12/7: Monday Briefing & Reporte Semanal de COVID

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Today’s briefing includes diverse mental and emotional health hotlines and text-lines, food security resources, and an update on the bill to dismantle the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department.  The briefing is also accompanied by the Spanish-language Reporte Semanal de COVID, produced in collaboration with Latinx En Accion and the TPCHD.


  • State-level updates on COVID-19 can be found online in multiple languages at coronavirus.wa.gov.
  • Dialing 311 will get you to the City of Tacoma’s non-emergency information line.
  • The state’s Coronavirus Q&A line is staffed 7 days a week, 6am-10pm, at 1-800-525-0127. For interpreters in other languages, press # when they answer and say your language.
  • You can also text the coronavirus Q&A line at 211-211 in any language.
  • Dialing 211 will connect you to community resources statewide through United Way, and you can also visit wa211.org online.
  • A number of mental wellness support phone lines and text services are available
  • The “Washington Listens” support line for managing stress is 1-833-681-0211.
  • The Suicide Prevention Lifeline phone number is 800-273-8255
  • The Crisis Text Line provides confidential text access from anywhere in the U.S. to a trained crisis counselor when you Text HEAL to 741741
  • Teens can call or text the Teen Link number at 866-833-6546
  • Individuals struggling with substance use or addiction can call or text the WA Recovery Help Line at 366-789-1511
  • And a “warm line” is available for those facing emotional and mental health challenges at 877-500-WARM (877-500-9276)


  • The US Department of Education announced an extension of the federal student loan administrative forbearance period, the pause in interest accrual, and the suspension of collections activity through Jan. 31, 2021.
    • This means that federal student loan borrowers will not be expected to make payments through January of next year.


  • You might notice that flags are flying at half-staff at all state and federal agency buildings today–this is because December 7 is National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day, which was created by Congress in 1994 in honor of those Americans killed or injured as a result of the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.
  • The governor has updated an emergency proclamation to extend the state waiver of truck driver hours restrictions through February 28, 2021.
    • This update adds vaccine carriers to the list of carriers exempt from service hour regulations, and extends the COVID-related commercial truck driver hour waiver to February 28, 2021 in alignment with federal waivers.
  • The state department of health is reminding Washingtonians that indoor social gatherings are highly restricted through at least December 14.
    • Gathering with people you don’t live with—even close friends and family—likely contributes to the spread COVID-19, and the more people we interact with at a gathering and the longer that interaction lasts, the higher the risk of becoming infected.
    • The safest action for everyone is to avoid gatherings, even outdoor gatherings, and find different ways to celebrate this season.
  • The state’s COVID-19 info website at coronavirus.wa.gov has resources for those struggling with food security.
    • Schools are offering any child 18 or younger free meals through the remainder of the school year, distributed from a number of locations and bus stops across cities–contact your local school district for more info
    • Additionally, there is a Department of Agriculture online tool to help families find meals for children while schools are closed for in-person instruction during the pandemic
    • Pregnant people, nursing parents, and children under 5 can qualify for food assistance through WIC.
      • Call 1-800-322-2588 to get set up with WIC.
      • As a courtesy, shoppers see an item marked “WIC” might consider purchasing a similar item without the WIC label in order to keep those foods stocked and available for those whose only access is the through this program.
    • Seniors and people with disabilities may apply for programs that offer home delivery through the Washington Community Living Connections website at https://washingtoncommunitylivingconnections.org or by calling 1-855-567-0252.
    • Washington 211 also provides information on locations of food pantries and places that provide free meals, commonly known as “soup kitchens.”
    • US citizens who have low incomes may apply for federal basic food benefit cards, called EBT, at DSHS.wa.gov in the Basic Food page.
      • The federal government suspended a work requirement that applied to some adults during this crisis.
    • Non-citizens with legal residency can apply for State Food Assistance at dshs.wa.gov as well.
  • WANotify now has more than 1.1 million users.
    • It is the anonymous and free way to get alerts when you have spent time near another WA Notify user who tested positive for COVID-19
    • You can go to WANotify.org to learn more.


