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COVID-19 updates: 651 new cases, 5 new deaths

Nuns wearing protective masks take shelter from the sun as they attend the Angelus prayer celebrated by Pope Francis from his studio window overlooking St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Sunday, July 5, 2020. (AP Photo/Riccardo De Luca)

Health officials say there were 651 new cases of coronavirus from Saturday to Sunday in Washington state.

Confirmed coronavirus cases across Washington state

Follow live updates today below.

Sunday, July 5:

6:08pm – Health officials say there are 651 new cases of coronavirus in Washington state since Saturday and five new deaths due to the virus. Over 612K tests have been conducted across the state, with a rate of positive tests at 5.9%.

12:01pm – One of the keys to keeping the coronavirus under control is contact tracing, which helps sort out the source of outbreaks and potentially contain them. Kim Steele-Peter, public health branch director for Pierce County, explains what it’s like to make that call and what contact tracers tell people. Read more. 

9:06am – The Food and Drug Administration commissioner is declining to back up President Donald Trump’s claim that 99% of coronavirus cases are “harmless.” Dr. Stephen Hahn tells CNN and ABC that he’s “not going to get into who is right and who is wrong,” but that government data clearly show “this is a serious problem.” Read more from the AP.

Saturday, July 4:

4:45pm – Health officials say there are 469 new cases of coronavirus and two new deaths. The rate of positive testes are 5.8% which has been the same for about two weeks. Over 605K tests have been conducted in Washington state.

11:42am – Nursing home residents are among the Americans getting $1,200 checks as part of the U.S. government’s plan to revive the economy. But with many long-term care facilities under lockdown to prevent COVID-19 outbreaks, what are the rules around how the money is handled? Read more from AP.

8:29am – Employees at Flower World are now wearing masks, despite the owner’s belief that they cause risk to his workers’ health, according to the Everett Herald.  John Postema told the Herald he plans to challenge the statewide mask mandate. Employees were told in early June that they ween’t allowed to wear a mask to work.

Friday, July 3:

4:13pm – Health officials say there are 627 new cases of coronavirus in Washington state, bringing the total to 34,778. There are 1,352 deaths due to the virus.  The rate of positive tests is 5.8% with nearly 600,000 people tested so far.

3:57pm – Fireworks  sales have been booming, according to the Associated Press.

“The general public is buying more than ever before,” said Steve Houser, president of the National Fireworks Association.

While it’s not clear exactly what is driving people to shops, some sellers think fireworks are a diversion for people who have been stuck at home during the pandemic. Read more on AP.

11:08am – The U.S. headed into the Fourth of July weekend with many parades and fireworks displays canceled, beaches and bars closed, and health authorities warning that this will be a crucial test of Americans’ self-control that could determine the trajectory of the surging coronavirus outbreak. Read more. 

8:29am – The latest update from Bellevue’s Institute for Disease Modeling warns that there could be dire consequences in Washington if the state’s current trend of rising cases continues.

“Continuing along this trajectory will lead to catastrophic outcomes for health and economic wellbeing in Washington,” the IDM cautioned, emphasizing the need for wearing masks in public, adhering to social distancing, testing upon exposure to the virus, and more. Read more

6:12am – Amazon will be postponing Prime Day thanks to concerns over the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.

Typically held in July, the date now being targeted is Oct. 5. The holiday features a collection of discounted items on the popular online retailer’s website.

Thursday, July 2:

4:30pm – The Washington State Department of Health is reporting 716 new cases Thursday statewide, topping yesterday’s high total of more than 600 new cases. There are now 34,151 confirmed coronavirus cases, with 1,342 deaths in Washington. Out of a total of 584,989 tests, 5.8% have been positive results.

3:47pm – Secretary of Health John Wiesman said the state is pausing all movement into the next phase for at least two weeks. This means if your county is in Phase 2 — King, Kitsap, Pierce, Skagit, and Snohomish, for example — it’ll remain in Phase 2 until at least mid-July. Read more.

3:25pm – Gov. Inslee said on Thursday he will sign a statewide mandate by Tuesday that prohibits businesses from serving customers without masks. Read more.

2:24pm – With a “troubling” rise of cases in King County and across Washington state in recent weeks, public health officials are ringing the alarm for everyone to step up precautions heading into the holiday weekend. King County Executive Dow Constantine said residents of King County have responded to the challenge, and he is now calling on them to do so again.

