Highline Public Schools will start 2020-2021 without in-person classes

July 22nd, 2020 Tracy Posted in Coronavirus, Highline School District, Schools, White Center news No Comments »

Highline Public Schools has announced that the 2020-2021 school year will start without in-person classes:

Highline Superintendent Susan Enfield announced today that Highline schools would begin the school year with distance learning, where students in all grades will learn from home. The district had been planning for in-person instruction on alternating days to allow for social distancing.

“I have been fiercely hoping to have our students back in our schools this fall,” said Superintendent Enfield. “But after reviewing all the data and feedback, and as the person who ultimately bears responsibility for the health and safety of our students and staff in our schools, I cannot in good conscience open schools for in-person instruction in September,”

In a survey of all employees, over 35 percent of staff reported they are in a high-risk group for COVID infection, and nearly 29 percent of teachers say they live with or care for someone who is at high risk.

This announcement comes on the same day as five other south King County districts announced similar plans.

Countries that have successfully reopened schools in-person have done so with declining infection rates. COVID-19 cases are rising in King County, and over half of all new cases are among people ages 20-39 according to Public Health – Seattle & King County.

When infection rates decrease, the district plans to move into a hybrid model. Families will have the option to continue distance learning, with students remaining with their teachers and classmates while learning from home, or choose in-person instruction two to four days a week, depending on grade level and special needs.

For more information, visit highlineschools.org/coronavirus.

Neighboring Seattle Public Schools made the same announcement today.

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NEED PET FOOD? Go to Steve Cox Memorial Park next Friday

July 4th, 2020 Tracy Posted in Coronavirus, Pets, Steve Cox Memorial Park, White Center news Comments Off on NEED PET FOOD? Go to Steve Cox Memorial Park next Friday

King County’s mobile pet-food bank is coming back to Steve Cox Memorial Park, for those who need pet food but are having trouble affording it. Look for it there (1321 SW 102nd) noon-3 pm on Friday, July 10th.

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North Highline Unincorporated Area Council update – including free masks and hand sanitizer!

July 1st, 2020 Tracy Posted in Coronavirus, Holidays, North Highline Fire District, North Highline UAC, White Center news Comments Off on North Highline Unincorporated Area Council update – including free masks and hand sanitizer!

From the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council:

As in our prior years, the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council (NHUAC) will not be holding July and August meetings. We will resume meetings on Thursday, September 3rd. Wishing everyone a safe, happy, warm, summer –

In the meantime, please see the info below regarding mask and hand sanitizer distribution that the North Highline Fire District in partnership with NHUAC and King County, will be handing out on July 4th.

The North Highline Fire District is Pleased to Announce

We will be distributing face masks (2 per person) and hand sanitizer (1 bottle per household) on July 4th in partnership with the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council and King County.

Your firefighters work hard to ensure the safety of North Highline.

We look forward to seeing you in our community on July 4th and making sure you have the protective gear you need to stay healthy!

If you need a mask or hand sanitizer before the 4th of July, please e-mail your contact information to: office@northhighlinefd.org

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More outdoor business? King County Council passes bill to pave the way

June 23rd, 2020 Tracy Posted in Coronavirus, King County, White Center news Comments Off on More outdoor business? King County Council passes bill to pave the way

Being outside is safer in these COVID-19 times, and that’s the inspiration for a bill passed today by the King County Council. Here’s the announcement:

Legislation passed Tuesday afternoon by the King County Council may lead to increased flexibility for restaurants, retail shops, and providers of certain personal services across unincorporated King County.

Passed unanimously, the measure requests the County Executive allow restaurants, retail services, and providers of certain personal services to use private parking areas, other private property and adjacent sidewalks, alleys or other right-of-ways for new or additional outdoor seating or retail use.

“As our economy begins to open up, it is important that we look for ways to help businesses across the county,” said Councilmember Kathy Lambert, who sponsored the legislation. “Different communities have been affected by COVID-19 in different ways, and the legislation passed today creates more flexibility for businesses to provide outdoor dining, retail shopping, and other services as they try to recover from this pandemic while following public health guidance. I look forward to new opportunities to do business and enjoy expanded services all across the county, including in the beautiful Snoqualmie Valley!”

