Editor’s note: This was a live account of updates from Thursday, April 2, as events unfolded. Click here to see updates from Friday, April 3. And 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.

Social distancing measures seem to be helping slow the novel coronavirus’ spread in Washington. Gov. Jay Inslee said Wednesday that we need to continue that trend, announcing he’ll likely extend his stay-home order for at least the next 30 days. With the national stockpile of protective gear quickly depleting, Inslee asked local businesses and workers Wednesday to consider re-purposing their manufacturing operations with an eye toward making face shields, surgical masks and swab test kits.

The Department of Health confirmed an additional 601 cases and 15 deaths from COVID-19 Thursday night, totaling 6,585 cases and 262 fatalities. The bulk of the cases remain in King County, where 2,609 people have fallen ill and 175 have died. The department has recently struggled with delays in reporting updated numbers, which it blames on a flood of data swamping the state’s disease-reporting system. The technical difficulties are partially blinding health officials and the public to the latest information about the disease’s spread.

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 Wednesday 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 Thursday evening.

Live updates:

From the publisher: We’re here to guide our community through the coronavirus crisis — here’s how you can help us do that

Never before has comprehensive, trusted news and information been more vital to making smart decisions for the sake of yourself, your family and your friends.

As one of the few remaining local, independent metro news media organizations left in the nation, The Seattle Times has been your neighbor, chronicling your news and connecting you with your community for 123 years.

With our state as an epicenter of the coronavirus crisis, your support, combined with the Blethen family’s unwavering stewardship, has enabled The Seattle Times to be the role model for regional metro crisis coverage.

Read the full letter here.

—Frank Blethen

Premera Blue Cross to waive costs related to COVID-19 treatment

Premera Blue Cross, a health-insurance company based in Mountlake Terrace, announced Thursday it's waiving consumer cost shares and deductibles for treatment related to COVID-19 for certain customers.

Fully insured, Medicare and individual market customers won't pay anything out-of-pocket through the beginning of October, a Premera statement said. This includes in-patient and out-patient hospital admissions, urgent care and emergency room visits, medical transport when needed and FDA-approved in-patient medications for both in and out of network providers.

“We are deeply committed to our customers and communities in the Washington state and Alaska markets, and to protecting and supporting our customers and provider partners in the midst of this pandemic,”  CEO and President Jeff Roe said in the statement.

The company said this new policy includes any coronavirus-related claims received since Jan. 1 for group and individual customers. For Medicare customers, claims received since Feb. 4 will be reprocessed to waive cost shares and deductibles.

Premera had previously announced that it would waive cost shares for COVID-19 testing, waive early medication-refill limits on 30-day prescriptions and contribute $500,000 to community nonprofits supporting vulnerable populations during the pandemic.

—Elise Takahama

Washington National Guard steps in to support local food banks amid coronavirus crisis

More than 130 members of the Washington National Guard stepped up this week to support food banks in Chelan, Franklin, King, Pierce and Walla Walla counties, according to a Thursday statement from the joint forces headquarters.

Gov. Jay Inslee had said earlier this week the Guard would be deployed to assist with coronavirus response efforts, though he emphasized their roles wouldn’t be related to enforcing the stay-home directive.

“These Guardsmen will provide critical support to our food banks and pantries that are low on staff and need help getting food to some of our most vulnerable citizens,” said Maj. Gen. Bret Daugherty, commander of the Guard, in the statement. “By looking out for our neighbors and following proper health safety guidelines, we will get through this together.”

The Guard is supporting food banks located in areas that often support neighboring towns, the statement said.

In Chelan County, volunteers are distributing meals from the Toyota Center, an arena usually used for concerts and sporting events. Now, it's feeding families in the greater Wenatchee area and supplying meals to Leavenworth, Bridgeport, Mansfield and Waterville.

The Issaquah food bank in King County is supporting Issaquah and the entire east side of King County, the statement said.

“We are supporting the neighborhoods of Duvall, Carnation, Maytown, Hobart and North Bend, but we won’t turn anyone away that needs a meal,” said volunteer coordinator Lisa Haynes.

