Editor’s note: This is a live account of updates from Wednesday, April 8, as the events unfolded. Click here to see updates from Thursday, April 9. 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.

In its latest effort to stem the coronavirus pandemic, Washington state has ordered 84 million items of needed medical gear, including masks, ventilators, stethoscopes and hand sanitizer. Local public figures, including a former University of Washington basketball star, are donating to support health care workers. Small businesses hurt by the outbreak have been promised help, but so far, that rescue has been marred by a host of internal problems and a rocky roll-out.

The number of COVID-19 cases in Washington continues to grow, though at a slower rate. As of 3:30 p.m. Wednesday, the state has confirmed 9,097 cases of COVID-19, including 421 deaths.

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 Tuesday 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 Wednesday.

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Live updates:

Police respond to disturbance involving hundreds of inmates at Monroe Correctional Complex

State and local police brought a large disturbance at Monroe Correctional Complex under control Wednesday evening, after a couple hundred inmates concerned about the facility’s COVID-19 outbreak threatened to set fires and possibly take corrections officers hostage.

The disturbance began in the prison’s recreation yard around 6 p.m., according to a statement from the Department of Corrections (DOC). Fire extinguishers were set off in two housing units within the minimum-security unit, creating the appearance of smoke from the outside, the statement said.

The conflict unfolded on the same day inmates at the prison’s minimum-security unit were told that additional inmates had tested positive for COVID-19. On Monday, DOC confirmed the first infection in the unit. Late Tuesday, the agency announced two additional inmates had tested positive. And Wednesday, the DOC acknowledged an additional three inmates had tested positive, for a total of six at the prison.

Read the full story here.

—Jim Brunner and Elise Takahama
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Coronavirus hospitalizations in Washington state sharply higher than earlier surveys, but officials say curve still flattening

Nearly 1,000 patients in Washington hospitals have confirmed or suspected diagnoses of COVID-19, according to a new tally that suggests earlier state surveys significantly undercounted these admissions.

Washington State Hospital Association statistics, current as of April 7, include 664 confirmed and another 331 suspected cases of the disease caused by the coronavirus. About half of the cases are in King County hospitals.

Cassie Sauer, the association’s executive director, said this count results from a new statewide reporting system that went into place on April 2 under a proclamation from state Secretary of Health John Wiesman.

This new system is more accurate than earlier surveys done in March, Sauer said, which counted weekly admissions of patients with COVID-19-like symptoms but did not track total patient counts. Those earlier surveys counted only 193 hospitalizations for the seven-day period that ended March 28, another 251 patients for the week of March 21 and 226 patients for the week ending March 7.

These numbers, although higher than the earlier surveys,  still roughly track with models showing Washington is flattening the curve of the coronavirus, and that hospitalizations statewide may have peaked. And Sauer, as well as state officials, note that if the COVID-19 patient counts do surge higher, there still is capacity in the Washington hospital system to treat these people.

—Hal Bernton and Joseph O’Sullivan

Costco says curbs on customers and store hours amid coronavirus crisis tempered growth

Costco Wholesale’s sales soared in March, but not as much as expected: Curbs the retailer placed on its operations to cope with coronavirus-related demand slowed the pace in the back half of the month.

The retailer’s comparable U.S. sales excluding fuel — a key metric watched by analysts — rose 12.1%, it said Wednesday, well below the 24.1% average estimate compiled by Consensus Metrix. Limits on customer traffic, store hours and the closure of some departments put a damper on growth in recent weeks, the company said on a prerecorded call.

It was still the biggest monthly gain in at least seven years, according to data compiled by Bloomberg, and tops the 11.6% growth Costco posted last month.

—Bloomberg

Jobless benefits for some will exceed their wages, thanks to boost from coronavirus relief package

Washington’s overloaded unemployment system has been a vexation for many of the hundreds of thousands of newly jobless workers trying to file claims.

But those frustrations may be forgotten when the benefit checks start coming.

Thanks to an infusion of federal emergency funds, weekly unemployment benefits for many lower-income workers in Washington will equal — or even exceed — what they were earning before being laid off, according to the state Employment Security Department (ESD).

“There is a major effort happening to get money into the economy, into people’s pockets as quickly as possible and we are a part of that,” said ESD Commissioner Suzi LeVine during a press call last week.

Read the full story here.

—Paul Roberts
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Coughing ‘attacks’ may be prosecuted as terrorism in war on coronavirus

On March 10, a man named Cody Lee Pfister walked into a Missouri Walmart and filmed himself licking deodorant on one of the shelves.

