News from and about King County… from COVID-19 updates to community news affecting our daily lives.
Today’s e-news includes information on the expansion of COVID-19 vaccine eligibility to all Washingtonians age 16 and older, announcements from the governor, King County’s new Community Investment Committee, Sound Transit’s OMF-South Draft EIS public comment period deadline, a Link light rail closure, Auburn Symphony Orchestra’s virtual performances, health updates, and more.
A 9-year-old from Tacoma was kidnapped in 1935 and later became president at age 39 of one of the largest companies to settle in South King County. Who was he?
(Answer is at the bottom).
All people in Washington age 16 and older are now eligible for COVID-19 vaccine
As of today, all Washingtonians age 16 and older are now eligible for COVID-19 vaccine. The state Department of Health (DOH) notes that currently, Pfizer-BioNTech is the only COVID-19 vaccine authorized for people age 16 and 17 years, and that they are working to add vaccine type to their Vaccine Locator webpage and mobile app to help simplify the appointment process.
As the state moves into this next phase, about 1.5 million more people are now eligible, in addition to the five million already qualified to get the shot. DOH reminds us that it may be more difficult to find an appointment and asks that we remain patient and know that while we may not get the vaccine today, we will get it soon. Read more here.
Governor Inslee encourages everyone to “Take it outside”
As COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations across the state continue to rise, Washington Department of Health warns that this could represent the beginning of a fourth wave of the coronavirus pandemic. To strengthen our defense against the spread of the virus and in addition to getting vaccinated and wearing a mask, Gov. Jay Inslee encourages everyone to “take it outside” – take every activity you are going to do, outside.
Three counties to rollback to Phase 2
Tomorrow, April 16th, Pierce, Cowlitz, and Whitman counties are rolling back to Phase 2 after failing to meet the metrics to remain in Phase 3 of the state’s reopening plan. Read more here.
Family Emergency Assistance Program
Gov. Jay Inslee issued a proclamation allowing for the expansion of the Family Emergency Assistance Program (FEAP) to assist families both with and without children. The proclamation will expire in 60 days unless extended by the Governor. Read more here.
King County seeks community members to serve on a new Community Investment Committee
King County is seeking residents of the East Federal Way, Skyway/West Hill, North Highline/White Center, East Renton Plateau and Fairwood areas to serve on the new King County Urban Unincorporated Community Investment Committee and lead a participatory budgeting process in each of these communities. The deadline to apply has been extended to Friday, April 16th, at 11:59 p.m. For more information and to apply to serve on this committee, visit https://kingcounty.gov/urbanchoices.
Auburn Symphony Orchestra premieres Antonio Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons
Last week, the Auburn Symphony Orchestra premiered Antonio Vivaldi’s most popular work, The Four Seasons, with violinist Emilie Choi and conductor Wesley Schulz. To view their performance, visit the Auburn Symphony Orchestra’s YouTube page here.
Weekly King County Health Update: Music as medicine
The 17th century poet who penned “music soothes the savage beast” was onto something. In addition to calming stress and anxiety, music has been linked to improved brain function and physical health. Researchers speculate that music organizes the way cells fire in areas of the brain responsible for higher function, thereby improving memory, language skills, and attention in people of all ages. Studies suggest that music can reduce symptoms of depression, prompt memories and foster communication in dementia patients, and improve outcomes in pre-surgical and cardiovascular disease patients. But how? Listening to or playing music is associated with lowering stress hormone levels and increasing levels of hormone that improve mood, decrease pain, and enhance immune function.
People who learn to play an instrument benefit from “younger brains”. A Johns Hopkins article suggests these tips to musically boost your health:
• Be creative – Listen to all types of music to challenge your brain.
• Challenge your memory – Familiar music is often associated with special memories and feelings.
• Pick music that works for you – No one genre or type is best.
