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WA nears 8,000 coronavirus cases; Boeing shuts down Puget Sound production indefinitely

Boeing has extended its Puget Sound production shutdown indefinitely. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

State health officials now report almost 8,000 (7,984) cases of coronavirus in Washington, along with 338 deaths.

Confirmed coronavirus cases across Washington state

Sunday, April 5:

5:04pm – Washington state now has 7,984 total coronavirus cases, as well as 338 deaths. The state has run nearly 88,000 tests, 8.6% of which have come up positive. The bulk of Washington’s numbers continue to be found in King and Snohomish Counties, with 3,158 and 1,486 cases respectively.

2:10pm – After suspending its production operations in the Puget Sound area for two weeks in March, Boeing has now extended that timeline indefinitely.

“These actions are being taken in light of the company’s continuing focus on the health and safety of employees, current assessment of the spread of COVID-19 in Washington state, the reliability of the supply chain and additional recommendations from government health authorities,” Boeing said in a written statement.

During this shutdown, affected employees are being permitted to us “any combination of PTO, vacation, and sick leave to continue their pay.”

12:14pm – Gov. Jay Inslee announced Sunday that Washington will be returning 400 ventilators “so states like New York and others can have them.”

“These ventilators are going to New York and others states hardest hit by this virus,” Inslee said in a written statement. “I’ve said many times over the last few weeks, we are in this together. This should guide all of our actions at an individual and state level in the coming days and weeks.”

8:38am – The U.S. surgeon general offered some of the starkest warnings yet Sunday as he braced Americans for the worsening fallout from the new coronavirus, warning “this is going to be the hardest and the saddest week of most Americans’ lives, quite frankly.” The public was advised separately by the nation’s infectious disease chief to “just buckle down” and that the virus probably won’t be wiped out entirely this year.

The number of people infected in the U.S. has exceeded 300,000, with the death toll climbing past 8,400; more than 3,500 of those deaths are in the state of New York. Read more from the AP.

Saturday, April 4:

7:23pm – School districts are beginning to extend their closures to match Gov. Inlsee’s extension of the Stay Home, Stay Healthy order. Both the Everett and Tacoma school districts are closed until May 4.

3:49pm – The Washington State Department of Health announced Saturday that there are now 7,591 coronavirus cases in Washington, and 310 deaths. The state has run over 80,000 total tests, 9% of which have been positive.

Friday, April 3:

5:48pm – The King County Department of Adult and Juvenile Detention is working to decrease the number of people in custody at correctional facilities following direction from Executive Dow Constantine. There are now 1,285 adults in custody, down from 1,899 in mid-March, and 36 youth at the Children and Family Justice Center, down from 43.

Jail beds are being prioritized for those who pose a risk to public safety. The lower numbers in the adult population will allow for increased social distancing, while each youth member now has their own dorm room. No one in custody has tested positive for COVID-19 yet, and would be transferred to a designated housing unit where they can be in medical isolation or to a hospital, as needs require.

5:26pm – The Skagit Valley Tulip Festival and spring season represents 90 to 95 percent of Roozengaarde Tulips’ annual revenue. This year, with the festival canceled due to coronavirus, growers are having to get creative with how they adapt. Read more.

5:01pm – Governor Inslee used a line-item veto on Friday to slash the state’s 2020 supplemental operating budget by $235 million.

“These are difficult and challenging times and we must make difficult and challenging choices. Under normal circumstances, I would not veto bills and budget items that are good policy and smart investments for the state. As everyone knows, these are not normal times,” Inslee said. “As we address the health crisis, we must also look ahead to ease as much fiscal pain as we can. It is all but certain that we will need to make adjustments to our next budget cycle and we must get started now.”

3:58pm – State health officials report nearly 7,000 (6,966) cases of coronavirus in Washington. The death toll is now 284. The state says 82,599 people have been tested. Of those tests, 8.4% have tested positive. That number has increase from 7% just over a week ago.

Kathy Lofy, Washington state health officer, said that the virus is expected to peak in Washington state around April 11, according to data from the University of Washington. Earlier in the week, the date was set at April 19.

3:38pm – Deborah Birx of the national Coronavirus Task Froce praised Washington state and California for their efforts in slowing the spread of COVID-19.

“We believe that the work that every citizen is doing is making a difference,” Birx said, of social distancing efforts.

3:23pm – Public Health – Seattle & King County is reporting 11 new deaths since Thursday, bringing the total to 186. The total number of cases in the county is 2,787. That’s an increase of 131 since Thursday.

2:54pm – Out of work tailors from the Seattle Opera, the Seattle Ballet, and others are sewing masks for health care workers. They’ve already made thousands but they need your help with donations to continue their work. Read more.

2:42pm – Washington state is launching a public awareness campaign aimed at reporting the facts. Washington State Department of Health, Health Care Authority, Department of Social and Health Services, among others, will start the message of “Spread the Facts, and Stay Home, Stay Healthy.”

“Our top priority is making sure people know how important it is to stay home. The harder we hit this straight on, the faster we can get back to normal,” Gov. Jay Inslee said. “But for many people, this is a difficult time. This campaign will make sure Washingtonians know where to find information about resources for food, housing, business support, and ways to cope with the anxiety and stress they may be feeling.”