According to the statement of probable cause Warrenton police later used to secure a warrant for his arrest, Pfister turned to a phone camera and asked, “Who’s scared of coronavirus?” before sticking out his tongue and “dragging it across approximately ten (10) containers on the shelf and a portion of the shelf itself.”

Within days, the 26-year-old was charged with making a terrorist threat in the second degree, a felony.

“It was idiotic, moronic, all those things,” said Pfister’s attorney, Patrick Coyne. “But was it felonious? That’s going to be the question.”

Attorneys and law enforcement officials are suddenly grappling with questions like that one — if not precisely like that one — amid new regulations aimed at stopping the spread of COVID-19.

—The Washington Post

Coronavirus spread to 137 long-term care facilities in Washington state, killing 221 people

At least 137 long-term care facilities in Washington state had confirmed cases of the disease caused by novel coronavirus as of Wednesday, and 221 deaths have been linked to them, according to state officials.

A list of facilities with COVID-19 cases, provided for the first time by the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS), shows that nearly one out of seven nursing homes or assisted living facilities have been hit by the pandemic. Nearly half the facilities with cases are in King County.

At least 52 of the facilities in the state have reported deaths from the disease so far, according to the state Department of Health.

The list of facilities is available here.

—Asia Fields and Paige Cornwell

GM and Bothell’s Ventec get $489.4 million order from U.S. for 30,000 ventilators in coronavirus fight

Bothell-based Ventec Life Systems saw the biggest single order for its portable VOCSN ventilator Wednesday when the federal government requested 30,000 of the life-sustaining machines for $489.4 million.

The Department of Health and Human Services placed the order through Ventec’s partner, General Motors, which is to produce 6,132 machines by June 1 and the rest by August. Ramping up production lines at a GM plant in Kokomo, Indiana, ordinarily used to build precision car parts, is expected to take several weeks.

Ventec chief strategy officer Chris Brooks said Wednesday that while his company continues to boost its own production in Bothell — projected to increase nearly tenfold to 2,000 ventilators a month by summer — the government contract focuses only on units being built in Indiana.

It was unclear whether Ventec or GM would be the primary contractor on the deal as both were directly involved in negotiations. Suppliers have said GM was paying them directly.

Read the full story here.

—Geoff Baker
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Coronavirus drive-thru testing brings extra challenges for people who don’t drive

White tents in parking lots have become a visual indicator of the evolving fight against the novel coronavirus, a sign of the slow ramp up of accessible testing. But that can come with a glaring gap: access for people who don’t or can’t drive.

Advocates for people who ride transit and people with disabilities asked Mayor Jenny Durkan and the Seattle City Council Wednesday to require drive-thru services, including health care and businesses like fast-food restaurants, to allow people to approach on foot or using a wheelchair.

Mayor Jenny Durkan indicated some support but no plans for legislation Wednesday.

Durkan “would be supportive” if the City Council proposed a “measure to increase accessibility” and supports “encouraging businesses … to find ways for all individuals to have safe, reliable access,” her office said in a statement.

Read the full story here.

—Heidi Groover

Inslee should suspend all water-service shut-offs during coronavirus crisis, advocacy groups say

Gov. Jay Inslee should do more to ensure all Washington residents have access to water during the novel  coronavirus crisis, a group of community and advocacy organizations say.

More than 20 organizations plan to send a letter to Inslee on Thursday asking him to suspend all water service disconnections for nonpayment and to require water be restored to homes previously disconnected for nonpayment.

The organizations say people across the state need to be able to keep themselves and others safe from the virus by washing their hands and shouldn’t have to worry about losing water during a time when unemployment is spiking.

Read the full story here.

—Daniel Beekman

Delayed coronavirus test results strain Washington’s resources and leave patients in limbo

Arlington resident Deanna Price, a nurse, started feeling sick in mid-March. Price went to her doctor and was tested for coronavirus, but had to wait 11 days to get the results; she did not have COVID-19. (Ken Lambert / The Seattle Times)
Arlington resident Deanna Price, a nurse, started feeling sick in mid-March. Price went to her doctor and was tested for coronavirus, but had to wait 11 days to get the results; she did not have COVID-19. (Ken Lambert / The Seattle Times)

Last month, after two elderly residents of the Marysville nursing home where Deanna Price works came down with flu-like symptoms, she also started feeling sick and feared she was infected with the novel coronavirus.

