King County is taking proactive steps to protect the health of our community. Stay safe and informed by following guidance provided by Public Health – Seattle & King County.
It’s finally feeling like summer! But things are different this year with COVID-19. Going to a movie theater, a mall, or the library to cool off after work isn’t possible for most of us in King County in this phase of the state’s Safe Start reopening plan. Remember to let safety be your guide. Due to the extremely dry conditions, King County Fire Marshal has issued a burn ban for unincorporated areas in King County.
Tips from Public Health – Seattle & King County specific to COVID and heat:
- COVID risk adds an additional concern during hot weather. Unlike the flu, hot weather does not decrease the transmission of COVID-19.
- Cities will not be able to set up cooling centers this summer with the increase in COVID-19 spread.
- Many swimming beaches may be closed or lifeguards may not be present. Never swim alone, use lifejackets in or near rivers and lakes, and heed Public Health warnings about crowded parks. Get more information about safe swimming in COVID times.
- Wearing a mask is a key measure to prevent the spread of COVID; in hot weather, wearing a mask can also contribute to overheating. Avoid spending time in hot indoor and outdoor locations where you would have to wear a mask. Take a safely distanced “mask break” if you are getting too hot and uncomfortable:
- Go outside and make sure you are distanced from others by at least six feet.
- Remove your mask to breathe and cool down.
- Put the mask back on before returning to the venue or activity where the mask is required.
For everyone when days are hot:
- Keep window blinds or curtains closed when outdoor temperatures skyrocket. This reduces indoor temps and reduces the strain on cooling equipment, if in use.
- Keep windows and doors closed in locations with air conditioning.
- Drink plenty of fluids (but avoid alcohol, caffeine, or lots of sugar that can make you lose body fluid).
- Dress in layers to manage varying temperatures.
- Minimize extended time outside.
- Turn off unnecessary lights and unplug unused electrical equipment.
- Take a tepid shower or bath to cool down.
- Avoid hot and heavy meals that can raise your body temperature.
- Check on vulnerable family or neighbors by phone or text to make sure they are safe and cool.
- NEVER leave pets or children in a hot car. Call 9-1-1 if you see a child or pet in a hot car.
- Learn the warning signs of heat illness that happens when the body can’t cool down. If someone has heat stroke, they need to call 9-1-1 or go to the emergency room immediately.
If you must be outside:
- The most important thing to do is to drink lots of water. When it’s really hot, drink up to a quart of water every hour with moderate to heavy physical activity.
- Carry a water bottle.
- Consider sports drinks for electrolyte replacement when sweating a lot.
- Wear loose, light clothing with materials designed to wick sweat.
- Wear a hat with a brim.
- Check with your supervisor about adjusting your work hours to start earlier, when it’s cooler.
- Stop all activity if you become lightheaded, confused, weak, faint or have a pounding heart or trouble breathing.
- Hot, sunny weather invariably brings more people to King County’s parks and trails, which are open consistent with the state’s Phase Two guidelines. More information about what is open can be found on Parks’ COVID-19 response page.
- Park and trail visitors can report crowding, areas that need attention, or other issues using Parks’ reporting tool, SeeClickFix.
Did you know there are more than 1,400 long term care facilities in King County? These include skilled nursing facilities (nursing homes), adult family homes, and assisted living and supported living facilities that provide care for older adults and people with disabilities who need help with activities of daily living.
“People who live in long term care facilities are at high risk for COVID-19. Many are over age 60 or have underlying health conditions. They are often sharing a bedroom or bathroom and it is challenging to follow social distancing protocols,” said Ingrid Ulrey, COVID-19- Chief, LTCF Response, and Policy Director, Public Health – Seattle & King County.
A skilled nursing facility in Kirkland was “ground zero” for the U.S. COVID-19 outbreak. Along with hospitals, fire departments and other first responders, long term care facilities were hit hard when COVID-19 began in our region. Due to the massive demand and lack of supply, they were unable to get needed personal protective equipment (PPE) such as masks, gloves, and gowns, and other supplies like disinfecting wipes and hand sanitizer.
King County activated its Emergency Operations Center (EOC) on Feb. 28 and sprang into action. One of its key roles in the pandemic is to support Public Health – Seattle & King County by coordinating resource management. The EOC is taking aim at supply scarcity on behalf of jurisdictions and agencies around the region. The EOC compiles requests, submits orders to the state, and receives and re-distributes critical supplies. The team also maximizes the county’s buying power to fill in the gaps.
“We’re buying hundreds of thousands of masks, gloves, gowns, face shields, goggles, and other eye protection. We’re getting hundreds of gallons of hand sanitizer,” said Derrick Hiebert, Emergency Management Program Coordinator at King County Office of Emergency Management.