The measure would only apply during the county’s movement through Phases 1-3 of Washington’s Safe Start Plan. It would sunset during Phase 4.

“Let’s seize our opportunity to support innovative business ideas,” said Councilmember Joe McDermott, who co-sponsored the legislation. “As King County advances through the state’s Safe Start phases, we as a County should do all we can within these Public Health guidelines to support recovery in our communities. I envision great outdoor possibilities in White Center and on Vashon!”

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PHASE 2: State says King County can move ahead to the next step of reopening

June 19th, 2020 Tracy Posted in Businesses, Coronavirus, Health, White Center news Comments Off on PHASE 2: State says King County can move ahead to the next step of reopening

This morning, the state announced King County can move to Phase 2 of the reopening plan. For more on what that means, here’s a detailed list on the King County Public Health website.

12:36 PM: King County’s own announcement just arrived. Before reiterating that same list, it begins:

Following approval by state Secretary of Health John Wiesman, King County has officially entered Phase 2 of the state’s Safe Start recovery plan to allow limited business re-opening. Phase 2 allows for twice the capacity in retail, restaurants, and other businesses previously allowed in King County’s modified Phase 1 and goes into effect immediately.

“Moving to Phase 2 is another step toward economic recovery for our region, but it must go hand-in-hand with even more careful adherence to precautions from our public health experts,” said Executive Constantine. “Wearing face coverings, washing hands, and avoiding crowds and unnecessary contact can help make ours a one-way trip back to prosperity, and prevent the need to go back to stay-at-home orders.”

While there are no additional categories of businesses included in moving from modified Phase 1 to Phase 2, the operating capacity has doubled for those able to reopen. For example, restaurants can now operate with 50% of indoor capacity, and retail with 30% capacity. Businesses with questions on how to safely reopen under the state’s guidance are encouraged to call Public Health’s Business Compliance Line at 206-296-1608.

“We evaluated a number of factors to apply to move to phase two of reopening. Our healthcare system, perhaps the single most important factor, is currently well-prepared to care for COVID-19 cases as well as the other health needs of our community,” said Dr. Jeff Duchin, Health Officer for Public Health – Seattle & King County.

Public Health officials recommend that people keep 6 feet apart from one another whenever possible. Outdoors exposures are less risky than indoors, and improving indoor ventilation is recommended. In addition, people need to wear face coverings in public, wash hands frequently, and get tested at the first sign of symptoms.

“Our cases have declined significantly since the peak of the outbreak in late March, and are now hovering around our target goal,” said Duchin. “Over the past seven days, however, we have seen an uptick in the number of cases compared to the previous week. With re-opening, we anticipated more cases in the community. That is why it is now more important than ever keep 6 feet apart from one another whenever possible and minimize unnecessary activity, especially people at increased risk for COVID-19.”

“As we move into phase 2 and for the foreseeable future, our risk will be increasing, not decreasing,” said Duchin. “COVID-19 has not gone away and we must take the ongoing risk very seriously. If we are going to be successful continuing to reopen, it’s essential that we do everything we can to prevent COVID-19 spread as we have more contact in social, recreational and work-related settings.”

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County’s help for small businesses: Sign up for coaching

June 11th, 2020 Tracy Posted in Businesses, Coronavirus, King County, White Center news Comments Off on County’s help for small businesses: Sign up for coaching

The announcement is from the King County Department of Local Services:

Business owners in unincorporated King County can call or sign up online to receive business assistance coaching. This service is provided under the $4 million Small Business Assistance Program, approved by the King County Council in May, to help businesses in the unincorporated areas recover from the impacts of COVID-19-related closures.

King County Local Services is contracting with two U.S. Treasury-certified Community Development Financial Institutions, Business Impact NW and Ventures, to provide the technical assistance to small businesses in unincorporated King County that have been hurt by COVID-19 and related public health measures.

Over-the-phone coaching will be available to businesses directly, as well as to local chambers of commerce and other community business organizations that serve businesses in these areas.

If needed, language interpreters will work with coaches and business owners during the technical assistance sessions. To access services in a language other than English, businesses should leave a phone message including the name of the language they speak. They will receive a call back from a coach and interpreter within two business days.