In Issaquah, Guard members are unloading deliveries, processing food, repackaging and staging 44-pound boxes for distribution.

The Guard will begin supporting another eight food banks soon, with more requests expected to come in next week, the statement said.

—Elise Takahama

Virginia Mason Medical Center reduces salaries for executives, some physicians

Virginia Mason Medical Center will cut pay for top executives and some physicians, according to a memo shared with The Seattle Times.

The hospital system’s CEO, Gary Kaplan, told some staffers in a message that he would cut his salary by 20%, the executive leadership team’s pay by 15% and physicians not working in the intensive care unit or emergency department by 10%. The pay cuts were effective Tuesday. KING-5 first reported the cost-cutting measures.

“COVID-19 has disrupted our business and our community in ways none of us could have predicted. In compliance with the governor’s proclamation that hospitals stop providing non-essential surgeries and eliminate elective in-person visits, we are temporarily modifying staffing and hours of operation at some of our outpatient facilities in response to low patient volumes,” said Gale Robinette, a hospital system spokesman, in an emailed statement. “Some employment furloughs will occur but no layoffs are planned.”

—Evan Bush

To prevent coronavirus spread at shelters, King County will move nearly 400 homeless people into hotels

What’s the first thing you do when you’ve been living in a shelter for months or years, and suddenly you get your own hotel room?

For the 10 men who left Bellevue’s men’s shelter three weeks ago to stay in a Motel 6, it was take a shower or a bath — one said he’s been taking a bubble bath twice a day.

Early next week, King County will move nearly 400 homeless people out of shelters in Bellevue, Kent, Federal Way and Renton to hotels in the area, and the Downtown Emergency Services Center is moving 200 people from its Seattle shelters to a hotel in Renton,  with county money. The county said it was still finalizing agreements with the hotels, and did not immediately provide details about how much the effort would cost.

Read the full story here.

—Scott Greenstone

Metro Transit workers anxious about new role as ‘first responders’ to coronavirus pandemic

The people who drive Seattle-area buses are grappling with a duty they never imagined, as “first responders” to a coronavirus pandemic.

While most people hunker down, transit is designated an essential service.

So essential, in fact, that even if bus drivers are exposed to the novel coronavirus, Metro instructed those who don’t show symptoms to continue working.

“For Metro, our mission-critical (level 1) employees, such as operators, are considered first responders,” said an operations bulletin March 26 from General Manager Rob Gannon. “First responders who have been exposed to COVID-19, but do not have symptoms, are expected to report to work because of their essential function.”

Read the full story here.

—Mike Lindblom and Heidi Groover

New music venue coalition warns that without help, some Seattle clubs may close for good due to coronavirus

As social distancing requirements to curb the spread of COVID-19 slam the brakes on our economy, the lasting effects remain to be seen.

But Seattle-area music venues are sounding an alarm now. The newly formed Washington Nightlife Music Association has launched a campaign to raise awareness of the threat to the state's live music landscape and lobby members of Congress for aid.

Read the full story here.

—Michael Rietmulder

She closed her island attire business, then made 10,000 masks for coronavirus fight

Kati Nguyen of Spanaway decided to temporarily close her custom sewing island attire business even before the state ordered nonessential businesses to close because of concerns about the novel coronavirus.

She found a new use for all the fabric she had on hand: making protective masks.

“I watch and listen to the TV and the coronavirus number is up each day, and that made me worry for me and my family,” said Nguyen, who is from Vietnam. “I decided to sew masks and give to the hospitals because I know hospitals are running out of supplies and it’s very dangerous.”

Read the full story here.

—Scott Hanson

Labor dispute may delay opening of some emergency child care sites in Seattle during coronavirus closure

A labor dispute could hold up the Monday opening of five emergency child care centers meant to serve children of hundreds of first responders and health care workers in a partnership between the city and school district.

While Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan promised Thursday that more emergency child care classrooms will open, it’s unclear when.

Seattle Public Schools initially agreed to use its own employees to staff child care classrooms hosted at its schools. The district reversed course Thursday morning following pushback from its teachers’ union, the Seattle Education Association.