2:27pm – Health officials with Pierce County say they have 73 new coronavirus cases, bringing the total to 571 cases in the county. There have been seven deaths. That number hasn’t changed since Wednesday. In Snohomish County, 42 people have died in that county, an increase of one since yesterday. There are 1,450 confirmed cases of coronavirus.

1:23pm – Stocks fell again on Wall Street following the latest grim reading on the toll that the coronavirus is having on jobs as the economy grinds to a halt. The government reported earlier Friday that more than 700,000 jobs were lost last month, and investors and economists expect that far worse data is on the way. Read more from AP.

12:22pm – Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan announced Friday that over the last two weeks, the city has received donations of 15,000 gloves, 5,000 masks, 4,000 sets of eyewear, and “messages of encouragement.”

“I’m incredibly thankful to be mayor of one of the most generous cities in the US,” she said on Twitter.

If you’d like donate supplies yourself, just fill out this form.

11:46am – Joining a growing list of local distilleries, Whidbey Island’s Cadee Distillery has been making and distributing hand sanitizer to frontline first responders and medical workers.

11:09am – Fred Hutchinson infectious disease expert Dr. Steve Pergam is answering questions in a live Facebook Q&A, that began at 11 a.m. You can watch now and ask questions yourself here.

Dr. Pergam has been vocal in recent weeks concerning the need for medical experts to be leading the Trump Administration’s public coronavirus response, which has been more business-centric in its daily briefings.

“It’s critical we give people good, sound advice,” he said during Friday’s Q&A. “Getting scientists at the front lines talking about this could be very helpful.”

10:35am – The City of Seattle announced Friday that it will be temporarily suspending all paid parking and time limit enforcement for vehicles. Read more

9:50am – States across the country have enacted stay-at-home orders and other social distancing measures to slow the spread of coronavirus. Until that effort is coordinated across every state, though, it may be hard to fully mitigate the outbreak. Read more

9:03am – Speaking at a Wednesday town hall, Seattle restaurateur Tom Douglas expressed pessimism at the ability of his various establishments to come back after the coronavirus crisis ends.

“You don’t just come back from this,” he stated. “This cost $3 million just to close my businesses down. We are broke — the reality is that it’s going to be tough for 50% of our restaurants to come back.”

Douglas temporarily closed 12 out of its 13 Seattle restaurants back in mid-March, and then closed his final location — Dahlia Bakery — shortly after that.

7:54am – Google has launched a website that lets you see how your community is moving around differently as its affected by the coronavirus outbreak.

The reports “chart movement trends of by time by geography, across different categories of places such as retail and recreation, groceries and pharmacies, parks, transit stations, workplaces, and residential.”

7:22am – In the daily coronavirus update from Public Health — Seattle & King County, the county announced Thursday that it is working to reduce shelter concentrations by moving its homeless population into hotels. Read more

6:50am – While we’re all stuck indoors, HBO is offering 500 free hours of streaming across both its HBO Go and HBO Now platforms.

6:23am – Local restaurants have been pitching in to send dinners to the hard-working folks at UW Virology, where a large portion of Washington’s coronavirus testing is being done.

Providing dinner for the lab four nights a week for the entire month of April will be IJ Sushi Burrito. Delivering dinner (and dessert) last night was Chiang’s Gourmet Chinese Restaurant, and Midnight Cookie Co.

5:41am – How long will social distancing measures need to remain in place across the U.S.? University of Washington epidemiologist Dr. Ali Mokdad weighed in on New England’s WBUR public radio station.

“We’re looking at sometime in mid-June that we will see deaths go down below 10 per day — then we’d feel comfortable that these measures should be lifted,” said Dr. Mokdad. “But our recommendation will be that they shouldn’t be lifted immediately or all at once. We should let the data decide in case there is circulation of the virus again.”

He also believes that there should be a national stay-at-home directive issued by the federal government, to account for many states where such an order has yet to be enacted.

5:09am – Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan voiced her support for Gov. Inslee’s decision to extend Washington’s stay-at-home order Thursday.

“Without a vaccine, social distancing is the best tool available to slow the virus,” Durkan stated on Twitter. “It’s critical to remember that while our initial efforts appear to be successful, we must be prepared for a continued surge in cases in the coming weeks.”

“This is a marathon, not a sprint,” she added.

Thursday, April 2:

5:05pm – Gov. Jay Inslee announced Thursday that he will be extending Washington state’s stay-at-home order through May 4. Read more here.

4:50pm – The state Department of Health reports 262 deaths across the state, with 6,585 cases total. That’s 15 new deaths and 601 new confirmed cases. The DOH says 79,418 have been tested, and of those 8.3% are positive. That’s an increase from 7% last week.

4:32pm – The White House says it is prepared to launch a $350 billion lending program on Friday that is intended to help struggling small businesses.

Small Business Administration administrator Jovita Carranza said the paycheck protection program will help small companies keep employees on payroll and remain afloat. Read more from the AP.

