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COVID-19 updates: 349 new cases in Washington

UW Medicine workers. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)

The DOH says there have been more than 82,000 coronavirus cases in Washington state, and 2,037 people have died from the virus. Check below for more updates.

Confirmed coronavirus cases across Washington state

Sunday, Sept. 20

4:08pm – Washington state now has 82,548 total COVID-19 cases, a single-day increase of 349 cases. The DOH no longer tallies new deaths on weekends.

12:44pm – Washington continues to see marked improvements in curbing the spread of COVID-19, detailed in the latest report from the state Department of Health here.

7:31am – President Trump addressed a grim milestone the U.S. surpassed Saturday, as the country topped 200,000 total COVID-19 deaths.

“If we didn’t do our job, it would be three and a half, two and a half, maybe 3 million people,” Trump said Friday, leaning on extreme projections of what could have happened if nothing at all were done to fight the pandemic. “We have done a phenomenal job with respect to COVID-19.” Read more from the Associated Press here

Saturday, Sept. 19

4:16pm – Washington state now has 82,199 total COVID-19 cases, along with 2,037 deaths. That makes for a single-day increase of 597 cases with no new deaths. The DOH no longer reports deaths on Saturday and Sundays.

3:43pm – Each year on Oct. 31, the streets in downtown Edmonds are closed to traffic but full of costumed kids of all ages trick-or-treating at the local businesses. This year, the Edmonds Chamber of Commerce says Halloween will look different. Read more

12:33pm – As of Saturday, the United States has officially surpassed 200,000 total COVID-19 deaths, and has seen over 6.75 million cases since the pandemic began.

8:21am – With the COVID-19 crisis still raging, UW’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation estimates that the U.S. has seen a 7% increase in “extreme poverty” in just the last few months. In total, nearly 37 million people have fallen below earning $1.90 a day as a direct result of the pandemic.

Friday, Sept. 18

5:06pm – Gov. Inslee and Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer issued a statement after reports that the Trump administration rejected a plan to send face masks to U.S. households in April:

“This new revelation is just further proof that the president has failed to take this crisis seriously from the beginning, despite knowing how dangerous and deadly COVID-19 is. At a time when COVID-19 was ravaging our states and preying on our most vulnerable communities, especially seniors and people of color, the president had an opportunity to take quick, decisive action that could have saved thousands of lives, but chose not to. The Trump administration struck down a plan that could have saved countless lives in the midst of our battle with this virus, during a period when governors across the country were working around the clock to secure PPE, build adequate hospital and ICU capacity, safeguard seniors in nursing homes and save lives. As we continue to face the biggest public health emergency of our lifetime, we may never know the number of lives that could have been saved if the national mask plan had touched every person in the country.

“With nearly 200,000 lives lost and rising, we can’t afford to wait. Once again, we call on President Trump to do the right thing and develop a national strategy, including a nationwide mask mandate, so we can protect our families, our frontline workers, our educators and our small businesses. It’s time for him to start treating this as the crisis he has known it to be from the very beginning.”

2:44pm – The state Department of Health is reporting 404 new cases and six new deaths since Thursday’s update, totaling 81,602 confirmed cases and 2,037 deaths statewide. There have been 1,704,670 total tests.

12:59pm – The Seahawks have selected Eliot Fagley, MD to raise the 12th Man Flag ahead of kickoff on Sunday night.

Fagley is an anesthesiologist who leads the Critical Care Unit’s COVID-19 response at Virginia Mason Medical Center in Seattle. Fagley’s family will attend the game against the Patriots.

The Seahawks say Fagley was “selected to represent physicians, nurses, patient care techs, therapy experts, and pharmacists, and their collaborative effort to lead critical care for COVID-19 patients.”

12:10pm – To hear people still arguing about masks and social distancing appears to indicate a lot of us make these decisions not based on science, but on what other people might think of us. KIRO Radio’s Dave Ross believes the issue may actually lie within our terminology. Read more

10:23am – Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan announced Friday that the city will be extending its rent relief for tenants through the end of 2020. That means a continuation of rent deferral for for-profit tenants, as well as rent waivers for nonprofit tenants.

