UPDATE: King County-owned Top Hat property is first portable-housing site for coronavirus patients; Senator Nguyen questions site choice

(WCN photos)

5:59 PM: That county-owned site at 206 SW 112th, across the street from the northwest side of the sprawling new Southside by Vintage apartments, is the first to hold a portable housing building that might soon be used for people who need to be isolated because of coronavirus COVID-19 illness.

The four-room, eight-bed unit is one of 14 that the county has been storing at the old flour mill on Harbor Island. We talked with King County Executive Services spokesperson Barbara Ramey at the site this afternoon. She says the county originally bought 20 portables like this one and six are in use elsewhere for people experiencing homeless. Who will use this, and when? That’ll be up to Seattle-King County Public Health, Ramey says. Here’s a look inside:

First, crews will be working to hook these up to utilities – they include bathrooms – but if they’re needed faster than that work can be done, she said, temporary hand-washing stations and portable toilets will be brought in. The county is planning deployment of the other 13 available portables – some at as-yet undetermined sites – as well as continuing to work on the purchase of a motel whose location remains undisclosed. Ramey also said there’s been “outreach” to neighbors to let them know what’s being done at this site, which holds an old commercial building that will be torn down.

6:15 PM: 34th District State Sen. Joe Nguyen just sent this news release questioning the site choice:

While lauding the state’s energetic response to the spread of coronavirus, Sen. Joe Nguyen (D-White Center) said the siting of a quarantine facility in White Center continues a pattern of systemic disregard for that community.

“I understand why this facility is needed,” said Nguyen, who represents White Center in the Washington State Senate. “But the appearance of placing it in a neighborhood that has already been historically marginalized conveys a message about whose safety we most value in our society that is not lost on me.”

Nguyen’s comments came after King County officials announced today that a quarantine facility for those diagnosed with coronavirus will be opened in the Top Hat neighborhood of White Center following news of multiple deaths from the virus earlier this week.

“It is promising to hear of action from the state regarding the containment of coronavirus,” Nguyen said. “While a quarantine facility does not necessarily mean the surrounding area is more prone to infection, I am wary to see that this facility has been placed in a community already deeply disenfranchised by decades of policies working against it.”

White Center is one of the most racially diverse areas in King County, with 60 percent of its population made up by people of color, according to 2010 Census records.

The quarantine facility is expected to be operating within 10 days and will include 32 rooms for people infected with coronavirus. More facilities are expected to be announced in the coming days in response to an increasing number of cases of the illness being diagnosed in King County.

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31 Responses to “UPDATE: King County-owned Top Hat property is first portable-housing site for coronavirus patients; Senator Nguyen questions site choice”

  1. Absolutely incredible! King County should come up with another choice. This is clearly discrimination. Thanks to Senator Nguyen for speaking the truth!

  2. Absolutely! I know they say it’s likely been spreading awhile, but why not set these up closer to where the infected have been confirmed? Not in White Center, that I recall…

  3. Same thing i thought started at Kirkland, choose Bellevue… oh wait nooo, bs

  4. Uh, I believe it started in Wuhan, China, soooooo

  5. Senator Joe Nguyen – thank you for your tireless work for our community.

  6. What a freaking ridiculous statement-shame on you Senator.

  7. Sally smith Says:

    Nothing ridiculous about the truth, pretty hard thing to be in denial about unless you happen to be white, rich, or republican

  8. Ryan Faust Says:

    Sally, I am a white conservative and I appreciate the Senator’s statement. Please don’t cause division by labeling white republicans.

  9. Were you in the movie Simple Jack?!

  10. Do you care to say why it’s ridiculous? It’s unclear why you think he should be ashamed.

  11. Tamsen Spengler Says:

    Thank you for speaking out against this senator Joe Nguyen. I fear this site be close to a senior housing facility?

  12. So… “quarantine” sick people in the middle of an urban neighborhood with high density apartment buildings with no running water. But near a water tower and exposure to local water supply.
    Oh wait. White center is largely non-white and working class poor.
    Got it.

