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caption: Genet Mekonen receives her first dose of the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine, administered by Seattle Firefighter Alan Heddings, right, on Friday, February 5, 2021, at the Ethiopian Community in Seattle, ECS, along Rainier Avenue South. With 1,000 weekly doses, the city of Seattle partnered with ECS to vaccinate older adults in congregate permanent supportive housing in a pop-up vaccine clinic.
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Genet Mekonen receives her first dose of the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine, administered by Seattle Firefighter Alan Heddings, right, on Friday, February 5, 2021, at the Ethiopian Community in Seattle, ECS, along Rainier Avenue South. With 1,000 weekly doses, the city of Seattle partnered with ECS to vaccinate older adults in congregate permanent supportive housing in a pop-up vaccine clinic.
Credit: KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

Pandemic updates for Washington state (February 7-12)

This post is archived. Read the latest here.

As of Friday, February 12, the Washington State Department of Health reports:

  • 4,675 Covid-19 related deaths; 310,541 confirmed cases; 16,626 probable cases; and a 1.4% death rate among positive cases.
  • 18,604 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 6% occupied by Covid-19 patients; Pierce County has 89% of beds taken, with 14% occupied by Covid-19 patients; and Snohomish County has 70% of beds taken with 9% 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, 1,057,844 Washingtonians have been vaccinated against Covid-19.

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FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 12

Are you ready for schools to reopen?

4:55 p.m. — After a year-long absence from public schools, some students will return for in-person learning. This news comes with a sigh of relief for some families, but it also leaves them with concerns and plenty of questions. What is it like in the classroom during a pandemic? What steps are schools taking to prevent the spread of Covid-19?

Starting Tuesday, February 16, The Record is kicking off a weekly segment about schools during the pandemic, and we want to hear from you and address your questions. Email therecord@kuow.org or fill out this GOOGLE FORM Your responses may be used in an upcoming story.

KUOW Staff

Washington marks one million vaccine doses

3:35 p.m. — There have been more than one million Covid-19 vaccine doses administered in Washington state since they were approved in December.

The Washington State Department of health is celebrating the one million milestone, which took about eight weeks to accomplish.

The million doses includes both first and second doses.

DOH also states that it is over halfway to its goal of giving out 45,000 shots per day. And 1.2 million people have used the state's online Phase Finder tool to see if they are approved to get a shot.

— Dyer Oxley

"This Covid is no joke": Patient discusses her 50 days in Seattle ICU

Noon — Natasia Xavier is a pilot based out of southeast Alaska. At 33, she came down with a severe case of Covid-19 in November, which ultimately sent her to the ICU at UW Medicine for 50 days.

"This Covid is no joke. It killed my brother. And he was 37 years old. He got the Covid first and the next day I got it. He was a caring brother."

Xavier's mother cared for her, and her brother, until the illness grew worse and prompted her move to a hospital. She says that the hospital in Anchorage was unable to provide proper care, so she was sent to the Seattle ICU.

She said that she lost the ability to speak while in the hospital, because she had a tracheotomy and a feeding tube through her nose. She was able to communicate through sign language at times. She says she finally "really woke up" on January 7.

UW Medicine discharged Xavier earlier in February.

— Dyer Oxley

Inslee responds to vaccine distribution results

10 a.m. — Governor Jay Inslee says he recognizes his administration needs to "up its game" when it comes to distributing Covid-19 vaccines more equitably.

The admission came following the release of a state health department report (read more on that below) that shows the number of Black, Latino, and multiracial people who've been vaccinated is low compared to their proportion of the population.

"There is more we need to do," Inslee said. "We want to increase the communication effort. We are looking for new distribution methods. We want to continue to facilitate local health districts to do pop up clinics for instance in neighborhoods that might have had a low take-up rate."

Inslee says a separate fact worth cheering: that the state is closing in on the one million mark for Covid vaccinations.

Slightly more than 10% of the state's population has gotten at least the first shot of the two-shot regime.

