Here are the latest updates on the COVID-19 outbreak and response around the Seattle region, Capitol Hill, and the Central District. See something others should know about? Email CHS or call/txt (206) 399-5959.
- UPDATE 2:10 PM: Governor Jay Inslee extended the ban on large gatherings and events and is shutting down schools statewide — beyond the original King, Pierce, Snohomish three-county restrictions. Inslee also announced “restrictions on in-person classes” for Washington colleges until April 24. That will push instruction online for colleges across the state including Seattle University where students say the plan is to finish the year with remote instruction. We’re asking the school what this will mean for SU-owned housing. Parents are saying their students have to move out of dorms by the first week of April. UPDATEx2: Seattle U says it is “extending its suspension of in-person classes through the Spring Quarter” — this includes the remainder of the semester for the School of Law. Students living on the campus are “being asked to move out of their residence halls as soon as possible and no later than April 4” —
Residence halls and food services will remain open to those needing an exception and who are approved to continue living on campus due to extenuating circumstances. Dean of Students James Willette is providing additional information in an email to students and parents this afternoon, including details about support from staff in Housing and Residence Life (HRL), refunds and more. Recognizing current challenges, concerns and restrictions relating to travel, HRL staff will work with students not currently on campus on a case-by-case basis to coordinate moving out at a date later than April 4 if needed.Seattle Central College will also operate remotely through April 24th.
- Library and community closures: With Seattle rallying — as much as possible — around the effort to flatten the curve and slow the spread of COVID-19 to give health facilities time to keep up, the weekend begins with a question — what is left to cut? The latest announcements bring a closure to all of the Seattle Public Library branches including the Capitol Hill Library starting Friday night and planned to last through April 13th. The city also announced the shuttering of all community centers, pools, environmental learning centers, and all other recreation facilities until April. The moves are intended to help reduce and slow spread of the coronavirus. They will also be especially impactful for homeless and under sheltered people who depend on these spaces for a warm place to hangout, charge a phone, or, yes, go to the bathroom. The city says its shower program will continue to be available at the Delridge, Green Lake, Meadowbrook, and Rainier community centers as well as Miller Community Center on Capitol Hill, and all Seattle Parks bathrooms and handwashing stations will remain open, the city says. At Miller, CHS found the bathrooms available outside the community center have been closed for weeks under a “seasonal closure.”
- Arts and museums, also: The Seattle Asian Art Museum just reopened after three years of closure and construction. Now it will be closed through April 13th:
The Seattle Art Museum (SAM) announced today the temporary closure of its three sites—the Seattle Art Museum, the Asian Art Museum, and the PACCAR Pavilion at the Olympic Sculpture Park—effective Friday, March 13, in order to support Seattle’s efforts to limit the spread of COVID-19. Amada Cruz, SAM’s Illsley Ball Nordstrom Director and CEO, says, “The safety and well-being of our staff, volunteers, and visitors are always our highest priorities. Over the last weeks, we’ve been closely monitoring the situation, implementing preventative measures, and preparing for all contingencies. We make this decision today to safeguard the health and safety of our community, knowing that we are all in this together.”
Other Hill area museums are also temporarily shuttered including The Frye. Meanwhile, public transit continues to roll.
- Seattle Central: In an earlier update, CHS reported that Seattle Central has joined other area schools in closing its campus. The shutdown of the Broadway school is planned to run through “at least” March 27th. As part of its announcement, SCC said it had one student who reported they had tested positive for COVID-19:
- The numbers: A working paper said to have been part of the research that drove a series of important choices including the three-county ban on large gatherings and the shuttering of Seattle Public Schools is now making the rounds. The “Working paper – model-based estimates of COVID-19 burden in King and Snohomish counties through April 7, 2020” document (PDF) from researchers at the Institute for Disease Modeling, the Gates Foundation, and Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Institute put the potential outcomes as simply as possible for officials — do “business as usual,” and 25,000 will be sick and 400 die:
Now these quadrants become data from alternate timelines. Let’s see how our own plays out.
- A series of important choices: Those big decisions? 1) “Flattening the curve” by banning large gatherings across three counties and effectively canceling everything from major league sporting events to large church services. 2) Closing Seattle Public Schools through April 24th and requiring all schools public and private in King, Pierce, and Snohomish County to close for the month of March. 3) Well, let’s hope it doesn’t come to number three.
