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COVID-19 updates: 1,310 deaths, 31,752 coronavirus cases in Washington state

(AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

Gov. Inslee announced Saturday that he will be pausing counties from moving into Phase 4 of reopening.

Confirmed coronavirus cases across Washington state

Follow live updates today below.

Sunday, June 28:

4:25pm – Washington state now has 31,752 confirmed cases of COVID-19, along with 1,310 deaths. Roughly 5.9% of all those who’ve been tested have been positive.

12:57pm – Last month, the Employment Security Department revealed that it had accidentally paid out between $550 million and $650 million to fraudsters using the stolen identities of Washingtonians to make thousands of false claims. Since then, $350 million has been recovered — but in the meantime, thousands of claimants have found their accounts frozen as part of the investigation.

Shawna De La Rosa, a single mom of two teenage boys, is one of the thousands of people still locked out from her unemployment account after the fraud attack. Read more

7:40am – With Washington’s statewide mask mandate now in effect, the Department of Health purchased 3.6 million cloth masks for residents below 200% of the federal poverty level. Details here.

Saturday, June 27:

4:48pm – Washington now has 31,404 total coronavirus cases, along with 1,310 deaths. Of those who have been tested, 6% have been positive.

12:59pm – Gov. Jay Inslee announced Saturday that the Washington Department of Health would be putting a pause on all applications from counties looking to move into Phase 4 of reopening. Read more. 

7:16am – At least one person has COVID-19 after attending a house party of up to 70 people last week in Stanwood. Read more

Friday, June 26:

6:04pm – Health officials say there are 30,855 confirmed cases of coronavirus cases in Washington state — 488 new since Thursday. As many as 1,304 people have died from the virus — that’s four new since Thursday. The state reports 514,428 tests have been conducted, with a positivity rate of 6.0.% That number has stayed the same for about a week.

4:37pm – Snohomish County is putting the pause button on moving to Phase 3. The county has decided not to go ahead with an application, despite having been in Phase 2 for three weeks.
County Executive Dave Somers said on Friday a Phase 3 application would be denied because the county is not meeting their goals. In fact, cases have risen slightly for the first time in weeks. He says they need more time to figure out if this is an anomaly or a new trend.

1:17pm – “The risk hasn’t gone away,” said Dr. Jeff Duchin, health officer with Public Health — Seattle & King County. “COVID-19 is still out there, and it will come roaring back if we give it the opportunity.”

In a virtual media conference Friday, Duchin emphasized the importance of taking continued precautions against COVID-19 as King County and Washington state are seeing a rise in reported cases. For now, the health care system remains well-resourced and able to take care of people, COVID patients or otherwise, but there is concern that rising cases could overwhelm the system.

Duchin added that testing rates have doubled since June 7, during the time we’ve seen an increase in cases. The good news, however, is that the percent of positive results remains fairly low. No specific event or venue has been shown to be a risk factor.

While businesses and the county are reopening, Duchin said this does not mean that the risk of transmission is lower. Everyone needs to do their part to slow the spread.

“Unless we can successfully manage the risk of COVID-19, it will be very difficult to continue to reopen and move forward,” he said.

Physical distancing and staying home remain the most powerful methods to prevent the spread of COVID-19, as well as wearing face masks in public and following good hand hygiene practices. Duchin and other health officials expect that COVID-19 will be with us for a long time, for months, maybe years. Face masks do need to become the norm, Duchin said, for now, until we have immunity or a vaccine.

He recognized that while staying home and avoiding contact with others are the best ways to stop the spread, we can’t do that forever, so wearing a face mask is easy, practical, and has a great benefit.

“Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should,” he added.

11:05am – Amid a surge in coronavirus cases, the White House coronavirus task force, led by Vice President Pence, held its first briefing in nearly two months, signaling a recognition that the administration can’t ignore the alarming increases.

Pence gave assurances that the U.S. is “in a much better place” than it was two months ago. He said the country has more medical supplies on hand now, a smaller share of patients are being hospitalized, and deaths are much lower than they were in the spring. Read more.

8:34am – Lynnwood is offering free masks/face coverings for the city’s residents at a drive-thru pickup station at the Lynnwood Recreation Center between 1 and 3 p.m. Friday. You must bring proof of a Lynnwood address in order to get a free mask.

5:21am – A motion filed this week in the lawsuit against the Employment Security Department could soon see the ESD forced to pay unemployment benefits to the tens of thousands of workers waiting on them. Read more

Thursday, June 25:

4:44pm – There are now 30,367 confirmed coronavirus cases and 1,300 deaths in Washington state. The Department of Health reports a total of 505,795 tests, 6.0% of which have been a positive result.

