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COVID updates: Washington inches toward benchmark needed to reopen early

An outdoor dining set-up at a restaurant in Seattle's Wallingford neighborhood. (MyNorthwest photo)

The state Department of Health says there have been over 408,000 confirmed coronavirus cases in Washington, and 5,815 people have died from the virus statewide. The state says 7,375,424 doses of vaccine have been administered. Check below for more updates.

As of May 12, everyone in Washington state age 12 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, June 13

12:57pm – Lumen Field’s mass vaccination site has now officially shut down, having distributed over 102,000 vaccine doses since it first opened in March.

A separate vaccination site in West Seattle had also closed its doors earlier this week, as the city begins to shift its strategy toward pop-up clinics in individual neighborhoods.

8:18am – Washington continues to inch toward the required vaccination benchmark it needs to fully reopen prior to June 30.

According to Gov. Jay Inslee, the state would need to have 70% of its population ages 16 and up receive at least one dose to reopen before the end of the month. As of Sunday morning, that number currently sits at just over 64%.

Saturday, June 12

4:24pm – Health officials say there have been 408,503 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Washington state, and 5,815 deaths since the outbreak began. The state says 7,375,424 doses of vaccine have been administered.

12:33pm – The Washington Department of Health published an FAQ list this week, debunking common myths and rumors regarding the safety and efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccine.

You can read the full list here.

8:17am – Earlier this week, Seattle beat San Francisco to the finish line to become the first major U.S. city to have 70% of its residents ages 12 and up fully vaccinated. On Friday, San Francisco hit a milestone of its own, announcing that it has now become the first city to have 80% of its eligible residents initiate the vaccination process.

Mayor Jenny Durkan issued words of congratulations in the wake of that news, while also noting that “silver looks good on San Francisco,” referencing how Seattle was still the first city to hit the 70% benchmark.

“Both cities have led the way and listened to science — and it saved lives,” she added.

Friday, June 11

5:03pm – Health officials say there have been 407,942 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Washington state, and 5,815 deaths since the outbreak began. The state says 7,375,424 doses of vaccine have been administered.

3:20pm – Whatcom County’s hospital is overwhelmed with COVID patients, reports KIRO Radio’s Nicole Jennings.

Bellingham’s St. Joseph Hospital is seeing its biggest spike in COVID patients in the ICU all year. Many of these patients are young, otherwise healthy adults, proving COVID can hit anyone hard. They’re also unvaccinated.

“We have not seen anyone who is vaccinated with a critical illness,” Dr. Raj Deol said. “To me, that is an earth-shaking statement. I don’t think I can make that statement for any other vaccine.”

Dr. Deol says this shows that the pandemic won’t truly be over until enough people get vaccinated.

2:33pm – King County has a series of COVID-19 vaccine pop-up clinics scheduled to take place this weekend. Locations include Washington Hall in Seattle, Game Farm Park in Auburn, St. Louise Parish in Bellevue, and Hillside Church in Kent.

Find more details and the full list of dates, times, and locations here.

12:27pm – Wild Waves Theme & Water Park will reopen June 18, featuring a new state-of-the-art wave machine in the wave pool, a mobile food ordering app, a new reservation system, and, of course, updated health and safety protocols.

11:32am – It will again be pandemic-style pomp and circumstance for the University of Washington’s class of 2021. The virtual commencement ceremony takes place Saturday starting at noon. Graduates, along with family and friends, can gather in “virtual seats” for the “purple carpet pre-show” that will feature interviews with students and families from around the world. The ceremony begins at 1:30 p.m.

8:18am – Gonzaga is the latest university in Washington to require all students to be fully vaccinated before returning to campus in the fall. The Spokane school joins a growing list that includes the UW and WSU. Gonzaga is planning to shift to full in-person classes this fall.

5:52am – Leaders from the Group of Seven industrialized nations are set to commit at their summit to sharing at least 1 billion coronavirus shots with struggling countries around the world — half the doses coming from the U.S. and 100 million from the U.K.

The G-7 also includes Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan. Read more from the Associated Press.

Thursday, June 10

6:01pm – The first ever winner of the $250,000 prize from Washington’s vaccine lottery has collected their money, the state reports. Read more.

4:36pm – Health officials say there have been 407,403 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Washington state, and 5,803 deaths since the outbreak began last spring. The state reports 7,301,374 doses of vaccine have been administered in Washington.

3:00pm – A Western Washington community isolated by the U.S./Canada border closure may get additional federal help.

On Thursday, Washington Rep. Suzan Del Bene introduced legislation to help struggling businesses in Point Roberts, Washington. The area’s only land border is with Canada, and all but essential travel has been banned because of the pandemic.

The legislation directs the U.S. Small Business Administration to provide “forgivable” loans to small businesses, worth up to 75% of their 2019 revenue.

1:41pm – In late March, Amazon announced that unlike other Seattle tech companies, it planned to return to an “office-centric” approach post-pandemic. The company has now reversed course, though, announcing Thursday that it will be offering flexible work-from-home options for its employees moving forward. Read more.

