Washington state was home to the United States’ first known COVID-19 diagnosis and its first major outbreak. As the coronavirus spread and made the Puget Sound region the nation’s initial epicenter, almost every aspect of daily life here was upended.

It left everyone scrambling for answers about how to stay safe: How fast is the virus spreading? Should I wear a mask? Where can I get tested?

New questions arose, too: With schools closed, how can I educate and feed my kids? What if I lost my job and can’t pay rent? How can I take care of my mental health when I’m isolated?

And, of course: When can things go back to normal?

As we keep you apprised of the day’s developments and hold those in charge accountable for their response to this crisis, we’ve also been compiling resources to help you understand and navigate this changed world.

You can find those resources below — and if you have a need you don’t see addressed, please reach out by clicking here or emailing bwoodard@seattletimes.com.

COVID-19 has spread across Washington, the U.S. and the world at staggering speeds. Here's what we know so far about the spread of coronavirus and its global impacts.

The Ballard Farmers Market, seen shortly after Gov. Inslee’s executive orders to combat Covid-19, Sunday, Nov. 15, 2020 in Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood, controls crowd size with entry checkpoints and requires masks. 215667

Why is Washington state now broken up into regions for the state's reopening plan? We answer that and more in this week's FAQ Friday about Healthy Washington — Roadmap to Recovery.

FILE – In this July 10, 2020, file photo, healthcare workers test patients in their cars at a drive-thru coronavirus testing site run by the University of Nevada Las Vegas School of Medicine and the Nevada National Guard in Las Vegas. Schoolteachers, college professors and child care workers have been added to the eligibility list for COVID-19 vaccinations in the Las Vegas area. The Southern Nevada Health District on Monday, Jan. 18, 2021, added “frontline community support” workers to sign-up lists, also including food, shelter, court and social services and essential public transportation employees. (AP Photo/John Locher, File) LA121 LA121

While testing is critical to containing the outbreak, a negative test result is not a free pass to forgo social distancing, mask-wearing and large gatherings. Here are a few reminders about what a negative coronavirus test means and doesn't mean.

Server Samantha Panzner brings Jeff Border his breakfast at their outdoor seating section at Hattie’s Hat Restaurant on Saturday, Nov. 14 in downtown Ballard.

With Covid-19 cases on the rise and holidays around the corner, many fear new restrictions on indoor dining and social gatherings are around the corner.  215664


Check out our interactive list, sorted by neighborhood, of Seattle restaurants offering takeout, delivery and/or dine-in options during the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Colleen D’Amico, clinican pharmacist with the Seattle Indian Board, prepares an injection of the MOderna COVID-19 vaccine Monday.  The Seattle Indian Health Board received 500 doses of the Modern vaccine Monday which it administered to frontline staff. 215960

There is one question being asked more than any other by readers: How will they know and how will they be notified when it is their turn to be inoculated for the new coronavirus? We dig into these questions in this week's FAQ Friday.

Kelly Mendenhall performs a coronavirus test on July 16, 2020, at a drive-thru testing site in Burlington, North Carolina. (Travis Long/The Raleigh News & Observer/TNS) 3985138W 3985138W

In this week's FAQ Friday, we're answering readers' questions about how the coronavirus works once it is in the body and what they should do if exposed, as well as a question about being exposed to the virus at work.

Colleen D’Amico, clinican pharmacist with the Seattle Indian Board, prepares an injection of the MOderna COVID-19 vaccine Monday.  The Seattle Indian Health Board received 500 doses of the Modern vaccine Monday which it administered to frontline staff. 215960

This week for FAQ Friday, we answer questions about how people will know when it is their turn to be vaccinated and whether pregnant women should be vaccinated for COVID-19.

Tuesday, December 15, 2020    A group of frontline employees including  nurses, doctors, environmental-services staff and respiratory-care therapists wait for their COVID-19 vaccine at UW Medicine. 215913

As Pfizer's vaccine was shipped across the country this week and front-line health care workers became the first to get their shots, vaccine-related questions have surged. We're here to help answer.

This screenshot taken from an iPhone with COVID-19 exposure notifications turned on for Washington state shows a page of information presented to iPhone users who are considering opting in to a new statewide coronavirus exposure notification program that was launched Monday, Nov. 30, 2020, in Washington state that uses smartphone technology in the ongoing effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19. People with Apple iPhones can now enable the ‘exposure notifications’ feature that is already in their phone’s settings, and Android devices can download the app, called Washington Exposure Notifications. Use of the service is voluntary and users can opt out at any time. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren) WATW105 WATW105

For this week's FAQ Friday, we answer reader questions about the new WA Notify app and how it might help slow the spread of COVID-19, and about the Center for Disease Control and Prevention's new quarantine guidelines.

