Coronavirus debrief: Tuesday edition
As of Tuesday afternoon, at least 1,012 people in Washington state have tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by Coronavirus. That includes 52 deaths.
The situation is evolving rapidly. KUOW’s Paige Browning is here to recap what we should know today.
Paige, where are we today, right now, in this stage of the pandemic?
Washington State now is preparing for this epidemic to possibly explode into many more cases. Governor Jay Inslee said today we need more medical workers:
“And one of the things we're doing is we're finding a way to expedite retired medical professionals to come back into service and nurses and physicians who might be in other states today to have an expedited process to get their license to come into the state.”
Otherwise today Kim, people are settling in more to our new normal. Businesses who do not have to shut down or making changes. For example, doctor's offices are starting to call patients telling them not to come in unless it's urgent. Lyft and Uber are not allowing carpool rides. And most real estate agents are shutting off in person tours.
We have been hearing reporting that business was already starting to slow down, but the closure orders from the Governor on Monday for restaurants and services, it was a shock for quite a few people. What's being put in place to get folks through this financially?
A few things are happening. Congress already approved $11 million in federal funding for Washington State. That was just distributed to the state this week. Small businesses in the Puget Sound region can now apply for disaster loans from the federal government.
And a lot of grassroots efforts are popping up. For example, an online fundraiser called Seattle Restaurant Workers Coronavirus Rent Fund.
As far as the spread of the disease goes, testing is the big question. If you need to get tested, can you be tested now?
The state is not yet where it wants to be on testing. Between the state health lab and the University of Washington, they want to be able to test 2700 people per day in Washington. They can do about a third of that right now and until it speeds up health officials won't know the full scale of the outbreak.
So what can we expect to have happen next?
Reading the tea leaves, we may be on track for more public restrictions. The state has a pandemic preparedness plan. Listed as options are suspending public transit and closing ports of entry. We've not had those orders yet in Washington, but it's not out of the question.
Listen to the interview by clicking the play button above.