Editor’s note: This is a live account of updates from Sunday, March 15, 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.
Life is different in the Puget Sound region as most people — by choice or by order — practice “social distancing” to slow the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus known as SARS-CoV-2. One by one, our institutions have shut down — schools, libraries, courts, the Space Needle — and while Seattle isn’t empty, it is eerie.
As Washington gains the capacity to test more people for the virus, more COVID-19 diagnoses are made each day. The state Department of Health announced 127 new cases Sunday, bringing the state total to 769 cases, including 42 deaths. The bulk of cases remain in King County, which has seen 420 people fall ill and 37 of them die. The pandemic has pushed our strained health care system to its limits.
About 2,300 people across the U.S. have been confirmed to have the virus, but a Seattle expert estimates the real count could be 10 times that many. And while President Donald Trump has banned air travel from many European countries, most new infections in the United States are likely being spread by the country’s own residents.
Throughout today, on this page, we’ll be posting Seattle Times journalists’ updates on the outbreak and its effects on the Seattle area, the Pacific Northwest and the world. Updates from Saturday 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 Sunday afternoon.
Shutting down bars, restaurants is 'right thing to do,' Seattle Mayor Durkan says
In a statement Sunday night, Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan expressed support for Gov. Jay Inslee’s decision to shut down bars, restaurants and places of entertainment and recreation statewide to combat the novel coronavirus pandemic.
“I know these restrictions are hard and impact the livelihoods and ways of life of our families,” the mayor of Washington’s largest city said about Inslee’s order, which also will cap all gatherings at 50 people. “But it’s the right thing to do for the long-term health, safety, and vitality of our communities.”
She added, “These actions reflect the growing scientific consensus that if we don’t significantly increase mitigation efforts and prioritize true social distancing, the consequences for our region could be devastating.”
Durkan's administration will consult with public health officials to determine whether “additional citywide restrictions are required,” she said.
Seattle has taken some steps to support residents and small businesses impacted by the pandemic, but “we know we will need an unprecedented small business and worker relief package from Congress,” the mayor said.
Rep. Jayapal closes D.C. office in addition to Seattle
Rep. Pramila Jayapal is closing her Washington, D.C., office and requiring her staff to work from home, starting Monday. Jayapal's Seattle office already has been operating via telework, she said.
Jayapal said her offices' phones would remain open and they would continue to offer constituent services.
"I believe elected leaders need to immediately follow public health experts’ science-based social distancing recommendations to mitigate and contain the spread of COVID-19," Jayapal said.
Amazon grocery delivery system overloaded Sunday
Surges in demand for online deliveries appeared to throw Amazon’s grocery system into disarray Sunday, causing fear and frustration among delivery drivers.
An Amazon spokesperson confirmed that “a systems impact” was limiting the company’s ability to deliver grocery orders from Amazon Fresh and Whole Foods Market. She described “a significant increase” in online grocery shopping as COVID-19 spreads, and noted the company believes “our role serving customers and the community during this time is a critical one.”
Reports on Reddit from people in San Diego, Atlanta and West Hartford, Conn., suggest the same problem was occurring across the country.
Read more here.
Inslee says he'll shut down bars, restaurants, and cap public gatherings at 50
Gov. Jay Inslee said late Sunday he would sign an emergency declaration temporarily shutting down bars, restaurants and places of entertainment and recreation, and cap all public gatherings to 50 people until March 31, in the latest bid to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus pandemic.
The executive action, set for Monday, will also prohibit gatherings with fewer than 50 people “unless previously announced criteria for public health and social distancing are met,” he said in a statement Sunday.
Read more here.
REI closes stores nationwide until March 27, continuing to pay employees
REI president Eric Artz announced the Kent-based outdoor retailer would close, starting Monday, until March 27. In an email to employees, Artz said all employees would still be paid during the closure.
"I believe that is the right thing for our community. In fact, I believe it is our duty — to do all we can to help keep one another safe in this unprecedented moment," Artz wrote in the email. "Our decisions are grounded in the belief that there are more important things than business right now — we owe that to one another."
REI will continue selling its equipment online, with free shipping, Artz wrote.
