By Aaron Allen, The Seattle Medium
In protecting employees and patrons, help prevent business closures as well as preserve hospital capacity, King County will now require verification of full vaccination status or a negative test to enter outdoor public events of 500 or more people and indoor entertainment and recreational establishments and events such as live music, performing arts, gyms, restaurants, and bars.
With an ongoing increase in COVID-19 cases. hospitalizations and deaths driven by the Delta variant are affecting our region, King County Executive Dow Constantine, Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan and community, health care, small business, and arts and culture partners joined in support of requiring verification of full vaccination or a negative test to enter certain indoor and outdoor activities and establishments.
During a press conference held last week, Constantine emphasized the critical point that the state of Washington finds itself in as the fall and winter months approach and how important vaccinations are as a shield against COVID and its variants.
“We are at a critical point in this pandemic, with high levels of new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, and no certainty as to what will follow the Delta variant,” said Constantine. “Vaccination is our best shield against this deadly virus. With over 85 percent of King County residents having received at least their first vaccine dose, vaccine verification will help keep people safe and keep businesses open.”
According to Dr. Jeff Duchin, Health Officer for Public Health – Seattle & King County, adaptation is key to the state’s response particularly in dealing with the Delta variant and its more aggressively contagious characteristic.
“Our COVID-19 response must continue to adapt to the difficult, changing reality of this pandemic. The Delta virus is much more contagious, airborne, causes severe illness, and is seriously stressing our hospitals and healthcare providers,” says Duchin. “King County’s vaccine verification program will prevent infections, hospitalizations and deaths, safeguard our healthcare system, and provide safer spaces for the public and for workers.”
According to officials, several forms of vaccination proof will be permitted under the order, including:
• Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) COVID-19 vaccination record card or photo of card.
• printed certificate or QR code (available in late September) from MyIRMobile.com. (MyIR Mobile is currently limited to English language only. For language assistance, or additional help getting your records, call the Washington State Vaccine Helpline at 833-VAX-HELP (833-829-4357) or email email@example.com).
• other official immunization record from within or outside the United States, including from your health care provider. A photo or photocopy of this card is also acceptable.
Because of Washington States history in dealing with COVID, Washington has stayed relatively diligent in its fight against the virus and its variants.
“Seattle was the first region in the country to feel the devastating effects of the COVID-19 virus, and we innovated and brought nation-leading testing and vaccination sites to our residents. That work is why we have one of the highest vaccination rates and the lowest cases, hospitalizations, and deaths of any major American city,” said Durkan. “But Seattle is not immune to the surge in cases and hospitalizations caused by the Delta variant. We must act now – and act boldly – to change the trajectory of the virus and keep our communities safe. After extensive engagement with community partners, small businesses, venues, and hospitals, Seattle is proud to implement a vaccination verification policy. It’s the right thing to do for our workers, our customers, our economy, and the health and vitality of our city.”
For the unvaccinated or individuals who cannot prove vaccine status, they will be required to show proof of a negative PCR COVID-19 test in the last 72 hours, or a negative rapid test result from a testing provider conducted on site at an event or establishment just prior to entry. Individuals under 12 years of age, who are not eligible to be vaccinated, are not required to be tested for entry.
Establishments will be responsible for checking vaccination proof or negative test status. Public Health, King County, and City of Seattle will be working with partners to provide technical support and educational materials to businesses and organizations implementing the order.
Anyone needing COVID-19 vaccine can visit KingCounty.gov/vaccine to find a vaccine in their neighborhood. To date, more than three million vaccine doses have been administered in King County.
For more information on King County’s COVID-19 vaccine verification policy, visit KingCounty.gov/verify