COVID updates: State’s 4 mass vaccination sites forced to close for weather delays
The state Department of Health says there have been over 316,000 confirmed coronavirus cases in Washington, and 4,822 people have died from the virus statewide. The state says 1,270,425 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. 21
6:49pm – It sounded so ambitious at first blush: 100 million vaccination shots in 100 days.
Now, one month into his presidency, Joe Biden is on a glide path to attain that goal and pitching well beyond it to the far more ambitious and daunting mission of vaccinating all eligible adults against the coronavirus by the end of the summer.
Limited supply of the two approved COVID-19 vaccines has hampered the pace of vaccinations — and that was before extreme winter weather delayed the delivery of about 6 million doses this past week. But the United States is on the verge of a supply breakthrough as manufacturing ramps up and with the expectation of a third vaccine becoming available in the coming weeks. Read more from AP.
1:06pm – The state Department of Health says it has closed its four mass vaccination sites this weekend and some of its locations into next week due to shipment delays. The delays have been blamed on winter weather conditions across the country.
The DOH says most Pfizer vaccines won’t arrive until Monday. Moderna says it expects to deliver its backlog no later than Wednesday.
The Spokane location is expected to reopen on Tuesday if vaccine arrives on Monday. The Ridgefield location has enough vaccine to reopen on Tuesday and be fully operational next week if more vaccine arrives before Wednesday. The Wenatchee location has enough vaccine to reopen on Monday and Tuesday and be fully operational all week if vaccine arrives before Wednesday. The Kennewick location is scheduled to reopen on Tuesday, but will only administer second doses.
Get more information about the four sites and appointments from DOH here.
8:21am – The Associated Press reports, the Hawaii Department of Health says it has temporarily extended the window incoming travelers have to get a pre-arrival coronavirus test that comes back negative.
The state says travelers can now take the tests up to 96 hours before their scheduled flights instead of 72 hours because of winter storms that have ravaged the continental U.S.
The tests still have to be conducted by a state-approved provider. Hawaii News Now reports the extension will be in effect through Sunday.
Alternatively, visitors can quarantine for 10 days after arriving in Hawaii.
Saturday, Feb. 20
5:10pm – Health officials say there have been 316,186 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Washington state, and 4,822 deaths since the outbreak began.
11:55am – Looking for the COVID-19 vaccine? It may be tricky next week. The state Department of Health provided an update on Tuesday about the 277,850 doses allocated for Washington state this week. Mass vaccination clinics will get 59,700 of those doses.
7:38am – You’re fully vaccinated against the coronavirus — now what? Don’t expect to shed your mask and get back to normal activities right away.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention hasn’t yet changed its guidelines: At least for now, people should follow the same rules as everybody else about wearing a mask, keeping a 6-foot distance and avoiding crowds — even after they’ve gotten their second vaccine dose. Read more from AP.
Friday, Feb. 19
5:09pm – Health officials say there have been 315,419 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Washington state, and 4822 deaths since the outbreak began.
2:54pm – Vaccine delivery delays brought on by winter weather across the country continue to limit supplies in Washington, with King County asking that anyone who scheduled appointments at sites in Kent and Auburn reschedule for a later date.
Those who have already scheduled appointments at those vaccination sites will get a phone call to work out the logistics for rescheduling.
1:07pm – With the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) now saying it’s safe for teachers to go back into the classroom, even without being vaccinated, is the union going to support that? Larry Delaney, president of the Washington Education Association, joined Seattle’s Morning News with Dave Ross to discuss. Read more.
10:12am – The Washington State Department of Health reports that while its weekly vaccine allocation from the federal government is “gradually increasing,” it’s still short of what the state needs to fully ramp up its distribution efforts.
In order to make up for deficits in doses in the coming weeks, the state is warning residents that “some counties may get more vaccine than others.” That means counties with higher populations will be prioritized in order to reach the most eligible recipients. Read more.
8:33am – In West Seattle, a COVID-19 testing site is doubling as a pop-up vaccine clinic. Over the next two days, the Seattle Fire Department hopes to vaccinate 750 older adults in the West Seattle and South Park neighborhoods, with a focus on those in the Latinx community. The city is partnering with El Comite, Villa Comunitaria, the Senior Center of West Seattle, and Seattle Housing Authority to register high-risk eligible older adults for this clinic.
The city is hosting a second pop-up vaccination clinic in partnership with the Archdiocese of Seattle to focus on vaccinating 350 Latinx older adults in Hillman City.
6:54am – Due to delays in delivery of vaccine doses this week, the state-led mass vaccination sites in Kennewick and Spokane will be closed through the weekend. Those with appointments will be contacted by email to reschedule for next week. The Ridgefield site will also be closed Saturday, but no appointments were made for that day, so no one will need to reschedule.
5:40am – Scammers in Skagit County are using COVID-19 vaccine appointments as a cover to try to trick people into giving up personal information. The health department says callers are claiming they are a “Skagit County representative” who can sign the person up for a shot. They then ask for social security numbers and other information that is not necessary to confirm a vaccine appointment.
