Live coverage: Coronavirus in the Seattle area (March 8-14)
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. Top line information:
*40 COVID-19 related deaths have been reported by the Washington state Department of Health as of Saturday afternoon, March 14, in Washington state. Health officials have reported 35 deaths in King County, four in Snohomish County, and one in Grant County.
*642 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Washington state as of Saturday afternoon, according to state health officials. All Washington counties have at least one confirmed case.
*If you believe you have been exposed to COVID-19, or are a healthcare provider with questions about COVID-19, contact King County's novel coronavirus call center at 206-477-3977 between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m. People can also call the Washington State Novel Coronavirus Call Center at 800-525-0127.
SATURDAY, MARCH 14
6 p.m. -- The Seattle City Attorney's Office will close for at least one week to undergo a deep cleaning after a member of the executive team tested positive for COVID-19.
City Attorney Pete Holmes made the announcement on his personal Facebook page. He said he has had recent contact with all his staff members, and while he isn't showing any symptoms, he plans to be tested for coronavirus as soon as possible. Though, in his post, he adds: "This will be astonishing to anyone who believes our liar president, but tests are still difficult to obtain even for our elected officials at Ground Zero."
An announcement for the closure was not yet posted on the official Seattle City Attorney's Facebook page.
The Seattle Municipal Court also posted an announcement on its Facebook page -- it will be closed until March 20 after a staff member there also tested positive for coronavirus.
5 p.m. -- The Washington State Department of Health is asking state residents to not overbuy supplies at stores, such as disinfectant wipes, hand sanitizer, and other products. Officials say this it ht primary reason that store shelves are going empty with not enough for neighbors.
According to DOH:
The more you overstock those supplies, the less is available for your sick neighbors, and for doctors, dentists, and emergency response personnel. Doing our part to keep vulnerable people healthy includes making sure they have access to necessary supplies.
Grocers say consumer overstocking – not a disrupted supply chain -- is the main reason their store shelves are empty of many supplies and food items, especially hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes, toilet paper, and plastic gloves.
The health department further notes that customers are also hitting supplies of bottled water pretty hard, however, water supplies are perfectly fine -- the supply that comes out of a tap.
Only take what you need, and restock later, so everyone gets what they need. If sick neighbors cannot get access to supplies, that harms everyone in the end.
3:18 p.m. -- King County announced Saturday that it will convert a handful of existing facilities into quarantine sites, as well as locations for social distancing.
According to the county:
- King County International Airport arrivals hall will be used to house some men who shelter at St. Martin De Porres. They sheltered 80 men over 55 there last night.
- A tent will be erected at an Eastgate parking lot. It will be ready in about a week.
- The county has purchased a new motel in Issaquah.
There's still no one staying at the Kent motel that the county purchased earlier to house people with COVID-19.
2:52 p.m. -- According to the Washington State Department of Health, there are now 642 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state and 40 deaths.
Out of the tests that have been performed, 642 tested positive, and 7,122 tested negative.
Snohomish County has seen a dramatic uptick in cases. It now has 154 cases -- up from 133 Friday. King County saw an increase of 60 cases.
2:50 p.m. -- UW Medicine is postponing all elective surgeries as part of its effort to put more resources behind the coronavirus response. According to a statement from UW Medicine:
Faced with unprecedented need to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, UW Medicine is postponing elective and non-urgent surgeries and procedures through March 31.
The move covers all UW Medicine healthcare facilities and will take effect Monday, March 16, for Harborview Medical Center, University of Washington Medical Center – Montlake and University of Washington Medical Center -- Northwest (formerly Northwest Hospital & Medical Center) and at Valley Medical Center on Wednesday, March 18.
2:48 p.m. -- Public Health - Seattle & King County updated its COVID-19 case numbers Saturday afternoon.
- 388 confirmed cases (up 60 from Friday)
- 35 confirmed deaths (up 3 from Friday)
A total of 27 of the 35 reported deaths associated with the virus are connected to the Life Care Center in Kirkland where an outbreak of the coronavirus has locked down the facility.
The three new deaths reported Saturday include:
- A woman in her 70s who died at Swedish First Hill on March 12.
- A man in his 80s, a resident of Life Care Center, who was hospitalized at EvergreenHealth and died on March 12.
- A man in his 80s, a resident of Life Care Center, who died at Overlake Medical Center on March 8.
2:40 p.m. -- Tacoma-Pierce County Public Health Department is reporting new cases of COVID-19 in its region, bringing that county's number up to 26 cases.
2:30 p.m. -- Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan has issued an executive order preventing evictions in the city while the coronavirus epidemic continues. Seattle renters can't get evicted for the next 30 days for not paying rent.
Durkan signed the emergency order Saturday putting a temporary moratorium on all residential evictions.
The goal of the moratorium is to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus by making sure people have a safe place to self-isolate if they get sick.
The mayor's order only applies to evictions related to non-payment of rent, not to evictions for other causes.
It also prohibits late fees or other charges for late rent payments for the next 30 days.
1:25 p.m. -- Trevor Bedford, a scientist at Fred Hutch studying viral infections, tweeted a rough graph of what to expect with COVID-19 cases spreading in the region.
"I could easily be off 2-fold in either direction," Bedford tweets. "But my best guess is that we're currently in the 10,000 to 40,000 range nationally."
He also says that "the 5-6 day doubling is an accurate model for growth."
11:48 a.m. -- Comcast is offering internet service for free to low-income households across the nation while authorities respond to coronavirus outbreaks. According to a company statement:
As our country continues to manage the COVID-19 emergency, we recognize that our company plays an important role in helping our customers stay connected – to their families, their workplaces, their schools, and the latest information about the virus – through the Internet.
We also know that for millions of low-income Americans who don’t have Internet service at home, this uncertain time is going to be even more difficult to manage. As schools and businesses close and families are encouraged, or even mandated, to stay home, Internet connectivity becomes even more important.