4:06pm – King County says it is moving 400 people from homeless shelters to hotels next week in an effort to deintensify populations. The county says it’ll provide service and oversight at the three hotels. The people who are moving are “presumed” to be well,” according to the county. The Sophia Way shelter is moving 100 people to a Bellevue hotel next week. Catholic Community Services is moving 90 people to a hotel in SeaTac. Downtown Emergency Service Center will move 200 people to a hotel in Renton.

3:35pm – Public Health – Seattle & King County is reporting 11 new deaths, bringing the total in King County to 175 due to coronavirus. There are 175 new cases in the county, for a total of 2,656 cases.

2:41pm – The Trump administration is formalizing new guidance to recommend that many, if not almost all, Americans wear face coverings when leaving home.

A person familiar with the White House coronavirus task force’s discussion said officials would suggest that non-medical masks, T-shirts or bandannas be used to cover the nose and mouth when outside the home.

“I would say do it, but use a scarf if you want, you know, rather than going out and getting a mask or whatever.”

“It’s not a bad idea, at least for a period of time,” he added. Read more from AP.

The White House said Trump’s latest coronavirus test returned a negative result in 15 minutes, and said Trump was “healthy and without symptoms.”

2:25pm – Pierce County is reporting 7 deaths and 80 new confirmed cases of coronavirus, bringing the total to 498. Nearly 5,300 people have been tested in the county. Tacoma itself is reporting 184 cases.

1:56pm – Snohomish Health District reports 1,376 positive cases of coronavirus, and 41 deaths in the county as of Thursday. The county says 568 people have recovered. Currently, there are 91 people hospitalized and 85 people recovering at home or in long-term care. Everett is reporting nearly 400 cases alone. Lynnwood has another 218 cases.

1:45pm – Forefront Suicide Preventionis working to prevent an increase in suicides during this pandemic. Forefront has moved online, providing valuable programming to the community that can help reach students, parents, teachers, school counselors, and share the signs of suicide and what they can do to help. Read more.

12:38pm – Gov. Jay Inslee will be addressing the state in a live press conference at 5 p.m. Thursday, that you can stream on KIRO Radio. Joining him will be Health Secretary Dr. John Wiesman, State Health Officer Dr. Kathy Lofy, and Vice Admiral Dr. Raquel Bono.

12:17pm – When will mass gatherings return to Washington? Without a vaccine, it could be awhile says Bill Gates. Read more

11:36am – For the first time in nearly half a century, Northwest Folklife Festival at Seattle Center won’t be held over Memorial Day weekend.

The popular local event made the announcement Thursday, opting to delay the festival “after many difficult conversations.” Originally slated for late-May, it’s unclear what the new dates for Folklife will be.

10:58am – Counter to rumors spreading online, the Washington National Guard again clarified Thursday that it is not currently mobilizing to enforce security in the state.

“This is a rumor and is NOT TRUE,” it stated on Twitter.

At this time, the National Guard is “supporting operations at the request of local communities,” including providing aid to food banks across the state.

10:15am – With Gov. Inslee intimating that he plans to extend Washington’s stay-at-home order, many officials are preparing to continue dealing with fallout from the coronavirus outbreak at least through the summer.

“I think into June/July we’re going to be heavily dealing with COVID-19 issues,” said Dr. Peter Rabinowitz, Director of the MetaCenter for Pandemic Preparedness & Global Health at the University of Washington.

That backs up previous statements from Vice President Mike Pence in March, who cited models indicating the U.S. “could well be dealing with coronavirus cases well into July.”

Listen to Dr. Rabinowitz’s full interview with KIRO Radio’s Gee and Ursula Show here

9:57am – Olympia Coffee is now selling a bag of coffee grounds aptly named “Tip Jar,” where 100% of the proceeds go directly to the cafe’s employees.

“Our employees have are in a precarious position,. so we’re using the thing we do best (coffee) to their benefit!” its page advertising the coffee reads.

Olympia Coffee has six locations in Western Washington split between the state capital and Seattle.

9:12am – Kirkland’s Life Care Center — widely viewed as the epicenter of Washington’s COVID-19 crisis — has been fined over $611,000 for a series of lapses in the early days of the outbreak. Read more

8:19am – The Seattle Police Department has seen a 21% increase in reports of domestic violence over the last month, as social distancing restrictions have had more and more people staying in their homes.

“Social distancing can magnify the feelings of isolation domestic violence survivors may already be experiencing,” SPD said Wednesday. “Reaching out to support friends, family and neighbors can be incredibly helpful.”

Washington’s stay-at-home order has an exception for victims of domestic violence who feel their home has become an unsafe environment. According to Gov. Inslee’s proclamation, “these individuals are permitted and urged to leave their homes or residences and stay at a safe alternate location.”

SPD is also encouraging people in need of help to call the National Domestic Violence hotline at 800-799-7233 or 800-787-3224 (TTY), or call or text 911 for immediate aid.

“Remember to text dispatchers your exact location and the type of assistance you need in your first message, so the call taker can dispatch officers immediately,” SPD advised.

7:31am – Gov. Jay Inslee will be hosting a coronavirus Twitter Q&A session today at 12 p.m. You can Tweet your question to the governor by replying here with the hashtag #AskGovInsee.

6:43am – Looking for ways to help out during Washington’s coronavirus outbreak? There’s now a crowd-sourced list of volunteer opportunities that you can find here, including food banks, remote mentoring for children in need of support, becoming a phone buddy with a senior neighbor, and more.

