Editor’s note: This is a live account of COVID-19 updates from Monday, May 11, as the day unfolded. Click here to see updates from Tuesday, May 12, and click here to find resources and the latest extended coverage of the pandemic.
King County hit a grim milestone this weekend, with 500 COVID-19 deaths confirmed as of late Saturday. Statewide, a total of 931 people have succumbed to the disease, according to new numbers reported Sunday by the state Department of Health.
Of the 73,106 tests so far conducted for the virus among King County residents, 9.6% have been positive, which is higher than the statewide average (6.8% positive out of 248,875 tests conducted), the data shows.
As weekend temperatures soared into the 80s across the Puget Sound region, the City of Seattle deployed about 70 “park ambassadors” to remind people basking in the sun to keep their distance and not form groups.
In the other Washington, the Trump administration is racing to contain an outbreak inside the White House.
Throughout Monday, on this page, we’ll be posting updates from Seattle Times journalists and others on the pandemic and its effects on the Seattle area, the Pacific Northwest and the world. Updates from Sunday 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 Monday.
To reopen, Washington state restaurants will have to keep log of customers to aid in contact tracing
With eight Washington counties now approved to move to Phase 2 under Gov. Jay Inslee’s four-phase plan to reopen the state, the governor’s office on Monday released a set of requirements restaurants will have to comply with if they want to reopen for dine-in service.
Stevens, Wahkiakum, Skamania, Ferry, Pend Oreille, Columbia, Garfield and Lincoln counties have all been cleared for Phase 2, which allows restaurants to reopen at 50% capacity, and caps table sizes at five.
Notably, the 13 criteria that restaurants will have to adhere to in order to reopen for dine-in service includes a stipulation that they “create a daily log of customers and maintain that daily log for 30 days, including telephone/email contact information, and time in.”
This is to aid in any contact tracing, should that become necessary.
Fauci to warn Senate of ‘needless suffering and death’
Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert and a central figure in the government’s response to the coronavirus, plans to deliver a stark warning to the Senate on Tuesday: Americans would experience “needless suffering and death” if the country opens up prematurely.
Fauci, who has emerged as perhaps the nation’s most respected voice during the coronavirus crisis, is one of four top government doctors scheduled to testify remotely at a high-profile — and highly unusual — hearing Tuesday before the Senate Health Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. He made his comments in an e-mail message late Monday night.
Tuesday’s hearing will be his first appearance before Congress since President Donald Trump declared the coronavirus pandemic a national emergency on March 13, and a chance for him to address lawmakers and the public without Trump by his side. He is currently in a “modified quarantine,” he has said, after a “low risk” exposure to someone infected with the virus.
He will testify remotely Tuesday.
UW Medicine faces $500 million shortfall because of coronavirus pandemic; staff cuts and furloughs coming
UW Medicine, which has played a significant role in responding to the coronavirus pandemic on a local and national scale, is now in deep financial trouble due to that very pandemic.
The health care system’s losses could top half a billion dollars by the end of summer, according to a Monday email from UW Medicine CEO Dr. Paul Ramsey that was obtained by The Seattle Times. Staff cuts, furloughs, hiring restrictions and a pay cut for senior leadership could all be in the offing, Ramsey wrote.
The losses began in March as more COVID-19 cases were discovered in Washington state and the response ramped up throughout the UW Medicine system.
Ramsey cited three major reasons for the shortfall, including less money coming in after nonemergency and elective procedures were canceled, new expenses related to the COVID-19 response and "lost opportunities to implement new programs."
Ed Lab Live: Advocating from inside your home and supporting the Latino community
Staying home doesn’t mean staying silent. That’s one of the messages of Centro Latino, a nonprofit in Tacoma that provides education and resources for the Latino community. The organization is providing boxes filled with food that is typically eaten in Latino countries, resources for people in abusive situations, and other support for their community during the pandemic.
In this episode of Ed Lab Live, we spoke with Yazmin Aguilar, the deputy director of Centro Latino, about ways young people can stay civically engaged and support their communities.
For more information about Ed Lab Live, and to view this week's speaker schedule, click here.
State confirms 17,122 COVID-19 cases
State health officials confirmed 231 new COVID-19 cases in Washington on Monday, including 14 more deaths.
The recent update brings the state's totals to 17,122 confirmed cases and 945 deaths.
So far, 252,108 tests for the illness caused by the novel coronavirus have been conducted in Washington, according to the state. Of those, 6.8% have come back positive.
King County, the state's most populous, has had 7,068 positive test results and 506 deaths, accounting for 53.5% of the state's death toll. New deaths were also reported in Benton, Chelan, Pierce, Snohomish, Spokane and Yakima counties.