A pedestrian walks past a sign advising mask-wearing during the coronavirus outbreak in San Francisco, Saturday, Nov. 21, 2020. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu) CAJC104 CAJC104

Stay physically apart from people, wash your hands often and wear a face covering, say health care officials, to slow down the spread of coronavirus. The best masks to have and how to wear them is the subject of this week's FAQ Friday. And remember, not wearing your mask provides no protection at all.

On Monday, May 11, 2020, not one mask was seen at Golden Gardens Park.  For the most part, people were adhering to social distancing. 213940

A lot of numbers get thrown around when we're trying to understand the impact COVID-19 is having. Here, we explain what the most common ones mean and what they tell us about the state of the pandemic.

A nurse collects a nasal swab sample from a UW Medicine employee in their car at a drive-thru coronavirus testing site in a parking garage at UW Medical Center Northwest  in Seattle.

If you believe you've been exposed to the virus, or if you have even mild symptoms, contact your doctor to find out if you should be tested. Here, we're compiling an up-to-date list of testing sites in the Puget Sound region.

Masks are most effective when worn consistently and properly in order to avoid contaminating the hands or face of the user.

The COVID-19 Event Risk Assessment Planning Tool offers a risk forecast for every county in the country. (Joshua Weitz and Clio Andris/Georgia Institute of Technology)
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A free and now peer-reviewed COVID-19 Risk Assessment Planning Tool offers a scientific way for the public to check the risk of attending an event of nearly any size in any county in the country. Check it out.

A majority of states and businesses have mask mandates, and scientific evidence supports wearing them. Here are answers to some of the most commonly asked questions surrounding masks and how to navigate pandemic life in them.

(Jennifer Luxton / The Seattle Times)

Masks have been the subject of much speculation and misinformation. We’re here to cut through the noise and show you what the experts are saying about masks and coronavirus safety.

The CDC recommends wearing a face mask when out in public to help prevent the spread of coronavirus. Here’s a step-by-step tutorial for sewing your own face mask, with video.

An employee of Red Bluff Tap House puts out an open sign on Saturday morning. Red Bluff Tap House waited to reopen after Skamania County was one of the first to move into Phase 2. The tap room opened with fewer staff and limited seating to the required 50% capacity.

Saturday, May 23, 2020 214023

As Washington's counties progress through Gov. Jay Inslee's plan to reopen the state, here's an interactive map that tracks the counties' progress through the various phases in real time, and tells you what activities you're allowed to do in each phase.

Hopelink staffer Thomas Machin, right, helps prepare to-go boxes Thursday, March 19, 2020 in Kirkland. The food bank has gone to a takeout box pickup, and has suspended food donations during the coronavirus outbreak. 213398

A list of Seattle-area and Puget Sound organizations and efforts that are providing support for people whose livelihoods are threatened by the coronavirus pandemic.

Bar stools sit on top of the counter at Cafe Racer on March 18, 2020. Cafe Racer was in the midst of a fundraiser to save the cafe before the coronavirus effectively shut the city down.

The fallout from the pandemic has hurt local businesses and employees alike. Here's a guide for where they can go for help.


Tech writer Geoffrey Fowler offers a citizen’s guide to not helping trolls, bots and other online disinformers during turbulent times.

This photo shows a sign at the headquarters for Washington state’s Employment Security Department Tuesday, May 26, 2020, at the Capitol in Olympia, Wash. Washington state’s rush to get unemployment benefits to residents who lost jobs due to the coronavirus outbreak left it vulnerable to criminals who made off with hundreds of millions of dollars in fraudulent claims. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

As the state unemployment system gets flooded, fraudsters have been siphoning off a portion of the benefits by filing phony claims using other people's names. Here's what you should do if someone uses your information to file a phony unemployment claim.

Influenza and COVID-19 have such similar symptoms, you may need to get tested to know what's making you miserable.

A Fluzone influenza vaccine is shown at Pharmaca Integrative Pharmacy in San Francisco, Tuesday, Jan. 9, 2018. Flu-related deaths in California are higher than usual so far this season and most victims were not vaccinated, state health officials said Tuesday in urging residents to get flu shots. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu) CAJC102 (Jeff Chiu / AP)

Among other things, folks getting their flu shots will help to lessen the likelihood of a flu epidemic raging while the coronavirus pandemic continues.

