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Covid Vaccine News and One Year of Covid; West Seattle Bridge, March 5th ; First Avenue South Bridge Closures; Sound Transit Realignment; 2021 Property taxes; Seattle Children’s Investigators Invite Public Participation; King County Metro Survey; South Park Library Launches Curbside Service; Working with Seniors at Alaska House

Covid Vaccine News: Additional Vaccine Providers in West Seattle, Vaccines for Veterans; Mass Vaccine Site Opens in West Seattle; More Vaccine On the Way; School Staff, Teachers, and Childcare Workers Now Eligible; and One Year of Covid

There were a lot of announcements about Covid vaccination this week.  Here’s a rundown of the most important information for District 1 residents.  As a reminder:

  • WA COVID Vaccine Finder (covidwa.com) is a volunteer-run website that compilates vaccine providers and availability in one location. Multiple people have recommended this website as a good place to search for vaccine.
  • The City of Seattle has a vaccine webpage and weekly vaccine newsletter at seattle.gov/vaccine.

Additional Vaccine Providers on the West Seattle Peninsula:  This morning, I received a response to my inquiry to the state Department of Health as to why the state’s Vaccine Locator website shows only one approved vaccine provider on the West Seattle peninsula.  The surprising answer is that the state website is incorrect.  In fact, there are eleven approved vaccine providers on the peninsula – I’ve included the full list below.  Some of these providers are only vaccinating their own patients (such as Swedish), and some have yet to receive a single dose of vaccine (such as Bartell’s).  And lack of vaccine supply continues to the most important constraint on accessing vaccine.  However, I think it’s important that you have all the information available about vaccine providers.

In addition, Sea Mar clinics in South Park and White Center continue to be an option for District 1 residents.  Find more information here.

I will continue my advocacy with the state to correct their website and distribute additional vaccine to West Seattle.

All Veterans Eligible for Vaccine from VA:  Veterans of any age enrolled in the VA system can schedule a vaccine appointment through the VA.  Veterans are not bound by the tiered eligibility system established by the state Department of Health.  The VA Puget Sound Health Care Systems website includes this guidance:

All ages of Veterans are being actively scheduled now for the vaccine. No matter which VA care site you get your vaccine at, you must have an appointment.  It is important to understand that we need to vaccinate the most vulnerable Veterans first, which means even though we are now able to offer all eligible Veterans the vaccines, if you are healthy and younger, you may be scheduled further out.

Eligible Veterans can call (206) 716-5716 to schedule, or contact your primary care team.

Mass Vaccine Site Launches in West Seattle:  On Monday, the City announced the launch of two City-run mass vaccination sites, at SW Athletic Complex in West Seattle (2801 SW Thistle Street) and the Atlantic Boat Ramp in Rainier Beach.  These sites are already up and running, and will continue to offer City-run, free Covid testing as well as vaccination.  Between the two sites, the City initially expects to provide 2,000 doses per week, administered by Seattle Fire Department.

Initially, appointments for vaccine at these sites are only available through referral from community-based organizations, faith-based organizations, and health care providers. They focus on vaccine-eligible people who are 65 and older who live in areas of West and South Seattle most impacted by COVID-19 cases. Due to limited supply, walk-ins cannot be accommodated.

The City currently receives about 2,500 vaccines per week.  That number is expected to increase steadily, but in the next weeks, most people still will not be able to receive vaccine from the City.  Eventually, when vaccine supply improves in the coming weeks and months, the City plans to administer 1,000 shots every day at the West Seattle site.  I will continue to update you about this site via this newsletter, including when appointments become available to the vaccine-eligible general public.  You can also subscribe to the City’s weekly vaccine newsletter here: www.seattle.gov/vaccine.

I appreciate that the chosen locations for these mass vaccine sites serve the goals of Council’s Resolution on Vaccine Equity.  West Seattle, South Park, and Rainier Valley have the 2nd highest rate of Covid deaths in the County.  Yet our seniors aged 75+ have fallen significantly behind those in other parts of the county in accessing vaccine.  Only 53% have received a first dose, compared to 68% county-wide.  This site should help District 1 residents catch up.