Comcast is therefore offering 60 days of free service for basic internet services. It is also increasing speeds from 15/2 Mbps to 25/3 Mbps. New hookups during this time will have "no term contract or credit check and no shipping fee," according to Comcast.
The offer starts March 16. People can sign up for the free service here.
11:30 a.m. -- Early-morning customers at the Kirkland Costco had a bit of a wait to shop Saturday. After a rough count, one KUOW listener estimated that about 150 people were waiting in line to enter the store when it opened.
Similar conditions have been reported at other Costcos in the region. This photo, below, was taken at the Tumwater Costco on Friday, March 13.
10 a.m. -- Seattle's alternative newspaper The Stranger has temporarily laid off 18 employees due to the local economic effects of the coronavirus outbreak.
The publication is asking for donations to help keep it afloat while people continue to maintain social distancing. It reports that 90% of its revenue is based on events and ticket sales and that "the coronavirus situation has virtually eliminated this income all at once."
The Stranger is also temporarily halting all print production and will be produced entirely online.
9:50 a.m. -- The Washington National Guard has been activated to help with the response to COVID-19 in the state.
The Military Times reports that the activation is part of Gov. Inslee's recent emergency proclamation and states: "Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, who issued an emergency proclamation on Feb. 29, has also activated personnel from the Washington National Guard. These Guardsmen 'are supporting planning efforts within the Washington State Emergency Management Division for up to 45 days.'”
9 a.m. -- The Ballard Farmers Market is cancelled for Sunday, March 15. The Ballard market is a year-round event, held on Sundays.
Another organization, Seattle Neighborhood Farmers Markets, announced that it is cancelling its events in the city for the next few weeks. It tentatively plans to restart the markets April 18.
FRIDAY, MARCH 13
6:30 p.m. -- Starting Monday, March 16, Seattle Public Schools will offer "grab-and-go" lunches to every child at 26 schools. Emphasis on every child. Those sites are:
Aki Kurose Middle School
Bailey Gatzert Elementary School
Ballard High School
Broadview Thomson K-8 School
Catherine Blaine K-8 School
Chief Sealth International High School/Denny International Middle School
Concord International Elementary School
Dunlap Elementary School
Eckstein Middle School
Emerson Elementary School
Franklin High School
Lowell Elementary School
McClure Middle School
Meany Middle School
Mercer International Middle School
Nathan Hale High School
Olympic Hills Elementary School
Rainier Beach High School
Rainier View Elementary School
Rising Star Elementary School @ AAA Robert Eagle Staff Middle School
Seattle World School @ TT. Minor
Thurgood Marshall Elementary School
West Seattle Elementary School
West Seattle High School
To know where to go at the school site, you can download this file or contact me directly and I'll reply: firstname.lastname@example.org.
2020 Lunch Sites English
2:40 p.m. -- King County libraries will be closed, effective today, Friday, March 13, for one month, due to coronavirus.
Under this new order, all state schools must temporarily halt in-person classes by the end of next Monday. No classes will resume until April 24.
These restrictions extend to public and private state colleges.
12:30 p.m. -- President Donald Trump declared a national emergency on coronavirus, Friday afternoon. This declaration allows access of up to $50 billion for fighting the virus.
10 a.m. -- Seattle Public Library system closes for a month starting at 6 p.m. this evening. The public response was a friendly sort of looting, at the Greenwood branch anyway. Said a librarian passing with a cart of recently returned books, "It's like it's Thanksgiving and we're the Brussells sprouts purveyors."
10:45 a.m. -- King County will shift the isolation and quarantine units in Kent and White Center to help people "who do not need supportive social services," according to a press release from Executive Dow Constantine.
The person then allegedly shoplifted and took a northbound King County Metro bus. This bus was taken out of service for cleaning and sanitation.
Sites to temporary house those with behavioral health needs will be located.
THURSDAY, MARCH 12
6:30 p.m. -- Seattle Public Libraries will close at 6 p.m. on Friday, March 13. The library system closed early on Thursday due to limited staffing. The library system will remain closed through at least April 13.
6:09 p.m. -- Seattle restaurants are reeling after Tom Douglas announced he’s temporarily shutting 12 of his 13 restaurants.
“We’ve been crying together all day. Lots of hugs, lots of apologies," Douglas said. "We’re talking about people—my friends. Some of them working here 30 years.”
The closure affects 800 employees.
Douglas says restaurants like his located in the downtown core rely on tourists and people going to theater and large events.
But with big gatherings cancelled, it’s hard to sustain business.
From neighborhood coffee shops to fine dining restaurants, no one is immune to the current economic slump. Still, many restaurants are trying to avoid closure and finding ways to adapt.
Heriberto Magdaleno owns and runs Café Quilombo on Beacon Hill. He’s had to scale back his business hours.
"Today I open an hour late and probably close two hours early," Magdaleno said. "There are no customers around.”
Other businesses are taking a different approach. Next week Canlis will close its fine dining restaurant, replacing it three drive-through businesses … in the parking lot. They’ll serve bagels, burger, and family meal delivery.
Owner Mark Canlis said it seems like a crazy idea, but his staff is game.
“The word social distancing flies in the face of hospitality which is this invitation in, and you know what, maybe we can’t do it in the same way, but it doesn’t mean we can’t do it,” he said.
--Ruby de Luna
5:30 p.m. -- Blood banks in the greater Seattle area may need more blood than usual to fight COVID19.
As the virus spreads, other blood banks across the country also may need more blood, and won’t be able to share.
Blood donations in the Seattle area dropped by 50% when offices closed and bloodmobiles lost their access to many of their donors, according to Vicki Finson of Bloodworks NW. Her organization put out a plea on social media, and things started getting better.