6:09am – Speaking to MSNBC’s Chuck Todd, King County Executive Dow Constantine noted that “there’s clearly some good news” in the region’s latest numbers, with positive coronavirus tests beginning to slow down.

“We’re not seeing the exponential growth that epidemiologists expect at this point,” he stated.

This backs up previous reports, that say King County is beginning to make positive strides in flattening its curve, albeit “precarious” progress that will require the region to continue employing stringent social distancing measures.

6:01am – Over 6.6 million Americans applied for unemployment last week, doubling the previous record of 3.3 million set in the week prior. Economists predict that the U.S. could see up to 20 million lost jobs by the end of April.

5:25am – Reiterating his call Wednesday for the manufacturing of more supplies for Washington, Gov. Jay Inslee spoke with MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow to detail the state’s “desperate” needs right now.

“We are so desperate for PPEs. We are desperate for test kits. We are sending nurses in who don’t have what the need for PPEs and we need to have a national mobilization of the manufacturing base of the U.S.,” he told Maddow.

5:12am – While a majority of Washington’s coronavirus cases continue occur among the state’s elderly population, the virus itself has spread almost evenly across every demographic of adults.

Just over 26% of cases in Washington were in adults between the ages of 20 and 39 years old. Over 33% were in people between the ages of 40  and 59, and just under 27% have been found in the 60 to 79-year-old age bracket.

Wednesday, April 1:

9:42pm – On Wednesday night, the state Department of Health updated their numbers with 1,088 new cases and 52 more deaths. Total positive cases in Washington state are 5,984, and 247 total deaths. The DOH says 74,798 people have been tested.  Of those, 8% of the cases are positive.

5:37pm – The Port of Seattle Commission approved an emergency financial relief package for airport-based businesses and barred evictions of tenants at port facilities due to an inability to pay rent. The airport-based relief includes a two-month deferral of rent and fees for those businesses facing economic collapse due to COVID-19 distancing and travel restrictions.

5:23pm – Amazon workers protested in New York on Monday over health and safety conditions at the company’s local warehouse. Employees nationwide are concerned about the lack of safety as coronavirus cases continue to pop up in the workforce of more than 800,000.

Amazon has said that it is ramping up cleaning practices and will send home, with pay, those who are diagnosed with COVID-19 and anyone they were in close contact with before the diagnosis.

In New York, the leader of Monday’s walkout at the warehouse on Staten Island, Chris Small, was fired. Labor union leaders and elected officials in New York are now urging Amazon to reinstate Smalls. Amazon said Smalls was fired for violating a company-ordered quarantine; Smalls said he was fired for his activism, Bloomberg reports.

3:58pm – President Donald Trump is resisting calls to issue a national stay-at-home order. Trump said earlier this week that he and members of his administration had discussed issuing a stay-at-home order but it was “pretty unlikely” for now. Three more states — Florida, Nevada and Pennsylvania — added or expanded their stay-at-home orders on Wednesday. Read more from AP.

3:47pm – Public Health — Seattle & King County reported 166 new cases Wednesday, with the total case count in the county now at 2,496, with 164 deaths.

3:35pm – Pierce County confirmed 46 new cases Wednesday, and 1 new death, bringing the county totals to 423 confirmed cases and 7 deaths. Spokane Regional Health District has reported a total of 165 cases in Spokane County, with five COVID-19 related deaths.

The state is still experiencing technical difficulties in its data reporting.

2:47pm – Health officials in Snohomish County have reported 40 deaths and 1,304 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the county. Everett is reporting 377 cases, Lynnwood 200, Edmonds 133, and Marysville 120.

2:12pm – Gov. Inslee spoke about the continued need for personal protection equipment (PPE) in the state of Washington.

“This is perhaps the decisive moment we are facing,” Inslee said.

He said the state has distributed over a million units of personal protection equipment, but still needs more to fight this virus.

“Our nurses deserve to be protected,” Inslee said. “Our firefighters and police officers deserve to be protected.”

The governor said the federal government has helped, particularly with the supply of ventilators, but cannot keep up with the demands of health care workers in Washington state. He’s calling on business leaders and manufacturers across the state to step up and help out with supplies.

Some of the supplies still needed include surgical masks, swab tests, saline solution, vials, N95 masks, gloves, surgical gowns, and face shields.

“We need to do now what we did in World War II,” Inslee said, referring to the state building bombers and minesweepers. “All of us need to turn to manufacturing the equipment we need for this war,” he added.

Inslee asks people who are interested in helping to visit coronavirus.wa.gov and look for the “How You Can Help” button.

Dan Nordstrom of Outdoor Research joined Inslee to show his support of the call to local manufacturers. Nordstrom’s company has committed to sewing over 100,000 masks.

Inslee also said he’s called on the National Guard to support food banks across the state.

“We’ve heard food banks need help, in part because volunteers fit the profile for those at potential risk,” Inslee said. ” … They’re not related to enforcement for the ‘Stay Home’ initiative.”

As for the Stay Home, Stay Healthy order, Inlsee said he can’t say for sure whether he’ll seek an extension for the state.

