Editor’s note: This is a live account of COVID-19 updates from Sunday, May 3, as the day unfolded. Click here to see updates from Monday, May 4, and click here to find resources and the latest extended coverage of the pandemic.
Positive COVID-19 cases in Washington increased to 15,185 as of late Saturday, 182 more than a day earlier, and four additional deaths were reported. The state’s death toll from the virus now stands at 834 and more than half — 459 — have occurred in King County, according to new data released by the state Department of Health on Sunday.
Of the 212,005 tests conducted statewide as of Saturday night, 7.2% have been positive.
The Lummi Nation has its first outbreak in weeks: 16 people, all younger than 40. And a worker at an Amazon warehouse in DuPont has tested positive for the virus, the Seattle-based tech giant confirmed Saturday afternoon.
More than 100 Washington state parks will re-open on Tuesday for daytime use. The roster includes popular hiking, fishing and boating destinations such as Deception Pass, Lake Wenatchee and Fort Worden.
Throughout Sunday, 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 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 than half of state's COVID-19 deaths occurred in King County
King County's 6,449 positive COVID-19 cases account for 42% of the statewide total of 15,185 positive cases, according to new data released Sunday afternoon by the state Department of Health (DOH). The new cases marked an increase of 182 from the day before.
The department reported that 834 people have died across the state from COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the coronavirus, four more than was reported a day earlier. Of those deaths, 459 — or 55% of the statewide total — have occurred in King County, the data shows.
Also Sunday, DOH unveiled improved graphics on the department's COVID-19 homepage. Improvements to support access for blind and visually impaired users include tab-key navigation, improved functionality for screen readers and better font sizes and color contrast, according to a news release. DOH has also made improvements for tablet and mobile users, the release says.
West Seattle Farmers' Market reopens; fewer vendors and shoppers allowed
King County Executive Dow Constantine and his family were among the 969 people who attended Sunday's reopening of the West Seattle Farmer's Market before organizers had to cut off the line of people waiting to get in a half hour before closing due to new maximum-capacity requirements.
Constantine said it was his civic duty to support the market.
Because of the need for greater spacing, only 30 vendors — about half the usual number — set up booths on Sunday, said Sarah Schu, the marketing and development director for Seattle Neighborhood Farmers Markets, which operates seven farmers' markets across the city and supports small family farms.
Vendors said business was down about 50%.
Samantha Alvarez, of Alvarez Organic Farms in Eastern Washington, said her food goods are typically sold at 20 farmers' markets a week. This week, they've sold at only three, and learned on Friday that they would be able to attend the West Seattle market, Alvarez said. Next week, she hopes to be able to sell at five markets.
Alvarez said for her farm to have a chance of surviving, they are looking at reinventing the business to sell directly to consumers.
While market business has been way down for Erik Sailors of Farm Fresh Northwest, he said his business overall has doubled since the coronavirus outbreak due to increased use of the farm's home-delivery service. The small, Stanwood farm specializes in meats and Sailors said he is now starting to see an uptick in business as meat-processing plants close elsewhere.
According to Schu of Seattle Neighborhood Farmers Markets, only the U District and West Seattle markets have been allowed to reopen so far, and the city issues permits on a week-to-week basis. She said there is no indication of when the other five markets under her organization will reopen. The Ballard Farmers Market, which is part of the Seattle Farmers Market Association, has also reopened.
Whole Foods to provide face masks for shoppers
Amazon-owned Whole Foods will provide grocery shoppers with free single-use masks at all its stores beginning this week.
In keeping with the chain’s “request” that all shoppers wear masks inside stores to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus, the company's 500 stores will make the masks available at entrances to customers who lack their own face covering, the company announced in a blog post.
Amazon plans to provide more than 100 million masks to its extensive commercial network, according to the post.
“We have enough mask inventory to cover our entire operations and stores network, and we are requiring everyone working in our facilities to take and use them,” the company stated. Whole Foods had already been providing masks to employees.
Whole Foods' move to provide, but not require, masks for shoppers comes days after Costco announced it will require shoppers to wear masks in its warehouses starting Monday.
Other local grocers, including Trader Joe’s and PCC Community Markets, have stopped short of a mandate, saying they “strongly encourage” shoppers to wear face masks.
Large-scale food chains, including Walmart/Sam’s Club, WinCo and Kroger, which owns Fred Meyer stores, have announced face mask requirements and other safety measures for store employees, but have yet to issue mask requirements for shoppers.
Public health officials continue to encourage the public to wear face masks in all public settings.
A scramble for coronavirus apps that do no harm
If the virus’s path can be tracked, even predicted, the hope is that more people will be able to resume at least part of their normal routines — and fewer will need to confine themselves at home.
With that goal in mind, there's now a worldwide scramble to deploy smartphone tools to rein in the pandemic.
