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COVID updates: State to review data for potential rollbacks on Monday

Artwork covers the windows of a closed business in the Ballard neighborhood during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. (MyNorthwest photo)

The state Department of Health says there have been over 374,000 confirmed coronavirus cases in Washington, and 5,499 people have died from the virus statewide. The state says 5,394,469 doses of vaccine have been administered. Check below for more updates.

As of April 15, everyone in Washington state age 16 or older is now eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine. Anyone who was eligible in an earlier phase or tier remains eligible.

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

Confirmed coronavirus cases across Washington state

Sunday, May 2

12:13pm – If Gov. Inslee sticks to his word to roll back counties that don’t meet required thresholds, King County will roll back to Phase 2 this week. Read more.

7:49am – The Washington State Department of Health will be reviewing data from each county on Monday to decide which ones will be required to roll back to Phase 2 of reopening. Gov. Jay Inslee with then announce those counties on Tuesday.

After coordinating with the DOH, Ferry County opted to move itself back early last Friday. As of now, there appear to be at least 10 other counties at risk of joining it. Pierce, Cowlitz, and Whitman counties were all rolled back to Phase 2 the last time the state evaluated data.

You can see more information for Phase 2 guidance here.

Saturday, May 1

8:52pm – Hundreds of doses of Pfizer are set to expire on Sunday afternoon in Snohomish County. Health officials are urging anyone over 16 to reserve a dose now at the Ash Way Park & Ride vaccination site in Lynnwood. Read more.

3:15pm – Health officials say there have been 374,882 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Washington state, and 5,499 deaths since the outbreak began last year. The state says 5,394,469 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered.

12:13pm – Dr. Vin Gupta with the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation spoke to the Seahawks on Saturday, providing the team with insight into the safety and effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccine.

“Appreciate the strong engagement from players and staff on this vitally important topic,” Dr. Gupta said on Twitter.

8:04am – Seattle leaders are continuing to urge residents to get vaccinated, with nearly 17,000 appointments across four clinics available as of early Saturday morning.

Vaccination sites include the Lumen Field Event Center, Rainier Beach, West Seattle, and North Seattle College. The West Seattle vaccine site announced yesterday that it is now also taking walk-ups. The city also allows “second dose only” bookings.

You can head to this link to register for an appointment.

Friday, April 30

5:57pm – Ferry County announced Friday that it has opted to voluntarily move itself back to Phase 2 of reopening effective immediately, ahead of the state announcing larger-scale rollbacks next Tuesday. Read more.

5:03pm – A Snohomish small business says it got hit with a 1,000% increase in unemployment tax — only to discover it was a mistake on the Employment Security Department’s part. Read more

3:35pm – The Transportation Security Administration is extending its mask mandate across all transportation modes through Sept. 13, 2021. The mandate includes airports, commercial aircraft, buses, and rail systems.

Masks must be worn at all times. Failure to comply could results in removal and penalties.

3:06pm – Snohomish County health officials are urging residents to get vaccinated as quickly as possible to help avoid a potential rollback to Phase 2 next week when the state reevaluates data.

“These vaccines are so safe and effective that they’ve virtually eliminated outbreaks in our long-term care facilities,” Health Officer Dr. Chris Spitters said in a written release. “We need all residents 16 and up vaccinated, and quickly, so that we can see that same impact countywide.”

1:34pm – Mayor Jenny Durkan reported Friday that 67% of eligible Seattle residents have now received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, while almost 40% have been fully vaccinated.”

“We’ve reached a turning point in our vaccination efforts: Now anyone who wants a vaccination in Seattle and King County can get one,” Durkan said in a written release.

11:06am – With vaccinations increasingly available, millions of Americans are going out to eat again. But restaurants are now struggling to meet that demand as they are suffering a worker shortage.

“This is the hardest it has ever been in my 30 years in this industry to find anyone to come and cook,” Michael Buholz, owner and chef at the Loft in Poulsbo, told CBS News Radio.

He says first it was no customers, now it’s no workers.

