Editor’s note: This story shows updates about the coronavirus outbreak in Washington state from May 1-3, 2020.
- Washington's stay-at-home order will remain in place until at least May 31 with some restrictions possibly lifting mid-May.
- Four new coronavirus deaths among 182 new overall cases reported in Washington Friday.
- TOTAL: 834 deaths among 15,185 overall cases in Washington state
- 212,005 people in Washington have taken a test for coronavirus and 7.2% of those tests have been positive, according to the state Department of Health.
Sunday, May 3
Some activities and industries to open this week
Phase 1 of Gov. Jay Inslee's plan to re-open the state starts this week.
Under the first phase that begins Tuesday, May 5, some outdoor recreation will be allowed (as long as social distancing is practiced), car sales can recommence, retail curbside pickup will be allowed as will some construction projects.
Inslee initially set May 4 as the day to open the state, however, it was pushed back to May 31 last week.
In a televised town hall, Trump pushes for economic reopening
President Donald Trump is pushing for an economic reopening, one his advisers believe will be essential for his reelection chances in November.
In a “virtual” town hall televised Sunday night from inside the Lincoln Memorial, the president fielded Americans’ questions about their coronavirus concerns.
He acknowledged fear on both sides of the issue, some Americans worried about getting sick while others are concerned about losing jobs.
Trump defended his administration's response from criticism it has moved too slowly and said the nation is ready to begin reopening.
Coronavirus around the world on Sunday
Faced with 19,000 coronavirus deaths and counting, the nation’s nursing homes are pushing back against a potential flood of lawsuits with a sweeping lobbying effort.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson says he was so sick from the coronavirus that doctors had discussed what to say if he had died.
Six months ago, the global tourism industry was celebrating a record year for travel. Now, it’s decimated and facing a recovery that could take years.
The coronavirus pandemic is forcing big changes at the tradition-bound U.S. Supreme Court.
Report from the Associated Press
Report: China hid coronavirus' severity to hoard supplies
U.S. officials believe China covered up the extent of the coronavirus outbreak — and how contagious the disease is — to stock up on medical supplies needed to respond to it.
That's according to U.S. intelligence documents obtained by The Associated Press.
They say Chinese leaders “intentionally concealed the severity” of the pandemic from the world in early January.
Word of the Department of Homeland Security analysis dated May 1 comes as the Trump administration has intensified its criticism of China.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Sunday that China was responsible for the spread of disease and must be held accountable.
Report from the Associated Press
Saturday, May 2
State releases list of over 100 state parks that will open on May 5
The state Parks and Recreation Commission has announced a list of over 100 state parks and properties that will open on Tuesday for day-use only.
Gov. Jay Inslee announced last week that some state parks would slowly open for public use during the coronavirus pandemic. The stay home order has been extended until May 31.
The list of more than 100 parks and properties is posted to the agency’s website and includes popular destinations for hiking and boating across the state.
State Parks will delay the opening of some areas beyond May 5, including all ocean beach parks and those along the Columbia River Gorge.
State Parks will also take steps to reduce parking capacity at some urban locations such as Lake Sammamish, Saint Edward and Dash Point by limiting parking. Reducing the number of parking stalls available will help decrease the number of people who can access the parks at one time, minimizing crowds.
Visitors are encouraged to:
Stay close to home.
Check the status of their favorite park or trailheads before heading out.
Come prepared with their own handwashing supplies.
Yakima County has highest rate of coronavirus cases on the west coast
The highest rate of coronavirus cases in Washington is in Yakima County, an eastern agricultural giant that has more than double the state average of cases per 100,000 people.
In fact, the county of 250,000 people has the highest rate of COVID-19 cases of any county on the West Coast.
As of Friday, Yakima County had 1,128 positive cases, a rate of 455 cases per 100,000 residents.
Health experts point to a large number of essential workers, a large number of cases in long-term care facilities and a large agricultural workforce living and working in close quarters as the causes.
From the Associated Press
Washington Republican asks feds to reopen wildlife refuges
A Washington state congresswoman says the federal government should reopen national wildlife refuges to the public.
The Columbian newspaper in Vancouver reports that Republican U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler sent a letter to Fish and Wildlife Service Regional Director Robyn Thorson.
