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Coronavirus updates: Coverage from KING 5 from June 3-5

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

Key facts:

  • There are now five counties in Phase 1, one county in modified Phase 1, 26 counties in Phase 2 and seven counties in Phase 3.
  • Pro sports can resume with restrictions. Outdoor youth and adult recreational sports can resume practices in Phase 2 and games in Phase 3.
  • Eleven new deaths among 264 new cases reported Friday in Washington.
  • TOTAL: 1,149 deaths among 22,993 overall cases in Washington state.
  • 390,863 people in Washington have taken a test for coronavirus and 5.9% of those tests have been positive, according to the state Department of Health.

VIEW | More coronavirus coverage from KING 5

Friday, June 5:

The latest coronavirus numbers in Washington state

The Washington Department of Health reported eleven new deaths from coronavirus among 264 new cases as of Friday. The total is now 1,149 deaths among 22,993 overall cases statewide. 

A total of 390,863 people in Washington have taken a test for coronavirus and 5.9% of those tests have been positive, according to the state Department of Health.

UW Medicine hospitals reduces COVID-19 patients

UW Medicine reported Friday the lowest number of patients hospitalized with coronavirus since the start of the pandemic.

A couple UW Medicine hospitals have zero or one COVID-19 patient, and there are 18 across the system, according to Lisa Brandenburg, president of UW Medicine hospitals and clinics. 

14 counties moving on to next phase of reopening

Fourteen counties were approved Friday to move onto the next phase of reopening in the state's "Safe Start" plan.

Moving from Phase 1 to a modified Phase 1:

  • King

Moving from Phase 1 to Phase 2:

  • Clark
  • Okanogan
  • Pierce
  • Skagit
  • Snohomish
  • Whatcom

Moving from Phase 2 to Phase 3:

  • Columbia
  • Ferry
  • Garfield
  • Lincoln
  • Pend Oreille
  • Stevens
  • Wahkiakum

There are now five counties in Phase 1, one county in modified Phase 1, 26 counties in Phase 2 and seven counties in Phase 3.

Businesses operating in Phase 3 must create a safety plan to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and keep it on their premises.

Central Washington University announces furloughs

Central Washington University will furlough 19% of its workforce and reduce hours for other employees during July and August due to the financial fallout of COVID-19.

With the exception of non-essential employees, remaining staff will work Monday-Friday over the summer.

The university estimates a $12 million revenue shortfall for the coming fiscal year. CWU President James Gaudino said in a letter to staff that reductions in non-staff spending wouldn't be enough to offset the shortfall.

"I have no choice but to make corresponding adjustments to staffing to ensure the sustainability of our university," Gaudino said.

During the summer about 150 of the university's 1,200 employees will remain full-time.

South Hill Mall to reopen

The South Hill Mall in Puyallup is expected to reopen Saturday with modifications.

A spokesperson says many stores will do curbside pickup, employees will wear face coverings and cleaning practices will be "intensified."

The mall will be open Monday-Saturday 10 a.m.-9 p.m.and Sunday 11 a.m.-6 p.m.

Guidance issued for pro sports during reopening

Professional sports activities, including back office operations, full team practices and spectator-less games, can resume Friday, June 5 as long as they follow certain restrictions outlined in guidance issued by Gov. Jay Inslee.

These activities can begin regardless of phase if organizations follow a safety plan and report a practice and game schedule to county health officials. A league-wide plan must also be approved by the players' union.

Safety plans must include social distancing, providing personal protective equipment, frequent handwashing and screening sick employees.

Outdoor youth and adult recreational sports teams can also resume in Phase 2 and 3. Counties in Phase 2 can hold team practices in groups of five or fewer with social distancing. Counties in Phase 3 can resume games, but the gathering can't exceed 50 people.

Seattle Opera cancels first opera of 2020-21 season

Seattle Opera canceled Pagliacci and Cavalleria rusticana, the first opera of its upcoming season.

The cancellation will impact 220 artists, musicians and crew, according to the opera company. The opera will also furlough 55% of administrative staff later this month when its Paycheck Protection Program loan runs out.

Seattle Opera says it cannot begin rehearsals and pre-production work with social distancing restrictions still in place.

Free coronavirus testing will be expanded in North and South Seattle  

Seattle Mayor Jenny A. Durkan and other local officials announced a new partnership with UW Medicine to advance widespread testing across the city of Seattle, starting Friday.

Seattle and UW Medicine aim to expand to 1,600 tests a day, Durkan said.

Clients will not be charged for the testing, and will not receive a bill. Beginning Friday, two drive-up testing sites will be available at two former emissions facilities, one in the north end at 12040 Aurora Ave. N., and in the south end in SoDo at 3820 6th Ave. S.

The testing will be available Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The city already has testing sites set up throughout the city, including in downtown Seattle and Rainier Beach and several other locations.

People will have to sign up through the city of Seattle’s COVID-19 resource page at www.seattle.gov/covid-19.

