LWV notes on County Council, and Health Commitee

Submitted by the League of Women Voters.

The League of Women Voters, a nonpartisan organization encourages informed participation in government. The Observer Corps attends and takes notes at government meetings to expand public understanding of public policy and decisions. The notes do not necessarily reflect the views of the League or its members.

County Council Sept. 20

There was discussion and action on a recruiting incentive was moved to the Sept. 27 council meeting.

Comprehensive Plan:

Council reviewed the Transportation and Historic Preservations sections of the draft updated Comprehensive Plan. David Williams, Director of Community Development, reviewed those sections of the Comprehensive Plan. There has been a wide range of public input into the Comprehensive Plan. The next and final review which will include the Housing section will take place on Oct. 17. They are on schedule to approve the final version before the year-end. The council made minor language clarifications and struck out redundant language or referrals to outdated programs. The main substantive change was to remove past language disallowing consideration of interisland bridges or tunnels in the Transportation section. James McCubbin of Friends of the San Juans spoke in favor of the language in the Housing section both to focus development in Urban Growth Areas and to increase allowed density in UGAs. He expressed the hope that the Planning Commission would continue to incorporate public comment and noted that Friends of the San Juans had submitted additional comments on the current draft in writing.

Housing Advisory Committee:

The County Manager, Mike Thomas reported that the Housing Advisory Committee is reviewing the use of a dedicated fund for allocating funds. The required federal paperwork was submitted for the Eastsound sewage upgrade project. The Request for Proposals for the Argyle Lots will be issued Oct. 1 and be open until December.

Climate Chamge:

The council may apply for FEMA grants for programs to prepare for sea level rise.

Board of Health Sept.21.

The Board gave brief descriptions of four bodies that Board members serve on: North Sound Accountable Community Health works to improve access and reduce costs for people covered by Medicaid. The Community Collaborations Committee coordinates on the community health survey the County, Peace Health, The Public Hospital District, Family Resource Centers and Community Foundations; The North Sound Behavioral Health Association covers mental health and addiction issues is currently working on how to use opioid lawsuit settlement funds. The NW Regional Council Area Agency on Aging provides programs and services t support aging in place. Vaccine and Communicable Disease Updates.

COVID: The Washington State of Emergency and orders will end on Oct. 31. Many practices will remain as guidelines instead of requirements. Mandatory Covid vaccines for teachers and health care workers will end, though employers can maintain requirements. Masking mandates will end except for Health Care and Assisted Living and Correctional Facilities. Citizens may order free at-home tests a least through the end of the year. The county will not end the local State of Emergency and will continue to access FEMA funds for mass vaccination campaigns. They will provide the new bivalent booster in October with sign-ups opening on Oct. 3. They will look at options for County Covid vaccination programs beyond October. They are working on an After Action Review of the County Covid response.

Influenza: County flu vaccine will focus on juveniles (under 18) and uninsured or underinsured residents. Those with insurance including Medicare will need to get the flu vaccine from private providers. County clinics and pharmacies will offer flu vaccines and an information campaign is underway.

Monkeypox: The county has a vaccine and antiviral treatments and is doing community outreach and assessing potentially at-risk persons to allocate vaccines to the most vulnerable.

Childhood Vaccines: The county held successful vaccine events on the first day of school to identify and vaccinate children with required vaccines for school attendance. Overall rates of childhood vaccination have improved in the county. They will have pediatric flu vaccination events in October.

Avian Flu: The county is monitoring the presence of Avian Flu in the county and cautions citizens against handling sick or dead birds.