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Live updates: No new WA COVID-19 deaths reported, over 21,700 total cases

(Photo by David Ryder/Getty Images)

Health officials say there are 21,702 coronavirus cases in Washington state and 1,118 deaths. The stay-at-home order expires at midnight on Sunday. Gov. Inslee announced on Friday a county-by-county plan to reopen the state starting Monday.

Confirmed coronavirus cases across Washington state

Follow live updates today below.

Sunday, May 31

10:39 pm – Health officials in Pierce County have voted to approve an application for moving on to Phase 2. The county council will have to approve before they apply with the state.

“Our objectives are to begin to restore our society and local economy while we protect the health of all county residents,” said Director of Health Anthony L-T Chen, MD, MPH. “Even as we prepare to move into Phase 2, we need to continue to be cautious and follow state and local public health guidance to prevent a rapid surge of cases in Pierce County.”

5:40pm – The Washington Department of Health is reporting a single-day increase of 353 COVID-19 cases, totaling 21,702 statewide. There are no new reported deaths, with that number remaining at 1,118.

3:38pm – Crystal Mountain will open on Monday for spring skiing. The resorts says it’ll be open until June 14, conditions permitting.

“While closing in March was the right thing to do, it’s time to begin taking small steps back towards doing what we love. We’re ready and excited to welcome you back starting June 1 for some spring skiing in Green Valley, but things are going to be different.”

The resort says you must make reservations online. Read more for details.

2:33pm – The city of Arlington is mailing out masks, The Everett Herald reports. Each household, about 7,800 in Arlington, will get two free masks by the end of the week. The mayor, Barb Talbot, told the Herald, she wants businesses to prosper and taking precautions should help. The mayor said money for the masks will come from the federal CARES Act funding made available for coronavirus related expenses.

9:22am – The mayor of Atlanta, one of dozens of U.S. cities hit by massive protests, has a message for demonstrators: “If you were out protesting last night, you probably need to go get a COVID test this week.” Read more from AP. 

8:17am – Gov. Inslee’s Stay Home, Stay Healthy order expires across the state at midnight. On Monday, June 1, Inslee’s county-by-county phased in approach to reopening takes effect. Counties will start off in their current phase. There are 26 (of 39) counties that are in Phase Two. Read more.

Saturday, May 30

9:49pm – Republican Gov. Mike Dunleavy says travelers to Alaska will have to be tested for COVID-19 before boarding a plane to the state, or submit to a 14-day quarantine upon arrival. Read more from Associated Press.

3:45pm – Health officials report 1,118 deaths due to coronavirus in Washington state, which is seven more than Friday. The state reports 354,354 people tested, with 21,349 positive tests. The rate of positive tests is 6.02%.

1:54pm – “I don’t think we’re ever going to know the exact person who was the first one,” UW Virology head Dr. Keith Jerome told KIRO Radio’s Dave Ross of the first coronavirus cases in Washington state. Read more.

9:55am – Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan reminded protesters planning to march in Seattle on Saturday to remain 6 feet apart from each other. “Please follow COVID-19 precautions like facial coverings. Take care of one another,” she tweeted.

Friday, May 29

5:30pm – Community Transit will begin collecting fares for Swift Blue and Green bus rapid transit lines Monday, June 1. Fares on other Community Transit buses will remain suspended for the month of June.

4:24pm – King County Executive Dow Constantine announced that King County will move forward with an application to allow limited, modified reopenings for some businesses and activities, including restaurants with limited outdoor seating, small gatherings, more construction, and personal services.

This is an application for the modified version of Phase 1, or Phase 1.5, of the state’s Safe Start plan, which the county will submit on June 1. The county has not yet met the key criteria to enter Phase 2, but both Constantine and public health officer Dr. Jeff Duchin said King County is on the right track.

“We are not out of the woods yet,” Constantine said. “Even with these openings, we still have a long way to go to where our economy is anywhere close to where we were three months ago.”

Duchin said it is important to recognize the progress we’ve made in the stay-home order, and to continue following the safe practices and using the tools we know help reduce the spread of COVID-19, including social distancing, increased hygiene, and mask use in public settings. He emphasized the importance to understand the risks and keep doing all we can to help slow the spread.

