Coronavirus deaths in Washington now up to 18, with 136 total cases
Washington state’s coronavirus outbreak continues to escalate with 136 confirmed cases across at least six separate counties.
Sunday, March 8:
10:31pm – Check the state Superintendent’s list for the latest school closures.
7:29pm – Grant County reported its first coronavirus death on Sunday evening.
“Our hearts are with the family, friends, and Central Washington Hospital staff,” Theresa Adkinson, Health District Administrator said in a news release. “I speak on behalf of our staff, Health Officer, and Board of Health, we are so sorry for your loss.”
This latest update might bring the overall total deaths in Washington state to 19. However, MyNorthwest will await official word from the state Department of Health.
2:41pm – The Washington Department of Health announced Sunday that deaths related to coronavirus have now ballooned to 18 statewide, with 136 total cases spread across at least 7 counties.
That includes the first documented cases in both Kittitas and Spokane Counties. There are also now 83 cases in King County, 31 in Snohomish County, 4 in Pierce County, and one in each of Grant, Jefferson, and Clark Counties (in addition to the one in each of Kittitas and Spokane Counties). The state is categorizing 13 other confirmed cases as “unassigned.”
Seventeen of the 18 deaths in Washington have occurred in King County, with 1 in Snohomish.
11:37am – Gov. Jay Inslee stated in an interview with CBS’s Face the Nation that local health officials are weighing mandatory measures for social distancing to curb the continued spread of coronavirus.
“We are contemplating some next steps, particularly to protect our vulnerable populations and our nursing homes and the like — we are looking to determine whether mandatory measures are required,” said Inslee.
What exactly that would look like remains unclear, but the Washington governor praised local events for opting to postpone or cancel over the last few days. That includes Emerald City Comic Con, which recently made the decision to delay the popular downtown Seattle convention until the summer.
Saturday, March 7
3:50pm – A press release from Seattle – King County Public Health states that of the 15 coronavirus deaths in King County, 14 were residents of Kirkland’s LifeCare Center nursing facility. Read more here.
11:22am – There are now 16 total coronavirus deaths in Washington, the Department of Health confirmed Saturday. That includes 15 in King County, and 1 in Snohomish County.
There are 102 total cases statewide: 71 in King County, 27 in Snohomish County, and 1 in each of Grant, Jefferson, Pierce, and Clark Counties. The cases in Pierce and Clark Counties mark the first appearance of the virus in each.
Follow more updates this weekend here:
Friday, March 6
8:21pm – KIRO 7 reports Starbucks has closed a store in downtown Seattle (First Ave. and University Street) after an employee tested positive for coronavirus. The employee is self-quarantined at home. The store was immediately closed and cleaned when Starbucks learned of the diagnosis.
7:55pm – There is almost no one at the Seattle Symphony, says 710 ESPN Seattle’s Mike Salk.
6:21 pm – Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department reported its first case of coronavirus Friday. The patient is a man in his 50s with underlying health conditions, currently in stable condition at St. Anthony Hospital. He was admitted on March 4 with symptoms of pneumonia, and has now tested presumptive positive for coronavirus.
5:17pm – All Seattle Public Library locations will continue to operate with standard hours at this time. The Library has canceled all programs and events, private and public, for the month, including external meetings scheduled in Library meeting rooms. The Bookmobile service will also be canceled for March.
The Library assured it is following best sanitation practices and has made changes to reduce exposure, including the addition of sanitation stations and removal of toys from the children’s areas.
5:09pm – Out of caution, Bellevue College will be switching to online classes and exams starting Friday through the rest of the quarter, ending March 20. The campus will remain open with a reduced staff presence. All large events and gatherings have been canceled through March 27.
4:22pm – Kent Mayor Dana Ralph is “frustrated” with King County and the manner in which the government purchased a motel in Kent to use as quarantine without consulting her office or Kent residents.
“We’re going to do our best to mitigate a plan we were not a part of,” Ralph said at a press conference Friday.
Ralph said her city wants to partner with King County, and recognizes that as a big city, Kent has a role to play in this crisis. Ralph said her office has been asking for a permit since Tuesday to ensure that the patients who will be quarantined at the motel are safe, and that it meets the standards for community safety.
3:41pm – President Trump called Governor Inslee a snake on Friday after a reporter mentioned to him that the governor was critical of the president’s response to the coronavirus outbreak during Vice President Mike Pence’s visit on Thursday.
“I said, ‘If you’re nice to him, he’ll take advantage.’ And I would have said no,” Trump responded. “Let me tell you, we have a lot of problems with the governor.”
Governor Inslee quickly responded in a tweet: “My single focus is and will continue to be the health and well-being of Washingtonians. It’s important for leaders to speak with one voice. I just wish the president and vice president could get on the same page.”
Senator Patty Murray, who’s been very critical of the Trump Administration’s response to the coronavirus outbreak, also tweeted, “Name-calling is the last thing people in my state need right now, @realDonaldTrump. We should all be working together to find solutions, respond to the coronavirus, and focus on keeping Americans safe and healthy.”
3:37pm – Seattle Pacific University is the latest to announce that the remainder of winter quarter classes and finals will be moving online starting ]March 9 until March 19.
3:30pm – The U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington is reducing its operations starting Monday, March 9, in response to the coronavirus outbreak. Chief Judge Ricardo Martinez issued a General Order on Friday.
3:03pm – Kent Mayor Dana Ralph signed a proclamation declaring a state of emergency for the city of Kent. Mayor Ralph has also directed the City Attorney to file for a temporary restraining order against the King County government to prevent King County from opening a quarantine facility in Kent for coronavirus patients after failing to secure permits and address Kent’s public safety concerns.
More details will be announced at a 4 p.m. press conference.
1:37pm – The City of Kirkland is canceling most recreation programming, classes, and closing community centers to the public from March 7 to March 31. Classes on Friday, March 6, will proceed as scheduled. Any upcoming rentals of facilities or athletic fields in the city will be honored, and rental fee refunds will be available when possible for groups who choose to cancel.
