Live updates: Coronavirus pandemic in Washington state (May 9-17)
This is an archived post. You can read the latest here.
As of Friday, May 15, the Washington State Department of Health reports:
*992 Covid-19 related deaths; 17,951 confirmed cases (there's a 6.6% positive rate among those tested, and 5.5% death rate among positive cases). Note that tests have been limited, so there are likely more unreported cases.
*The most heavily hit counties have been King (516 deaths), Snohomish (126 deaths), Pierce (66 deaths), and Yakima (76 deaths).
FRIDAY, MAY 15
Washington state death toll approaching 1,000
3:25 p.m. -- As of publication, Washington state currently has 983 confirmed Covid-19-related deaths.
Gu said deaths remain on a downward trajectory in Washington.
“Right now there are about 13 per day, but we have it projected that it will continue to go down, at a slow pace, but still on a downward trajectory,” he said.
“I think that’s positive for the state for sure. I think a lot of other states in the country are not is as great a shape as Washington.”
Gu said Washington has done a good job of keeping the infection rate low and his research indicates a slow, staggered reopening may reduce the likelihood of a significant second wave here.
However, he stressed that he can’t state anything with 100 percent certainty.
Gu’s projections still predict more than 1,500 deaths in Washington by early August. The model assumes heavy social distancing in states until they begin to reopen things like restaurants, and then assumes moderate social distancing after that.
-- Kate Walters
King County reports no new Covid-19 deaths for Thursday
9:57 a.m. -- There were zero Covid-19 deaths reported in King County on May 14, according to the Public Health, Seattle & King County outbreak dashboard.
The “new since yesterday” cases and death figure reported on the dashboard each day often includes reports of cases and deaths that are a few days delayed, said Public Health.
This means the county may still receive reports in the coming days of deaths that occurred on May 14.
Airport travel requirements: masks and temperature checks
9:32 a.m. -- Sea-Tac Airport will start to require masks for all passengers on Monday, May 18.
Sea-Tac is not doing temperature checks for every traveler, though Paine Field in Everett is. That's because of the difficult logistics of having dozens of entry points at Sea-Tac, according to Port of Seattle spokesperson Perry Cooper.
He says the major airport is developing plans for temperature checks, which may be the first for a large airport in the United States.
UW medical staff protest over coronavirus protections
9:21 a.m. -- University of Washington nurses, doctors and other medical staff are protesting the school's protections from the coronavirus.
A group of workers and labor organizers demonstrated outside Harborview, the trauma-care hospital, on Thursday.
They say the UW has failed to implement basic public health guidance designed to flatten the curve, including proper notification about exposure, sneeze guards, and PPE equipment.
UW says they believe they’ve taken appropriate safety measures. And that they’re working on a plan to provide financial stability to the system.
UW is in contract negotiations with its resident physicians.
Fred Meyer employees protest wage drop
9:10 a.m. -- Grocery workers will be out demonstrating in front of Fred Meyer and other Kroger stores in Burien and Bellingham Friday. They say Kroger is cutting their "hero pay" bonuses on Sunday, a move they are protesting.
Workers will maintain social distances, and stand outside a Fred Meyer stores to hand out face masks to co-workers, and bring attention to the pay cuts.
They also claim that Fred Meyer has not limited the number of customers in the store, causing overcrowding and making it impossible to maintain a 6 foot distance.
According to the employees' union, UFCW, the pay for Kroger's CEO increased by 75% this year -- 789 times the pay for a median Kroger employee.
Surge in unemployment fraud amid pandemic
9 a.m. -- The Washington State Employment Security Department says it's seen a surge in fraudulent applications for unemployment in recent days.
Washington's unemployment office commissioner Suzi LeVine says she's alarmed by how many impostors are trying to collect in someone else's name.
"This is when someone's personal information has previously been stolen from other sources, like various data breaches that have happened over the past few years, and is then used by a criminal to file for benefits and route those payments to their own bank account," LeVine said.
She says her department will pause unemployment payouts for a couple days to double-check things. She says the spike in fraud is so new, she can't say how much money has been ripped off.
Employers should check their mail for the verification letters the state sends when laid off workers apply for unemployment. There's a fraud hotline and website to report anything fishy.
