Trump announces 30-day extension on social distancing guidelines
President Trump announced on Sunday a 30-day extension on social distancing guidelines. Earlier, Dr. Fauci told CNN that he expects the U.S. death toll to reach somewhere between 100,000 and 200,000, with millions of cases.
9:19pm – The state Department of Health has reported 4,896 cases of coronvirus in Washington late Sunday evening. Of those, 195 have died. Over 65,000 people across the state have been tested. Of those, about 7.5% are positive.
4:00pm – Bracing the nation for a grim death toll, President Donald Trump on Sunday extended the voluntary national shutdown for a month, bowing to public-health experts who told him the coronavirus pandemic could claim over 100,000 lives in the U.S., perhaps significantly more, if not enough is done to fight it. Read more from the AP.
3:16pm – Vice President Mike Pence has sent a letter to hospital administrators around the U.S. asking them to directly report their coronavirus testing data to the Department of Health and Human Services as well as their state officials. Read more from AP.
3:05pm – Public Health – Seattle & King is reporting five new deaths due to coronavirus on Sunday, bringing the total to 141. There are 2,159 positive cases in the county (or 82 new cases since Saturday).
2:47pm – The American Association of Emergency Medicine is calling on the Washington State Attorney General’s Office and the state medical board to investigate the firing of a Bellingham doctor who has been critical of the way his hospital has responded to coronavirus, according to The Seattle Times.
Dr. Ming Lin, the ER doctor at PeaceHealth St. Joseph Medical Center for the past 17 years, told The Associated Press on Friday night he had been fired.
11:22am – An incarcerated patient from the Monroe Correctional Complex has tested positive COVID-19. The Department of Corrections said that he was transferred to a medical center for reasons not related to coronavirus.
He was tested on March 15 and the test came back negative. He was tested again on March 25 when he started presenting symptoms. During that 10-day period, the man was staying at the medical center. He remains there in stable condition.
The Department of Corrections began notifying staff who were potentially exposed to the patient while at the medical center. It’s believed the man had no connection with the staff member from the Monroe Correctional Complex who was confirmed positive for COVID-19 on March 12.
8:06am – The U.S. government’s foremost infection disease expert says the United States could experience more than 100,000 deaths and millions of infections from the coronavirus pandemic.
“I would say between 100,000 and 200,000 cases,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, speaking on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday. He corrected himself to say he meant deaths. “We’re going to have millions of cases.” But he added “I don’t want to be held to that” because the pandemic is “such a moving target.” Ready more from AP.
10:22pm – The state Department of Health updated numbers again on Saturday. There are 189 deaths across the state due to COVID-19, and 4,310 positive cases. Initial numbers from the state on Saturday indicated no new deaths (175) and 4,300 positive cases.
10:03pm – Dr. Jeff Duchin, Health Officer for Public Health – Seattle & King County, signed on Saturday an order to make it mandatory for people with a positive COVID-19 test to isolate at home or a recovery facility. The order requires anyone with symptoms (fever, cough, and/or difficulty breathing) who has a test pending to stay quarantined.
“Each of us need to do whatever we can to prevent others from becoming ill,” Duchin said. “Everyone — young and old, whether you have been diagnosed with COVID-19 or not — should stay home and avoid all non-essential contact with others.”
Violating the order could result in enforcement actions, including legal actions for involuntary detention.
3:53pm – The state Department of Health reported on Saturday that the number of positive cases of coronavirus increased to 4,300, which is an increase of 600 new cases since Friday. The number of people who have died did not change on Saturday, according to the DOH, and sits at 175. The DOH reports 59,196 people have been tested in Washington state, with a positive rate of 7%. That percentage has not deviated in at least the last week.
Meanwhile, Prestige Care and Rehabilitation in Burlington reported on Saturday that one resident and five staff members have tested positive for COVID-19. The DOH has consulted with Prestige Care and Rehabilitation and confirmed that the facility is taking all of the necessary precautions to keep residents and safe. The facility has been following all of Governor Inslee’s direction for long-term care facilities. DOH found no gaps in the facility’s practices, according to Skagit County.
1:40 pm – “It will reduce the burden on our hospitals here,” Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan said Saturday about a new field hospital being set up at CenturyLink Field Event Center in Seattle.
Durkan said 300 people from the 627th Hospital Wing from Fort Carson will stay in Seattle to help treat people not experiencing COVID-19 at the event center.
“Welcome them if you see them,” Durkan said.
King County Executive Dow Constantine said the county is pulling out all the stops to keep hospitals and the health care system going. He pointed to the quarantine sites in Kent and Issaquah and more field hospitals set up in Shoreline and Bellevue.
“We warmly welcome the addition of this facility,” Constantine said. “We simply must do more right now across all governments to protect the people who call this special place home.”
“The day is going to come again when we root for the Seahawks at CenturyLink. The day is going to come again when we root for the Sounders here,” Governor Inslee tried to reassure people.
Inslee said while this type of facility is just getting off the ground in Seattle, the state is committed to build out more facilities like it across Washington state.
“This is a tremendous step by the federal government,” Inslee said. “We do need more assistance, hospital beds, and importantly, hospital personnel from the government.”
