skip to main content
caption: Jordan Stephens dines in a clear structure with his partner, Isabella Lozoya, left, in honor of her birthday, on Wednesday, May 5, 2021, at Plum Bistro in Seattle's Capitol Hill neighborhood.
Enlarge Icon
Jordan Stephens dines in a clear structure with his partner, Isabella Lozoya, left, in honor of her birthday, on Wednesday, May 5, 2021, at Plum Bistro in Seattle's Capitol Hill neighborhood.
Credit: KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

Covid updates for Seattle and the Northwest (May 3-7)

This post is archived. Read the latest updates here.

Need a vaccine?

As of Thursday, May 6, the Washington State Department of Health reports:

  • 5,564 Covid-19 related deaths; 381,299 confirmed cases; 31,184 probable cases; and a 1.3% death rate among positive cases.
  • Compared to white people and Asian people, the rate of Covid cases is nearly three times higher for Black people, and nearly seven times higher for Latino/x people and Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islanders.
  • So far, 5,750,348 doses (not total number of people) of Covid-19 vaccines have been administered to Washingtonians.

FRIDAY, MAY 7

State updates Covid guidelines for farmworkers

There are new guidelines for how temporary agricultural workers live and work during the pandemic.

Washington state's new requirements allow workers to sleep in bunk beds if they've been vaccinated against COVID-19, and if they're separated into groups of 15 or fewer people.

Fully-vaccinated workers can now share common areas like cafeterias if they maintain social distancing guidelines and wear masks. Workers can also ride in the same vehicle if they're masked.

These changes come after farm operators filed a lawsuit in February, arguing that the old rules restricting congregating were too strict.

— Anna King

A sweet incentive to get vaccinated

A pop-up clinic on “the Ave” in the University District is adding a sweet incentive to getting a Covid vaccination.

After getting vaccinated, patients can enjoy a free ice cream cone from the parlor around the corner.

Didi, a sophomore at the University of Washington, walked by the pop-up with her friend. Didi has been hesitant to get vaccinated, but the convenience of the clinic and her friend’s persuasion was enough to convince her.

“I think I was scared, at first, to get the vaccine,” Didi said. “I feel like I’m the last of my friends to get the vaccine, because I was pushing it back because I was fearful.”

The walk-up clinic was the product of a partnership between U District Partners, Seattle’s Office of Economic Development, and the Seattle Fire Department. The University District is currently one of the least-vaccinated neighborhoods in Seattle, and the city is hosting low-barrier pop-ups to make sure that small businesses, workers, and students can easily get a vaccine.

Didi was able to choose between the Moderna and the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. She went with the latter.

“It’s just one shot,” Didi said. “I don’t want to go through it two times.”

Though, of course, the ice cream cone certainly sweetens the deal.

— Eilis O'Neill

King County passes 100,000 Covid cases

4:15 p.m. — King County passed a grim milestone this week. More than 100,000 confirmed cases of Covid-19 since the start of the pandemic.

As of 4 p.m. on Friday, there were 100,485 cases. But, after weeks of increasing counts, county health officer Dr. Jeff Duchin said the number of new cases has decreased slightly this week.

Duchin said hospitalizations have also decreased by 20 percent over the past seven days compared to the week before, a welcome decline.

"The Covid-19 outbreak is no longer a 5-alarm fire, but it continues to burn and has not yet been extinguished. At the moment, new cases of covid-19 can still spark flare-ups that spread among unvaccinated people," Duchin said.

Duchin said getting people vaccinated and taking precautions are both needed to help limit outbreaks and curb the current surge.

The state's reopening plan was paused this week, meaning King County avoided a roll back to phase 2, with lower indoor capacity for businesses and restaurants. The next evaluation of counties will take place in roughly 10 days.

Kate Walters

Is the Covid curve flattening? It's too soon to tell

1:45 p.m. — A new report released by the Washington State Department of Health indicates that there are promising signs that the curve in COVID-19 cases may be flattening.

Here are some of the key takeaways:

  • Statewide Covid case counts showed some flattening in late April, but experts say it's still too early to tell if this trend will continue.

Case trends have varied from county to county since late April. Many counties, like King County and Snohomish County, have seen an increase in cases, but others have experienced a flattening trend.

  • A majority of new Covid cases in Washington are linked to three variants.

80% of all new cases are associated with the U.K. and Brazil variant, according to the report.

  • Case and hospital admission rates are increasing across all ages, except for people 70 and older.

The explanation? People 70 and older are the most likely to have been vaccinated. As of April 22, people ages 20-29 have the highest case rates.

