Editor’s note: This is a live account of COVID-19 updates from Monday, June 1, as the day unfolded. To find resources and the latest extended coverage of the pandemic, click here.
After large protests sent people streaming into downtown Seattle over the weekend to demonstrate against racial injustice, experts and public-health officials are cautioning that the demonstrations, the first large gatherings since the pandemic was declared, could set back the region’s recovery from the novel coronavirus.
Many demonstrators wore face coverings, but crowds filled cityscapes that made social distancing all but impossible.
With the virus still coursing through the community, King County approached the weekend’s protests on precarious footing. The infection rate remained too high in recent weeks for King County to advance to the second phase of Gov. Jay Inslee’s “Safe Start” plan to reopen society, unlike most counties in the state.
King County, the state’s most populous county, has reported 8,092 total cases and 567 deaths, accounting for 50.7% of the state’s death toll as of the end of the day Saturday. State health officials confirmed 353 new COVID-19 cases in Washington on Saturday, with no new deaths.
The update brings the state’s totals to 21,702 cases and 1,118 deaths, according the Department of Health’s (DOH) data dashboard.
So far, 360,899 tests for the coronavirus have been conducted in the state, per DOH. Of those, 6% have come back positive.
The following graphic includes the most recent numbers from the Washington State Department of Health, released Monday.
King County will apply to enter a modified Phase 1 of coronavirus recovery. Here’s what that means.
King County plans to apply for approval to enter into a modified Phase 1, after Gov. Jay Inslee announced Friday he would not extend the state’s COVID-19 stay-home order beyond Sunday.
County Executive Dow Constantine announced Friday the county, in consultation with officials at Public Health — Seattle & King County, will apply for approval to enter a modified Phase 1 and begin reopening some business activity with limited or modified openings for a number of sectors.
The application for the modified Phase 1 status was expected Monday, but on Monday afternoon, King County announced on its website it had not yet applied and that, once the application is in, several days could pass before Washington state approves the request.
Officials to screen all detainees at Tacoma immigration jail
Federal officials say they will test all people detained at the Northwest detention center in Tacoma for COVID-19.
In a filing in federal court in Seattle, authorities said the testing at the immigration jail would be done Tuesday. The action comes after immigration advocates sued to try to free medically vulnerable detainees during the coronavirus outbreak.
The Northwest Immigrant Rights Project and the American Civil Liberties Union had argued there is no way to adequately protect people in custody from the coronavirus.
Seattle City Council approves paid sick days for gig drivers during the coronavirus emergency
The Seattle City Council voted unanimously Monday to require app companies such as Uber, DoorDash and others to offer their Seattle workers paid sick days as the use of home delivery grows during the coronavirus pandemic.
The new requirement, sponsored by Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda, would last until the city’s declared coronavirus emergency ends. Mayor Jenny Durkan plans to sign the bill, a spokeswoman said.
Mosqueda said the legislation was necessary not only for workers but for the “community at large” because drivers and delivery people have “countless contacts with individuals throughout our community.”
Council members are also considering a bill to offer drivers and delivery people $5 per trip in “premium pay” during the pandemic, but that proposal is undergoing more deliberations.
Some face-to-face classes for workforce training to resume at community colleges following coronavirus closures
Coronavirus-related health and safety restrictions that ground some community college programs to a halt are being eased at 10 of the state’s 34 community and technical colleges.
On Monday, Gov. Jay Inslee’s office issued new guidance that allows workforce training classes that require in-class or lab practicums to start back up again under relaxed conditions in counties that have entered the second of the plan’s four phases. The guidance also expands the types of classes that can be taught in-person.
The community colleges located in Phase 2 counties include South Puget Sound Community College, Centralia College, Lower Columbia College, Grays Harbor College, Olympic College, Peninsula College, Big Bend Community College, Walla Walla Community College, Spokane Community College and Spokane Falls Community College.
Even in counties that are still in the first phase, such as King, some in-person workforce training classes were allowed to resume in early May, provided they were tied to “essential occupations” and so long as students and faculty stood 6 feet apart.
Klickitat County gets approval for second phase of coronavirus recovery plan
OLYMPIA – The Washington Department of Health on Monday gave Klickitat County approval to move to the second phase of Gov. Jay Inslee’s four-part coronavirus recovery plan.
The second phase of the plan greatly expands the types of businesses able to resume operating, provided they follow safety guidelines to prevent outbreaks and spread of COVID-19. Those businesses include hair and nail salons, professional services, as well as limited restaurant dining and some in-store retail purchases.
