COVID-19 updates: State to focus on second doses of vaccine this week
The state Department of Health says there have been over 311,000 confirmed coronavirus cases in Washington, and 4,675 people have died from the virus statewide. The state says 1,057,844 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. 14
1:26pm – The South Central region is now able to move forward to Phase 2 with the rest of the state. There had been a reporting error made by a hospital that originally caused the region to land below the required thresholds for Phase 2. Read more.
7:33am – Appointments to get a first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine in Washington state will be limited for the week of Feb. 14, the state Department of Health says, as the focus will be on second doses. The department says first and second doses have gotten out of balance.
“The difference is likely due to the fact that some providers in Washington used doses of vaccine that were intended to complete the two dose vaccine series as the initial dose when vaccinating community members earlier in January,” as explained in the news release from the state DOH.
Plan ahead: It may be more difficult to get your first dose of #COVID19 vaccine this week. First and second dose amounts have gotten out of balance in Washington. To correct, we will be prioritizing mostly second doses the week of Feb. 15. pic.twitter.com/q5EkFkZ90z
— WA Dept. of Health (@WADeptHealth) February 13, 2021
Saturday, Feb. 13
5:46pm – The Washington State Department of Health is reporting 311,288 confirmed COVID-19 cases with 4,675 deaths since the start of the pandemic. The death total is not updated on weekends.
1:30pm – Governor Jay Inslee announced Thursday that the state is going to have five additional regions moving from Phase 1 to Phase 2 of reopening. Not all regions are reopening, though, as just one will remain in Phase 1 as of Monday. State Senator Sharon Brown (R-Kennewick) says the shutdown has been heartbreaking for the Tri-Cities region. Read more.
8:02am – The Kent and Auburn COVID-19 vaccination sites are closed Saturday due to cold weather. Anyone who had an appointment will be rescheduled for next week.
Vaccination sites in Snohomish County are also closed due to inclement weather. The Snohomish Health District says if you had an appointment for Feb. 13, look out for an email to reschedule.
6:46am – The Washington State Department of Health has administered one million doses of COVID-19 vaccine statewide as of Friday.
“We’ve got a long way to go, but this is an important milestone,” Gov. Inslee wrote on Twitter. “I’ve found some hope in this today, and I hope you do too.”
Major milestone: 1 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine administered across the state
This important milestone was reached thanks to the hard work of our providers, local and private sector partners, @WANationalGuard, and DOH staff. https://t.co/uZtjC5ctI7 pic.twitter.com/buZRwwHIZp
— WA Dept. of Health (@WADeptHealth) February 13, 2021
Friday, Feb. 12
5:04pm – Health officials say there have been 310, 541 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Washington state, and 4,675 deaths since the outbreak began.
4:26pm – Albertsons, Safeway, and Haggen have begun scheduling appointments to vaccinate Washington residents. Check here for available appointments. Appointments are available online only, no phone calls.
Safeway, Albertsons, and Haggen have 177 pharmacies in the state. They are following the state’s eligibility tier system.
QFC, Fred Meyer, and Costco pharmacies have also already begun vaccination programs. If you’re looking for a vaccination program near you, please check the DOH website for a map.
COVID vaccines are not yet available at CVS pharmacies in Washington state.
3:11pm – Last week, King County residents learned they might be in the eye of a hurricane, as the number of positive COVID-19 cases continued to drop. This week it’s the receding tide before an oncoming tsunami.
Dr. Jeff Duchin with Public Health – Seattle & King County thanked King County residents for taking precautions seriously. The result is dropping cases. However, he warned that we’re in the eye of a hurricane and a serious storm remains on the horizon. Read more.
2:29pm – Washington state superintendent Chris Reykdal says the science shows schools can reopen safely, and is asking all school districts to submit an updated reopening plan. Read more.
