This city is the first to announce that 70% of its residents are fully vaccinated yet the state is still not fully open

AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes

Mayor Jenny Durkan of Seattle released an announcement of a milestone met by her city. Seventy percent of Seattle residents age 12 and older are fully vaccinated. Seattle is the first major city to mark such an accomplishment. The State of Washington, however, is still not reopened.

Durkan is not running for re-election. In her final State of the City address in February, the mayor announced a target rate of 70% vaccinations. The city is on track to exceed that target. Seattle is on the way to exceeding that goal with 78% of its residents age 12 and up having started the vaccination process. Seattle now surpasses San Francisco as the city with the highest percentage of its population vaccinated.

Mayor Durkan has done plenty of things wrong during her time in office. She infamously dubbed the summer of 2020 as the Summer of Love as Black Lives Matter protests in cities across the country turned into riots. While the deaths and destruction played out, Durkan was rightly scorned for such a naive attitude to violence in the streets. Durkan is Seattle’s first lesbian mayor yet she found herself sideways with the LGBTQ community who called for her resignation in light of what it claimed were human rights violations. The Seattle City Council voted to override her veto of defunding the police department – she agreed to some defunding, just not enough for the radical council members. Her lack of leadership also shows in her handling of the homeless crisis in Seattle. Parents are afraid for their children to play sports in public parks, for example.

Yet, in this goal to get Seattleites vaccinated, she seems to have found success. Her statement gives the credit to Seattleites themselves, as it should.

“Seattle is America’s most vaccinated major city, and it would not have been possible without our residents’ commitment to protecting themselves, their loved ones and our entire community,” Durkan said in the statement.

Durkan said 78% of Seattleites 12 and up have started the vaccination process. The city itself has administered nearly 250,000 vaccinations for about 131,000 individuals, the mayor’s office said.

The vaccinations have taken place at adult family homes, affordable housing buildings, community pop-up clinics, sporting events and other locations. The city plans to shut down its mass-vaccination center at Lumen Field at the end of the day on Saturday.

To her credit, Durkan embraced the notion that taking the vaccinations into communities and where groups congregate is the key to successful vaccination programs. She is making vaccinations available at a variety of venues and utilizing pop-up clinics.

Governor Inslee congratulated Durkan on the city’s success but he still isn’t ready to re-open the state. He is waiting on the entire state to reach that 70% number of vaccinations.

“This is an amazing moment in our state,” Inslee said. “We are now close to being able to essentially fully reopen.”

Inslee said 66.4% of state residents have received at least an initial vaccine dose. That total was boosted in part by the state adding in 152,000 residents who received vaccines through the Department of Defense and Veterans Affairs, the governor said.

Inslee reiterated the state will allow reopening from COVID-19 restrictions on June 30, even if the vaccination target is not met, but sooner if it is reached.

Statewide, more than 7.3 million vaccine doses have been given, according to the state Department of Health.

Inslee will go ahead and re-open the state on June 30 if the vaccination goal is met or not. He realizes it is something that needs to be done. Inslee has been under pressure from many quarters to re-open the state as people are more than ready to get back to some kind of normal life. Even then, though, he intends to order restrictions in big venues, like large indoor facilities, remain in place. Venues that hold crowds of 10,000 people or more will remain limited to 75% capacity. Masks will be required but there will be no social distancing requirements in place.

The governor credits the state’s initiative of lottery prizes for vaccinated residents as a reason that there has been an increase in vaccinations, though proof of that claim has not been shown yet. “We can’t say anything definitive yet about the impact.”