— Derek Wang

Sheriff's can decide on a local level how to enforce mask mandates

9 a.m. — The Washington State Supreme Court has ruled a sheriff can use discretion in how they enforce the state's face-mask mandate.

The ruling came down Thursday in a case where residents in Thurston County tried to hold a recall of Sheriff John Snaza. Snaza had told the public he would not criminally enforce the state's mask mandate, and not require officers to wear masks.

Sheriff Snaza said he wanted to do the right thing.

"This mask mandate definitely is divided, and my job is to just educate and inform people about why we’re wearing masks," he said. "And I didn’t want to let people know that I was going to arrest you if you’re not, because I don't want to create that anxiety.”

The person behind the recall campaign, Arthur West, had alleged that Snaza impeded public health officials’ efforts to protect the public during a global pandemic.

— Paige Browning

How many Covid-19 cases have come from Washington schools?

8 a.m. — The State Health Department has just released a new report showing how many Covid-19 cases and outbreaks have been tied to local schools.

Between August and December, 305 cases were tied to outbreaks at 84 schools across Washington state. Most were small, however, only involving 2-3 cases.

  • Snohomish County schools had the most outbreaks — 12. A total of 53 cases were tied to those outbreaks.
  • There were seven outbreaks in King County schools which sickened 20 people.
  • Spokane had the most with 151 cases were tied to 33 outbreaks

— Angela King

THURSDAY, FEBRUAY 11

FDA aims to be 'nimble' on Covid-19 vaccine changes for variants

3:58 p.m. — With two Covid-19 vaccines available in the United States and more on the way, things are starting to look up. But virus mutations being detected around the world mean the vaccines may one day need updates to ensure they stay effective.

The Food and Drug Administration is already working on a playbook for how it could greenlight vaccine changes.

"So, we have been trying to think about this for a while because I think what we learned very early on as we started to see variants emerge was there was the potential that this could happen, right?" The FDA's Peter Marks said during a webcast with the American Medical Association on Jan. 29. "Because of that, we're not going to get caught off guard."

The agency is aiming to be "nimble" when it comes to evaluating Covid-19 vaccine tweaks to make them effective against the coronavirus mutations, says Marks, who heads the FDA's Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research.

That means the agency will require some small studies, but not the large clinical trials that took companies months to recruit and complete the first time around.

"They'll probably be studies involving a few hundreds of people, not thousands of people, again, to make sure that when we deploy something, it's doing what it says it is and also so that we can understand some of these features of the immune response," Marks said.

Acting FDA Commissioner Janet Woodcock told reporters on Feb. 4 that "we must prepare for all eventualities." The agency will release guidance for industry in the coming weeks regarding the variants, she said.

How soon the guidance will be put to use is uncertain. "It will depend on how fast variants might emerge, to what extent the vaccines don't provide protection and so forth," Woodcock said during the press briefing. "So the situation is very fluid. But we think there are things short of doing full-fledged efficacy trials that we can use to shift or perhaps add components to existing vaccine."

Read more here.

NPR

More Washington regions heading into Phase 2 ( six remain in Phase 1)

2:50 p.m. — KUOW's Tom Banse reports that all but six of Washington's regions will be in Phase 2 starting next Monday, which will allow for easing of restrictions in those areas.

Rural South Central Washington will remain in Phase 1 due to rising hospitalizations and a high rate of positive Covid-19 tests.

— Dyer Oxley

Washington National Guard at Puyallup vaccination site

2:40 p.m. —

— KUOW Staff

Washington vaccinations by age and ethnicity

2 p.m. — The Washington State Department of Health has reported data on the distribution of vaccines so far, across different groups in the state.

Initial data indicates that some communities are underrepresented in vaccine data, compared to their population in the state.