Seattle will have to rebuild after pandemic
8:30 a.m. -- Mayor Jenny Durkan says that Seattle will have to remake itself in the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic.
"You can't have double digit unemployment and and sustain the level of economy that we had before this pandemic. We had less than 3% unemployment two months ago. And now we're in double digits."
With more people working from home and unemployed, she says the downtown core will have to change.
Durkan says commercial real estate in the city will be upended and that some businesses are wondering whether they'll even be able to re-open.
"When we come out of this, we're redefined as a society," she said. "This is accelerated so much that was happening before the pandemic. It's laid bare the inequities we had in our economy."
She says until a vaccine becomes available, Seattle will have to come up with ways to fix its economic infrastructure.
The mayor expects the cost of housing and rent to decrease here, and across America due to economic changes.
Convention Center asking for federal funds
8 a.m. -- Washington State Convention Center officials and a group of business leaders in Seattle will soon ask for federal stimulus money to help build an addition to the facility.
The Convention Center is undergoing major construction in downtown Seattle.
The project is being paid for by bond funding, but convention center leaders say with tax revenues down, the bonds aren't bringing in enough revenue.
King County Executive Dow Constantine and other are expected to make the case for federal stimulus money for the project on Friday.
THURSDAY, MAY 14
Phase 2 in June? Governor says it's not a guarantee
5:30 p.m. -- Washington Gov. Jay Inslee says the state is making progress as some businesses slowly return under Phase 1 of his reopening plan.
But he can’t guarantee that more businesses will resume operation in June, as many are anticipating.
“The virus is the one that ultimately going to determine when it’s safe for us to move to Phase 2,” said Inslee. “And that’s just the reality.”
Part of the challenge has been availability of tests. So far, many retail shops and restaurants are offering curbside pick-up. Car sales are allowed, but with some restrictions and social distancing.
-Ruby de Luna
University of Washington health care workers protest impending staff furloughs due to $500 million shortfall
4:37 p.m. -- A group of University of Washington employees from several unions held a socially-distanced demonstration outside Harborview Medical Center Thursday. Workers raised concerns about safety during the coronavirus outbreak and the impact of plans to mitigate financial losses at university-run hospitals.
UW Medical Center estimates losses due to the pandemic will exceed $500 million by the end of the summer. To address the shortfall, part of the plan is to reduce salaries for senior leaders and furlough some staff, according to a recent announcement.
Members of the unions SEIU Healthcare 1199NW, Washington Federation of State Employees, SEIU 925, and the UW Housestaff Association say they’re against UW Medicine’s plan to furlough employees and take healthcare workers off the front lines during the coronavirus pandemic.
When asked how many staff will be furloughed and from which departments, the University of Washington told KUOW it does not have that information at this time.
Sherronda Jamerson is a mental health specialist at Harborview and a member of the Washington Federation of State Employees. She said her employer hasn’t stepped up the way it should.
“The things that they put in writing, and they say they stand for, there needs to be consistency not only in theory but also in practice,” Jamerson said.
Another Harborview employee said in a statement that workers should not have to beg for basics like masks and plexiglass barriers.
In a statement, a spokesperson said “UW Medicine is taking the necessary steps to keep a safe environment for both patients and staff. At the same time we are working on our plan to provide financial stability for our system so that UW Medicine can continue to be a resource for patient care, teaching and research.”
University of Washington study on potential Covid-19 treatment is enrolling participants
4:06 p.m. -- Researchers at the University of Washington's Division of Allergy and Infectious Diseases hope a new study will uncover whether combining low doses of hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin can prevent death and hospitalization of Covid-19 patients.
The study is aimed at filling in knowledge gaps about using hydroxychloroquine -- not to be confused with chloroquine -- to treat Covid-19. Hydroxychloroquine has been used in anti-malarial drugs for decades.
Researchers behind the study are looking for 2,000 outpatients across the U.S. who have tested positive Covid-19. Officials say this new study is separate from a smaller clinical trial at UW Medicine enrolling 630 patients exposed to the disease, but that the two studies are complementary.
Outpatients who've been diagnosed with Covid-19 can call or text 206-773-7129, or email email@example.com to inquire about participating in the study.
