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Coronavirus in Washington: updates from May 6-8

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

Key facts:

  • More than 1 million total claims for unemployment benefits were filed in Washington state last week.
  • TOTAL: 905 deaths among 16,388 overall cases in Washington state.
  • 235,835 people in Washington have taken a test for coronavirus and 6.9% of those tests have been positive, according to the state Department of Health.

VIEW | Coronavirus coverage on KING 5 

Friday, May 8:

Detainees sue; Positive COVID-19 test at Tacoma detention facility 

Officials have confirmed the first positive COVID-19 test at the Northwest detention center in Tacoma, in a detainee who had previously tested positive at another detention center and was being medically screened on arrival at the immigration jail. 

The development came just as immigrant rights advocates were going to court again in an attempt to free medically vulnerable detainees before any outbreak there. 

In a court filing in a separate case Friday, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said a detainee tested positive during a medical intake screening and will remain medically segregated for two weeks. The agency said that according to the Pierce County health department, the detainee has recovered and is no longer infectious.

Washington making progress on reopening the economy, some smaller counties approved to move on to phase 2 of reopening

Governor Jay Inslee said Friday that progress is being made in Washington as the state moves through the first phases of reopening the economy, and some counties are being allowed to move on to phase 2.

The governor’s “Safe Start” plan involves four phases of reopening. The state is currently in phase 1, which allows low-risk construction to resume, some outdoor recreation including fishing, hunting, golfing, and park access. The first phase also allows some businesses to reopen, such as car washes, vehicle and boat sales, and drive-in religious services are also allowed to resume.

On Friday, Gov. Inslee said retail stores can also start to reopen under phase 1 for curbside pick-up orders. Specific guidelines for the retail industry is expected to be released Friday afternoon. Landscaping and pet walking is also expected to resume soon under phase 1 in Washington.

Some smaller counties in Washington were approved on Friday to move onto phase 2 of the governor’s “Safe Start” plan.

The Washington State Secretary of Health John Wiesman approved the applications from Columbia, Garfield, Lincoln, Ferry, and Pend Oreille counties to head onto the next phase.

“We recognize COVID-19 is impacting some parts of our state in different ways and some counties will be ready to move forward earlier than others,” Secretary Wiesman said. “While recognizing that reality, we set cautious, thorough requirements for counties that want to apply for a variance. Each of the counties approved to enter Phase 2 has demonstrated strong planning and capability in the areas necessary to protect public health in their communities.”

To apply for a variance, counties must have a population of less than 75,000 and no new cases of COVID-19 in the last three weeks. Kittitas, Skamania, and Wahkiakum Counties have applied for a variance and their applications are under review, according to officials.

RELATED: Five Washington counties will move to second phase of reopening before state

Watch the governor's full press conference:

Coronavirus deaths in Washington state top 900

The Washington Department of Health is reporting 14 new deaths from coronavirus as of Friday afternoon. The total number of deaths is now at 905 among 16,338 cases statewide. 

A total of 235,835 people have gotten tested for the coronavirus in Washington state and of those, 6.9% of the tests came back positive.

Immunizations in Washington state have decreased dramatically during coronavirus pandemic

Washington state health officials are worried because fewer children are getting immunized during the coronavirus pandemic, raising the potential for outbreaks of other diseases like measles.

On Friday authorities said providers in Washington's Childhood Vaccine Program reported they administered 30% fewer vaccines to 0- to 18-year-olds in March of this year compared with the same month in previous years. In April, there was a 42% decrease, according to preliminary reports.  

RELATED: Concerns about kids not getting medical care amid coronavirus outbreak

Washington state receives thousands of coronavirus testing materials 

Governor Jay Inslee on Friday said the state is making significant progress in getting collection materials to help test for the novel coronavirus, which causes the respiratory illness COVID-19.

He said the state has received its first shipment of 37,000 swabs of collection materials for testing from the federal government. The state is expected to get another 60,000 swabs next week.

After that, the governor said the state should get weekly shipments of the testing materials, which he said will be crucial as the state slowly continues reopening and the need for testing becomes greater.

Gov. Inslee also said he is in talks with the Federal Drug Administration to validate at-home testing kits.