Caroline Hansen Kleban was one of many donors who showed up to give blood at the University of Washington. “I’m a regular blood donor, but now I feel it’s even more important because I worry about people being scared away.”
But now, schools are closing in the Seattle area, and 20 percent of blood donations come from high schools. Which means blood banks need people to step up again.
5 p.m. -- The Washington state department of health now reports 31 COVID-19 deaths and 457 confirmed cases across 13 Washington state counties.
2:00 p.m. -- Gov. Jay Inslee ordered the closure of all public and private K-12 schools in King, Snohomish, and Pierce counties. The action goes into effect on Tuesday, March 17 and must remain in place through April 24.
The measure affects 43 school districts and approximately 600,000 students — more than half the student population in Washington state. Officials said the order could soon be expanded to include other counties if necessary.
Bainbridge Island, Stanwood-Camano, and Darrington school districts are also subject to the order.
1:12 p.m. -- Washington's Department of Health is activating the state's "Emergency Health Practitioner Act." This will call for volunteers to help with the medical needs in the coming weeks as the COVID-19 outbreak continues.
According to a statement from DOH:
As Washington takes more steps to reduce the spread of COVID-19 the Department of Health (DOH) will now enroll and activate emergency volunteer health practitioners in preparation for health system requests and surging. This will help the state meet emerging demands for healthcare workers.
1:05 p.m. -- President Trump may halt travel to states like Washington experiencing severe COVID-19 outbreaks, The New York Times reports.
The Times reports that the president has not yet discussed limiting travel to states like California or Washington. But he also said that such a measure is a possibility if conditions get "a little bit out of control, if an area gets too hot.”
12:18 p.m. -- Washington State Ferries is asking for passengers’ help during the mandated social distancing; now saying passengers can opt to stay in their vehicles during ferry trips.
Ferry officials recently stated:
On top of maintaining good hygiene habits and washing your hands, we encourage passengers to follow health officials’ recommendations for social distancing when possible. There are several options for ferry riders to maintain a healthy amount of separation from fellow passengers:
• Customers can opt to stay in their vehicles if they drive on the ferry.
• Ferry boats are much larger vessels than most other forms of transit, which gives passengers more opportunity to keep some distance between each other.
• Restrooms with running water and hand soap are available on all vessels, unlike many other forms of public transit. Riders are encouraged to use these facilities.
12:16 p.m. -- Major League Baseball is delaying the start of the 2020 season by two weeks. This will affect the Seattle Mariners, and all other teams in the league.
Spring training games and other special events will be delayed as well.
12:09 p.m. -- Seattle restaurateur and chef Tom Douglas will shut down 12 of his locations in the Seattle area as the community adjusts to the local COVID-19 epidemic.
The Seattle Times reports that business is down 90% at the Tom Douglas restaurants. The locations will shut down on Sunday, March 15.
Noon -- A PCC market on Aurora near Green Lake reports that an employee tested positive for COVID-19. The employee last worked on March 8. The store has been closed. PCC staff who had contact with the employee are being contacted and monitored.
According to a post from PCC:
Upon learning of the result, we moved quickly to notify our staff, temporarily close the store, and implement a deep clean of the entire store. We are following all recommended guidelines from public health authorities, including the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and city, county, and state public health departments.
11:55 a.m. -- Stopping short of calling it a trend, the Washington State Department of Transportation is noting that traffic is much lighter on Seattle-area roads as the region faces the COVID-19 outbreak.
The thought is that this is due to businesses starting work-from-home practices, schools cancelling, and other reasons that stop the need for travel.
In its blog, WSDOT notes:
- When backups do occur, they are more often clearing much faster than usual (though a couple bad accidents have still snarled conditions).
- Travel times on freeways, such as I-5 between Seattle and Everett, are down by about 5-30 minutes from normal.
- It depends on the day, but traffic volumes are decreasing. For example, on March 10, volumes on southbound I-15 between Everett and Seattle were down 4%. Volumes on northbound I-405 between Renton and Bellevue were down by 8%.
11:30 a.m. -- Amazon is starting a program to pay employees diagnosed with COVID-19 for up to two weeks while they are quarantined.
According to Amazon's blog:
Effective immediately, all Amazon employees diagnosed with COVID-19 or placed into quarantine will receive up to two-weeks of pay. This additional pay while away from work is to ensure employees have the time they need to return to good health without the worry of lost pay. This is in addition to unlimited unpaid time off for all hourly employees through the end of March, which we shared with employees last week.
Amazon is also starting a $25 million relief fund for drivers.
We are establishing the Amazon Relief Fund with a $25 million initial contribution focused on supporting our independent delivery service partners and their drivers, Amazon Flex participants, and seasonal employees under financial distress during this challenging time. We will be offering all of these groups the ability to apply for grants approximately equal to up to two-weeks of pay if diagnosed with COVID-19 or placed into quarantine by the government or Amazon.
Additionally, this fund will support our employees and contractors around the world who face financial hardships from other qualifying events, such as a natural disaster, federally declared emergency, or unforeseen personal hardship. Applicants can apply and receive a personal grant from the fund ranging from $400 to $5,000 USD per person.
10:35 a.m. -- Seattle's high-end restaurant Canlis announced Thursday that it is halting dining service amid the COVID-19 outbreak. The restaurant made the announcement via social media, stating:
Starting Monday we will close our restaurant and open three in its place: a breakfast bagel shed, a burger drive-thru for lunch, and a family meal dinner delivery service.
Fine dining is not what Seattle needs right now. Instead, this is one idea for safely creating jobs for our employees while serving as much of the city as we can.
8:42 a.m. -- The Seattle Sounders are postponing next Saturday's home match against FC Dallas in response to Governor Jay Inslee's order prohibiting large gatherings.