Mass Vaccine Site Announced for Lumen Field Event Center:  The City also announced that they will open a large mass vaccine site at Lumen Field in mid-March, in a partnership with Swedish Medical Center.  With current vaccine supply, the Lumen vaccine site will initially administer approximately 5,000 first doses over two days a week. At peak operations, and vaccine supply permitting, the mass vaccination site could administer 21,000 vaccinations each day or 150,000 vaccinations every week to the entire region.

Initially, appointments will be prioritized for community-based organizations serving BIPOC communities, older adults, and immigrants and refugees, but vaccine-eligible members of the public will be able to register for a vaccination at this site.  Registration methods and an opening date have not yet been announced. 

City of Seattle Mobile Vaccine Efforts:  The City of Seattle is also continuing to partner with both Swedish and UW Medicine Mobile Vaccination Teams, which have the capacity to vaccinate hundreds of the most vulnerable and high-risk residents daily.  The mobile teams are prioritizing elders in low-income housing across the City as well as community vaccination events in areas with low vaccination rates. The mobile teams meet communities where they’re at, lowering transportation and logistical barriers.  Since launching its vaccination effort on January 14, the City of Seattle has:

  • administered 10,054 vaccinations to eligible Seattleites
  • provided 8,665 vulnerable Seattleites the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine
  • Provided 1,389 Seattleites the second dose of the vaccine

City vaccinations have occurred at:

  • 86 Adult Family Homes
  • 42 affordable housing buildings with seniors
  • 8 pop-up clinics
  • 3 community clinic pilots.

Roughly 70 percent of those vaccinated by the City identify as from BIPOC communities.

Teachers, School Staff, and Childcare Workers Now Eligible for Vaccine:  You probably heard the Biden administration announce on Tuesday that teachers are now eligible to receive vaccine.  Here are President Biden’s remarks during the announcement:

Over 30 states have already taken step to prior- –prioritize educators for vaccination.  And today, I’m using the full authority of the federal government.  I’m directing every state to do the same.  My challenge to all states, territories, and the District of Columbia is this: We want every educator, school staff member, childcare worker to receive at least one shot by the end of the month of March.

To help make this happen, starting next week and for a month — the month of March, we will be using our federal pharmacy program to prioritize the vaccination of pre-K through 12 educators and staff and child-care workers.  Throughout March, they will be able to prioritize the vaccination of pre-K-through-12 educators and staff and childcare workers.  Throughout March, they will be able to sign up for an appointment at a pharmacy near them.

The Washington State Department of Health, which is responsible for administering and directing the vaccination rollout here, released this statement in response:

DOH is working quickly to get clarity from the Biden Administration to ensure roll-out in our state will result in ample vaccine supply through various providers and equitable access for education and childcare workers. Vaccine supply will likely primarily be delivered through the federal pharmacy program, and the directive indicates all vaccine providers should prioritize these workers.

DOH remains committed to continued vaccination for older adults and others who are currently prioritized for vaccinations under the current plan. DOH also remains committed to vaccinating all Washingtonians as quickly and equitably as possible.

DOH acknowledges these announcements may cause a mix of excitement, concern, and confusion for different communities. The department will share more information in the days ahead as DOH learns more from our federal partners.

What does this mean for folks who are vaccine-eligible and still working on securing your first dose?  That’s the big question, and we’re still waiting for more clarity from both the federal and state governments.  The state Department of Health has shared some additional advice via social media:

You can find information about the federal pharmacy partnership here; in Washington, it includes Albertsons, Costco, Health Mart, Rite Aid, Kroger, and Walmart.  And of course, keep monitoring the news.

New Eligibility Timeline:  On Thursday afternoon, Governor Inslee announced new tiers of vaccine eligibility and a projected timeline.  Assuming that vaccine supply is sufficient, this short video shows the plan:

Vaccine Supply Gets a Significant Boost:  In that same statement, President Biden also announced a new vaccine production partnership that will result in sufficient vaccine supply to vaccinate every American adult by the end of May.

