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COVID updates: State gears up for April 15 expansion of vaccine eligibility

People receiving vaccines at Lumen Field's mass vaccination site in Seattle. (MyNorthwest photo)

The state Department of Health says there have been over 350,000 confirmed coronavirus cases in Washington, and 5,322 people have died from the virus statewide. The state says 3,943,100 doses of vaccine have been administered. Check below for more updates.

Washington state is currently in Phase 1B, Tiers 3 and 4, of vaccine distribution, which includes all people 60 years and older, people 16 years or older with two or more co-morbidities or underlying conditions, restaurant workers, people who live or work in certain congregate settings, and more. Anyone who was eligible in an earlier phase or tier remains eligible now.

Find a vaccine location near you or call 800-525-0127 to get help finding an appointment.

Confirmed coronavirus cases across Washington state

Sunday, April 11

12:29pm – Gov. Jay Inslee indicated Thursday that some counties are likely going to be rolled back to Phase 2 of reopening after the state evaluates new data on Monday. That will entail a dialing back of capacity across a handful of venues and businesses. Read more

8:14am – On Thursday, April 15, vaccine eligibility opens up to everyone in Washington over the age of 16.

State officials have made it clear that despite the expansion of eligibility, there still won’t be enough vaccine doses for everybody right out of the gates.

This week, Washington will be receiving over 412,000 total doses of vaccine. Over 217,000 of those will be first doses, while another 195,250 will be allocated for second doses. The state will also see a significant dip in its Johnson & Johnson vaccine allocation due to a factory error affecting the company’s distribution across the U.S.

Saturday, April 10

4:29pm – Health officials say there have been 350,940 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Washington state, and 5,322 deaths since the outbreak began. The state has so far administered 3,943,100 doses of vaccine.

12:24pm – Although several Washington counties are at risk of moving back to Phase 2 when the state evaluates case and hospitalization data next week, it’s looking more and more like two of Western Washington’s most populous regions won’t likely be among that group. Read more.

7:48am – Yakima’s FEMA-run mass vaccination site announced Friday that it has crested a major milestone, having now administered over 10,000 vaccine does.

The site is one of only a few vaccine sites FEMA runs in the U.S., as part of a larger pilot program. While demand at the site was low in its early days, thousands of people from across Western Washington have come through for a dose over the last week-plus.

Friday, April 9

5:51pm – Health officials say there have been 349,717 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Washington state, and 5,322 deaths since the outbreak began. The state has so far administered 3,943,100 doses of vaccine.

3:34pm – On Thursday, Gov. Jay Inslee echoed concerns from the state Department of Health that several Washington counties could have to roll back to Phase 2 next week. So, which counties are most at risk? Read more

2:02pm – Pfizer announced Friday that it has submitted a request to the FDA to expand emergency use of its COVID-19 vaccine to include children ages 12 to 15 years of age. The company hopes to be able to start distributing its vaccine to that age group “before the start of the 2021 school year” this fall.

If approved, this would mark the first available COVID vaccine for those under the age of 16.

12:34pm – Gov. Inslee updated and clarified the criteria for counties to stay in Phase 3 of the state’s Healthy Washington reopening plan. Notably, in order to move down one phase a county must fail both metrics for case counts and hospitalizations. Previously, a county only needed to fail one metric to move back one phase.

11:47am – About one in four people in King County are now fully vaccinated against COVID-19 — 43% of residents 16 or older have had at least one dose, and nearly 26% are fully vaccinated. Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan says everyone still needs to take precautions to limit further spread.

“We still need everybody to do what you need to do to keep yourself safe, your family safe, and your community safe,” she said.

8:49am – Your COVID mask could have a second benefit besides protecting you from the coronavirus — it could help with those pesky spring allergies. Read more.

7:07am – Seattle-King County Public Health provided some additional insight into the region’s recent surge of COVID-19 cases in a new blog post, detailing where the increases are occurring, and how it compares to past waves. Read more.

5:56am – The state says Pierce County has enough cases of COVID-19 that it will likely move back to Phase 2 next week, but the county disagrees with the numbers. The state says Pierce County has 238 cases per 100,000 people, but the county says its 195. Deputy Director of the Tacoma-Pierce County Public Health Department Cindan Gizzi told KIRO 7 TV that the state’s case counts include both confirmed and probable cases, and don’t include a six-day lag.

The state is reevaluating metrics to determine phases only every three weeks. Pierce County would like it to happen every two weeks, or even every week. Then if they’re forced back to Phase 2, they could have the chance to return to Phase 3 quickly.

Thursday, April 8

4:56pm – Health officials say there have been 348,431 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Washington state. and 5,316 deaths since the outbreak began. The state has so far administered 3,798,746 doses of vaccine.

