The past week has been difficult with wildfires threatening our state and plumes of smoke from wildfires in Oregon and California rendering Washington’s air unhealthy. Wildfire smoke in our region will continue today, and will likely begin to dissipate toward the end of the week . Because wildfire smoke can cause a range of health problems, including chest pain, coughing, fast heartbeat, headaches, and asthma attacks.
With our current unhealthy air conditions, it’s recommended that you limit your time outdoors; however, some people need to be outdoors for their work or other responsibilities. If you are concerned about doing field work in these conditions, please consider the below tips and guidance from Balanced You.
King County and the City of Seattle are extending the operation of their wildfire smoke shelter in Seattle for persons experiencing homelessness through the morning of Thursday, Sept. 17 and there is an urgent need for employees to fill positions.
If you are interested and approved to support this work please follow the steps at the bottom of this email. Please note, if your supervisor is not cc’d on your email, we will not be able to place you in a volunteer position.
There is an immediate need to fill these roles through temporary redeployment at a shelter site in SoDo as we respond to wildfire smoke in our region. Both medical and non-medical volunteers are sought for the temporary emergency smoke shelter through 2 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 17. The site is located at 1045 6th Ave South, Seattle.
Employees will continue to be paid at their current rate of pay, and employees will not receive a reduction in pay for the emergency redeployment.
Medical volunteers (RNs, ARNPs, MAs, PAs, MDs, EMTs (including non-agency affiliated), and paramedics): One medical professional is needed per shift to provide support at the shelter, including assisting the clients to feel safe and comfortable, preventing health conditions from worsening, supporting client intake and rooming, providing general administrative and operational support (including monitoring the site, providing food/water, and notifying medical staff if there is an emergency), monitoring the activities of clients to ensure the safety of clients, volunteers and staff, helping clients resolve any issues as they may arise, and assisting with, and triaging, any emergent medical needs. The shelter will be open 24 hours each day, but medical volunteers are only needed between the hours of 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. for morning and swing shifts. Experience working with individuals living homeless is preferred. All PPE will be provided, and volunteers will be trained in specific responsibilities on site.
Non-Medical volunteers: Five to six non-medical volunteers are needed each shift including morning, swing, and overnight to provide shelter support. Expected tasks include intake and registration, orientation to the shelter space, attendance and recordkeeping, serving meals, and shelter monitoring. Volunteers will be trained in specific responsibilities on site.
Available Dates and Shifts:
Tuesday, Sept. 15
- Swing 2 – 10 p.m.
- Overnight 10 p.m. – 6 a.m.
Wednesday, Sept. 16
- Morning 6 a.m. – 2 p.m.
- Swing 2 – 10 p.m.
- Overnight 10 p.m. – 6 a.m.
Thursday, Sept. 17
- Morning 6 a.m. – 2 p.m.
If you are a King County employee who can fill one these roles, and have capacity to help, please follow these instructions:
- Receive permission from your supervisor to apply for this redeployment, and
- Once approved, email EmergencyStaffing@kingcounty.gov and CC your supervisor.
- Indicate which date and shift you are volunteering to fill, and in which role.
- For questions or for more information, contact EmergencyStaffing@kingcounty.gov.
National Hispanic and Latinx Heritage Month is observed from Sept. 15 – Oct. 15 in the United States, Canada, and Latin America. This month is an opportunity to recognize and celebrate the long, important presence and contributions of Hispanic and Latino and Latina (Latinx) Americans.
You are invited to participate in the many events hosted throughout the month by the King County Latinx Affinity Group (KCLx), Sound Transit Latinx in Transportation (LiT), and the Seattle Department of Transportation’s Latinx Caucus. The first event is a Kickoff for Latinx/Hispanic Heritage Month: A Celebration by KCLx hosted on Wednesday, Sept. 16, from noon to 1 p.m. For more information about this event and others, click here.
Congress first passed a resolution to nationally celebrate Hispanic heritage as a weeklong event on Sept. 17, 1968. Nearly 20 years later, on Aug. 17, 1988, the celebrations were officially stretched to a full month. The celebration starts in the middle of the month, as opposed to the end, because Sept. 15 marks the independence days of five Latin America countries: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. Mexico, Chile, and Belize follow shortly after, on the 16, 18 and 21, respectively.
For more information contact Margarita Aguado at MAguado@kingcounty.gov.
Wildfire smoke in our region will continue today, and will slowly begin to dissipate as we move into midweek. Wildfire smoke can cause a range of health problems, including chest pain, coughing, fast heartbeat, headaches, and asthma attacks. Some people need to be outdoors for their work or other responsibilities. With our current unhealthy air conditions, it’s recommended that you limit your time outdoors. If you are concerned about doing field work in these conditions, please consider these tips and guidance:
- Talk to your supervisor about possible options to reduce the amount of time you spend outdoors by performing desk work or alternate work assignments on smoky days.
