Editor’s note: This is a live account of updates from Saturday as the events unfolded. Extended coverage of the outbreak of a new coronavirus known as SARS-CoV-2; the illness it causes, COVID-19; and its effects on the Seattle area, the Pacific Northwest and the world can be found here.
of COVID-19, the illness caused by a new coronavirus known as SARS-CoV-2, continue to be confirmed around the Puget Sound region. In total, 16 people in Washington state are known to have died from the disease.
Throughout Saturday, on this page, we’ll be posting Seattle Times journalists’ updates on the outbreak and its effects on the Seattle area, the Pacific Northwest and the world. Updates from Friday can be found here, and all our coronavirus coverage can be found here.
Clark County man who tested positive for COVID-19 acquired virus in U.S.
A Clark County man who remains hospitalized after testing positive for COVID-19 hadn't traveled to any countries where the virus is spreading, public health officials said Saturday.
“This positive test result tells us the virus is circulating in Clark County,” said Dr. Alan Melnick, Clark County Public Health director. “Now more than ever we should all be taking steps to protect ourselves and others from illness."
A small number of people who had close contact with the man have been notified and are in quarantine for 14 days, Clark County Public Health said.
Two other tests that had been awaiting results came back negative.
Official: White House didn’t want to tell seniors not to fly
NEW YORK — The White House overruled health officials who wanted to recommend that elderly and physically fragile Americans be advised not to fly on commercial airlines because of the new coronavirus, a federal official told The Associated Press.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention submitted the plan this week as a way of trying to control the virus, but White House officials ordered the air travel recommendation be removed, said the official who had direct knowledge of the plan. Trump administration officials have since suggested certain people should consider not traveling, but they have stopped short of the stronger guidance sought by the CDC.
The person who spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity did not have authorization to talk about the matter. The person did not have direct knowledge about why the decision to kill the language was made.
Read the full story here.
Sounders' attendance down 7,000 amid coronavirus concerns
There were about 7,000 fewer soccer fans at CenturyLink Field Saturday night than there were at the Sounders opener last Sunday.
A total of 33,080 soccer fans attended the Sounders game against Columbus, compared to last Sunday's game, which had 40,126 spectators.
Several other Seattle-area sporting events already have been affected by COVID-19. Two Western Athletic Conference programs, Chicago State and the University of Missouri-Kansas City, decided not to travel for men’s basketball games at Seattle University this week. The Chicago State women’s basketball team canceled a home game against Seattle U as well.
A part-time stadium worker at CenturyLink Field who worked the Seattle Dragons' XFL game on Feb. 22 tested positive for COVID-19, but public health officials have said that the risk is low that the employee infected any of the more than 22,000 people who attended the game.
Lyon Elementary in Tacoma to close Monday and Tuesday
Tacoma's Mary Lyon Elementary will be closed Monday and Tuesday because a staff member tested positive for COVID-19 over the weekend.
The two-day closure will give Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department officials time to identify anyone on the campus who may have an exposure risk, Tacoma Public Schools said Saturday afternoon.
2 more Pierce County residents test positive for COVID-19
Two Tacoma residents have tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the total number of cases in Pierce County to three.
A woman in her 30s was discharged from Good Samaritan Hospital in Puyallup and is recovering at home, according to Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department. A man in his 40s remains at Tacoma General Hospital as of Saturday evening.
The tests were conducted at the University of Washington and are presumed positive until they're confirmed by the Washington State Public Health Laboratory.
Life Care Center receives enough kits to test all residents
Life Care Center of Kirkland received an additional batch of test kits from the state Department of Health and can now test all residents for COVID-19.
The nursing home said earlier Saturday that it needed 100 to 200 more kits in order to test everyone. Officials announced on Wednesday that all Life Care residents would be tested.
The nursing home said results from the first batch of tests had not come back as of midday Saturday.
Nationwide, Costcos aren't giving out free samples as coronavirus spreads
Costcos across the country aren't currently giving out free samples, according to Chief Financial Officer Richard Galanti, out of "an abundance of caution," he said via email.
Media outlets and social media users from Oregon to D.C. have been reporting localized suspensions of the Issaquah-based warehouse retailer's beloved free samples.
No free samples at Costco today?!
Okay, now this #CoronaVirus has officially gone too far. Make that vaccine already
— Kevin Begley (@KevinBegley) March 7, 2020
Aegis Living Marymoor staff member tests positive for COVID-19
A staff member at Aegis Living Marymoor, an assisted living and memory care facility in Redmond, has tested positive for COVID-19.
The staff member went home with flu-like symptoms Feb. 28, and has not been at the Marymoor facility since then. The staff member doesn't work in any other Aegis Living communities.
