Recap of recent COVID-19 news, updates

Statewide Response 
Updates
Newest numbers. The Department of Health reported a total of 209,344 confirmed cases as of 11:59 pm on December 16. There have been 3,117 COVID-19 deaths in Washington.
For the most recent tally of cases by county, demographics, and more, visit the Department of Health’s dashboard and the state’s COVID-19 risk assessment dashboard.
Over 1,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses given to high-risk health workers in Washington state as federal changes reduce statewide allocation. As of December 16 at midnight, providers in Washington state had reported giving a total of 1,159 COVID-19 vaccine doses to high-risk health workers. Vaccination began this week for Phase 1A groups, which include frontline health workers and long-term care residents and staff. 
Updated vaccine allocation numbers. The Department of Health was contacted by Operation Warp Speed yesterday evening and told that Washington’s Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine allocation will be 44,850 doses rather than the 74,100 doses we were expecting to receive.
We were not given an explanation as to why our allocation was reduced, and we do not currently have allocation numbers beyond next week. We still expect to receive the remaining Pfizer-BioNTech doses we ordered for this first week (62,400 total doses). Read the full news release here.
Inslee announces updated school guidance for in-person instruction. Gov. Jay Inslee and Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal today announced an update in the metrics used to inform local school district decisions for in-person learning. They also announced $3 million from set aside funds to be distributed to implement health and safety protocols.
The update to the school health and safety toolkit comes after recent data showed limited COVID-19 transmission in school environments when state health and safety protocols are implemented.  
A new back-to-school plan: 
State releases updated guidance around in-person learning. The Department of Health (DOH) released updated metrics to help local leaders and school officials make decisions about in-person learning and the risk of transmission of COVID-19 in the school environment.
Changes to the metrics include revisions to the COVID-19 incidence rates to consider when making decisions about who to prioritize for in-person learning. We’ve also included further clarification that local leaders also should consider test positivity and trends in cases and hospitalizations to inform decisions about expansion of in-person learning.
In addition to the updated metrics, DOH announced an increased focus on the health and safety measures that are required by law for the provision of any in-person learning in private or public K-12 schools. Read the full news release here.
Governor Inslee Press Conference on COVID-19 on December 16, 2020. 
Governor Jay Inslee held a press conference at the State Capitol to give an update on the state’s response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and provide new guidance around schools. Recording available from TVW here.
December 16 COVID-19 response update media briefing recording available. A recording of this week’s COVID-19 response update media briefing with leaders from the state COVID-19 response is available from TVW here.
Antigen positive tests results now included in DOH dashboards. The Washington State Department of Health began including antigen-positive COVID-19 cases in the COVID-19 Data Dashboard and the COVID-19 Risk Assessment Dashboard. Since September 30, antigen-positive testing data have been included in a separate weekly report because at the time, we were not able to roll these results into the main dashboards for reporting. With this inclusion, reporting antigen-positive test results will provide a more accurate picture of community transmission and help guide efforts to respond to COVID-19. 
Coping with COVID: Healthy communication. During the December holidays in the COVID-19 pandemic, there are many opportunities for tough conversations with family and friends. We may have differing opinions on how to celebrate the holidays while keeping ourselves and our families safe, and it can be hard to share those opinions when you want to keep the peace. In this episode of DOH’s Coping with COVID podcast series, Kira Mauseth, PhD and Doug Dicharry, MD discuss what’s happening with our emotions and behaviors, and skills for having challenging conversations during stressful times. 
Job search requirements currently optional. Job search requirements are currently suspended for regular and extended unemployment benefits. When the requirements are reinstated, you will need to comply with the job search requirements specific to Extended Benefits. When claiming extended benefits, one must contact at least four employers each week.
Inslee issues proclamation on prison commitments. 
Gov. Jay Inslee issued a proclamation today prohibiting unapproved transportation of individuals to state correctional facilities.
This proclamation prohibits all public agencies from transporting any individual to a state correctional facility without the advance permission of the Department of Corrections, and waives relevant statutory obligations for DOC to accept those transfers. This effort will assist the DOC in mitigating the spread of the COVID-19 virus. This order is effective immediately and expires January 3, 2021.
Resources
Latest COVID-19 reopening guidance for businesses and workers. A full list of current reopening guidance is available here.
Find a COVID-19 testing location near you. To make it easier to find a test near you, the Department of Health has created a webpage to help people find COVID-19 testing locations throughout the state.
Guidance and resources for employers and business owners. Sign up for the weekly business and worker newsletter here.
State COVID-19 Assistance Hotline is a general information line related to COVID-19. If you need information or have a general question, call 1-800-525-0127 or text 211-211 for help. You can also text the word “Coronavirus” to 211-211 to receive information and updates on your phone wherever you are. You will receive links to the latest information on COVID-19, including county-level updates, and resources for families, businesses, students, and more.
Washington Listens helps people manage stress and anxiety they may be experiencing because of COVID-19. If you or anyone you know is having difficulties managing stress, call the Washington Listens support line at 1-833-681-0211. Hours are from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. TTY and language access services are available by using 7-1-1 or their preferred method. Resources and self-help tips are available on walistens.org.
 

 

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