COVID-19 updates: Apple Cup game canceled due to positive cases at WSU
The state Department of Health says there have been over 141,000 coronavirus cases in Washington state, and 2,619 people have died from the virus statewide. Check below for more updates.
Sunday, Nov. 22
6:07pm – Due to the increase volume of lab test results, the state Department of Health is experiencing a backlog and did not update the data dashboard Sunday. The full statement found on the DOH’s website is below.
“Due to the current increased volume of lab test results, DOH has asked several high submitting labs to stop sending negative results for one week. This will allow DOH to catch up on the backlog and explore solutions to process higher volumes. As of today, we are continuing to experience a reporting delay of 1-2 days. The data in the dashboards are impacted by this delay, however the dashboards are not yet impacted by the temporary pause on receiving negative lab results.”
3:51pm – For the first time since 1944, there will be no Apple Cup. The Pac-12 Conference reports that due to a number of positive student-athlete COVID-19 cases and resulting isolation of additional athletes, the game scheduled for Friday, Nov. 27, will be declared a no contest. Read more.
8:32am – Public Health Seattle & King County created a comic strip that “explores one woman’s dilemmas as she considers what to do for Thanksgiving as COVID cases rise in King County.” View the comic online here.
Saturday, Nov. 21
4:44pm – There are 141,260 confirmed cases and 2,619 deaths, as reported by the Washington State Department of Health. An update on the DOH’s data dashboard reads: “Due to the current increased volume of lab test results, we are experiencing a reporting delay of 1-2 days. The data in the dashboards are impacted by this delay.”
The department does not update the death total on weekends.
1:38pm – Tammie Hetrick, the president of the Washington Food Industry Association, says safety is the top priority for independent grocery stores, convenience stores, and wholesalers, but enforcement of the mask mandate is putting store employees at risk.
“The mandatory mask requirement for customers can be difficult to enforce as we do not want to put our employees or customers at risk by those who are unwilling to wear masks,” Hetrick said.
“If you are unable or unwilling to wear a mask, the stores may not allow you to enter and offer alternative options for receiving your food and supplies,” she added. “We are asking for your understanding and consideration as we provide consumers with essential goods in a safe environment.”
7:55am – The state Department of Health is again strongly urging “everyone to limit their holiday celebrations to only members of their immediate households.”
The DOH also recommends that anyone with symptoms or close contact with someone who is infected (or suspected to be infected) with COVID-19 get a test as soon as possible. In order to ensure testing access for those who need it most, people without symptoms or potential contacts are discouraged from seeking “screening tests” to attend Thanksgiving or other celebrations.
Friday, Nov. 20
5:43pm – King County Superior Court is suspending all in-person jury trials until at least Jan. 11, 2021. Trials in civil, family law, and involuntary treatment and dependency will still be held without juries, through video technology. The court is also holding virtual civil jury trials where the jurors, witnesses, and parties all remain at their office or home and appear on video.
This is the second time the King County Superior Court has halted jury trials in response to the pandemic, the first time being in early March.
4:57pm – Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan announced a new pilot and partnership with Curative to expand COVID-19 testing capacity. Curative will be providing two walk-up testing kiosks in North Seattle and Central Seattle in early December, with more expected in mid-December. People who take a test at these kiosks will not be not be charged and will not receive a bill for testing, Durkan said.
Currently, the city is conducting between 5,500-6,000 tests per day, and these two kiosk sites are expected to conduct at least 1,000 per day.
Similar to the citywide sites, individuals are asked to register for a test online first to speed up the process for themselves and others. Tests at the kiosk will be self-administered using an oral sample instead of the nasal swab common at existing city testing sites. Additional information about registration and the location of the kiosks will be available here in the coming days.
3:39pm – The Washington State Department of Health is reporting 139,543 confirmed cases with 2,619 deaths statewide, which is 2,132 new cases and 16 new deaths since Thursday’s data update. Snohomish, King, Pierce, Yak
3:26pm – Donald Trump Jr., President Trump’s eldest son, has been infected with COVID-19, a spokesman told the Associated Press. He reportedly has no symptoms and has been quarantining.