Local officials urge bus riders to wear face coverings amid coronavirus spread, but no enforcement planned
King County Metro will direct riders to wear cloth face coverings to reduce the spread of the novel coronavirus, local officials said Monday. However, there will be no legal enforcement of the directive and drivers will not turn away passengers without face coverings.
Face coverings include “fabric masks, a scarf, a bandanna or a disposable nonmedical mask that can cover your nose and mouth,” said County Executive Dow Constantine.
The announcement came as part of a county directive instructing residents to wear face coverings in locations where they can’t keep a distance of 6 feet from others.
Both bus drivers and riders will be required to wear face coverings, but drivers will not prevent passengers without face coverings from boarding, the county said in a news release. Aboard buses, riders will hear recorded reminders about wearing face coverings. Security officers will “communicate” the guidance to riders, the release said.
Ken Price, president of ATU Local 587, called the directive “good news,” but said, “we believe [a] NO Mask No Ride [requirement] would be the safest improvement to date.”
King County officials, Seattle mayor issue directive for residents to wear cloth face coverings in certain settings
King County is directing people to wear cloth face coverings in certain settings to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus as more businesses and activities resume, officials said Monday.
The new directive, set to begin May 18, by Jeff Duchin, the county’s public health officer, says people should wear face coverings in indoor public spaces, such as supermarkets, and in outdoor public spaces, such as farmer’s markets, where social distancing guidelines are difficult to follow.
There won’t be a penalty for people who don’t wear face coverings and law enforcement will not be involved with the directive, said County Executive Dow Constantine and Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan, who joined Duchin for a virtual news conference Monday. The policy won’t apply to deaf and hard-of-hearing people who rely on face and mouth movements to communicate.
As states rush to reopen, scientists fear a coronavirus comeback
Millions of working people and small-business owners who cannot earn money while sheltering at home are facing economic ruin. So dozens of states, seeking to ease the pain, are coming out of lockdown.
Most have not met even minimal criteria for doing so safely, and some are reopening even as coronavirus cases rise, inviting disaster. The much-feared “second wave” of infection may not wait until fall, many scientists say, and instead may become a storm of wavelets breaking unpredictably across the country.
The reopenings will proceed nonetheless. The question now, scientists say, is whether the nation can minimize the damage by intelligently adopting new tactics.
Read the story here.
Brown tells Oregon agencies to prepare for 17% budget cut
Oregon Gov. Kate Brown has directed state agencies to prepare for a 17% budget cut due to cratering tax revenues because of the coronavirus outbreak.
“Whether the state will need to implement this level of cuts will be dependent on several factors, most importantly the need for additional federal funding to support state services, including our K-12 public school system,” Brown said in a statement Monday.
Read the story here.
White House recommends tests for all nursing home residents
With deaths mounting at the nation’s nursing homes, the White House strongly recommended to governors Monday that all residents and staff at such facilities be tested for the coronavirus in the next two weeks.
Why the government is not ordering testing at the the nation’s more than 15,000 nursing homes was unclear. Nor was it clear why it is being recommended now, more than two months after the nation’s first major outbreak at a nursing home outside of Seattle that eventually killed 43 people.
Read the story here.
California sheriff says inmates tried to infect themselves with coronavirus
Two groups of inmates at a Los Angeles County jail tried to infect themselves with the coronavirus by sharing water and a mask, and within two weeks 30 prisoners tested positive, authorities said Monday.
At a briefing, Sheriff Alex Villanueva showed surveillance videos from two dormitory units at the North County Correctional Facility in Castaic.
The footage captured inmates in one unit sharing a container of hot water and others in a second unit sniffing a mask.
The sheriff said the inmates used hot water to try to raise their temperatures just before a nurse checked them. An elevated temperature is a symptom for coronavirus.
Villanueva said the inmates mistakenly believed that if they were infected they would be freed.
Inslee, other governors, want $1 trillion in aid for state and local governments
Gov. Jay Inslee, Washington's legislative leaders and their counterparts in four Western states, want Congress to approve $1 trillion in aid for states and local governments, whose budgets have been decimated by the novel coronavirus.
Inslee, Washington House Speaker Laurie Jinkins and Washington Senate Majority Leader Andy Billig wrote to the leadership of the U.S. House and Senate on Monday, requesting "respectfully, and urgently" $1 trillion in aid for state and local governments. The letter was signed by governors and Democratic legislative leaders in California, Oregon, Nevada and California.
Unofficial projections show Washington is looking at a $7 billion hit to its state budget as a result of the pandemic. State and local governments, which generally must balance their budgets and do not print their own money, have much less flexibility than the federal government in responding to economic downturns.
"Even states that began the year in a strong fiscal position are facing staggering deficits amid growing costs of responding to the crisis," the letter from the five Western states says. "Without federal support, states and cities will be forced to make impossible decisions – like whether to fund critical public healthcare that will help us recover, or prevent layoffs of teachers, police officers, firefighters and other first responders."
