Local and state officials are ramping up efforts to minimize the spread of COVID-19 cases, as well as support people affected by the illness.

As of Saturday, 83 cases of COVID-19 have been reported to Public Health ­— Seattle & King County, and as of Sunday, the number of deaths has increased to 17, according to the agency’s website.

Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan has taken a number of steps to address the city’s response to the illness in the past week, including issuing a Proclamation of Civil Emergency March 3, which “grants her the ability to exercise emergency authority to address any immediate dangers to the public as a result of COVID-19,” according to a press release.

Her office also outlined a number of measures to reduce exposure of COVID-19, as well.

“We know we need to take additional measures to bring more of our unsheltered community inside,” Durkan said in a press release. “Our neighbors experiencing homelessness are at greater risk of exposure to COVID-19, and as a city, region and country we must act with urgency to address the ongoing impacts of this public health crisis. Working in partnership with public health officials and King County, we will continue to work with providers to help individuals currently in our shelters, as well as expand shelter locations and resources for our most vulnerable individuals.” 

According to a press release, Durkan’s plan includes increasing shelter capacity for Seattle’s vulnerable populations living in unsafe encampments, which are at elevated risks from public health concerns, including infectious diseases. All locations will receive ongoing services, staffing and support, according to the mayor’s office.

The locations identified will add a capacity for up to 100 more individuals, according to the press release, and will take two to three weeks to make operational. The locations are:

Lake Union Tiny House Village, which will expand the current tiny home village by up to 20 units. 

New Cherry Hill Church Tiny House Village, which will include 30 units.

Former Evergreen Treatment Facility in the Bitter Lake neighborhood with capacity for up to 50 people.

The city’s Department of Neighborhoods will engage the community to identify immediate neighborhood needs as the sites are opened, according to the press release.

Similarly, King County announced different locations in the county to serve as quarantine, isolation and/or recovery sites for people who are not able to use their homes for this purpose, according to the press release. The shelters are intended for the homeless, people traveling and those who cannot be at home. The sites, which are located in White Center, Kent, Interbay and North Seattle, will create capacity for approximately 213 individuals.

On a smaller level, many public agencies and organizations are responding to the threat of COVID-19 cases by cancelling events throughout the county.

In Queen Anne, the monthly meeting of the Queen Anne Community Council was cancelled last week, and the Uptown Alliance also postponed its meeting, which was slated for Tuesday.

Seattle Parks and Rec announces program  cancellations

Seattle Parks and Recreation, at the recommendation of Public Health Seattle & King County, cancelled all of its Lifelong Recreation classes, trips and drop-in programs for seniors, beginning last week and continuing for at least two weeks.

Seattle & King County suggests people older than 60 should stay home and avoid large groups of people.

According to a press release, SPR will continue to consult with, and follow the guidance of, public health partners and will re-evaluate this program cancellation on an ongoing basis. 

People should check the following resources about SPR operations and facilities.

• Seattle Parks and Recreation website: www.seattle.gov/parks

• Seattle Parks and Recreation Facebook page: www.facebook.com/SeattleParksandRecreation/

• Seattle Parks and Recreation on Twitter: https://twitter.com/SeattleParks

• Public service announcements made by the media about Seattle Parks and Recreation closures.

• Facility voicemails:  Please call your community center or pool for updates on their outgoing voicemail message.

• Facility Facebook Pages

Seattle Public Library cancels March events

The Seattle Public Library’s Central Library and 26 neighborhood branch libraries continue to operate with standard hours.

According to a press release, however, the library has canceled all programs and events, both private and public, for the month of March. The library has also canceled all bookmobile service in March. The library’s Books By Mail service will continue for the patrons who use it. All external meetings scheduled in library meeting rooms are also canceled. 

 “We are committed to protecting the health of our patrons and staff, while still offering essential Library services, including our many wonderful digital resources,” said Chief Librarian Marcellus Turner in a press release.

For more information on services, people should visit the library website at spl.org or by following the Library’s Twitter and Facebook accounts.

According to the press release, library staff are following best sanitation practices and has added sanitation stations to locations and pulling toys and loose playthings from children’s areas. 

The Library’s many digital services continue to be available to patrons for free, including e-books and e-audiobooks, streaming TV, movie and music services, classes and digital subscriptions to newspapers and magazines.

Due to the library’s elimination of daily overdue fines in January, 2020, patrons can keep materials a bit longer without worrying about fines, and can also renew materials for a third time, provided others are not waiting.

In addition, the Friends of The Seattle Public Library has postponed its annual Huge Book Sale, originally planned for Friday through Sunday.  The sale has been rescheduled to May 8 to May 10 in the Exhibition Hall at the Seattle Center. For more information, visit www.friendsofspl.org.

Seattle public schools remain open for now

According to the Seattle Public School’s website, the district’s goal is to keep doors open as long as possible, while prioritizing the health and safety of students. The district is tracking staff and student attendance daily. The district has canceled all events, work shops, field trips that require a substitute teacher, however. Beginning Monday, SPS has cancelled all events that bring large groups of people together, however, including large school community events, school day assemblies, all student travel and activities outside of school hours, such as overnight field trips and competitions, according to the district website. Out-of-state and international travel is canceled through the end of the school year.

Child care and extended-day learning programs are still operating, but this could change if schools are closed or if custodial services are needed to disinfect multiple buildings.

In addition, Seattle Public Schools is excusing all health-related absences.

SPU amends winter finals

Seattle Pacific University announced last week, the university will complete winter quarter classes and finals online beginning Monday through March 19. In a memo to the SPU community, President Dan Martin announced that beginning this week, classes and finals will not be held in person. Campus offices and services will remain open and on a normal schedule to accommodate employees and students living on campus. The latest campus updates can be found on the SPU Office of Health Services website.