April 27 COVID-19 Special Edition: Gov. Inslee Announces Partial Reopening of Outdoor Recreation, Metro Urges Customers to Wear Masks, Paycheck Protection Program Accepting Applications, Update from Public Health - Seattle & King County, and More!

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this week in kirkland

April 27, 2020

city of kirkland washington

Gov. Jay Inslee Announces Partial Reopening Effective May 5 of Outdoor Recreation

Inslee image for April 27

Gov. Jay Inslee announced today (Monday, April 27) a partial reopening of outdoor recreational activities effective Tuesday, May 5.

As of Tuesday, State parks and public lands will reopen for day use, along with hunting, fishing and golfing. WDFW boat launches and fishing areas will reopen as well, but overnight camping remains closed. This is not a return to normal, the Governor said, as the virus is still too rampant to lift further restrictions. All outdoor recreational activities need to be practiced with strict adherence to social distancing standards, Inslee said. When you are on the trails, step off the trail to give passersby six feet, and make sure you only travel with folks in your household.  

Restrictions on public gatherings, camping and team sports are not lifting.

The governor was joined by Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife Director Kelly Susewind, and Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission Director Don Hoch and Senior Policy Advisor on Outdoor Recreation and Economic Development Jon Snyder. For more information on the Governor’s announcement, visit his website at: https://www.governor.wa.gov/news-media/news-media.

Metro Urges Customers to Wear Masks

King County Metro

Responding to evolving guidance from public health officials and the feedback of drivers and other frontline employees, King County Metro strongly urges all customers to wear a mask or face covering while using public transportation. Masks or face coverings help protect the wearer, other passengers, and Metro employees.

There are many kinds of face coverings—including bandannas, disposable masks, scarves, veils, and others—that are useful in preventing the spread of COVID-19. They should be worn both onboard transit and while waiting at stops and terminals. Customers can follow tips from the CDC on how to make their own face coverings.

Customers will begin to see stronger encouragement to wear masks and face coverings in multiple languages on transit through advertising, on-board announcements and signs, social media posts, transit alert emails and texts, and elsewhere. Health officials recommend wearing cloth face coverings when in public settings where six feet of distance from others cannot be maintained. In response to this guidance, Metro has supported operators’ and customers’ use of masks or face coverings.

Previously, Metro had asked passengers to consider wearing a face covering. Wearing a mask complements and does not replace other guidance related to personal hygiene, which remain the cornerstone of slowing the spread of COVID-19.

Metro provides two washable, reusable cloth face coverings to every operator and other frontline employee. Employees working with chemicals and cleaning supplies, such as in our Vehicle Maintenance department, receive personal protective equipment prescribed for the given task.

Customers are also reminded to please reserve transit for first-responders, medical personnel, other essential workers, and people who rely on Metro for access to food, medicine, and similarly essential needs. Especially as Metro is operating a Reduced Schedule and while steps are being taken to ensure social distancing, space is at a premium to preserve room to safely conduct essential trips.

In addition to actions related to masks and requests that customers reserve transit for essential travel, Metro has taken a number of actions in response to COVID-19 guided by the expertise of Public Health – Seattle & King County:

  • Strongly recommending that employees who are high-risk stay home to protect their health and strengthening our paid leave policies;
  • Increasing the frequency of disinfecting and deep-cleaning of transit vehicles, boats, and facilities;
  • Providing personal protective equipment (PPE) to our employees;
  • Sharing health recommendations for staying safe—including information to help destigmatize novel coronavirus;
  • Minimizing driver-to-passenger interaction by directing riders to board at rear doors if they are able, eliminating fares, and installing safety straps;
  • Assembling a cleaning task force dedicated to rapid response and continuous improvement;
  • Redeploying security personnel to support safety and social distancing on transit and at terminals; and
  • Promoting social distancing at bases and worksites, and onboard our vehicles and boats.
Metro mask image 2

Paycheck Protection Program Accepting Applications

The Small Business Administration has resumed accepting applications for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). This program provides flexible, often forgivable loans to small businesses, sole-proprietorships, and self-employed individuals. Federal funding is expected to be exhausted this week, so we strongly encourage applying immediately if your business or nonprofit is eligible. Not sure if you'll be eligible for this round of relief funding? Our Business Response Team at (re)STARTUP425 can help you find out with free, one-on-one assistance for your business or nonprofit.

