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Coronavirus In Seattle
caption: A sign near trails at Tiger Mountain outside of Issaquah, urging awareness of Covid-19 while in nature. 
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A sign near trails at Tiger Mountain outside of Issaquah, urging awareness of Covid-19 while in nature.
Credit: Dyer Oxley / KUOW

Updates on coronavirus in Seattle and Washington state

This post will be updated with information about the coronavirus pandemic in Washington state. Scroll down for older information.

As of July 6, the Washington State Department of Health reports:

  • 1,394 Covid-19 related deaths; 37,941 confirmed cases (5.9% positive rate among those tested, and 3.7% death rate among positive cases). Note that tests have been limited, so there are likely more unreported cases.
  • The most heavily hit Western Washington counties have been King, Snohomish, and Pierce.
  • A cluster of Central Washington counties are getting hit particularly hard. Yakima County has a 26% positive rate among those tested (in contrast, King County has 5.8%); Franklin County is 28%; Benton County is 16%; and Grant County is nearly 11%.

Versión en español aquí / Read KUOW's coronavirus coverage in Spanish

THURSDAY, JULY 9

Covid-19 cases continue to surge

10 a.m. -- Confirmed cases of Covid-19 are on the upswing in the Puget Sound region. Local trends mirror an upward curve across Washington state.

Cases initially peaked in mid-March and early April, then swung down. But now numbers are swinging up even higher than before.

“It is very disheartening to see these numbers go up," said John Wiesman, State Secretary of Health. "People are working so hard in the public health and healthcare setting to try and avoid this.”

Wiesman says case numbers are the highest in Whatcom, Spokane and Central Washington counties. Case counts in King, Pierce, and Snohomish counties are also rising.

Across the state, people under 40 years old and people of color are increasingly bearing the burden of the disease.

Read more details here.

--Anna Boiko-Weyrauch

Ban on phasing up may be extended as case number rise

9:45 a.m. -- The ban on letting counties move to the next phase of reopening may be extended beyond next week if the number of coronavirus cases continues to rise, according to state health secretary.

There are now nearly 38,000 confirmed cases and at least 1,394 people have died since the start of the pandemic.

--Angela King

Washington State Fair is cancelled this year

9:30 a.m. -- We used to say "Do the Puyallup." But this year you can say "adieu" to the Washington State Fair. The annual fair in Puyallup has now been canceled over coronavirus concerns.

It was supposed to run from Sept. 4-27.

If you need a funnel cake fix the "Fair Food-to-Go" event is still on -- every Friday through Sunday until July 19. There's also a drive thru movie and a drive-thru concert series that will happen between July and August.

The Washington State Fair didn’t even close for the 1918 flu. It was closed for some time during World War II when the military took over the space to use it as a Japanese internment camp.

--Angela King

Buffets are back

9:15 a.m. -- Buffets and salad bars back on the menu in Snohomish County. Governor Jay Inslee says buffets, self-serve salad bars, and drink stations can now reopen in counties that are in Phase 2 of the state's Safe Start plan.

But restaurants will have to install things like sneeze guards and other barriers to protect the food. Workers will have to make sure customers maintain safe social distances and use hand sanitizer before and after they handle any serving utensils.

Under this guidance, bar-style seating and live music are hereby prohibited in Phase 2 and Phase 3.

A total of 17 of the state’s 39 counties, including Snohomish, are in Phase 2. Another 17 are in Phase 3. Five counties are still in Phase 1.

--Angela King

Seattle restaurant closed after outbreak affects workers

9 a.m. -- Public Health officials have closed Duke's Chowder House on Alki Beach in Seattle because of a coronavirus outbreak among the workers.

They say it happened in part because the restaurant didn't fully comply with the states Safe Start reopening plan. Health officials also say that if you recently ate there your risk of catching Covid-19 is low because customers usually don't have prolonged contact with the workers.

But if you develop any symptoms, you should self-quarantine and get tested.

--Angela King

WEDNESDAY, JULY 8

Sen. Murray rebukes Trump's decision to pull out of WHO

9:30 a.m. -- Washington Senator Patty Murray is blasting President Trump for pulling the United States out of the World Health Organization.