Inslee thanked the 627th for uprooting their lives to help the state of Washington. He added that we can all be part of the 627th by closing businesses, staying home from the store, and social distancing.
11:40am – Snohomish County will open an isolation and quarantine site next week at the Angel of the Winds Arena in downtown Everett. The facility will be for those who may not be able to recover in their own home or who are among the county’s homeless population. The Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office will oversee security where there will be six commissioned law enforcement officers monitoring the perimeter, along with 4-7 security guards.
Meanwhile, at 1:30pm today Governor Inslee, Mayor Durkan, King County Executive Dow Constantine will join FEMA Region 10 Administrator Mike O’Hare and Brigadier General Doug Cherry to discuss the deployment of a field hospital at CenturyLink Field Event Center.
7:35am – In addition to using its Dreamlifter to transport medical supplies, Boeing said it is manufacturing face shields to “protect those on the front lines of fighting the virus.” The goal is to produce thousands of face shields per week. The company says it has already donated thousands of masks and gloves to hospitals.
6:54am – Worldwide, the number of confirmed coronavirus infections topped 600,000 on Saturday, according to the Associated Press. While the U.S. now leads the world in reported infections — with more than 104,000 cases — five countries exceed its roughly 1,700 deaths: Italy, Spain, China, Iran and France. Read more from AP.
5:04pm – Ferry service will be reduced in central Puget Sound beginning Sunday, March 29, until at least April 25. The Seattle/Bainbridge and Seattle/Bremerton routes will be reduced by about half, while Fauntleroy/Vashon, Fauntleroy/Southworth, and Southworth/Vashion will switch to a two-boat schedule.
4:38pm – An U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and FEMA have agreed to deploy a military field hospital with roughly 150 beds will be placed at the CenturyLink Field Event Center for non-coronavirus patients in the case that local hospitals need more space.
Soldiers from Fort Carson, Colo., have been sent to Seattle to staff the hospital.
“As we continue to do everything possible to slow the spread of COVID-19 throughout Washington state, we also need to prepare our healthcare delivery system to deal with people who are sick, or may become ill, as well as all the other health needs of Washingtonians. This field hospital will help us do that and I am grateful to the Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Army, and FEMA for bringing in these much needed resources of people, supplies and equipment,” Gov. Jay Inslee said.
3:50pm – The Department of Health on Friday said 175 people across Washington state have died from coronavirus. About 3,700 people have tested positive for the virus. Just over 49,000 people have tested negative, which is 93% of all people tested. About 54% of all deaths related to the virus in Washington state are among people who are 80 years old or older.
3:29pm – In his briefing from the White House on Friday, President Trump told the media he wants Gov. Inslee and Michigan’s governor to be appreciative. “Very simple. I want them to be appreciative.” Read more.
3:14pm – President Donald Trump signed an unprecedented $2.2 trillion economic rescue package into law Friday. “This will deliver urgently needed relief,” Trump said as he signed the bill in the Oval Office, flanked only by Republican lawmakers. Read more from AP.
2:15pm – Health officials in Snohomish County say 23 people have died of coronavirus in that county; confirmed positive cases have reached 912. County health officials say the cities with the highest number of positive cases are Everett (243), Lynnwood (127), Edmonds (84), Bothell (81), and Marysville (79).
2:12pm – Comcast/Xfinity in Washington state is offering college students free internet access for two months, with no installation fees. Interested students should visit www.xfinity.com/student to get an installation kit. In a few weeks, they’ll receive a $150 Visa prepaid card to help pay for service. The offer is for college students who live in households that are not already Xfinity customers. Offer expires June 1.
2:07pm – Pierce County health officials said one more person has died due to coronavirus, bringing the total to five cases. There are 231 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the county. The University of Washington virology lab and the state Public Health Laboratories have tested 4,310 Pierce County residents.
1:41pm – Seattle Mayor Durkan announced Friday she is issuing an emergency order to allow the city to fund emergency childcare for essential workers — health care professionals, first responders, and grocery store workers.
The proposal is for $1 million per month for 75 emergency childcare classrooms in five locations near hospitals, and 22 other preschools at other sites. The order is expected to serve more than 700 kids. The classrooms will be staffed with Seattle Preschool Program staff and substitute teachers.
12:47pm – Seattle City Councilmembers Lorena Gonzalez, Lisa Herbold, and Andrew Lewis called in for a special episode of Seattle Channel’s Council Edition, to shed light on how the city is continuing its work in fighting the coronavirus outbreak.
12:25pm – Washington state will hold a special election in April despite concerns about the spread of COVID-19. Earlier this month, Secretary of State Kim Wyman, along with county auditors, requested that the election be canceled.
David Postman, Gov. Inslee’s chief of staff, wrote in an email to The Seattle Times, “Rather than postponing the special April elections, we are working with Secretary Wyman on what could be done to help auditors manage elections during the outbreak, for April and later in the year.”
The April 28 election includes bonds and levies across not even half of Washington’s counties.
11:55am – The city of Seattle is deploying 14 toilets and 6 handwashing stations in near City Hall Park, Lake City Community Center, Jefferson Park, Westcrest Park, Cal Anderson Park, and Benvenuto Viewpoint on Saturday.