Jeniffer Trice, trying to school her five kids at home, walks with four of her children to Bailey Gatzert Elementary in Seattle to pick up a packet of school work for her kids’ last week of school Monday, June 15, 2020.  L – R Xavier Tynes, 11; Jeniffer; Tytasia Trice, 14; Jordan Tynes, 8; and Nehemiah Trice, 12.  One of her children has autism, two are in special ed, and Jeniffer has MS, so she has a lot on her hands. 
Schooling at home was a struggle for most families this year.   214209

As school districts across the state begin planning for next school year, many parents are still reeling from the current one, when they were called on to become full-time education guides for their children.

Thursday, March 26, 2020   John Richards, KEXP morning show host working in the main DJ booth during his show.  KEXP broadasts have remained a rare stable/normal presence in listeners’ lives.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and there’s never seemed a more appropriate time to shine the spotlight on this paramount topic. These Seattle-area organizations offer mental health resources and tips that can help us feel less alone.

An Aug. 9, 2007 file photo shows a cooked frozen pizza.  (AP Photo/Larry Crowe) FRA114

Now that you've made pandemic grocery shopping part of your routine, here's how to take care of yourself — physically and mentally — while you're home.

Backpacks hang on the fence at “Tiny Trees,” a new outdoor daycare for preschoolers,  in Jefferson Park in Seattle Monday, September 19, 2016.

“Tiny Trees” is a new outdoor daycare inspired by Scandinavian models and claiming to provide much more affordable daycare options especially in diverse and low income neighborhoods.

A frequently updated list of resources for people experiencing challenges caused by the coronavirus pandemic and school closures.

Coronado Apartments in Eastlake on Jan. 2, 2020. 212578

Some tips on negotiating with your landlord if you are having problems paying the rent because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Cabiri tzr (Bogdan Darev)

Whatever comes of the novel coronavirus tumult, the economic crisis is happening now. The needs for arts workers — gigging artists, teachers, staffers at arts institutions — are piling up by the hour. Here's how you can help or get help.

A group of young students wearing face mask protection to prevent the spread of the coronavirus wait outside to enter in a state school in Pamplona, northern Spain, Friday, Sept. 4, 2020. After six months with all Spanish schools closed by crisis of COVID-19, today is opening a new school year with new rules to prevent the pandemic coronavirus. (AP Photo/Alvaro Barrientos) AB103 AB103

With schools and colleges considering reopening, there is new focus on how often children get infected with COVID-19 and how much they spread the virus.

A collection of stress-relieving items sits in the center of mental health therapist Farah Hussein’s office at South High School in Minneapolis. The city of Minneapolis runs the school-based clinic. 1426258

Learn from a mental health expert about what's helping young people cope with the coronavirus pandemic. One hint: be kind to yourself.

America's mainstream medical establishments have given their endorsement: Universal masking is essential for the nation to find its way out of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Cloth masks must be washed in order to be properly reused. Experts are sharing advice on how, and how often, to clean your mask.

Dwight Harris of Seattle walks with his dogs, Pan (l) and Rio, around Green Lake Monday, July 6, 2020. Lots of people were on the 2.8 mile-long Green Lake path and most were not wearing masks but were practicing social distancing. 214419

With coronavirus cases increasing in Washington and elsewhere, perhaps it's time to start exercising with a mask on. We tested three kinds of masks while running to tell you which ones work best.

FILE – Circles painted to encourage social distancing in a San Francisco park, May 21, 2020. As you tiptoe toward normalization – whatever that is, given these times – try to follow three precautions: avoid contact, confinement and crowds, and make realistic choices. (Jim Wilson/The New York Times)

As you tiptoe toward normalization — whatever that is, given these times — here are some precautions to try to follow.

FILE – In this May 14, 2020, file photo, people work out at Metroflex Gym in Oceanside, Calif. California will allow schools, day camps, bars, gyms, campgrounds and professional sports to begin reopening with modifications starting Friday, June 12, 2020. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull, File) FX506 FX506

There are many legitimate concerns about how gyms and fitness studios can safely reopen without furthering the spread. But infectious disease experts say risk can be greatly mitigated by following some simple rules.

