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Coronavirus updates for western Washington: June 30 - July 3

Find developments on Washington's coronavirus outbreak and the state's plan for recovery.

Key facts:

  • Businesses will be required to turn away customers if they're not wearing masks starting July 7
  • 10 new deaths and 627 new cases reported Friday in Washington.
  • TOTAL: 1,352 deaths among 34,778  overall cases in Washington state.
  • 599,975  people in Washington have taken a test for coronavirus and 5.8% of those tests have been positive, according to the state Department of Health.

VIEW | More coronavirus coverage from KING 5

Friday, July 3:

Surge in state COVID-19 cases driven by Eastern Washington

While the coronavirus first pounded the greater Seattle area, the epicenter has moved east across the Cascade Range. Washington is seeing rising cases of COVID-19, driven in large part by increasing numbers in Yakima, Benton, Franklin and Spokane counties, the largest communities in eastern Washington.

It's no coincidence that Gov. Jay Inslee has visited Yakima, Spokane and the Tri-Cities of Richland, Kennewick and Pasco in the past two weeks to urge citizens to take greater precautions.

Health experts contend that 80% of the population must wear masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in public spaces. But many communities don't appear to be reaching that level.

New Washington cases on Friday July 3

  • 10 new deaths and 627 new cases reported Friday in Washington.
  • TOTAL: 1,352 deaths among 34,778  overall cases in Washington state.
  • 599,975  people in Washington have taken a test for coronavirus and 5.8% of those tests have been positive, according to the state Department of Health.

Benton, Franklin, Yakima counties move to modified Phase 1

Washington State Secretary of Health John Wiesman approved Benton, Franklin, and Yakima counties to move to a modified Phase 1 of the state's "Safe Start" plan.

The following activities are permitted in those counties:

  • Construction as permitted in Phase 2 guidance.
  • Manufacturing as permitted in Phase 2 guidance.
  • Restaurants for outdoor seating only at 50% of existing outdoor capacity.
  • In-store retail at 15% indoor capacity with indoor activities limited to 30 min.
  • Personal services at 25% indoor capacity.
  • Dog groomers at 25% indoor capacity.
  • No gatherings with people outside of the household except for small behavioral health support groups of fewer than 5 people.

Five counties are in modified Phase 1, 17 in Phase 2, and 17 in Phase 3. 

Washington state reports record daily COVID-19 cases

The Washington State Department of Health (DOH) reported 716 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, the highest daily total since the beginning of the pandemic. The DOH also reported three new deaths.

Thursday’s update brings the total number of COVID-19 cases in Washington to 34,151 and 1,342 deaths. About 3.9% of people diagnosed with COVID-19 in the state have died from the virus, according to the DOH.

As of Thursday, 584,989 people in Washington have taken a COVID-19 test, and 5.8% of those tests have been positive.

July Fourth weekend will test Americans' discipline

The U.S. headed into the Fourth of July weekend with many parades and fireworks displays canceled, beaches and bars closed, and health authorities warning that this will be a crucial test of Americans' self-control that could determine the trajectory of the surging coronavirus outbreak.

With confirmed cases climbing in 40 states, governors have ordered the wearing of masks in public, and families were urged to celebrate their independence at home. Even then, they were told to keep their backyard cookouts small.

Health experts agree this will be a pivotal moment in determining whether the nation slides into a deeper mess. The fear is that a weekend of crowded pool parties, picnics and parades will fuel the surge.

“We’re not going to be arresting people for having gatherings, but we’re certainly going to discourage it,” said Dr. Jeff Duchin, public health director for Seattle and King County.

Read more.

Thursday, July 2:

State puts pause on county's reopening applications amid rising COVID-19 cases

Gov. Inslee also announced Thursday the state is putting a two-week pause on counties moving to their next phases of reopening due to increasing COVID-19 cases. 

"In Washington, our case counts have dramatically increased," said Secretary of Health John Wiesman during a Thursday press conference. Wiesman said the state hit a new record Wednesday with 618 new cases reported in a single day, and he anticipates at least 700 new cases will be reported Thursday. 

Due to the rise in cases, the Department of Health is pausing counties moving to their next phases. Counties will remain in their current phase for the next two weeks, or until July 16, Wiesman said. 

RELATED: Reopening Washington: Look up the phase of your county

In addition, Gov. Inslee said the state has updated its guidelines for Phase 3, and bar and counter service will no longer be allowed in Phase 3 to help limit the spread of COVID-19. 

The governor said that change is to encourage people not to linger in places or hang around for long periods of time.

No mask, no service: Washington businesses must turn away customers without face masks starting next week

Gov. Inslee says starting Tuesday businesses in Washington will not be allowed to serve customers who are not wearing a mask. 