Noel Gasca

Baseball teams selling tickets for vaccinated fans

1:45 p.m. — Sports teams around western Washington are aiming to provide special sections in stadiums for vaccinated spectators. The sections will allow for fewer pandemic restrictions.

The Seattle Times reports that the Mariners are planning for vaccinated sections which will allow them to increase capacity during games.

The Tacoma Rainiers have already planned a special section for vaccinated fans at Cheney Stadium. Officials say there will be less social distancing and more of a sense of normalcy.

Other MLB teams have also started offering tickets for vaccinated sections, such as the Mets and Yankees.

— Dyer Oxley

Big change to Washington vaccine policy will allow for more walk-ins

1 p.m. — In a signal that there are now plenty of Covid vaccines to go around, Washington state's health department changed a key policy Friday. It aims to make it easier for clinics and other providers to offer walk-in appointments and to give vaccines to anyone visiting the clinic for any reason.

The state had previously required vaccine providers to use 95% of the doses they received within a week. Otherwise, they’d get a smaller shipment the following week. The aim of the requirement was to discourage providers from storing highly-sought-after doses on their shelves.

Effective immediately, that requirement is gone. According to a recent statement from DOH: "...we are removing the requirement to use 95% of your vaccine supply in seven days. We are removing this requirement because we want to ensure you have vaccine on hand to take advantage of any opportunities to administer the vaccine. We also now have enough vaccine supply to allow all Covid-19 vaccine providers to have a stock of vaccine."

That’s because there are now plenty of vaccines for everyone who wants one. The new challenge is to make it easy and convenient for unvaccinated Washingtonians to get their first dose, and for residents — some of whom maybe drove for hours for their first dose — to get their booster shots. To accomplish that, the state is now allowing providers to keep a supply of Covid vaccines on hand for anyone who wants one.

In addition to providing doses for walk-ins, DOH feels the new policy will help providers ask patients their vaccination status and provide a shot more immediately.

Providers will be allowed to stock up with a two-week supply of vaccine.

— Eilis O'Neill

Pierce County lawmakers critical of governor's reopening plans

11:30 a.m. — A bi-partisan group of state legislators (eight Democrats and four Republicans) in Pierce County says it may call for a special legislative session to address Governor Jay Inslee's reopening plan.

They sent him a letter Thursday saying his recent decision to pause rollbacks was unfair to Pierce County which had to fall back to Hhase 2 last month because it failed to meet Covid case and hospitalization metrics set by the state.

Right now, places like King County are also failing to meet those same metrics. But in a statement, the governor defended his decision, saying there has been a stark difference between the acceleration of the infection rate experienced in Pierce County and the plateauing of infections statewide.

The lawmakers' letter also states, "The Pierce County community has sacrificed over the past year to save lives and keep businesses open. They deserve to be treated fairly during the Roadmap to Recovery re-opening."

The lawmakers' letter comes the same day that the Washington Hospitality Association launched a petition to follow California’s lead and fully reopen the state on June 15.

— Angela King

Tacoma schools opening full time in fall

11 a.m. — The Tacoma School District says it will welcome all students back to in-person classes, full time, by the fall.

Currently, however, the district has no plans to require students to be vaccinated against Covid-19. Instead, it says it will leave that decision up to state officials.

But district leaders say they’re confident they’ll be able to keep students safe under current state guidelines.

And families that don't want their students to return to campus will be able to enroll in an online program.

— Angela King

Hospitality association circulates petition for reopening Washington in June

10 a.m. — The Washington Hospitality Association is circulating a petition calling on Governor Jay Inslee to fully reopen Washington state by June 15.

It argues the state doesn't have a plan to move forward — only backward —and right now officials rely too much on business shutdowns to control the virus, adding there's been “ample time” for people to get the Covid-19 vaccines.

The head of the association says the state's goalpost has moved too many times. The association also notes that other states, such as California and New York, have already set reopening dates.

As of Friday morning, the petition had received more than 4,500 online signatures.

— Angela King

CWU announces vaccination requirement for fall classes

8 a.m. — Central Washington University in Ellensburg is the latest to announce a requirement for students to be vaccinated for fall classes.

In a letter to students, CWU says it expects vaccines to be more available over the summer. Students will be required to show proof of vaccination. CWU says that if students are unable to obtain a vaccine where they live, the university will provide a shot on campus.

Central Washington is the latest university to implement such a requirement. Western Washington University, the University of Washington, and Washington State University have also announced such requirements. Pacific Lutheran University and Seattle University have also issued vaccination requirements.