As coronavirus causes 9/11-type collapse in demand for jets, Boeing may slash production
The dramatic worldwide collapse in air travel accelerated this weekend as the U.S. expanded its ban on passengers from Europe and other governments enacted their own barriers to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Airline CEOs are comparing the drop in traffic to the aftermath of the 9/11 terror attacks in 2001 — when Boeing reduced production from 527 jets in 2001 to just 281 jets two years later. In less than three years following the attacks, Boeing cut 27,000 jobs in Washington state.
Like then, Boeing now faces a stark near-term decision on whether it must slash jet production. That could again spell substantial local layoffs, which until now — even with its 737 MAX production already halted — Boeing has avoided.
Read more here.
Sounders staff member tests positive for coronavirus
The Seattle Sounders FC announced Sunday that it has learned a member of its support staff has tested positive for the novel conoravirus.
That individual, who has been confirmed to have COVID-19, has been isolated, a news release from the team said. It also said no other cases within the team have been identified.
The Sounders said while the the staff member worked the club’s match March 7 against the Columbus Crew at CenturyLink field, the individual didn’t have access to the general public and didn’t become ill until four days after the match.
Seattle University students are being asked to leave the dorms
Students at Seattle University are being asked to leave residence halls as soon as possible, according to the school’s website, closing the residence halls for spring quarter.
In an email from the college president Friday, students “currently on campus or nearby” were asked to move out of residence halls no later than April 4. In a post on the site, the university said it will allow international students and students who have financial hardship preventing them from leaving, or who don’t have a permanent residence to return to.
Some student employees will be allowed to remain as well.
Rebecca Hart, a junior majoring in biology and French at Seattle University, thought the change was ill-advised.
“From an epidemiological perspective, sending a lot of young people, who may be asymptomatic … back to our home states is a recipe for spreading cases,” Hart said.
The school is already conducting its spring-quarter classes online. Final exams start Tuesday; Seattle University's spring break starts March 22nd.
CDC recommends no gatherings of more than 50 for next 8 weeks
The CDC is recommending that for the next eight weeks, events that consist of 50 people or more be canceled throughout the United States.
"Large events and mass gatherings can contribute to the spread of COVID-19 in the United States via travelers who attend these events and introduce the virus to new communities," the CDC website says.
The CDC recommended cancellation of conferences, festivals, parades, concerts, sporting events, weddings, and "other types of assemblies."
In Washington's northwest corner, cases grow and WWU moves students out of dorms
A third Whatcom County resident has tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the number to five individuals connected to the county who are confirmed to be recovering from the coronavirus, the Whatcom County Health Department announced Sunday.
The latest patient to test positive was a female in her 20s, the county announced, providing no further details.
She joins a woman in her 60s who tested positive last week, after being treated and released into home isolation from PeaceHealth St. Joseph Medical Center in Bellingham; and a woman in her 40s, announced yesterday, who self-isolated after being notified that she was a close contact of a lab-confirmed positive case from another county.
Two other patients who had been commuting to Whatcom County job sites also have tested positive. One is a Snohomish County worker at a residence-hall construction site on the campus of Western Washington University (WWU); the other is an employee of the Lummi Indian Business Council, who had been commuting from King County.
Additionally, 19 students from 16,000-student WWU, now on spring break, have been tested for COVID-19, a university spokesperson said. Ten of those students have tested negative.
To prepare to isolate potential future infected students, WWU is moving students out of one of its existing dormitory buildings to create isolation space, the student newspaper, the Western Front, reported Saturday.
In neighboring Skagit County, where as of Sunday afternoon four residents have tested positive, and were being isolated in their homes, county health officials urged people without symptoms but seeking COVID-19 testing to refrain from seeking tests from medical providers, as testing still is being reserved for the most seriously ill patients.
State health officials now reporting 769 COVID-19 cases, including 42 deaths
The Washington State Department of Health has confirmed that 769 people in the state have tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by coronavirus, including 42 people who have died.
The numbers include 126 more cases and two more deaths from the day before, and span 17 counties, now including Lincoln County.
King County has seen the vast majority of infections, with 420 cases and 37 fatalities. Of those who died, 29 were residents of Life Care Center of Kirkland.