Positive coronavirus cases peaked in March, UW says

Positive results at the UW Medicine Virology Lab from outpatient and emergency room testing peaked in late March, according to UW Medicine.

The Virology lab, alongside Fred Hutchison Cancer Research Center, analyzed positivity rates for specimens received from 10 counties and Seattle-area emergency departments. Partient samples were from March 1 to April 16.

The peak in positive results occurred around March 28-29.

Researchers note the peak and decline appear to align with social distancing.

SPS receives 8,200 laptops for students

All 8,200 laptops donated by Amazon were delivered to Seattle Public Schools Friday, according to the district.

Amazon previously announced it would donate the laptops to help students continue to learn at home while schools are closed during the coronavirus pandemic. 

Most of the laptops were shipped directly to elementary school families who need computers for remote learning. Students will keep the laptops.

With the donation, SPS said it will prioritize and distribute district laptops to high school and middle school students. 

The donation, which is valued at over $2 million, kicks off a new “Education Equity Fund” created by the Alliance for Education and SPS. The fund will “support students furthest from educational justice in accessing the technology, technical support and additional learning resources required to continue to learn during the COVID-19 crisis.”

More than $4.8 billion in stimulus checks paid out in Washington

More than $4.8 billion in stimulus checks have been disbursed to more than 2 million Washington state residents, the IRS announced Friday, May 8.

 “We are working hard to continue delivering these payments to Americans who need them,” said IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig. “The vast majority of payments have been delivered in record time, and millions more are on the way every week. We encourage people to visit IRS.gov for the latest information, FAQs and updates on the payments.”

RELATED: These are the best ways to use your stimulus check

Approximately 130 million Americans have received payments worth ore than $200 billion in the program's first four weeks.

According the IRS, 2,856,962 Washingtonians have received a total of $4,875,983,730.

Gov. Inslee to discuss state's phased reopening plan

Gov. Jay Inslee will discuss the phased approach to reopening Washington state's economy and provide an update on contact tracing Friday afternoon at 2:30 p.m.

The state is taking a four-phased approach to reopening the economy. 

The first phase went into effect May 5 and included reopening of some businesses and public land.

The second phase is expected to start June 1 and would allow more recreation, small group gatherings, and more businesses to reopen.

RELATED: What's allowed during Washington's reopening? Here are the four phases

Snoqualmie Falls observation decks reopening

The upper observation decks at Snoqualmie Falls are reopening Friday, May 8, according to the Snoqualmie Falls Facebook page.

The lower observation decks and restrooms will remain closed. 

Snoqualmie Falls Park generally follows the guidance for state parks. 

Car wash businesses can now reopen after state issues safety and health guidelines

Drivers can now get their cars washed professionally starting Friday, after the state issued guidelines for safe operations and social distancing this week.

Car wash operations include: 

  • Automated, tunnel, self-serve, and brushless washes;
  • Automotive detailing services and washes performed on vehicle sales lots;
  • Truck and bus washes;
  • Vacuum services; and
  • Affiliated outdoor retail kiosks.

Safety measures include screening employees for illness, maintaining six feet of distance between employees and customers and requiring employees to wear face coverings. A full list of safety measures are available on the governor's website.

Car washes are among the businesses in the state's phase 1 of its four-phase reopening.

Major Seattle parks to close at 8 p.m.

Seattle's major city parks will be closed nightly at 8 p.m. starting Friday, May 8, and will last the duration of the state's stay-at-home order. Park staff will remind visitors to keep walking and not linger in order to continue social distancing.  

The major parks with adjusted hours will include: Alki, Cal Anderson, Carkeek, Discovery, Gas Works, Golden Gardens, Green Lake, Kubota Garden, Magnuson, Seward, Lincoln, Volunteer, Washington Park Arboretum, West Seattle Stadium, Myrtle Edwards, Judkins, and Woodland parks. Many of the parks normally close at 10 p.m.

RELATED: No bonfires: Major Seattle parks to close at 8 p.m. during stay-home order

Thursday, May 7:

Tribal casino plans to reopen in Washington state

Angel of The Winds casino, near Arlington, Washington, plans to reopen May 13 at 3 p.m.

