Coronavirus updates in Seattle and Washington (April 6-12)
This is an archived post. You can read the latest here.
This post will be updated periodically with information about the coronavirus. Scroll down for older information.
*491 COVID-19 related deaths have been reported by the Washington State Department of Health as of 6:00 p.m. on Friday, April 10.
*10,224 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Washington state as of April 10, according to state health officials.
*King County has been struck the hardest with Covid-19 with 4,241 cases and 282 deaths. Snohomish County reports 1,798 cases and 68 deaths. Pierce County reports 884 cases and 17 deaths.
SATURDAY, APRIL 11
New study says cats can get coronavirus, so keep them indoors
Cats can be infected with coronavirus and give it to other cats, according to a study by Chinese researchers published this week in the journal Science. But there’s still no evidence that people can get the virus from cats.
Researchers gave a nose spray containing the novel coronavirus to cats, dogs, pigs, chickens, and other domesticated animals — and then waited to see if they got infected, or could infect healthy animals.
Pigs and chickens didn’t catch the virus at all, and dogs hardly did. But cats definitely did.
That means, “if you are sick with Covid-19, I think it is probably reasonable first to separate yourself from your cat and secondly to limit the amount of time your cat spends outdoors,” said Daniel Kuritzkes, an infectious disease doctor and professor at Harvard University. He was not involved in the study.
That way, “in case you have transmitted to your cat, your cat doesn’t go about transmitting it to other animals potentially,” Kuritzkes explained.
But, Kuritzkes said, there’s no reason for people to abandon their pets, or for healthy people to stop petting their cats.
“The chances of anybody acquiring Covid-19 from their pets — even if they’re cats — are extremely low,” he said. “There’s really no evidence cat to human transmission occurs at all.”
FRIDAY, APRIL 10
5:33 p.m. -- Washington Governor Jay Inslee and the state’s prison system must take emergency action to protect inmates from COVID-19. The state Supreme Court issued that order Friday evening.
In its order, the court directs Inslee and the Secretary of Corrections to “take all necessary steps to protect the health and safety of” Washington inmates in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.
The justices have given the state until noon Monday to provide the court with its emergency plan for doing so. Three of the justices would have gone further and ordered the immediate release of the five inmates who filed the petition. But they lacked the votes to do so. The petition was brought by Columbia Legal Services on behalf of people in Washington prisons. And follows a large disturbance Wednesday night at the Monroe Correctional Complex that prison officials say was triggered after several inmates there tested positive for COVID-19.
-- Austin Jenkins
1:45 p.m. -- King County health officials say nearly 75 percent of the people killed by COVID-19 in the county so far have been white.
That's more than would be expected in a county that's less than 60 percent white.
"This may not reflect the infection rates in the community as much as it reflects where the virus started," King County Executive Dow Constantine said. "Sixty-five percent, maybe a little more, of the deaths have been directly associated with nursing homes."
According to Public Health -- Seattle & King County, of those who had died as of Friday morning, about 15 percent were Asian, 4 percent black, 5 percent Hispanic / Latino, and 1 percent Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander.
Studies in some other cities around the country have found African Americans disproportionately represented among the victims of COVID-19.
You can find all the county's numbers here.
-- Eilis O'Neill
9 a.m. -- Local philanthropists have bankrolled a new arts streaming platform for local creatives and educators. The Northwest Arts Streaming Hub--NASH--will provide a free of charge outlet for artists to present prerecorded or live streamed performances, arts classes and other creative activities. Artists will also be able to solicit direct donations from the platform. NASH is currently soliciting proposals from artists and organizations.
THURSDAY, APRIL 9
DOH reports new Covid-19 cases and deaths
5:30 p.m. -- There are now 446 Covid-19 related deaths and 9,608 confirmed cases in Washington, according to the state Department of Health.
WA state officials plan to potentially release some prison inmates
5:30 p.m. -- This comes after a large inmate protest at the Monroe Correctional Complex Wednesday night where six people have tested positive for COVID-19.
Stephen Sinclair with Department of Corrections, shared at a briefing today that the department plans to reduce the prison population.
"We have started looking at individuals, non-violent drug offenders and people like that within 60 days of release that we could move out sooner," he says. He adds they’ll also consider an inmate’s age and health conditions.