Weekly COVID-19 News: Higher risk activities
States in the Midwest and Northeast are experiencing significant increases in severe COVID-19 illness and hospitalizations, mainly in younger people who are not yet vaccinated. The surges are attributed to the increased transmissibility of the variant B1.1.7 and certain activities. Public Health experts stress the importance of getting vaccinated and curtailing activities that may significantly increase your risk of becoming ill until you are fully vaccinated. They consider the following to carry greater risk of COVID-19 exposure:
• Air travel – More travelers from all over the country increases the chances of virus exposure and makes social distancing difficult in the airports.
• Indoor bars and dining – Noisy environments encourage louder talking which increases the amount of virus in the air while you’re eating/drinking.
• Gathering indoors with people from different households – Preventive measures such as wearing a mask and social-distancing can be difficult when together. Experts believe this to be the primary reason for recent surges in youth cases.
While there are no 100% risk-free activities when you’re interacting with people outside your household, public health experts encourage you to reduce your risk by wearing a mask, practicing social-distancing, washing your hands frequently, avoiding crowds, and getting vaccinated if approved by your healthcare provider. Read here for CDC tips.
Sound Transit OMF-South Draft EIS public comment period ends April 19
The public comment period for Sound Transit’s Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Operations and Maintenance Facility South (OMF-South) will end on Monday, April 19th. If you missed the online public meetings and hearings last month, you may watch the recorded presentation to hear an overview of the project and key findings from the Draft EIS. You may still submit your comment through April 19th through the following options:
• Online comment form
• Email OMFSouthDEIS@soundtransit.org or leave a voicemail at 206-257-2135
• By mail: OMF South Project, c/o Hussein Rehmat, Sound Transit, 401 S. Jackson St. Seattle, WA 98104
Link light rail to close this weekend between SODO and UW stations
Link light rail stations from SODO to UW will close tomorrow, April 16th, at 10 PM through Monday, April 19th, at 4 AM. This will be the third of five consecutive weekends Link will be closed to connect the overhead catenary power and train signal systems for East Link to the existing line. Link Shuttle buses will run every 10-15 minutes and make surface stops at the closed stations between SODO and UW stations. Fares will be required for Link but will not be required for the Link Shuttle buses. Read more here.
King County COVID Vaccination Update
As of today, there are 943,658 residents who received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine and 582,791 residents who are fully vaccinated in King County, bringing the total of all administered doses to 1,470,631. For more information, visit the King County COVID Vaccination Dashboard here.
Vaccine Locator: To find COVID-19 vaccine appointments, visit Vaccine Locator.
For eligible South King County residents: Public Health – Seattle and King County has high-volume vaccinations sites in Auburn and Kent. Register here.
Register by phone: Call King County Public Health Call Center at 206-477-3977 or Washington COVID-19 Assistance Hotline at 1-800-525-0127, then press #.
For veterans: Call 1-800-698-2411 and press 8 for COVID information or visit www.va.gov/health-care/covid-19-vaccine.
For more information, visit Getting vaccinated in King County.
King County Case Update
Today, Seattle – King County Public Health reported 441 new positive cases, bringing the total in King County to 92,599. In addition, Public Health reported 2 new deaths, bringing the total in the county to 1,491.
Stay In. Stay Healthy. Stay Strong.
Pete von Reichbauer
King County Councilmember
Washington trivia answer:
George Hunt Weyerhaeuser was nine years old when he was kidnapped in Tacoma in 1935, but later ransomed and survived. At age 39, he became president of the Weyerhaeuser Company. He was responsible for consolidating their headquarters in St. Paul, Minnesota, and Tacoma to Federal Way.
Ironically, Harmon Metz Waley was convicted of the kidnapping but wrote George Weyerhaeuser from prison several letters, apologizing for his actions. In 1963, when Harmon Waley was released, George gave him a job at one of his Oregon plants.
George Weyerhaeuser, David Sabey and I when we celebrated the anniversary of the Weyerhaeuser King County Aquatic Center.
Compiled by Cyndee Navarro of my office.
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