10:51am – The House rushed President Trump a $2.2 trillion rescue package Friday. It will ship payments of up to $1,200 to millions of Americans, bolster unemployment benefits, offer loans, grants and tax breaks to businesses large and small and flush billions more to states, local governments and the nation’s all but overwhelmed health care system.
Trump said he would sign the bill immediately. Read more from AP.
10:11am – Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan is spearheading a coalition of 40 bipartisan mayors asking that the 2020 census be delayed due to the ongoing impact of the nation’s coronavirus outbreak.
“There’s no doubt that the COVID-19 pandemic has threatened our ability to ensure a complete, safe, and accurate count, which means that every single resident, regardless of their background, could see a decrease in their voting power and political representation,” she warned in a letter addressed to the U.S. Census Bureau.
10:04am – How do travel bans actually affect the spread of coronavirus? One study out of the University of Washington sought to figure that out, finding that while they can slow the spread, measures to reduce transmissibility among populations are far more effective overall.
9:13am – Speaking to CNN, Microsoft founder Bill Gates opined that it would take a complete shutdown across the U.S. to fully curb the spread of coronavirus.
“If we do it right, we’ll only have to do it once for six to 10 weeks, but it has to be the whole country,” he detailed.
8:48am – The spread of coronavirus has occurred alongside a similarly viral spread of misinformation across all of social media, according to the Director of UW’s Center for an Informed Public, Dr. Kate Starbird. Read more here.
8:21am – The New York Times is now sharing a massive database of coronavirus cases for every U.S. county, that you can access here.
7:28am – While the initial shutdown issued by Governor Jay Inslee is through April 24, which would see schools reopening April 27, Chris Reykdal, State Superintendent of Public Instruction, acknowledged that the school shutdown could go on much longer. Read more.
6:52am – As people are stuck indoors, King County sewers are being overwhelmed with “fatbergs” that are clogging the pipes.
6:04am – Gov. Jay Inslee butted heads with President Trump Thursday over the role the White House is taking in the nation’s coronavirus response.
This came after the President told governors that his administration was operating as “backup” to states dealing with outbreak on the front lines.
“We don’t need a backup — we need a Tom Brady,” Inslee responded.
Later on Thursday night, President Trump reiterated his stance to Fox News host Sean Hannity, labeling the White House as “a second line of attack.”
“The first line of attack is supposed to be the hospitals and the local government and the states,” he added.
States like Washington and New York have been asking the federal government for additional aid for weeks, calling for tens of thousands of ventilators, protective equipment, and more. That’s despite the President positing Thursday that “a lot of equipment is being asked for that I don’t think they’ll need.”
5:53am – Businesses at Sea-Tac Airport will get a rent reduction in April to help mitigate the sharp drop in air travel brought on by the coronavirus outbreak.
5:18am – British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has tested positive for coronavirus. He is now self-isolating and plans to continue leading the UK government’s outbreak response over video conference.
5:05am – The U.S. Army is reportedly looking at Seattle’s CenturyLink Field as a possible site for a temporary field hospital to treat coronavirus patients, and deal with an anticipated surge in new cases.
“An advanced party arrived [Wednesday] evening,” said Army Chief of Staff Gen. James C. McConville at a Pentagon news conference Thursday. “They’re coordinating with state and local authorities in conducting a site survey of the CenturyLink [Field] and a state fairground.”
The Army cited the expansive area underneath and surrounding the home of the Seahawks as a potential benefit for any field hospital that’s set up. It hasn’t yet stated which fairgrounds location is being looked at as an alternative option.
10:15pm – The House is set to pass the sprawling, $2.2 trillion measure Friday morning after an extraordinary 96-0 Senate vote late Wednesday. President Donald Trump marveled at the unanimity Thursday and is eager to sign the package into law. Read more from AP.
4:35pm – Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan announced a new program to prioritize access to free on-street parking near hospitals and coronavirus testing sites for health care workers.
To start, the permit program will be available at Harborview Medical Center, Kaiser Permanente, Seattle Children’s Hospital, Swedish Medical Center on Cherry Hill and First Hill, and Virginia Mason Medical Center.
4:02pm – There are now 3,207 confirmed coronavirus cases in Washington state and 147 deaths, as reported by the Washington State Department of Health, an increase of 15 deaths since Wednesday. Statewide, 92 percent of the reported deaths are in those aged 60 or older.
3:35pm – Health officials report two new deaths in Snohomish County and nine new deaths in King County on Thursday. The total is now 18 in Snohomish County (778 cases) and 109 in King County, where the number of cases has reached 1,577.
3:24pm – The United States now leads the world in confirmed coronavirus cases with more than 82,000, according to a running count by Johns Hopkins University. Italy has the most deaths of any country. Read the latest from the AP.
2:15pm – According to the Employment Security Department in Washington state, there were 133,464 new claims for unemployment benefits last week, an increase of 119,310 new claims over the previous week. That’s a 843% increase.
“This data shows the enormity of the situation unfolding in our state,” said Employment Security Department Commissioner, Suzi LeVine.
Industries experiencing the highest percentage of new claims last week were accommodation and food services, health care and social assistance, retail trade, and manufacturing.
The department reports Spokane County has experienced the highest increase in claims, up 1,826% from the previous week. In King County, the number of claims increased 539% from the week before.
