Editor’s note: This is a live account of updates from Saturday, April 25, as the events unfolded. 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.
As the state battles both the new coronavirus pandemic and a bruising economic slowdown, Gov. Jay Inslee announced Friday that some construction work will go forward under new safety guidelines to protect workers. The plan could serve as a template for slowly reopening other sectors of the economy, Inslee said.
Scientists, researchers and politicians also continue to debate the effectiveness of the malaria drug President Donald Trump has praised as a possible cure for COVID-19. On Friday, University of Washington researchers announced their team is planning to tackle a major new study of the hydroxychloroquine drug, predicting results could be available by July.
Throughout Saturday, on this page, we’ll be posting updates from Seattle Times journalists and others on the pandemic 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.
Resident of Washington Soldiers Home in Orting tests positive for COVID-19
A Washington Soldiers Home in Orting resident was diagnosed with COVID-19 after widespread testing at the state’s four veterans homes, according to the state Department of Veterans Affairs.
The resident has not shown symptoms of the virus, and has been isolated in their room, the department said. The results for 90 residents in the facilities in Orting, Port Orchard, Spokane and Walla Walla are pending.
Two residents of the Spokane Veterans Home have died and at least 23 others have tested positive for the virus. Residents who test positive there are being transferred to the Mann-Grandstaff VA Medical Center, which converted an area of the medical center to a specialized COVID-19 unit.
The department plans to give tests to employees at the four facilities, which provide 24-hour care for honorably discharged military veterans.
Mason County reports first COVID-19 death
A Mason County man in his 70s has died of COVD-19, marking the county's first death related to the virus, health officials said Saturday evening.
The man had been hospitalized outside Mason County. Mason County Public Health didn’t specify where the man had been hospitalized or where he lived.
Twenty-two Mason County residents have tested positive for COVID-19, with no additional cases reported in the past week, according to the Washington State Department of Health.
'Lives Remembered,' chronicling the toll of the coronavirus
This many cases. That many deaths. More and more each day. If you don't know someone who's been sickened or killed by COVID-19, it can be easy to grow numb to these figures.
But whole families and communities are grieving, and if we are to truly understand the toll this coronavirus has taken — and is taking — their stories need to be front and center. Each data point you hear about represents a human life whose loss is felt by countless other people. The matriarch of a local classic Hawaiian restaurant. A longtime emergency-room doctor. A veteran Seattle teacher.
View the "Lives Remembered" project here.
Total number of COVID-19 cases increases to 13,319, including 738 deaths
State health officials have confirmed an additional 342 cases and 15 deaths from COVID-19 in Washington, bringing the total number of cases to 13,319 and the total number of deaths to 738.
In King County, 400 people have died and 5,739 have tested positive for the virus as of Friday, according to data released Saturday by the State Department of Health.
Across the state, 7.8% of the 170,594 tests conducted have been positive for COVID-19. The percentage of positive cases out of total tests conducted is higher in King, Snohomish and Pierce counties, where between 9% and 12% of the tests had positive results.
Naval destroyer USS Kidd reports rise in virus cases to 33
WASHINGTON — The Navy reports that the number of sailors aboard the Everett-based USS Kidd confirmed to be infected with the novel coronavirus has nearly doubled, rising from 18 on Friday to 33.
The destroyer with its crew of 350 are off the Pacific coast of South America. Its current mission is related to U.S. counter-drug activities. In a statement issued Saturday, the Navy said an embarked medical team continues testing of the Kidd’s crew. Two sailors have been medically evacuated to the United States. Meanwhile, officials say those aboard the Kidd are wearing N95 masks and other personal protective equipment.
The Navy says the amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island is en route to rendezvous with Kidd in case medical support is required at sea. Officials say the Makin Island has a fleet surgical team, intensive care capacity and ventilators as well as additional testing capability.
Read the full story here.
Washington's congressional delegation divided on coronavirus spending oversight panel
All 10 members of Washington's U.S. delegation this week backed a new $484 billion coronavirus relief package, but they split along partisan lines on separate vote to establish a spending-oversight committee.
The coronavirus spending bill passed on an overwhelming vote of 388 for and just five opposed. The measure includes help for hospitals, farms, small businesses and other sectors to cope with the ongoing economic shutdown due to the global pandemic. Trump signed the aid package into law Thursday.
But many Republicans refused to go along with majority Democrats on a second measure creating a new House committee, armed with subpoena power, to oversee distribution of relief funding expected to top $3 trillion this year. The House Select Committee on the Coronavirus Crisis will include members from both parties, but will be controlled by the Democratic House majority. It was approved on a 212-182 vote.
Democrats said they patterned it after a similar committee established after World War II by then-Sen. Harry Truman to probe possible waste and fraud in spending by the Roosevelt administration. But Republicans called it another effort to disparage the administration of President Donald Trump in an election year.