Seattle's XFL team The Dragons will still play their game this Saturday at CenturyLink Field -- without any fans.
Ticket holders will be offered a refund or credit.
The Seattle Mariners officials say they're working with Major League Baseball to figure out what to do for the home opener on March 26 at T-Mobile Park. They hope to have a decision by Friday.
8:10 a.m. -- A staffer for Washington Senator Maria Cantwell has become the first person at the nation's capitol to test positive for COVID-19.
In a statement, Cantwell's office said the worker didn't have any contact with the senator or other congressional members. The senator has requested testing for other staff members who have been in contact with the individual and show symptoms.
Cantwell's DC office is now closed for deep cleaning. Other staff are teleworking.
8 a.m. -- Seattle-area arts organizations are starting to plan for mass closures, and in turn, the financial impact amid the region's COVID-19 response.
Organizations such as the 5th Avenue Theatre and the Northwest Ballet expect million dollar losses.
7:30 a.m. -- In a statement - executive director of the Washington State Nurses Association Sally Watkins said nurses continue to lack the proper equipment to deal with COVID-19.
She said some hospitals are asking health care workers to reuse masks and gowns for multiple patients.
Three unions representing nurses and health care workers are applauding the move by Washington Governor Jay Inslee to ban gatherings of 250 people or more. They say it will help health care workers.
Instead of a mountain of new sick people in emergency rooms, officials are trying to flatten down what is otherwise predicted to be a steep climb in cases.
“The more people that become ill in a short time frame, the more difficult it is for the health care system to meet all their needs," said Dr Jeff Duchin, health officer for Public Health - Seattle & King County.
The state ban extends through March, but likely will be extended.
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 11
5:22 p.m. -- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is slated to provide $11,480,798 to Washington to support the state's response to COVID-19.
The aid is part of a $560 million federal funding package to support public health efforts of states, localities, tribes, and territories amid the coronavirus outbreak.
5:20 p.m. -- Snohomish County has enacted a temporary ban on gatherings of fewer than 250 attendees, "unless measures are taken by event organizers to minimize risk."
Under the order, organizers of events with 250 or less people must ensure the following:
· Older adults and individuals with underlying medical conditions that are at increased risk of serious COVID-19 are encouraged not to attend (including employees);
· Social distancing recommendations must be met (i.e., limit contact of people within 6 feet from each other for 10 minutes or longer)
· Employees must be screened for coronavirus symptoms each day and excluded if symptomatic
· Proper hand hygiene and sanitation must be readily available to all attendees and employees
· Environmental cleaning guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are followed (e.g., clean and disinfect high touch surfaces daily or more frequently)
The ban comes in the wake of a state order banning events of more than 250 people in Snohomish, King, and Pierce counties
Snohomish health officials announced Wednesday two new COVID-19 deaths, bringing the countywide death toll up to three. Additionally, the county has reported 15 new cases of the disease, bringing its total number of cases to 75.
4:29 p.m. -- The Museum of Pop Culture is temporarily closed until further notice.
2:37 p.m. -- Bellevue School District will close beginning Friday, March 13 until March 27. Officials say they'll reevaluate any potential need for additional closures during that window.
There are no known cases of COVID-19 in the district right now.
-- Liz Brazile
2:30 p.m. -- According to the latest numbers from Washington's Department of Helath, there are now 366 COVID-19 cases in the state, and 29 deaths attributed to the virus.
The majority of deaths (26) have happened in King County.
There have been 3,037 COVID-19 test have come up negative for the virus.
2:28 p.m. -- The Shoreline School District is cancelling classes until late March.
According to a letter sent to parents from Superintendent Rebecca Miner:
As this situation changes by the hour, it has become clear that we cannot continue to address this issue with isolated, short-term closure of our schools. At this time, we can no longer maintain staffing levels required to continue school operations across the district.
Beginning tomorrow, Thursday, March 12, all schools in Shoreline Public Schools will be closed through at least March 27. This includes the cancellation of all out-of-district transportation and athletic practices and competitions. All school offices will be open tomorrow, Thursday, March 12, to allow for parents, students and staff to be able to retrieve medication and other essential personal items that they need to have with them while schools are closed. Beginning Friday, all staff access to the schools will be limited to administrators and maintenance/operations staff.
District officials are looking into child care options for families during the closure. Food service for students will be offered between 11:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. weekdays at:
- Central Kitchen, inside Hamlin Park off of 15th Avenue NE
- Shorewood High School, 17300 Fremont Avenue North
2 p.m. -- The Life Care Center in Kirkland provided an update Wednesday afternoon on the situation at the facility where most deaths associated with COVID-19 have occurred.
- 26 deaths at the facility since the outbreak began (both at Life Care and at local hospitals where people were transferred to). This number did not change from the previous day and includes more deaths than those attributed to COVID-19.
According to Public Health - Seattle & King County, there have been 22 COVID-19 deaths associated with Life Care Center.
- There are five more positive test results for COVID-19 since Tuesday -- 26 residents have tested positive onsite; 12 negative; four inconclusive; five tests outstanding.
- The total number of people who tested positive for COVID 19 at Life Care (in hospitals and onsite): 63
- The facility started with 120 residents at start of the outbreak. There are now there are 47 residents.
- Life Care has 180 employees at the Kirkland facility. A total of 67 are showing symptoms. Testing continues for staff.
- 65 residents have been transferred to local hospitals.
Information liaison Tim Killian noted that while seven residents are showing symptoms of the virus within the building -- the same number reported over the past couple days -- different residents are among that number. Some got better, others were added to the list of symptomatic residents.
1:50 p.m. -- The Lake Washington School District announced that it is closing its schools in response to the local COVID-19 outbreak.
According to a letter sent to parents:
In collaboration with our School Board of Directors and our Lake Washington Education Association, we have made the decision to close all schools from March 12 through March 27, and re-evaluate any further closures during that time.