1:08pm – Starting March 7, Seattle Humane will be closed to the public following guidelines from local health officials to reduce face-to-face contact. The shelter is canceling public veterinary appointments, media segments, fundraising events, but expects to reopen on March 15.
“Our commitment to providing comfort and care to vulnerable animals remains as strong as ever,” Interim CEO Paula Littlewood said. “Be assured that the dogs, cats, and small critters entrusted to us will continue to receive the affection and attention they deserve.”
12:45pm – University of Washington President Ana Mari Cauce said, “We want to keep in mind, first and foremost, the educational experience of our students in the context of their health and safety.”
Cauce spoke Friday in light of moving all UW classes across its three campuses (Seattle, Bothell, Tacoma) to online courses until March 30. Campuses remain open. The president reminded the media that the university also maintains a large health care facility, and many of the students who live on campus aren’t necessarily able to travel home.
In addition to online classes, food service in common areas will change. Things like salad and soup bars will become a more of grab-and-go experience. President Cauce said these new practices could carry over and become the norm.
Cauce says PAC-12 has its own set of guidelines for games and practices.
12:35pm – “I would not recommend against coming to Seattle,” Gov. Jay Inslee said, as risk of transmission is still low. He again reminded everyone about the importance of washing your hands, staying home when you’re sick, and encouraged anyone at high-risk for severe illness to stay home and avoid large gatherings.
12:23pm – Reports have surfaced on Reddit and social media that Costco will not be offering free samples until further notice to help stop the spread of coronavirus. It is not yet confirmed when or where samples will be discontinued.
12:12pm – Seattle University classes and exams will not be held in person as of Monday, March 9, through the remainder of winter quarter.
The campus will remain open, and any further decision about residence halls, food services, administrative functions, athletics, and cultural events will be announced as it becomes available.
11:17am – The Washington State Department of Health released the latest numbers on coronavirus cases, now up to 79 statewide. That includes 58 in King County, 19 in Snohomish County, 1 in Grant, and the first confirmed case in Jefferson County.
The DOH reports no new deaths beyond the 11 confirmed on Thursday morning.
10:44am – Emerald City Comic Con announced Friday that it will be delaying the four-day event to summer 2020. It was originally slated to take place in downtown Seattle at the Washington State Convention Center between March 12 and March 15.
The decision comes after what the convention labeled “many hours of conversation and consultation with local government officials and the tourism bureau.”
Last year, ECCC pulled in over 98,000 people. This year, a handful of vendors and companies pulled out citing concerns over coronavirus. ECCC also offered refunds to attendees, thousands of whom had opted to get their money back in recent days.
10:13am – As part of $8.3 billion in new federal funding to fight coronavirus across the U.S., Washington state will be receiving $11.5 million toward things like surveillance, lab testing, contact tracing, infection control, and other public health preparedness measures.
Additionally, a task force of 30 medical professionals will soon arrive in Washington state to assist Kirkland’s LifeCare Center, which has been ground zero for the region’s outbreak.
“We are grateful that the cavalry is arriving,” said King County Executive Dow Constantine.
With a federal investigation also opening into LifeCare’s role in the state’s coronavirus outbreak, Constantine also noted that officials have been frustrated with a lack of communication by the nursing home to families of residents.
“We have had some challenges with LifeCare, and I’m starting to lose my patience,” he admitted.
“I’ve been extremely frustrated by this,” agreed King County Public Health Director Patty Hayes.
Fifteen residents of LifeCare infected with coronavirus have been transported to hospitals in the last 24 hours.
9:19am- Senator Patty Murray says she’s concerned about the workers who have to go to work because they can’t afford to pay rent or put food on the table otherwise. The senator is proposing emergency paid sick days legislation.
She told KIRO Radio’s Gee and Ursula Show this virus outbreak brings to light how far the country is behind on contingency plans for the American worker.
“I think everyone needs to be able to put a plan in place today on how to deal with their employees,” Murray said.
Murray pointed to the Northshore School District, which is closed for at least 14 days. She said parents in the district are left to scramble to find child care.
“I would say to every school district, plan now, this could be you next,” Murray said.
According to her news release, “the paid sick days legislation requires all employers to allow workers to accrue seven days of paid sick leave and to provide an additional 14 days available immediately in the event of any public health emergency, including the current coronavirus crisis.”
8:00am – The University of Washington has announced that starting Monday, March 9, all classes and exams will be conducted remotely until the end of the quarter on March 20.
“Evolving public health recommendations indicate our best course of action is to take additional social-distancing steps to support the region’s efforts against this outbreak and conclude this quarter in an orderly and cohesive way for our students and instructors,” a release from UW President Ana Mari Cauce reads.
This comes as a staff member who works in Roosevelt Commons East, an off-campus building near UW’s Seattle campus, has tested positive for coronavirus.
The school plans to resume normal class operations at the start of spring quarter on March 30, “pending public health guidance.”
In cases when “the nature of a class is not suited” to be held remotely, “other options, including submitting grades based on work conducted to this point, may be used.”
Students at UW’s Seattle campus had previously asked the university president to cancel classes to help prevent the spread of coronavirus. As of Friday morning, an online petition had garnered over 26,000 signatures.
“In classrooms, dining halls and during other crowded areas, the virus will inevitably infect people thus increasing the infection rate exponentially,” the petition states.
All UW campuses will remain open to “serve all those who rely on our services.” That includes hospitals, clinics, dining services, residence halls, and recreational activities. Athletic events will proceed as scheduled.
6:59am – Washington Sen. Patty Murray — alongside Connecticut Rep. Rosa DeLauro — introduced legislation in Congress Friday to mandate that companies provide employees with 14 days paid sick leave to be used during public health emergencies. Current laws only mandate a company provide seven days of accrued sick leave to be used during a normal work year.
“This bill would immediately give workers the ability to care for themselves, their families, and help keep their communities safe,” said Sen. Murray. “We need to pass it without delay.”
6:06am – Bloodworks Northwest is asking that anyone who is symptom-free donate blood, with the recent coronavirus outbreak starting to impact its supply in Washington.