“In the midst of an unprecedented financial shortfall for the City, we know we must continue to provide urgent relief for our own tenants, and that’s exactly what we’re doing with this extension,” Durkan said in a written release. “Ultimately, cities cannot bear the brunt of the COVID-19 crisis alone, and we deeply need federal leadership to pull us out of this public health and economic crisis.”

8:41am – UW Virology head Dr. Keith Jerome stopped by Seattle’s Morning News Friday, to discuss the state’s ongoing contact tracing efforts, why youth sports have yet to resume, and more. Listen to the full interview here.

6:57am – Between the COVID-19 pandemic, protests for change, wildfires, bad air quality, and the loss of loved ones, “it’s a lot to take in” for Washingtonians, Governor Jay Inslee said in a Thursday press conference. He recognized that many people in Washington state may be struggling with mental health issues, and encouraged anyone to seek help when they need it. Read more. 

5:26am – King County’s Department of Community and Human Services reported Thursday that two people who stayed at the county’s clean air shelter have been identified as positive COVID-19 cases.

The clean air shelter was stood up to give the region’s homeless a place to avoid recent smoke and poor air quality. Shelter staff have notified guests, staff, and visitors “about their possible exposure to COVID-19” between Sept. 12 and Sept. 14, and were given the ability to receive a test at the shelter themselves.

The county’s clean air shelter closes Friday morning, with air quality continuing to improve across the region.

Thursday, Sept. 17

5:47pm – A new report by the state Department of Health shows that contact tracing efforts are falling behind their goals. State health officer Dr. Kathy Lofy says part of the problem is that some people simply won’t participate or are not willing to reveal the names of their close contacts, while others don’t respond at all.

She did note that the data is incomplete because local health departments, not the state, handle the majority of contact tracing. Lofy says they’re working with local jurisdictions to include their data as well so they have a fuller picture of how successful contact tracing really is in the state.

The goal is to reach 90% of people who test positive within a day and 80% of their contacts within two days.

4:33pm – Seattle will be among 12 U.S. cities to receive more than 1,000 WiFi-connected “Lift Zones” from Comcast. The zones will provide safe spaces for low-income students — many of whom are at risk of being left behind without access to internet or computers during the COVID-19 crisis — to participate in distance learning, remote working, and after-school care.

“The initiative will provide not only free internet connectivity, but also access to hundreds of hours of educational and digital skills content to help families and site coordinators navigate online learning,” according to a release from Comcast.

3:25pm – According to the state Department of Health, confirmed cases have climbed to 81,198 with 2,031 deaths statewide. That marks an increase of 386 cases and 11 deaths since Wednesday. There have been 1,691,047 total tests.

1:54pm – Some Seattle small business owners feel that the general sense of security in many of the city’s business neighborhoods has gone downhill during the pandemic, so they’re asking the city council and the mayor to pledge to support public safety. Read more.

11:28am – Jobless claims in the U.S. dropped to 860,000 last week, a decrease of 33,000 from the previous week. In total, 12.6 million people in the United States are collecting traditional employment benefits, driven almost entirely by the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.

9:31am – Gov. Jay Inslee will be delivering a press conference at 2:30 p.m. Thursday, to address recent wildfires, as well as the state’s ongoing COVID-19 response efforts. You can stream it live on TVW here.

8:05am – When will we have a COVID-19 vaccine available to the general public? That depends on who you ask, with CDC head Dr. Robert Redfield and President Trump offering dramatically different timelines this week. Read more

6:54am – Attorney General William Barr drew sharp condemnation Thursday for comparing lockdown orders during the coronavirus pandemic to slavery. Read more from the Associated Press

5:32am – The University of Washington, its board of regents, and its president have been hit with a lawsuit over the response to the pandemic. Read more

Wednesday, Sept. 16

5:54pm – Gov. Inslee updated the guidance for wedding and funeral receptions, allowing both to resume as long as they meet specific requirements. Receptions and ceremonies must be capped at 30 people, or 25% of venue occupancy, whichever is less, and all tables must be seated by household, capped at five people. Facial coverings are required, and social distancing must be maintained.

Read the full guidance document here, and associated memo here.

3:23pm – The government outlined a sweeping plan Wednesday to make vaccines for COVID-19 available for free to all Americans when proven safe and effective, though a top public health official made clear that widespread vaccination of millions of Americans couldn’t come until well into next year.

