News from and about King County… from COVID-19 updates to community news affecting our daily lives.
Today’s update includes information on a Federal Way resident appointed to the King County District Court, King County Metro’s installation of mask dispensers on buses, the State Auditor’s announcement on third-party cyber security breach, Unemployment fraud victims receiving surprise tax forms, TSA’s latest announcement on mask requirements, an upcoming road closure, and more.
How did SeaTac get its name?
(Answer is at the bottom).
Federal Way Resident Fa’amomoi Masaniai appointed to King County District Court
I was proud to sponsor his nomination, and enjoyed meeting with our newest King County District Court Judge, Federal Way resident Fa’amomoi Masaniai (Moi), at a local Panera Bread. Moi’s life story is one of determination, from walking onto the WSU football team to pursuing his legal education through the state’s Rule 6 program. I was equally happy that his proud father (Chief Pulesa Masaniai) was able to join us. Congratulations, Moi, on being the first Samoan Judge to serve on the bench of a court in Washington state!
With Judge Moi Masaniai and his father, Chief Pulesa Masaniai
Washington state shifts COVID-19 vaccine strategy to boost access
Washington state is making progress in getting COVID-19 vaccine doses out to eligible people, particularly in hospitals to the most at-risk healthcare workers. Now, health officials are expanding allocation beyond hospitals to help with access. Previously, 70% of all the state’s doses went to hospitals. Now nearly 75% will go to mass vaccination sites, pharmacies, and community clinics. To ensure the general public has increased access to the vaccine, the state will distribute COVID-19 vaccine doses as follows:
• 35% to mass vaccination sites
• 23% to hospitals
• 19% to community health centers
• 19% to pharmacies
• 3% to tribes and Urban Indian Programs
As of this week, more than twice as many people have been vaccinated compared to the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in our state, with 770,000 doses administered in Washington and 300,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19. But, these numbers also prove the challenge our state still faces. While 770,000 doses have been given, that's less than half of the 1.7 million people who are eligible under Phases 1A and 1B Tier 1. Read more in the King 5 article here.
Metro to install mask dispensers on entire bus fleet
King County Metro will install mask dispensers on its entire bus fleet (1,404 coaches) by March 31, 2021 or sooner. Each dispenser will be stocked with double-layer surgical masks from Metro’s supply of one million. Even as mask dispensers are installed on all buses, Metro still urges riders to use their own masks whenever possible. Read more in the Metro Matters blogpost here.
Cases of COVID-19 in nursing homes have steadily fallen since the US rolled out vaccines
The latest government data on COVID-19 cases shows that new infections have steadily dropped in nursing homes since the United States rolled out vaccines. For the week ending December 20th, the US recorded over 32,500 new cases in nursing homes, but that number has dropped every week since, and for the week ended January 17th, the US recorded 17,584 new cases – a drop of more than 45% in four weeks. Read more in the Business Insider article here.
Washington State Auditor’s Office announces cyber security breach
On Monday, February 1st, the Washington State Auditor’s Office (SAO) announced a cyber security incident involving data that may have been stolen from their third-party vendor, Accellion. The data includes personal information from about 1.6 million unemployment claims made in 2020, as well as other information from some state agencies and local governments.
State Auditor Pat McCarthy said that this was an attack on their third-party service provider and the Employment Security Department did not cause this and is not responsible for this incident. SAO is working to mitigate the harm caused by this, including help for people whose personal information is at risk. Read more here.
Unemployment fraud victims getting surprise tax forms
The Employment Security Department (ESD) began sending out 1099 forms last week to those who received money from unemployment during 2020. If you received one in the mail from the Employment Security Department and you did not file for unemployment this year, you may have been a victim of fraud. Most fraud victims who were able to report the problem and get their cases resolved will not get the form. Those with an open fraud investigation may get a form and will get another one when their investigation concludes. But if the case was resolved and you received a form, you need to contact the department. This is a problem that states across the country are dealing with. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) said if you are trying to get a corrected 1099 and Tax Day comes, you do not have to file your taxes with this form but you do have to go through the process to get this corrected. Read more in this King 5 article here. For questions, please contact ESD or IRS.
TSA: Travelers not wearing masks could face fines up to $1,500
Today, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) announced that travelers who refuse to wear a mask could face fines, recommending a $250 fine for a first offense and up to $1,500 for repeat offenders. The agency noted it may seek a fine outside of that range if there's "substantial aggravating or mitigating factors." This comes after the announcement earlier this week that requires individuals to wear a mask at all airport screening checkpoints and throughout commercial and public transportation systems such as airplanes, trains, subways and buses, and extends to waiting areas such as airports, train platforms and subway stations. This is in line with President Joe Biden's executive orders on mask usage and a federal requirement from the CDC.
The CDC mask order exempts children under 2 years of age and people with a disability that makes it unsafe to wear a mask. The CDC said transportation operators can require medical documentation. Read more in the KING 5 article here.
Road Services Update: Patton Bridge repairs begin February 15
Road Services is pleased to report structural repairs to the 70-year-old Patton Bridge on SE Green Valley Road beginning February 15th through April 9th. Flaggers will direct both directions of traffic into one open lane for most of the duration, however the project also requires three full daytime-only closures and six days of around-the-clock full closures. Visit the Patton Bridge Repairs Project website for more information.
Current bridge closure schedule and times:
February 16-17: CLOSED from 7:00 AM to 5:00 PM each day
March 15-18: CLOSED for 24-hours a day, each day
March 23-24: CLOSED for 24-hours a day, each day
April 9: CLOSED from 7:00 AM to 5:00 PM
Election Turnout on the last 10 Presidential Elections
As we have seen record-breaking turnout in the most recent Presidential Election, here is an overview of voter turnout from the last 10 Presidential Elections in King County.
Historical data accounts for total ballots that were counted, but the more recent turnouts were gauged by the number of people who tried to participate despite having signature issues or challenges. This explains why the official turnout for 2020 is actually considered 87%.
Please note data for 1988 is not currently available as Archives does not have digitized records for that election. Physical records for this election are in a box that is inaccessible at the moment due to ongoing renovations to the Archives building.
King County COVID Vaccination Update
As of yesterday, there were 232,518 first dose and 60,743 second dose vaccines administered among King County residents, bringing the total of all administered doses to 293,261. For more information, visit the King County COVID Vaccination Dashboard here.
King County Case Update
Today, Seattle – King County Public Health reported 249 new cases, bringing the total in King County to 78,090. In addition, Public Health reported 13 new deaths, bringing the total in the county to 1,292.
Stay In. Stay Healthy. Stay Strong.
Pete von Reichbauer
King County Councilmember
Washington trivia answer:
The City of SeaTac was named after the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, located midway between present-day Seattle and Tacoma, the center of the Highline (originally “High Line”) ridge separating Puget Sound and the valley of the Duwamish, White, and Green rivers.
Seattle-Tacoma International Airport was developed as a direct response to the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. Military needed limited civilian access to existing airports like Seattle’s Boeing Field and Tacoma’s McChord Field, so the federal Civilian Aviation Authority sought a local government to develop a new regional airport, which the Port of Seattle accepted.
Compiled by Cyndee Navarro of my office.