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caption: Two clear dome structures for customers to dine in are shown outside of San Fermo on Sunday, November 15, 2020, along Ballard Avenue Northwest in Seattle.
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Two clear dome structures for customers to dine in are shown outside of San Fermo on Sunday, November 15, 2020, along Ballard Avenue Northwest in Seattle.
Credit: KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

Updates: Covid-19 pandemic in the Northwest

This post will be updated with information about the Covid-19 pandemic in Washington state. Scroll down for older information.

As of Tuesday, November 17, the Washington State Department of Health reports:

  • 2,571 Covid-19 related deaths; 134,121 confirmed cases; a 2% death rate among positive cases.
  • Compared to white people and Asian people, the rate of Covid cases is nearly three times higher for Black people, and nearly seven times higher for Latino/x people and Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islanders.


Where are Covid-19 outbreaks occurring in Washington, beyond healthcare settings?

5 p.m. -- Restaurants, agriculture and construction settings have seen some of the most Covid-19 outbreaks outside of healthcare, according to recent data from the Washington Department of Health.

The most recent DOH outbreak report gives a breakdown of cases by the type of group locations, or “congregate settings.” The following non-healthcare location types have seen the most outbreaks ever reported since the start of the pandemic, according to the DOH:

  1. Food service, restaurants: 151 outbreaks
  2. Agriculture, employer housing, produce packing: 110 outbreaks
  3. Construction: 106 outbreaks
  4. Childcare: 91 outbreaks

DOH defines an outbreak in a non‐healthcare congregate setting by specific criteria, including at least two positive cases within 14 days of each other.

According to the DOH report, a total of 1,316 non‐healthcare associated COVID‐19 outbreaks have been reported since the start of the pandemic through November 7, the most recent reporting date available.

Long-term care facilities continue to be hotspots, with a total of 1,092 outbreaks reported so far in nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and adult family homes across the state.

-- Liz Jones

Indoor gatherings, dining banned in WA as Covid-19 cases spike. Grocery stores limited

11:05 a.m. — Gov. Jay Inslee on Sunday announced various new restrictions, including a temporary ban on most non-essential indoor gatherings and services, aimed at slowing the transmission of the coronavirus in Washington state.

The annoucement comes on the heels of earnest pleas by state and local health officials that people continue social distancing as the holiday season approaches.

Washington has seen more than 127,000 known Covid-19 cases and over 2,500 deaths since January, when the first known U.S. case of the disease was reported in Snohomish County.

The state Department of Health reported 2,286 new Covid-19 cases on Friday — the highest number on record for Washington.

That number is double what it was two weeks ago, indicating that community transmission — or transmission in which infections can't be linked back to a known case — is up again.

Read more about the new restrictions here.

—Liz Brazile


Ban on indoor gatherings and other restrictions expected

8:11 p.m. -- Washington Governor Jay Inslee is expected to announce new Covid-related restrictions Sunday morning. Inslee’s office has scheduled an 11 a.m. news conference.

The governor’s office says Inslee will announce actions to combat the rapid and alarming rise of Covid in the state. No details from Inslee were immediately available.

However, the public radio Northwest News Network obtained an email sent to grocery and convenience store owners from their trade association. It says Inslee is likely to announce a ban on all indoor social gatherings, an end to indoor restaurant and bar service, as well as a 25 percent occupancy cap for all retail stores, including grocery stores.

Read more about Gov. Inslee's expected announcement here.

Those details were based on information shared during a meeting between the Washington Food Industry Association and the governor's office.

The Seattle Times was the first to report on the new restrictions, which are expected to go into effect this week.

Washington has been experiencing a record number of new Covid cases each day and hospitalizations are also up.

-- Austin Jenkins

Inslee news conference scheduled for Sunday morning, new restrictions expected

5:40 p.m. -- Washington Gov. Jay Inslee has scheduled a news conference for 11 a.m. Sunday morning as COVID-19 case numbers soar throughout the Pacific Northwest. Inslee's office said he would discuss actions to combat the crisis.

The Seattle Times reports that Inslee is expected to announce new restrictions on restaurants and indoor gatherings, among other things.

For the second day in a row Saturday, Washington health officials reported a record number of daily cases, with 2,233 new cases.

KUOW will carry the news conference live on air on online.

-- Associated Press, KUOW staff


Dept. of Health advice on telling family you're nixing holiday gatherings

2:30 p.m. -- Washington health officials are restating their message from this week -- please do not visit with family and gather for the holidays. In fact, the department is offering advice on how to turn down friends and family who still want to get together.

