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Coronavirus updates in Western Washington: May 8-12

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

Key facts:

  • Nine out of 39 counties are in Phase 3 of the 'Safe Start Washington' plan.
  • 10 new deaths among 392 new cases reported Friday in Washington.
  • TOTAL: 1,204 deaths among 25,171 overall cases in Washington state.
  • 439,862 people in Washington have taken a test for coronavirus and 5.7% of those tests have been positive, according to the state Department of Health.

VIEW | More coronavirus coverage from KING 5

Friday, June 12:

New Washington cases on Friday June 12

  • 10 new deaths among 392 new cases reported Friday in Washington.
  • TOTAL: 1,204 deaths among 25,171 overall cases in Washington state.
  • 439,862 people in Washington have taken a test for coronavirus and 5.7% of those tests have been positive, according to the state Department of Health.

Gyms that defied stay home order resolve cases with state, agree to abide by the order

Northwest Fitness of Puyallup and Power Alley Fitness of Arlington have resolved their lawsuits filed against them by Attorney General Bob Ferguson's after they opened their gyms despite the state's stay home order, Ferguson's office announced Friday.

The two gyms signed legally binding agreements to only operate their gyms in full compliance with the governor’s proclamations, according to the announcement.

The agreement for Northwest Fitness can be found here. The agreement for Power Alley Fitness can be found here

When he opened, PA Fitness owner Michael Jellison told KING 5 that gyms should be considered an "essential service." 

“Health, fitness, mental health is important. It’s essential,” said Jellison. “Regardless of what anybody says, it’s essential. The president of the United States stated that it was essential in one of his briefings, Phase 1. We were disregarded in the state, even though we have one of four states in the United States that have the ability to open.” 

RELATED: Arlington, Puyallup gyms close after facing lawsuit for defying Washington's stay-home orders

RELATED: Arlington gym opens in protest of Washington’s stay-home order

RELATED: Puyallup gym protests stay-home order, invites members to work out and 'exercise your rights'

Poll: Americans maintain virus precautions as states reopen

Most Americans say they are wearing masks. They are still by and large avoiding restaurants. And the vast majority are still staying at least six feet from others. A new poll finds most Americans aren't ready to abandon precautionary measures in response to the coronavirus, even as states and metropolitan areas relax restrictions.

The findings come from the third COVID Impact Survey, conducted by NORC at the University of Chicago for the Data Foundation. The survey finds 90% of Americans report wearing a mask, and most are postponing social activities, avoiding crowds and avoiding contact with high-risk people.

But Americans weren't as committed to the idea of using an app or website to help identify or track infections. Public health officials say it’s important to remain vigilant.

Health officials ask protesters to wear masks

Public Health - Seattle & King County is asking protesters to wear a masks that fully covers their nose, mouth, and chin to help reduce the spread of coronavirus.

The county says people older than 60 and anyone with an underlying health condition should consider avoiding protests and take action in other ways.

Though healthcare workers have warned against large gatherings due to the potential spread of coronavirus. Even though many protesters wear face masks, maintaining a six-foot “social distance” in a crowd is impossible at times.

Dr. Jeffrey Duchin, the Public Health officer for Seattle King County Public Health, responded to KING 5 questions via email about the spread and protests. He said, in part, “It is not possible to predict precisely what the risk would be at a protest march where the participants don’t resemble the underlying population or necessarily come from King County.”

Asian countries, such as Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Pakistan and the Philippines, are considered to be particularly vulnerable to the pandemic's economic shockwaves with lockdowns severely curtailing activity.

“The pandemic is fast becoming an economic crisis for developing countries,” said Andy Sumner, a professor of international development at King’s College London and one of the report's co-authors.

Because millions of people live just above the poverty line, they are in a precarious position as the economic shock of the pandemic plays out. In a worst case scenario, the number of people in extreme poverty - defined as earning under $1.90 a day - is forecast to rise from about 700 million to 1.1 billion, according to the report, which was published by the United Nations University World Institute for Development Economics Research.

Global poverty surging 

Global poverty is set to rise above 1 billion people once again as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, which is reducing the income of the world's poorest by $500 million a day, according to new research published Friday.

The research by King's College London and the Australian National University points to poverty increasing dramatically in middle-income developing countries, where millions of people live just above the poverty line.

New model predicts powerful second wave of COVID-19 in September

Experts at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington are predicting a powerful second wave of the coronavirus that could lead to tens of thousands of new deaths from COVID-19. 

The IHME predicts the second wave will start September 15. 

The predictions estimate nationwide deaths will reach 169,890 by October 1, which is an increase of about 60,000 from today. The prediction has a possible range between 133,201 and 290,222 deaths. 

"Deaths nationwide are predicted to remain fairly level through August and begin to rise again in the fourth week of August with a more pronounced increase during September, although some states will see the increase earlier due to increased mobility and relaxation of social distancing mandates," according to a release from IHME.

In Washington state, experts predict about 1,400 total deaths, which is about 300 more than the state has right now.

