02/26/2021 | News release | Distributed by Public on 02/26/2021 18:22
COVID Vaccination: District 1 Vaccine News, Lack of Local Vaccine Sites, Vaccine Supply Update, Real-Time Vaccine Availability, and New Vaccine Tools
Check Vaccine Availability in Real Time: Now you can check for available vaccine appointments in real time on the state Department of Health's Vaccine Locator website. This is a new enhancement to the state's website that may cut down on some frustration for vaccine seekers - although vaccine supply remains low nationwide.
City of Seattle Vaccine Efforts in D1: The City of Seattle continues to use its few weekly vaccine doses to speed vaccine to those at the highest risk of death from COVID, as directed by the Seattle City Council resolution on vaccine equity. While the state's vaccine shipments were delayed this week due to severe weather across the country, that means next week the City is expecting 5,000 doses - double its usual allocation.
Many of you have asked about the location of West Seattle's future mass vaccination site, and we now have some news. This temporary vaccine increase will make it possible to test out adding vaccination at the existing COVIDmass testing sites in West Seattle and Rainier Beach. On Friday and Saturday, SFD expects to vaccinate 600 Phase 1A and Phase 1B, Tier 1 eligible Seattle residents and workers at the West Seattle site, which will continue providing testing as well. All appointments for the temporary clinics have been filled via partnerships with over 50 BIPOC-led and BIPOC-serving organizations in Central, South, and West Seattle to register individuals for the clinics, with a focus on people who are 65 and older who live in areas of West and South Seattle most impacted by COVID-19 cases.
Since launching its vaccination effort on January 14, the City of Seattle has administered 7,814 vaccinations to eligible Seattleites. The City has provided 6,883 vulnerable Seattleites the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, and 931 Seattleites the second dose of the vaccine. Roughly 70 percent of those vaccinated by the City identify as Black, Indigenous, and People of Color communities.
For more information, visit the City's vaccination website at www.seattle.gov/vaccine and sign up to receive the weekly vaccination newsletter.
Vaccine Provider Added to the West Seattle Peninsula: According to the state's Vaccine Locator, a new vaccine provider has been authorized on the West Seattle peninsula: the QFC Pharmacy at 4550 42nd Avenue SW. Click here to check for appointments (none were available at publication time). It's a good idea to bookmark the Vaccine Locator website and check back regularly, as vaccine providers may change.
More Vaccine Providers Needed on the West Seattle Peninsula: Many of you have written to me frustrated with the lack of state-authorized COVID vaccine providers on the West Seattle peninsula. Vaccines are provided by SeaMar Clinics in White Center and South Park; these options are critical for those of us in District 1 impacted by the bridge closure and congestion on detour routes. But people rightfully have made the case that more access is needed on the peninsula itself.
To become a vaccine provider, enrollment in the federal COVID-19 Vaccination Program is required. The Washington State Department of Health (DOH) coordinates this enrollment process for providers.
Earlier this week I sent a letter to the DOH Deputy Secretary for COVID Response inquiring into the enrollment process, and advocating for the addition of vaccine providers on the West Seattle peninsula. My letter stated in part:
I represent the 80,000 residents of the West Seattle peninsula in Seattle - communities that are currently struggling with a significant additional barrier to accessing vaccine because of the 2020 closing of the West Seattle Bridge… Between the bridge closure and significant congestion on detour routes off the peninsula, my constituents are virtually cut off from both vaccine and healthcare providers. And District 1 residents - especially those 75 and older, who are the most at risk of death from Covid - are lagging behind other parts of the county in accessing vaccine, according to Public Health - Seattle & King County's data dashboard. Only 41% of elders 75+ in West Seattle have received vaccination, compared to 56% of elders county-wide.
Despite the clear need and mobility barriers, there is a single vaccine provider authorized by the State to provide vaccine to the 80,000 residents on the West Seattle peninsula - including 13,500 seniors, the largest number of seniors of any community in King County. The screenshot below is from DOH's Vaccine Locator, and shows the single vaccine provider, a QFC pharmacy.
My constituents are rightly asking why West Seattle does not have more than one vaccine provider on the peninsula to serve them. In turn, I am asking you for more information about how vaccine providers are authorized, and how to increase the number of providers available to West Seattle residents.
As vaccine supply increases in the coming months, West Seattle residents must have access to local vaccine providers authorized by the state.
I will continue my advocacy with the State to ensure that the 80,000 West Seattle residents are not forced to leave the peninsula by overtaxed detour routes in order to receive vaccination.
