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Clark County Public Health issued the following update today:

“Since our last update on Friday morning, another 106 people have tested positive for COVID-19 and one person died – a man in his 60s with underlying health conditions. Over the weekend, we had an average of 35 new cases per day (Fri-Sun). To date, 1,272 Clark County residents have tested positive for COVID-19 and 33 people have died. Currently, 26 COVID-19 patients are hospitalized and seven persons under investigation (PUIs) for COVID-19 are hospitalized.”

According to Clark County Public Health, if you have symptoms of COVID-19, you should call your health care provider right away and request to be tested.

Early testing is critical to slowing the spread of COVID-19 in Clark County. Identifying cases early enables us to more quickly isolate those who are sick and quarantine their close contacts.

Most health clinics are offering COVID-19 testing now. People who are unable to access testing through their regular health care provider, those who do not have a health care provider or those who are uninsured can contact the following facilities to request testing:

  • Legacy GoHealth. Hazel Dell, 360.787.4151. Cascade Park, 360.787.4135.
  • Providence Walk-In Clinic, Battle Ground. 360.687.6650. •Rose Urgent Care and Family Practice, Vancouver. 360.952.4457. (drive up testing available)
  • Sea Mar Community Health Center, Battle Ground. Call 360.342.8060 to schedule an appointment. (drive up testing available). Testing hours: 8:30 am to noon Tuesdays, 1 to 4:30 pm Thursdays. •Sea Mar Community Health Center, East Vancouver. Call 360.726.6720 to schedule an appointment. (drive up testing available). Testing hours: 8:30 to 11:15 am Mondays, 1 to 4:15 pm Thursdays.
  • Sea Mar Community Health Center, Salmon Creek. Call 360.852.9070 to schedule an appointment. (drive up testing available). Testing hours: 1 to 5 pm Wednesdays, 9 am to noon Thursdays. •The Vancouver Clinic. Various locations. Call 360.882.2778 to schedule an appointment. (*These facilities are providing tests at no cost for those who are uninsured. Some may charge a fee for the office visit. Call the facility for more information.)
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BREAKING NEWS …  According to Senator Ann Rivers (18th Legislative District), whose office was briefed today by the Employment Security Department (ESD), the unemployment check fraud case is now approaching $1 billion in lost state funds.

Originally, the suspected fraud loss was $350 million.

“The ESD fraud case is beyond anything originally suspected,” said Rivers. “Nearly $1 billion has been lost to Nigeria and other fraudsters.”

Rivers said the people of Washington have been subject to a series of data breaches over the last several years, which includes Zappos, Primera Blue Cross, and Equifax. This past year, Rivers was the Senate Republican lead on the Data Privacy Bill, which passed unanimously in the Senate, but was blocked in the House.

“I knew this was going to be a problem,” said Rivers. “The partisan breakdown in the House is what killed this bill. I worked it very hard. I knew we had to act, and this is unfortunate.”

The bill would have locked down the state’s consumer data to prevent hacking, requiring two-factor authentication, among other security measures.

“The hackers have been waiting for the right moment to attack an underprepared Employment Security Division,” said Rivers. “COVID gave them that opportunity. My office was overwhelmed with calls of people needing help filing unemployment.”

Today, Rivers was notified by ESD that each caucus can help only 20 people per week. 

“I was able to get in and help people get the unemployment benefits they deserve, and I was told by ESD I can only help one person a week,” Rivers said. “This is ludricious. Period. That’s like saying to a mother with five children on the Titanic she now must choose her favorite child.”

Rivers said the state needs to act.

“It’s not enough to label the problem, we need to change the leadership to right this ship,” said Rivers. “Families desperately need this money and they’re not getting it.”

 Suzie LaVine is the current ESD Director. 

Rivers is pushing for a special legislative session in June, and that the Republican caucus will demand LaVine’s termination. 

More to come.

Olympia, WA — Governor Jay Inslee announced Friday the state’s phased reopening “Safe Start” proclamation is replacing the existing emergency “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order, which is set to expire on May 31. 

