Editor’s note: This was a live account of updates from Sunday, March 22, as events unfolded. Click here to see updates from Monday, March 23. 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.
Gov. Jay Inslee isn’t quite ready to order Washingtonians to “shelter in place,” but pressure for that action appears to be building from multiple cities in the state.
On Friday, Seattle closed playgrounds and ball fields, and Everett Mayor Cassie Franklin ordered the city’s 110,000 residents to stay home. On Saturday, King County Councilmember Reagan Dunn asked County Executive Dow Constantine to issue a “stay at home” order for Washington’s largest county to try and slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Executives at Virginia Mason Memorial hospital in Yakima called a news conference to plead with residents to stay home. The leadership of the hospital projects that they’ll run out of ventilators by April 8 and said, “to save lives we strongly urge the people of Yakima to go home and stay there.”
The novel coronavirus continues to spread through Washington, and more COVID-19 diagnoses are made each day. The state Department of Health announced 203 newly confirmed cases Sunday, bringing the state total to 1,996 cases, including 95 deaths. The bulk of cases remain in King County, which has seen 1,040 people fall ill and 75 die.
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 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.
More residents at Shuksan Healthcare Center in Whatcom County test positive for coronavirus
BELLINGHAM — Testing has revealed that more than two dozen residents and six staff members at the Shuksan Healthcare Center in Whatcom County are infected with the novel coronavirus, health officials announced late Sunday.
The Whatcom County Health Department said it also recently learned that the second COVID-19-related death in Whatcom County, announced Saturday, is associated with the Shuksan outbreak. That man, in his 80s, had been a resident at the center who was discharged on March 10. He got sick after he was discharged and the positive test result was confirmed Saturday, the day after he died, the center said.
The outbreak is among the residents most vulnerable to infections by SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. An outbreak at the Life Care Center of Kirkland infected more than 82 residents. As of Wednesday, 35 of them had died.
Read the full story here.
South King County mayors urge residents to stay home and warn of 'additional steps' if they don't
The elected mayors of eight mostly South King County cities issued a joint letter supporting Gov. Jay Inslee’s self-isolation orders but warning their residents that they may “take additional steps to protect our communities” if people don't follow recommendations on social distancing.
The most imperative practice, the mayors wrote, is to stay home and avoid contact with others. But residents and visitors are not fully recognizing the best practices recommended by federal, state and local health officials, the mayors added.
“We strongly urge our residents follow those best practices to prevent additional measures from being enacted," said the letter, signed by the mayors of Auburn, Kent, Renton, Federal Way, Tukwila, Enumclaw, Algona and Pacific. "If these best practices are not followed, we will need to take further action.”
A new COVID-19 drive-through testing site opens in Snohomish County
Snohomish Health District and the Medical Reserve Corps are partnering with several other municipal agencies to open a free drive-thru testing site for the novel coronavirus.
The center, funded by the Washington state Department of Health (DOH), Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), is in Everett and will be open to Snohomish County residents displaying COVID-19 symptoms deemed to be high risk.
The center defines high risk as working in health care, public safety or “critical infrastructure” such as the utilities, grocery stores or childcare centers that are remaining open. People who are pregnant, above 60 or who have underlying medical conditions are also eligible.
“This testing option is not meant to replace or eliminate other testing avenues offered by many local healthcare providers,” Snohomish Health District said in a statement. “The goal is to supplement those options in order to ease some of the pressure on the existing system.”
You can learn more about the site here.
Trump to activate National Guard in Washington, New York and California
President Donald Trump has activated the National Guard in Washington, New York and California to carry out missions aimed at slowing the spread of COVID-19, he announced at a press conference Sunday.
Gov. Jay Inslee will remain in command of the National Guard in Washington, but the federal government will pay for the costs of deploying its units.
The Sunday announcement comes amid Trump issuing a “major disaster declaration” for Washington state. Trump also said that the federal government will deliver “hundreds of tons” of supplies, including gloves, N95 masks and hospital beds, to states hit hardest by the coronavirus outbreak.
Lummi Nation shelters in place to slow spread of coronavirus
The Lummi Nation is sheltering in place to protect its people.
The announcement by Lawrence Solomon, chairman of the Lummi Indian Business Council, requires Lummi tribal members to remain in their homes except for essential trips as of midnight March 22 until midnight April 5.
“We love all our people and are committed to doing everything in our power to protect our people. It is time to take extreme measures,” Solomon said in a Facebook Live address Sunday evening.