We know that many people rely on our school district for their ability to continue providing services to our community through their employers. We play an important role in the ability of many organizations to continue running for the health and safety of our community.
This is not an easy decision, and our plans moving forward require additional planning and preparation.
On Thursday and Friday, we will be planning for an alternative model with the following services:
• Available childcare during school hours for families who are not able to remain home or serve in critical community roles such as healthcare and first responders.
• Available meals for children provided at school sites – details to follow.
• Available educational resources with supports for at-home learning.
We recognize this closure creates many different challenges, and our goal is to provide basic services to continue supporting our families and our communities.
-- Dyer Oxley
1:08 p.m. -- Uber and Lyft are responding to demands of drivers affected by the coronavirus. There are about 30,000 rideshare drivers in King County.
Many of them have been asking Uber and Lyft for sanitizing supplies, so they can protect themselves and their customers. In response, the companies have promised to distribute a limited number of disinfectants.
Lyft specified what this means for them: 200,000 bottles of hand sanitizer and other cleaning supplies, starting in cities with the greatest need, which we assume includes Seattle.
Drivers have also been asking for financial help, if they’ve lost work, due to the coronavirus. Uber and Lyft did not promise to pay for a reduction in business, but they did promise funds for drivers who are infected or quarantined by a public health agency.
Lyft specified that means up to 14 days of financial assistance, but wouldn’t say how much.
12:04 p.m. -- The Port of Seattle announced that some sailings for the coming cruise season will be cancelled out of Seattle.
Port President Peter Steinbrueck announced the move at a press conference Wednesday.
"The Port of Seattle is announcing today the cancellation of the first two planned sailings of the Seattle 2020 cruise season," Steinbrueck said. "The health, safety, and well being of our residents is our top priority."
The two cancelled sailings are:
- Grand Princess Wed, April 1
- Celebrity Eclipse, Sunday, April 5
The first sailing for Seattle is now the Holland America Eurodam on April 15. The port says that it will continue to monitor the COVID-19 outbreak locally to determine if any future actions are necessary.
12 p.m. -- Seattle Public Schools announced that it is closing down all schools in the district amid COVID-19 concerns.
Seattle Public Schools is the largest district in Washington. state.
10:20 a.m. -- Washington Gov. Jay Inslee announced new measures Wednesday to respond to the COVID-19 situation in the state saying there needs to be a more "comprehensive" response.
Inslee ordered a prohibition of gatherings of more than 250 people in Snohomish, King, and Pierce Counties. He mentioned gatherings for social, recreational, spiritual, and other purposes. This includes concerts, religious events, and sporting events.
The three counties were chosen because they have large population centers and have seen some of the worst spread of the virus.
- The governor also implied that there could be more decisions coming which could be “profoundly disturbing.”
- Inslee said that he is asking school districts to start making plans for potential closures. He said that there needs to be consideration for child care and food services for students while a closure is in place.
King County will be taking additional measures, Executive Dow Constantine said. He reported that Public Health -- Seattle & King County will be ordering that gatherings fewer than 250 people will be banned unless they meet certain sanitary guidelines. This will affect movies theaters and other businesses.
7:30 a.m. -- Some students and staff at Seattle's Franklin High School say they'll stay home Wednesday.
They're protesting the response by Seattle Public Schools to the coronavirus outbreak. Students and staff are upset the district is keeping most south-end schools open after a staff member tested positive for coronavirus at nearby Aki Kurose Middle School.
That school closed Wednesday indefinitely.
Franklin High is one of four other south Seattle schools that the district says may have been exposed to coronavirus.
Teacher Olivia Geffner says the district should have done more than just disinfect Franklin Tuesday night -- it should have closed.
"A lot of their talking points have been 'we don't want to close for equity reasons, kids won't have access to the same education,'" Geffner said. "And they're absolutely right that that is true. But there is also equity in closing. We need to be protecting the health of our students."
Geffner says in south Seattle schools, many students live with their extended families, including elderly relatives.
Health care disparities mean many could have a hard time seeking treatment for COVID-19.
Two other south-end schools were disinfected Tuesday night. A third, Cleveland STEM High School, is closed for disinfection Wednesday.
TUESDAY, MARCH 10
8:40 p.m. -- Shorecrest High School will be closed on Wednesday for cleaning. An adult staff member has a confirmed case of COVID-19; they have not been to work since March 5. School will open again on 3/12.
8:30 p.m. -- The Associated Press reports that Washington Gov. Jay Inslee will announce a ban on gatherings and events of more than 250 people in virtually the entire Seattle metro area to curb the spread of the coronavirus outbreak. The ban would apply to King, Pierce and Snohomish counties, which are home to almost 4 million people.
The order expected on Wednesday would not prohibit the operation of workplaces and is not expected to include school closures.
6:10 p.m. -- Seattle Public Schools will close Cleveland STEM High School for a single day on March 11 for cleaning as a precaution.
4:15 p.m. -- Seattle Public Schools announced its first confirmed case of COVID-19 and first closure amid the outbreak. A staff member at Aki Kurose Middle School was tested positive for the disease, according to a district press release.
Aki Kurose will be closed beginning Wednesday, March 11 until further notice. The closure includes the cancellation of all activities and events hosted at the school. District officials say they are working with public health officials to determine a date for reopening.
2:30 p.m. -- The Washington State Department of Health released updated COVID-19 numbers Tuesday afternoon.
There are 267 positive cases in Washington and 24 reported deaths (an increase of 74 cases over Monday's count). A total of 2,175 tests have been negative.
COVID-19 is now being reported in Kitsap County with two new cases there, and Skagit County with one case. The vast majority of cases are found in King County with 190.
1:50 p.m. -- King County's latest COVID-19 numbers show an increase of 74 cases over the previous day, and two more deaths.