“We understand that educators and child care workers are two separate professions, and that the required skillsets are different,” schools chief Denise Juneau wrote in an email to staff Thursday morning. “That has been our stance from the beginning of the Governor’s directive.”

“We will no longer be asking our SPS educators to sign up to provide child care. We want you to focus on providing our students with continuous learning in creative ways.”

Read the full story here.

—Dahlia Bazzaz

‘Not smart’: Amazon execs, in leaked memo, sought to tar fired employee who organized coronavirus walkout

As Amazon grapples with coronavirus infections among workers at a growing number of its facilities, senior leaders sought to discredit the organizer of a walkout in New York this week, according to an internal memo.

Amazon general counsel David Zapolsky, in notes from a meeting of top executives circulated within the company and leaked to VICE News, called walkout organizer Chris Smalls — who was fired earlier this week — “not smart, or articulate, and to the extent the press wants to focus on us versus him, we will be in a much stronger PR position than simply explaining for the umpteenth time how we’re trying to protect workers.”

Zapolsky, an Amazon employee for more than 20 years and a member of Jeff Bezos’ senior leadership team, said in a statement released Thursday by Amazon that his comments were “personal and emotional” and driven by frustration at Smalls. Amazon said Smalls was fired for failing to quarantine himself after being exposed to another employee with COVID-19 — the illness caused by the virus — among other violations.

“I let my emotions draft my words and get the better of me,” Zapolsky said.

Read the full story here.

—Benjamin Romano

Inslee extends stay-at-home order through May 4

Gov. Jay Inslee Thursday announced an extension of his emergency stay-home order through the end of May 4, to halt the spread of the new coronavirus.

Thursday’s announcement extends by nearly a month Inslee’s order that closed many businesses, public schools and much of Washington’s society as the state continues to battle cases of COVID-19, the illness caused by the virus.

"The hard truth is since I announced it, the number of deaths has doubled," Inslee said. "May 4 is the absolute soonest of when we could achieve our ends to keep our loved ones safe. We unfortunately have yet to see the full weight of this virus in our state."

The extension means the entire stay-home order will remain in effect a full six weeks, through 11:59 p.m., Monday, May 4th. That makes Tuesday, May 5th the first day for businesses and other activities to open back up.

Read the full story here.

—Joseph O'Sullivan

State health officials report a total of 6,585 COVID-19 cases, including 262 deaths

The Washington State Department of Health (DOH) has confirmed an additional 601 cases and 15 deaths from COVID-19, the illness caused by the novel coronavirus.

The newly released numbers bring the total of confirmed cases in Washington to 6,585, including 262 deaths.

The bulk of the cases remain in King County, which is reporting 2,609 confirmed cases and 175 deaths. The state also confirmed 1,266 cases in Snohomish County, which has reported 38 deaths.

The number of cases across Washington has increased as the virus spreads and as testing capacity expands. King County public-health officials have said the number of cases could double every five to seven days and have urged people to follow social-distancing measures to slow the spread.

—Elise Takahama

San Juan County health officials confirm six COVID-19 cases, including staffer at Friday Harbor medical center

San Juan County has confirmed a second COVID-19 case on San Juan Island and a third on Orcas Island, bringing the county's total number of cases to six, according to its public health department.

The San Juan Island case was detected in a staff member at PeaceHealth Peace Island Medical Center in Friday Harbor, the statement said. The medical center's infection-prevention team is working to identify and contact everyone who may have been exposed to the virus.

“Our team is monitoring this situation closely and supporting the hospital with all of the resources we can," said Merry-Ann Keane, the hospital's chief administrative officer. "I want to remind residents that though the islands have been doing everything right and people have been taking this situation seriously, these new cases are a warning that the next couple of weeks will be critical in determining how well we weather this storm."

San Juan County health officials are encouraging residents to practice good hygiene, limit social contact and stay home if sick.

—Elise Takahama

FDA approves first coronavirus antibody test in U.S.

The Food and Drug Administration on Thursday approved a new test for coronavirus antibodies, the first for use in the United States.

Currently available tests are designed to find fragments of viral genes indicating an infection. Doctors swab the nose and throat, and amplify any genetic material from the virus found there.