The new order loosens several aspects of his shelter in place policy, which began in March, but it also asks Washingtonians to voluntarily wear face masks while at work, or in public settings.

During the presser Inslee said he is updating the metric of requiring there to be no more than 25 new cases per 100,000 residents in past 14 days, from 10 cases per 100,00 residents.

The new proclamation is likely to speed up efforts to reopen parts of Washington under the governor’s four-phase recovery plan. 

His new plan makes it easier for businesses in more populous counties to move phases, and to evaluate more on a county-by-county basis. No county is yet in Phase 3. Twenty-six counties are in Phase 2. Clark County’s application to move to Phase 2 is on pause, pending a full review of last week’s coronavirus outbreak at a fruit processing plant in Vancouver.

“This is a path that will have more businesses opening,” said Inslee. “It will mean more activities will be allowed, and more flexibility will be allowed for counties in a variety of phases.”

Inslee also encouraged all Washingtonians to wear face coverings in public.

“When we wear a face covering, I really think it’s an expression of love and affection,” he said. “It’s a badge of commitment, and it’s a critical tool in moving forward.”

Face masks
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As part of this plan, workers in Washington will have to wear facial coverings at their jobs, unless they don’t have in-person interactions. That part of the provision will take effect June 8.

Washington’s largest counties, facing higher COVID-19 infection rates have largely remained in Phase 1 of Inslee’s plan. Friday’s order should change that.

The guidance at work places is as follows:

  • Workers are required to wear face coverings.
  • Employers must provide face coverings.
  • Stores will encourage shoppers to wear face coverings by posting signs.

Dr. John Lynch, an infectious disease doctor from Harborview Medical Center, said: “This is just one of many things to help each other. A lot of people have minimal symptoms or don’t even know they’re sick, it’s like influenza. Putting on a mask is effective at capturing droplets.”

Lynch said face masks “are not a perfect tool” and added “if we wear this it shows we are supporting each other, and we know we can’t wear the masks all the time.”

Inslee likened this new approach to prevent the virus from coming back rapidly. 

“We’re getting out of the quarantine lifeboat,” Inslee said. “The science on the cloth mask is more conclusive that they (face coverings) do help.”

Inslee said the order does not require business owners to reject a customer who is not wearing a face mask.

Senator Ann Rivers, who represents Washington’s 18 legislative district, said: “By today’s guidelines set by Governor Inslee Clark County could open, but the official approval from the Secretary of Health Weisman to move to Phase 2 is still on pause. Now, with that said our Clark County Director of Health is really pushing Weisman to open as soon as possible.”

Dr. Jeff Snell, Superintendent of Camas School District, recently answered several questions about that state of the district as it navigates this COVID-19 pandemic.

How has this transition from in-school to at-home learning been going?

Overall, I think we’re happy about the transition. We just had a two-day window to convert. We are learning a lot. Each teacher has learned a lot. It’s a work in progress.

Some things are working well, some are not.

You have to try and take risks to get to success. I’m glad that families and students are taking risks. The class meetings have been successful, and it’s good to see each other’s faces. The ability to record lessons and drive home key concepts is what we’re excited about. We are working toward personalizing things for students. 

For example, if a teacher is doing a math lesson and there’s a key concept about finding the Y intercept of the line that teacher can make mini-videos about how to do that. Students will then be able to go back and learn. During the school year, it’s hard to find the time to do that. This has created a pause to help make different building blocks to help them learn. They are thinking differently.

I think every teacher is working harder than they’ve ever been. You take a job you’ve done for 20 years and everything is flipped upside down.

What’s the status of Food Services? Are we meeting the need? 

We have a couple of separate programs going on.  One is our food services program through our schools.  They are serving breakfast and lunch to students through pick up locations.  The number of students we’re serving has grown each week as we find new families.  We have about 10 bus routes that deliver meals and our food service staff prepares those meals.  We have been averaging over 5500 meals a week and will top the 50,000 meal mark on Monday. 

