Editor’s note: This is a live account of updates from Monday, April 13, as the events unfolded. Click here to see updates from Tuesday, April 14. Click here to find the latest extended coverage of the outbreak of the 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.
More than 500 people in Washington state have now died of COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, and more than 10,000 have been diagnosed. While most of those have been in King County, the state’s most populous, some are worried about a different area becoming “the new epicenter of the disease” in Washington.
The number of new cases and deaths per day in our state continues to drop. That trend depends largely on people continuing to stay away from each other. Seattle officials closed many parks and beaches over the sunny weekend to discourage crowds — but hundreds still tried to make a trip out, only to be turned away by city employees and police.
Throughout today, on this page, we’ll be posting updates from Seattle Times journalists and others on the outbreak and its effects on the Seattle area, the Pacific Northwest and the world. Updates from Sunday can be found here, and all our coronavirus coverage can be found here.
The following graphic includes the most recent numbers from the Washington State Department of Health, released Monday evening.
State confirms an additional 127 cases and eight deaths from COVID-19
Washington’s count of confirmed COVID-19 cases reached 10,538 Monday with 516 deaths, according to the state Department of Health.
The updated count included 127 new cases and eight new deaths, according to the state.
The bulk of the cases remains in King County, which is reporting 4,517 cases and 295 deaths. New deaths were also reported in Benton, Stevens and Yakima counties.
The state has not updated its count of negative test results.
Daughter of suspected COVID-19 victim sues Life Care Center of Kirkland’s parent company
The daughter of a woman who died of suspected COVID-19 at Life Care Center of Kirkland is suing the company that owns the nursing home.
Life Care Center has seen more than 120 cases and at least 37 deaths, according to the wrongful death and fraud lawsuit filed in King County Superior Court.
Debbie de los Angeles was called at 4:15 a.m. March 3 by a worker at Life Care, who reported her 85-year-old mother, Twilla Morin, had a fever spiking at 104 degrees and the staff suspected the coronavirus. Less than 24 hours later, Morin died.
According to the lawsuit, de los Angeles was never notified that there had been previous deaths at the facility from COVID-19.
Earlier this month, federal regulators assessed a $611,000 fine against the Kirkland nursing home after an inspection found critical problems that contributed to the outbreak there.
The federal inspection found a number of deficiencies at the Kirkland nursing facility that placed patients’ safety in “imminent danger.”
The lawsuit also claims that the nursing home “engaged in fraud by concealing, suppressing and failing to disclose material facts.”
In a statement, Life Care Center said: “Our hearts go out to this family and the loss they have suffered during this unprecedented viral outbreak. We are unable to comment on specific legal cases that are pending, but we wish this and all families peace.”
CIA issues warning on unproven treatment touted by Trump
The CIA has privately advised its workforce that taking an anti-malarial drug touted by President Donald Trump and some of his supporters as a promising treatment for the novel coronavirus has potentially dangerous side effects, including sudden death.
The warning, featured on a website for CIA employees with questions related to the spread of the coronavirus, came in late March after public discussion – and promotion by the president – that hydroxychloroquine, administered in concert with the antibiotic azithromycin, might prove effective against covid-19, the disease the novel coronavirus causes.
The politically charged debate over hydroxychloroquine – medical experts say there’s still no conclusive evidence that it does what Trump has suggested – underscores a recurring phenomenon in this administration, in which the president stakes out a very public, sometimes controversial position on a subject only to have agencies within the government chart a different, more cautious approach.
Infections hit peak in Whatcom, but officials warn of long road ahead
BELLINGHAM – Novel coronavirus infections in the state’s Northwest corner appear to have peaked, but residents should be prepared to keep some level of restricted activities in place for months to prevent a possible deadly rebound in cases by midsummer, Whatcom County health officials said Monday.
“We see signs that we could be on the downsize of a wave,” Erika Lautenbach, director of the Whatcom County Health Department, said in an online news briefing.
The county, with 230,000 residents, has recorded 264 positive COVID-19 cases and 23 deaths to date. It also has been struck with several serious infection cases at area nursing facilities, and remains concerned about spread to others.
New modeling for the county, compiled with the assistance of researchers at Western Washington University, show what appears to be a recent peak in infections, and a likely continuing downward trend -- assuming social distancing and other restrictions stay in place in the near to midterm, Lautenbach said.
But even short-term relaxation of those measures – or something as simple as a single, large family or community gathering with one or more infected people -- could easily prompt a “second wave” of infections that would restart the process, possibly creating a critical surge in hospital patients by late summer, county health officials said.
