Editor’s note: This story shows updates about the coronavirus outbreak in Washington state from May 24-26, 2020.
- A total of 21 Washington counties are now approved to move to Phase 2.
- Thurston County officials unanimously voted to apply for Phase 2 reopening.
- 8 new deaths among 116 new cases reported Tuesday in Washington.
- TOTAL: 1,078 deaths among 20,065 overall cases in Washington state.
- 332,798 people in Washington have taken a test for coronavirus and 6.1% of those tests have been positive, according to the state Department of Health.
Tuesday, May 26:
Boeing could lay off more workers this week
Last month, Boeing said at least 16,000 employees could be laid off in total due to the coronavirus impact.
Boeing's union representatives confirm to KING 5 that the layoff warning notices will be coming out on Friday.
1,300 local members are taking a voluntary layoff.
The union plans to meet with Boeing on Thursday.
Study: King County needs to do more with testing, tracing
A new study says a comprehensive system of testing, contact tracing and quarantines will be needed to avoid a burst of new COVID-19 infections before King County can ease social-distancing restrictions.
The Seattle Times reports the study from the Bellevue, Washington-based Institute for Disease Modeling says such measures could enable economic and social activity in the region to double from current levels, without a corresponding increase in infections.
But it says if King County can’t increase testing capacity, fails in its efforts to notify the close contacts of positive cases or can’t convince people to isolate if they’ve been exposed to the virus, new infections could sharply increase.
via Associated Press
Pac-12: Voluntary workouts can resume on campus on June 15
The Pac-12 Conference says it is allowing voluntary workouts on campus for all sports beginning June 15, subject to the decision of each school and where allowed by local and state guidelines.
The decision was made by the presidents and chancellors of the conference schools and followed an announcement by the NCAA that schools can reopen for voluntary activities beginning next Monday.
The conference's COVID-19 medical advisory committee created a series of guidelines and protocols for schools to follow once they decide to open for individual workouts.
Latest coronavirus cases
There are 8 new deaths among 116 new cases reported on Tuesday in Washington. There are also now 1,078 deaths among 20,065 overall cases in Washington state.
332,798 people in Washington have taken a test for coronavirus and 6.1% of those tests have been positive, according to the state Department of Health.
Four counties have more than 1,560 cases: Pierce, King, Snohomish and Yakima.
Kitsap County publishes a ‘Playbook’ for reopening
The Kitsap County Emergency Operations Center has compiled a Pathway to Recovery Playbook to provide guidance for the way forward as the county nears a move to Phase 2 of Gov. Jay Inslee’s Safe Start plan.
The playbook organizes information from a local to state level and includes everything from overarching guidance for every individual and employer, to industry-specific recommendations for each phase of the Safe Start plan.
The playbook will be updated periodically as the situation changes and new guidelines are issued.
Officials also note that a future uptick in cases could cause state and local health authorities to reinstitute restrictions. The general public is also asked to keep practicing social distancing and wearing masks.
The Kitsap Public Health Board will consider the variance application during a virtual meeting on Wednesday, May 27. Based on the outcome of the public health board meeting, the Kitsap County Board of Commissioners will hold a virtual public meeting later that day at 4 p.m. to discuss the issue.
Mount Hood National Forest to reopen most trailheads Friday
Oregon’s tallest mountain will reopen for recreation over two months after trailheads and day-use areas were closed amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The Oregonian/OregonLive reports most developed recreation sites will reopen Friday, according to Mount Hood National Forest officials.
Some sites will remain closed, including most campgrounds and areas that are still under seasonal closures.
Officials say some facilities will not be maintained daily, including vault toilets.
Officials urge visitors to be prepared to provide for their own sanitation and be as self-contained as possible.
via Associated Press
Thurston County votes to apply for Phase 2 of reopening
The Thurston County Board of Commissioners unanimously voted Tuesday to send the Washington State Secretary of Health an application to move into Phase 2 of Gov. Jay Inslee’s “Safe Start Washington” plan to reopen the economy.