Vaccine Supply Update: Vaccine supply continues to be the main challenge in finding a vaccine appointment. An estimated 473,000 King County residents are currently eligible to receive vaccination, while just under 303,000 residents have received a first dose.
The City of Seattle is receiving only 2,500 vaccine doses weekly, some of which must be reserved for 2nd doses. In the short term, most people will not receive a vaccine from the City. As vaccine supply improves, the City will launch multiple mass vaccination sites; the planned site in West Seattle will eventually have the capacity for up to 1,000 doses daily. The City estimates these sites may be launched in the next month, when vaccine supply is sufficient.
Washington state's 3-week allocation forecast from the federal government continues to increase.
New Vaccine Tools In Multiple Languages, On Paper, and For Blind People: Washington state's online Phase Finder tool is now available in 30 languages, each with its own unique hyperlink. Phase Finder is the first step to confirming your vaccine eligibility.
The state Department of Health has also created a paper version of Phase Finder, expected to be helpful for those with limited or no internet access. This will help people navigate the eligibility questions and identify if they are currently eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine; as future phases are announced, the tool will be updated. Translations in 36 languages are expected in the coming weeks.
BLIND COVID empowers blind and low vision individuals during the COVID pandemic. Blind and low vision individuals can call 360-947-3330 to ask questions regarding access to COVID resources. Funded by a grant from WA Department of Health, Washington State School for the Blind began working on ways to increase awareness of accessible resources related to the COVID-19 pandemic through the creation of BLIND COVID. A podcast in is in the works.
Seattle Fire Department Work Plan
In the Public Safety and Human Services Committee this week Seattle Fire Department (SFD) Chief Scoggins presented the department's 2021 work plan. You can watch the presentation here or see the slides here.
As you might remember from the Council's budget deliberations in the Fall, I championed a couple issues related to SFD including: the restoration of funding for this year's recruit class of up to 60 new fire fighters, and funding for Automated External Defibrillators, Lucas Devices, and Ballistic Sets. In addition to these items, the Fire Department received additional funding from the Council to a. expand Health One (you may remember me writing about the pilot program in May 2019) to bring on two additional units, b. funding for a consulting nurse to be available as a Health One resource, and c. funding for a crisis counselor.
Sylvan Way Lane Closures
This week Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) sent notification of pavement restoration work occurring on Sylvan Way between Monday and Tuesday. I heard from many of you that a recent road closure was not well-publicized and I've asked SPU to ensure, not only adequate notice to the community, but to also partner with SDOT in designing detour routes, especially considering that Sylvan Way is already a major detour route while the West Seattle Bridge is closed. Here is the notification from SPU:
A contractor for Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) will begin asphalt paving on Sylvan Way SW on Monday, March 1. SPU completed a drainage improvement project on Sylvan Way SW last month and is now permanently restoring the roadway. This paving work had been scheduled for February 15 but was rescheduled due to winter weather.
Work hours are anticipated to be 9 am to 4 pm. On Monday, March 1, one lane near 6950 Sylvan Way SW will be closed. Two-way traffic will be maintained by flaggers. All travel lanes will be open outside of working hours. The following day, on Tuesday, March 2, crews will complete paving within the road's bike lane near 7194 Sylvan Way SW. Two-way traffic will be maintained via a lane shift into the middle turn lane. Vehicles should use caution near the work area.
Asphalt paving work is weather-dependent, and schedule is subject to change.
SPD Budget Legislation
On February 23rd the Public Safety and Human Services Committee held a first briefing on proposed SPD budget legislation. I've invited the Seattle Police Department to present to the committee on March 9; any vote would take place at a future meeting.
Late in 2020, the City Budget Office proposed legislation to increase the 2020 SPD budget by $5.4 million. If the Council did not approve the request, essentially, SPD would not have funding for expenses tied to paid parental leave benefits, separation pay for higher-than-anticipated separations and overtime funding for staffing testing sites and purchase of PPE for first responders. The Council approved the additional $5.4 million in SPD funding.
There are often additional funding requests from SPD late in the year, which makes fulfilling the Council's responsibility for setting budgets, and exercising fiscal oversight, much more difficult.
To enhance Council financial oversight, in 2021 the Council has requested monthly reports on SPD's finances and spending; use of overtime; staffing; and quarterly reports on 911 response. Updates on these reports will be presented quarterly in the Public Safety and Human Services (PSHS) Committee.