2:33pm – The Pac-12 has canceled Washington State’s football game at Stanford. The conference said Saturday night’s game has been called off because the Cougars don’t have enough scholarship players available due to positive COVID-19 tests and contact tracing. This is the first game both schools have had canceled this season because of the coronavirus. Read more from the AP.
1:46pm – Starting Friday, a new COVID-19 testing site will be open in South King County at Highline College in Des Moines. Testing will be provided at a walk-up tent, and free parking is available. The site are free and open to anyone, regardless of insurance or immigration status. People are encouraged, but not required, to register for an appointment here.
Find information on all free King County testing sites here.
12:14pm – As cases and hospitalizations increase in King County, Dr. Jeff Duchin, health officer for Public Health — Seattle & King County, is urging the public to act now to turn this outbreak around.
Duchin warned that local hospital systems are already stretched thin, and expressed concern that they soon won’t be able to care for everyone who needs it if they’re overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients. Every day we put off actions to help limit the spread, Duchin said, leads to more unnecessary suffering.
“We don’t have to follow the pathway to pain that so many other communities are experiencing. We have time to change course. But we’ve gone too far down this pathway for my comfort already,” he said.
He again encouraged everyone to wear a mask and limit any contact, social or otherwise, with people outside our households, recognizing that these measures are tough, but they have the potential to save lives. Dr. Duchin said his own family is not traveling for Thanksgiving this year and he is not planning to gather in person with his adult kids or his extended family.
“I’m just hoping that by minimizing the risk to one another and limiting our Thanksgiving this year … everybody will be healthy and alive next year to have an in-person Thanksgiving like we always do,” Duchin said.
10:01am – Gov. Jay Inslee issued a letter to federal lawmakers in Congress Thursday, urging them to come to an agreement on a new COVID-19 relief package. Read more.
8:33am – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Friday that Canada has extended its current border restrictions by another 30 days, halting all non-essential travel between the U.S. and Canada “until at least” Dec. 21, 2020.
7:47am – Pfizer said Friday it is asking U.S. regulators to allow emergency use of its COVID-19 vaccine, starting the clock on a process that could bring limited first shots as early as next month, and eventually an end to the pandemic — but not until after a long, hard winter.
The action comes days after Pfizer Inc. and its German partner BioNTech announced that its vaccine appears to be 95% effective at preventing mild to severe COVID-19 disease in a large, ongoing study. Read more from the AP.
6:47am – As COVID-19 cases continue to surge in Washington state and across the country, many states are imposing limits on businesses and activities, and enacting various stay home orders, advisories, and mask mandates. Read more.
5:26am – Health experts continue to urge people to wear masks in public. According to the latest data from the UW’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, as many as 65,000 lives could be saved in the United States by March 1, 2021, if 95% of Americans wear masks.
“Wear your mask to save lives and the economy,” the IHME’s Dr. Ali Mokdad said.
Thursday, Nov. 19
5:30pm – Now that gyms are closed for at least the next month, more people might be hitting the pavement to run. So, should you wear a mask while running?
“If you’re not going to be around anyone at all or within that six feet distance, you probably don’t necessarily need to wear a mask, or a gaiter, or any face covering specifically,” says Dr. Mark Harrast with UW Medicine.
But, if you’re running in the city or on a popular path, chances are that you’ll come within six feet of someone else, in which case Harrast recommends carrying a mask with you.
4:52pm – The Washington State Department of Health released a short video with answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about COVID vaccines. Watch the video here.
Find more answers, including an update on the state’s vaccine distribution planning, online here.
4:14pm – The state Department of Health is reporting a total of 137,411 confirmed cases with 2,603 deaths statewide, which is 1,987 new cases and 11 new deaths since Wednesday. There have been 2,856,474 total tests conducted in Washington state.
