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COVID-19 updates: 58,173 cases, 1,596 deaths in Washington state

A sign at Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle reminds guests to keep their distance. [MyNorthwest photo]

Over a million coronavirus tests have been conducted in Washington state. Of those, nearly 60,000 have tested positive. Check below for more updates.

Confirmed coronavirus cases across Washington state

Follow live updates today below.

Sunday, Aug. 2

8:23pm – Health officials say there are 58,173 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Washington state, out of the 1,008,280 tests conducted. That’s a positivity rate of 5.8%. That number has increased from 5.7%. The state reports 1,596 deaths due to the virus since the outbreak. There have been 5,692 hospitalizations.

5:32pm – A group of Pac-12 football players on Sunday threatened to opt out of the coming season unless its concerns about competing during the COVID-19 pandemic and other racial and economic issues in college sports are addressed. Read more from the AP.

12:20pm – Who gets to be first in line for a COVID-19 vaccine? U.S. health authorities hope by late next month to have some draft guidance on how to ration initial doses, but it’s a vexing decision.

“Not everybody’s going to like the answer,” Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, recently told one of the advisory groups the government asked to help decide. “There will be many people who feel that they should have been at the top of the list.” Read more from the AP.

9:22am – Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan vetoed the city council’s $86 million COVID Relief bill that would have used the city’s emergency funds to help families and small businesses. “The Mayor’s veto will flatline Seattle’s recovery,” Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda (Position 8, Citywide) said in a news release on Saturday. Read more.

8:09am – Administrator Seema Verma is head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and a member of the president’s coronavirus task force. She joined the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH to discuss the latest uptick and how things look in Washington state. Read more.

7:13am – Sturgis is on. The message has been broadcast across social media as South Dakota, which has seen an uptick in coronavirus infections in recent weeks, braces to host hundreds of thousands of bikers for the 80th edition of the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally the week of Aug. 7. Read more from AP.

Saturday, Aug. 1

8:52pm – Health officials say there are 57,541 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Washington state, out of the 1,001,528  tests conducted. The state is reporting 1,592 deaths and 5,655 hospitalizations.

The DOH hadn’t updated its dashboard with Thursday afternoon, due to an outage with its reporting system on Friday.

1:56pm – Bob Martin, a barber in Snohomish, owes $90,000 in fines for reopening his shop in May, according to the Everett Herald. The Department of Licensing suspended Martin’s cosmetologist operator license in early May and served him with a cease-and-desist order after complaints flooded in, the Herald reports.

Martin was fined $5,000 every day he operated. The tally stopped on June 2 when his license was suspended and the $90K bill showed up last week. Martin has 20 days to appeal, according to the Herald.

8:43am –  With political pressure rising, talks on a huge coronavirus relief measure resumed on Saturday, focused on restoring a newly expired $600-per-week supplemental unemployment benefit, a fresh $1,200 direct payment to most Americans, and hundreds of billions of dollars in other aid to states, businesses and the poor.

The $600 per week jobless benefit officially lapsed on Friday and Democrats have made it clear that they will not extend it without securing other relief priorities. Whatever unemployment aid negotiators agree on will be made retroactive — but antiquated state unemployment systems are likely to take weeks to restore the benefits. Read more from AP.

7:58am – According to disaster psychology, we’re now entering the “disillusionment phase” of the COVID-19 disaster — and that means mental health struggles are likely only going to get worse for a while. Read more.

Friday, July 31

5:43pm – We have been talking a lot these days about what it will take to get kids back to school, but getting them back for in-person learning means getting school buildings pandemic ready. Joseph Allen is director of the Healthy Buildings Program at Harvard University’s School of Public Health, and he argues that schools can, and furthermore, should reopen. He joined Seattle’s Morning News to discuss why. Read more. 

4:52pm – DOH reports cases of coronavirus are trending up in many counties. Pierce County recently hit a new peak. Okanogan County has the most cases per capita in the state. King County is flat near its historical peak.

