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Coronavirus in Washington state: Updates from April 13-14

Facts not fear: Find updates on the coronavirus outbreak in Washington state from April 13-14, 2020.

Editor’s note: This story shows updates about the coronavirus outbreak in Washington state from April 13-14, 2020.

Click here for real-time updates for April 15-16, 2020.

Key facts:

  • 541 coronavirus deaths among 10,694 cases in Washington.
  • The IRS began distributing stimulus checks over the weekend. Tens of millions of Americans are expected to receive their checks by Wednesday.
  • Gov. Inslee ordered workplace protections for people at higher risk of a serious case of COVID-19.

Read previous daily coronavirus updates here.

Tuesday, April 14:

Program using plasma of coronavirus survivors

Swedish Health Services has partnered with Bloodworks Northwest to expand the collection of plasma donations from recovered coronavirus patients for use as a potential treatment for COVID-19.

Swedish is informing recovered COVID-19 patients about the opportunity to participate in plasma donation and has begun enrolling patients currently sick with coronavirus in a clinical trial through the national Convalescent Plasma Expanded Access Program. 

The program, led by The Mayo Clinic, was authorized by the Food & Drug Administration earlier this month. Swedish doctors infused the first two patients in the Pacific Northwest with convalescent plasma Monday, April 13.

A single plasma donation can provide enough plasma to treat three to four patients, and donors can give plasma several times.

Patients who have recovered from coronavirus and are interested in donating plasma are asked to contact Bloodworks Northwest at COVID19Study@BloodworksNW.org or by calling 206-689-6689.

Washington state gets nearly $11 million in DOJ grants to go toward public safety challenges during the coronavirus outbreak

U.S. Attorneys Brian Moran and William Hyslop announced that the state of Washington received almost $11 million in Department of Justice grants to respond to the public safety challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic. 

The grants, to the Washington Department of Commerce and the city of Olympia, are available under the Coronavirus Emergency Supplemental Funding program, authorized by the recent stimulus legislation signed by President Donald Trump. 

An additional $5.7 million has been allocated for other local jurisdictions in Washington. 

The grants can be used in a variety of ways, including for staffing, overtime, protective gear or medical care in jails and prisons.

National Hockey League Seattle makes $1 million donation for to help Seattle-area families and organizations through coronavirus crisis

One thousand area families hit by the coronavirus crisis will get $800 in grocery vouchers, following a $1 million donation from the National Hockey League Seattle and sports investors Oak View Group, the city of Seattle announced.

The United Way of King County will team up with community-based organizations to distribute the vouchers, with a focus on recently displaced workers who are unable to access other forms of government aid due to structural or institutional barriers, such as language barriers, fear of deportation, or experiencing gender-based violence. Partner organizations include Asian Counseling and Referral Services, Ingersoll Gender Center, Providence Regina House, Refugee Women’s Alliance and Villa Comunitaria. 

The city aims to raise $15 million from the community for food assistance for displaced workers. It has already committed $5 million to help affected families buy food.

The remaining $200,000 of the NHL Seattle's donation will help arts and culture nonprofits at Seattle Center.

The National Hockey League has been planning for a professional hockey team in the Seattle area. The team name has not yet been announced.

62 Washington airports to receive federal aid

Federal officials announced Tuesday that Washington airports will receive $310.32 million in aid in response to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) emergency. The grant funding will be dispersed between 62 airports across the state.

U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao said in a press release the funding is part of the CARES Act that was signed into law by President Trump. The funding is intended to support operations and replace funding lost due to the decline in passenger traffic from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sea-Tac International Airport will receive $192.12 million in funding, according to an interactive map. Boeing Field will receive $18 million, and Paine Field in Everett will receive $157,000.

“This $10 billion in emergency resources will help fund the continued operations of our nation’s airports during this crisis and save workers’ jobs,” said Chao.

Click here to see a breakdown of how much each airport in the state will receive.

Will your stimulus check cover housing?

More than 80 million Americans are expected to have their stimulus check deposited automatically into their bank accounts by Wednesday, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said.

But how far will that money go towards helping pay monthly rent or mortgage?

Redfin compiled data that shows more than three-quarters of renters in the U.S. could pay one month’s worth of housing expenses with the $1,200 payment, compared to nearly half of homeowners.

