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Washington National Guard Members unloading medical supplies
Credit: Courtesy of Washington National Guard

Coronavirus impact and response ramps up: Monday edition

We are starting the second week of statewide school closures and widespread business closures.

And yet, the coronavirus outbreak only continues to grow. KUOW’s Paige browning is tracking each day's updates.

How widespread is the virus today here in Washington state?

We have hundreds more cases today than we did when we checked in Friday. Actually, even hundreds more than this weekend.

As of now, 2,200 cases are confirmed in Washington. Of those people, 110 have died. Most of those who died are over age 60 and about 10% are aged 40 to 59.

There are more women infected with COVID-19. In Washington state. Women make up 51% of the cases and 54% of the COVID-19 deaths in Washington.

Also, there's another enclosed facility with an outbreak. It's a Bellingham nursing home. As of yesterday, Shuksan Healthcare Center, a skilled nursing home in Bellingham, has 32 cases according to the Whatcom County Health Department.

Over the weekend, the president authorized funding for the National Guard here in Washington state. What exactly does that mean?

Some people will recall that the governors of Washington, California and New York have already authorized the use of the National Guard in their states to assist in the pandemic response as needed.

What the President's announcement from this weekend means is that the Federal government will pay to deploy them. The Washington National Guard has not yet been actively deployed to do anything according to the state's Military Department. The Department spokesperson Karina Shagren says the guard could be used for food and supply, delivery and other needs:

“We've already had some soldiers help with the unloading of a federal medical system, which includes hospital beds. We could have soldiers and airmen assist with traffic control points for mobile testing sites. So there's a myriad of missions that the National Guard could accept. We haven't been requested to support any counties or jurisdictions yet.”

Notice she didn't mention things like using the guard to close roads or borders, which has been a rumor. That's not happening now in Washington state, although the border to Canada is closed as of last week.

We have not yet seen Washington state officials enact the more stringent stay at home requirement that California and other states have done. There have been a couple of cities that have moved in that direction, but across the state that hasn't happened yet. Is that coming?

Some people would argue we're already pretty close to a stay at home order, with officials pleading with people in Washington to stay home and keep six feet apart from anyone else.

But, some parts of the region have already gone a step further putting some pressure on the governor. The state of Oregon did it today, and the cities of Everett, Edmonds and Yakima are officially under stay home orders.

People are ordered to stay home in those places unless they're going out for essential travel, such as groceries or medicine, or going to a job that's essential and that they can't do it from home.

There is growing pressure on Washington Governor Jay Inslee to order people to stay home in Washington. He has not done that yet.

What else should people know this afternoon?

So many things happen in a day now, Kim, so I'll recap some of today's top stories. Boeing workers in our region are going to stop making planes for two weeks at least. Boeing says it's still going to pay workers during that shutdown.

Play areas and sports fields are now closed in King County. Parks and trails are still open, but people need to stay distant from one another. Campgrounds on state lands are closed.

King County District Court has closed all but three of its courts and the ones that are open in Seattle, Kent and Bellevue have pretty limited hours right now. Listen to the interview by clicking the play button above.

Listen to the interview by clicking the play button above.