As of Monday, 27 of Washington’s 39 counties have been approved for Phase 2: Adams, Asotin, Clallam, Columbia, Cowlitz, Ferry, Garfield, Grant, Grays Harbor, Island, Jefferson, Kitsap, Kittitas, Klickitat, Lewis, Lincoln, Mason, Pacific, Pend Orielle, San Juan, Skamania, Spokane, Stevens, Thurston, Wahkiakum, Walla Walla, and Whitman.
State officials confirm 21,977 COVID-19 cases in Washington
State health officials confirmed 275 new COVID-19 cases in Washington on Monday, as well as six additional deaths.
The update brings the state’s totals to 21,977 cases and 1,124 deaths, according the Department of Health’s (DOH) data dashboard. The dashboard reports 3,517 hospitalizations in Washington.
So far, 365,272 tests for the novel coronavirus have been conducted in the state, per DOH. Of those, 6% have come back positive.
King County, the state's most populous, has reported 8,123 positive test results and 569 deaths (five of which were confirmed Monday), accounting for 50.6% of the state's death toll.
Public Health offers answers to protesters concerned about spread of COVID
For those who have attended protests or large gatherings, officials at Public Health – Seattle & King County have offered answers to questions they've received about those events and the spread of COVID-19.
The questions and answers were released Monday on the agency's blog, Public Health Insider.
Q: If people chose to attend a protest, are there steps to take to help lower the risk of transmission of COVID-19 in our community?
A: Outdoor gatherings are lower risk than indoor gatherings. The larger the gathering, and the longer you’re there, the higher the risk of catching or spreading COVID-19.
People who have been at group gatherings should monitor their health for 14 days afterwards. Anyone who develops symptoms of COVID-19 should get tested right away, whether they’ve been at a protest or not.
Remember that physical distancing and other measures to slow the spread of COVID-19 are not all-or-nothing – even if you attended large group gatherings, it’s just as important that you continue to stay home whenever possible, remain at least 6 feet away from others and wear a face covering when in public, wash your hands, and avoid touching your face.
Q: Do people who have attended protests need to get tested for COVID-19?
A: If you currently don’t have any symptoms, you do not need to get tested right now. However, if you develop even mild symptoms such as a cough, congestion or runny nose, you should contact your health provider to help evaluate symptoms and need for testing. There are numerous low-barrier testing sites for people who cannot access testing through their regular health care provider.
Those having trouble accessing COVID-19 testing or have other medical questions related to COVID-19 are advised to call the Public Health information line at 206-477-3977.
To read the complete blog post, go here.
As state begins to reopen, Gov. Inslee issues guidance for higher education and workforce training
Gov. Jay Inslee today issued higher education and workforce training requirements in Phase 1 and Phase 2 of the state's reopening.
The guidelines do not apply to higher education institutions, but only to workforce training programs that require in-classroom/lab practicums, according to a statement issued by Inslee's office.
Before the higher education and workforce training programs can restart, all school are required to develop a "comprehensive Phase 1 COVID-19 exposure control, mitigation, and recovery plan," the statement said.
Higher education institutions and workforce training providers remain "strongly encouraged" to to continue remote learning to limit in-person interactions. The plan must also include policies for PPE utilization; on-site physical distancing; hygiene and site decontamination procedures, among other measures. Employees and students must also be trained on the safety protocols before activities begin.
Failure to meet the requirements could result in sanctions, including work and instructional activities being shut down.
Through the Washington "Safe Start" plan, more businesses and activities will re-open in phases, with adequate safety and health standards in place. Each phase will be at least three weeks.
Additionally, counties with less than 25 new cases of COVID-19 per 100,000 residents over a 14-day span can apply to move to Phase 2 of “Safe Start” before other parts of the state. County variance applications will be approved or denied by the secretary of the Department of Health. Twenty-six counties have been approved to move to the next phase.
Nearly 26,000 nursing home COVID-19 deaths reported to feds
WASHINGTON — Federal health authorities have received reports of nearly 26,000 nursing home residents dying from COVID-19, according to materials prepared for the nation’s governors. That number is partial and likely to go higher.
A letter from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports more than 60,000 cases of coronavirus illness among nursing home residents. A copy of the letter and an accompanying chart were provided to The Associated Press.
The numbers, which had been promised by the end of May, are partial. The letter said the data are based on reports received from about 80% of the nation’s 15,400 nursing homes.