- Number of confirmed cases: 190
- Number of deaths: 22
1:30 p.m. -- Public utilities customers in Seattle who've been financially impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak won't have their services interrupted.
Mayor Jenny Durkan's office announced Tuesday that residential and commercial customers who've experienced financial troubles amid the outbreak can sign up for deferred payments with Seattle City Light and Seattle Public Utilities.
1:21 p.m. -- The latest count shows 186 cases of coronavirus in Washington state.
This includes more than a dozen new patients testing positive in Snohomish County as of Tuesday.
Because of this, a nursing home is in lockdown in Stanwood, north of Everett.
Terry Robertson is the CEO at Josephine Caring Facility in Stanwood where three patients over age 70 just tested positive for COVID-19.
"The facility is in lockdown, so no visitors and no families, and I can tell you that is incredibly tough for our families," Robertson said. "I had a lady in my lobby crying yesterday because she couldn't see her husband, who she's been married to for 64 years. We have locked all the entrances ... and we have a dedicated screener there."
Robertson says Josephine also holds a child care facility, which is shuttered for now.
There are at least nine long-term care facilities in the Puget Sound region with confirmed cases, according to local health officials.
Health officials with Washington state are recommending strict measures at nursing homes, and still recommend that people over age 60 in the Seattle area stay at home.
A portion of the COVID-19 patients in Washington have already recovered from the illness, but 22 of patients are reported to have died statewide.
1 p.m. -- Speaking for the Life Care Center, Tim Killian provided an update on numbers and the situation at the Kirkland facility -- the site of the worst reported COVID-19 outbreak in Washington. He also corrected some numbers that were reported on Monday.
- No change in the number of reported deaths associated with the facility. A total of 26 people have died since Feb. 19 when Life Care sent the first patient with COVID-19 to a hospital (11 died in the facility, 15 died at hospitals after being moved from Life Care).
- 49 residents still at the facility.
- Residents who have been tested onsite: 21 positive for COVID-19; 12 negative; 12 pending results; and 4 inconclusive.
- 55 total positive COVID-19 cases; 63 patients transferred from Life Care to a hospital.
- Seven residents are currently showing symptoms of COVID-19 (numbers can fluctuate and are not always the same residents).
- 64 staff are showing symptoms (Killian previously said that five have returned to work, but he corrected that number to two).
- Testing has begun on employees; about 30 staff have been tested for the virus offsite.
11:30 a.m. -- The Snohomish County Health Department reports that a woman in her 70s tested as presumptive positive for COVID-19. She is a resident at the Josephine Caring Community in Stanwood.
The test was performed after the woman was transported to a hospital.
The facility has since tested seven more patients and two results have so far come back as positive for COVID-19, including: a woman in her 90s; and a man in his 80s.
The facility is in lockdown and no visitors, including family, are allowed in.
Group activities at Josephine Caring Community have been cancelled as a result. Residents are being checked for symptoms every four hours. A childcare center that is also located at the facility is being separated from the rest of the operations to keep children apart from long term residents.
Snohomish county health officials say that testing is still a challenge with few kits available. They expect more kits to come in the days and weeks ahead. Currently, medical professionals are prioritizing testing to health care workers; police and firefighters; patients in cluster outbreaks, such as at schools or nursing homes; patients with respiratory illness or who are at high risk with underlying conditions.
9:30 a.m. -- Gov. Jay Inslee held a briefing on the COVID-19 outbreak in Washington state Tuesday morning. The governor is still not ordering the cancellation of large gatherings, such as sporting events, but he implied that work is being done on potential action.
“I would not be shocked if we have more news on that over the next few days,” Inslee said.
Under the emergency proclamation for the coronavirus outbreak in the state, the governor has the ability to cancel large gatherings. He also said that he believes the number of COVID-19 infected is much larger than the reported cases.
“The number I use is about 1,000 (cases), and there may be more than that quite frankly," he said, noting that the number can double every 5-8 days. “If you do the math it gets very disturbing.”
"We have a long road ahead of us and we are going to be asking Washingtonians to step up to the plate … “ Inslee said. “... we have 162 presumed people whose test results have shown that they have the virus in Washington, but unfortunately since we haven't tested 7 million Washingtonians we know that there are more who have not been tested who have it."
While the governor is not yet halting large gatherings, he did order requirements for nursing facilities where people most at risk from the virus are located (people age 60 or older, people who have compromised immune systems).
- Residents are limited to one visitor per day, visitors must be adults, and visits must take place in residents' rooms (does not apply to end of life situations).
- People must be Isolated in rooms, away from other people.
- All visitors must be screened for COVID-19.
- Staff must use protective equipment and social distancing.
- Visitors must sign a visitors log which will be maintained for 30 days.
- Employees must be screened at start of each shift.
8:50 a.m. -- Seattle's Pearl Jam has announced that it will cancel scheduled concerts in the coming weeks. The band's first album in seven years, Gigaton, is slated for a March 27 release and the tour was to support it.
But on Twitter, the band announced that due to coronavirus concerns, and cautions against large gatherings, it is canceling shows in the coming weeks. Pearl Jam tweeted that "the levels of risk to our audience and their communities is simply too high for our comfort level."
"It certainly hasn’t helped that there’s been no clear messages from our government regarding people’s safety and our ability to go to work ... Having no examples of our national health department’s ability to get ahead of this, we have no reason to believe that it will be under control in the coming weeks ahead.
"...here in Seattle what we are witnessing we would not wish for anyone. What we do wish for the rest of the country is that they can avoid the harsh negative effects of this and retain their sense of community and take care of one another."
7:22 a.m. -- Governor Jay Inslee says there may already be 1,000 cases of coronavirus in Washington state alone at this point. That's more than all of the confirmed cases in the US at this time.