The new test, by contrast, looks for protective antibodies in a finger prick of blood. It tells doctors whether a patient has ever been exposed to the virus and now may have some immunity.

That is important for several reasons. People with immunity might be able to venture safely from their homes and help shore up the workforce. It may be particularly important for doctors and nurses to know whether they have antibodies.

Antibody testing eventually should give scientists a better sense of how widespread the infection is in the population — and help researchers calculate more precisely the death rate.

Read the full story here.

—The New York Times

Trump administration moves toward promoting broader use of face masks

WASHINGTON — The Trump administration is formalizing new guidance to recommend that many, if not almost all, Americans wear face coverings when leaving home, in an effort to slow the spread of the new coronavirus.

The recommendations, still being finalized Thursday, would apply at least to those who live in areas hard-hit by community transmission of the virus that causes COVID-19. A person familiar with the White House coronavirus task force’s discussion said officials would suggest that nonmedical masks, T-shirts or bandannas be used to cover the nose and mouth when outside the home — for instance, at the grocery store or pharmacy. Medical-grade masks, particularly short-in-supply N95 masks, would be reserved for those dealing directly with the sick.

The person spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the proposed guidance before its public release.

Trump on Tuesday indicated he would support such a recommendation, potentially even for all Americans regardless of where they live. “I would say do it, but use a scarf if you want, you know, rather than going out and getting a mask or whatever.”

Read the full story here.

—The Associated Press

Seattle institute’s coronavirus treatment study gets quick FDA approval

A potentially groundbreaking novel coronavirus treatment being explored by Seattle’s Infectious Disease Research Institute has received FDA approval to start human trials.

That announcement came Thursday morning, two weeks after the institute landed a seven-figure funding deal with New Jersey-based biotech company Celularity to conduct the testing. The Seattle institute’s CEO, Dr. Corey Casper, said in an interview Thursday he hopes the testing can be expedited to begin this month.

“What we’re trying to do is follow the epidemic and figure out where the therapies will be most needed and figure out where we can open clinical trial sites at those places,” Casper said, adding he’s looking for “places that have the experience to open the study quickly, give the product safely to patients, and get the study done as safely and efficiently as possible.”

Casper said he’s sent evaluation proposals to 16 potential sites, including two in Washington state. He hopes to have the two sites here participate along with a handful of others on the East Coast — primarily in the greater New York and mid-Atlantic regions.

Read the full story here.

—Geoff Baker

Washington to receive more than $52 million in housing funds from coronavirus relief package

More than $52 million in housing and homelessness funds from the recently passed federal coronavirus stimulus package will flow to the state of Washington, as well as to cities and counties, Sen. Maria Cantwell announced Thursday.

Top recipients include: Washington state ($17.7 million); Seattle ($8.9 million); King County ($4.3 million); Spokane ($2.9 million); Pierce County ($2.8 million); Snohomish County ($2.7 million) and Tacoma ($2.2 million).

The money comes from three housing programs at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), according to Cantwell’s office. About $35 million of the funds will come in the form of Community Development Block Grants which can pay for affordable housing and support for low-to-moderate-income persons. Another $17 million comes from Emergency Solutions Grants to help people experiencing homelessness with expanded and improved emergency shelters. An additional $600,000 will fund services for governments and nonprofits benefiting low-income people diagnosed with HIV/AIDS.

A full list of the funding recipients can be found here.

—Jim Brunner

Aggressive, early public health intervention sets up faster economic recovery, MIT study suggests

Cities that intervened earlier and more aggressively against the spread of the 1918 flu pandemic had a better economy the following year than similarly affected cities that were slower to act, according to a recent study.

The early-intervening cities "do not perform worse and, if anything, grow faster after the pandemic is over," the authors wrote. "Our findings thus indicate that (nonpharmaceutical interventions such as social distancing and quarantine) not only lower mortality; they also mitigate the adverse economic consequences of a pandemic."

The MIT Sloan study looked at the severity of the 1918 pandemic as well as the speed and duration of nonpharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) imposed at the time, including closures of schools, theaters, churches and non-essential businesses, as well as bans on public gatherings.