We also have a food bank type of program going on at the Jack, Will, and Rob center.  Our community has stepped up and been so generous with their donations. Our current inventory is good, and the needs continue to grow.  We’ve receive money donations and have about 10-12 volunteer shoppers that go out and purchase items to keep the inventory up to date. 

What’s happening with graduation?

We are delivering a virtual graduation for June 12-13 for both high schools. We’ve been making a lot of other plans with students and parents, and we are trying to be creative by meeting those needs. Phase two gives us a little more flexibility. Depending on whatever phase we’re in we’re hoping to be able to scale up the activities.  Many have shared how important it is to them to walk across a stage and receive their diploma so we’re looking at a date in early August to hopefully be able to do that. We are also targeting Homecoming in the Fall to start some new traditions like a grad walk before a football game. We are trying to have multiple dates and opportunities so we can try to meet the needs of graduates and their families.

How has the pandemic affected the Camas School District budget?

We engage with our local elected officials and we’re on weekly webinars with the state superintendent, and from what they’re saying the budget deficit continues to grow. I think the next three to four years could be very difficult. Public education is more than half of the state budget. We’re at the mercy of enrollment and the state budget.  There could be a special session this year, and there will likely be an impact in the coming school years so it’s important for us to be thoughtful about our spending now and how we save for the future too.

I think everyone is a little worried about what the future holds. We try to do the best we can given the budgets we’ve been given. We want to maintain the staffing levels going into next year, because of the need of students.  It is likely that we will need to help catch students up a bit, and we’ll need each of our staff to do that, so our plan for next year’s budget is to really maintain our staffing levels.  The 2021 legislative session will be the first year of the biennium with new budgets that most likely will be impacted by the pandemic, so we could definitely have to address reductions at the state level in planning for the 2021-22 school year. 

What will Camas schools look like this Fall?

The state has set up a task force to address that and what they’ve been looking at is a range of seven models. They look at all spectrums from where we are now, and what it might look like in late August. They have told us in June we will get some guidelines from them, so we’re looking at these issues with leadership and staff. We will be having a Town Hall on June 4 to share some of our planning work and listen to ideas and concerns from the community.  We want to be thoughtful about planning for the future, recognizing how significant the events this spring have been for everyone.

What about mental health and supporting parents with at-home learning?

This is a really important focus for us.  We started off communicating with families a lot about the logistical what and now  we’re shifting to tips for conversations with students and more the how.  We’re learning a lot about what’s working and what’s not and we want to share that information. 

Regarding students in crisis: We ask teachers to reach out to each student and monitor how they’re doing.  If we don’t hear from them we’ve been trying do the phone call or even go and knock on doors to make sure everything is OK. Everything is amplified in the home.  It’s hard right now as parents are trying to figure out work, the future and help their students.  We are trying to pay attention to that. I feel like right now it’s pretty similar to what we were experiencing before. If it was on the radar before, it’s on the radar now. When you physically see students in the classroom you had a sense of the situation, but not virtually we don’t have that so we have to really pay attention to students who may be in need. 

We have a great staff; they’re working really hard. It’s been very challenging for everyone. We have the opportunity to re-invent. You see some kids flourishing in these challenging times. We will come through this as a better school district.

Snell is going on his fourth year as Superintendent of Camas Schools. To learn more what is happening in Camas schools, visit www.camas.wednet.edu

Vancouver — Last week, Clark County submitted an application to be approved to move into Phase 2 of Governor Jay Inslee’s recovery plan. An outbreak at a local fruit processing plant put that application on hold, and local health officials continue to investigate the situation, and are actively working to keep the community safe through contact tracing and other methods.

Dr. Alan Melnick, the Clark County Health Director, and the Clark Regional Emergency Operations Center, continue to provide updates. Here’s a look at the Clark County numbers.

