COVID-19 updates: 1,270 deaths, 28,680 cases of coronavirus in Washington state
Gov. Inslee will issue a mask mandate for Yakima County in the next couple of days. “This is a legal requirement, not a suggestion,” Inslee said.
Follow live updates today below.
Sunday, June 21
6:39pm: Health officials say 1,270 people have died from coronavirus in Washington state. That’s five more than Saturday. As many as 28,680 people have tested positive for the virus. The state reports 474,938 tests in the state. The rate of positive tests has dropped back down to 6.0%.
11:49am – At a campaign rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Trump said Saturday that the U.S. has tested 25 million people, but the “bad part” is that it found more cases.
“When you do testing to that extent, you’re going to find more people, you’re going to find more cases,” Trump said. “So I said to my people, ‘Slow the testing down, please.’″
White House trade adviser Peter Navarro said on CNN that Trump was being “tongue-in-cheek” and made the comment in a “light mood.” Read more from AP.
9:01am – “When you have 20,000-plus infections per day, how can you talk about a second wave?” said Dr. Anthony Fauci of the National Institutes of Health. “We’re in the first wave. Let’s get out of the first wave before you have a second wave.”
Scientists generally agree the nation is still in its first wave of coronavirus infections, albeit one that’s dipping in some parts of the country while rising in others. Read more from AP.
8:11am – UW psychologist Jonathan Kanter is studying how the stay-at-home order during coronavirus has been impacting people’s mental health, using surveys for people to rate how they’re feeling. Read more.
Saturday, June 20
6:56pm – Health officials say 1,265 people have died from COVID-19 in Washington state; 10 more than on Friday. Nearly 30K people have tested positive, at 28,225. The state says 466,069 tests have been conducted in the state. That’s a positivity rate of 6.1%.
12:03pm – “We know that this is frankly a desperate situation,” Gov. Inslee said of Yakima County during a news conference on Saturday. He listed off statistics: Yakima County has almost the entire case count of Oregon, 26% of the tests last week in Yakima County were positive, and 19% of the hospital beds in the Yakima Valley are occupied by patients with COVID-19.
Inslee said ICU patients are now being transferred to Seattle for lack of capacity.
“Without us doing something quite dramatic, cases in Yakima County could double in the next couple of weeks,” the governor said.
In the next few days, Inslee said he’ll issue a proclamation mandating facial coverings.
“This is a legal requirement, not a suggestion,” Inslee said.
Also under the proclamation, businesses will not be allowed to sell products or services to those that aren’t complying.
“That essentially means no masks, no service,” Inslee said. “No masks, no goods.”
The governor said they’re considering other measures, as well as including other counties in the proclamation. Health officials say they expect hospitalizations to double and they’ll have to transfer patients across the state. They also warned against barbecues this weekend.
“It is simply too dangerous to be doing that,” Secretary of Health Dr. John Wiesman said, adding that it’s important to wear a facial covering in public.
11:57am – President Donald Trump’s campaign says six staff members helping set up for his Saturday night rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, have tested positive for coronavirus.
The campaign’s communications director, Tim Murtaugh, said in a statement that “quarantine procedures” were immediately initiated and no staff member who tested positive would attend the event. He said no one who had immediate contact with those staffers would attend, either. Read more.
8:13am – The town of Tenino, Washington, is helping its residents survive the coronavirus shutdown by printing its own wooden money. Read more.
Friday, June 19
7:52pm – Health officials say 27,601 people across Washington state have tested positive for coronavirus. As many as 455,951 tests have been conducted, for a 6.1% rate of positive tests. The state says 1,255 people have died of the virus.
5:53pm – Gov. Inslee announced clarification Friday for non-religious weddings and funeral or memorial services in Phases 1, 2, and 3. The memorandum further clarifies the guidance for religious and faith-based organizations released Thursday.
3:47pm – Dr. Jeff Duchin, health officer for Public Health–Seattle & King County, spoke in a brief media conference Friday. He emphasized the importance of continued precautions even as King County enters Phase 2, including staying home when sick, getting tested even if you have mild symptoms, wearing masks in public spaces, and following social distancing measures.
“I think that COVID is going to be with us for a very long time, for years,” Duchin said. “But I think that its impact will be lessened with time.”
A vaccine will help, he said, but could be months away at the earliest. He also said there will certainly be more therapies developed to help treat even severe cases.
“But this disease is not going to disappear,” Duchin added.
He also said when it comes to COVID safety, we need to remember that we are interconnected — meaning what you do protects me, and what I do protects you.
11:11am – Kitsap County announced Friday that it is submitting its application to move into Phase 3 of reopening.