“This is an abdication of America’s role as a global leader and it is the opposite of putting America first—it will put America at risk," Murray said. "Refusing to work with our partners across the world to fight this pandemic will only prolong the crisis, further undermine our international standing, and leave us less prepared for future crises. President Trump needs to realize this crisis doesn’t recognize borders and hiding from it or passing the blame won’t make it go away or make him any less responsible.”

The United States' withdrawal from the WHO won't take effect until next year.

--Paige Browning

Seattle to start enforcing parking fees again

9 a.m. -- Get ready to feed the meter once again in Seattle. The Seattle Department of Transportation says on-street paid parking enforcement will resume Monday, July 13.

Parking enforcement and fees were suspended in April after Governor Jay Inslee issued a stay home order.

SDOT says parking will cost 50 cents per hour in all paid areas.

--Angela King

Washington could take measures if trend of new cases does not stop

State warns of what could happen if trend of new Covid-19 cases doesn't stop

State warns of what could happen if trend of new Covid-19 cases doesn't stop

8:30 a.m. -- Washington’s Covid-19 numbers are spiking. The state is seeing far more cases than it did during the previous peak in April.

Governor Jay Inslee says there’s still a chance to turn things around. But he’s also warning of what will happen if the numbers don’t get better.

Beginning in March, the number of Covid-19 cases in Washington rose rapidly to a peak in April of about 70 cases per 100,000 people during a two week period. Now, after a period of decline, the state is seeing nearly 98 cases per 100,000 people. That prompted Governor Inslee to announce a pause in counties moving ahead with phased re-openings.

And now he’s warning that if the trend continues, the state should be prepared to go back to where things were in March. That’s when he imposed a stay home order. But Inslee is quick to say he hopes to avoid that scenario.

"We do not want to go backwards. Washington’s a forward looking state,” Inslee said.

And so Inslee is once again urging people to comply with his requirement to use face coverings.

“People are realizing this is not a partisan issue, it’s simply a life-saving step.”

Inslee says much of the recent spread is happening away from workplaces and among young people. The state’s health officer calls the current trend concerning and worrisome. And says the public’s cooperation with mask use and continued social distancing is needed to keep the economy open and in order to send kids back to school this fall.

--Austin Jenkins

Yakima rushing to distribute masks

Yakima rushing to distribute masks

Yakima rushing to distribute masks

8 a.m. -- Yakima County is on track to surpass 8,000 new cases of Covid-19 this week. To fight the spread, county officials are handing out masks and increasing testing.

Yakima’s Office of Emergency Management has handed out more than 3 million pieces of protective equipment since March. That includes 770,000 masks to businesses, municipalities, and food banks.

Operations Manager Horace Ward says this week they’re getting ready to hand out masks again at the Valley Mall and the Yakima Nation Cultural Center.

"We’re just trying to get them out there into people’s hands because they don’t do us any good sitting here," Ward said. "Might as well get them to the people so that they can meet the requirements of having to wear masks in business places now and help us reduce the spread here in Yakima County and get into a better position to open further."

Masks will be distributed Thursday and Friday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The county will also get more Covid testing sites up and running. The National Guard is administering testing five days a week through the end of this month.

--Enrique Pérez de la Rosa

TUESDAY, JULY 7

Seattle store aims to give away 80,000 free masks

10 a.m. -- When Simply Seattle's four stores were shut down as the pandemic took hold in Washington state, the business moved its operations online. Part of its pandemic effort has been to offer free masks (aside from a $4.99 shipping fee).

The company gave away 15,000 free masks after initially offering them in May. By the start of July, Simply Seattle gave away 36,000 of them.

Now it has a goal of giving away a total of 80,000 free masks, especially as Washington state starts its new mask requirement. Masks are now required in public across Washington state.

Simply Seattle's website states that the original price of the masks were $9.99. They are currently offering 35 different free mask designs. They can be ordered through the website.

--Dyer Oxley

SBA loans extended deadline

9:45 a.m. -- The Small Business Administration has pushed out the application deadline for its Paycheck Protection Program to Aug. 8. The SBA resumed accepting the applications Monday.

The loans are aimed at helping employers pay employees during pandemic shutdowns.

--Dyer Oxley

Washington state launches phone support line for pandemic stress

9:30 a.m. -- Anticipating heightened levels of stress and anxiety as the pandemic continues into the months ahead (including fall and the holidays), Washington state is launching a support program called "Washington Listens." The phone line offers non-clinical support to state residents.