According to Redfin, the median monthly mortgage payment in the Seattle metro area is $2,257, which means a one-time payment of $1,200 would only cover expenses for 17% of homeowners. That number jumps to 60% for households that receive $2,400.

The numbers are a little higher for those who rent. According to Redfin, the median monthly rent payment in the Seattle area is $1,563, which means the $1,200 payment would cover most or all expenses for 47% of renters. That number increases to 90% for couples that receive $2,400.

Click here for more.

Social distancing having greater impact than anticipated

Social distancing is helping Washington state “flatten the curve,” but a new report suggests the effort is having greater success at slowing the spread of COVID-19 than originally anticipated in the Puget Sound area.

The measure of how many new infections a single COVID-19 infection will produce has dropped to around one in King County, with similar results in Snohomish and Pierce counties, according to the report from the Bellevue-based Institute for Disease Modeling.

However, health officials say social distancing must continue to prevent another wave of infections and deaths from the virus.

“We know the sacrifices and uncertainty families, businesses, schools, and communities across Washington have faced. This new report confirms that working together through this crisis with unwavering commitment is slowing this serious disease,” said Dr. Kathy Lofy, Washington State Health Officer. “Our collective efforts are working, but we can’t let up our guard.”

Click here to see the full report.

Fauci: 'We're not there yet' on key steps to reopen economy 

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government's top infectious disease expert, said Tuesday the U.S. does not yet have the critical testing and tracing procedures needed to begin reopening the nation's economy, adding a dose of caution to increasingly optimistic projections from the White House.

“We have to have something in place that is efficient and that we can rely on, and we’re not there yet,” Fauci said in an interview with The Associated Press.

Fauci said a May 1 target is “a bit overly optimistic” for many areas of the country. Any easing off the strict social-distancing rules in place in much of the country would have to occur on a “rolling” basis, not all at once, he said, reflecting the ways COVID-19 struck different parts of the country at different times.

Among Fauci's top concerns: that there will be new outbreaks in locations where social distancing has eased, but public health officials don't yet have the capabilities to rapidly test for the virus, isolate any new cases and track down everyone that an infected person came into contact with.

“I’ll guarantee you, once you start pulling back there will be infections. It’s how you deal with the infections that’s going count,” Fauci told the AP.

Key is “getting people out of circulation if they get infected, because once you start getting clusters, then you’re really in trouble,” he added.

Fauci said his public role is important but conceded that the duration of those briefings — Monday’s ran for nearly two-and-a-half hours — was “really draining” and that doesn’t even count preparation and waiting for it to start.

“If I had been able to just make a few comments and then go to work, that would have really been much better,” he said. “It isn’t the idea of being there and answering questions, which I really think is important for the American public. It’s the amount of time.”

AMPM offering freebies to first responders, health care workers

As a thank you for helping keep communities safe, AMPM is giving a free coffee, fountain drink, hot dog, cookie, or bottled water to first responders, nurses, doctors, and hospital staff on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic.

Those eligible can visit a local AMPM store and show their official identification to receive the free food or drink offer.

The offer is available for a limited time at AMPM stories in Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada, and Arizona.

MLS says returning in mid-May unlikely 

Major League Soccer says its hopes of returning in mid-May are “extremely unlikely.”

In a statement Tuesday, the league said guidance from federal and local public health officials is making it unlikely the league will be able to restart in about a month.

MLS says the goal remains to play as many games as possible, but it’s becoming increasingly difficult to potentially play an entire season even if there are enough dates available.

MLS currently has a training moratorium for players through April 24.

Bremerton COVID-19 testing site

A coronavirus testing site in Kitsap County is now taking a new wave of patients.

The site at the National Guard Armory in Bremerton opened on April 8 to medical workers only. Visitors must qualify and complete an online registration which includes a medical screening. Appointments are available from April 14-17 between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.

If you don’t have internet access, you can call Kitsap Public Health District at 360-728-2235 to register.

To be tested, visitors must be experiencing COVID-19 symptoms including a fever of at least 99.6 degrees, shortness of breath, cough or sore throat. Testing is also available to:

  • People who work in any setting where healthcare services are delivered, including hospitals, correctional facilities, mental and behavioral health clinics, long-term care facilities, and similar institutions.
  • People who work in public safety occupations, including the Department of Defense, emergency management and 911 as well as law enforcement, firefighters, and emergency medical technicians.
  • People who live or work in institutional or communal settings, like long-term care facilities, corrections facilities, homeless shelters, and similar sites.
  • People who work in critical infrastructure like grocery stores, pharmacies, restaurants, gas stations, public utilities, or in other businesses that remain open.
  • People older than 60.
  • People with underlying medical conditions.
  • People who are pregnant.