3:16pm – Gov. Inslee spent most of the day Thursday meeting with local leaders in Spokane County to discuss the local response to COVID-19. He said the good news in Spokane is that there is “both the will and the way to start reopening businesses, and that is to start wearing masks.”

Someone shared the following goal or motto for Spokane with Inslee: “100% masks means 100% businesses getting opened.”

Wearing cloth face coverings and masks is achievable, the governor said, pointing to Yakima County as an example. In Yakima, mask wearing has nearly doubled in just over a week.

This is happening, Inslee said, because people are learning what a mask can do. The science is now clear that masks can reduce the rate of transmission for COVID-19, if they’re worn.

“A cloth mask is mostly about showing you care about somebody else, that you want to prevent yourself from infecting another person,” he said.

1:02pm – Dr. Fauci recently testified in Congress and noted a disturbing surge of coronavirus cases, which may be evidence that we haven’t yet escaped the first wave. Columbia University virologist Dr. Angela Rasmussen joined Gee and Ursula to discuss. Read more

10:25am – UW modelers have released data showing what Washington might be able to expect from the COVID-19 outbreak with and without masks. Read more

8:14amLast week saw 1.48 million people apply for unemployment benefits in the U.S., the 12th straight week to record a decline in total applications. An additional 700,000 people also applied for benefits under a newly-formed program for gig workers, which made them eligible for aid for the first time. These numbers were not included in the official count.

5:17am – Seattle Parks and Recreation is cutting staff, maintenance, and some projects — all, a reaction to economic fallout from the pandemic.

Parks and Rec says, right now, no one is getting laid-off or furloughed, but the agency is keeping about 10% of jobs vacant.

Several long-term, capital projects will be paused. Those include athletic field conversions in Soundview, Ballard, and Queen Anne.

Wednesday, June 24:

5:41pm – State officials launched a program earlier in June to ensure access to free, reusable cloth face coverings for all low-income Washingtonians. The state’s Emergency Management Division and the state Department of Enterprise Services has purchased 3.6 million cloth face masks, with a goal to distribute two masks to every resident below 200% of the federal poverty level.

Local emergency management offices help to get the masks to community organizations and service providers, who give the masks to individuals. If you’re interested in picking up a mask, contact your county’s local emergency managers.

Gov. Inslee and Secretary of Health John Wiesman announced a statewide order requiring the use of masks or face coverings in all public spaces to take effect Friday.

4:35pm – There is a confirmed total of 29,869 coronavirus cases with 1,293 deaths in Washington state, according to the Department of Health. Out of a total of 495,498 tests, 6.0% have been positive.

4:23pm – Gov. Inslee issued a proclamation Wednesday to allow higher education institutions to put necessary protocols in place to allow safe in-person instruction. Each school will develop and implement protocols specific to their institutions and in partnership with local health districts. Read more.

2:32pm – What is law enforcement’s role in Gov. Inslee’s mask mandate?

“We just want to inform, educate, and encourage people to wear the masks when they’re in public spaces,” Thurston County Sheriff John Snaza told KIRO Radio’s Gee and Ursula Show the morning after Inslee announced the mandate. Read more.

12:20pm – The King County Council passed legislation Tuesday to protect tenants who are unable to pay rent due to financial impacts caused by the COVID-19 outbreak.

Modeled on similar legislation passed in Seattle, the ordinance provides residential tenants with a defense if an unlawful eviction action is based on the tenant’s failure to pay rent, if the nonpayment due to circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic. The defense is available if the eviction was initiated because of unpaid rent due before or by March 1, 2021.

10:50am – Thurston County received approval Wednesday to enter into Phase 3 of Gov. Jay Inslee’s Safe Start reopening plan. Seventeen total counties are now in Phase 3, another 17 are in Phase 2, and just three remain in Phase 1. Two more counties, Chelan and Douglas, are in modified Phase 1.

10:14am – Both the Seattle Aquarium and Woodland Park Zoo will be reopening Monday, June 29.

Everyone over the age of 2 will be required to wear a mask, and guests must follow a one-way route through the aquarium. Physical distance markers will help keep groups separated and the cafe will be closed. The aquarium will open with a limited capacity and tickets for specific times must be reserved in advance.

