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COVID-19 updates: 67,462 confirmed cases, 1,781 deaths in Washington

PROVO, UT - AUGUST 13: With a mask sign on the door a teacher walks into Freedom Preparatory Academy as they begin to prepare to restart school after it was closed in March due to COVID-19 on August 13, 2020 in Provo, Utah. The school is planning to have students return on August 18 for five days a week instruction, but with reduced hours during the day. (Photo by George Frey/Getty Images)

The state Department of Health says there have been over 67,000 cases of coronavirus in Washington state and 1,781 people have died from the virus. Check below for more updates.

Confirmed coronavirus cases across Washington state

Follow live updates today below.

Sunday, Aug. 16

4:39pm – Health officials say there have been 67,461 positive cases of coronavirus in Washington state, and 1,781 deaths. There have been 6,255 people hospitalized with the virus.

8:22am – The Allen Institute for Immunology, founded by the late Paul Allen, has shifted its focus to try and understand different immune responses to the coronavirus, with hopes of speeding up developments of treatments and vaccines. The project is in collaboration with the Fred Hutch Cancer Research Center.

Saturday, Aug. 15

5:03pm – Health officials say 66,885 people have tested positive for the coronavirus in Washington state, and 1,766 people have died. The state says 6,230 people have been hospitalized with the virus.

8:15am – “It’s good news that we have an assortment of vaccines that are moving forward in the pipeline to choose from,” Dr. Angela Rasmussen, Columbia University virologist, told KIRO Radio’s Gee & Ursula Show.  “That means that there’s a better chance that one of them, at least, will be safe and effective.”

7:26am – The Canada-U.S. border will remain closed to non-essential travel for at least another month. Canada made the decision Friday, one day after Mexico announced a similar update to its entry rules. Essential cross-border workers, like health care professionals, airline crews, and truck drivers are still permitted to cross.

The border restrictions aimed at controlling the spread of COVID-19 were first announced in March, and have been renewed monthly.

Friday, Aug. 14

4:12pm – Health officials say there have been 66,139 positive cases of coronavirus in Washington state and 1,755 deaths. The DOH is currently not reporting total tests, and thus a positivity rate cannot be calculated. The DOH is reworking how it reports total negative cases.

2:49pm – Mayor Jenny Durkan announced Friday that she would be extending a citywide eviction moratorium for small business, nonprofits, and residential buildings through the end of the year. Read more. 

12:53pm – “Reducing COVID 19 spread in the community is the most effective way to get kids back to school as safely as possible. When community COVID activity decreases sufficiently, resuming in-person education with elementary students first makes most sense.” Public Health – Seattle and King County tweeted this quote from Health Officer Jeff Duchin on Friday.

Included in the tweet was a July 13 report from the Institute of Disease Modeling on reopening schools.

According to the report: “In-person schooling, even with sufficient countermeasures and Re of 0.9, poses significant risks to students, teachers, and staff. Even on the first day of school, we find that 5% – 42% of schools would have at least one person arrive at school with active COVID-19 (including all students, teachers, and staff), depending on the incidence of COVID in the community and the school type.”

11:13am – Issaquah is in the top 20 list of best cities for working from home, according to a study by AdvisorSmith. Why? The study stated 76% of Issaquah residents had access to two or more broadband providers offering 100 Mbps internet connections. They also had nine times more park space than typical small cities. Issaquah also has high scores for safety.

10:01am – Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan plans to transmit legislation to the Seattle City Council this month to propose a new minimum compensation standard for Uber and Lyft drivers, who have been designed as essential, frontline workers during the pandemic. The standard would ensure all drivers are paid at least the Seattle minimum wage plus reasonable expenses.

8:25am – King County Executive Dow Constantine transmitted an emergency supplemental budget to the county council for the fourth time since the COVID-19 outbreak, proposing $87 million to fund new test sites, housing, courthouse operations, and arts organizations.

Included in the budget is $11 million for at least two drive-through or walk-up testing sites in South and East King County that could provide 500-1,000 tests per day.

6:07am – Okanogan County bumps Yakima as the latest coronavirus hot spot in Washington as Gov. Inslee says it now has the highest rate of COVID-19 cases in the state. Just in the town of Brewster alone, about one-fourth of the 2,300 residents have tested positive.

The central Washington farm belt and Tri-Cities have been hit hard by the virus, at least in part due to the high number of agriculture workers in the area. Two new state relief funds from the governor are targeted to support workers who need to stay home and isolate. Most of the money will go to undocumented workers, Inslee says, who do not qualify for unemployment or other stimulus programs. Gov. Inslee says helping them isolate is a way to cut down on transmission.

Thursday, Aug. 13

5:10pm – Joe Biden is calling for a nationwide protective mask mandate, citing health experts’ predictions that it could save 40,000 lives from coronavirus over the next three months.

”Wearing the mask is less about you contracting the virus,” Biden said. “It’s about preventing other people from getting sick.” Read more from the AP.

4:21pm – Health officials say there have been 65,339 positive cases of coronavirus in Washington state. The state is reporting 1,736 deaths since the outbreak began. The DOH will not report total tests again until next week.