Thurston County is one of three counties in the state eligible to apply for a variance to move into the next phase to reopen. As of Tuesday morning, a total of 21 counties have been approved to move into Phase 2.
“Moving to Phase 2 does not mean we’re out of the woods,” said Thurston County Health Officer Dr. Diana Yu. “Social distancing and other measures remain extremely important for the safety of our community. However, we do have the capacity needed for expanded testing and contact tracing, and we are moving forward thoughtfully and with caution. We meet Governor Inslee’s requirements to begin Phase 2.”
The Board of County Commissioners Chair, along with the mayors of the cities of Olympia, Lacey, and Yelm, will hold a press conference at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday supporting the decision to apply to move to Phase 2.
DOH: All Washington counties probably will not reopen on June 1
In a blog post, the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) said all counties in the state will probably not be able to safely reopen stores, restaurants, and services when Gov. Jay Inslee’s current “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order expires on May 31.
The DOH said some counties continue to have large numbers of new COIVD-19 cases and will not be in a position to move onto to next phase of reopening.
“We will continue to open slowly and cautiously, making decisions that are driven by public health data and science,” the DOH said in the blog post.
As of Tuesday morning, a total of 21 counties have been approved to move into Phase 2 of reopening: Adams, Asotin, Columbia, Cowlitz, Ferry, Garfield, Grant, Grays Harbor, Island, Jefferson, Lewis, Lincoln, Mason, Pacific, Pend Orielle, San Juan, Skamania, Spokane, Stevens, Wahkiakum, and Whitman.
Three counties - Clallam, Kitsap, and Thurston - are eligible to apply for a variance to move to Phase 2.
Sea-Tac Airport Memorial Day travel
Sea-Tac International Airport projected around 10,000 travelers passed through TSA checkpoints on Memorial Day, according to airport spokesperson Perry Cooper. In comparison, around 57,000 passengers departed from Sea-Tac Airport on Memorial Day in 2019.
Nationwide, 340,769 individuals were screened at TSA checkpoints on Memorial Day, according to TSA Public Affairs spokesperson Lisa Farbstein. In 2019, 2,512,237 people were screen at TSA checkpoints nationwide on Memorial Day.
While the travel and airline industry has taken a massive economic hit due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it appears air travel has started to slowly increase nationwide. A week before Memorial Day on May 18, 244,176 people passed through security checkpoints nationwide, according to the TSA. On Monday, May 11, 215,645 people passed through TSA checkpoints nationwide.
Washington State International Kite Festival up in the air
Organizers of the Washington State International Kite Festival haven't announced whether it will be held this year.
In a Facebook post, organizers said they are waiting for the next announcement from Gov. Jay Inslee’s office before making a decision. Gov. Inslee’s current stay-home order will expire on June 1.
The festival, which draws spectators and famous kite fliers from all around the world, is planned for the third week in August in Long Beach.
Free COVID-19 testing at the Tacoma Dome
Free drive-through COVID-19 testing will continue this week at the Tacoma Dome.
Testing will be available from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. 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.
Some recreational fishing reopens in Washington
After two months of closures because of concerns surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, many of Washington state’s coastal waters are set to reopen for fishing on Tuesday.
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife said marine areas 1-3, including Willapa Bay and Grays Harbor, will open for bottomfish, shellfish, mussels, clams, oysters, and other species. Crabbing on the Columbia River is also set to resume under normal regulations on Tuesday.
Halibut and razor clam harvest will remain closed in these areas for now due to continued port closures and concerns about the spread of coronavirus in local communities.
Parade of classic cars through Bainbridge Island
The annual classic car show on Bainbridge Island will look a little different this year due to social distancing guidelines. Instead of a car show, Tuesday’s event will be a classic car cruise. Dozens of classic cars will form a parade and make their way around “some of the most beautiful streets of Bainbridge Island.”
Tuesday’s event starts at 5:30 p.m. at the Bainbridge First Baptist Church and ends at Gateway Centennial Park. The parade is expected to reach the park around 6:40 p.m., according to the Bainbridge Island Car Show’s website.