- How to help: Social distancing makes going out to eat, drink, and shop nearly impossible. Capitol Hill businesses are worried — and many are temporarily closing. You can help by buying gift certificates and gift cards now to use later, ordering delivery or takeout, and tipping generously. Meanwhile, these groups are looking for support and donations to help homeless neighbors. CHS is tracking the latest businesses and facilities forced to temporarily close:
Restaurants, bars, cafes, etc.
- Glo's: Temporary closure "two weeks" -- 3/13/20
- Atulea: Temporary closure -- 3/13/20
- Altura and Carrello: Temporary closure starting Saturday for "four to six weeks" -- 3/12/20
- Honey Hole: Temporary closure "two weeks' -- 3/12/20
- Queer/Bar, Grim's, The Cuff: Layoffs and canceled events -- 3/11/20
- That Brown Girl Cooks: Layoffs -- 3/11/20
- The Stranger: Call for donations -- 3/11/20
- Seattle Asian Art Museum: Temporary closure through March -- 3/13/20
- Seattle Public Library Capitol Hill Branch: Temporary closure through April 13 (starting 3/13 at 6 PM) -- 3/13/20
- Frye Art Museum: Temporary closure through March -- 3/12/20
- The latest totals: The county’s updated COVID-19 case totals are being announced every afternoon. We’ll update on the next drop. Thursday’s update showed the number of confirmed cases at 270 with 27 deaths reported in the county. It’s much too early to say whether the emergency measures, policies, and practices are helping. UPDATE 2:10 PM: New cases climbed by 58 in Thursday’s tally with five new reported deaths:
Public Health – Seattle & King County is reporting the following confirmed cases and deaths due to COVID-19 through 11:59 p.m. on 3/12/20
- 328 confirmed cases (up 58 from yesterday)
- 32 confirmed deaths (up 5 from yesterday)
Deaths being reported today include:
- A woman in her 90s, a resident of Life Care Center, who died on 3/6
- A woman in her 90s, a resident of Life Care Center, who died on 3/6
- A woman in her 80s, a resident of Life Care Center, who died on 3/4
- A man in his 70s, who died at Overlake Medical Center on 3/9
- A man in his 80s, who died at Swedish Issaquah on 3/11
Of the 32 deaths reported, 25 are associated with Life Care Center of Kirkland.
- Testing: Despite the promise of more and more easily arranged COVID-19 testing, stories abound about the challenges — and costs — associated with stepping forward to find out if you are ill with the virus. State insurance officials have said they have ordered all health plans “to waive copays and deductibles for people requiring testing (doh.wa.gov) for COVID-19′ but the meantime can bring costs of anywhere between $250 and a reported $1,600 for the test alone. Here’s what the state’s latest update on testing has to say about the situation:+The State Public Health Lab received additional testing equipment March 6 and put it into service March 7. It is ramping up its capacity. At present, it can test more than 200 samples with a 48-hour turnaround time. Our goals is 400 samples a day, meaning about 200 people.
+ The University of Washington Virology Lab has capacity to test as many as 750 people (1,500 tests) per day. At present, it is running about 700 to 800 specimens a day. Their goal is 5,000 tests per day. (UW went online for testing March 4.)
+ Commercial labs across the state are working to get online and begin processing tests.
+ We acknowledge that although the laboratory test is becoming more broadly available, there are limitations in our public health and healthcare systems’ capacity to obtain samples from people as rapidly as we would like.
+ In addition, people do not always need to be tested for clinical care purposes since there is currently no medication to treat COVID-19. Currently, anyone with a fever and cough should assume their illness could be COVID-19 and take steps to protect others in the community and household from the disease. If you are sick, you need to stay home and stay away from other people in your home. If you need to go into public to visit a healthcare provider, wear a mask and practice meticulous hand washing.Meanwhile, the story of federal interference in early attempts to step up testing continues to emerge along with the stories of some local heroes. Meanwhile, UW Medicine’s Medical Center Northwest has finally begun rolling out a trial for drive-thru testing.
- 5/4/20: COVID-19 updates: Phase 1 begins, what’s in Phase 2 (and 3 and 4), King County removes antibody testing case counts, COVID-19 yard art
- 5/1/20: Washington extends COVID-19 restrictions through May, readies ‘four phase’ plan for reopening with limits on groups, restaurant capacity, and travel
- 4/30/20: Washington investigating state totals after COVID-19 ‘excess deaths’ report
- 4/30/20: Facing opposition from mayor and chamber advocates, Seattle tax on big businesses for COVID-19 relief and housing moves toward May vote
- Plus: Capitol Hill Restaurants, Bars, and Cafes offering takeout during COVID-19 ‘stay home’ restrictions