A few highlights from the report:

  • The proportion who are Hispanic and fully vaccinated is lower (5.9%) than in the population (13.2%).
  • Non-Hispanic Black and Non-Hispanic Multiracial groups are also underrepresented. Non-Hispanic Asians and Non-Hispanic American Indian or Alaska Natives are slightly overrepresented.
Vaccine ethnicity Washington state 2-10-21 
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The state has also monitored age ranges and the vaccine. Aside from front line medical workers, people above the age of 65 have been approved to receive a dose.

age vaccinations washington 2-10-21 
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Read the full report here.

— Dyer Oxley

80% of vaccines received in Washington have been administered

11 a.m. — Washington state health officials say 80% of the vaccines received in the state so far have been administered.

At that amount, about 10% of Washingtonians have had the first dose of the vaccine.

The state department of health says in some cases they may delay first doses when they need to reserve vials for second shots, since those are on a schedule.

— Angela King

Washington's latest pandemic relief

10 a.m. — Governor Jay Inslee says he looks forward to signing a $2.2 billion pandemic relief bill in the coming days. The measure cleared the state Legislature Wednesday, following a bipartisan vote in the state Senate.

But Republican State Senator Doug Ericksen said the Legislature should have acted sooner.

“This is a post-disaster operation now," Ericksen said. "And a disaster not caused by us with Covid, but a problem that was exasperated by the state government, when we allowed the governor to run it by himself for 11 months without the Legislature coming back into session to be able give a voice to the people who are not heard.”

Inslee oversaw the distribution of billions of dollars in federal CARES Act money during the legislative interim. This next round of relief also comes from the federal government.

It will pay for things like vaccine distribution, food and rental assistance and grants to small businesses.

— Derek Wang

Safeway/Albertsons selected for federal vaccine program

9 a.m. — Safeway and Albertsons will soon be offering Covid-19 vaccines at more of its local pharmacies.

Right now, only 32 of its sites are doling out the shots. But thanks to a new partnership with the federal government, that number's going up to 170 this week. Safeway / Albertsons was selected to be a primary participant in the Federal Retail Pharmacy Partnership Program.

“Throughout the pandemic, the communities we serve have trusted our pharmacy teams to play a critical role in maintaining their health and wellness,” said David Green, Director of Pharmacy for Safeway Albertsons. “Our pharmacy teams are preparing to handle the unprecedented demand and administer the vaccine safely and efficiently as members of the public become eligible.”

Those who are currently eligible to receive the vaccine can make an appointment online. Be aware: appointments cannot be secured over the phone. If a person does get an appointment through Albertsons, their first and second doses are guaranteed.

Safeway/Albertsons is aiming to get past barriers by only having an online appointment system by partnering with senior centers (such as the Central Area Senior Center in Seattle), cultural organizations, and shelters to help people with limited access to technology.

— Angela King

Weekend weather is changing up operations at vaccine and testing sites

8 a.m. — Several Covid vaccine clinics are changing things up in anticipation of the snow, ice, and freezing temperatures expected through the weekend.

In King County, pre-scheduled appointments for Thursday, Friday, and Saturday at the Auburn drive-through vaccination site are being moved to the ShoWare Center in Kent.

Covid-19 testing at the Auburn site will remain open, the county said.

The mobile vaccination crews for the city of Seattle still plan to hit the road despite the weather.

Seattle's free testing sites will probably stay open so long as the nearby roads are clear. Road crews will do their best to make sure that happens.

Swedish is pushing back the start time of its clinics Friday and Saturday at Seattle University.

And while Snohomish County isn't planning on closing its mass vaccination sites, Covid-19 testing at five sites there will be put on hold through Sunday.

State health officials are also monitoring things and say they may close some of their sites if things get dicey.

The county is postponed its February 11 mass vaccination clinic. People who are registered for the clinic will be contacted directly with information about the new clinic date via e-mail or phone, the county said.

— Angela King

WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 10

State asks counties to give vaccine doses back

3:30 p.m. — Washington’s Department of Health wants counties to give their vaccine doses back if they finish vaccinating residents who are currently eligible.