Price, a licensed practical nurse, quickly went to see her doctor, who stuck a swab deep into her nostrils and sent the specimen off for COVID-19 testing. Price hunkered down at her Arlington home to wait for results, but days passed and her already short-staffed employer informed Price that she needed to use sick days to keep drawing a paycheck.

Finally, 11 days after giving her sample, her doctor told her she tested negative for the virus. Price could go back to a job deemed essential by the state.

“I was relieved,” Price said this week. “But it was a very long and frustrating wait. It really shouldn’t take so long.”

During the ongoing public health crisis, hundreds of Washington residents have had the same maddening experience — left to wait for days, even weeks, before finding out whether they’re infected with COVID-19, according to interviews and data.

Read the full story here.

—Lewis Kamb
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Cafeteria workers at UW Medical Center demand better protection from coronavirus

Hundreds of food-service workers at the University of Washington Medical Center (UWMC) are demanding more protection from the novel coronavirus, as they continue to staff the hospital’s cafeteria through the crisis.

More than 300 hospital and UW employees signed a petition, delivered Monday to hospital management, demanding the cafeteria be shut down for a “deep clean,” workers be given protective masks and gloves and temporary protective shields be erected around cashiers.

At least three workers at UWMC’s Plaza Cafe have tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, according to the Washington Federation of State Employees (WFSE), the union representing the cafeteria workers.

The first of those employees worked for five days after displaying symptoms but before testing positive in late March, WFSE said.

Read the full story here.

—David Gutman

Senators want details from Amazon on firing of New York coronavirus protest organizer

Was Christian Smalls fired from Amazon for violating a quarantine or because he helped organize a walkout to protest safety conditions at a New York warehouse where employees had been diagnosed with COVID-19?

Five U.S. senators sent Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos a series of questions in a letter Wednesday focusing on Smalls’ dismissal, which he and other politicians, as well as union leaders, have described as retaliation.

Seattle-based Amazon has repeatedly insisted Smalls was fired “for putting the health and safety of others at risk and violations of his terms of his employment,” as company spokeswoman Kristen Kish said Wednesday in response to the senators' letter.

But suspicions Smalls was fired in retaliation for worker organizing were stoked last week when notes from a meeting of top Amazon executives, including Bezos, revealed a plan to smear Smalls and position him as the face of a worker organizing effort that, while still limited, has gained momentum amid the company’s struggles with the novel coronavirus.

Read the full story here.

—Benjamin Romano

Trump is pushing a false argument on vote-by-mail fraud. Here are the facts.

With concerns mounting over how the country can conduct elections during a pandemic and Democrats pressing for alternatives to in-person voting, President Donald Trump has begun pushing a false argument that has circulated among conservatives for years — that voting by mail is a recipe for fraud.

“Mail ballots, they cheat,” Trump said at the White House on Tuesday afternoon. “Mail ballots are very dangerous for this country because of cheaters. They go collect them. They are fraudulent in many cases. They have to vote. They should have voter ID, by the way.”

The president spoke as Wisconsin voters, many wearing protective masks, were going to the polls on a fraught Election Day, after the Republican-led legislature refused Democratic demands to delay the election and allow for expanded mail-in voting. On Wednesday, Trump claimed again that there was “tremendous potential for voter fraud.”

Here’s a look at the facts on the matter.

—The New York Times
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Sounders owner Adrian Hanauer says widespread coronavirus testing needed before MLS can return

Sounders FC majority owner Adrian Hanauer has heard all of the extreme and fantastical plans professional sports leagues and fans have sketched trying to resume or debut a season during the global coronavirus pandemic.

Here’s another: Testing everyone prior to entering a stadium to watch a game or match.

“That’s not too crazy to imagine,” Hanauer said in a phone conversation Tuesday while quarantined in his Seattle home with his partner and their son, Leo.

“There’s equipment and you have to be able to run people through fast enough," he added. "But we as a society, we’re going to have to be open to things like that – having our temperature taken when we go into a building, an airport or maybe a sports arena. That is the kind of thing that has to be explored and could be part of the equation for a couple of years.”

Read the full story here.

—Jayda Evans

Washington state high school seniors will get a pass on certain graduation requirements

Washington state’s high school seniors don’t need to panic: Those who are on track to graduate this spring will get a pass from certain graduation requirements, state education officials ruled Wednesday.

Schools are closed in Washington through the end of the school year, though education officials have asked teachers to continue instruction remotely. But the move to distance education has left many students — seniors, in particular — concerned they’ll fall behind or fail to graduate.

