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COVID-19 updates: Capitol Hill makes 8 PM thankful noise and Seattle schools ramp up instruction

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.

Before we jump in for more updates, here are a few sights and sounds from around Capitol Hill and the Central District when the clock struck 8 PM Thursday. As CHS reported, a growing community effort to join cities around the world in a moment of thanks got a boost in Seattle and has started to be a part of the nightly routine with residents on social distancing restrictions. We’ve mixed more from the Seattle 8 PM effort through this update post. Share your moment of cheering, music, and noise and we’ll see — and hear — you at 8 PM.

  • Latest totals: Until the next day of King County COVID-19 positive case and death totals is posted this afternoon, yesterday’s update is the best view we’ve got. Spurred by increased testing, 218 positive cases were reported, the highest daily total of new cases for King County yet. There were nine new deaths reported bringing the county’s tally to 109. There is cautious optimism. While the curve has not yet “flattened,” there are indications that the outbreak in this region is beginning to slow after social distancing measures started about two weeks ago. Every day brings about 10% more deaths in the county, a number that has also held steady for about two weeks. Meanwhile, the larger worry for the nation is becoming clear — these big cities need to follow Seattle’s path and try to catch up with the virus. UPDATE: Cases through Thursday midnight have added to the evidence that any slowdown be a drawn out process. The second consecutive report of single-day highs in positive cases with 251 comes with a single-day high for reported deaths: 16. There are now 125 recorded deaths to the virus in the county.

CHS COVID-19 TIMELINE+ Feb. 29 First ‘presumptive positive’ COVID-19 case in King County + Mar. 11 Washington put ‘over 250’ restrictions in place + Mar. 11 Schools closed + Mar. 15 Restaurants and bars closed, ‘over 50’ threshold + Mar. 21 Police begin clearing parks

  • Schools swing back into ‘instruction’ action: The campuses of Seattle Public Schools, like schools across the state, are closed by order of the governor through at least April 24th. There’s a good chance they will be closed longer. But while teachers in some districts and most private schools have moved forward with online and distance learning efforts, Seattle Schools has cited equity issues and access to technology as it has instead focused on keeping its kids fed and providing programming available to all with new educational content it has produced. That position is now shifting. The state’s Education Department released guidance this week that directs districts “to provide some form of instruction while schools are closed because of the novel coronavirus,” the Seattle Times reports:

    The guidance represents the first time the state has said across-the-board, some form of instruction is mandatory. Districts must resume class in some format by March 30, a spokesperson for the state Education Department said. Beyond that, the state offered few mandates of what instruction should look like.

    In messages from Washington Middle School, for example, the schools teachers are now adding “activities” to platforms like Schoology, “a social networking service and virtual learning environment” and privately held company. “Please note teachers have been asked to continue communicating with families and students in support of academic work throughout the closure,” a message to parents about the new direction reads. “Specifically, they have been asked to communicate with families at least two times per week via Schoology, email, phone, or the typical way they connect with families throughout the school year. If you have yet to hear from your child’s teacher, please send me an email.”

  • Free medical staff parking and new childcare options: The city has responded to criticism of parking enforcement ticketing doctors and nurses working long shifts with new rules giving medical pros free on-street parking around hospitals and testing sites:

    After hearing from Harborview Hospital and Seattle Children’s Hospital on the need to allow their staff to park on-street near their facilities, we, along with Seattle Police Department (SPD) and Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections (SDCI), developed and implemented a temporary 30-day hospital-staff-only permit program on designated streets around hospitals and testing sites.

    The new temporary parking zones for healthcare employees near facilities including Harborview and several First Hill hospitals will begin on Monday, March 30. The city is also making $1 million per month available to open more than 75 emergency childcare classrooms in five locations near hospitals and 22 other preschool sites across the city. The facilities are hoped to help alleviate the challenges faced by health care professionals, first responders and grocery store workers trying to juggle long hours with family needs.

  • Century Link military hospital: The army is setting up at Century Link:

    Following calls for a military hospital from Mayor Jenny A. Durkan and Governor Jay Inslee, the US Army Corps of Engineers and FEMA has agreed to deploy a military field hospital at Seattle’s CenturyLink Field Event Center to assist the region’s hospitals. 300 soldiers from the 627th Army Hospital from Fort Carson, Colorado have deployed to Seattle to staff the hospital, which is expected to create at least 150 hospital beds for non-COVID-19 cases.

  • Rent: CHS reported Friday on concerns about possible jacked-up rents and a call from City Council member Kshama Sawant to freeze them through the end of the year. Affordable housing provider Capitol Hill Housing tells CHS is will join other developers and property managers in not raising rents through 2020.
  • Booze: Restaurants and bars that remain open for takeout and delivery can add a new product to their offerings. The liquor board has OK’d the sale of manufacturer-sealed bottles — including wine, beer, and hard liquor. Some like Cure are offering full Old Fashioned kits for sale. Others like Canon are calling for the rules to be loosened to include housemade bottled cocktails. CHS’s roster of To Go restaurants and bars is here.
  • CHS gets a boost: The Facebook Journalism Project, the Lenfest Institute for Journalism, and the Local Media Association have include CHS in their first round of grants to help local newsrooms across the US and Canada cover the COVID-19 crisis. “The grants will help fulfill needs such as increasing frequency of publishing, combating misinformation and serving vulnerable and at-risk groups,” the groups write. CHS will deploy the grant to help support our ongoing news coverage around the outbreak and to tell more stories from the streets of the central city. We’re proud and humbled to be part of the first 50 newsrooms selected for the program. Thanks for reading.


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4 thoughts on “COVID-19 updates: Capitol Hill makes 8 PM thankful noise and Seattle schools ramp up instruction

  1. It’s nice the “make some noise” efforts; however, when people are clumping together on the sidewalks and streets to do so it defeats the point. GO HOME!

    Too many people out and about, like it’s still a normal Friday, around Denny and Summit. You may think you are immune because you are young but your dumbass will get sick and eventually you will go to the hospital putting further strain on a weakened system.

    Get some booze and GO HOME. You don’t need to be hanging out on the streets!

  2. I wish someone would explain to me why grocery store workers are not being required to wear masks and gloves. They are not only putting themselves at increased risk, but their customers as well.

    Justin, could you please look into this?

    • Seems like everything that the US does is the opposite of Asian countries that have been successful at containing the virus and is profoundly confusing considering the stakes.

  3. Re “CHS gets a boost”: you kinda buried the lede there, but congratulations! This is well-deserved. CHS has been doing an incredible job of keeping the Hill well-informed during this crisis — even operating on its usual half-a-shoestring budget. :-)

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