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Coronavirus updates for Washington: June 24-26

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

Key facts:

  • Masks are now required in public in Washington state.
  • 4 new deaths and 488 new cases reported Friday in Washington.
  • TOTAL: 1,304 deaths among 30,855 overall cases in Washington state.
  • 514,428 people in Washington have taken a test for coronavirus and 6.0% of those tests have been positive, according to the state Department of Health.

VIEW | More coronavirus coverage from KING 5

Friday, June 26:

Snohomish health officials trying to find guests of large Stanwood house party attended by COVID-19 patient

The Snohomish County Health District says it is looking for guests who attended a large party in Stanwood where one person later tested positive for COVID-19. 

The county health district said that not all of the 40 to 70 attendees of the party in Stanwood on Friday June 19 have been identified or contacted.

The health district requested all individuals promptly seek COVID-19 testing if they attended the large house party in Stanwood on Friday, June 19.

The guests can either register for one of the community-based testing locations, or contact their healthcare provider or another testing facility. All attendees should remain quarantined at home through July 4, unless they develop symptoms and/or test positive.

If the person tests positive, they will be provided additional instructions by the Snohomish County Health District. If there are concerns or questions, people are encouraged to review this guidance for exposed people and contact their healthcare provider.

The health district is also encouraging people who attended large graduation parties or Father’s Day celebrations to get tested as a precaution. 

Large parties could become so-called "super-spreader" events that can infect a large number of people and spread the virus, the health district said.

RELATED: Texas family shaken after 18 relatives test positive for COVID-19 following surprise birthday party

New Washington cases for Friday June 26

  • 4 new deaths and 488 new cases reported Friday in Washington.
  • TOTAL: 1,304 deaths among 30,855 overall cases in Washington state.
  • 514,428 people in Washington have taken a test for coronavirus and 6.0% of those tests have been positive, according to the state Department of Health.

Pierce County health officer to recommend loosening restrictions for a 'modified Phase 2' 

Pierce County Director of Health Dr. Anthony L-T Chen will recommend a loosening some restrictions, but not applying for Phase 3 of the state's reopening plan.

He said in a prepared statement that progress is being made in the fight to slow coronavirus, but not enough to get to Phase 3. 

The county proposes allowing larger outdoor gatherings of up to 25 people for social and recreational purposes. However, the new phase would not allow recreational activities such as team sports and public swimming pools where respiratory droplets are highly likely to be released.

According to a county press release, a modified Phase 2 would limit indoor gatherings to 5 people per week outside the household. Libraries and museums would be permitted with physical distancing and Phase 3 safety plans. All other businesses and religious services would remain under Phase 2 requirements. 

Earlier this week, Chen warned if the trend of increasing cases continues, it could lead to the county backsliding from Phase 2 and into Phase 1 restrictions.

RELATED: Pierce County official warns rise in coronavirus cases could set county back

Snohomish County not ready to move to Phase 3

Snohomish County leaders decided not to submit a Phase 3 application yet as the county experienced a “concerning” uptick in coronavirus cases.

Snohomish County moved to Phase 2 on June 5, and it needed to stay in that phase for at least three weeks. Friday was the earliest the county could apply to move on to the next phase.

Seventy-seven new cases were reported Monday – a sharp increase from 20 or fewer daily cases the week before. Snohomish County Health Officer Chris Spitters also said the health department received reports of large gatherings over the weekend making it “quite risky” to proceed to Phase 3.

“We need a week or two to assess and control the current situation, monitor the trend in new daily case reports, and track COVID hospitalizations to know whether this was a blip or an early signal of more to come,” Spitters said in a statement.

As the Fourth of July holiday approaches, officials urged people to maintain social distancing, wear a mask and not meet in large groups of more than five people per week.

"Since we’ve made so much progress, now is not the time to backslide," Snohomish County Executive Dave Somers said in a statement.

RELATED: Snohomish and Pierce counties see rising coronavirus cases in Phase 2

COVID-19 cases rise among younger King County adults

Last week coronavirus cases increased 60% in King County over the previous week, partially driven by younger adults, according to Dr. Jeff Duchin, health officer for Public Health – Seattle & King County.

Between June 14-20, King County saw 156 more coronavirus infections over the previous week. 

“This is a worrisome trend obviously,” Duchin said. “No one wants to see increasing cases.”

