COVID-19 updates: Super Bowl in Tampa creates ‘craziness’ outside
The state Department of Health says there have been more than 304,382 confirmed coronavirus cases in Washington, and 4,449 people have died from the virus statewide. The state says 833,935 doses of vaccine have been administered. Check below for more updates.
We are currently in Phase 1B tier 1 of vaccine distribution, which means the vaccine is available to anyone 65 and older, and all people 50 and older who also live in a multigenerational household.
Sunday, Feb. 7
9:41pm – Those in attendance at the Super Bowl were required to wear face coverings throughout the game unless they were eating or drinking. Ushers holding signs enforced the rules that, by now, should be standard operating procedure. Nonetheless, violators could be found in every direction.
It became more obvious after the Bucs’ lopsided victory. Fans disregarded social distancing guidelines and crowded into the lower rows of bleachers to get a better view of the celebration. Read more from the AP.
5:03pm – Hundreds of thousands of N95 masks bought by local hospitals are counterfeit, the Washington State Hospital Association announced Sunday. Read more.
12:21pm – Over the last year, the pandemic has indelibly changed Puget Sound’s housing market in a number of ways. Windermere Chief Economist Matthew Gardner spoke to KIRO Radio’s Dave Ross about that lasting COVID-induced footprint, and what buyers can expect once the virus is fully brought under control. Read more.
8:32am – COVID-19 vaccine supply struggles are being blamed for issues around Washington state, and King County’s Council chair is calling for answers. Read more.
Saturday, Feb. 6
5:04pm – The Washington Department of Health is reporting 304,382 confirmed COVID-19 cases statewide since the start of the pandemic, along with another 15,764 probable cases. The DOH does not provide updates on total deaths on weekends.
12:14pm – President Joe Biden’s push for a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill is forcing an internal reckoning that pits his instincts to work toward a bipartisan deal against the demands of an urgent crisis and his desire to deliver for those who helped elect him. Read more.
7:48am – Health experts and officials across Washington continue to urge residents to avoid gathering in large groups for the Super Bowl on Sunday.
“The best Super Bowl advice is, please, don’t gather indoors with non-household members or everyone risks ending up on the injured list of COVID-19,” King County Health Officer Dr. Jeff Duchin said Friday.
That advice has been echoed by everyone from local doctors to Gov. Jay Inslee, who all warn that mass gatherings could lead to a surge in new cases in the next two weeks.
Friday, Feb. 5
5:23pm – There are 303,961 confirmed COVID-19 cases with 4,449 deaths statewide since the start of the pandemic, as reported by the Washington State Department of Health. There are an additional 15,410 probable cases reported, which brings the total cases for Washington state to 319,371.
4:12pm – There are federal programs from President Biden with regards to both masks and vaccine distribution. They often involved Biden exerting sweeping authority, especially on a recently-enacted order requiring a mask on all public transport, along with discussions about using the military to take over vaccine distribution. But is this legal? Read more.
2:27pm – Of the 700 positive COVID-19 tests the NFL experienced over the last season, none belonged to the Seattle Seahawks.
As the New York Times reports, the Seahawks were the only team in the NFL without a positive COVID test this season, which the team credits to its increased vigilance, enforcement of safety measures, and some “innovative thinking” on the part of head coach Pete Carroll.
That saw the team installing dividers in showers and between lockers, adding two additional locker rooms to allow players to be physically distant, and meetings were moved to larger rooms and practice fields.
12:48pm – Dr. Jeff Duchin, health officer with Public Health — Seattle & King County, warned Friday that we should expect the variant strain of COVID-19 to become widespread in our region, which will make the outbreak harder to control.
“It’s as though we’re experiencing two outbreaks now. We’re currently seeing a decrease in cases in the outbreak that we’ve been experiencing, from the virus we’ve gotten to know over the past year. While at the same time, a new outbreak threat from the variant strain B.1.1.7 is growing, and largely is silent at the moment,” he said.
Estimates from other counties, Duchin explained, suggest the variant is doubling every week.
