Pandemic updates for the Northwest
This post will be updated with information about the Covid-19 pandemic in Washington state. Scroll down for daily updates.
As of Monday, March 8, the Washington State Department of Health reports:
- 5,063 Covid-19 related deaths; 325,931 confirmed cases; 19,800 probable cases; and a 1.5% death rate among positive cases.
- 19,677 people have been hospitalized with Covid-19 in Washington state. According to the most recent data and NPR's hospital capacity monitor: King County has 75% of hospital beds taken, with 4% of the ICU beds occupied by Covid-19 patients; Pierce County has 90% of beds taken, with 9% occupied by Covid-19 patients; and Snohomish County has 56% of beds taken with 3% occupied by Covid-19 patients.
- 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, 1,865,640 Washingtonians have been vaccinated against Covid-19.
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In a few months, there could be more vaccines than takers in Washington state
4 p.m. — Washington state could have more vaccines than people who want vaccines sometime in May or June, according to the Washington State Hospital Association.
Jeannie Eylar, the Chief Nursing Officer at a hospital in Pullman, said in a Monday press briefing that health care providers are preparing now to reach people who are on the fence about getting the Covid vaccine.
“All those efforts going on for people in communities that may be hesitant, we want to do those things, but it’s challenging to get out messaging when we don’t have vaccine,” she said.
When supply will outstrip demand depends not only on how many vaccines arrive in Washington, but also on how many people want to get them.
— Eilis O’Neill
Even without herd immunity, Covid could become less deadly
4 p.m. — Herd immunity to the novel coronavirus is no longer the goal.
Dr. Jeff Duchin, King County’s public health officer, has said that in press briefings — and Dr. Shireesha Dhanireddy, an infectious disease expert at the University of Washington, agrees with him.
Instead, Dhanireddy said, the goal now is to reduce the deaths and long-term symptoms caused by Covid-19.
“The rise of these variants may make it — it seems like this virus is going to be around for awhile,” she said. “What we’re hoping for is that it would just not lead to significant morbidity and mortality.”
Dhanireddy said people might even get Covid more than once, but, depending on the strain, it wouldn’t be as serious.
She said some of the new variants are easier to transmit but cause milder illnesses — though others are reportedly more deadly.
Also, the available vaccines protect against severe illness and death, so the disease could become more like the common cold, or a seasonal flu.
— Eilis O’Neill
Tweets of note
2:30 p.m. —
King County Council ready to vote on hazard pay proposal
1 p.m. — The King County Council could vote on a hazard pay proposal on Tuesday. The hazard pay would cover grocery store workers in unincorporated parts of the county.
It calls for giving workers an extra $4 an hour like similar measures already passed in Seattle and Burien.
The Northwest Grocery Association and Washington Food Industry Association both say the county should focus on getting grocery workers vaccinated. They argue that the extra pay doesn't make workers safer — but vaccines would.
King County Council Chair Rod Dembowski says the bill focuses on larger, more profitable stores. Small ones, and those in economically depressed areas would be exempt.
— Angela King
QFC and local companies to host vaccine clinic at T-Mobile Bellevue office
Noon — Another partnership between Puget Sound area businesses is bringing vaccines to Bellevue.
QFC and the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce is organizing a vaccine clinic at T-Mobile's offices in Bellevue on March 10-11.
People who are currently eligible to get a vaccine can sign up for an appointment or find more information here.
“This week’s clinic is a great example of our business community working together on the urgent task of vaccination," said Rachel Smith, President & CEO of the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce. "QFC’s donation of professional services at vaccination sites and scheduling support, along with Comcast’s support of on-site services and T-Mobile hosting the clinic, will make it possible for 900 people in King County to get their first dose of the vaccine this week."
Last week, QFC also organized another vaccine clinic at a high school in White Center where it provided 900 doses.
— Dyer Oxley
Everett teachers vaccinated
10 a.m. — A total of 650 teachers and school employees in Everett got vaccinated against Covid-19 over the weekend.
KIRO 7 reports the district along with Safeway and Albertsons set up a vaccination clinic at Evergreen Middle School.
Teachers were given the new Johnson & Johnson single-dose vaccine, which Safeway received directly through a partnership with the federal government. Some younger students in Everett are already back in the classroom.
Fourth and fifth graders will be heading back next Monday, March 15. At this point, there is no plan for secondary school students to return.
— Angela King
Rift remains between Seattle teachers' union and district
9 a.m. — Monday is the day that hundreds of Seattle teachers and staff are supposed to return to the classroom now that the district has classified them as essential workers.
But on Sunday night, the Seattle Education Association told its members not to comply because the union hasn't reached a reopening agreement with the district. Instead, it's telling members to continue with remote learning and for those who are already in the classroom to stay the course.
The teachers' union has filed three unfair labor practice complaints against the Seattle district. It has called the move to classify some teachers and staff as "essential" a bullying tactic.
Some preschool and special ed students are scheduled to return for in-person learning starting this Thursday, March 11.
Seattle is one of the last large, urban districts nationwide to reopen to many students. So far, it’s only serving about 150 special education students in-person.
— Angela King
What sort of volunteers could help with vaccines?
8 a.m. — It’s going to take months for everyone who wants a Covid vaccine to get one in Washington state. And somebody’s got to give out all those shots. So far it’s been a lot of volunteers. But what happens if the enthusiasm wanes?
That’s a question the Washington State Hospital Association is concerned about.
CEO Cassie Sauer says they’ve been studying state regulations and think a lot of professions might have the right training and skills.
“Some to think about are veterinarians, veterinary technicians who do a lot of injections on creatures that are much more challenging than humans; acupuncturists, tattoo artists, body piercers, athletic trainers," Sauer said.
Currently, that’s just an idea.
Others are approaching the issue differently. Albertsons and Safeway pharmacies are looking to hire pharmacy technicians and assistants across the state.
— Anna Boiko-Weyrauch
Washington hits 45K daily vaccine goal
7 a.m. — The state Department of Health reports that it has achieved its goal of 45,000 vaccine doses a day.
According to DOH: As of March 3, an average of 45,221 COVID-19 vaccine doses have been given and reported each day over the past seven days ... More than 1,865,640 doses of vaccine have been given and reported across the state, which is more than 77% of the 2,414,000 doses that have been delivered to our providers and long-term care programs.
Washington expects its mass vaccination sites to administer their 100,000th dose this week. The mass vaccination sites are responsible for about 10% of the weekly doses given out in the state so far.
The four sites have reportedly administered:
- 19,922 doses in Spokane
- 25,174 doses in Ridgefield
- 22,593 doses in Wenatchee
- 27,252 doses in Kennewick
— Dyer Oxley