Todayís update includes information about testing for individuals with mild symptoms, additional funding for the 4Culture Cultural Relief Fund, a warning regarding fraudulent unemployment claims, and more.
To help prevent COVID-19 from spreading to family, friends, and the community, Public Health recommends that anyone with symptoms or who has been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19 be tested right away. Previously, due to supply shortages, health officials prioritized testing for people most at risk for severe illness, including healthcare providers and first responders. Now, the Washington State Department of Health has expanded the criteria for who should be tested, and supplies of testing kits and personal protective equipment are increasing. Anyone who is experiencing even mild COVID-like symptoms should isolate themselves away from others and call their healthcare provider. Anyone with two or more of the following symptoms should be evaluated for a test: fever, chills, repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, or loss of taste/smell.
Most testing is conducted through primary care providers. If you need to be tested and donít have a provider who can do the test, please donít delay. Call the King County COVID-19 call center, which is open 7 days a week 8:00 a.m. 7:00 p.m., at 206-477-3977. You can also learn more about COVID-19 testing in King County here and here.
4Culture Cultural Relief Fund
Included in the emergency supplemental budget the King County Council passed on Tuesday was an additional $2 million for 4Cultureís COVID-19 response. This funding will allow the Cultural Relief Fund to continue to accept applicants and extends deadlines for new applicants. Both individuals and groups are eligible, you can learn more here.
Long-Term Care Facilities and COVID-19
Locally and nationally, the biggest outbreaks have been in long-term care facilities, which house and care for more than 12,000 people in King County. To date, more than 300 people living in skilled nursing homes, assisted living facilities and adult family homes have died, a toll that represents more than 60 percent of all COVID-19 related deaths in King County thus far. Advanced age, underlying health conditions and living in close contact between residents and staff combine to put this population at high risk. Public Health efforts have focused on reducing the transmission of COVID-19 in long-term care facilities through infection guidance and testing. In the month of March, there were 748 positive cases of COVID-19. As of earlier this week, that number had dropped to 72 cases thus far in May. This downward trend suggests that a public health partnership with long-term care facilities can have a large impact in reducing the spread of illness. Data about cases and deaths in long-term care facilities is available here.
Beware of Fraudulent Unemployment Claims
Washington has halted unemployment payment for two days after finding $1.6 million in fraudulent claims during the coronavirus pandemic, according to the Seattle Times. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to protect yourself. You can go to https://secure.esd.wa.gov/home/ to log in or create an account and verify your identity to ensure that your social security number isnít associated with an email that isnít yours. If it is, you will need to report the fraud.
Bellevue Chamber Webcast
Although I am not a member of the Bellevue Chamber, I respect their leadership team and have appreciated their webinars throughout this crisis. On Tuesday at 9:30 a.m., they will have a webcast on The State of Need: Education, Childcare, and Human Services. The featured guests will be Senator Lisa Wellman, Representative Tana Senn, and Representative Carolyn Eslick to discuss what comes next for childcare, schools, and programs supporting families in need. You can register here.
King County Case Update
As of today, Seattle Ė King County Public Health was reporting 53 new cases, bringing the total in King County to 7,360. In addition, Public Health reported 2 new deaths, bringing the total in the County to 516.
Stay In. Stay Healthy. Stay Strong.
Pete von Reichbauer
King County Councilmember