Curbside pick-up zones to be installed for Seattle retailers
2:23 p.m. -- The Seattle Department of Transportation will begin installing temporary curbside pick-up zones on Friday to help local retailers resume socially distanced sales. The effort is permitted under the first of four phases to reopening Washington's economy.
The 15-minute loading zones will be marked by easels containing blue curbside pick-up priority signs.
Some salons and barber shops worried about reopening too soon
12:08 p.m. -- Some salon and barbershop owners worried about reopening under Phase 2, which they argue is too fast and unsafe for their jobs. They have started an online petition.
The industry is slated to open under Phase 2 with restrictions. But the petition is asking Governor Jay Inslee to only allow the shops to open under Phase 4, when things have largely returned to normal. They say the chance that they could start reopening next month is a bad idea (there is no set time when Phase 2 will begin).
They say they don't have enough personal protective equipment, adding "there's no way for someone not to breathe the virus in your face" if you're washing or trimming their hair.
Approximately 4,700 people have signed the petition as of Thursday afternoon.
Ocean Shores opens drive-on beaches
11 a.m. -- The city council in Ocean Shores has voted to reopen drive-on beach approaches which have been closed for seven weeks. The mayor is also asking other nearby cities to open their drive-on beaches so people don't bunch up along their coastline.
Hotels in the coastal city are still closed until Monday.
Washington state hiring freeze
10:30 a.m. -- Gov. Jay Inslee has issued a hiring freeze for most state departments.
The state will stop hiring new people at most of its departments starting Monday.
The hiring freeze comes in the wake of a projected $7 billion revenue shortfall the state is facing through 2023 because of the pandemic. The freeze does not apply to public safety jobs or those considered essential to the health and welfare of state government.
Gov. Inslee is also asking state agencies to look for ways to cut 15% from their budgets.
-- Angela King
Another cruise line cancels Seattle sailings
10:20 a.m. -- Princess Cruises now joins Holland America and Carnival Cruises in scuttling the Alaskan cruise season.
Princess also announced it is canceling all cruises to the Caribbean along with its remaining European, trans-Atlantic and Canada/New England itineraries.
Amazon hazard pay ends at end of the month
10 a.m. -- Amazon says its employees will continue to get hazard pay through the end of May. In June, the hazard pay will end, along with double overtime pay.
Warehouse and delivery workers are getting an extra $2 per hour.
The company tells CNBC that the increased pay has cost Amazon an extra $800 million.
New rideshare rules: wear a mask
9:45 a.m. -- Starting Monday, Uber drivers and their passengers will need to wear masks.
They'll also have to complete a checklist to verify they taken measures to prevent Covid-19. And no more rides in the front seat. Riders will also have to sit in the back seat.
Yakima food processing workers go on strike
Food processing workers are on strike in Yakima County
Food processing workers are on strike in Yakima County
9:30 a.m. -- Hundreds of workers at Yakima fruit packing facilities are on strike. They're demanding safer working conditions and hazard pay in light of the pandemic.
"If we’re looking to have a healthy, productive economy, it depends on a healthy and viable workforce," said Edgar Franks, an organizer with Familias Unidas, a Washington labor advocate for farm workers. "And if there is nothing being done to protect these workers, it has the potential to crash the whole economy, along with causing a health crisis."
He says companies like Allan Brothers, Monson, Frosty Packing, and Matson aren't providing their workers with enough masks or gloves, nor are they installing plastic sheeting to separate those who can’t be distanced.
That's why workers walked off the job. Of the more than 2,000 people infected with coronavirus in the county, 15% are agriculture and food production workers.
--Enrique Pérez de la Rosa
Get tested even if you have mild symptoms
9:15 a.m. -- Health officials in the Seattle area now want anyone who has mild symptoms of Covid-19 to get tested immediately and quarantine themselves.
Public Health Seattle & King County says testing capacity has improved, even within the past week.
"We have testing now, we think, available in all communities, but not every health care provider offers testing," said Dr. Jeff Duchin with Public Health Seattle & King County. "So it is important to call your particular health care provider ... where in the health care system their offering testing."
Duchin says it's also important to get tested if you've been exposed to an infected person.
Governor Jay Inslee adds Health departments are working to get people their results within 24 hours.
Real Change street newspaper hopes to reopen in coming weeks
8:24 a.m. -- It’s been about seven weeks since Real Change street newspaper vendors have been able to sell their papers.