That means Eastern Washington University is the only public state university that hasn't announced a vaccination requirement for students.

— Angela King

THURSDAY, MAY 6

A 'first-of-its-kind' ceremony for WSU medical students

4:56 p.m. — Washington State University has graduated its inaugural medical school class during a virtual ceremony.

University President Kirk Schulz congratulated the class.

"Today is a particularly historic day for the university and the Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine," Schulz said. "For the first time in our institution's 131-year history, we're conferring medical degrees, another step in our land grant mission, dedicated to serving the needs of the people."

After the ceremony, medical students made their way to a parking lot on WSU's Spokane campus for a first-of-its-kind drive-through ceremony to pick up their degrees. Students in the college's Speech and Hearing Sciences and Nutrition and Exercise Physiology programs also participated.

The medical students will now disperse across the country to begin residency training. WSU graduation ceremonies will continue on Friday with a combination of virtual and drive-through events, and culminate with another virtual systemwide ceremony on Saturday morning.

— Derek Wang

Trade group calling for mid-June reopening

4:22 p.m. — The Washington Hospitality Association, a trade group representing about six thousand hotels and restaurants, are asking Gov. Jay Inslee to start making plans to get those businesses back to full operating capacity.

“Right now we only have a plan to roll backwards," said association president Anthony Anon. "What we really need to have is a plan to move forward.”

Aton wants the state to fully reopen by June 15. He says it would align with California's plans. And it's achievable.

“By the end of May I think all of us are highly confident that everyone who is willing to get vaccinated will have been vaccinated.”

In addition to calling on the Governor, the association is taking its proposal to the public through a statewide petition.

So far more than 38% of Washington residents are fully vaccinated.

Inslee has said the state has a long way to go before it’s safe to reopen.

Ruby de Luna

Kids 12-15 years old may be able to get a Covid-19 vaccine as early as next week

4:12 p.m. — Next week, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is expected to grant emergency use authorization to Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine for kids aged 12 to 15 years old.

When that happens, officials with UW Medicine say they'll be ready to schedule appointments.

Cynthia Dold is the associate vice president of clinical operations with UW Medicine. She said once the FDA approves, parents will be able to book appointments for their kids online or over the phone immediately. But you don't need an appointment to get a shot.

"We are having walk-ins at all of our sites and so if folks spontaneously want to bring their kids in once the approvals come in, then we want to get them vaccinated."

Dold said parents can give consent for the shots online, in person at UW Medicine locations, or over the phone.

“I’m personally excited as I’ve got a 12 year old, so I can’t wait to bring him in, and I’d say there’s just a ton of buzz in the community to get this younger set vaccinated,” she said.

Dold said providers are doing all they can to encourage all eligible adults to get vaccinated, and to encourage parents to vaccinate their kids when that becomes an option. “Whether it’s in our clinic, in our call centers, or if folks are in to see their providers, we’re doing everything we can to counsel folks on the facts of the vaccine, that it’s a very safe vaccine, and that it really is the best way for us to begin recovery as a community.”

The two-shot Pfizer vaccine is already authorized for people 16 and older.

Studies are underway to evaluate the safety and efficacy of the vaccine for children as young as 6 months.

Kate Walters

New info explains why asymptomatic spread is so common with Covid

2 p.m. — When you feel sick, it's not necessarily the virus causing that feeling. Your body responding to the virus is what makes you feel sick — fever, sneezing, coughing, etc.

But researchers at UW Medicine have discovered an interesting quirk with SARS-CoV-2 which explains why so many people are spreading the virus without even knowing they are sick.

You can read the in-depth details here. But in short: the coronavirus has a way of delaying the body's response to it. That way, a person doesn't know they are sick and is more likely to spread it around.

Basically, cells have pores that your body's defenses can move through. But the coronavirus creates a protein that blocks these pores, for a little while.

“With these pores blocked, infected cells can’t fight back,” said Dr. Alex Greninger, assistant professor of laboratory medicine and pathology at the University of Washington School of Medicine. “Eventually, the cells are able to respond and mount a response, but the action of this protein gives the virus time to replicate and generate a large viral load.”

“A lot of attention has been focused on the virus’s spike protein, but these accessory proteins are another reason SARS-CoV-2 is so dangerous,” he said. “We need to understand what every single protein produced by these viruses does.”

This explains why people with Covid-19 initially produce such high levels of the virus without feeling sick. And in that time, a person is walking around spreading the virus. Hopefully, they are wearing a mask to hold in their droplets, and keeping their distance ... hopefully.

