Live updates: Coronavirus in the Seattle area (March 6-8)
This is an archived post. Read the latest updates here.
This post will be updated periodically with information about the coronavirus. Scroll down for older information. Top line information:
*18 COVID-19 related deaths have been reported by the Washington state Department of Health as of Sunday afternoon, March 8, in Washington state. However, Grant County reported an additional death Sunday afternoon that is not yet accounted for in state-provided numbers. Health officials have reported a total of 19 deaths in Washington state: 17 in King County, one in Snohomish County, and one in Grant County.
*136 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Washington state as of Sunday afternoon, according to state health officials. Affected individuals are residents of King, Snohomish, Pierce, Grant, Jefferson, Clark, Kittitas, and Spokane counties. However,
*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.
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 official 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. This brings the presumed coronavirus death toll in the state up to 19.
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. 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.
SATURDAY, MARCH 7
6:28 p.m. — A spokesperson for the Life Care Center of Kirkland announced the facility had received enough COVID-19 testing kits to test all remaining residents, and that testing was underway.
3:58 p.m. — About 500 students and staff were out of class in the Seattle school district on Thursday. A Seattle Public Schools spokesperson said that the absentee rate is only slightly up, however.
2:04 p.m. — The Life Care Center in Kirkland spoke publicly for the first time since the COVID-19 outbreak sent many of its residents to the hospital with symptoms. Most of Washington's coronvirus-related deaths are associated with the facility.
Speaking through a third-party crisis communications firm, Life Care said that it has received fewer test kits than the amount of residents and staff that needed to be tested for COVID-19. It also released numbers related to the outbreak, such as:
- Life Care Center was provided 45 test kits on Thursday – there are currently more than 60 residents in the building. They are awaiting results of those tests. Staff have not been tested, though officials would like to test them.
- On Feb. 19, there were 120 residents at Life Care in Kirkland; 54 have now been transported to local hospitals.
- There are 63 residents still at the facility; six show symptoms of COVID-19.
- A total of 18 people at Life Care Center have tested positive for COVID-19.
12:50 p.m. — The Kittitas Public Health Department announced its first presumptive positive case of COVID-19 in its area.
According to the health department:
"The patient is female, 67 years old, Kittitas County resident, and was seen at a local clinic. The patient is currently in home isolation with her spouse. The test results are a presumptive positive from the University of Washington, which means there will still be confirmatory testing completed at the Washington State Department of Health (DOH). Healthcare providers who had contact with the patient are being asked to self-isolate at this time. KCPHD is working closely with our healthcare partners and community members to begin our investigation with close contacts. Close contacts will be notified immediately by KCPHD."
12:24 p.m. — Among the updated numbers from King County and Washington state health officials, are four deaths -- all from the Life Care Center in Kirkland where the majority of Washington's deaths have a connection (14 of the 15 reported in the county).
From Public Health - Seattle & King County Saturday morning:
- A man in his 70s, a Life Care Center resident, was hospitalized at EvergreenHealth, and who died on 3/2/20. This case is included in the 13 new cases being reported today.
- A woman in her 80s, a Life Care Center resident, was hospitalized at Harborview Medical Center, and who died 3/5/20. This case is included in the 13 new cases being reported today
- A woman in her 70s, a Life Care Center resident, was hospitalized at EvergreenHealth, and who died on 3/6/20. This case was previously reported on 3/5/20.
- A woman in her 80s, a Life Care Center resident, was hospitalized at EvergreenHealth, and who died on 3/6/20. This case was previously reported on 3/2/20.
11 a.m. — The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Washington state has grown to 102 (more than 20 from the Friday count), spreading to more counties.
The number of coronavirus-related deaths rose to 16. There have been 15 deaths in King County and one death in Snohomish County.
As of Saturday Morning, confirmed cases are:
- King County: 71
- Snohomish County: 27
- Grant County: 1
- Jefferson County: 1
- Pierce County: 1
- Clark County: 1
9:45 a.m. -- King County notified employees that a person with a confirmed case of COVID-29 visited multiple county buildings in downtown Seattle.
Employees were told Thursday morning.
Public Health - Seattle & King County is notifying people who most likely had contact with the person.
8:45 a.m. —Officials at the PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center, in Vancouver, Wash. confirmed that they have a case of COVID-19 at their facility. The hospital reported the case late Thursday evening.
It is the first case of COVID-19 in Clark County in Southwest Washington. The patient is reportedly a man in his 70s.
According to a statement from PeaceHealth:
"PeaceHealth is prepared to meet the needs of our communities. We have already implemented a number of processes in all our hospitals and clinics to ensure the safety of our patients and caregivers, including screening protocols to identify patients who may be at risk for COVID-19 infection, and health department-recommended isolation processes and testing procedures. PeaceHealth is working closely with Clark County Public Health. Anyone with questions about COVID-19 should call their primary care provider or Clark County Public Health at 800-525-0127."
7:30 a.m. —According to a statement from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: "The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has sent a strike team – consisting of physicians, physicians' assistants, nurses, technicians and other medical care personnel..."
HHS reports that state officials asked the federal department to send personnel to the Life Care Center.
The statement further reports:
"These healthcare personnel are primarily from the United States Public Health Service Commissioned Corps as well as some members from the National Disaster Medical System. The team of healthcare professionals will help support the facility who has healthcare workers in self-quarantine as directed by the state after being exposed to clients who tested positive for COVID-19. The HHS team includes several safety specialists who will carefully monitor the HHS team members’ proper use of personal protection equipment (PPE) to mitigate the spread of infection. They will receive PPE and fit testing so that they can safely support the skilled nursing facility beginning this weekend. In addition, the team will have an incident management field team on hand to provide coordination for the deployed medical personnel."