Inslee, speaking on the Rachel Maddow Show Monday night, says with more than 160 cases confirmed in Washington, that means there are likely far more that aren't yet detected.
"We might have 1,000 people infected today in Washington but this doubles every week in an epidemic like this," Inslee told Maddow. "And so seven weeks from now we may have 60,000 people plus infected."
MONDAY, MARCH 9
5 p.m. -- Overlake Medical Center in Bellevue announced the death of a patient, a man in his 80s, who tested positive for COVID-19.
4:41 p.m. -- The Life Care Center in Kirkland has tested all of its remaining residents for COVID-19, said spokesperson Tim Killian. Results for 35 residents came in since an earlier update was given. The results:
- 31 residents tested positive
- 1 tested negative
- 3 test results were inconclusive and require further evaluation
4:10 p.m. -- The Washington State Department of Health updated its reporting to include a single COVID-19 death in Grant County.
3:30 p.m. -- There are several long-term care facilities impacted by the coronavirus, according to public health officials.
The Life Care nursing home in Kirkland has been at the center of the coronavirus outbreak in the Seattle region. But, according to public health officials, they’re not alone.
Patty Hayes is the director of Public Health – Seattle and King County. She spoke to Seattle city council members during a briefing Monday.
“There are 8 additional long-term care facilities that have reported with cases,” Hayes said.
Hayes did not say whether this number included Life Care. She also didn’t name the facilities or say how many cases had been reported.
This was a brief piece of her presentation to council and it did not receive clarifying questions. Questions sent to Public Health – Seattle and King County have not yet been answered.
Hayes said the state department of health has set up an incident command structure specifically dedicated to long-term care facilities.
As of Monday, all but one of the COVID-19 deaths in King County are linked to the Life Care nursing home in Kirkland.
2:20 p.m. -- Washington's Department of Health updated its numbers on the COVID-19 outbreak. As of Monday afternoon, there are 21 deaths related to COVID-19 statewide.
- 20 deaths in King County (19 deaths are associated with the Life Care Center in Kirkland).
- 1 death in Snohomish County
- 162 cases statewide
The COVID-19 cases reported in Washington state have been found in:
- Clark County: 1
- Grant County: 1
- Jefferson County: 1
- King County: 116
- Kitsap County: 1
- Kittitas County: 1
- Pierce County: 4
- Snohomish County: 37
1:10 p.m. -- The Life Care Center in Kirkland released updated information about the COVID-19 outbreak it is facing. The majority of deaths from the coronavirus have been reported at the facility.
No new deaths were reported Monday. A total of 16 out of 18 COVID-19 deaths in Washington state are associated with the Life Care Center, according to local health officials.
- 65 staff remain at home with symptoms; though five staff members have returned to work after staying at home. The facility usually has about 180 staff members.
- 53 residents remain at the facility; 7 show symptoms. 120 residents are usually at the facility.
Killian reports that the facility has not received any new test kits to test staff members for the virus. He also says that they have not received any results back from the University of Washington for any residents who have already been tested. He did note, however, that they heard back from one family member that their result was positive for COVID-19. But he stresses that information came to Life Care Center indirectly and not from UW officials.
Life Care's public information liaison Tim Killian said that the situation at the facility is beginning to "stabilize" and "return to a normal level of care."
12:15 p.m. -- The CDC held a briefing Monday morning about the national / global response to COVID-19.
- 110,000 cases worldwide
- 38 U.S. states have reported cases, plus Washington DC
- 19 deaths total in the U.S. (18 in Washington and 1 on California)
The CDC still does not expect most people to develop a serious illness from COVID-19. About 80% of people have mild if any symptoms of the virus. The people who are most at risk remain those prone to illness and with compromised immune systems, and people age 60 and older.
10:40 a.m. -- State and local public health officials have stopped short of banning public gatherings for large groups. However, some regional arts organizations have decided to postpone or cancel events scheduled during the month of March.
Check here for a list of arts and culture events in the Seattle area with modified schedules.
10:30 a.m. -- Washington's primary is Tuesday. Democratic presidential candidates have thus altered their plans in light of the COIVD-19 outbreak in the region.
A spokesperson for the Joe Biden campaign says they're not doing any live outreach or events this week due to coronavirus concerns. But the campaign is still holding digital town halls.
The Bernie Sanders campaign says it still expects to get thousands of volunteers to knock on doors around the state.
"But we also want people to proceed with caution," said Shaun Scott, Sanders' statewide field director. "Understanding that when you're knocking on doors people might be stepping back a little further in their doors than they would be on any given day and it's not just because of you. It's obviously because people have concerns for their safety so those are all things that we're taking into account."
10 a.m. -- Amazon announced Monday that it is contributing $1 million to Response Fund -- a new organization dedicated to COVID-19 response in the Puget Sound region.
The Response Fund is led by the Seattle Foundation. According to Amazon's statement:
Amazon has joined an innovative and forward-thinking coalition of philanthropy, government, and business partners to create a COVID-19 Response Fund that will rapidly deploy resources to community-based organizations at the frontlines of the Puget Sound region’s coronavirus outbreak. Amazon has contributed $1 million to the more than $2.5 million fund, designed to complement the work of public health officials and expand local capacity to address the outbreak as efficiently as possible.
...the COVID-19 Response Fund will provide flexible resources to organizations in the Puget Sound region working with communities who are disproportionally impacted by coronavirus and the economic consequences of the outbreak. One-time operating grants will fund organizations that have deep roots in community and strong experience working with residents without health insurance and/or access to sick days, people with limited English language proficiency, healthcare and gig economy workers, and communities of color, among others.
8:47 a.m. -- Life Care Center in Kirkland is still waiting for the test results for dozens of patients at the facility where coronavirus has broken out and killed at least 16 people so far.
