Supporting the Community During the Pandemic

Dear Neighbor,

It’s been just over a year now since the first death from COVID-19 in King County and the declaration of a public health emergency by the County Executive.

During this last year, the County has worked diligently to protect your health, provide assistance to those who have faced challenges in paying rent or securing food, and worked to prepare individuals and businesses for an equitable economic recovery.

We soon will take action on another round of funding for COVID relief—including significant additional funds for rental assistance and eviction prevention.

We also will continue to open mass vaccination sites and increase the number ofstrike teams available to visit homebound seniors and our most vulnerable residents.

We look forward to a time when the supply of vaccine allows all of us to get our shots and resume our lives.

Women and the Pandemic

As we celebrate Women’s History Month and the many challenges they’ve overcome throughout the years, we recognize that the pandemic has had a huge impact on the lives of women, reducing many of the gains that we have all fought for over the years.

Industry sectors dominated by women – including hospitality and retail – have been hit hard by the pandemic leading to unemployment for many.

Others have been forced to scale back their hours or leave work entirely to care for children, serve as the in-home teacher or care for elderly parents.

For those who can telework, the added duties have led to more stress, anxiety and exhaustion.

Now is the time to start putting in place strategies and tools to ensure women are able to rejoin the workforce and help rebuild our post-pandemic economy.

King County will not only help fund childcare for struggling families, but we will also support childcare workers—the vast majority of whom are women.

We will work with our business community to bring back jobs, especially in thehospitality industry.

And we will continue to support programs that strengthen our families and provide mental health support to those who are struggling.

Pushing Back Against Hate & Bias

With hate crimes against Asian Americans on the rise during the pandemic, our community has stood up and spoken out against hate and bias– and I was proud to add my voice at the recent rally in South King County (pictured here).  At my request, the King County Council recently extended funding for a community-based Coalition Against Hate and Bias. The County Council also is currently considering legislation to strengthen and improve our existing Human and Civil Rights Commission.

All people, regardless of our differences, deserve equal rights and fair treatment.

Bringing Community Voice to the Work of the Council

One of my favorite parts of my job is immersing myself in the life of our community—meeting with residents throughout South King County to listen, learn and collaborate.

The voice of our community has always guided my work, and community input is what shapes what I do on the Council.

For example, after meeting with organizations that serve immigrants and refugees who were unable to secure traditional cultural food, I ensured the County provided culturally appropriate food as part of our food assistance efforts.

After learning from some of my senior constituents that they were struggling to access COVID information because they weren’t able to navigate computers, I secured funding that could be used to provide them with computer training or equipment to get the information they need.

And of course, my Youth Advisory Council is continuing to discuss ways to improve their community and I look forward to their final recommendations this coming June.

There is great work happening in South King County to support our youth and I am excited to share those efforts in an upcoming Town Hall where I will be joined by my colleague Councilmember Girmay Zahilay and representatives from local organizations.

As the Council continues to operate remotely, now is the perfect time to engage with our work and share your thoughts on legislation before us.

My team and I are available via email at dave.upthegrove@kingcounty.gov.

You can watch Council meetings via livestream on the Council’s website or on KCTV channel 22. We take general public comment on the 4th Tuesday of every month.

To learn more about testifying before Council go to: https://www.kingcounty.gov/council/committees/full_council.aspx

Dave Upthegrove
King County Councilmember
District 5

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