“Thanks to the people of King County, whose united efforts have flattened the curve and saved thousands lives, we are ready to continue safely, carefully reopening our economy,” Constantine said. “Our continued vigilance against the virus can help make this a one-way journey from lock-down back to prosperity, and I’m excited that folks will soon be able to support our local businesses by doing simple things like dining at an outdoor restaurant, getting a haircut, or shopping for a summer outfit.”

3:07pm – Health officials say 348,233 people have been tested for coronavirus across Washington state. Of those, 21,071 people have tested positive. That’s a positive rate of 6.1%, which hasn’t changed all week. The state reports 1,111 people have died from COVID-19.

2:52pm – Gov. Inslee’s Stay Home, Stay Healthy order officially ends on Sunday, May 31. As the state moves away from a stay-at-home order, each county will be required to comply with the guidelines as outlined in their respective phase. Read more.

12:23pm – Washington state will be reopening campgrounds in 22 counties beginning Monday, June 1. You can see a full list of campgrounds (and limitations on capacity) at this link.

11:57am – President Trump announced Friday that he will be officially terminating the United States’ relationship with the World Health Organization. Read more from the AP.

11:40am – Snohomish County Council has voted to approve the application for a Phase 2 variance.

11:20am – The Snohomish County Board of Health voted Friday in favor of submitting an application to the Washington State Department of Health for a Phase 2 reopening variance.

Next, Snohomish’s County Council will vote in a special session beginning at 11:30 a.m.

10:21am – After the Trump Administration removed guidance from the CDC regarding the spread of COVID-19 from singing in choirs in places of worship, local health experts have spoken out against what they say is a troubling pattern of behavior. Read more. 

9:33amSpeaking to Congress Friday morning, Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan called for an end to what she described as a “scavenger hunt, Hunger Games” process cities have undergone to acquire aid for the coronavirus crisis.

Many regional leaders have spoken out against a process that has had them bidding against each other for relief supplies. To that end, Durkan called on the federal government to “use the Defense Production Act to aggressively distribute critical supplies” to states and cities.

8:33am – Gov. Jay Inslee will be delivering a press conference today at 2:30 p.m., to provide an update on the state’s ongoing stay-at-home order set to the expire Sunday, May 31.

8:11am – With Seafair canceling its major events for the summer, there was a question as to whether the Seafair Pirates would follow suit with their famous annual landing at Alki Beach. Read more

7:20am – Nordstrom reported Thursday that its sales plunged nearly 40% in its first quarter when the pandemic forced a temporary shutdown of its stores.

The Seattle-based retailer recently announced it was closing 19 of its 116 stores.

Nordstrom says it plans to accelerate the expansion of its online and off-price business, which last year accounted for nearly 60% of its total business.

6:33am – Pierce County officials appear to be at odds with each other over whether it’s ready to enter into Phase 2. Read more

6:04am – The coronavirus is making the future difficult for both child care centers and the parents who rely on those services in Washington state. Read more

5:26am – Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan will be joined by other mayors from across the U.S. Friday morning at a 9 a.m. committee briefing in the U.S. House of Representatives, “speaking to Congress about the resources our region still needs to address the scale of this pandemic and its devastating impact on workers and small businesses.”

This comes as part of a larger effort to ask the federal government to play a larger, more involved role in providing aid to cities hit by the COVID-19 crisis. The briefing will be aired live here.

Thursday, May 28

5:40pm – Two more counties in Washington state — Clallam and Kitsap — have been approved by Secretary of Health John Wiesman for variance applications to move to Phase 2 of the Safe Start plan. Now, 26 counties statewide have been approved for Phase 2.

5:28pm – Gov. Inslee issued a proclamation Thursday to protect the health and safety of agricultural workers in Washington state, including new guidance for wearing face coverings and providing appropriate social distancing. The governor also issued an order requiring all residents and staff at long-term care facilities be tested for COVID-19 in the coming weeks. The state will provide test kits and any personal protective equipment necessary to administer the tests. Read more.

3:48pm – Health officials say there have been 343,091 people who have been tested across Washington state. Of those, 20,764 people have tested positive. the percent of positive test remains at 6.1% That number hasn’t changed all week. The number of deaths in Washington state sits at 1,106. Yakima County alone had 183 new cases since Wednesday.