The casino will only operate at about 50% of capacity. Gamblers will have their temperatures checked before they enter and will wear masks when inside. Only baccarat and slot machines will be open, for now. There will be no sitting at the bar and no smoking. Plexiglas will separate people at cash and food stations, and patrons will be expected to practice social distancing measures such as staying six feet away from each other.

The Stillaguamish tribe, as a sovereign nation, is not subject to state laws.

RELATED: Angel of the Winds casino gambles on reopening

Washington aims to clear 265,000-unemployment claim backlog by June

Washington state hopes to clear its backlog of 265,000 initial unemployment claims that have not received pay by mid-June.

Employment Security Department (ESD) Commissioner Suzi LeVine said on a conference call Thursday that the department hopes to get “really substantial momentum” through the backlog within the next two weeks.

RELATED: Washington aims to clear 265,000-unemployment claim backlog by June

New Washington state coronavirus numbers

The Washington Department of Health is reporting 21 new deaths from coronavirus as of Thursday afternoon. The total number of deaths is now at 891 among 16,231 cases statewide. 

A total of 230,680 people have gotten tested for the coronavirus in Washington state and of those, 7% of the tests came back positive.

Seattle officials say that 'new normal' includes permanent pedestrian-only streets

Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan said the Seattle's effort to create more pedestrian and bicycle space during the coronavirus crisis is here to stay.

Durkan said at a press conference Thursday that the city's "Stay Healthy Streets" initiative that reserved 23 miles of neighborhoods streets for bicycles and pedestrians will be permanent.

"People have more ways to get out safely and get out and walk and bike," Durkan said.

The streets were selected to create outdoor exercise opportunities in neighborhoods with limited open space options, low car ownership and routes connecting people to essential services and food take out.

"We also know there are projects that we need to continue or accelerate and invest in the city we want to be when we come out of this. That includes a range of programs both those that help people that are most in need as well as those programs that help our public realm and our public infrastructure” Durkan said.

Durkan was joined by Seattle Department of Transportation Director Sam Zimbabwe and Seattle Parks and Recreation Superintendent Jesus Aguirre for updates on city streets and city parks.

Zimbabwe echoed Durkan's sentiments about moving forward with projects focusing on pedestrian safety and access.

  • Continuing the development of city bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure.
  • Adding three miles to the "Stay Healthy Streets" initiative, in Rainier Valley and near Alki Beach.
  • Changing the city's traffic signals so pedestrians will have less time to wait near intersections to cross the street.

Aguirre also gave an update on Seattle parks, which remain closed to gatherings but open for walking and bicycling through.

He also said that major parks will be closed nightly at 8 p.m. through the stay-at-home order to prevent gatherings, such as picnics and bonfires. These parks include: Alki, Cal Anderson, Carkeek, Discovery, Gas Works, Golden Gardens, Green Lake, Kubota, Magnusen, Seward Park, Lincoln, Volunteer Park, Washington Park Arboretum, West Seattle Stadium, Myrtle Edwards, Judkins and Woodland parks.

Parks staff will be monitoring the parks, he said.

Durkan said that Seattleites were "smart enough" to know to continue with social distancing measures.

"We really need Seattle to be smart. We don’t want to be those people that we see by the thousands storming the beaches in Florida or Southern California," she said. "Crowded parks will become closed parks."

Watch the entire briefing here:

Construction on Seattle's Colman Dock resumes

Construction at the Washington State Ferries Colman Dock in Seattle resumed this week, following Governor Jay Inslee's decision that low-risk construction can start again as long as health safety protocols are followed.

Those protocols include having a site-specific COVID-19 supervisor, providing COVID-19 safety training to explain the protective measures in place for all workers, conducting health screenings for workers at the beginning of shifts, and ensuring workers have personal protective equipment. Workers must also stay six feet apart for social distancing rules. 

Officials say the low-risk work resuming at Colman Dock involved welding, installing pipe, building falsework, and preparing for painting. 

Washington state secures more than $4 million to address mental health needs during coronavirus pandemic

The Washington State Health Care Authority (HCA) says it secured more than $4 million in federal funding to address the recent increase in behavioral health service needs due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The HCA received two grants through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

A $2.2 million Crisis Counseling Assistance and Training Program grant will help HCA roll out a program called “Washington Listens” that helps reach people who are affected by the stress of the pandemic. The statewide program will give people an outlet for their current stressors and provide referrals to services. The grant will also fund a support line and 120 counselors and team leaders, according to a release from the state.