1:29pm – The Seahawks have launched a new website, Seahawks Weekly Challenge, and Coach Pete Carroll is kicking it off with a series of mindfulness exercises for kids to keep a positive mindset. The website will feature a new player, coach, or talent every week.
“The Seahawks have organized some activities and challenges for kids so they can check in with us on a weekly basis…and give them something to do with the time that we have available….come join us as we go through this process with you, we’d love to have you come be a part of it…We got this!” – Coach Pete Carroll
Share your weekly challenge photos online with the hashtag #WeGotThisSeattle
12:40pm – The impact that the coronavirus outbreak has had worldwide on the airline industry is unprecedented, but Alaska Airlines may be better equipped to handle that impact than most of its competitors. Read more.
12:03pm – Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan raised a new flag atop the Space Needle Thursday morning, emblazoned with the phrase, “We got this Seattle.”
11:22am – In a Thursday press conference, Gov. Inslee called for a federal response to the ongoing coronavirus crisis akin to what we saw during World War II.
“We need the full energy of the manufacturing capacity of the United States of America to become engaged,” he noted.
To that end, he asked that retired medical professionals “willing to help out for a few weeks” return to work if they’re able, describing them as a possible “medical militia.” Anyone interested in doing so can go to this website for more information.
Outside of the need for personnel, Inslee labeled the current federal system for distributing aid as “a mad scramble, with 50 states competing against each other for crucial supplies.”
He also cited continued deficiencies in testing infrastructure.
“We’ve conducted more than 31,000 tests, but we have very significant unmet needs,” said Inslee, calling for “pervasive testing before we can return to normalcy in our state.”
10:50am – Pierce County will be reducing weekday bus service by 28%, beginning March 30 and extending “until further notice.” This comes as ridership for Pierce County buses has decreased by 57% over March 2019.
10:20am – In a bid to discourage large crowds, Seattle has closed parking lots for a handful of major parks, including Green Lake, Discovery Park, Golden Gardens, Magnuson Park, and Stewart Park. The parks themselves remain open provided people maintain six feet of distance from each other at all times.
9:12am – A report from Lending Tree shows that Seattle has seen a 371% growth in mortgage refinance applications between 2019 and 2020, largely driven by the economic impacts of the ongoing coronavirus outbreak. That’s the fifth highest rate in the U.S., behind San Francisco, Raleigh, San Jose, and Austin.
Washington also had the second highest rate of any state with a 326% growth in refinance applications, trailing only Nebraska.
8:24am – A new study out of the University of Washington could clear the way to expand at-home coronavirus testing across the country.
While previous guidelines for testing required a trained health worker for collecting samples, this new research found that “self-collected swap samples accurately detected COVID-19 in more than 90% of positive patients.”
7:45am – A Washington state Republican lawmaker is calling on Gov. Jay Inslee to overturn a soon-to-be-implemented plastic bag ban, over concerns that coronavirus could be transmitted on reusable bags brought to grocery stores by shoppers. Read more.
7:21am – The Seattle Police Department announced three more employees tested positive for the coronavirus, but the department is hiding key details about public safety. Read more from KTTH’s Jason Rantz.
6:48am – Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan voiced her support for a $2.2 trillion aid package recently approved by the U.S. Senate.
“This bill includes many of (Seattle’s) priorities, including unemployment insurance that covers gig workers, increased investments in affordable housing and services for people experiencing homelessness, and more resources for small businesses and first responders,” she stated on Twitter.
6:01am – Unemployment claims skyrocketed to over 3.2 million over the last week, the highest number of initial claims since the U.S. Department of Labor first started recording numbers in 1967.
Washington state saw over 130,000 people file unemployment claims over that same one-week period.
5:50am – After initial confusion over what exactly defines an essential business during Washington’s stay-at-home order, the Washington State Department of Commerce has provided some clarity. You can fill out this form to ask for details directly, or you can look at this listing for more immediate assistance.
5:09am – The Senate unanimously passed a $2.2 trillion economic aid package Wednesday, the largest such bill in U.S. history.
The package is intended as relief for an economy spiraling into recession or worse and a nation facing a grim toll from an infection that’s killed more than 21,000 people worldwide. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, asked how long the aid would keep the economy afloat, said: “We’ve anticipated three months. Hopefully, we won’t need this for three months.”
It also provides a one-time direct payment of $1,200 to Americans making up to $75,000 a year, and $2,400 to married couples who file jointly up to $150,000, with $500 per child.
It next heads to the U.S. House of Representatives while the Senate takes a two-week recess. Full details here.
The Associated Press contributed to this report
10:23pm – Five workers and two patients at Washington state’s largest psychiatric hospital have tested positive for the new coronavirus, officials said Wednesday.
In the last week, state health officials said that one Western State Hospital employee and two patients were positive for COVID-19, but on Wednesday, officials reported four more employees had the virus. Workers fear it will get worse due to conditions at the sprawling facility and the administration’s policies. Read more from AP.
6:44pm – The state Department of Health is now reporting 2,580 confirmed coronavirus cases and 132 deaths. There have been 31,712 negative tests statewide.
5:36pm – Mayor Jenny Durkan will raise a flag that reads, “We Got This Seattle,” at the top of the Space Needle at 9 a.m., Thursday, March 26.