The state’s phases are not about a return to normal, he added, but about expanding economic activities in a measured way while battling an ongoing pandemic. In order to continue to move forward and reopen, Constantine said interactions should be limited and everyone should keep taking precautions, understanding that “the danger has not passed.”

“We need to step up our COVID prevention game big time, in every aspect of our lives, in order to avoid going backward,” said Dr. Jeff Duchin, King County public health officer.

Duchin also emphasized the importance of limiting close contacts, avoiding groups, keeping up hand hygiene, following physical distancing rules, and wearing masks. If you feel you must go out, he advised weighing the risk to your health, the health of your loved ones, and the health of your community, and know how to protect yourself.

“COVID-19 would love to meet your friends and family this Fourth of July weekend,” Duchin said. “Don’t let it happen.”

10:56am – New unemployment claims ticked up last week in Washington state (June 21-27). The state reports there were 31,911 initial claims. Weekly claims have been hovering around 30,000 since the last week of May. Pre-pandemic, initial claims per week in Washington were around 6,000. The high was 181,975 initial claims the week of March 22-28. Check out the dashboard here.

“New unemployment claims, while down significantly from the peak of the crisis, remain at record-high levels,” ESD Commissioner Suzi LeVine said in a news release. “This is the second week in a row we’ve seen a slight increase in initial claims, indicating furloughs or layoffs in some sectors like accommodation & food services and retail.”

9:01am – Pierce County Transit has now handed out over 8,000 masks to riders, in a bid to ensure a statewide mandate on wearing facial coverings is adhered to on buses.

6:07am – U.S. employers added 4.8 million jobs in June, the Associated Press reports. The unemployment rate fell to 11.1% in that period, the second straight month of improvements for the job market.

That marks roughly a third of the 22 million jobs lost since the start of the pandemic. Last week, 1.47 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits, a number that’s been gradually decreasing since topping out in late March.

5:50am – It was revealed Wednesday that luxury giant Nordstrom could be laying off as much as a quarter of its staff nationally. That could potentially total as many as 17,000 jobs, including some at its headquarters in Seattle.

That comes amid reported losses brought on by the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.

Wednesday, July 1:

4:57pm – The state Department of Health is reporting a total of 33,435 confirmed coronavirus cases, with 1,339 deaths. This marks a increase of more than 600 cases since Tuesday’s report. Out of a total of 571,964 tests statewide, 5.8% have been positive.

4:46pm – Snohomish County’s Executive Dave Somers told the Everett Herald there is no plan to revert to Phase 1 in Gov. Inslee’s Safe Start reopening plan. He had said earlier in the week that cases are climbing and the county may need to step back. On Wednesday, Somers said that would only happen if conditions get worse in the future. He added that some trends are on the right track, including death rates and hospital capacity.

3:43pm – The City of Kirkland will close the west end of Park Lane to vehicles between Lake Street and Main Street from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m., seven days a week, in an effort to support downtown businesses impacted by the pandemic. The closures will start Thursday, July 2, and last through Labor Day.

“With the weather getting better and our county slowly reopening, we’ve seen our community members coming out in larger numbers to support our downtown shops and restaurants,” said Mayor Penny Sweet. “By opening ‘Evenings on Park Lane’ to pedestrians, we’re giving our community members space to stay six feet apart to continue to slow the spread of COVID-19.”

12:35pm – Alaska Airlines flight attendants will issue a final notice to any passenger who repeatedly refuses to wear a mask or face covering onboard. The passenger will receive a warning and their travel will be reviewed, with the possibility of suspension.

For passengers who forget a mask, Alaska will have some available upon request.

11:39am – The City of Bellevue and the Bellevue Chamber is providing 40,000 free masks to residents this week. The masks are part of the 25 million face coverings purchased by King County to encourage the use of personal protective equipment in public spaces.

10:53am – Both Bite of Seattle and Taste of Tacoma announced Wednesday that they would be canceling their respective events for the first time in more than 30 years.

The popular food truck celebrations often bring in tens of thousands of people every summer at Seattle Center and Tacoma’s Point Defiance Park.

8:45am – The Washington State Department of Health is urging residents to scale back summer travel plans “to help slow the spread of COVID-19.”

“We still want people to limit their travel,” State Health Officer Dr. Kathy Lofy said in a news release. “We have places in Washington with a lot of COVID-19 activity. If there’s a lot of cross-state travel this summer, that could spread disease around the state.”