3:31pm – Dr. Francis Riedo at EvergreenHealth in Kirkland said his team has learned a lot since the outbreak began. He’s asking the community to do its part by wearing masks, washing hands, and social distancing.

Dr. Riedo said that they’re seeing patients come in 4 weeks, 6 weeks, and even two months after getting coronavirus complaining of fatigue, headaches, muscle aches, difficulty concentrating, and loss of taste and smell.

“We need your help to slow this down,” Riedo said. “We want everyone to be practicing prevention methods.”

3:16pm – Gov. Inslee said on Thursday that, to date, Washington state has distributed $1 billion in CARES Act funding.

The governor plans to send the National Guard mobile testing unit to Okanogan County to provide increased testing.

“We need cooperation of people to get testing, and then people need to isolate.”

2:29pm – Washington state saw 22,140 initial regular unemployment claims last week between August 2 and August 8, an 11.4% decline from the previous week. In total, the state had 571,410 claims across all unemployment benefit categories, a 13% decrease.

12:10pm – Optimism Brewing on Capitol Hill is the first business to be approved for the city’s new free street closure permits as a way to increase outdoor seating capacity. The brewery used the permit to expand its outdoor beer garden on Broadway Court, more than doubling capacity.

11:43am – “We’ve got some Eastern Washington districts that open pretty early, traditionally, and so those are just barely starting to roll into our office now,” State Superintendent Chris Reykdal told Seattle’s Morning News. “Most on the West side will have another week or two before they submit their plans.”

Students and parents should know soon, if they don’t know already, what their district has decided. Read more.

9:06am –  The number of laid-off workers applying for unemployment aid fell below 1 million last week for the first time since the viral pandemic intensified five months ago, yet still remains at a high level. The level of weekly applications declined to 963,000, the second straight drop, from 1.2 million the previous week, the government said Thursday. Read more from AP.

7:28am – The state Department of Health says there’s been a downward trend in COVID cases and hospitalizations in the state over the past few weeks, but warns that COVID-19 activity is still very high, too high for kids to return to in-person learning. There are also still many unknowns about the virus, including how it affects young people.

“If we can just all buckle down and follow the public health interventions, I’m optimistic we can have more kids in-person in sometime in 2020,” said Health Officer Dr. Kathy Lofy about a return to school.

But she warns that’s not likely to happen if everyone takes this decline in cases as a green light to return to normal. Health officials urge people to keep wearing masks, limiting social interactions, and social distancing.

6:05am – As criminals continue to capitalize on the pandemic, small business owners and other organizations are now being warned about a scam. A cyber actor is spoofing the Small Business Administration COVID-19 loan webpage. The Department of Homeland Security says businesses are getting phishing emails that include a link to the fake federal website.

Wednesday, Aug. 12

8:24pm – Health officials say there have been 64,702 confirmed positive cases of coronavirus statewide. The DOH says there have been 1,724 people who have died from the virus. The DOH did not report the number of total cases, nor the percent of positive cases.

According to the website: “DOH announced a new methodology for reporting testing and percent positive to better reflect the current status of the pandemic in Washington state. As a result, the preliminary testing data posted through August 11 will not be updated until our new methodology is operational. We estimate this will take at least one week.”

5:12pm – The Seattle School Board voted unanimously on Wednesday to begin the fall academic year remotely, as districts continue to grapple with how to restart classes amid the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. Read more.

4:01pm – The Washington Department of Health provided an update on the state’s ongoing COVID-19 response during a Wednesday press conference. You can watch it in its entirety here.

1:57pm – Russia says they have a vaccine that’s ready to go, except it hasn’t quite been tested. So how realistic is it, and does it meet the American standard for testing? Read more

11:40am – The Legislature and Office of Financial Management released $8.8 million of the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction’s share of the CARES Act funding so OSPI can coordinate and pay for students’ connections to online coursework.

“With these funds, we will be able to connect up to 60,000 students and their families to online learning,” said Chris Reykdal, Superintendent of Public Instruction. “This was my number one priority for CARES Act funding, and I know this will make a huge difference for a lot of students and their families.”

OSPI hopes to cover the costs of internet for low-income families through the end of 2020-21 school year once agreements with private partners are finalized.

10:37am – No need to reload your ORCA card just yet as King County Metro will continue the suspension of fares through September, which includes fares on Metro buses, streetcars, and water taxis. Fares have been suspended during the pandemic to offer economic relief to riders, and helps allow for more distancing as riders can board through the back doors.

Sound Transit Express Buses and Link Light Rail do require fares.

9:59am – Steel Lake Park in Federal Way will close Thursday in an effort to stop the spread of COVID-19. King County Public Health says there’s been a steady increase in cases in Federal Way since July 25, with more than 1,200 cases total and 20 deaths linked to the virus as of Wednesday. It is unclear when the park will reopen.

8:44am – Undocumented workers in Washington will now be getting COVID-19 relief from the state. The Northwest News Network reports that after months of pressure from immigration activists and organizations, Gov. Inslee is launching a $40 million state fund for undocumented workers.