It’s been tough on sellers, people who are homeless and very low-income.
However, according to founding director Tim Harris, Real Change hopes to reopen in the coming weeks with phase two of Governor Jay Inslee’s plan to reopen the state.
Harris said he thinks it will be easier for some vendors than others.
“I think for vendors who have been at grocery stores and pharmacies and places like that where there’s more traffic, they’ll have an easier time coming back. I think the downtown vendors, many of them, are going to have the toughest time,” Harris said.
Harris said they may have to shuffle vendors to different locations while downtown foot traffic is still low.
He said they’ve had masks donated, they’ll supply gloves, and they’ll help vendors set up operations for social distancing if needed.
The paper has remained available online each week. Harris said people have been generous during the pandemic, still contributing directly to vendors on venmo and to an overall relief fund that’s raised $130,000. He said the generosity has been inspiring.
-- Kate Walters
WEDNESDAY, MAY 13
Port of Seattle officer on leave
10 a.m. -- A Port of Seattle police officer is on administrative leave after posting a video to Facebook which urged other officers to not enforce Washington state's stay-home order.
Officer Greg Anderson says he initially refused to take down the video after he was confronted by his superiors, but he eventually did and was warned he could lose his job, according to The Seattle Times.
The Port is accusing him of violating department policy.
REI partially reopens Seattle-area stores
9:56 a.m. -- REI is going to start partly reopening six Seattle-area stores Wednesday.
Customers will be asked, but not required, to wear face coverings. They can pick up their online orders at the curb at stores in Seattle, Bellevue, Tacoma, Alderwood, and South Center.
On May 3, the five locations began offering "zero-contact" bicycle-repair services, where employees receive, repair and return bikes without any direct contact with customers.
A sixth local REI location, in Issaquah, also has offered the bicycle-repair service since May 3, but it will not yet open for curbside pickup.
Washington casino reopens
9:50 a.m. -- The Angel of the Winds Casino in Arlington will reopen its doors to the public Wednesday afternoon.
It will only operate at 50% capacity and visitors will get their temperatures taken. They must wear a mask. And no smoking will be allowed on the gaming floor.
Customers waiting to get in will get a text when they can enter. The casino says cleaning standards will exceed those of the CDC.
Attorneys general want Amazon Covid-19 data
9:45 a.m. -- A total of 13 attorneys general are calling on Amazon to provide data on the number of workers who have tested positive or who've died from Covid-19.
The company has declined to provide that information. Employees have called for more safety protections and sick leave.
Washington farmers unload extra potatoes
9:30 a.m. -- Washington farmers will give away more than 200,000 pounds of potatoes at the Tacoma Dome on Thursday.
It's an effort to get 1 million pounds of potatoes into the hands of people in need. The farmers say their storage bins are full of potatoes they can't sell after demand from restaurants collapsed.
Washington focuses on contact tracing
9 a.m. -- Washington Governor Jay Inslee is now turning the focus on the fight against Covid-19 to contact tracing and isolation. He says people need to quarantine right away if they have symptoms, or have been exposed to the virus.
"Think of the contact tracing initiative as an effort to box in the virus, we want to surround it so that it can't get out of that fence and infect more people. We need people to isolate themselves as soon as we get symptoms, even before test results come back," Inslee said.
Inslee said the reopening of the economy will depend on the state's ability to quickly track down contacts who have been exposed. He says the state has enough contact tracers to investigate new cases, as of now.
The governor says there are 1,300 people in the state trained to investigate Covid-19 cases, and the state plans to hire more in case a spike occurs.
State health officials encourage testing even without symptoms
8:30 a.m. -- Even if you have mild symptoms, state health officials say you should get tested for Covid-19.
Dr. Charissa Fotinos is leading the state testing strategy for Washington's Department of Health.
"When the outbreak first came we told people 'stay home if you’re sick, unless you’re really really sick. Call your provider first before you go anywhere, sit tight.' Now we really want to capture anybody who has any symptoms that could be consistent with Covid," Fotinos said.
Fotinos also said people without symptoms are being tested in certain settings, like shelters and long-term care facilities.
The state is still waiting for more testing supplies promised by the federal government to arrive. The first big shipment of testing swabs and vials was expected last week, but Fotinos says they're still waiting.