9:51am – Gov. Inslee says to expect to see more places asking for proof of vaccination for entry, including cruises, sporting events, and performing arts venues. Read more.

8:00am – Washington State University is the latest college in the state requiring students to be vaccinated against COVID-19 before returning to campus. But could it run into legal troubles as a public university? State Rep. Jim Walsh spoke to KTTH’s Jason Rantz Show to provide some clarity. Read more.

6:40am – King County’s health department says it has plenty of COVID-19 vaccines on hand right now, and available appointments at the mass vaccination sites. Clinics in Kent and Auburn will now take up to 1,000 walk-ups a day as well, no appointment needed.

Find more details about getting vaccinated in King County online here.

5:22am – Parts of Washington are seeing a slowdown in those who want vaccines. Gov. Inslee says this hesitancy is dangerous because the vaccine is the best tool out of the pandemic.

“It may save your life, it may save your spouse’s, it may save your grandparents,” Inslee said about the COVID-19 vaccines. “The facts are that if we don’t want our hospitals to be overrun, we need to continue to do what we know works, and that’s to get ourselves vaccinated.”

With more severe variants now making up the majority of cases in the state, hospitals are especially seeing an increase in younger COVID-19 patients.

Thursday, April 29

5:01pm – Health officials say there have been 372,262 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Washington state, and 5,474 deaths since the outbreak began. The state says 5,248,061 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered.

3:34pm – The Seattle Sounders announced Thursday that the team will now be distributing COVID-19 vaccines to fans at home matches free of charge. Read more

2:01pm – On April 16, Cowlitz, Pierce, and Whitman counties were moved back to Phase 2 of reopening. With the state reevaluating data again on May 3, which counties are most at risk of following those three back to the prior phase? Read more

12:37pm – Cruise ships could return to the Seattle waterfront this summer. In a letter to USA TODAY, the Centers for Disease Control said the industry could resume as early as summer with a phased approach. Read more

10:59am – Health experts say the vaccine is the quickest way out of the pandemic, but the path to herd immunity for Washington may not be easy.

“In excess of 80% of the eligible population needs to be vaccinated,” said state epidemiologist Dr. Scott Lindquist.

Right now — two weeks after all adults became eligible — about 40% of Washingtonians have had one dose of the vaccine, and just under 30% of Washingtonians are fully-vaccinated. Read more.

10:07am – Skagit County’s 14-day average is 28 cases above the limit for remaining in Phase 3 next week when the state does its assessment.

The county’s hospitalization rate is higher than required, as well.

The state Department of Health says case rates are increasing across all ages and children 9 years and under now account for more cases than people 70 and older. That age group still has the highest vaccination rate in Skagit County.

8:03am – New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio expects the city to “fully reopen” by July 1, with the lifting of the city’s COVID-19 restrictions.

De Blasio told MSNBC the city will be ready for stores, offices, and theaters to open at full strength. He cited improved COVID-19 vaccination rates and decreasing hospitalization rates. Read more from AP.

6:00am – Washingtonians are skipping or delaying second COVID-19 vaccine doses at a rate 5% higher than the national average.

Thirteen percent of Washingtonians who have taken one dose of a two-dose vaccine are overdue for their second inoculation by more than a week. The state health department is not speculating on why people are not getting those second shots.

5:51am – The U.S. Labor Department’s latest update shows jobless claims dropped this week by 13,000.

5:22am – With case rates and hospitalizations continuing to rise in several regions, why hasn’t Washington considered a larger statewide rollback to Phase 2? According to Secretary of Health Dr. Umair Shah, that’s not currently on the table.

Health officials are scheduled to announce which Washington counties will be moving back to Phase 2 of reopening by next Tuesday, May 4. Read more.

Wednesday, April 28

5:26pm – Health officials say there have been 370,861 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Washington state, and 5,474 deaths since the outbreak began. The state says 5,248,061 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered.

3:29pm – Seattle city leaders are continuing to urge residents to fill available vaccine appointment slots.

According to Mayor Jenny Durkan, vaccine sites in Seattle have a combined 13,000 available appointments as of Wednesday afternoon. You can head to this link for information on how to register.