The health department’s director, Umair Shah, says he doesn’t want some counties marching ahead with vaccinating essential workers while others are still scrambling to get shots to health care workers and elders.

“We need to catch everyone up before we have what we would call early movers ready to advance to the next phase in counties out of alignment with the rest of the state,” Shah said.

Shah didn’t say if there would be a penalty for counties that neglect to send doses back.

Statewide, about 10 percent of the population has received at least one dose, but that varies widely from county to county. In Franklin County, only five percent of residents have received at least one dose, while, in Clallam County on the Olympic Peninsula, it’s nearly a quarter of residents.

Eilis O'Neill

Three Washington pharmacy chains get 22,500 vaccine doses

3:30 pm. — Three pharmacy chains in Washington state are getting 22,500 vaccine doses this week as part of a new federal program.

Those doses are in addition to the state’s expected weekly allotment of vaccines.

“It’s really important that it could be another spot for community access,” said Michele Roberts, with the state Department of Health. “Maybe in an underserved community, or maybe just when anybody is out getting their grocery-shopping they can schedule their Covid vaccine appointment at the same time.”

About 200 locations of Costco, Health Mart and Safeway and Albertson’s will be receiving doses this week. That means each location will have about 100 doses to administer over the course of the next week.

Eilis O'Neill

Testing sewage could be early warning system for Covid-19

Noon — University of Washington researchers are testing neighborhood sewers to detect the coronavirus.

“And that is representative of certain neighborhoods, rather than the entire city,” said Mari Winkler, an assistant professor at the UW Civil Engineering Department.

Looking to sewers could help detect where Covid-19 is present in an area and act as an early warning system.

More details here.

— Ruby de Luna

King County Council calling out hospitals for vaccine controversy

9 a.m. — The King County Council is calling on the state to stop hospitals from offering the Covid-19 vaccine to financial donors and board members first.

This after a Seattle Times report found hospitals like Providence in Everett and Overlake Medical Center & Clinics gave those people a heads up about vaccination opportunities, ahead of their own appointment systems.

Governor Jay Inslee has spoken out against this practice but now council members want him to issue an executive order banning preferential access

— Angela King

TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 9

Vaccination of seniors lags in parts of the county hit hard by the pandemic

6 p.m. — About 40% of King County residents who are 75 or older have received at least one dose of the Covid vaccine.

But, in some parts of the county, rates are much lower than that. Many fewer of the seniors who live in West Seattle, South Seattle, Highline, and South King County have received the vaccine.

King County Public Health director Patty Hayes says her agency is working to turn that around.

“It really indicates where our mobile teams, where we might need to do pop-ups, to talk to the community about what would be the best in those areas to bring in the folks that are of highest needs and at greatest risk,” Hayes said.

Last week, King County Public Health opened two clinics in South King County that have each been vaccinating about 500 people a day. The county also has 14 mobile vaccination teams.

Eilis O'Neill

Vaccine distribution in WA: It’s worse than the state’s most pessimistic scenario

5 p.m. — In terms of vaccine distribution, things are going worse than the Washington Department of Health envisioned in its most pessimistic scenario. That means, unless things improve, it will be well into fall before Washington achieves herd immunity.

State Department of Health officials published a report in early January with three scenarios for getting vaccines to state residents: an optimistic scenario, a most likely scenario, and a pessimistic scenario.

Right now, the state is about 50,000 doses short of even the pessimistic scenario. Under that scenario, the state expected to have given out about 880,000 doses by the end of last week; instead, they’d administered about 830,000 at that point.

Most experts guess that it's necessary to vaccinate about 70 percent of a population in order to reach herd immunity and end the pandemic. Under Washington’s pessimistic scenario, the state was going to get there in late September.

But, unless something changes, we won’t make it by then.

A CDC committee is meeting in late February to decide about Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine candidate. If that gets emergency use authorization, the state’s numbers could significantly improve.