“Returning to life as normal will have to be done gradually,” Lautenbach said. “It’s more of a dial that we’re turning rather than a switch. It’s not a situation where life just goes back to normal.”
The county in recent weeks has redoubled its efforts to contain infections in nursing facilities. With the recent availability of quick-turnaround testing, health department personnel have begun testing all residents in facilities with one or more cases. On one recent day the department conducted as many as 200 tests, officials said.
Eleven patients connected to Shuksan Healthcare Center in Bellingham’s York neighborhood have died from COVID-19 complications, and 23 staff members and another two dozen current residents have tested positive. Eleven positive cases have been reported among residents at Good Samaritan Society-Stafholt in Blaine, and two hospice patients at Lynden Manor have died with COVID-19 complications.
To combat 'false information' hurting marginalized communities, King County puts $1 million into language access and health literacy
Citing a need to combat disinformation about COVID-19, King County is investing $1 million into outreach organizations, ethnic media, cultural centers and community councils for language access, health literacy and “anti-bias and stigma resources.”
About $100,000 of the money will go to a coalition of philanthropy, government and businesses called the COVID-19 Response Fund Alliance. Grants of around $25,000 each are going to organizations such as Living Well Kent, an alliance of community organizations, and You Grow Girl!, a nonprofit serving young women in the foster care system.
Media organizations such as Chinese Seattle News, Latino Northwest Communications and Rainier Avenue Radio will receive smaller grants, as well as organizations such as the West African Community Council, the Khmer Health Board and the Seattle Mongolian Youth Center.
“King County must present information and resources in an understandable and accessible way -- linguistically and culturally responsive, and using formats that ensure people can make well-informed decisions during this pandemic,'' King County Executive Dow Constantine wrote in a news release. “Our Executive Office of Equity and Social Justice is working closely with public health experts to translate vital information and make resources available across our diverse community.”
UW Medicine to start screening all new patients for COVID-19
University of Washington officials announced Monday that all new patients admitted to Harborview Medical Center and the UW Medical Center will be tested for COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.
The new policy marks a change from the medical centers' previous system, which required health care workers to only test patients with symptoms, according to a UW Medical Center statement. The change impacts UW Medical Center's Montlake and Northwest campuses.
"This strategy is akin to our proactive surveillance for patients with cases of antibiotic-resistant bacteria," the statement said. "As we learn more about some individuals having a positive test without symptoms, we want to know the status of every patient in our hospitals so that our clinicians and staff can safely care for them."
The statement also noted more testing is now possible because its Virology Lab is producing same-day test results.
Pierce Transit to offer special service for essential workers
Essential workers going to essential jobs can arrange a ride with Pierce Transit by calling the agency and speaking with a customer service representative.
The service, available Monday through Friday during morning and evening times where routes were canceled due to the novel coronavirus, comes after Pierce Transit has reduced some bus trips amid lower ridership related to Gov. Jay Inslee’s stay-at-home order.
Customers should be prepared to explain why they are an essential worker, which Pierce Transit route they typically ride, what time they travel on the bus to and from work and desired pickup and dropoff locations.
EvergreenHealth doctor opens up about ‘brush with death,’ recovery after coronavirus
An EvergreenHealth Medical Center physician who became infected with COVID-19 in early March, spent more than two weeks on a ventilator and received novel treatments during what he described as a “brush with death,” is now at home recovering.
Padgett’s story of survival, extraordinary in its own right, could also help doctors nationwide better understand COVID-19, some people’s dangerous immune response to the virus and how to treat people whose bodies’ reaction causes grievous harm.
Padgett was one of the first front-line health-care workers in Washington to test positive for COVID-19. He believes he likely became infected with the new coronavirus during what he described as an “onslaught” of cases flowing into the emergency department.
Washington state to furlough some prisoners in bid to limit coronavirus outbreaks
OLYMPIA — Facing pressure over how they are responding to the new coronavirus inside Washington’s correctional facilities, state officials Monday announced they would set free as many as 950 prisoners to provide more physical distance and limit any potential outbreaks.
To do that, Corrections Secretary Stephen Sinclair will grant emergency furloughs to inmates in minimum custody settings who meet certain criteria, according to a news release from the agency.
Some prisoners will be freed through the commutation process, while others will be released through a graduated reentry program, according to Gov. Jay Inslee’s office.
The response comes after the state Supreme Court Friday evening orderedInslee and Sinclair to take “all necessary steps” in order to protect inmates in state prisons from the COVID-19 pandemic.
