Dear Friends, 

Over the past few weeks, we’ve seen an increase in media coverage around the new Omicron variant of COVID-19. While this new variant was first identified in South Africa, it has been traced back to countries around the world, and it continues to spread every day. On November 26, the World Health Organization (WHO) classified Omicron as a Variant of Concern, and the United States followed suit on November 30.

Just earlier this week the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed the first case in the United States, coming from a traveler in California returning from South Africa. Cases have been found in several other states over the past few days as well.

The reason that this variant has been raised to the level of Variant of Concern is that it has a significant number of mutations, several of which are different from other variants that have been previously detected.

Doctors and scientists around the world are currently working around the clock to learn more about this variant, it’s unique severity and impacts, and how it interacts with the existing COVID-19 vaccines. We are still very much in the learning phase of confronting this new variant, which means we must operate with an abundance of caution until we know more.

The most effective ways you can protect yourself, your loved ones, and your communities are the tried and true methods that we’ve been utilizing all along. Wear a mask when indoors or in close spaces, wash your hands frequently, if you feel sick stay home and get tested, and be sure to get your vaccinations! Keep scrolling for more information about vaccines and boosters, but public health officials continue to urge vaccinations as a first line of defense against COVID-19.

It can be nerve wracking to read about these new developments, but it’s important that we continue on with the steadfast dedication to protecting our communities that has gotten us this far. As we wait for the doctors and scientists to complete their work, we must take it upon ourselves to protect those around us.

Keep reading for more on this Fantastic Friday.

“Stay Safe, Stay Healthy”
Rep. Debra Lekanoff

COVID-19 Vaccines & Boosters

This week, I am once again pleased to report that Washington State is doing a fantastic job at getting vaccinated! As of November 29, 65% of all Washingtonians are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, and 73% have had at least one dose. This is an incredible display of the commitment and compassion we feel for our neighbors, and I am so grateful to all of you who have gone out and gotten vaccinated.

Now, recent regulations have been changed and all adults aged 18 and up in the United States are eligible to receive a booster shot as well – provided they are either six months out from their last Moderna or Pfizer vaccine, or two months out from their J&J vaccine.

The efficacy of all vaccines naturally fades over time – we all had booster shots growing up to ensure we were protected against once common illnesses – and with the new variants of COVID-19 that are spreading, it’s incredibly important that you check your eligibility and get your booster as soon as possible.

If you need help finding a vaccine, or are homebound and require a vaccine to come to you, check out this resource.

If someone you love has not yet been vaccinated, please consider reaching out to them! Being vaccinated protects you and those around you, and every single person who gets their shot helps make us that much safer.

FEMA Mobile COVID-19 Vaccination Unit

Friends, just yesterday Governor Inslee announced a partnership between several Washington State agencies and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) that will send a mobile vaccination unit to several communities in Western Washington.

The mobile site will open on December 20, and will operate for approximately 30 days. Right now, the current planned location is at the Federal Way Performing Arts and Event Center, (31510 Pet Von Reichbauer Way S., Federal Way), with additional sites still to be determined.

“This is great news in the ongoing fight against COVID. I am grateful for our strong partnership with the federal government, and these FEMA Family Mobilization Clinics coming to King County is a great result of that partnership,” Governor Inslee said. “This is an innovative model that will help increase equitable access to vaccination for all Washingtonians.”

This is a tremendous step to increase access to vaccinations across Washington State, and I applaud Governor Inslee for taking the initiative to help reach Washingtonians that may otherwise have a difficult time finding a vaccine!

Keep an eye out for future updates as additional site locations and information are released – I’ll be sure to keep you updated!

CSG National Conference

Earlier this week, I had the pleasure of attending the Council of State Government’s National Conference. The event was held both virtually and in Santa Fe, and it was such a pleasure to connect with other officials across state governments!

In particular, I attended a session on Equitable Governance, focused around steps that we can take to achieve a better and more just policymaking model. It was wonderful to sit and hear from such passionate individuals who have worked so hard to identify and address areas in our society that are unjust and inequitable.

As always, I am so grateful that we have so many great public servants working on our behalf across the country, and I feel truly blessed to work alongside them. Through collaboration and continued commitment to helping those around us, I know that we will continue our march towards justice and equity.

The Council of State Governments is the nation’s largest nonpartisan organization serving all three branches of state elected and appointed officials. The mission of CSG is to champion excellence in state government and the organization executes that mission in a number of different ways.

To learn more about the Council of State Governments, click here.

Washington State People of Color Legislative Summit 

Tomorrow I am excited to join the third annual Washington State People of Color Legislative Summit, which will bring together leaders of color from across Washington to represent their organizations and identify potential areas of collaboration.

The summit will have two goals: first, to stimulate dialogue between diverse POC organizations, community leaders, and state legislators of color to build statewide solidarity and mobilizing capacity on the most important issues to our collective communities of color, and second, to organize a platform for community leaders of color to develop and push forward our communities’ legislative priorities with the bicameral Black Members Caucus (BMC) and the House and Senate Members of Color Caucuses (MOCC’s).

As I am sure you’ve noticed over the years, these types of events always leave me uplifted and excited. I have the pleasure of working closely with a number of community leaders and people of color across Washington State, and coming together with those I know and those I do not is just absolutely tremendous – together we are able to accomplish so much more than we ever could alone.

I know we will leave this Summit with a renewed sense of commitment and collaboration, and we will continue to work diligently on the most important issues impacting Washington State, and our communities of color.


Severe Weather Emergency Proclamation 

A few weeks ago, many of our communities and neighbors were impacted by a severe wind and rainstorm, producing extensive flooding in a number of counties – including San Juan, Skagit, and Whatcom – and causing a great amount of damage to homes, property, businesses, agriculture, and more.

Following the severe weather, Governor Inslee issued a proclamation declaring a weather emergency and directing state agencies and departments to “utilize state resources and do everything reasonably possible to assist affected political subdivisions in an effort to respond to and recover from the event.”

Following the proclamation, Governor Inslee issued multiple amendments expanding the resources available to Washingtonians impacted by the storms – including the Washington State Department of Social & Health Services Disaster Cash Assistance Program (DCAP).

Households that live in Clallam, Grays Harbor, Island, Jefferson, Lewis, King, Kitsap, Pierce, Mason, San Juan, Skagit, Snohomish, Thurston and Whatcom counties and are unable to return to their homes due to the recent severe weather, including flooding, landslides, mudslides or other hazardous storm events, may be eligible for DCAP.

For more information on if you or a loved one are eligible, click here.

My heart goes out to all those impacted by these storms, and I will continue to do everything in my power to assist you all. I hope you are able to utilize these resources that were recently made available, and I will continue to share additional resources with you as they become available.

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