Washington's three House Republicans voted no on the measure, including Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Spokane; Dan Newhouse, R-Sunnyside; and Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Camas. All seven of the state's House Democrats voted yes, Suzan DelBene, D-Medina; Rick Larsen, D-Lake Stevens; Derek Kilmer, D-Gig Harbor; Pramila Jayapal, D-Seattle; Kim Schrier, D-Issaquah; Adam Smith, D-Bellevue; Denny Heck, D-Olympia.
Experts: cruise-ship industry’s decisions contributed to coronavirus toll
For weeks after the coronavirus was detected in early February on a cruise ship off the coast of Japan, the cruise industry kept sailing, despite efforts by top U.S. health officials to curtail voyages.
That decision contributed to the mounting toll of what is now a global pandemic, according to health experts.
A Washington Post review of cruise line statements, government announcements and media reports found that the coronavirus infected passengers and crew on at least 55 ships that sailed in the waters off nearly every continent, about a fifth of the total global fleet.
At least 65 people who traveled or worked on the ships have since died, according to The Post tally, although the full scope of deaths is unknown. A similar review by the Miami Herald also identified 65 deaths linked to ships.
"We here on land, we were seeing all the news, all the ships," said Jennifer Paul-Slater, whose brother Gerald, a 72-year-old retiree from Atlanta, died of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, three days after disembarking the Celebrity Eclipse, one of the ships which had an outbreak. "They could have taken more precautions."
Seattle Opera to rehire 180 workers after receiving $2.3 million federal loan
Seattle Opera has received a $2.3 million loan under the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), allowing the organization to temporarily rehire 180 workers.
The opera company announced Friday that it had received the PPP loan, part of the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
The organization previously had laid off 215 artist and production employees, after canceling its production of canceled “La bohème, plus 12 administrators, and imposed salary cuts for remaining workers earning more than $50,000.
Boeing kills its $4.2 billion purchase of Brazilian jetmaker Embraer
In another sign of the economic havoc dealt by the coronavirus pandemic, Boeing on Saturday killed its proposed $4.2 billion acquisition of the commercial jet business of Embraer, the regional Brazilian jetmaker.
Boeing cited an inability to agree on final terms as it let a midnight Friday deadline expire. "Boeing exercised its rights to terminate after Embraer did not satisfy the necessary conditions," Boeing said in a statement.
The smaller company responded with a scathing declaration that Boeing "has manufactured false claims as a pretext to seek to avoid its commitments."
Industry observers who had been expecting the decision said the real reason for terminating the deal is the collapse in demand for airplanes due to the pandemic and Boeing’s urgent need to conserve cash as revenue dries up.
"Boeing can’t afford the deal any more," said Bainbridge Island-based aviation analyst Scott Hamilton of Leeham.net.
Catch up on the past 24 hours:
Some construction work in Washington can resume under new safety guidelines to protect workers from COVID-19. Under the plan announced Friday by Gov. Jay Inslee, "low-risk" tasks can resume on existing projects, so long as workers maintain physical distancing and follow other safety and health requirements. Washington has had one of the most strict bans on construction in the nation.
University of Washington researchers will lead a major new study of the malaria drug touted by President Donald Trump as a possible cure for COVID-19. The clinical trial is among dozens around the world examining the effectiveness of hydoxychloroquine against the novel coronavirus. The 60-year-old drug has become the subject of raging debate since Trump started promoting it at his White House briefings, despite scant evidence of its promise to treat COVID-19.
Nursing homes have violated basic health standards, allowing the coronavirus to spread, according to a report by ProPublica. Inspection reports from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, or CMS, revealed nine nursing homes across the country, including Enumclaw Health and Rehabilitation Center, "failed to take appropriate actions related to a COVID-19 outbreak" and that the actions put residents and staff in "immediate jeopardy."
Daunting obstacles stand in the way of an ambitious testing goal set by Gov. Jay Inslee in order to reopen the state economy. Inslee this week said he wants to see at least 20,000 COVID-19 tests a day in the state, and a rapid response team of 1,500 workers to track people who have had contact with someone who tests positive. To attain even the low end of Inslee's target, Washington would need a sevenfold increase in its current average daily testing.
To rein in price gouging by some food-delivery services, Seattle is imposing a 15% cap on commissions by third-party, app-based services, Mayor Jenny Durkan announced Friday. Durkan said the move was needed because some companies are charging "exorbitant commission fees," exacerbating the financial hardship already experienced by some restaurants. The emergency order is effective immediately and will remain until the state allows dine-in service again, the mayor’s office said Friday evening.
Meat packing plants in Washington are being hit by severe coronavirus outbreaks. More than 100 workers and family members have been diagnosed at a Tyson plant in Wallula, Walla Walla County, where many are quarantining at home to contain the outbreak. One longtime plant worker, 60-year-old J. Guadalupe Olivera Mendoza, went home ill in March and died Monday after more than a week on a hospital ventilator. The cases are part of an avalanche of outbreaks nationally that have hit U.S. beef, pork and poultry plants.
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