What U.S. leaders say affects whether Americans stay at home, CDC data suggests
The decision by Americans to hunker down during the coronavirus pandemic has been heavily influenced by pronouncements from national and local leaders, according to data released Monday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The report offers the most robust information to date showing the relationship between people’s behavior and official policies announced by the White House and local leaders.
Read more here.
Petition calling for UW to reschedule 2020 graduation ceremony amasses nearly 10,000 signatures
A petition calling for the University of Washington to postpone its Class of 2020 graduation ceremony until fall or winter has nearly reached its goal of 10,000 signatures.
Last week, UW announced it would hold a live, virtual ceremony for graduates in June in light of the pandemic. Students graduating this year would also have the option of attending the following year's commencement.
But the petition demands an in-person ceremony specifically for 2020 graduates. Pressure has worked in other places: The University of California, Los Angeles backed off its earlier decision to hold graduation online after facing backlash for the decision, according The Daily Bruin.
Other colleges in Washington state have postponed their spring ceremonies until it's safe to gather again. On April 8, Seattle University officials announced they would delay "based upon the overwhelming preference indicated by" the Class of 2020. Washington State University announced last month that it would delay graduation ceremonies at all its campuses, but would hold a digital ceremony on May 9.
Some coronavirus patients at Swedish to get plasma from people who have recovered
Some critically ill COVID-19 patients in the Seattle area will soon receive a promising, experimental treatment derived from the blood of people who have recovered from the disease.
Doctors at Swedish Health Services’ five hospitals hope to infuse their first patient with so-called convalescent plasma early this week.
“We’re trying to help those who need it the most first,” said Dr. Livia Hegerova, a hematologist at Swedish. If the treatment seems to help patients being kept alive by ventilators and others in dire condition, its use could be expanded to patients who are not as desperately sick.
Though still unproven for use against the life-threatening respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus, a similar approach has been used to fight other infectious diseases, like measles and influenza, for more than a century. It’s based on the body’s immune system, which produces proteins called antibodies to fight infections.
People who have recently recovered from COVID-19 should have high levels of antibodies circulating in their blood that could be used to help others still battling infection, Hegerova explained. It’s not clear yet how powerful the immune response is to the novel coronavirus, or how long it lasts.
Washington will work with California, Oregon, on coordinated re-opening plan
In yet another sign of the challenges ahead, Gov. Jay Inslee said Monday that plans to reopen the state’s economy after COVID-19 is contained will be closely coordinated with Oregon and California to ensure that the virus remains contained across the West Coast.
“COVID-19 doesn’t follow state or national boundaries,” the governor’s office said in a statement Monday.
Inslee closed all non-essential businesses in the state on March 16 in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus, which causes the COVID-19 disease. The closure was extended to May 4, and many observers believe it could be extended further out of concern that re-opening economies prematurely could allow the disease, which appears to be leveling off, to reemerge.
Monday’s announcement offered no new specifics on when shuttered businesses might be allowed to reopen. But it reaffirmed Inslee’s previous commitments to prioritize public health. “Health outcomes and science – not politics – will guide these decisions,” Monday’s statement said.
Port of Seattle offers additional rent relief
The Port of Seattle has been at the forefront of rent-relief efforts, deferring two months of rent for tenants at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport and enacting a four-month eviction moratorium across all its properties.
Today, the agency extended rent-relief efforts to its nearly 200 land-side tenants — from restaurants in places like Fishermen's Terminal to office space at the World Trade Center — and marina customers with boats at Port moorages, including the roughly 500 people living aboard their boats.
If those tenants can certify they've been negatively impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, they're eligible to delay rent payments through August for land-side tenants and July for marina tenants.
About 72 land-side tenants have asked for some form of rent relief as of Monday, according to Port spokesperson Peter McGraw.
Russell Wilson, other athletes appear in ads for COVID-19 social distancing
Seattle-area sports stars Russell Wilson, Sue Bird, Nicolás Lodeiro and Megan Rapinoe are encouraging residents to comply with local social distancing recommendations in new King County advertisements.
In conjunction with Public Health -- Seattle & King County, the athletes are helping to promote safe social distancing to slow the spread of COVID-19 with a new "Stand Together. Stay Apart" ad campaign urging people to stay home.
The campaign will roll out over social-media platforms as well as on TV and radio. A grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is funding the campaign, and Windermere, Puget Sound Energy, Washington State Association of Broadcasters, Microsoft, Washington Roundtable and Facebook provided support for the advertising spots, according to a release from King County.
