With King County preparing for a transition to Phase 2 of the Governor’s Safe Start Plan, and county and state directives about face coverings in effect, the county is distributing 5 million cloth face coverings and 20 million disposable face coverings to residents, workers and businesses.
“We made good progress at flattening the curve, and saved thousands of lives, but with increasing activity comes the need for ever-increasing vigilance to protect each other from COVID-19,” said King County Executive Dow Constantine in a King County Emergency Management news release on June 18. “The county is providing these face coverings at no cost so that everyone who needs them can get them.”
The county’s goal is that each resident could receive two cloth face coverings, which can be washed and re-used. The disposable face coverings are intended for use by customers and community members who don’t have their own face coverings at government offices, retailers, faith-based organizations and other gathering places. The distribution plan is being finalized with the help of various government agencies and community organizations, including cities, chambers of commerce, the King County Department of Local Services, community-based organizations, religious institutions and unions.
“We have received the first shipment of 1.5 million cloth face coverings and have already distributed them to 16 cities in the county and the Bellevue Chamber of Commerce,” said Brendan McCluskey, director of King County Emergency Management.
Due to the high volumes of face coverings, not all will arrive or be shipped out at the same time, and distribution may take about a month.
The county is offering the face coverings to all 39 cities in the county.
“We have scheduled deliveries to all but six of the 39 cities in King County at this point,” said Barbara Ramey, King County Emergency Management spokesperson, in a June 18 email. “We are waiting to hear back from a handful of cities. Each city will receive a different amount, based on their population. Allotments ranged from 500 to 200,000 face coverings based on population.”
The King County Council received a supplemental budget request on June 11 which includes about $11 million for the purchase of the 25 million face coverings.
In addition to the recent purchase of 25 million face coverings, King County will receive another 800,000 cloth face coverings from the state which will be distributed by community organizations to residents in need. The county also bought 75,000 17-ounce bottles of hand sanitizer for distribution through the same groups as above, for use by employees and customers.
Separately, King County Emergency Management has already distributed 50,000 cloth face coverings received from the state to community-based organizations, more than 31,500 to cities for employee use, and 48,000 (22,000 from the state and 26,000 purchased) to King County employees.