Welcome to ‘Phase Everybody’ Seattle, where half of you already have at least your first shot

Mariners announcer David Sims gets his second poke (Image: King County Public Health)

Seattle begins “Phase Everybody” opening the gates fully on the state’s COVID-19 vaccination eligibility with half of King County’s adult population having already received at least their first shot.

Thursday, April 15th marks the full opening of eligibility to everybody 16 and older in the state after weeks of metered, phase by phase invitations starting with the most vulnerable and oldest. Testing continues for vaccines safe for those 16 and younger.

The opening adds another 1.6 million adults to the state’s eligible ranks. There are 6.3 million adult Washingtonians. Continue reading

Hurray for the PPP! Here’s a look at which Capitol Hill area restaurants, breweries, bars, design firms, and schools took federal loans to survive the COVID-19 crisis

As Capitol Hill restaurants have stretched into the streets, many have also joined companies across the area to reach out for the federal PPP (Image: Oddfellows)

By Ben Adlin

Oddfellows has watched one hell of a year unfold from its historic building at 10th and Pine. After a record 2019, the pandemic brought an abrupt shutdown in March followed by a takeout-only reopening in May. After the police killing of George Floyd, Seattle’s ensuing Black Lives Matter protests — and the rise and fall of CHOP– unfolded more or less outside the cafe’s door.

Blocks away, at Broadway and Union, Optimism Brewing Company saw sales plummet 75% during the first year of the pandemic, said co-founder Gay Gilmore. “The good news is that things are looking up,” she told CHS: February’s revenue was only about 60% lower than the year before. The company doesn’t anticipate breaking even again until the end of the year.

Both businesses credit their survival, or at least the bulk of it, to loans received through the federal government’s $953 billion Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), meant to help businesses and other organizations continue to pay their workers during the pandemic.

For Oddfellows, “It made all the difference in the world,” said Adam Szafranski, brand manager for the cafe’s parent company. “We would not have been able to stay open without it.”

Very Oddfellows LLC was approved for more than $1.1 million in total PPP loans over the past year, according to public data. “There were a few grants we applied for that were offered by the city and different organizations,” Szafranski said, “but the amounts were minimal compared to the PPP.”

Optimism Brewing LLC, meanwhile, was approved for two loans totaling about $418,000. “Even if you count the PPP Loans as income, we are still down by 40% over the last year,” Gilmore said in an email. “We continue to operate at a loss every month, but if it wasn’t for the PPP we wouldn’t be able to pay our staff and we would most likely be closed.”

All told, the federal government approved more than $284 million to businesses based in Capitol Hill or adjacent neighborhoods from April 2020 through the end of February 2021, according to a database of approved PPP loans published by ProPublica. That amount comprises more than 2,600 loans made across three zip codes—98102, 98112, and 98122—that encompass Capitol Hill and its surroundings, stretching from Eastlake to Mt. Baker.

Heavy Restaurant Group, which operates six area restaurants, including Barrio on Capitol Hill, was approved for more total PPP loan money than any other recipient, at more than $6.9 million between two loans. The company did not respond to a request for comment.

Among the sectors most heavily represented on the list were restaurants and bars, schools, and professional services such as architecture, design, and software programming. A few local property management companies also made the list.

Thanks to the ProPublica PPP database, here’s a roster of the top recipients in the Capitol Hill and Central District area and a look at some of the stories behind the loans. Continue reading

‘This QFC is Closing April 24, 2021’ — Shelves already bare at 15th Ave E grocery slated for shutdown over COVID-19 hazard pay

(Image: CHS)

With just over two weeks until its announced closure, many shelves at Capitol Hill’s 15th Ave E QFC have already been emptied of discounted groceries and booze.

Signs went up this week announcing a clearance sale at the market that had some shoppers filling their carts with champagne though few people are celebrating the end of the store’s run on the street. Hours have also been reduced with the store now open 9 AM to 9 PM daily.

Officials at parent company Kroger say the grocery is still slated to be closed Saturday, April 24th though it is unclear what will be left to sell at that point. CHS reported in mid-February on the Ohio-based company’s decision to shut down two Seattle stores over the city’s COVID-19 hazard pay saying its most expensive locations on Capitol Hill and in the Wedgwood neighborhood needed to go given the rising costs of operations. Continue reading

The PPP of live music and theater, Shuttered Venue Operators Grant program could boost recovery of Capitol Hill clubs and stages

(Image: Neumos)

Capitol Hill’s struggling live music, theater, and performance venues can join thousands of businesses across the country Thursday as the Small Business Administration finally begins accepting Shuttered Venue Operators Grant applications.

SVOG is the PPP of club and theater rescue plans with $16 billion lined up to help venues recover from a year of pandemic shutdowns. The first come, first served grant program is open to live music venues, performance theaters, small movie theaters, and even destinations like museums and aquariums.

CHS reported here on worries about potential losses in Capitol Hill’s live music and performance scenes as venues like Neumos and Chop Suey as well as small theaters struggled through pandemic restrictions. Velocity Dance has already announced the closure of its 12th Ave studio and a search for a new home after 24 years on Capitol Hill.