All Amtrak Cascades trains north of Seattle were suspended March 17, in conjunction with the closure of the Vancouver, B.C., train station by Canadian officials.
5:30pm – With ridership logs reporting less than 300 people per day, which is more than an 85 percent reduction, Amtrak announced it will be reducing service to just two daily roundtrips between Seattle and Portland. On average, Amtrak Cascades trains carry 2,300 people per day, and as many as 3,600 during peak periods.
5:16pm – If you’re looking for a way to help a local business while also thanking our local health care providers on the front lines of the coronavirus fight, Joe Chocolate Co. is shipping cartons of his chocolate to hospitals, urgent care, clinics, and testing sites all over the Greater Seattle area. For $54, you can help send chocolate to hospitals. If you want to purchase a box of chocolate for them (or for you) click here and do some good. Read more.
4:36pm – Washington state launched an online portal so that businesses can get clarification or submit a request to be included in Gov. Inlsee’s stay home proclamation, which goes into effect tonight at midnight. All non-essential businesses must close for two weeks. State officials say their website is the central location for the most current updates.
4:15pm – Pierce County is reporting its second death due to COVID-19. The patient was a Spanaway man in his 70s. Health officials say there are 17 new cases of coronavirus, bringing the total to 155 cases in Pierce County.
4:09pm – President Donald Trump said of the greatest public-health emergency in anyone’s lifetime, “I don’t think its going to end up being such a rough patch” and anticipated the economy soaring “like a rocket ship” when it’s over. Yet he implored Congress late in the day to move on critical aid without further delay. Read more from AP.
3:51pm – The Skagit County Tulip festival is following the governor’s stay-at-home order, prompting growers to close their operations and fields to the public. But you can support their business by donating bouquets to hospitals or nursing homes. Find out how here.
3:32pm – The Mariners season won’t be starting on Thursday like was planned, but there will be M’s baseball on 710 ESPN Seattle. A series of classic games from throughout the team’s history will air each night at 7 p.m. on 710 ESPN Seattle beginning Thursday with Ichiro Suzuki’s MLB debut in the 2001 M’s opening day game against the Oakland Athletics. Read more. Tune in on your home speaker or download the 710 ESPN Seattle app.
3:03pm – This week, there’s a happy story from Life Care Center of Kirkland after becoming an epicenter for coronavirus in Washington state. “I’ve got a lot of living to do,” 90-year-old Geneva Wood, a patient at Life Care who tested positive for COVID-19 and is now recovering at home, told KIRO Radio’s Dori Monson Show. Read more.
2:10pm – King County Public Health is reporting 6 new deaths due to coronavirus since yesterday, now at a total of 100. The county now has 1,359 positive test results, and increase of 82 from Tuesday.
12:38pm – Boeing’s decision to halt all production in Puget Sound is largely unprecedented for the storied aviation company. Read more from KIRO Radio’s Chris Sullivan here.
11:15am – What would happen if the U.S. relaxed social distancing measures too early in a bid to restart the economy? Dr. Peter Rabinowitz, director of the UW MetaCenter for Pandemic Preparedness, answered that question for KIRO Radio’s Gee and Ursula Show Wednesday.
“At the moment, the number of cases continues to accelerate, and until we’re seeing a definite decline in the number of new cases, the assumption is that the epidemic is not under control,” he outlined. “It’s very hard to say that for sure we would be able to relax restrictions in several weeks.”
Dr. Rabinowitz went on to note that “it’s very hard” to predict when exactly we’ll be able to roll back restrictions, and that relaxing measures prematurely could exacerbate the outbreak even further.
“Then we’re sending people back into work places where they’ll contact other people and increase the spread of the virus, because some of those people going back to work will actually be infected,” he pointed out. “So until we can reduce the rate of new infections, we’re not going to be able to relax those restrictions without suffering the consequences.”
10:55am – Seattle Fred Hutchinson scientist Trevor Bedford took to Twitter Tuesday night to explain how the current coronavirus strain might mutate in the days ahead, and how it will likely take “a few years to mutate enough to significantly hinder a vaccine.”
10:20am – King County now has a hub on its website for anyone looking to donate to businesses, nonprofits, or medical professionals in need, or to volunteer to help out themselves. You can visit that hub here at the King County Regional Donations Center.
9:51am – As part of Gov. Jay Inslee’s stay-at-home order, all Washington state parks are now closed as of Wednesday morning.
8:45am – Countries that have been successful in their fights against coronavirus have made a point to test both sick and healthy citizens. That’s something a local coalition is looking to apply here in King County. Read more.
8:13am – Starbucks is giving any customer who identifies themselves as a front-line responder to the ongoing coronavirus outbreak a free tall brewed coffee (hot or iced).
This deal will run through May 3, in a bid to give back to those who continue to put themselves in harm’s way on a daily basis.
7:37am – What do you need to do if your driver’s license is expiring or if your child needs a driver’s test? The state has made some significant changes at the Department of Licensing during its coronavirus outbreak. Read more from KIRO Radio’s Chris Sullivan here.
6:51am – As the numbers across the country of those who have tested positive for COVID-19 continue to rise, Dr. Peter Rabinowitz, director of the UW MetaCenter for Pandemic Preparedness, issued a warning. Read more.