Public Health - Seattle & King County said it expects the number of cases to double every five to seven days as the disease spreads, though the agency hopes residents will help slow the spread through social distancing measures and by staying home when sick. These measures will also help alleviate the burden on hospitals.
The count of cases has also increased because of more capacity for testing in the state.
EvergreenHealth doctor tests positive, in critical condition
An emergency room doctor at EvergreenHealth in Kirkland is in critical condition with COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus.
The hospital at the center of the coronavirus outbreak in King County confirmed that the doctor was ill Sunday afternoon.
The physician, who is in his 40s, has been admitted to the intensive-care unit and could be the first front-line health care worker in the state to test positive for the disease, said Dr. Liam Yore, the immediate past president of the Washington Chapter of the American College of Emergency Physicians.
Read more here.
Washington State Public Disclosure Commission closes office to protect health of public and employees
The Washington State Public Disclosure Commission announced Sunday it would close its office to visitors starting Monday to protect the health of employees and the public during the virus outbreak.
The agency will continue to operate, the commission said in a statement, and encouraged people to email questions to email@example.com or call 360-753-1111.
Any updates will be posted on the agency's social media, the statement said.
Coronavirus dominated the 2020 Washington state legislative session. Here’s what lawmakers did and didn’t get done
OLYMPIA — Washington lawmakers began their work in January focused largely on addressing the state’s homelessness crisis and figuring out transportation funding in light of voter-approved car-tab-fee reductions.
Democratic lawmakers also hoped to use their House and Senate majorities to pass sweeping new laws on climate change, firearms restrictions and other policies sought by progressives.
But by the end of the 60-day legislative session — which wrapped up last Thursday — the rapid spread of the novel coronavirus dominated discussion in Olympia.
Lawmakers approved the use of $200 million in state budget reserves to fund response to the outbreak of COVID-19.
And spooked by potential economic fallout from the pandemic, lawmakers slashed spending they had originally proposed for the state supplemental operating budget. The supplemental spending plan makes adjustments to the current, two-year operating budget and brings state spending for the 2019-21 cycle to $53.5 billion.
That operating budget funds everything from schools and parks, to prisons, mental-health programs and public-health offices. But as society shuts down to slow the spread of COVID-19 and business everywhere drops off, lawmakers worry that reduced tax collections will hurt the state’s bottom line.
Read the full story here.
King County public health officials worried that local blood supply is in 'danger of collapse'
Because of recent blood drive cancellations prompted by the coronavirus outbreak, blood banks have lost about 2,500 donations, King County public health officials said Sunday.
"While inventories are now holding steady as faithful donors and first-time donors respond to the urgent need, donations will continue to drop in the days and weeks to come," Public Health - Seattle & King County said in a statement, adding that the local blood supply is "in danger of collapse."
Health officials are asking the public to step up.
"All types of blood are needed for cancer treatment, trauma cases, and many other situations," the statement said. "The process only takes an hour and actual donation time is about 10 minutes."
There is no risk of contracting COVID-19 from the blood donation process, the statement said.
Donating blood is a safe activity, and there is no risk of contracting coronavirus from the blood donation process.
Nashville, following social distancing actions taken by Ohio and Illinois, closes bars and limits restaurant seating
Nashville Mayor John Cooper announced in a statement Sunday his plan to close bars and limit restaurant seating throughout the county to mitigate the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Cooper released the statement in advance of a Metro Nashville Board of Health emergency meeting, which is being held at 5 p.m. local time. He wanted to ask for "specific, short-term action to be taken effective immediately."
The actions included closing all bars in Davidson County, limiting restaurant seating to under 50% capacity and capping it at 100 people and limiting bar service at restaurants to 50% capacity with no standing allowed, the statement said.
"We are also asking restaurants to take social distancing precautions, including the spacing out of tables for customers," Cooper said in the statement. "We understand that these changes create a hardship, especially for businesses and their employees, and we hope it will be short-lived."
Cooper announced these measures as Ohio and Illinois decided to take similar actions, shutting down all bars and restaurants.
Tennessee health officials are now reporting 39 positive COVID-19 cases.