2:09pm – Everett’s Angel of the Winds Arena is now being used as a quarantine and isolation facility to help Snohomish County through the coronavirus outbreak. Two ice rinks on the arena floor have now been transformed into makeshift isolation and quarantine areas. Read more.

1:46pm – Seattle council members Tammy Morales and Kshama Sawant announced legislation Wednesday to accelerate the tax on big business and Amazon to fund low-income, working-class households impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Read more.

12:42pm – Speaking to Yahoo! Finance, Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan outlined that the “economic impacts [of the coronavirus in Seattle] cannot be overstated.”

“We went from being probably one of the most booming and productive economies in America … to an economy that is virtually shut down now.”

To that end, Durkan said the city still needs “unprecedented investments from the federal government” in the days ahead in order to get back on its feet.

12:08pm – UW Virology saw an “active day” of coronavirus testing Tuesday, running 2,450 tests, 15% of which were positive.

11:24am – The state Department of Health is trying to figure out how to process the immense amount of testing data that has crippled its reporting system. But the Chief Science Officer with the DOH said they’re working closely with researchers at the University of Washington. Read more. 

10:32am – Gov. Jay Inslee provided an updated list Tuesday of businesses that qualify as essential during Washington’s ongoing stay-at-home order. Read more.

9:44am – The City of Tukwila will reportedly be cutting wages for all city employees by 10% starting on May 1, citing shortfalls brought on by the coronavirus crisis.

This will include salaries for first responders according to KIRO 7 reporter Amy Clancy, who have labeled the move as “shocking,” and “terrible for morale.”

9:10am – Sitting down with the Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative, Mayor Jenny Durkan detailed Seattle’s experience operating on the front lines of the coronavirus crisis.

As the pandemic began to ramp up in Western Washington, things were difficult for cities like Seattle, which, according to Durkan, were failed by the federal government in a number of ways.

“The public health system wasn’t ready for this,” she noted. “There’s no question that our country was not set up for a pandemic of this size.” Read more here. 

8:39am – Temporary changes made to parking regulations in Seattle will now remain in effect “until further notice.” That includes the suspension of enforcement for 72-hour parking violations, as well as most cases of booting and towing vehicles.

8:15am – For the first time since World War II, Wimbledon has been canceled.

The iconic tennis tournament was originally scheduled to run from June 29 to July 12. Outside of its World War II cancellation, the only other time the event had previously been put on hold was during World War I.

7:12am – Rumors, disinformation, and myths about the coronavirus have been everywhere in recent weeks, as scam artists have sought to profit off the fear generated by the outbreak. Read more.

6:29am – Gov. Jay Inslee will soon deploy the National Guard into service in Washington to “provide important help to our communities to ensure our critical food banks remain stocked and operational.”

Inslee’s office has also emphasized that that the guard will not be involved in law enforcement in any capacity, and it will be strictly limited to providing aid.

5:50am – CNN went inside Seattle’s Harborview Medical Center to get a firsthand look at how the West Coast’s leading trauma center is prepared for the ongoing coronavirus outbreak. Watch the full rundown from CNN here, and read more about measures the hospital has taken from MyNorthwest in this report.

5:05am – Seattle City Councilmembers Kshama Sawant and Tammy Morales announced Tuesday that they plan to accelerate their plan to levy a tax on big businesses to provide emergency relief for low-income workers affected by the coronavirus outbreak.

In mid-March, Sawant intimated that she planned to repurpose her “Tax Amazon” campaign to provide that relief. The tax would be levied on big businesses in Seattle, raise “at least $500 million for coronavirus emergency relief,” and then be continued as an ongoing tax on big business for social housing measures and Green New Deal policies.

She and Morales plan to have the tax provide “immediate emergency cash assistance for up to 100,000 households and individuals impacted by the social and economic consequences resulting from this pandemic.” They will be holding a virtual press conference on Wednesday at 11 a.m. providing further details on their plan.

Tuesday, March 31:

10:29pm – Seattle residents who don’t have a library card now have a chance to sign up for an instant digital Library card. The card gives residents access to e-books and e-audiobooks.

Residents must be 13 years or older and have a mobile phone to verify their account. Sign up at spl.org/overdrive. At least 600 people have already signed up.

5:45pm – Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium and Northwest Trek Wildlife Park are offering free, online “Nature at Home” explorations for students to use at home while schools are closed. Available activities include nature scavenger hunts that can be done indoors or outdoors, downloadable coloring sheets, animal facts, and behind-the-scenes videos.

5:38pm – Gov. Inslee and Charlie Clark, director of the Washington State Department of Financial Insititutions (DFI), said the state is taking steps to help homeowners who are unable to make their mortgage payments due to impacts from coronavirus.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has hit the finances of Washingtonians hard,” Inslee said. “We know this is across the board and we are exploring ways to help alleviate some of the pressure. At my request, the Washington State Department of Financial Institutions has a team dedicated to assisting homeowners who are unable to make their mortgage payments due to COVID-19.”

4:55pm – Gov. Inslee announced that the Washington National Guard will be providing help to ensure critical food banks remain stocked and operational.

The National Guard is not involved with any enforcement at this time.