If you own a business in unincorporated King County, technical assistance coaches can help you with:

Information about the latest (federal, state, and local) funding and loan resources
Assistance with utility bills
Filling out grant or funding application forms
Coaching to help your business survive the impacts of COVID-19 closures

To access this technical assistance, call 206-331-3275 and leave a message. A coach will call back within two business days.

To learn more about this program, visit www.kingcounty.gov/localbusinesshelp.

The Small Business Assistance Program will also include a grant program to help small businesses in unincorporated King County “keep the lights on.” That program is set to launch later this month.

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BUSINESSES: King County gets ‘modified Phase 1’ reopening OK

June 5th, 2020 Tracy Posted in Businesses, Coronavirus, White Center news 2 Comments »

Just in – King County’s “modified Phase 1” approval from the state. Here’s the announcement:

With new state health officials’ approval today, restaurants and retailers will be allowed to serve customers in their establishments, in addition to other modified openings for a wide range of businesses and activities. Public Health – Seattle & King County will monitor transmission trends, medical capacity and other key indicators to help inform further reopening decisions.

A plan drafted by King County Executive Dow Constantine, King County Council Chair Claudia Balducci, and King County Board of Health Chair Joe McDermott and approved today by state Department of Health Secretary John Wiesman immediately allows limited and modified openings for a wide range of businesses, recreation, and personal activities in King County.

Businesses are required to follow the state Department of Health’s specific guidance but must adjust their occupancy to the levels identified below. The State defines an establishment’s capacity as the fire code. The intent is to limit business operations to a level that allows for social distancing. Additionally, businesses in retail, professional services, and real estate must take steps to reduce indoor operations to thirty minutes. This is not meant to be timed to the second – no one is expected to have a stopwatch – but customers should be informed why it is important to limit close interactions.

Here is an overview of what’s happening in key sectors across King County:

Restaurants
• Outdoor dining activities is allowed at 50 percent of capacity with all tables and chairs maintaining 6 feet of distance, though additional seating will be allowed provided it follows Public Health – Seattle & King County’s best practices. Restaurants will also need to go through the normal process within their city – or King County if the establishment is located within unincorporated King County – to seek approval to expand outdoor seating.
• Indoor dining services may operate at 25 percent of capacity, provided such tables and chairs are more than 6 feet away from each other.

In-store retail
• All non-essential retail activities may operate but an establishment’s occupancy may not be not be higher than 15 percent of capacity.
• Businesses are directed to provide signage encouraging indoor visits to less than 30 minutes, with face-to-face interactions limited to 30 minutes.
• Essential retail activities may continue to operate according to the existing state regulations.

Personal services: Cosmetologists, Hairstylists, Barbers, Estheticians, Master Estheticians, Manicurists, Nail Salon Workers, Electrologists, Permanent Makeup Artists, Tattoo Artists, Cosmetology Schools and Esthetics Schools
• All activities may operate but the number of clients served will be limited to no more than 25 percent of capacity or one person if it is a single bed/chair studio.

Professional services: Accountants, architects, attorneys, engineers, financial advisors, information technologists, insurance agents, tax preparers, and other office-based occupations that are typically serving a client base
• All activities allowed but an establishment’s occupancy should not be higher than 25 percent of capacity.
• Businesses are directed to provide signage encouraging indoor visits to be less than 30 minutes, with face to face interactions limited to 30 minutes.

Construction
• All construction, including those activities for which social distancing may not be maintained and the start of new construction projects, is authorized to resume.

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FOLLOWUP: Top Hat quarantine site still idle

May 28th, 2020 Tracy Posted in Coronavirus, King County, Top Hat, White Center news Comments Off on FOLLOWUP: Top Hat quarantine site still idle

Almost three months after its abrupt announcement ignited community concern, the Top Hat site set up by King County for possible COVID-19 quarantine/isolation remains idle. On Wednesday’s weekly informational call for White Center ccommunity members, a neighborhood activist again asked about the site’s post-pandemic future, but the county insists it’s too soon to say. Meantime, the county is closing the Shoreline site it had set up for assessment and recovery, as explained by Angie Malpass:

As a result of flattening the curve, the operations at the Shoreline AC/RC site, designed to handle a surge of cases, are on hold now that our health-care system, and isolation and quarantine centers have plenty of capacity. The structures will likely remain standing through the end of June when the agreement between the City of Shoreline and King County expires, as we continue to monitor case counts and demand for isolation, quarantine and assessment/recovery centers.

