Due to Unhealthy Air Quality, Emergency Smoke Shelter to Remain Open Until Tuesday Morning; Beaches, Boat Ramps, Parks, and Playfields Remain Closed Through Monday

City of Seattle COVID-19 Testing Sites to Temporarily Close Monday, September 14

Seattle (September 14, 2020) – The City of Seattle is continuing to work with partners across the region to monitor and respond to the dual health crises of COVID-19 and wildfire smoke. The City is currently experiencing some hazardous levels with the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency forecasting that Seattle will continue to experience ‘unhealthy’ air quality into Monday. The City of Seattle will continue to monitor air quality and update the public on any potential future impacts to operations. Residents are encouraged to sign up for Alert Seattle for updates and emergency notifications.

Please review the below list of updates for information on the City’s wildfire smoke operations modifications.

Human Services Department (HSD): On Friday, September 11, HSD partnered with the King County Department of Community and Human Services (DCHS), Public Health – Seattle & King County, Public Health Reserve Corps, and the Salvation Army to open an emergency smoke shelter at 1045 6th Ave. S. The emergency smoke shelter has capacity to shelter approximately 100 people and is operating 24 hours each day. The Navigation Team has conducted outreach through needs assessments, sharing information about the smoke shelter, making referrals to the smoke shelter and other shelter units, and offering transportation. On Friday evening, 21 people stayed at the smoke shelter, Saturday evening 51, and as of Sunday evening, 87 people were utilizing the emergency smoke shelter. The smoke shelter will remain open through Tuesday morning, September 15, at 10 a.m., when air quality is forecasted to improve.

Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs (OIRA): OIRA continues to post updated in-language wildfire smoke information in Amharic, Chinese (Traditional), Korean, Somali, Spanish, and Vietnamese on Twitter and Facebook. Residents can also find translated air quality information at https://welcoming.seattle.gov/2020smoke/.

Seattle Center: The public restrooms at Seattle Center will remain closed through Monday, September 14, as the restrooms lack air conditioning or air filtration systems and must be monitored by Seattle Center staff. Seattle Center has placed portable toilets on the grounds as a temporary substitute. 

Seattle Fire Department (SFD): The City of Seattle’s free COVID-19 testing sites will be closed Monday, September 14 due to unhealthy air quality. The Seattle Fire Department will contact individuals who have appointments to notify them of the closure, and will quickly reschedule all appointments. The City of Seattle free testing locations are:

  • Aurora drive-through site (12040 Aurora Ave N)
  • SoDo drive-through site (3820 6th Ave South)
  • Rainier Beach High School walk-up site (8815 Seward Park Ave S) 
  • South West Athletic Complex walk-up (2801 SW Thistle Street)  

Seattle Parks and Recreation (SPR): Due to unhealthy air quality, SPR is extending the closure of all beaches boat ramps, parks, specialty gardens, golf courses, and playfields through Monday, September 14. Restrooms in parks will remain open. The City is not issuing citations, but all residents are strongly encouraged to avoid outdoor recreation and remain inside if they are able for the duration of the unhealthy air quality.

Seattle Public Utilities (SPU): SPU will extend the closure of Rattlesnake Lake Recreation Area through Monday due to air quality concerns. Rattlesnake Ledge Trail remains closed until further notice.

The Seattle Public Library (SPL): The University District Seattle Public Library (SPL) branch’s restroom will also be closed through Monday, as that specific branch does not have air conditioning or air filtration. In addition, SPL has suspended all curbside pickup appointments through Monday and all book drops are closed Monday, September 14 due to unhealthy air quality. The Library closes outdoor services when the air quality index reaches a sustained unhealthy level of 150 and above.

Public Health – Seattle & King County advises all those who are able to stay inside for the duration of the unhealthy air quality. All those who have asthma or other respiratory conditions should take care to have their inhaler and other relevant medications. If a person with existing health conditions experiences a worsening of their condition due to the unhealthy air, they should contact their health care provider immediately.

It’s important to note that cloth face coverings – while critical to preventing the spread of COVID-19 – generally do not provide much protection from unhealthy air quality. N95 and N100 masks offer slightly better protection against unhealthy air quality, however, those should continue to be reserved for health care workers and first responders addressing the COVID-19 pandemic.

Residents should regularly check Puget Sound Clean Air Agency for updates on air quality. For information about COVID-19, including in multiple languages, visit www.kingcounty.gov/COVID.

The Seattle Fire Department urges the public to take steps to prevent additional fires from starting, to include properly discarding of smoking materials and ensuring vehicles don’t create sparks. Read more on the Fireline Blog.