Seattle City Attorney's Office to close for a week after employee tests positive for virus
The Seattle City Attorney's Office (CAO) announced Saturday it would be closed for at least this week, a decision made after an office employee tested positive for COVID-19.
The office, which is located in downtown Seattle, will be closed from March 16 to March 20, according to a CAO statement. The CAO has instructed all employees to telecommute.
The employee hasn't been in the office since last Monday. The office is being disinfected.
The Seattle Municipal Court also will be closed for the week after someone there tested positive for the virus.
“Our team member asked me to report they’re already on their way to a healthy recovery, and I couldn’t be more grateful,” said Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes in the statement. “Out of an abundance of caution, I will be tested on Monday and have been telecommuting since our employee reported symptoms. I’m not exhibiting any symptoms myself, but I was in reoccurring contact with the employee in the days prior to his absence.”
Starbucks to close some stores, eliminate seating in all others to slow spread of coronavirus
In a bid to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus, Starbucks will temporarily close some of its U.S. and Canadian locations and shift its other North American stores to a “to-go only” model, the Seattle-based coffee giant announced Sunday afternoon.
The shutdown, which will last at least two weeks, affects company-owned stores in high-risk areas such as Seattle and New York, with a high number of cases of COVID-19, the highly contagious illness caused by the coronavirus, the company said. In these areas, stores will either shutdown or move to reduced hours. The company will also close locations in “high-social gathering” areas, such as inside malls and universities.
At all other company-owned locations in North America, customers will no longer be allowed to use cafe and patio seating, but will be able buy Starbucks products and will still have access to mobile ordering, drive-thru and delivery.
Read the full story here.
King County health officials confirm 32 more COVID-19 cases, including 2 deaths
King County public-health officials confirmed Sunday 32 more COVID-19 cases, including two more deaths.
Both people who died were residents at Life Care Center of Kirkland, according to a statement from Public Health – Seattle & King County. One was a woman in her 60s and the other was a woman in her 70s.
This brings the total in the county to 420 confirmed cases and 37 fatalities.
Of the 37 deaths reported in King County, 29 are associated with Life Care, the statement said.
Sea-Tac is called hassle-free as other airports report long waits amid coronavirus travel restrictions
Seattle-Tacoma International Airport is one of 13 airports around the country designated for coronavirus-related screenings in response to the latest travel restrictions, but so far appears to have been spared the large crowds and long waits reported elsewhere.
While the lack of crowds makes it easier for travelers to maintain distance from other people as recommended by health officials, some who passed through Sea-Tac recently worried that they didn’t see more screening efforts.
Sea-Tac was designated as one of the airports where travelers returning from Europe would be screened, after President Trump announced new restrictions on travel to and from Europe on Wednesday. On Saturday, reports from other designated airports, like Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport and Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport, described large crowds and long waits.
A freer international arrivals schedule may be one reason why Sea-Tac isn’t seeing the lines and crowds that other airports are seeing.
Read the full story here.
Inslee continues to urge strong social distancing, discourages overbuying at stores
Most Washingtonians are helping slow COVID-19’s spread by practicing strong social distancing.
To those of you that can be but are choosing not to: Your actions could kill someone.
— Governor Jay Inslee (@GovInslee) March 15, 2020
Pike Place Market community member tests positive for COVID-19
Pike Place Market confirmed Sunday that "a member of the ... community" has tested positive for COVID-19.
"We have been coordinating with public-health officials on next steps and are following their guidance," said market spokeswoman Madison Bristol.
She declined to say what role the affected person plays in the community, although she noted that they spent time in a "very specific area" of the market. That section of the market has since been closed and is being cleaned, she said.
The risk to the public is now low to visitors, she said, and the market is remaining open.
"However, individual businesses operating in the market are encouraged to use their discretion to evaluate whether to remain open or temporarily close," she said.
Illinois joins Ohio in shutting down bars and restaurants
Shortly after Ohio announced its plan to shut down bars and restaurants to slow the spread of coronavirus, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzke issued a similar measure.
Pritzke said in a news conference Sunday that he was ordering a two-week shutdown of bars and restaurants in Illinois. The closures will begin Monday night and last until March 30.