Late Wednesday afternoon, Washington State Board of Education (SBE) officials found a fix for seniors. Board members voted unanimously to approve a set of emergency rules giving school districts power to waive seniors’ required course credits, including those for elective classes and core classes such as math and English. The new rules are effective immediately and apply to public school districts, as well as private, charter and tribal compact schools.

Read the full story here.

—Hannah Furfaro

Three more inmates at Monroe prison test positive for coronavirus

Three more people incarcerated at the Monroe Correctional Complex have tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the total infections among inmates there to six, according to the state Department of Corrections (DOC).

The first inmate infection at the prison was confirmed Monday inside the prison’s minimum-security unit, with two more announced late Tuesday. No other cases have so far been confirmed among inmates at other state prisons and no deaths have been reported.

The DOC did not send a news release announcing the new infections, but listed the updated figures on a coronavirus information page, which reports 54 COVID-19 test results are pending. Agency spokespersons did not immediately provide further details on the conditions of the infected persons.

The spread of the virus has prompted protests by inmate families and a lawsuit asking the state Supreme Court to order the release of thousands of prisoners, particularly those with underlying health problems.

In addition to the infections among inmates, the agency reports 14 DOC staff members across the state have been infected, including five at the Monroe prison.

—Jim Brunner
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UW moves commencement, first part of summer quarter online

The University of Washington has canceled live commencement exercises for spring 2020, moving instead to an interactive broadcast for the June 13 ceremony. It joins a long list of other universities that have already made plans to do so due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Instead of an in-person celebration at Husky Stadium, the university will broadcast a ceremony in a virtual “theater” by school and by college.

The university has also announced plans to remotely teach the first session of summer quarter, known as A Term. Washington State University also plans to hold a virtual commencement ceremony, and to teach its first summer term online

In an online post, the UW described the ceremony it is planning online as “surprisingly intimate, yet global in scope. Every effort is being made to help you celebrate with your classmate, family and friends.”

According to the announcement, a live celebration will be held a year late — on June 12, 2021 — at Husky Stadium, when students graduating this spring will finally get their chance to walk across the commencement stage.

All six public four-year institutions, all 34 community and technical colleges and 10 private colleges in Washington are teaching remotely this spring.

—Katherine Long

War over Easter: Kansas lawmakers revoke governor’s order limiting church gatherings

TOPEKA, Kan. — Kansas Republican leaders on Wednesday revoked Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly’s order limiting religious gatherings to 10 people, paving the way for churches to meet on Easter Sunday – a scenario health officials fear will further spread the deadly coronavirus across the state.

House and Senate leaders — meeting as a body called the Legislative Coordinating Council — voted along party lines to throw out the directive as the number of reported COVID-19 cases in the state climbed to more than 1,000 and the death count ticked up to 38. Church gatherings have produced three case clusters across the state.

Kelly denounced the decision at a late afternoon press conference, calling it “shockingly irresponsible” and one likely to cost Kansan lives.

Read full article here.

—The Kansas City Star

Americans don masks haltingly or not at all, despite CDC advice

Americans are learning to love the mask. Some of them, anyway.

Days after the federal government advised all residents to shield their faces outside the house to curb the spread of COVID-19, people from coast to coast covered themselves up like Old West bandits or would-be surgeons. But many still exhaled blithely, continuing to let their noses greet the sun.

On Monday afternoon in New York City — the epicenter of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. — most people on the streets and in the few open stores had only their eyes showing, or at least had a mask at the ready. Compliance wasn’t universal. On the Upper West Side near Columbia University, many police and security staff stood at guard points uncovered. The pathways of a crowded park bustled with maskless.

Read the full article here.

 

—Bloomberg
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Sealaska board of directors to donate $1 million to COVID-19 relief

The Sealaska board of directors is giving $1 million for COVID-19 relief. The money is intended to help tribes throughout southeast Alaska and nonprofits in the Seattle area working to meet emergency needs, including the Chief Seattle Club and Seattle Indian Health Board.

Half the money will be disbursed immediately to help meet emergency needs and the rest will be disbursed over the next several months, to help communities rebuild in the long term.

Sealaska was formed in 1971 as part of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act. Sealaska is the largest of 13 regional for-profit corporations with more than 22,000 shareholders, including about 6,000 in the Seattle area. The corporation's land holdings in southeast Alaska include traditional homelands of the Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian people. Primary businesses for the corporation include environmental services, including carbon-credit programs in which the corporation has enrolled almost half its land base, said Anthony Mallott, president and CEO of the corporation.

