COVID-19 updates: First WA mass vaccination site opens in Sequim
The state Department of Health says there have been more than 277,00 confirmed coronavirus cases in Washington, and 3,903 people have died from the virus statewide. Check below for more updates.
Sunday, Jan. 17
4:18pm – The Washington Department of Health is now reporting 277,404 confirmed COVID-19 cases statewide since the start of the pandemic, as well as an additional 12,535 “probable” cases. The DOH does not report new deaths on weekend.
12:45pm – Kareena Lauer, a Tacoma woman, describes how she became homeless with her two kids during the pandemic after her landlord gave them the boot. Read more.
7:50am – Washington state has its first mass vaccination site opened for business, with nearly 2,000 cars of seniors over the age of 70 lined up in Sequim on Saturday.
According to KIRO 7 reporter Deedee Sun, one man “stayed in a pop-up camper the night before and started barbecuing.”
Some reported frustration, though, after roughly 1,000 people were turned away for lack of supply at the time. You can read the full story from KIRO 7 TV here.
Saturday, Jan. 16
4:01pm – Update from the DOH: “The Department of Health experienced technical challenges processing COVID-19 data today. As a result the COVID-19 dashboards will not be updated today. If the problems are resolved we will update the dashboard on Sunday January 17, 2021.
The department does not update the dashboards on holidays, so there will no dashboard updates on Monday, Martin Luther King Jr. Day. We will resume our regular reporting schedule on Tuesday, January 19, 2021.”
12:22pm – The first week back at the Legislature — virtually, that is — saw plenty of conversation over what went wrong at the Employment Security Department this past year, and what steps might be taken to help out those who are unemployed. Read more.
8:01am – The Oregon Health Authority reported Friday that the state has a identified a resident in Multnomah County as testing positive for the COVID-19 variant that originated in the United Kingdom. The man has no known travel history, and officials continue to investigate how he became infected with the variant strain.
This variant — known officially as B.1.1.7 — at one point was responsible for over half of all new infections in the UK, according to the World Health Organization. It’s thought to be significantly more infectious than other strains of COVID-19, and has had health officials in Washington sounding the alarm for weeks.
It has yet to be detected in Washington state, but local health officials believe it might only be a matter of time, especially given that it’s now been found just one state away in Oregon.
Friday, Jan. 15
5:47pm – There have been 273,703 confirmed cases and 3,903 deaths statewide, according to the Washington State Department of Health.
Jan. 15, 2021 data note from the state DOH: “Total case counts may include up to 280 duplicates and negative test results data from are incomplete from November 21-30, 2020 and December 30 through today. Thus, percent positivity (Testing tab) and case counts 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.
Today’s unusually high number of new hospitalizations is due to a backlog from January 13-14, 2021.
We’ve identified a problem with the race/ethnicity data displayed on deaths (Demographics tab). We will work to correct this issue on Tuesday, January 19, 2021.”
3:59pm – Washington State Patrol says its employees are beginning to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
“Our agency employees are inherently at a high risk of contracting COVID-19 by the nature of their duty – serving our state,” said WSP Human Resource Director Jason Ashley. “We want to ensure those wanting a vaccine are eligible to do so and ensure no vaccine goes to waste.”
WSP is not requiring employees to receive the vaccine.
3:03pm – Dr. Jeff Duchin, health officer for Public Health — Seattle & King County, says the region needs to “beware and prepare” for new COVID-19 strains and more challenges ahead. While vaccines are an important part of the defense against the virus, Duchin says they can’t be our only defense.
“I know no one wants to hear this, it’s the last thing I wanted to hear, but the virus has gotten smarter and faster,” he said, again underscoring the importance of continuing to rely on proven preventative measures to limit the spread of the virus. Read more.
1:18pm – The state Department of Health says that based on Gov. Inslee’s Healthy Washington plan, all eight regions in Washington will remain in Phase 1 until at least Monday, Jan. 25. The DOH reassesses the metrics each week and will announce any changes to current phase status on Fridays.
As outlined in the governor’s COVID-19 plan, regions must meet four metrics in order to move into Phase 2. These metrics provide an overview of current COVID-19 trends and health care system readiness in each region. The four metrics are:
- Decreasing trend of 10% or more in two-week rate of COVID-19 cases per 100k population.