3:34pm – Everett’s Flying Heritage Museum is closing its doors for now. The Paul Allen founded museum of vintage warplanes and tanks says it can no longer keep its doors open because of a lack of attendance and event cancellations. In a statement, museum leadership said “the current global situation is making it difficult for us to serve our mission, and we will spend the months ahead reassessing if, how, and when to reopen.”

2:13pm – Business owners, pastors, and community leaders in Chelan County have joined together to sue the governor, seeking immediate relief from Gov. Jay Inslee’s state of emergency declaration. The judge set a tentative 2 p.m. Monday court date for ruling on this case.

Judge Kristin Ferrara of the Chelan County Superior Court heard arguments Thursday on two motions, one for a temporary restraining order and the other for a motion to change the venue of further hearings in this case to Thurston County. Joining the judge in the virtual hearing was the plaintiff’s counsel attorney Joel Ard and state attorney Jefferey Even.

Judge Travis Brandt was originally assigned to the case, but about an hour before the previously scheduled hearing on Tuesday, there were last minute filings by the Attorney General’s office requesting Brandt be disqualified based on disclosures he made to the court about knowing three of the plaintiffs.

1:23pm – New jobless claims in Washington plummeted by over 60 percent last week.

The nearly 48,500 first-time, regular unemployment claims filed last week mark a 68% drop from a week earlier. Employment Security Department Commissioner Suzi Levine says that’s largely due to efforts to crack down on fraudsters who bilked the system out of hundreds of millions of dollars using stolen identities, much of that money now recovered.

Levine says they were also able to clear 20% of claims stuck in adjudication, leaving just more than 40,000 valid filers still waiting for their payments.

12:24pm – Seattle-King County Public Health provided clarification regarding exceptions to its directive asking residents to wear face coverings in public.

Those exceptions include people with disabilities, children, and “specific health or safety concerns.”

11:12am – Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson continues to field complaints over price gouging for essential products during the COVID-19 crisis. In total, his office has received over 1,100 complaints, and sent 14 cease and desist letters to offending businesses.

10:09am – Snohomish County officials announced Thursday that they will be petitioning Gov. Jay Inslee to enter into Phase 2 of reopening.

“Snohomish County residents have paid a heavy price from the COVID-19 pandemic,” County Executive Dave Somers said in a news release. “We will respond to the pandemic with everything we have and recover as quickly as we can. We now must move forward with our request to enter Phase II and help our people safely get back to work.”

9:25am – Gov. Jay Inslee will be delivering a press conference Thursday at 2:30 p.m., to “give an update on the state’s long term care testing plan and farmworker protections.”

8:41am – Sewer pipes and pumping stations in King County are still being clogged daily by things that do not belong in the waste water. That includes wipes, diapers, hygiene products, and now, personal protective equipment like gloves and masks. Read more

7:57am – Amazon plans to offer permanent full time jobs to 125,000 temporary warehouse employees to keep up with COVID-19 demands.

The permanent roles come with benefits such as employer-offered health insurance and retirement plans, according to The Wall Street Journal.

7:08am – The Washington Department of Health offered advice Wednesday for people struggling with mental health during ongoing shutdowns across the state. That includes staying on a routine, getting 30 minutes of daily activity, taking medication as its prescribed, and scheduling possible telehealth appointments with your therapist or mental health provider.

6:01am – Approximately 2.1 million people applied for jobless benefits in the U.S. last week, according to the latest data from the Department of Labor.

Upwards of 41 million people have now applied for unemployment benefits since the COVID-19 crisis began in March (although not all of those people are still without a job today). Roughly 21 million people are currently receiving aid.

5:19am – Thurston County has instituted its own set of rules regarding face coverings, asking that residents wear masks at all times when in public. That’s part of a larger strategy that UW’s Dr. Christopher Murray says is crucial to fighting the coronavirus outbreak.

“We now have really clear evidence that wearing masks works — it’s probably a 50% protection against transmission,” Dr. Murray — who heads up the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation — told CNN’s Anderson Cooper. “And so what happens in the next month or two is very much in the hands of how people respond.”