2:04pm – Due to discrepancies between state and local COVID-19 reporting numbers, Pierce County announced Wednesday that it will be shifting to the state’s formula for calculating its case rates.

“In February, the difference between our reported case rate and the state’s was 10%. That has since grown to 25%,” the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department said in a written release.

For more details on how the county and state’s methods for calculating case rates differed, you can see the TPCHD’s breakdown here.

12:52pm – The Edmonds Police Department has identified two fraudulent curbside COVID-19 testing sites that appeared in the city’s downtown area on Tuesday.

EPD will be providing assistance to the state Department of Health as it works to inform the public on what appears to be a growing number of these fake testing sites in the Puget Sound region.

12:09pm – Washington State University says it will require proof of COVID-19 vaccination for the 2021-22 academic year for all students engaging in activities at a WSU campus or location. The requirement is extended to employees and volunteers at a WSU worksite as well. There will be exemptions for medical, religious, or personal reasons. Read more

11:24am – State Secretary of Health Dr. Umair Shah reported Wednesday that 60-75% of the COVID-19 cases in Washington are now the B.1.1.7 variant, which he says spreads more easily and likely causes a more severe illness. Dr. Shah says this makes it all the more important to get vaccinated as soon as possible, if you haven’t already.

8:53am – Still trying to find a vaccine in King County? The Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce is here to help with a new Bothell vaccine clinic this week. Seattle Chamber President and CEO Rachel Smith says next to helping small businesses get PPP loans and other financial relief, vaccines are the other priority in their recovery plan for the area’s mom-and-pops. Read more.

6:58am – On Tuesday, the CDC updated its recommendations on masks to allow fully vaccinated people to go maskless in specific outdoor settings. In the days ahead, the Washington State Department of Health will be updating its own guidance to align with the CDC. Read more.

5:41am – The Tacoma Dome opened as a vaccination site Tuesday, and is accepting walk up or drive-through patients if they’re masked. There’s no appointment needed, though you can reserve a time slot if you prefer. You do not need identification or insurance to get a shot, and Mike Halliday with Pierce County Emergency Management says the process takes about an hour start to finish.

“When you leave our site, you already know when you’re coming back here for your second dose,” Halliday told KIRO Radio’s Gee and Ursula Show.

The Tacoma Dome site will be open seven days a week for the next six weeks from 12 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Tuesday, April 27

5:20pm – Health officials say there have been 369,481 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Washington state, and 5,462 deaths since the outbreak began. The state says 5,157,791 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered.

3:37pm – Mayor Jenny Durkan announced Tuesday that the City of Seattle is now allowing people to schedule “second dose only appointments” for vaccinations at the Lumen Field, Rainier Beach, and West Seattle sites.

That means anyone who lives or works in King County and received their first dose from another provider can schedule their second dose at any of the three city-run sites listed above.

“We’re continuing to make it easier than ever to get vaccinated. Many Seattleites traveled across the state to get vaccinated or are struggling to schedule a second appointment, and now anyone can make a quick first or second dose appointment at our Seattle sites,” Durkan said in a written release.

2:18pm – COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in Snohomish County continue to trend up, with the county now sitting at 223 cases per 100,000, and above the five new hospitalizations per 100,000 threshold.

If this pace continues, Snohomish County could end up being rolled back to Phase 2 when the state evaluates data on May 3. Watch the latest briefing from county health officials here.

12:45pm – Dr. Angela Rasmussen, virologist and frequent guest of KIRO Radio’s Gee and Ursula Show, says the updated CDC guidance on mask wearing reflects the data, which shows that the risk of transmission of COVID-19 is greatly reduced outdoors, and even more so for those who are fully vaccinated. She adds that “we should be incentivized to get vaccinated because it does allow us to return to what I think many of us would call quote unquote ‘normal’ way of living our daily lives.” Read more.

11:13am – Fans will be let into Cheney Stadium for the Tacoma Rainiers’ opening game next week, and for every home game in May. The stadium will be seating 25% of a full house, with first priority for tickets given to season ticket holders.

