A full year with COVID-19 in King County has brought tremendous pain and tremendous change. For Public Health – Seattle & King County employees, along with our volunteers and partner organizations, it’s also highlighted how critically important our work can be for the community.
The photo gallery that follows includes a tiny sampling of the work, to help us remember and recognize the extraordinary effort put forth by our staff, volunteers and partners.
And we know many, many other organizations and individuals in the community have devoted themselves just as much to mitigating the pandemic – our hats are off to all of you, as well.
Whether you worked long hours behind the scenes or braved the front lines at testing sites and in the community, your perseverance, compassion and efforts to protect and improve the health and well-being of all people in King County did not go unnoticed. This tribute is for you.
The novel coronavirus arrived in January, 2020, and Director of Public Health — Seattle & King County Patty Hayes, King County Executive Dow Constantine, and Washington State Governor Jay Inslee held press conferences attended by worldwide media. The emergency response launches, with activation of the Health and Medical Area Command (HMAC) and the King County Emergency Operations Center (EOC). Case and contact investigations ramp up. And community leaders gather with County leaders to launch an anti-stigma campaign and toolkit. Following the first deaths from COVID-19, our region sees many employers requiring work-from-home, business and school closures, and many other steps to contain the spread of the virus.
Public Health staff help the community adapt to wearing masks and other face coverings, and deliver food and care packages. Public Health opens the King County COVID-19 Call Center, open 7 days a week. Faith leaders step to the podium in solidarity, to support people adapting to “Stay Home, Stay Healthy.” Case investigators devote long hours to containing outbreaks in long-term care. The need for open access testing leads to the first COVID-19 testing sites at Downtown and Eastgate Public Health Centers and then at sites in south King County, where communities have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. King County opens quarantine, isolation and recovery sites to help those who cannot recover at home or who do not have a home, and to minimize strain on local healthcare facilities. Nationwide Black Lives Matter protests by millions of people include local protests, with Public Health and healthcare workers joining in downtown Seattle. In June, King County officially declares racism as a public health crisis.
King County and the Somali Health Board partner with Ms. Tina Knowles Lawson’s #IDIDMYPART campaign and local organizations to promote testing and COVID-19 prevention. County staff join many local organizations to respond as food insecurity rates nearly double, including Volunteers for Feeding El Pueblo (shown here) who distribute bags of food and COVID-19 guidance flyers to community. With Phase-2 of re-opening, a broad community effort promotes the “get tested” message and brings care packages to those in need. Wildfire smoke arrives, and the SoDo Assessment Center/Recovery Center becomes a temporary smoke relief shelter for homeless communities struggling with poor air quality.
King County funds additional supplies of personal protective equipment, expanded drive-through and walk-up testing sites in south and east King County, and additional nurses for the homeless outreach team. Promoting flu vaccines helps prevent hospital surges, and Public Health brings together mobile testing with outdoor health insurance enrollment. By mid-December, Public Health receives a large, ultra-cold freezer to store the first doses of vaccine. The first shots go to emergency medical personnel and workers in high risk settings in healthcare and long-term care facilities.
With COVID-19 vaccine rollout rapidly expanding, Public Health is partnering with local fire departments to deliver vaccines on site, protecting those who need it most. Seattle Fire (shown above) goes door-to-door to bring vaccine to more than 100 adult family homes.
Originally published 1/26/2021