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Coronavirus updates for Washington: June 22-23

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

Editor’s note: This story shows updates about the coronavirus outbreak in Washington state from June 22-23, 2020.

Click here for the latest updates from KING 5.

Key facts:

  • Masks are mandated in public areas throughout Washington state as of June 26.
  • 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.

VIEW | More coronavirus coverage from KING 5

Tuesday, June 23:

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 

Face coverings will be mandatory in public and indoors, and outdoors when it’s impossible to maintain 6 feet of physical distance from others.

It will be in effect on Friday, June 26.

Gov. Jay 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."

The masks have become necessary to mandate because as the state has reopened, coronavirus has continued to spread, he said.

While Inslee cited the outbreak in Yakima County, which has run out of hospital beds for COVID-19 patients, but he said that the spread of coronavirus continues throughout all parts of Washington state.

Exceptions include those who have health issues impacted by face coverings, those who are deaf or hard of hearing and children under the age of 5, and when it's impractical, such as when eating in public. Children aged 2 or under should not wear a face mask.

Dr. John Wiesman, the state's secretary of health, said that he worries that people have been letting their guards down.

"I share the governor’s concern that with us reopening some parts of our businesses and economy and with the weather being great that people have forgotten that we actually have a pandemic that we need to keep practicing these things," he said. "This is part of what different, our different life right now, while the COVID virus is around. We simply have to take these different measures right now."

Inslee said that the state doesn't anticipate enforcing it, though that is an option under the state order.

"We don’t want to have enforcement of this. Ideally, there won’t be any criminal or civil sanctions for individuals. We just think people will respond, as they had to the first stay home order. There was vast compliance," he said. "People pitched in. Washingtonians want to help each other. They have a commonality of purpose and I think they understand science too. The science now is very compelling that this works."

Inslee was joined by Wiesman, Guenther, Craig Jelinek, CEO of Costco, Faye Guenther, president of UFCW 21 and Dr. John Lynch of Harborview Medical Center.

The press conference is available here:

RELATED: Washington state mandates face coverings to slow spread of coronavirus

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.

Seattle Aquarium to reopen June 29

The Seattle Aquarium announced Tuesday it would reopen to the public on June 29 after being closed for months to help slow the spread of COVID-19.

The aquarium experience will be different for visitors when the doors reopen. Guests will need to purchase tickets online for a specific day and entry time.

All visitors, staff, and volunteers will also be required to wear a face mask that covers your nose and mouth “for the protection of humans and animals alike.” Children under the age of 2 and visitors who are medically unable to wear a mask are exempt from wearing a face covering.

The aquarium will reopen at 15% capacity, and a one-way path will be in place to help with social distancing measures.

Tide pools will have animals, but guests will not be able to touch the animals when the aquarium first reopens. Water fountains will also be covered, and limited food and beverage service will begin later in July.

Click here for more information.

Kittitas County approved for Phase 3 of reopening

Kittitas County was approved to move to Phase 3 of Gov. Jay Inslee’s “Safe Start” plan to reopen the economy on Tuesday.

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

As of Tuesday morning, three counties were in Phase 1, two counties were in a modified Phase 1, 18 counties were in Phase 2, and 16 counties were in Phase 3.

The Washington State Department of Health said Kitsap and Thurston counties have applied to move from Phase 2 to Phase 3, and Cowlitz and Walla Walla counties have applied to move from Phase 2 to a modified version of Phase 3.

The applications for Benton and Franklin counties to move from Phase 1 to Phase 2 are currently on pause.

The Kittitas County Public Health Department said while there is excitement to be able to resume some activities, residents should proceed with caution.

“While our incidence of disease remains low, we are very close to jurisdictions with very high rates of illness and hospitalization,” the department said in a statement. “Maintaining safety at Phase 3 is the true test as to our recovery from this pandemic. It is more important than ever to continue protecting yourself and others so that we can continue to move forward.”

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

King County libraries to launch Curbside to Go

The King County Library System (KCLS) will launch a Curbside to Go service on July 1 for residents to held items during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The service will be reserved for items put on hold before library closure began from July 1-15. KCLS said an email will be sent when holds are available for pickup.

After July 15, patrons can place new holds for pickup, or select a “genre bag” that contains five surprise titles.

Guests can use the Curbside to Go service by making an appointment on the myLIBRO mobile app or calling the library in advance. The service is also available by walking up to the library without making an appointment and speaking to a staff member through a glass door.

All materials must be returned through the manual book drop. Returned items will be quarantined and remain on the patron’s account for a minimum of three days before being checked in. KCLS said any fines accrued during the quarantine time will be waived.

Click here for more information.

Seattle Goodwill reopening locations

Seattle Goodwill will reopen its Ballard, Edmonds, Renton, and S. Everett stores on Friday, June 26.

The stores will open at 10 a.m., and donations will be accepted at the reopened locations starting July 3.

Monday, June 22:

Pierce County allocates $5 million for PPE in K-12 schools

Pierce County has directed $5 million of CARES Act funding to provide Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for K-12 schools in the county.

This is the county's largest allocation to date. 

The allocations also include $2 million for expanding the PPE distribution effort for small and medium-sized businesses. The county has already held 12 distribution events throughout the region, with plans to extend the initiative.

Nearly $9.7 million was allocated this week for public health emergency responses like contact tracing, PPE for schools and economic stability.

