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CDC Endorses Updated Boosters Protecting Against COVID-19 Omicron Strains

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently authorized updated COVID-19 boosters meant to protect recipients from common COVID-19 Omicron strains. The state Department of Health is planning a fall rollout for the updated booster.

Additions to Assistance Program Will Better Support

Low-Income Washingtonians Age 65+, Blind or Disabled

Effective Sept. 1, maximum payments to Aged, Blind, or Disabled (ABD) Cash Assistance Program participants will increase thanks to funding from the state's 2022 supplemental budget. Individuals who are over 65, blind, or disabled often live on the margins of Washington communities. Increased payments and ongoing legislative focus may help support these vulnerable persons. This is the first increase in ABD grant amounts since 2011.

Kids Ride Free! Public Transit

Agencies Drop Youth Fares

Public transit is now free for riders ages 18 and under in many places statewide thanks to the Move Ahead Washington transportation package passed by legislators earlier this year.

School, sports, activities, friends, and work are all now a little more accessible for young Washingtonians and their families. Eight Puget Sound-area public transit agencies began new programs for free youth fares on Thursday. Many other agencies statewide have begun or will soon begin similar programs.

The Move Ahead Washington transportation package created Transit Support Grants for agencies that implement a zero-fare program for riders 18 and under by Oct. 1. This will include free fare on Washington State Ferries vessels. The Washington State Department of Transportation has thus far received 21 free youth fare policies from the 32 transit systems in the state.

Details vary. Young riders may contact their local transit agency for instructions to enjoy free ridership.

Right of Way Safety Initiative Helping

Homelessness Find Support and Housing

State and local agencies have partnered this summer in an effort to transition people experiencing homelessness away from dangerous encampments along state roadways and into stable, supportive housing.

The Right of Way Safety Initiative is focused on several locations in Puget Sound and Spokane. This week, KOMO news highlighted the efforts of outreach teams who conducted several weeks of personalized outreach to 75 people previously living in the Dearborn encampment along I-5 in Seattle. The teams were able to move those individuals into safer shelter, lodging, and inpatient treatment recently.

"I appreciate the incredible dedication of the community organizations and agency teams who have been ensuring we can provide safer options to some of our unhoused neighbors living in dangerous right of way locations," Gov. Jay Inslee said. "This safety initiative is possible because local leaders and experienced nonprofits are willing and able to partner with the state and serve these individuals with compassion."

The Washington State Patrol, state Department of Commerce, state Department of Transportation, City of Seattle, King County Regional Homelessness Authority, and outreach organizations REACH and JustCare collaborated on the Dearborn site. Local and nonprofit partners have also helped people living at other sites in King and Thurston counties. State agencies are continuing to pursue partnerships for similar efforts in additional counties.

Incarcerated Women Raise Endangered Butterflies

Women incarcerated at the Mission Creek Corrections Center in Belfair received a batch of federally endangered butterflies and are beginning a long process to nurture them, part of the Sustainability in Prisons project to provide nature, science, and environmental education in prisons. "Statistically, if you have an education while you're incarcerated, recidivism drops, and these kinds of programs really make the difference," said one participant.

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