12:41pm – Since five additional regions move from Phase 1 to Phase 2 of reopening on Feb. 14, most counties will be able to offer limited indoor dining just in time for Valentine’s Day. The CEO of the Washington Hospitality Association, Anthony Anton, says they’re excited about this change, and adds that Valentine’s Day is one of the biggest days of the year for restaurants. Read more.
9:35am – The Washington State Department of Health released the COVID-19 Outbreaks in Washington State K-12 Schools report. It includes data about both public and private schools that experienced an outbreak, which is defined as two or more positive cases among students or staff with an onset of symptoms within a 14-day period of each other.
Between Aug. 1 and Dec. 31, 2020, 13 counties reported COVID-19 outbreaks associated with schools, and 84 schools experienced outbreaks. However, 64% of the outbreaks involved just two or three cases.
“There’s encouraging news here,” said Laura Newman, COVID-19 Outbreak Response Senior Epidemiologist. “We are seeing fairly low levels of COVID-19 transmission within school settings so far. The majority of COVID-19 outbreaks in schools involve three or fewer cases, and school administrators, teachers, and staff are doing a good job of implementing preventative measures that limit the spread of COVID-19.”
7:22am – On Thursday, Gov. Jay Inslee allowed all but six Washington counties to move into Phase 2 of reopening, leaving the South Central region alone in Phase 1 as it continues to try and drive its COVID-19 case numbers down.
In the wake of that announcement, Sen. Sharon Brown — who represents Kennewick in the state Senate in Olympia — labeled the decision “heartbreaking” for the Tri-Cities region. Read more.
5:33am – Skagit County has closed its drive-through COVID-19 testing site Friday and Saturday because of cold, inclement weather. For the same reason, Pierce County is closing all of the county-run testing sites on Saturday.
Thursday, Feb. 11
5:00pm – Health officials say there have been 309,673 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Washington state, and 4,633 deaths since the outbreak began last year.
3:59pm – Governor Inslee announced Thursday that the state will have five additional regions move from Phase 1 to Phase 2 of reopening, effective Feb. 14. Read more.
1:11pm – The CDC plans to issue new guidelines for reopening schools on Friday, as one of the main priorities of the Biden administration in the weeks ahead.
“Tomorrow, the CDC is going to roll out their operating plan to give school districts, local communities, the guidance they need to know to begin to do that and to begin to do that aggressively,” White House coronavirus advisor Andy Slavitt said.
11:39am – King County Executive Dow Constantine announced Wednesday that the COVID-19 vaccination site at the Microsoft campus in Redmond will focus first on highest-risk, eligible older adults. Read more.
10:00am – Public Health — Seattle & King County is offering a winter mask tip: Wet masks won’t protect you. Keep a spare mask on hand to replace one that becomes wet from the moisture in your breath, snow, or rain. Public health officials say a wet mask is harder to breathe through, less efficient at filtering, and vents more around the edges of the mask.
9:20am – Two cities in Washington — Seattle and Burien — have moved forward with extra pay for grocery store workers, labeled as “hazard pay,” during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Washington Food Industry Association is suing the City of Seattle, and there’s no word yet on whether a Burien lawsuit will follow. WFIA CEO Tammie Hetrick joined the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH to discuss why she feels this legislation puts grocery stores in an unfair competitive space. Read more.
7:43am – Now that the more contagious variant of COVID-19 has been detected on the University of Washington campus, Dr. Lea Starita says the clock is ticking. It’s a race between the virus and how fast we can get vaccines in arms, Dr. Starita said, and since the variant is known to be more transmissible, it’s even more important to take precautions to stop the spread.
Researchers say the Husky Coronavirus Testing program detected the variant Tuesday, from a student’s test last month. Experts say it’s 30-50% more contagious than the strain most common in our region.
6:06am – For the first time, the state is getting a three-week forecast of vaccine allocation. Michele Roberts with the Washington State Department of Health says they normally get one week’s notice.
