Community News

Our County continues to be in a moderate risk category, and we have seen a new death in the county due to COVID-19 this week. Most new cases are happening due to extended family gatherings and people coming to the workplace sick. 

Good afternoon and welcome to my October 21, COVID-19 Community Briefing. Since March we have been adjusting how we live our lives with the safety of our community and family in mind. We should expect to continue along this path for 6 more months as we go into flu season and await an eventual vaccine. I continue to keep in close contact with the county’s mayors and Mount Vernon, Sedro-Woolley and Anacortes will be working on a coordinated approach to reopening in- person City services when it is safe to do so. That means that for the time being City Hall will remain closed and city services will continue to be offered uninterrupted, online, over the phone or through curbside services. 

Mayor Gere's televised message failed to air, but is available on YouTube.

Our County continues to be in a moderate risk category, and we have seen a new death in the county due to COVID-19 this week. Most new cases are happening due to extended family gatherings and people coming to the workplace sick. We have the information about current cases, and we know the best way to combat the rise in cases – fewer and shorter interactions outside our households. 

Safer Gatherings 

The State has created a new Safer Gatherings page on the state’s Coronavirus website. The webpage is designed to help people make safe choices during the fall and winter and includes information on alternatives to gatherings, ways to have safer gatherings, and a guide for having conversations with friends and family about gatherings during COVID-19. The Safer Gatherings page includes a safety checklist and information about holiday celebrations during COVID-19. I encourage families to review these helpful resources as we all prepare for the holiday season. 

Washington State COVID-19 Updates

Governor Inslee recently announced extensions of the eviction moratorium as COVID-19 continues to impact the finances of Washingtonians statewide. This moratorium is extended to December 31. The ratepayer assistance proclamation prohibits energy, water and landline telephone companies from disconnecting, refusing to reconnect, or charging a fee for late payment to any residential customers from energy, landline telephone or water services as a result of COVID-19 hardships. This does not relieve customers from the obligation to pay for utility services. This proclamation was extended until December 31. 

Phase 3 Metrics 

Currently, we are at 49.5 cases per 100,000 residents, with 1.5% of people testing positive. The percentage of beds occupied in a county is currently at 69.8% and the percentage of beds occupied by COVID-19 cases is at 0.9%. We are currently meeting 3 of the 5 metrics set by the state. 

By the numbers

Island Hospital reports having tested a total of 6,926 people with a total of 74 positive cases, 10 positive hospitalized cases, and fortunately there have been no deaths in Anacortes. Island Hospital has created a drive through site in which you can get your flu shot. Flu shots are critical to the health of our families and neighbors. Getting vaccinated for the flu is just one very important way to keep yourself and those around you safe and healthy.

Skagit County Testing Site

Skagit County reported 12 new cases over the weekend. This brings us to a total of 1,202 cases, 101 hospitalizations and 23 deaths. There have been 28,888 tests performed with 670 people testing positive at the testing site and Skagit Valley College.

Anacortes Public Library 

The library continues curbside service Monday-Saturday with more than 4500 customers served so far. The addition of Saturday and Tuesday evening hours has been well received. The library team is working hard to implement new safety requirements for phase 2 to see what services can safely be added in the building alongside curbside. When it is safe to do so, in-building access will be added in a limited capacity adhering to state guidelines, alongside curbside delivery service, which will continue through all phases. 

Don't miss the Humanities Washington live Speaker series this fall that begins tonight at 7pm, and Thursday this week you can tune into the final NASA at My Library program this year. The Children’s Library is excited to celebrate Halloween in a different way this year! There is a virtual Storybook Pumpkin Patch with pumpkins decorated to look like a favorite book characterand every story time next week will feature a Halloween theme. 

Parks and Recreation 

In the parks and recreation department we continue to find ways to engage youth in a safe, physically distant way. For the past month and half, we have been running small groups of soccer training with volunteer coaches. When the State eased some restrictions about a week ago on youth sports allowing for competitions, we were able to schedule some games for the small groups that had signed up. Kids were able to use the skills they have been learning over the past several weeks and a limited amount of family members were able to watch their kids play!

The highly successful and popular Camp Active program will be wrapping up this week. Recreation Coordinator Travis Anderson enjoyed putting about 150 kids through some fun and physical outdoor paces over the last four weeks. Parks staff has also been working on return to play plans with a variety of groups as the State and County Health Departments create opportunities for this in outdoor settings. 

Anacortes Police Department

While the lobby of the Anacortes Police Department remains closed the APD is now resuming fingerprint services by appointment only on Wednesdays from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm. All you need to do is call 360-293-4684 to set your appointment. Fingerprinting is contactless and wearing a mask is required. 

Planning, Community and Economic Development 

The Planning, Community and Economic Development Department has worked to aid and fund community members and businesses in need during COVID-19. Some of the programs that the City has helped implement are: 

➢ $8,183 to the Community Action of Skagit County to provide food supplies to the Anacortes food banks. 

➢ 14 applicants to receive funding for a total of $136,080 from the City’s Small Business Stabilization Grant

➢ $57,890 in Emergency Income payments through a rental relief program administered by Anacortes Family Center. This project is providing emergency rental relief to households unable to meet their monthly rental obligations. Funding covers up to 3 months of rent and is paid directly to the property owner or property manager. To date, the funding has helped 13 households in the amount of $35,080.

➢ The City has also received $99,000 from the Skagit Community Foundation Grant to be used to support Anacortes small businesses. 

These are just a few of the ways in which the City is distributing the resources available to support the community and we are working hard every day to find new ways to continue to help those in need.

Chamber of Commerce

The Chamber of Commerce is going to be using a new platform called "Support-Local.” This platform is being used by other communities in Washington. This is a tool created in response to COVID-19, with survival for fellow small businesses as their primary goal. Their idea is built to thrive even after we are all out of the woods. Support Local is a customizable marketplace that helps small businesses to band together as a neighborhood — getting them online and shoppable, all in one place. We look forward to seeing this resource become available for our struggling small businesses. This tool is another innovative way that the City is partnering with Chamber to help our small business community so that our City can continue to be resilient in the face ofCOVID-19 restrictions.  

Question and Answers 

1. What are the specific criteria that are set to constitute a pandemic?

The World Health Organization defines a pandemic as a worldwide spread of a new disease. An influenza pandemic occurs when a new influenza virus emerges and spreads around the world, and most people do not have immunity. If you are interested in understanding how COVID-19 was classified as a Pandemic I encourage you to use reliable medical resources such as the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. They have information on the calculations and characteristic of an infectious disease which they use to determine that COVID-19 is a Pandemic.

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