DOH also says test positivity is slowly decreasing in Eastern Washington (14.6%), but still remains three times as high as in Western Washington (4.2%). Health officials are concerned about the recent concentration of new cases in young adults. They say it reflects a similar trend in Florida where a high concentration of cases in this age group spreads broadly into other age groups.

2:54pm – The Washington Department of Health experienced an outage with its reporting system on Friday, which means that updated COVID data released later on in the day Friday will likely be incomplete.

1:01pm – Gov. Jay Inslee commented Thursday on balancing protests calling for police reform with risks associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. Read more

10:56am – Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan announced that there will soon be another free COVID-19 testing site located at Rainier Beach High School. This site will be a walk-up site that’s ADA compliant, and is expected to be able to test 800 people per day. It will open Friday, Aug. 7. City officials are also finalizing the logistics for a fourth testing site in Southwest Seattle to be announced soon.

There are two drive-up citywide testing sites already operating, which together have been testing an average of 2,000 people per day. Durkan said the two drive-up sites have conducted 15% of the total tests statewide since beginning of June.

It’s recommended (though not required) that people register in advance online to help keep the line moving and reduce the wait time. No patient will be charged and no one will receive a bill for the COVID-19 tests at these sites.

7:24am – The City of Kirkland had to take action at its waterfront parks this week to stop crowds from gathering — and is warning that more restrictive measures could be in store if people don’t adhere to the rules. Read more.

6:15am – The Everett, Edmonds, and Mukilteo School Districts are among the latest to announce an online-only start this fall. Thurston County’s public health officer spoke out Thursday to recommend that learning resumes remotely in that county.

Gov. Inslee also said in his press conference Thursday that he’ll have more to say about schools in a few days, adding that more disease information is needed before his staff would make a decision to close schools statewide in the fall.

Check on what districts in Western Washington have decided here.

Thursday, July 30

5:03pm – Washington state is now up to 55,803 total COVID-19 cases, an increase of 818 over yesterday. The state also has 1,564 deaths, a single-day increase of nine. Out of over 973,000 total tests, 5.7% have been positive.

4:04pm – A new app called NOVID aims to tell you how close COVID is to you — not geographically, but socially — using the idea of the “six degrees of separation.”

Developed by a math professor and U.S. Math Olympiad team coach Po-Shen Loh, the free app lets users see the disease get progressively closer to their social group. Read more

2:49pm – Wearing a green mask on Thursday, Gov. Inslee said it’s important for Washingtonians, even young adults and teens, to wear a mask in informal settings such as backyard barbecues.

He mentioned one challenge of contact tracing is that people aren’t necessarily answering the phone.

Inslee said he’ll have more to say on schools in the next few days.

The governor said he’s confident that the state will knock cases back down again.

Better days are ahead,” Inslee said. “We’re in a bit of a lifeboat right now, but we’re all going to get to that shore.”

The governor also announced that Washington’s Employment Security Department will likely finish clearing the remainder of its backlog of unemployment claims filed between March and June. Inslee expects that to wrap up by the end of the day Friday.

1:41pm – Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson has vowed to take President Trump to court should he delay the November presidential election. Trump cited concerns Thursday over an increase in mail-in ballots in 2020 as many states look to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 on Election Day. Read more

12:23pm – Gov. Jay Inslee will be delivering a press conference Thursday at 2:30 p.m. with an update on the state’s respond to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. You can watch the presser live on TVW here.

10:01am – Gov. Inslee extended a proclamation Wednesday protecting those at high-risk for coronavirus — those over 65-years-old or with certain health conditions — who don’t feel safe returning to work. It has been extended for as long as the pandemic emergency measures remain in place.

These employees must be considered for telework or an alternate work site. If no solution is reached, the employee cannot be fired for refusing to report.

7:53am – Next week, the King County Library System will offer Curbside to Go service at 22 additional library locations. KCLS first launched the curbside program on July 1 at 19 locations in the region. As of Aug. 5, contactless pickup service will be available at 41 of 49 KCLS libraries. The full list of participating libraries is available online here, or by calling 800-462-9600.