QFC, Fred Meyer, Mariners team up with Seattle for drive-thru testing
8 a.m. -- A partnership between the city of Seattle, the Mariners, QFC and Fred Meyer will offer drive-thru testing for Covid-19.
The testing will be conducted at T-Mobile Park in Seattle. Testing supplies and professional services will be handled by Kroger (QFC, Fred Meyer).
Those who want to be tested must first register through krogerhealth.com/covidtesting or call 1-888-852-2567.
People will be screened to determine if they are eligible to be tested. Those who are approved will get an appointment to drive through and get a test. The T-Mobile location will be able to handle about 250 cars per day.
Testing at T-Mobile Park will be May 13-14, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Appointments are required.
TUESDAY, MAY 12
Daily state confirmed case count still too high for comfort
5:28 p.m. -- Some positive trends are happening in confirmed Covid-19 cases in Washington state, health officials say. But overall, the daily numbers are still too high for comfort.
Day-by-day case counts vary widely across counties in the state, state health officer Dr. Kathy Lofy said.
“Some regions are seeing very little activity, some have really kind of plateaued. Others like Yakima are seeing increased activity,” she said.
Some counties haven’t seen a new case in weeks. King County’s curve is trending down, and Snohomish County appears to have plateaued. As a whole, the curve of Washington’s epidemic is not coming down “real quickly,” with around 200 to 250 confirmed cases a day, Lofy said.
The disease continues to spread in some businesses and even among family members. She did not say whether the state would be able to move to Phase 2 of reopening by June, but that officials would keep watching the data.
If you have even mild symptoms of Covid-19, get tested.
That’s the new message from state health officials as they try to expand testing in Washington State.
“When the outbreak first came stay home if you’re sick, unless you’re really really sick. Call your provider first before you go anywhere, sit tight,” said Dr. Charissa Fotinos, who is leading the state testing strategy for the Department of Health. “Now we really want to capture anybody who has any symptoms that could be consistent with Covid.”
People without symptoms are also being tested in certain settings, such as shelters and long-term care facilities, she said.
The state is still waiting on more testing supplies promised by the federal government. The first big shipment of testing swabs and vials was expected last week. The materials should be here any day now, Fotinos said.
Statewide Covid-19 contact tracing details outlined
2:30 p.m. -- Offiicials say statewide efforts to mitigate the rise of a second coronavirus wave will include delivering test results within 24 hours, and reaching out to close contacts within 48 hours.
People exhibiting symptoms of Covid-19 are asked to isolate their entire household even prior to receiving test results.
"We think of the contact tracing initiative as an effort to box in the virus. We want to surround it where it can't get out of that fence and infect more people," Gov. Jay Inslee said during a press conference on Tuesday.
1,371 contact tracers are slated to be trained by the state, including members of the National Guard, Department of Licensing staff, and employees of local health departments.
Inslee said that officials are in the processing of working with the University of Washington to potentially develop an app that could help people uncover whether they've been exposed to Covid-19.
Restaurants to keep log of dinner parties for coronavirus contact tracing
12:20 p.m. -- Restaurants planning to welcome guests again will be required to keep a log of parties who dine in, under Gov. Jay Inslee's reopening plans. We already do that when making reservations, but instead of one name per party, everyone has to sign in with their phone number, email.
Health officials say this will help with contact tracing, a process that retraces an infected person’s steps and the people they’ve been in contact with.
Contact tracing works to reduce infections and has been used when tuberculosis, HIV or other communicable diseases have been detected.
Also expect other requirements such as hand sanitizer for staff and customers by the entry, tables spaced six feet apart at least, and single-use menus.
--Ruby de Luna
Seattle passes more renter protections amid pandemic
8:16 a.m. -- The Seattle City Council has passed another measure designed to protect renters affected by the coronavirus crisis.
It would prohibit landlords from using any evictions for issues occurred during or six months after the emergency.
Earlier in May, the council voted to extend an emergency ban on rent-related evictions for another six months. That measure allows renters to pay back overdue rent through installments after the Covid-19 crisis ends.