Wednesday, May 27

6:00pm – The Washington State Department of Health updated the definition of a COVID-19 close contact to align with new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The definition now says a “close contact” is someone who was within six feet of someone with COVID-19 for at least 15 minutes, where previously the guidance was 10 minutes.

“Our guidance has changed over time as we learn more about COVID-19, and will continue to do so in the future,” said State Health Officer Dr. Kathy Lofy. “This update doesn’t change our recommendations for members of the public. We continue to urge people to maintain physical distance to protect themselves and others.”

5:29pm – Kitsap County commissioners voted Wednesday afternoon to request permission to move ahead to Phase 2 of our state’s COVID-19 reopening plan. Earlier in the day, Thurston, Kittitas, and Walla Walla were approved to move ahead, bringing the total to 24 counties.

4:34pm – Health officials say 335,801 have been tested for coronavirus. Of those, 20,406 people have tested positive. The rate of positive tests is 6.1%. There have been 1,095 deaths due to coronavirus.

2:52pm – Gov. Inslee is easing restrictions on religious gatherings. However, he is asking religious organizations to follow a set of guidelines for in-person gatherings as part of his Safe Start reopening plan for Washington state. Read more.

2:19pm – The Space Needle is flying a new flag. It’s one of many “All in Washington” flags raised around the state this morning in support workers and families in crisis because of the coronavirus pandemic. Part of the campaign includes a benefit concert that will be live streamed on June 10.

12:24pm – Gov. Inslee’s press conference today will reportedly cover the plan to reopen religious services and gatherings, according to the Family Policy Institute of Washington. Tune in at 2:30 p.m. on KIRO Radio to listen live.

11:28am – UW’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation is answering a series of commonly-asked questions on Twitter today, weighing in on many of the factors that go into its model.

10:57am – Thurston, Kittitas, and Walla Walla Counties received approval Wednesday morning to move into Phase 2 of reopening, which will allow them to resume dine-in service at restaurants, as well as reopen retail, salons, pet grooming, and more. Phase 2 also allows for group gatherings of up to five people each week.

In total, 24 counties in Washington have now moved into the second phase of reopening.

10:00am – A recent report from Bellevue’s Institute for Disease Modeling (IDM) laid out a possible roadmap for reopening King County, while warning that any such action will need to move gradually. Read more

9:11am – Gov. Jay Inslee will be delivering a press conference today at 2:30 p.m. It’s unclear at this time what he will be discussing.

8:16am – Boeing announced Wednesday that it will soon being conducting involuntary layoffs of over 6,700 employees in the U.S. Read more. 

7:01am – A “strike team” has been deployed to Yakima County to help control “multiple outbreaks” of coronavirus at long term care facilities and nursing homes.

The team includes eight workers from the Washington State Department of Health, and another two from the CDC.

6:19am – A fill-in Superior Court judge for a lawsuit against Gov. Inslee has tested positive for COVID-19. This news came after a scheduled Tuesday hearing was delayed when a last-minute filing disqualified the original judge. Read more. 

5:36am – The state Department of Labor and Industries has announced that it’s going to enforce Gov. Inslee’s “Safe Start” plan.

The agency says it can fine businesses which open up before they’re supposed to. It can also fine those who don’t follow the rules during any of the phases.

L&I says the governor directed it to file emergency rules, giving them the enforcement powers.

The agency says it’ll be responding to complaints about businesses operating illegally. Only after contacting the business repeatedly, and establishing that it will continue to ignore the governor’s orders, will a fine be imposed.

Fines can total up to $10,000.

Tuesday, May 26

5:50pm – Thurston County is the latest to apply for a variance to move forward to Phase 2 of the ‘Safe Start’ plan in Washington state. To qualify for a variance, counties must have no more than 10 cases per 100,000 people in the past two weeks, adequate hospital bed capacity, and sufficient contact tracing and testing capacity. In total, there are 21 counties that have been approved to move to Phase 2. 

The applications from Kittitas and Clark counties are currently on hold due to outbreak investigations.

5:23pm – Seattle City Councilmembers Lisa Herbold and Andrew Lewis introduced legislation Tuesday to provide gig workers in the food delivery and transportation network companies with premium pay.