- Decreasing trend of 10% or more in two-week rate of new COVID-19 hospitalizations.
- Less than 90% Intensive Care Unit (ICU) occupancy.
- COVID-19 test positivity of less than 10%.
12:55pm – The Washington state legislative session recently began, and one of the most important issues is restarting the economy and reopening the state. One bill is hoping to further that along, by moving from Phase 1 to Phase 2 under the Washington health plan from Gov. Inslee, and effectively putting every senator on record with regards to the reopening process. Read more.
11:18am – The global death toll from COVID-19 topped 2 million Friday as vaccines developed at breakneck speed are being rolled out around the world in an all-out campaign to vanquish the threat.
The milestone was reached just over a year after the coronavirus was first detected in the Chinese city of Wuhan. Read more from the AP.
10:51am – States were notified Thursday that they will not be receiving increased vaccine shipments next week, after it was revealed that the federal reserve of doses has been exhausted. Read more.
8:45am – Washington State Patrol is now distributing vaccines to its troopers, including to one whose “family was hit hard by COVID.”
7:08am – President-elect Joe Biden has picked former FDA head Dr. David Kessler to lead his administration’s vaccine science, as part of a larger effort to distribute 100 million vaccines across the United States in the first 100 days of his presidency. Read more from the Associated Press.
5:31am – UW Medicine reports that it has handed out over 25,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses to its employees and community partners.
In a video from UW Medicine’s Lisa Brandenburg, she cited “teams of experts” and backup lists to help administer extra doses of vaccines when needed.
Thursday, Jan. 14
5:19pm – Saying the nation faces “a crisis of deep human suffering,” President-elect Joe Biden unveiled a $1.9 trillion coronavirus plan Thursday to turn the tide on the pandemic, speeding up vaccines and pumping out financial help to those struggling with the prolonged economic fallout.
Called the “American Rescue Plan,” the legislative proposal would meet Biden’s goal of administering 100 million vaccines by the 100th day of his administration, while advancing his objective of reopening most schools by spring. On a parallel track, he believes it will deliver another round of aid to stabilize the economy while the public health effort seeks the upper hand on the pandemic. Read more from the AP.
4:40pm – Beginning on Jan. 26, Skagit County says it will provide COVID-19 vaccinations for those eligible for Phase 1B-1 at the Skagit County Fairgrounds. The test site will be closed Jan. 25 to allow staff to transition portions of the fairgrounds for vaccinations.
People eligible for Phase 1B, Tier 1 include all people 70 years and older, and people 50 years and older in a multigenerational household. Dependent on adequate supply, the schedule is set as Tuesdays through Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The vaccine will be available by appointment only.
4:09pm – The state Department of Health is reporting 271,643 confirmed cases with 3,876 deaths. Additionally, there are more than 12,000 “probable cases” reported on the state’s data dashboard, bringing the total cases to 283,777 statewide.
Jan. 14, 2021, data note from the DOH: “Total case counts may include up to 660 duplicates and negative test results data from are incomplete from November 21-30, 2020 and December 30 through today. Thus, percent positivity (Testing tab) and case counts 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.
Today’s data on hospitalizations is incomplete due to an interruption in the data reporting processes. We expect to be able to make a full update tomorrow (January 15, 2021).”
3:21pm – After leveling off and even declining in December, Washington state’s COVID-19 case counts are now rising again, and reaching the highest levels ever.
“One of the main concerns is we’re at higher rates than we have ever been since the beginning of this in March,” said Dr. Scott Lindquist, the state epidemiologist for communicable diseases. Read more.
12:31pm – The rapid expansion of COVID-19 vaccinations to senior citizens across the U.S. has led to bottlenecks, system crashes and hard feelings in many states because of overwhelming demand for the shots. Read more from the Associated Press.
10:08am – The latest situation report from the state DOH details a handful of counties who had been experiencing declining COVID case counts to end the year, before seeing a troubling rebound in cases in January 2021.
That pattern was observed in Benton, Chelan, Clark, Cowlitz, and Douglas counties, among others, as well as King, Pierce, and Snohomish counties.
7:50am – The United States saw 965,000 initial unemployment claims last week, marking an increase of 181,000 over the week prior.
6:34am – The Washington State Department of Health is promising to get the COVID-19 vaccine into people’s arms faster. Read more.