That leaves four county centers in operation – Kent, North Seattle/Aurora, Issaquah, and Harborview Hall. 33 people in all are staying at those facilities, far below the total 246-person capacity. Along with those, the Top Hat site and one in Eastgate “continue to stand ready to open when needed, if demand grows or we experience a second surge,” Malpass said, but, “King County will bring current operational facilities up to full capacity before opening new sites for isolation, quarantine, or recovery.”

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PRIDE: You’re invited to virtual White Center flag-raising ceremony on June 6

May 26th, 2020 Tracy Posted in Coronavirus, White Center news Comments Off on PRIDE: You’re invited to virtual White Center flag-raising ceremony on June 6

Last year, the first-ever White Center Pride flag-raising was a joyful celebration. This year, COVID-19 is getting in the way – but a virtual celebration will keep the spirit going. Today’s announcement:

On Saturday June 6th at 6:00 pm, a flag symbolizing both pride and progress will soar over Seattle’s southernmost border. The raising of the Progress Pride Flag commemorates the second year of Pride in White Center, where a strong LGBTQIA+ community has recently emerged.

Although the White Center Pride Committee has rescheduled all in-person events from the traditional month of June to October 2020 (due to impact from COVID-19), this event will be an opportunity for our community to virtually and safely “gather” to celebrate Pride as we raise the flag.

The virtual event will feature a live stream, prerecorded messages from speakers, including King County Council Member Joe McDermott, and performances by local drag queens Cookie Couture and Old Witch. We hope that many will join in celebration of the LGBTQIA+ community alongside the wonderful people who live here.

This is a FREE event. Donations accepted via PayPal @WCPride. Donations are tax deductible because the White Center Pride Committee is a pending non-profit 501c3.

You’ll be able to watch via Zoom.

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RESTAURANTS: Why Biscuit Bitch won’t be reopening in White Center

May 13th, 2020 Tracy Posted in Coronavirus, Restaurants, White Center news 4 Comments »

You might have heard by now that Biscuit Bitch has decided it won’t be reopening some of its locations – including the one that opened just last year in downtown White Center. Proprietor Kimmie Spice says it was a tough call but she had no choice but to downsize. Here’s her long letter explaining it all.

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LITTLE FREE PANTRIES: You’re invited to host one!

May 13th, 2020 Tracy Posted in Coronavirus, How to Help, White Center news Comments Off on LITTLE FREE PANTRIES: You’re invited to host one!

That’s a Little Free Pantry. In the spirit of Little Free Libraries, it’s a new nwighborhood-based way to help address hunger – which already existed in all neighborhoods, but is now worsened by the virus-crisis economic crunch. The project started in southeast Seattle and founder Molly Harmon says they are expanding west:

A small movement has taken hold in SE Seattle and we are spreading the energy to West Seattle, White Center and Burien – the building and installing of Little Free Pantries (LFP).

This project began with a micro-grant & six Little Free Pantries, and within a month we’ve raised over $3,000 and distributed nearly 44 Little Free Pantries. Little Free Pantries help neighbors feed neighbors. They aren’t intended to replace food security agencies nor eliminate the need to support them; rather they work alongside each other to draw awareness to food insecurity issues and create community through collective action in a neighborhood. We’ve begun working alongside Northwest Harvest & will work to reach out to area food banks, finding ways to utilize each other’s efforts in addressing food security.

The intention is to inform people on food insecurity and bring an issue, which hides in our society, to the surface. Millions of housed Americans are facing food insecurity on a daily basis and with our unemployment rate soaring due to COVID-19, food banks are struggling to access enough food to support those in need. It is imperative to educate the public on this growing need for food and LFPs bring this issue front and center to our neighborhoods, but in a supportive and caring way. Micro-communities form around this pillar (Little Free Pantry) and in turn, connect neighbors who otherwise would not have met. By neighbors stocking their neighborhood Little Free Pantry with non-perishable foods, it keeps the pantry full and helps those needing a meal. Whether a need for food or a need to give, Little Free Pantries help neighbors feed neighbors, nourishing neighborhoods.