A masked postal worker pushes a cart of mail as he makes his rounds, Tuesday, May 26, 2020, in New York during the coronavirus pandemic. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan) OTKNYML118 OTKNYML118

You need to protect yourself from getting the virus, but in case you are asymptomatic or have extremely mild symptoms, you also want to protect the repair or delivery person from you.

This is what the new strain of the coronavirus looks like under a microscope. 1601850 1601850

There are thousands of new studies about the coronavirus, many available for free online. But just because scientific papers are easier to get hold of doesn’t mean that they are easy to make sense of.

If you have symptoms of COVID-19, such as a fever, cough, sore throat or difficulty breathing, you should seek testing immediately. If you have no symptoms, here are guideposts for testing.

Beyond our faces, what do we touch all the time? Our phones. Here's how to keep yours from being a germ playground.

FILE – In this May 27, 2020 file photo Luis Lopez wears a face mask while giving a hair cut to Alexander Chin at Orange County Barbers Parlor in Huntington Beach, Calif. Days after his predecessor abruptly quit, Orange County’s new interim health officer will lift a requirement that residents wear face coverings in public and instead recommend they use masks to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus, an official said. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis,File) LA427 LA427

Among the tips: Take the stairs, not the elevator. Call ahead to businesses to make sure staff are wearing face coverings. And no high-fives — or even elbow bumps.

Amid concerns of the spread of COVID-19, Telvina Mendez, right, has her temperature checked by shift leader Miriam Garcia before starting her work shift at El Rancho grocery store in Dallas, Tuesday, May 12, 2020. The United States is tracking 1000s of new cases daily as workplace worries mount with more businesses reopening. (AP Photo/LM Otero) TXMO102 TXMO102

Safety, hygiene and social-distancing tips from the Mayo Clinic for road trips, shopping, restaurants and more.

Visitors set up inside circles designed to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus by encouraging social distancing at Dolores Park in San Francisco, Sunday, May 24, 2020. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu) CAJC111 CAJC111

“Social distancing denies the virus the opportunity to infect the next person, and this stops transmission from one person to the next.” says Dr. Gregory Poland, an infectious diseases specialist and COVID-19 expert.

A housekeeper cleans an elevator at a hotel in Prague, Czech Republic, Monday, May 25, 2020. The bars, restaurants and cafes are returning to full service in the Czech Republic as the government is taking further steps to ease its restrictive measures adopted to contain the coronavirus pandemic. The hotels and tourist camps are also reopening on Monday together with public swimming pools, aquatic centers, wellness centers and saunas. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek) PJO106

The COVID-19 crisis had made hotels large and small reconsider and revamp cleaning and hygiene policies. Here are a few expert-sourced tips for figuring out if your hotel room has been properly cleaned — for whenever you end up back in a hotel on a post-travel restriction vacation.

Student loan rates will decrease starting July 1. (Dreamstime/TNS)
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One loan scam charges to enroll you in a benefit that can be accessed for free, such as a federal income-driven repayment plan. The other scam promises loan forgiveness in exchange for payment.

The Federal Aviation Administration has approved the start of commercial flights at Paine Field in Everett. Alaska Airlines flights will begin on March 4th, followed by United Airlines flights beginning on March31st. The new two-gate terminal at the Snohomish County-owned airport, will be operated by Propeller Airports. Ticketing kiosks are being tested this week. 
Photographed on February 22, 2019.


A traveler, who had to cancel a trip because she needed surgery, tries to find out why her online travel agency hasn't passed along her airline ticket refund.

Sapphire Pool in Yellowstone National Park was one trail where it was possible to responsibly practice social distancing.

What, exactly, is "essential" travel amid a pandemic? This reporter agonized over whether it was socially responsible to take her toddler on a long road trip to visit the grandparents.

Cars drive through Glacier National Park Wednesday, August 7, 2019.

The best way to limit the spread of COVID-19 is to stay home. However, if an extenuating circumstance in your life dictates that you must travel, here are some options to consider.

Valerie Hirschberg (left), a Sequm resident, is still mourning the loss of her mother (right), who died in April in Arizona. With the coronavirus spreading through Washington in March, Hirschberg wrestled with the question of whether or not she should go visit her mom in the days before her passing. Her mom advised her not to come because the risk of flying was too great, so Hirschberg stayed home.

With COVID-19 cases in the U.S., "nonessential" travel is still discouraged. But, especially for the elderly and immunocompromised, the question of whether to travel to see sick loved ones or attend family reunions is a tricky conundrum with no right answers.