  13. Jennifer Scarlett Says:

    This location is surrounded by working class apartments, and a new low income housing development. Families and vulnerable populations on disability/social security live here.
    It’s also a high property crime, and transient area. Really, not a very wise location. I hope these units, outbuildings, and any vehicles going to/from these units are fully secured.
    Break ins and trespass are a constant problem for this neighborhood.
    Top Hat didn’t need even more to worry about.

  14. This is an acceptable, and as white center resident i will not be ok with that. Sham on whoever came up this idea. Its freaking us out we have kids here and elders to jerbidize their lives is not accebtale.

  15. Nguyen got it right. Glad he spoke it. Not like they’d put it on the east side where most the infectIons (and rich people) are. They’d move that Kirkland facility to White Center if they could.

  16. Maybe Kirkland would be a better choice. Or Issaquah. Or the quarantine site already prepared off I-90 in the fire training academy…

  17. This is why our community is being stereotyped and taken advantage of,many elderly, low income, diverse population–our politicians figure we are too uninformed to take action.
    Look at who we put into office, and vote them out.

  18. Wait, isn’t there a middle school, a high school, and the Seola Gardens community houses and apartments a block from there? Why would you build a quarantine zone in a densely populated area where people are constantly coming and going and where there are no immediate medical facilities?

    Who do we complain to? This is outrageous. Building an infectious disease quarantine zone in this area in White Center shows true disregard for White Center and the community. And because of the makeup of the population, the history and politics, suggests some real discriminatory actions.

  19. Hey “go” you should look at how a flu spreads . To give you a hint does not start from the water supply.They the water district puts enough bleach yes bleach in the water to kill germs and bacteria.

    quarantine means no outside contact other than doctors other medical staff.

    Then the risk to the public is only for people with immune system problems and the elderly,toddlers. The rest of us if we catch it . It’s basically the flu .

    People and internet trolls and some news media are making this sound like the end of the world. It’s not that bad at all . If you look at the flu season of 2018 2019 this is nothing compared to that . But the news media has their new get the clicks and view stories. Not much else to talk about people are bored of politics.

    Basically don’t go and lick the face of a quarantine person and should be fine.

  20. Except for the fact that it also spreads via tainted objects. Think it can’t spread any other way. Think again. One sick person being transported to quarantine coughs uses their hand to touch their face touches the door handle of the vehicle they are in. They exit the vehicle. A healthy person then touches that door handle and boom. They stop for gas and touch the Paypad and gas handle more people exposed. This is going up on my street. I have asthma. If I get it it might actually kill me. I also have a degree in laboratory medicine so I know for a fact it’s not as simple as don’t lick people

  21. “Then the risk to the public is only for people with immune system problems and the elderly,toddlers. The rest of us if we catch it . It’s basically the flu .”

    Do you realize how dismissive you sound to the immune-compromised that live here? WE DO EXIST. WE ARE RIGHT HERE. We are not freaking unicorns, leprechauns, fairies, or some other mythical creature. We represent 3.6% of the population. Three or four out of every 100 people.

    People constantly toss this “you don’t need to worry unless” bit out without realizing who they may be talking to.

  22. Why would you set this up in such a high density populated area struggling to get on its feet. Far away from the general population is a better is a better idea. Not close to any hospitals. Our government discriminating against the elderly, the poor and low income.
    It is not right!!!

  23. Murphy’s Law: “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.”

    The lot these coronavirus quarantine trailers are going is next to the Beverly Park Tank which is a drinking water storage tank.
    The Beverly Park Tank is a 2,000,000-gallon water tank owned by Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) that serves customers in southwest Seattle, North Highline, and Burien. It is located in North Highline neighborhood near the intersection of 4th Avenue SW and SW 112th Street.

  24. Cristal Ortiz Says:

    Thank you senator. I could not agree more. This is on my street. I’m already exposed everyday at work running the lab at a busy urgent care facility where I have to open and handle respiratory samples from potentially infected patients and now I feel like I’m not safe at home either. THIS IS ON MY STREET! At least at work they acknowledge the risk and offer me protective gear. I do not understand why this had to come to a residential area. Why is this not in an industrial area away from People’s homes? Why not put it in the areas where the sick people are concentrated? None of us are sick. They are deliberately importing sick people into our neighborhood. They clearly don’t value our safety or contribution to society. If I get sick it’s going to be BAD. I have asthma and then there will be one less health care worker to take care of people. But I’m a Chicana and not rich so it makes me feel disposable. So messed up on so many levels. I’m beyond angry. And frightened.