3:23pm – After the state Department of Health indicated Wednesday that King and Pierce counties could soon be facing a move back to Phase 2 of reopening, Gov. Jay Inslee reiterated those concerns Thursday. Read more.

1:46pm – Gov. Jay Inslee will be delivering a press conference Thursday at 2:30 p.m., with the latest updates on the state’s COVID-19 response efforts. You can stream it live here.

12:15pm -A state lawmaker has introduced a bill to ban COVID-19 vaccine status from being used to keep Washington residents out of public places. Rep. Jim Walsh (R-Aberdeen) says he believes so-called “vaccine passports” would be a violation of citizens’ rights. Read more.

11:19am – The percentage of King County children with COVID-19 has doubled in the past month, and one of the major drivers appears to be unsafe activities outside of school, including at playgrounds, sports practices, and clubs. Across the state, case numbers are rising in teens and young adults.

9:25am – Grocery store workers in Edmonds will be the first in the North Sound to get hazard pay during the pandemic. An ordinance approved by the Edmonds City Council on Tuesday requires larger grocery stores to pay each worker an additional $4 per hour until Gov. Inslee lifts the state of emergency.

Grocery workers in unincorporated King County, Seattle, and Burien are also getting hazard pay.

8:09am – Some of Washington’s largest counties could be headed back to Phase 2 next week, including King and Pierce Counties. Read more.

6:33am – The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits rose last week to 744,000, signaling that many employers are still cutting jobs even as more people are vaccinated against COVID-19, consumers gain confidence, and the government distributes aid throughout the economy.

The Labor Department said Thursday that applications increased by 16,000 from 728,000 a week earlier. Read more from the Associated Press.

5:24am – The City of Seattle has opened pre-registration for COVID-19 vaccine appointments for anyone who lives and works in King County and is age 16 or older. Add your name to the notification list online here. You’ll be contacted when appointments become available.

On April 15, everyone in Washington state age 16 or older will be eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine.

Wednesday, April 7

4:46pm – Health officials say there have been 347,523 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Washington state. and 5,306 deaths since the outbreak began. The state has so far administered 3,798,746 doses of vaccine.

4:01pm – Starting today, you can now get a COVID-19 test at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.

Port of Seattle officials say there are two kinds of tests available: a $200 15-minute rapid test, and a $75 72-hour test. The airport site will be capable of delivering over 500 tests a day, and will be open seven days a week between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.

2:16pm – Over the course of the pandemic, Washington’s unemployment system has frequently come under fire. Now, Washington lawmakers are moving forward on a series of bills designed to fix many of those issues. Read more

12:29pm – Museums have been collecting artifacts of the COVID-19 pandemic with an eye toward future exhibits looking back at this strange era. This has meant a lot of masks, of course, but also things like print-outs of test results and hand-made signs announcing restaurant closures.

A Tacoma man heard the call for artifacts made locally by the Washington State Historical Society. He’s now looking to donate a collection of pandemic-themed beer cans. Read more.

10:40am – The Washington State Spring Fair starts today. It’s a “hybrid drive-thru and step-out” experience this year due to COVID-19 restrictions. You can see piglets, enjoy games and rides, and catch a drive-in movie. Find more information online here.

9:26am – Seniors in Snohomish County are seeing very few cases of COVID-19. County health officer Dr. Chris Spitters says in the last two weeks, only 2-3% of cases were in people age 70 or older.

“So we’ve made a lot of progress there, and now our goal is to fan that progress out to younger age groups,” he said.

Spitters says he’s afraid that if cases don’t go down soon, the county could be move back to Phase 2.

8:01am – King County’s Eastside will get its first mass COVID-19 vaccination site on Monday. The Snoqualmie Tribe will be providing vaccines and coordinating appointments for the new clinic at Lake Sammamish State Park. Eastside Fire and Rescue and volunteers will be administering the shots.

6:35am – The Paul G. Allen Family Foundation is giving $1 million to a mobile vaccination clinic and education campaign targeting vaccine equity. The goal is to speed up vaccine distribution in underserved communities, which have been hit hardest by the pandemic, with a hope to vaccinate up to 14,500 people a month. The clinic is staffed by Harborview Medical personnel.

The group recently held a pop-up vaccination clinic at the Pacific Islander Community Association. The plan is to expand the mobile clinic to other locations and populations.

5:28am – The City of Seattle expects to set a vaccination record this week with 30,000 doses administered. The clinic at Lumen Field Event Center predicts it will administer 8,000 shots Wednesday, which will be its biggest single day of operation so far. The community vaccination hub in West Seattle will be focusing on the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine for critical workers.

Tuesday, April 6

6:01pm – The term “herd immunity” has been thrown around frequently as vaccinations in the United States have ramped up, with many viewing it as the end goal for the COVID-19 pandemic. But as University of Washington biologist Carl Bergstrom points out, it may not be that simple. Read more

4:50pm – The Washington State Department of Health reports that there have been a total of 346,420 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Washington since the start of the pandemic, as well as 5,299 deaths.

