Kent Mayor says city was not consulted about coronavirus quarantine site
At Wednesday’s King County Public Health news conference on the local response to coronavirus, King County Executive Dow Constantine announced that a motel in Kent has been purchased to use as a quarantine for people who have or are suspected to have coronavirus. There will also be modular units in White Center, Interbay, and North Seattle for isolation and treatment.
Dana Ralph, the Mayor of Kent, joined KIRO Radio’s Dori Monson Show to discuss her concerns about the soon-to-be quarantine site in her city. The problems she has with the decision center on the process and the lack of communication.
“We did not find out about this directly from the county,” Ralph said. “We heard a rumor late Monday afternoon, and I reached out to the Executive’s Office, and was able to confirm the rumor that they [had] already purchased this motel in Kent right at one of our major gateways when you get off Highway 167.”
Ralph said more details about this location came to light after the fact.
“What we learned in our conversation with public health yesterday is that this location had been under consideration for months for a facility to potentially quarantine people with exposure to hepatitis A, the measles, or tuberculosis,” she said. “And I think the coronavirus sort of moved this process faster.”
The mayor’s office understanding is that the state of emergency declared by the county allowed this property to be purchased quicker than it would have been otherwise.
Ralph said the executive’s office has made themselves available for two phone meetings since Monday, but it seemed to be a done deal by the time Kent heard the rumor about the motel purchase Monday afternoon.
“[The frustration] stems from [the belief] that we’re due the communication and respect and to be a part of the conversation,” Ralph said. “And it’s something that I think a lot of cities face that we’re not engaged in conversation by the county before decisions are made. Things are being done to us.”
The only explanation Ralph has received from Constantine is his office “was trying to strike that balance between real estate transactions and bringing others into the loop.”
“We know that when we make, we collectively, government, local government, county, state, when we make decisions that are informed and together, that’s when we make the best decisions for our residents,” Ralph said. “ … It feels like someone, as you said, above my pay grade, made a decision for my community.”