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.
- ‘Glimmer of hope’: In an afternoon press conference Thursday, Gov. Jay Inslee expressed cautious optimism about the slowing rate of new cases in Washington. Calling it a “glimmer of hope” and not a time to “let up,” the governor shared a chart showing the “logarithmic” trend of new Washington cases in comparison with other states and areas around the world. But while statewide totals show some reason for optimism, “many areas of the state are not bending the curve,” Inslee said Thursday. King County totals are driving much of the improvement. While the county continues to add dozens of new positive cases every day, the rate has slowed — only 6% more positives were added in the latest tally through Tuesday night. Wednesday’s totals will be added later today. So far, there have been 100 deaths in King County and 32 more across the state. Washington implemented its first round of social distancing restrictions and closed King County schools on March 11th. This week, Inslee rolled out a deeper set of restrictions to slow the outbreak. UPDATE 7:50 PM: The latest totals show a new single day high for positive cases in King County with 218 reported as of Wednesday midnight. That increases the cumulative total by about 16%. Goes to show that any slowdown in spread will likely be moderated by the occasional jump in confirmed cases. Meanwhile, there were nine additional deaths reported through Wednesday night.
- New county reports: The county is providing a new view of local statistics on the outbreak. The new dashboard has had a few performance issues and some of the datasets like a view of positive test rates by ZIP code will improve as the sample sizes increases. Currently, 98112 weighs in with the highest positive rate around the Hill. You can learn more about the new dashboard here. We’ve added a full report from the new dashboard, below.
- 8 PM: Echoing efforts elsewhere in the global pandemic, a Seattle community effort to create a daily show of goodwill appears ready for its debut. The Seattle Office of Arts & Culture has joined the call for Seattleites to “make a joyful noise” to thank healthcare workers and “those on the frontlines” of the COVID-19 response:
Starting 8 p.m. sharp Thursday evening, we’re asking Seattleites to join a movement that began in European countries, opening our windows, standing on our balconies, from our front yards, backyards and or anywhere you can to make a joyful noise letting the healthcare and front line workers know how much we appreciate them. People can clap their hands, raise their voices, bang some pots and pans to show solidarity and let the front line know how much they are appreciated.
CHS isn’t exactly the joining type, either, but we’ll join in on this. Let us know if you’re planning anything special for your balcony or porch.
Volunteer Park, this morning. Despite all that’s happening in the world, springtime will not be denied. pic.twitter.com/IO1wERAYte
— Josh King (@joshuamking) March 26, 2020
As #Seattle practices social distancing with many working from home in an effort to stop the spread of #Covid19, the city has experienced an immediate decline in air pollution from vehicle traffic. https://t.co/xkfjRq9Fz7 #wawx pic.twitter.com/TrPGjkcHuy
— Kristin Clark (@KClarkWx) March 26, 2020
- Coronavirus “stimulus” bill: The Senate has finally pounded out and unanimously passed a $2 trillion bill to provide economic relief to individuals, small businesses, and, yes, massive corporations. The largest economic relief bill in the nation’s history, The package has cash for individual: one-time payments that would come in about three weeks of $1,200 per adult making up to $75,000 a year, and $2,400 to married couples making up to $150,000, plus $500 payments per child. A $75,000 threshold reduces the benefit by $5 for each $100 of income. Married couples would have a $150,000 threshold. The bill also allocates $250 billion for unemployment insurance to more workers — including self-employed people — and would lengthen the duration to 39 weeks, up from the normal 26 weeks. The bill would provide an unemployed worker an additional $600 weekly benefit provided by the federal government. Small businesses, meanwhile, would qualify for $349 billion in loans with money spent on rent, payroll and utilities becoming grants that don’t need to be paid back. There are also breaks for federal student loan programs, retirement accounts, and an option to put your check toward helping those in need. And, yes, there are bailouts including the airlines industry and some $17 billion for “distressed companies” like Boeing. The New York Times FAQ on the senate bill is here.“The Senate’s legislation rightly includes an expansion of unemployment insurance to cover gig workers and other vulnerable workers. I am grateful to see other needed investments in affordable housing, services for people experiencing homelessness, small business owners, and workers,” Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan said about the bill. “It also includes additional investments in the equipment and resources needed by those on the frontline of this epidemic: our health care workers and first responders.”The bill now moves to Congress. WA-07 Rep Pramila Jayapal talked with the Stranger earlier this week about the vote. “We can’t have a repeat of the 2008 bailout,” she said. “We have to make sure that whatever we’re spending comes with very strict conditions, and also that the money is directed at the people who really need it.”
- Homelessness: Seattle is trying to create more shelter space to help the large numbers of under sheltered people here stay healthy through the outbreak. Community centers on Capitol Hill and the Central District will become temporary shelters to help existing shelter providers spread out their resources and provide better “social distancing.” A new isolation and recovery center “primarily for people who do not have a home to rest and recover” is opening in First Hill’s Harborview Hall. And there is also a new Tiny House Village opening at 22nd and Cherry to help put more people in more stable housing
- Construction halt: One of the more impactful changes of the latest round of statewide social distancing restrictions took a few days to emerge. Thursday, job sites across Capitol HIll and Seattle went quiet after the state clarified that most residential and commercial construction was considered “non-essential” and should be shut down during the lockdown currently slated to be in place through April 8th.
— Rep. Pramila Jayapal (@RepJayapal) March 26, 2020
- 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
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