9/14: Monday Briefing

By rebecca No comments


  • The Washington State Dept of Health notes that air pollution due to wildfire smoke can provoke symptoms that can look a lot like COVID-19: coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath.
    • Serious wheezing and shortness of breath are always worth a call to your health care provider — or 911 if you are really struggling to breathe.
    • Health care providers can help you determine whether you should be tested for COVID-19.
    • Until air quality improves, those in smoke-impacted regions are advised to stay indoors as much as possible, keep windows closed, utilize air conditioning systems on recirculation mode, use fans and filters, maintain indoor air quality by limiting frying, broiling, or candle use inside, and to limit any strenuous physical outdoor activity like jogging or physical labor.
    • Air quality can be monitored at airnow.gov and purpleair.com.
  • Due to fires and power outages, the deadline has been extended for families of school children to apply for Pandemic EBT, a special additional food assistance benefit, to Wednesday, September 16, at 3 pm.
    • Applications will ONLY be accepted via phone, by calling DSHS at 877-501-2233
  • The Department of Social and Health Services has updated its Disaster Cash Assistance Program to serve people who are affected by the wildfires burning throughout Washington state, including residents of Pierce County.
    • To see qualifications and to apply, go to washingtonconnection.org or call 877–501–2233.
  • DSHS customers receiving or applying for cash, food, medical or child care programs can now submit verification documents by email.
    • DSHS will send emails to existing customers with email addresses on record between Sept. 10 and Sept. 25 inviting them to participate in the new service.
    • Individuals may call the Customer Service Contact Center at 877-501-2233 with questions
  • The State Insurance Commissioner has yet again extended the emergency order directing all state-regulated health insurers to make additional coverage changes to aid consumers during the coronavirus pandemic. Insurers are required to:
    • Continue coverage for providing telehealth via methods including telephone and video chat tools such as Facetime, Facebook Messenger video chat, Google Hangout video, Skype and Go-to-Meeting.
    • Cover all medically necessary diagnostic testing for flu and certain other viral respiratory illnesses billed during a provider visit for COVID-19 with no copay, coinsurance or deductible.
    • and to Treat drive-up testing sites for COVID-19 as provider visit with no copay, coinsurance or deductible.
    • and to waive or expedite prior authorization requirements for home healthcare or long-term care facility services to speed up discharging patients who are ready to leave.


  • The Tacoma Pierce County Health Department has issued guidance for families who have decided to guide their children’s education via so-called learning pods while school buildings are closed.
    • Families who have children from multiple families learning together under the supervision of an adult acting as a tutor should do the following:
      • Keep pod sizes small. Limit to 5 or fewer students. Larger pods carry more risk if someone gets sick.
      • Keep pods consistent – the same students should participate. Mixing pod groups increases the risk of spreading illness.
      • Complete health screenings prior to attending a learning session.
      • Wear face coverings.
      • Maintain 6 feet of physical distancing among group members.
      • Hold class outside if possible. This will increase ventilation and provide maximum fresh air. A garage with the door open may provide a large covered space with good ventilation. If class cannot be outdoors, ensure the class area has proper ventilation. Open windows when possible.
      • Assign students their own learning materials to reduce shared items.
      • Encourage students to wash their hands at the start and end of meetings, before eating, after coughing and sneezing, and after touching their faces.
      • Ask students to bring meals. Do not share food or drinks.
      • If a member of a learning pod becomes sick with COVID-19, contact the Health Department to assist with case investigation, contact tracing, and isolation and quarantine recommendations.
      • A confirmed COVID-19 case in a pod likely means the entire pod will need to quarantine for 14 days and monitor for symptoms.
      • More info available at tpchd.org/covidinfoschools.


  • Due to continued hazardous air quality, Metro Parks Tacoma will keep the following facilities closed on Tuesday, Sept 15:
    • Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium
    • W. W. Seymour Botanical Conservatory
    • Point Defiance Marina (limited access to boathouse tenants only)
    • Meadow Park Golf Course
    • Park Restrooms
  • Tacoma City Council will hold its weekly meeting virutally tomorrow, September 1st at 6pm
    • It will air on TV Tacoma and will be livestreamed on TVTacoma.com and on the city’s Facebook live.


  • There are numerous free testing sites in our region:
  • For Pierce County locations, visit TPCHD.org/covidtest.
    • Asia Pacific Cultural Center on Wednesday, Sept 16
    • The Prairie Ridge Community Center on Wednesday, Sept 16
    • Washington State Fair on Thursday, Sept 17
    • The Tom Taylor Family YMCA in Gig Harbor on Friday, Sept 18
    • The Puyallup United Methodist Church in Puyallup, Journey Church on Pearl St. in Tacoma, and Sacred Heart Catholic Church on East McKinley in Tacoma, all on Saturday, Sept 19
  • No ID is required and tests are free and open to anyone.
  • Patients can also call their health providers for tests.