9:28am – Updated guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says fully vaccinated Americans don’t need to wear masks outdoors anymore unless they are in a big crowd of strangers, and those who are unvaccinated can go without a face covering outside in some cases, too.

Read more from the Associated Press here. Find the complete guidance from the CDC here.

8:47am – Even as vaccinations pick up, cases and hospitalization rates for COVID-19 are rising across Washington state. As of Monday morning, there were 600 hospitalizations for COVID-19, with a sharp increase among the young adult population.

“There is no question that we are now in a fourth wave of this disease,” said Cassie Sauer, Washington State Hospital Association CEO. Read more.

7:02am – President Joe Biden spent his first 100 days in office encouraging Americans to mask up and stay home to slow the spread of the coronavirus. His task for the next 100 days will be to lay out the path back to normal. Read more from the Associated Press.

5:33am – A mass vaccination site opens today at the Tacoma Dome, with a goal to vaccinate at least 1,170 people every day. The Tacoma Dome site is scheduled to be open for six weeks, seven days a week.

With COVID-19 numbers trending the wrong way, Pierce County is currently on track to stay in Phase 2 when rates are re-evaluated May 3. The county health department says the number of people infected has not been this high since they spiked in November.

Monday, April 26

6:02pm – The Washington Department of Health announced Monday that it is immediately resuming the use of Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose COVID-19 vaccine. Read more. 

4:18pm – Health officials say there have been 368,557 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Washington state, and 5,450 deaths since the outbreak. The state reports 5,157,791 doses of vaccine have been administered.

3:23pm – Snohomish County health officials are continuing to express concerns over the arrival of a fourth wave of COVID-19, noting that “case rates continue to rise,” putting the county at the same levels it saw in January.

“This isn’t the path that keeps us in Phase 2,” the Snohomish County Health District said Monday.

1:51pm – The Washington National Guard announced Monday that through its ongoing pandemic relief efforts at food banks, it has now processed, packed, and distributed over 90 million pounds of food.

“This is fantastic!” Rep. Kim Schrier said, reacting on Twitter to the news. “(The Washington National Guard) has been instrumental to our state’s pandemic response.”

12:23pm – The U.S. will begin sharing its entire stock of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines with the world once it clears federal safety reviews, the White House said Monday, with as many as 60 million doses expected to be available for export in the coming months.

The move greatly expands on the Biden administration’s action last month to share about 4 million doses of the vaccine with Mexico and Canada. The AstraZeneca vaccine is widely in use around the world but has not yet been authorized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Read more from the AP.

11:01am – Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan says there are 17,000 first dose vaccination appointments available at the four city-affiliated sites from Tuesday through next Monday. Anyone who lives or works in King County and is 16 years of age or older can sign up.

If demand and supply in Seattle remain high, the city says it’s possible that 70% of residents and workers could be vaccinated by the end of May. Find the latest vaccine information here, sign up for Lumen Field, Rainier Beach, or West Seattle appointments here, or register for the North Seattle hub here.

9:51am – At the end of last week, an advisory panel with the CDC cleared the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine for use after its pause, and University of Washington Medicine doctors are pleased.

“The bottom line is that this is a really highly effective vaccine with really an excellent safety record in over eight million people that have received this vaccine in the United States,” said Dr. Seth Cohen with the UW Medical Center.

He says no one who has received the vaccine through UW Medicine has reported any blood clots.

7:39am – Two Seattle QFC stores — one in Wedgwood, one in Capitol Hill — are now closed. The company blamed the closures on the Seattle City Council’s hazard pay ordinance that gives frontline grocery workers an added $4 an hour for the duration of the pandemic. Read more.

5:46am – For three days in a row at the end of last week, the state health department reported new infections above 1,700. People between the ages of 20-34 continue to have the most cases, accounting for nearly a third of all cases in Washington. Overall, hospitalizations are up and new deaths remain low.

The state will assess all counties to determine phase assignments on May 3.

Check for last week’s updates.

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