4:21pm – The King County Council unanimously approved Executive Dow Constantine’s request for $2.2 million for free childcare for eligible families of first responders and essential workers, such as grocery and pharmacy employees, and transit workers. King County will work with Childcare Resources to identify childcare providers and match families with vacant slots.

3:57pm – Health officials in Pierce County reported 26 new cases of COVID-19 in the county, and six more deaths.  Thurston County reports five new cases, bringing the total in that county to 48. King County is reporting 9 new deaths since Thursday (150 total), and 171 new cases, bringing the total to 2,330.

3:36pm – The White House on Tuesday projected 100,000 to 240,000 deaths in the U.S. from the coronavirus pandemic if current social distancing guidelines are maintained. President Donald Trump called American efforts to slow the spread of the coronavirus “a matter of life and death” and urged the public to heed his administration’s social distancing guidelines.

Trump called on Americans to brace themselves for a “rough two-week period” but predicted the country would soon see a “light at the end of the tunnel”. Read more from AP.

3:18pm – The state Department of Health reported on its website that it’s experiencing technical issues and can’t update its site with its latest data.

DOH said negative test results for COVID-19 are overwhelming the tool. It is investigating solutions, including a separate tool for negative results (93% of the data) and automating deduplication work performed manually each day.

2:22pm – Seattle DOT said Tuesday that the bikeshare companies are taking extra steps to clean their equipment.

JUMP bike says it’s disinfecting handlebars, seats, seat adjustment levers, and screens every time the bikes are rebalanced, serviced, or battery swapped. JUMP is also offering free 30-minute rides to all essential workers during the stay-at-home order. Zipcar is disinfecting steering wheels, door handles, keys, gear shifts, and other high touch areas.

1:56pm – Led by the University of Washington School of Medicine, researchers will investigate whether hydroxychloroquine, a commonly used anti-malarial and autoimmune-disease treatment, can prevent transmission in people exposed to COVID-19.

The study will enroll 2,000 participants who are close contacts of people with confirmed or pending COVID-19 diagnoses. Read more here.

1:32pm –  Stocks fell Tuesday to close out Wall Street’s worst quarter since the most harrowing days of the 2008 financial crisis. Stocks haven’t had this bad a quarter since the last time economists were talking about the worst downturn since the Great Depression, when the S&P 500 lost 22.6% at the end of 2008. Read more from the AP.

1:23pm  – Dr. Kathy Lofy, State Health Officer, Washington State Department of Health, will old a news conference at 2:30pm today as part of a coronavirus update. So far, TVW has no plans to carry this update live.

12:40pm – Nathan Voss, perhaps better known as Seattle’s friendliest bus driver, told Seattle Morning News that ridership is significantly down on his No. 7 route.

“In my anecdotal experience, I’m getting a lot of what I call ‘non-destination passengers,’ basically folks without housing who ride back and forth, and I would say around 80 percent or so of my entire ridership now is non-destination passengers,” Voss said. Read more

12:05pm – Snohomish County is now reporting almost 1,300 COVID-19 cases, and at least 33 total deaths. Officials also remain concerned about long-term care facilities, with over two-dozen facilities in the county reporting one or more residents or staff members confirmed to be positive with the virus.

11:50am- King County started out as the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in the United States. That being so, there were also benefits the region had in being forced to respond to the crisis early. Read more

11:00am – Many NFL teams are now extending ticket payment deadlines for season ticket holders, hoping to relieve financial pressure from fans affected by the nation’s coronavirus outbreak.

10:21am – Walmart will begin enacting a series of additional measures to ensure both its workers and customers are protected from coronavirus.

That includes taking employee temperatures at stores and warehouses prior to the start of shifts. Under this new policy, anyone running a fever over 100 degrees will be sent home for treatment, but will still be paid for showing up.

The company will also manufacture protective masks and gloves for workers who want them.

9:48am – The Seattle Office of Economic Development is holding weekly webinars for small business owners and employees impacted by the coronavirus outbreak. You can register here if you’d like to participate.

9:15am – As the CDC considers recommending whether everyone — rather than just those are sick as well as medical professionals — should be wearing protective masks, Seattle-King County Public Health’s Dr. Jeff Duchin weighed in with some advice.

“Homemade masks theoretically could offer some protection if the materials and fit were optimized, but this is uncertain,” Duchin told The Washington Post. “Well-designed homemade or commercially manufactured masks for the public that did not draw on the supply needed by healthcare workers could potentially provide some protection.”

“It’s also possible that mask-wearing might increase the risk for infection if other recommendations (like hand washing and distancing) are less likely to be followed or if the mask is contaminated and touched,” he cautioned.

8:43am – Outdoor Research announced Monday that it will be converting its manufacturing facility in Seattle to make protective masks for frontline medical workers. Read more

8:11am – The Seattle Foundation — as part of a coalition of local organizations and businesses — announced its first round of emergency assistance grants to help in the fight against coronavirus.

Totaling over $10 million, the grants were spread across 128 different “community-based organizations.”

7:26am – Dr. Helen Chu, the Seattle Flu Study doctor who defied the federal government to identify the first community-spread case of coronavirus in Washington, is now opening up research into how COVID-19 affects the immune system.