Over the last two weeks, about half of those cases were in people between 20 and 39 years old, which Duchin called a “significant change.” To date, that age group has been responsible for about one-third of cases.

Although Duchin couldn’t point to a specific venue or activity that may be responsible for the spike, he said it was likely driven by all increased contact without taking precautions like wearing a mask.

American Airlines to resume full-capacity flights July 1 

American Airlines will start booking flights to full capacity on July 1. 

Starting Tuesday, the airline will ask customers during check-in to "certify they have been free of COVID-19 symptoms for the past 14 days." Customers will go through a checklist of potential symptoms that was created in partnership with Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

Since April, American Airlines has limited the number of passengers on flights in effort to space customers during the pandemic.

The move contrasts sharply with rivals including Delta that limit bookings to create space between passengers.  

Durkan pitches new sidewalk café permits

The city of Seattle announced a proposal Friday for temporary street use permits that would let businesses and restaurants offer services on the sidewalk or in the curb space in front of their business.

City leaders hope the permits allow more businesses to reopen during coronavirus recovery.

The permits, which the Seattle Department of Transportation will begin accepting applications for immediately, would be available for six months. They would allow sidewalk cafes, merchandise displays and food and other vending.

Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan is expected to transmit legislation on the permits “shortly” to the Seattle City Council. The legislation will be sponsored by Councilmembers Dan Strauss and Alex Pedersen.

COVID-19 is growing in Spokane, and Inslee says wear masks as state tops 30,000 cases 

The rate of people being hospitalized for COVID-19 in Spokane has doubled in the past week, and the state’s second-largest city is “on the edge of a cliff,″ according to Washington Gov. Jay Inslee on Thursday.

Inslee met with civic leaders on the Spokane campus of Washington State University. His visit drew a small crowd of protesters against his administration’s proclamation earlier this week requiring people to wear masks when in public.

Inslee, who wore a mask during his press conference, said the way to battle the spread of the coronavirus is simple. “You’ve just got to wear a little cloth on your face,” Inslee said.

The Washington State Department of Health reported seven new deaths and 498 new cases of COVID-19 Thursday. There are now 1,300 deaths among 30,367 total cases of COVID-19 in Washington state.

RELATED: 'Spokane is on the verge of a very dire situation': Gov. Inslee concerned about coronavirus spikes

Thursday, June 25:

King County public health aims to manage all contact tracing locally

Public Health – Seattle & King County aims to manage all COVID-19 contact tracing on the local level by the end of July after taking over increasing duties from the state over the last two months.

In late April, the county health department was managing contact tracing for 10% of cases. In the last two weeks, that number jumped to 71%.

“We were so overwhelmed we relied on our partners in the state to really step in,” said Dennis Worsham, prevention division director for Public Health – Seattle & King County.

Dr. Matthew Golden, medical lead for the case investigation team, says managing cases on a local level allows the county to coordinate social support services, such as getting groceries for someone in isolation. The county also hopes to scale up daily check-ins with patients to ensure they stay isolated.

Public Health currently has 28 contact tracers, and it plans to add five to six next week and another 10 the week of July 6.

“We’re building the team as fast as we can,” said Golden.

New Washington cases for Thursday June 25

  • 7 new deaths and 498 new cases reported Thursday in Washington.
  • TOTAL: 1,300 deaths among 30,367 overall cases in Washington state.
  • 505,795 people in Washington have taken a test for coronavirus and 6.0% of those tests have been positive, according to the state Department of Health.

New unemployment claims increase in Washington

Washington state saw a slight uptick in initial and total unemployment claims last week after decreasing for four straight weeks.

From June 14-20, there were 29,612 initial unemployment claims, which is a 2% increase over the previous week. There were 718,615 total claims, which is a 3.3% increase.

“Although we did see a very slight increase in initial claims this week, we have held fairly steady the last three weeks at around 29,000 new unemployment claims,” Employment Security Department Commissioner Suzi LeVine said in a statement. “While this is a significant drop from our peak earlier in the crisis, we have leveled off at what are still record high numbers – exceeding what we saw in the peak of the recession."

New unemployment claims are about 450% above the same week last year, according to ESD.

Kent School District to hold in-person graduation ceremonies

The Kent School District announced details for in-person high school graduation ceremonies.

While some details are still being finalized, the district said all high school graduations would take place between July 7-14. Graduating seniors will be able to walk across the stage with four family members present and receive their diploma while wearing their cap and gown.