  25. Without being a NIMBY I think the choice is too much based on wealth and resources that might resist such decision making. I am not so much concerned about taking care of the people who need to be quarantined as much as I am very concerned about the decision making process.

  26. I had a knee jerk reaction initially with my first post. There are care providers working directly with sick people who are potentially putting themselves directly in harms way. If I put myself in their shoes, I can understand that we all need to watch out for each other. I can’t assume the choice of location isn’t with the thought of providing the best possible care while trying to protect all of society at large.

    Am I worried because I live in White Center- yes. But I believe there are people that genuinely are trying to fight this and keep it from becoming something unmanageable. I can’t look for dark intentions. I have to hope that this is the right thing to do given the time constraints and rapidity that this disease spreads.

  27. Some people are not looking at facts over stupidity . Look at age of the people that have unfortunately passed away from this and the health issues they had . If you have a health issue that effects your immune system then you have to take extra precautions even if thing was not here . Like washing hands more often stay away from big groups of people . If you really concern see if you find some ware to stay for a few weeks away from the area . I know they may be difficult but not impossible . If your on welfare or ssi/state insurance the state or feds might even pay for any costs .

    For the person complaining that if the ems driver stops for gas oh no it’s going to spread . This is why ems drivers wear these things called gloves ether latex or neoprene . They also take other precautions like getting gas before there shift starts . Also the patient is usually on a roll away bed when getting in a ems . If they are in serious enough condition to be hospitalize . They wont be touching door knobs or handles . How long can the virus live on a surface in a open air area .

    Then you have to look at how this spreads by contact with a person who has it . Not by a water system unless if they climb up the tower and find away to swim in it . Even then again the amount bleach in the water would kill the bacteria . This why you can’t put live fish in tap water with out letting it sit for 24 to 48 hours because it can kill them do to the bleach (ask anyone with pet fish or works at a pet store). Some times you can even smell it in the water not that you smell your water . But if you happen to while drinking some . For the people that are thinking I don’t smell my water you dummy oh my this guy is so stupid .

    These people are going to be inside these rooms with no out side contact other than medical professionals .

    The county already owns the property that why it was picked . To think they picked it to to be rude to us in this area is just stupid ok . They own the property they need to use it . It’s a emergency situation do really think they went oh lets put in white center screw those people that hard working community of people trying to make in life with endless crime and stupidly messing with things daily . Let’s mess up there life .

    That as dumb as people that think when a police officer gives you a command you fail to respond . That cop is racist even when they are the same race as the suspect .

    A senator that wants to look like he is helping so when its time to vote . He can go oh I try to helped get that situation taken care of vote for me .

    Has he done anything to help pot shops with crime like working on changing the law to allowing armed security . Before another person ends up hurt like the employee shot at star 21 last year or when ever it was .

    But something like this flu or virus thing he can get attention for. Helping with pot shops ahh a little risky might loose a few votes by some . Being NIMBY over a virus/flu more votes . Just like mayor in Kent .

    People you need to think I know it can be hard you want to just complain . But this is a time to think and look at facts .

  28. I’m sick of the wealthy white republican eastside always getting it’s way even though it started in their hood! Don’t give me that lame excuse it has to go here where we are not infected!Keep it where it is! NIMBY because I’m not sick and I don’t want it near me! Quarantines are not foolproof either!!

  29. if the county owned this property,could they have not make something productive for our residents who live here? I feel that since we are unincorporated we are used as a dumping ground for our residents, we already have the burden of the highest low income housing in the county; being unincorporated let’s these uncaring politicians put us on the back burner.

  30. Hey Bob and Linda the infection distance is 6 feet . So don’t walk by the building if you’re that paranoid . If you have to drive down that road keep your windows up . Don’t touch your face with out washing your hands first.