Kitsap County officials preparing for next steps on path to reopening, recovery

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Kitsap County officials preparing for next steps on path to reopening, recovery 

DATE: May 14, 2020


(KITSAP COUNTY, Wash.) -- While Kitsap County is not currently eligible to move beyond Phase 1 of the Gov. Jay Inslee’s four-phase Safe Start approach, officials at the Kitsap County Emergency Operations Center (KCEOC) are working to ensure Kitsap is positioned to move safely into future phases. The KCEOC is preparing for the safe reopening of businesses and resumption of other public activitiesOfficials are also planning for recovery in the immediateshort and long-term with the understanding that everyone who lives or works here will play a role in preparing to move forward with both reopening and recovery.

KCEOC teams are working to ensure that the required data and contingency plans are available to demonstrate the county’s ability to limit future outbreaks. "The public also has an important role to play in this effort,” says Keith Grellner, Kitsap Public Health District Administrator. “The community has done a great job of following public health guidance to slow the spread of COVID-19 in Kitsapand we can’t let up now.

The state is monitoring COVID-19 risk in the state as well as in individual counties, using a wide range of data including:

  • COVID-19 Disease Activity: Four new cases have been reported in Kitsap in May, and officials are concerned that decreased compliance with social distancing guidelines could result in additional new cases.
  • Testing Capacity and Availability: Healthcare providers across the county are offering the service, but availability of test kits and access to the personal protective equipment (PPE) necessary to safeguard healthcare workers administering the tests remains sporadic and insufficient. KCEOC officials estimate that about 3,000 test kits are currently available across the county. At least 30,000 more will be needed to ensure a sufficient strategic reserve in the event of an outbreak.
  • Case and Contact Investigations: The Kitsap Public Health District (KPHD) has 38 staff members trained to perform case and contact investigations and has contingency plans for additional contact-tracers in the event that existing resources aren’t sufficient.
  • Protection for Vulnerable Populations: Recognizing that there is significant risk of disease spread in congregate living settings, counties are required to demonstrate that they can quickly respond to an outbreak in an assisted living, skilled nursing, emergency shelter or jail. The KCEOC, in partnership with KPHD, has developed such a plan and set aside the required testing, PPE and other supplies to implement it. The state also requires counties to have a plan for temporary quarantine and isolation of people who have been exposed to or tested positive for COVID-19. Kitsap County has two sites available for those who can’t safely quarantine or isolate at home.
  • Healthcare System Readiness: Kitsap County’s residents have done an excellent job following recommended health practices and limiting the impacts of COVID-19 on local healthcare system resources. More challenging is ensuring access to enough PPE to sufficiently protect first responders and front-line healthcare workers. KCEOC is currently conducting a countywide inventory and estimate of future need.  

In addition to positioning Kitsap County for safe reopening, KCEOC teams are leading substantial efforts underway to gather data, engage stakeholders, plan for contingencies and prepare for recovery. Recovery from the effects of the pandemic requires looking beyond the obvious – health and medical systems – to the economic, civic and social issues as well. KCEOC planners  are focused on putting plans and metrics in place to guide Kitsap County to restoration and resilience in all of these vital areas“It’s more than just relaxing the social distancing measures and hoping for good results,” says Kitsap County Department of Emergency Management Director Lis Klute. “KCEOC is putting a process in place thatwhen the state allows, will let us monitor and adjust measures based on indicators of success.”

Everyone has a part in moving us forward toward recovery,” says Dr. Susan Turner, Health Officer for KPHD. “We urge our community to continue to be diligent about observing restrictions in place under Phase 1. That means avoiding nonessential trips away from your home, using good hygiene by washing or sanitizing your hands regularly, and maintaining social distancing measures – all the steps that have become routine in the past couple months.

The Kitsap County Emergency Operations Center was activated at Level 2 (Partial) on March 3 and elevated to Level 3 (Full) on March 8 in response to the pandemic. Because this incident impacts all aspects of life in Kitsap County, the KCEOC is operating under a unified command consisting of the Kitsap Public Health District Administrator; the Kitsap County Department of Emergency Management Director; the Kitsap 911 Director; a representative of Kitsap County Law Enforcement Command Officers; and a representative of the Kitsap County Fire Chiefs Association. Staff and volunteers from the county, cities, special purpose districts, the U.S. Navy and tribes are working to coordinate efforts through the KCEOC in a variety of fields.


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