Eilis O'Neill

UK variant found on UW Seattle campus

4 p.m. — A University of Washington student on the Seattle campus tested positive for the UK variant of coronavirus.

The Covid test was taken in late January and more recently sequenced to confirm that it is the UK strain, "B.1.1.7."

The variant is far more contagious than the version that prompted the global pandemic in the first place. That means less exposure to the virus can lead to an infection. There is no indication that it is more deadly, however.

The variant was first detected in Washington state (in Snohomish County) in January.

UW Medicine is urging people to continue to social distance, wear masks, and get vaccinated when available.

— Dyer Oxley

Diabetes and race add up to racial disparities when facing Covid-19

1 p.m. — A new study out of UW Medicine reports that Black and Hispanic patients with Type 1 diabetes are more likely (when compared to white people) to die from Covid-19 or have other serious complications.

“It’s the same thing we’ve seen before. It all comes back to access to affordable healthcare and insulin,” said Dr. Irl Hirsch.

According to UW Medicine: "Blacks comprise 13% of the U.S. population, but represent up to 34% of the U.S. mortality attributed to the novel coronavirus, the report noted. This data underscores the reality that social and health inequities predispose Blacks and Hispanics to adverse outcomes in the pandemic."

— Dyer Oxley

Outbreak at Kent postal facility

10 a.m. — A coronavirus outbreak has been reported at a mail processing facility in Kent, Wash.

According to the National Postal Mail Handler's Union: "In the past two weeks 34 out of 160 workers at a the Priority Mail Annex at 22430 Russell Road in Kent, Washington have tested positive for COVID-19, and an additional number are off work in quarantine status. It is the second such outbreak at the facility.

....The latest figures supplied by the Postal Service show 242 postal employees testing positive for COVID-19 in the latest two-week period, in the Seattle District (comprised of most of Washington state, minus the Vancouver area, plus part of Idaho)."

The union states that there is no expected delay in mail service due to the outbreak, but further notes that similar outbreaks across the country could result in accumulative delays. The union argues that postal workers need to be moved up in line for vaccinations.

"Throughout 2020, Postal workers have delivered everyday to every address in Washington," said Virgilio Goze, full-time letter carrier in the state. "While we appreciate the gratitude we have received from the public, we urge Governor Jay Inslee to honor our heroic postal workers who have worked in such hazardous conditions with no hazard pay from the federal government by following ACIP/CDC's recommendation of restoring Postal staff to Phase 1b - tiers 2 and 4.”

— Dyer Oxley

Gov. Inslee defends reopening plans

9 a.m. — Governor Jay Inslee is defending his approach to reopening Washington state's economy. This comes as the Democrat is facing increasing criticism from fellow Democrats.

Inslee has long faced criticism from Conservatives for his handling of the pandemic. But lately, frustration at the slow pace of reopening has been building among some Democrats.

Recently, three Olympic Peninsula state legislators said they’d lost faith in Inslee’s ability to safely reopen the state. And in a letter to the governor the Whatcom County Council – a non-partisan body -- expressed frustration and deep concern. Much of the heartburn is over the governor’s regional, rather than county-by-county, approach.

“I respect that criticism, but I’m just telling you that any other approach would be equally or more vociferously attacked,: Inslee said. "We believe it is a reasonable proposition.”

Inslee insists that his approach has saved thousands of lives and positioned Washington better than most states. So far two of the state’s eight regions have advanced to Phase 2 allowing for indoor dining at 25%. Other regions could soon follow.

Meanwhile, more infectious variants of the coronavirus have been detected in Washington and are believed to be spreading through the community.

— Austin Jenkins

Seattle Aquarium reopens

8:30 a.m. — The Seattle Aquarium is reopening to the public Tuesday.

But tickets are limited and you need to be ordered online. The farther in advance you purchase tickets, the more you’re likely to save.

People must wear face masks and maintain social distancing. There will markers around the building to help you do that while looking at sea lions, sea stars, otters and other furry or scaly friends.