Democratic leaders in Congress have been pushing for another round of federal stimulus, to include more aid to states and local governments. But Republicans have been resistant. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, suggested last month that, rather than provide more aid to states, states should instead be able to file for bankruptcy.
3 more Washington counties cleared to move to next phase of reopening
Three more rural Washington counties have received permission to move to the next phase of re-opening their economies, the state Department of Health announced Monday, bringing the total to eight counties, all outside the Puget Sound region.
Washington State Secretary of Health John Wiesman approved applications from Wahkiakum, Skamania and Stevens counties to move to "phase two" of Gov. Jay Inslee's four-phase re-opening plan.
Phase two allows restaurants and bars to reopen but only at half-capacity and only for small groups. It allows retail stores, barbers and salons to reopen and in-home services, like housecleaning, to resume.
Only counties with fewer than 75,000 people and no new cases of COVID-19 in the last three weeks can apply to reopen. The application must be supported by the local health department, local government and local hospitals.
Last week, Columbia, Garfield, Lincoln, Ferry and Pend Oreille counties were approved to begin reopening. Kittitas County's application to move to the next phase is under review.
For the rest of the state, phase two could begin on June 1, provided public-health data on the spread of the novel coronavirus looks favorable.
Tacoma postpones Fourth of July fireworks because of coronavirus
Tacoma’s large Fourth of July fireworks show has been postponed because of the coronavirus outbreak.
KOMO reports the T-Town Family 4th celebration might become a summer celebration later in the year, if restrictions on large crowds ease.
“As much as we were looking forward to this fun family event, we must remain vigilant and focused on the safety and well-being of our community and take measures to reduce the spread of this pandemic,” Tacoma Mayor Victoria Woodards said in a statement.
Under Washington Gov. Jay Inslee’s plan to ease COVID-19 restrictions, some larger gatherings might be permitted by mid-July.
Twitter will warn users about misleading COVID-19 tweets
Twitter announced Monday it will warn users when a tweet contains disputed or misleading information about the coronavirus.
The new rule is the latest in a wave of stricter policies that tech companies are rolling out to confront an outbreak of virus-related misinformation on their sites.
Twitter will take a case-by-case approach to how it decides which tweets are labeled and will only remove posts that are harmful, company leaders said Monday.
Some tweets will run with a label underneath that directs users to a link with additional information about COVID-19. Other tweets might be covered entirely by a warning label alerting users that “some or all of the content shared in this tweet conflict with guidance from public health experts regarding COVID-19.”
The new labels will be available in roughly 40 languages and should begin appearing on tweets as soon as today. The warning could apply retroactively to past tweets.
Twitter won’t directly fact check or call tweets false on the site, said Nick Pickles, the company’s global senior strategist for public policy. The warning labels might direct users to curated tweets, public health websites or news articles.
'Like sitting ducks': COVID-19 death toll in nursing homes high but inexact
Nursing homes account for at least a third of the nation’s 76,000 COVID-19 fatalities, and in 14 states they’re more than half the total, according to Kaiser Family Foundation data from Thursday.
Those numbers, though, are woefully incomplete because 18 states aren’t disclosing such data and those that are provide varying levels of information. As officials struggle to measure and understand the true toll, the virus continues to victimize the frail and elderly in even the best-run facilities, said Elizabeth Dugan, associate professor of gerontology at the University of Massachusetts in Boston.
“They’re almost like sitting ducks,” said Dugan, whose research team warned of imminent widespread nursing-home infections in early March.
Around the same time, one of the first major U.S. outbreaks of COVID-19 took place at the Life Care Center in Kirkland. Since then, the number of deaths linked to that facility has more than tripled, to 45 as of Thursday.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services on April 19 started requiring long-term care facilities to report COVID-19 cases. And the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said it will penalize nursing facilities that don’t submit weekly infection updates.
King County to issue new directives on face coverings
King County Executive Dow Constantine, Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan and Public Health Officer Dr. Jeff Duchin will discuss a new directive on facial coverings in a news conference Monday at 2:30 p.m.
Officials at the Washington State Department of Health, following similar guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, recommended in early April that residents wear cloth face masks any time they are in public and can’t guarantee they’ll be able to stay at least six feet away from another person
Masks should cover the mouth and nose with fabric and be secured around the face. They should be washed after each use, at least daily, according to the health department.
Essential workers who can’t avoid being within six feet of another person have been advised to wear the covering all day.
In the Seattle area, tensions have flared between those who wear masks and those who are wary of them.
Bus cuts, delayed projects, rider fear: Coronavirus will bring years of pain for transit
Before the coronavirus pandemic, King County Metro was defying a trend.
