Editor’s note: This is a live account of updates from Sunday 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.
Cases 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, 19 people in Washington state are known to have died from the disease.
Meanwhile, residents around the region have faced an ongoing state of uncertainty about how the virus’ spread affects them and their daily lives.
Throughout Sunday, 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 Saturday can be found here, and all our coronavirus coverage can be found here.
Two more residents at Issaquah Nursing & Rehabilitation Center test positive for COVID-19
Two residents at Issaquah Nursing & Rehabilitation Center who were hospitalized Thursday have presumptive positive results for COVID-19, bringing the total number of cases at the skilled nursing facility to three.
A third resident remains hospitalized after testing positive Friday.
"Everyone at our facility cares deeply about our residents, staff and family members," the facility wrote in an update Sunday on its Facebook page. "We are concerned about our hospitalized residents. Our thoughts and prayers are with them and their families during this difficult time."
Sen. Ted Cruz to self-quarantine after contact with person infected with coronavirus
Sen. Ted Cruz will self-quarantine in his Texas home after a person he had a “brief conversation and a handshake” with at the recent CPAC conference tested positive for the novel coronavirus.
“I’m not experiencing any symptoms, and I feel fine and healthy,” Cruz said in a statement, adding that authorities have advised him that the odds of transmission given their brief interaction was “extremely low.” Those who’ve interacted with him in the last 10 days “should not be concerned about potential transmission,” medical authorities have advised him.
Kitsap County reports first 'presumptive positive' case of COVID-19
The Kitsap Public Health District is reporting its first "presumptive positive" case of COVID-19, the illness caused by the novel coronavirus.
The person who tested positive for COVID-19 is a resident of Bainbridge Island in their 60s. The individual is in isolation and receiving care, according to a news release from Kitsap County.
Kitsap Public Health has notified a small group of people who were determined to have had close contact with the individual diagnosed with the illness. They have been asked to stay home to prevent further spread.
The University of Washington testing facility reported the positive test, according to health district. The case is "presumptive positive" until Washington state public-health laboratory confirms the test.
In addition to the presumed positive case, 14 other coronavirus tests have been submitted to the state public-health lab. The lab has found negative results for seven cases, and the University of Washington has determined five cases to be negative.
"We know this news will be concerning to our community. We are asking Kitsap residents to stay calm, stay informed and take steps to protect their health and the health of those around them," said Kitsap Public Health District Health Officer Dr. Susan Turner in the release.
Democratic leaders Pelosi, Schumer request series of measures from Trump administration to deal with the coronavirus outbreak
The two top Democratic leaders in Congress are calling on President Donald Trump to support a series of steps to help Americans deal with the coronavirus outbreak — from paid sick leave to widespread and free testing and other moves.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said Sunday that Trump should put the health and safety of the public first and such steps should take priority over moves to help companies deal with financial losses — like tax cuts for corporations.
Among the steps they are pushing: paid sick leave for workers impacted by the quarantine orders or those responsible for caring for children in case of school closures; enhanced unemployment insurance for workers who may lose their jobs because of the outbreak; expansion of food programs to people impacted by coronavirus; and adequate protection for front-line workers in contact with those exposed.
Other steps they want are widespread, free coronavirus testing, affordable treatment for all; protections from price gouging; and increased resources in the medical system to respond to increased demands.
U.S. warns against cruises as medical team boards stricken ship
The U.S. is asking Americans to avoid cruise ships just as it prepares to move more than 3,000 passengers and crew off the Grand Princess vessel on Monday after at least 20 people on board were confirmed to be infected with the coronavirus.
The advisory from the State Department comes after the Grand Princess, like a number of cruise ships around the world, became breeding grounds for the coronavirus, spreading as a large number of people gather in the same area for an extended period of time.
The State Department also extended the advisory to avoid crowded places in general, including long plane rides, for the elderly and sick.
“U.S. citizens, particularly travelers with underlying health conditions, should not travel by cruise ship,” it said. “This is a fluid situation,” it added, and Americans can’t rely on repatriation flights as the risk of quarantine by local authorities increases.