"We want to protect the health of our customers and team members," said Sam Toia, the president of the Illinois Restaurant Association, at the news conference. "That is the No. 1 concern of the restaurant industry."
There now are 93 confirmed cases across 13 counties, state health officials said.
Ohio governor closes all bars and restaurants in response to virus outbreak
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine announced Sunday afternoon that he's issuing the closure of all bars and restaurants starting at 9 p.m. local time.
"Establishments can stay open for carry-out and delivery," he tweeted. "What we can't have is people congregating and seated."
He said he made the decision in part to protect his state's health care system and those who need hospital care for other reasons.
"I'm aware that this will impact many, many good workers," DeWine continued on Twitter. "I can't tell you how sorry I am, but we will work to mitigate the suffering. It is our goal for everyone to get through this."
DeWine also said he plans to make several changes to Ohio's unemployment law and state agency policy to support workers directly impacted by the outbreak.
Ohio currently has 37 confirmed COVID-19 cases, according to the state's department of health.
We are broadening current state policy to clarify that individuals that are quarantined by a health professional or by their employer are considered to be unemployed and will not be subject to requirements to actively seek work during the period of emergency. #COVID19OhioReady
— Governor Mike DeWine (@GovMikeDeWine) March 15, 2020
Department of Corrections implements new screening protocols after second employee tests positive for virus
The Washington State Department of Corrections (DOC) announced Sunday that a second employee has tested positive for COVID-19.
The employee, who works on the third floor of DOC headquarters in Olympisa, was last in the office on Wednesday, the department statement said. The staffer will be at home until they recover.
Anyone who was in close contact with the employee has self-quarantined at home and was asked to monitor their symptoms.
“Corrections continues to be vigilant in efforts to protect our staff, those we serve and our communities,” said DOC secretary Steve Sinclair in the statement. “Effective immediately, all offices and facilities within the Department, including prisons, work release and field offices, will be implementing enhanced screening protocols to the degree possible with available onsite equipment.”
Last week, a staffer at Monroe Correctional Complex also tested positive for the virus, prompting a 14-day “precautionary quarantine/restricted movement” for inmates in certain prison units.
Why closing Disneyland is such a blow to American optimism
As one American institution after another fell — the NBA season halted, the start of the Major League Baseball season delayed, Broadway going dark — the closure of Anaheim’s Disneyland Resort Friday night became not just inevitable but imperative.
To remain open any longer than absolutely necessary during a public health crisis could start to appear irresponsible to the park’s front-line staff, especially in the wake of an executive order by California Gov. Gavin Newsom aimed in part at curtailing large-scale events across the state.
And yet when Disney’s announcement came, it still hit hard.
Summit at Snoqualmie suspends operations starting at the end of the day
The Summit at Snoqualmie announced Sunday morning that it would suspend operations until further notice due to the spread of COVID-19.
"This has been a very trying time for everyone and we want to thank all of our guests and staff for their patience and understanding as we work through this outbreak together," the ski resort said in a statement. "Please know this decision was not an easy one to make, as we know it has great impact to our staff, passholders, guests, and community."
The closure will go into effect at the end of the day.
If you bought a lift ticket online for a future date, the statement said, it will be automatically refunded.
"We whole-heartedly look forward to the day we can invite the region's skiers and snowboards back to the mountain," the statement said. "Until then, stay healthy and take care of yourselves and your loved ones."
Other ski resorts, including Crystal Mountain and Stevens Pass, have also closed.
Top U.S. infectious-disease expert open to a 14-day ‘national shutdown’ to stem virus
The government’s top infectious disease expert said Sunday he would like to see aggressive measures such as a 14-day national shutdown that would require Americans to hunker down even more to help slow spread of the coronavirus.
Still, Dr. Anthony Fauci said travel restrictions within the United States, such as to and from hard-hit Washington state and California, probably will not be needed anytime soon.
Fauci, the public face of the administration’s messaging during a round of morning TV interviews, said the country should do as much as “we possibly could,” even if officials are criticized for “overreacting.” He said he raised the issue of measures such as a shutdown with the Trump administration, and said it has been open to his ideas.