Carbon-credit payments to the corporation are continuing during the crisis, and are part of what makes the donation possible. "We have cash coming in and we know not everyone is in this position and that in our shareholder base there are extremely vulnerable individuals," Mallott said.

"This is for front line support for those in need."

—Lynda V. Mapes

27 people test positive for COVID-19 in King County shelters, including a new space intended to decrease crowding, public health officials say

Twenty-seven people living among 12 King County homeless shelters have tested positive for COVID-19, the illness caused by SARS-CoV-2, as of April 7, according to Public Health - Seattle & King County.

Two of the shelters experienced what Public Health termed "clusters," one of them a new shelter space set up by the county at Boeing Field in order to decrease crowding and prevent the spread of disease within the St. Martin de Porres Shelter in Sodo.

The Boeing Field shelter and the Lazarus Center in North Beacon Hill, both run by Catholic Community Services, have experienced six and 12 positive cases respectively, Public Health's T.J. Cosgrove said.

Some cities with large homeless populations have begun moving people into individual hotel units to prevent the spread of disease in congregate shelter settings. King County has provided 60 motel vouchers to people considered vulnerable to infection, said Leo Flor, King County director of community and human services. The county has also started working with some shelter providers to move people into hotels, Flor said, though the county did not provide information on how many people had already accessed those rooms.

The county has also set up three sites for people who tested positive for COVID-19 or are awaiting test results and are unable to access or isolate in a home. Forty-nine people occupied those units as of Tuesday night, according to Flor.

Staffing shortages, however, have limited the county's response. And the county doesn't think it's reached the peak of the outbreak.

"We know that we have more work ahead of us than we have behind us," Flor said.

—Sydney Brownstone

Spokane Veterans Home resident dies of COVID-19

A Spokane Veterans Home resident who tested positive for COVID-19 died Wednesday, according to the state Department of Veterans Affairs.

"We are always saddened by the loss of one of our honored Spokane Veterans Home residents and this is no exception," a statement from the department said. "Each Veteran served our nation honorably, and we take very seriously the business of caring for them when they need us the most."

The resident had been on end-of-life care for some time, the statement said, and had underlying medical conditions. No further information about the resident was available.

Staff will continue to closely monitor all residents, including four-hour symptom and temperature checks, and wear masks and gloves when providing care, the statement said.

"We are working with the Department of Health and Spokane Regional Health District to ensure all infection control procedures are being followed and to determine whether additional testing will be performed in the Home," the statement said.

A second Spokane Veterans Home resident who tested positive for COVID-19 remains in the facility, though the veteran's symptoms have lessened since being tested Monday.

—Elise Takahama
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Metro encourages riders to wear masks, avoid unnecessary trips

Bus riders should wear masks when traveling and “reserve transit only for first-responders, medical personnel, other essential workers, and people who rely on Metro for access to food, medicine, and similarly essential needs,” King County Metro said in a blog post Wednesday.

The post comes after some King County Metro employees went public with their calls for more protective equipment. Drivers said some bus routes are still full enough to lack social distancing and they called on Metro to step up efforts to provide protective equipment like masks; Metro’s general manager said the agency has placed a large order for masks.

Weekday ridership across Metro routes is down by 73%, Metro said. Some routes, like the RapidRide C to West Seattle and the 44 between Magnolia and the University of Washington, have seen steeper ridership drops than other routes, like the 7 to Rainier Beach, the RapidRide E to Aurora and the RapidRide A between Tukwila International Boulevard and Federal Way, according to Metro figures.

Service has been reduced on Metro bus routes as well as Sound Transit light rail and Seattle streetcars.

—Heidi Groover

US government has repatriated over 50,000 stranded Americans

During a press briefing today with members of the White House’s Coronavirus Task Force, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that the US government has successfully repatriated over 50,000 Americans who had been stranded abroad in over 90 countries in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak. Pompeo said efforts to bring Americans home will continue as long as they’re needed and the State Department has the resources to keep up. “We’re gonna be done when people can travel on their own again… when they don’t have to rely on the State Department to get home,” he said.

—Megan Burbank

City of Seattle announces additional closures of parking lots at 8 city parks

The City of Seattle on Wednesday announced the closure of parking lots at eight city parks in an effort to promote social distancing and contain the proliferation of COVID-19. Effective immediately, parking lots operated by Seattle Parks & Recreation will be closed along Lake Washington Boulevard; at Carkeek, Kubota, Volunteer and Woodland Parks; Washington Park Arboretum; Stan Sayres Boat Ramp and the West Seattle Stadium.