Skagit Public Health says it will never ask for your social security number. If you or a loved one receives a call from anyone at Public Health that you were not expecting, it’s best to take a name, hang up, and call back at 360-416-1500 to confirm you’re speaking with a Skagit Public Health employee. Find more information on what to look out for and how to avoid scams on the county’s public health blog here.
Thursday, Feb. 18
5:14pm – Health officials say there have been 314,655 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Washington state, and 4,803 deaths since the outbreak began.
4:46pm – The Biden administration announced Thursday that it will be putting $4 billion in funding behind global COVID-19 vaccine efforts.
3:08pm – State officials in Washington shared a “quick message of hope” this morning, with epidemiologist Scott Lindquist saying that “we are in a very different part of this epidemic.”
“In Washington state, what we have been doing is working,” he touted, describing how the Northwest is now “down the backside of this third wave.”
“It looks really, really promising,” he added.
1:36pm – COVID-19 case rates in the United States have fallen back down to levels last seen in October 2020, amid concerns that variant strains of the virus could slow the nation’s recovery. Read more.
11:30am – Governor Inslee visited Puyallup’s Firgrove Elementary to see how COVID-19 protocols are being carried out at a school where students have returned to in-person learning.
“In any given year, pandemic or not, the goal is to have students feel safe and to have them have a responsibility that we take care of each other, and this is just an extension of that. We’re taking care of each other and keeping each other safe, and they understand that and they do really well with it,” kindergarten teacher Chelsea Singh said in response to how her students are doing with mask wearing.
“It’s been challenging figuring out how to teach kindergarten and do all of that, but I feel safe coming to work every day and I love getting to be back with kids,” Singh added.
10:56m – KIRO Radio’s Dave Ross and reporter Aaron Granillo host the final formal episode of the COVID-19: Seattle podcast after nearly a year of this reporting project. Listen here.
8:27am – Canada is making one border exemption for the Washington residents who live in Point Roberts and must travel through British Columbia for essential services. For those residents, Canada will not require proof of a negative COVID-19 test, which is now required for all visitors who arrive by land.
Land access to Point Roberts, located south of Vancouver, B.C., is only possible via a 25-mile trip through British Columbia.
6:05am – The Washington State Department of Health confirmed to KIRO Radio that weather has been causing delays with shipments of the COVID-19 vaccine this week. Moderna vaccines were not shipped Monday or Tuesday, and were not likely to have shipped Wednesday at the time of the reply. Pfizer vaccines were not shipped Monday due to weather conditions.
A limited number of Pfizer vaccine shipments were processed Tuesday, a state DOH spokesperson told KIRO Radio, and a similar plan was in effect Wednesday.
Weather related delays are not only impacting Washington state. Across a large swath of the nation, the snowy, slippery weather either led to the closing of vaccination sites outright or held up the necessary shipments, with delays expected to continue for days. Read more from the Associated Press.
Wednesday, Feb. 17
5:38pm – Health officials say there have been 313,633 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Washington state, and 4,759 deaths since the outbreak began.
4:53pm – Inclement weather across the U.S. has slowed vaccine shipments to Washington, meaning Moderna doses were not shipped Monday or Tuesday, and mostly likely weren’t shipped today either. A limited number of Pfizer vaccines were processed Tuesday.
The Department of Health plans to have more details as part of their weekly briefing on Thursday.
3:01pm – QFC representative Tiffany Sanders provides added insight into the decisionmaking then went into closing a pair of Seattle locations, with the company blaming the city’s pandemic “hazard pay.” Read more.
1:29pm – Washington restaurants and bars got good news when the state allowed them to reopen indoor seating at 25%. And while continuing to increase that cap would be an added relief for many, it may not actually move the needle for smaller businesses. Read more.
11:37am – Snohomish County will open a new COVID-19 vaccine site in Monroe this week. The county’s health director Dr. Chris Spitters says he is expecting about 5,000 first doses and nearly four times that number of second doses.
10:23am – Newly released data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicates that wearing at least two layers of masks in public could be the safest way to protect yourself against the spread of COVID-19. Mercer Island MD Dr. Gordon Cohen spoke to KIRO Radio’s Dave Ross to weigh in on what exactly that data says. Read more.
9:05am – The Washington Education Association, which is the largest representative of public school employees in the state, issued a statement in response to Gov. Inslee’s announcement about expanding COVID testing programs for schools. The WEA agrees that in-person school is best, but hopes testing can be funded for all schools operating in-person.
The WEA also believes educators working in person should have access to the vaccine. Read more.
5:46am – Gov. Inslee said Tuesday that 245,000 people in Washington state are fully vaccinated with both doses, and added that the latest outlook assures the state will be getting an increased number of shots next week. In addition to the increased vaccine supply expected to come to the state, Gov. Inslee said pharmacies will be getting increased direct shipments.