  • Number of positive tests: 510
  • Number of deaths: 25
  • Number of people tested: 8,834
  • Number of contacts on monitoring: 230
  • Male deaths: 16
  • Female deaths: 9
  • Deaths aged 80+: 17
  • Deaths aged 70-79: 5
  • Deaths aged 60-69: 2
  • Deaths aged 40-49: 1
  • Long-term care facility associated deaths: 16
  • Donated N95 masks: 5,124
  • Donated surgical masks: 3,124
  • Donated masks (other): 10,147
  • Donated gloves: 102,235

Statewide Numbers

  • Number of individuals tested: 330,598
  • Number of positive tests: 20,065
  • Number of hospitalizations: 3,290
  • Number of deaths: 1,070
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Law Enforcement

Crime data updates from Clark County Sheriff’s Office for Week 20 includes the following:

  • Harassment Calls fell for the first time in four weeks of unusually high call numbers, but still remains slightly higher than normal.
  • Brandishing Calls (knives and other weapons) are again much higher than usual for this time of year.
  • Restraining Orders remain higher than normal and are typical, where offenders are attempting to contact victims who have a legal right to be left alone.
  • Auto Prowl calls are again on the higher slide of normal, but only about half of the calls are resulting in actual police reports. Citizens are opting to fill out online reports but aren’t following through.

Clark County Traffic Data

Clark County
2019 vs. 2020

In his press conference today, Governor Jay Inslee said that religious congregations throughout Washington can gradually return to normal worship services, as he explained new state guidance.

Inslee said that in-person religious gatherings are allowed to resume with restrictions that adhere to physical distancing and safety practices to prevent the spread of coronavirus. The governor’s new guidance lines up with the first and second phases of his recovery plan.

For example, in Clark County, which is currently in Phase 1, outdoor religious services on church property would be allowed for up to 100 people. Counties in Phase 2 — such as Cowlitz, Skamania, and Lewis — would be allowed to have in-church services at 25 percent capacity, or with no more than 50 congregants. The new Phase 2 guidance also permits in-house services or counseling at a congregant’s residence, as long as it includes five or fewer people. The new guidance applied to religious services, study groups, ceremonies, and holiday celebrations.

Inslee urged appropriate physical distancing and face masks, and said there should be six feet between seats, frequent cleaning and sanitization, and appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) available at all times.

The governor said the ban has been a challenge for people of all religions acknowledging that “people treasure gatherings.”

“Obviously (the religious communities) are protecting their own flock, their own congregation … but they’re protecting everybody outside, of multiple faiths,” Inslee remarked. “This is truly an all-faiths issue.”

TUMWATER, WA — Washington businesses that decide to open or operate in direct violation of Gov. Inslee’s Stay Home, Stay Healthy order may be cited and fined for unsafe workplace conditions under emergency rules filed today by the state Department of Labor & Industries. L&I filed these new rules at the direction of Inslee.

”The closure order and the Safe Start Plan to reopen businesses are in place to keep workers and the public safe and to prevent the spread of the easily transmissible coronavirus,” said L&I in a statement today.

The emergency rules take effect immediately. They give the Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) the authority to cite businesses for being open or for operating in a way that is purposely defying the phased-in approach and, as a result, putting their workers at risk.

“We’re all in this together, and most businesses are doing the right thing for our state and our communities. Unfortunately, there are some that are choosing not to,” said L&I Director Joel Sacks. “The coronavirus is a known workplace hazard and businesses must follow the requirements to keep their workers and the public safe.”

Protecting Worker Safety

L&I said they will work with the state Emergency Operations Center to take in and respond to complaints about businesses that are operating illegally. If employers are found to be defying the Governor’s order, they’ll be informed and directed to close or adjust operations immediately. If they do not, they’ll face a workplace safety citation that could carry a fine of nearly $10,000 or more.

Along with contacting businesses by phone and in writing, L&I will perform in-person spot checks on some of the businesses to make sure they are following through and complying with the Safe Start requirements.

