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.
- Latest totals: King County reported 120 new positive cases and five new deaths through Wednesday night. Rates have continued to drop to a seven-day average of around 110 new positive reports and 9 new deaths a day. You can get the latest updates from Public Health here on the COVID-19 data dashboard.
- Thursday death: The woman who died won’t show up in the county’s numbers yet but there was a COVID-19-related death early Thursday afternoon in the East Precinct. According to Seattle Fire and Seattle Police radio updates, an elderly woman suffering reported coronavirus symptoms died at the scene of a Madison Park residence. With six deaths reported in the area so far by King County health officials this seventh would be the first here CHS is aware of reported outside a medical facility. The King County Medical Examiner will determine the victim’s cause of death.
- Contact tracing: Part of Washington’s plan for loosening COVID-19 restrictions is more testing and improved resources for figuring out who infected patients have come in contact with. Gov. Jay Inslee says a 1,500-person team including members of the Washington National Guard is being put together to tackle contact tracing in the state. Another resource in the works is a joint project from University of Washington, UW Medicine, and Microsoft. The CovidSafe app could give health officials a tool enabling contact-tracing capabilities while protecting privacy, its creators say:
University of Washington and UW Medicine, along with volunteers from Microsoft, have developed a new tool, CovidSafe. This contact-tracing app, developed with input from public health officials and contact tracing teams, would alert people about potential exposure to COVID-19 without giving up anyone’s privacy. This app could also help individuals who test positive prepare for a contact tracing interview with a public health official.
CovidSafe is not ready to be downloaded from app stores, but an Android demo version is accessible through the team’s website. Users who try the demo version, which doesn’t have full functionality yet, can submit feedback to the team. This app is based off a series of privacy and security guidelines that the team outlined in a white paper posted earlier this month to the preprint site arXiv.
The app, as described, requires a user to opt in to allowing others to know they may have been exposed:
The app begins by assigning each user a secret code name, which remains private. Then it generates a variation of the code name that changes every 15 minutes and uses Bluetooth to broadcast that to other users nearby. CovidSafe also stores a list of these people’s smartphone signals. With the full version of CovidSafe, if a user tests positive and they choose to share that information with the app, it will alert anyone who has come in contact with them within the past 14 days — the infection window for COVID-19 — without divulging who the person is or where they are.
Contact tracing efforts in China and South Korea, a country many point to as having most successfully and aggressively tamped down the virus, have also involved smartphone technology. In Korea, digital contact tracing has also included the use of “use of cell-phone G.P.S. data, credit-card payment information, and travel and medical records” under the country’s Infectious Disease Control and Prevention Act.
- Walk-up testing: Seattle’s first walk-up testing site opened this week at the Atlantic City Boat Ramp, just across from Rainier Beach High School.
- Stay Healthy Streets: Seattle is adding six more miles of streets for walking, running, and biking but has nothing lined up on Capitol Hill yet. Included in this second week expansion of the program is an extension of the Central District Stay Healthy Street to include E Columbia.
- Counting the days: According to the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation model, it has now been 18 days since Washington passed through peak “hospital resource use.” King County has been under distancing restrictions for 44 days. “After May 28, 2020, relaxing social distancing may be possible with containment strategies that include testing, contact tracing, isolation, and limiting gathering size,” the IHME model reads for the state’s current “Containment strategy” status.
- Approved: Congress passed its latest COVID-19 relief package, a $484 billion spending bill that includes $310 billion to replenish the Paycheck Protection Program. CHS reported here on our district Rep. Pramila Jayapal’s fight for more to support small businesses. One victory: $60 billion of this round will be earmarked only for small lenders.
- Music club cash: Included in a proposed King County emergency spending package to address the COVID-19 crisis is $2 million that could help Capitol Hill’s especially financially challenged live music venues. Dow Constantine’s office has handed the county council a package including a relatively small chunk of arts funding for “science, arts education, and live music venues.” CHS reported here on efforts from the ownership ad Neumos and Chop Suey to warn fans and officials that live music clubs face a longer ramp-up to return to business and might not survive the economic crisis. Is $2 million across the county’s education venues and clubs enough? Probably not. On the arts end of things, the package also includes $2 million to 4Culture to support local arts, culture, and heritage organizations as well as $8 million for a new county tourism campaign. On the more substantive side, the package includes $33 million “to continue leasing sites to isolate patients in treatment and recovery and providing hotel rooms and other alternatives to local shelters.”
- COVID scammers: The city is warning small businesses about growing efforts to take advantage of the crisis and desperation around loans and assistance by scammers demanding a fee or charge:
The City of Seattle Office of Economic Development (OED) is warning small businesses about scammers seeking to prey on the small business community that has already been financially impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. OED has received numerous reports of scammers posing as either lenders or third-party providers offering to assist businesses with their federal Small Business Administration (SBA) loan applications.
If you’re applying for the government programs, remember, there is no fee or charge.
Capitol Hill Streaming Festival is coming: The Capitol Hill Arts District Streaming Film Festival will run from April 29th to May 3rd and feature a dozen Capitol Hill arts organizations in an online festival facilitated by the Northwest Film Forum:
From April 29 to May 3, the Capitol Hill Arts District is thrilled to present the Capitol Hill Arts District Streaming Festival, celebrating the creativity of Capitol Hill and offering community members a connection to interdisciplinary art while the Stay Home, Stay Healthy order is in effect.
- Bored? Here’s the CHS ‘Stay Home’ Calendar with online and streaming events.
- Hungry? Here’s our list of Capitol Hill area restaurants, bars, and cafes offering takeout during COVID-19 ‘stay home’ restrictions
- 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
$5/MONTH? SUBSCRIBE AND SUPPORT LOCAL NEWS: Support local journalism dedicated to your neighborhood. SUBSCRIBE HERE. Join to become a subscriber at $1/$5/$10 a month to help CHS provide community news with NO PAYWALL. You can also sign up for a one-time annual payment.