For those who want to get into the science, you can read the study here.

— Dyer Oxley

Covid attacks lungs more than other organs

1 p.m. — Researchers have learned something new about the coronavirus and how it affects critically ill patients.

Many organs in the body take a hit while suffering from SARS-CoV-2. Doctors have known this since the beginning of the pandemic. But since then, researchers have been watching more closely to critically ill patients. According to recently published research out of the University of Washington, the virus attacks lung tissue more than any other organ.

Blood vessels and other organs are less affected. It may seem like a little detail, but it's an important distinction to know so doctors can better plan treatments for Covid patients.

“In this study, we enrolled critically ill patients in the ICU, some with Covid-19 and others without, and compared (them) against each other via the use of blood markers,” Dr. Pavan Bhatraju with UW Medicine. “Patients with Covid-19 did not do worse than patients with other types of diseases that lead to ICU care. I think this is reassuring and suggests that while the underlying biology is different between Covid-19 and non-Covid-19, the outcomes are similar."

In short, this means that doctors may consider therapies that more directly target inflammation in the lungs than other organs.

The study, which is the largest of its kind to date, also came to different conclusions than previous, smaller studies. Previously, studies reported higher rates of acute kidney injury, thrombosis and death in patients with Covid-19. This study did not come to that conclusion.

— Dyer Oxley

WWU issues vaccine requirement for students

Noon — Another state university in Washington is now requiring students and staff to get vaccinated against Covid-19 before fall classes begin.

Students and staff at Western Washington University will need to show they've been vaccinated against Covid before returning to Campus.

It's the latest university to issue such a requirement. The University of Washington, Washington State University, Seattle University, and Pacific Lutheran University all have similar policies in place.

Some exemptions will be allowed.

— Angela King

Signs of hope — more vaccines coming

11 a.m. — Washington health officials say they are seeing signs of hope in recent Covid-19 case and hospitalization data.

Officials say they are also expecting more consistent vaccine allocations from the federal government. Nearly 400,000 doses will arrive in the state next week.

The allocation forecast shows the state receiving about the same amount every week through the end of the month, which helps with planning.

Gov. Jay Inslee said this week that all of the state's counties won't face more restrictions because new Covid cases are levelling off after a recent spike.

More than 50% of eligible Washington residents have received at least a first dose of the vaccine. About 39% (2.4 million people) are fully vaccinated.

— Kim Malcolm

Declining vaccine demand in Washington state

10 a.m. — More than 50% of Washington has received one dose of Covid vaccine. And two out of five people are fully vaccinated. More than 5.5 million doses have been administered so far.

But Washington state health officials are worried about an apparent slowdown in demand for vaccines.

"We are all fighting complacency, and we're all tired of this pandemic," said Michelle Roberts with the state Department of Health. "So now it's all of our job to make it easy and we have to work together to make sure we're all vaccinated."

The state is trying to reduce certain barriers that might keep some people from getting their shots. For example, it's now partnering with Uber and Lyft to offer free rides to vaccine appointments.

Officials are also urging those who are already vaccinated to help others get their shots.

With the weather improving and holidays like Mother's Day approaching, health officials are reminding the public to celebrate safely and keep taking precautions.

— Katie Campbell

Hazard pay for Federal Way

9 a.m. — Some grocery workers in Federal Way are the next in our region to get pandemic hazard pay.

They'll start getting an extra $3 an hour this Saturday. The hazard pay is slated for 90 days.

The Federal Way City Council will vote to end or extend the pay after on July 6.

— Angela King

Hazard pay may not be coming in Pierce County grocery workers

8 a.m. — Grocery workers in unincorporated Pierce County may not see a $4 an hour hazard pay bonus, despite the county council's approval.

The council approved the hazard pay ordinance with a 4 to 3 vote. Pierce County Executive Bruce Dammeier has vetoed the proposal. He says a lot of people have been on the front lines, not just grocery workers.

"To differentiate, to try to pick and choose within those is an impossible choice," he said, adding the same is true when differentiating the risk workers face at one grocery store versus another.

"It's hard to justify how a Safeway on South Hill is facing a significantly different risk that they should get a hazard pay bonus, when the Safeway in Puyallup just a couple miles away doesn't."

The County Council can overturn his veto with a two-thirds vote, but the union representing the workers says that’s not likely.

— Katie Campbell

WEDNESDAY, MAY 5

CDC issues guidance for trial cruise voyages

7:09 p.m. — Seattle's cruise industry has received some potentially good news.

The Centers for Disease Control says that cruise lines can soon begin trial voyages in U.S. waters, but there are stipulations.