They analyzed how the pandemic impacted manufacturing jobs, manufacturing output, bank assets, consumer durables and mortality. Researchers included Emil Verner, a professor at MIT Sloan School of Management; Sergio Correia of the Federal Reserve's Board of Governors, and Stephan Luck of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

The study found that where the pandemic hit hard, there was a sharp and persistent decline in economic activity during and following the pandemic, sometimes for years.

However, in places where the disease struck hardest, the faster a city reacted to it with aggressive measures, the better off it was economically one year later compared with other hard-hit cities, the study found.

Reacting even 10 days earlier to the arrival of the pandemic, and implementing NPIs for an additional 50 days, increased manufacturing employment one year after the pandemic among similarly affected urban areas, the authors said.

“In normal times, nonpharmaceutical interventions like social distancing and quarantines are bad for the economy. They make it more difficult for economic activity to take place, like going to work. This leads to the notion of a trade-off between public health interventions and the economy," Verner said in a statement. "Policymakers are in uncharted territory, with little guidance on what the expected economic fallout will be and how the crisis should be managed.”

Verner said it's impossible now to have a "normal economy," but lifting restrictions too early could make the economy worse in the long run.

—Christine Clarridge

Boeing to offer buyouts, cutting workforce for “a different-sized” market after coronavirus pandemic

With the airline business staggered by the coronavirus pandemic, Boeing Commercial Airplanes boss Stan Deal told employees Thursday the company must reduce its workforce “to ensure our business is more closely aligned to the realities of a different-sized commercial market once the recovery starts.”

Deal’s message makes clear he’s trying to stave off involuntary layoffs and also strongly suggests that cuts in aircraft production rates are likely.

Read the full story here.

—Dominic Gates

Amazon vowed to crack down on coronavirus profiteering. Some sellers have figured out loopholes.

Amazon took a hard line against pandemic profiteering last month, vowing to remove product listings that claim to prevent the coronavirus.

But third-party merchants that sell millions of items on the e-commerce giant’s marketplace are finding ways around that. The latest gambit: promising coronavirus protection in the gallery of images that shoppers see next to the product on the site.

A photo hawking Lutos Advanced Hand Sanitizer claims that it will “protect you from COVID-19,” without making the claim in the product description. Agelloc Hand Sanitizer Soothing Spray promises “efficient prevention of coronavirus” in a photo, too.

Avoiding spelling out the claims in the text helps sellers skirt algorithms trained to scan and delete products that break the rules.

Read the full story here.

—The Washington Post

Seattle has online map of food resources during the coronavirus crisis

Seattle’s Human Services Department is maintaining an online map of food resources during the coronavirus crisis.

The interactive map shows the locations of food banks, senior meal sites, public school student to-go meal sites and some other resources. For each site, the map includes available information eligibility and hours, plus other details.

—Daniel Beekman

Nurses union calls for transparency, data on personal protective equipment and COVID-19 testing of health workers

The Washington State Nurses Association is asking government leaders for more transparency and data about personal protective equipment and COVID-19 tests of health care workers and first responders.

“It is time for our health care systems and government to be fully and completely transparent with health care providers. We especially need to know how much personal protective equipment (PPE) is available at the Emergency Operations Center, how much has been distributed, and where it’s gone — down to the facility level,” Washington State Nurses Association (WSNA) Executive Director Sally Watkins said in a statement, adding that nurses continue to hear about medical supply deliveries but lack what they need. WSNA has 19,000 members.

Watkins said health care systems should also provide better information about employees' health and testing.

“We also need accurate and updated information on testing: how long tests are taking to process, how many health care workers and first responders have been tested, and the results of those tests.”

—Evan Bush

Northwest Folklife Festival postponed, will not be held Memorial Day weekend for first time in 49 years

As COVID-19 continues to disrupt our way of life, another longtime Seattle tradition will not go on as planned.

The Northwest Folklife Festival announced Thursday that the Seattle Center institution is postponed. The postponement marks the first time in 49 years that the festival will not be held over Memorial Day weekend.