The other $2 million emergency behavioral health treatment grant will increase substance use disorder and mental health treatment for individuals who don’t have health care coverage or whose coverage doesn’t meet their treatment needs.

“This is a time of great stress, uncertainty and isolation, and we must ensure that the well-being of Washingtonians is addressed. That includes making sure they can get the mental health counseling and substance use disorder treatment they need,” Gov. Jay Inslee said. “These new resources will help meet the needs of residents as we all navigate this unprecedented, challenging time.”

Washington state unemployment claims

There were more than 1 million total claims for unemployment benefits filed in Washington state last week, according to the Employment Security Department (ESD).

During the week of April 26-May 2, ESD said it received 100,762 initial claims and 1,086,031 total claims for unemployment benefits. That is a decrease of 36,842 (26.8%) initial claims over the previous week.

EDS said it paid out more than $639 million to a total of 504,139 people last week. In the past nine weeks, EDS has paid nearly $2.14 billion in unemployment benefits to Washingtonians.

RELATED: Initial unemployment claims decreased in Washington state in last week of April

Snohomish County company switches to making PPE for healthcare workers

A Snohomish County company is forgoing manufacturing its usual products and instead is making personal protective equipment (PPE) for medical workers.

Wizard International, based out of Mukilteo, typically manufactures picture framing equipment but is now developing face shields. The company donated its first 200 face shields to Snohomish County for distribution to healthcare workers and first responders.

Snohomish County officials say it’s been difficult to get consistent supplies of PPE since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in February, which is why having local companies pitch in is making all the difference.

“Wizard International’s efforts, along with many other companies in our community, showcase the ingenuity of local businesses and show how our region is coming together to help each other. We are working hard to build local capacity for the long-term," said Jason Biermann, Director of Snohomish County’s Department of Emergency Management. 

Wizard International based the design of its face shields on a blueprint approved by the National Institutes of Health.

Washingtonians donate $1 million to WA Food Fund

Washingtonians are answering the call to help their neighbors battling hunger during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the past four weeks, more than $1 million in individual donations have been made to the WA Food Fund, a statewide relief effort to keep food banks and pantries stocked during the coronavirus pandemic. Corporate and private foundations have donated an additional $2.3 million to the fund.

However, Philanthropy Northwest CEO Kiran Ahuja said the state is projected to need $11 million over the next two weeks to fill the gaps in funding. Officials said more than 2 million Washington residents currently need food assistance.

“We’re incredibly grateful to the organizations and individuals who have donated so far - and in the coming weeks, we urge our corporate and philanthropic neighbors and community members to contribute if we’re going to ensure there is food on every table,” said Ahuja.

Click here to donate to the WA Food Fund.

Air Force to salute Puget Sound health care workers Friday

The Air Force will salute health care workers in the Puget Sound region with a flyover Friday afternoon.

Two C-17 Globemaster III aircraft will take off from Joint Base Lewis McCord at 12:30 p.m. and fly over “30 health facilities and areas of interest in the Puget Sound region.”

RELATED: Air Force's Puget Sound flyover to salute those at forefront of pandemic

MultiCare Furloughs 6,000 employees

The MultiCare Health System announced plans to furlough 6,000 employees as part of an effort to “support the organization’s viability and financial health in the near and long term.”

MultiCare said employees will be furloughed for 17 shifts between May 10, 2020, and January 2, 2021, which is equivalent to one shift per pay period.

“The goal of these difficult decisions is to ensure that we can return to a solid fiscal position," said Bill Robertson, President and CEO of MultiCare. "So that we may continue in our mission of partnering for healing and a healthy future — and remain the long-term health care partner the communities we serve require us to be.”

MultiCare said it estimated around $160 million in financial losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Click here for more.

Snohomish Farmers Market opens Thursday

The Snohomish Farmers Market will reopen Thursday with some changes in place, including a venue switch to Stocker Farms. 

The new location will allow vendors to set up their booths 10 feet apart and also helps avoid some construction obstacles downtown.