5:15am – Public Health – Seattle and King County sent out a press release late Thursday, warning that at the moment, Washington state’s capacity for coronavirus is “inadequate for the number of people who want to be tested.”
That being so, it noted that only people deemed at the “highest risk for serious illness” are likely to be tested. It went on to describe how that could “change as soon as (Friday),” with public health facilities and private laboratories looking to increase testing capacity as quickly as possible.
Local officials echoed the need for increased testing after meeting with Vice President Mike Pence Thursday.
“One the biggest priorities that we need from the [Trump] Administration right now is increased testing capacity,” said Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan in a news release. “In our meeting, I called on the CDC to rapidly expedite testing protocols. Exponentially streamlining and expanding testing nationwide helps local leaders better understand and appropriately respond to COVID-19.”
There will be another press conference Friday morning at 9:30 a.m., where details will be released on an emergency federal funding package.
Thursday, March 5
10:01pm – The EPA released a list of disinfectants Thursday that are acceptable to use against the spread of coronavirus.
8:08pm – Mariner High School in Mukilteo will be closed on Friday because a family member of a student has tested positive for coronavirus. All after-school activities in the district are canceled until at least March 13. WSU Everett reported at 12pm Thursday that it was closed. There’s no other update about Friday or beyond. Villa Academy in Seattle will be closed on March 9 so that staff can train for potential distance learning.
5:50pm – Gov. Jay Inslee thanked Vice President Mike Pence for visiting Washington state and being here today. Pence has helped Washington state to remove some of the federal restrictions that have made it more difficult to test for coronavirus. Inslee said the testing capacity will be increasing in the United States.
Both Inslee and Pence said that a partnership has been formed between the state of Washington and the federal government.
“People in Washington state should be proud of your state and local leadership, health care leadership, and first responders,” Pence said. ” … All of America’s hearts are with the people of Washington today.”
Asked how he’d now assess Trump’s response one week after he put Pence in charge of the response, Inslee sidestepped the question with Pence standing nearby. “I think we have a very good partnership with thousands of people in the federal government,” Inslee said. “We’re not going to allow some disagreements with any one individual in that government to dissuade us.”
The Vice President assured that most Americans infected with coronavirus are recovering and have only mild, flu-like symptoms. Seniors and Americans with underlying health conditions, as we have observed in Washington state, are especially vulnerable. Pence said they have taken action to address that vulnerability, including raising the standards for all nursing homes in the United States.
The CDC will prioritize the delivery of test kits to Washington state, and California, Pence said, and he guaranteed that the number of tests available to the American public will increase drastically in the coming days and weeks across the country.
“[This] is an all hands on deck effort,” Pence said. “We will get through this. Together.”
5:14pm – Vice President Mike Pence gave brief opening remarks to the media.
Pence, Inslee, and local government representatives will now go behind closed doors to talk about the coronavirus outbreak, federal funding, and what can be done in Washington state.
5:05pm – Taste Washington is canceling its event, scheduled for March 19-22. It says it is confident it will be back to Seattle in 2021.
“Due to growing concerns across the U.S., we are unfortunately not able to execute Taste Washington at the quality level our attendees have come to expect.”
4:50pm – Dick’s DriveIn is asking customers to pay with credit cards or debit cards. The restaurant says using cash requires its staff to take an extra step for sanitization.
4:26 pm – Dr. Celine Gounder, an infectious disease specialist and epidemiologist, spoke with KIRO Radio’s Gee and Ursula Show. She believes the outbreak is now a pandemic by definition because it is has reached every continent, and we’re seeing community spread.
Hospitals with special pathogen units, which includes Providence in Seattle, are equipped to handle a pandemic like this, Gounder said, but it will be much more strain on the local hospitals and health care workers.
“We really need to think carefully about how can we make sure we’re protecting our health care workers? Because otherwise it could result in big disruptions to our ability to care for patients, and not just patients with coronavirus.”
In terms of school closures, Gounder emphasized the importance of helping families with the added burden of care and nutrition otherwise provided by the school. Listen here.
4:03pm – Vice President Mike Pence is in Washington state to meet with Governor Inslee about the state’s response to coronavirus. Pence exchanged elbow bumps with Inslee and other lawmakers in line to greet him at Camp Murray.
3:36pm – A part-time stadium employee at CenturyLink Field tested positive for coronavirus. Public health officials have determined that the risk of infection was low for attendees of the Feb. 22 Seattle Dragons game when the employee was working.
All previously scheduled sporting events will proceed as expected for the time being. Following recommendations from King County Public Health, individuals at higher risk of severe illness should stay home and away from large groups of people, including sporting events. At-risk members and anyone who is currently sick should refrain from attending games and matches in the near future, until or unless authorities change the guidelines.
2:25pm – Families of patients in the Life Care Center in Kirkland known for the coronavirus outbreak are speaking out about their relatives and their personal experiences during this outbreak.
Mike Weatherill, whose mom Louise passed away after falling ill from what he believes was coronavirus, said he does not blame the center. Blood and tissue samples were sent to the lab and he is waiting on test results.
“The thing is out of control, it’s obviously out of control,” he said. “I don’t want to freak people out, but they should be careful.”
Most of the relatives who spoke seem to agree that it is not center or the caretakers to blame, and have commended the usual care at this facility.
Families fear that there is no where for the patients to go because they don’t know if they’re sick, they will be turned away from any other facility because of their ties to the Life Care Center, and it may be unsafe to have them at home.
There is some anger from the relatives regarding the limited testing and the slow results, as well as uncertainty about the diagnoses and safety for patients at the center, whether they’re currently showing symptoms or not.
1:55pm – Under her emergency proclamation, Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan has a new plan to address the spread of coronavirus among the homeless population in the city.
The mayor said the goal is to increase shelter capacity for the city’s “vulnerable unsheltered populations living in unsafe encampments, which are at elevated risks.” To be clear, these site are not to be for quarantine nor isolation
The city locations, which will take 2-3 weeks to make operational, will add capacity for up to 100 individuals:
- Lake Union Tiny House Village: Expansion of the current tiny home village by up to 20 units.