6:08am – Although largely a formality at this point, the Port of Seattle announced Tuesday that it will be delaying the launch of its cruise season “until the resolution of the public health emergency.”
5:35am – Leaders in the U.S. Senate on both sides of the political aisle have agreed to a $2 trillion emergency bill providing much-needed aid to businesses, workers, and an over-taxed health care system.
The urgently needed pandemic response measure is the largest economic rescue measure in history and is intended as a weekslong or monthslong patch for an economy spiraling into recession and a nation facing a potentially ghastly toll.
Included in the bill will be a one-time $1,200 payment to all Americans earning less than $75,000 a year, as well as $500 per child. Married couples who filed taxes jointly and make $150,000 or less will receive $2,400. Payment amounts will be less for people with higher incomes.
The measure will next get an official vote in the Senate and then head to the House, before crossing the President’s desk. President Trump has intimated that he intends to sign the bill as is.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
5:17am – Prince Charles, 71, has tested positive for coronavirus. His wife, Camilla, tested negative, and both are currently in self-isolation at home in Scotland.
5:04am – A local group called All in Seattle raised $27 million in just three days to put toward local businesses and residents impacted by the region’s coronavirus outbreak.
All in Seattle does not disperse the funds itself. Rather, it allows people to pick a specific cause to give money to. On its website, you can give directly to the likes of UW Medicine, United Way of King County, Northwest Harvest, the Small Business Stabilization Fund, and a number of funds to assist in providing emergency rental and shelter relief.
“We are truly inspired by how quickly the community responded to support organizations that are working around the clock to provide needed assistance,” members Soozi and T.J. McGill said in a news release.
You can learn more about how to donate here.
10:39pm: The City of Seattle has closed parking at eight parks in the city — Green Lake, Lincoln, Golden Gardens, Seward Park, Magnuson Park, Gas Works, Alki Beach, and Discovery. Seattle beaches are no longer open for gathering, but are accessible for walking or “general exercise,” according to a news release from the city. The city says its 479 neighborhood parks are open to visitors as long as people use social distancing, stay off the equipment, and refrain from gathering.
In addition, Rattlesnake Ledge Trail will be closed starting Wednesday. The city said upwards of 4,000 visitors were at the park last weekend.
6:21pm – In a late update on Tuesday, the state Health Department reported 2,469 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Washington state. Of those positive cases, 123 people have died.
5:21pm – King County estimates 107 new cases of COVID-19 today, bringing the county total to 1,277, and 94 deaths (up 7 from yesterday). The county said the cases reported today are an approximation, and expects to have an official count Wednesday. King County reminded everyone, “even people who are young and healthy,” to stay home to help slow the spread of the virus.
The Washington State Department of Health database has not yet been updated.
4:25pm – Health officials in Snohomish County have reported 16 deaths due to coronavirus. The county has 614 confirmed cases of the virus. The state DOH has not reported new updates yet, nor has King County.
3:24pm – As scientists warned the worst is yet to come — with hospital systems tested beyond their capacity and health workers sidelined by exposure — Trump addressed the nation, saying he was beginning “to see the light at the end of the tunnel.”
Trump’s comments came even as White House officials urged people who have left New York City amid the outbreak to self-quarantine for 14 days after their departure, owing to the widespread rate of infection in the metro area. It also follows on the president encouraging lawmakers on Capitol Hill to pass a roughly $2 trillion stimulus package — estimated at roughly $6 trillion once the Federal Reserve’s actions are included — to ease the financial pain for Americans and hard-hit industries. Read more from the AP.
3:00pm – The Dow Jones Industrial Average surged to its best day since 1933 as Congress and the White House neared a deal on Tuesday to inject nearly $2 trillion of aid into an economy ravaged by the coronavirus. Read more from the AP.
2:47pm – KIRO 7 reports a TSA officer at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport has tested positive for the coronavirus. The officer last worked the morning shift on March 21 at checkpoint 5, KIRO 7 reports. That checkpoint is closed for cleaning. Co-workers have been notified. Travelers who believe they came in contact with the officer should consult with their health care provider.
2:02pm – King County Executive Dow Constantine signed an order today to suspend the Work Release Program. It’s all part of a process to decrease the number of people in custody to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in correctional facilities. King County says it has already decreased the number of adults incarcerated by more than 300 people in the past few weeks — from 1,940 to 1,638. The goal is to reduce the number of people in the county’s two adult correctional facilities to about 1,200 people. That number will allow single bunks for everyone in custody, and more room to isolate people who are at high-risk.
“Quickly and safely reducing the number of people who are in custody will provide our healthcare professionals the space they need to follow recommendations by Public Health. These emergency actions reflect our values to protect the lives and safety of every King County resident,” Constantine said.
1:26pm – Although schools in Washington state are in the middle of a six-week closure, with all traditional in-person instruction canceled until at least April 24, OSPI has now said that education must continue. The office has provided a document with guidance for districts to use as a starting point in their planning.
12:41pm – As many are left wondering how to best get food and medications with a new stay-at-home order in effect, we’ve broken down the best way to do both. Read more here for info on food delivery options and here for details on getting prescriptions delivered to your door.
