Timeline: A look back at Washington state’s COVID-19 response

Jun 28, 2021, 5:00 AM | Updated: Oct 7, 2021, 12:11 pm

Coronavirus, Jay Inslee...

Gov. Jay Inslee in early March of 2020, at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in Washington. (Jay Inslee, Twitter)

(Jay Inslee, Twitter)

After 15 months living in some kind of stay-at-home order prompted by the coronavirus pandemic, Washington state is officially reopening on June 30.

MyNorthwest has curated a timeline of events from the first confirmed case in Snohomish County until now. Relive the events to remind yourself that you’re a part of a unique time in history.

Jan. 21, 2020

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirms the first United States case of a mysterious coronavirus from China in Washington state. Read more.


March 1, 2020

Dr. Jeff Duchin with Public Health – Seattle & King County confirms a man in his 50s died of coronavirus. This is the first coronavirus death reported in the U.S. The man was being treated at EvergreenHealth Medical Center in Kirkland.  Read more.

March 3, 2020

Corornavirus spreads from Washington state to North Carolina. The case was a person who traveled to Washington state and was exposed at the Life Care Center in Kirkland where there was an outbreak of coronavirus. Read more.

March 11, 2020

Seattle Public Schools announces it’s closing all schools for at least two weeks. This followed similar announcements from Lake Washington SD, Shoreline SD, and Bellevue SD. Read more.

March 24, 2020

Gov. Inslee signs a statewide proclamation for all Washingtonians to stay at home for the next two weeks. This order is similar to what’s seen in California. Read more.


April 3, 2020

Gov. Jay Inslee announces that he will be extending Washington state’s Stay Home, Stay Healthy initiative through May 4. Read more.

May 11, 2020

Seattle and King County announce they are urging residents to wear face coverings in all indoor public settings, and outdoors where social distancing is difficult. The health directive goes into effect a week later. Read more.

May 29, 2020

With Washington’s stay-at-home order set to expire, Gov. Inslee announces a phased, county-by-county reopening plan. This plan will change multiple times in the next year. Read more.

June 22, 2020

Seattle’s school district, the largest in the state, recommends that instruction in the fall begins remotely. Districts around the state spend the next two months updating return-to-school plans — ranging from hybrid models to full remote plans. Read more.

June 23, 2020

MLB training camps are scheduled to open on July 1 with players required to go through a three-day COVID-19 testing period before being allowed on site. If baseball can get through spring training in a pandemic unscathed, the season will begin July 23 or 24. Read more.


June 26, 2020

Facial coverings become mandatory in all public places statewide, following a sharp rise in new cases in rural areas like Yakima County. Read more.

June 27, 2020

Washington health officials announce that they will pause the reopening process for all counties, as cases continue to rise across the state. Read more.

Aug. 19, 2020

The Seattle Seahawks announce that the team will play its first three home games of the 2020 season without fans in attendance. Read more.


September 25, 2020

State officials begin to issue warnings encouraging people not to travel for the coming holiday season, while enacting new protocols for airports. Read more.

October 13, 2020

A months-long pause on the reopening process dating back to the summer is lifted, with five counties permitted to move up to the next phase. Read more.

November 30, 2020

Washington state unveils a new tool, known as WA Notify, allowing residents to receive a mobile alert if they have spent any time near another user who later tests positive for COVID-19. Read more.

December 15, 2020

Washington administers its first COVID-19 vaccine doses at UW Medicine to a group of frontline workers. Read more.

January 15, 2021

Officials in Washington and Oregon express frustration over the slow federal rollout of vaccine doses, pointing to dwindling federal stockpiles, and labeling it “deception on a national scale.” Read more.

January 23, 2021

Two cases of the U.K. COVID-19 strain were announced to have been found in Washington, detected in Snohomish County. The state confirmed a third case the next day in Pierce County. Read more.

March 10, 2021

Seattle announces, the Lumen Field Event Center will open as a mass vaccination site. At peak capacity, the Lumen Field site will be the largest civilian-run clinic of its kind in the country. Read more.

Lumen Field

March 12, 2021

Gov. Jay Inslee issues an emergency proclamation requiring school districts to offer all K-12 students a hybrid in-person/remote learning model by mid-April. Read more.

March 22, 2021

All of Washington moves into Phase 3 of reopening, affording restaurants and other indoor spaces more flexibility with looser restrictions. Read more.

April 15, 2021

Vaccine eligibility opens to all Washington residents over the age of 16. Read more.

Vaccine site

May 13, 2021

Gov. Inslee announces that following initial concerns over a fourth wave of COVID-19 cases, Washington state is on track to reopen in full by June 30. Read more.

May 14, 2021

State officials say they will follow updated guidance regarding masks from the CDC, allowing those who are fully vaccinated to no longer wear facial coverings in most public places. Read more.

May 27, 2021

The school board for the state’s largest school district, Seattle Public Schools, votes to approve a temporary safety plan for fully resuming in-person classes this fall. Read more.

June 4, 2021

When asked about what will happen if the state does not reach 70% who’ve initiated vaccination by June 30, Gov. Inslee said Washington will reopen anyway.

“We would still plan to open on June 30th, and the more people that get vaccinated, the better shot we have at that,” Inslee said.  Read more.

June 30, 2021

Washington state officially reopens. Capacity restrictions are lifted, except for at large scale indoor events. Read more.

Coronavirus Updates


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Timeline: A look back at Washington state’s COVID-19 response