2:43pm – President-elect Joe Biden promised state leaders on Thursday he would “make sure you get the resources you need … to beat this virus” and said he would hold similar meetings with governors frequently going forward.
“All the governors, no matter their political party, … no matter their political philosophy shared a strong and abiding sense of common purpose,” Biden said. “There’s a real desire for real partnership between the states and the federal government.”
The the meeting included Republicans Larry Hogan of Maryland, Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas, Kay Ivey of Alabama, Charlie Baker of Massachusetts and Gary Herbert of Utah. Biden participated from a theater in Wilmington, Delaware, with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris. Also appearing online were the leaders of Biden’s virus task force. Read more from AP.
1:45pm – Starting Thursday, in-person classes at Western Washington University are suspended and classes will be moved online for the rest of fall quarter. This move comes after a recent spike in students testing positive for COVID-19 over the past week. The university is also suspending in-person sports practices until further notice.
11:33am – The CDC released updated guidance Thursday, advising against traveling for Thanksgiving.
The CDC’s guidance lays out a series of considerations people should make before deciding to travel for the holiday, stating that if your answer to any of those questions is yes, “you should consider making other plans, such as hosting a virtual gathering or delaying your travel.”
9:56am – UW Medicine is making what it’s calling a “difficult decision,” limiting visitation at its hospitals and clinics to mitigate the spread of COVID.
“It’s not an easy decision, but it’s critically important that we keep our patients, staff and community safe during this outbreak,” UW Medicine President Lisa Brandenburg said in a written release.
8:15am – Snohomish County announced Wednesday that it will be suspending all criminal jury trials until Jan. 8, 2021, citing concerns over rising COVID-19 cases across the region.
6:49am – The governor’s new restrictions on businesses are drawing questions and apprehension from the Washington Retail Association — especially where small businesses are concerned. Read more.
5:13am – The Monroe School District announced Wednesday that it will be returning first graders to all-remote learning.
This came after first graders were returned to in-person classrooms this week for two days, despite objections from Monroe teachers that it was unsafe amid rapidly rising COVID case numbers.
“We are proud that by coming together we were able to return to online learning to be safer for our students, our staff, and our community,” Monroe Education Association President Robyn Hayashi said in a news release. “We thank our families and community members who supported us as we stood up for health and safety. We will continue fighting at the table to get health and safety protocols in place as fast as possible for our front-line colleagues still in the buildings.”
Wednesday, Nov. 18
6:01pm – With the pandemic surging and new restrictions leading to more layoffs, food banks say more people are struggling to buy a meal. It’s predicted that a quarter of Washington’s residents will not have enough to eat this winter.
Northwest Harvest CEO Thomas Reynolds told KIRO Radio that the demand for food has doubled in the past year, and food banks are struggling to keep up.
4:46pm – There are 135,424 confirmed cases with 2,592 deaths statewide, as reported by the Washington State Department of Health. This marks 1,303 new cases and 21 new deaths since Tuesday’s data update. In Washington, there have been 2,835,472 total tests conducted.
4:07pm – Health officials with the state Department of Health and doctors from hospitals and medical centers across Washington joined together Wednesday to explain the impact of COVID-19 cases on the health care system. They emphasized the importance of acting now to reverse the trend of increasing cases statewide, hoping to flatten the curve once again before there’s more cases, more hospitalizations, and eventually more deaths. Read more.
1:48pm – Rep. Dan Newhouse tested positive Tuesday for COVID-19. The 65-year-old says he’s under quarantine and his symptoms remain mild. Newhouse represents Washington’s 4th District, which serves Central Washington.
11:24am – KIRO Radio hosts broke down their thoughts on the latest COVID-19 restrictions announced by Gov. Jay Inslee, providing their thoughts on the wide-ranging effects it will likely have on Washingtonians. Read more.