And today, we’re announcing a major step forward:…  Johnson & Johnson and Merck will work together to expand the production of Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine.  This is the type of collaboration between companies we saw in World War Two.

We also invoked the Defense Production Act to equip two Merck facilities to the standards necessary to safely manufacture the J&J vaccine.  And with the urging and assistance of my administration, Johnson & Johnson is also taking additional new actions to safely accelerate vaccine production.  Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine manufacturing facilities will now begin to operate 24/7. 

In addition, we’ll continue to use the Defense Production Act to expedite critical materials in vaccine production, such as equipment, machinery, and supplies.  I’ve also asked the Department of Defense to provide daily logistical support to strengthen Johnson & Johnson’s efforts… 

Here’s what all this means: We’re now on track to have enough vaccine supply for every adult in America by the end of May.

Again, details are still unclear about how quickly this increased supply will be felt locally, and how the federal government will distribute the extra vaccine doses.  And it will likely take some time for those final doses to leave the manufacturing line and find their way into the arms of recipients – so vaccinations will likely continue well beyond May.  However, this is an indication that increased vaccine supply is on its way, which will mean…

  • All vaccine-eligible Seattle residents will be able to get vaccinated.
  • The City will be able to open up mass vaccine site appointments to the vaccine-eligible general public.
  • The State will be able to open up vaccination to more tiers of eligibility.

One Year of Covid:  On Monday, Seattle City Council passed a proclamation honoring members of our community who have lost their lives to Covid.  The proclamation for COVID Memorial Day marked the 500,000-plus people nationwide lost to COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic, and remembered the local community members who passed away from, or battled and suffered from, COVID-19.  Linda and Alexander Oliver, who lost their daughter, Marian Jude Oliver, to COVID-19 accepted the proclamation.  I issued this statement:

The battle against Covid in the United States started here in our region.  Though we have lost too many to this pandemic, the sustained and dedicated efforts to practice public health measures has resulted in our being hit less hard than other parts of the country.  We must remember the lives lost and recognize the friends and family members who mourn them.

Since the start of the pandemic, more than 1,300 individuals in King County have lost their lives due to COVID-19. This week, Washington surpassed 5,000 COVID-19 deaths, a year after the first COVID-19 death was experienced in America, right here in the Puget Sound region.

West Seattle Bridge March 5th

SDOT reached a 30% design level for a bridge repair in February, as they committed to earlier. SDOT is planning to initiate the contracting process in March to bring a General Contractor/Construction Manager on board. In doing so, the team can work collaboratively with SDOT through the final design and construction phases to address potential constructability and schedule issues early; this approach can save time.

The preliminary design and contracting stages of the project are critical to managing schedule and cost risk. This relies on several  distinct review steps necessary to maintain eligibility for Federal and State funding.  The federal and state jurisdictions are involved in this review because, while  the bridge is an essential transportation connection for everyone in West Seattle and the Duwamish Valley, it is also a critical piece of regional infrastructure. The City has already successfully secured nearly $15M in Federal funds for the project, and in the last couple months SDOT has been working on this required review to ensure funding partner requirements are satisfied.

While SDOT and the Technical Advisory Panel convened last year agree that the engineering is straightforward, the details of how repairs are designed and constructed are critical to the success and longevity of repairs. This is why getting to the 30% design of the repair benchmark has taken the time that it has.  For example, the recent snowfall gave the project engineers an opportunity to see how the bridge responded to increased loads, and the stabilized bridge continues to perform as expected. SDOT is taking each of these data points into consideration as the design proceeds to make sure repairs are resilient.

My conversations with SDOT’s Director reinforce for me that everyone in the department is acting with urgency to restore the transportation connection.