We have hit our recent goal of $1150, which will enable us to build 18 pantries. We will distribute these pantries for free throughout Southwest Seattle. This is a grassroots, crowd-sourced solution to address immediate and local needs as a viable way to build community and support those facing food insecurity.

More information can be found at www.thelittlefreepantries.org. Additionally, if you feel a Little Free Pantry would work well in your neighborhood, please apply through the website.

Food insecurity is prevalent, whether you have seen it firsthand or not. And COVID-19 is intensifying the food insecurity that many of our neighbors are vulnerable to. With schools closed and layoffs rampant, many in our community are potentially going to bed hungry A quote from an owner of anewly installed Little Free Pantry in the Seward Park neighborhood, “Since it went up a little over two weeks ago, our LFP (located on Seward Park Ave, between Willow and Brighton) has been used daily, confirming that hunger is often hiding in plain sight, even in neighborhoods you might not think it would exist in.”

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Local leaders ‘strongly urging’ you to cover your face in public

May 11th, 2020 Tracy Posted in Coronavirus, Health, White Center news Comments Off on Local leaders ‘strongly urging’ you to cover your face in public

Announced today:

Joined by King County Executive Dow Constantine and Seattle Mayor A. Jenny Durkan and supported by local leaders, Public Health – Seattle & King County Health Officer Dr. Jeff Duchin today issued a Health Officer Directive for the public to use face coverings to reduce the spread of COVID-19 illness.

The Directive, effective on May 18, declares that all individuals at indoor or confined outdoor public settings are strongly urged to use face coverings over their nose and mouth.

Wearing a face covering can help prevent the spread of infection to others by blocking infectious droplets from spreading when someone with the infection coughs, sneezes and speaks. Individuals can be infected and contagious before or even without developing symptoms. Evidence suggests a significant number of infections may be transmitted in this way.

Because face masks such as N95 respirators continue to be reserved for health care workers, residents should use fabric coverings such as cloth masks, scarves or bandanas. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides tips on how to make your own cloth face covering.

The Directive applies to both workers and patrons of groceries, pharmacies, big box stores, and other essential establishments, including pet supplies, auto repairs, and home improvement stores. Restaurants with carry-out and food delivery must comply as well. Face coverings do not need to be worn outside unless appropriate social distancing cannot be practiced, such as at farmers markets.

Exceptions to the Health Directive include children, people with disabilities, deaf individuals who use facial movements as part of communication, and others. Health Officer Directives are based on individual compliance by the public; there is no penalty for not wearing a face covering.

The Directive will be in effect until it is no longer needed and rescinded by Dr. Duchin.

Executive Constantine also announced that operators and riders on King County Metro will be required to wear face coverings. Metro operators will not prevent passengers without face coverings from boarding, but recorded reminders will play on Metro vehicle public address systems informing riders of the face covering policy. Security officers will communicate public health guidance to riders who are not wearing a face covering or not staying apart from other passengers.

King County is distributing 115,000 face coverings and masks through community-based organizations. The City of Seattle is working with community-based organizations to distribute over 45,000 cloth face coverings to vulnerable communities, including people experiencing homelessness, older adults, and staff at food banks. Community partners are identifying eligible people based off their existing client lists.

As of May 10, 7,046 King County residents have tested positive for COVID-19, and 498 have died due to COVID-19 illness.

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NEED FOOD? Get it Friday at Food Lifeline in South Park

May 7th, 2020 Tracy Posted in Coronavirus, Food, South Park, White Center news 1 Comment »

Just announced by Food Lifeline in South Park:

Free Food Distribution for Everyone

Friday, May 8th
2:00 pm. – 5:00 pm

Food Lifeline
815 South 96th Street

Come by Food Lifeline to pick up an emergency food box for yourself and/or your family. Food Lifeline will be distributing 2,000 boxes of shelf-stable food items to help you and your family during this difficult time. This is for ANYONE in the community that needs help. Your zip code is the only personal information required.

Each box will include up to 25 pounds of food such as canned fruit/vegetables, canned meats, non-meat protein items, and breads/grains. Here’s a map. This will be mostly a no-contact drive-up distribution between FL’s two warehouse buildings, while supplies last, but walk-ups are welcome too.