9:39am – Crystal Mountain is opening for the 2020-2021 ski season Wednesday, with a handful of new restrictions and measures in place to help reduce the spread of COVID-19.
The resort will require online reservations for all guests “for the foreseeable future,” while closing down lodge access for indoor food service. It will instead feature “plenty of to-go options” that can be eaten at outdoor picnic tables, on the mountain, or in vehicles.
8:05am – What exactly has driven Washington’s recent uptick in COVID cases? Bellevue’s Institute for Disease Modeling dove into the data to figure that out.
The IDM suspects that the rise in cases and hospitalizations “is due to increasing prevalence in the community.” For anyone planning a Thanksgiving gathering, it estimates that there could be between 25,000 and 40,000 people who don’t know they have the virus bringing it to dinner.
“450 people carrying infections on Thanksgiving Day alone will be dead by New Year’s,” the IDM warned.
You can read the full analysis here.
6:40am – The owner of a gym in the South Sound area is choosing to stay open despite the updated restrictions announced by Gov. Jay Inslee on Sunday intended to slow the spread of COVID-19. Per the new rules, gyms and fitness facilities are to be closed to indoor operations, but may still offer outdoor fitness classes at a limit of five people. Read more.
5:26am – Pfizer announced Wednesday that it now believes its COVID vaccine to be 95% effective, matching the number from Moderna’s vaccine.
Pfizer’s initial announcement breaking down its early trial data had said its vaccine was 90% effective. The company intends to apply for an emergency use authorization from the FDA “within days.”
Tuesday, Nov. 17
5:25pm – Moderna announced this week that early data for its vaccine has shown to be 95% effective. A Seattle woman was the first person in the United States to participate in a COVID vaccine trial, receiving two doses of Moderna’s vaccine back in March as part of the Phase 1 trial. Read more.
4:17pm -Restaurants and bars in Washington state are facing another shutdown as no indoor dining will be allowed until at least Dec. 14 and outdoor dining is limited, forcing many to rely on takeout and delivery.
3:36pm – The state Department of Health is reporting 134,121 confirmed cases and 2,571 deaths statewide, which is 2,589 new cases and 23 new deaths since Monday’s update. There have been 2,813,081 tests conducted in Washington state.
3:09pm – Bloodworks Northwest and the American Red Cross are calling for blood donations as the state is seeing the highest blood usage since the state of the pandemic, and local blood donation centers need help to keep up. Donations always tend to slow down during the holidays, and they expect them to slow down even more this year because of the pandemic.
Find out when and where you can donate to Bloodworks Northwest online here.
2:21pm – As COVID-19 cases rise, more than 500 King County nurses have issued an “urgent call” for everyone to renew their efforts in the fight against this virus and turn around the trend now before hospitals are overwhelmed. Read more from Public Health Insider.
11:53am – Gov. Inslee announced Tuesday that he is appointing Dr. Umair A. Shah as Washington’s new Secretary of Health.
Shah is currently serving as the executive director and local health authority for Harris County Public Health in Texas.
“Dr. Shah brings an unrivaled expertise, knowledge and passion for public health,” Inslee said in a news release. “His leadership will help us lead Washington state through the next crucial phase of this pandemic. He is uniquely suited to continue our nation-leading response. An immigrant, originally from Pakistan and raised in Ohio, equity is incorporated and considered in every decision as he leads organizations to ensure the health and safety of everyone.”
9:46am – Gov. Jay Inslee will be introducing Washington’s new Secretary of Health at 11:30 a.m. Tuesday, after previous Sec. of Health John Wiesman submitted his resignation in early March. Wiesman will officially be stepping down from the role at the end of Inslee’s second term on Jan. 10, 2021.
You can stream the announcement on TVW here.
8:24am – Governor Inslee announced over the weekend a return to COVID lockdown requirements where restaurants and bars have to be closed for indoor dining, and can only do takeout, delivery, and, in some instances, outdoor dining. Chad Mackay, CEO of Fire and Vine Hospitality, which includes El Gaucho, joined the Jason Rantz Show with his reaction. Read more.