— Angela King

Relief for Washington businesses, increase in unemployment benefits

8 a.m. — Businesses in Washington will avoid massive increases in their Unemployment Insurance premiums. And low-wage workers who’ve been laid off will get a boost in their weekly benefits.

And it's all thanks to a bipartisan bill signed into law Monday by Governor Jay Inslee.

“With this I’m signing Senate Bill 5061, very happily," Inslee said. "We just made some good law in Washington. Good luck to all businesses and workers.”

The new law slashes about $1.7 billion in Unemployment Insurance premium hikes – triggered by massive pandemic-related layoffs.

It will also give the lowest income workers ($21,000 to $27,800) about a $70 a week increase in their benefits.

Even with the changes, lawmakers say by 2025 Washington’s depleted unemployment insurance trust fund should rebound to a healthy level.

— Derek Wang

MONDAY, FEBRUARY 8

caption: A counterfeit 3M N95.
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A counterfeit 3M N95.
Credit: Courtesy of the Washington State Hospital Association

Hospitals hunt down knock-off N-95s

4:09 p.m. — Hospitals across Washington state are trying to root out counterfeit N-95 masks they may have unknowingly acquired.

The Department of Homeland Security warned the state hospital association about the fakes on Friday.

The masks were in many hospitals throughout the MultiCare system, Multicare executive June Altaras said.

“Fortunately we had a different mask to switch out for our staff, so we spent the weekend collecting the counterfeit masks, switching out to a different mask and fit testing our staff,” she said.

MultiCare is encouraging staff to get tested if they took care of a Covid patient, or someone who may have had Covid, Altaras said.

The masks look like real N-95 respirators made by the company 3M and have the numbers 1860 and 1860S, and lot numbers B20020 and B20679.

Washington State Hospital Association CEO Cassie Sauer showed one of the counterfeits at a media briefing today.

“It is a very good fake,” she said. “The head straps are great; they’re secured on very nicely. The inside looks just like it’s supposed to. It has the metal bar on the top.”

It even has the right phone number for 3M customer service printed on it.

It’s not known how protective the knock-offs are.

There’s no increase in Covid cases among staff in hospitals that got the masks, Sauer said, and many of the masks have not been used yet.

Sauer estimates there may be around two million of these fraudulent masks in circulation in the state.

— Anna Boiko-Weyrauch

Health officials watching for post Super Bowl spike in cases

Noon — State health officials are keeping their fingers crossed and hoping we don't see a spike in Covid cases from people holding Super Bowl parties over the weekend.

New cases counts have been on the decline for about a month, with about 1,600 to 1,700 cases being reported every day.

At the same time, the state is working to increase vaccination rates in the coming weeks. So far, more than 830,000 shots have been given out and approximately 160,000 people in Washington state have received both doses of the Covid-19 vaccine.

— Angela King

More Bellevue students heading back to class

11 a.m. — More students in the Bellevue School District are getting ready to head back to campus.

First graders will resume in-person learning on Tuesday now that the teachers union and the district reached a deal over some of their Covid concerns.

The stalemate forced the district to temporarily cancel classes last month.

Some second-graders, and special ed students, are already back in class.

— Angela King

Seattle wants to vaccinate more than 1 million adults

10 a.m. — One part of Seattle's strategy to vaccinate one million people is taking the vaccines directly to the most vulnerable people, including older adults in communities of color.

“You have to go online, make an appointment, you have to be tech savvy, you have to make sure you’ve got adequate internet to do that, and all of these are not easy for a lot of immigrant refugee communities in South King County south Seattle area," said Dr. Ahmed Ali with the Somali Health Board.

The Somali Health Board set up its own vaccination event in South Seattle to help people get around big barriers to access.

Last week Ethiopian and Pacific Islander community groups held other one-day vaccination events.

In the next few weeks, the Seattle Fire Department plans to work with other community groups to vaccinate their members.