You may recall that last year the Council voted to approve an interfund loan to pay for the repair and $70 million in bond financing to repay the loan.  This week, the City Council Finance and Housing Committee adopted an amendment to a bill that clarifies the use of tax-exempt bonds to repay the interfund loan for work on the West Seattle Bridge and related projects. This allows the City to use the lowest cost financing available for that project. The Department of Finance and Administrative Services estimates this will result in interest savings of approximately $5 million (between $200,000 and $300,000 annually for 20 years) compared to taxable bonds.

Thanks to Chair Mosqueda for bringing this forward.

Here are recent traffic data:

The West Seattle Bridge Community Task Force will be meeting on Wednesday March 10 at noon.  Some of you have mentioned that you would like more information about these meetings so that you can participate; here is the YouTube link where the meeting will be broadcast live: https://youtu.be/PXt27ebyJ20.

First Avenue South Bridge Southbound Closures/Lower Bridge Access During Closures

WSDOT’s work on the southbound lanes of First Avenue South Bridge to repair breading pads and streel beams will begin on Friday, March 5th.

SDOT has provided a travel advisory noting all southbound lanes will be closed from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. on the nights of Friday, March 5 and Saturday, March 6.

Two of the four southbound lanes will be closed from noon on Wednesday, March 10 to noon on Monday, March 15.

All southbound lanes will be closed from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. on the nights of Sunday, March 14 to Monday, March 15.

During the overnight closures on the evenings of March 5, 6, 14 and 15, SDOT announced the Spokane Street (lower) bridge will be open to all vehicles from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m., an extra hour in the morning beyond the usual 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. time.

Last month I asked SDOT to consider authorizing additional access to the lower bridge during this time, given the announcement of the delay in opening Terminal 5 could allow for additional users during the closure. I appreciate SDOT expanding general access for an hour during these closures.

SDOT continues to examine potential expansion of access the lower bridge, while ensuring emergency, transit and freight access. They have noted they are considering expanded access for businesses, new user groups such as patients seeking lifesaving treatments, and expanding outreach to better understand community needs (e.g. tribal members, rideshare, seniors).

SDOT is still considering adding capacity on weekend hours.  The have said:

“We have not made a final determination on expanding the weekend hours on the low bridge to the general public.  Since automated enforcement began on January 11, we have been collecting and analyzing the traffic data as well as compiling community input about needs for low bridge access. It’s important for us to lead with equity in making changes to the low bridge policy, while at the same time maintaining access for emergency vehicles, public transit, and freight.

Yes, the data shows that traffic volumes are lower in the early mornings on Saturday and Sunday, which could mean an expansion of weekend hours. We’re actively working through exactly what times we could expand weekend access. If we expand the hours, we will ensure that the bridge remains clear for our prioritized groups of emergency vehicles, public transit, and freight.

 When we do have that decision, we will make a recommendation to SDOT leadership and to the Community Task Force before implementing the changes.”

There will be no impacts from the 1st Avenue Bridge closure to the northbound lanes of the 1st Avenue South Bridge.

The original lane restrictions were projected to be longer; I appreciate WSDOT’s work to limit the duration of the work.

Sound Transit Realignment Discussion

Last week the Sound Transit Board heard an update about ongoing work regarding potential program realignment. The update includes potential federal, state and local funding sources to address the affordability gap.

The Board heard “illustrative scenarios” for addressing revenue shortfalls. Sound Transit Staff emphasized they are not proposing or endorsing any of the proposals, but that they are presenting scenarios to show tradeoffs, in the event no new revenue is attained, and if different amounts of funding are attained.

Scenarios included examining ridership, equity, completing the “spine,” and potential phasing.

One of the “illustrative scenarios” includes phasing projects, with the West Seattle line first being built only to Delridge (and to Smith Cove for the Ballard line) copied below.

Under this scenario, there would be a 2 year delay to the 2030 baseline, in getting to Delridge, and an additional 2 year delay getting to the Junction. The years could be different if additional federal funding is attained. This is just one of a number of examples.

An additional update on this work is expected in April.

2021 Property Taxes

The King County Assessor recently provided an update about property taxes in King County. The update includes a spreadsheet showing the changes by city.