All passengers must be at least 18 years old, and be able to prove that they are either fully vaccinated or free of medical conditions that would put them at high risk for severe Covid-19. Passengers will also be asked to wear face masks and observe social distancing guidelines while on board.

— Kim Malcolm

Washington will receive 400,000 doses of vaccine next week

6:46 p.m. — Health officials for the state say they're expecting to see more consistent vaccine allocations from the federal government in the coming weeks.

The allocation forecast shows that Washington will receive nearly 400,000 doses of vaccine next week, with the state expecting about the same amount every week through the end of the month.

More than 50% of eligible Washington residents have received at least one dose of the Covid vaccine.

— Kim Malcolm

State health officials try to make vaccine access easier as they see a possible drop in pace of demand

4:40 p.m. — More than 5.5 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine have been administered across Washington state, and more than 50 percent of eligible adults in the state have had at least one dose.

But state health officials are concerned about an apparent slowdown in the pace of demand for the shots.

"We are all fighting complacency, and we're all tired of this pandemic,” said Michele Roberts, acting assistant secretary of the state Department of Health.

“So now it's all of our job to make it easy and we have to work together to make sure we're all vaccinated," she said.

The state Department of Health announced a partnership Wednesday with ride-sharing services to help get people to their covid-19 vaccine appointments.

Starting Monday, May 10, people with limited resources can call the state's vaccine hotline and receive a code for a free ride to their appointment with Lyft or Uber.

The state hotline number is 1-833-VAX-HELP

"We are trying, across the state of Washington, to reduce the barriers and make it a level playing field for all Washingtonians to get vaccinated,” said Dan Laster, director of the state’s Vaccine Action Command and Coordination System Center.

Laster said Uber is also partnering with Sea Mar community health centers and their sister organizations so patients can get free rides through their providers.

Kate Walters

Covid cases declining in US, but high in Washington

3 p.m. — According to the CDC, Covid cases are on the decline, overall, in the United States. However, some regions continue to have high case loads. Washington and Oregon are among the areas with the most Covid cases in the nation right now.

— Dyer Oxley

Uber and Lyft to offer vaccine rides

Noon — Uber and Lyft will begin offering rides to vaccination sites on May 10.

People who need a ride to get a shot can call 833-VAX-HELP.

In addition to Lyft and Uber, Pierce Transit and Sound Transit are also offering free rides for people getting vaccines.

— Dyer Oxley

No Phase 2 (for now) but Seattle mayor urges vigilance

11 a.m. — Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan is welcoming the news that the region will not slide back into Phase 2. But she is asking the public to remain vigilant, and not take too many risks as Covid cases remain high and the virus is spreading.

“Our region may be turning a corner on the fourth wave, and the pause is welcome news for a record level of Seattle residents and small businesses who are seeking vaccinations. While we are not rolling back today, we have to remain vigilant. Although King County remains in Phase 3, more aggressive variants show that we are not out of the woods yet."

Mayor Durkan's office says that 70% of Seattle residents have gotten at least one dose of the vaccine, and about 45% of residents are fully vaccinated.

"The best and easiest way to be protected from the dangerous Covid-19 variants in our community is by quickly getting vaccinated. Everyone has more ways to get a vaccine than ever before, and we are so close to putting this pandemic behind us once and for all. Please continue to follow the best practices that we know are effective at slowing the spread of this virus: wash your hands, avoid crowded gatherings, wear a mask, and get vaccinated.”

— Paige Browning

Vaccine rejection in King County jails

10 a.m. — Nearly 60% of people incarcerated in King County jails are turning down the chance to get vaccinated against Covid-19 .

Crosscut reports that there has been significant vaccine rejection in the jails. Cramped jail conditions can lead to faster transmission rates.

It has public health officials concerned. They say those being held are more likely to be people of color, have a disability, or a condition that makes them more vulnerable to the virus.

— Angela King

Pierce County Council passes hazard pay, but it's not a done deal

9 a.m. — The Pierce County Council has signed off on a measure to give frontline grocery workers, at larger stores, a $4 an hour hazard pay bump.

But now, Pierce County Executive Bruce Dammeier says he plans to veto the hazard pay. He argues the county should focus on reducing Covid-19 risks instead of driving up costs.

He also said in a statement that the best way to reduce risk is for people to get vaccinated, adding grocery store workers should be encouraged to get their shots now.

If Dammeier does veto the measure, the Pierce County Council will have 30 days to respond and council members could override his veto with two-thirds of the vote.