5:11am – The Washington State Department of Health voiced concerns Wednesday over the fact that the state is not currently flattening its curve of confirmed cases. Rather, there is now a trend of increased COVID activity in the Puget Sound region.
Wednesday, Jan. 13
4:12pm – The Washington Department of Health is now reporting 269,201 total confirmed COVID-19 cases since the start of the pandemic, along with an additional 12,001 “probable cases.” The state reports 3,838 deaths as well.
2:41pm – The Washington Education Association (WEA) is asking local officials to prioritize any teachers who are currently working in person with students or are expected to soon to get a COVID-19 vaccine. Read more.
12:55pm – The Snohomish Health District on Wednesday opened two new drive-thru vaccine clinics at Paine Field in Everett and at Edmonds Community College in Lynnwood, according to the Everett Herald.
You need an appointment to get vaccinated.
The Herald reports that the sites can administer 700 doses per day, combined.
“We have nearly 900,000 residents. Our goal is to vaccinate everyone this year. We need additional capacity beyond the existing system and we must do it in an orderly fashion,” Executive Dave Somers said in a media briefing on Tuesday.
10:05am – If a visitor needs to be in your home, public health officials say improving ventilation can help prevent virus particles from accumulating in the air in your home. Good ventilation, along with other preventive actions, like staying 6 feet apart and wearing masks, can help prevent you from getting and spreading COVID-19. Read more from the CDC about how to improve ventilation in your home.
9:00am – Two COVID-19 test sites in King County will be closed today due to the strong winds overnight. While Highline College and the University of Washington sites are closed, all others remain open. The two closed sites are expected to reopen Thursday.
7:34am – Starting this week, the Washington State Department of Health will be texting a verification code to every person in the state who tests positive for COVID-19. Read more.
6:53am – Coronavirus deaths in the United States hit another one-day high at over 4,300 with the country’s attention focused largely on the fallout from the deadly uprising at the U.S. Capitol.
The nation’s overall death toll from COVID-19 has eclipsed 380,000, according to Johns Hopkins University, and is closing in fast on the number of Americans killed in World War II, or about 407,000. Confirmed infections have topped 22.8 million. Read more from AP.
Tuesday, Jan. 12
5:46pm – Whatcom County, situated near the Canadian border, is the state’s current COVID-19 hotspot. The county is seeing a transmission rate higher than anywhere else in Washington. Read more.
4:35pm – There have been 266,701 confirmed cases and 3,789 deaths statewide since the start of the pandemic, according to the Washington State Department of Health. There are also an additional 11,843 probable cases, bringing the total cases to 278,544 for the state.
The data note from the state DOH says the “usually high number of reported deaths is due to a backlog from Jan. 8, 2021 through today.”
3:39pm – There’s a new high-volume, free COVID-19 testing site just north Husky Stadium at the University of Washington in parking lot E1, operated by King County in partnership with UW Laboratory Medicine. It will be open Monday through Saturday, 8:45 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Make reservations here.
2:25pm – Washington state hospitals expect to be re-supplied with COVID-19 vaccines this week.
“Most vaccine in the state … had been used, or transferred. We were working on transfers among hospitals to make sure that places that hadn’t received vaccine, get it,” Washington Hospital Association CEO Cassie Sauer told KIRO Radio.
Sauer also said she’s concerned by a spike in coronavirus cases in recent days. She says it could be that a more contagious strain of the virus is going around, or perhaps we are starting to see cases related to New Year’s Eve celebrations.
1:41pm – As of Monday, anyone with a cellphone who tests positive for COVID-19 will get a text from the Washington State Department of Health. The text will have a code to enter into WA Notify. Then, anyone who has been near you will get an alert, but will not receive your name or phone number. The text will also include a link to help you activate WA Notify if you have not done so already.
The state hopes this new system will lead to faster notification for people who have been exposed.
12:52pm – The state Department of Health has approved the City of Seattle to be a COVID-19 vaccine distributor, which Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan said is a necessary step in setting up the city’s own system to vaccinate residents and workers. The initial vaccination efforts by the city will start with two mobile teams from the Seattle Fire Department, focused first on vaccinating residents at adult family homes. Read more.
12:28pm – The United States is just about one month into the mass COVID-19 vaccination campaign, and the main problem so far appears to be distribution. Read more.
