— JR (@BigJayAL) May 13, 2020
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.
- Testing expansion: With adequate resources finally in place, Seattle and King County health officials are now recommending that anyone “who has COVID-19 symptoms or close contact with someone who has COVID-19” should be tested right away. The new recommendations clarify previous guidelines that prioritized testing for people most at risk for severe illness, healthcare providers, and first responders. It comes some ten weeks after the first “presumed positive” cases were identified in the region. The new position from local officials come after progress in securing federal testing supplies and as new drive-thru testing clinics have been put in place. “Testing as soon as possible after symptoms appear is important to prevent COVID-19 from spreading to family, friends, and the community,” the county update reads.
- How to get tested: The county says contact your healthcare provider:
Most testing is completed through healthcare providers. You should call your healthcare provider if you feel sick, live in the same household as someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, or have been in close contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19. Each healthcare system has its own testing processes. Many providers require appointments to prevent overcrowding and to be sure that they have supplies.
But if you need to be tested and don’t have a provider, call the King County COVID-19 call center, open daily 8 AM – 7 PM at 206-477-3977.
- How are those COVID-19 dials doing? Remember Gov. Inslee’s dials showing the key metrics being monitored during the state’s phased approach to reopening? Hopefully the testing progress noted above will help. The state’s “Testing Capacity and Availability” dial is the one most stubbornly stuck in the “high risk” direction. In the latest weekly update on the metrics, officials say that statewide daily testing numbers remain “fairly steady” at approximately 6,000. “Test collection supplies remain limited, with the state waiting on large shipments from the federal government,” they write. “Testing adequacy is mixed regionally, with high positivity rates in some areas indicating hotspots with potentially inadequate testing.” The state’s daily testing goal is 22,000. You can track the dial progress here.
- Latest totals: Tuesday’s update to King County COVID-19 totals included 42 new cases — the lowest daily total reported since St. Patrick’s Day. Three King County deaths were reported bringing the area’s total to 514 since the start of the outbreak. 962 have died across the state including six people reported in the ZIP Codes representing Capitol Hill and the Central District. That sixth local death was reported in the 98122 ZIP last Friday, May 8th.
- Contact tracing: In our comprehensive report on how Capitol Hill restaurants and bars are approaching “Phase 2” reopening, we noted that data collection of contact information for diners will be part of the new requirements. Get ready for an increased “contact tracing” push across the state:
During the governor’s press conference, he announced that the statewide contact tracing team will be trained and in place by the end of the week (May 15). The contact tracers will include members of the Washington State National Guard, though they are an interim part of the initiative. The state Department of Health plans to continue training more workers and volunteers to replace them over time.
- Restaurant reopening rules: If you missed it, our report on Capitol Hill food and drink also has the full set of rules restaurants and bars must follow to reopen when Phase 2 arrives.
- Retailer reopening rules: CHS also talked with neighborhood retailers about their efforts to stay in business during the outbreak and their plans for reopening. This week, the state guidelines (PDF) for retailers in Phase 2 were also released. They include a 30% occupancy cap, “conspicuous signage,” required six-foot separation between staff and customers, and employees assigned to limiting entry.
- Speaking of retail: You can still buy a Ferrari on Capitol Hill:
- Donations: If you have been Marie Kondoing the hell out of your place, you probably also have a lot of stuff you’d like to get rid of. Options are few in the neighborhood but Seattle Goodwill is accepting donations again at its South Lane location.
- Economic impact: There is record unemployment in the state and across the country. And governments are bracing for budget shortfalls as the city and state level. In Washington, Gov. Inslee announced one short-term impact Wednesday: a hiring freeze:
Gov. Jay Inslee issued a directive to executive and small cabinet agencies today to freeze all hiring, personal service contracts and equipment purchases. The directive aims to mitigate the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on Washington’s economy and financial outlook.
- County cash for arts, live music venues: Included in a $60 million King County COVID-19 relief package is some funding to help arts organizations and live music venues survive the crisis. The package approved this week includes $2 million to 4Culture “to provide relief funds to arts, culture, heritage, and preservation organizations throughout the county.” It also has a $750,000 line item to help clubs like Neumos and Chop Suey that have called for assistance for what they say will be a slow return to business for booking live shows.
- This is: … dumb:
#Today Angel of the Winds Casino will reopen at 50% capacity. There will be a series of safety checks in place including temperature checks at the door and people will have to wear masks inside.
— Kalie Greenberg (@KalieG_KING5) May 13, 2020
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