COVID-19 updates: Local workers stress need for help as benefits expire

Dec 21, 2020, 5:04 AM | Updated: Dec 27, 2020, 5:26 pm
artists, Vin Gupta, lockdown, restaurants...
Murals and paintings from local artists cover the side of businesses and restaurants in Seattle closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Meili Cady/KIRO Radio)
(Meili Cady/KIRO Radio)

The state Department of Health says there have been over 227,000 confirmed coronavirus cases in Washington state, and 3,184 people have died from the virus statewide. Check below for more updates.

Confirmed coronavirus cases across Washington state

Sunday, Dec. 27

5:26pm – President Donald Trump has signed a $900 billion pandemic relief package that will deliver long-sought cash to businesses and individuals. It also averts a government shutdown. Read more.

8:25pm – Local workers in Washington are stressing the need for the federal benefits in Congress’s recently-passed COVID aid package, which President Trump has refused to sign.

Additional unemployment benefits across the country lapsed overnight with the aid package left unsigned, which includes an extra $300 a week for people out of work.

“For somebody that is reliant on that, it’s really hard — so yeah, I’m frustrated,” a former server at Seattle’s Metropolitan Grill told KIRO Radio.

Saturday, Dec. 26

5:02pm – There have now been 227,795 total COVID-19 cases in Washington since the start of the pandemic, according to the latest report from the state Department of Health. The DOH does not provide updated numbers on deaths over the weekend.

December 26, 2020 data note: Today’s total case counts may include up to 200 duplicates. Negative test results data from 11/21/2020 through today are incomplete. Therefore, testing numbers and case counts should be interpreted with caution.

12:16pm – The first confirmed COVID-19 case in the United States was treated at Everett’s Providence Regional Medical Center, and now, health care workers at that very same hospital are receiving vaccines. Read more.

8:24am – The Associated Press published a comprehensive report Friday, detailing how COVID-19 took over the world in 2020. You can see the full pandemic atlas from AP for the last year here.

Friday, Dec. 25

2:32pm – The DOH will not be reporting new case numbers on Christmas Day. It will resume reporting on Saturday, Dec. 26.

7:54am – With the COVID vaccine going out to frontline medical workers in the U.S., UW Medicine offered a quick explainer on Thursday, answering some common questions about its safety, how it was developed so fast, and more.

Thursday, Dec. 24

4:19pm – The Washington Department of Health is now reporting 224,399 confirmed COVID-19 cases since the start of the pandemic, along with 3,184 deaths. The state also reports an additional 8,694 total “probable cases,” where individuals received a positive antigen test for COVID, but did not receive a positive molecular test.

3:35pm – The Washington Department of Health published its latest report on the status of the state’s COVID-19 outbreak.

According to the report, a steep increase in cases and hospitalizations that began in early November has since plateaued, with dips occurring “just prior to the week of Thanksgiving.”

You can read the full report from the DOH here.

2:16pm – The Washington State Department of Labor & Industries doled out one of the largest total fines related to worker safety in the state’s history this week, following the death of two Central Washington farm workers from COVID-19. Read more

12:42pm – After Governor Inslee extended the ban on indoor dining at restaurants statewide, some business owners decided they were going to defy the COVID rules. One of those restaurants is Spiffy’s in Chehalis, which now faces nearly $150,000 in fines, and has been hit with a temporary restraining order.

“There’s maybe around a dozen or so restaurants out there and other businesses that are refusing to follow the requirements,” said Tim Church, spokesman for the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries. “In the case of Spiffy’s, we’ve used all of the tools we have. We’ve cited and fined them, we’ve issued what’s called an order and notice of immediate restraint, and we’ve gone to the local Superior Court, and that court has issued a court order requiring them to follow state requirements. Unfortunately, they still are not, at this point.” Read more.

10:50am – Even as Americans start getting vaccinated against COVID-19, masks will be here to stay for quite a while longer. KIRO 7 TV reports that the Infectious Diseases Society of America is urging people to mask up now and for the foreseeable future. With just two vaccines available right now, infectious disease experts think we will be wearing masks for another year.

President-elect Joe Biden has also said he’ll ask Americans to wear a mask for his first 100 days in office to help control the spread of the virus.

9:28am – Every day, more and more people in Washington state are getting vaccinated for COVID-19. But what if you’re pregnant? Dr. Linda Eckert with the UW School of Medicine says there have been studies on pregnant animals, and the embryos and the pups suffered no untoward effects.