11:09am – The U.S.-Canada border closure has been extended until at least Feb. 21. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the extension of the restriction Tuesday. The current restrictions were set to expire Jan. 21. The non-essential travel restriction was first imposed last March to limit the spread of the virus, and has been renewed monthly since then.
9:47am – The City of Seattle will be handing out $2.17 million in “direct assistance to workers impacted by the pandemic-fueled recession,” with applications open for cash assistance to workers in the hospitality industry.
Hospitality workers who have lost their jobs as a result of the pandemic will be eligible for up to $2,000 per family, or $1,000 per individual. People in need of assistance can visit this website to learn if they qualify and apply for resources.
8:28am – A portion of the Washington State Employment Security Department’s online dashboard is down indefinitely. Read more.
7:10am – Washington Rep. Pramila Jayapal revealed Monday that she has tested positive for COVID-19.
Rep. Jayapal laid the blame at the feet of Republican lawmakers who “recklessly refused to wear masks” while members of Congress were locked down in a secure room during last week’s siege of the U.S. Capitol. Read more.
5:23am – The federal government is pushing states to speed up its vaccine delivery process, asking that states prioritize those who are 65 and older, and to no longer hold back the second dose.
“The administration in the states has been too narrowly focused,” Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said.
So far, the vaccine rollout has been primarily to health care workers and nursing home residents, and the slow pace has frustrated many Americans at a time when the coronavirus death toll has continued to rise. More than 376,000 people have died, according to the Johns Hopkins database. Read more from the Associated Press.
Monday, Jan. 11
5:13pm – Health officials say there have been 265,312 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Washington state, and 3,699 deaths since the outbreak began. The state says 15,978 people have been hospitalized, and 4,087,531 people have been tested.
4:42pm – Seattle Public Schools Superintendent Denise Juneau called on Gov. Jay Inslee — as well as key other state and county health leaders — to give higher COVID-19 vaccine prioritization to educators and school district personnel before they return to the classroom.
SPS is curretly set to resume in-person instruction on March 1, 2021, for about 10,000 Pre-K, kindergarten, first grade, and specific Special Education grade bands. Read more.
2:37pm – On 710 ESPN Seattle, hosts Danny and Gallant spoke with Seahawks Head Coach Pete Carroll on Monday who said the biggest takeaway from this season is that the entire team stayed healthy and kept their families healthy while playing during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“That was the number one criteria for going into this year,” Carroll said. “We didn’t have any idea what the football season was going to deal us, and so everything was about making sure that we took care of business. We were really disciplined and strict about it so that we could keep our people safe from the harm that was out there. That, and I know that, again, that’s not what everybody wants to hear, but I really don’t care about that because that was more important than anything.”
“It took everybody in the whole program, every single person had to contribute to that,” he added. “And every person that they live with, or love, and hang with, or whatever, had to contribute to that. And everybody did, everybody got the message, and we did a marvelous job.”
Listen to The Pete Carroll Show here.
12:26pm – UW’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation will not be releasing new COVID-19 case and death projections this week, citing “significant delays in death reporting during and following the holidays.”
10:14am – Seattle Public Schools is extending the deadline for the “intent to return to in-person learning” survey. The original deadline for families to return the survey was Sunday. The new deadline is Wednesday at 12 p.m.
The district sent the surveys out last week to see how many kids plan to return to the classroom. The answers will help the district plan bus schedules, know the amount of PPE that will be required, and determine how many teachers and classrooms are needed.
8:32am – Should we start letting the universe decide who should remain open? KIRO Radio’s Dave Ross thinks so. Read more.
6:56am – The Washington state Legislature is soon to convene down in Olympia, but they say because of COVID they’re going to have to make big changes. Democrats also have an increased majority in the Legislature. What does this imply for the upcoming year? State Senator Doug Ericksen represents Whatcom County, and joined the Dori Monson Show to discuss what to expect. Read more.
5:18am – As Washington state continues to deliver and distribute vaccine doses, Gov. Jay Inslee is pushing for the process to continue moving forward quickly.
“These numbers are going to keep going up and up,” he said. “We are making good progress on vaccine delivery, but it is not enough. I am fully committed to doing whatever it takes to get this done quickly and effectively.”
You can monitor ongoing vaccine updates from the state here.