11:57am – In a televised town hall, President Trump stated that he wants to “have the country opened up and just raring to go by Easter.” Read more from the Associated Press.
11:13am – Looking to get your baseball fix? Starting Thursday, Root Sports will be airing a different classic Mariners home opener at 7 p.m. every night through April 2. First up this week will be Opening Day from 2001.
10:38am – Westland Distillery — located in Seattle’s SoDo neighborhood — announced Tuesday that it would be converting its entire operation to producing hand sanitizer.
10:09am – UW Medicine has opened up facilities to accept donations for needed medical items, including face masks, hand sanitizer, and more. You can learn more about how you can donate here.
9:21am – Amazon Prime is now offering free streaming access to 40 children’s shows to all customer worldwide, with or without a Prime membership.
9:14am – A Fred Hutchinson researcher in Seattle is calling for more expert analysis in daily White House coronavirus press briefings. Read more.
8:57am – A new study is collecting data about how the coronavirus outbreak is affecting communities and families in King County, and how they’re responding to setbacks.
7:52am – Airlines are cutting back service as demand for flights continues to plummet. Read more from KIRO Radio reporter Chris Sullivan.
7:39am – With Gov. Jay Inslee’s stay-at-home order now in effect, we broke down what that means for residents and businesses in Washington state. Full details here.
7:05am – The coronavirus can absolutely impact kids, but so far we’ve not seen data suggesting they’re at risk of mortality in a way that’s similar to what we’re seeing with senior citizens. Read more.
6:23am – While law enforcement statewide isn’t being asked to actively enforce Gov. Inslee’s stay-at-home order, things will work a little differently in Edmonds.
The City of Edmonds issued its own stay-at-home order prior to Inslee’s, making it a misdemeanor to defy the directive. And while it won’t have its police force hitting the streets to ensure everyone is indoors, there will be at least some instances where enforcement will be used.
“The enforcement of this will be reserved for the rare, rare times that communication and education are ineffective, and there’s a lack of voluntary compliance that puts the community at risk,” Edmonds Police Sergeant Josh McClure told KIRO Radio.
In those specific, extenuating circumstances, a ticket would be issued, which could come with up to a $500 fine and 90 days in jail as a maximum penalty.
6:05am – Republican and Democratic leaders in the Washington State Legislature released a joint statement supporting Gov. Inslee’s stay-at-home order.
The full statement:
We encourage all Washingtonians to follow the new guidance of Gov. Jay Inslee and Secretary of Health John Wiesman. The guidance in ‘Stay Home, Stay Healthy’ is critical to limiting the spread of COVID-19 and helping flatten the curve of infections. Our behavior could mean life or death for Washingtonians.
We have already lost Washingtonians to this virus. We grieve with their families and stand alongside the people who are currently battling this illness.
We recognize the impact these decisions have on businesses, families, and individuals across the state. There is no way to overstate the challenge facing our state and our nation. The weeks and months to come will test our will, our values and our courage but our state is resilient. We will get through this. We must work together, support each other and stay positive.
Ultimately we will emerge from this challenge more united than ever, prepared to build an even stronger Washington.
5:55am – Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe confirmed Tuesday that the Olympics will be postponed to summer 2021. This comes after Abe reached an agreement with the International Olympic Committee to make the move.
5:26am – It’s the morning after Gov. Jay Inslee issued a statewide stay-at-home order. The latest:
- Law enforcement will not be asked to enforced the order at least for now, but officers will do what they can to disperse outdoor gatherings as they see fit.
- Nonessential construction projects will shut down as part of the order. That includes the renovation of KeyArena, as well as Amazon construction that has been underway in South Lake Union.
- Medical professionals will continue to be allowed to serve people, including physicians, dentists, psychologist, pharmacists, midwives, social workers, speech pathologists, and more.
- Also remaining open will be grocery stores, and any other retail that sells food and beverage products, including big box stores that sell groceries themselves.
- Residents are allowed to go outside for a walk, provided they remain 6 feet apart from others at all times and maintain proper social distancing
- The order went into effect immediately for the general public Monday evening, but nonessential businesses have been given a 48-hour window to close down.
- The stay-at-home directive will last at least two weeks, and could be extended if need be.
Stay tuned today as more details begin to emerge. You can read the full list of essential infrastructure detailed by Gov. Inslee’s office here.
5:33pm – Gov. Jay Inslee has issued a stay-at-home order, what he called “Stay Home, Stay Healthy,” for all of Washington state for at least two weeks. Read more.
This order will close all non-essential businesses and ban all gatherings. Grocery stores, doctors’ offices, pharmacies, and essential facilities will remain open. You are still allowed to go outside for exercise, provided you stay 6 feet away from others.
“The less time you spend out in public, the more lives we can save,” Governor Inslee says.
4:21pm – Gov. Inslee, who is expected to deliver an announcement at 5:30 p.m., has joined governors of Alaska, Illinois, and Ohio to urge the Trump administration to expand unemployment benefits.
In part, the letter reads: “We request that you immediately unlock existing federal funding in the Disaster Unemployment Account by declaring a major disaster quickly for those governors as they request it, or by working with Congress to make this funding available, leading to critically needed and prompt relief. Read the full letter here.