Inslee announced his new proclamation, which is to be signed in the coming days, during a Thursday afternoon press conference. 

The proclamation comes almost a week after Inslee's statewide mandate took effect requiring people to wear face masks while in public indoors and outdoors where six feet of social distancing is not possible. 

"When we wear a mask, it is a signal about something about us, it is a signal we care about the community, we care about our loved ones, we care about those we are doing business with," said Gov. Inslee. 

Inslee said he's optimistic that the vast majority of Washingtonians and Washington businesses will comply with this new order, however, businesses that do not comply could be faced with enforcement actions such as fines or forced closures.

The new proclamation takes effect next Tuesday, July 7. 

MORE: No mask, no service: Washington businesses must turn away customers without face masks starting July 7

New coronavirus cases for Washington Thursday

  • 3 new deaths and 716 new cases reported Thursday in Washington.
  • TOTAL: 1,342 deaths among 34,151  overall cases in Washington state.
  • 584,989  people in Washington have taken a test for coronavirus and 5.8% of those tests have been positive, according to the state Department of Health.

One-third of recent COVID-19 cases in King County among adults in their 20s

The surge in recent COVID-19 cases in King County is mostly driven by younger adults, according Dr. Jeff Duchin, public health officer for Public Health – Seattle & King County.

“We all need to understand we own this,” Duchin said. “We all need to step up our COVID prevention game big time.”

One-third of recent coronavirus cases in King County were among adults who are 20 to 29 years old, and more than half were between 20 and 39 years old, according to Duchin.

Over the last two weeks, King County reported 54 new coronavirus cases per 100,000 residents, which is more than double the state target to move onto Phase 3.

Daily case counts have been trending upward since King County was approved for Phase 2 on June 19. King County reported 157 new cases on June 26, which is the highest single-day case count since mid-April.

However, Duchin said there has not been a corresponding increase in deaths or hospitalizations.

Shoreline COVID-19 recovery center to be taken down 

Officials with Public Health -- Seattle & King County have begun taking down the coronavirus assessment and recovery center in Shoreline. 

The facility was constructed to offer people a safe place to quarantine and recover from the virus if they could not do so at home, or if they didn’t have a home and to help preserve hospital beds for more critical patients.

Health officials said Thursday that King County’s agreement with the city of Shoreline was through June 2020, and since the region has successfully kept COVID-19 infection rates down, the county no longer needs the facility.

The county has also renovated two hotels in Issaquah and Renton to be isolation and quarantine centers, and those facilities remain in use.

Officials said King County will be taking down the modular buildings in Shoreline over the next several weeks.

More COVID-19 cases reported on Greek row at UW

As of Thursday, at least 62 fraternity residents at the University of Washington’s Seattle campus have tested positive for COVID-19, according to the university. Four other students who do not live in the houses but were in close contact with residents also tested positive.

The Interfraternity Council, which is a student-led governing board for UW fraternities, told UW at least 105 residents in 15 fraternities self-reported that they tested positive for the virus. However, UW says it is still verifying the status of those cases.

UW first reported the cluster Tuesday saying at least 38 students were infected.

DOH report spotlights inequities in pandemic

Two reports released Thursday from the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) and the Institute for Disease Modeling (IDM) found COVID-19 case rates in communities of color outpace population demographics.

Case rates for Hispanic people and Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander people were nine times higher than those of White people. Hospitalization rates were seven times higher for Hispanic people and 10 times higher for Pacific Islander people. Case and hospitalization rates are three times higher for Black and American Indian or Alaska Native people, according to the DOH report.

And the IDM report found this disparity is growing. During May and June, Hispanic people were 13 times more likely than White people to contract COVID-19.

IDM attributed this gap to limited access to health care and the likelihood of living in larger households and working in essential services.

New Washington unemployment claims increase for 2nd straight week

There was a slight increase in initial unemployment claims in Washington state last week, but a decrease in total claims for all unemployment benefit categories, according to the state Employment Security Department (ESD).

For the week of June 21-27, there were 31,911 initial regular unemployment claims, which is a 7.8% increase from the previous week. There were a total of 696,272 total claims for all unemployment benefit categories, which was a 3.1% decrease from the previous week.

“New unemployment claims, while down significantly from the peak of the crisis, remain at record-high levels,” said ESD Commissioner Suzi LeVine. “This is the second week in a row we’ve seen a slight increase in initial claims, indicating furloughs or layoffs in some sectors like accommodation and food services and retail.

New unemployment claims are about 473% higher than the same week last year, according to the ESD.

Kitsap County Phase 3 application put on hold

Kitsap County’s application to move to Phase 3 of Washington state’s “Safe Start” plan has been put on hold until at least July 9.