6:22am – A number of rollbacks and tightened restrictions take effect statewide Thursday, including new rules that impact fitness clubs, movie theaters, bars, and restaurants. One of the restrictions is that bars, taverns, and restaurants must stop serving alcohol at 10 p.m. Read more.

Wednesday, July 29

10:15pm – Health officials report 54,985 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Washington state, out of 958,307 tests conducted. That’s a rate of 5.7% positive tests. The state reports 1,555 deaths and 5,476 hospitalizations since the outbreak was reported in Washington.

4:57pm – After four months, how has the coronavirus impacted your life? The Gee and Ursula Show on KIRO Radio took calls from listeners to see what they’ve been going through the last four months, with work, kids, finances, family, and everything else. Read more

3:02pm – Through a partnership with King County and UW Medicine, the City of Seattle is offering free COVID-19 testing across all age groups at a pair of sites.

Participants can drive through or walk up for testing, provided they register online prior to appearing at this link.

1:17pm – The Health Officer for the Snohomish Health District recommended to superintendents and private school administrators in the county to plan for distance learning to start the school year.

Dr. Spitters said that the case rates are close to the rate that Snohomish County experienced in March when schools first closed.

“Taking all of this into consideration, I have concluded that reopening schools for in-person classes at this time poses a substantial risk to the school and the surrounding community–especially its medically vulnerable members,” Spitters said. “We know that fall is quickly approaching, and plans need to be finalized on how schools will start the academic year. By making this recommendation now, I hope that provides our schools and their staff and families with as much time as possible to prepare for online learning.”

11:41am – U.S. officials say Russian intelligence officers are spreading disinformation about the coronavirus pandemic through English-language websites, trying to exploit a crisis that America is struggling to contain before the presidential election in November.

Two Russians who have held senior roles in Moscow’s military intelligence service known as the GRU have been identified as responsible for a disinformation effort meant to reach American and Western audiences, according to U.S. government officials. They were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity Tuesday. Read more from AP.

10:07am – Thousands of runners preparing for September’s Bloomsday race will now compete virtually. Instead of running through the streets of Spokane, participants can walk, run, or wheelchair through any 12k course of their choosing. All participants must post their finish time on the Bloomsday website, then Bloomsday will mail the official 2020 finisher shirt. Registration is still open.

7:40am – The Washington State Department of Health launched the Community Recovery-Oriented Needs Assessment, or CORONA survey. This survey is an effort to assess the behavioral, economic, social, and emotional impacts and the needs of communities statewide as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. Results will inform immediate, long-term, and ongoing actions the state and local health departments can take to address the impact of COVID-19 on Washingtonians.

The survey is voluntary and confidential, but participants will be given the option to provide their name, phone number, and email address at the end of the survey. Three participants will be chosen each week to receive a $100 Amazon gift code as a thank you.

Residents can take the survey online here or by phone at 855-530-5787. Interpreters are available.

5:58am – Kirkland has closed the piers at two popular city parks: Houghton Beach Park and David Brink Park. Spokesperson Kellie Stickney told KIRO Radio that the city has tried a variety of methods to educate park visitors, but groups of young people have continued to gather in large numbers at both piers. There have been complaints that visitors aren’t practicing social distancing or wearing face masks.

If closing the parks doesn’t discourage the behavior, Kirkland may be forced to close the parks altogether.

Tuesday, July 28

6:17pm-  Health officials say there are 54,205 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Washington state, of the 945,234 tests conducted. That’s a rate of 5.7% positive tests, a number that hasn’t fluctuated in a few weeks. The state reports 1,548 deaths and 5,474 hospitalizations since the start of the outbreak in Washington.

5:44pm – Gov. Inslee on Tuesday extended the pause, indefinitely, on counties moving forward to the next phases. Read more.

4:40pm – Gov. Inslee says masks are working in Yakima County. He tweeted a graph of the case rates in the county, which has dipped down to 407 cases per 100,000 people. The county has had 1,043 confirmed cases in the past two weeks. Inslee says 95% of Yakima County residents are wearing masks, up from 65% since the mask mandate took effect.