Callers can talk with a support specialists who can get them in contact with services in their area. Callers are kept anonymous.

The Washington Listens phone line is 1-833-681-0211. It's hours are: 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday; 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.

Callers can use TTY and language access services by calling 711.

Washington Listens is funded by $2.2 million Crisis Counseling Assistance and Training Program grant through the Federal Emergency Management Agency. It is supported by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

--Dyer Oxley

Three counties placed in modified Phase 1

9:20 a.m. -- Benton, Franklin, and Yakima counties have moved into a modified Phase 1. The move comes as Washington state has halted all applications to move into other phases of reopening, and also while Covid-19 case numbers surge.

The counties will remain in their phases until at least July 16.

The three counties are being struck particularly hard by the coronavirus. The rate of people testing positive for Covid-19 in Yakima County is 26.2%. In Franklin County, it's 27.7%. And in Benton County, the rate is 16.1%

In contrast, in King County -- which has a much larger population and more cases -- the infection rate is 5.9%.

--Dyer Oxley

Coyote Ridge outbreak grows

9:15 a.m. -- The number of positive Covid-19 cases at the Coyote Ridge Correctional Facility in Connell, Wash. -- outside of Spokane -- has increased again.

A total of 211 inmates have been infected along with 53 staff members.

Read more about Coyote Ridge here.

--Angela King

Paine Field reopens for limited flights

9 a.m. -- The Seattle area's other airport is reopening on August 1 with limited service after a 10-week closure during the pandemic.

The Everett Herald reports that Paine Field will begin with just a few flights a day. Alaska Airlines will have two flights a day to Las Vegas and Phoenix. And United Airlines will have one flight to Denver.

Before the pandemic, the airport was operating near capacity of 24 flights in and 24 flights out.

--Gil Aegerter

Masks now required to go into businesses

8:30 a.m. -- Starting Tuesday, businesses in Washington state will be required to turn you away if you're not wearing a face mask or covering.

Exemptions will be made for children younger than 5 and those with certain medical conditions.

Businesses that don't require masks for all other customers will risk getting fined or being forced to shut down.

The new mandate goes into effect as state health officials have confirmed nearly 37,00 cases across Washington.

The state health department recorded more than 1,000 new cases on Monday, which included some numbers from over the holiday weekend. At least 1,370 people have died from the virus in Washington.

--Angela King

UW Greek Row outbreak grows

8:15 a.m. -- The University of Washington says the number of confirmed coronavirus on Greek Row has now climbed to 137.

The outbreak was first reported at the end of last month.

The university says the students have only suffered mild symptoms or none at all. That's in part why some public health officials believe the virus is spreading in the fraternity houses.

Fraternity and sorority houses are privately owned, so the university says it can only "encourage" members to socially distance. Most students with the virus are staying in quarantine in the fraternity houses. Fraternity houses are encouraged to operate at 50% capacity.

--Angela King

Racial disparities in Covid-19 infections

8 a.m. -- New data reported in the New York Times shows the racial disparities when it comes to Covid-19 cases.

In Washington state, the numbers collected by the CDC show the infection rate among Latinos in King County is three times higher than it is for white people. The infection rate among Black people is twice as high.

And in Skagit County, where there is a sizable Farm Workforce, the Hispanic infection rate is 6 .5 times higher than the white population.

--Angela King

MONDAY, JULY 6

Coronavirus cases see July increases in Seattle and King County

4 p.m. -- Seattle had its highest number of coronavirus cases last Tuesday, June 30, surpassing the daily totals from earlier in the pandemic.

The city registered 74 new cases on that day.

The number of new coronavirus cases had slowed down in late April, and through May, but the number of cases started increasing again in June.

Over the weekend, the daily totals hovered around 60 new cases per day – even with social distancing and mask rules in place.

Greek Row at the University of Washington is partly why Seattle is seeing higher daily totals.

As of today, Monday, 146 fraternity house residents reported testing positive for Covid-19. These residents live across 15 buildings.

The UW Medicine set up a popup testing site this past week near Greek Row and conducted 1,300 tests, according to the University of Washington.

The first cases of the virus were on the Eastside – in Kirkland, especially, gaining a foothold at the Life Care Center nursing home.