In a report to Congress and an accompanying “playbook” for states and localities, federal health agencies and the Defense Department sketched out complex plans for a vaccination campaign to begin gradually in January or even late this year, eventually ramping up to reach any American who wants a shot. Read more from the Associated Press.

2:53pm – The state Department of Health is now reporting 80,812 confirmed cases with 2,020 deaths statewide, which marks an increase of 347 cases and 5 new deaths since Tuesday’s data. There have been 1,676,702 total tests.

2:04pm – Local health officials are providing a weekly update on the state’s COVID-19 response. You can watch the presentation on TVW here.

John Wiesman, state Secretary of Health, again encouraged everyone to pick up the phone when called by a contact tracer, or return the call if the contact tracer leaves a message, in order to help limit the spread of COVID-19. Data related to case investigations and contact tracing efforts will be available for the public to view, and updated weekly. It will also eventually be part of the risk assessment dashboard, said Dr. Kathy Lofy with the DOH.

Additionally, health officials mentioned that a pilot program that uses smartphones to notify users when they’ve been near another user who has tested positive will be coming to the state soon. Gov. Inslee also mentioned this program in his press conference Tuesday, promising more information to come soon. This is completely voluntary and any personal data will be protected.

12:38pm – The Washington Department of Health unveiled new data Wednesday, detailing the success of its contact tracing efforts.

Between August 30 and September 5, the DOH managed to contact 49% of cases within one day of receiving a positive lab result. Roughly 70% of case contacts were contacted within two days of a positive COVID-19 test.

Ultimately, the goal is to get those numbers to 90% and 80% respectively. The DOH plans to publish updates on this data every week moving forward.

12:19pm – With COVID-19 restrictions still in place across Washington, it looked as though a gubernatorial debate between incumbent Jay Inslee and challenger Loren Culp was in jeopardy, with both parties initially balking at demands from the other.

Things were salvaged Tuesday though, after they came to an agreement to debate in separate rooms at TVW’s studios, with neither staff nor electronic devices allowed. Read more. 

10:11am – Washington Senator Patty Murray spoke Wednesday morning during a Congressional hearing focused on efforts to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. Read more

8:25am – It has been several weeks since Pullman police began ticketing Washington State University (WSU) students for hosting large parties during the ongoing pandemic. Now, students face added penalties as local authorities look to discourage these gatherings. Read more

6:04amThe latest projections from UW’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation now extends out to Jan. 1, 2021, predicting the United States could see as many as over 415,000 COVID-19 deaths by the start of the new year.

That number drops to 298,000, though, with what the IHME calls “universal mask acceptance,” where roughly 95% of people wear masks in public places. As of early September, mask use in the U.S. sits around 45%.

Tuesday, Sept. 15

5:55pm – The Mariners will not play in Seattle on Tuesday or Wednesday because of the smoke and poor air quality. The two-games series against the Giants has been rescheduled to be played in San Francisco’s Oracle Park this week instead. The Mariners do have a game scheduled for Friday in Seattle against the San Diego Padres. Read more.

4:00pm – Gov. Inslee noted in his press conference Tuesday that Washington state crossed 80,000 confirmed cases and 2,000 deaths this week, calling these numbers “significant and sobering.” He said he is appreciative of the many Washingtonians who have come together to fight this disease and are continuing to wear masks, limit contacts outside of their home, and practice social distancing.

He also emphasized the importance of learning from the outbreak in Pullman, Wash., at Washington State University and not letting it happen again in other cities, at other colleges. The Cougars may have been first to return to campus, but this will not be a problem that only WSU has to face. Inslee said he will be meeting with representatives from student body leadership, police, and university leadership Wednesday to discuss how everyone can be active and prevent similar outbreaks at other colleges.

“We hope that some of the things that are going on now in Pullman, including on-site testing, … we want Cougars to share those good ideas with Huskies and others,” Inslee said.

“This is a deadly disease, and it remains so,” he added.

2:52pm – Health officials say there have been 80,465 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Washington state, and 2,015 deaths. There have been 1,665,715 tests conducted so far, putting the rate of positive tests at 4.83%.

2:31pm – A detailed look at COVID-19 deaths in U.S. kids and young adults released Tuesday shows they mirror patterns seen in older patients.