Vancouver, WA – Clark County Public Health was notified today that the state has put the county’s request for a Phase 2 variance on pause until further discussion next week. The decision is the result of a current COVID-19 outbreak at a Vancouver food processing facility.

As of this morning, 38 employees of Firestone Pacific Foods in Vancouver have tested positive for COVID-19. At least two of those people are not Clark County residents. One person has been hospitalized.

“While this outbreak is unfortunate, our response demonstrates we have the confidence and capability to respond to situations like this,” said Dr. Alan Melnick, Clark County health officer and Public Health director.

Public Health has been working closely with Firestone Pacific Foods, Washington Labor & Industries and The Vancouver Clinic in response to the outbreak. Public Health instructed Firestone to stop production on Tuesday to prevent the virus from continuing to spread among employees. There is currently no evidence COVID-19 can spread through food or food packaging.

Production at the facility remains stopped. Public Health is working with Firestone and Labor & Industries to develop a plan to help the facility better align with new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Public Health also coordinated with The Vancouver Clinic and Firestone to facilitate COVID-19 testing of all employees. That testing began Friday afternoon. Prior to beginning the facility-wide testing, 12 cases had been identified in the outbreak. Another 26 positive results were reported to Public Health Friday afternoon, after facility-wide testing began.

Everyone who tests positive is instructed to isolate at home. Public Health staff is interviewing all positive cases to identify and notify close contacts, who will be asked to quarantine for 14 days. This process is ongoing for the cases identified Friday.

“Public Health has gone above and beyond in its response to this outbreak,” said Clark County Council Chair Eileen Quiring. “As our community moves forward, whether next week or in the weeks that follow, we may unfortunately see more positive cases. Public Health’s efforts during this outbreak show they have the ability to effectively respond to outbreaks in order to keep our community healthy.”

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Testing of Firestone employees is expected to continue today. Public Health will provide another update on case numbers on Tuesday.

Practicing physical distancing and taking simple steps to prevent the spread of viruses remain important. Remember to wash hands frequently, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer when soap and water isn’t available, cover coughs and sneezes, avoid touching your face with unwashed hands and stay home when you’re sick. If you cannot stay at least 6 feet from others when out in public, you should wear a cloth face covering.

As a result of the state’s decision, Clark County remains in Phase 1. Residents and businesses should continue to follow the Phase 1 guidance outlined by the governor. Phase 2 guidance is also available on the governor’s website. Local businesses can refer to this guidance to prepare for reopening, however, they should not begin offering services until the county is moved into Phase 2.

Public Health does not have a timeline on when Clark County may enter Phase 2.

For more information about COVID-19 and the Public Health response, visit https://www.clark.wa.gov/public-health/novel-coronavirus

OLYMPIA — Governor Jay Inslee on Tuesday said expanded criteria likely will allow 10 more Washington counties to reopen more quickly under his four-phase recovery plan.

It likely will greatly expand the number of Washington businesses able to re-open in Phase 2, as well, under COVID-19 safety guidelines. Those businesses — from hair salons, restaurants and retail stores, to personal and professional services — have been restricted or completely shut down since March 23, when the “stay home, stay safe” order when into effect.

Inslee said today the move “obviously is happily going to allow more economic opportunity” for counties to move up their reopening, “while still really providing the protections we need for the health of our citizens.”

The expanded criteria allow counties with fewer than 10 new cases per 100,000 residents across a 14 days to apply with the state Department of Health (DOH) to reopen ahead of other counties in the state.

The new counties now eligible to apply with DOH are: Adams, Spokane, Mason, Thurston, Lewis, Clark, Clallam, Kitsap, Island and San Juan counties.

Under this second phase, restaurants will reopen with some sit-down dining, retailers can proceed with in-store purchases and pet groomers can resume work. Many professional and personal services from barbershops, hair salons, and tattoo artists to attorneys, architects and IT professionals — can resume with safety protocols in place.

Clark County Council Chair Eileen Quiring said: “After our meeting of the Board of Health tomorrow morning I will know more, but Clark County is anxious to move into Phase 2 and we are preparing for it.  We have to apply, of course, but it appears that we will do that expeditiously!”

