Community News Updates - 2/18/21

CM Upthegrove Logo & Headshot

Equitable Distribution of the Vaccine

I have been contacted by many of you who have been frustrated in your attempts to secure a vaccine.

The simple fact is that there is not enough supply coming from the federal government to meet the demand in the community.

Recent news reports about wealthy donors of major hospitals receiving preferential access to limited  vaccines appalled all of us who have been working hard to ensure that scarce vaccines are reaching the most vulnerable – not the most connected – first.

In response, I co-sponsored a motion denouncing these actions and requesting the state move to prohibit such preferential treatment.

No one should be able to skip the line based on connections or wealth, especially when the communities that are the hardest hit by the virus face additional barriers to securing a vaccine.

Vaccines must be distributed equitably and as quickly as possible once supplies increase.

While health care providers – doctors, pharmacies and hospital – will continue to be the major providers of the vaccine, Public Health – Seattle & King County is working diligently to fill any gaps in the system in an equitable manner.

When the vaccine supply increases, we stand ready to distribute the County’s supply in an equitable and efficient manner.


To that end:

We continue to roll out community vaccination sites in South King County and, as more vaccines arrive from the federal government, more appointment slots will be opened.

We are working with community navigators in immigrant and refugee communities to provide truthful information about the vaccines, dispel potential concerns and then assist individuals with appointment opportunities.

And we are asking providers that partner with us to share our commitment to equitable vaccine delivery by:

  • Removing barriers that deter access
  • Creating an inclusive process
  • And being intentionally anti-racist and accountable to BIPOC communities.

In action, these principles will translate to the following action steps:

  • Focus on those who are the highest risk and the most impacted by the disease.
  • Work with community based-leaders and organizations with connection to highest risk communities and with particular focus on BIPOC communities
  • Make registration easy
  • Make vaccines available when and where people are available
  • Address transportation and mobility barriers
  • Ensure language access

King County is committed to the equitable distribution of the COVID19 vaccine. 

We now just need more vaccines to become available so that everyone who wants one can get one when eligible.

Essential Grocery Workers Deserve Hazard Pay

At a time when local governments are struggling to fund basic services, large grocery stores are making record profits while their low-wage employees face the hazards of working during a pandemic.

That’s why I’m co-sponsoring legislation that would mandate $4 per hour hazard pay for front-line grocery store workers in unincorporated King County during the public health emergency.

This temporary bump in pay can alleviate the financial injustice experienced by frontline essential workers who risk their lives—and their families’ lives—without the dignity of a fair wage to support them.

It will only apply to large grocery stores ensuring that our small “mom-and-pop” businesses are not impacted and would only be required in stores located in unincorporated King County.

The ordinance will now be heard in an upcoming Committee of the Whole meeting.

Sound Transit Challenges

In South King County, our essential workers have continued to work during the pandemic and have relied on the availability of public transit to get to work and home again. 

It has been a lifeline for so many and has highlighted the need to design a regional transit system built on equity and increased mobility for all.

When voters passed Sound Transit 3 in 2016, no one could have predicted a pandemic would sweep throughout the globe and devastate transit ridership and funding across governments. Due to the economic impact of Covid-19 and soaring costs related to construction and real estate, Sound Transit is projecting a substantial funding shortfall over the next two decades.   This gap could impact some of the exciting regional projects in the works, including additional light rail and Bus Rapid Transit along the I-405 corridor, so it is important to be a part of the conversation.

Last month, the Sound Transit Board held a workshop to examine impacted projects and options for moving forward. Sound Transit will now undertake detailed analysis and engage in robust community engagement ultimately resulting in the development and approval of a final plan in July.

I am committed to ensuring that South King County riders continue to receive equitable access to Sound Transit services. 

The decisions we make in 2021 will impact our regional system and mobility for decades to come.

I encourage interested parties to engage in the upcoming public engagement process and reach out to my office should you have any questions or concerns.

While my staff and I are all working remotely, we are still available to serve you during the pandemic. Please don't hesitate to contact me if I can be of any assistance.



King County Councilmember
District 5