11:52am – The Washington State Fair is planning to welcome everyone back to the state’s largest single event, Sept. 3-26, 2021. Ticket sale updates will be announced soon.

11:01am – The last vaccine dose was given at the West Seattle vaccination hub Wednesday, but the Seattle Fire Department plans to continue vaccinating people in West Seattle with mobile teams. One of the first mobile events will be Saturday at the Delridge Farmers Market.

9:46am – Puyallup will soon begin handing out gift cards to local restaurants if you get a vaccine. The Tacoma News Tribune reports that the Puyallup area has a lower vaccination rate than the state or Pierce County averages.

About $5,000 of federal funds will be used to purchase the gift cards. Locally-owned restaurants with 25 or fewer employees can apply to be included, but businesses cannot be a chain or franchise.

9:04am – Certain restaurant and grocery store workers in downtown Seattle will get ORCA cards for six months of free transit rides. Starting June 21, SDOT will be distributing what the city is calling “recovery cards” to workers in neighborhoods that have dealt with racism, vandalism, and other issues during the pandemic.

The cards are worth about $100 a month. The funding for this comes from the transit sales tax Seattle voters approved last fall.

8:17am – While Washington is scheduled to fully reopen on June 30, there’s a chance the state could reopen before then if vaccination rates continue to trend up. Read more.

7:40am – Gov. Inslee says if he can’t add members of the military to the state vaccine lottery, he will create an alternative.

“We will provide an incentive program so that the Department of Defense folks and the veterans are in some incentive program,” the governor said.

Information on shots given by the military are not being released the state, so those who get them cannot be automatically entered in the state vaccine lotteries. Inslee says he is confident, however, that the state records reflect all shots reported by local health departments and private providers.

5:51am – People collecting unemployment checks in Washington will once again be required to prove they are looking for work. The job search requirement was suspended at the start of the pandemic, and has been extended since.

Beginning the week of July 4-10, keeping a full unemployment check will mean proving at least three approved job search activities each week.

Wednesday, June 9

4:31pm – Health officials say there have been 406,802 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Washington state, and 5,793 deaths since the outbreak began last spring. The state reports 7,301,374 doses of vaccine have been administered in Washington.

3:38pm – Seattle has officially crossed a major vaccination milestone, having become the first major U.S. city to have 70% of its residents ages 12 and up fully vaccinated. Read more.

2:16pm – Over the last year, health officials at UW Virology have been constantly taking in new information as they’ve worked to mitigate against the effects of the pandemic. And while it was a tough year for everyone, the hope is that all the work done during that period will prove crucial should another pandemic begin to take shape in the future. Read more.

12:39pm – Washington’s phone app for warning of COVID-19 exposure has already had some success.

“A study from the University of Washington estimates that WA Notify helped us prevent about 6,000 cases in Washington state, and saved 30 to 120 lives in the first four months of use,” said Lacy Fahrenbach, deputy secretary for the state’s COVID-19 response.

WA Notify warns people if they have been within six feet of someone confirmed to have COVID-19, so that people can then immediately get tested and quarantine before they infect others. All names and personal information are kept private.

11:03am – Snohomish County Executive Dave Somers wants pandemic hazard pay for county workers who deal with the public, as well as some grocery workers in unincorporated parts of the county. He has sent his proposed emergency measures to the council council, hoping they will be approved.

Somers says with more businesses reopening and a shortage of workers, he hopes extra pay will ensure that essential services are maintained.

8:10am – With businesses finally able to reopen, many in Washington have continued to struggle to fill open jobs, particularly in the hospitality industry. Read more.

6:38am – Starbucks’ personal reusable cup service is coming back after having been paused for more than a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The service returns June 22, and will be completely contactless. After baristas check the cleanliness of the cup, it will be placed in a ceramic mug or on a tray so that the barista never touches it.

5:42am – People in Seattle are getting vaccinated against COVID-19 at such a high rate that the city is closing its mass vaccination sites, instead shifting its focus to mobile vaccination clinics and an attempt to reach people where they are. There have been recent pop-ups outside of local breweries and restaurants, and at farmers markets. The city says more than 76% of Seattleites have at least one dose.

The vaccination site in West Seattle is shutting down today. The Lumen Field Events Center site will close this weekend, and the Rainier Beach location is closing later this month.

Tuesday, June 8

5:32pm – Health officials say there have been 406,399 confirmed cases of coronavirus, and 5,785 deaths since the outbreak began in 2020. The state says 7,294,234 doses of vaccine have been administered across Washington.

According to the Department of Health, Tuesday’s update included roughly 70 fewer deaths than the state originally believed there to be, following a “process update” that found those deaths were not related to COVID-19.

4:06pm –  For months, President Joe Biden has laid out goal after goal for taming the coronavirus pandemic and then exceeded his own benchmarks. Now, though, the U.S. is unlikely to meet his target to have 70% of Americans at least partially vaccinated by July 4.