FRIDAY, MARCH 6
6:15 p.m. —The Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department announced the first presumptive positive case of coronavirus in Pierce County. The patient, a man in his 50s, is in stable condition.
4:56 p.m. — A patient at the Issaquah Nursing and Rehabilitation Center tested positive for COVID-19, according to the city of Sammamish. Three Eastside Fire and Rescue responders, who came into contact with the patient, are now self-quarantining.
Today Kent mayor Dana Ralph directed the city attorney to file a restraining order against King County government, in the hopes that it would put an end to housing outbreak patients at the motel. Aside from this move, Ralph also signed a proclamation declaring a state of emergency in Kent, due to COVID-19.
2:20 p.m. —Federal officials are sending workers from the CDC and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services after eight days into the Seattle area's coronavirus outbreak. New personnel will arrive Friday and Saturday.
A total of 28 people from Health and Human Services are being sent, and 20 people from the CDC.
Among HHS team are 15 administrative, 13 clinicians (physicians, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, nurses). Half of the group arrives Friday night, the other half Saturday.
Last Saturday, health officials said 10 CDC workers were flying out to Seattle. Over the week, however, press at briefings and the Life Care Center in Kirkland did not notice any CDC presence. Families said they hadn't seen them at the facility either -- where most of the coronavirus activity had been identified.
KUOW contacted the governor's office, Public Health Seattle-King County, the state Department of Health, Life Care headquarters, and the CDC to inquire about where the CDC staff were. The near universal response was "... Let me get back to you."
2 p.m. —The University of Washington virology lab has performed about 400 tests for COVID-19 as of Friday, they reported in a tweet.
"We are seeing a consistent positivity rate of 5% to 7% among specimens submitted to the lab. We are able to meet all current testing demands with capacity for over 1,000 tests per day."
12:30 p.m. — The decision to cancel in-person classes at the University of Washington was made before a UW staff member tested positive for coronavirus, said university president Ana Mari Cauce.
Cauce, along with student life VP Denzil Suite and Dr. Geoffrey S. Gottlieb, spoke with reporters on Friday. They explained the decision was made out of an “abundance of caution.” Four other students were tested for coronavirus, but their results came back negative.
11: 57 a.m. — Washington state now has 79 confirmed cases of coronavirus. These cases were confirmed in King, Snohomish, Grant, and Jefferson counties.
11: 29 a.m. — Classes at Seattle University will not be held in person from March 9-20. However, campus will remain open.
10: 30 a.m. — Emerald City Comic Con has been postponed.
“With respect to Seattle, that would be a place you would avoid for now. And (California) Gov. Newsom declaring California an emergency state, especially Northern California, I understand that. Avoid it. Exercise common sense. But the rest of the country is not suffering from those kinds of breakouts, at least not yet,” Kudlow said on CNBC.
9:35 a.m. — CHI Franciscan, based in Tacoma, Washington, is offering free virtual doctor visits. From their press release:
• How to access Franciscan 24/7 Virtual Urgent Care:
o Web: franciscanvirtualcare.org
o Phone: 1-855-356-8053
o App store: https://apps.apple.com/us/app/franciscan-virtual-care/id1455879959?ls=1 o
Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=org.chifranciscan.android.chih.virtualcare
• When prompted for payment, use coupon code COVID19 to waive the $35 virtual video consultation fee and to connect with a board-certified healthcare provider.
• Eligibility for a free visit for COVID-19 is limited to one per individual across all platforms.
9:30 a.m. — Billions of federal dollars will go toward fighting the coronavirus outbreak, Governor Jay Inslee announced on Friday. Of the 8.3 billion, approved by both the House and Senate, more than 3 billion will be allocated for research and development.
During the Friday press conference, Executive Dow Constantine updated the public on the number of people that remain at the Life Care Center in Kirkland, where many contracted coronavirus. He said there were 69 at the nursing home, and that 15 residents had been transported to hospitals over the last 24 hours.
At least 20 additional medical professionals would arrive at the Life Care Center Saturday, Constantine said.
“We are the tip of the spear nationally on this and we need to have the priority be Washington state,” Inslee said. He added that the rest of the country is looking to Washington for leadership on how the state “handles this crisis.”
8:30 a.m. — Three more deaths have been announced this morning. In total, 14 people have died in Washington state. Twelve of those people have died at EvergreenHealth, a community hospital in Kirkland, Washington. Read the story here.
8:15 a.m. — A University of Washington staff member has received a presumptive positive test for coronavirus, according to an emailed statement from the university.
The employee is in self-isolation at home with his family. He works in the Roosevelt Commons East building, which is located at 43rd and 11th Avenue Northeast. He was in the building on Feb. 24, 27, 28. The building has closed until further notice for cleaning.
8 a.m. — Classes at the University of Washington will no longer meet in person, starting on Monday, March 9. Classes will not meet through the end of winter quarter, March 20. "This is to support social-distancing steps the region is taking to fight #COVID19" the university wrote in a tweet.
THURSDAY, MARCH 5
READ: “Most of us found out about this outbreak on the news,” said Kevin Connolly, whose father-in-law lives at Life Care. “Even our loved ones were not told that there was COVID-19 outbreak ... they were specifically told it was a respiratory outbreak.”
READ: At Dim Sum King on Jackson Street, owner Amy Eng says people aren’t coming in to eat. Instead they’re ordering food to go. Overall she estimates that business is down by 50%.
READ: Coronavirus has cost Starbucks nearly half a billion so far.
READ: “I’m sick," the Door Dash driver recalled thinking, "But I still need money. And I still need to be able to pay these bills. And I hate to say it, I had to go out and expose people to what I had.”