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REOPENING: King County Parks, starting Friday

May 5th, 2020 Tracy Posted in Coronavirus, Parks, White Center news Comments Off on REOPENING: King County Parks, starting Friday

(WCN photo, Steve Cox Memorial Park)

Just announced:

King County Parks is announcing it will re-open its parks and trails on May 8 with some restrictions, and urges visitors to “Recreate Responsibly!” Active use and high touch facilities such as restrooms, play areas, sports courts, and picnic shelters will remain closed, and organized events and programs will remain suspended.

King County Parks announced today that on May 8 it will re-open its parks and trails, including regional and backcountry trails, with some restrictions. The county cautions, however, that keeping parks and trails open will depend on visitors practicing safe distancing and following public health guidelines.

Parking lots and trailheads will be open, as well as fields, docks and boat launches, and the off-leash dog area at Marymoor Park. Visitors are asked to “Keep it Moving!” and refrain from gathering or playing team sports or pick-up games on the fields. King County Parks’ decision follows the Governor’s recent announcement about the May 5 re-opening of state recreation lands.

“Here in King County, we treasure our parks, trails, and wilderness, and I know that people are eager to enjoy the outdoors during these stressful and uncertain times,” said King County Executive Dow Constantine. “We are re-opening our parks and trails in a measured way and encourage folks to recreate responsibly, keep each other safe, and continue to curb the transmission of COVID-19 in King County.”

“Outdoor recreation is a great idea but we absolutely need to continue to take precautions to prevent bringing COVID-19 back home with us. Everyone must practice safe distancing and good hand hygiene whether indoors or out because lives depend on it,” said Dr. Jeff Duchin, Health Officer for Public Health — Seattle & King County. “Where parks and trails are experiencing overcrowding and where safe distancing is not occurring, we will need to recommend re-closing those facilities to prevent the spread of infection.”

King County Parks is planning for a phased re-opening and return to full operations. The division will monitor use and continue to follow guidance from the Governor and Public Health – Seattle & King County.

Facilities such as restrooms, play areas, sports courts, and picnic shelters, will remain closed. The campground at Tolt-MacDonald Park remains closed, as does the Weyerhaeuser King County Aquatic Center, the Jim Ellis Preston Community Center, and the White Center Community Center. Organized activities and programs, such as team sports, race events, swimming lessons, volunteer work parties, and public gatherings remain suspended.

King County Parks will update the status of its parks, trails, and facilities at kingcountyparks.org/COVID.

King County Parks, in collaboration with local and state land managers and outdoor recreation stakeholders, is encouraging people to recreate responsibly by adhering to the following guidelines:

-Keep your distance. Recreate with those in your household. Give others plenty of room and communicate who will step aside on the trail (trail etiquette gives hikers coming uphill the right of way).

-Stay local. Don’t stray too far from home when recreating and keep rural communities safe by minimizing stops and bringing all that you’ll need for your outing.

-Keep it moving. Use parks and trails for walking, running, riding, rolling, and passing through.

-Plan ahead. Be prepared to go somewhere else if your destination seems crowded. Add hand sanitizer and a mask or other face covering to your 10 Essentials.

-Play it safe. Keep your activities within your comfort and skill level to reduce the risk of injury and adding to the strain on our health care and emergency services.

-Leave no trace. Take any garbage with you, including disposable face masks and gloves.

The health and safety of residents and Parks employees is paramount, and Parks will continue to monitor its parks and trails to ensure that visitors are following physical distancing and other public health guidelines. King County Parks encourages visitors to do their part and keep each other safe so that King County’s parks and trails can remain open.

Park and trail visitors can report crowding, areas that need attention, or other issues using King County Parks’ reporting tool, SeeClickFix at https://seeclickfix.com/king-county

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No North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meeting again this month

May 4th, 2020 Tracy Posted in Coronavirus, North Highline UAC, White Center news Comments Off on No North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meeting again this month

From the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council:

In keeping with the continued “Social Distancing” order, the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council is cancelling the Thursday, May 7th meeting.

We are hopeful that we may be able to return for our next scheduled monthly meeting on June 4th. We will make sure to keep everyone updated.

Please stay safe – and we hope to see you all soon.