The current trend of Covid-19 cases has public health officials worried. They are warning that pandemic conditions are as bad as March, when the virus' spread prompted lockdowns and business closures.

In a post on Medium, the Washington State Department of Health notes that family gatherings often involves older relatives and people who are more at risk from the novel coronavirus.

The Department of Health writes:

Even with these precautions, an indoor, in-person gathering is risky. It’s completely reasonable — and safer — to decide to celebrate Thanksgiving with just your immediate household this year. Making that decision is hard, and it can be even harder to tell your family what you have decided!

The health department is stressing this message so much, its post on Medium offers advice on telling your family "no" when it comes to holiday gatherings. The advice includes: be clear; offer alternatives; be honest; don't feel pressured to keep the conversation going; and practice compassion.

-- Dyer Oxley

Oregon cracks down with two-week freeze

1:20 p.m. — Oregon Gov. Kate Brown has announced a statewide two-week “freeze” that includes limiting restaurants and bars to take-out only and shuttering gyms, indoor and outdoor recreational facilities.

The freeze, which will be in effect from Nov. 18 through Dec. 2, aims to limit group activities and reduce the spread of Covid-19.

Oregon, like Washington state, is experiencing a spike in daily case counts and this month reached record daily highs in confirmed cases and positivity rates.

Read the post below for more details.

—Associated Press

Travel advisory issued across West Coast with 14-day quarantine period

9:45 a.m. -- Washington Governor Jay Inslee has issued a travel advisory that recommends a 14-day quarantine period for all interstate and international travelers.

The advisory is part of a unified effort across Washington, Oregon, and California. California Gov. Gavin Newsom and Oregon Gov. Kate Brown have issued similar requests of travelers in their states.

“California just surpassed a sobering threshold – one million COVID-19 cases – with no signs of the virus slowing down,” Governor Newsom said this week. “Increased cases are adding pressure on our hospital systems and threatening the lives of seniors, essential workers and vulnerable Californians. Travel increases the risk of spreading Covid-19 and we must all collectively increase our efforts at this time to keep the virus at bay and save lives.”

Gov. Inslee notes that Washington is in the same dire predicament as it was in March when the pandemic first severely struck the state. Despite recent efforts to bring cases down, case numbers and hospitalizations have suddenly spiked with no immediate signs of lowering. He stresses that limiting interactions with people will help lower case numbers.

Health officials and experts are concerned that people will gather with friends and family over the holidays, which will explode the numbers further. There is a very real potential for hospitals and staff to be overwhelmed and unable to keep up with cases in the weeks ahead.

“Covid-19 does not stop at state lines. As hospitals across the West are stretched to capacity, we must take steps to ensure travelers are not bringing this disease home with them,” Oregon Governor Brown said. “If you do not need to travel, you shouldn’t. This will be hard, especially with Thanksgiving around the corner. But the best way to keep your family safe is to stay close to home.”

-- Dyer Oxley

Covid-19 is twice as deadly as the flu, study says

9:30 a.m. -- One common argument lingering around the world amid the Covid-19 pandemic is that the coronavirus is like the flu. But researchers with University of Washington Medicine now have proof that is not the case.

A new study out of UW Medicine indicates that Covid-19 is twice as deadly as a severe case of the flu among hospitalized patients admitted to the intensive care unit. It's the first study comparing the two illnesses and their death rates.

“With rising cases of Covid-19 and the flu season, it is possible that we may see spikes in hospitalizations and ICU admissions that could overwhelm our healthcare system,” said lead author Dr. Natalie Cobb, a pulmonary and critical care medicine physician with UW Medicine. “I strongly encourage people to get the flu vaccine and continue social-distancing measures and masking to limit the spread of Covid-19.”

According to UW Medicine, researchers "reviewed the medical records of 65 patients critically ill with COVID-19 and 74 with severe influenza A or B who were admitted to the intensive care units of two UW Medicine hospitals between January 1, 2019, and April 15, 2020."

Usual factors that influence outcomes -- such as age, gender, health conditions, severity of the illness -- did not affect the death rate. In the end, Covid-19 patients had a death rate of 40%, while the flu had a death rate of 19%. Patients with Covid-19 needed to stay on a ventilator longer than flu patients, and had worse lung function.

The study also notes that Covid-19 patients were more likely to develop a life-threatening condition called "acute respiratory distress syndrome" (ARDS).

