7/17: Many Friday Updates

By sam No comments

It’s Friday!   No interview today, but numerous important updates.


  • Starting on Monday, July 20th, all indoor and outdoor live entertainment, including live music at restaurants or drive-in concerts will be prohibited across the state due to the state experiencing the highest single-day case increases, and the highest 7-day average case count, since the pandemic began in January.
    • All social gatherings for individuals in phase 3 counties will be limited to 10 people, down from the previous allowance of 50.
    • All social gatherings for individuals in phase 2 counties (which includes Pierce and King Counties) and all phase 1 counties, will continue to be limited to 5 people per week.
    • Examples of social gatherings include book clubs, barbecues, picnics, parties of any kind, baby showers, social clubs, garage sales, and gatherings on beaches and in parks.
    • Exceptions include spiritual services, weddings, and funerals.
    • The governor warned that the increased restrictions “may be a forerunner to additional rollbacks,” and he stated that “we cannot rule out the potential for another stay-home order this year, and perhaps not in the too distant future.”
  • A lawsuit challenging the legality of Gov. Inslee’s emergency response to the COVID-19 pandemic was thrown out in the federal Court this week.
    • The judge ruled that the governor’s emergency power granted by the Legislature “clearly encompasses an outbreak of a pandemic disease.”
    • The judge also ruled the Department of Labor & Industries lawfully exercised its authority in developing rules that enforce the governor’s emergency proclamations.
  • Washington’s insurance commissioner has extended an emergency order until August 16th that directs all state-regulated health insurers to make additional coverage changes in light of the pandemic.
    • Insurers must continue coverage for telehealth, continue to cover all medically necessary diagnostic testing for flu, coronavirus, and other viral respiratory illnesses without coinsurance or deductible, and treat drive-up COVID-19 testing sites in the same regard as provider office visits with no copay, coinsurance or deductible.
    • Health insurers must also waive or expedite prior authorization requirements for home healthcare or long-term care facility services
  • The State Employment Security Department commissioner is noting that the additional $600 per week in Federal Pandemic Unemployment Program benefits will stop after July 25th unless Congress renews the program.
    • Washingtonians who were eligible for unemployment benefits between April 4th and July 25th of this year are still eligible for back payments of the federal funds for all weeks for which they were eligible, even if still seeking claims resolution.
    • State employment agencies administer the benefits but do not have a say in whether these benefits are extended.
  • WorkSource offices around Washington are offering online workshops, training opportunities and virtual one-on-one help with a variety of job-search tasks like writing resumes and cover letters, job application assistance, and interview preparation.
    • More info is available at WorkSourceWA.com, where job opportunities are also listed.
  • The Washington Department of Ecology is reminding residents that gloves, masks, and so-called flushable wipes should be kept out of toilets and disposed of in household trash to alleviate strain on sewer systems, pumps, pipes, and septic systems across the state.


  • The Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department is reporting that the county has a 14-day case rate of nearly 95 per 100,000, whereas the state health department target is 24 or fewer cases per 100,000.
    • The average daily number of confirmed cases since the Fourth of July is 61.1, whereas health department targets dictate that fewer than 16 would suggest the pandemic is under control.
    • The county’s health director now states that Pierce County is considering moving backward to Phase 1 or 1.5.
  • The health department urges anyone in high-risk categories to be tested – even if they do not have symptoms.
    • At-risk communities include Alaska Native, American Indian, Black, Latino, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander individuals, who are disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 in our state.
  • Mobile testing stations are being sent to rural areas of Pierce County and communities where traveling to existing permanent testing locations is difficult.
    • Organizations that want to have a mobile testing station utilize their facilities for community testing should call 253-798-6595 or email PCEOC@piercecountywa.gov
  • Pierce County is assisting residents with up to 2 months of rent paid directly to one’s landlord, as far back as April for those who still owe.
  • Veterans in Pierce County are eligible for up to 6 months of rental and mortgage assistance, car payments, and other financial support to pay for back payments, utilities and other bills.
  • Ballots have been mailed for the August 4th Primary Election.
    • Voters in the same household may get their ballots on different days, but all ballots should arrive by Wednesday, July 22nd.
    • Those who don’t receive their ballots may call the 253-798-VOTE (253-798-8683) for assistance.
    • It’s free to return ballots using United States Postal Service mail – just place your ballot in your mail box for pickup by July 31, 2020.
    • Ballot drop box locations and more info is available at piercecountyelections.org.
    • The deadline to vote is 8 p.m. on August 4, 2020.
  • Pierce County’s Environmental Educators are offering creative outlets for kids every Thursday from 10:30-11:00 a.m. on Zoom. See the schedule at piercecountywa.gov/EnviroEd.


  • Children and Youth on Tacoma’s East Side are invited to participate in summer learning activities for the chance to win prizes like stickers, bubbles, keychains, bike helmets, art kits, backpacks, and gift cards.
    • Pick up activity kits from KBTC at the Family Investment Center at 1724 E 44th St on Tuesdays and Thursdays 12-2pm
  • The Salishan Association is also seeking middle and high school-aged youth to participate in the Salishan Youth Leadership Committee through August 6th.
    • Meetings take place via zoom on Tuesdays and Thursdays 11am-1:30pm
    • Call 253-302-0136 or email rmcafee@safest.org for more information
    • Madigan Army Medical Center’s chief officer stated that increased testing is only accounting for a small percentage of case increases.
    • He added that if service members completely complied with preventive measures, such as wearing face coverings and socially distancing, they could significantly reduce the spread of the disease.
    • JBLM’s COVID-19 data is not publicly available, per a federal Department of Defense order in April.