Inmates at Monroe say they are upset with officials' response to the pandemic. The Department of Corrections says they’ve performed 380 tests so far, with 54 tests still pending.
Sinclair says that they plan to require staff and inmates to start wearing face masks in the coming days.
23,000 test kits to be distributed in King County
5:10 p.m. -- Donors of the kits include University of Washington Medicine (20,000 kits), the Seattle Flu Study (2,000 self-swab kits) and the Washington Department of Health (1,000 kits).
Despite the new supply, tests and the protective gear needed to administer them remain scarce enough that officials urge they be used only on high-risk patients with strong symptoms. The donated kits are intended for first responders, health care workers and people in high-risk settings like nursing homes and homeless shelters.
To date, more than 92,000 COVID-19 tests have been performed in Washington state, according to the COVID Tracking Project. How many more is unknown, since the Washington Department of Health stopped reporting negative test results last weekend. The vast majority of tests come back negative. To date, about 9,000 people have tested positive for the virus in the state.
Washington state and Montana nurses to protest protective medical gear shortage in Seattle
2:35 p.m. -- A group of nurses from Washington state and Montana are slated to join a nationwide protest organized by health care workers on the front lines of the Covid-19 pandemic. The series of demonstrations will take place at various facilities across the two states.
The one-day protest, coined #GetMePPE National Day of Action, is aimed at compelling the federal government to exercise its full power to help supply the nation's health care systems with critical protective gear.
Seattle parks will close under order of Mayor Durkan
12:35 p.m. -- Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan announced on KUOW's The Record that the city will shut down public parks over the weekend as Washington's stay-at-home order continues. An official announcement is expected to come later on Thursday.
Durkan emphasized "we are not out of the woods."
"It's so important, and so hard, I know in these beautiful, beautiful days, to really stay inside," Durkan said. "This is not spring break, this is not the weekend. We are still in the middle of a global pandemic."
Car insurance companies issue refunds amid COVID-19
10:27 a.m. -- Some drivers could be getting a break on car insurance rates.
Companies including Allstate, Geico, Farmers, and American Family insurance say they're going to issue refunds or cut policy rates for the month of April. The movie is due to so many people not driving while under a stay-at-home order.
Coronavirus concerns prompt disturbance at state prison
8 a.m. -- COVID-19 concerns at the Monroe Correctional Complex prompted some inmates to stage a protest Wednesday evening.
The prison Emergency Response Team used pepper spray and rubber bullets to bring more than 100 inmates under control.
"They’re scared, they’re frustrated and they’re just wondering why," said Marcia Ameperosa whose son in the minimum security unit where the disturbance happened.
Six inmates at the prison have recently tested positive for COVID-19. In a press release, the state Department of Corrections said it appears the incident was related to the pandemic.
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 8
More inmates test positive for Covid-19 at Washington state prison
6 p.m. — Two more inmates at the Monroe Correctional Complex have tested positive for coronavirus. Another tested positive last weekend.
State Department of Corrections officials say the men are now in an isolation unit, where 17 inmates are being monitored.
— Kim Malcolm
Limited bathroom access leaves Seattle's homeless population vulnerable to infectious diseases
5:57 p.m. — People who are homeless currently face twin threats: The coronavirus outbreak and a surge in hepatitis A cases among the population.
In March alone, there were 25 confirmed cases of hepatitis A in King County residents — the highest number reported in the county within the last decade.
Roughly half of those cases were identified among people experiencing homelessness in the Ballard area, according to Public Health — Seattle & King County.
Hand-washing and good hygiene are important tools to prevent both coronavirus and hepatitis A infections. Yet service providers say their clients have extremely limited access to bathrooms and other hygiene facilities due to coronavirus closures.
— Kate Walters
UW cancels June commencement ceremonies
4:45 p.m. -- The University of Washington is cancelling in-person graduation ceremonies that were scheduled for June due to the coronavirus outbreak.
However, students will have the alternative of a live, interactive webcast ceremony on June 13. Graduates who couldn't walk this year will be invited to participate in ceremonies held in 2021.
DOH reports new Covid-19 cases and deaths
3:30 p.m. -- There are now 421 deaths and 9,097 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Washington state, according to the state Department of Health.