“To ensure we’re able to follow social distancing guidelines, we will spread out the arrival times at each school," a June 19 update on the district’s website says. "Families will receive a schedule from their principal this week with specific arrival times, traffic directions and detailed instructions for the event."

The announced high school graduation ceremony dates are listed below:

  • Kent-Meridian High School: Tuesday, July 7
  • iGrad: Tuesday, July 7
  • Kentwood High School: Wednesday, July 8
  • Kent Mountain View Academy: Thursday, July 9
  • Kent Phoenix Academy: Thursday, July 9
  • Kentlake High School: Friday, July 10
  • Kentridge High School: Saturday, July 11
  • The Outreach Program: Tuesday, July 14

The public is asked to avoid the high school campus during the graduation ceremonies to help ensure state and county guidelines are not violated.

Click here for more information.

Gov. Inslee visiting Spokane Thursday to discuss COVID-19 response

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee is visiting Spokane on Thursday amid a marked increase in coronavirus cases throughout the area. 

The governor will meet with local leaders in government, health care and business to "discuss the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic," according to an advisory from his office.

Inslee will begin by meeting with the Spokane Alliance at 12:30 p.m on Thursday. The meeting at Washington State University's Spokane campus will include a panel with frontline and essential workers.

His first meeting will be followed by those with hospital and medical system leaders, along with those in public health and local elected officials, before a media availability at 2:45 p.m.

MORE: Gov. Inslee will visit Spokane on Thursday to discuss COVID-19 response

US unemployment

The number of laid-off workers who applied for unemployment benefits declined slightly to 1.48 million last week, the 12th straight drop and a sign that layoffs are slowing but are still at a painfully high level.

The steady decline in claims suggests that the job market has begun to slowly heal from the pandemic, which shuttered businesses and sent the unemployment rate up to 14.7% in April, its highest level since the Great Depression. The number of people who are receiving jobless aid also fell last week, evidence that employers are rehiring some of the workers who had been laid off since mid-March.

MORE: Applications for jobless aid fall to still-high 1.48 million

Wednesday, June 24: 

Second inmate at Coyote Ridge Corrections Center dies from COVID-19

A second inmate in Washington state has died from the coronavirus (COVID-19) this month. 

The Washington Department of Corrections said 72-year-old William Bryant died on Monday after being taken to the hospital for treatment of COVID-19 on June 13 from the Medium Security Complex at the Coyote Ridge Corrections Center in Connell, Wash.

Bryant was serving time for a first-degree child molestation charge out of Grays Harbor County. His earliest release date was April 2022, according to the DOC.

“The Department of Corrections is sad to announce its second COVID-19 related death,” said Corrections Secretary Stephen Sinclair. “We’ve continued to escalate our response at Coyote Ridge to help prevent the spread of this virus and protect the staff as well as the remaining individuals housed there.”

Bryant is the second inmate from the Coyote Ridge Corrections Center to contract and die from COVID-19. Last week, 63-year-old inmate Victor Bueno also died from the virus. 

In a statement Wednesday evening, the DOC said the Coyote Ridge Corrections Center currently has 43 confirmed cases of COVID-19 among staff and 110 confirmed cases among its inmates. 

There are also 23 individuals in isolation due to having symptoms of COVID-19, and 1,852 individuals in quarantine due to exposure to the virus but who are not showing symptoms.

Some Seattle Mariners players test positive for COVID-19

Jerry Dipoto, general manager of the Seattle Mariners, said that “more than one” player has tested positive for COVID-19 during Major League Baseball’s shutdown to help slow the spread of the virus.

Dipoto mentioned it during a press conference on Wednesday and said it could impact who is available to play when the team resumes Spring Training next week. He also added that the infected players are currently asymptomatic and doing well.

Dipoto said the situation will be carefully monitored as players report to Seattle to begin working out in preparation for the start of the 60-game season. 

RELATED: Baseball is back! MLB says players will report to camps July 1

Gov. Inslee: Washington 'erroneously' included on East Coast traveler quarantine list  

Gov. Jay Inslee said that East Coast states that will require visitors from states with high coronavirus infection rates to quarantine mistakenly included Washington state.

"We've been told to expect that to be corrected shortly," he said at a Wednesday afternoon press conference.

New York, Connecticut and New Jersey announced Wednesday visitors from states over a set infection rate will have to quarantine for 14 days upon arrival, beginning Thursday, the three governors said.