Click here for more information.

Snohomish County health officials give coronavirus update

The Snohomish County Joint Information Center provided a 9:30 a.m. update on the county’s coronavirus response.

Snohomish County Executive Dave Somers, Snohomish Health District Health Officer Dr. Chris Spitters, and South County Fire Deputy Chief of Emergency Medical Services Shaughn Maxwell participated in the briefing.

You can watch the press conference in the video player below.

WATCH: Health officials provide update on coronavirus in Snohomish County

Expired IDs at TSA checkpoints

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) said it will accept driver’s licenses or state-issued identification that expired on or after March 1, 2020, at TSA checkpoints.

The TSA tweeted Tuesday that it will accept expired licenses and IDs a year after the expiration date or 60 days after the coronavirus emergency, whichever is longer. 

14 workers at UW Medicine northwest campus test positive for coronavirus

According to the University of Washington Medicine, 14 of its employees have tested positive for coronavirus at the northwest campus. 

The transmission is believed to have occurred over several days at the end of March and was most likely transmitted from healthcare worker to healthcare worker, UW Medicine said. 

All COVID-19 positive employees, who represent a range of job positions from nurses to therapists, are at home recovering in stable condition. 

The unit has been deep-cleaned and sanitize.

Since March 23, all UW Medicine staff are required to attest before each shift that they do not have a fever or other symptoms of acute respiratory infection before being allowed to work, according to UW Medicine.

RELATED: 14 UW Medicine workers test positive for coronavirus

COVID-19 cases in Washington state, U.S.

There have been at least 582,590 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the United States as of 5 a.m. PDT Tuesday morning, according to Johns Hopkins University. Of those, 23,649 have died and 44,308 have recovered. The U.S. has conducted more than 2.9 million tests.

The Washington State Department of Health reports 516 deaths among 10,538 cases of COVID-19 in the state.

Worldwide, there have been 1.9 million confirmed cases with nearly 120,000 deaths and nearly 450,000 recoveries.

For most people, the virus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause severe life-threatening illness, including pneumonia.

Tokyo Olympics in 2021: Organizers have no 'B Plan'

Tokyo organizers say they have no “B Plan” if the Olympics need to be postponed again.

They say they are proceeding under the assumption the Olympics will open on July 23, 2021. That date was set last month by the IOC and Japanese officials after the spreading coronavirus pandemic made it clear the Olympics could not be held as scheduled.

The severity of the pandemic and the death toll has again raised questions if it will be feasible to hold the Olympics just over 15 months from now.

The Olympics draw 11,000 athletes and 4,400 Paralympic athletes and large support staffs from 206 national Olympic committees.

RELATED: Athletes already qualified for Tokyo Games get to keep spots

Protections for workers at high-risk for severe case of COVID-19

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee ordered workplace protections for people with a higher risk of contracting severe illness from coronavirus, including those over the age of 65 and those with underlying health conditions.

The proclamation prohibits employers from permanently replacing high-risk employees during the coronavirus outbreak.

The order requires employers to provide alternative work assignments, including remote work for older and high-risk workers.

If alternative arrangements are not feasible, the order requires employers to maintain health insurance benefits for employees who are unable to work.

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

Monday, April 13:

Amazon looking to hire 75,000 employees to keep up with coronavirus demand

Amazon added 100,000 new warehouse workers over the past month to help fulfill the surge in orders by customers sheltering at home. Amazon announced the newly filled positions Monday and said the company is now hiring an additional 75,000 employees.

Before the coronavirus hit, Amazon’s headcount was already growing exponentially. The company revealed it had 798,000 workers around the world in January. The new hires will bring Amazon’s headcount to nearly 1 million, a staggering size in ordinary times and a particularly astounding figure as so many other companies around the world are cutting staff.

Amazon is struggling to keep up with demand spikes from customers confined to their homes under shutdown orders around the world. The company said Sunday that it won’t accept new customers for its Amazon Fresh grocery delivery service, instead of placing them on a waitlist. Amazon is reserving some shopping hours at its Whole Foods grocery stores so that online delivery orders can be fulfilled.