A team of employees from Emergency Management, Public Health, and other county departments, as well as volunteers from Team Rubicon, an international disaster response nonprofit, became a supply-ordering machine. The Facilities Management Division of the Department of Executive Services also plays an important role in the receiving and temporary storage of goods until they can be shipped out.
“The goal is to be able to meet everyone’s needs,” said Sophia Lopez, Emergency Management Program Manager at King County Office of Emergency Management (OEM).
Initially supplies had to be prioritized due to limited quantities. The state identified a hierarchy of “tiers” based on those treating or transporting COVID-19 positive patients, as well as the type of organization.
With state direction, the team at the EOC first focused on meeting needs by “Tier 1” organizations, such as long-term care facilities, emergency medical services (EMS) and hospitals. Once those needs were met, which happened just recently, the team was able to move to Tier 2, which includes group settings such as isolation facilities, homeless shelters, and behavioral health residential facilities. The goal is to soon be able to meet the needs in Tier 3 which includes group living facilities without known COVID patients, home hospice, home care without known COVID patients, opioid treatment programs, funeral homes, childcare centers and quarantine facilities.
“We’re also moving toward setting folks up to order certain items for themselves as supply opens back up,” Lopez added.
“I’m very proud of the work we’re doing in the EOC, especially the Logistics Section,” said Brendan McCluskey, OEM director. “We’re making a difference and helping save lives.”
Learn more in this short video.
The King County Regional Donations Connector is now available online to link up individuals, businesses, non-profits, and others who have resources with those who need them during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Donations Connector will help make sure services, supplies, and funding reach health care providers, first responders, and social service entities working on the front lines.
The website at kingcounty.gov/emergency/donate serves three major functions:
- A system that allows donations and offers of assistance to be used in the response effort.
- An online “marketplace” where offering organizations can be matched to those in need.
- An easily searchable list of ways the public can get help.
Donating businesses, agencies, and individuals are invited to share what they have to contribute (such as funding, medical supplies, masks, counseling, or other goods and services) and link up with organizations involved in the COVID-19 pandemic response.
Who is the Donations Connector for?
- Private and public entities with items or services to donate
- Community and faith-based organizations
- The general public
What types of donations are requested?
- Food (both perishable and non-perishable)
- Medical supplies
- Sanitary supplies
- Facility space
- Services such as counseling (legal, mental health, etc.), labor, janitorial, catering, and more
People who want to volunteer their time should contact local volunteer groups or register through the United Way of King County at volunteer.uwkc.org/volunteer-response-covid-19. Also, the Connector is intended for donations of goods in bulk quantities – smaller donations should go through existing community donation channels. Once donor and recipient are connected, they will need to independently arrange for pickup and delivery as needed.
To help slow the spread of COVID-19 (novel coronavirus), King County will close many in-person customer services from Monday, March 16 through at least Friday, March 27.
The county services affected are:
- Treasury operations (including property tax payments) at the King County Administration Building, 500 Fourth Ave., Seattle
- Vehicle and vessel licensing at the King County Administration Building
(note: vehicle license subagents, which are independent small businesses located throughout the county, may or may not be open for walk-in customers)
- Taxi/TNC/For-Hire licensing at the King County Administration Building
- Recorder’s Office (including marriage licensing, real estate transactions, and other document recording) at the King County Administration Building
- Archives at 1215 E. Fir, Seattle
- Elections at 919 SW Grady Way in Renton and the King County Administration Building
- Assessor’s Office at the King County Administration Building
- Community Service Centers in Issaquah, Kent, Renton, and Shoreline
- Board of Appeals at the King County Administration Building
- Procurement at the Chinook Building, 401 Fifth Ave., Seattle
- In-person job applications at the King County Administration Building
- Department of Local Services is closing its public lobby and suspending in-person and paper-based permit application services, but online permitting services will be available
Residents are encouraged to use the many online options available at kingcounty.gov/services instead of visiting in person. Customer service may also be available by phone, email, or regular mail depending on the agency. The list of closures is subject to change, so customers should check the continuously updated list at kingcounty.gov/ServiceChanges.
Courts and Judicial Administration
- The latest information on reductions to King County District Court services is available at tinyurl.com/KCDC-COVID-19 or by calling 206-205-9200.
- Judicial Administration will be providing limited counter services and protection order services at both the King County Courthouse in Seattle and the Maleng Regional Justice Center in Kent during this time period.
- The Protection Order Advocacy Program in the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office is not accepting in-person intakes at this time. For all other PAO functions, call 206-296-9000.
- King County Superior Court has suspended jury trials until at least April 24; jury summonses have also been suspended effective March 16 by emergency order of Presiding Judge Jim Rogers. Check the Superior Court website for details on this and other court proceedings.
For information about the COVID-19 outbreak, visit kingcounty.gov/COVID.