“This will help us develop a multi-week strategy to help with consistency and predictability, which will help for both the providers on the ground and all of the public,” Roberts said.
Vaccine supply from the federal government continues to be the “greatest challenge” for the state, according to a release from the DOH. This week, the state DOH says providers requested more than 440,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine, including 281,100 first doses and 165,750 second doses. In all, the DOH received just over 200,000 doses from the federal government, which is less than half. That said, the DOH is optimistic about the future and has been told that allocations for both Pfizer and Moderna will increase in the coming weeks and months.
Wednesday, Feb. 10
7:00pm – Health officials say there have been 308,392 confirmed cases of coronavirus, and 4,603 deaths since the outbreak began.
5:16pm – The Washington State Senate agreed to a $2.2 billion COVID-19 relief bill Wednesday, allocating funds for vaccine distribution, schools, rental assistance, small businesses, undocumented immigrants, child care, and food assistance.
3:44pm – There is good news on the COVID front that involves a cure for people who already have come down with the disease in Israel, and doctors there have reported pretty dramatic results. Mercer Island MD Dr. Gordon Cohen joined Seattle’s Morning News to discuss what it entails. Read more.
2:01pm – With vaccine shipments still scarce and infrequent, King County has struggled to get doses out quickly, falling well short of its target pace. Read more.
12:44pm – After it was reported that a few King County hospitals offered special access to the COVID-19 vaccine to donors and board members, the King County Council passed legislation condemning the activity. In the motion passed Tuesday, the council is also asking state lawmakers to prohibit such practices. Read more.
9:59am – The University of Washington helped lead a new study that finds Black and Hispanic diabetics are three times more likely than Caucasians to catch COVID-19, and twice as likely to die from it. Those minority groups are also more likely to have serious complications from the illness.
The researchers analyzed data from 180 people with Type 1 diabetes and COVID-19 from 52 clinical sites in the United States. The study concludes that much of the disparity is due to a lack of access to affordable insulin and health care.
8:26am – At 9 a.m., the Pierce County Health Department will open registration for its next round of COVID-19 shots. The appointments are expected to be for this week, but the county won’t decide until registration goes live in case the hours need to be changed due to snow.
🚨Wednesday morning at 9 a.m., we’ll open registration for two drive-through vaccine events in Tacoma this week. We’re waiting to learn more about the incoming storm, so we’ll announce details at that time. pic.twitter.com/JyypRUsqws
— Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department (@TPCHD) February 9, 2021
7:11am – Burien became the latest city to enact a citywide grocery store hazard pay ordinance this week, with its city council voting to give grocery workers an extra $5 an hour. It will take effect beginning on Friday, Feb. 17, and apply to all Burien grocery stores with 250 or more employees.
Proponents of the measure have pointed to the need to compensate employees working on the front lines of the pandemic who have yet to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Read more.
6:07am – Due to anticipated severe cold weather, COVID-19 vaccination appointments at the Auburn drive-through site for Feb. 11-13 are being moved to the Kent vaccination site. Public Health — Seattle & King County says the move is to protect people from waiting in their cars in below freezing temperatures and possible snow, as well as to protect staff working outdoors. At the Kent site, which is at the ShoWare Center, all vaccinations (by appointment only) can be indoors.
Tuesday, Feb. 9
5:56pm – Washington state’s postal workers are pushing to be eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine alongside other frontline essential workers, following a recent breakout of the virus at a mail processing facility in Kent. Read more.
4:53pm – Health officials say there are 307,867 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Washington state, and 4,558 deaths since the outbreak began last year.
3:19pm – Newly-released data appears to show existing Pfizer and Moderna vaccines provide strong immune system protection from more infectious variant strains of COVID-19.
“The news on these mRNA vaccines remain really, really good,” says researcher Dr. Ashish Jha.
1:02pm – Public Health — Seattle-King County issued a reminder Tuesday containing the most up-to-date guidance on mask-wearing, detailing the latest recommendations from health experts. Read more.