— Anna Boiko-Weyrauch

Health officials pledge improvements in vaccine appointment system

9 a.m. — Health officials in Washington say they are trying to improve the system for making COVID vaccine appointments.

That's after widespread criticism from people who have tried and often failed to secure appointments.

“Most of us have heard the frustration, and what I say is, I’m sorry," said Dr. Jeff Duchin, health officer of Public Health -- Seattle & King County. "I wish we had a better system in place. And we are working hard to put a better system in place.”

There are hundreds of providers in the state that are approved to distribute vaccines—they range from large hospital systems to county governments to QFC stores. Right now there is no simple way to sign up. In most cases, people have to go to each provider separately, to check for availability. If there are no vaccines, they are told to check back later. Few providers have waiting lists.

The system is complicated because each provider has its own software and medical records systems, said Duchin.

Health officials at the state level are working on making the system better and it's a “work in progress," said Duchin. Officials from the state Department of Health said in a statement that they are continually making improvements, but they didn't have any details to share at this time.

— Deborah Wang

SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 7

Washington hospitals purchase counterfeit N95 masks

3 p.m. — After purchasing N95 masks from 3M, several hospitals in Washington state discovered that they are counterfeit and not officially tested for medical use.

The Seattle Times reports that 3M notified the medical facilities that the masks may not have been produced by its own facilities and were knockoffs.

The hospitals paid $5-8 million for the masks. It is unclear how 3M discovered they were fake or where they came from.

— Dyer Oxley

Seahawks are only NFL team without a reported case of Covid-19

Noon — As the big game on Sunday concludes the football season, the Seahawks are being patted on the back for being the only NFL team without a reported case of Covid-19.

The state Department of Health is noting, "The Seahawks finished the season without a single case of COVID-19. They’re the only NFL team to achieve this milestone. The Seahawks, who were this year’s division champions, are used to impressing fans on the field. But achieving a feat of this nature was the season’s biggest challenge."

DOH further points out that the Seahawks created their own pandemic protocols beyond the NFL's requirements. The team also required strict adherence to those protocols beyond just the players and coaches. Family members and friends had to also follow the rules.

Read more details here.

— Dyer Oxley

More than 25K vaccinated at Washington mass vaccination sites

9 a.m. — Registration is open for a third week at Washington state's mass vaccination sites. So far, 25,416 people have received a dose at the sites operated by the National Guard.

  • 6,021 in Spokane
  • 6,702 in Ridgefield
  • 5,614 in Wenatchee
  • 7,079 in Kennewick

Check the state's mass vaccination website to make an appointment.

The last update from the state Department of Health reported that 10,000 people were vaccinated as of Jan. 31. Washington state's goal is to vaccinate 45,000 people a day.

According to DOH, "As of Feb. 1, 773,346 people have received the COVID-19 vaccine, which is more than 60% of the 1,160,850 doses delivered to providers and long-term care programs across the state. Currently, Washington is averaging 27,902 vaccine doses given per day, inching closer to our goal of vaccinating 45,000 people per day."

— Dyer Oxley

THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 4

Return to school expected to be delayed for Seattle students pre-K to grade 1

7:05 p.m. — Seattle Public Schools' phased timeline for reopening prioritizes getting students receiving special education services, and those in grades pre-K through 1 back into the classroom on March 1.

But Superintendent Denise Juneau announced Thursday that "it is unlikely" that students in pre-K through grade 1 will be learning in person by then, citing ongoing negotiations with the Seattle Education Association.

However, Juneau said the district did still anticipate the return of students receiving intensive special education services come March 1.

Currently, the district has in place a fully remote learning model, with the exception of some special education students whose individualized learning plans specifically call for in-person instruction.

The district has proposed creating a hybrid learning schedule under which students eligible to return, assigned to an A or B group, would each receive two days of in-person learning.

Read more here.

—Liz Brazile

Read previous updates here.