Read more on Geekwire.com.

80 million to receive stimulus checks by Wednesday 

More than 80 million Americans should have their stimulus check deposited automatically into their bank accounts by Wednesday, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Monday. 

The Treasury Department explained in a press release that those who filed 2019 or 2018 tax returns and received a refund using direct deposit should get their coronavirus stimulus payments this week. 

The payments are part of the $2.2 trillion rescue package signed into law by President Donald Trump aimed at combating the economic ravages of the coronavirus outbreak.

If you don't see your money in your bank account by then, don't panic. 

Starting on Wednesday, the IRS will launch a new web tool that will show when people can expect their payment. The "Get My Payment" tool will "provide people with the status of their payment, including the date their payment is scheduled to be deposited into their bank account or mailed to them."

The IRS said the "Get My Payment" tool will also let eligible individuals submit bank information, if they haven't already, so they can get their payment quicker than waiting for a paper check in the mail. 

Virus closes some meat plants, raising fears of shortages

Some massive meat processing plants have closed at least temporarily because their workers were sickened by the new coronavirus, raising concerns that there could soon be shortages of beef, pork and poultry in supermarkets.

The meat supply chain is especially vulnerable since processing is increasingly done at massive plants that butcher tens of thousands of animals daily, so the closure of even a few big ones can quickly be felt by customers. For instance, a Smithfield Foods plant that was forced to close in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, after nearly 300 of the plant’s 3,700 workers tested positive for the virus produces roughly 5% of the U.S. pork supply each day.

In addition, conditions at plants can be ripe for exploitation by the virus: Workers stand shoulder-to-shoulder on the line and crowd into locker rooms to change their clothes before and after shifts.

Harborview and UW Medical Center to test all admissions for coronavirus

All patients admitted to Harborview Medical Center and UW Medical Center's Montlake and Northwest campuses will get tested for COVID-19 starting today, April 13, the University of Washington announced.

This is a change from the previous policy in which only those patients with COVID-19 symptoms were tested, according to the university.

Harborview Medical Center is a Level 1 trauma center, in addition to providing other medical services.

The university said the change was due to information about people testing positive without having symptoms. Hospital officials say it's important to know the status of every patient so clinicians and staff can safely care for them. The hospitals are also able to do this because of same-day turnaround times with testing capability at the UW Medicine Virology Lab. 

State to release nearly 1,000 inmates in COVID-19 response

Gov. Jay Inslee announced that up to 950 incarcerated people will be released as a step to lower the risk of an outbreak of coronavirus in the state prison system.

According to the Department of Corrections, the people released will be "in minimum custody settings, who meet the criteria as established through careful legal advisement and statutory reviews."

State officials earlier said that those released would be non-violent offenders who were close to being paroled.

Inslee and Department of Corrections officials have said that a process for releasing individuals has been in the works since the start of the outbreak earlier this year. But the announcement follows a "disturbance" organized by inmates at the Monroe Correctional Complex and a lawsuit filed on behalf of incarcerated individuals filed by Columbia Legal Services.

On Friday, the Washington Supreme Court ruled in favor of the inmates, and issued an order directing the governor and DOC to “immediately exercise their authority to take all necessary steps to protect the health and safety" of inmates in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. 

"The next necessary steps will strategically provide for more physical distancing within the state’s correctional facilities," Inslee said in the press release.

Eight people who are incarcerated have tested positive for COVID-19. One of them is suspected to have contracted COVID-19 while in a community medical hospital and the other seven tested positive while housed in the same housing at the Minimum Security Unit at the Monroe Correctional Complex, according to the Department of Corrections.

He answered KING 5's questions regarding the Department of Corrections' COVID-19 response.

Gov. Jay Inslee takes questions from the press regarding the state's coronavirus response

Gov. Jay Inslee held a press conference to announce the state's new Supreme Court Justice, but he also took questions from the press regarding the state's coronavirus response. 

Watch the entire briefing here:

Study: Mobility in Seattle drops after social distancing guidelines implemented

A study that analyzed changes in mobility during the coronavirus pandemic found more people stayed home after public health officials implemented social distancing guidelines.

The study, which was published Monday in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, looked at movement in Seattle, New York City, San Francisco and New Orleans.