If you have any questions please contact: Barbara Dobkin @ Bdobkin@northhighlineuac.org

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UPDATE: Top Hat quarantine facility may never open, county official says

April 29th, 2020 Tracy Posted in Coronavirus, Top Hat, White Center news 1 Comment »

(WCN file photo)

2:40 PM: During today’s weekly update call related to the Top Hat quarantine facility, Calli Knight from the King County Executive’s Office said the facility may never open. She said they’ve decided not to open any more facilities until the ones already opened by the county are at capacity, and they’re nowhere near that. She said they’re being kept in reserve just in case there’s a need from a “second wave” of infections, but otherwise it looks like occupancy at the current facilities – including former motels in Kent and Issaquah – peaked around 70 earlier this month, and is currently around 60.

3:11 PM: Angie Malpass from King County verifies that the Top Hat facility “is on hold”:

There continues to be plenty of capacity at King County’s COVID-19 isolation, quarantine and recovery centers that are currently open today in Kent, Issaquah, North Seattle/Aurora, Harborview Hall and Shoreline.

We saw peak demand about one and a half weeks ago at 74 guests and have seen a plateau now at 61 guests today.

As a result, we don’t anticipate having a need to open White Center in the near future.

Public Health is anticipating an inevitable second wave of COVID-19 and we will continue to keep White Center ready to open for when than second surge happens, should the current 5 facilities that are operational reach capacity.

This goes for the site at Eastgate, which remains ready when needed, likely for the second wave, and Interbay/Elliott Ave, which will soon be ready for when needed.

So what’s the site’s long-term plan? A neighborhood advocate asked that during the call, saying he had just obtained county emails showing discussion that the site was intended to become a shelter for homeless people. Knight said she didn’t believe that’s the current plan but would follow up.

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FOLLOWUP: Top Hat quarantine/isolation site still in holding pattern

April 23rd, 2020 Tracy Posted in Coronavirus, Top Hat, White Center news 1 Comment »

(King County photo)

Seven weeks after it was announced, King County’s Top Hat quarantine/isolation site hasn’t opened, and doesn’t appear close to opening – not because it’s not ready, but because the county still has plenty of room in the facilities it’s already opened. As we do most weeks, we listened in on the weekly communtty phone meeting Wednesday, led by Calli Knight from King County Executive Dow Constantine’s office. She noted that the four facilities the county has opened – Shoreline, Kent, Issaquah, North Seattle – are currently hosting 74 people. A community member told Knight that neighbors would like to be provided with PPE before this site opens because of fears about possible airborne transmission; Knight and a Public Health rep on the call said that didn’t seem as if it would be necessary. A community member told Knight that legal action to stop the site from opening was still a possibility. The call ended otherwise uneventfully with a reiteration that there’s “no clear opening date” for the facility.

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LIBRARIES: How you can use KCLS online

April 8th, 2020 Tracy Posted in Coronavirus, Libraries, White Center news 2 Comments »

Haven’t explored your King County Library System online? Here’s what they want you to know:

Following stay-at-home orders from Washington state Governor Jay Inslee, the King County Library System (KCLS) will extend its System-wide closure until further notice, to continue to help mitigate the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19).

“Our libraries may be closed, but KCLS is still open online,” states KCLS Executive Director Lisa Rosenblum.” We encourage residents to take advantage of our expanded digital collection and array of online programming, events and resources while closures are in effect.”

Residents in the KCLS service area (in King County, outside the city of Seattle) can sign up instantly for a digital eCard to access KCLS’ digital collection. For those who don’t have computer or Internet access, they may connect—live—with an Ask KCLS staff member by phone at 425.462.9600 or 800.462.9600. Staff are ready to answer questions, and direct residents to helpful resources and information.

Online Programming and Events

KCLS has made some of their most popular in-person programs accessible online—and added a few new ones! Explore daily activities for all ages, from virtual story times and book clubs, to online Cat Chats, art workshops and Junk Drawer Challenges.

Two notable events will also take place online this month:

Rhyme On Poetry Contest: April 1-30
During National Poetry Month in April, KCLS is hosting Rhyme On, an online poetry contest open to all King County residents. The winning poems will be published on the KCLS website and shared on social media channels. Contestants have until April 30 to submit a poem, and three winners will be announced in each age category: Kids (ages 5 to 12); Teens (ages 13 to 18) and Adults (ages 19 and older).

