May 21, 2020 - Health

Amazon launches partnership to create largest family shelter in Washington

Mary's Place Family Center in The Regrade. Photo: Mary's Place

Amazon has announced a partnership with Mary's Place to create a permanent family shelter in Seattle that would house up to 200 family members, including those who may be experiencing economic hardship fueled by the pandemic.

The big picture: Nearly half of U.S. households have lost income since March, according to preliminary Census data. In Washington state, nearly 45% of households lost income and about 16% surveyed said they're experiencing housing insecurity.

Why it matters: Those who are experiencing homelessness have been especially susceptible to health issues during the pandemic in part because they're unable to wash their hands frequently or practice proper social distancing in shared or crowded shelters.

Details: The shelter, called Mary's Place Family Center in The Regrade, is now the largest in Washington state, increasing King County's shelter capacity by 40%.

  • The building began housing some families at the start of the coronavirus outbreak in March. It offers private rooms and ramped up its medical and safety supplies for families to social distance while seeking care.
  • Nearly one-third of families staying have family members who are at high-risk for contracting the virus, according to a joint statement.
  • The facility also houses children with muscular dystrophy, babies waiting on cleft palate and ear reconstruction surgeries, and adults 60 years and older.

What they're saying:

  • Washington Gov. Jay Inslee: “The opening of this facility helps to fill a critical gap — a place for families where they can find safety, access to services, and begin the process of finding stable permanent housing."
  • Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan: “Now more than ever we need strong partnerships and support for our service providers to help sustain our most vulnerable through this public health emergency. The opening of the new Mary's Place shelter came at a crucial moment, helping to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and saving lives."

The bottom line: Housing security is needed now more than ever, especially since overcrowded facilities are hot beds for transmissible diseases.

Go deeper: Coronavirus crisis drives housing advocates' push for rent and mortgage relief

Go deeper

19 hours ago - Health

HHS requests data on race and ethnicity with coronavirus test results

A nurse writes a note as a team of doctors and nurses performs a procedure on a coronavirus patient in the Regional Medical Center on May 21 in San Jose, California. Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

The Department of Health and Human Services moved on Thursday to require that an individual's race, ethnicity, age and sex be submitted to the agency with novel coronavirus test results.

Why it matters: Some cities and states have reported the virus is killing black people at disproportionately high rates. There are gaps in the national picture of how many people of color are affected, since the data has not been a requirement for states to collect or disclose.

Updated 18 hours ago - Health

U.S. coronavirus updates

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios. This graphic includes "probable deaths" that New York City began reporting on April 14.

The Department of Health and Human Services moved on Thursday to require that an individual's race, ethnicity, age and sex be submitted to the agency with novel coronavirus test results.

Why it matters: Some cities and states have reported the virus is killing black people at disproportionately high rates. There are gaps in the national picture of how many people of color are affected, since the data has not been a requirement for states to collect or disclose.

Cities' budget woes worsen with increased social unrest

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Cities were already furloughing workers and considering cutting back essential services — including public safety — because of the dramatic drops in the local tax revenue that funds them. Now they're also dealing with turmoil in their streets.

Why it matters: "Unfortunately, the increasing levels of social unrest across the country reallocated efforts and scarce resources away from the former focus of getting state, regional and local economies back to some semblance of normalcy," per Tom Kozlik, head of municipal strategy and credit at HilltopSecurities.