Paycheck protection

Update from Public Health - Seattle & King County: COVID-19 Transmission Decline Slowing, Rapid Rise at Risk Without Continued Social Distancing

Public health logo

The social distancing measures observed in King County have reduced transmission of COVID-19 to the point where cases are expected to slowly decline or plateau at current levels. New or strengthened interventions are needed to reduce transmission further before partial relaxation of social distancing measures can be considered without substantial risks to public health, according to a new report by the Bellevue-based Institute for Disease Modeling (IDM). These findings are consistent with recent reports.

Working with Public Health – Seattle & King County and using data from the Washington State Department of Health, IDM estimates that the effective reproductive number – the number of new cases stemming from each COVID-19 infection – has declined from around 3 in early March to near 1 (95% confidence interval 0.55 to 1.33, best estimate 0.94) through April 4. This is consistent with previous estimates since the statewide “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order went into effect on March 23.

Projecting forward, if distancing measures were to lift starting May 1, the model predicts a rapid rise in the rate of cases that would likely exceed recent peak levels by the end of the month. In contrast, if new strategies are added on top of current distancing measures, we could see the effective reproductive number drop further and the number of cases go down more quickly. Until then, the report suggests, disease transmission will remain extremely sensitive to policy choices and community behavior.

The IDM report examines data through April 9 that are informative about transmission through April 4. Since that time, case counts have continued to gradually decrease in King County; a future report will analyze more recent data.

“Although we have significantly decreased the spread of COVID-19 through stay-at-home and distancing, the daily number of new cases remains unacceptably high and our community remains vulnerable to a rebound in cases that could overwhelm our healthcare system if we change course too quickly,” said Dr. Jeff Duchin, Health Officer for Public Health — Seattle & King County. “We are working hard to better understand how and where new infections are happening, which may suggest other measures that can help reduce transmission.”

“Physical distancing by avoiding non-essential contact with others remains our most powerful weapon against this virus, and will likely be needed to some extent until we have effective treatments and a vaccine. Increased testing and contact tracing will be critical for us to manage this illness in our community going forward, and which should also further reduce transmission.”

Previous reports from IDM included mobility data to measure the location-specific changes in population between day and night as an estimate of the fraction of people staying home during the day. Because this data only roughly captures the impact of staying home and misses other behavioral factors relevant to COVID-19 transmission, it was not found to be detailed enough to be predictive of the rate of transmission in the latest report. IDM researchers are actively investigating how to include more granular mobility data that better captures these behavioral details.

“The actions taken in King County have prevented much suffering from COVID-19, but transmission still persists,” said Dr. Mike Famulare, Principal Research Scientist at IDM. “To prevent a resurgence of infection and preventable deaths, social distancing remains necessary to keep the transmission rate low until additional measures, including testing or contact-tracing, can be significantly scaled up.”

Report link: Updated analysis of COVID-19 transmission in King County

IDM shapes global efforts to eradicate infectious diseases and to achieve permanent improvements in the health of those most in need. An institute within the Global Good Fund, IDM is a collaboration between Intellectual Ventures and Bill and Melinda Gates. IDM is contributing modeling and analytic services to local and state governments to support COVID-19 response efforts.

By James Apa

Public Health Image

Minutes Matter: When in Doubt Call 9-1-1 for EMS

Minutes Matter image

Please don't hesitate to call 911 out of fear of COVID-19 exposure.

Every minute matters, especially if you are experiencing a heart attack or stroke. Our first responders are here to help, and are following protocols to do so safely.

Huge thanks to the American Ambulance Association for getting the word out there with their #MinutesMatter campaign.

Cancelled Events

Because physical distancing is critical to stopping the spread of COVID-19, the following events are cancelled:

KU Kids at Kirkland Urban
Saturday, May 9, 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.
Kirkland Urban
425 Urban Plaza
For more information, visit: https://www.kirklandurban.com/event/ku-kids/2145540093/

Mother's Day Half Marathon
Sunday, May 10
Juanita Beach Park
9703 N.E. Juanita Drive
For more information, visit: https://runsignup.com/Race/WA/Kirkland/MothersDayHalf5k

Seattle International Film Festival (SIFF)
Thursday, May 21 through Monday, May 25
Kirkland Performance Center
350 Kirkland Avenue
For more information on SIFF, including Virtual SIFF Cinema, please visit: https://www.siff.net/virtual-siff-cinema

Recycling Collection Event

Saturday, May 16, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. 
Lake Washington Institute of Technology
11605 132nd Ave. N.E.
For more information, visit: https://www.kirklandwa.gov/depart/Public_Works/solidwaste.htm

The Greater Kirkland Chamber of Commerce
All Chamber events through May 21 are cancelled
For more information, visit: https://kirklandchamber.org/

Kirkland Performance Center
All Kirkland Performance Center shows through April 30 are postponed
For more information, visit: http://www.kpcenter.org