Bye bye CenturyLink Army hospital
12:34 p.m. -- The Army field hospital set up at CenturyLink Field in Seattle will be short lived. The Army set up the 250-bed hospital within 48 hours at the start of April. By April 5, it was ready to start taking patients. It was aimed at non-coronavirus patients to ease up pressure on the local hospital system.
By Wednesday, April 8, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee's office announced the Army would be taking it all down.
According to the governor's office: Gov. Jay Inslee today announced that after consultation with local, state and federal leaders, the Department of Defense field hospital currently stationed at the Century Link Field Event Center will be returned to the Federal Emergency Management Agency so it can be deployed to another state facing a more significant need.
“Don’t let this decision give you the impression that we are out of the woods," Inslee said. "We have to keep our guard up and continue to stay home unless conducting essential activities to keep everyone healthy. We requested this resource before our physical distancing strategies were fully implemented and we had considerable concerns that our hospitals would be overloaded with COVID-19 cases. But we haven’t beat this virus yet, and until we do, it has the potential to spread rapidly if we don’t continue the measures we’ve put in place."
UW students withdraw from university amid coronavirus pandemic
11:46 a.m. -- A total of 813 students at the University of Washington withdrew from taking spring quarter classes as of April, The Daily reports.
That is an increase of 323 withdrawals from the same time last year. Officials did not comment on exactly why there has been in increase of withdrawn students this quarter. But The Daily points out that an online petition has gathered more than 14,000 signatures, asking that the university refund their tuition while the classes are shut down. Students say they should not pay fees for services they cannot use while the university is shut down.
Blue Origin starts making face shields for medical workers
10:50 a.m. -- Employees at Blue Origin in Kent are volunteering their time to help make face shields for medical personnel. The effort comes as medical workers face shortages of personal protection equipment (PPE) as they combat the coronavirus pandemic.
The facility has the materials and 3D printers capable of making the face shields. Keeping with social distancing rules, one volunteer operates the printer at a time. The finished products will be sent, in bulk, to hospitals that need them.
Blue Origin is Jeff Bezos' company aimed at the emerging space economy. It makes rockets and transportation vehicles intended for the moon.
Kayak company switches to making face shields
10:37 a.m. -- Rep. Rick Larsen (WA-02) is visiting a Burlington kayak manufacturer Wednesday to see how they are converting their operation to make face shields for medical personal on the front lines of the pandemic.
Eddyline Kayaks is partnering with Mount Vernon’s Chinook Enterprises to make the face shields. They will be sent to workers at long-term care facilities. The Skagit Rotary Club and Skagit Emergency Management Services are handling distribution.
Another inmate tests positive for COVID-19
10 a.m. -- Two more Washington prison inmates have tested positive for COVID-19.
Both were housed in a minimum security unit at the Monroe Correctional Complex. That’s where the first case was detected on Sunday.
According to the Department of Corrections, a 68-year-old inmate and a 28-year-old inmate both tested positive on Tuesday. The men have been in isolation since Monday.
The agency says a total of 17 minimum security inmates at the prison are in isolation, which means they are showing symptoms.
Another 111 men from that unit are in “protective isolation.”
As a further precaution, no inmates are being transferred in or out of the Monroe prison for the time being.
Virginia Mason temporarily cuts pay for top executives, some physicians
9:30 a.m. -- Virginia Mason Medical Center is temporarily cutting pay for executives and some physicians amid the coronavirus outbreak. Along with other hospitals in the state, Virginia Mason is feeling the financial strain of the pandemic.
In a statement, hospital spokesman Gale Robinette said Covid-19 has disrupted their business and community in ways they could not have predicted.
“In compliance with the governor’s proclamation that hospitals stop providing non-essential surgeries and eliminate elective in-person visits, we are temporarily modifying staffing and hours of operation at some of our outpatient facilities in response to low patient volumes. Some employment furloughs will occur but no layoffs are planned. We are also temporarily reducing compensation for our executives and other leaders and some physicians, while concurrently taking action to control our non-labor costs,” Robinette said.
“Our intent is that Virginia Mason be a smart steward of all its resources during this pandemic, protect our team members’ jobs long-term, and remain a strong resource for the community now and in the years to come,” the statement continued.