Coronavirus relief money is coming – for some. Here’s what to know.
Americans are beginning to see the first economic-impact payments hit their bank accounts.
The IRS tweeted Saturday that it had begun depositing the funds into taxpayers’ bank accounts and would be working to get them out as fast as possible. The one-time payments were approved by Congress as part of an emergency relief package intended to combat the economic damage from the coronavirus pandemic.
The exact timing of when people get their money depends on a few factors, such as income and payment delivery method.
For details, read the whole story here.
Amazon to hire 75,000 people, on top of 100,000 it already brought on to handle coronavirus-driven demand
Amazon hired 100,000 people in less than a month to bolster its novel coronavirus response and said Monday it is planning to add 75,000 more jobs in its warehouses, grocery stores and delivery network.
The Seattle company’s hiring binge — which would add more people to its staff in a handful of months than it did in all of 2019 — comes as companies across the economy are laying off millions of workers amid closures of non-essential businesses and stay-at-home directives meant to slow the spread of the pandemic.
Read the whole story here.
State Sen. Steve Hobbs called up for National Guard’s coronavirus response
OLYMPIA – State Sen. Steve Hobbs, D-Lake Stevens, will command a Washington National Guard task force responding to the new coronavirus.
Hobbs, a lieutenant colonel in the National Guard, will oversee Task Force Olympic, according to a news release. The task force is made up of between 150 and 200 members of the Army and Air National Guard, with an initial mission to help distribute food at food banks across Western Washington, and deliver medical beds and respirators.
The command will keep the lawmaker away from his elected duties “for an indeterminate amount of time,” according to the release. But his office will remain available to help constituents and answer questions.
Hobbs, a moderate Democrat from Snohomish County’s 44th legislative district, recently declared a bid for lieutenant governor.
Wildlife reclaiming Yosemite as coronavirus closure keeps tourists out
Tourists aren’t allowed in California’s most popular national park, but if they could visit, they might feel as if they had been transported to another time. Either to a previous era, before millions of people started motoring into the valley every year, or to a possible future one, where the artifacts of civilization remain, with fewer humans in the mix.
On March 20, the national park was closed to prevent the spread of the coronavirus — leaving the 7.5-mile-long valley to only a skeleton crew of 100 to 200 park and concession employees.
“You couldn’t ask for a better place to be isolated,” said Warren McClain, a saucier at the Ahwahnee Hotel who has worked at Yosemite since 2017.
He and his co-workers, Dane Peterson and Billy Sanchez, were skateboarding and cycling along Northside Drive, just east of Horsetail Fall, soaking in the bright, warm sun.
Wildlife is coming out of hiding now, they said, as it did during previous government shutdowns of the park — in 1990, 1995, 2013 and 2019. The difference is that this park closure is expected to be the longest on record.
“The bear population has quadrupled,” said Peterson, noting a surge of large megafauna into the fields, thoroughfares and open spaces of the park.
Read the story here.
East Coast owes debt to the West
California, Oregon and Washington have more ventilators than they can use and — as the nation struggles to scrounge up the lifesaving machines for hospitals overrun with COVID-19 patients — these three Western states recently shipped 1,000 spares to New York and other besieged neighbors to the East.
“All NYC needs is love … From CA,” a worker scrawled in Magic Marker on a ventilator shipping box, shown in a video posted on Twitter by the governor of California, Gavin Newsom.
The ongoing effort of three West Coast states to come to the aid of more hard-hit parts of the nation has emerged as the most powerful indication to date that the early intervention of West Coast governors and mayors might have mitigated, at least for now, the medical catastrophe that has befallen New York and parts of the Midwest and South.
Their aggressive imposition of stay-at-home orders has stood in contrast to the relatively slower actions in New York and elsewhere, and drawn widespread praise from epidemiologists. As of Saturday afternoon, there had been 8,627 COVID-19 related deaths in New York, compared with 598 in California, 483 in Washington and 48 in Oregon. New York had 44 deaths per 100,000 people. California had two.
Read the story here.
Supreme Court to hold May arguments by teleconference
The U.S. Supreme Court said Monday it will hold arguments by teleconference in May in key cases, including President Donald Trump’s bid to shield his tax and other financial records.
The court will make live audio of the arguments available for the first time. It had previously postponed courtroom arguments for March and April because of the coronavirus.
The court will hear 10 cases in all between May 4 and May 13. In addition to fights over subpoenas for Trump’s financial records, they include two cases about whether presidential electors are required to cast their Electoral College ballots for the candidate who won their state.
