SEATTLE (January 12, 2021) - There's no denying that 2020 was a difficult year. We faced so many overlapping crises, from the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting economic devastation, to the greatest civil rights reckoning in decades, to wildfires that choked our communities.
While we had a difficult start to 2021 this past week, I believe we have so much hope on the horizon with vaccinations. Seattle has proven we can take bold collective action as we faced the pandemic.
Our collective action has saved so many lives over the past year, and Seattle still leads every major city with the lowest cases and hospitalizations.
Even still, there is so much at stake to quickly get our community vaccinated. Across the country and Washington state, so many people have lost their jobs and had their livelihoods profoundly disrupted - more than one million people have collected unemployment benefits in Washington state since the pandemic began. In Seattle alone, our most loved small businesses have been forced to close their doors for good, including more than 600 restaurants and bars. Most somberly, more than 365,000 people have lost their lives in our country due to the COVID-19 virus. And the burden of the pandemic has fallen disproportionately on our Black, Indigenous, and Latinx communities.
Along with these immense tragedies, we have also experienced other challenges and immaterial losses in 2020. We haven't been able to hug our loved ones in months. Parents have juggled new school and childcare challenges. We haven't been able to see our families face to face, and we've been worried for the health and safety of our family and other vulnerable people in our lives. We haven't been able to appropriately mourn the losses of loved ones. We haven't been able to visit some of our favorite small businesses, music venues, and museums. And at a time when the surest way to cope and deal with these crises is to be together, we've had to remain isolated from one another.
But it's a new year, there's a COVID-19 vaccine, and that brings about hope and renewal. The COVID-19 vaccine is a testament to the intelligence and ingenuity of the global scientific community, and some of the top medical experts in our great city have contributed to its success.
Mayor Durkan announces initial City of Seattle vaccination actions
For the past several months, working with our partners at the county, state, and public health experts, we've been developing a plan to ensure between 70 - 85% of people who live or work in Seattle get vaccinated so that we can reach COVID-19 immunity in Seattle.
Today, I'm excited to announce the first milestone in that ongoing effort: The Washington State Department of Health (DOH) has approved the City to serve as a vaccine distributor, meaning the City is eligible to receive weekly shipments of vaccine from the DOH and can administer vaccine to Seattle residents and workers. Following this approval, the Seattle Fire Department (SFD) will quickly launch two mobile vaccination teams to vaccinate nearly 1,000 residents and staff at adult family homes within the next two weeks. You can find more information on this effort at
Today is the first step in the City's efforts to significantly increase the vaccination rate and ensure the vaccine is easy and accessible to our City's workers and residents. Ultimately, it will take all of us - employers, health care providers, philanthropy, unions, nonprofits, community-based organizations, and all levels of government - using all the tools at our disposal to get our community vaccinated.
Our focus will be to fill gaps in the system and reach those who are most vulnerable for COVID-19 and have been historically underserved by government and health care, including communities of color, immigrants and refugees, people who are unhoused, and people who are un- or underinsured. These vulnerable communities have been disproportionately hit by COVID-19, and we must center them in our vaccination efforts. Our plan will build on the success of our early mobile testing to older adults at long-term care facilities and Seattle Fire's incredible four citywide COVID-19 testing sites, which to date have provided over 550,000 tests, and have been used by roughly one in four Seattleites.
Right now, only a small number of our highest-risk communities are eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine and vaccine supply has been limited, but in the coming weeks, more individuals will become eligible and more vaccines will become available. The state's plans were developed to keep people safe, and to prevent continued deaths and COVID-19 spread among our highest-risk communities.
Please wait until you're eligible to get vaccinated, and in the meantime, help the most vulnerable members of your community get vaccinated, talk with those in your life who may be hesitant to get the vaccine, and spread correct information through your networks. Even before getting vaccinated, we all have a role to play in reaching immunity in our community.
We know that Seattle's road to reopening and economic recovery starts with vaccinations, so I will be focusing the City's efforts to significantly increase the vaccination rate and ensure the vaccines is easy and accessible to our City's workers and residents.
Even as more of us begin to get vaccinated, we'll need to continue wearing masks, practicing social distancing, and following all public health guidance. It's up to all of us to stop the spread and protect our communities. The City of Seattle is committed to working with our partners to make vaccinations as easy and accessible as possible. Please, get vaccinated as soon as you're eligible. It's safe. It's free. It's the right thing to do for you, your loved ones, and our city.
We can get through this, Seattle, but we have to do it together.
As always, please continue to write me at Jenny.Durkan@seattle.gov, reach out via Twitter and Facebook, and stay up-to-date on the work we're doing for the people of Seattle on my blog
Courtesy of Mayor Jenny Durkan