Virginia Mason CEO Gary Kaplan will take a 20 percent pay cut, according to Robinette. Other staff pay cuts fall below that level. Kaplan’s salary in 2018 was roughly $1.5 million. A one-time pension payout in 2016 bumped his compensation that year to more than $11.7 million.
The reductions in pay are already in place, it’s unknown how long they’ll last.
Starbucks starts relief grants to help employees
8 a.m. -- Starbucks has launched a $10 million effort to support its employees around the world impacted by COVID-19.
The Seattle coffee company says the direct relief grants are available immediately. They can be used for expenses including housing, utilities and funeral expenses.
TUESDAY, APRIL 7
Gov. Inslee announces new financial support for small businesses
4:50 p.m. -- Gov. Jay Inslee and the Washington State Department of Commerce have announced series of new programs aimed at helping small businesses navigate the financial impact of the Covid-19 outbreak.
Under the new measures, businesses with 10 or fewer employees can receive up to $10,000 to help them pay for things like utilities or cleaning, or to keep paying staff.
Additionally, small businesses, independent contractors, and non-profits will be able to apply for forgivable loans through the U.S. Small Business Administration.
Workers' comp claims climb for people in health care
4:23 p.m. -- Workers have filed over 250 workers' compensation claims related to the coronavirus with the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries, as of late March.
Some are from first responders and other workers, but the majority are health care workers seeking compensation for the time they spent in quarantine – not for an illness.
In fact, so far, very few claims are from workers who were diagnosed with Covid-19. Just four of the claims that have been paid out as of late March.
In a normal year, a handful of virus-related claims come in from healthcare workers, usually ten or fewer, according to data from LNI.
These recent coronavirus claims are already expected to cost the state more than a million dollars.
Washington State Department of Health reports new COVID-19 cases, deaths
4 p.m. -- There are now 8,682 confirmed Covid-19 cases and 394 deaths reported in Washington, according to the state department of health.
Washington is 7th most aggressive for Covid-19 response
11:31 a.m. -- Washington state's response to the coronavirus epidemic has been the seventh most aggressive in the United States, according to one analysis.
Finance website WalletHub is often digging through data. So it tasked its experts with looking at the current crisis to determine how well states are responding to the pandemic. It ranks Washington as seventh on the list.
To place in the top 10 list, Washington was ranked among a range of factors -- 51 metrics in all -- such as whether it activated its National Guard to the number or public health laboratories per capita. Also, whether states took measures like social distancing and closing businesses.
Mental health and the coronavirus pandemic
8:54 a.m. -- With the extended school closure, the stay-at-home, and major job losses, many people are dealing with some level of stress. But Dr. Jurgen Unutzer who chairs the Psychiatry Department at the University of Washington says he's really worried about one group in particular.
"For the nearly 1 million Washingtonians who are living with mental health or substance abuse, these are high risk time," Unutzer said.
He says some may feel like they need to drink more, or take different drugs to cope -- which could make things worse and not only in the near future.
"Some of us are going to have traumatic experiences and losses and that may follow us for years to come so we have to be prepared to offer effective health both mentally and emotional health support. Not only during this crisis, but afterwards."
He's urging everyone -- especially those with mental health issues -- to reach out to others and don't feel like you're a burden.
And if you can't go to sleep at night, or your heart is racing, take a break from the news.
Washington may be closing in on peak number of COVID-19 cases
8 a.m. -- University of Washington modeling predictions show that Washington state may be closing in on its peak number of COVID-19 infections -- for now.
State epidemiologist Scott Lindquist says the early actions that Washington residents took could be the reason why the local outbreak is smaller compared to other states.
"By having the first case and the first death, it put us in the driver seat much faster than the other states," Lindquist said. "So simple things like we created that guidance, we really were into this system of response much earlier than everyone else."
Lindquist says whether or not we've seen the worst of the outbreak in Washington, people still need to strictly follow the stay home orders.
MONDAY, APRIL 6
Washington schools to remain closed through the 2019-20 school year
2:36 p.m. — Public and private schools in Washington state are barred from in-person instruction for the rest of the academic year, Gov. Jay Inslee said in an announcement on Monday.
School is scheduled to reopen on time this fall.