The bill would provide gig workers with a $5 premium pay per order or ride performed in Seattle during the public health crisis, and prohibits companies from passing the premium pay onto customers. Hiring entities would have to pay the premium separate from a drivers’ regular pay, commissions, bonuses, and tips. The Seattle Office of Labor Standards will coordinate implementation and enforcement of premium pay for drivers.

Ulysses Galvez, an Instacart shopper, works long hours with short breaks, has had to buy PPE for personal use, and makes below minimum wage while taking on the added risks and costs during the pandemic.

“We deserve fair compensation for this work, and we need hazard pay,” Galvez said.

4:11pm – Kids in Washington are getting accidentally poisoned by hand sanitizer. Megan King with the Washington Poison Center says they have seen a 52% increase in calls about accidental exposures to hand sanitizer. She says you should always supervise kids as they’re putting sanitizer on, and keep disinfectants out of their reach when not in use.

3:39pm – Health officials say 332,791 people have been tested across Washington state, and among them 20,181 have tested positive for coronavirus. The rate of positive cases is now 6.1%. The state’s death toll is now 1,078.

2:55pm – The suburbs north of New York City eased outbreak restrictions, and the trading floor of the New York Stock Exchange opened for the first time in two months, as the state focused more intently Tuesday on restarting its economy. Read more from the AP.

1:29pm – Unemployment numbers continue to rise across Washington state amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The Employment Security Department is now displaying the unemployment rates by county, and has posted employment data for last month online. Read more.

12:22pm – In Washington state and around the country, the first lockdown is still in progress. The original hope of these orders was to control the virus and save the economy, but Michael Hiltzik, a business columnist for the LA Times, says it’s not quite working that way. Read more

11:38am – The Washington State Employment Security Department released county-by-county unemployment numbers Tuesday. Snohomish County is currently experiencing the highest rate of unemployment at 20.2%, followed by Grays Harbor at 19.4%.

10:52am – Dozens more workers at a southwest Washington fruit processing business have tested positive for COVID-19.

Nearly everyone at Firestone Pacific Foods in Vancouver has been tested. KGW-Television in Portland reports 65 employees have tested positive and 87 negative.

The business is still open and says the County Health department is inspecting to make sure it is following safety guidelines.

10:03am – Drive-thru coronavirus testing will be available in Snohomish County this Thursday, May 28. Testing will be available by appointment, and will be limited to those who have been exhibiting symptoms of the virus, including a fever over 100.4 degrees, coughing, difficulty breathing, and chills.

You can get more details about how to sign up here.

8:44am – As we approach the summer months, many are wondering what that will mean for the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. Read more

7:53am – While some compared COVID-19 to the flu in the early days of the outbreak, University of Washington modelers are pointing out that the illness is not actually adhering to the same timeline.

“What we know for sure is that COVID is not following the pattern of seasonal flu, because if it was, there would be no cases or deaths by this time in May,” IHME head Dr. Christopher Murray told FOX News. “Basically the flu is gone by the middle of May, to a large extent.”

7:08am – Two of the largest casinos in Washington state will reopen for business today.

Muckleshoot Casino in Auburn will open its doors at 10 a.m., and the Tulalip Resort Casino will open at noon.

Tulalip Casino’s website posted a long list of safety measures including limited seating at gaming tables, sanitizing dice after each used and removing self serving stations.

A handful of other casinos either reopened or set dates for reopening last week.

6:19am – The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) announced many of Washington state’s coastal waters will reopen for fishing on Tuesday, May 26. Read more

5:22am – The Washington State Department of Health warned this week that “all counties in the state will (probably) not be open June 1,” when Gov. Inslee’s stay-at-home order is currently set to expire.

“Counties that continue to have large numbers of people with COVID-19 are not in a position to open up stores, restaurants and services safely yet,” the DOH said in a recent blog post.

It’s still unclear whether Inslee plans to extend his stay-at-home order again at the end of the month. According to the DOH, the governor is “working to figure out what the next steps will be” regarding the order.

Monday, May 25

5:53pm – More small businesses could soon find out they’re getting a financial boost from the state, as the establishments receiving the next round of Working Washington Small Business Emergency Grants should be named this week. Read more.

5:18pm – Bloodworks Northwest joined the Seattle Mariners to host a blood drive at T-Mobile Park that has been so popular it’s now extended through the end of June. Since the start of the drive in mid-April, 1,400 units of blood have been donated, which is enough to give potentially live-saving help to 4,254 people. All donations are by appointment only, and donors are required to wear masks.