12:50pm – One of the nation’s largest teachers unions is authorizing its members to strike if their schools plan to reopen without proper safety measures in the middle of the global pandemic.

The American Federation of Teachers, which represents 1.7 million school employees, issued a resolution on Tuesday saying it will support any local chapter that decides to strike over reopening plans. Read more from AP.

10:03am – King, Pierce, and Snohomish Counties, the cities of Everett, Kenmore, Redmond, Seattle, Shoreline, and Tacoma, the Port of Seattle, and the Port of Everett are taking a united approach to slow the spread of COVID-19 by extending teleworking for eligible employees until 2021.

9:34am – All Pierce County school districts have now communicated their intent to move to full-time remote learning this fall. The county’s director of health said last week that he felt it was unsafe to reopen schools for in-person learning as COVID-19 cases increase across the state.

Keep up with Western Washington school district plans for reopening here.

7:09am – Face shields designed by Amazon’s Prime Air drone engineers are available online for $66. The company donated 30,000 more face shields than originally anticipated, and has pledged to donate another 150,000 by the end of the year. Amazon announced earlier this month that it has donated $10 million in PPE equipment.

Monday, July 27

6:14pm – The biggest test yet of an experimental COVID-19 vaccine got underway Monday with the first of some 30,000 Americans rolling up their sleeves to receive shots created by the U.S. government as part of the all-out global race to stop the pandemic.

Final-stage testing of the vaccine, developed by the National Institutes of Health and Moderna Inc., began with volunteers at numerous sites around the U.S. given either a real dose or a dummy without being told which.

Another company, Pfizer Inc., announced late Monday that it had started its own study of its vaccine candidate in the U.S. and elsewhere. That study also aimed to recruit 30,000 people. Read more from AP.

4:32pm – Health officials say there have been 53,321 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Washington state, of the 933,304 tests conducted. That’s a rate of 5.7% tests that are positive — a number that has stayed relatively steady all month. The DOH is reporting 1,518 deaths due to the virus.

2:38pm – A new type of scam calls centered around COVID-19 — which have warranted investigation by the FBI — are showing up in Pacific County. Pacific County Emergency Management Director Scott McDougall says the county has received several reports of calls from fake contact tracers asking for money. Read more.

11:14am – On what is likely to be the hottest day of the year so far in the Seattle area, several swimming beaches remain closed due to COVID-19 safety concerns. Madrona Park Beach, Magnuson Park Beach, Seward Park Beach, and East Green Lake Beach are all closed until further notice.

10:49am – Target, Walmart, and Dick’s Sporting Goods are among the big retailers that announced they will be closed this Thanksgiving.

“There’s no question, the holiday season is going to be very different this year,” Target said in a blog post Monday.

8:32am – The Washington Education Association, the largest representative of public school employees in the state, said last week that they cannot responsibly support a return to school buildings for in-person learning this fall. The group is calling on Gov. Inslee to “continue leading with science and safety and declare that schools will open remotely this fall.”

“The reality is that, with very few exceptions, we are nowhere close to containing the spread of this virus and nowhere close to being able to guarantee the health and safety of our students, educators, families, and communities,” reads the WEA’s blog post.

6:55am – Google employees will work from home until at least July 2021. Its the first major U.S. corporation to formally extend its pandemic timetable, according to The Wall Street Journal. The move will affect nearly all of the 200,000 full-time and contract employees across Google parent Alphabet Inc.

5:19am – King County will be hosting its second drive-through event to provide face coverings to county residents on Tuesday, July 28, 1-5 p.m. The event will be at the Shoreline District Court Facility, and you must be a King County resident to be eligible to receive masks.

Enter on Meridian Avenue North, tell the staff member how many people are in your family, and they’ll distribute two cloth reusable masks per family member, up to six family members. The maximum number of masks a vehicle can receive is 12.

Read last week’s updates here.

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