"We simply cannot take the chance of re-opening on-site instruction in this school year," Inslee said in a news conference Monday afternoon. "This school closure is part and parcel of [the] efforts not only to flatten the curve as it goes up, but to reduce the number of deaths that occur as it goes down."
Kitsap County sees first coronavirus death
2:12 p.m. — Kitsap health officials announced the county's first death associated with Covid-19. The person is described as an older adult who had underlying health conditions.
Some supermarkets limiting number of shoppers entering store
1:45 p.m. — There will be some changes you might need to know before making your next grocery run.
Beginning Tuesday, QFC will limit the number of customers into the store by 50% of the building’s capacity. It will use its existing technology to keep track of the number customers entering and leaving the store. QFC President Chris Albi said, “Our top priority is the health and safety of our customers and associates. We continue to be flexible in adjusting our store policies to accomplish this.”
QFC is also considering one-way aisles to promote physical distancing. Safeway and Albertson’s are also limiting capacity to 30%. The stores have started marking aisles to indicate one-way movement. The company is providing cloth masks for all employees.
—Ruby de Luna
Military hospital at CenturyLink is ready to receive patients
9:02 a.m. — The 250-bed military field hospital for non-COVID-19 patients is complete at CenturyLink Field's event center in Seattle.
“We are ready to receive the patients as soon as Washington has the need to send the patients to us, " said Col. Laura Elliott, Commander of the 62nd Medical Brigade, stationed at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. "We are ready now."
"All we await is that call for the first patient to come in," she said.
The field hospital includes an emergency room area, x-ray capabilities, a patient administration division, a lab area, microbiology, blood banking, an isolation unit, operating room suites, sterilization, as well as minimal care, intermediate care, and intensive care units
King County Metro reduces services -- again
8:39 a.m. — King County Metro is reducing service once again because so few people are out and about during the stay-at-home order.
Weekday buses will run less frequently throughout the day with some starting later in the morning and wrapping up earlier at night.
Also starting Monday, Link light rail will run every 20 minutes instead of every 12 minutes.
And the King County water taxi will operate with one vessel for six roundtrip sailings every weekday.
The state's stay-at-home order has been extended to May 5.
Ballard meal program reopens with some changes
8:30 a.m. -- The Edible Hope meal program for people who are homeless reopened Monday morning after being closed for about a week and a half.
Sara Bates is the head of the program run out of St. Luke’s Episcopal church in Ballard. She said the decision to shut down was tough. Bates said she’s concerned about the people they serve.
“A lot of the guests, their mental health is not strong, they’re just barely surviving. I had one guest who said, ‘the Governor is telling people to stay home, stay healthy but I have no home, where am I supposed to go?’ And it’s those comments that just completely break my heart,” Bates said.
The Governor’s stay at home order played a part in the decision to close, but so did the workload her team of volunteers had taken on to try to adapt to physical distancing guidelines.
“That was like the big issue, how do we keep our guests and our volunteers safe during this time when we’re being maxed out by having to prepare all the food, package all the food, distribute the food, you know, wash hands, keep people separated.”
The program is now serving to-go meals outside the church Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings. The city of Seattle is providing extra volunteers to help with preparing and packaging meals.
First Washington inmate tests positive for COVID-19
8:29 a.m. — The first inmate in a Washington state correctional facility has tested positive for COVID-19.
The man was in the minimum security unit at the Monroe Complex. He is now in isolation.
There are more than 400 prisoners in the entire minimum security unit and approximately 119 in the housing unit where the individual was previously housed.
The state Department of Corrections says at least three employees have tested positive for COVID-19, but this is the first case involving an inmate.
Cloth face mask is better than no mask
8:21 a.m. -- The Washington State Health Department is now recommending you wear a cloth face mask if you're out in public and can't guarantee you can stay six feet away from others.
But health officials stress that a face mask is not a substitute for maintaining current social distancing rules. They still promote that you to continue washing your hands and disinfecting surfaces as much as possible.
Local transit gets $500 million
8:14 a.m. -- Local transit agencies are about to get a $500 million shot in the arm.
The Federal Transit Administration has announced a total $25 billion coronavirus relief package for public transportation around the country.
The money will help cover things like extra cleaning costs and a loss in funding due to low ridership.