She argued that access to federal reserves can boost physical and emotional health.
The Pacific Region of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service covers 67 national wildlife refuges across Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Hawaii.
From the Associated Press
Communities of color in King County disproportionately impacted by coronavirus, new data finds
Updated data on COVID-19 cases released by King County show that the disease is disproportionately affecting communities of color.
Hispanic/Latinx, Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islanders and Blacks had significantly higher rates of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations as compared to whites, according to the data. The rates were also higher among American Indian/Alaskan Natives (though not statistically significant due to small population numbers) and slightly lower among Asian populations as compared to whites.
While the total number of deaths from COVID-19 is highest among whites, the rate of death per 100,000 for Hispanic/Latinx and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islanders is more than double that of whites.
The updated analysis reinforces findings from other metropolitan areas and states across the United States. The agency said that COVID-19 is exacerbating health inequities and is likely to take the biggest toll on communities already disadvantaged due to structural inequities that include housing policies to discrimination in health care and more.
Friday, May 1:
Washington stay-at-home order extended to May 31
Gov. Jay Inslee extended Washington state’s stay-at-home order to May 31, although some restrictions could be lifted mid-May.
“We are turning the dial,” Inslee said.
Smaller counties who are not hit hard by COVID-19 can apply for variance with the state Department of Health.
Inslee rolled out four phases to Washington’s re-opening plan. He said each phase will last for at least three weeks before moving onto the next.
Phase one is where we are now with modifications laid out last week, including allowing low-risk construction, fishing, hunting and park access. By mid-May, retail curbside pickup, auto sales, and car washes could resume with restrictions. Drive-in spiritual services would be allowed with one car per household.
Phase two would allow more outdoor recreation, such as camping, and small group gatherings of five people or less. Barber shops and salons could reopen along with restaurants at 50% capacity and tables of five people or less.
Phase three would expand group sizes to 50 people or less. Restaurants could move to 75% capacity and bars to 25%. Gyms and movie theaters could reopen at 50% capacity. Libraries, museums and government buildings could also reopen.
Phase four would allow gatherings of more than 50 people with social distancing.
Protests in Tacoma ahead of expected stay-home order extension
More than 50 people showed up at the federal courthouse in Tacoma to support suing Gov. Jay Inslee over his stay-home order.
Inslee is expected to extend the stay-home order during an announcement at 2:30 p.m. on Friday, May 1.
“You can’t lock everybody down,” Franklin County Commissioner Clint Didier said.
Didier and others, including gubernatorial candidate Tim Eyman, are filing a civil rights violation lawsuit in U.S. District Court challenging Inslee's order, calling it an "economic lockdown" that is "devastating low- and middle-income workers and small businesses."
In a statement, those filing the lawsuit warn it is the "first of several that will be filed in the coming days."
Many Amazon employees will work from home until Oct. 2
Amazon employees who can work remotely will continue to do so until at least Oct. 2, according to the company.
For those who can't work remotely, "We are working hard and investing significant funds to keep those who choose to come to the office safe through physical distancing, deep cleaning, temperature checks, and the availability of face coverings and hand sanitizer," the company wrote on its blog.
On Thursday, Amazon cited net sales in the 1st quarter of $75.5 billion, up 26% over the same period last year.
In mid-March, the company said it needed to hire 100,000 people across the U.S. to keep up with all the orders as the coronavirus spread and keeps more people at home - shopping online.
Though Amazon leaders say they are doing what they can to protect workers, some within the warehouses worry about their safety. Employees within at least 74 distribution centers have tested positive for coronavirus, including a cluster in New York, and a COVID-related death in California.
Amazon says it has distributed personal protective equipment (PPE), raised hourly wages and is giving COVID-infected employees up to two weeks paid time off.
Labor unions sue state over farm worker protections
Skagit County Superior Court will decide today whether Washington state should impose emergency safety rules to protect farm workers during the coronavirus pandemic.
Familias Unidas por la Justicia and United Farm Workers of America argue "the deadly COVID-19 is likely an epidemic in every rural county in Washington state where domestic farmworkers and thousands of H-2A visa workers from other countries are currently working..."