Aegis Living is limiting non-essential visits in all of its 17 Western Washington locations, Nandi Butcher, a public relations consultant for Aegis, wrote in an email. At Marymoor, staff are delivering meals to each resident’s apartment, canceling group activities, and closing the dining room, Butcher wrote.
"While we remain laser focused on infection control to reduce the spread of illness, we are working tirelessly to ensure residents feel the same care and attention we try to bring each day," Butcher wrote in an email.
Aegis Living Marymoor is the fourth Washington senior facility where a resident or staff member has tested positive for coronavirus.
Uber prepares to pay U.S. drivers exposed to coronavirus
Uber Technologies Inc. announced late Friday it would begin offering compensation to drivers affected by the coronavirus in the U.S.
The benefit follows similar company moves in Mexico and the U.K. and comes as the virus accelerates its spread in the U.S.
People diagnosed with Covid-19 or placed in quarantine by a public health authority qualify for up to 14 days in compensation from Uber, according to a company email seen by Bloomberg. The email also said Uber was “working to implement mechanisms to do this worldwide.”
Read the full story here.
Trump ‘not concerned’ as coronavirus cases rise in DC area
Cases of coronavirus touching on the Washington, D.C., area arose Saturday. But asked if he was concerned about the virus getting closer, President Donald Trump said: “No, I’m not concerned at all. No, I’m not. We’ve done a great job.”
Maryland officials warned Saturday that a person who attended the recent Conservative Political Action Conference in the suburb of Oxon Hill had tested positive for the virus. Both Trump and Vice President Mike Pence spoke at the conference, but the White House said there was no indication that either was in close proximity to the infected attendee.
Read the full story here.
Italy considers China-style coronavirus lockdowns for up to quarter of population
Italy’s government on Saturday considered dramatically expanding its northern lockdown zone to encompass up to 15 million people – about a quarter of the country’s population – in an extraordinary bid to slow the spread of the coronavirus. If adopted, the Italian measures to effective seal off much of northern Italy would mark the most significant step taken anywhere outside of China to try to contain the coronavirus.
Italy has faced the largest coronavirus outbreak in Europe. The number of active cases in the country have soared beyond 5,000, with 1,000 new cases confirmed on Saturday alone.
The measures would at least temporarily transform the nation, locking off much of the northern part of the country, with people allowed to exit or enter Lombardy and 11 northern provinces only for emergency reasons or for essential work that cannot be delayed.
Read the full story here.
DigiPen Institute of Technology moving to online classes for week
DigiPen Institute of Technology in Redmond will move all classes online starting Monday and resume on-campus classes on March 23.
There have been no cases reported that are associated with DigiPen, so the change is being done "in an abundance of caution for our community and the community at large," President Claude Comair said in a letter to the DigiPen community.
The campus and facilities remain open for students, faculty and staff members.
Number of cases, deaths at Kirkland nursing home may be higher than previously confirmed
The number of novel coronavirus cases and deaths linked to Life Care Center of Kirkland may be higher than local officials have confirmed so far, according to numbers released by the nursing home Saturday.
In its first press conference since the outbreak, Life Care said that in addition to the 13 coronavirus deaths among residents confirmed by health officials, there were an additional 11 residents who died at the nursing home who are being tested post-mortem to see if they had COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus.
Life Care also said that of 180 employees, 70 have symptoms of COVID-19. They have not all been tested.
The full story can be found here.
Blood supplies dip, officials call for donations
Blood supplies are low in the Pacific Northwest, where coronavirus concerns have led to a dip in donations.
Bloodworks Northwest said they've had to cancel blood drives and have seen less donations as events have been cancelled, schools have closed and many large employers have told employees to work from home.
The nonprofit and officials are hoping to spread the message that it's safe for those who are not ill to donate blood even amid the outbreak. Respiratory viruses are not known to be transmitted by blood transfusion, according to Bloodworks Northwest.
It is asking that people who believe they are at high-risk of infection do not donate blood. Donors will undergo the normal screening process to help ensure blood safety.
More information can be found on the nonprofit's website.
More presumptive positive COVID-19 tests in Oregon
Oregon health officials have announced that four more people in the state tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.
The Oregon Health Authority announced additional cases Saturday morning, bringing the total to seven. Three of the new cases were travel-related, while one is believed to have been through contact. The cases are considered "presumptively positive," meaning they will undergo additional testing to be confirmed.
Officials in the state are working to get in touch with people who may have been in close contact with those who tested positive.
Seattle Colleges classes will be remote for rest of quarter
Seattle Colleges announced Saturday that classes will no longer be held in-person, joining a handful of other area colleges that are moving instruction online.
Classes at the college system's campuses are cancelled Monday so faculty can prepare to instruct students remotely beginning Tuesday. The policy is in place through the end of winter quarter, which is March 25.
Student and business services will remain open during regular business hours, and campuses will remain open to students.
The University of Washington, Seattle Pacific University and Seattle University are also opting for online learning instead.