6:34am – The American Association of Pediatrics has said that kids will need to be back in school in the fall, and all policy considerations for the coming school year should start with a goal of having kids physically present in classrooms. Read more

Tuesday, June 30:

5:49pm – Gov. Inslee held a brief media availability Tuesday after meeting with business, health, and local leaders in the Tri-Cities in Eastern Washington. The video of his availability was posted in the evening after earlier technical difficulties.

The governor said his meetings that morning had been encouraging and inspiring.

“It was encouraging because people recognized that when we can mask up, we can open up,” he said. “… We have leadership in this community who understand that, who understand that masks not only save lives, but they prove that we care about other people.”

5:34pm – Due to an increase of COVID-19 cases in Yakima and surrounding areas, patients in need of critical care are now being transferred to hospitals in western Washington. The Regional COVID-19 Coordination Center, operated by Harborview, determines where patients can go to get the care they need, and how to do so without overburdening a hospital system.

The center has transferred an average of one patient each day.

4:15pm – The state Department of Health is reporting 571 new cases Tuesday. There are now 32,824 total confirmed coronavirus cases and 1,332 deaths statewide. A total of 557,275 people have been tested in Washington state, with 5.9% positive results.

1:59pm – Bumbershoot and Pianos in the Parks join the growing list of 2020 event cancellations due to COVID-19 concerns. Seattle Center determined the need to cancel major events through Labor Day as the City of Seattle Special Events Committee voted to not issue event permits through at least Sept. 7.

Both Bumbershoot and Pianos in the Parks will be postponed to 2021, when the arts and music festival will celebrate its 50th anniversary.

11:26am – Dr. Anthony Fauci said coronavirus cases could grow to 100,000 a day in the United States if Americans don’t start following public health recommendations. The nation’s leading infectious disease expert made the remark at a Senate hearing on reopening schools and workplaces. Read more from AP. 

8:54am – Western Washington’s recent uptick in COVID-19 cases is starting to worry state health officials.

“King County friends, this is getting serious,” Seattle-King County Public Health’s Dr. Jeff Duchin said Monday. “Cases rising, holiday coming & the risk higher than it’s been in months.”

5:18am – The hit to Washington’s economy from the COVID-19 crisis is likely going to hurt businesses in a handful of unexpected ways. That includes a dip in cross-border shopping trips by Canadians.

A new report out of Western Washington University estimates Canadians spent $140 million in Whatcom County alone in 2018, 11.5% of the county’s taxable retail sales. With border crossings now limited due to the ongoing pandemic, local businesses will likely take a sizable hit.

Monday, June 29:

5:41pm – The state’s Joint Information Center said face mask exemption cards are not real.

The Department of Justice has also been made aware of postings or flyers circulating on the internet with their seal, regarding the Americans with Disabilities Act and the use of face masks during the pandemic. These postings were not issued by the department and are not endorsed by the department. Read more.

3:50pm – The Washington State Department of Health is reporting a total of 32,253 confirmed cases statewide with 1,320 deaths. There has been a total 548,220 tests, with 5.9% positive results.

3:34pm – Pierce County has allocated nearly $80 million in CARES Act funding so far, almost half of which has been directed to public health initiatives, including diagnostic testing, investigations surge staffing, and isolation and quarantine centers.

“We are closely monitoring case data, and we have more work ahead of us before applying for Phase 3,” said County Executive Bruce Dammeier. “Ramping up testing and contact notification are critical to effectively dealing with the spread of the virus.”

2:26pm – The University of Washington reports only 21% of people who tested positive for COVID-19 went into isolation on the day they developed symptoms. People, on average, reported going three days from the time they develop symptoms until they get tested. Read more from AP.

12:06pm – Snohomish County Executive Dave Somers announced Monday that plans to move into Phase 3 of reopening will be on hold at least for the time being, after a recent uptick in new COVID-19 cases.

“We were very hopeful that we would be able to move to Phase 3 quickly, but we really need more time to see if this trend is an anomaly or a longer term trend,” he stated.

9:43amThe latest update from the Washington Department of Health shows an increase in COVID-19 transmission across the state — including in the Puget Sound region — as of mid-June. Read more.

5:15am – Seattle-King County Public Health detailed its contact tracing efforts Sunday, describing the process the county’s 22 investigators go through when they reach out to confirmed cases. You can read full details here.

Read last week’s updates here

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