News from and about King County… from health updates to community news affecting our daily lives.
Today’s update includes news about Veterans Day, an update to King County’s secure medicine return program, the end of some U.S. travel restrictions, severe weather safety tips, the reopening of the Point Defiance rail bypass, the start of the SR-509 Completion Project, health updates and more.
This Colonel in the United States Air Force and longtime resident of South King County received the Medal of Honor for his heroism during the Vietnam War. Who is he?
(Answer is at the bottom).
Happy Veterans Day!
I would like to thank all those who have served, and continue to serve, as members of our military services. We must never forget the sacrifices the men and women of our military have made for our freedom. As someone who served our country in the U.S. Army, I feel a responsibility to continue fighting for our veterans. Many returning service members face hardships after sacrificing so much on behalf of our country and I have been, and always will be, an advocate for the brave service members in our communities who have served our great nation.
The King County Veterans Program works with partners across the region to provide financial, housing, employment and other supportive services to veterans, service members and their families throughout King County. For more information on the many resources offered to our veterans and their families, click here.
Serving in the U.S. military was an opportunity to work with the most unselfish people I’ve ever met in my life
King County Secure Medicine Return Program Update
The Secure Medicine Program is moving! Starting November 21, King County’s secure medicine return program will transfer to the Washington State Department of Health. Visit www.med-project.org for more information or to find a disposal kiosk near you.
U.S. Travel Restrictions Lifted
This past Monday, the U.S. began accepting non-essential travelers at airports and land borders, provided they are fully vaccinated. The U.S. lifted restrictions on travel from many countries, including Mexico, Canada, and most of Europe after more than a year due to COVID-19. The new rules allow air travel from previously restricted countries, so long as the traveler has proof of vaccination and a negative COVID-19 test. Land travel from Mexico and Canada will require proof of vaccination but no test. Read more here.
Weather Safety Tips
Rain and strong winds are a regular part of living in Western Washington. With more severe rain and storms expected in the coming weeks, it is important to be ready when the next big storm hits. Here are some tips to make sure you and your family are prepared:
• Keep your emergency kits handy
• Know which natural gas appliances will continue to operate if there is an outage
• Keep track of the storm as it develops
• If there is an outage, use flashlights instead of candles, keep your freezer and refrigerator doors closed, and wear warm clothes in layers.
For more information regarding storm safety, click here.
Amtrak service to resume along Point Defiance bypass
Amtrak Cascades service will resume on the Point Defiance bypass on November 18. Use of the bypass is resuming after the addition of safety measures and the implementation of most of the National Transportation Safety Boards recommendations following the 2017 derailment. Key among the safety improvements is the installment of activated positive train control, which uses GPS technology to stop or slow down a train before a collision or derailment. The full story by The Seattle Times is available here.
SR-509 Completion Project begins
Construction is now underway to complete the unfinished portion of State Route 509 in South King County, adding 3 miles of new highway that will connect SR-509 to I-5. The SR-509 Completion Project builds a new four-lane expressway between I-5 and SR-509’s current end near Sea-Tac International Airport, builds new I-5 ramps, improves I-5 interchanges in South King County and constructs new bridges. Drivers on I-5 can expect southbound lanes of I-5 in the vicinity of the SR-516 interchange in Kent to shift towards the median as crews begin work to widen the I-5 bridge over SR-516. Read more about the project here.
Weekly King County Health Updates
Children 5-11 years eligible for COVID-19 vaccination
King County children ages 5 to 11 years are eligible for the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccination. Health officials and scientists emphasize getting vaccinated can prevent infections, severe disease complications, hospitalization, disruptions to school and activities, and transmission to vulnerable family members. Research also shows the vaccine offers stronger protection than natural immunity alone. The Pfizer pediatric vaccine is a two-dose series, given three weeks apart and is a smaller dosage. A good first step is talking with your child’s pediatrician or health care provider. Find updated information at VaccinateWA.org/kids, King County and vaccine locator.
Daylight saving time and your health
Washington and 18 other states are advocating for permanent daylight-saving time saying the twice-yearly time shifts, especially in the spring, negatively impact our health and safety. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) also supports eliminating seasonal time changes which cause sleep disturbances and increased risk of stroke, heart attack, obesity, depression, accidents, and impaired mental decisions. In contrast to state legislation, the AASM is in favor of permanent standard time because it is less disruptive to our internal body clock, health, and safety. For now, Washingtonians can follow these tips to better adjust as they continue “falling back” and “springing ahead”.
King County COVID-19 Case Update
Today, Seattle – King County Public Health reported 506 new positive cases, bringing the total in King County to 168,321. In addition, Public Health reported 2 new deaths, bringing the total in the county to 2,047.
Recent data may be incomplete. For more information, visit the King County COVID Daily Summary Dashboard here.
Vaccine Locator: To find COVID-19 vaccine appointments, visit Vaccine Locator.
For King County residents: Register here to schedule your appointment at one of the high-volume vaccination sites in Auburn and Kent.
For in-home vaccination: Call King County COVID-19 Call Center at 206-477-3977.
Register by phone: Call King County COVID-19 Call Center at 206-477-3977 or Washington COVID-19 Assistance Hotline at 1-800-525-0127, then press #.
For veterans: Call 206-716-5716 or visit www.va.gov/health-care/covid-19-vaccine.
For more information, visit Getting vaccinated in King County.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255 or Text TALK to 741-741
Stay Healthy. Stay Strong.
Pete von Reichbauer
King County Councilmember
Washington trivia answer:
Joe M. Jackson was born March 14, 1923, in Newnan, Georgia. Jackson entered the United States Army Air Corps in March 1941, wanting to become an airplane engine mechanic. Once in the Air Force, he expanded his aspirations and became a pilot. He served 17 years in fighters, three years in reconnaissance planes, and one year flying transport aircraft in Vietnam.
On 12 May 1968, he volunteered for a dangerous impromptu rescue of three remaining Air Force members trapped at an overrun Army Special Forces camp. While the camp was still under heavy enemy fire from North Vietnamese and Viet Cong troops, he skillfully piloted his C-123 cargo plane and rescued the three men. On January 16, 1969, President Lyndon B. Johnson presented Jackson with the Medal of Honor at a White House ceremony.
After 33 years in the United States Air Force, Colonel Jackson retired from the military. He relocated to Kent, Washington, working at Boeing to develop maintenance training programs until 1985. Over the years he participated in many veterans and Medal of Honor events, and was recognized on national television for his 18 years of church service. A Boeing-produced C-17A Globemaster III was named after him on September 7, 2006, as the "The Spirit of Col. Joe M. Jackson." A bridge in Kent, over the Green River, was named the Joe Jackson Bridge and in Georgia a section of also highway carries his name. Joe M. Jackson died at the age of 95 on January 13, 2019, just days before the 50th anniversary of his receipt of the Medal of Honor.
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