Seattle Mayor Durkan: US health system ‘wasn’t ready’ for coronavirus outbreak

Apr 1, 2020, 9:10 AM | Updated: 9:12 am
Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan, coronavirus, eviction moratorium...
Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan. (Photo by Karen Ducey/Getty Images)
(Photo by Karen Ducey/Getty Images)

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.

UW model suggests outbreak could peak around April 19

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.”

Those missteps were especially prevalent in early testing for the virus, or as Durkan points out, a lack there of.

“(The federal government was) not able to stand up testing quickly enough, and the criteria for who they would test was too limited,” said Durkan.

Without that early testing, the virus was able to spread silently across the region for weeks. By the time cases started to appear, it was too late to truly contain it.

“We think we acted really quickly. Within a week or two weeks, we were taking important steps, but we needed to act yesterday,” said Durkan.

King County’s ‘excellent’ response in early fight against coronavirus

As the outbreak continues, she points to a continued need for more testing infrastructure, something city governments simply don’t have the capacity to stand up on their own.

More than that, she hopes that other parts of the country where the virus is still beginning to spread will learn from what happened in Washington.

“No city is going to be able to stand up enough testing without the help of the federal government. I just don’t believe that’s going to be able to happen,” Durkan described. “Fortunately, I believe the rest of the nation will benefit from the federal government’s failures in the Pacific Northwest.”

Local News

Climate Pledge Arena...
Associated Press

Climate Pledge Arena ready to get Kraken for hockey debut

The first event ever inside Climate Pledge Arena — whether it will be considered the official first event or not — was far from a soft opening.
1 day ago
shipping containers...
KIRO 7 News Staff

Approximately 40 shipping containers adrift off Washington coast

Approximately 40 shipping containers were lost off a ship 43 miles west of the Strait of Juan de Fuca, according to the United States Coast Guard.
1 day ago
Kathryn Altena

Gov. Inslee, Washington groups prepare to welcome Afghan refugees

In the coming months, 1,400 Afghan refugees are expected to pass through the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport upon their arrival in Washington.
1 day ago
King County Councilmember Rod Dembowski...
Nick Bowman

King County Councilmember accused of history of ‘verbally abusive’ behavior toward female staff

King County Councilmember Rod Dembowski is facing accusations detailing a history of verbally abusive behavior toward female staff members.
1 day ago
Microsoft campus, vaccine...
KIRO 7 News Staff

Racial harassment allegations at Microsoft campus construction site in Redmond

Racial harassment on the job — that’s what a Black construction employee says he was dealing with for months at the build site on Microsoft’s campus in Redmond.
1 day ago
Jaime Herrera Beutler...
Nick Bowman

Washington Rep. Herrera Beutler breaks from GOP party line again over Bannon contempt vote

Washington Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler was among nine Republicans who voted in favor of holding Steve Bannon in contempt on Thursday.
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles


Medicare open enrollment for 2022 starts Oct. 15 and SHIBA can help!

Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner SPONSORED — Medicare’s Open Enrollment Period, also called the Annual Election Period, is Oct. 15 to Dec. 7. During this time, people enrolled in Medicare can: Switch from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan and vice versa. Join, drop or switch a Part D prescription drug plan, […]

How to Have a Stress-Free Real Estate Experience

The real estate industry has adapted and sellers are taking full advantage of new real estate models. One of which is Every Door Real Estate.
IQ Air

How Poor Air Quality Is Affecting Our Future Athletes

You cannot control your child’s breathing environment 100% of the time, but you can make a huge impact.
Swedish Health Services

Special Coverage: National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month

There are a wide variety of treatment options available for men with prostate cancer. The most technologically advanced treatment option in the Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform.
Marysville Police Department

Police Opportunities in a Growing, Supportive Washington Community

Marysville PD is looking for both lateral and entry level officers. Begin or continue your career in law enforcement for a growing, supportive community.

Small, Minority-Owned Businesses in King County and Pierce County Can Now Apply For $10,000 Relief Grants Through Comcast RISE

Businesses in King County and Pierce County can apply beginning on October 1, 2021, at www.ComcastRISE.com for a chance to receive a $10,000 relief grant.
Seattle Mayor Durkan: US health system ‘wasn’t ready’ for coronavirus outbreak