States over the three states' threshold were Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Utah and Texas, according to the Associated Press.

RELATED: New York, New Jersey, Connecticut to require visitors from states with high virus rates to quarantine

Inslee and higher education leaders issue guidelines for returning to campuses

Colleges and universities in Washington state will make adjustments in order to prepare for reopening campuses in the fall.

Changes will vary campus-by-campus but could include ordering food on an app for takeout, using less cash, smaller group seatings, some large classes continuing online and dorm rooms set aside for isolation.

"We are all eager to get back to in-person and hands-on instruction, and this plan is our pathway of doing so," said University of Washington President Ana Mari Cauce.

Cauce joined Gov. Jay Inslee, and fellow presidents Allan Belton of Pacific Lutheran University and Kathi Hiyane-Brown of Whatcom Community College to give an update on the higher education response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Watch the entire briefing here:

New Washington coronavirus cases Wednesday

The Washington Department of Health reported nine new deaths from coronavirus among 483 new cases Wednesday. It brings the total to 1,293 deaths among 29,869 overall cases in Washington state.

A total of 495,498 people in Washington have taken a test for coronavirus and 6.0% of those tests have been positive, according to the state Department of Health.

Thurston County moving to Phase 3

Washington State Secretary of Health John Wiesman approved Thurston County's application to move to Phase 3 of reopening on Wednesday.

There are now three counties in Phase 1, two counties in modified Phase 1, 17 counties in Phase 2, and 17 counties in Phase 3.

In Phase 3, group sizes can expand to 50 people or fewer. Non-essential travel can resume. Restaurants can increase capacity to 75% capacity and bars can open to 25%. Gyms, recreational facilities, like pools, and movie theaters can reopen at 50% capacity. Libraries, museums, and government buildings can also reopen.

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

Washington intercepts $23,000 in stimulus checks sent to prisoners

By early June, Washington state intercepted about $23,000 in stimulus checks that the IRS says were mistakenly sent the inmates, the Associated Press reported Wednesday.

The legislation authorizing economic impact statement doesn’t specifically exclude jail and prison inmates, but the IRS points to the Social Security Act, which bars incarcerated people from receiving some types of old-age and survivor insurance benefit payments.

Now the IRS is asking state officials to send back the checks.

The IRS doesn’t yet have numbers on how many payments went to prisoners, according to an IRS spokesperson. But initial data from some states suggest the numbers are huge: The Kansas Department of Correction alone intercepted more than $200,000 in checks by early June. Idaho and Montana combined had seized over $90,000.

COVID-19 relief funds OKed

King County Council approved $86.2 million in emergency funding for coronavirus relief Tuesday.

This is the third round of relief funds council members approved after allocating $27.2 million in March and $62.9 million in May.

The new funding package includes $12 million for food security, rental assistance and homeless services. It also provides money for digital equity in schools, behavioral health and a provision to provide masks on Metro buses.

King County passes eviction protections for households, small businesses

King County passed two new protections against eviction for households and small businesses affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

The new rules apply to renters in unincorporated King County, and is modeled on similar laws passed in Seattle. The protections are in place through March 1, 2021.

The ordinance provides residential tenants to cite circumstances occurring as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, as a way to contest their eviction. The second protection allows a residential or small commercial tenant affected by the pandemic who fails to pay rent due before or by March 1, 2021 to pay the overdue rent on a reasonable repayment plan.

Washington state mandates face coverings

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee announced face coverings will be mandatory in public, both indoors and outdoors when it’s impossible to maintain 6 feet of physical distance from others.

The order goes into effect Friday, June 26.

Inslee said that any style of face covering is acceptable.

"Any covering that will cover the nose and mouth will do in this case," he said at a press conference on Tuesday. "What you choose is your choice. We're just appreciative if everyone could think of this as the new part of etiquette in our state."

Inslee said the masks were necessary to mandate because coronavirus has continued to spread as the state reopens.

MORE: Washington state requires face masks in public starting Friday

New Washington cases

  • 8 new deaths and 516 new cases reported Monday in Washington.
  • TOTAL: 1,284 deaths among 29,386 overall cases in Washington state.
  • 487,059 people in Washington have taken a test for coronavirus and 6.0% of those tests have been positive, according to the state Department of Health.

Coronavirus: Your Money, Your Future

View previous coronavirus updates for Washington here.