- New Cherry Hill Church Tiny House Village: The City expects capacity to be 30 units.
- Former Treatment Facility: Former Evergreen Treatment Facility in the Bitter Lake neighborhood with capacity for up to 50 people.
“We know we need to take additional measures to bring more of our unsheltered community inside. Our neighbors experiencing homelessness are at greater risk of exposure to COVID-19, and as a City, region, and Country we must act with urgency to address the ongoing impacts of this public health crisis,” Mayor Durkan said.
1:42pm – “It’s not affecting children,” Dennis Worsham with Public Health – Seattle & King County told the Seattle City Council on Thursday. “It’s really affecting people who are 60 years and older and those with underlying health conditions.” He said it actually disrupted things when they closed schools during the H1N1 outbreak, as it pulls health care workers off their jobs.
Worsham said they’re working with districts on good sanitization practices. He said that applies to preschool to college aged people. He did not have recommendations for infants.
1:34pm – GeekWire has postponed its event, originally scheduled for March 26 at Seattle’s Museum of Pop Culture. It’ll now happen on May 19. WHL Hockey released a statement that Silvertips and Thunderbirds games will continue. However, they are closely monitoring suggestions from Public Health.
1:22pm – The City of Seattle has been in pandemic planning since February. And the plans are in lockstep with Public Health, according to city officials. Watch now.
1:14pm – The City Council has ordered all city employees to work from home, if able. Councilmember Lisa Herbold says Navigation Teams are passing out hand sanitizer to homeless encampments.
11:52am – The Womxn’s March Seattle, scheduled for Sunday, has been canceled in what leaders say was a decision not made lightly.
“With heavy hearts, Seattle Womxn Marching Forward has voted NOT to gather at Beacon Hill Playfield for the 2020 Womxn’s March on Seattle this coming Sunday, March 8th. This decision is due to the ongoing coronavirus outbreak in King County, and influenced by the most recent recommendations released by public health. … We could not put you at risk. Your voices matter too much.”
Seattle Womxn Marching Forward will instead be hosting ‘The Next Revolutionaries” online, livestreaming the speeches that would have happened on the day of the march. Find future updates on the group’s Facebook page here.
10:53am – Washington state health officials announced in a Thursday press conference that the total number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Washington has ballooned to 70 people. That includes 51 in King County, 18 in Snohomish County, and the first case in Grant County.
Gov. Inslee noted in Thursday’s announcement that “this virus is going to spread across county lines.” However, he also said that it should not cause people to panic, rather, it should encourage them to double efforts to slow the spread.
The Washington State Insurance Commissioner also announced that an emergency order has been issued to all of the state’s health insurers that they are required to cover testing for COVID-19 without co-pays or deductibles.
10:16am – Dr. Chris Spitters with Snohomish Health said Thursday morning that 66 cases have been investigated in Snohomish County — 13 confirmed cases, 2 probable cases, 37 possible cases, and 14 cases they were concerned about, but that are negative.
He encouraged residents to avoid non-essential gatherings with large groups of 50 or more people.
“The larger the group, the higher the risk,” Spitters said.
He urged employers to encourage employees to work from home.
As for schools, Spitters said he spoke with superintendents Thursday morning.
“As of today, Snohomish Health is not requiring school closures.”
Spitters asked people to only visit Urgent Care or the ER if symptoms are serious. Also to call your health provider by telephone.
It is important that you call ahead before you head to a clinic.
“It is not absolutely necessary for everyone with a cold to get tested for coronavirus.”
10:06am – Epidemiologist Dr. Eric Ding spoke with KIRO Radio’s Gee and Ursula Show, stressing the need for massively increased safety measures in Washington state.
“I think the Seattle area in Washington state is potentially on the cusp of being a Wuhan 2.0,” he cautioned.
Ding went on to note that the possibility of shutting down large events like Emerald City Comic Con in downtown Seattle should be something under “urgent consideration.”
“This is where the difference between us becoming a runaway epidemic and a contained epidemic is social distancing,” he noted.
In terms of tracking the virus, UW Medicine is increasing its capacity to handle 1,000 tests a day. Even that, though, may not be sufficient.
“One-thousand tests per day is a good start, but it’s nothing like what they’re doing in South Korea,” Dr. Ding described. “The key to stopping an epidemic is contact tracing, and finding those infected as soon as possible, not three or four weeks after the fact, like the first few cases [in Washington].”
9:15am – Starbucks is temporarily pausing the use of reusable cups to help prevent the spread of coronavirus. “Our commitment to sustainability remains unchanged. Learn more at Starbucks.com,” reads a statement posted at all registers. MyNorthwest staff spotted a Starbucks crew member carrying a large red bucket labeled “Sanitizer” in a store near the office on Wednesday.
8:21am – How will the coronavirus affect the local housing market? Windermere Chief Economist Matthew Gardner stopped by Seattle’s Morning News Wednesday to weigh in. Read more here.
6:47am – The Associated Press reported late Wednesday night that Kirkland’s LifeCare Center nursing home is under federal investigation.
Of the 10 coronavirus deaths in Washington state, most were residents of LifeCare, including a large portion of ongoing cases.
Seema Verma, head of the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, said the agency is sending inspectors to Life Care along with experts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to figure out what happened and determine whether the nursing home followed guidelines for preventing infections.
Last April, the state fined Life Care $67,000 over infection-control deficiencies following two flu outbreaks that affected 17 patients and staff. An unannounced follow-up inspection in June determined that Life Care had corrected the problems, Verma said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report
5:34am – Facebook will be shutting down its Stadium East Seattle office, after a contractor tested positive for coronavirus. The company confirmed in a statement that the office will closed through Monday; the infected employee was last in the office on Feb. 21.
On Tuesday, a Seattle Amazon employee working out of South Lake Union also tested positive for the virus. In an internal email sent out Wednesday, the company also urged Seattle and Bellevue employees to work from home through the end of March.