— Angela King

No more appointments needed for vaccines in Snohomish County

8 a.m. — You no longer need to make an appointment to get your Covid vaccination at the Snohomish County sites.

The county task force will start accepting on-site registrations, but you're still encouraged to make one because vaccines for those without an appointment will be given on a first-come, first-served basis. Also, making an appointment helps organizers plan for the number of doses each day.

— Angela King

TUESDAY, MAY 4

Mayor Durkan asks Seattleites to remain vigilant in fighting Covid-19

6:02 p.m. — Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan is urging Seattle residents to continue to get vaccinated and follow public health guidance following Gov. Jay Inslee's announcement that Washington state would be pausing its reopening plan for two weeks.

In a statement released by her office, Durkan noted that while King County remains in Phase 3 of the state's Healthy Washington: Roadmap to Reopening plan, Covid variants still pose a threat to recovery.

According to the statement, over 70 percent of Seattle residents have received at least one vaccination, and almost 45 percent of residents are fully vaccinated.

The city of Seattle has made Covid-vaccine appointments available for walk-ups, without an appointment. They remain free of charge nationwide.

— Paige Browning

Why Covid cases have been increasing around Washington

3 p.m. — The Washington State Department of Health is pointing out that despite the availability of vaccines, Covid cases have been on the rise, leading to the current fourth wave we are experiencing.

Why? There are a few suspects.

First, there are five variants of concerns spreading wider and wider. These variants are more infectious and cause more severe illness. It's one reason why younger people are being hospitalized more for Covid than before. People under the age of 50 are half of the hospitalized cases in Washington. DOH says that its latest sequencing of test results show a 35% increase in these variants from the previous week.

In addition to the variants, DOH suspects many people may be letting their guard down too early — easing up on mask wearing and social distancing.

And finally, DOH says that despite expanded eligibility, there has been a decrease in demand for vaccines. Experts are urging people not to wait to get vaccinated. The faster more people are vaccinated, the faster things get back to normal.

“There are new variants spreading — so if we let down our guard, we give the virus the upper hand,” said John H. Vassall, Physician Executive, Quality and Safety, for Comagine Health. “As cases increase, restrictions that were lifted may have to be reintroduced. That’s damaging to morale and can delay when we all can get back to normal.”

— Dyer Oxley

Volunteers to help vaccination sites becoming more scarce

1 p.m. — Some clinics that have been relying on volunteers to administer the Covid-19 vaccines are now having a hard time finding eager helpers.

Every Saturday since March, a clinic in the Central District has been able to vaccinate 300-400 people by relying on volunteer workers.

Volunteers sign patients in, give them shots, monitor for allergic reactions, and do data entry. Patricia Boiko is one of them. She’s a retired family physician and is amazed that most of the medical professionals at the site still work full-time.

"There’s two docs. They work all week, and now they're volunteering. They're unbelievable, really," Boiko said.

But fewer and fewer health professionals are able to sign up for that double shift. They’re exhausted and burned out. Retired Dr. Boiko, however, says she hasn’t missed a Saturday. She cares too much about this clinic that primarily serves low-income people of color.

"It was a beautiful Saturday the last Saturday that I was here. People were doing all sorts of fun things that I was missing. And at the end of the day, I was so energized and so happy. It's a joyous thing. It's everything that I went into family medicine for," she said.

But without enough volunteers, this clinic may have to close soon. Dr. Boiko says that’s a problem, because clinics like these are crucial for reaching communities with the lowest vaccination rates. They’re places people can walk to, and where they already know the provider giving them their shot. That convenience and comfort are what policy makers say is needed next to help the last groups of people get vaccinated.

— Eilis O'Neill

King County will not fall back to Phase 2

11:10 a.m. — Washington Governor Jay Inslee announced Tuesday that there will be no more counties falling back to Phase 2 for at least another two weeks.

Inslee is calling it a "two week pause" on deciding whether counties will phase down. It was somewhat unexpected. Covid case counts remain higher than what officials would like (less than 200 cases per 100,000 people).

But Inslee says that metrics over the weekend seem to indicate that the current fourth wave is plateauing. Hospitalizations are up, but the Covid death rate is down.

Inslee and King County Health Officer Jeff Duchin stressed that vaccination efforts continue and are credited with recent good news amid the pandemic, such as the decline in the death rate.

"We need an acceleration of our vaccination efforts," Inslee said, arguing that vaccines are the one thing that will bring restrictions to an end.

Inslee said Tuesday that vaccine supplies from the federal government will not be increasing but staying steady.

Read more details here.