Washington state has an estimated 240,000 residents without legal authorization, according to the Pew Research Center, and they pay an estimated $368 million in state and local taxes.

7:21am – Any K-12 student in Washington state who was eligible for free or reduced-price school meals last year is eligible to receive Pandemic EBT, a benefit of up to $399 per student. Families must complete an application through the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services by Aug. 31, 2020. Pandemic EBT is available regardless of citizenship or immigration status, and is not considered a public charge. Read more from the OSPI.

6:08am – In a virtual town hall meeting Tuesday, U.S. Sen. Patty Murray and U.S. Rep. Suzan DelBene criticized the lack of federal funding for testing and personal protective equipment throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Murray said, “this is a crisis created through inaction.”

She went on to say that Sen. Mitch McConnell hasn’t brought a counter-proposal to the House bill to the Senate, so senators have nothing to debate. Murray also said the recent executive order from President Trump “is in no way helpful” because it focuses on studies when time is of the essence.

“We know what the issue is, and we knew what it was a few months ago,” Murray said.

Tuesday, Aug. 11

5:19pm – Washington state now has 64,151 total COVID-19 cases, along with 1,716 deaths. That marks a single day increase of 504 cases and 19 deaths. Out of over 954,000 tests, 6.7% have been positive.

4:12pm – The Pac-12 has joined other college conferences and leagues in canceling fall sports for the 2020 season, including football. According to the conference, no sports will be played for the rest of 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The conference also announced that when conditions improve, it would consider a return to competition for impacted sports after Jan. 1, 2021. Read more

1:36pm – Dr. Ali Mokdad with the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation laid out what he views as the path forward for the COVID-19 outbreak in the U.S.

Mokdad stresses the need for a “national coordinated response,” in hopes of slowing the opening process for businesses, bars, and schools.

“This is a patient virus, one that waits for us to make mistakes,” he said. “We need to act decisively now, unite around science, and do the right things for the sake of our present and future.”

9:53am – Snohomish County reports a slight drop in new cases per 100,000 population for the period from July 26 to August 8. That’s after six weeks of increasing case numbers.

Health officials say the county is still at nearly 100 cases per 100,000 people.

7:14am – An asymptomatic firefighter with the the Department of Natural Resources tested positive for COVID-19. The DNR says 14 wildland firefighters have been since quarantined after coming into contact with that team member. The firefighter was part of the team responding to the Anglin Fire near Tonasket. The department assured that the positive test does not pose a danger to wildfire response capability, the Anglin Fire is contained, and the fire camp has been demobilized.

Comissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz is asking all Washington residents to recommit to efforts to reduce COVID-19 spread and prevent human-caused wildfires.

“Our wildland firefighters are our first line of defense when communities are facing a wildfire,” Franz said. “Unfortunately, despite all possible precautions, firefighters do congregate and work in close quarters when responding to wildfires. That means the stakes are high: a widespread outbreak among our firefighters would impede our ability to keep Washingtonians safe.”

Monday, Aug. 10

5:31pm – King County is hosting a drive-through mask pick-up event for residents Tuesday, Aug. 11, from 1-5 p.m. at the Black River Facility parking lot in Renton. Get more details here.

3:45pm – Health officials report 63,647 confirmed cases of coronavirus and 1,697 deaths in Washington state. The DOH is still not reporting total tests or the percent positive. There have been 6,049 hospitalizations since the outbreak in Washington started.

2:59pm – A recent article in the Atlantic posits that coronavirus may be with us for a very long time, even with a vaccine. What exactly does this mean and how long should we actually expect it to be around? Mercer Island MD Dr. Gordon Cohen joined Seattle’s Morning News to discuss. Read more

1:40pm – The Seattle Fire Department has now surpassed 100,000 people tested across three drive-thru sites. A third site at Rainier Beach High School has now opened, which will increase capacity by another 4,000 people per week.

10:44am – Drive-through COVID-19 testing is coming back to the parking lot at Everett Memorial Stadium starting Monday. The site allows the Snohomish Health District to test 500 people each day. Tests are available by appointment only.

8:19am – New rules for gyms take effect today in Washington state, including a requirement for fitness centers to ensure 300 square feet of distance between patrons. Mike Faulk, Gov. Inslee’s press secretary, told KIRO Radio that the 300 square feet is necessary because of the heavy breathing that accompanies exercise. Doctors say the further you can stay away from others, the better.

7:02am – A new mobile coronavirus testing program begins trial runs in Whatcom County on Monday, hoping to make COVID-19 testing faster and more accessible with expected wait times of 5-15 minutes once you arrive. Anyone can register for the test online. Test results should be returned in 24-72 hours.

The program is expected to be fully operational within two weeks and will run five days a week, testing up to 320 people each day.

5:49am – Pierce County reports the first death of someone under the age of 20 in Washington state. The county health department’s Dale Phelps says the young male had no underlying health conditions, and says this is a grim reminder that the infection can happen to anyone.

“It just underscores that it can happen to any of us, at any age, any circumstance, healthy or not healthy,” Phelps told KIRO Radio. “… What it really tells you is it can happen to any of us.”

Read last week’s updates.

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