Celebrate Día Online: April 26-May 2
Celebrate 10 years of Día programming at KCLS with this weeklong series from April 26 to May 2. This nationally recognized initiative promotes literacy for children of all backgrounds, and celebrates multicultural literature and stories from around the world. This year, KCLS’ Día programming moves online to help connect children and their families to multicultural books, languages and cultures. Explore the recommended diversity materials, find resources in many languages, view Día booklists, and get more information about online events on the Bibliotecas King County Facebook page.

Expanded Online Resources

KCLS has expanded online resources for students, adults, children, teens and older adults, so patrons of all ages can continue to learn, build skills and stay entertained during this unprecedented time.

Audiobooks and eBooks

KCLS is investing more funds in their digital collection during the closure—over $350,000 each month. With more eBook and audiobook titles than ever, there’s something for everyone. The Libby app makes it especially easy to download digital titles, but patrons may contact Ask KCLS for assistance if they run into technical difficulties.

Streaming Movies and TV

KCLS’ range of streaming content is helping keep families entertained and engaged while libraries are closed. Watch HBO documentaries, BBC TV, how-to films, indie flicks and thousands more on Access Video. KCLS is also offering unlimited streaming on Kanopy, and expanded streaming credits on hoopla so patrons can enjoy even more movies and TV.

Resources for Students and Parents

KCLS’ revamped K-12 web page provides links to a wide variety of educational support resources, tips and activities, from homework help through Tutor.com, to STEM learning from Tumblemath.com.

Resources for Small Business Owners

KCLS’ Small Business Resources web page links the business community to information and resources like business.wa.gov, which includes COVID-19 information and resources for Washington state businesses. KCLS is also offering virtual counseling with SCORE mentors to help navigate COVID-19 impacts to small businesses. And, as always, residents can get help filing taxes.

Online Databases and More

KCLS offers access to databases and learning resources where residents can review Consumer Reports, learn a new language or skill, read bestselling magazines, and stay up-to-date on current affairs with free, unlimited access to online newspapers, such as The Seattle Times, The New York Times and The Washington Post.

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PHOTOS: Top Hat quarantine/isolation site, as work nears finish

April 6th, 2020 Tracy Posted in Coronavirus, Health, King County, Top Hat, White Center news 3 Comments »

For the first time since the day it was announced five weeks ago, we have a close-up look at the quarantine/isolation site the county is setting up in Top Hat as part of its COVID-19 response.

These are county-provided photos taken at the site this past Saturday (April 4th).

Only one four-room modular unit was in place when the site was announcdd. The old Wilderness Technology Alliance building on the site was demolished to make room for more.

Angie Malpass from King County explains, “They are finishing setting up the rooms with supplies, and while it will be ready to open this week, the county is holding off on opening until there is demand, so the opening is TBD for now, based on numbers”

As of today, the county is housing 48 people at the three other sites it has opened so far.

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FOLLOWUP: Top Hat quarantine/isolation site opening delayed

April 3rd, 2020 Tracy Posted in Coronavirus, Health, Top Hat, White Center news Comments Off on FOLLOWUP: Top Hat quarantine/isolation site opening delayed

The opening of King County’s quarantine/isolation site in Top Hat has been delayed. The County Executive’s Office announced Thursday that it would not be opening Friday as originally planned. County spokesperson Angie Malpass provided WCN with some additional details, saying site work is likely to be complete sometime Saturday, so the site could be ready to open “maybe as soon as early next week. It just depends on the need… Currently the three sites open today — Kent, Issaquah and Aurora — still have capacity, so we may hold off.” According to the Friday update from Seattle-King County Public Health, those three sites are housing a total of 41 people. Malpass says the Top Hat site will have 24/7 security – “no walk-ups and no visitors. All patients are triaged by Seattle-King-County Public Health, and the assessment is taken to DCHS who then assigns/places and transports the patient.” The county will eventually have nine sites, including this one – quarantine/isolation in Kent, Issaquah, Aurora open, Harborview Hall and Top Hat soon, and assessment/recovery centers coming to Shoreline, Interbay, Eastgate, and SODO.

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