Wednesday, March 4
9:23pm – The Northshore School District will be closed Thursday and up to 14 days. The district said it’ll monitor the situation and health department recommendations. Parents can expect plans to transition instruction to cloud (online learning) starting Monday. Read more.
The closure affects 33 schools and over 23,000 students. Staff members trained Tuesdays for remote learning.
“By now you are aware that we closed Bothell High School for two days last week to deep clean and wait for test results from the family member of an employee,” Superintendent Michelle Reid posted Wednesday night. “Frank Love Elementary was closed on Monday so we could clean and wait for test results on another employee. We are still waiting for those results.”
Wednesday morning, the district learned that a parent volunteer at Woodmoor Elementary School had tested presumptive positive coronavirus.
Reid said the absent rate across the district is 20 percent. She also said that individuals across the district are in self-quarantine because they have been exposed to the virus due to issues at Life Care Center in Kirkland.
6:15pm – Lake Washington Institute of Technology will be closed Thursday, Friday, and throughout the weekend after a member of its faculty, who was self-quarantined, tested positive for coronavirus. The college plans to continue disinfecting the campus. Read the full statement.
A student was also tested for COVID-19, but test results came back negative.
5:17 pm – Microsoft is telling its employees who don’t need to be physically at the campus to work from home until at least Wednesday, March 25. Among the recommendations, “Limit prolonged interactions and try to stay more than 6 feet/1.8 meters away from others, keep in-person meetings as short as possible, and do not come to work if you are sick. This will be clearly posted on all building entrances.”
Microsoft is also recommending employees outside of the area to avoid traveling to campuses located in the Puget Sound region.
4:36pm – 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.” Read more.
3:53pm – Emerald City Comic Con (March 12-15 at the Washington State Convention Center) says it’s making an exception to its ticket refund policy in light of coronavirus. It’ll cater to its fans who aren’t able to make the event or feel uncomfortable.
3:37pm – The latest report from Public Health — Seattle & King County says nine out of 10 new cases reported Wednesday involve someone with ties to Life Care Center in Kirkland. Of those people, a teen associated with the facility has coronavirus. Health officials say the source of exposure for a man in his 30s is unknown. Check here for details on all the cases reported.
2:40pm – Snohomish County Executive Dave Somers, City of Everett Mayor Cassie Franklin, and Snohomish County Health Officer Dr. Chris Spitters have declared a State of Emergency out of caution for the county and the city of Everett.
“These proclamations make it easier for us to continue to work with our partners as we use the best available medical strategies to keep our community safe and healthy,” Spitters said. “It also provides the flexibility needed to respond to this rapidly evolving issue.”
1:37pm – Dr. Kathy Lofy, State Health Officer, Washington State Department of Health said the state has quadrupled laboratory staff that are doing testing and they have new equipment to process specimens.
“We are going to see considerable increases in the number of patients we can test,” Lofy said.
Lofy added the state is updating its guidelines and criteria for when you should get tested, if you’re experiencing symptoms. She does not expect the issues with limited testing capacity to last much longer in Washington state.
1:33pm – Public Health is not recommending school closures at this time because children have not shown to be at high risk for coronavirus, explained Patty Hayes, Director for Public Health — Seattle & King County.
Public Health supports each school and/or district’s decision to close campuses, Hayes said. They’re working with schools directly to determine the proper timeframes for any potential closures.
1:32pm – Patty Hayes, Director for Public Health — Seattle & King County, said the greatest measure you can take to slow the spread of coronavirus is distancing. Health officials recommend staying at least 6 feet away from other people.
Hayes said there are three ways coronavirus is different than the flu.
1) “It’s a new virus,” Hayes said. “There’s no immunity to that.”
2) “There’s no treatment for this virus right now,” Hayes said. The treatment is like that of how they treat people with flu-like and respiratory symptoms.
3) “There’s no vaccine for this,” Hayes said.
She said employers should maximize telecommuting for as many employees as possible.
“We need to support each other for when we’re sick, we stay home,” Hayes said.
Hayes said groups should consider postponing large gatherings and meetings (of 10 or more people). She noted Microsoft and Amazon’s changes to hosting meetings online and changes in religious settings.
1:24pm – King County Executive Dow Constantine said the purchase of a motel to quarantine people sick with coronavirus is final. The hotel is located in Kent. Media was invited to tour the facility. Watch the news conference here.
“We will get through this,” Constantine said.
Modular units for treatment and isolation of patients with coronavirus are being set up in White Center, Interbay, and North Seattle.
1:18pm – For people over 60 with underlying health conditions and for those who are pregnant, King County Executive Dow Constantine and is recommending you stay home and avoid large gatherings.
He also asked employers to encourage employees to telecommute when possible.
“Those who are sick, must stay home,” Constantine said “If you are ill, please call your doctor’s office. Don’t go in.”
Constantine said there’s no recommendation from public health to close schools at this time.
All non-essential group meetings for King County employees will be canceled through the end of March. Employees who can telecommute will be encouraged to do so for the coming three weeks, with an assessment at the end of each week.
1:15pm – Dr. Jeff Duchin, MD, Health Officer, Public Health — Seattle & King County, said the county has sent two healthcare workers to Life Care Center in Kirkland, which has been dubbed ground zero for the coronavirus outbreak. A team from CDC is on site to help facilitate infection control strategies.
“This is a very stressful situation for the families,” Duchin said.
He said all residents at the long-term facility are being treated as if they have coronavirus, whether they’ve been tested positive or not.
12:36pm – The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is donating an additional $5 million to local public health agencies to help detect and treat coronavirus in King County, Snohomish County, and the surrounding area.
“Early detection plays an essential role in helping public health authorities identify and treat people with COVID-19, take steps to safely isolate them and reduce transmission within the community,” said Gates Foundation CEO Mark Suzman. “The Gates Foundation deeply appreciates the efforts that local, state, and federal public health authorities have invested in responding to this outbreak, and we are eager to contribute our knowledge and resources to the effort.”
