Several leading health organizations in King County released a joint statement on Sep. 24 in support of King County’s recently-announced policy requiring COVID-19 vaccination proof or a negative test for many outdoor and indoor recreational events and establishments. Signatories of the statement include executives from organizations such as Kaiser Permanente, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle Children’s Hospital, and UW Medicine.
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The joint statement reads:
“As leaders in the provision of healthcare in King County, we strongly support requiring proof of COVID-19 vaccine or negative test for large sporting and entertainment events and establishments such as restaurants, bars and gyms …
…State agencies and partners are responding to this crisis with proposals to address short staffing, create more bed availability by finding appropriate placement for people who are ready to be discharged and by building capacity in community for monoclonal antibody access. These measures are helpful but not sufficient. Strong community mitigation measures to reduce transmission risk are essential at this time.”
With the Department of Health (DOH) reporting over 8,000 total reported hospitalizations in King County and a current 1.2% death rate, King County health leaders emphasize in the statement the importance of vaccination to public safety.
In the original announcement of the new vaccination policy, King County Executive Dow Constantine expressed his support.
“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. 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.”
The announcement released by the King County Press Office also cited an analysis conducted by the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), finding that the vaccine verification policy could potentially prevent between 17,900 and 75,900 infections, 421 and 1,760 hospitalizations, and 63 and 257 deaths in King County.
The new law will be implemented on Oct. 25 and will be reviewed no later than 6 months after to assess its continued need.