For Seattle, it shows the property tax paid on the median home is down 1.45%, from $6,368.30 in 2020 to $6,275 in 2021.

From 2020 to 2021, the median assessed value of a home went down from $690,000 to $674,000.

Property taxes go to the state for education, the School District, King County, the City of Seattle, Sound Transit, the Port of Seattle, Emergency Medical Services, and other smaller government entities.

Property tax exemptions and deferrals are available for seniors and disabled persons with income less than 65% of the median household  which is $58,423 in King County. This King County Assessor’s page has more information about eligibility. The page also includes information about eligibility based on homeowners improvements, and storm and flood damage.

You can apply online or visit TaxRelief.KingCounty.gov any time. For more information, or assistance with your online application, you can e-mail exemptions.assessments@kingcounty.gov or call 206-296-3920.

Here’s the Assessor’s webpage link about how to appeal the assessed value of a property. The page notes “2021 Official Property Value Notice Cards for all properties in King County will be mailed from the Department of Assessments between May 2021 and November 2021.  If you wish to file an appeal on the 2021 assessed value of your property, you must do so within 60 days of the mailing date printed on your Official Property Value Notice Card.”

Seattle Children’s Investigators Invite Public Participation

In the wake of Dr. Ben Danielson’s resignation as medical director of Odessa Brown Children’s Clinic (reported here), Seattle Children’s is undergoing an assessment of policies and practices related to race, equity, diversity and inclusion that impact patients, families and members of its workforce. The outside firm leading this assessment, Covington & Burling, is inviting anyone with relevant experiences with Seattle Children’s to share that information.

The outside assessor will use what they learn to produce findings and recommendations and present them to the Board of Trustees, which will provide a report to the public at the end of the process.  Learn more here.

If you have information to share, here are ways to contact the outside firm leading the assessment:

Email: SCHAssessment@cov.com

Telephone voicemail: (202) 662-6947

Physical Mail: Seattle Children’s Assessment Committee, c/o Covington & Burling LLP, 1999 Avenue of the Stars, 35th Floor, Los Angeles, CA 90067

King County Metro Service Restoration Survey Open Through March 8

As we transition through COVID-19 recovery phases, King County Metro is making plans to gradually restore suspended service where it is most needed. They are seeking community feedback about this through a short survey.

Responses are due by the end of the day on March 8. Surveys are also available in additional languages:

South Park Library Launches Curbside Service

The South Park Library Branch at 8604 Eighth Ave. S. is opening for weekend curbside services starting Saturday, March 6. Hours are noon – 6 p.m., Saturdays and Sundays. Learn about curbside services, hours and locations at spl.org/Curbside.

Working with Seniors at Alaska House

Alaska House is an apartment complex in the heart of the Junction that provides housing to low-income seniors and people with disabilities. The building is supported by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), but it is privately owned and operated. Last fall residents and staff from the West Seattle Senior Center contacted me to tell me that the property owners were proposing disruptive, cosmetic renovations which would have displaced residents to a hotel for several weeks in January.

I reached out to the redevelopment contractor in December after receiving an email from a constituent residing there who was fearful of health and safety impacts possibly resulting from a non-emergency renovation being conducted at the height of the pandemic. While HUD-supported properties are subject to strict relocation guidelines – such as in cases where renovations require the tenants to move out, the property owners are obligated to pay a per diem that can be used to pay for lodging – there unfortunately are no regulations specifically limiting renovations proposed during a public health emergency.

In order to help make sure the tenants fully understood their rights and felt supported, I reached out to the Tenants Union and Be:Seattle to assist tenants in understanding their rights and to prevent displacement. They have been in contact and assisting the residents with communicating with the renovation team and building management.

I have supported the tenants’ request that the renovation be postponed until the end of the public health emergency.  While initially scheduled for January, the renovations have now been delayed to April.  I believe, given where we are in a public health emergency, and that so many seniors still haven’t been vaccinated, that an April renovation date is still much too soon.

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