CMS, which is responsible for nursing home quality standards, also told the governors it is increasing penalties for nursing homes failing to comply with longstanding infection control requirements.
Read the full story here.
Free COVID testing through June at Tacoma Dome
More testing for COVID-19 will be available at the Tacoma Dome throughout the month of June, as the QFC and Fred Meyer grocery stores are offering free drive-thru tests.
The service will be available on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Anyone who would like to get tested may sign up online. Health insurance is not required.
Test results will be available within 48 hours.
Is America’s pandemic waning or raging? Yes.
CHICAGO — In the weeks since America began reopening on a large scale, the coronavirus has persisted on a stubborn but uneven path, with meaningful progress in some cities and alarming new outbreaks in others.
A snapshot of the country on a single day last week revealed sharply divergent realities. As the United States marked the tragic milestone of 100,000 deaths from the coronavirus on Wednesday, the contrasting picture was unmistakable — a murky, jumbled outlook depending on one’s location.
Around Chicago, Wednesday was one of the most lethal days of the pandemic, with more than 100 deaths. Among the dead: a woman in her 30s, and four men past their 90th birthdays.
In the Boston area, where an alarming crisis of a month ago has given way to cautious optimism, businesses were reopening that day and new cases numbered in the dozens, no longer the hundreds.
Around Rogers and Springdale in northwest Arkansas, which the virus had barely touched in the pandemic’s early weeks, poultry workers spent part of Wednesday planning a protest as outbreaks in at least two plants were driving a sudden surge in infection numbers.
The dizzying volatility from city to city and state to state could continue indefinitely, with vastly different policy implications for individual places and no single, unified course in sight.
Frontier Airlines will screen passenger, crew temperatures prior to boarding
Frontier Airlines on Monday will begin creening the body temperature of all passengers and crew prior to boarding flights.
Those with a temperature of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or higher will not be allowed to travel. Face coverings will continue to be required for all passengers and crew and must be worn throughout the entire flight.
“Temperature screenings are the latest addition to our comprehensive, multi-layered approach to supporting the health and well-being of everyone onboard our aircraft,” said Frontier Airlines CEO Barry Biffle, in a news release, while pushing for the Transportation Security Administration to conduct screenings before individuals reach their gate.
Temperature screenings will be administered through touchless thermometers. Riders and crew members with readings of 100.4 degrees or higher will be given time to rest before undergoing a second check, if time permits.
Passengers whose flights are canceled may rebook a flight for a later date.
Most Americans favor controlling coronavirus outbreak over restarting economy, poll finds
Nearly 6 in 10 Americans say the coronavirus outbreak has exacted a severe economic toll on their communities, but a majority of a divided country still says controlling the virus’s spread is more important than trying to restart the economy, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll.
The nationwide survey finds that despite the shared disruption of their daily lives since stay-at-home orders began, partisans differ sharply on how the country should move forward.
In the starkest split, 57% of Americans overall and 81% of Democrats say trying to control the spread of the coronavirus is most important right now, even if it hurts the economy. A far smaller 27% of Republicans agree, while 66% of them say restarting the economy is more important, even if it hurts efforts to control the virus. Nearly 6 in 10 independents say their priority is trying to control the virus’s spread.
Read the story here.
For teen soccer star from Malawi, getting stuck in Seattle during coronavirus has silver lining
The coronavirus pandemic has created a slew of negatives in 2020, as millions of U.S. residents are unemployed, and deaths have surpassed 100,000 nationally. But there’s also a gem of a friendship and bonding with a family that never would have been cultivated without the virus.
“It serendipitously lined up,” Chris Settle of Seattle said of welcoming a budding Malawian soccer standout, Lughano Nyondo, to quarantine with his family of five, including his daughter Ruby.
“It’s all sort of a gift to have this special kid in our lives,” he continued. “It’s the farthest thing from an imposition. With everything that everyone is dealing with (during the pandemic), to have her around is inspiring to stay positive. … She helps us get through this.”
The plan was for Lughano — pronounced Lu-WAH-no — to stay with the Settles in their North Seattle home for two weeks. The 15-year-old was discovered at age 12 by Ascent Soccer academy in Mzuzu, Malawi, receiving a scholarship through the nonprofit to attend Indian Mountain School (IMS) in Connecticut.
During the private boarding school’s spring break, Lughano flew to Seattle to reunite with friend Ruby Settle, work out with her OL Reign Academy team and see the region’s sights.