City officials outlined how to sign up for the testing and what to expect in a briefing on Thursday afternoon:

Thursday, June 4:

Gov. Jay Inslee stresses the importance of testing for COVID-19

RELATED: As Washington reopens, Gov. Inslee urges anyone with mild COVID-19 symptoms to get tested

Gov. Jay Inslee addressed the critical need for coronavirus testing in Washington during a press conference Thursday.

Inslee said at the start of the pandemic, testing supplies were limited, but as of May, the state has received two-thirds of the testing supplies that had been promised by the federal government.

Because of that, Inslee says the state now has increased testing capacity and is encouraging anyone with even mild symptoms of COVID-19 to get tested.

“If you think you’re sick, please get tested,” said Inslee. Previously, medical experts advised people with mild COVID-19 symptoms to stay home to limit the spread of the virus and only seek testing if symptoms worsened. 

Inslee stressed the importance on Thursday for household members or those working with someone who they know tested positive for the virus to also get tested right away to reduce the risk of an outbreak.

As of Thursday, a total of 383,587 people have been tested for the coronavirus and of those, only 5.9% of tests came back positive.

Currently, there are 1,138 deaths from COVID-19 among 22,729 overall cases statewide.

The governor also addressed reopening the state, saying at least seven counties have now submitted applications to move to Phase 3 of the Safe Start plan. Larger counties, such as King, that applied for a modified Phase 1 are getting their applications reviewed. 

Gov. Inslee ended his press conference by reminding Washingtonians that we are nearing wildfire season, and reminded people to check burn restrictions and know the wildfire risk in your area.

The latest coronavirus numbers in Washington state

The Washington Department of Health reported three new deaths from coronavirus among 245 new cases as of Thursday. The total is now 1,138 deaths among 22,729 overall cases statewide. 

A total of 383,587 people in Washington have taken a test for coronavirus and 5.9% of those tests have been positive, according to the state Department of Health.

Initial unemployment claims in Washington continue to decrease

There was a 36% decrease in initial regular unemployment claims filed in Washington last week, according to the state Employment Security Department (ESD).

For the week of May 24-30, ESD said there were 31,224 initial regular unemployment claims filed, and 774,959 total claims for all unemployment benefit categories.

The ESD believes the continued decrease in initial claims is due to fraud prevention measures and residents returning to work as the state continues to reopen.

“The dramatic decline in initial claims this week is a strong signal that the additional steps we are taking to address imposter fraud are working. We’ve already recovered and stopped the payments of hundreds of millions of dollars in fraudulent claims in the past two weeks, and we will continue to reclaim every dollar we can,” said ESD Commissioner Suzi LeVine.

The ESD said over $514.7 million was paid last week for 400,352 individual claims. ESD has paid out nearly $4.9 billion in benefits since the week ending March 7.

RELATED: Initial unemployment claims decrease for 2nd straight week in Washington

Washington unemployment fraud might be $650 million

Washington officials say they believe they have recovered about half of the hundreds of millions in unemployment benefits paid to criminals who used stolen identities to file claims during the coronavirus pandemic.

Officials are still working to determine the final amount paid out fraudulently, but they believe it was between $550 million and $650 million. To date, the state has recovered $333 million, and it hopes to reclaim more.

A West African fraud ring using identities stolen in prior data breaches, such as the massive 2017 Equifax breach, is believed to be behind the fraud, which has targeted nearly a dozen states, according to California cybersecurity firm Agari.

Free COVID-19 testing at the Tacoma Dome

Free drive-through COVID-19 testing will continue at the Tacoma Dome during the month of June.

Testing will be available from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday by appointment only. Fred Meyer and QFC partnered with the city of Tacoma to make the tests available.

To be tested, Tacoma-area residents must register in advance online or by calling 1-888-852-2567 (select option 1, then option 3). A virtual screening tool based on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines will be used to see if those seeking a test are eligible.

The drive-through testing site at the Tacoma Dome is capable of testing around 250 vehicles a day, according to a press release.

Click here for more information or to register.

US unemployment

Nearly 1.9 million people applied for U.S. unemployment benefits last week, the ninth straight decline since applications spiked in mid-March, a sign that the gradual reopening of businesses has slowed the loss of jobs.

The diminishing pace suggests that the job market meltdown that was triggered by the coronavirus may have bottomed out as more companies call at least some of their former employees back to work.

The total number of people who are now receiving jobless aid rose only slightly to 21.5 million, suggesting that rehiring is offsetting some of the ongoing layoffs.  

RELATED: 1.9 million seek jobless aid even as reopenings slow layoffs

Gov. Inslee says progress continues on reopening Washington

Gov. Jay Inslee says Washington is continuing to make progress on reopening its economy.

“The vast majority of counties are either in Phase 2 or have pending applications to move forward as part of our Safe Start plan,” Gov. Inslee said.

The governor's office says that six counties have applied to move to the third phase of Washington state’s four-stage reopening plan that eases COVID-19 restrictions and allows businesses to start to reopen. 