Since then, though, it appears the virus has moved to the southern parts of Seattle. The small city of Tukwila, for example, recently had 14 new cases.

--Isolde Raftery

caption: The graph showing the daily number of cases in King County since the first day of the pandemic in King County, February 28. The daily number of cases declined in May but picked back up again in June.
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The graph showing the daily number of cases in King County since the first day of the pandemic in King County, February 28. The daily number of cases declined in May but picked back up again in June.
Credit: Department of Health Seattle & King County


Free food for families in need continues

3:42 p.m.- This week Food Lifeline will continue giving out emergency food boxes containing shelf stable items, fresh produce and select dairy. Volunteers will be distributing food at Century Link Field, Bellevue College, North Seattle College and Rainier Beach Community Center. Emergency boxes are available to anyone; no paperwork or documentation required--just their zip code.

-Ruby de Luna

Snoqualmie Tribe donates $1M to organizations hit hard by the pandemic

8:45 a.m. -- The Snoqualmie Tribe has donated nearly $1 million "to organizations that have been hit the hardest during the Pandemic. More than 200 different organizations applied for the funding."

The Snoqualmie Tribe announced the donation in late June, stating that the donations will go to "Veterans, Arts & Culture, Native Services, Family Services, Salmon Habitat Restoration & Protection, Environmental Education, and the Snoqualmie Valley."

“The Snoqualmie Tribe prides itself on giving back to the community, because it is a cultural value of ours," said Snoqualmie Chairman Robert de los Angeles in a statement. "The Snoqualmie People have always been here and will always be here. We are committed to investing in this community and lifting each other up during these times.”

According to the tribe, some of the organizations receiving the charitable donations are: Wild Fish Conservancy, Compass Housing Alliance, Operation Military Family Cares, Alpha Supported Living Services, Compass Health, Food Lifeline, Friends of Youth, Making a Difference Foundation, Northshore Senior Center, Tavon Learning Center, Environmental Science Center, Pacific Science Center Foundation, and the Duwamish Tribe.

The tribe has also recently dispersed general-welfare funds to tribal members to help with pandemic-related costs. The money was provided by Congress.

--Dyer Oxley

Second Metro bus driver dies from Covid-19

8:30 a.m. -- A second Metro bus driver has died from complications related to COVID-19.

King County Metro Transit said 71-year-old Mike Winkler died June 17 after several weeks fighting the virus. The Seattle Times reported that Winkler drove buses for 32 years, mainly working in Shoreline.

Another Metro driver, 59-year-old Samina Hameed, died in April.

A spokesperson says Metro has gradually implemented more safety measures and drivers should expect higher-grade N-95 masks within one to two weeks.

--John O'Brien

Statewide mask requirement starts Tuesday

8:25 a.m. -- Starting Tuesday, July 7, businesses in Washington state will be required to turn away customers who aren't wearing face masks. Owners who don't could get fined or be forced to close down.

The only exceptions will be made for children under 5 and customers with certain medical conditions.

Also, bar seating will be banned for counties currently in Phase 3 of the state's reopening plan.

Governor Jay Inslee has also announced a two-week statewide pause on counties moving to the next phase of their reopening.

--Angela King

People are sleeping more and on schedule, researcher says

8:15 a.m. -- People are sleeping more these pandemic days, and they're keeping more regular sleep schedules.

University of Washington sleep researcher Leandro Casiraghi says that's because the pandemic has given people more control over when they sleep.

"What we're seeing now is that when you let people choose their own sleep timing, they have way less variability, and they sleep more," Casiraghi said. "So what this is telling us is that we need to think about how we can improve the sleep of people when they have to go back to their working places--when they have to go back to their normal schedules."

That said, Casiraghi adds, some people say pandemic-induced anxiety is making it harder for them to sleep well.

--Eilis O'Neill

Covid-19 outbreak grows at UW Greek Row

8 a.m. -- The University of Washington now reports that the number of students living in fraternity houses who have tested positive for Covid-19 has grown to 112. They are spread across 15 houses.

Nine more students who do not live on Greek Row but have connections there have also tested positive, bringing the outbreak total to 121.

UW announced on June 30 that there was an outbreak along Greek Row and has since placed a testing facility near the fraternity houses. Students living in the houses are self-isolating.

--Dyer Oxley

Read previous updates here.