“The finding that ARDS may be more prevalent among critically ill patients with Covid is important in understanding why there may be a mortality difference between the two diseases,” Cobb said. “We also found that patients with ARDS due to Covid-19 had a trend toward worse clinical outcomes than ARDS patients with influenza.”

The study also found that four times as many Covid-19 patients were Hispanic, compared to flu patients. Researchers believe this is due to underlying health factors and social/economic inequalities.

-- Dyer Oxley

Wait times becoming longer as lines for Covid-19 tests grow

9 a.m. -- Rather than standing in long lines at the grocery store to buy all the Thanksgiving trimmings, lots of people are spending hours in their cars waiting to get a Covid-19 test.

KING 5 reports that some local drive up sites have wait times of up to five hours long.

Health officials believe people are trying to get tested now, so they can quarantine for two weeks, and spend time with their relatives, but that two week window opened Thursday.

-- Angela King

Traveling during a pandemic holiday season

8:30 a.m. -- As many as 25,000 travelers are expected to pass through SeaTac Airport this holiday season. That's the highest number since the pandemic first struck.

Hilary Godwin, dean of the UW School of Public Health, recommends getting tested for Covid-19, 72 hours before you fly out of town.

“We know with Covid there’s a significant percentage of people who either have very mild symptoms or who are asymptomatic and can be transmitting," Godwin said.

Godwin says it's best to get the standard swab test rather than the rapid test even though it takes a few days for your results to come back.

But if you’re sick or experiencing symptoms, stay home. Otherwise maintain those safe distances and wear a mask at the airport. Officials suggest you pack an extra mask if you need a fresh one.

-- Ruby de Luna

Washington hospitals prepared but worried about current Covid-19 surge

8:15 a.m. -- The chief executive of the Washington State Hospital Association tells The Seattle Times that local hospitals are getting ready to start canceling some procedures and limit visitations as they implement their Covid-19 surge plans.

But Cassie Sauer says she doesn't expect the initial changes to be as extensive as they were last spring when the governor halted all elective procedures.

For example, UW Medicine plans to triage elective surgeries and gradually cut back on elective care as more beds become necessary for Covid patients.

As of Monday, UW Medicine was caring for 56 Covid-19 patients — twice the amount compared to the week before.

When it comes to the hospital staff, Sauer says their PPE supplies are better than they were in the spring, but she's still concerned about there being enough well-trained staff to deal with an onslaught of patients.

As cases rise, so do concerns about the spread of Covid-19 from community members. All CHI Franciscan acute-care hospitals this week restricted visitors except in certain circumstances, like end-of-life care or births.

-- Angela King

Jump in unemployment across Washington state

8 a.m. -- As the country saw a decline in new unemployment claims last week, Washington state experienced a jump -- the biggest we've seen in nine months.

The latest figures from the US Labor Department show that Washington is now leading the nation when it comes to new unemployment claims.

The state employment security department received more than 25,000 new claims during the first week of November.

That's a 71% increase from the week before and the biggest weekly jump in the state since March 21. Nationally, initial claims fell 6.3% to 709,000 last week, according to the U.S. Labor Department.

Regional economist Anneliese Vance-Sherman told The Seattle Times that the spike could be due to a combination of the pandemic and seasonal employment turn overs in industries like construction and agriculture. Experts also told The Times that the current wave of Covid-19 cases is likely causing a a wave of layoffs similar to what happened in March and April.

-- Angela King

Inslee pleads with Washington: Do not gather for the holidays

7:30 a.m. -- There's 13 days to go before Thanksgiving and Governor Jay Inslee is urging all Washingtonians to cancel their in-person holiday and other gatherings, especially now as Covid-19 cases are spiking.

Inslee notes our weekly average has doubled in just the past two weeks.

"We are in as dangerous a position today as we were in March," Inslee said Thursday.

While the Governor didn't announce any new restrictions during his televised address last night his office says some are being considered.

We should find out by Monday what next steps, if any, the governor will take.

"We are optimistic that Thanksgiving 2021 will be the best ever, but this year, it's just too dangerous to gather together indoors where the virus can spread so easily," he said.

-- Angela King

Costco's new face mask rules do not exempt people with medical conditions

7:15 a.m. -- Starting Monday, anyone who enters a Costco warehouse must wear a face mask or face shield.

That includes those who were previously exempt from covering up because of a medical condition. The only people who won't have to mask up are children younger than 2.

This is a change to Costco's policy, which previously allowed those with medical conditions to not wear masks. They will now have to wear a face shield in order to enter one of the warehouses.

The new rule goes into effect Monday.