Applications have been submitted for Ferry, Stevens, Pend Oreille, Lincoln, Columbia, and Wahkiakum counties. They are among eight counties that have been in Phase 2 for three weeks and are eligible to apply to advance to the third phase. Garfield and Skamania are also eligible to apply as of Wednesday. 

Phase 3 which expands group gatherings to 50 or less, including sports activities, and allows restaurants to increase capacity to 75%. Gyms and movie theaters can also reopen at half capacity during this phase.

Wednesday, June 3:

The latest coronavirus deaths and cases in Washington

The Washington Department of Health reported six new deaths from coronavirus among 327 new cases Wednesday. It brings the total to 1,135 deaths among 22,484 overall cases statewide. 

A total of 377,327 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.

Chelan judge declines to move lawsuit against stay-home order

A judge in Chelan County has declined to move a lawsuit challenging Gov. Jay Inslee’s emergency stay-home orders arising from the coronavirus pandemic to Olympia.

Chelan County Superior Court Judge Kristin Ferrera said Wednesday that the lawsuit, which seeks to declare the stay-home proclamation unconstitutional, can be heard in Wenatchee because the use of different phases of reopening for different counties makes for different challenges among residents of those counties. 

Thurston County is where many lawsuits involving the state are typically heard. The judge also declined to issue a temporary restraining order against the governor's stay-home orders.

King County submits plan for modified Phase 1 reopening

King County submitted a plan to the Washington State Department of Health Wednesday that would allow limited and modified openings for businesses while the county is still in Phase 1 of the state’s “Safe Start” plan. 

The submitted application includes recommendations from King County Health Officer Dr. Jeff Duchin that would allow restaurants to begin opening indoor seating at 25% capacity, hair stylists and other personal services to open at 25% capacity, expand opening indoor fitness studios for one-on-one activities, and would allow outdoor recreation permitted in Phase 2 of the state’s reopening plan.

“Our plan to safely reopen our region’s economy is based on the latest data, recommendations by Public Health experts, and insight from communities and businesses,” said King County Executive Dow Constantine. “We are ready to take the next careful step toward an equitable recovery that benefits everyone who calls King County home.”

The modified Phase 1 plan would allow outdoor gatherings with five or fewer people outside the household.

A decision from the state is expected within the next several days.

Click here for more information.

Seattle Public Schools explores plan for fall learning

Four engagement teams with Seattle Public Schools began creating a plan this week for fall learning.

The teams will present their recommendations to the project leadership group, which will announce a decision June 19.

The teams, which consist of school leaders, parents, students and central office staff, will consider three options:

  • Pre-Kindergarten through fifth grade students have in-person classes full time and sixth through 12th grade students are on an A/B schedule with a mix of in-person and remote learning
  • All students are on an A/B schedule with a mix of in-person and remote learning
  • 100% remote learning

New statewide metrics tracker released

Washington state released a new tool Wednesday for the public to track whether their county is hitting key targets to move onto the next phase of reopening.

Here's where different counties stand on the some of the metrics that state health officials are tracking:

New cases: Most counties in western Washington had fewer than 25 new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people in the last two weeks, which is the state's goal. King County is the exception with 25.8 cases.

Number of tests: To move on, the number of people tested needs to be 50 times the number of new cases. Just one county meets the state's goal: Kitsap.

Percent of positive tests: It's a mixed bag in western Washington as to whether less than 2% of a county's population is testing positive. King (2.3%), Pierce (2.7%), Snohomish (2.9%) and Thurston (2.2%) counties all miss the mark.

Hospital capacity: All western Washington counties but one (Thurston) have less than 80% of licensed beds occupied, which is the goal.

The state also wants counties to have less than 10% of beds occupied by COVID-19 patients. All western Washington counties, except for Mason, meet that metric.

Whatcom County applies for Phase 2 of reopening

Whatcom County applied Tuesday for Phase 2 of the state's "Safe Start" plan.

Last week Gov. Jay Inslee loosed requirements for counties to move to the next phase of reopening, and under this criteria, Whatcom County officials say the county qualifies. 

Whatcom County is averaging fewer than four new COVID-19 cases per day; the new criteria is 25 new cases over a 14-day span.

As of Tuesday, 27 counties were in Phase 2, and six other Phase 1 counties had applied to move on. 

Snohomish County applied for Phase 2 on Monday, and Pierce County submitted its Phase 2 application Tuesday.

Washington eviction moratorium extended until Aug. 1

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee has extended the state’s eviction moratorium through Aug. 1. 

He says the intent of his order is to prevent an increase in homelessness during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. 

The moratorium – in place since March and extended once – was scheduled to expire this week.

It prohibits, with limited exceptions, residential evictions and late fees on unpaid rent. It also requires landlords to offer residents a repayment plan to catch up on unpaid rent.

Five new deaths reported in Washington

Five new deaths among 180 new cases were reported on Tuesday in Washington, bringing the total to 1,129 deaths among 22,157 overall cases.

368,799 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.

3,543 people have been hospitalized.

Coronavirus: Neighbors Helping Neighbors 

See previous coronavirus updates for Washington state here.