Today’s update includes information on the new Face Covering Directive from the King County Public Health Officer, drive in WiFi hotspots in Washington, National Police Week, the transmission rate in King County, and more.
King County Face Covering Directive
Local public health officials in King County announced that beginning Monday, May 18th most residents will be directed to wear face coverings in most public settings. The directive is to wear a face covering at any indoor or outdoor public space where we may be within 6 feet of someone who does not live in our homes. A face covering is not needed if walking outside, exercising or other outdoor activities where you are able to maintain the six-foot distancing guidelines.
Places where individuals are being strongly urged to wear face coverings include:
• Buses, light rail, and other forms of public transportation.
• Grocery stores, pharmacies, corner stores, convenience stores, liquor stores, farmers’ markets, food banks, farm and produce stands, supermarkets, and big box stores that sell groceries.
• Retail stores, pet supply stores, auto supplies and repair shops, hardware and home improvement stores, garden stores that sell supplies for growing food, office supply stores, and home appliance stores.
• Restaurant take-out and food businesses. Employees who prepare, carry out, and deliver food must wear masks.
• Cannabis, tobacco, and vapor shops and stores that sell dietary supplements.
Health officers want to stress that they are asking individuals to wear face coverings, not medical masks. These coverings include fabric face coverings, such as cloth face masks, scarves, and bandanas. It is important to save medical-grade surgical masks and N95 respirators for healthcare workers and people who have special health needs. Some people do not need to follow this directive, including:
• Children ages 2 years and younger. Babies and toddlers under the age of two should never wear cloth face coverings. Children between 2 and 12 should only wear a face covering if a parent or caregiver supervises to make sure it’s worn safely.
• Anyone with a disability that makes it hard for them to wear or remove a face covering.
• Anyone who is deaf and moves their face and mouth to communicate.
• Anyone who has been advised by a medical professional to not wear a face covering because of personal health issues.
• Anyone who has trouble breathing, is unconscious, or unable to remove the face covering without help.
Individuals are strongly urged to comply with this directive. There is no criminal, civil or financial penalty for failing to wear a face covering in these settings. Businesses and individuals must continue to follow all existing COVID-19 orders from the Local Health Officer, Governor, or other local, state, or federal regulatory agencies, and any other relevant local, state, or federal civil rights laws. In addition, businesses are required to post signage advising individuals to wear face coverings on the premises. Businesses can download a sign that can be used for this purpose here.
King County Council Passes COVID-19 Relief
Yesterday, the King County Council passed an emergency supplemental budget in response to the coronavirus pandemic. I am pleased the Council took action to respond to this evolving emergency. The measure will help get funds into the hands of local small job-producing businesses, arts and culture organizations and more to support our region’s economic recovery. You can read more about it here.
Masks Coverings on King County Metro
You can check out the Metro Matters Blog for more information on how King County Metro will implement the new face cover directive, procure masks for drivers and riders, and a list of FAQs regarding this new policy.
National Police Week
This week is National Police Week, and I would like to recognize the courageous service and sacrifices made by police and law enforcement officers across our country and county. Police officers are on the frontlines in the response to the COVID-19 crisis, be sure to thank them for their service this week and every week as they work to keep our communities safe.
Photo taken prior to COVID-19 crisis
Governor Inslee Announces Contact Tracing Plans
Yesterday, Governor Inslee outlined his plan for enhanced contact tracing to continue to limit the spread of COVID-19. The state has employed nearly 1,400 personnel who will be responsible for contacting anyone who tests positive for COVID-19 to find out where they have been and who else they could’ve potentially contacted. The tracer will then be responsible for contacting anyone who may have come in contact with the infected party asking them to self-quarantine until they are able to be tested. You can read the Seattle Times for more information.
More Than 300 Drive-In WiFi Hotspots Coming Online in Washington
The Washington State Broadband Office estimates over 300 new drive-in Wi-Fi hotspots are coming online statewide through an initiative to bring free public broadband internet access to all residents. To date, 140 of the new drive-in hotspots are operational, in addition to 301 existing Washington State Library hotspots identified across the state. Approximately 600 public hotspots will soon be available to keep Washington communities connected. For complete information and a map of locations, visit www.driveinwifi.wa.gov. The map will be updated as more sites come online.
COVID-19 Infographics Available
The state has produced a kit of infographics on everything from what is COVID-19 to proper social distancing to how you can help your community. They are all available for download in multiple languages here.
Study Shows COVID-19 Transmission Rate Rising Across King County
After dropping throughout March and into early April, the transmission rate of COVID-19 is no longer falling and could be rising again in western Washington, according to the latest report from the Institute of Disease Modeling in Bellevue. If the transmission rate remains above 1.0, new cases in the County will either plateau or begin increasing again.
King County Case Update
As of today, Seattle – King County Public Health was reporting 42 new cases, bringing the total in King County to 7,221. In addition, Public Health reported 3 new deaths, bringing the total in the County to 514.
The Casinos are now offering curbside pickup. Call ahead and they come out and take your money right from your car.
Paraprosdokians are figures of speech in which the latter part of a sentence or phrase is surprising or unexpected, usually in a humorous way. In fact, Sir Winston Churchill loved them. I am including some of these figures of speech in my updates, so we can all keep our minds sharp, and hopefully find some humor as well.
Stay In. Stay Healthy. Stay Strong.
Pete von Reichbauer
King County Councilmember