8:15 a.m. -- Starting Monday morning, many schools in the Seattle area are shifting to online classes amid the COVID-19 outbreak.
This includes the entire Northshore School District and the University of Washington. Shoreline Community College, University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, and Pacific Lutheran University will also begin online learning in lieu of classes on campus.
A handful of other schools are closed. The state's Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction has an ongoing list of school closures due to COVID-19 concerns. Closures on Monday include:
8 a.m. -- The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is reportedly working on a plan to create home test kits for COVID-19, which would help identify hotspots of the coronavirus.
No plans have been finalized and there is no launch date for such an effort, according to GeekWire.
SUNDAY, MARCH 8
10 p.m. — Blood banks in the Puget Sound region are getting worried about their supply amid the coronavirus. Bloodworks Northwest said in a press release that blood drive cancellations have put the system near collapse. CEO and president Curt Bailey said that the problem is nationwide, but blood centers elsewhere in the U.S. are sending what supplies they can.
Bloodworks said the act of giving blood does not put people at risk of contracting the coronavirus. But donors are advised not to come to donation sites if they're not feeling well.
6 p.m. — Seattle city officials announced that the Exhibition Hall at Seattle Center will be used as a backup shelter for high capacity shelters, a part of a preventative effort to limit coronavirus exposure among clients.
According to a press release, "The Exhibition Hall is most often activated during severe weather events and is part of the City's overall public health response planning."
4:28 p.m. — Grant County announced its first COVID-19 death. The deceased individual was previously reported to be the first case of coronavirus in the central Washington county.
The death is the first reported outside of the Puget Sound region in Washington state.
4:26 p.m. — University Prep, a private 6-12 school in the Wedgwood neighborhood of Seattle announced its decision to close its campus and move to online learning starting Monday, March 9. The closure is slated to run through March 20.
4:14 p.m. — Gov. Jay Inslee's office announced that collective bargaining negotiations between Swedish Hospital and SEIU Healthcare 1199NW, Washington state's health care union, have been paused due to a need to focus on the COVID-19 outbreak.
“While progress has been made over the past four days, both Swedish and 1199NW agree the contract dispute won’t be settled by the end of today," Inslee said in a statement. "Therefore, both parties and the mediators have agreed to pause their talks."
The governor didn't say when negotiations were expected to resume —just that both parties "will be looking to reconvene as soon as possible."
4 p.m. — There are now 136 confirmed coronavirus cases in Washington, according to the Washington State Department of Health.
2:12 p.m. — There are now 123 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Washington state, according to the Washington State Department of Health:
- King County: 83
- Snohomish County: 31
- Grant County: 1
- Jefferson County: 1
- Pierce County: 4
- Clark County: 1
- Kittitas County: 1
- Spokane County: 1
1:10 p.m. — A spokesperson for the Life Care Center of Kirkland said during a press conference that 19 people at the long-term care facility have tested positive for COVID-19. Six residents are exhibiting symptoms of the disease, according to Tim Killian, who is acting as a third-party liaison for Life Care.
Of the 120 residents that lived at Life Care on Feb. 19, only 55 remain on site. At least 26 residents of the long-term care facility have died since then, Killian added. However, he pointed to the possibility of two additional deaths and said that once a resident leaves Life Care to be hospitalized, the facility relies on public health officials to disclose their fate.
King County officials had announced two more Life Care COVID-19 deaths 40 minutes prior to Life Care's update. A total 16 out of 18 COVID-19 deaths in Washington state are associated with Life Care, according to local health officials.
Killian addressed questions surrounding how Life Care staff was deciding who transfer to the hospital.
"The short answer is, that is a judgment call made by our nursing staff," he said. "It does include three specific symptoms: it's a combination of a level of cough that's troubling to them, the shortness of breath, and a temperature over 101 degrees Fahrenheit. In the end, it's hard to say there's a checklist ..."
Three Life Care employees have been hospitalized amid the outbreak and one has tested positive. 70 more employees are exhibiting symptoms, Killian said. However, he said aid the facility doesn't currently have capacity to test employees who remain on-site.
12:20 p.m. — Public Health – Seattle & King County announced the discovery of 12 more coronavirus cases in King County as of 11:59 p.m. on Saturday, March 7. There are currently 83 confirmed cases of coronavirus in King County.
Two more deaths are included among the new cases, bringing the total reported Washington state COVID-19 death toll up to 18. Of those 18 deaths, 16 are associated with an outbreak at the Life Care Center of Kirkland. The two new deaths include:
- A woman in her 80s, a Life Care Center resident, was hospitalized at EvergreenHealth, and who died on 3/6/20.
- A man in his 90s, a Life Care Center resident, was hospitalized at Harborview Medical Center, and who died 3/5/20.
— Liz Brazile
9:45 a.m. — Washington Gov. Jay Inslee said state officials are contemplating additional steps to take to stem the spread of coronavirus.
Inslee appeared Sunday morning on CBS's "Face the Nation" and was asked if that could mean mandatory quarantines — like ones in Italy — or "shutting down" the city of Seattle.
Inslee said not necessarily, but he did hint at possibly requiring the cancellation of large events and other steps the public could find disruptive and restrictive.
"[This] could be hard for the public because they may not have seen the full wave yet," Inslee told CBS's Margaret Brennan. "We need to anticipate that wave, get ahead of it."
— Austin Jenkins
8:30 a.m. — Lakeside School in north Seattle will close its doors beginning Monday, March 9. Although Lakeside is not currently believed to have been exposed to the coronavirus, the school's risk management team made the call out of "communal responsibility to slow the spread of COVID-19," according to its website.
Correction: An earlier version of this incorrectly stated the number of Washington state counties with confirmed cases of coronavirus, according to the Department of Health. There have been cases in 15 counties as of Friday afternoon.