The origins of the legislation heard in my PSHS committee this week are with the late addition to the 2020 budget. This came after, in August 2020, the Council adopted Resolution 31962, which stated 'The City Council will not support any budget amendments to increase the SPD's budget to offset overtime expenditures above the funds budgeted in 2020 or 2021.' The additional $5.4 million spending request in late 2020 did not align with the resolution.
Consequently, because we had added $5.4 million in funds in late 2020, contrary to our policy to not do so, the Council stated our intent to propose legislation to reduce the 2021 SPD budget by $5.4 million from. As proposed, the reduction would come from funds approved for salaries that are not expected to be spent. The Council had previously placed a proviso on a comparable amount of funds, if they didn't end up being spent on salaries during 2021.
The Council fully funded SPD's 2021 hiring plan in the 2021 budget. This means the Council is providing all of the funds that SPD says are necessary to hire the number of officers that SPD believes it can hire in a single year.
Even so, the Central Staff Memo estimates that up to $7.7 million could be available from salary savings during 2021 (while noting separation pay could be $1.1 to $1.8 million higher than anticipated).
The number of officers went down by 135 during 2020. The change in the number of officers from year to year depends on the difference between new hires and separations.
186 officers separated from SPD during 2020, roughly twice the estimate at the start of the year. 51 officers were hired through June (roughly half the expected total), when, after the COVID pandemic resulted in severe budget shortfalls, the Mayor instituted a citywide hiring freeze for the remainder of 2020.
2020 was a difficult year for first responders; the Fire Department lost more employees than usual as well. I successfully sponsored a budget proposal that restored full funding for the 2021 Fire recruit class and for testing. SPD is seeking to have a Seattle-specific training class at the state training academy.
SPD's memo included in the Central Staff memo notes how it could spend the $5.4 million, including overtime and separation pay, and $1.4 million for civilian hires (four Community Service Officers, two crime prevention coordinators, and reporting-related positions). SPD also raised technology needs.
The Mayor's proposed 2021 budget included leaving $4 million in civilian positions vacant during 2021; the Council adopted this proposal. It's unusual for SPD to come to Council so early in the year to request funding that would make changes to the budget approved by the Council, particularly changes that would undo a priority of the Mayor to leave $4 million in SPD civilian positions vacant. But, in some ways, this is a feature and not a bug of Council's efforts to exercise more oversight SPD's finances. I look forward to hearing more from SPD in my next committee meeting.
I am interested in hearing SPD's proposals, in particular regarding civilian hiring. I am also interested in addressing recommendations of the City Auditor's long-standing recommendations regarding staffing/technology needs for SPD public disclosure, and the Inspector General's recommendations regarding evidence storage.
An important consideration in these discussions is the Consent Decree with the US Department of Justice. Judge Robart, who oversees the Consent Decree, has stated concern about significant cuts to the SPD budget, and emphasized the importance of scaling up policing alternatives.
I've hosted a briefing on the implementation of some of these alternatives and HSD has been reporting to the Public Safety and Human Services Committee, which you can see here and here. I will be hosting another update on our efforts in my PSHS committee in March. Of the $16 million allocated by Council to the Human Services Department for community safety, $4 million has been provided to the Seattle Community Safety Initiative for crisis response, wrap around services, and follow up. $12 million will soon be provided by HSD to build capacity among community based organizations providing services across the community safety continuum.
Additional Crisis Response efforts are also being considered through efforts associated with Mayor Durkan's September 2020 Executive Order 2020-10 on Policing and Community Safety. An Interdepartmental Team (IDT), as part of their workplan to fulfill the commitments in the Executive Order, is working to make recommendations:
Finally, crisis response alternatives are also being developed through The Black Brilliance Research Project, specifically in the priority investment area called: 'Crisis & Wellness…scaling up existing programs which interrupt violence, such as The Silent Task Force, API Chaya, and Community Passageways. It recommends, cultural and community-specific responses to domestic violence, harm reduction approaches for users of drugs, and centering people most impacted by policing to provide services. Specific programs proposed include community-based programs that would provide training and dispatch of community-based emergency services pre-, mid- and post-crisis, such as the 911 Augmentation Initiative or the King County Stand UP Crisis/Emergency Network' (excerpt from Council Central Staff Memo, page 5, found here).
I have been in contact with the Monitor overseeing the Consent Decree (who reports to the Judge) about this and other issues; the City will be sharing a summary of actions regarding the 2020 and 2021 budgets with the Monitor.