People attending the farmers market will see one-way signs in and out and will be asked to use a handwashing station before entering. Guests are also asked to follow social distancing guidelines by standing 6-feet apart from others.

The farmers market is open to the public from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. A special shopping time from 2:30 p.m. to 3 p.m. is available for high-risk or elderly guests.

RELATED: Snohomish Farmers Market reopens Thursday in new location

FDA approves coronavirus vaccine candidate to begin phase 2 trial 

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has given Moderna approval to start phase 2 trials for its experimental coronavirus vaccine.

The company announced Thursday that it's planning to have 600 participants in the phase 2 study, which it expects to begin "shortly." It's also finalizing the protocol for phase 3, "which is expected to begin in the early summer of 2020." 

Moderna's CEO, Stephane Bancel, described the start of phase 2 trials as "a crucial step forward."

RELATED: FDA approves coronavirus vaccine candidate to begin phase 2 trial

Washington COVID-19 Risk Assessment Dashboard

Last week Gov. Jay Inslee said the state will evaluate opening up in phases based on several factors like COVID-19 disease activity in Washington, testing capacity and availability, the readiness of the health care system, and the risk to vulnerable populations.

The status of these factors is published on that state’s COVID-19 Risk Assessment Dashboard and updated weekly on Wednesdays.

The update from May 6 shows the highest risk on the dashboard is the state’s COVID-19 testing availability. The lowest risks on the dashboard were the disease activity in the state and the readiness of the health care system.

Click here to see the full COVID-19 Risk Assessment Dashboard.

Many coronavirus deaths in Washington linked to long-term care facilities

More than 60% of coronavirus deaths in Washington state are linked to long-term care facilities. 

The state’s COVID-19 response team released information Wednesday showing there were 507 deaths tied to such facilities as of May 2, accounting for 61% of virus fatalities in the state at the time. There were 2,894 positive cases associated with care facilities, representing 19% of total cases as of last week. 

Nursing homes have been particularly hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic and the nation’s first deadly cluster of COVID-19 cases happened at the Life Care Center of Kirkland, where more than 40 people died.

33 million have sought US unemployment aid since virus hit

Nearly 3.2 million laid-off workers applied for unemployment benefits last week as the business shutdowns caused by the viral outbreak deepened the worst U.S. economic catastrophe in decades.

Roughly 33.5 million people have now filed for jobless aid in the seven weeks since the coronavirus began forcing millions of companies to close their doors and slash their workforces.

That is the equivalent of one in five Americans who had been employed back in February when the unemployment rate had reached a 50-year low of just 3.5%. 

RELATED: 33 million applied for US unemployment aid since coronavirus hit

CARES Act funds for Pierce County

The Pierce County Council pushed through an emergency resolution this week to distribute $158 million in coronavirus relief funds from the Federal CARES Act. 

The largest chunk of money will go to public health efforts, including COVID-19 testing and contact tracing. The remainder of the funds will be spread out among three other areas: economic stabilization, community response, and government funding.

In addition, $23 million will remain in a reserve fund with the flexibility to be distributed to areas that need it.

RELATED: $158 million in coronavirus relief money approved to aid Pierce County

Wednesday, May 6:

Walla Walla County health officials retract claims of coronavirus parties

Walla Walla County health officials are now walking back their claims that people in the county were holding "coronavirus parties" in an attempt to contract the disease.

County health officials had previously said they knew of multiple instances of people hosting these parties, thinking they would be infected with the disease then develop immunity. 

The health department released the following statement Wednesday night: 

"I formally call back my interview today. After receiving further information, we have discovered that there were not intentional covid parties. Just innocent endeavors. Please recall my interview."

RELATED: 'Just innocent endeavors': Walla Walla County health officials retract claims of coronavirus parties

Customers can now pick-up pre-mixed cocktails during coronavirus pandemic

The Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board announced Wednesday restaurants with a "Spirits, Beer, and Wine (S/B/W)" license can sell pre-mixed cocktails to-go during the coronavirus stay-at-home order. 

There are several restrictions in place, though, to ensure people are not drinking and driving. 

People ordering a cocktail to go must also order a complete meal, cocktails need to be in a container with a secure lid or cap to prevent consumption without the removal of the lid or cap, and pre-mixed cocktails must be placed in the trunk of the vehicle or in a place where the driver can't reach it. Read more about the guidelines, here.