Amazon donates 8,200 laptops to Seattle students
8 a.m. — Amazon announced a major donation Seattle Public Schools Monday. Aiming to keep students connected with their education, Amazon will provide 8,200 laptops to elementary students in Seattle.
The laptops will be given to families who don't already have a way to access online learning. Seattle, like other Washington school districts, is conducting classes online while the state has been ordered to stay at home during the coronavirus pandemic.
"Amazon's gift comes at a crucial time for our students," said Denise Juneau, Superintendent of Seattle Public Schools. "We've never lost sight of the need to continue our students' education—even during this unprecedented time—and our community partner Amazon now makes it easier to keep moving forward with the critical work of teaching and learning."
The computer donations is valued at more than $2 million.
Amazon also states: Amazon's donation also kick starts a new fund, the Education Equity Fund, stewarded by the school district's nonprofit partner, the Alliance for Education. This new fund will support students furthest from educational justice in accessing the technology, technical support and additional learning resources required to continue to learn during the COVID-19 crisis.
SUNDAY, APRIL 5
Social distancing on Palm Sunday
Local blood supply in dire need
5 p.m. — Because of social distancing mandates and school closures, King County blood banks are running short on supply.
Typical blood donor screenings protect the blood supply and there has yet to be any reports that coronavirus is transfusion transmitted, Public Health, Seattle & King County said.
Currently, inventories are steady due to donors who have responded to the urgent need. But as Washington state’s stay-at-home order was extended, continued help is sought.
Blood donation is exempt under Gov. Jay Inslee’s “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order. And all types of blood are required for cancer treatment and trauma cases.
For additional information on giving blood, visit: www.bloodworksnw.org/coronavirus.
Boeing extends local shutdown on production
2 p.m. — Boeing will continue their suspension of Puget Sound production operations until further notice due to the coronavirus, the company said Sunday.
Moses Lake sites are also impacted by the indefinite extension.
The company said the actions were made “in light of the company's continuing focus on the health and safety of employees, current assessment of the spread of COVID-19 in Washington state, the reliability of the supply chain and additional recommendations from government health authorities.”
Boeing said they will monitor government guidance and actions on Covid-19 and will observe and evaluate on a daily basis the Boeing sites that remain open.
While the stoppage continues, Boeing said they will put in place new safety measures to protect employees not impacted by the stoppage. They include visual cues that encourage distancing, frequent cleaning of work areas and staggering shifts.
Washington state will return ventilators to national stockpile
12 p.m. — Washington state will return more than 400 ventilators, so other state’s facing a surge of Covid-19 cases can have access to the equipment.
"These ventilators are going to New York and other states hardest hit by this virus," Inslee said in an announcement Sunday. "I’ve said many times over the last few weeks, we are in this together."
Washington state has seen fewer Covid-19 cases than expected, said Raquel Bono, director of Washington State COVID-19 Health System Response Management.
These lower numbers meant Washington could assist other states with a more “immediate need,” Bono said.
While these ventilators will be returned to the Strategic National Stockpile, Inslee wrote that Washington state has already purchased 750 of their own ventilators.
They will arrive in the coming weeks, as Washington state is anticipated to have a peak of coronavirus-related resource use this month.
President Trump not doing enough in coronavirus fight, Gov. Inslee says
11 a.m. — Gov. Jay Inslee has again called for a national effort to curb Covid-19 and criticized President Donald Trump’s approach to addressing equipment shortages.
He voiced his frustration on Sunday morning, during Meet the Press.
“This is ludicrous that we do not have a national effort in this,” Inslee said. “The surgeon general alluded to Pearl Harbor. Can you imagine if Franklin Delano Roosevelt said ‘I’ll be right behind you Connecticut. Good luck building those battleships.’”
Inslee said the U.S. needs a national mobilization of the manufacturing base, and that companies should shift to producing test kits and personal protective equipment -- supplies that have been running short in hospitals and health clinics across Washington state.
During a press conference on March 26, Inslee noted that Washington state had received shipments of PPE from the federal government, but it wasn’t enough to satisfy the state’s need.
Inslee said Washington acted relatively early, by issuing a stay-at-home order and closing schools to prevent the spread of coronavirus. At the same time, the president was saying “this was not a problem,” Inslee said.