“School may be out for the summer, but we are already thinking about the next school year,” said County Executive Bruce Dammeier. “These resources will help local schools provide our kids a quality education in a safe environment, which is critically important to all of us.”

Surging US virus cases raise fear that progress is slipping

Alarming surges in coronavirus cases across the U.S. South and West are raising fears that the outbreak is spiraling out of control. 

There's also concern that hard-won progress against the scourge is slipping away because of resistance among many Americans to wearing masks and keeping their distance from others. 

Cases surpassed 100,000 in Florida on Monday. Hospitalizations are rising dramatically in Houston. And more than 20% of those tested in Arizona were positive for COVID-19. 

An Associated Press analysis of data compiled by Johns Hopkins University finds that new cases are up to more than 26,000 a day. That compares to about 21,000 a day two weeks ago.

Guidelines for resuming high school sports released

The Washington State Interscholastic Activities Association (WIAA) released guidelines Monday for high school sports to resume practice and competition.

In Phase 2, workouts are limited to groups of five or fewer students, and players must keep 6 feet of distance. Players should not share or touch the same ball or equipment. For example, a basketball player can shoot hoops, but a team can’t bass the ball amongst themselves.

In Phase 3, lower risk sports practices and competitions can resume. These include individual sports, such as individual running or throwing events, swimming, golf and weightlifting. Competition must remain local.

In Phase 4, moderate risk sports can resume practices and competitions. These include basketball, soccer, swimming relays and 7 on 7 football. Several other moderate risk sports that could be considered lower risk sports with cleaning and masks include baseball, volleyball, tennis, gymnastics and several track events. If spectators are allowed, they must social distance.

Football, wrestling and cheer with stunting are all considered higher risk sports.

New Washington cases

  • 6 new deaths and 190 new cases reported Monday in Washington.
  • TOTAL: 1,276 deaths among 28,870 overall cases in Washington state.
  • 477,204 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.

More free days for state parks

The Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission announced two more free state park days to make up for days lost during coronavirus closures in April.

The two new free days will be on Sept. 13 to celebrate Girl Scouts Love State Parks Weekend and Oct. 10 to recognize World Mental Health Day.

A one-day pass to Washington state parks typically costs $10, and an annual Discover Pass costs $30.

Virginia Mason staffers test positive for COVID-19

A Seattle hospital says four staff members who have tested positive for COVID-19 work in or near the facility’s operating rooms. 

The Seattle Times reported a spokesperson for Virginia Mason Medical Center confirmed the positive tests occurred within the last week. 

After three employees tested positive for the coronavirus, surveillance testing of more than 650 other staff members discovered one additional employee had developed COVID-19. Media-relations Manager Gale Robinette says staff members who tested positive have been treated and will remain at home for at least two weeks in accordance with Centers of Disease Control and Prevention guidelines.

Unemployment calls to be restricted for one week

The Employment Security Department (ESD), which handles unemployment claims in Washington, will restrict incoming calls from June 24 to July 2 to clear up backlogged claims. 

During that week, agents will prioritize outgoing calls to resolve "complex" issues for people who have been waiting the longest for benefits, according to ESD.

The agency also said restricting calls will free up staff to process simple claims.

During the restriction, customers can still apply for benefits and file weekly claims online or using the automated phone system at 800-318-6022.

King County Metro to restore at least 23 bus routes Monday

King County Metro plans to restore service on dozens of bus routes and increase water taxi service starting Monday, June 22, following months of reduced ridership due to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. It will also partially restore the Via to Transit pilot.

The change will restore 23 bus routes that were canceled in March and April due to the pandemic and will also add trips to other routes, according to a blog post from King County Metro. 

Metro said it will operate more than 11,000-weekday bus trips, or 85% of its pre-COVID-19 service level. Weekend trips will also be increased. Saturday service will be 8,200 trips (99%) and Sunday service will be 7,000 trips (99%). 

MORE: King County Metro to restore at least 23 bus routes starting Monday

Washington DOL offices to reopen for appointments only starting Monday 

The Washington Department of Licensing (DOL) will begin reopening some of its offices for appointments only on Monday, June 22, following months-long closures to help slow the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). 

The DOL closed its offices on March 31 in response to the pandemic and moved several of its services online.

While some locations will reopen next week, the DOL is still recommending customers handle as much of their business online as they can. 

RELATED: Washington Department of Licensing offices to reopen for appointments only starting Monday

Governor Inslee to mandate face masks in public in Yakima County to help limit spread of COVID-19

Gov. Jay Inslee said he will mandate people in Yakima County to wear face masks to help limit the spread of coronavirus. Businesses will also be required to turn away customers who are not wearing masks. 

“This is a legal requirement, not just a suggestion,” said Gov. Inslee during a press briefing Saturday.

The governor’s order will be established in the coming days to give county leaders time to plan. The order is in response to Yakima County having the second-highest total of coronavirus cases in the state after the much larger King County. 

Yakima County has 250,000 residents and as of Saturday has recorded 5,915 cases of COVID-19 and 131 deaths. 

Gov. Inslee and health experts on Saturday said if changes are not made, they project the number of COVID-19 cases in Yakima County will double in the next two weeks.

RELATED: Gov. Jay Inslee calls Yakima Valley 'epicenter' of state's current COVID-19 outbreak

Coronavirus: Your Money, Your Future

View previous coronavirus updates for Washington here