RELATED: Washingtonians can now get cocktails to-go during coronavirus pandemic

New coronavirus numbers in Washington state 

The Washington State Department of Health reported 870 deaths from coronavirus as of Wednesday afternoon among 15,905 total cases. 

There were eight new deaths on Wednesday and 311 new cases, according to the Department of Health. A total of 224,813 people in Washington have taken a test for coronavirus and 7.1% of those tests have been positive, according to the state Department of Health.

Large-scale antibody testing could come to Washington

Gov. Jay Inslee says state officials are reviewing the possibility of using antibody testing to retroactively measure the spread of the coronavirus. 

Inslee said Tuesday state officials had been talking with manufacturer Abbott Laboratories, Inc, “about the potential of expanding large-scale surveillance antibody testing in the state.” KUOW reports, however, that Inslee said the testing would not be used to clear those who test positive to return to work. 

He cited conventional scientific wisdom that the protective qualities of Covid-19 antibodies remain undetermined. He said the testing could be used as a surveillance tool to show what the presence of the disease really is. 

New Senate committee formed to address economic recovery

The Washington Senate has formed a bipartisan special committee to recommend legislation to address long-term economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic. 

The Senate Facilities and Operations Committee voted Wednesday to officially form the committee, which will be comprised of four Democrats and three Republicans.

Democratic Sen. David Frockt will serve as the committee’s chair and Republican Senator Randi Becker will serve as vice chair. The committee will hold its first meeting in June. 

Skagit County Fair canceled this year due to coronavirus 

The Skagit County Fair has been canceled this year due the ongoing coronavirus pandemic in Washington state. The fair was originally scheduled for August 12-15, 2020. 

“Our hearts go out to all those who depend on the Fair for their livelihood, showmanship and entertainment,” said Skagit County Fair Manager Aric Gaither. “The Skagit County Fair has been a flagship event in our community for more than 120 years, and rest assured that following this year, the event will be with us for 120 more.”

The Skagit County Parks, Recreation & Fair officials hope to bring events back to the fairgrounds as soon as state and local leaders determine large events are allowed. 

Clallam County leaders seek early reopening 

Lawmakers from Clallam County are asking Gov. Jay Inslee to extend the same opportunities to reopen that other, smaller counties are receiving. 

Sen. Kevin Van De Wege and Reps Steve Tharinger and Mike Chapman sent a letter to Inslee pointing out that Clallam County has seen few coronavirus cases and that small businesses are better "prepared to implement safe social distancing" than larger businesses. 

Under Inslee's current plan, smaller counties can apply for a variance from the order which would allow them to open even more businesses than allowed statewide. Those counties include Grays Harbor and Jefferson counties. 

Under Inslee's plan to reopen the state, some businesses began opening Tuesday. Phase 1 includes existing construction that meets the state's criteria, landscaping, auto dealerships, retail stores with curbside pickup only, car washes, and pet walkers. 

Process of reopening Washington's National Forest begins

The U.S. Forest Service says it aims to lift more closures at many national forest trailheads and recreation sites by late May in Washington state. 

The Forest Service will remain aligned with Gov. Jay Inslee's stay-home orders and the four-phase approach to reopening the state

Across Washington and Oregon, forest services roads and trails are reopening, with hunting and fishing being allowed in undeveloped areas on forest land and if the area isn't affected by a closure. It aligns with state lands partially reopening on May 5. 

The agency will conduct a review of its developed recreation sites in the coming weeks and could lift closures there by the end of the month. Many of the sites were closed during the winter, with work being delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

"We want to take deliberate actions which consider community impacts and the safety of our employees and volunteers before we make the decision to reopen each location," said Glenn Casamassa, regional forester for the Pacific Northwest Region of the Forest Service.

Nordstrom closing 16 stores 

Citing "rapidly changing customer expectations" that are "only accelerating" due to the coronavirus pandemic, Nordstrom announced it will close 16 full-line stores as it positions itself for the long-term, the company announced Tuesday, May 5.

Nordstrom CEO Erik Nordstrom said in a statement the company needs to work on "flexibility and speed."