There have been five confirmed cases of coronavirus so far at Lummi, including two members of the Lummi tribal community who live on the reservation. “There is no need to panic, but we need to be cautious,” Solomon said.
Read the full story here.
Trump: Navy hospital ship will deploy to California, not Washington
The Navy’s hospital ship USNS Mercy will head to Los Angeles and not to the Puget Sound, a destination Gov. Jay Inslee had requested to help build the state medical system’s capacity for handling the strain of the coronavirus outbreak.
The Mercy will head to Los Angeles within the next week, President Donald Trump said in a news conference Sunday afternoon. Another hospital ship will deploy to New York.
Washington has more COVID-19 cases than California. The decision to deploy the ship to California and not Washington was based on an analysis of potential needs for hospital beds on the West Coast, FEMA administrator Peter Gaynor said at the news conference.
The ship would “have the greatest impact in California,” Gaynor said.
In a letter to Trump sent last week, Inslee said the ship, which is fully staffed with doctors, nurses and other health care professionals, would help handle the surge of new patients in Washington.
“While I am very disappointed the USNS Mercy is not coming to (Washington), I appreciate that federal field hospitals are on the way to help with increased medical needs,” Inslee wrote Sunday afternoon in a tweet. “My staff and I will keep working until we have the resources necessary to care for all Washingtonians.”
Boeing worker at Everett plant dies from coronavirus infection
A Boeing worker who came down with the Covid-19 respiratory disease caused by the coronavirus has died, the first death among the infected employees.
Co-workers and a union official who confirmed his death said the man was an inspector who worked on the 787 Dreamliner in Everett. The Seattle Times is not naming him until his family is informed.
The man’s job was to oversee unfinished work that had traveled out from the factory to the flight line.
He was also a shop steward in the International Association of Machinists (IAM) union.
On Saturday, while he was still in intensive care, his brother posted a plea to Boeing on Facebook.
“Boeing Everett plant, please close your doors and shut down,” his brother wrote, adding that the man had worked at Boeing for 27 years.
Read the full story here.
Bridge Park resident dies after being diagnosed with COVID-19
A resident of Bridge Park, a senior living community in West Seattle, died after being diagnosed with COVID-19.
The resident died at a hospital after being admitted and testing positive for coronavirus, a spokeswoman for Holiday Retirement, which operates Bridge Park, said Sunday afternoon. It’s unclear when the death occurred.
“The Bridge Park community’s hearts and prayers go out to the family members and friends of our resident who passed away” spokeswoman Alyssa Cerrito said in an email. “We are so saddened by the passing of a member of our community.”
More than 100 residents of senior facilities throughout Washington have tested positive for coronavirus. Many facilities, including Bridge Park, have had residents isolate in their apartments or rooms and restricted visitors.
DOH confirms nearly 2,000 COVID-19 cases; King County cases surpass 1,000
The Washington State Department of Health on Sunday afternoon confirmed 203 additional cases and one additional death from COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.
A man in his 80s died at Overlake Medical Center on March 13, Public Health - Seattle & King County confirmed.
The newly released numbers bring the total of confirmed cases in Washington to 1,996, including 95 deaths. The additional death occurred in King County, where 75 people have died. There are 1,040 confirmed cases in King County.
The number of cases across Washington has increased as the virus spreads and as testing capacity expands. King County public-health officials have said the number of cases could double every five to seven days and have urged people to follow social-distancing measures to slow the spread.
Dubai’s Emirates cuts passenger flights to 13 destinations
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Long-haul carrier Emirates said Sunday it has dramatically cut its passenger flight destinations from 145 locations to just 13 countries. It’s a pivotal move that reflects the dramatic slowdown in traffic through the airline’s hub in Dubai, the world’s busiest international airport, due to disruptions caused by the coronavirus.
The state-owned carrier said it will keep flying to the U.S., the U.K., Japan, Australia and Canada, among a few other select destinations. The company had just hours earlier announced a suspension of all passenger flights, but said it reversed that decision after receiving requests from governments and customers to support the repatriation of travelers.
The state-owned carrier said it will continue to operate cargo flights through its fleet of Boeing 777 freighters for the transport of essential goods, including medical supplies across the world. It also said the company would reduce salaries for the majority of its employees for three months, but will not cut jobs.
Read the full story here.
President Trump approves Washington emergency declaration, freeing some federal funding
On Sunday, President Donald Trump issued a “major disaster” declaration for Washington state over the novel coronavirus crisis, freeing up some federal assistance — but Gov. Jay Inslee said the designation is not enough to bolster the state's fight against the pandemic.