This was a reunion, as the pair already had met in Lyon, France, as part of filming for a docuseries titled, “This Girl Wears Cleats.”
Laura Carriker, a Mercer Island-based director, had selected five Puget Sound-area girls and five from across the globe to film the past three years as they either tried to make their respective national teams or developed in the sport like Ruby and Lughano. Seven of the girls, with a few parents as chaperones, then met each other in France, attending the World Cup semifinal and final together. The series does not have a release date.
Four days after her March 7 arrival in Seattle, the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus outbreak a global pandemic. Suddenly the weeks stretched to months and frayed to uncertainty as schools closed and travel concerns prevented Lughano from returning to Malawi.
Read the story here.
Seattle trawler cuts fishing season short after 85 of 126 crew members test positive for COVID-19
A Seattle-based factory trawler cut short its fishing season off the Washington coast after 85 of 126 crew tested positive for COVID-19, according to a statement released Sunday by American Seafoods, which operates the vessel.
The test results for the FV American Dynasty are a somber finding for the North Pacific fishing industry, which has been trying to keep the novel coronavirus off the ships and shore-based plants that produce much of the nation’s seafood. The outbreak also underscores the toll coronavirus continues to take on the food-processing industry across the nation. In Washington state, outbreaks in meat plants and fruit and vegetable fields and packing facilities prompted Gov. Jay Inslee to order new protections for agricultural and food processing workers.
As part of the effort to keep outbreaks from impacting the seafood industry, the American Dynasty crew, prior to heading off to sea May 13, were screened for the viral infection and underwent quarantines of at least five days. They also underwent additional testing for the antibodies created by the virus.
“Only if there were no signs that they were actively infected or contagious were they cleared to board their vessel,” said American Seafoods chief executive Mike Dunham, in a written statement.
Somehow, the virus still found its way on board.
Read the story here.
Sound Transit reintroducing Link, Sounder fares but at reduced cost for now
Starting Monday, Sound Transit is reintroducing fares on Link light rail and Sounder, but at a temporarily reduced cost
The agency is also increasing Link train service to one run about every 20 minutes during the day and every 30 minutes on the evenings and weekends, according to the transit agency.
The agency is introducing the temporary recovery fares as the region prepares for the next phases of recovery and the expected gradual return of riders.
The fare of $1 on Link and $2 on Sounder is available from ticket vending machines through June 30.
In addition to ticket vending machines, Recovery Fare tickets are available on a contact-free basis through the Transit GO Ticket app.
Riders using ORCA cards, including ORCA LIFT, will continue to be charged full fare that can be used for transfers. Recovery Fare paper tickets and Transit GO tickets cannot be used for transfers.
The agency said in an emailed statement that it hopes charging reduced fares will mitigate the "dramatic increase in unsanitary conditions, rider complaints and incidents of vandalism" reported after fares were temporarily suspended in March. "The issues have been associated in part with riders taking repetitive trips without apparent destinations," the agency said.
Transit staff will continue to wear face masks, and all Sound Transit passengers will be directed to wear face coverings consistent with expanded public health directives, the agency said.
"Under current health directives customers are reminded to limit travel to essential trips. Riders should also follow social distancing and other critical health guidelines to protect the community. Sound Transit will continue expanded disinfecting of transit vehicles and facilities, with particular emphasis on ticket vending machines and other high-touch areas including hand rails."
Learn to draw a banana slug ... or an orca. As a Burke Museum artist offers virtual lessons on sketching Northwest wildlife, here are more fun things to keep your kids (or you!) busy this week.
One of the best podcasts of 2019 has no voice. "Walking" broadcasts its creator's solo walks on Bainbridge Island, and it couldn't be more appropriate in these times.
Need to know
Gov. Jay Inslee's stay-home order expires today, replaced by a new directive that's accelerating reopenings in parts of Washington. Here’s a county-by-county breakdown of which slices of life might resume, and when.
“It was pretty frightening to see people packed together.” Public-health experts fear the crowded George Floyd protests could set back the Seattle area’s recovery from the pandemic.
Fred Hutch scientist Trevor Bedford sounded the alarm — and helped galvanize the public health response — when analysis of Washington's first two cases suggested the virus had been spreading silently here for weeks. But then the picture changed. Bedford talks about doing science at lightning speed, and how the fight is going.
Doctors are testing Microsoft's HoloLens goggles to reduce exposure to COVID-19 patients. Here's how that works.
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