The report examined 121 deaths of those younger than 21, as of the end of July. Like older adults, many of them had one or more medical condition — like lung problems, including asthma, obesity, heart problems or developmental conditions. Read more from the Associated Press.

12:14pm – The U.S. House of Representatives has vowed to remain in session until lawmakers deliver another round of COVID-19 relief, a move that came as Democrats from swing districts signaled discontent with a standoff that could force them to face voters without delivering more aid. Read more from the Associated Press here.

10:03am – The Snohomish County Health District said if everything goes well, elementary schools could  reopen with in-person instruction by November.

“It’s guidance, it’s a plan – it’s not a prediction,” health officer Dr. Chris Spitters said of the state’s guidance for reopening schools. “If we get three weeks downstream from Labor Day and the return of the existing students on campuses and we don’t have significant change in direction in COVID numbers and no particular school is having a problem, then they can consider layering in elementary schools.”

Spitters said the health district meets with school superintendents every two weeks.

Additionally, the county is strongly urging people, especially vulnerable populations, to get a flu shot this year. Children under 19 are eligible for free flu vaccines through the county.

“Get your flu shot by the end of October,” said Yuan-Po Tu, with The Everett Clinic. “Now is as good as any time.”

He said that it’s possible you get the flu even after you’re vaccinated, but it’ll blunt the severity of illness. The idea is to ease the burden on hospitals that may be dealing with COVID-19 infections.

8:59am – While Seattle beaches, parks, playfields, and boat ramps remain closed Tuesday due to concerns over air quality, the city’s outdoor COVID-19 testing sites are back open. You can schedule an appointment online here.

8:04am – Gov. Jay Inslee will be delivering a press conference at 2:30 p.m. Tuesday, addressing recent wildfires, and providing updates on the state’s ongoing COVID-19 response efforts. You can stream the conference live on TVW here.

6:58am – While the vast majority of schools in Washington have reopened with virtual learning, a handful may be able to begin bringing students back into classrooms in the near future. Read more

5:41am – While COVID-19 cases have begun to decline in most parts of Washington, parts of the Midwest have surged to record levels, according to a report from The New York Times.

As of last Friday, North Dakota, South Dakota, Missouri, and Iowa had more recent cases per capita than any other states in the U.S.

Monday, Sept. 14

4:53pm – As students, faculty, and staff return to campus this month, the University of Washington will launch Husky Coronavirus Testing, powered by the Seattle Flu Study team. Students, faculty, and staff members can enroll beginning Sept. 24. The UW says it is important that as many people enroll as possible, especially those who will be on campus at least once a week.

The program is voluntary, and will be available to groups on the Bothell, Seattle, and Tacoma campuses.

2:46pm – The state Department of Health is reporting 80,138 confirmed cases in Washington state, with 2,006 deaths. There have been 1,653,967 total tests, which means the rate of positive cases is 4.85%.

12:52pm – This past weekend wasn’t exactly ideal since you had to wear masks not simply around other people due to coronavirus, but because of the smoke outside. How dangerous is the smoke and what kind of masks do we need? Read more

11:01am – Washington’s Employment Security Department published new information this week about the $300 federally funded Lost Wages Assistance Program. You can read through the updated details on ESD’s website here.

9:19am – Due to ongoing power outages and wildfires, the Washington Department of Social and Health Services has opted to extend the application deadline for pandemic EBT to Wednesday, Sept. 16, at 3 p.m.

7:46am – The City of Seattle is closing its outdoor COVID-19 testing sites again Monday, due to ongoing concerns over poor quality. A drive-thru testing site at 3900 Broadway in Snohomish County is also closed today.

7:00am – Washington state has seen a “substantial” decrease in COVID-19 cases since August across all age groups, according to the latest joint report from the Department of Health, the Institute for Disease Modeling, the University of Washington, and Fred Hutchinson.

5:21am – Washington Senator Patty Murray spoke out on her social media accounts over the weekend, stressing the importance of preventing “political interference” from the Trump administration while the push for a COVID-19 vaccine continues.

“We cannot allow this President to prioritize politics over science & undermine efforts to develop & distribute safe, effective COVID-19 vaccines,” Sen. Murray said in one of a series of three videos she posted to her Twitter.

Follow updates from last week

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