A makeup date was not given.

—Michael Rietmulder

Democratic National Committee is delaying its presidential nominating convention until mid-August

The Democratic National Committee is delaying its presidential nominating convention until the week of Aug. 17 after prospective nominee Joe Biden said he didn’t think it would be possible to hold a normal convention in mid-July because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Convention CEO Joe Solmonese confirmed the decision in a statement Thursday, the Associated Press reported.

“In our current climate of uncertainty, we believe the smartest approach is to take additional time to monitor how this situation unfolds so we can best position our party for a safe and successful convention,” Solmonese said.

Biden on Wednesday night told NBC late-night commedian Jimmy Fallon that he doubted “whether the Democratic convention is going to be able to be held” on its original July 13-16 schedule in Milwaukee.

“I think it’s going to have move into August,” Biden said. “You just have to be prepared for the alternative, and the alternative — we don’t know what it’s going to be.”

Those comments are the furthest Biden had gone in predicting a delay for the convention, which would mark the start of the general election campaign.

The coronavirus pandemic is forcing Democrats and Republicans to take a close look at whether they’ll be able to move forward as planned with their summer conventions. Republicans plan to gather Aug. 24-27 in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press

28 college spring breakers who flouted public health advice test positive for coronavirus

About 70 students from the University of Texas at Austin, all in their 20s, chartered a plane to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, in late March. They took the trip despite public health advice to avoid crowding as well as nonessential air travel.

On Tuesday, public health officials announced 28 students, more than a third of the young people who took the trip, had returned and tested positive for the coronavirus. Many of the remaining students are under public health monitoring, according to officials.

“The virus often hides in the healthy and is given to those who are at grave risk of being hospitalized or dying,“ Dr. Mark E. Escott, the interim medical director and health authority for the city of Austin and Travis County, said in a statement. Read story here.

—The New York Times

Life Care Center of Kirkland, where U.S. outbreak took hold, faces $611,000 fine, possible loss of funding

Federal inspectors have found that a Kirkland nursing home failed to provide adequate care to residents during a novel coronavirus outbreak that claimed 37 lives, and that staff continued to admit new residents well after they knew a respiratory illness was spreading at the facility.

In a scathing review, the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) also found that the Life Care Center of Kirkland attributed the outbreak in February to a typical flu, despite several residents with the illness testing negative for it, and did not promptly report to health officials.

Life Care faces a potential $611,000 fine and the loss of its Medicare and Medicaid funding if it does not correct multiple deficiencies cited by inspectors, CMS said in a letter to the nursing home’s director.

The Washington State Department of Social and Health Services also found Life Care violated state requirements and ordered the facility Thursday not to admit new residents until it's back in compliance.

"We are confident that with guidance from CMS we will be able to continue to be a top rated facility going forward," Life Care said in a statement, referring to the high overall rating it previously received from the agency.

Multiple findings by CMS reflect previous reporting by The Seattle Times, including that the nursing home continued to admit residents after noticing a respiratory outbreak on Feb. 10, and even while reporting it to health officials on Feb. 26. Interviews and a review of 911 calls logs obtained by The Seattle Times indicated the disease could have appeared earlier.

CMS found that four residents admitted between Feb. 11 and Feb. 24 contracted COVID-19 and died.

Read the full story here.

Timeline and 911 calls of coronavirus' spread at Life Care Center of Kirkland

—Asia Fields and Mary Hudetz

Looking back a century

“I HAD A little bird, and its name was Enza. I opened the window and in-flew-Enza.”

In the fall of 1918, this was not just a well-known nursery rhyme. The worldwide influenza pandemic was quite real — and lethal.

It blew into Seattle in a perfect storm in 1918, closing schools and forcing residents to shelter in place. Everyone wore masks ... but they turned out to be useless. Druggists peddled snake-oil cures. As contagion swelled and newspapers listed sobering daily death tolls, public complaints about closures evaporated.

Before the virus ran its course in 1919, a third of the world’s population had been infected, resulting in 50 million to 100 million deaths, including nearly 5,000 Washingtonians.