Since pregnant women are more likely to end up in the ICU if they contract COVID, Dr. Erkert recommends they get the vaccine, after talking with their provider and assessing their risk of acquiring COVID. She also recommends women who are breastfeeding consider getting the vaccine.

7:14am – Washington U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen tweeted Wednesday that he tested positive for COVID-19 this week. He’s quarantining, not experiencing symptoms, and says he’ll “vote by proxy” if need be.

5:45am – As of late Wednesday, the Washington State Department of Health is reporting 221,695 confirmed cases of COVID-19, and 3,162 deaths. There are 8,507 additional probable cases, bringing the total cases to 230,202.

The state included the following data note for Dec. 23: “Today’s total case counts may include up to 150 duplicates. Negative test results data from November 21, 2020 through today are incomplete, thus testing numbers should be interpreted with caution. The Epidemiologic Curves tab is the most accurate representation of COVID activity and is updated daily as new cases are identified and duplicates are resolved.

Data on hospitalizations and COVID-like illness hospitalizations are incomplete today due to an interruption in the data reporting processes. We expect to be able to make a full update tomorrow.”

Wednesday, Dec. 23

4:38pm – Gov. Jay Inslee announced Wednesday that he will be extending a statewide eviction moratorium through March 31, 2021. The moratorium had originally been scheduled to expire at the end of the year.

Inslee expects to have more information on the extension “in the next week,” with his office still finalizing details.

2:42pm – Shortly after Congress approved a COVID aid package that included $600 direct payments to qualifying Americans, President Trump pressed lawmakers to increase that amount to $2,000 a person. Washington state’s own Congressional delegation expressed support for that plan Tuesday and Wednesday. Read more.

1:01pm – Unemployment claims in Washington are down this week compared to last. The state Employment Security Department says initial claims are down nearly 10%. Although with new claims declined, those remain roughly twice as high as this time last year.

11:38am– WA Notify, the state’s newest COVID-19 tracking tool, is active on more than one million phones, according to Washington State Department of Health Deputy Secretary Lacy Fahrenbach. Washington is in the top five states for use in this technology when compared to adult population size.

The tool was launched three weeks ago to help notify users when they’ve been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.

8:00am – Seattle is getting three new Curative COVID-19 testing kiosks — two of which launched Tuesday, and the third set to launch Saturday. All kiosks will initially operate from noon to 3 p.m., then from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., Monday through Saturday. These are walk-up testing sites that allow clients to use an observed and directed self-collected oral fluid swab. Register for a kiosk testing appointment here though Curative, or on the city’s testing website here.

The new Curative kiosks are located in North Seattle at Lower Woodland Park; on 2nd Avenue and Republican, near the Seattle Repertory Theatre in Seattle Center; and in South Seattle at the old UW laundry site, west of the Mt. Baker light rail station.

5:46am – Pfizer and BioNTech will supply the U.S. with an additional 100 million doses of their COVID-19 vaccine under a second agreement. The drugmakers said Wednesday they expect to deliver all the doses by July 31. Read more from the AP.

Tuesday, Dec. 22

6:06pm – Health care officials say there have been 219,584 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Washington state, and 3,131 deaths. The state says there have been 13,590 people hospitalized and 3,590,459 people who’ve been tested since the outbreak began.

5:59pm – President Donald Trump is assailing the bipartisan $900 billion pandemic relief package that Congress just passed and is suggesting that he may not sign it.

Trump complained in a video that he tweeted out Tuesday night that the bill delivered too much money to foreign countries, but not enough to Americans. Read more from the AP.

4:02pm – Snohomish County’s health officer says coronavirus may be declining.

“For the first time since early September, the rolling two-week case rate in Snohomish County actually decreased,” said Dr. Chris Spitters, health officer for the Snohomish Health District. He added that the Pfizer vaccine is a promising sign for all of us in terms of getting to the other side of the pandemic.

Spitters said Washington state has seen stalls in the number of cases reported. For now, he says he is cautiously optimistic.

3:29pm – Some Kirkland restaurant owners are frustrated by the wet, winter weather, crippling outdoor dining.

Katy Ballard, owner of the Slip and the Vovina, tells KIRO 7 they’ve started curbside dining with a view. She and other restaurateurs have set aside free, 1-hour parking spaces along Kirkland’s Marina Park, on Lake Washington. Customers can order their meal from their car. Restaurant workers will deliver their meals to them, and customers can sit in their car and enjoy their meal, with a lakeside view.