Washington State Secretary of Health John Wiesman paused the county’s application while “public health officials evaluate changing circumstances.”

Kitsap County applied for Phase 3 on June 19, but the county has seen several COVID-19 outbreaks, including three at long-term care facilities, since the application was submitted.

“I know this pause on Kitsap’s move to Phase 3 will be disappointing to many, but it is not entirely unexpected given the increase in COVID-19 cases reported across the region this month,” said Kitsap Public Health Board Chair Rob Putaansuu. “I am optimistic that Kitsap will be positioned to move to Phase 3 soon because we are a resilient community that pulls together to overcome challenges.”

A total of 78 COVID-19 cases were reported in Kitsap County in June, compared to 11 cases in May.

Community Transit to add routes on July 6

Community Transit will add around 200 trips to its weekday service starting on Monday, July 6.

The trips will primarily be on routes operating in Snohomish County. Trips will also be added on most routes to the University District.

Community Transit said the added trips in July will bring service up to 75% of pre-pandemic levels. Another service increase is planned in September that will bring service to 85%.

Community Transit resumed collecting fares on all bus routes and DART paratransit service on July 1 after temporarily suspending fares in March.

Click here for more information.

Renton distributing 20,000 free face masks to residents

The City of Renton will begin distributing 20,000 free face masks to residents on Thursday to help slow the spread of COVID-19.

Residents can pick up two five-mask packets from 9-11 a.m. Thursday at the Renton Community Center, located at 1715 Maple Valley Hwy. Masks can also be picked up on Wednesdays from 4-6 p.m.

The public is asked to drive to the community centers main entrance to pick up the masks.

Residents will be able to pick the masks up at the distribution center every Wednesday and Thursday in July, or until supplies run out. No proof of residency is required. The city asks that you only pass through the distribution center once.

Click here for more information.

Dozens of UW students in fraternity houses test positive for COVID-19

At least 80 students living in a dozen fraternity houses near the University of Washington campus have reported testing positive for COVID-19, with hundreds of results pending.

The Seattle Times reports the university learned Saturday that three fraternity residents had symptoms of COVID-19, and public health officials noticed a spike in cases among people ages 18 to 20, according to university spokeswoman Michelle Ma.

By Tuesday, the university said at least 38 students tested positive. Ma said more than 800 students have been tested since Monday in response to the Greek system outbreak.

As of July 1, a total of 85 students, seven faculty and other academic personal, and 35 staff members on three UW campuses tested positive or were "presumptive positive" for COVID-19, according to the university website. The university expects to have an updated case count early next week.

US reaches 50,000 single-day COVID-19 cases for first time

The U.S. had more than 50,000 new cases of COVID-19 in a single day Wednesday, marking the first time America has reached that mark as it fights a surge in cases of the disease caused by the coronavirus. The new milestone was reached five days after the U.S. first crossed the 40,000 daily count.

A tally from Johns Hopkins University (JHU) found approximately 50,700 new cases Wednesday. That number could change as more information comes in. On June 26, the U.S. passed 40,000 daily cases for the first time, soaring to 45,300, according to JHU.

As of early Thursday morning, the U.S. leads the world with nearly 2.7 million confirmed cases of COVID-19. More than 128,000 deaths in the U.S. have been blamed on the disease.

RELATED: US reaches 50,000 single-day COVID-19 cases for first time

Wednesday, July 1:

Bite of Seattle and Taste of Tacoma canceled for 2020

The Albert Lee Appliance Bite of Seattle has been called off for 2020 due to coronavirus concerns, for the first time since the festival began in 1982.

The event, which originally was scheduled for July, had lined up a date in August at Seattle Center, but the city of Seattle announced it would stop issuing special events permits through Labor Day due to coronavirus concerns.

The free community event brings 300,000 guests, three live music stages, over 200 vendors, chef battles, and craft beer and cider tasting.

The Taste of Tacoma also announced that it was being called off for this year.

For the first time since 1986, the Taste of Tacoma is canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“Despite this devastating news, while we will miss bringing the community together to enjoy three days of food and fun in Tacoma, our top priority remains the health and safety of our guests, vendors, employees, bands, chefs, and all involved who help make the Taste of Tacoma the ultimate summer get together,” said Brett Gorrell, president of Festivals Inc. 

The Taste of Tacoma grew to approximately 250,000 attendees over 34 years, along with three live music stages and more than 200 vendors.

13 Everett firefighters quarantined 

Thirteen Everett firefighters are in quarantine after being exposed to coronavirus.

Ten of the firefighters were quarantined in their homes after a co-worker became ill after their shift. That firefighter tested positive for COVID-19.

