12/16: Wednesday Briefing

By rebecca No comments

New guidance issued on resuming in-person schooling, based on new data, and flu shots are still important!


  • 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
  • And individuals struggling with substance use or addiction can call or text the WA Recovery Help Line at 366-789-1511


  • The State Department of Health notes that while the COVID19 vaccine won’t be available for the general public for quite some time, most members of the public can and should get their flu vaccine.
  • The Washington State Department of Health is an online Spanish-language webinars to address frequently asked questions about vaccines in the era of COVID-19.
    • The panel discussions will feature experts in the fields of virology and medicine Latino Center for Health on Thursday, Dec 17th at 6:30pm.
    • Washington residents can register for the webinar in advance and submit their vaccine questions.
    • The link to each can be found by going online to coronavirus.wa.gov and looking in the “News” section.
    • Those unable to attend should still register, and a link to a recording of the webinar will be emailed to you!
  • As we went to air, the governor was holding a press conference announcing changes to the School Health & Safety toolkit and current “decision tree” that help local officials make decisions about when and how to offer in-person education, based on new data.
    • The governor announced that transitioning students back into the classroom can begin with safety precautions under updated guidance.
    • The governor shared scientific data that has become available in the most recent 6 months showing that COVID-19 transmission risk is low at schools where safety and health measures like physical distancing, mask wearing, frequent cleaning, and good ventilation are in place.
    • The governor reiterated that he, along with public health departments, has the statutory authority to close schools, but that local school boards are the ones with authority to open schools.
    • The new guiding recommendations suggest that if covid cases in a school’s area of service is below 50 per 100,000 people, schools may invite all students to return for in-person schooling.
    • If cases in the area are greater than 50 but fewer than 350 per 100,000, schools may consider phasing in a system for in-person instruction starting with the youngest students.
    • Data show that young students actually adhere to health and safety measures, like mask wearing and physical distancing, better than do teens.
    • If schools choose to open, they must, by law, abide by all workplace safety and health rules.
    • The state is allocating funds through the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction for schools to prep for student and staff returning to school sites.
    • Further recommendations suggest that once in-person learning has resumed, there isn’t a need to revert to remote learning even if community disease rates increase–just pause on bringing back any other students.
    • If community disease rates are stable or decreasing, the guidelines suggests moving forward with phasing in more students for in-person schooling.
    • The governor also aims to expand testing regimens for school staff and students, such as those that have been deployed in some local Pierce County school districts.


  • The Tacoma Pierce County Health Department reported 225 new COVID 19 cases yesterday.
    • The County’s average cases per day over the last 2 weeks was 345, and the 14-day case rate per 100,000 people was 535.
    • For reference, community spread of COVID-19 is said to be under control when that figure is below 25 per 100,000 residents.
  • The Pierce County Council still held a vote on bil #2020-136, the proposal to dismantle the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department, despite teh governor issuing an emergency order halting any efforts to dissolve helath departments or districts across the state.
    • However, the bill failed to pass with a majority vote.
  • Critical staff at Joint Base Lewis McChord started receiving coronavirus vaccines today voluntarily.
    • Prioritized recipients include health care workers, vulnerable populations, personnel working on so-called “national capabilities,” and some individuals approaching deployment.


  • The Hilltop Action Coalition is facilitating a Hilltop Holiday Crawl to support local businesses through Dec 20th.
    • Individuals can stop by Hilltop Action Coalition for a Passport, face masks, and sanitizer from 10am to 4pm at 1116 Earnest S Brazill ST. ⠀⠀
    • More info can be found at https://www.hilltopcrawl.com.⠀


  • There are numerous free COVID-19 testing sites in our region:
    • For King County locations visit KingCounty.gov.
    • Note that King County is no longer allowing individuals to book free COVID-19 tests days in advance, in order to discourage would-be holiday travelers, and to prioritize testing for those who’ve been exposed or those who are experiencing symptoms.
    • For Pierce County locations, visit TPCHD.org/covidtest.
  • This week’s mobile testing events include
    • Wed, Dec 16: Metroparks Kandle Park, the Asia Pacific Cultural Center (where adult flu vaccines will also be available!)
    • Thurs Dec 17: Puyallup Fairgrounds Blue Lot, Centro Latino
    • Fri, Dec 18: Tacoma Nazarene Church, Chapel Hill Presb Church in Gig Harbor
    • No ID is required
    • Testing runs 10am-3pm.
    • tests are free and open to anyone
    • results are available in 3-7 days