2:15pm – Biden spoke a day after Congress passed a $900 billion coronavirus aid bill that includes direct payments to many Americans and aid for struggling small businesses. He called the bill a “down payment” on a broader relief bill he plans to introduce when he takes office in January.

“Like all compromises, this is far from perfect,” Biden said. “Congress did their job this week, and I can and I must ask them to do it again next year.” Read more from the Associated Press.

11:45am – Final mortality data for this year will not be available for months. But preliminary numbers suggest that the United States is on track to see more than 3.2 million deaths this year, or at least 400,000 more than in 2019.

U.S. deaths increase most years, so some annual rise in fatalities is expected. But the 2020 numbers amount to a jump of about 15%, and could go higher once all the deaths from this month are counted. Read more from AP.

9:50am – President-elect Joe Biden is expected to deliver remarks Tuesday on the recently-passed COVID relief package approved by Congress this week. Read more from The Associated Press.

8:02am – 2020 marked the deadliest year in U.S. history, with deaths expects to crest 3 million. That would make the first time the country has hit that mark in a single year, with the pandemic largely to blame.

Preliminary numbers cited by the Associated Press estimate that when the final data is tallied, that number will land around 3.2 million total deaths, 400,000 more than 2019.

As of early Tuesday, COVID-19 has killed over 318,000 Americans and rising.

6:30am – A new pilot program being launched in six counties aims to help avoid conflict between landlords and tenants when the eviction moratorium eventually lifts. Read more.

5:12am – Joining other prominent Washington leaders, Mayor Jenny Durkan criticized the latest COVID relief package passed by Congress, saying that it “has failed to address so many aspects of this virus.”

“In the initial days of the Biden-Harris administration, it will be critical to put forward a relief and recovery package that will scale to the needs of this crisis and begin investing in jobs, local projects, and small business recovery,” she said Monday.

Monday, Dec. 21

4:26pm – Health officials say there have been 218,415 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Washington state, and 3,106 deaths. Since the outbreak began, there have been 13,515 people hospitalized and 3,559,695 people who have been tested.

December 21, 2020 data note: Today’s total case counts may include up to 100 duplicates. Negative test results data from November 21, 2020 through today are incomplete, thus testing and case numbers should be interpreted with caution. The Epidemiologic Curves tab is the most accurate representation of COVID activity and is updated daily as new cases are identified and duplicates are resolved.

3:17pm – Gov. Inslee on Monday issued a 14-day quarantine for travelers arriving from the UK, South Africa, and any other countries found to have a new variant of COVID. Read more.

1:09pm – President-elect Joe Biden on Monday received his first dose of the coronavirus vaccine on live television as part of a growing effort to convince the American public the inoculations are safe.

The president-elect took a dose of Pfizer vaccine at a hospital not far from his Delaware home, hours after his wife, Jill Biden, did the same.

The president-elect praised the health care workers and said President Donald Trump’s administration “deserves some credit getting this off the ground.”

10:57am – With Christmas coming up on Friday, Dr. Anthony Fauci assured kids that it will be safe for Santa Claus to drop off presents this year, having given him his vaccine earlier this week.

“He’s good to go,” Dr. Fauci promised.

9:21am – There’s a last-minute deal in Congress on a new package to bail out struggling businesses. Of course, nothing is final until the president signs it.

But it turns out what threatened to blow everything up over the weekend was the insistence of Senator Patrick Toomey of Pennsylvania to permanently limit the Federal Reserve’s ability to issue loans during economic disasters. Read more

7:58am – With Congress agreeing to a new $900 billion COVID-19 relief package, local leaders in Washington state have stopped short of praising it as a permanent solution to the financial and economic devastation brought on by the pandemic. Read more.

6:24am – A growing number of countries are halting air and truck travel from the United Kingdom, leaving people stranded at airports and trucks backed up for miles. Read more from the AP here.

5:01am – With the COVID-19 vaccine now being distributed across the United States, Fred Hutchinson researcher Trevor Bedford voiced concerns that we “may need to update the strain used in the vaccine with some regularity.”

“There has been an open question to the degree to which SARS-CoV-2 will behave like influenza and require vaccine updates,” Bedford said. “However, emerging evidence suggests that antigenic drift is likely.”

Read last week’s COVID-19 updates here.

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COVID-19 updates: Local workers stress need for help as benefits expire