The Bertschi School will close Monday, start 'distance learning' next week
The Bertschi School, a private school in Seattle's Capitol Hill neighborhood, will close starting Monday, the school announced on its website.
The school will be temporarily closed until March 27 and implement "distance learning," or online instruction, starting March 16.
The Evergreen School will close until April 12
The Evergreen School, a private school in Shoreline, will close from March 9 to April 12 and move to remote learning, according to an announcement on the school's website.
The closure will begin Monday and continue until the end of the school's scheduled spring break.
The school said there are no reported cases of COVID-19. However, social-distancing measured recommended by the state and local public health agencies — which include recommending that employees over the age of 60, pregnant women, and people with underlying health conditions and weakened immune systems stay home — "has greatly reduced the number of available teachers and other employees who provide essential services at Evergreen."
Remote learning will allow Evergreen, which educates students in Kindergarten through 8th grade, to return to full staffing levels and provide protection for employees who cannot work from home, the school said in the release.
"We do not make this decision lightly, as we know it will have a significant impact on our families," according to the release. "These are extraordinary times, and it is up to all of us to be proactive to protect the most vulnerable among us."
Swedish and its workers' union pause negotiations to focus on coronavirus
Swedish Medical Center and its workers' union will pause negotiations to allow the bargaining teams to focus on the COVID-19 outbreak.
In January, 7,800 staffers, including nurses and caregivers of Swedish Medical Center's seven campuses, participated in a three-day strike, after almost 10 months of bargaining with hospital management.
The hospital and its workers represented by the union SEIU Healthcare 1199NW returned to the bargaining table in February.
“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," according to a news release from Gov. Jay Inslee's office. "These are dedicated and expert health care workers who play a critical role in our response to the virus."
Labor and advocacy groups urge state and local leaders to 'ease the looming economic impacts of the coronavirus'
A number of labor and advocacy organizations issued a call Sunday for Gov. Jay Inslee, King County Executive Dow Constantine and Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan to halt evictions and utility shutoffs during the ongoing novel coronavirus outbreak.
The organizations, including Working Washington, the Martin Luther King County Labor Council, Washington Community Action Network and the Washington Low Income Housing Alliance, also requested help for employees losing income and health benefits because of the crisis.
Officials should create an emergency income-assistance program to help people with reduced work hours and lost jobs, the organizations wrote in an open letter. Employers that normally require their employees to work a minimum number of hours to qualify for health benefits should be required to suspend those rules, the organizations said.
Inslee, Constantine and Durkan each have declared states of emergency in response to the outbreak.
"We are writing to ask you to use your emergency powers to ease the looming economic impacts of the coronavirus crisis," the letter to the officials said. "We are beginning to see dramatic reductions in demand at restaurants, coffee shops and other businesses in the Seattle area ... This has already led to large-scale cuts to hours for service industry workers."
Grant County reports its first death from coronavirus
A patient who was previously diagnosed with COVID-19 has died, the Grant County Health District (GCHD) reports.
"Our hearts are with the family, friends, and Central Washington Hospital staff,” Theresa Adkinson, Health District Administrator, said in a news release.
The GCHD encouraged people at risk of severe illness to stay home and away from large groups of people as much as possible. Those groups include people 60 and older, people with underlying health conditions including heart disease, respiratory illness and diabetes, people with weakened immune systems, and people who are pregnant.
The agency also recommended workplaces allow employees who can to work from home and organizations should consider postponing events and gatherings.
GCHD is not recommending schools or childcare facilities close at this time.
"If there is a confirmed case of COVID-19, GCHD will work with the school or facility to determine the best measures including potential closure," according to the release.
Not your average dinner conversation: Coronavirus takes center stage as family attempts life as usual
It wasn’t dinner as usual.
Virus-talk has revealed differing degrees of fear. Concerns have proliferated in social circles and run rampant on social media pages, such as school and community Facebook groups. Conversations about coronavirus have also marked divisions among families, such as Brad Bartnes and his daughters. Bartnes and Ava, 12, say they are trying to stay calm during the chaos, while Kaylee, 21, is alarmed, and is taking extreme caution to keep herself safe.