— Dyer Oxley

Go to a Mariners game, get a vaccine shot

10 a.m. — The Mariners are following the Sounders lead and will start offering free Covid vaccinations at their home games starting Tuesday tonight.

Fans will have a choice of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine or the first shot of the Moderna vaccine. They will be able to schedule their second shot of the Moderna vaccine at any of the city-run vaccination sites.

The shots will be available at three locations in the ballpark up to two hours before the game begins. Fans need to be 18 or older.

The Seattle Sounders have a similar program for home games. Though, while the Sounders have players and staff fully vaccinated, the Mariners are a bit behind. After a voluntary vaccination event for Mariners players a few weeks ago, less than half the team took advantage of the opportunity to receive a dose.

A month ago, Major League Baseball sent a memo to all teams stating that pandemic restrictions throughout the league could be pulled back if 85% of players, coaches, and support staff got fully vaccinated. Mariners Manager Scott Servais says the team has “some work to do” to get to 85%.

— Angela King

Washington state now tracking ethnicity and vaccines

8 a.m. — The state is now tracking the race or ethnicity of those who are getting vaccinated.

Currently, Asians make up 10% of the state's adult population, and make up 12% of those who've gotten at least one shot.

However, Black and Hispanic-identifying residents are underrepresented in nearly all areas, though only by a small fraction in some counties.

The number of white people starting vaccinations is slightly lower than the white population, but it varies. For example, white people have received a disproportionately low percentage of the shots in Asotin County, but a higher percentage in Ferry.

The state department of health is using this data to determine where to focus vaccine efforts.

— Paige Browning

MONDAY, MAY 3

When they say 'cases rise,' this is what they mean

5:25 p.m. — King County and Snohomish County are expected to roll back to Phase 2 on Friday. Here's why that is:

Currently, 250 out of every 100,000 people in Washington have new Covid-19 cases, according to public health officials.

Counties must have below 200 cases per 100,000 residents to move to phase 3 of Gov. Jay Inslee's reopening plan, along with low hospitalization rates.

King County currently has 245 cases per 100,000 residents, and Snohomish County has 227.

—Noel Gasca

Department of health will now track race and ethnicity of those vaccinated

5:06 p.m. — The Washington State Department of Health is now tracking the race and ethnicity of people getting vaccinated on a county-level, to determine where to focus vaccine efforts.

While data on vaccination rates vary across counties, there are consistent trends. The data collected so far indicates that people who identify as Asian are among the most vaccinated in the state. Black and Hispanic residents are underrepresented in the vaccinated population in almost every county.

The number of white people getting vaccinated is slightly lower than the white population, but it also varies across counties. For example, white residents of Asotin County have a lower vaccination rate compared to Ferry County.

—Noel Gasca

King County likely to roll back to Phase 2

3:00 p.m. — More counties are expected to roll back to Phase 2 as Covid case rates continue to rise in Washington.

Phase 2 means indoor restrictions for businesses.

King County is likely to be one of them because Covid metrics--new infection cases and hospitalization rates-- are exceeding the threshold for Phase 3.

Dr. Jeff Duchin, King County Public Health Officer, says it’s possible to bounce back.

“We can turn that around as quickly as we like," he said. "By restricting activities, making sure we wear face masks when inside and around others who are unvaccinated … That will help us drive the case rates down as low as possible down.”

Restaurants, gyms and retail will be capped at 25 percent capacity.

Gov. Jay Inslee will announce his decision Tuesday. The rollback will take effect Friday.

—Ruby de Luna

No appointments needed for Lumen Field, Rainier Beach, or West Seattle vaccination sites

1:30 p.m. — King County is nixing the requirement to have an appointment to receive a vaccine at any of its three vaccination sites.

King County residents can walk up to get their first or second doses.

“We’ve reached a turning point in our vaccination efforts,” Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan said Monday. “Now anyone who wants a vaccination in Seattle and King County can get one. If you have already been vaccinated, be a good neighbor and help your friends, family, neighbors, and coworkers get vaccinated. It’s up to all of us to defeat this pandemic.”

People who get their first dose at the sites will be able to schedule their second shot. People getting their second doses must provide proof of vaccination with their vaccine card or online immunization record.

About 68% of Seattle residents have begun the vaccination process, and 41% are fully vaccinated, according to the mayor’s office. Lumen Field is currently offering the Pfizer vaccine./ Rainier Beach and West Seattle are offering all three vaccine options (Johnsons & Johnsons, Pfizer, and Moderna).