One of two studies will take a look a remdesivir, an experimental antiviral that’s traditionally been used to treat Ebola.

“The goal of the remdesivir trial is really to understand whether something that’s currently available can be used to treat people with COVID-19 and then the other study is really much more exploratory,” Dr. Chu said in a news release.

The second study will identify adults who received confirmed positive coronavirus tests to look into how their immune systems responded to the infection. Read more

6:43am – Giving back to those on the front lines of the coronavirus crisis, Lizzo sent lunch to workers at UW Medicine’s Montlake Emergency Department on Monday. Read more. 

5:55am – Pierce County Sheriff Paul Pastor announced Monday that he intends to put a hold on his planned retirement, as the county continues to grapple with its ongoing coronavirus outbreak.

Sheriff Pastor had originally planned to retire on May 6 after 20 years of service. His term officially comes to a close at the end of 2020.

5:12am – Seattle City Council unanimously passed a resolution Monday, petitioning state and federal government officials to use their emergency powers to cancel all rent and mortgage payments for the duration of the coronavirus crisis.

While the resolution doesn’t enact any concrete measures itself, the hope is that it will make the council’s intentions clear to Gov. Jay Inslee, as well as President Trump.

The resolution was first introduced by Councilmember Tammy Morales. A halt on residential evictions is already in effect in Seattle, but residents can still accrue debt for missing payments, and could potentially be evicted at a later date for doing so.

5:10am- We are still awaiting new numbers from the Washington State Department of Health on new coronavirus cases and deaths between Sunday and Monday of this week. We will continue to monitor the DOH website and provide an update as soon as we receive word.

Monday, March 30:

10:13pm – White House officials are relying on statistical models to help predict the impact of the coronavirus outbreak and try to protect as many people as possible.

The public could get its first close look at the Trump administration’s own projections Tuesday at the daily briefing. Read more from AP.

5:31pm – The Washington State Department of Corrections will be expediting the hiring and training process for Limited Scope Correctional Officers, launching Rapid Staff Hiring recruitment for all facilities. This expedited process expects to recruit, screen, interview, test, and train in a 32-day period. Learn more and apply here.

5:02pm – The Department of Licensing (DOL) is temporarily closing all offices beginning Tuesday, March 31. All scheduled appointments will be canceled and no future appointments will be made.

Licenses, identification cards, and vehicle registrations can now be renewed online for most Washington residents. Mail-in options are also available. Additionally, the REAL ID enforcement date has been pushed back to 2021.

4:56pm – Island County Public Health is currently reporting 106 confirmed coronavirus cases, 44 of which are associated with an outbreak at Careage of Whidbey in residents and staff. Two of the positive cases associated with Careage have passed away.

4:29pm – King County is reporting 2,330 confirmed positive cases, up 171 from Sunday. Of those, 150 people have died of COVID-19. The number of deaths increased by nine.

4:05pm – The Seattle City Council has passed Mayor Durkan’s legislation to transfer $5 million from the Sweetened Beverage Tax fund to a new food voucher program. The program is expected to provide 6,250 low-income families with $800 in vouchers to purchase food from Safeway.

The program is available to residents already enrolled in several city programs, including child care assistance programs and the City’s Fresh Bucks Program. The first half of vouchers were mailed out on March 20. The second round of vouchers will be sent out in April.

3:26pm – President Trump on Monday defended his decision to extend restrictive social distancing guidelines through the end of April, while bracing the nation for a coronavirus death toll that could exceed 100,000.

“Challenging times are ahead for the next 30 days,” Trump said during a Rose Garden press conference. He called refraining from public outings “our shared patriotic duty” during the outbreak. Read more from AP.

3:23pm – Pierce County health officials reported 35 new cases, bringing the total to 352 cases and 6 deaths. As many as 5,299 Pierce County residents have been tested.

3:13pm – Snohomish County says there are 1,127 people in the county who’ve tested positive for coronavirus. Of those, 31 people have died and 490 people have recovered.

2:29pm – Reporters asked Gov. Inslee when he thinks this might all be over. Will we be in a stay-at-home order this summer? He wouldn’t answer.

“I cannot do that,” Inslee said. “No one can do that today. The data continues to come in and change over the days.”

Inslee said the rate of positive tests in some counties in Washington is not a positive sign.

Inlsee said he understands that people want answers. He said this time of uncertainty is personal for him, too.

“They want to know when they’re going back, as do their mother and father,” Inslee said of his grandkids and children. He also said he feels for local business leaders and those that started their dream business.

“This is a huge hardship on these businesses,” Inslee said. “I understand that uncertainty.”

2:12pm – “We are announcing today about how these measures will be enforced and how Washington residents can help,” Gov. Inslee said of the stay-at-home order. He was joined by law enforcement officials around the state, along with State Attorney General Bob Ferguson.

Inslee described three levels of reporting stay-at-home violators.

Tier one – Violators of the order will be notified that they need to comply.

Tier two – Citations and suspension of licenses, including business licenses.

Tier three – Law enforcement will pass these complaints along to the State Attorney General.

“Taking people to court is the last resort,” Inslee said.

If you believe a business is violating the order, you can file a complaint at coronavirus.wa.gov.

“We’d like you to use your best judgment and notify local law enforcement,” Inslee said.