She said she will provide an update on Wednesday.

Phase
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Washougal, WA – Many Cape Horn-Skye students are actually looking forward to science homework during the current school closure, thanks to Kodiak Crates! These fun and challenging learning kits are created by first grade teacher and district science liaison, Darcy Hickey, and are delivered via school bus to students’ homes every other week.

The kits are built around STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) projects and are all hands-on. In addition, Hickey has created a web page that hosts instructional videos she created and provides a place for families to upload pictures of finished projects.

“We expected maybe 30 families to sign up,” said Penny Andrews CH-S principal. “We currently have 180 families subscribed to get kits. That’s more than 300 students involved.” The first delivery was on April 21, and students quickly began uploading and sending pictures of their work. Designed with CH-S K-5 students in mind, extra materials can be added to a kit based on family count, giving preschool and middle school students a chance to participate as a family. The second kit will arrive May 5.

Hickey has made the process of creating these crates a family affair of her own. “My 12-year-old niece, Madeleine, was my ‘model’ for the videos, but she also helped me with editing and formatting,” Hickey explained. “I definitely couldn’t have done these videos without her!” Hickey’s son has helped fill boxes and cut pieces for the kits and her parents have helped as well in the assembly line in her garage.

Former Washougal teacher, Marlin Martin, has also been a huge help to Hickey. “When I first had this idea, Marlin was the first person I called to see, first of all, what he thought of the idea, and second, if he wanted to help,” she said. “He was thrilled to be a part of this and has helped in every step of the process, from planning, to preparing materials, to giving me feedback and encouragement. He is simply amazing!”

Hickey said every CH-S staff member has participated in the success of Kodiak Crates as well. “They work hard all year, instilling a love of science in our students at Cape and have promoted these kits as not just ‘enrichment’ for their distance learning, but as ‘essential.’ They value STEM instruction just as much as reading, or writing, or math…that is why Kodiak Crates are having so much success!”

The support from families and students has been amazing, according to Hickey. “Students are making thank you videos and sharing pictures/videos of their projects,” she said. “With the few out-of-boundary families that I personally delivered kits to, I was met with huge smiles from the kids and even some happy tears from parents. This is such a tough time for families right now and to be able to have something like this for the kids is such a blessing to a lot of our families.”

More than $1500 in donations have been raised to support this program, even when donations were never requested. “Each donation has left me in a puddle of tears because I wasn’t sure how we were going to fund the program using just my current science budget,” said Hickey. “At the beginning, the plan was to use funds that our Boosters set aside for our Family STEM Night, and since that event was cancelled, this was the next best thing.”

Kodiak
Making a catapult.

After the generous Booster funds were depleted, other donors came forward to contribute without being asked. “Cape is such an amazing community and the response to these Kodiak Crates is just another reason why I love being a part of it,” she said.

Hickey, who was the 2018 Camas-Washougal Chamber Teacher of the Year for Washougal, was asked about the importance for her efforts to challenge and inspire students, but she said that it is just the opposite for her. “It is the students who inspire me,” she explained. “It is the students who challenge me to be a better teacher, who challenge me to step down from the front of the classroom and trust them to take the lead. We will never know what our students are truly capable of unless we give them opportunities to explore, wonder, question…and our Kodiak Crates are doing just that!”

Hickey pointed out that students were learning so much more than, for instance, just the steps to build a catapult. “They are learning about angles and trajectory, and weight distribution, and stored energy, and I could go on,” she said. “A six-year-old student created her own experiment using different items to shoot from her catapult to see which would travel further based on their weight. This is a six-year old!”

Hickey described another student in 3rd grade created a game using the catapult and a target with numbers that when hit would be added together. “It sounds like a math lesson to me,” she said.

“I would say this has been a huge success,” Andrews added. “I am glad to see these go out to families as we have some students who find hands-on science the best way to connect to school.”