Thursday, June 11:

The latest coronavirus numbers in Washington state

The Washington Department of Health reported 4 new deaths among 137 new cases Thursday in Washington. It brings to the total to 1,194 deaths among 24,779 overall cases statewide. 

A total of 425,212 people in Washington have taken a test for coronavirus and 5.8% of those tests have been positive, according to the state Department of Health.

Initial claims for unemployment benefits continue to drop

During the week of May 31 to June 6, the number of initial regular unemployment claims dropped by 4.8% when compared to the previous week. 

There were 29,713 initial claims, and 729,053 total claims for all benefit categories, a decrease of 45,906 from the previous week, according to the state Employment Security Department (ESD).

The ESD believes the continued decline is due to a variety of reasons, including fraud prevention and more people going back to work as counties reopen some industry sectors.

ESD said over $545.3 million was paid out for 420,772 individual claims.

1.5 million more laid-off workers seek unemployment benefits

About 1.5 million laid-off workers applied for U.S. unemployment benefits last week, evidence that many Americans are still losing their jobs even as the economy appears to be slowly recovering with more businesses partially reopening.

The latest figure from the Labor Department marked the 10th straight weekly decline in applications for jobless aid since they peaked in mid-March when the coronavirus hit hard. Still, the pace of layoffs remains historically high.

The total number of people who are receiving unemployment aid fell slightly, a sign that some people who were laid off when restaurants, retail chains, and small businesses suddenly shut down have been recalled to work.

RELATED: 1.5 million more laid-off workers seek unemployment benefits

Three counties move into next phases of 'Safe Start Washington' reopening plan

Chelan and Douglas counties are approved to move into a modified version of Phase 1 and Asotin County is approved to move from Phase 2 to Phase 3, according to the state Department of Health.

A total of three counties are in Phase 1, three counties are in a modified version of Phase 1, 24 counties are in Phase 2 and nine counties are in Phase 3.

Benton and Franklin counties have applied to move from Phase 1 to Phase 2, and Skamania County has applied to move from Phase 2 to 3. These applications are currently under review by the department. 

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

US expands virus testing of detained migrants amid criticism

U.S. Immigration Customs and Enforcement said it's expanding coronavirus testing at detention facilities. The move follows weeks of criticism that the agency's response to the outbreak has been inadequate.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced Wednesday that it now offers voluntary COVID-19 tests to people held at detention facilities in Tacoma, Washington, and Aurora, Colorado.

It has tested 80% of the 570 people held at the Washington facility and one person tested positive.

Members of Congress and immigrant advocates have criticized the agency for insufficient measures to test and control the virus among detainees. The agency reports 788 active cases among the nearly 25,000 people it has in custody in about 200 facilities.

Wednesday, June 10: 

King County partners with Beyonce's charity to launch expanded coronavirus testing

Seattle & King County announced an expansion of free COVID-19 testing resources in south King County.

The sites will be located at Sea Mar Community Health Centers at South Park, HealthPoint Auburn and at UW Mobile Clinic at Auburn City Adventist Church. This brings the total number of free testing sites in south Seattle and south King County to ten, with 18 total free testing sites overall in King County.

According to the county, southend communities have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.

In addition, this Saturday and Sunday, June 13 and 14, free drive-through COVID-19 testing and essential supplies (e.g. diapers, toiletries) will be available at the Renton and Federal Way locations. King County is partnering with local community organizations and Ms. Tina Knowles Lawson’s #IDIDMYPART campaign and Beyoncé’s BeyGood for this launch event. More information about the launch event is here.

More information about getting a free test in King County is on the county's website.

Seattle also recently expanded its free testing sites in the city limits.

RELATED: Seattle opens 2 new free coronavirus testing sites

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

New Washington cases on Wednesday

  • 14 new deaths among 288 new cases reported Wednesday in Washington.
  • TOTAL: 1,190 deaths among 24,642 overall cases in Washington state.
  • 415,342 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.

Snoqualmie Casino to reopen on Thursday with new rules in place

The Snoqualmie Casino will reopen to the general public on Thursday, June 11 at 6 a.m., after nearly three months of closure due to the coronavirus global pandemic. 

“The health and wellness of our guests, team members, and community continues to take precedence over anything else,” says Snoqualmie Tribe Chairman, Robert de los Angeles in a prepared statement. “As an entertainment venue that welcomes guests from all over the region, it is our responsibility to do everything we can to not only adhere to health guidelines and recommendations, but to exceed them.”

Among the new rules, the casino will check guests' temperatures and require masks. A full list of new casino rules is available on its website.

A number of tribal casinos have reopened in Western Washington after being closed for weeks. They have put in place new social distancing rules, such as limiting the number of people inside and requiring masks, to prevent the spread of coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

Tribes, which are sovereign nations, do not have to adhere to Washington state's phased reopening plan. However, tribal governments have said they have been working with state and health officials on the coordination statewide coronavirus response.