8:18am – King County received approval to enter into Phase 2 of Gov. Inslee’s Safe Start plan Friday. Read more.
5:27am – Washington State Superintendent Chris Reykdal and Rep. Derek Kilmer will be hosting a virtual town hall on Monday, June 22, to answer questions about the plan to reopen schools this fall.
The town hall will stream live on Kilmer’s Facebook page beginning at 3 p.m.
Thursday, June 18
4:58pm – The University of Washington is requiring face coverings be worn at all three campuses in western Washington. The new policy applies to personnel, students, contractors, vendors, and visitors. There are exemptions. Read the policy for full details.
3:40pm – There are 27,192 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Washington state, with 1,245 deaths. Out of a total of 446,899 tests, 6.1% have been positive results.
On Wednesday, the DOH announced it had slightly adjusted the death total and test count to more accurately reflect the data. Read more.
2:56pm – Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle is reopening July 1 after being closed since March. Tickets will go on sale June 22 for designated entrance times to limit the number of guests inside the zoo at any given time. Only a limited number of tickets will be available for purchase in person.
Facial coverings will be required for all guests and staff.
2:07pm – The U.S., Canada, and Mexico have agreed to extend their agreements to keep their shared borders closed to non-essential travel to July 21 during the coronavirus pandemic
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Tuesday’s agreement extends the closure by another 30 days. The restrictions were announced on March 18 and were extended in April and May. Read more from AP.
12:23pm – Washington state saw a 2.3% decrease in initial regular unemployment claims last week, totaling 695,532 claims across all unemployment categories, according to the latest data from the Employment Security Department.
10:01am – Gov. Inslee announced updated guidance Thursday for resuming in-person religious services during his Safe Start reopening plan.
In Phase 3, religious services are allowed to be held indoors with either 50% capacity or 400 people (whichever is less). For counties in a modified Phase 1 or Phase 2, indoor services can occur with 25% capacity or 200 people (again, whichever is less).
Phase 1 counties are limited to outdoor services only, with no more than 100 people.
8:47am – A new study indicates (with a very small samples of patients) that low dose radiation can actually help someone get over a coronavirus infection sooner. Mercer Island Dr. Gordon Cohen joined Seattle’s Morning News to discuss. Read more.
5:55am – Seattle’s Fremont Brewing is shutting down after an employee tested positive for COVID-19.
In a Facebook post Tuesday, the company said the worker was from their Urban Beer Garden, and showed no symptoms of the virus.
Fremont is closing both its beer garden and production line to allow immediate testing of all employees, and to sanitize all its facilities.
The brewery says it will reopen when it’s “deemed completely safe” to do so.
Wednesday, June 17
5:19pm – Grays Harbor County has been approved to move into Phase 3. There are now three counties in Phase 1, three counties in a modified Phase 1, 21 in Phase 2, and 12 in Phase 3.
Island, Lewis, Mason, and King counties have pending applications to move to the next phase. Benton and Franklin have applied to move from Phase 1 to Phase 2, but the applications are on pause due to a recent rise in cases.
4:55pm – The Washington State Department of Health is altering the way it reports COVID-19 deaths to better identify if COVID-19 caused or contributed to a particular death.
“The changes we’re making to reporting will remove non-COVID-19 deaths from the statewide total, and break down the overall data to include more specific categories.”
Previously, when a death was reported as a COVID-19 death, the person who passed away had also tested positive for COVID-19. This method, DOH says, doesn’t just reflect the deaths of people whose deaths were caused by COVID-19 since it could also include someone who died of other causes.
The change in reporting will take place in two phases — Phase 1 on June 17, Phase 2 in the coming weeks. Phase 1 includes removing deaths where COVID-19 did not contribute to death, and it removed seven from the current count, including two suicides, three homicides, and two overdose deaths. Phase 2 will include an expansion of how the DOH reports deaths to identify if COVID-19 can be confirmed or ruled out as a cause of death. Read a Q&A about these changes online here.
4:39pm – There are 26,784 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 1,226 deaths, according to the state Department of Health. More than 435,000 people have been tested statewide, with 6.2% positive results.
3:02pm – A national trade association for the U.S. ski industry says ski businesses lost at least $2 billion over the winter because of the economic collapse caused by the coronavirus pandemic. It is unclear how the pandemic will affect the 2020-2021 season. But the economic loss tied to the pandemic could increase to about $5 billion if the downtown continues. Read more from AP.
11:15am – Thurston County’s Board of Health voted unanimously Wednesday to apply for Phase 3 of Gov. Inslee’s Safe Start plan.