“When a small number doubles, we don’t notice it much or even at all. But once that doubling creates a large number it gets real big, real fast,” Duchin said. “… I feel that we’re in the eye of a hurricane.”
Watch Dr. Duchin’s latest update on COVID-19 in King County here.
11:07am – Seattle Public Schools Superintendent Denise Juneau says the start date for the return of Pre-K through first graders will likely be delayed. Many special education students are scheduled to return to campus on March 1, as previously announced, but even that date could change.
9:59am – The Canadian federal government is extending its ban on cruise ships in Canadian waters for one more year. A news release from the transport minister says the ban is needed to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and protect vulnerable communities. This essentially means that the cruise season in 2021 is gone due to a law that impacts cruise ships sailing from Seattle to Alaska.
As travel expert Steve Danishek explained to KIRO Radio’s Dori Monson, the cruise industry contributes more than half a billion dollars to our region’s economy, so this is a devastating blow. Read more.
8:12am – The Washington State Department of Health says the state is still in a place where demand for vaccine greatly outpaces the amount of vaccine available. This week, the state DOH report that more than 600 facilities requested more than 358,000 first doses of vaccine, but the state’s first-dose allocation from the federal government was 107,125.
7:01am – The Bellevue Arts Museum will reopen this weekend. Like some other local museums, it will be open Friday through Sunday only, and will require advance tickets with a timed entry to control the number of visitors.
5:43am – Teachers and other essential workers 50 years or older who work in congregate settings are set to be included in the next round of vaccinations in Washington, once the state moves into Phase 1B, tier 2. But those shots are not expected to start until at least late March.
“We get food because checkout folks at the counter are willing to work. We ride buses because bus drivers are willing to work,” Gov. Inslee said. “And we want to get those folks vaccinated as soon as we can.”
Thursday, Feb. 4
5:51pm – Mask mandates may be annoying, but an assault on freedom? To KIRO Radio’s Dave Ross, the real assault on freedom is being tethered to a ventilator in the ICU. Read more.
4:32pm – Health officials say there have been 302,782 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Washington state, and 4,416 deaths since the outbreak began.
3:38pm – Gov. Jay Inslee reported Thursday that the state now has the capacity to administer 45,000 COVID-19 vaccines a day. Read more.
1:14pm – On the same day an extra hazard pay for grocery employees took effect in Seattle, grocery associations filed a lawsuit against the city. Read more.
11:50am – Washington state is enforcing a new rule that requires any place giving COVID-19 shots to use 95% of its weekly allocation, or it will see cutbacks in supply.
“This week we had to reduce orders for 39 providers because they still had more than 5% of vaccine left over from the previous week,” said Assistant Secretary of Health Michele Roberts.
She says two-thirds of the vaccines delivered to our state have been administered, and the number of shots being given each day is increasing.
10:42am – Last week, Washington state Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal unveiled a roadmap to getting the state’s teachers vaccinated for COVID-19. But while vaccinating school employees is definitely a priority, Reykdal told KIRO Radio’s Dori Monson Show that it’s not a necessity for getting students back into classrooms. Read more.
8:53am – Registration opens Thursday for two drive-thru vaccination events in Buckley and Gig Harbor this week. You must be in Phase 1A, or 1B, tier 1, and live or work in Pierce County to register. Appointments go quickly, and a similar sign-up on Tuesday filled in about 20 minutes. Registration opens at 9 a.m.
7:18am – Snohomish County opened its first indoor mass vaccination site Wednesday at Boeing’s Everett Activity Center, available by appointment only. Health managers say if they can get enough vaccine, they can give up to 10,000 shots per week at that site.
Planning continues for additional mass vaccination sites in Snohomish County, and mobile vaccination teams have started to visit adult family homes, inoculating people who cannot drive to a clinic.
5:57am – The Kitsap County Board of Commissioners sent a letter to Governor Inslee, asking him to revert to county-by-county COVID-19 rules rather than the current regional approach. The commissioners say case rates are dropping in Kitsap County, but they can’t advance to Phase 2 because of what’s happening in the neighboring counties included in their region.