Read the story of how the 1918 flu pandemic came and went.

—Jean Sherrard / Special to The Seattle Times

Most of Europe’s virus dead are over 60 — but the young aren't immune

More than 95% of those who have died of coronavirus in Europe have been older than 60, but young people should not be complacent, the head of the World Health Organization’s office says.

“Young people are not invincible,” said Dr. Hans Kluge in Copenhagen. "The very notion that COVID-19 only affects older people is factually wrong.”

The U.N. health agency says 10% to 15% of people under 50 with the disease have moderate or severe cases.

Read the full story here.

—The Associated Press

Trump says he may restrict flights from New York over coronavirus

President Donald Trump said his administration is weighing whether to halt flights from some of the cities hardest hit by the coronavirus outbreak — including New York and Miami — but is wary of further harming the airline industry.

“We’re certainly looking at it but once you do that you really are clamping down on an industry that is desperately needed,” Trump said Wednesday evening at a White House press briefing.

“I am looking where flights are going into hot spots,” Trump said when asked if he was considering a temporary ban on all domestic flights. “Some of those flights I didn’t like from the beginning, but closing up every single flight on every single airline, that’s a very, very, very rough decision. But we are thinking about hot spots, where you go from spot to spot, both hot. And we’ll let you know fairly soon.”

Trump did not specify which cities would be affected. The White House did not immediately respond to a request for more information.

Read the full story here.


Inside the Army’s rush to prepare a field hospital at CenturyLink Field

Hundreds of soldiers in the cavernous CenturyLink Field Event Center are hustling to erect a hospital to handle a potential overflow of non-COVID-19 patients from medical centers that could soon be overwhelmed by the pandemic. Above, the soldiers test masks: The person wearing the mask dons a hood, and the tester sprays an aerosol solution. If the mask-wearer can taste the solution, the mask doesn’t fit right. Take a photo tour of the field hospital.

—Kris Higginson

Catch up on the past 24 hours

Nearly 190,000 Washington state residents filed jobless claims last week, shattering the previous week's record. Federal cash will supercharge their benefits, but it won't happen right away. A nationwide job report out this morning shows more of the pandemic's stunning toll.

Boeing offered buyouts to its workers today in a bid to quickly shed costs as business craters.

A Seattle institute can start human trials for a potentially groundbreaking coronavirus treatment. The FDA gave a speedy green light to the Seattle Infectious Diseases Institute's new approach.

The national stockpile of masks and gloves is nearly depleted, federal officials say. This leaves the White House and states to compete for scarce protective gear in a marketplace rife with price-gouging.

Seattle has booked an entire downtown hotel for first responders to isolate and quarantine. It already has its first occupants. This comes as more firefighters, police officers and other crucial workers fall ill.

Are these really "essential" businesses? From pool installers to boatyards servicing yachts, there's quite a gray area when it comes to the businesses that can keep operating under Gov. Jay Inslee's stay-home order, and some companies are drawing complaints. Inslee yesterday updated his list of essential businesses.

Some Washington gun dealers are defying Inslee's order by staying open, and the clash could soon escalate. Nationwide, a run on guns is inflaming tensions.

Evidence is growing that seemingly healthy people can spread the virus without showing symptoms, scientists say. The federal government has issued a new warning that anyone exposed to it can be considered a carrier, reinforcing the need for social distancing.

In L.A., the mayor has told 4 million residents to wear masks, even homemade ones. In China, life is ruled by a colored symbol on a phone screen. Here's what else is happening around the nation and world.

Jazz legend Ellis Marsalis Jr., 85, patriarch of a famed musical clan, has died after battling pneumonia brought on by the new coronavirus.

—Kris Higginson

Here's help

If you're making your own mask, how should you do it? Even the experts can't pick one way to recommend, but a growing number say something is probably better than nothing. They're offering guidelines on the basics.

Worried about how to pay the mortgage? Know who's eligible for loan relief and what your options are.

Homeschooling advice from veteran homeschoolers: Relax. Then, focus on what's really important — and it's probably not getting the math or science lesson done, says one home-schooling mom with a teaching background.

—Kris Higginson

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.