Washington state confirms 102 coronavirus cases, 16 deaths
Officials have confirmed 102 novel coronavirus cases in Washington state, including 16 deaths, according to the state Department of Health numbers released Saturday morning.
Of the 16 confirmed deaths in the state, 14 have been associated to Life Care Center of Kirkland, according to Public Health — Seattle & King County. The nursing home has been linked to at least 48 total confirmed cases in the state.
Here is the breakdown by county from the state's updated numbers:
- King: 71 cases, including 15 deaths
- Snohomish: 27 cases, including 1 death
- Grant: one case, no deaths
- Jefferson: one case, no deaths
- Pierce: one case, no deaths
- Clark: one case, no deaths
This is likely an undercount of the actual number of cases, both because testing has not been widespread and because state and local health agencies are working to confirm an influx of reports from labs, hospitals and medical examiners.
Officials expect the number of confirmed cases to rise as the state increases its testing capacity.
More on how to interpret the numbers can be found here.
What's the fatality rate for the coronavirus, and why does it keep changing?
If 100 people become infected with the new coronavirus that’s spreading around the globe, how many will die?
Calculations keep changing, especially as more people are tested, and different countries are reporting different rates. Here's a look at which figures may offer the best sense of COVID-19’s true fatality rate, and why.
Kittitas County sees first presumptive positive case of COVID-19
The Kittitas County Public Health Department announced the county's first positive test result for COVID-19, the disease caused by coronavirus, on Saturday.
The test result from the University of Washington is considered a "presumptive positive," as it still needs to be confirmed by the state Department of Health.
A 67-year-old woman is in stable condition in isolation, according to the health department. Healthcare workers who came into contact with her have been asked to self-isolate to monitor their health.
Officials are working to identify other people who were in close contact with the woman.
King County buses play onboard hygiene announcements
Riders on King County Metro buses will now hear onboard announcements reminding them to practice good hygiene to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
Metro buses are operating on normal schedules. Transit workers spray all bus handrails, seats and windows each night.
While riding Metro, you will now hear onboard reminders: "Welcome aboard. Metro buses are disinfected daily. Help keep yourself & others healthy. Don’t travel if you are sick. Cover your cough or sneeze. Avoid touching your face. Wash your hands frequently & thoroughly. Thanks."
— King County Metro 🚏 🚌🚎⛴🚐 (@KingCountyMetro) March 7, 2020
Seattle Golf Show cancels some activities in light of coronavirus outbreak
The Seattle Golf Show cut back on its hours today and canceled Sunday activities in light of the coronavirus outbreak.
The show will be open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at CenturyLink Field. Some activities, such as the testing and fitting zone, are canceled. Some vendors from outside the Seattle area opted not to attend, according to organizers.
Experts offer advice on dealing with coronavirus anxiety
As stores run low on sanitation supplies and fears about COVID-19 rise, mental-health specialists are advising the public to focus on what they can control.
People who are feeling fear and stress are more vulnerable to misinformation, a mass communication professor at Washington State University says.
Here are the experts' tips for keeping a healthy attitude.
Catch up on major developments over the past 24 hours
- Seattle health care providers are scrambling to ration medical supplies as the virus outbreak grows, prompting experts to point out that our nationwide medical system operates close to capacity even when there's not a crisis.
- President Donald Trump signed an $8.3 billion measure that was passed by the Senate Thursday to help tackle the coronavirus outbreak. Washington will get $11.5 million of that.
- Vice President Mike Pence and Gov. Jay Inslee met this week to discuss the state's coronavirus response, elbow bumping in greeting to prevent the spread of germs. Trump's response? "That governor is a snake."
- Florida reported the first two COVID-19 deaths outside of Washington and California. Both patients were in their 70s and had traveled overseas.
- Three major Seattle area universities have called off class for the rest of winter quarter. The University of Washington, Seattle Pacific University and Seattle University are opting for online learning instead.
- Researchers got the green light to start clinical trials for a novel coronavirus vaccine. Now, they're looking for test subjects.
- It’s starting to feel like Seattle is being symbolically quarantined from America, columnist Danny Westneat writes.
- The Washington State Convention Center is hurting after at least three major coronavirus-related event cancellations. The Emerald City Comic Con, as well as two annual meetings, were called off.
How is the pandemic affecting you?What has changed about your daily life? What kinds of discussions are you having with family members and friends? Are you a health care worker who's on the front lines of the response? Are you a COVID-19 patient or do you know one? Whoever you are, we want to hear from you so our news coverage is as complete, accurate and useful as possible. If you're using a mobile device and can't see the form on this page, click here.
Do you have questions about the coronavirus that causes COVID-19?Ask in the form below and we'll dig for answers. If you're using a mobile device and can't see the form on this page, ask your question here. If you have specific medical questions, please contact your doctor.
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