At their core, the apps are intended to gather information about the movements of people who have tested positive for the virus, alert others who might have crossed their paths and, in some cases, make sure infected people stay quarantined. They use smartphone technologies, such as GPS and Bluetooth, to collect and share the data, making them agile and easy to use but also providing an enticing target for hackers or government surveillance.
There is no evidence that the apps will be effective without widespread testing for the virus and without enormous numbers of voluntary participants, which could be hampered by years of privacy scandals involving both governments and companies.
White House, Congress clash over liability protections for businesses as firms weigh virus reopening plans
WASHINGTON – Congressional leaders are girding for a huge fight over the re-entry of millions of Americans to the workplace, with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., insisting that employers be shielded from liability if their workers contract the coronavirus. He appears to have the backing of top White House officials.
Democratic leaders have declared they will oppose such blanket protections, putting Washington’s power brokers on opposite sides of a major issue that could have sweeping implications for health care and the economy in the coming months. The battle has unleashed a frenzy of lobbying, with major industry groups, technology firms, insurers, manufacturers, labor unions and lawyers all squaring off.
The clash is a sharp departure from the past six weeks, when lawmakers from both parties came together to swiftly approve nearly $3 trillion in emergency funds as Americans hunkered down during the pandemic. Now, lawmakers are warring over what the rules should be when millions of Americans return to the workplace.
Protesters with no masks, no distancing are ‘devastatingly worrisome,’ coronavirus coordinator Birx says
As states face questions around reopening their economies, White House coronavirus task force coordinator Deborah Birx said it was “devastatingly worrisome” that protesters challenging stay-at-home orders are gathering in proximity without masks or without heeding social distancing guidelines.
The demonstrators may unknowingly pass on the coronavirus to others, such as their vulnerable and elderly family members, Birx told “Fox News Sunday” host Chris Wallace.
Protesters have gathered outside state capitols across the country in recent weeks, including in Washington state.
Global backlash builds against China
Australia has called for an inquiry into the origin of the coronavirus. Germany and Britain are hesitating anew about inviting in Chinese tech giant Huawei. President Donald Trump has blamed China for the contagion and is seeking to punish it. Some governments want to sue Beijing for damages and reparations.
Across the globe a backlash is building against China for its initial mishandling of the crisis that helped loose the coronavirus on the world, creating a deeply polarizing battle of narratives and setting back China’s ambition to fill the leadership vacuum left by the United States.
China, never receptive to outside criticism and wary of damage to its domestic control and long economic reach, has responded aggressively, combining medical aid to other countries with harsh nationalist rhetoric and mixing demands for gratitude with economic threats.
The result has only added momentum to the blowback and the growing mistrust of China in Europe and Africa, undermining China’s desired image as a generous global actor.
George W. Bush calls for end to partisanship amid pandemic
Former President George W. Bush called on Americans on Saturday to put aside partisan differences, heed the guidance of medical professionals and show empathy for those stricken by the coronavirus and the resulting economic devastation.
In a three-minute video message, Bush, who rarely speaks out on current events, struck a tone of unity that contrasted with the more combative approach taken at times by President Donald Trump as the former president evoked the sense of national solidarity in the wake of the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
Washington businesses filed 14,000 pleas to reopen soon after shutdown order
In the early weeks of the stay-home order, which mandated nonessential workplaces close their doors from March 26 onward, the state received roughly 14,000 pleas from Washington businesses hoping to continue operating as (mostly) usual, according to the Department of Commerce.
They included a pyrotechnics distributor, gun stores and shooting ranges, two ceramics stores and thousands of general contractors with pending projects.
Many disputed the distinction between essential and nonessential businesses.
Pike Place Market mentors advise crafters on staying afloat
The Pike Place Market Educators program, started a couple of years ago by a group of five artists and crafters at the Market, pairs artists with an expert with similar skills.
Since the shutdown of nonessential businesses, the program's focus has turned to helping artists make sales online. Mentors are helping with things such as search-engine optimization, updating Etsy shops, developing other online presences and using social media.
This story is part of a periodic series called Stepping Up, highlighting moments of compassion, duty and community in uncertain times.
Coronavirus pushed Seattle to treat homelessness differently. Will those changes last?
For years, advocates, shelter providers and local leaders in Western Washington have decried a lack of drastic action to address homelessness. Now, spurred by the threat of COVID-19, a crisis response appears to be happening: Seattle and King County have opened spaces to decrease crowding in shelters, moved people into hotels, installed new hygiene stations and largely suspended removals of encampments as activists have demanded for years.
Emboldened by recent steps, shelter providers, advocates and even lawmakers say this could be the push to change how Seattle and America address homelessness, beyond the pandemic.
Meet two Washington families facing unimaginable grief after losing multiple loved ones
Last month, in the span of just 13 days, the Lee family lost three members — a mother and two daughters — to COVID-19.
Raymond Lee shared with us how he's coping, what it was like to be unable to say goodbye to his mother and sisters, and what he would say to people who don't think the virus is a big deal.