The justices and the lawyers arguing the cases all will participate remotely. The court said a live audio feed will be provided to news organizations, which will be able to relay the arguments in real time.
The court has never livestreamed courtroom arguments and only rarely has it made the audio available on the same day. Cameras also are not allowed in the courtroom.
Read the story here.
Navy reports first COVID-19 death from Roosevelt crew
A member of the crew of the coronavirus-infected USS Theodore Roosevelt warship died Monday of complications related to the disease, the Navy said.
The sailor, whose name and other identifying information were not publicly released pending notification of relatives, had tested positive for coronavirus on March 30 and was taken off the ship and placed in “isolation housing” along with four other sailors at the U.S. Navy base on Guam. On April 9, he was found unresponsive during a medical check and was moved to a local hospital’s intensive care unit.
The death Monday was the first among the crew of approximately 4,860, of which 585 had tested positive for coronavirus as of Sunday. About 4,000 crew members have been moved ashore. A number have been kept aboard to attend to the enormous ship’s nuclear reactors and other sensitive systems.
The Roosevelt has been in a coronavirus crisis that prompted the Navy’s civilian leader, Thomas Modly, to fire the ship’s captain on April 2. Five days later, after having flown to the ship and delivered a speech in which he insulted the skipper, Capt. Brett E. Crozier, and criticized the crew for supporting Crozier, Modly resigned.
Read the story here.
Fighting crime in a pandemic
If you flip through crime reports from pandemics 101 years apart, a pattern emerges: Suspects just keep doing suspected things.
Take a look at the police blotter and see if you can figure out whether these entries came from 1918 or 2020.
Many crimes have dropped during this coronavirus pandemic, but there’s still plenty to keep police busy. Here’s what they’re seeing as they try to fight crime at a safe distance.
Quarantine Corner: Making it easier to be stuck at home
The Weekly Wonder: Here are five things to pique your kids' interest, from eggshell geodes to driving a rover across Mars.
Join our "Dinner at a Movie" critics at noon today for a live discussion of "The Talented Mr. Ripley."
Americans will start getting stimulus payments this week. A new IRS website aims to speed the relief to some low-income Americans who don’t file taxes. Here's how to submit your information.
If you're struggling with food anxiety — getting it, preparing it, eating it — you're not alone. Nutrition and mental-health experts share their advice and sensible tips.
One of the best things you can do for your mental health: Find tranquility in nature. Two UW scholars are explaining the "deep, compelling research" behind this comfort, and how to make the most of it.
Travelers and insurance companies are in uncharted waters. If the cruise line cancels your trip, should the travel insurance policy be refunded? Travel Troubleshooter wades in.
Catch up on the past 24 hours
When will this end, and what comes next? The virus won't go away, but lockdowns can't stay forever, either. Health officials and epidemiologists are trying to chart when and how to ease people into a new normal in Washington state. Graphics tell much of the story in this interactive look at the state of our state's coronavirus fight.
The U.S. economy may make a "rolling reentry" starting in May, the nation's top infectious-disease expert says. But will Dr. Anthony Fauci still have his own job? President Donald Trump, angered by Fauci's criticism, yesterday retweeted a call to fire him.
A free, 3D-printable mask designed in Seattle is the first of its kind to get federal approval. A small assembly line is operating in a local church, but anyone can download instructions.
Blood tests could play a key role in deciding whether millions of Americans can safely return to work and school. New dangers are emerging, though, in the "Wild West" of unregulated tests.
House flippers are seeing "big opportunities" in the pandemic, and that's worrying some community advocates. Here's what homeowners should know, and a look at how one company and its investors have left their mark on hundreds of King County homes.
When coronavirus kills, it's like death by drowning. That makes it look much like a familiar enemy, but doctors in the trenches are worried that the standard solutions are failing patients.
For the wealthy, distancing is different: Many are taking refuge in vacation homes. FYI Guy looks at Washington's vacation-home hot spots, where the influx is worrying year-round residents — including vulnerable retirees.
When will the rest of us travel again? Edmonds travel expert Rick Steves has his own predictions as analysts study what kinds of travel will come back first, and when.
WSU was teaching classes remotely long before the pandemic. Now, its educators and other online-learning experts are sharing how to do it effectively while keeping that vital spark alive.
"The whole game's changed" for college athletic recruiting. Local athletes are finding that getting a sports scholarship in a world with no sports is far from simple.
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.
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