  • The Tacoma Pierce County Health Department reported 108new COVID 19 cases today. There were 177 cases on Saturday and 37 cases reported on Sunday.
    • The Tacoma-Pierce County Health department attributed the low number of newly confirmed cases over the last few days to “technical difficulties, fax-only processing, and reduced staffing while preparing for data migration.”
    • The department’s new data management system will go live on Thursday of this week, and in the meantime they are taking extra time to ensure data is complete and error-free as it is transferred.
    • The County’s 14-day case rate per 100,000 people is 339.
    • For reference, the figure is recommended to be at 75 per 100,000 to consider bringing back youngest students for hybrid in-person learning at schools, and should be below 25 per 100,000 residents to be considered under control.
  • Pierce County Council bill #2020-136 would dissolve the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department, which has existed as a collaborative interagency department that reports to an independent 8-person board since 1972.
  • The bill passed through committee Monday morning and will head to a vote of the full Pierce County Council on December 15th.
    • Opponents of the proposal are holding a socially-distanced protest tomorrow, December 8th, 8-10am, at the rear parking lot of County City Building in downtown Tacoma.
    • Masks and social distancing are required, and community safety monitors will be in place to help with reminders to prevent any potential COVID-19 spread.
    • The Council’s regular meeting will take place at 3pm tomorrow after study sessions.
    • Links to agendas can be found online at Piercountywa.gov–click on County Council in the “Government” section.
    • You can give feedback on the proposal to dismantle the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department by calling 253-798-7777.
    • Councilmember Pam Roach, who sponsored the bill, can be reached at (253) 798-2222. Roach represents residents of Puyallup, Sumner, Fife, Milton, Pacific, Edgewood, Northeast Tacoma, Southeast Auburn, Browns Point and Dash Point.
  • The governor’s moratorium on residential evictions is set to expire at the end of this month.
    • For those in King County seeking rent assistance, you can go to https://kingcounty.gov/ and look for eviction prevention and rent assistance in the Community Human Services section of the website, or email CommerceRAgrant@kingcounty.gov.
    • Pierce County residents should go to PierceCountyWA.gov/housinghelp.
  • The governor’s moratorium on energy, landline telephone, and water utility disconnects and late fees is set to expire at the end of this month as well.
    • The Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) assists households whose incomes are at or below 150 percent of the federal poverty level for home heating needs, as these families are at risk of losing access to heat during cold-weather months.
    • Tacoma residents seeking energy assistance can call the Metropolitan Development Council at 253-572-5557,
    • Other residents of Pierce County outside Tacoma city limits can call Pierce County Human Services at 800-562-0336.
    • Federal Way residents can call the Multi Service Center at (253) 517-2263.


  • Tacoma Public Schools Kindergarteners, first graders, and second graders who still need laptops for virtual learning can now get them from the school district, a month earlier than planned.
    • Pickup times vary depending on the elementary school, and families will be notified through their schools about their designated pickup time.
    • With these new devices, Tacoma Public Schools will become a one-to-one device district, meaning all students have their own district-issued laptop to use for school work.
    • Students will be able to keep their laptops through the remainder of the 2021 school year, even if the partial or full-time in-person learning resumes.
  • Tonight at 6 p.m., the city of Tacoma will hold a virtual event to introduce the finalists for the new Tacoma Police Chief position.
    • The event will be broadcast on TV Tacoma, and streamed via tvtacoma.com and Facebook Live.


  • There are numerous free COVID-19 testing sites in our region:
  • This week’s mobile testing events include
    • Tuesday, Dec 8: Pierce College in Puyallup and Centro Latino in Tacoma
    • Wed, Dec 9: PLU & UPS
    • Thur, Dec 10: Church for All Nations
    • Fri, Dec 11: TCC
    • No ID is required
    • Testing runs 10am-3pm.
    • tests are free and open to anyone
    • results are available in 3-7 days