According to a news release from the city, the new closures build on eight parks originally closed to parking: Green Lake, Seward Park, Magnuson Park, Gas Works Park, Discovery Park, Lincoln Park, Golden Gardens and Alki Beach. The city’s beaches remain closed, as do Rattlesnake Lake Recreation Area and Rattlesnake Ledge.

The city is encouraging residents to instead visit Seattle’s local neighborhood parks and to comply with social distancing measures.

“Many of us have been doing a great job at enjoying the outdoors while also practicing social distancing, but we are still observing crowds at some of our larger parks, and pick-up games on fields and courts,” said Seattle Parks and Recreation Superintendent Jesus Aguirre in the news release. “We urge you to visit parks closer to home or take walks in your neighborhood. Continuing our social distancing practices is critical to the health of those most vulnerable in our community.”

—Megan Burbank
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Mexico loses almost 350,000 jobs because of coronavirus

Mexico’s Labor Department said Wednesday the country has lost 346,748 jobs since mid-March due to the economic impact of the new coronavirus and distancing measures imposed to fights its spread.

The biggest job losses occurred in the heavily tourism-dependent Caribbean coastal state of Quintana Roo, which lost almost 64,000 jobs. The state is home to resorts like Cancun and Playa del Carmen, which have been hit hard by recommendations that people limit travel.

The department said the largest share of the job losses during the period from March 13 to April 6 — almost 250,000 — came at firms with 50 workers or more, rather than the smaller businesses that dominate Mexico’s economic landscape.

Read the full story here.

—The Associated Press

Field hospital at CenturyLink Field Event Center to be disassembled

Rows of patient beds are shown at a military field hospital, Sunday, April 5, 2020, at the CenturyLink Field Event Center in Seattle. Officials said the facility, which will be used for people with medical issues that are not related to the new coronavirus outbreak, has more than 200 beds and is ready now to receive patients. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Rows of patient beds are shown at a military field hospital, Sunday, April 5, 2020, at the CenturyLink Field Event Center in Seattle. Officials said the facility, which will be used for people with medical issues that are not related to the new coronavirus outbreak, has more than 200 beds and is ready now to receive patients. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

The emergency field hospital set up by the Army Corps of Engineers at the CenturyLink Field Event Center will be disassembled and redeployed elsewhere, before it sees a single patient, Gov. Jay Inslee announced Wednesday.

The 250-bed hospital will be sent to another state facing a more significant need, Inslee said.

It was to have been used for non-COVID-19 patients, in the event that local hospitals were overwhelmed by a surge in coronavirus cases.

“Don’t let this decision give you the impression that we are out of the woods. We have to keep our guard up and continue to stay home unless conducting essential activities to keep everyone healthy," Inslee said. "We requested this resource before our physical distancing strategies were fully implemented and we had considerable concerns that our hospitals would be overloaded with Covid-19 cases. But we haven’t beat this virus yet."

Inslee said the state has purchased equipment to prepare for a potential surge in cases, including 1,000 hospital beds and more than 900 ventilators. The state previously returned 400 of the 500 ventilators it had received from the federal government, so they could be sent to states with greater need.

—David Gutman

Gov. Jay Inslee offers clarity on school closures for students in special education

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee offered additional guidance to school districts on Wednesday: although school buildings may be used to prepare food for students, and offer child care for certain families, school sites are not open to serving most students in special education.

On Monday, Inslee extended school closures statewide through the end of the school year. But he said that certain students with severe needs may receive services in school buildings.

“To protect the health of students, staff, and providers, the intention is not that school buildings should be open and serving all students with significant needs,” officials said in a Wednesday statement.

“The intention is to provide districts with the ability to provide essential and necessary in-person services to individual students in the very rare circumstance that the services cannot be provided at a distance.”

—Hannah Furfaro
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Parents say they don't feel safe returning their children to school anytime soon

A Seattle Times survey late last month of Education Lab readers suggests that parents aren't ready to send their kids back to school.

About 21% of the respondents said they felt safe returning their child to school if buildings were to reopen on April 27 — the date officials initially set to resume in-person learning.

However, more than 52% of the about 400 respondents, most of whom identified themselves as parents, said they “strongly disagreed” with that notion.

School buildings are closed until the end of the school year, but are expected to reopen next fall. Read more about school safety here.

—Hannah Furfaro

Coronavirus has closed Washington’s schools. When will it be safe to return?