"The president's action makes federal funding available for crisis counseling for affected individuals in all areas in the State of Washington," President Trump's declaration said.
However, Inslee's office said crisis counseling was just one of several aid requests Inslee had made in a 74-page letter detailing exactly what the state would need to fortify its response to the COVID-19 crisis, including emergency aid, disaster case management and disaster unemployment assistance.
"We appreciate that the federal government has recognized the severity of the public-health emergency in Washington state," Gov. Inslee said in a statement. "However, today's declaration does not unlock many forms of federal assistance we have requested to help workers and families who are badly hurting.
Read our updating story here.
Washington campgrounds will close through April 30
Various outdoors-oriented Washington state agencies announced the closure of campgrounds from Monday, March 23, through April 30.
This includes enclosed accommodations such as cabins and yurts. Trails and day-use areas will remain open.
In a joint statement, the agencies (Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission, Department of Fish and Wildlife, Department of Natural Resources) said current campers "will be phased out following instructions from land officials."
“People should continue to practice social distancing when recreating outdoors,” the announcement said. It comes on the heels of Seattle and King County’s closure of certain park areas and equipment.
Picnic shelters, basketball and tennis courts, ball fields and some other active recreation sites have been closed, according to a Friday statement from King County Executive Dow Constantine’s office.
Campers with state parks reservations through April 30 will be notified, the agencies said, and offered full refunds. Find the latest information at parks.state.wa.us/COVID-19.
Truckload of 50,000 N95 masks headed to UW researcher’s home thanks to Elon Musk, Tesla
A truckload of 50,000 N95 surgical masks, critical for health-care workers fighting the novel coronavirus, is headed to the Seattle home of a UW Medicine physician — courtesy of Elon Musk and Tesla.
This lightning-quick donation happened in a matter of hours. Read the full story, which will be updated, here.
Inslee appoints surgeon Raquel Bono to lead Washington's COVID-19 response
On Sunday morning, Gov. Jay Inslee named the head of Washington state's COVID-19 health-care response team: Retired Navy Vice Admiral Raquel C. Bono, a surgeon and former director for the Defense Health Agency.
As head of COVID-19 Health System Response Management, Bono will work with various health-care facilities (acute care, long-term care, tribal health and others). She will advise the governor on mitigating the new coronavirus's strain on the state health-care system's capacity.
The appointment is effective immediately.
"She brings an impressive medical background, a long and distinguished military career and a deep understanding of complex medical delivery systems," Gov. Inslee said in his announcement. "Her expertise will help us ensure that we can meet the needs of Washingtonians who are sick, or will become ill from COVID-19."
Bono, the first woman surgeon in the military to hold the rank of vice admiral, served in Operations Desert Storm and Desert Shield, overseeing casualty receiving at a fleet hospital in Saudi Arabia. With the Defense Health Agency, she led a joint agency supporting all branches of the U.S. military in providing health-care support to those in combat.
In her new role with the state's COVID-19 response team, Bono will monitor medical staffing needs, develop protocol standards and coordinate with the state Emergency Operations Center.
Spanish opera singer Plácido Domingo has coronavirus
The 79-year-old Spanish opera singer Plácido Domingo says he has become infected with the coronavirus.
The tenor announced the diagnosis on Facebook. Domingo says he and his family are in self-isolation and that he is feeling well despite having fever and a cough.
Chandler's Square Retirement Community in Anacortes says a resident tested positive for COVID-19
Chandler's Square, a retirement community in Anacortes, announced Sunday that one of its residents had tested positive for COVID-19.
The individual is hospitalized and is expected to be released to stay in isolation at the home of a family member.
Another Chandler's Square resident has also been hospitalized and is being evaluated for COVID-like symptoms.
Testing of all Chandler's Square residents and staff is not underway yet, said Polly Dubbel, communicable disease and environmental health manager at Skagit County Public Health.
But, she added, Washington State Department of Health has been contacted and will be in touch with Chandler's Square about how to proceed with testing in the coming days.
As of 2 p.m. Saturday afternoon, Skagit County had 28 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with four hospitalizations and no deaths. The Chandler's Square case, Dubbel said, is the first confirmed case of COVID-19 in a Skagit County retirement community.
Don't visit mom: UK advises distance on Mother's Day
LONDON (AP) — Sunday was Mother’s Day in Britain and the government had a stark message for millions of citizens: Visiting your mom could kill her.
In a message to the nation, Prime Minister Boris Johnson implored Britons to forego the day’s traditional family visits, parties and Sunday lunches since authorities could not “disguise or sugarcoat the threat” poised by the coronavirus pandemic.