Employees wearing a protective face masks maintain social distancing in an elevator at the Intesa Sanpaola SpA bank headquarters in Turin, Italy, on Monday, June 8, 2020.  Banks in European regions worst hit by the Covid-19 outbreak are getting ready to welcome more staff back to the office — but the workplace will look a bit different. Photographer: Francesca Volpi/Bloomberg 775523714

If you must share this tight space with others, here's how to limit your chance of being exposed to the coronavirus.

Customers wearing protective facial masks wait to gain access into the Shoreline Trader Joe’s store on Monday afternoon. Trader Joe’s stores are limiting the number of people in their stores while monitoring and marking the distance between customers waiting in line outside and at checkout. 
King County Executive Dow Constantine, Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan and Public Health Officer Dr. Jeff Duchin have a new directive on facial coverings. 

Photographed on May 11, 2020. 213941

The study's findings suggested that the coronavirus infects the cells in the nose much more easily than those in the throat and lungs, and could be especially active in the nose even when people don’t show symptoms like sneezing, runny nose, or congestion.

Outdoor activities, where the air helps disperse virus particles, are relatively low risk — as long as you follow basic precautions.

PPE’s are available in a vending machine near an Alaska Airlines ticket counter at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport Wednesday, July 15, 2020. 214508

Devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic, some U.S. airlines are hoping to put potential passengers at ease by imposing tougher rules for mask wearing, including threats of banning fliers who refuse to cover their faces.

FILE — A couple crosses the Charle Bridge, often bustling with crowds prior to the coronavirus pandemic, in Prague, May 25, 2020. Unmarried couples that have remained separated due to European Union restrictions on travel are campaigning for exceptions, to make it possible for them to reunite. (Laetitia Vancon/The New York Times) XNYT124

With the coronavirus pandemic keeping Americans, at least, from destinations like Europe, many travelers are navigating the complicated system of pandemic surcharges. Here's how to get the most of your money back.

A woman and a child wearing masks to curb the spread of the coronavirus rest on benches in Beijing on Wednesday, July 22, 2020. Although faulted for allowing the virus to spread from Wuhan, China’s government has been credited with imposing rigid and sometimes draconian measures to contain the outbreak, and people have overwhelmingly complied with orders to wear masks, display certificates of good health and maintain social distancing. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan) XHG101 XHG101

With schools and universities in the Northern Hemisphere considering reopening soon, scientists and health authorities are trying to determine the role of young people in spreading COVID-19. Here's what we know.

Ralph Leitner of Seattle walks with his dog, Zuzu’s Petals, around Green Lake Monday, July 6, 2020. Lots of people were on the 2.8 mile-long Green Lake path and most were not wearing masks but were practicing social distancing. 214419

As people spend more time indoors with other family members, the concern about passing the coronavirus to a loved one is one of our daily stressors. And what if one of your loved ones is a dog or a cat? Can our pets get COVID-19 from its human?

Portable camping potties and female funnels are pandemic bestsellers because even though people are increasingly venturing out, there’s one place we remain eager to avoid: the public restroom. Is this call-of-nature caution warranted?

Apple’s Maps app, left, and Google Maps, right, have updated their information on which places are open — and which ones are not. (The New York Times)

Apple and Google have added handy features for these uncertain times.

According to U.S. Census Bureau Pulse Survey data released this week, 10.8 percent of American adults are experiencing some level of food insecurity. Louisiana, Nevada and Ohio had the highest rates: 17 to 18 percent. (Robert Neubecker/The New York Times)– NO SALES; FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY WITH NYT STORY YOUR-MONEY BY RON LIEBER FOR JULY 17, 2020. ALL OTHER USE PROHIBITED. — XNYT53 XNYT53

According to U.S. Census Bureau Pulse Survey data recently released, 10.8 percent of American adults are experiencing some level of food insecurity.

There are three broad categories of coronavirus tests in the U.S. Two diagnose whether you have an active infection, and a third indicates if you previously had the virus. Here’s how they work.

Ordering takeout or delivery is still the safest option for getting restaurant food, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. If you decide to dine out, here are precautions health officials suggest you take to minimize the chances you’ll be exposed to the virus.

People wearing masks cross a street, Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2021 in New York. The city will run out of first doses of COVID-19 vaccine sometime Thursday without fresh supplies, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Tuesday. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan) OTKNYML115 OTKNYML115

Here are some of the most common cons and some steps consumers can take to protect themselves.