A letter from Councilmember Rod Dembowski about the temporary Isolation, Treatment and Recovery Center in Shoreline

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

March 18, 2020

Dear Constituents:

I’m writing to ask for your help. As we all know, the COVID-19 pandemic that is shaking the world, has hit King County particularly hard. As I write, your public health department which is one of the best in the nation, is leading the effort to combat the spread of this virus. The nation is looking to us and watching our response.

Because there is no vaccine for COVID-19, the basic public health response, as you’re seeing, rests upon the principle of separation and distancing to blunt its spread and reduce the expected peak number of infections in our population. Most of us will be able to participate in this effort by staying home and keeping our distance from one another when interactions are required. But where there are vulnerable people in a household, or a person’s housing status puts others at risk, we need to have a place for folks who need to be isolated, to stay. We also need capacity to give relief to our hospitals. As I write this, every hospital in King County is near or at capacity. We need to have places for folks to be assessed and to recover where they can receive care and not overwhelm our medical system.

King County is working to identify locations for 3,000 temporary beds for this purpose, countywide. Our first two sites were in White Center and Kent. We have identified two additional sites in Seattle, one on Elliot and one off Aurora at 128th. We are activating a site in Bellevue and have leased a motel in Issaquah.

In partnership with the cities, school districts and fire departments in North King County, we have been working to identify additional sites to respond to this national emergency. Over the last few days, after assessing a number of sites in the City of Shoreline, we identified as most feasible the temporary use of athletic fields adjacent to the swimming pool and the Shoreline Center. On Monday, March 16, I personally visited the site with representatives from the county, the city and the school district.

The city, at the county’s request, has authorized construction of two, 20,000 square-foot temporary structures. The Shoreline School District is a partner in this effort as well. The site was selected because it is flat, has drainage, is lit, has necessary utilities, and is reasonably accessible. Scheduled uses of the fields had already been canceled as a result of the public health department’s orders. The city will be reimbursed for all costs, the fields will be fully restored and fair rent will be paid. While the length of use is unknown at this time, it could be concluded in early summer if things go well.

While construction has been authorized, occupancy has not yet been authorized. We will work together to have appropriate safety, 24/7 security, transportation and operational plans in place to mitigate impacts before the site is opened. There is a chance, depending on the success of our social distancing campaign, that the site may not be used at all or may be lightly used.

I understand that you will have questions that are not answered by this brief note. I am sharing a frequently asked question (“FAQ”) sheet provided by our department of community and human services that provides more information.

I want to express my sincere gratitude and deep appreciation for your partnership and support during these trying times. I ask for the support of the Echo Lake, Meridian Park and North City neighborhoods, in particular. The City of Shoreline and its leadership and the school district’s leadership have been heartwarming and represent the best of Shoreline’s long-standing values of service and sacrifice for the betterment of community. I ask that we come together as part of our collective community response to COVID-19 and do what we can to make this necessary medical facility a success.

I welcome your feedback and suggestions. Please reach out to me at Rod.Dembowski@KingCounty.gov

Very Truly Yours,

Rod Dembowski

King County Councilmember
District One



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