In February, the foundation committed up to $100 million to the global effort to respond to coronavirus.
12:28pm – Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson released a statement Wednesday saying that his office is currently investigating price gauging in the wake of the coronavirus emergency.
12:07pm – California has reported its first coronavirus death, after an Los Angeles County resident tested positive last month. The person was elderly and had underlying health conditions. Their exposure was thought to have happened on a Princess cruise ship that departed on Feb. 10 from San Francisco, and sailed to Mexico.
11:29am – Seattle Public Schools says it is postponing all district-sponsored international travel and all national, out-of-state travel (air, bus, train, etc.) for students and staff through the end of the school year. Read more.
10:59am – The State Department of Health has confirmed another coronavirus death in King County, bringing the total in Washington to 10. The total number of cases in the state is now at 39.
10:19am – King County Metro reported that night crews will start cleaning every bus in the fleet with a bleach solution to wipe down high-touch surfaces, and disinfect the transit operator’s work area. Maintenance staff have transitioned to a daily procedure with a stronger, more comprehensive disinfectant. Read more.
10:15am – Vice President Mike Pence announced on Twitter that he and his team will be visiting Washington state as part of a meeting with Gov. Inslee to discuss the coronavirus.
9:30am – Washington Gov. Jay Inslee spoke with Seattle’s Morning News on KIRO Radio Wednesday morning, detailing the state’s plan to think “very, very critically” about the possibility of shutting down large-scale events and gatherings.
That comes as part of a larger strategy to limit the spread of coronavirus.
“It would be a hierarchy of things — the first thing would be to legally prohibit gatherings over a certain number,” said Inslee. “This is something that’s under consideration and we’re going to make the right decision at the right time.”
8:28am -We’ve been debating forever whether Americans need universal health insurance, and now, the ongoing fight to curb the spread of coronavirus might finally help us decide. Read more from KIRO Radio’s Dave Ross.
7:32am – Washington Rep. Pramila Jayapal — who represents much of King County in the U.S. House of Representatives — spoke in a committee meeting Wednesday, detailing $200,000 a week in unexpected costs related to coronavirus in Seattle and King County alone.
Jayapal went on to describe what she viewed as inadequate resources from the federal government, claiming that Washington state is “still waiting on half the requested supplies for response efforts.”
“The slow response from the administration on testing protocols was incredibly detrimental to our efforts,” she noted.
6:30am – The office of the Washington State Secretary of State is urging voters not to seal their ballot return envelopes with saliva, instead asking that people use a wet sponge or cloth.
The request comes paired with a simple slogan: “Whether healthy or sick, please don’t lick!”
5:43am – On Tuesday, crews moved first modular housing unit to a county-owned lot in White Center on SW 112th Street. It’s the first of up to eight trailer units to be installed on the lot, and each trailer has four individual “mini motel rooms” inside.
While many have acknowledged that the quarantine unit needs to go somewhere, residents and representatives of the diverse neighborhood have expressed their concerns over the use of an oft-marginalized part of unincorporated King County.
KIRO 7 reporter Deedee Sun contributed to this report
Tuesday, March 3
10:27pm – An online petition to close schools in the Lake Washington School District has drawn nearly 14,000 signatures. The district has many schools in Kirkland, the same location of the Life Care Center, believed to be ground zero for the virus. There are 29 elementary schools within the district, eight middle schools, and four high schools. The district says custodial staff is cleaning daily “high frequency touch points” on campuses and on buses. Kirkland SDA/Puget Sound Adventist is closed Wednesday for cleaning.
Eastside Prep will close through its Spring Break and reopen April 13. Read more.
10:17pm – Governor Inlsee tweeted that he spoke with Vice President Pence and Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the CDC on Tuesday, asking them to remove restrictions on testing. “They have announced changes consistent with what I had asked for. I appreciate the responsiveness to state requests on COVID-19,” Inslee said.
8:28pm – Hundreds of parents are asking the Everett School District to close schools until “we understand the full impact of coronavirus.” As of Tuesday night, over 1,600 parents have signed the online petition. A Jackson High School student is at home recovering from coronavirus. Snohomish County has reported six cases of coronavirus, including one death. Parents in Mukilteo are passing around a similar petition for their district — with nearly 4,000 signatures.
6:11pm – Sea-Tac Airport has increased the frequency of cleaning “high touch point areas” and added 45 new hand sanitizer stations, with plans to add up to 100. The Port of Seattle released new protocols to help prevent the spread of coronavirus and other illnesses, supporting actions taken by maritime and airline partners and federal agencies. Read more.
5:40pm – In a memo passed around on Reddit and confirmed by MyNorthwest, Amazon is telling its employees that a fellow Amazonian has tested positive for coronavirus. The employee went home not feeling well on Feb. 25 and hasn’t been back since. The company says it has notified employees who it knows would have been in close contact (within 6 feet) with this person. Amazon is asking its employees to stay home if they experience symptoms. “Your health is our top priority and we are continuing with enhanced deep cleaning and sanitization in the office,” the memo reads.
5:28pm – Rep. Pramila Jayapal plans to press the Trump Administration Wednesday morning on the response to coronavirus in a House budget committee hearing. The Department of Health and Human Services hearing starts at 7am PST. You can watch live here. Senator Patty Murray questioned the response on Tuesday at the Senate health committee hearing. “To put it simply, if someone at the White House or in this Administration is actually in charge of responding to the coronavirus, it would be news to anyone in my state,” Murray said.
4:39pm – The Snohomish County Health District has updated its information about two new coronavirus cases reported earlier in the day. One is a male in his 40s, isolated at home. He worked at LifeCare in Kirkland. The second case is a female in her 60s, hospitalized with underlying health conditions. This brings the total number of cases in Snohomish County to six. One Snohomish County resident has died from coronavirus.
4:35pm – The House unanimously passed a bipartisan bill (HB-2965) on Tuesday in Olympia to put $100 million — from the state’s rainy day fund — toward the coronavirus response.
