Employee News - June 25, 2020

A service of the King County Department of Human Resources

King County Employee News


family mask

What does Phase 2 mean for families? 

Are you a parent or caregiver wondering what Phase 2 means for your family? We’ve compiled a list of questions and answers that may help you navigate through some of the confusion as we safely re-open.   

Can we see friends and family again?   

Yes! You can gather with up to five favorites once a week. For example, you can invite five or fewer friends over to your home once a week. (That number six on your list should be on your team and will have to come over the following week). In reality, there isn’t one perfect magic number, but if we all follow these general practices, we will be in a better spot to slow the spread of disease.  

Openly communicate with family and friends about exposures and potential symptoms. Helping one another make fully informed decisions about gathering is considerate and caring. Transparent sharing helps everyone determine the safest time and place to send time together. Read more.  


King County employee guidance for wildfire smoke during COVID-19 

With the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s even more important to prepare ahead for wildfire smoke and extreme heat this summer. Washington State is already above average for the number of fires for this time of year, and experts are forecasting a high chance of wildfire smoke in our region this summer. 

Wildfire smoke may make it more difficult to fight respiratory infections such as COVID-19. It may also increase some people’s sensitivity to infection by COVID-19 and in some cases may make the symptoms of COVID-19 more severe. A previous COVID-19 infection may also make you more sensitive to wildfire smoke. 

When air quality is at unhealthy levels, avoid smoky air by staying indoors as much as possible and avoid intense outdoor activities. Wildfire smoke may cause headaches and irritation of your eyes, nose and throat and poses a serious health risk for sensitive groups. People who are most sensitive to wildfire smoke are pregnant women, children, people over the age of 65, and those with heart or respiratory conditions such as heart disease, asthma, COPD, diabetes, and stroke survivors. Read more. 

King County GreenTools Program “sheroes” honored by the US Green Building Council for equity and social justice work 

The US Green Building Council honors King County “Women in Green Sheroes” for advancing equity and social justice through sustainable development, green building, and community empowerment. 

For their efforts to advance equity and social justice through the sustainable development work carried out under King County’s GreenTools Program, Solid Waste Division employees Patti Southard and Nori Catabay were honored as “Women in Green Sheroes for Economic Empowerment in the Pacific Region” by the US Green Building Council.

“Everyone in King County deserves access to a healthy community where people, businesses and the environment can thrive,” said Department of Natural Resources and Parks Director Christie True. “The program created by these two incredible women is centered on the concept that sustainable development and its benefits are an equity issue, and we’re proud so many others around the nation are looking to emulate this model.” 


Emergency Operation Center experiences dual activation 

Already activated in February for COVID-19, King County had a dual activation of the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) from May 30 through June 7 in response to protests over the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis. 

“Dual activations are very rare anywhere, and they’re tough,” said Brendan McCluskey, Emergency Management Director. “Staff rose to the challenge. We had to keep track of both situations, including resources and costs. We had more people in the EOC and had the need for physical distancing with COVID-19.” 

On a few occasions, the King County EOC has activated in response to more than one emergency at the same time, typically for weather-related events. A dual activation occurred during the Howard Hanson Dam emergency of 2009-2010, when the county was battling the compromised dam structure that threatened downstream communities of the Green River Valley, and severe weather events. 

During the most recent dual activation, staff at the EOC helped coordinate National Guard staffing throughout the county, beyond Seattle. In addition, the EOC supported county departments and local jurisdictions (fire departments, transit, cities, etc.) with public information, resource management, planning, and operational coordination. The EOC also helped collect information about the extent of financial losses from affected businesses, submitting this information to the Small Business Administration for potential funding. 

Pictured: A volunteer from Team Rubicon at the Emergency Operations Center earlier this year.


Road to Retirement classes offered online, July 8, multiple times 

Are you planning to retire in the next six months? In honor of National Retirement Planning Month and to better fit your schedule, the Road to Retirement class will be offered online at four different times on Wednesday, July 8, being offered at 7 a.m., 10 a.m., 2 p.m., and 7 p.m. 

Join your Retirement Team for this informative 90-minute online class. We’ll discuss procedures and forms, medical coverage options, and pension plans—so you’ll be on a smooth road toward a happy retirement. 

Please register for a session that works best for you. You will then receive a separate email with a Zoom link for the class you selected. To learn more before the class, go to the
Retirement page and read the Retirement Guide. For more information, contact KC Orientations or Carmen Johnson, retirement navigator. Please note, attendance is strictly voluntary, on your own time, and non-work related. 

man yoga

July and August Mindfulness Class Schedule now available 

As we continue to maneuver through this very difficult time in our society, it is important that we manage our mental health and stress levels. Balanced You heard from employees that mindfulness classes have helped alleviate some of the anxiety many are experiencing, so we are continuing to provide these classes through August. 

What is mindfulness?  

Mindfulness is a practice that uses breath work, visualization, and other skills to support you in reducing stress at work and at home. Mindfulness techniques are especially useful now, as we move through the uncertainty of the political climate and coronavirus pandemic. 

Balanced You continues to partner with Mindfulness Northwest to offer free mindfulness classes and workshops to King County employees, via both employee-specific and community classes. In alignment with social distancing recommendations, all in-person classes have temporarily shifted to online platforms. Visit the Balanced You blog for a class calendar, registration links, and more information.


Volunteer to be a Ballot Drop Box Closer for August 4 

Looking for some Election Day excitement? Meet your neighbors and continue your commitment to public service by volunteering as a drop box closer. Drop box closers are the friendly face the public sees on Election Day, ensuring that every vote is counted, and every voice is heard. 

Who: You and your co-workers 

What: Closing ballot drop boxes across King County 

When: Election Night – August 4 from 6:30-8:30 p.m. 

Where: A drop box location near you 

Most voters wait until Election Day to return their ballots and drop boxes are often busiest in the last few hours of voting.  We need your help to provide customer service and assistance to voters using this last opportunity to return their ballots. Sign up and join us for a fun and fulfilling experience helping your neighbors experience the excitement and community of casting their ballots.  

You’ll be partnered with Elections staff and no experience is necessary – we provide all the training you need! All locations are outside and we ask that volunteers wear masks to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. If you do not have a mask, we can provide one for you. More information about precautions being taken will be provided to all volunteers ahead of Election Day.  

Our colleagues who volunteered in November described their experiences as rewarding, fun, and inspiring! Join us by signing up to help with the Primary election on August 4th, 2020 from 6:30-8:30 pm. 

Have questions? Learn more here. 

metro graph

COVID-19 update: Increased ridership, restored trips, required masks and face coverings 

Ridership on King County Metro has increased in recent weeks as more people choose to ride public transportation and the state allows more activities under its “Safe Start” plan. Metro continues to require masks or face coverings be worn on transit. Buses currently have reduced passenger limits to support social distancing and limit the spread of COVID-19. 

Metro analyzed preliminary extrapolations to create an unofficial estimate of weekly ridership, which remains lower compared to a year ago but shows early signs of recovery. Read more. 

Featured Job: COVID Homeless Testing Program Manager (Project / Program Manager III) 

Salary: $87,640.80 - $111,089.89 Annually 

Location: Seattle, WA 

Job Type: Special Duty Assignment or Term Limited Temp (TLT) 

Department: DPH - Public Health 

Job Number: 2020NH11771 

Division: Community Health Services 

Closing: 7/8/2020 11:59 PM Pacific 

Learn more about this position or view all available positions. 

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