Washington and four other states ask for $1 trillion in aid
8:12 a.m. -- Governor Inslee and four other western states are asking Congress for $1 trillion in aid. They say the money is needed for state and local governments hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Right now, Washington is facing a projected $7 billion revenue shortfall because of the outbreak.
The other states involved in the request include: California, Colorado, Oregon, and Nevada.
Emergency food handed out at area malls
8:07 a.m. -- Food Lifeline will be distributing thousands of boxes of emergency food at local malls this week.
The food will be handed out at Northgate Mall, Seattle Premium Outlets in Tulalip, and at the North Bend Outlets.
You can find the full schedule on the Food Lifeline website.
8 rural Washington counties allowed to move on to Phase 2
8 a.m. -- Eight rural counties in Washington can now start Phase 2 of Washington's Safe Start response plan. That includes opening stores and restaurants to a handful of customers at a time.
Governor Inslee says opening up the rest of the state, including King County, will depend on multiple data points.
"Make a decision just based on one piece of the puzzle, you may make a huge mistake, so we look at all of the metrics together, and when we move to phase two it's when those things as a mosaic tells you that you can have success to keep this virus down," Inslee said.
The governor says hospital capacity, testing supplies, and the number of Covid-19 cases are some of the metrics they're looking at. And he says the majority of the state won't reach phase two until June, at the earliest.
MONDAY, MAY 11
Hospitals project financial losses due to the pandemic
UW Medicine financial losses
5:34 p.m. -- Many industries have been hit hard financially during the coronavirus pandemic, and hospitals are no exception.
The University of Washington Medical Center estimates its financial losses due to the pandemic will exceed $500 million by the end of the summer.
The cancellation of non-emergency and elective procedures has resulted in a loss of revenue, according to a statement. The statement also says there’s a high cost associated with treating Covid-19 patients, “including diagnostic testing and high use of personal protective equipment (PPE) necessary to safely care for patients.”
To address the shortfall, the organization intends to seek reimbursements under federal and state programs.
In addition, the statement says they also intend to reduce salaries for senior leaders and furlough some staff.
The Washington State Hospital Association said last month that all hospitals are facing a tremendous financial strain due to the pandemic response.
Face masks to be required inside King County businesses and crowded outdoor spaces
2:46 p.m. -- Residents of Seattle and King County will be required to wear face coverings over their noses and mouths while inside indoor businesses and public transit starting May 18.
Masks must also be worn outside, in places where social distancing may not possible.
Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan and King County Executive Dow Constantine joined together to make the statement on Monday, May 11.
"We must do everything possible to keep people safe, and to avoid a bounce back in hospitalizations, and death," Constantine said.
The order will go into effect on May 18, and does not apply to children, people with disabilities, and deaf individuals. There is no legal penalty for not wearing a face covering.
Dr. Jeff Duchin, health officer with Public Health Seattle & King County, said it would be most effective if everyone followed the new mask directive.
"However, it's not essential that every one of us comply for this to work, and so if there are a few who can't, or don't, this will still be an effective intervention," Duchin said.
Read more here.
Seattle crime during the pandemic
9:17 a.m. -- Seattle police say they're seeing changes in crime patterns during the pandemic. Detective Patrick Michaud says there are less chances of home burglaries as people are staying home more.
"The businesses are empty, so now the crimes have shifted toward commercial burglaries," Michaud said. "We have seen a pretty healthy jump in that. We've also seen domestic violence calls increase. The majority of those are just domestic violence arguments, not necessarily an arrest, but it is cause for concern."
Michaud says officers are taking precautions when they go on calls -- wearing masks, glasses and gloves when there's a chance of exposure.
As of last week, there have been only seven cases of Covid-19 among SPD officers and staff.
Death threats allegedly made over stay-at-home order
8:56 a.m. -- Washington state has an online form for people to report businesses that are not following the Stay Home, Stay Healthy order. Now people who have used the form report that they have been receiving harassing emails and phone calls, including death threats.
KIRO 7 reports that people who have used the online form have received threatening phone calls and emails. Some messages told them they had two days to leave Washington, others threatened violence to them and their families.
The FBI has been notified and is investigating the threats.
The disclaimer on Washington's online form states that the information included will be considered public, but many people say they did not notice that warning. The Seattle Times further reports that a couple groups posted the public information online, including the Washington Three Percenters. That group has denied "doxing" people (they say the state published the information and they pointed to it) and that it does not condone the threats. They also allege that Democrats fabricated evidence to make it seem like they are behind the threats.