7:26am – A poke to the brain. That’s how a lot of people describe the COVID-19 test, as someone jams a long Q-tip up your nose to get the proper sample. KIRO Radio’s Chris Sullivan went to a walk-in clinic in Shoreline to find out for himself. Read more

5:12am – In a bipartisan effort, Democratic Rep. Pramila Jayapal and Republican Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler issued a letter to President Trump Tuesday, calling on him to invoke the Defense Production Act “to jump-start domestic production of personal protective equipment (PPE).”

“Current trends indicate that a second wave of COVID-19 is possible in the coming months,” the letter — signed by 14 Republican and Democratic members of Congress — reads. “We must ensure that we are rapidly scaling up domestic production of PPE to both meet current needs and prepare for a possible resurgence of cases.”

Tuesday, June 23:

4:15pm – The state Department of Health reports 8 new deaths and 516 new cases statewide Tuesday for a total of 29,386 confirmed cases and 1,284 deaths. The state says 487,059 tests have been conducted, with a rate of 6.0% positive.

3:57pm – Gov. Inslee announced that face coverings will be mandatory statewide, issuing an order that takes effect Friday, June 26. Read more.

1:28pm – The King County Library System (KCLS) is adding book returns and curbside to-go service to select libraries. Visit the KCLS reopening page here for more information on the multi-phase plan. Readers will not yet be welcomed back inside the library buildings.

11:49am – The government’s top infectious disease expert said Tuesday he is cautiously optimistic that there will be a COVID-19 vaccine by the end of the year or early 2021, and warned that the next few weeks will be critical to tamping down coronavirus hot spots around the country. Read more. 

9:54am – The boom is returning to Boom City in Tulalip despite concerns over COVID-19, with fireworks stands opening for business on Friday. Read more. 

6:52am – Puyallup’s Washington State Fair is still scheduled to take place this year, but will come with an entirely new format to account for the ongoing pandemic.

2020’s iteration of the fair will feature a six-act drive-in country concert series. Vehicles will be spaced 10 feet apart, restrooms and food vendors will have markings to encourage social distancing, and fair employees will be adhering to cleaning and sanitizing protocols.

The fair will take place between July 16 and July 19, with tickets going on sale on June 30.

5:48am – With King County now in Phase 2 of reopening, local health officials are warning residents to continue to be cautious, especially with a recent uptick in new COVID-19 cases.

“We should all be concerned with increasing cases of COVID-19 in our community,” said Seattle-King County Public Health’s Dr. Jeff Duchin. “The disease is waiting for us to let our guard down, and it will come roaring back when we do.”

Dr. Duchin urges people to maintain six feet of distance away from people, to continue wearing cloth face coverings in public, to wash and sanitize hands frequently, and to stay home if you’re not feeling well.

Monday, June 22

4:38pm – Health officials say 28,870 people have tested positive for coronavirus in Washington state and 1,276 people died from the virus. That’s 190 new cases and six new deaths since Sunday. The state says 477,204 tests have been conducted, with a rate of 6.0% positive.

3:05pm – There is another treatment for coronavirus, and it’s an easy to obtain steroid. Mercer Island Dr. Gordon Cohen joined Seattle’s Morning News to discuss. Read more.

2:11pm – UW Medicine has two mobile vans offering COVID-19 tests in communities where data shows disproportionately high rates of COVID-19. No appointment is needed and the testing is free. People will first be screened for symptoms, then will receive a nasal swab test if eligible.

The vans will be at Rainier Beach High School on Wednesdays and Saturdays, 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.; South Seattle College on Fridays from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.; Auburn City Adventist Church on Tuesdays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.; and the Kent Public Health Center Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

12:20pm – Seattle’s Parks Department will be opening some outdoor beaches on July 1, but has not decided which beaches yet.

Lifeguards will be on duty seven days a week at the beaches through Labor Day weekend. No pools will be open.

10:12am – COVID-19 cases continue to climb in Yakima County, described by Gov. Jay Inslee as the “epicenter” of Washington state’s outbreak. Read more.

6:57am – King County Metro will be restoring service on dozens of bus and water taxi routes Monday, after having scaled back during shutdowns brought on by the COVID-19 crisis. You can see all the service updates taking effect here.

6:47am – Seattle’s Fremont Brewing has reopened after shutting down last week, when an employee tested positive for COVID-19.

All other employees have tested negative since.

5:24am – Seattle-King County Public Health’s Dr. Jeff Duchin emphasized the importance of wearing masks in public Sunday, calling it a “critical tool in curbing the spread of coronavirus.”

This backs up several prominent studies cited in recent days, which have found that cloth face coverings do reduce the transmission of the virus.

Follow updates from last week here

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