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COVID-19 updates: 63,072 cases, 1,688 total deaths in Washington

Workers exit a large tent set up in front of the emergency room at EvergreenHealth Medical Center. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

The state DOH says there are over 63,000 cases of coronavirus in Washington state and 1,688 people have died from the virus. The state did not have an update on the number of tests conducted, as of Friday, but the previous day indicates it’s over a million. Check below for more updates.

Confirmed coronavirus cases across Washington state

Follow live updates today below.

Sunday, Aug. 9

5:06pm – Washington now has 63,072 total COVID-19 cases. According to the latest update from the Department of Health, there have been no new reported deaths, with that number staying at 1,688.

12:24pm – Researchers at Fred Hutchinson in Seattle are developing a computer model to better understand COVID-19 super-spreader events. You can read more about what they’ve found so far here.

8:07am – There are concerns that an executive order issued by President Trump Saturday which circumvents Congress’s own work to secure a COVID-19 aid package could face significant legal challenges in the days ahead. Read more from the Associated Press

Saturday, Aug. 8

6:22pm – Washington state now has 62,523 COVID-19 total cases, along with 1,688 deaths. That makes for a single-day increase of 926 cases and 16 deaths.

4:21pm – The United States has now officially hit five million total COVID-19 cases.

1:14pm – Seizing the power of his podium and his pen, President Donald Trump on Saturday bypassed the nation’s lawmakers as he claimed the authority to defer payroll taxes and replace an expired unemployment benefit with a lower amount after negotiations with Congress on a new coronavirus rescue package collapsed. Read more

8:13am – Does it feel like the past five pandemic-filled months have been an entire year? Or is it hard to even tell what day it is anymore? There’s a psychological reason for that mistaken perception of time. Read more. 

Friday, Aug. 7

8:59pm – Health officials say there have been 61,587 cases of coronavirus in Washington state, of the at least one million tests. The positivity rate has been about 5.9% the past week, but DOH has not released new information on total tests. The state reports 1,672 people have died from the virus and 5,890 people have been hospitalized.

4:40pm – President Trump announced Friday that if Congress fails to reach an agreement over the next COVID-19 relief package, he will issue an executive order to “get Americans the relief that they need.” That would include deferring payroll taxes through the end of the year retroactive to July 1, extending unemployment benefits, deferring student loan payments, and extending the eviction moratorium.

4:08pm – The United States added 1.8 million jobs in July, a pullback from the previous two months. At any other time, hiring at that level would be seen as a blowout gain. But after employers shed a staggering 22 million jobs in March and April, much larger increases are needed to heal the job market. The hiring of the past three months has recovered 42% of the jobs lost to the pandemic-induced recession, according to the Labor Department’s report. Read more from the AP.

3:30pm – Drive-thru COVID-19 testing will be available in Snohomish County at 3900 Broadway beginning next week. You can register online for an appointment here.

1:16pm – All of us have become statisticians thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, searching for any sign that a miracle is about to occur and that this is going to disappear, which usually involves citing statistics, KIRO Radio’s Dave Ross points out. Unfortunately, it’s easy to get confused over who’s right and who’s wrong, and statistics can be manipulated to support any point of view you want. Read more. 

11:34am – Despite the recession, at least in King County, the median price of homes is going up, while the rental and retail markets are facing possible trouble. Matthew Gardner, chief economist for Windermere Real Estate, told Seattle’s Morning News that the year-over-year increase in home prices is remarkable. Read more.

8:53am – There are 11 new cases of Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C) associated with COVID-19 in Washington state, according to the Department of Health.

DOH says it’s a rare condition decided as a patient under the age of 21 with a fever, and inflammation and severe illness involving more than two organs that requires hospitalization.

“While MIS-C is very rare, parents should be aware it can happen and contact their health care provider if their children develop new or unusual symptoms,” Dr. Kathy Lofy, state health officer for DOH, said in a news release.  “We are tracking this issue closely and continue to ask health care providers to be on the lookout and immediately report possible cases to local health.”

The counties reporting cases of MIS-C are Franklin (2), King (3), Skagit (1), Snohomish (2), and Yakima (3).

6:27am – Seattle’s free COVID-19 testing program expands Friday with a new walk-up testing site at Rainier Beach High School in South Seattle. This is the third free testing site opened by the city, with plans for a fourth site possible in southwest Seattle.

Thursday, Aug. 6

8:16pm – Health officials say there have been 60,917 cases of coronavirus in Washington state, of the over one million tests conducted. DOH did not have an updated count of tests done on Thursday. The positivity rate was also missing. In the past few days, the rate has been at 5.9%. The state reports 1,653 deaths and 5,874 hospitalizations.