Researchers monitored cellphone location data in nearly 758,000 devices to see when users left home. On February 26 – before social distancing policies took off – about 80% of the devices monitored across those four cities left home. By April 1, just 52% left home in Seattle.

Washington nears court deadline to protect inmate health, safety

Washington state and the Department of Corrections has until Monday at noon “to take all necessary steps to protect the health and safety” of inmates during the coronavirus pandemic and report back to the state Supreme Court, according to a Friday ruling.

Inmates at a Washington prison had asked the justices to order the release of some offenders after almost a dozen people there tested positive for the coronavirus, but state officials had said the process of letting inmates out will take time. 

At least seven inmates at the Monroe Correctional Complex and five staff members have the virus as of Monday morning, according to the latest data.

Amazon hiring 75,000 more workers

Amazon announced Monday it plans to hire for an additional 75,000 jobs as the company has continued to see increased demand during the coronavirus pandemic.

The tech giant said it has already hired the 100,000 new workers that it pledged to hire in mid-March.

Applicants can apply at amazon.com/jobsnow.

RELATED: These jobs are hiring during the coronavirus crisis in Washington

Boeing says it will resume limited operations on Monday

Boeing says it will call 2,500 workers back on Monday, April 13, to resume work on the KC46 tanker made in Everett, and the P-8 anti-submarine aircraft for the U.S. and other Navies in Renton. 

Workers will also go back to work maintaining the grounded 737 MAX jets in Moses Lake and staff laboratories and other "critical customer needs," according to a statement from Boeing Friday evening. 

The employees will be armed with masks and have to follow social distancing guidelines while on the job to help protect from the coronavirus. 

Boeing's production was closed down on March 25 after a growing number of coronavirus cases statewide, along with one death attributed to the disease at the company's massive Everett factory. 

RELATED: Boeing will resume limited operations this week following closure due to coronavirus

Seattle parks open Monday

The city of Seattle closed 15 of its major parks, including Discovery, Alki and Green Lake, on Friday in an effort to slow the spread of coronavirus.

The closure lasted through Easter weekend and was lifted at 4:30 a.m. Monday.

Those closures came after a busy weekend on Washington's trails and beaches as people jammed into outdoor spaces.

RELATED: Seattle's 15 major parks closed for Easter weekend to re-open Monday

COVID-19 cases in the U.S., Washington state

The United States has 557,300 confirmed cases of COVID-19 as of midnight ET Monday morning, according to Johns Hopkins University. There have been 22,079 deaths. There have been more than 2.8 million tests for COVID-19 in the U.S.

There have been 508 deaths among 10,411 cases of COVID-19 in Washington, according to the state Department of Health.

JHU says the U.S. currently has a mortality rate of 4%, based on confirmed cases. Only Germany (2.4%) is lower among the 10 countries most affected by COVID-19.

A model by The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington projected that Sunday would be the peak day for deaths from COVID-19 in the United States. The model predicts that the number of daily fatalities will begin to drop, but won't reach zero until June 22. The model is based on social distancing measures continuing. It also indicates that there are uncertainties that could lead to much higher daily death tolls.

Worldwide, there have been 1.85 million cases and 114,215 deaths, according to JHU.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. But for others, especially older people and those with underlying conditions, it can cause severe symptoms and lead to death.

Delta Air Lines changes boarding procedures

Delta Air Lines has implemented a back-to-front boarding procedure. During general boarding, passengers will be invited to board by rows, starting at the back. The airline says the change will prevent passengers from having to pass each other to get to their seats. 

The measure will be in place through May 31, but that date could change depending on what is happening with the pandemic.

RELATED: Delta initiates back-to-front boarding to reduce coronavirus spread

IRS deposits first economic support payments

The IRS says the first economic support payments stemming from the coronavirus outbreak have been deposited in taxpayers’ bank accounts.
In its tweeted announcement Saturday night, the IRS didn’t say how many taxpayers have received the payments or how much money has been disbursed so far. The tweet says: “We know many people are anxious to get their payments; we’ll continue issuing them as fast as we can.”

The payments are part of the $2.2 trillion rescue package passed by Congress and then signed into law last month by President Donald Trump.
Anyone earning up to $75,000 in adjusted gross income and who has a Social Security number will receive a $1,200 payment. Parents will also receive $500 for each qualifying child. The payment steadily declines for those who make more.

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