“I was just more fearful,” said Kaylee, a graduate student studying psychology at Pacific University in Hillsboro, Oregon. “I really don’t want to go out, and I’m going to be a homebody for the next week or so.”
Read the full story here.
Life Care Center says 55 of the initial 120 residents remain at the nursing home
KIRKLAND — Four additional residents from Life Care Center of Kirkland have been hospitalized and four more have left the nursing home that was at the early center of the coronavirus outbreak in the U.S. for other reasons.
Only 55 residents remain at the post-acute care center, which had 120 residents as of Feb. 19, Life Care spokesman Tim Killian said at a Sunday news conference.
“We feel like we’re still in triage mode,” Killian said.
Cathleen Lombard, a nurse who usually works at Life Care’s Puyallup nursing home but has been helping out at the Kirkland facility, said some residents are struggling emotionally, while others are dealing with dementia.
The residents are quarantined in their rooms and have been unable to take showers in recent days because they don’t have showers in their rooms, she said.
Read the full story here.
Washington state confirms 136 coronavirus cases, including 18 deaths
State officials have confirmed 136 novel coronavirus cases in Washington, including 18 deaths, according to numbers released by the Department of Health on Sunday afternoon.
Of the state's 18 confirmed deaths, 16 have been associated with Life Care Center of Kirkland, according to Public Health - Seattle & King County. The nursing home has been linked to at least 50 total confirmed cases in the state.
Here's the breakdown by county from the state’s updated numbers:
- King: 83 cases, including 17 deaths
- Snohomish: 31 cases, including 1 death
- Pierce: four cases, no deaths
- Grant: one case, no deaths
- Jefferson: one case, no deaths
- Clark: one case, no deaths
- Kittitas: one case, no deaths
- Unassigned to a county: 14 cases
Note: The Department of Health has moved a case previously attributed to Spokane to unassigned to a county.
Portugal’s president self-isolates amid virus outbreak
The office of Portugal’s 71-year-old president said Sunday that he has canceled all public activities and will stay at home amid the coronavirus outbreak.
President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa recently received a group of students from a school which has since been closed following the detection of a student with COVID-19. Rebelo de Sousa has no symptoms.
Portugal has recorded 25 coronavirus cases and no deaths.
Despite virus risk, 2020 hopefuls keep up campaigns for now
Federal health authorities have been advising older people and those with medical conditions, in particular, to avoid crowded spaces, prompting the cancellation of music and arts festivals and other events around the country.
But that so far hasn’t led President Donald Trump or his two remaining major Democratic rivals, Sanders and Joe Biden to cut back on big campaign events. Each man is in his 70s.
12 new cases of COVID-19 in King County, and 2 additional deaths
King County health officials announced 12 new cases of COVID-19 -- and two additional deaths -- Sunday afternoon, bringing the county's total count to 83 infections and 17 fatalities.
The two people who died -- a woman in her 80s and a man in his 90s -- were both residents of Life Care Center of Kirkland, according to a statement from Public Health – Seattle & King County.
The woman had been hospitalized at EvergreenHealth Medical Center, and the man was hospitalized at Harborview Medical Center.
Of the 17 deaths, 16 have been associated with Life Care Center, the statement said.
Connecticut sees first case of COVID-19
Connecticut has its first presumptive positive case of COVID-19, the illness caused by coronavirus, the state's governor announced Sunday.
Gov. Ned Lamont said in a statement Sunday that the patient, a person who is 40 to 50 years old, most likely became infected during a recent trip to California.
The case has not yet been confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control, the statement said.
Oregon governor declares state of emergency
Oregon Gov. Kate Brown declared a state of emergency Sunday afternoon after state health officials identified seven new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total in that state to 14.
Brown authorized the state of emergency by verbal proclamation Saturday evening and confirmed the order in writing Sunday morning, according to a statement from her office.
"This news is concerning for all Oregonians, but my resolve and that of my administration to address this public health crisis is unchanged," Brown said in the statement.
The state of emergency, which will remain in effect for 60 days but can be extended, allows the Oregon Health Authority to activate "reserves of emergency voluntary health care professionals, bringing online auxiliary medical professionals to work with local health authorities," the statement said.