Nationally, Gov. Inslee said Washington ranks 12th as far as the percentage of vaccines received by the state that have been administered, or using the vaccines the state has received.
Tuesday, Feb. 16
5:50pm – Clark County’s vaccination site closed today at 5 p.m. — those who waited in line but didn’t get in can return Wednesday between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.
“Your appointment will be moved and your vaccine will be waiting for you,” the Washington Department of Health said.
4:38pm – Health officials say there have been 312,828 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Washington state, and 4,709 deaths since the outbreak began.
3:50pm – Gov. Jay Inslee announced Tuesday that he will be pushing for Washington schools to reopen in person with an expansion of COVID testing. Read more.
2:16pm – QFC announced Tuesday that it will be closing a pair of Seattle locations, blaming a recently-passed hazard pay ordinance that gives grocery workers an added $4 an hour for the duration of the pandemic. Read more.
12:44pm – Virologist Dr. Angela Rasmussen, a weekly guest of KIRO Radio’s Gee and Ursula Show, says while she’s happy COVID-19 case rates appear to be trending down, she unfortunately does not think the worst of the pandemic is behind us. Read more.
11:35am – Website troubles contributed to the frustration of getting a COVID-19 shot at Wednesday’s Pierce County clinic. When scheduling opened at 9 a.m. Tuesday, the health department’s registration link did not work, so those on the website waiting for the link missed their chance to register. It was working on the county website and social media, however, and in just 15 minutes, 1,200 appointments were booked.
The event is a drive-through at Franklin Pierce High School.
9:47am – Now that all regions of the state are in Phase 2, pressure is mounting for an outline of the next phase in the state’s roadmap to recovery. KIRO Radio’s Hanna Scott reports that businesses and others want to extend Gov. Inslee’s plans to include a Phase 3 and start working toward a goal of 50% capacity.
The governor’s office says discussions are underway, but there are no specifics.
7:56am – Later today, Gov. Inslee will have more to say on the response to COVID-19, and is expected to offer an update on school testing programs and a return to in-person learning.
“I think many parents want to have their kids back, at least partially, in an in-school environment, maybe half-time,” Inslee said Monday as part of his comments when he spoke on African-American Legislative Day. “We’ve demonstrated we’re able to do this in a safe way, this has been quite clear. We have about 200,000 students today who are having on-site learning.”
7:00am – Kindergartners in Tacoma are preparing to return to in-person learning four days a week on Tuesday. The move is based on the county’s COVID case rate falling below 350 per 100,000 residents. Grades 3-12 are expected to start in-person learning next month.
5:48am – A special state enrollment period for people who do not have health insurance is open now. Washington Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler’s emergency order means all state-regulated medical insurers must offer plans between now and May 15, 2021, for people who are uninsured.
Washington state’s special enrollment aligns with President Biden’s executive order to reopen the federal health insurance marketplace during the same timeframe after so many people have lost jobs and health insurance during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Monday, Feb. 15
5:31pm – Mayor Jenny Durkan delivered her last ever “State of the City” address Monday evening, outlining plans to shepherd Seattle through the final stages of the COVID crisis. Read more.
3:58pm – Washington state’s vaccination efforts will be temporarily shifting its focus this week, giving priority to those receiving their second doses. Read more.
2:35pm – A new statewide initiative will look to partner with community organizations to provide equitable access to the vaccine.
The partnership seeks to “expand vaccine access within our hardest-hit community across Washington State quickly and effectively,” garnering the support of Gov. Jay Inslee, King County Executive Dow Constantine, and Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan.
You can learn more about the initiative here.
12:43pm – K-12 schools in Washington state are seeing low levels of COVID-19 transmission so far, according to the state Department of Health. Read more.
11:35am – The Ridgefield and Kennewick COVID-19 vaccination sites will only be giving second doses this week in order to make sure everyone gets a complete set of shots. A few weeks back, a number of second doses were given as first doses and now all those people are due for their second dose.
Statewide, the Washington Department of Health (DOH) says the focus is on second doses this week, warning that appointments to get a first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine will be extremely limited.
9:41am – All eight regions in Washington state are now in Phase 2. A reporting error was discovered at a hospital in the South Central region that had previously kept it from moving forward. Read more.
8:30am – Snohomish County is delaying the opening of its Edmonds and Everett vaccine clinics by a few hours Monday until the road conditions are hopefully better as more of the snow starts to melt. Appointments at the Monroe site are moving ahead as scheduled.
5:54am – Many COVID-19 testing sites in King County are closed Monday due to the winter weather conditions, including the sites at Bellevue College and Highline College. People with existing appointments will be contacted to reschedule. All of King County’s medium and high volume testing sites, including Auburn, Tukwila, Federal Way, Enumclaw, and Renton are also closed Monday.
The Kent vaccination site run by Public Health — Seattle & King County will start late Monday because of the snow. People who have an appointment at that site for this morning will get a text or email with a new appointment time in the afternoon. Auburn’s drive-through vaccination site is closed Monday.