3:44pm – At the start of pandemic, the City of Seattle suspended parking restrictions, including a 72-hour parking limit that activists say unfairly targets those who live in RVs and other vehicles.

While other parking rules were brought back last summer, the moratorium on the 72-hour rule was scheduled to end just this last week on April 1, a move that Councilmember Kshama Sawant is urging Mayor Jenny Durkan to reconsider. Read more.

2:06pm – Since none of the current COVID-19 vaccines are 100% effective at preventing infection, there’s always a chance you could get ill after getting one or two doses. KIRO Radio’s Gee Scott tested positive after receiving his first dose. Read more

12:18pm – Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan says the city has received its largest vaccine allocation to date this week at 30,000 doses. For those currently eligible, you can sign up to be notified of vaccine appointment availability online here.

12:03pm – Exporting apples and other crops from the United States has remained a challenge as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and due to trade issues with other countries. For the second year in a row, Washington’s apple sales dropped. Exports are down 20.5% this year compared to last, and 16.4% compared to the 2018-19 shipping season, according to data from the Washington Apple Commission.

10:59am – COVID-19 cases among children were found to be rare. But with the stronger, more contagious variant B.1.1.7, some experts said that could be changing. Read more.

8:44am – A new poll found that the Seattle metro area — including Snohomish, King, and Pierce counties — is the most eager in the country to get the COVID-19 vaccine, with 73% saying they are planning to get vaccinated as soon as possible. Read more.

7:10am – President Biden was set to announce Tuesday that he is shaving about two weeks off his May 1 deadline for states to make all adults eligible for COVID-19 vaccines. A White House official says the president plans to announce that every adult in the U.S. will be eligible by April 19. Read more from the Associated Press.

5:36am – The Snohomish County Vaccine Taskforce will open its sixth mass vaccination site Tuesday at Boom City in Tulalip, in partnership with the Tulalip Tribes. The clinic will be drive-through, and by appointment only for those eligible under the phased approach to vaccination. The county’s other mass vaccination sites are at the Boeing Everett Activity Center, Edmonds Community College, Angel of the Winds Arena in Everett, the state fairgrounds in Monroe and the Arlington Airport.

Snohomish County’s health department has also launched a waitlist that operates one day at a time, meaning people need to sign up each day to take advantage of any extra appointments.

Monday, April 5

5:59pm – The Washington Department of Health reports that there have now been a total of 345,904 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Washington since the start of the pandemic, as well as 5,285 deaths.

4:31pm – The Seattle Sounders announced Monday that the team has received approval from the local health authorities to play in front of a limited-capacity crowd at Lumen Field to start their season in mid-April. Read more

2:56pm – A Mercer Island fitness studio owner assigned the lease of the studio to an employee, while remaining on the lease, and as a result of the COVID pandemic wound up being sued by the large managing property company due to unpaid rent. She joined the Dori Monson Show to recount what happened. Read more

1:19pm – Gov. Jay Inslee issued a formal message of gratitude to Washington state’s public health workers on Monday, stating how they “have served our state with distinction and professionalism during the pandemic.”

“Public health helps Washingtonians have a chance at a long and healthy life, have equitable access to optimal health opportunities and helps to raise the healthiest next generation,” he said.

11:20amSecondary students in Bellevue are coming back to classroom this week after the school district and education association reached an agreement on in-person learning. It will be a hybrid model, with each cohort of students attending two or three half-days in person each week.

9:15am – While COVID-19 cases are still on the rise in Washington and the state saw four days in a row last week of new case counts above 1,000, the vaccines are getting to people faster than the virus is at this point. Washington is currently averaging 57,000 vaccinations per day.

8:28am – King County is reopening five more libraries this week. Branches in Enumclaw, Federal Way, Snoqualmie, Vashon, and Woodinville will be first-come, first-served. Like the six branches already open, they will shut down a number of time during the day for an hour of cleaning.

More King County libraries will be reopening in the coming weeks.

6:42am – Facebook will reopen its Seattle, Bellevue, and Redmond offices today, though only at 10% capacity. The social media company has said it will prioritize bringing back employees who have been struggling to work effectively from home.

5:37am – Students in K-5 return to in-person learning in Seattle on Monday for the first time since the start of the pandemic. For the kindergarteners, it will be their first time inside their elementary school. Getting to this point took months of negotiation with the Seattle Education Association, but the district and teachers’ union have also reached a tentative deal for grades 6-12 to return in a couple weeks.

As kids return to in-person learning, the city is opening new “School Streets,” which will be closed to most cars, and open to people walking or biking to school. Read more.

Check out last week’s updates.

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