Trump tests negative for virus; White House begins screening
After days of resisting screening for the coronavirus, President Donald Trump tested negative for the virus, officials said Saturday night. Meanwhile, the White House began checking the temperature of anyone coming into close contact with the president and other officials.
This includes reporters who attended the White House briefing Saturday and anyone entering the Oval Office.
To that end, a representative from the White House physician’s office took the temperature of members of the media at the briefing, going around and putting a device to their heads. One reporter with a suspected elevated temperature was not allowed in.
Fred Meyer employee in Monroe tests positive for virus
Supermarket retail company Kroger announced Saturday that an associate who works at Kroger-owned Fred Meyer in Monroe has tested positive for COVID-19.
The associate, who is receiving medical care and is recovering, last worked in the store March 5, according to a Kroger statement.
The company followed "all sanitation and cleaning procedures" after hearing about the infection, the statement said, and all stores remain open.
Another Kroger employee -- a King Soopers associate in Colorado -- also tested positive for the virus, the statement said.
The company enacted its emergency leave guidelines policy, effective immediately, which allows paid time off for affected employees or those who have been quarantined. All eligible associates will receive their standard pay for up to two weeks, the statement said.
Kroger also promised to provide assistance to its employees who need financial support due to an "unexpected or emergency situation."
Archie McPhee store closes temporarily to protect employees
Seattle's Archie McPhee novelty store, famously filled with gag gifts and party supplies, announced Sunday morning it would temporarily shut its doors as the coronavirus outbreak continues.
The store said on Twitter that management made the decision "for the safety of employees & customers."
The store didn't specify how long it would be closed, but promised it would reopen as soon as possible.
"Our regular nonsense will continue to be sold on http://mcphee.com," the store tweeted. "Thank you for your support!"
Wuhan soccer team leaving Spain to escape virus
The Chinese soccer team that was originally stuck in Spain because of the coronavirus outbreak is going back home to try to avoid its rapid spread in Europe.
Wuhan Zall was expected to return to China on Saturday, nearly 1 1/2 months after it arrived in Spain for preseason training. The team had not been able to leave because of the restrictions in China, but expedited its departure because of the worsening situation in Spain.
The team initially planned to leave Spain mid-February but had extended its stay in the southern region of the country until at least the end of March. That plan changed this week because of the sharp spike in the number of cases in Spain and Europe generally.
Canada suspends cruise-ship tourism, which could shut down Seattle-to-Alaska cruise season until July
Most large cruise ships are registered to foreign governments. Under U.S. law, that means they can’t sail between two U.S. ports without also visiting a foreign country.
For many cruise ships headed to Alaska, Canada was that foreign country.
Spain limits movements, closes shops to stem virus spread
Spain’s government announced Saturday that it is placing tight restrictions on movements and closing restaurants and other establishments in the nation of 46 million people as part of a two-week state of emergency to fight the sharp rise in coronavirus infections.
Spain is following Italy’s path in implementing a similar lockdown after both European countries failed to contain the virus in regional hotspots.
“We won’t hesitate in doing what we must to beat the virus," Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez told the nation in a nationally televised address after his Cabinet met for over seven hours. "We are putting health first.”
Shortly after he spoke, the government revealed that the virus had reached Sánchez’s own home, saying his wife, Begoña Gómez, had tested positive for the COVID-19 virus. The government said both Gómez and the prime minister are in good health.
Airbnb to issue refunds under new "extenuating circumstances" policy for reservations made during specific dates
In order to accommodate guests no longer traveling due to coronavirus, Airbnb will offer refunds on select reservations, the company announced on their website Saturday.
This new “extenuating circumstances” refund policy applies only to specific reservations. According to the website, refunds will be issued for Airbnb stays and Airbnb Experiences made on or before March 14, 2020, with check-in dates of April 14 or earlier, and for stays and experiences that have at least one night occurring between March 14 and April 14.
Reservations with a check-in date after April 14th are only eligible if the guest or the host has COVID-19.
If your reservation qualifies, you will receive a full refund, including service fees, after you cancel. Hosts can also cancel the reservation without a fee or any impact to their Superhost status. The statement says reservations will have a note on the reservation details page on the website that indicates they qualify for the “extenuating circumstances” policy.