The pop-up donor center at the Angel of the Winds Arena in Everett ends June 6, and the pop-up center at Cheney Stadium ends Saturday, May 30.

4:37pm – The state Department of Health reports nine new deaths and more than 200 new cases Monday in Washington. There are 20,065 confirmed coronavirus cases statewide, with 1,070 deaths and 3,290 hospitalizations. Of the 330,598 total tests, 6.1% have been positive results.

3:42pm – UW Medicine announced it will temporarily lay off as many as 4,000 employees from its unionized workforce. Last week, it furloughed approximately 1,500 staff members due to the cost of COVID-19 measures and the loss of elective surgeries and scheduled office visits. Those in the next round of furloughs are expected to be off the job for one week to two months, but will keep their full benefits.

“This has been a very difficult, but necessary, decision to address the financial challenges facing UW Medicine and all healthcare organizations responding to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Lisa Brandenburg, president of UW Medicine Hospitals and Clinics. “We have taken deliberate steps to ensure patient care is not impacted by aligning staff levels with current and predicted patient volumes including the return of elective procedures, expanded in-person clinical services and continued expansion of telehealth, while ensuring UW Medicine is prepared to respond to future surges of patients with COVID-19.”

3:30pm – How the rent will get paid is a question on the minds of many mom-and-pop entrepreneurs as small businesses prepare to reopen after months of little to no income. Seattle’s Office of Economic Development has put together a toolkit for small businesses struggling with rent during the pandemic. Read more.

2:36pm – There are 21 counties in Washington state now approved to move to Phase 2, but some businesses say it’s not as easy as just opening the doors. Angie Waiss with Skamania County’s Chamber of Commerce told KIRO Radio that the extra costs of cleaning and providing safety supplies is creating another hurdle for businesses. As such, some restaurants are choosing to continue operating as takeout only even as dine-in service is allowed to resume.

12:41pm – Dozens of business owners in Douglas and Chelan counties have joined together to sue the governor. Rachelle Johnson wants him to open the state now so that she doesn’t lose her business — a gym in Wenatchee — for good.

The case will be heard in Chelan County court Tuesday at 3:30 p.m.

10:52am – The World Health Organization has issued a temporary pause on testing the effects of hydroxychloroquine as part of the Solidarity Trial. The WHO says an observational study published by the Lancet on Friday showed a higher mortality rate when hydroxychloroquine was used alone or with a macrolide.

Nearly 3,500 patients from 17 countries have been enrolled in the Solidarity Trial in which over 400 hospitals in 35 countries are recruiting patients.

10:36am – Gubernatorial candidate Josh Freed is holding a rally at the capitol building in Olympia today at noon. He said, in a Facebook message, that his message is “crystal clear.” He wants Gov. Inslee to reopen the state and let Washingtonians make responsible decisions. Freed said this is his last stop on a 14-day tour across 39 counties.

9:55am – QFC and Fred Meyer are offering free drive-thru COVID-19 testing at sites in Seattle and Tacoma this week. Free testing is available on Wednesday and Thursday at Seattle’s T-Mobile Park and the Tacoma Dome from 10 a.m to 4 p.m. You can get more information here.

8:38am  – A Vancouver, Washington food processing plant has shut down after a quarter of its employees tested positive for COVID-19. Firestone Pacific Foods, a frozen fruit processor, said it took steps to protect employees before the outbreak, including social distancing, temperature checks, providing masks to employees, and offering expanded sick leave.

7:00am –  Today’s annual Memorial Day ceremony at Tahoma National Cemetery has been canceled. Director Tom Yokes says organizing a formal event would have drawn too large a crowd to ensure the safety of everyone there.

Evergreen Cemetery in Everett and Floral Hills in Lynnwood have no ceremonies planned and the parade in Arlington is canceled, the Everett Herald reports.

Evergreen Washelli Cemetery announced on Facebook it will not host its 94th Annual Memorial Day Remembrance Service this year (2020) or other events surrounding Memorial Day.

Cemeteries will remain open to visitors on Memorial Day and many have prepared with American flag displays.

Last week’s updates

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