Locations

  • Lumen Field Event Center: 330 S Royal Brougham Way, Seattle; Open Thursdays and Saturdays, 11:15 a.m. to 5:45 p.m.
  • Rainier Beach Vaccination Hub: 8702 Seward Park Ave S, Seattle, Wash; Open Monday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. On Tuesday, May 4, the Rainier Beach site will be open until 7:30 p.m.
  • West Seattle Vaccination Hub: 2801 SW Thistle St., Seattle; Monday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. On Wednesday, May 5, the West Seattle site will be open until 7:30 p.m.

—Dyer Oxley

UW will require vaccinations for fall classes

1 p.m. — The University of Washington will require that students be vaccinated to attend fall classes, according to an email sent to students, staff, and faculty Monday. UW also says it will offer vaccines doses to students as they arrive.

"Before the start of autumn quarter, students will need to verify they have been vaccinated unless they are claiming a medical, religious or philosophical exemption. This is similar to our existing tri-campus immunization requirement. If students are unable to verify they are vaccinated because they can’t get vaccinated where they currently live, the University will provide access to vaccinations upon arrival on campus."

The university adds that it will provide guidance on how to prove vaccination status, or claim an exemption over the summer.

Last week, Washington State University was the first public university to announce a vaccination policy for fall quarter. Other private institutions, such as Pacific Lutheran University and Seattle University, will also require vaccinations.

Over 2020, UW experienced a handful of outbreaks despite campus shutdowns. The outbreaks were largely associated with activity along Greek Row where fraternity and sorority houses are located.

According to UW's email: "Widespread vaccination is the only real way we can put the COVID-19 pandemic behind us and return to a more normal way of living, learning and working. Fortunately, vaccines are now readily available that have proven safe and highly effective, including through clinical trials in which our own faculty collaborated and during real-world experience."

— Dyer Oxley

Outbreaks around rural Washington town

Noon — Health officials pockets of super spreader events in the small north-central Washington city of Republic have infected about 10% of the population there.

Officials at Ferry County Memorial Hospital say they've confirmed more than 100 cases and one death since the local Fraternal Order of Eagles held a number of large indoor events at its hall between April 9-11. Some of those events were to protest mask wearing.

In early April, the region only had five cases. The current case load is more than the Republic area can handle so some patients have been transferred to Wenatchee and Yakima where there are more beds available.

And while less than 25% of those who live in the rural area around Republic have gotten vaccinated, the local health district says interest in the vaccines has increased since the recent outbreak.

Officials said patients who have recently showed up to the emergency room have more severe symptoms than those earlier in the pandemic, including a pattern of nausea, vomiting and pneumonia. Many young people, including some in their 20s, have displayed shortness of breath and viral pneumonia. This aligns with the more recent wave of the pandemic that is affecting younger people more, and sending them to the hospital with more severe illnesses. Experts believe that more infectious variants are partially responsible for this.

—Angela King

Mask guidelines relaxed at long-term care facilities

11 a.m. — Washington state is relaxing mask guidelines for long-term care facilities. Fully vaccinated residents can meet with each other and participate in group activities without masks.

Governor Jay Inslee updated his Proclamation 20-66, which initially required masking up in the facilities. The latest guidance is an update that takes into account more recent CDC recommendations. The change is effective immediately.

Again, this is only for fully vaccinated residents in the facilities.

— Angela King

King County businesses will likely have to scale back on capacity this week

10 a.m. — King County's public health agency says it’s trying to bring back some semblance of "normal" through vaccination. About two thirds of King County’s residents 16 and older have gotten at least their first dose of a Covid vaccine. But that’s likely an undercount, since it doesn’t include county residents who got vaccinated elsewhere.

Cora Weed is with NeighborCare, a network of clinics in the Seattle area. She says getting the rest of the county vaccinated could require reaching out to people one-by-one.

"Your trusted nurse calls you and says, 'Hey, we have vaccine appointments at your clinic next weekend. There’s going to be a lot of people that you know there. Do you want to come down? What time of day would work best for you?'”

NeighborCare and similar neighborhood community-based clinics aren’t waiting for people to sign up and are getting more proactive.

— Eilis O'Neill

100 vaccine doses stolen from dentist's office

8 a.m. — The search is on for the person who stole 100 Covid-19 vaccine doses from a Pierce County dentist's office.

The break-in happened Friday morning in Purdy, just north of Gig Harbor.

Authorities are warning people to steer clear of anyone offering vaccines outside of official vaccination events. Let health officials know if you see any such unauthorized events.

The thief also took more than $100,000 worth of medical equipment.

— Angela King


Read previous updates here