COVID-19 continues to spread in Western Washington. There are currently 58 cases in King County, with 10 deaths. There are a total of 79 cases in Washington State, and 164 nationwide.
City of Auburn Declares State of Emergency
Mayor Nancy Backus made a proclamation of local emergency for Auburn, Washington Thursday, due to the growing public health impacts of the COVID-19 (Coronavirus). This proclamation was made as a proactive measure, due to the ” significantly increasing the risk of exposure and infection to Washington State residents and creating an extreme public health risk.”
Declaring a state of emergency allows the Mayor to exercise emergency powers to utilize government resources should response to the COVID-19 health crisis be necessary. The proclamation of emergency allows these powers to be exercised “without regard to time-consuming procedures and formalities prescribed by State statutes and rules, or by City ordinance.”
Some of these actions include entering into contracts, competitive bidding requirements, the publication of notices related to the performance of public work, the hiring of temporary staff, equipment rental and supply purchasing, and the appropriation and expenditure of funds. A proclamation of emergency also allows the city to request external aide, including from the federal government.
To read the proclamation, visit auburnwa.gov/COVID19.
Both the State of Washington and King County have also declared an emergency.
Auburn Facilities Closed
The closure of several city facilities was announced in a press release. “In an effort to take proactive measures to protect the health and safety of the Auburn community the Auburn Community & Event Center, Auburn Senior Activity Center, REC Center, Auburn Avenue Theater and White River Valley Museum will be closed to the public effective March 6, 2020.”
Private events may continue at the discretion of the customer. “Customers with private rentals at any of these facilities should contact Parks, Arts & Recreation customer service at 253-931-3043,” stated the press release.
In accordance with recommendations from Seattle & King County Public Health for social distancing, City-sponsored events, including the March 12th State of the City, have been postponed until further notice. Check the City’s website regularly for updates to other scheduled events.
The Downtown Auburn Cooperative’s St. Patrick’s Day Pub Crawl has also been canceled.
The next City Council meeting had already been canceled due to a scheduled lack of quorum. The city will make a determination next week regarding future meetings.
Auburn Police Department:
In an effort to reduce the spread of COVID-19, APD is requesting citizens to limit face-to-face contact with officers when possible. “Due to the COVID-19 (Coronavirus), we are making attempts to limit face to face contacts when possible,” states an APD Facebook post. “We are, therefore, asking the public to use online reporting (www.auburnwa.gov/police) or allow the officers to take your reports over the phone when there are no suspects or evidence to collect. If however, the officer feels the need to respond directly, they certainly will. And, if for any reason you feel unsafe, please call 911 and we will respond immediately.”
VRFA is utilizing the best practices put forward by the King County Fire Chiefs Association.
Auburn School District
Public Health- Seattle & King County is not recommending closing schools at this time. “Health officials from Public Health and the CDC weighed recommendations for schools very carefully. Here are some of the reasons they recommend schools remain open,” said a letter sent home to Auburn School District families.
- The available data about COVID-19 cases has shown children and youth have not been high-risk groups for serious illness from this virus. COVID-19 infection in children tends to be more like a common cold or a mild fever.
- Public Health – Seattle & King County knows schools are doing the important work of educating our children. They don’t want to disrupt that unless there are confirmed coronavirus exposure risks.
- Public Health – Seattle & King County also recognizes school closures have other impacts on working parents. School closures can be disruptive and costly for families, and they consider both the potential benefits and negative consequences of closures when they make recommendations.
A letter home to ASD families on Monday, March 2nd, from Superintendent Alan Spicciati confirmed that “if parents have concerns about their student’s health, absences will be excused.”
Green River College
The college posted an update on Friday that “beginning Tuesday, March 10, the remainder of winter quarter classes will be completed in a manner that reduces face-to-face meetings. To accomplish this transition as successfully as possible:
• We are canceling all day and evening classes across all GRC locations on Monday, March 9
• Monday will be used for faculty and staff members to adapt their course work for alternative formats and communication with students.
All Green River College offices will remain open during this time to provide key services to our community.