Kitsap County is in the Northwest region with Mason, Jefferson, and Clallam counties.
The commissioners say the regional system is “unscientific,” and add that many Kitsap residents travel and work in the Puget Sound counties that are now in Phase 2.
Wednesday, Feb. 3
4:53pm – There are 301,372 confirmed COVID-19 cases with 4,388 deaths statewide, as reported by the Washington State Department of Health. There are an additional 14,922 probable cases reported, which brings the total cases for Washington state to 316,294.
3:45pm – A whistleblower from Washington’s Employment Security Department says she and her colleagues were stopped from helping unemployment claimants. Read more.
1:49pm – Many in Washington state have reported difficulties in finding vaccination sites with available appointments and supplies of doses. In Snohomish County, health officials are balancing that with keeping sites from getting overwhelmed with patients. Read more.
11:51am – The two mass vaccination sites that King County opened on Monday are fully booked. Ingrid Ulrey, policy director at Public Health — Seattle & King County, reports that the vaccination centers in Kent and Auburn will each give about 500 shots per day through the end of next week. No new appointments will be taken until further notice.
10:16am – The nation’s top infectious disease expert doesn’t want the Super Bowl to turn into a super spreader. Dr. Anthony Fauci says when it comes to parties during the pandemic, people should “just lay low and cool it.” Read more from the Associated Press.
9:08am – Many restaurants in the Puget Sound region were eager to reopen their indoor dining rooms to 25% capacity this week, as the region moved to Phase 2 and some COVID-19 restrictions were relaxed. But not everyone feels comfortable expanding beyond takeout and delivery. Read more.
7:11am – The White House announced plans on Tuesday to ship one million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine directly to pharmacies nationwide. The shipments are scheduled to happen as soon as Feb. 11, and will be in addition to each state’s weekly allocation. Read more from KIRO 7 TV.
5:59am – On the Washington State Department of Health’s visual timeline for vaccine allocation, which shows the current and future COVID-19 vaccine phases, it now indicates that the next phases — Phase 1B, tiers 2-4 — will be in spring and summer. Information about who will be eligible in Phases 2, 3, 4 is not yet available, but the timeline for those future phases is listed as summer and fall.
Tuesday, Feb. 2
4:57pm – There are 300,018 confirmed COVID-19 cases with 4,318 deaths statewide, as reported by the Washington State Department of Health. There are an additional 14,674 probable cases reported, which brings the total cases for Washington state to 314,692.
4:07pm – After Seattle City Council approved an extra $4 an hour in “hazard pay” for grocery store workers, PCC Markets called on Mayor Jenny Durkan to veto the legislation. Despite that, Durkan indicated Tuesday that she still intends to sign it into law. Read more.
2:33pm – Facing a sizable budget shortfall brought on by the pandemic, Washington lawmakers are mulling various proposals to tax the state’s big businesses and billionaires. Read more.
12:38pm – A new pandemic emergency measure means big grocery stores are expected to start paying Seattle store workers an extra $4 an hour starting Wednesday. But Trader Joe’s is taking the policy nationwide. Employees at Trader Joe’s were already receiving a $2 per hour pandemic premium, but as of yesterday, all hourly employees got that bumped up to $4.
12:11pm – With all the different phases and frequently changing rules intended to limit the spread of COVID-19 over the past year in Washington state, many small business and restaurant owners are frustrated. Chris Olsen, owner of Pizzeria Fondi in Gig Harbor, shares insight into what local restaurant owners have been dealing with during the pandemic. Read more.
10:57am – It took less than 15 minutes for all the appointments at two Pierce County sponsored COVID-19 vaccination clinics to fill up. The county hopes to vaccinate 3,500 people.
The Pierce County Health Department’s webpage does have a list of pharmacies, hospitals, and clinics that may have vaccine available.
8:49am – Seattle’s Museum of Pop Culture will reopen this Friday, on weekends only, and the Burke Museum is reopening as well. The Seattle Art Museum plans to reopen to the public on March 5 with limited hours. Most local museums will be requiring advance tickets to be bought online so they can keep capacity at 25%, per state rules.