And while Washington was quick to respond -- and has been pointed to by President Trump as one of the states to successfully flatten the curb -- the U.S. needs a national stay-at-home order, Inslee said.
“Even if Washington gets on top of this fully, if another state doesn’t it can come back and come across our borders two months from now,” Inslee said.
Sound Transit puts hold on light rail extension projects
10 a.m. — Sound Transit will temporarily stop nearly all transit projects in the region.
Only work that is considered critical and necessary to safety and security, and tasks that prevent mobility and environmental impacts, will continue.
The stoppage will run from April 6 to May 4. This period may be extended, or decreased, according to Sound Transit.
There will be increased oversight at the construction sites that remain open, Sound Transit said. Safety inspection and management resources will be redirected to the few open sites.
Construction personnel assigned to ongoing projects will work on a voluntary basis and not be compelled to work.
SATURDAY, APRIL 4
King county's jails are less occupied than usual
6 p.m. — King County announced today that it has reduced the number of people in custody by more than 600 people in response to the Covid-19 outbreak.
The change allows for greater social distancing in its facilities.
The county's Department of Adult and Juvenile Detention operates two adult and one juvenile facility.
The county has also banned in person visits and has transferred people considered high risk to a designated housing unit at the Maleng Regional Justice Center in Kent.
So far, no one at King County's jails or detention centers has tested positive for the virus.
Trump says 300 hospital beds will not be coming to Washington state after all
3:30 p.m. — During the Saturday briefing of the White House coronavirus task force, President Donald Trump said that Washington state is doing such a good job controlling the Covid-19 outbreak that the federal government will redeploy 300 hospital beds that it had set aside for the state.
The beds-- and we are talking about actual hospital beds, and not the health care providers needed to staff them-- would have come from the US Department of Health and Human Service's Federal Medical System.
Early on the the outbreak, the state had asked HHS to set aside 1,000 hospital beds in case the state needed to open excess hospital capacity. 250 of those beds have been delivered to Yakima.
"We put in these requests when Washington was a hot spot in case surge capacity was necessary," said Karina Shagren, a spokesperson for WA Military Department.
But so far the state has not needed to use any of those surplus beds.
Shagren said if the state does need to open excess hospital capacity in the future, the state has its own stockpile of hospital beds. It purchased 1,000 of them and they are now in storage.
Trump's announcement does not impact the 140-bed military hospital that is currently in operation at the CenturyLink Events Center.
— Deborah Wang
Western State Hospital patients to be released
2 p.m. — From the Associated Press: State mental health officials plan to release as many as 60 patients from Washington's largest psychiatric hospital in order to reduce some of the stress that the new coronavirus has placed on staff at the 850-bed facility.
Sixteen workers and six patients at Western State Hospital have tested positive for COVID-19 and one patient died.
Behavioral Health Assistant Secretary Sean Murphy says moving some civil-commitment patients to group homes or supported-living facilities will help relieve some of the strain on the system.
Federal money on its way to regional transit agencies
11:10 a.m. — The Puget Sound Regional Council is working with the Federal Transit Administration to get $538 million in emergency aid to transit agencies in the region.
The largest chunk of the money, close to $243 million, is currently earmarked for King County Metro.
The next largest recipient is Sound Transit, which is slated to receive close to $167 million.
The Washington State Ferries system will get close to $40 million, Pierce Transit will receive close to $21 million.
The funding is included in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, which set aside $25 billion for public transportation.
Oregon sends ventilators to New York
10 a.m. -- Our neighbor to the south Oregon is helping out hard-hit New York state with a shipment of 140 ventilators.
"New York needs more ventilators, and we are answering their call for help," tweeted Oregon Governor Kate Brown, saying Oregon is in a better position right now. "Oregon doesn't have everything we need to fight COVID-19 — we need more PPE and testing — but we can help today with ventilators. We are all in this together."
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo tweeted his reply: "From the bottom of my heart, thank you. NYS will repay the favor when Oregon needs it."
New York has been hard hit by Covid-19. Currently 103,704 people have tested positive for the virus, which has killed more than 3,560 people.
Oregon currently has 899 cases and 22 deaths.
-- Deborah Wang
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