Positive Covid-19 case at Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma
8:49 a.m. -- At least one person at the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma has tested positive for Covid-19. But local immigration officials are not counting this as a positive case.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials believe the detainee caught the virus outside the Northwest Detention Center. Court records say the detainee was transferred to another center in Arizona last month. Then he came back to Tacoma and that's where officials discovered he was Covid-19 positive.
The detainee was monitored along with three other men who shared housing. The three other detainees were tested and their results came back negative. Officials say the positive detainee is what is called a "recovered positive" and insist he cannot infect others. But all four detainees will continue to isolate.
This comes after the first immigrant detainee passed away from Covid-19 in California last week.
Immigration activists say detainees in Tacoma are now protesting conditions with a labor strike. ICE officials say they have "not seen any noticeable drop in detainees volunteering as part of the volunteer work program."
Another protest over Washington's stay home, stay healthy order
8:45 a.m. -- For the second time in a month, opponents of the Washington's stay home order protested at the state capital on Saturday.
"We don’t need a nanny, we don’t need a mommy or a daddy in the governor’s office telling us what to do, telling we can open our business or we can’t open our business," said Republican gubernatorial candidate, Loren Culp.
Culp is also the police chief of Republic, Washington.
He told a crowd Saturday that if he was governor, he’d provide the public with information about the dangers of Covid-19 "and then leave it up to the individual citizen to decide what’s best for them and their family."
An estimated 1,500 people went to the un-permitted protest which violated Inslee’s ban on crowds of more than 50 people.
Governor Jay Inslee has launched a four-phase process for reopening the economy while also extending his stay home order until the end of the month.
Pets and coronavirus?
8:39 a.m. -- Are your pets at risk from Covid-19? According to animal scientists, no.
The risk is low as there has not been an increase in the number of pets with respiratory issues. However, data on animals becoming sick is limited.
Tim Baszler directs the Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory at Washington State University. He says if you think you have the virus, you can safely keep your pets with you.
"Have a quarantine that is similar with the humans; that's 14 days currently," he said.
Baszler recommends keeping pets six feet apart from other animals. He also says pets cannot transmit the virus to people.
And even if you think you have the coronavirus, that’s not a reason to surrender your pet.
"If pets were perceived as transmitters of this disease, there would be large numbers of pets being abandoned to shelters or euthanized," he said.
Currently, there’s been no uptick in animals being abandoned or euthanized.
Hikers hit state parks shortly after they open
8 a.m. -- This was the first weekend dozens of parks around Washington state re-opened to the public, and local trails were busy.
At the Mailbox Peak trailhead east of Issaquah, the parking lot was full. The hikers there said the trails were as busy as on a normal sunny weekend.
The state Department of Parks and Recreation posted one sign encouraging people to socially distance and to wear masks – though they aren’t required.
On Sunday, I didn’t see anyone covering their face.
Most state parks are now available for day-use only, and overnight camping is still prohibited.
-- Casey Martin
FRIDAY, MAY 8
5 Washington counties to enter next phase of reopening their economies
3:23 p.m. -- Columbia, Garfield, Lincoln, Ferry, and Pend Oreille counties are allowed to move into the second phase of Washington's four-phase approach to emerging from the state's social distancing measures.
The move could allow for some small gatherings, and allow businesses including domestic service providers, restaurants, barber shops, and other brick-and-mortar retailers to reopen with restrictions.
To be approved for the variance, a county must have fewer than 75,000 residents and no positive cases of Covid-19 for three weeks. The counties also must have a plan for testing, contact tracing, housing and isolating people who test positive for the virus, case management, and plan for outbreaks in group settings.
The rest of the state is currently in Phase 1, which allows for limited openings of construction projects, outdoor recreation, car sales, and other activities.
The five counties applied to move forward into the second phase, citing relatively small and more spread out populations in comparison to other areas of the state. Their requests were approved by State Secretary of Health John Wiesman.
“We recognize Covid-19 is impacting some parts of our state in different ways and some counties will be ready to move forward earlier than others,” Secretary Wiesman said in a written statement.
-- Dyer Oxley