because the deep urgency of our many crises is paramount,” Jaypal said in an update on her situation. “I share the outrage and anger of those across America who have watched Trump fail to combat this raging pandemic and refuse to take care of Americans who are suffering, dying, and devastated.”

Jayapal, 55, has served as U.S. Representative for Washington’s 7th congressional district since 2017. She cruised to easy victory in her race for reelection in 2020.

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Capitol Hill Community Post | Application Opens for $2.17 Million in Direct Cash Assistance for Hospitality Workers Impacted by COVID-19

From the City of Seattle

Today, Mayor Jenny A. Durkan announced that $2.17 million in direct cash assistance is now available for hospitality workers who live and work in Seattle who have lost jobs or income due to COVID-19. People in need of assistance can visit this website to learn if they qualify and apply for resources. This funding is part of the Mayor and City Council’s December announcement to provide up to $5 million in new financial assistance for small businesses and hospitality industry workers impacted by the most recent COVID-19 restrictions. More than 1 million people have collected unemployment benefits in Washington state since the pandemic began. In Seattle alone, more than 600 restaurants and bars have been forced to close for good due to the pandemic.

“Across the country and Washington state, so many people have lost their jobs and had their livelihoods profoundly disrupted – more than 1 million people have collected unemployment benefits in Washington state since the pandemic began. In Seattle alone, our most loved small businesses have been forced to close their doors for good, including more than 600 restaurants and bars,” said Mayor Durkan. “These emergency grants are intended to provide a lifeline to hospitality workers most recently impacted. While these grants are a necessary aid, ultimately, Congress must finally pass a COVID-19 worker relief package that actually meets the scale of need in our communities. Every day they fail to act, more small businesses close their doors for good, and more workers lose their jobs.” Continue reading

‘Future phases’ — Washington sets plan for COVID-19 vaccine rollout with ‘high risk’-only phases through April — UPDATE: Mass vaccination sites

There is a high likelihood that you — a typical CHS reader — will not receive your first COVID-19 vaccination until May at the earliest, according to new guidance from the Washington State Department of Health.

Most Washingtonians — and most of you — fall into a “future phases” plan to come currently slated to run from May through at least December 2021.

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

The newly announced vaccination plan includes the first details from state officials about how it will administrate the process beyond the highly controlled environments of major health providers and care facilities where the first vaccinations were delivered to workers and residents to end 2020. This first vaccination phase — dubbed “phase 1A” by the state, is currently underway and the state says the next phases won’t begin until later this month. Continue reading

‘I will not open in Seattle again’ — Why Capitol Hill’s The Wandering Goose really closed

Earnhardt at the Goose’s 2012 debut (Image: CHS)

News that Capitol Hill bakery and cafe The Wandering Goose was closing permanently hit hard around the neighborhood and the city.

The 15th Ave E favorite’s biscuits and generous slabs of cake were a comfort and a popular neighborhood stop even through the challenges of COVID-19.

As the state is putting a new phased plan in place for reopening the economy after the latest virus lockdowns, owner Heather Earnhardt tells CHS the city needs to do more to support small businesses like the Goose.

“Our local politicians let us down honestly,” Earnhardt tells CHS. “It was impossible to acquire any funding or grants (not for lack of applying mind you) and the fact that we made it 10 months on our own doing only to-go is something I’m proud of.”

Earnhardt says that she and co-owner Mike McConnell, the founder and former owner of Caffe Vita, along with managing partner Alexandria Ladich did what they could to keep the business open through the various lockdowns and phases put in place to try to slow the spread of the virus. Continue reading

Reopening Seattle: Inslee rolls out Washington’s new plan for loosening restrictions on businesses, sporting events, fitness, and gatherings, region by region — UPDATE

Calling it “a new way to move the state forward economically” while controlling the pandemic, Gov. Jay Inslee announced a plan Tuesday for reopening the state after the latest rounds of COVID-19 lockdown that will return Washington to a phased approach for allowing things like in-person service at restaurants, fitness activities, and limited attendance at sporting events.

Starting with two phases and with additional phases to be added, Inslee said reopening the state will again be based on a set of metrics including the latest trends for new cases and area hospital readiness. But unlike the summer’s phased, county by county reopening, Seattle and the state’s cities will have their fates tied to a new regional approach.

Seattle and King County are part of the Puget Sound region along with Snohomish and Pierce counties.

Inslee said the new regional approach was shaped by the state’s health care systems and the way the virus spreads and that the previous process requiring counties to apply to enter a new phase will be left behind.

“The numbers will tell the tale,” Inslee said.

UPDATE: Seattle Public Schools are also making a plan to get back into motion announcing Tuesday the district will invite pre-K through 1st Graders back for in-person attendance beginning March 1st while the system’s remote learning options remain in place. The full announcement is below.

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Washington extends COVID-19 restrictions as exhausted state and local health systems push on with national vaccine rollout

We have the vaccines — now we just need to get them in people’s arms (Source: CDC vaccination dashboard)

Many of our New Year’s resolutions for a fresh start in 2021 will have to wait.

Wednesday, Gov. Jay Inslee announced the state will extend COVID-19 restrictions on businesses and social gatherings an additional week through January 11th.

The announcement comes amid continued concerns about the high level of spread of the virus and as exhausted state and health care systems struggle to complete the first phases of vaccinations across the nation.

The piecemeal seven-day extension in Washington comes as officials continue to warn of the dangerous, ongoing aftermath of a surge of cases this fall that has filled the state’s hospitals. Even as daily new case totals have slowed, the pace has not been enough to ease the burden. Meanwhile, the relentless percentages continue to play out. In King County, 1.8% of people who are infected die of COVID-19 complications. With daily totals here now bouncing around 300 to 500 a day, there will continue to be days — every day — that bring five to ten new deaths.

So far, 1,082 “deaths due to COVID-19 illness” have been reported in King County. 16 deaths have now been recorded in the Capitol Hill area of the city — but across the three main ZIP codes covering Capitol Hill and the Central District, 11 have come in the lower income, more diverse 98122 ZIP Code.

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After eight years and ‘one million biscuits,’ Capitol Hill’s The Wandering Goose has closed

The Wandering Goose’s 2012 opening (Image: CHS)

15th Ave E Southern flavored bakery The Wandering Goose announced it is closing after eight years of business on Capitol Hill.

“We are heartbroken to share that today we announced to our staff and family that the Wandering Goose would close permanently,” the announcement reads. “After eight years in Seattle and over one million biscuits baked, we want to take this moment to thank all of our extended Goose family and our amazing supportive community.”

The bakery and cafe was created by a team of Capitol Hill food and drink all-stars with baker Heather Earnhardt at the helm in a project backed by Cone and Steiner founder Dani Cone and Caffe Vita founder Mike McConnell. Continue reading