As fewer people rode buses in cities all over America, riders were flocking to board here. Metro couldn’t hire and train drivers fast enough and didn’t have enough space at its maintenance bases to keep up with demand.
All that has changed.
The coronavirus outbreak has decimated ridership, kept some drivers and other employees at home sick or worried about exposure and pushed the agency into crisis-planning mode. Across the Puget Sound region, the same story is playing out at agency after agency.
Beyond the immediate health crisis, the pandemic threatens to undo years of transit growth, undermine public confidence in taking crowded buses and plunge local transit systems into a financial setback worse than the Great Recession in the late 2000s.
“I absolutely see disaster on the horizon,” said Carla Saulter, a transit rider and advocate who was part of a group after the recession that considered which bus routes should be prioritized during service cuts or expansions.
Read the story here.
'Scary to go to work': White House races to contain virus in its ranks
The Trump administration is racing to contain an outbreak of the coronavirus inside the White House as some senior officials believe that the disease is already spreading rapidly through the warren of cramped offices that make up the three floors of the West Wing.
Three top officials leading the government’s coronavirus response have begun two weeks of self-quarantine after two members of the White House staff — one of President Donald Trump’s personal valets and Katie Miller, the spokeswoman for Vice President Mike Pence — tested positive. But others who came into contact with Miller and the valet are continuing to report to work at the White House.
“It is scary to go to work,” Kevin Hassett, a top economic adviser to the president, said on CBS’ “Face the Nation” program Sunday. Hassett said he wore a mask at times at the White House but conceded that “I think that I’d be a lot safer if I was sitting at home than I would be going to the West Wing.”
He added, “It’s a small, crowded place. It’s, you know, it’s a little bit risky. But you have to do it because you have to serve your country.”
Read the story here.
Cannon Beach police ask 700 people to leave over Mother's Day weekend
The city of Cannon Beach, Ore., closed its beaches over the weekend and yet still saw plenty of out-of-towners ignoring Gov. Kate Brown’s stay-home orders. But the numbers weren’t as bad as they might have been, according to City Manager Bruce St. Denis.
“The City of Cannon Beach has experienced an increasing influx of visitors defying the state and local restrictions and not practicing safe social distancing,” St. Denis wrote, “especially on the beaches adjacent to the city.”
St. Denis wrote in an email Sunday that, on Saturday, Cannon Beach police asked about 700 people on the beach to leave, and did the same with about 60 people on Sunday.
“Most were from out of town,” St. Denis wrote, adding that some “had some questions/comments but all were eventually cooperative.”
No arrests were made, St. Denis said, adding that those numbers were “significantly less than we expected had the beach not been closed.”
Quarantine Corner: Making it easier to be stuck at home
Is anything cuter than the Seattle Aquarium's otters? Here are five things to keep your kid (and you) happily occupied this week, from otter cams to ice-cream pie.
Worth watching tonight: There's a Seattle contestant on "Bakeaway Camp with Martha Stewart," which will get you fired up for summer with camping-style food. And she's sharing her recipe for Friendship Bread to make these times seem less distant.
Looking for free streaming services? Here are options, and the movies and TV shows you can watch on them.
‘The great purge’
If you're cleaning closets during the stay-home order, you're far from alone. Long lines of cars were waiting when some stores reopened (for donations only) this month. Even CEO Daryl Campbell was stunned: “There is pent-up demand for folks to drop off their stuff. I did not know the degree.”
Now that you've cleaned out your closet, here's the Laundry Fairy's advice on taking care of the clothes you have left.
Catch up on the past 24 hours
King County marked its 500th death from COVID-19 over the weekend. Track the spread of the virus across our state and the globe.
Sea-Tac is the only major West Coast airport without a mask policy, and some travelers say they've been shocked at how little has been done there to keep the public safe. Big questions surround a mandate that's coming next week.
It could take years for Washington state’s economy to rebound from the coronavirus crash. A series of charts shows how dramatic the damage has been. Nationally, the economy will get worse before it gets better, top White House advisers said yesterday.
Coronavirus in the White House: Vice President Mike Pence spent the weekend in isolation after his press secretary tested positive. Pence plans to return to the White House today.
Fears are growing of a second wave of infections as the world reopens. In South Korea, a nightclub is linked to 85 new cases. In Amsterdam, a principal is wearing a hula hoop to socially distance from her students. When will the pandemic end, and how? Endings are "very, very messy," historians say.
Behind closed doors, home care workers are taking on personal risks as they play a crucial role for older adults and people with disabilities. Let's not forget these workers and their safety, columnist Naomi Ishisaka writes. For Washington's more visible health workers, the days spent in coronavirus "hot zones" are taking a toll, changing their personal lives as well as their jobs.
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