Snohomish County Council approves additional $13.2 million for COVID response in 2021

The Snohomish County Council Wednesday approved the recommendation of Snohomish County Executive Dave Somers to appropriate $13.2 million for the County’s COVID-19 response in 2021. The resources will be spent on Snohomish County’s Department of Emergency Management ($5 million), Snohomish County’s Department of Human Services ($4 million), the Snohomish Health District ($3 million), Economic Development ($1 million), and Public Safety ($200,000).

“Because we carefully planned our use of limited federal dollars, we are in a position to continue our pandemic response into 2021,” said Snohomish County Council Chair Nate Nehring.

“The health and well-being of our community and rebuilding our economy remain top priorities,” said Snohomish County Executive Dave Somers. “By continuing to invest in our response, we are supporting those working on the front lines of the pandemic. I am thankful for the strong partnerships we have in the community as we work together through these challenging times. Snohomish County is grateful to our congressional delegation for providing additional flexibility to help us continue our efforts into 2021.”

“The Snohomish Health District has done life-saving work to conduct contact tracing, maximize testing capability, help develop a plan for vaccine distribution, and otherwise keep our community as healthy as possible,” said Snohomish County Councilmember Stephanie Wright, who chairs the Board of Health. “These funds will be crucial for continuing our work into 2021 and preparing for the next stage of the pandemic.”

The county executive recommended and the county council approved the following:

Department of Emergency Management: $5 million

Since its activation on March 1, 2020, the Snohomish County Emergency Coordination Center (ECC) has focused on meeting the benchmarks established by Gov. Inslee’s Safe Start Plan and reducing the secondary impacts of COVID-19 on Snohomish County residents. Those two areas of emphasis include several lines of effort that need to continue in 2021. The county also will provide resources to implement the county’s mass vaccination plan.

Providing personal protective equipment (PPE) and keeping a isolation and quarantine facility (IQF) operational represent two efforts that will continue to keep residents safe and move the county forward under the conditions of the Safe Start Plan.

Human Services: $4 million

With this funding, the Human Services Department will continue all areas of work that have been funded with CARES/Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF) dollars into the first quarter of 2021.

That work includes continuation of the following: eviction prevention rental assistance; Northwest Washington 2-1-1 expanded information and referral services; the Community COVID Outreach Program ,which provides behavioral health services throughout the county; the seasonal, day and night shelter at United Church of Christ; day sheltering operations at Carnegie (night costs being funded with other surge funds); support for cold weather sheltering; emergency services vouchers through the Family Support Center network; behavioral health support for families participating in child care/early learning programs; telephone reassurance for individuals experiencing anxiety and other challenges; and street outreach and connection to motel rooms, housing and services.

Health District: $3 million

The district has been providing services either independently or in collaboration, primarily with the Executive’s Office and Snohomish County DEM.  Those same efforts are expected to be maintained to the fullest extent possible by utilizing funds made available to the district through the county. Those activities include community based testing, case investigation and contact tracing, outreach investigation and control teams, vaccine implementation planning, and communications.

Overall, the anticipated burn rate is approximately $1 million per month in November and December for health district activities in response to the pandemic. The surge in cases has necessitated increasing the number of testing sites and staff focused on COVID-related activities. This $3 million will fund activities at current resource levels through February and potentially all of March.

Economic Development: $1 million

In 2020, Snohomish County has provided grants to small businesses that have been impacted by COVID-19. This $1 million will allow the county to fund additional grants.

Public Safety: $200,000

During the latter part of 2020, the Sheriff’s Office submitted a request for a complete body scanner for Corrections use, but it was unable to be received by Dec. 30, 2020, thereby making this purchase ineligible for CARES Act funding. This equipment would scan both the body and the clothing of every arrestee being booked into the facility for contraband without the need for staff to touch anyone. This would also better position the department to be in compliance with social distancing mandates.

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