More here: https://bit.ly/2Tx0bpz”
Auburn Adventist Academy
Auburn Adventist Academy transitioned to their pre-planned Distance Learning Days earlier than originally scheduled. “Our Distance Learning Days will begin on Friday, March 6 and will continue through Friday March 20. Students will not be returning to campus until after Spring Break, Monday, March 30th with dormitory students returning on March 29,” outlined an online announcement from the school.
Federal and State Aide Packages
From the Washington State Wire: “Congress passed a bill this week that allocates $8.3 billion to fighting COVID-19, an effort praised by native Washingtonian Rep. Kim Schrier (D-8th District). The bill, among other provisions, directs $950 million to state and local health agencies at the forefront of the COVID-19 outbreak, like the Washington State Department of Health and King County.
“The bill mirrors legislation introduced this week by both chambers of the Washington State legislature. Both the House and the Senate introduced bills this week that allocate $100 million to stop the spread of COVID-19 in the state. The House’s version of the bill, House Bill 2965, passed in the House on March 3 and passed in the Senate the next day.”
City of Kent vs King County
The City of Kent learned from a third party Monday that King County intends to purchase a motel in Kent to utilize as a COVID-19 quarantine location. Friday afternoon the city of Kent filed for a temporary restraining order against the King County Government. The order is to prevent for the opening of the temporary quarantine site.
As of Thursday, there have been no confirmed COVID-19 positive patients in Kent.
King County has already begun setting up a temporary quarantine village in a White Center neighborhood.
MultiCare and CHI Franciscan Offer Free Virtual Visits:
Anyone who may be experiencing upper respiratory symptoms suggestive of a COVID-19 infection may utilize the free virtual care visits currently offered by CHI Franciscan and MultiCare.
“To provide increased access to care, CHI Franciscan is offering free 24/7 virtual health consultations with a certified healthcare provider to all individuals who may be experiencing upper respiratory symptoms suggestive of a COVID-19 infection. Franciscan Virtual Urgent Care is open to all our communities in an effort to reduce in-person visits to urgent care centers and emergency departments.” – Ketul J. Patel, chief executive officer, CHI Franciscan
How to access Franciscan 24/7 Virtual Urgent Care:
- When prompted for payment, use coupon code COVID19 to waive the $35 virtual video consultation fee and to connect with a board-certified healthcare provider.
- Eligibility for a free visit for COVID-19 is limited to one per individual across all platforms.
- In accordance with public health guidelines, we are asking patients to avoid going to the emergency room or urgent care unless symptoms are severe (such as a high fever or shortness of breath). If you are concerned about symptoms, we ask that you utilize the virtual care option, or call your regular provider before visiting a facility.
MultiCare is offering FREE e-Visits to anyone who has COVID-19 symptoms (fever, cough, difficulty breathing), with or without travel to China, Iran, Italy, Japan or South Korea, or anyone exposed to someone who has traveled to these areas. If indicated, we can refer you to an appropriate site for COVID-19 testing. Use promo code COVID19 to waive the regular $25 fee.
If you are experiencing severe breathing problems or other serious health issues that may or may not be related to COVID-19, please go to the emergency department closest to you.
Follow public health guidelines to protect against COVID-19 including:
- Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds (that’s Happy Birthday twice or the ABCs. Practice your best Voice audition folks).
- When unable to wash your hands, use an alcohol-based sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol (do not use vodka people. Seriously.)
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth (but seriously, don’t wear a face mask.)
- Avoid contact with people who are sick (or not sick, just don’t touch each other.)
- Stay home while you are sick and avoid close contact (6ft or closer) with others
- Cover your mouth/nose with a tissue or sleeve when coughing or sneezing
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces (remember these easy to forget items: keys, cellphone, glasses, steering wheel, doorknobs – including your car’s, faucets, stair rails, tablets, keyboards, mouse, books, reusable drinkware, pens).
Remember: Stay informed and alert, not anxious
Updated 3/6/2020 7:25 pm: Added information about Auburn Schools