Approximately 9,000 H-2A workers, according to the labor unions, are "residing in labor camps in Adams, Chelan, Douglas, Grant, Okanogan, Skagit, and Yakima counties."
The labor unions argue proper social distancing is not happening and if workers get sick they won't be able to pay hospital bills.
Familias Unidas por la Justicia posted a statement on Facebook April 30:
"We had to sue Washington State for not implementing rules to protect agricultural workers. Tomorrow, May 1, on International Workers Day, the court will give its judgment. We hope it will be in our favor..."
Gov. Inslee to speak Friday afternoon
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee is scheduled to speak Friday at 2:30 p.m. An announcement is expected on the gradual reopening of Washington state.
On Wednesday, Inslee announced Washington's "Stay Home, Stay Healthy" orders would extend past May 4, but he did not provide a date of reopening. Some industries like certain construction projects, elective surgeries, fishing, and golfing are allowed to resume soon, with modifications.
The governor said that he would announce "the next phase" of reopening Washington state during Friday's announcement.
An official agenda of the governor's announcement has not been released.
Alaska Airlines to require face masks for employees, passengers
Alaska Airlines joined several other airlines Friday in requiring all passengers to wear face coverings during flights to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus.
The company said the new requirement for passengers and Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air employees will go into effect on May 11. Employees that will be required to wear face masks include pilots, flight attendants, and customer service agents.
“In light of COVID-19, we're in a new era of air travel and are continually updating our safety standards to better protect our guests and employees. For now, this includes wearing masks, which is another layer of protection that can reduce the spread of the virus," said Max Tidwell, Alaska Airlines' vice president of safety.
Guests will be expected to bring their own mask and will be required to wear it. The airline said supplies will be available for those who forget a mask.
Lessons from Roosevelt COVID-19 outbreak helped Everett-based USS Kidd
Lessons learned from a coronavirus outbreak aboard the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt played a central role in limiting damage when the virus hit a second Navy ship at sea.
On the day that Everett-based USS Kidd learned that it had its first COVID-19 case, a team of Navy medical specialists was flown aboard to ramp up testing and detect likely hot spots aboard the destroyer off the coast of Central America.
Even before the Kidd arrived to assist in a counter-drug operation, its crew had conducted a quarantine-and-isolation drill as part of a Roosevelt-derived protocol for Navy ships at sea.
More than 1 million people recover from COVID-19 worldwide
The number of confirmed U.S. cases of COVID-19 has reached 1,070,000 as of 5 a.m. PT Friday, according to Johns Hopkins University. There have been more than 63,000 deaths and nearly 154,000 recoveries. 6.2 million tests have been conducted.
Worldwide, more than 1 million people have recovered among 3.2 million confirmed cases. There have been 233,000 confirmed killed as a result of COVID-19.
For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia.
Tyson Fresh Meats plant in Washington to remain closed longer
A Tyson Fresh Meats beef plant near the Tri-Cities will remain closed for a while longer as county health officials await test results on all the approximately 1,400 workers.
Walla Walla County health officials reported Wednesday afternoon the coronavirus test results are still pending.
The Tri-City Herald reported that as of Wednesday, 130 people — both employees and others linked to the plant outbreak — have tested positive. They include 120 residents of Benton or Franklin counties, nine in Walla Walla County, and one in Umatilla County, Oregon.
Trump speculates that China released virus in lab 'mistake'
President Donald Trump has speculated that China could have unleashed the coronavirus on the world due to some kind of horrible “mistake,” and his intelligence agencies said they are still examining a notion put forward by the president and aides that the pandemic may have resulted from an accident at a Chinese lab.
Trump even suggested Thursday that the release could have been intentional.
The Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the clearinghouse for the web of U.S. spy agencies, said it had ruled out the virus being man-made but was still investigating the precise source of the global pandemic, which has killed more than 220,000 people worldwide.
Though scientists suggest the likeliest origin of the pandemic remains natural, that it spread from an infected animal to a human, Trump claimed to have seen evidence to support the theory that the origin was an infectious disease lab in Wuhan, the epicenter of the Chinese outbreak.
China said speculation such as Trump’s is unfounded and “purely fabricated out of nothing.”