2/23: Tuesday Briefing

By rebecca No comments


  • The State Utilities and Transportation Commission has extended protections for electric and natural gas customers struggling to pay their bills due to the ongoing economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
    • Investor-owned energy utilities are barred from disconnecting customers for nonpayment through July 31.
    • Utilities must also continue to waive late fees and deposits through Jan. 27, 2022.
    • The order allows utilities to begin sending notices to customers in June, reminding them that disconnections will resume, and supplying information about payment options and customer assistance programs.
  • The snowstorm a week and a half ago greatly impacted the local blood supply, and Bloodworks Northwest is in urgent need of donors to make and keep appointments for blood and platelet donation.
    • Donors must wait 2 weeks after a COVID-19 vaccination dose before giving blood.
    • Bloodworks NW is testing all blood donations for COVID-19 antibodies through at least the end of the month, so you get to find out if you’ve produced antibodies for the virus.
    • Individuals can register to give blood at schedule.bloodworksNW.org or call 800-398-7888.
  • The Washington State Department of Health and the UW Medicine Virology lab announced that the B.1.351 variant of SARS-CoV-2 has been detected in King County from a COVID test done on January 29th. This is the coronavirus variant first identified in South Africa.
    • At the same time, the lab found evidence of 19 additional cases of the B.1.1.7 variant strain, also referred to colloquially as the UK variant, in Washington state.
    • Currently, there are no confirmed cases of the P.1 variant that originated in Brazil.
    • The South Africa variant is not known to cause more severe disease and it is not clear whether it spreads more readily than other strains, but this strain can reduce the effectiveness of some vaccines.
    • The department of health advises that in order to combat new strains that can potentially spread more easily, wear a mask, even with people you see regularly, even in the car with others, and even in your smallest social circles; Keep gatherings outside whenever possible; Avoid any social gatherings indoors, but if participating, wear a mask and ensure windows and doors are open to maximize ventilation; Wash your hands often, don’t touch your face, and carry hand sanitizer for use when water and soap are not available.


  • Washingtonians can find out if they are eligible for COVID-19 vaccines online at FindYourPhaseWA.org.
  • No further eligibility tiers or phases have opened up yet, but healthcare workers, first responders, elders 65 years and up, longterm care residents, and those over 50 who live in multigenerational households are all currently eligible.
  • For general info on the vaccine, go to COVIDvaccineWA.org
  • Vaccine shipments that were delayed last week due to weather are expected to be delivered within the next day or two, and the delayed shipments are coming in addition to the doses that were already scheduled to arrive this week.
  • Individuals who are having trouble securing a 2nd dose appointment due to the delays or any other reason can be advised that, according to the Washington State Department of Health, second doses of either the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines may be given up to six weeks after the first dose.
  • Eligible King County residents can seek appointment online at kingcounty.gov/vaccine or call 206-263-9600
  • Pierce County residents can sign up for email notifications in advance of future COVID-19 community vaccine events by going to tpchd.org/notify.
  • Anyone wishing to volunteer in vaccination events can learn more at PierceCountyMRC.org
  • Individuals can also go to coronavirus.wa.gov to search for providers, clinics, and pharmacies that may be offering vaccine appointments.


  • The Tacoma Pierce County Health Dept reported 77 new COVID cases and 3 new deaths today.
  • The county’s 14-day case rate per 100,000 is 201.
  • Seattle Children’s Hospital is starting a rapid Covid-19 testing program in Auburn elementary schools next month.
    • The program aims to test school staff voluntarily, and students with parental consent, once a week.
    • The hospital will analyze results to determine prevelance of the virus in schools.
    • Auburn will pilot the program, and schools in 9 other districts are slated to join.


  • Families with children in grades Kindergarten through 8 may register for spring soccer now online at metroparksTacoma.org and click on the Activities & Sports tab.
    • All practices and games will be run with COVID-19 safety protocols in place including masks.
  • Charles Wright Academy is hosting a free webinar tomorrow, Feb 24th at 7pm focused on Helping Kids Balance Technology During COVID.
    • The webinar is part of th eParent Education series facilitated by Charles Wright Academy educators.
    • Call (253) 620-8373 for help registering, or Register online at eventbrite.com–just enter “helping kids balance technology” in the search bar.
  • The Tacoma City Council will hold its weekly meeting tonight at 5pm
    • It will be broadcast on TVTacoma, and streamed live on the city’s facebook page and at TVTacoma.com


  • There are numerous free COVID-19 testing sites in our region, including at Multicare, Franciscan, and Kaiser facilities; at Community Healthcare and SeaMar Community Health Centers; at Cheney Stadium, at the Lakewood State Emissions Testing Center, and more.
    • You can go to coronavirus.wa.gov and follow links for “Find Covid Testing Near Me” for specific locations.
    • In addition to permanent regular testing locations, The Tacoma-Pierce County Health Dept offers free mobile testing events. The remaining ones this week include:
    • Friday, Feb 26: Rainier View Christian Church in Graham
    • Testing runs 10am-3pm.
    • If you need later hours, the Lakewood State Emissions Inspection Station is open till 5:30pm
  • Some Walgreens pharmacies also now offer free drive-up rapid antigen testing for people Ages 3 and up, including the Walgreens at 38th & Pacific in Tacoma


  • KTQA invites members of our community to share your memories of Kris Brannon, also known as “Sonics Guy,” died this past weekend and whose loss we mourn.
  • If you ever saw Kris and he made you smile, and you’d like to share with the KTQA community, you can call 253-330-8821 and leave a voicemail with your name, where you’re from, and what you remember dearly about this Tacoma icon.
  • Your message in whole or in part may be included in a tribute program that may air on broadcast radio, stream online, or be a part of a podcast.
  • You can also record a file on your own and send it our way to info@ktqa.org.