The company did not disclose which of its 116 full-line stores will close in the statement.

"Our market strategy helps with both, bringing inventory closer to where customers live and work, allowing us to use our stores as fulfillment centers to get products to customers faster, and connecting digital and physical experiences with services like curbside pickup and returns," he added.

Nordstrom is also restructuring its regions, support roles, and corporate organization. It will save the company about $150 million. 

Nordstrom's physical stores have been closed since March 17 as part of the effort to slow the spread of coronavirus. The company plans to reopen the stores in phases and where allowed by local authorities.

People holding coronavirus parties in southeast Washington 

Walla Walla health officials said some people are intentionally flouting health recommendations by exposing themselves and others to COVID-19.

Walla Walla County's director of the Department of Community Health, Meghan DeBolt, told the Union-Bulletin this week that contact tracing has revealed that some are attending parties with the idea that it is better to get sick with the virus and get it over with.

DeBolt said new positive test results in the county have resulted from such gatherings. She called the parties irresponsible.

As of Tuesday, there was one death and 94 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Walla Walla County. Forty people have recovered from the virus, according to the county’s Department of Community Health.

Tyson beef plant in Wallula reopens after 12 day closure

A Tyson Fresh Meats beef plant in eastern Washington state has reopened with limited production of beef, after closing 12 days ago to test workers for the new coronavirus

Tyson said Tuesday that nearly 12% of workers tested had COVID-19, not counting 38 pending test results.The Tri-City Herald reported there have been 147 positive test results out of 1,239 returned so far, plus at least 104 workers diagnosed with COVID-19 before testing began.

The plant, located near Pasco, Washington, has more than 1,400 workers. Two workers who live in the Tri-Cities have died of complications of COVID-19, according to the Benton Franklin Health District.

2020 Evergreen State Fair canceled

The 2020 Evergreen State Fair in Monroe due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The annual tradition was scheduled for August 27 – September 7, 2020.

This is the first time the Evergreen State Fair has been canceled since World War II. The fair was also canceled for three years during the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918.

“Cancelling the Fair and many of the year-round events hosted at the Fair Park is having a significant economic impact on the park and county budget. We realize this decision will have an economic impact on our Fair participants and local businesses who depend on the Fair for their livelihood. Our overriding goal is to save lives and keep our community healthy. We are developing ideas to be creative with exhibits, competitions, and entertainment to keep our cherished Fair family and community connected,” Jeremy Husby, Division Manager, Evergreen State Fair Park, said in a statement.

Click here for more information.

COVID-19 cases in the US, Washington state

There have been 1.2 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the U.S. as of 4:30 a.m. Wednesday, according to Johns Hopkins University. There have been more than 71,000 deaths and nearly 190,000 people recovered.

There have been 862 deaths among 15,594 total cases of COVID-19 in Washington, according to the state Department of Health.

Worldwide, there have been 3.68 million confirmed cases with 257,000 deaths, and nearly 1.2 million recovered.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death.

Republican state lawmakers to file lawsuit to end stay-home order

Several Republican state lawmakers plan to file a federal lawsuit in Pierce County targeting Gov. Jay Inslee's stay at home order. The lawmakers want to abolish it and reopen businesses.

The lawsuit argues that the governor's orders are unconstitutional and too broad.

"There's not an emergency in Washington anymore. That's actually great news and it's ridiculous that the governor is continuing over the course he's on," said attorney Joel Ard. "This is not a disease that affects the youth of this state. No one under 20 has died from it. It doesn't even really people under 60 unless they're already really sick.”

Ard argued that the governor's order should be targeted toward those at most risk.

READ MORE: Group of Republican state lawmakers sue Gov. Jay Inslee to end stay-home order

NYC's subways shut down for virus cleaning 

It was the sounds of silence in New York City’s subway system, as the normally round-the-clock system shut down for train cleaning.

The trains, which had been running on a reduced schedule since late March, were scheduled to stop from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. Wednesday. That's going to be the new daily routine, to allow for daily cleanings and for city workers to move homeless people who have been more visible in subway cars during the coronavirus.

The New York Police Department has assigned more than 1,000 officers to secure many of the system’s 472 stations, as fewer than 200 can be physically locked up.

Find previous daily coronavirus updates here

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