3:42pm – There’s “good evidence” from South Korea, China and Italy for loss or impairment of smell in infected people, says a joint statement from the presidents of the British Rhinological Society and of ENT UK, a British group that represents ear, nose and throat doctors. In South Korea, some 30% of people who tested positive for the virus have cited loss of smell as their major complaint in otherwise mild cases, they wrote. Read the full story from AP here.
3:09pm – The Washington State Department of Health is reporting 110 deaths statewide due to coronavirus, and 2,221 confirmed cases.
2:49pm – A woman in her 80s has passed away in Skagit County. This is the first COVID-19 death the county has reported. Health officials say the death is related to the cases reported on March 21.
“We are very sad to have to report this first death,” said Skagit County Health Officer Dr. Howard Leibrand. “My thoughts are with her family and friends as they grieve this loss.”
1:53pm – All ferries in the state will continue to operate on winter sailing schedules through at least April 25. The spring season was originally scheduled to begin March 29.
11:51am – Gov. Inslee will address the public Monday at 5:30 p.m., “to lay out enhanced strategies to mitigate the COVID-19 outbreak.”
Joining him to answer questions following the address will be his Chief of Staff David Postman, and General Counsel Kathryn Leathers. Gov. Inslee will not be fielding questions himself.
11:35am – Safeway (and Albertsons) is implementing new social distancing guidelines for customers. Each store is marking off designated waiting points at checkstands and service stations (deli, bakery, meat/seafood, pharmacy, and customer service counters).
Customers should not move ahead to the next floor marker until the customer in front of them moves ahead, always keeping 6 feet apart. Customers are also asked to refrain from unloading their groceries onto the checkstand until the customer in front of them is done.
11:15am – Gov. Kate Brown has issued a shelter-in-place order for all of Oregon, excepting essential businesses and activities.
That includes grocery stores, outdoor exercise provided people remain six feet apart, and medical treatment. Read the full order for Oregon here.
10:37am – A member of the International Olympic Committee told USA Today that the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games will likely be postponed to 2021. Details will begin to get worked out in the next month on specifics.
9:51am – Boeing will be temporarily suspending its Puget Sound production operations for the next two weeks, effective Wednesday.
“This necessary step protects our employees and the communities where they work and live,” Boeing President and CEO Dave Calhoun said in a news release. “… it’s vital to maintain health and safety for all those who support our products and services, and to assist in the national effort to combat the spread of COVID-19.”
Puget Sound Boeing employees able to work from home will continue to do so. Those who are unable to work from home “will receive paid leave for the initial 10 working days of the suspension … which will provide coverage for the 14 calendar day suspension period.”
Gov. Inslee also issued a statement of his own on the move, praising Boeing for taking action.
“I spoke with Boeing Commercial CEO Stan Deal early this morning. I applaud Boeing’s decision to implement an orderly shutdown and continue to pay its workers during this difficult time,” he detailed. “Now is a time for bold actions like these, and we will continue to look at what can be done statewide.”
9:06am – As concerns over a lack of coronavirus testing volume in the U.S. continue, experts at the University of Washington provide some insight into what could be slowing down the process. Read more.
8:03am – In an interview on NBC’s Today Show, U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams had a grim warning for Americans as the nation’s coronavirus outbreak continues to ramp up.
“I want America to understand this week, it’s going to get bad,” he stated, blaming the scores of people across the country who haven’t been obeying directives to remain indoors or practice safe social distancing.
“Right now, there are not enough people out there who are taking this seriously,” he added.
7:46am – The City of Seattle is temporarily pumping the brakes on some parking enforcement measures to support residents and businesses. Read more.
7:37am – The King County Sheriff’s Department is reporting a significant decrease in crime rates, as many people have continued to stay indoors and practice safe social distancing.
Compared to this time last year, violent crimes are down 24%, while property crime is down 26% countywide.
6:42am – Pressure on Gov. Inslee to issue a statewide shelter-in-place order continues to ramp up, after the Teamsters Local 174 issued a letter imploring the governor to take action.
“If you care at all about working people and their health and safety, you need to institute a lockdown/shelter-in-place order immediately,” the letter reads.
The union represents delivery drivers, garbage and recycling haulers, health care workers, and even law enforcement.
5:57am – With Sound Transit ridership down over 70% and King County Metro’s dipping more than 60%, both agencies will be cutting back their services starting today.
Some routes will have fewer runs, while some will be eliminated all together. The frequency of light rail trains will also be a little slower. Be sure to check the websites of your particular agency before heading out this week.
5:12am – The City of Edmonds enacted an emergency “stay at home” order Sunday night, taking effect at 11:59 p.m.
The order applies to the city’s 400,000 residents, excepting “essential” businesses and activities — that includes shopping at the grocery store and doctor visits. People are allow to go outside to exercise as well, provided they remain at least six feet apart from others at all times.
“The circumstances that we are current under right now warranted this really quick and rapid response,” said Edmonds Mayor Mike Nelson.
Violating the “stay at home” directive will be treated as a misdemeanor.
You can read full details on the scope of Edmonds’ order here.
A similar order is in effect in Everett as well, although defying that directive will not be a misdemeanor crime for the time being.
KIRO 7 TV staff contributed to this report