Donations benefiting Project Backpack will be collected at the start of the cruise. The non-profit helps provide school supplies, clothes, and assists with school fees for Bainbridge Island students in need.
Tulalip Resort Casino opens Tuesday
The Tulalip Resort Casino will reopen Tuesday at noon with new guidelines to help keep customers safe.
The casino will be limiting the number of people allowed inside, and guests will have to wear masks. Temperatures will also be taken before a guest can enter.
It is one of four casinos to reopen since Gov. Jay Inslee’s “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order went into effect.
Monday, May 25:
Over 40% of employees tested at Vancouver fruit plant have coronavirus
The number of employees at a Vancouver fruit processing facility who have tested positive for COVID-19 is now up to 65, the company said on Monday.
Firestone Pacific Foods said 87 employees have tested negative for the virus, and there are still a few of its employees who need to be tested. The company said there are no known hospitalizations involving its workers.
The outbreak was first discovered on May 17 when an employee tested positive for the coronavirus. After learning of the positive test, the company shut down its production facility, but the number of workers known to be infected with COVID-19 has continued to grow. As of last Friday, May 22, the number of employees who had tested positive was at 38.
The outbreak has had ramifications extending beyond the company. Clark County last week applied to enter Phase 2 of Washington’s reopening plan, but the county's application was put on hold due to the outbreak. There is no timeline for when Clark County might enter the second phase of reopening, which includes the limited reopening of barbershops, salons and restaurants.
Clark County Public Health is working with the plant to get all its roughly 150 employees tested and make sure guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is being followed.
Production at Firestone Pacific Foods will remain halted until May 28, at which point the company hopes to get approval from Clark County Health to reopen.
UW Medicine to furlough an additional 4,000 unionized employees
UW Medicine announced Monday it will move forward to furlough 4,000 unionized employees, in addition to the 1,500 professional and non-union classified staff that were announced last week.
The cuts address a $500 million shortfall caused by the dual hit of lost revenue because of canceled or postponed elective and non-urgent medical procedures and rising costs due to the fight against coronavirus, according to the medical center.
The medical center made the announcement today after concluding impact bargaining with the affected unions.
The temporary furloughs will last between one and eight weeks, according to the medical center.
UW Medicine executive leaders, directors and managers are participating in furloughs along with staff, according to a press release from the medical center.
UW Medicine includes Harborview Medical Center, the two University of Washington Medical Center campuses, UW Neighborhood Clinics, Faculty Practice Plan Services, UW Medicine shared services, and Airlift Northwest.
New coronavirus cases
As of today, there have been 9 new deaths among 237 new reported cases of coronavirus in Washington state.
There has been a total of 1,070 deaths statewide among 20,065 overall cases.
330,598 people in Washington have taken a test for coronavirus and 6.1% of those tests have been positive, according to the state Department of Health.
Since May 18, the new daily death count has been in the single digits.
Garfield County remains the only county that has zero reported cases.
Catholic churches working to reopen across the state
Bishops of Washington state are preparing parishes across the state to reopen.
Guidelines outlining how Catholic churches can safely return to public worship are being reviewed by the office of Gov. Jay Inslee, according to the Washington State Catholic Conference.
"Based on expert guidance from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Thomistic Institute and public health experts, we created practical guidelines outlining how we can safely return to public worship, while ensuring reverence and respect for the Sacred Liturgy of the Mass," a statement from the Catholic Conference reads. "It is our understanding that these are in review with the Governor’s office now. We look forward to his rapid response."
As of May 22, there was no date or determination of size for Mass gatherings.
"It is our hope that our right to responsibly and safely gather for worship will soon be honored so we can collaborate in a manner that respects both our Catholic tradition as well as our civic responsibilities. We eagerly await the Governor’s response to our suggestions on this so we can proceed together with our re-opening plans."
SPU student funding
Seattle Pacific University received a fixed amount of emergency funds to assist with financial difficulty related to COVID-19.