Three other firefighters went under quarantine after exposure to individuals who tested positive for COVID-19.

The fire department is monitoring their conditions for symptoms.  

New Washington cases on July 1, 2020

  • 7 new deaths and 611 new cases reported Wednesday in Washington.
  • TOTAL: 1,339 deaths among 33,435  overall cases in Washington state.
  • 571,964  people in Washington have taken a test for coronavirus and 5.8% of those tests have been positive, according to the state Department of Health.

Washington state prison reports 220 confirmed COVID-19 cases 

About 220 officers and inmates at a Washington state prison have tested positive for COVID-19, nearly doubling since restricting movement in its medium-security unit last month. 

The state Department of Corrections brought in the Washington National Guard last week to administer coronavirus testing at the Coyote Ridge Corrections Center. The Tri-City Herald reported that the results showed 171 inmates and 47 staff members tested positive Tuesday. 

Two inmates died. Coyote Ridge, located in Connell, has minimum- and medium-security units. Officials say all employees in both units, and all inmates in the medium-security unit will now be regularly tested. 

Fares on Sound Transit Express bus routes resume Wednesday

Fairs are resuming on many Sound Transit Express bus routes today. 

Routes that have returned to front-door boarding will charge a flat fare regardless of trip distances. 

Express buses will charge $3.25 for adults, increasing the cost of faces within one county by 50 cents and reducing fares by 50 cents for trips across county lines.

"Fares are important for funding our operations," said Sound Transit CEO Peter Rogoff. "The resumption of fares on ST Express, along with the increase in service, is a sign that our region is starting to move to the next phase of recovery." 

Routes that have not returned to boarding at the front will continue to be free.

Sound Transit continues to operate at reduced service.

King County Libraries offering pickup service 

The King County Library System is offering curbside pickup service at some locations.

July 1-15 is reserved for the pickup of holds placed prior to the closures. 

After July 15, new holds may be placed. 

Library members with holds will receive an email notification when their holds are available for pickup.

All borrowed materials must be returned through the manual book drop. 

Check here for a list of locations offering curbside pickup.

City of Bellevue, Chamber distributing masks 

With face coverings now mandated by the state for all public places, the City of Bellevue and Chamber are working to provide 40,000 masks to residents this week.

The masks are part of the 25 million purchased by King County to encourage the use of personal protective equipment.

“Our partnership with the Chamber to get masks into the hands of our residents and businesses at no cost is a key component in our fight against COVID-19,” Mayor Lynne Robinson said. “Wearing face coverings can reduce virus transmission, but people can’t be expected to have them readily at hand. This helps close that gap. I hope many people take advantage of this opportunity to stand strong as a community and stay safe.” 

Bellevue residents can pick up masks at the following times and locations:

  • Bellevue Chamber, Wednesday, noon-4 p.m.
  • Salvation Army, Wednesday and Thursday, noon to 4 p.m. 
  • NV Imprints (in Marketplace @ Factoria), Wednesday to Thursday, noon-4 p.m.
  • Tutta Bella (outside Crossroads Bellevue), Wednesday and Thursday, noon-4 p.m. 
  • Bellevue Farmer’s Market (information booth), Thursday, 3-7 p.m.

Tuesday, June 30:

Bumbershoot 2020 canceled due to coronavirus concerns

Bumbershoot 2020, the annual music and arts festival at the Seattle Center, was canceled, organizers announced on Tuesday.

Producing organization One Reel said that it would focus on bringing the festival back for 2021, which is Bumbershoot's 50th anniversary, and its Art Saves Me public art program.

One Reel announced the cancellation of the 2020 event after the city of Seattle announced it would stop issuing special events permits through Labor Day due to coronavirus concerns.

Earlier this year, One Reel had announced that it would move forward with a scaled-down version of Bumbershoot, which in the past few decades has brought national and international music and comedy acts to the Seattle Center over Labor Day weekend.

One Reel also canceled this year's Piano in the Parks program, due to concerns of coronavirus spreading through publicly accessible pianos.

Leavenworth Oktoberfest canceled

The annual Leavenworth Oktoberfest has been canceled due to uncertainty over ongoing coronavirus restrictions.

The monthlong Bavarian-themed festival attracts thousands of visitors to every October.

Chelan County had been in a modified Phase 1 of the "Safe Start Washington" plan. Phase 1 is the most restrictive stage of the reopening plan, but Chelan had been allowed some exceptions to the restrictions.

Festival organizers said the cancellation was over concerns about whether the proper liquor licensing would be available due to the restrictions and about visitors' possibly having to cancel travel plans and deposits, as well as the health and safety of staff and guests.

Coronavirus: Your Money, Your Future

See previous coronavirus updates for Washington here. 

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