“If your mother is elderly or vulnerable, then I am afraid all the statistics show that she is much more likely to die from coronavirus,” he said. “This time, the best thing is to ring her, video call her, Skype her, but to avoid any unnecessary physical contact or proximity.”
In times of housing crisis, Washington’s old squatters’ rights law is put to the test
In Los Angeles, people experiencing homelessness are seizing vacant homes, claiming that government officials failed to provide shelter that’s necessary for them to remain healthy during the coronavirus pandemic.
In the Seattle area, people have tried similar measures in the past. It's risky – and has not always ended well.
Read the full story here.
Athletes call for postponement of Olympics, International Olympic Committee says it's too soon to decide
A worldwide group representing Olympic hopefuls is calling on the International Olympic Committee to postpone the Tokyo Olympics until the coronavirus pandemic is under control.
“As the world unites to limit the spread of Covid-19 virus, the IOC … must do the same,” Global Athlete said in a news release Sunday.
This show of solidarity among Olympic hopefuls adds to the dozens of individual athletes who have come out against the IOC’s current stance, which is to start the games as scheduled on July 24.
The IOC is in consultation with the World Health Organization and has stuck to the position that it’s too early for drastic decisions.
Is school really out in Washington state?
In the week since Gov. Jay Inslee’s order to shut down Washington schools, school leaders have found themselves in startlingly unfamiliar territory. The story is similar elsewhere, and there’s no blueprint: Schools have closed from California to Maine, and as with most things about the arrival of the novel coronavirus here, suddenly shutting schools down for months during a pandemic is, well, novel.
Initially, state education officials urged schools to muddle through to the best of their abilities. On Friday, they said they would issue stronger recommendations given the scale and length of the closures. Still, they say their powers are limited: Local control of schools allows districts to make most decisions on their own, even amid a public health crisis. So far, instruction during closures has been a patchwork of uneven efforts across the state.
The closure halts a system that data shows has already left some students of color behind. Uneven resources and the flexibility school districts have in this new environment threaten to widen existing gaps between students with privilege and those without. Read the full story, which includes reporting from some Zoom classes, here.
Seniors, urged to stay home, cope with isolation
Many of us are feeling a sense of isolation as public health officials tell us to stay home as much as possible and maintain social distancing. Yet, for seniors, who have suffered the vast majority of fatalities, the warnings are more dire — and the potential ramifications of a constricted life greater.
Many had lost friends and loved ones before COVID-19. Seeing even fewer people could compound the feeling of social isolation, said Dr. Richard Veith, a geriatric psychiatrist and former chair of University of Washington School of Medicine’s Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences department. Studies show loneliness and depression bring health risks, he said, noting that those who are depressed are five times more likely to die in the months following a heart attack.
UW researchers work to understand how and why coronavirus kills
Last Tuesday, a scientist working in a secure upper-floor laboratory in the University of Washington Medical Center’s South Lake Union campus cracked open a vial containing one of the first samples of live SARS-C0V-2 virus, with a goal of better understanding how and why it kills.
The new virus has some unusual characteristics that haven’t been seen in other SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) outbreaks, both in the way it attacks the lungs and how it can infect people quietly, where they will have few or no symptoms for days or weeks but still spread the disease, said Dr. Michael Gale, a professor of immunology at the UW and the center’s director.
“There’s a lot we don’t know,” Gale said. “We don’t know how it interacts with the cell. We don’t now how it invades it. We don’t know how it overcomes the cell’s innate immune system.”
Catch up on the last 24 hours
Everett Mayor Cassie Franklin has ordered the city's residents to stay home, though one exception to that order is Boeing.
A group of UW researchers is trying to understand why COVID-19 has proved particularly lethal to the elderly and those with underlying health conditions. Why does the new virus overwhelm the body's natural defenses in those cases while in most people it causes only moderate or even mild illness?
The FDA has authorized the first rapid "point-of-care" test for the novel coronavirus that can deliver results in 45 minutes.
There's a growing need for hospital beds and supplies as the coronavirus continues to spread across the U.S. and Europe.
Several University of Washington students are among a group of Seattleites stranded in Peru. Peru has closed its borders to curb the spread of coronavirus, and is no longer allowing repatriation flights into the country to take Americans home.
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella says "there is no playbook" for dealing with something like the novel coronavirus.
Maple Valley singer Brandi Carlile has joined the likes of Kevin Bacon, Mariah Carey and Ellen DeGeneres in circulating #IStayHomeFor videos on social media to encourage people to stay inside.
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