The onslaught of COVID-19 has rerouted the normal path of life for some people, and changed the way we grieve. The losses shared by Lee, his wife and brother also show how that grief can come in devastating bursts, leaving vast and sudden holes in the lives of those left behind.
The Seattle Times is highlighting the stories of Washingtonians lost to the pandemic in an ongoing series, Lives Remembered. Today, we meet Esther Bryant Kyles and Pastor Edwin Kyles Jr., who infused a mission of service into their small Renton ministry.
Outbreak at Lummi Nation blamed on recent gatherings that flouted tribe’s stay-home order
A cluster of 16 new coronavirus cases has been detected by testing at the Lummi Nation, bringing the tribe's total to 40 people infected, according to tribal health officials.
Before this outbreak, the reservation, which is near Bellingham, hadn't had a new case in weeks.
"It is apparent that families and their children are not following the shelter-in-place order or practicing social distancing," the tribe wrote in a Facebook post. "Part of this new cluster involves families visiting other households."
All the new cases were among people younger than 40, according to tribal health statistics.
People who tested positive for the virus have been ordered to self-quarantine, and tribal health officers are tracking their close contacts.
Seattle residents will continue social distancing long after stay-home order is lifted, survey shows
What will life in Seattle look like once the COVID-19 social-distancing restrictions have eased?
As we muddle through the stay-home order, a lot of us are longing for the day when our lives can get back to normal. But, according to a new survey, most city residents don’t envision anything resembling normal for a very long time.
Mathematical models help predict the trajectory of the pandemic. But can they be believed?
As Gov. Jay Inslee weighs the economic cost of coronavirus closures against the health risks to Washington state residents, high on his daily reading list are the latest results from a suite of computer models.
From state houses to the White House and city council Zoom meetings nationwide, mathematical models have rarely been so influential — or so hotly debated.
Pundits on the right insist faulty models overestimated the peril and led to economically crippling shutdowns. Critics of the Trump administration say officials are cherry-picking the most optimistic models to downplay the epidemic’s severity and claim credit for reducing the toll. To most people, the models are mysterious black boxes. The numbers they spit out are constantly changing, creating confusion about their validity and value.
But epidemiologists — and some politicians — say it’s important to understand what models can and can’t do, and how best to use them at a time when decision-makers are largely flying blind with so much still unknown about the disease and its prevalence.
Catch up on the past 24 hours
With pressure growing, the global race for a vaccine intensifies: With political leaders pressing for progress and with big potential profits at stake for the industry, drugmakers and researchers have signaled that they are moving ahead at unheard-of speeds to develop a vaccine for the new coronavirus. But the whole enterprise remains dogged by uncertainty about effectiveness, speed and whether the rush will sacrifice safety. Go inside the extraordinary race to invent a vaccine.
More than 100 Washington state parks will reopen Tuesday. Here's the list. A Congresswoman from Southwest Washington is calling for national wildlife refuges to reopen, too. And state wildlife officials plan to resume trapping wolves.
President Donald Trump moved to replace a top watchdog at the Department of Health and Human Services after her office released a report on the shortages in testing and personal protective gear at hospitals. The removal of Christi Grimm follows a purge of high-profile federal officials and inspectors general whose work has been critical of the president. Inspectors general at large agencies serve at the pleasure of the president, but they are considered independent monitors for waste, fraud and abuse.
The highest rate of COVID-19 on the West Coast is in a county in Eastern Washington.
The economic downturn has SUVs parked at sea. Gluts of all shapes and kinds are forming in the U.S. nowadays, a testament to the scope of the economic pain the coronavirus is inflicting. Slaughterhouses are killing and tossing out thousands of pigs a day, dairy farmers are pouring away milk, oil sellers were paying buyers to take barrels off their hands last week, and now, brand-new cars are being left adrift at sea for days.
A worker at an Amazon warehouse in DuPont has tested positive, the Seattle-based tech giant confirmed Saturday afternoon. Amazon has not provided a total count of U.S. employees with COVID-19 or which facilities have had cases reported, but more than 200 cases are known publicly, and one employee group has counted at least 600 cases among Amazon’s workforce.
It was a surreal opening day of boating season in Seattle, without the usual crowds lining the Montlake Bridge and Montlake Cut. View a photo gallery here.
How Bill Gates emerged as a champion of science-based solutions: Having studied infectious diseases for the past 20 years as part of his philanthropic work, Gates has warned about the potential for a pathogen-spread pandemic since 2015. Since February, the foundation he runs with his wife has given away $250 million to expand testing and find a cure. But the coronavirus is unlike any global health challenge Gates has faced.
How is the pandemic affecting you?What has changed about your daily life? What kinds of discussions are you having with family members and friends? Are you a health care worker who's on the front lines of the response? Are you a COVID-19 patient or do you know one? Whoever you are, we want to hear from you so our news coverage is as complete, accurate and useful as possible. If you're using a mobile device and can't see the form on this page, click here.
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