A little more than three weeks ago, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee temporarily closed schools to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus. On Monday, he extended the closure through the end of the school year.

But it’s difficult for the more than 1 million students at home to know exactly when they’ll return to learning in classrooms with their peers: figuring out when school should resume requires a tricky calculus. Policymakers need to consider the scope of the virus’s reach — who’s infected, recovered and immune — and also how well they’re equipped to keep the virus at bay.

That’s barring a vaccine, which could take more than a year to develop. And schools are in a category of their own: Unlike other public spaces, such as restaurants, bars and parks, people are compelled to enter public school buildings at least every weekday.

So when will it be safe to return to school? Read the full story here.

—Hannah Furfaro

Quarantine Corner: Things to do while you're stuck at home

One can’t go inside European Vine Selections right now, but someday we’ll meet again. (Amanda Snyder / The Seattle Times)
One can’t go inside European Vine Selections right now, but someday we’ll meet again. (Amanda Snyder / The Seattle Times)

Do your part to help your neighbors by drinking wine and eating cheese, food critic Bethany Jean Clement writes. Here are her picks.

Weekly Wonder: Here are five things to keep your kids happy and busy, from making fizzy lemonade to flying with the bats in ancient caverns.

Need some eye candy? Arts critic Moira Macdonald recommends streaming these movies for a hit of glorious costumes.

—Kris Higginson
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From a distance, ‘Miss G’ provides Seattle students, families with necessities during coronavirus crisis

The supplies Chelsea Gabzdyl kept in a closet in her classroom have been transferred to her mother’s house. Gabzdyl is delivering  the supplies to students and their families during the novel coronavirus school shutdown. (Courtesy of Chelsea Gabzdyl)
The supplies Chelsea Gabzdyl kept in a closet in her classroom have been transferred to her mother’s house. Gabzdyl is delivering the supplies to students and their families during the novel coronavirus school shutdown. (Courtesy of Chelsea Gabzdyl)

When Chelsea Gabzdyl began teaching first grade at Concord Elementary School two years ago, she started a program called "Maslow's Closet," offering school supplies and food for her class.

Now, as stay-home orders keep people hunkered down to avoid the novel coronavirus, the program has expanded from meeting students' needs to meeting those of everyone self-isolating in their homes.

"No one deserves to be without what they need," she says.

Read the full story about how the teacher known as "Miss G" is stepping up.

—Nicole Brodeur

Seattle artists add color to a dark time by brightening boarded-up storefronts

Josephine Rice spray paints a mural outside Venue, a place that offered studios, events and classes, in downtown Ballard on Wednesday. Rice said she was doing murals on boarded-up buildings in Capitol Hill last week, and a lot of mural artists will be starting over in Ballard this week.   (Amanda Snyder / The Seattle Times)
Josephine Rice spray paints a mural outside Venue, a place that offered studios, events and classes, in downtown Ballard on Wednesday. Rice said she was doing murals on boarded-up buildings in Capitol Hill last week, and a lot of mural artists will be starting over in Ballard this week. (Amanda Snyder / The Seattle Times)

Artists have been painting murals across Seattle to "spread a message of happiness and hope" and combat the growing blight as the pandemic forces closures of local businesses and restaurants.

Take a look at these vibrant scenes, and enjoy this video of artists setting things right for a vandalized restaurant:

After vandals destroyed a window outside of Jade Garden, local artists donated their time and paint to help draw much needed business during a time of coronavirus. (Ramon Dompor / The Seattle Times)

Hawaii mayor has name for 3 men accused of flouting traveler quarantine: 'Covidiots'

Kauai Mayor Derek Kawakami has a choice word for the man accused of trying to flout Hawaii’s traveler quarantine: “covidiot.”

While he isn’t taking credit for coining the word borne out of the COVID-19 pandemic, he said, “I may be the first elected official to bust it out in public.”

Kawakami used the term to describe a Florida man who was arrested after police say he landed on the island without proof of accommodations. A statewide order requires those who arrived in the islands to quarantine for 14 days.

Earlier last week, Kauai police arrested another Florida man and a man from Olympia, Wash., accused of the same disregard for the quarantine order.

“He did not have reservations for proper accommodations and he allegedly refused to find suitable lodging,” police said of the Olympia man.

The three men have returned to the mainland, with help from the Kauai Visitors Bureau.

“I guess there’s varying degrees of how much of a covidiot you can be,” Kawakami said. “Those three rank pretty high."

Read the full story here.