7:10am – A new federal mask mandate is now in effect for all public transportation, including planes, trains, buses, subways, taxis, and even rideshares. The goal is for voluntary compliance, though fines could be issued to anyone who refuses to put on a mask in these settings. Those with a disability who cannot wear a mask are exempt if need be. The new mandate remains in effect until May 11, 2021.
5:52am – Authorities in Washington state on Monday told hospitals and other COVID-19 vaccine providers not to provide special access to people or risk having their supply of doses cut.
“VIP scheduling, reserving doses for inequitable or exclusive access, and similar practices are banned and will not be tolerated,” the state Department of Health said in an email to all enrolled vaccine providers. “If we find out a provider is giving out vaccine inequitably or is doing behaviors listed above or similar, we may reduce or stop allocations to that provider.” Read more from the Associated Press.
Monday, Feb. 1
5:09pm – There are 299,098 confirmed COVID-19 cases with 4,318 deaths statewide, as reported by the Washington State Department of Health. There are an additional 14,237 probable cases reported, which brings the total cases for Washington state to 313,335.
4:04pm – There is a new vaccine coming out from Johnson & Johnson. How is it different from the others that preceded it? Mercer Island MD Dr. Gordon Cohen joined Seattle’s Morning News to discuss how it was tested against new COVID strains, and shown to be effective. Read more.
2:16pm – Snohomish County is reporting declining COVID case rates for the third straight week, currently sitting at 184 cases per every 100,000 residents.
At its peak, the county was seeing 444 cases per every 100,000 residents. With that number now headed “in the right direction,” the county is urging people to continuing wearing a mask in public, frequently washing hands, and avoiding crowds.
12:41pm – The CEO of the Washington State Hospital Association, Cassie Sauer, is asking Governor Inslee to forbid providers from giving special access to vaccine appointments. Sauer says some hospitals have offered easy access appointments to donors and board members. She’s also heard of some pharmacies and medical offices offering VIP shots to employee’s family members, or patients only.
Sauer sent a letter to vaccine providers Monday, asking them to treat everyone equally.
11:24am – Three mass vaccination sites will be closed at least on Monday and Tuesday in Snohomish County for a shortage of COVID-19 vaccine, according to county health officials. Read more.
10:20am – Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan tweeted that 405 eligible grocery store workers were vaccinated Sunday. She also reported that the city has vaccinated 2,436 vulnerable Seattle residents and workers in just over two weeks. The Seattle Fire mobile team has been to 85 adult family homes, 12 affordable housing buildings, three pop-ups, and two permanent supportive housing buildings.
9:12am – Two mass vaccination sites open in South King County on Monday — one at the ShoWare Center in Kent, the second in the General Services Administration Complex in Auburn — but appointments are already filled through the next week. As of Sunday, the Kent COVID-19 vaccination site is full until Feb. 20, and the Auburn site is full until Feb. 10. Both sites are continuing to take appointments, which can be scheduled online here.
Due to limited vaccine supply, these two sites are limited at this time to residents who are 75 or older; or those are age 50 or older and cannot live independently, or live with and care for kin; or those who are providing care for someone age 50 or older who cannot live independently. Additional groups will be able to schedule appointments at these sites as vaccine supply increases.
7:34am – The Washington Interscholastic Activities Association previously set guidelines and voted to begin traditional fall sports on Feb. 1, so practice for some high school sports begins today. Restrictions will be in place and athletes will have to maintain safe distance, sanitize equipment, and wear a mask.
A full season calendar and summary of current guidelines issued by the state Department of Health can be found on the WIAA’s COVID-19 page online here.
5:40am – A reminder from the state Department of Health: Getting a COVID-19 vaccine does not make you invincible to the virus, especially given the presence of new variants. Health officials say it’s still possible to catch and spread COVID-19 once vaccinated, though the changes are much smaller.
Anyone who has been vaccinated should continue to wear masks and social distance.