6:49am – Governor Jay Inslee announced new restrictions Sunday for Washington to help limit the spread of COVID-19 as cases continue to rise across the state. State Health Officer Dr. Kathy Lofy joined the governor to help explain some of the rationale behind the new COVID restrictions, adding that they do not make these decisions lightly. Read more.
5:27am – 300 attendees of a wedding near Ritzville in Adams County are being asked to get tested for COVID-19, after several others tested positive for the virus.
Anyone who attended the wedding is being asked by the Grant County Health District to quarantine through Nov. 21. According to a report from the Associated Press, attendees who tested positive have been linked to a pair of subsequent COVID outbreaks.
The event occurred when weddings were supposed to be limited to 30 people.
Monday, Nov. 16
8:08pm – Health officials say there are 131,532 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Washington state, and 2,548 deaths since the outbreak started. The state says there have been 2,795,736 tests conducted so far.
2:24pm – Diners can get 30% off their bill at more than 200 Pierce County restaurants through the county’s “Restaurant Rally” program, which will continue this week as the new restrictions take effect. Customers can receive the discount in-person until dining rooms close after Tuesday, or on any carryout order through Thursday.
1:18pm – The new restrictions for retail and grocery stores announced Sunday include a capacity limit of 25%. But Karl Schroeder, the president of the Safeway and Albertsons Seattle Division, told KIRO Radio’s Gee & Ursula Show that they aren’t expecting much of a change from the 30% capacity limit they’ve been operating under, and that customers shouldn’t worry about being turned away.
The vast majority of stores, Schroeder explained, actually never hit the 30% limit. There were a few times at peak shopping hours when shoppers may have had to wait, but because there are a lot of Safeway and Albertsons locations in different neighborhoods, and many hours for people to shop, capacity is rarely a problem. Read more.
12:33pm – Seattle-King County Public Health is reporting longer wait times at COVID-19 testing sites Monday, with some up around an hour.
You can see the full list of testing locations in King County here if the one closest to you is experiencing delays.
10:48am – Despite concerns from businesses over new COVID restrictions announced by Gov. Jay Inslee over the weekend, local health workers are calling it a necessity to getting the virus under control. Read more.
9:19am – When stay-at-home restrictions were first announced in March, Washington grocery stores quickly experienced shortages of essential items like toilet paper, disinfectant, paper towels, and non-perishable food items. That issue appears to be rearing its head once again following new restrictions announced Sunday by Gov. Jay Inslee. Read more.
7:41am – The Monroe School District announced Sunday that it will be delaying the return of in-person classes for first graders from Monday to Tuesday, following a union vote from teachers.
Teachers had petitioned the district to put plans to resume first grade in-person classes on hold due to a recent rise in COVID cases, the Everett Herald reports.
5:59am – Modern reported Monday that its COVID-19 vaccine appears to have been 94.5% effective during the trial phase according to preliminary data. This comes on the heels of Pfizer announcing last week that its own vaccine has tested out around 90% effectiveness.
“That should give us all hope that actually a vaccine is going to be able to stop this pandemic and hopefully get us back to our lives,” Moderna President Dr. Stephen Hoge told The Associated Press.
If Moderna and/or Pfizer get emergency use authorization from the FDA, supplies of their respective vaccines will still likely be limited and rationed for the remainder of 2020. Both vaccines require two shots spaced out by several weeks.
COVID cases in the United States since the start of the pandemic crested 11 million over the weekend, including 1 million in just the last week. Of the 1.3 million deaths brought on by the virus across the globe since March, over 245,000 of them have been in the United States.
5:12am – In the wake of Gov. Inslee announcing a temporary shutdown of all indoor dining and out-of-household gatherings, local health officials, politicians, and more are reacting. You can read reactions from local leaders here, and from local grocers here.