—The Associated Press

Timberline Lodge on Mount Hood permanently lays off nearly 500 employees

Icicles help frame Mount Hood as seen through windows from the main lobby of Timberline Lodge on a sunny February day. (Brian J. Cantwell / The Seattle Times)
Icicles help frame Mount Hood as seen through windows from the main lobby of Timberline Lodge on a sunny February day. (Brian J. Cantwell / The Seattle Times)

The historic Timberline Lodge has permanently laid off 471 employees at its lodge and adjacent ski area on Mount Hood in Oregon due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Timberline Lodge officials told the state they made the decision to lay off employees because of the state and federal mandates to observe social distancing and close nonessential businesses, The Oregonian/OregonLive reported.

Landmark hotel and brewpub chain McMenamins, which operates 62 hotels, movie theaters, restaurants and bars throughout Oregon and Washington, laid off 3,000 people and closed nearly all its sites in early March.

This week, the Nines Hotel, a luxury hotel in downtown Portland, notified the city that it would lay off at least 332 employees and temporarily close.

—The Associated Press

Catch up on the past 24 hours

Linda Yan, a junior at Bellevue High School, prepares for an online class on Tuesday. Yan’s worries about the future prompt her to look at several COVID-19 projection models before going to sleep at night.  (Courtesy Linda Yan)
Linda Yan, a junior at Bellevue High School, prepares for an online class on Tuesday. Yan’s worries about the future prompt her to look at several COVID-19 projection models before going to sleep at night. (Courtesy Linda Yan)

When will it be safe for schools to reopen? That's a difficult question in Washington state, where leaders and health experts are bracing for the possibility that closures may bleed into fall. They're talking about what would have to happen for the doors to swing open.

Washington state has already blown through 60% of the cash it earmarked to fight coronavirus and kick-start the economy. That included ordering 84 million items of medical gear. Lawmakers may return in a special session to find more money.

New York City’s virus death toll has topped that of 9/11 as the pandemic strains hospitals. And about 100 American Airlines flight attendants have tested positive, union leaders say. Here's what else is happening as the virus batters the nation and world.

"Researchers: Get in touch! Take my blood!" Seattle-based writer Christy Karras is one of the nation’s first people to recover from COVID-19. She's in the unique spot of no longer fearing it — and she's hoping survivors can help in the battle against it.

Full-Tilt Ice Cream co-owner Justin Cline emerges from the blast freezer with a crate of Backyard Mint Chip ice cream that he was going to shrink-wrap for one of his grocery clients.  Cline has had to lay off about two dozen employees at his stores. (Steve Ringman / The Seattle Times)
Full-Tilt Ice Cream co-owner Justin Cline emerges from the blast freezer with a crate of Backyard Mint Chip ice cream that he was going to shrink-wrap for one of his grocery clients. Cline has had to lay off about two dozen employees at his stores. (Steve Ringman / The Seattle Times)

Frustration is growing among local small businesses trying to seize a lifeline from the federal bailout. The rescue is off to a rocky start, their experiences show. Here's a Q&A on relief for businesses, freelancers and more.

A Seattle teriyaki business owner asked for help with the rent from two landlords. One response left him "so frustrated I couldn't respond." The other could hardly have been more different — and that points to big questions about who should bear the burden, columnist Danny Westneat writes.

The Navy's acting secretary has resigned after profanely insulting the officer he fired as captain of a coronavirus-stricken ship. Capt. Brett Crozier had called for urgent help with the ship's COVID-19 outbreak, then tested positive himself.

Could Major League Baseball be back in the swing next month? MLB is floating the idea of playing all games in Arizona. This is bizarre and dangerous, columnist Larry Stone writes.

Traffic is extremely light in front of Chase Field, Thursday, March 26, 2020, in Phoenix. The Arizona Diamondbacks would have hosted the Atlanta Braves in their season-opening baseball game Thursday, but the start of the MLB regular season is indefinitely on hold because of the coronavirus pandemic. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
Traffic is extremely light in front of Chase Field, Thursday, March 26, 2020, in Phoenix. The Arizona Diamondbacks would have hosted the Atlanta Braves in their season-opening baseball game Thursday, but the start of the MLB regular season is indefinitely on hold because of the coronavirus pandemic. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

Here's help

Getting a coronavirus test: We've been updating our list of who's eligible and where to go.

Keep your food clean and safe: Here are the latest recommendations on shopping, washing the produce and more.

Should you cancel your summer vacation plans? Experts are outlining the factors to consider before locking in your reservations.

—Kris Higginson

Coronavirus resources

How is this outbreak 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.