About 15.5 million unvaccinated adults need to receive at least one dose in the next four weeks for Biden to meet his goal. But the pace of new vaccinations in the U.S. has dropped below 400,000 people per day — down from a high of nearly 2 million per day two months ago. Read more from the Associated Press.

2:43pm Snohomish County health officials report that the county has officially “weathered its fourth wave” of cases, and appears to be “on the road to recovery.”

Officials credit increased vaccination rates for the recent dip in case rates, with the county sitting at 103 new cases per 100,000 residents for the two-week period ending June 6.

“This is back to where the county was briefly in March before heading back up,” Snohomish County Health said in a written release.

1:04pm – Seattle renters are going to get support for a soon-to-be post-pandemic world, thanks to three bills passed by city council. But KIRO Radio’s Gee and Ursula wonder if it could hurt more than it helps. Read more

10:56am – Snohomish County is getting closer to reaching the goal of 70% vaccination, with 63% of those age 16 and up in the county who have now had one dose. Half of residents over 12 years old are now fully vaccinated.

7:22am – Canadian officials and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau are preparing to announce an easing of travel restrictions for fully vaccinated tourists later this week. Bloomberg reports that the plan would loosen the current 14-day quarantine period, but travelers are still expected to be tested for the virus.

The current ban on non-essential travel across the border is set to expire June 21.

5:40am – According to state lottery director Marcus Glasper, since Washington announced its vaccine lottery, the state Department of Health says the rate at which people are getting shots has increased.

The first lottery drawing will be Tuesday morning around 8 a.m. when $250,000 in cash and hundreds of other prizes are up for grabs. Read more.

For those ages 17 and under who can’t participate in the lottery but are vaccinated against COVID-19, there will be 15 winners drawn for 100 guaranteed education tuition (GET) credits. The tuition lotteries will take place twice, the first on Tuesday, June 15, and then again one week later.

Monday, June 7

5:52pm – The “help wanted” signs are up for businesses statewide as the pandemic winds to a close, so where are Washington’s workers? Read more

4:49pm – Health officials say there have been 405,920 confirmed cases of coronavirus, and 5,856 deaths since the outbreak began in 2020. The state says 7,253,646 doses of vaccine have been administered across Washington.

3:40pm – The Washington Liquor and Cannabis Board announced Monday that it has authorized “joints for jabs” promotions, providing a temporary allowance for dispensaries to give customers a pre-rolled joint if they’re vaccinated on-site at in-store clinics.

The ordinance will be in effect between June 7 and July 12, 2021. It will apply solely to cannabis dispensaries hosting an “active vaccine clinic event at the retail location,” and will be limited to one complimentary joint per customer.

2:02pm – Seattle councilmembers are discussing a trio of bills aimed at curbing evictions once city and state-level eviction moratoriums driven by the pandemic come to an end on June 30. Read more

12:20pm – The recent release of Dr. Anthony Fauci’s emails from early in the pandemic have led to a flurry of questions regarding the origins of COVID-19 virus. Those are also questions that Washington Rep. Dan Newhouse believes should be the final straw for Fauci’s role as a national leader in public health. Read more.

11:28am – On Memorial Day weekend and with the nicer weather in recent weeks, Whidbey Island is seeing more tourists visiting the area again, though it hasn’t yet seen a return to pre-pandemic levels. The Herald reports that Washington State Ferries say passenger numbers are just below 2019 levels.

9:37am – Pierce County will soon be hosting walk-in vaccine clinics at local restaurants to try to reach a 70% vaccination rate against COVID-19. As a bonus, visitors can enter a raffle to win two roundtrip ticket vouchers on Alaska Airlines.

Pierce County is also making a shift from mass vaccination sites to smaller local friendly spots.

9:01am – Across the United States, more children than ever before could be in classrooms for summer school this year to make up for lost learning during the outbreak, which caused monumental disruptions in education. School districts nationwide are expanding their summer programs and offering bonuses to get teachers to take part. Read more from the Associated Press.

7:42am – Royal Caribbean is the latest cruise line to announce the return of sailings between Washington and Alaska. When the trips resume in late July, passengers will need to show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test to board.

One hitch: Lawyers for the U.S. government say an upcoming decision in a Florida lawsuit could halt all plans to restart passenger cruises this summer.

5:34am – The White House is celebrating Washington as the 13th state to have 70% of its adult population vaccinated with at least one dose, but those metrics don’t match the state’s numbers. According to the state Department of Health, Washington is at 63%.

So why the difference? Washington state is using the 2020 population from its own Office of Financial Management, rather than the 2019 population used by the federal government. Also, the ages used in each metric are different, as the White House is referencing those ages 18 and older while the state is tracking ages 16 and older.

Gov. Inslee has said that Washington state will reopen on June 30 or once 70% of those age 16 and up have at least initiated vaccination, whichever comes first.

Check out updates from last week.

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