-- Angela King

Public/private venture aims to help displaced and vulnerable artists

7 a.m. -- Seattle’s hot real estate market has been a problem for arts and culture groups. When the pandemic hit, many lost the means to make rent on their spaces.

A new venture aims to help artists with this problem.

Seattle’s Office of Arts and Culture was in emergency relief mode when Covid-19 initially prompted lockdowns and business closures. But office head Randy Engstrom says by May, they realized local artists had a bigger problem.

“It became clear the risk of displacement and vulnerability of these organizations was going to be worse post-Covid,” Engstrom said.

Now, Engstrom’s office has rolled out plans to help arts groups find and pay for the space they need. A new public/private agency will be able to buy and transfer property, take private investments, even float loans or grants.

"Right now, everybody is at the mercy of what the market will bear and the market is pretty aggressive in Seattle. Even now.”

Advocates hope the city will give its final approval in mid-December.

-- Marcie Sillman


Three hospital outbreaks in western Washington

Noon -- At least three local hospitals are dealing with coronavirus outbreaks in western Washington.

Officials at Providence Medical Center in Everett tell KOMO 4 News that “a small number of patients in one unit tested positive for Covid-19 within a few days of each other." They don't know if they got infected through the same source. That unit's now closed to visitors and the patients there were discharged.

Meanwhile, four patients and two staff members at St. Michael Medical Center in Bremerton also recently tested positive for the virus. That hospital dealt with another outbreak this summer that sickened 70 others and left three patients dead.

Another outbreak has been reported at Multicare's Auburn facility. Five staff members and eight patients there have been infected. One of the patients has died.

-- Angela King

Measles exposure at SeaTac Airport

11 a.m. -- Public Health - Seattle and King County says a child diagnosed with the measles may have exposed others at SeaTac Airport last week.

The boy stopped by the North Satellite terminal and the Carousel 13 baggage claim area on November 5 between 10 p.m. and 12:30 a.m.

Officials think he got measles after traveling outside of the United States.

Health officials say since most people in our area have been vaccinated against the measles, they think the risk to the public is low. But if you think you may have been exposed and haven't been vaccinated, call your doctor if you come down with a fever or unexplained rash.

-- Angela King

Drive-thru Washington State Fair for the holidays

10 a.m. -- The Washington State Fair is going to host a drive-thru holiday celebration at the fairgrounds in Puyallup this year. Holiday Magic at the Fair starts December 4 and runs -- mostly on the weekends -- through January 3. Attendees can enjoy their favorite fair foods and a light display.

There will also be a scavenger hunt people can do from their cars. You have to buy your tickets online and you have to stay in your car, or wear a mask, when you're in line for food or the bathroom.

-- Angela King

13 Covid-19 cases among UW Athletics Department

9 a.m. -- The UW Athletics Department says it has 13 active, positive cases of Covid-19. No word yet on which sports any of the infected athletes play, but they're currently following quarantine protocols.

The UW football season opener against Cal Berkeley was canceled last Saturday after a Cal player tested positive for the virus.

The Huskies are still scheduled to take on Oregon State on Saturday at 8pm.

UW declined to disclose which specific programs the active Covid-19 cases are connected to. But on Nov. 4, UW’s baseball program paused its offseason workouts “after discovering positive Covid-19 cases and using contact tracing within the program while following its rigorous testing protocols,” according to a release. It was the first UW athletics program to be forced to pause training due to positive Covid-19 cases since athletes began returning to campus on June 15.

-- Angela King


As holidays approach, public health worries about people socializing indoors

5:30 p.m. — Washington state health officials are pleading with people to continue social distancing as the holiday season approaches and the temptation to congregate indoors increases.

New cases are at an all-time high, and not because of more testing.

Public health urges Thanksgiving to be held within the household only. Those insistent on sharing the holidays with extended relatives should quarantine two weeks ahead of the holiday — that means reducing activity to trips to the store and walks around the neighborhood.


—Liz Brazile

Six straight days of more than 1,000 new Covid-19 cases

9:15 a.m. -- The Washington State Department of Health has confirmed more than 1,200 new Covid-19 cases on Monday -- along with 21 new deaths. It marks the sixth straight day with more than 1,000 new reported cases.

So now the state total since March is 118,570 cases, and 2,460 deaths.

Health officials want the infection rate to be 25 per 100,000, or lower.

The rate in King County is now 178 per 100,000. In Snohomish County, it's 188 per 100,000.

— Angela King

Travel advice as Covid-19 surges

9 a.m. -- Travel is not recommended right now with coronavirus cases spiking throughout Washington.