Reservations made for Airbnb stays and experiences in China have different qualifications for refunds and cancellations, which were announced when the coronavirus outbreak was primarily affecting areas in China.
Nike shuts down all stores in U.S. and Western Europe
Nike is closing all retail stores in the U.S. and Western Europe to help slow the spread of the coronavirus.
The closures, which also include Canada, Australia and New Zealand, will take effect Monday and last through at least March 27. Nike will continue to pay employees during the shutdown, the company said.
The Oregon-based company was one of the first major brands to address the virus’s affect on its business, announcing on Feb. 5 that it was closing half its stores in China and operating others at reduced hours. The company said Sunday that its Nike-owned stores in South Korea, Japan and most of China are currently open.
Local fire departments continue to test first responders for COVID-19
Several local fire departments say they're continuing to take precautions to prevent exposures for their first responders.
In Kirkland, Fire Station 21 reopened Friday evening after temporarily closing due to the coronavirus outbreak. Most of their quarantined first responders are no longer quarantined.
Twelve of the city's firefighters are under quarantine, and 30 have been released after finishing their 14-day quarantine period, according to a statement from the Kirkland City Council. One Kirkland first responder has tested positive for COVID-19 and 23 have tested negative.
"The City Council is also strongly advocating at the county, state and federal levels to make COVID-19 testing available for all first responders and all community members as soon as possible, as well as for more personal protection equipment (PPE) for Kirkland first responders from the national strategic stockpiles," the statement said.
Puget Sound Fire has about five first responders under quarantine, according to a Saturday statement from the agency, though the agency said about 60 have been quarantined across the region.
"All five are feeling good with no symptoms," the statement said.
Virus screenings jam U.S. airports; ‘atrocious,’ a flyer says
Long lines and hourslong waits for required medical screenings greeted weary travelers returning to some U.S. airports amid coronavirus-related travel restrictions.
The dense crowds Saturday at some of the 13 airports where travelers from Europe are being funneled — among the busiest across the country — formed even as public health officials called for “social distancing” to stem the spread of the pandemic.
Lines appeared to be shorter Sunday morning at the affected airports, but more flights had yet to arrive.
Fake coronavirus testing kits seized at Los Angeles airport
Federal authorities warned consumers about fake home-testing kits for the coronavirus after customs agents intercepted a package at Los Angeles International Airport filled with vials labeled as COVID-19 test kits.
The parcel arriving from the United Kingdom Saturday was declared as purified water vials valued at $200. But when U.S. Customs and Border Protection inspected it they discovered the labels referring to the new virus that began in China and has spread globally.
“The American public should be aware of bogus home testing kits for sale either online or in informal direct to consumer settings,” the agency said in a statement.
Bellevue scientists bring disease-modeling expertise to coronavirus work
Gov. Jay Inslee presented a startling chart last week when he announced a ban on large gatherings. It showed how fast the coronavirus could spread through Washington without significant action: 25,000 cases by early April and 400 people likely to die in King and Snohomish counties alone.
Those models were developed by a team of local researchers who, until recently, had focused mainly on tuberculosis, malaria and other scourges of the developing world. Now, the Institute for Disease Modeling (IDM) in Bellevue has shifted gears to help health officials and policymakers track and forecast the novel coronavirus' progression.
Australia, New Zealand announce travel restrictions
Australia and New Zealand are among the countries that have announced quarantine restrictions this weekend for people arriving from other countries.
Both countries are requiring 14-day self-quarantine period for all people arriving from overseas, The Australian and the Australian Broadcasting Corp. report. They're also halting the arrivals of cruise ships.
The New York Times is compiling an updating list of countries that have announced travel restrictions due to COVID-19, available here.
Not quite empty, but eerie
One by one, our civic institutions have shut down — schools, libraries, courts, the Space Needle. Still, life continues on here, at the forefront of a national emergency that has distorted the social fabric unlike anything in our lifetimes. But it is quieter. Lonelier. Distant.
Read more from Seattle Times reporter David Gutman about how life feels different in the Seattle area, in the age of coronavirus.
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