4:26pm – Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan issued a Proclamation of Civil Emergency on Tuesday, which grants her the ability to exercise emergency authority. It allows Durkan to bypass the steps normally required to contract and borrow and forgo permits to implement facilities. The proclamation also allows the mayor to close city facilities and shut down events.
3:33pm – The Federal Reserve cut its benchmark interest rate by a sizable half-percentage point Tuesday in an effort to support the economy in the face of the spreading coronavirus, the Associated Press reports.
2:25pm – Twelve first responders who were linked to responses to incidents at the Life Care Center in Kirkland are showing flu-like symptoms, and 19 have confirmed direct exposure, according to a press release from the city of Kirkland.
There are 26 firefighters and three police officers in quarantine or isolation either at home or at Fire Station 21. The Kirkland Fire and Police Departments remain fully staffed and are responding as normal.
1:40pm – King County is moving the first of 18 modular units today from storage to a site in White Center to house patients for treatment and isolation.
The county reported that Facilities Management Division staff have been cleaning and preparing the units for use, and no patients are currently occupying the units. Installation will be done in phases, with all units expected to be available by the end of the week. Portable hand-washing stations and restrooms will be provided until more permanent facilities are installed.
12:30pm – Eastside Preparatory School in Kirkland announced that it will be implementing a “distance learning program” starting Monday, March 9, and extending through Monday, March 30.
“We do not feel it is prudent to wait until there is a known case to take action,” the school said in a statement posted to its website.
That will have students conducting school online rather than attending class in person. The school also canceled all international and domestic travel related to its “Education Beyond the Classroom” program.
12:24pm – The first confirmed case of coronavirus in North Carolina was identified Tuesday, from a person who had traveled to Washington through Sea-Tac Airport, and was exposed at LifeCare in Kirkland.
Health officials in the state are now working to identify close contacts “to monitor symptoms and contain spread.”
“I know that people are worried about this virus, and I want to assure North Carolinians our state is prepared,” said Gov. Roy Cooper.
The state is labeling this an isolated case, noting that coronavirus has not been widespread in North Carolina. Read more.
11:32am – King County Public Health is now confirming 8 deaths related to coronavirus in the county, raising the total to 9 in Washington state. There have now been 27 confirmed cases of coronavirus statewide.
One of the latest deaths reported was in a woman in her 70s who was previously hospitalized. The other was in another resident of LifeCare in Kirkland, who died in her family family home on Feb. 26.
11:00am – A seventh coronavirus death has now been confirmed in Washington state, this time in a patient who died six days ago at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle.
Washington remains the only state in the U.S. with fatalities brought on by the virus, with this latest one first reported by The New York Times.
UW Medicine confirmed the patient was brought to Harborview from LifeCare Center in Kirkland on Feb. 24, and died two days later. That would technically make it the first coronavirus death in the United States. The first death was previously thought to have occurred on Feb. 29 at Evergreen Health in Kirkland.
The hospital also has determined that “some staff” may have been exposed while working in the intensive care unite where the Harborview patient was treated. Those employees are currently being monitored and screened daily.
10:24am – According to Washington Rep. Kim Schrier, the state will soon have the ability to test over 200 people a day for coronavirus.
“My understanding is that within a week, we will be in the realm of hundreds of thousands, if not a million tests across the country — many of those resources will come to Washington state,” Schrier told KIRO Radio’s Gee and Ursula Show.
This comes in the midst of concerns over a lack of infrastructure and resources to adequately test people. In terms of the criteria for testing, it’s been limited to those who have both been exhibiting symptoms, and have come into direct, confirmed contact with the virus either in the U.S., or in a country deemed a high risk by the CDC.
9:54am – The U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services Seattle Field Office near Tukwila will be closed for the next two weeks due to concerns over coronavirus.
The decision was made after an employee visited the LifeCare Center in Kirkland, the nursing home where several people have already contracted the virus.
It came without notice to many today, who had hoped to complete their naturalization process at the office Tuesday.
“When we got to the front of the building, there was a notice posted just saying the offices were closed for the day with no explanation,” said Fiona Robertson, who had traveled over an hour to finish her year-long naturalization process, only to be turned away at the door.
8:59am – The University of Washington Medical Center is now offering testing for coronavirus.
“We are working very closely with our colleagues, both our local public health jurisdictions, the Department of Health, and the Northwest Health Care Response Network — we have been having almost daily phone calls,” said the hospital’s chief medical officer, Dr. Tim Dellit.
UW is also joining the effort to develop a coronavirus vaccine, although most agree that we’re at least a year out before it can be distributed.
7:28am – Washington Sen. Patty Murray addressed the U.S. Senate Health Committee Tuesday morning, detailing what she dubs an “unacceptable” lack of clarity surrounding testing for coronavirus.
Specifically, Murray pointed toward the ambiguous process for getting tested, and the lengthy wait times for results.
“The people across my state are really scared — I’m hearing from people who are sick, who want to get tested, and don’t know where to go,” she described. “It’s unacceptable that people in my state can’t even get an answer as to whether or not they are infected.”
“It’s only after a long frustrating delay that we’re able to test patients,” she added.
It’s unclear at this time when scaled-up testing will be available in Washington. In the days ahead, Murray intimated the need for more resources.
“We’ve got to provide adequate resources to meet needs,” she noted. “Resources are absolutely critical, but also were never envisioned to be sufficient to respond to a threat like this.”
6:25am – A handful of Seattle are companies are taking measures to curb the spread of coronavirus at the corporate level.
REI has closed its offices in Kent, Georgetown, and Bellevue for two days after being notified of two incidents of potential exposure. That has nearly 1,800 employees working remotely while offices are being scrubbed down.
T-Mobile is also restricting business travel, while encouraging workers to look into “alternative work options” if they’re feeling sick.
5:34am – Many grocery stores continue to report shortages of toilet paper, disinfectant wipes, and hand sanitizer, across Seattle, Kirkland, Lynnwood, and more. This is a trend that began over the weekend, when Costco locations across the region were flooded by shoppers.