But if you have an urgent need to travel, University of Washington pulmonologist, and critical care physician, Dr. Vin Gupta has this advice:

"I would make sure that you have quarantined yourself for at least five days before traveling, and then test yourself as soon (as) before your flight as possible. Wear a KN95 mask on flight if you must travel, wear an eye shield if you must travel. And then when you reach your destination -- mask, even in front of your loved ones, for at least 72 hours, and then test yourself."

Dr. Vin Gupta works with the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington.

He advises you stay close to home and have gatherings outdoors as the holidays approach.

-- John O'Brien

Dept. of Health calls for urgent Tuesday briefing

8:30 a.m. -- State and local health officials have scheduled an "urgent COVID-19 response media briefing" for 2:30 p.m. Tuesday.

They said in a press release, "Time is running out to reverse course and flatten the curve."

No word yet on what exactly will be discussed, but Governor Inslee said Monday that there are no current plans to issue new restrictions.

The number of Covid-19 cases are now surging to 118,500.

-- Angela King

Monroe teachers oppose district plans to bring students back to class

8 a.m. -- Teachers with the Monroe Education Association say they're nervous about the district's plans to bring first graders back to their classrooms next week. It's a decision that the union president Robyn Hayashi says was made without their input

“The fact of the matter is we want to be back in school with our students," Hayashi said. "So we miss our students so much, and we need them back in school. But right now, it's not safe enough.”

Some kindergarten and special needs students in the district are already been receiving in-person instruction even though current Covid-19 cases in Snohomish County are more than triple what they were two months ago.

-- Ann Dornfeld


Educators in Monroe plan to protest school district plans to reopen more classrooms

3:00 p.m. -- The Monroe School District plans to bring first-graders back to schools next week. The district is already serving kindergarten students in-person, and some students with special needs.

But Monroe Education Association President Robyn Hayashi says the district failed to involve the union in its reopening decisions, despite a memorandum of agreement that stipulates such decisions must be negotiated.

“The fact of the matter is we want to be back in school with our students. So we miss our students so much, and we need them back in school. But right now, it's not safe enough," said Monroe Education Association president Robyn Hayashi.

Hayashi said the current spike in Covid cases - in Snohomish County, triple what they were two months ago - means now is not the time to reopen more classrooms.

The union has organized a car-horn-honking rally outside a district board meeting at 5:30 p.m.

The state health department has said schools should not expand reopening efforts when case levels are increasing rapidly.

The district did not immediately comment on the union protest or objections to the reopening plans.

-- Ann Dornfeld

It’s the third wave of Covid-19 in Washington state, and it’s the biggest one yet.

2:29 p.m. --“You have Covid-19.”

That’s a diagnosis more people are getting now than ever before in King, Pierce and Snohomish counties. The state Department of Health is calling the Puget Sound region a “hotspot.”

Last Thursday, King County which had close to 500 confirmed Covid-19 cases – the highest number King County has ever had in a day. Compared to the first two waves this spring and summer, this one is surging twice as high in the county.

It’s not due more testing: the number of tests in the county and state has stayed about the same for weeks. At the same time, we’re not seeing a record-breaking number of people hospitalized for Covid-19 – or at least not yet. But those numbers are rising too, and they tend to lag behind case numbers.

Whether hospitals fill up with Covid patients depends on what all of us do now to prevent the coronavirus from spreading even further.

The office of Governor Jay Inslee says they do not expect the governor to announce any new restrictions soon.

--Anna Boiko-Weyrauch

Hospitals prep for Covid-19 surge, worry about staffing

9 a.m. -- Hospitals in Washington say they are actively planning for the third wave of Covid-19 and that they are in a much better position than last spring.

Dr. David Carleson with Multicare -- which has several hospitals throughout the state -- says Washington has an excellent system in place to move patients around in order to prevent hospitals from reaching full capacity.

"I’m feeling really good about how well we’re prepared," Carleson said. "And if I had one place I was worried it was simply that at some point in time, you run out of people. The caregivers. The nurses, and the assistants, and the environmental service workers. They can only do so much."

A doctor at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle also expressed concerns about staffing and said the pool for nurses is especially competitive.

Both Haborview and Multicare say their hospitals will do everything possible to keep people coming in for elective procedures and routine care.

Harborview says it’s seeing a patient population that is more sick than normal, and suspects it’s because people have put off care during the pandemic.