5:45pm – The University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation’s (IHME) latest projections predict that without large-scale, statewide adherence to mask-wearing, Washington could risk a return to business closures and stay-at-home restrictions as early as October. Read more

4:34pm – University of Washington President Ana Mari Cauce announced Thursday that the school plans to hold roughly 90% of its classes for fall quarter remotely, citing limitations brought on by the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. You can read the full statement here.

2:53pm – Gov. Jay Inslee announced a new phased approach for visitation in long-term care facilities, in a bid to allow families to see their loved ones more frequently.

The phases — operating separately from the phased county approach — are broken out as follows:

  • Phase 1: Compassionate care visits, window visits, remote visits, and outdoor visits.
  • Phase 2: All of those, plus limited indoor visits.
  • Phase 3: A “somewhat higher but limited” number of visits, where outdoor visits are still preferred
  • Phase 4: The “ultimate goal” which would allow for normal visitation.

A facility must have gone 28 days without a new COVID-19 case among staff and residents, and must have 14 days worth of personal protective equipment on hand. Facilities must also have consistent access to testing. Areas with higher disease transmission rate will not be allowed to move through the visitation phases, regardless of meeting those standards.

12:15pm – The state Employment Security Department says there were 24,985 initial regular unemployment claims the week of July 26 through August 1. That’s down 13.4% from the prior week. However, it’s a 346% increase from the same week last year.

The ESD says there were 656,556 total claims for all unemployment benefit categories, also down (3.1%) from the prior week.

“There are still those who have applied since mid-June or had issues set on their weekly claims and need resolution,” ESD Commissioner Suzi LeVine. “We will leverage the progress made and lessons learned in Operation 100% to help those individuals and resolve claims faster moving forward.”

10:03am – The City of Seattle’s newest free testing site opens Friday, Aug. 7, in Rainier Beach. This will be a walk-up testing site. It’s encouraged that anyone who wants to be tested register in advance to secure their spot and help keep the line moving. There are also two drive-up testing sites open for free COVID-19 tests, one south of Seattle and the other north.

8:29am – How close is a COVID-19 vaccine to becoming a reality, and what will it look like in terms of safety when they first become available to the public? Columbia virologist Dr. Angela Rasmussen joined the Gee and Ursula Show on KIRO Radio to discuss the latest vaccine trials. Read more.

5:57am – Gov. Jay Inslee announced Wednesday that his office is urging most schools in Washington state to consider enacting distance learning when school resumes this fall.

“If every school district brought all of their students back today, I believe we would see a meaningful and dangerous increase in COVID activity,” Inslee said. Read more.

Wednesday, Aug. 5

4:37pm – Health officials say there are 60,084 cases of coronavirus in Washington state, of the 1,010,191 tests conducted. That’s a positivity rate of 5.9%. The state reports 1,624 deaths and 5,840 hospitalizations.

2:54pm – Families can get a free Grab and Go meal at over 150 sites in King County. The program is open to all youth ages 18 and under. Learn more at FreeSummerMeals.org.

1:29pm – The Washington National Guard reached a milestone on Wednesday, having now assembled upwards of a million COVID-19 test kits.

10:12am – On a Facebook post made in a group for unemployed Washingtonians, hundreds of people told KIRO Radio they filed before mid-June and still are waiting for a response from ESD. Read more.

8:49am – Tacoma Public Schools are rolling out “Tacoma Online,” a full-time platform in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Students will be able to access core and elective courses online anytime and complete assignments at their own pace. This program is different from remote learning.

If health officials say students can return to school, remote learning students can resume in-person immediately, but Tacoma Online students must continue their online work until the end of the term.

6:18am – No mask? No travel, says Alaska Airlines. The company is rolling out a tougher mask policy that starts Friday, Aug. 7, requiring all guests to wear a cloth mask or face covering at all times at the airport or onboard a flight. The new policy includes children age two and older, with no exceptions.

If passengers are unwilling or unable to wear a mask for any reason, they will not be allowed to travel. If someone refuses to wear a mask after boarding a flight, they will be suspended from future travel.

Tuesday, Aug. 4

5:52pm – There are now 59,379 total COVID-19 cases in Washington, an increase of 664 over Monday. The state also has 1,619 deaths, a single-day increase of 19. Out of over a million total tests, 5.9% have come back positive.

4:43pm – Puget Sound Energy says it has provided $6 million in assistance to customers struggling to pay their bills during the pandemic.

The utility says it has been providing bill assistance from two separate funds. One is available to those who have lost their job, seen a reduction in hours, or are not able to work because of the pandemic. PSE says $5 million in funds is still available through the assistance program and customers can apply until September 1.