Do not call 911.

“These are local decisions,” Inlsee said. “We’re not going to tell local enforcement how to do their jobs.”

Attorney General Bob Ferguson said he doesn’t want to take anyone to court over this, but he will if it’s necessary.
“Our goal is 100 percent voluntary compliance,” Ferguson said.

1:48pm – Governor Inslee will address the media at 2pm. The governor will be joined by Attorney General Bob Ferguson and Washington State Patrol Chief John Batiste, as well as Bellevue Police Chief Steve Mylett and Spokane Police Chief Craig Meidl over video.

President Trump and the Coronavirus Taskforce will speak at the same time.

1:39pm – County auditors in Thurston and Pierce Counties are extending the deadline for the first half of property taxes. Property taxes are now due on June 1. Typically the first half payment is due on April 30.

Those who are financially capable of sticking to the April 30th date are asked to do so to ensure funding of essential services — Public Health and Social Services, fire districts, Medic One, law enforcement, and other emergency services.

12:24pm – The City of Seattle launched a pair of tools to help out local restaurants, and provide resources for those looking for meal programs.

The first tool is a map of the Seattle area that lists every restaurant and cafe currently open for takeout and delivery. The second is a map of “emergency food resources,” including meal locations, food banks, and student to-go meals being offered across the city.

12:01pm – A couple weeks ago, even before the official stay-at-home order from the governor, Fall City Firearms was already seeing an uptick in gun sales. It had the second busiest day since opening in 1989. Read more. 

11:23am – After a week that saw Gov. Jay Inslee and President Trump butting heads, the governor took to Twitter to say that he “had a good conversation” with Vice President Mike Pence Monday morning.

“I reiterated our need for ventilators, PPE, personnel and hospital capacity, and appreciate the positive working relationship we have maintained with our federal partners,” Inslee stated. “The vice president said he would get back to us.”

10:47am – A new report from Seattle-King County Public Health shows that the region is making progress in slowing the spread of coronavirus as social distancing measures have taken hold.

“We are seeing a positive effect from the social distancing and other measures we’ve put in place, although significant numbers of cases and deaths continue to occur,” Public Health Officer Dr. Jeff Duchin said in a news release.

Citing recent data, Public Health has found that “effective reproductive number” — a figure that measures transmission of the virus — has dropped “by about half” in King County, from 2.7 in late February down to 1.4 on March 18.

That being so, Duchin also pointed out that the threat of a rebound means that “no one should take these findings as an indication to relax our social distancing strategy.”

“The main takeaway here is though we’ve made some great headway, our progress is precarious and insufficient,” he pointed out.

10:13am – Washington’s stay-at-home order has many construction projects on hold indefinitely, but for a handful of others, there are exceptions allowing them to continue as scheduled. More from KIRO Radio’s Chris Sullivan here

9:55am – Amazon warehouse workers at a Staten Island warehouse in New York are staging a walkout Monday, citing safety concerns after an employee tested positive for coronavirus.

9:11am – Seattle City Light now has a portal for anyone in need of assistance or payment plan programs due to the financial hit incurred by the coronavirus crisis.

8:53am – With Washington’s stay-at-home order continuing to be in effect, Seattle actually did a much better job this last weekend remaining indoors. More from KTTH’s Jason Rantz here

7:58am – King County hospitals are continuing to gear up for an expected surge in coronavirus cases. That includes “unprecedented steps” many facilities have taken to make sure that there are enough available hospital beds and ventilators. You can read more about what’s being done here in the latest update from Seattle-King County Public Health.

7:17am – Out of an abundance of caution, many people have taken to disinfecting their groceries after returning home from the store, something the Washington State Department of Health says isn’t actually necessary. Read more

6:45am – A report in The New York Times details how a “coronavirus slowdown in Seattle suggests restrictions are working.”

“We made a huge impact — we slowed the transmission,” Mayor Jenny Durkan told the Times, while also noting that the city still has a ways to go, and cautioning that lifting restrictions runs the risk of reigniting a rise in new coronavirus cases.

6:02am – Washington’s coronavirus data got an upgrade over the weekend, with the state Department of Health now presenting detailed graphs and analysis of cases across the state.

That includes the oft-mentioned “curve” that every state is looking to flatten, testing broken out by date and percentage of positive tests, age demographics, and cumulative cases sorted by county. The DOH is also working on a dashboard that will show the amount of hospitalizations.

5:31am – In an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper over the weekend, Gov. Jay Inslee iterated that Washington has a “desperate need” for more coronavirus aid, including testing kits, protective equipment for medical workers, and more.

“We just do not have those simple things, and that’s why we have got to mobilize the entire manufacturing base of the United States,” Inslee detailed.

The Washington governor went on to note that in addition to federal assistance, he has enlisted the help of billionaire Elon Musk to get more ventilators for the state’s hospitals. Musk purportedly told Inslee that the U.S. doesn’t necessarily have a shortage of ventilators, so much as it has “a maldistribution” of them, “where have ventilators sitting in places where they’re not going to be used.”

“This is where we need federal coordination to get the assets where they’re needed,” said Inslee.

5:03am – The state Department of Health reported 4,896 cases of coronavirus 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.

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