-- Derek Wang

Oregon is also setting new daily coronavirus records

8:30 a.m. -- The Oregon Health Authority reported nearly 1,000 Covid-19 cases Saturday. The state's death toll is now 729 and the total number of confirmed infections is more than 49,500.

On Friday, state officials announced new restrictions that will go into effect in at least five counties as part of a two-week pause on social activities.

-- Angela King

Covid-19 continues to surge throughout Washington

8 a.m. -- The state health department reported 1,320 new coronavirus cases Sunday, bringing the statewide total since the start of the pandemic to more than 117,300 cases.

The numbers come on the heels of two record-setting days for cases. Washington set a record for the highest number of daily reported cases on Friday. Then it broke that record on Saturday with 1,777 new cases.

On Friday, Dr. Jeffrey Duchin with the Seattle King County Health Department said we all need to do better.

"Cases continue to accelerate in the wrong direction, and it's best to hit the brakes before we crash, not after. Too many of us are doing too much with too little consideration of the consequences of our actions on others."

In a written statement, the state health agency said the high numbers we've seen over the past week reflect an overall surge that started in mid-September.

They said King, Snohomish and Pierce counties are currently the hot spots in the region. According to the health department's statement:

“We are very concerned that disease transmission will only grow over the next few weeks with the holidays coming up. The threat to overwhelming not just our hospital systems, but our ability to do contact tracing, is real. We need everyone in Washington state to take action now to stop the spread.”

-- Kim Shepard


SIFF will continue in 2021...virtually

2 p.m. -- The Seattle International Film Festival will continue its annual event in 2021. But this time, it will be held virtually and seen from the comfort of cinephiles' homes.

The virtual film festival is slated for April 8-18, 2021.

The Seattle PI reports that SIFF is currently calling for entries to the film festival. It plans to show about 100 feature films and other programs online. SIFF even has its own Roku channel for streaming audiences.

-- Dyer Oxley

Schools can prevent most Covid outbreaks without routine testing, study finds

1 p.m. -- Schools can prevent Covid outbreaks without routinely testing attendees — that's if they take enough other precautions and community transmission is low, according to new report from the Institute for Disease Modeling.

Computer models created by the Institute for Disease Modeling showed that routine testing was usually less valuable than preventive measures, such as reopening to younger students first and using hybrid schedules, which are currently recommended by the Washington State Department of Health. Other measures include state-mandated precautions, like mask-wearing, frequent hand-washing and sanitizing, thorough symptom screening, and adequate ventilation.

With those precautions in place, and low rates of community transmission, only 2% of staff and students would be expected to get Covid at school or elsewhere over a three-month period, the institute found.

Read more details here.

-- Ann Dornfeld

Washington hospitals preparing as Covid cases surge

10 a.m. -- Local hospitals are trying to find enough space to accommodate the current surge in Covid-19 cases.

KIRO 7 reports that the Washington State Hospital Association is already considering which surgeries and other hospital operations can be cancelled as Covid-19 cases rise and more hospital space is needed.

Health officials are asking people to stay home for Thanksgiving, and to increase social distancing.

-- Dyer Oxley


King, Snohomish, Pierce are hot zones for Covid transmission

5 p.m. — Limit in-person gatherings, even small ones, the Washington State Department of Health is urging, as Covid spread intensifies across Washington state.

Saturday marked a high mark for number of diagnosed cases announced in Washington state: 1,777 in one day.

Western Washington – King, Pierce, and Snohomish counties in particular – are hot zones for transmission of the disease.

“These numbers reflect an overall surge that started in mid-September and are very troubling as we head into darker, colder months, the holidays and respiratory virus season,” the health department said.

The fall surge has erased progress made this summer, the department release continued.

COVID-19 is currently spreading very quickly in Washington state,” said Secretary of Health John Wiesman. “We are very concerned that disease transmission will only grow over the next few weeks with the holidays coming up. The threat to overwhelming not just our hospital systems, but our ability to do contact tracing, is real. We need everyone in Washington state to take action now to stop the spread.”

“These increases reflect the impact of our collective decisions and behavior. Each one of us needs to take immediate action to avoid new restrictions and prevent our hospitals from becoming overwhelmed,” said Deputy Secretary of Health for Covid-19 Response Lacy Fehrenbach.

“We are all tired and want to spend time with loved ones during the holidays and continue progress toward safely reopening schools, but high community rates increase the risk of every single activity we do, and unfortunately, the virus does not get tired or take holidays. We know what works to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and we’ve flattened our curve before. We must push through the fatigue and redouble our efforts to contain the virus.”

—Isolde Raftery

Read previous updates here