10:49am – The Port of Everett is hosting a waterfront drive-in movie series at Boxcar Park this summer. Sail Cinema was a boat-in viewing experience, but because of COVID-19, the port is pivoting. Movies are July 17-Midway, July 24-Hitch, July 31- A League of Their Own, Aug. 7-The Avengers: End Game, Aug. 14-Coco, and Aug. 21-Grease. Reservations are required for vehicles.
8:19am – Gov. Jay Inslee visited Yakima on Tuesday to meet with local government, health care, and business leaders to discuss the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the county. Read more.
5:17am – Nordstrom announced this week that all 15 of the company’s Washington locations will reopen by the end of this month. The reopening is in an effort to bounce back after the slump in sales due to the pandemic.
Nordstrom announced in early May it planned to permanently close 16 of its 116 full-line stores. Stores in Lynnwood, Bellevue and Seattle are scheduled to reopen Thursday.
Tuesday, June 16
4:35pm – Community Transit will resume collecting fares on all bus routes and DART paratransit service on July 1, 2020. Fares have already returned on Swift bus rapid transit service.
3:50pm – The state Department of Health is reporting a total of 26,531 confirmed cases with 1,231 deaths. More than 480,000 people have been tested, and 5.5% of tests are positive results.
1:18pm – Originally postponed for the summer of 2020, Emerald City Comic Con is canceled this year. King County must be in Phase 4 of Gov. Inslee’s Safe Start reopening plan before an event this size could happen. The county is currently applying for Phase 2.
12:49pm – Folks in the U.S. are more unhappy today than they’ve been in nearly 50 years. This conclusion comes from the COVID Response Tracking Study, conducted by NORC at the University of Chicago. It finds that just 14% of American adults say they’re very happy, down from 31% who said the same in 2018. That year, 23% said they’d often or sometimes felt isolated in recent weeks. Now, 50% say that. Read more from AP.
10:26am – King County announced the opening of three new COVID-19 testing sites in the southern part of the region. Two of the sites can be found in Auburn, and one is in South Park. Details here.
9:13am – Pacific County received approval from the Washington Department of Health Tuesday to move into Phase 3 of the reopening process.
7:48am – Researchers in England say they have the first evidence that a drug can improve COVID-19 survival: A cheap, widely available steroid called dexamethasone reduced deaths by up to one third in severely ill hospitalized patients.
Results were announced Tuesday and researchers said they would publish them soon. Read more from AP.
5:30am – MLB might not play at all this year after a breakdown in talks between teams and the players’ association on how to split up money in a season delayed by the coronavirus pandemic. Read more.
Monday, June 15
5:38pm – King County health officials voted to apply for Phase 2 of the Safe Start plan. If approved by the Washington State Department of Health, the next phase could start as soon as the end of this week.
4:23 pm – Gov. Inslee sent a letter to the Trump administration requesting the implementation of a national aviation screening system for domestic and international passengers. The letter reads, in part:
“The science is clear that airplanes, and mass transit in general, present greater risk of transmission because of the confined spaces where safe distancing may not be possible. Our nation’s current approach improperly places the burden for protecting the public on state and local governments, leaves millions of passengers at risk, and fails to instill public confidence. It achieves neither our economic nor our public health goals.”
Inslee’s letter says a screening system should include collecting information to aid in contacting tracing efforts at the state and local levels, clear communication about how to protect oneself and others, screening passengers and workers for symptoms, requiring face masks or coverings, frequently cleaning, making hand sanitizer available, and offering COVID-19 testing at airports. Read the full letter here.
3:36pm – Confirmed COVID-19 cases in Washington state have crossed 26,000. The state Department of Health is reporting a total of 26,158 cases and 1,221 deaths. That’s a one-day increase of 324 cases.
2:20pm – Snohomish County has updated its COVID-19 dashboard. Check here. The county says it is providing more detailed information in weekly reports. It’s also focusing on activities and data analysis for disease prevention and to move through the Safe Start Plan. The county has reported 3,136 cases of coronavirus and 156 deaths.
11:15am – Eleven percent of African Americans say they were close with someone who has died from the coronavirus, compared with 5% of Americans overall and 4% of white Americans.
The findings are based on data from three COVID Impact surveys conducted between April and June by NORC at the University of Chicago for the Data Foundation about the pandemic’s effect on the physical, mental and social health of Americans. Read more from AP.
9:32am – While many counties in Washington are continuing to relax social distancing measures, the state Department of Health remains concerned about a recent increase in new COVID-19 cases. Read more.
5:05am – UW’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation warns that the U.S. could see an uptick in new COVID-19 cases as schools resume in-person class after the summer.
“COVID-19 infections are likely to rise in most states between August and September as schools begin reopening and in the absence of robust health and safety measures,” the IHME said in its most recent update.