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Mayor Jenny Durkan, aarp
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Mayor Durkan: ‘We are not out of the woods’ despite recent progress in quelling outbreak

AARP Washington held a tele-town hall and Q&A Wednesday with Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan and public health officials in King County on the latest information about COVID-19.

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Durkan started off the call with a few updates and reminders for listeners.

The mayor recognized that this pandemic has been “enormously displacing,” causing social, economic, and health issues, particularly among the older, more vulnerable population.

“We know that the things we have to do to fight this virus go against who we are as human beings,” she said.

Physical distancing measures, closing seniors facilities to visitors, and other isolation measures have been hard for everyone.

“For members of AARP and older people in Seattle, we are on the front line,” Durkan said. “We know, number one, we are the most vulnerable to this virus, both because of our age and if we have any kind of underlying health conditions. Two, a number of older adults already struggle with not just health issues, but isolation issues and the ability to have mobility and see people.”

In addition to the cancellations of gatherings and social events, Durkan said there has also been a huge economic impact. People have lost jobs in every industry.

“We’ve been working really hard together — the city, the county, and the state — to see how do we protect the most vulnerable, both on the health care front, but also on the economic and social front.”

Durkan said she’s proud of what the people in the city are doing to help each other during this time, from buying groceries for their neighbors and getting meals to those who are most vulnerable, to the doctors, nurses, health care workers, scientists, and everyone doing their part to slow the spread.

“We are fortunate in Seattle … to have such a strong community of first responders, health care workers, public health workers, and a scientific community,” she said. “Because once we did see the virus come into our community, we were able to see very quickly that the true scale was much greater than we anticipated. And having that information, our government leaders … could talk and decide how we could take some quick action to try to flatten the spread of the virus.”

At the same time, though there has been some success in King County, there is still more progress to be made, Durkan reminded listeners.

“There’s been some press about how we had successes because we worked and started so fast, and people have done what we’ve asked them to do, but we are not out of the woods,” she said. “Even though it looks like we are flattening the curve, if we come together again, this virus is voracious and it can take off again.”

She urged everyone to stay home, to avoid gatherings, and to wear a face covering and keep your distance from others if you do have to go out of the house.

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“These are the only ways we have to stop this virus right now because we don’t have a vaccine, we don’t have a cure,” she added. “The cure is how we help each other, and that is what I think is going to get us through this.”

The recording of the tele-town hall is available on AARP Washington’s Facebook page here.

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