Students who are likely eligible for Title IV funding and were not in an exclusive online program will have access to the online application.
Under law, emergency financial aid grants are for expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to coronavirus.
Examples of eligible expenses may include:
- Increased expenses related to food and/or medical care due to the disruption of campus operations related to COVID-19;
- Unanticipated housing costs related to COVID-19, such as costs incurred if students are forced to move out of dorms or a local apartment and the new housing is more expensive;
- Purchase of additional materials, equipment, or services in order to transition to remote leaning (computer, monitor, internet access, webcam, etc.);
- Increased childcare expenses as a result of COVID-19 (e.g., students can no longer rely on prior childcare arrangements and students need to pay more for alternative childcare).
- Increased or unanticipated travel expenses related to COVID-19, such as airfare to return home; rental truck to move out of dorms; gas or buss pass to commute to job.
Coast Guard Crew returns after testing negative for coronavirus
A Coast Guard crew will return to Port Angeles Tuesday after a 47-day counter-narcotic patrol in the Eastern Pacific Ocean, during which they detained three people who tested positive for coronavirus.
During their patrol, the crew seized more than 2,000 pounds of cocaine, about $37 million, and detained three suspected smugglers about 200 nautical miles off the coast of El Salvador.
One detainee exhibited mild illness, including fever and sore throat.
On May 20, the three people detained were transferred to Department of Justice custody and tested positive for COVID-19.
The Coast Guard crew were all tested. All tests came back negative.
The crew will continue to self-monitor when they return home.
Sunday, May 24:
Memorial Day weekend crowds spark warnings from experts citing coronavirus
The Memorial Day weekend marking the unofficial start of summer in the U.S. meant big crowds at beaches and warnings from authorities Sunday about people disregarding the coronavirus social-distancing rules and risking a resurgence of the scourge that has killed nearly 100,000 Americans.
Sheriff's deputies and beach patrols tried to make sure people kept their distance from others as they soaked up the rays on the sand and at parks and other recreation sites around the country.
On the Sunday talk shows, Dr. Deborah Birx, coordinator of the White House coronavirus task force, said she was "very concerned" about scenes of people crowding together over the weekend.
"We really want to be clear all the time that social distancing is absolutely critical. And if you can't social distance and you're outside, you must wear a mask," she said.
The U.S. is on track to surpass 100,000 coronavirus deaths in the next few days, while Europe has seen over 169,000 dead, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University that almost certainly understates the toll.
The New York Times marked the horror by devoting Sunday's entire front page to a long list of names of those who have died in the United States. The headline: "An Incalculable Loss."
PAWS holding virtual auction starting today to provide essential services to animals
The Progressive Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) will be holding a week-long auction to help raise money for essential services for both animals and the people who take care of them.
The auction is all part of PAWS Wild Week, which runs from Sunday, May 24 to Sunday, May 31.
“Animals don’t know there’s a pandemic,” said PAWS CEO Heidi Wills.
Wills said the need this time of year is great, as it is baby animal season. The annual spring fundraising gala was canceled, which didn’t help matters.
The organization invites supporters to bid on the 100-plus unique items and experiences from the safety and comfort of home.
Due to the online auction platform, PAWS was able to bring in a large variety of items and experiences at all price points.
In an era of social distancing, Zoom chats are being offered with a Seattle Seahawk and even Bart Simpson. There are also items to look forward to after the pandemic, like spa experiences, exotic get-aways, and dinners by award-winning chefs.
Animal-lovers can bid on experiences only available during PAWS Wild Week including joining a wildlife release, a nature walk with a PAWS Naturalist at the University of Washington Seattle campus, and a Kitten ’n’ Kids party at PAWS Cat City in the University District
Bidding started at 10 a.m. on Sunday and runs through 8 p.m. next Sunday, May 31.
Even though the fundraiser just launched, as of 4:20 p.m. on May 24, PAWS raised $31,604 of its $100,000 goal.
PAWS is still offering essential services like appointment-only cat and dog adoptions and rehabilitation of injured wildlife.
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