Gov. Inslee says "mandatory measures" under consideration to combat coronavirus in Washington
Washington officials are considering mandatory measures for social distancing as part of the state’s effort to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus, Gov. Jay Inslee said Sunday in a CBS interview.
“We are looking at extending what are voluntary decisions right now ... We are contemplating some next steps, particularly to protect our vulnerable populations and our nursing homes and the like," Inslee said.
Read the full story here.
Chef Kevin Davis restaurants close temporarily due to 'social and economic impacts' of virus
Several downtown Seattle restaurants led by chef Kevin Davis have temporarily closed due to impacts of COVID-19, according to early Sunday morning Facebook posts.
The spots include The Steelhead Diner, Blueacre Seafood, Orfeo, Zane + Wylie’s Seattle Steakhouse and Tempesta Coffee & Donuts, which all shut their doors “due to the social and economic impacts” of the virus, the posts said.
“We hope to reopen at a later date,” said the statements, which were all signed by Kevin and Terresa Davis.
Pacific Lutheran University switches to 'distance-learning format' until after spring break
Pacific Lutheran University officials announced Saturday that they're planning to transition to online learning until nearly the end of the month.
There are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 at the Parkland, Pierce County, university and the campus will remain open, according to a PLU statement. Classes are canceled for Monday, and the change will go into effect Tuesday. Students should expect to return to in-person classes on March 30, the Monday after the university's spring break, the statement said.
"One of the questions we’ve received in the days leading up to this announcement is about how we might be able to provide students, faculty, and staff with access to technology (such as laptops) that may be needed during this time," the statement said. "We’re developing a strategy to equitably deploy available resources, and will have a plan solidified soon on the Coronavirus webpage."
Amid the coronavirus outbreak, flu season blazes on in Washington state
Washington health care providers responding to the rapidly expanding coronavirus outbreak also must contend with an active influenza season that since October has resulted in 74 confirmed state deaths.
Flu deaths don’t grab the headlines garnered by the escalating toll from the novel coronavirus. But amid all this anxiety about a new virus, state public health officials are reminding residents of the continuing risks from flu strains, and urging older people and others at higher risk to check in with providers if they have a fever, cough or sore throat.
Read the full story here.
Economic impacts of coronavirus start to show
Restaurants and movie theaters have seen sharp slowdowns. Barbers and salons have empty chairs. Convention centers have sudden vacancies.
In the week since King County became the epicenter of the U.S. coronavirus outbreak, local consumers and companies have given new meaning to “cancel culture” as they pull back from public interactions — and the economic activity that often goes with them.
But how bad it will get for the regional economy is difficult to predict.
Cruise ship to dock in Oakland
A cruise ship hit by the new coronavirus is headed to the port of Oakland, California, the captain told passengers, though they were destined to stay aboard the ship for at least another day, the Associated Press reports.
Grand Princess Capt. John Smith, in a recording provided by passenger Laurie Miller of San Jose, told guests the ship will dock in Oakland. Princess Cruises says it’s expected to arrive on Monday. The ship is carrying more than 3,500 people from 54 countries.
“An agreement has been reached to bring our ship into the port of Oakland,” he told passengers Saturday night. “After docking, we will then begin a disembarkation process specified by federal authorities that will take several days.”
Smith said passengers who need medical treatment or hospitalization will go to health care facilities in California, while state residents who don’t require acute medical care “will go to a federally operated isolation facility within California for testing and isolation.”
U.S. guests from other states will be transported by the federal government to facilities in other states. Crew members will be quarantined and treated aboard the ship.
Gates-funded project to offer at-home testing kits
A project funded by Bill Gates and his foundation will soon offer at-home coronavirus testing kits. People who are worried that they may have the virus can swab their noses and send the samples back for analysis, receiving results in one to two days that will be shared with local health officials.
Those who test positive can answer questions online about their movements and contacts, to help experts track the virus' spread and determine who may need to be quarantined. The lab expects to initially conduct about 400 tests a day, eventually expanding to thousands.
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