3:32pm – The Seattle Coronavirus Assessment Network (SCAN) released new findings Tuesday, after distributing nearly 18,000 at-home COVID test kits to King County residents.

SCAN’s data found that a “large proportion” of its participants who tested positive for COVID-19 were “unaware of having recently been in close contact with someone who tested positive for the virus.”

1:20pm – Snohomish County Executive Dave Somers delivered a briefing Tuesday, providing details about the county’s economic recovery, keeping parks from over-crowding, and the ongoing COVID-19 response. You can watch the full video of the briefing here.

11:56am – King County is hosting a “drive-through pick-up event” Tuesday to provide masks to residents. The event runs between 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. at the Eastgate Assessment and Recovery Site at 13629 Southeast Eastgate Way.

9:22am – Flower World, whose owner banned employees from wearing masks, has been fined $4,200, according to the Everett Herald. Flower World was cited for a “serious” violation by the state Department of Labor.

Inspectors who visited the business three times in June, according to The Herald, found workers did not maintain 6-foot social distancing or conduct employee temperature checks at the start of each workday.

Flower World has less than two weeks to appeal the violation.

8:33am – Pacific Lutheran University announced it will be giving a “PLUS Year,” an additional tuition-free year, to all undergraduate students enrolled full time for the 2020-2021 academic year after they complete their current degree.

The PLUS Year is being offered to ensure students get an opportunity to experience the university at its full capacity, PLU President Allan Belton said. Read more.

5:52am – Bob Martin, a barber in Snohomish, owes $90,000 in fines for reopening his shop in May, according to the Everett Herald. Martin joined KIRO Radio’s Dori Monson Show on Monday and said opening his shop isn’t about haircuts, but about the Constitution. Read more.

Monday, Aug. 3

10:59pm – Health officials say there are 58,715 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Washington state, of the 1,008,822 tests conducted. That’s a positivity rate of 5.8%. The state reports 1,600 deaths and 5,744 hospitalizations.

5:39pm – Around the country, there still seems to be a certain amount of resistance to wearing masks, even with all we’ve gone through. Why is this the case? Mercer Island MD Dr. Gordon Cohen joined Seattle’s Morning News to discuss. Read more

3:42pm – Snohomish County saw a “slight decrease” in new COVID-19 cases between July 19 and August 1, following six straight weeks of increasing rates.

The county now sits at almost 100 cases per 100,000 residents.

2:19pm – The epicenter of Washington’s COVID-19 outbreak has moved, with the highest number of cases per capita in the state now found in Okanogan County. According to the latest report from the Department of Health, done in tandem with Bellevue’s Institute for Disease Modeling and Fred Hutchinson, Okanogan is seeing 892 cases per 100,000 residents. Read more.

12:56pm – As of last Friday, Washington’s Employment Security Department says it has now officially cleared its backlog of over 81,500 unemployment claims filed between March and June.

ESD Commissioner Suzi LeVine made the announcement during a Monday press conference, stating that while she is “not declaring mission accomplished,” she is “declaring ‘milestone met.’” Read more. 

11:09am – Nordstrom says that it will lay off some employees, as its sales continue to struggle amid the pandemic, according to USA Today. In a statement, the Seattle-based retailer said, “Based on our needs today, and what we anticipate our needs being in the future, we must adjust the size of our store sales force.”

Nordstrom did not specify how many positions would be cut. Nordstrom announced in early May it planned to permanently close 16 of its 116 full-line stores. All of Nordstrom’s 15 Washington locations reopened in June.

10:11am – Seattle’s Argosy Cruises announced it will close its public tours and private charters for the remainder of the 2020 season. The company said the closure is due to the “evolving uncertainty around COVID-19 and its unprecedented impacts on the tourism industry.” The last service was Sunday.

7:57am – There will be a drive-through pick up event for free masks in Bellevue on Tuesday, Aug. 4, at the Eastgate Assessment and Recovery Site from 1-5 p.m. Each person can pick up two cloth reusable masks per family member, up to six family members. You must be a King County resident to receive masks at this event.

5:35am – ADM Brett P. Giroir, M.D., is the Assistant Secretary for Health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and a member of the coronavirus task force. Giroir told the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH that while Washington state is in a fairly good position on testing capacity, now is the time to step up masking, distancing, and hygiene measures.

“The bottom line is don’t hit the panic button in Seattle,” Giroir said. “But this is the time to do something, and the things we tell you to do is what we’ve been saying — please wear a mask in public, … physical distancing is really important, protect the elderly.” Read more.

Read last week’s updates here.

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