11:34am – What happens if you get on a King County Metro bus without a mask? A spokesperson with Metro says drivers are “peacekeepers, not enforcers.” However, drivers will certainly remind the passenger that masks are required, and many buses even have masks available. Read more.
10:12am – Due to the coronavirus, many of the free, in-person tax clinics held for seniors and low-income households are canceled this year. United Way of King County will be offering free, online tax help with IRS certified volunteers starting next week. The IRS offers a similar program online here.
8:37am – To better understand the facts about the COVID-19 vaccine and know what’s true and what’s not, Public Health — Seattle & King County created this page.
7:03am – First graders in Tacoma Public Schools are back in class Tuesday. Second graders and kindergartners start next week. If COVID-19 rates continue to drop in Pierce County, all three grades will be in class four days a week by the end of February.
The district says if any of the higher grades come back this year, they would likely have two days on campus and then online learning the rest of the week.
5:51am – An unemployment bill has officially been signed into law in Washington state, marking the first bill to get the governor’s autograph this year. Touted by legislators as a helping hand to small businesses, the bill passed both the House and the Senate late in January with overwhelming bipartisan support. Read more.
Monday, Feb. 8
5:05pm – Health officials say there have been 307,189 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Washington state, and 4,451 deaths since the outbreak began last year.
3:40pm – Snohomish County’s COVID-19 cases are continuing to steadily decline, a trend that’s developed consistently over the last month. On Monday, the county reported 173 cases per every 100,000 residents, down from the 418 cases per 100,000 it had in late-December to early-January.
“The three W’s are paying off: Wear a Mask; Wash your hands; Watch your distance,” Snohomish County Health said Monday.
2:01pm – Over the last year, Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson has sought to end pandemic-fueled price gouging for essential items like masks and hand sanitizer. Ferguson penned an editorial over the weekend, as part of a push to put a law on the books that explicitly ends the practice once and for all. Read more.
12:23pm – If all goes as planned, Kitsap County could have everyone who is currently eligible for a COVID vaccine with those shots by the end of next month.
“And then other groups can start getting vaccinated toward the end of March. We are hopeful,” said Kitsap County Health Director Dr. Gib Morrow.
Morrow says the county is hitting about 75% of its vaccine target requested by the state, with numbers increasing each week. Transmission rates in the county have dropped steadily for more than three weeks, Morrow added, but even though Kitsap County’s numbers are falling, it’s in a region with two counties where COVID-19 rates are increasing, so Kitsap can’t yet move forward to Phase 2.
10:16am – Seattle Public Schools delayed its reopening until at least the end of March, while private schools in Seattle and other public school districts in the state have already opened their doors. Seattle’s Superintendent Denise Juneau told KIRO 7 TV that the district has an agreement on remote learning, and changing it requires bargaining with the school unions.
9:11am – Kroger — the grocery chain that owns QFC and Fred Meyer — said it will offer employees a one-time $100 payment after they receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Employees who can’t get the vaccine for medical or religious reasons can take an “educational health and safety course” to get the bonus.
The federal government says employers can make the vaccine mandatory, though most local companies say they’re not planning to require it.
7:30am – Hospitals across the state are scrambling to pull millions of fake N95 masks off their shelves after receiving an alert from the masks’ manufacturer, 3M, and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Read more.
5:52am – Behind home and social transmission, workplaces are the next most likely place to contract coronavirus in Washington state. King County epidemiologist Vance Kawakami says one reason for spread in the workplace is that many infected people are asymptomatic, and either never show symptoms or are infected and can spread the virus before they develop symptoms.
Kawakami says poorly ventilated work sites or where workers are crowded together, like in factories, at construction sites, and in some restaurants, as well as unsafe habits — like taking your mask off in the breakroom to eat, drink, or socialize — add to the risk. Non-work areas like carpools and before and after work socializing can also be problematic.