Meanwhile, a lengthy story of one Seattle patient’s ultimately fruitless quest to get tested for coronavirus began to circulate around Twitter Monday night. The patient reported being put on hold for 40 minutes, further calls to two separate primary care doctors, and then a transfer to the COVID-19 hotline, where she was informed she did not qualify for testing despite exhibiting coronavirus symptoms.
“Even this early in the outbreak, our hospitals are feeling the strain,” Director of Public Health Patty Hayes said Monday.
Monday, March 2
10:35pm – Students at the University of Washington Seattle campus are asking the university president to cancel classes to help prevent the spread of coronavirus. As of Monday night, an online petition had 13,656 signatures.
“In classrooms, dining halls and during other crowded areas, the virus will inevitably infect people thus increasing the infection rate exponentially,” the petition states.
6:13pm – A handful of schools are closed for coronavirus precautions on Tuesday. Check here for updates.
5:55pm – Dr. Steve Weinrauch, the chief veterinary officer with Seattle-based pet insurance Trupanion, said animal lovers can rest assured — there is no reason to think Fluffy or Spot could catch coronavirus or spread the disease to you or other animals.
“There is no evidence to suggest that cats or other pets can contract or spread COVID-19 or the coronavirus,” Weinrauch said. Read more
5:11pm – Dr. Chris Spitters, health officer for the Snohomish Health District, said coronavirus is very much like the flu. He said the virus likely started in bats and eventually made its way to humans. Eight people are pending test results in Snohomish County. Officials reported six deaths so far in Washington state.
Spitters said we all need to wash hands and stay home if we’re feeling sick, even if you’re unsure what you might be sick with.
“If you don’t need to go to a crowed place, think twice about that,” Spitters said.
“We’re going to continue all of our efforts to work with the local health care community,” said Shawn Frederick, administrative officer for the Snohomish Health District.
County Executive Dave Somers said they’re drafting an emergency declaration to help streamline resources.
Somers said he spoke with Senator Patty Murray Monday morning about mobilizing federal resources. They’re also working closely with the state, other counties, and cities across Snohomish County.
“We’re trying to make sure our response is appropriate and effective,” Somers said.
Everett Mayor Cassie Franklin said they’re focused on prevention. She emphasized hand washing and staying home if you feel sick.
School closures to date have been at the discretion of each district, Dr. Spitters said.
4:39pm – Health officials in Snohomish County will hold a news conference at 5pm on the status of coronavirus in the county. Currently, there are four reported cases of the virus, including one death and one recovery.
3:07pm- Gov. Inslee announces the state is increasing its capacity to test patients for coronavirus. “Our priority now is to slow the spread of this virus,” Inslee said in a news conference on Monday. The governor said we all have a responsibility to take precautions, such as washing hands, avoiding handshakes, and staying home from work if you feel sick.
He then addressed people who may have gone to work on Monday despite feeling under the weather.
“Go home and take care of yourself and try not to put others at risk. This is the hardest thing to do, I understand that,” Inslee said. “It’s perhaps the single most important thing we can do.”
The governor said the state is looking at more potential locations for quarantine sites, and is working on budgeting $100 million this year for the coronavirus response.
Inslee said we should be thinking about canceling large-scale events.
“We’re not making a formal request for events to be canceled,” the governor said.
State Superintendent Chris Reykdal said school closures are a district decision and so far, he’s very satisfied with efforts from the districts.
“To date, not a single department of health has called for a school closure,” Reykdal explained. “School districts have made that decision.”
2:00pm – Life Care Center of Kirkland, where an outbreak of coronavirus has affected residents and staff, issued the following statement:
“At Life Care Center of Kirkland, we have had several confirmed cases of COVID-19. Testing, confirmation and treatment of the virus is handled by local hospitals after patients who exhibit certain symptoms are sent from our facility to acute care centers. As such, we will defer to the local health authorities for official totals regarding COVID-19.
Current residents and associates continue to be monitored closely, specifically for an elevated temperature, cough and/or shortness of breath. Any resident displaying these symptoms is placed in isolation. Associates are screened prior to beginning work and upon leaving. We are also following infection control recommendations, including proper hand-washing techniques and wearing masks, gowns and gloves when caring for any symptomatic patients. All of these decisions have been made based on recommendations from the state health department and the CDC.
In addition to the above infection control strategies, all visits to the facility from families, volunteers or vendors are not allowed. The facility has also placed a hold on admissions, to fully focus on our current residents and associates. We encourage family members to call the facility if they have specific questions regarding their loved ones. … Our Life Care associates continue to focus on resident care, and we would like to acknowledge how dedicated they have been throughout this entire situation.”
1:39pm – King County plans to purchase of a motel to house coronavirus patients in isolation. Read more
11:36 – Health officials announce four more deaths due to coronavirus. The sixth death was at Evergreen Hospital in King County, but was a Snohomish County resident.
Also in King County, a woman in her 70s with underlying conditions died on Sunday. Another woman in her 80s was previously in critical condition, and also died Sunday. Details on the fifth death have not yet been released.
On Sunday evening, health officials announced the second death. The first death was reported on Friday.
11:30am – Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant issued a letter to Mayor Jenny Durkan and King County Executive Dow Constantine Monday, pushing for free medical care for any patients with coronavirus symptoms. Read more
10:24am- Despite ongoing concerns related to the spread of coronavirus, Emerald City Comic Con will go forward as planned this year in downtown Seattle. Read more
10:05am – Several schools around the Puget Sound region closed on Monday while crews cleaned campuses. All schools in the Northshore School District will close on Tuesday for cleaning. Read more
8am: COVID-19, the disease caused by coronavirus, may have been spreading in Washington state for weeks undetected, according to researchers at the Seattle Flu Study. Read more
7:14am – KTTH’s Jason Rantz says it’s clear that we’re not ready for how Seattle’s out-of-control homelessness will worsen the crisis. Read more
6:03am – Shoppers are stocking up on supplies to prepare for the potential spread of coronavirus. At a Costco in South Seattle on Saturday, customers bought up hand sanitizer and disinfecting wipes. Read more