- Departments should evaluate planned field work to determine whether some work should be postponed, where possible, to later in the week when conditions are expected to improve.
- The air quality level can change quickly, so check air quality conditions regularly and if possible, adjust your schedule to avoid travel and working outdoors during periods when air quality is the most impacted by smoke conditions (keep in mind air quality is typically the worst in the middle of the day during wildfire smoke).
- If you must work outdoors, limit time outdoors to a minimum and find a safe location to breathe filtered air while maintaining social distancing during breaks from outdoor work. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it will be more difficult to find public spaces to take clean/cool air breaks this year.
- Drink plenty of water.
- If you have medical conditions that could be worsened by wildfire smoke, consult with your medical provider and speak with your supervisor to work out the best options for your work schedule on smoke days.
- You may be able to use accrued vacation or comp time when there is wildfire smoke instead of reporting to your designated work location. You may request leave, subject to approval by your supervisor. If you have no leave accrued, your supervisor may approve leave without pay to cover absences. Please refer to HR Bulletin 2011-0009 County Operations During Emergency Situations and Inclement Weather to learn more.
It is not known how much protection cloth face coverings or surgical masks provide from wildfire smoke. N95/N100 masks can provide protection to some people when worn properly but can also worsen conditions for people with existing respiratory conditions. Due to COVID-19, N95/N100 masks may not be available and those available are in need by medical professionals. KN95 masks are available through your agency’s Safety Officer where needed. Safety Officers may contact Fleet Stores for masks at email@example.com.
If you are working indoors, Public Health has provided some guidance on How to Keep Indoor Air Clean on Smoky Days.
More information from Public Health – Seattle & King County about wildfire smoke and your health can be found here. Additional information from WA Department of Health and EPA on indoor air filtration during wildfire smoke can be found here and here. We will provide additional updates as conditions warrant.
In honor of Suicide Awareness & Prevention Month, King County employees are invited to join Balanced You for a virtual panel discussion featuring speakers from the Native American community, LGBTQ community, Black/African community, and others. The event will provide an opportunity for King County employees to normalize the conversation around mental health, learn how to identify early warning signs of suicidal ideation, and learn more about resources available to support the mental health of employees and their loved ones. We hope you will join us for this important discussion.
- Tuesday, Sept. 22, from 1-2:30 p.m. Register here.
For more information, contact Balanced You at BalancedYou@kingcounty.gov.
Alongside the ongoing transmission of COVID-19, common colds are on the rise in Seattle and King County
In the fall of 2018, the Seattle Flu Study (SFS) began monitoring respiratory diseases in the Seattle metro area. At the beginning of 2020, SFS partnered with Public Health – Seattle & King County to launch the greater Seattle Coronavirus Assessment Network (SCAN) to track and monitor COVID-19. The combined SFS and SCAN data offer us a window into the effects of COVID-19 mitigation efforts—not only on the spread of COVID-19, but also on the transmission of other respiratory viruses. The findings also remind us of the importance of diligently following public health recommendations.
King County employees have access to a variety of upcoming scheduled webinars hosted by Making Life Easier. Register early for live interactive sessions as space is limited; otherwise, recordings will be available on-demand 48 hours after the live session.
- Supporting your working parents in the chaos of 2020: A webinar for managers, Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2020 from noon to 1 p.m. Register here.
For more information about the Making Life Easier program, visit www.kingcounty.gov/MLE.
National Latinx/Hispanic Heritage Month takes place Sept. 15-Oct. 15. In celebration of a diverse Latinx history, vibrant culture and innumerable achievements, the King County Latinx Affinity Group (KCLx) invites employees to join this virtual kick-off event.
Come together with the King County familia and learn about the goals of KCLx and our work to advance equity and social justice in the community, enjoy a meet–and–greet with the KCLx Leadership Team, and preview an exciting lineup of upcoming Latinx/Hispanic Heritage Month events.
This event will be on Wednesday, Sept. 16 from noon to 1 p.m. via Zoom, and is open to all King County employees. Click here to register.
The event will be facilitated by Melissa Arias, and includes as panelists the KCLx Leadership Team: Cristina Gonzalez, Lluvia Ellison-Morales, Chris Franco, Shannon Perez-Darby, Margarita Aguado, Rocio Martinez Lopez, and Antonio Herrera Garza. For more information, contact KCLx Membership Chair, Melissa Arias at MArias@kingcounty.gov.
As the countdown clocks continue to tick down the days between now and Nov. 3, we’re getting lots of questions about what to expect when and how to make sure you hit all the important deadlines to make sure your vote counts. Here are some key dates to put in your calendar to make sure that you’re ready to vote.
Sept. 18 – King County mails out ballots to our service and overseas voters on this day, beating that 45-day requirement set out in federal law. Sending ballots early to those overseas helps to ensure that they receive their ballot with ample time to vote and get it back to us. If you’re not a service or overseas voter, hold tight. Your ballot is coming in October.