For applicants, SVOG joins a complicated matrix of federal assistance including PPP and Economic Injury Disaster Loans. The Seattle Office of Economic Development is offering assistance to help the city’s venues weigh options and apply for help. Continue reading

30,000 doses — Biggest COVID vax week ever in Seattle as 4/15 ‘Phase Everybody’ approaches

Vaccinations underway at the Lumen Event Center (Image: City of Seattle)

The “largest allocation the city has received in a single week thus far” of COVID-19 vaccine has arrived in Seattle and the city’s megasite is gearing up to serve thousands of patients:

The City of Seattle and its partners received over 30,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine, which is the largest allocation the City has received in a single week thus far. This week, the Community Vaccination Site at the Lumen Field Event Center will administer its largest single day allocation to-date, and the Community Vaccination Hub in West Seattle will administer the Johnson & Johnson vaccine all week, with a focus on critical workers.

UPDATE: Officials report 7,615 residents received vaccine Wednesday at Lumen.

The increase in supply comes just as demand is set to jump on April 15th when eligibility will be opened to all 6.3 million in the state 16 and older.

Wednesday, the city opened its list for the sites it operates for registration in preparation for the April 15th milestone, allowing those not yet eligible to add their names to the notification process:

WHAT HAPPENS NEXT? Add your name and contact information to this notification list. We will notify you via email when appointments become available. If you’re receiving Moderna or Pfizer, you will schedule your second dose during the process of scheduling your first dose. You should not expect to be notified every week.

“We encourage you to pursue multiple strategies for securing a vaccination appointment,” the city says. Continue reading

Phase everybody: Washington will open COVID-19 vaccine eligibility to all adults starting April 15th

Washington officials are opening the gate on COVID-19 vaccine eligibility for the 6.3 million people in the state 16 and older starting April 15th.

Gov. Jay Inslee announced all the state’s adults will become eligible in two weeks joining a trend across the country of removing complicated phases and moving to get the most people vaccinated as quickly as possible as the spread of the virus has again sped up. CHS reported here on the uptick in King County cases as the state has loosened many restrictions on businesses and social gathering. The county is currently measuring a positive rate of around 149 per 100,000 people — if the rate rises above 200, many restrictions would be rolled back into place.

Inslee’s announcement comes on the day the latest vaccine phase added essential workers including food and drink employees to the rank of those eligible for the vaccines. Washington residents 60 to 64 and those experiencing homelessness that live in or access services at shelters and congregate settings are also now eligible. Continue reading

Capitol Hill’s streets filling with pandemic-era restaurant patios — Will they stay?

Plum’s “greenhouse” seating on 12th Ave

As Washington’s reopening speeds, there are signs that getting “back to normal” too quickly could be part of a new uptick in the spread of the virus. For Capitol Hill’s restaurants lucky enough to have a safe stretch of pavement nearby and the foresight to invest in some creative solutions, street patios have been a business lifeline allowing what officials say is a safer approach to reopening in the food and drink economy.

Across the Pike/Pine nightlife area, CHS found a diversity of designs and solutions in place across the neighborhood. But we also heard the same thing again and again from owners facing the uncertainty of a drawn out pandemic future.

“We would love to have this long term but the special permitting is set to stop in October unless the city changes something,” the folks at Cafe Pettirosso tell us. “We will have this as long as possible, it has helped tremendously.” Continue reading

Uptick in King County positive cases tempers Seattle’s vaccination progress and Phase 3 enthusiasm

Enthusiasm about Seattle’s progress on vaccination and move to a new phase of reopening including more room for sit-down dining after a year of COVID-19 restrictions is being tempered by an uptick in new positive cases in King County.

The health department’s latest tallies show a rise to around 187 new positive cases per day over the past week in King County — up just under 30% over recent levels. Hospitalized cases and deaths that had mostly leveled off after peaking again in winter haven’t yet started to climb but could tail the positive case uptick. Currently, around six people per day are hospitalized with COVID-19 complications and the county is averaging two daily deaths over the past week. 1,456 have died here since the start of the pandemic.

“Even as more opens up, we need to proceed with caution,” King County Public Health Tweeted this week. “We are already seeing an uptick in cases. Wear a mask, keep gatherings small, and stay outdoors when possible.” Continue reading

Death of a Capitol Hill candy shop

(Image: Rocket Fizz)

It is sour news. Rocket Fizz, Capitol Hill’s only candy shop, is dying:

It’s true. Our lease expires March 31 so we’ll turn into a pumpkin (mellowcreme) at the stroke of midnight. We opted not to renew the multi-year agreement at the Hollywood Lofts building.

“We’re grateful for the five years (of mostly) fun and sweet customers. No immediate plans to reopen, in Seattle,” owner Theresa Sindelar adds.

It will not be the sweetest repose. Continue reading

Seattle starts ball rolling on process to sort out spending plan for expected $239M in American Rescue Plan Act funds

A resolution passed by the Seattle City Council Monday spells out our local legislators’ priorities for how to spend an expected $239 million in federal aid for COVID-19 recovery under the American Rescue Plan Act.

The council passed the resolution Monday including nine priorities:

• Vaccines and testing
• Food assistance
• Homelessness and housing services (including rental assistance)
• Immigrant and refugee support
• Child care
• Small businesses, worker assistance, and workforce recovery
• Community wellbeing
• Transportation
• Revenue replacement and financial resilience

“With additional federal funding, we can address the deep needs our community has, including addressing food security, childcare affordability and closures, small business support, and housing and rent relief,” said council Finance and Housing Committee chair Teresa Mosqueda said in a press release on the vote. “The funding decision must address immediate needs as well as long-term equitable economic recovery.” Continue reading