Communications Program Manager
KIRKLAND, Wash. – The City continues to operate its Emergency Operations Center to coordinate our response to the presence of COVID-19 (coronavirus) in our community.
This remains a quickly evolving event. The City of Kirkland currently has twenty-seven firefighters and three police officers in quarantine. Two firefighters have now been released after completing their recommended quarantine period without demonstrating symptoms. All thirty-two first responders are linked to responses to incidents at the Life Care Center of Kirkland. Twelve first responders are showing flu-like symptoms, and nineteen have confirmed direct exposure. Most are in isolation or quarantine at home. Fire Station 21 continues to be kept offline and is available to firefighters for isolation, a second facility is being used for quarantine.
All of our first responders that are currently symptomatic have been tested. All of the test results we have received have come back negative. Even though the tests results have been negative, first responders will still be in quarantine for the entire 14-day period recommended by Public Health Seattle-King County. We are still awaiting additional results.
“On behalf of the City Council, I want to express my sincere gratitude to all of our first responders and emergency operations staff,” said Mayor Penny Sweet. “We are committed to doing everything we can to support your efforts to keep our community safe. Our thoughts are with you and your families during this challenging time.”
The Kirkland Fire and Police Departments remain fully staffed and responding to calls as normal. City first responders have CDC recommended personal protection equipment and are following recommended protocols.
Our leadership team has had lengthy conversations regarding City operations. City Facilities will remain open. We provide vital services our public needs and expects. If they can be provided safely, we are committed to doing so. City-wide telecommuting will not be universally implemented at this time. But telecommuting will be approved on a case-by case basis by Directors, especially for those who fall into the “higher risk” category. This practice has already been in effect and will continue. For example, we have authorized telecommuting for pregnant employees, and employees with family members who are at risk (older, underlying health issues) and so on.
Given current direction from Seattle King County Public Health, and our ongoing needs to have the capacity to staff our emergency operations center, we have concluded that the City will be canceling all meetings at City facilities, except for City Council meetings, until the end of March. This includes Commissions, Boards, and Neighborhood Association meetings. We are continuing to evaluate our Parks and Recreation programming.
Out of an abundance of caution, the City's free confidential shredding and styrofoam recycling event scheduled for 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, March 7, at the Kirkland Maintenance Center, has been canceled.
Seattle & King County Public Health have revised their recommendations to the public (please note that these are recommendations not mandates):
• King County is recommending people at higher risk of severe illness should stay home and away from large groups of people. People at higher risk include people 60 and older, people with underlying health conditions including heart disease, lung disease, or diabetes, people who have weakened immune systems, and people who are pregnant.
• Workplaces should enact measures that allow people who can work from home to do so.
• If you can feasibly avoid bringing large groups of people together, consider postponing events and gatherings. Large groups are considered more than 10 people.
King County is not currently recommending that schools be closed.
More information from Seattle & King County Public Health is available at https://kingcounty.gov/depts/health/news/2020/March/4-covid-recommendations.aspx
The City will continue to update its website with information on the COVID-19 outbreak.