Washington obtains 5 million N95 masks for state stockpile

Gov. Jay Inslee announced that the state has obtained 5 million N95 masks, and 50 million are on their way.

The supplies became available after state supplier BYD received final certification for the masks that the state had on order, Inslee said.

Eligible requesters include homeless shelters, long term care facilities, hospitals, first responders, congregate settings with confirmed COVID patients and child care settings.

Organizations and entities that need the masks can reach out to their county emergency management authority.

He also spoke on efforts to try to create N95 and other PPE, including hand sanitizer and surgical masks, by manufacturers in the state of Washington.

He also announced the Wear A Mask Washington initiative, where the members of the public can submit videos to promote mask-wearing in public.

Facial coverings have been required in the workplace statewide since Monday. Employers must provide their workers with the appropriate face coverings for their situation, according to the state. However, if the worker is in a low-risk environment, the coverings can be any cloth covering.

Inslee made the announcement at a briefing to give an update on the state's COVID-19 response, including the state's efforts to secure PPE (personal protective equipment). 

The governor will also address issues related to ongoing protests around the state.  

Food assistance to become available for families with children eligible for free and reduced mean programs

Some families affected by school closures in Washington state will soon have benefits available to them to assist with buying food.

Pandemic EBT provides benefits to families with children who are eligible for free or reduced meal programs. 

The benefits will be available early July.

“Many students rely on their school for nutritious meals during the day,” said state Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal. “These benefits will help families most impacted by the COVID-19 crisis to continue to have access to nutritious meals.”

Families who already receive SNAP benefits and whose children already receive free or reduced meals do not need to apply. The benefits, which includes a one-time payment of up to $399 per eligible child will automatically be deposited onto existing EBT cards.

Families who are eligible and approved by their school district for free or reduced meals but do not currently receive SNAP benefits must apply online before Aug. 31. Other families, including those whose children attend a school where meals are free for all students, need to apply. Families with children who are newly eligible for free or reduced meals must fill out a meal application with their school district before June 30 and before they apply. 

Veterans Affairs Department says it lacks adequate medical gear for 2nd coronavirus wave

The Veterans Affairs Department on Tuesday defended itself against criticism of past shortages of masks and other medical gear to protect employees from the coronavirus but acknowledged its current supplies may not be enough to handle a second wave.

Dr. Richard Stone, the top health official at VA, said at the height of the pandemic its 170 medical centers were going through 250,000 N95 masks per day — a “daunting amount.”

Now, the VA has about a 30-day supply of gear including masks and gowns but it really needs a 60-day supply, he said, partly to address growing demands as the VA moves to fully reopen its medical centers due to the easing of stay-at-home orders nationwide. To handle a possible second wave of COVID-19, it would need a six-month supply.

“A future pandemic wave may test all of us in our preparation,” Stone told the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee.

Masks being donated, collected in Everett 

Volunteers will be at Lions Park in Everett from 1-4 p.m. collecting donations of homemade masks.

The masks will be distributed for free.

RELATED: Veterans Affairs says it lacks adequate medical gear for 2nd coronavirus wave

Gov. Inslee extends protections for high-risk workers 

Gov. Jay Inslee is extending a proclamation that gives high-risk workers the right "to protect themselves from COVID-19 without jeopardizing their employment status or loss of income."

Inslee initially announced the workplace protections on April 13. The proclamation has now been extended through August 1. 

The proclamation provides older workers and those with underlying health conditions a series of rights and protections, including:

  • The choice of an alternative work assignment, including telework, alternative or remote work locations if feasible, and social distancing measures.
  • The ability to use any accrued leave or unemployment benefits if an alternative work assignment is not feasible and the employee is unable to safely work. Employers must maintain health insurance benefits while high risk employees are off the job.
  • Employers are prohibited from permanently replacing high-risk employees.

High-risk individuals are defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and include:

  • 65 years of age or older
  • People of all ages with underlying medical conditions, particularly if not well-controlled.

RELATED: Washington order protects workers at high-risk for coronavirus

Yakima County has nearly 5,000 COVID-19 cases

The coronavirus pandemic continues to rage in Yakima County, with the total number of cases closing in on 5,000. 

The Yakima Health District reported 215 more infections Monday, bringing the total of confirmed cases to 4,929.

The Yakima Herald-Republic reported deaths from COVID-19 remained at 96.

Yakima Health District spokeswoman Lilian Bravo says the county is a hot spot for COVID-19. She says it’s too early to tell what kind of impact recent public gatherings in support of Black Lives Matter may have on the spread of the virus because it can take up to 14 days before symptoms become apparent.

RELATED: Yakima County nears 5,000 coronavirus cases, leads Washington per capita

New Washington cases 

  • 15 new deaths among 313 new cases reported Monday in Washington.
  • TOTAL: 1,176 deaths among 24,354 overall cases in Washington state.
  • 415,054 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.

Coronavirus: Neighbors Helping Neighbors

See previous coronavirus updates for Washington state here.