12/21: Monday Briefing (English) & Reporte Semanal de COVID (Spanish)

By rebecca No comments

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


  • Just before going to air, the governor issued a proclamation requiring any travelers to WA coming from the United Kingdom and South Africa to quarantine for 14 days upon arrival in Washington–exceptions are made for flight crews.
    • The governor emphasized that the quarantine is a legal requirement, and getting tested is a recommendation.
    • Travelers expecting to fly between the United Kingdom and SEATAC are additionally advised to check with their airlines, as several carriers have cancelled flights in light of a new coronavirus variant.
    • The new strain of COVID-19 is observed to spread much more easily, but medical experts state that there is no evidence that it is more deadly or that it is resistant to the 2 vaccines currently approved for emergency use in the US.
    • The governor also reiterated the importance of avoiding any indoor holiday gatherings to mitigate any potential surge in viral transmission.
    • He did remark that Santa is expected to be safe entering homes for brief periods of time via chimneys.
  • The Washington State Department of Health is no longer updating COVID-19 case numbers and deaths on Sundays.
    • Monday updates to the department’s online dashboard will include the case and hospitalization counts from Sundays.
    • At the current time, negative test results data from Nov. 21, 2020 through today are incomplete, as are positive test results from Dec. 18, 2020, due to volume and processing delays.
    • The department advises that case numbers should be interpreted with caution, but that the Epidemiologic Curves tab in the online dashboard at doh.wa.gov is the most accurate and up-to-date data of COVID activity in our state.
    • The epidemiologic curve currently shows a 4-fold increase in confirmed COVID-19 cases since in the last 3 months.
    • Additionally, the state health department stopped reporting COVID-related death information until a final death certificate is issued and received by the department, which meant that a temporary decrease in the total COVID-19 death count occurred last Friday, but the department expects the numbers to be added back over time as they receive certificates.
  • Washington State Ferries officials are requesting that individuals only use ferries for essential travel over the holidays, and warn that delays and sailing schedule changes are probable as a result of fluctuations in crew availability during the pandemic.
    • Lengthy wait times are possible for people who must drive a vehicle onto a vessel over the holidays.
    • To reduce or eliminate waiting, riders are advised to consider taking an early morning or late evening sailing.
    • Reduced occupancy in terminals and on sailings for walk-on passengers with be enforced by ferries officials.
  • Our state is expected to receive some of the 128,000 doses of the newly approved Moderna coronavirus vaccine later this week.
    • The FDA granted emergency use authorization to the vaccine last week, and an independent workgroup of vaccine specialists from California, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington gave their approval yesterday.
    • In most places in Washington, individuals who are eligible to receive the vaccine right now include healthcare workers, first responders who treat patients with COVID-19, and older adults who live in congregate care settings like nursing homes.
    • Washington’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices will make further recommendations this weekend on distributing vaccine to the next priority groups, which include: Critical workers at high risk of exposure at work, People with multiple high risk health conditions, and People older than 65.
    • The federal government estimates the national supply will be adequate to begin widespread vaccination of the general public by the second quarter of 2021.
    • In the meantime, local, state, federal, and international health authorities emphasize the importance of wearing a mas, staying 6 feet from others, staying home if sick, getting tested if you have symptoms, keeping gatherings small, and washing hands often.
  • Bloodworks Northwest will be testing all blood donations for COVID-19 antibodies from through the end of the month.
    • Anyone who gives blood will get results that indicate whether their immune system has produced antibodies to the virus, regardless of whether the donor ever showed symptoms or felt sick.
    • If antibodies are present, it means that the donor’s blood products might be able to help critically ill coronavirus patients, in addition to patients who need blood for other reasons.
    • Prospective donors can book an appointment online at bloodworksNW.org or by calling 1-800-398-7888.
  • The governor has delayed the implementation of a statewide law that would have prohibited retailers from issuing single-use plastic bags on January 1st.
    • The pandemic has made it more difficult to procure alternate bags, due to increased demand for paper bags and thicker reusable plastic bags, due to increased demand for takeout and groceries, and because some bag manufacturers transitioned their facilities to manufacture hospital gowns and other PPE.
    • The order lasts through January 31st, 2021.


  • The Tacoma Pierce County Health Department reported 126 new COVID 19 cases today, 187 on Sunday, and 295 cases on Saturday.
    • There are an estimated 8,553 active confirmed COVID-19 cases in the county.
    • The County’s average cases per day over the last 2 weeks is 360, and the 14-day case rate per 100,000 people is 520.
    • For reference, community spread of COVID-19 is said to be under control when that figure is below 25 per 100,000 residents.


  • Tacoma Public Schools plans to begin bringing students back to school for in-person instruction in phases, starting with kindergarten students, beginning Tuesday, Jan. 19 two days per week—Monday-Tuesday or Thursday-Friday—in groups of up to 15 students.
    • On school days when students do not attend school in person, they will have assignments from their teacher to work on independently from home.
    • Students who receive special education services at all grade levels—and who have been attending school in person in groups of five or fewer—will continue to attend school in groups of up to 15 students.
    • The district has reportedly started exploring ways to bring back middle school and high school students living homeless and others farthest from educational justice in small groups of up to 15 students, as recommended by the new state guidance.
    • Beginning Monday, Jan. 25, preschool students will attend school two days per week in groups of up to 15 students.
    • Beginning Feb. 1, kindergarten students would shift to four school days per week—but only if the COVID-19 case count in Pierce County drops below 350 cases per 100,000 residents for 14 days.
    • Beginning Monday, Feb. 8, first and second graders would return to school two days per week—Monday-Tuesday or Thursday-Friday—in groups of up to 15 students. Kindergarten and preschool will continue as described above.
    • The Superintendent plans to provide another update for the community during the first week in January.


  • 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
    • Tue, Dec 22: PLU and Spanaway Elementary School
    • Wed, Dec 23: Key Peninsula Longbranch Improvement Club, Tacoma Musical Playhouse, and the Lakewood State Emission Inspection Station
    • No ID is required, tests are free and open to anyone, and most testing runs 10am-3pm, but check TPCHD.org for specifics
    • Results are available in 3-7 days
    • Bonus: Some COVID test sites are also doing free adult flu shots too!
  • A new program even arranges for a test to be delivered to you if you have mobility issues or trouble getting to a test site.
  • Cheney Stadium is partnering with Discovery Health to offer COVID-19 testing Tuesdays through Saturdays from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. through Feb. 28.
    • The site will be closed for the holidays on Dec. 24, 25, 31 and Jan. 1.
    • Individuals looking to get tested are asked to pre-register online at testdirectly.com, and those with health insurance are asked to enter their information during registration as well as bring it with them to the site.