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.
- June 1 and Phase 2: Eager for a June move to Phase 2? To meet the “10 new cases per 100,000 residents over a 14-day period” threshold set by the state of Washington for counties applying for early reopening, King County would have to keep its count ar around 224 new coronavirus cases in the 14 days leading up to June 1. Halfway through the two-week period, King County has already tallied 350 coronavirus cases. We’ll record about three times the threshold come June. The Seattle Times reports on the “stubbornly high rates of infection” and “uneven and local nature of the statewide epidemic” in a Memorial Day Weekend report on more counties considering the next phase of reopening. That case count threshold developed from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines might not hold, however. “The criterion recently used to allow additional counties to apply for a variance … will not necessarily be the criterion used to lift the Stay Home, Stay Healthy order,” Washington State Health Officer Dr. Kathy Lofy said in a statement reported by the Times. “We are actively discussing what the criterion might be.” Gov. Jay Inslee’s latest “stay home” order expires June 1st.
- The next phase: Phase 2 will bring loosened restrictions including the reopening of restaurants for sit-down service at 50% capacity, the return of hair and beauty services, and “limited” non-essential travel. You can find our overview of Washington’s reopening phases here.
- Latest case totals: The rate of cases and reported COVID-19 deaths is still dropping in King County (reported here) but it continues to be a slow descent. We recorded 18 coronavirus deaths last week — in April, King County had 50 to 60 deaths every seven days — but new deaths and new cases continue to add up. With King County’s stubborn trends mirrored in Pierce and Snohomish Counties, Washington as a whole continues on a similar pace. It has now recorded 1,070 deaths and more than 20,000 confirmed cases. You can see state reports here.
- Yakima County hot spot: Another Washington virus hotspot is not one of the state’s most populous areas. But Yakima County’s outbreak might be the most concerning — the county has recorded 28 new infections per 100,000 residents over the past two weeks and its rate might actually be climbing. Agricultural workers are particularly hard hit and there is rising labor strife in the area’s packing warehouses. CHS reported here on the higher COVID-1 risks being faced by communities of color driven in part by “essential industries, like service and labor.
- Testing: In addition to new cases, availability of testing and medical resources will also be deciding factors in moving all of the state and King County to Phase 2 reopening status. Testing across Washington reached a daily 7,000 mark last week. Gov. Jay Inslee had set a goal of more than 20,000 daily tests during the height of the crisis. King County peaked last week with around 2,200 people tested.
- Hospitalizations: The state is also making reporting public that shows the current count of “COVID-like illness hospitalizations.” The CLI tallies “are not exact counts of people hospitalized with a COVID diagnosis,” the state report reads. “Since these data do not rely on a diagnosis, they provide near-real time trends of the outbreak.”
- Anti-Asian hate incidents: Seattle Police are looking for the suspect involved in three separate attacks on Asian people over the weekend in Ballard. Meanwhile, another bias attack last week in downtown Seattle was caught on video. Anyone with information about the incidents can contact SPD’s bias-crime unit at (206) 233-5000
- Unemployment delays: A wave of fraud may slow the already patience-testing unemployment process:
ESD is responding by placing a brief, 1-2 day hold on all benefit payments to validate their authenticity. Additionally, the department is expanding its fraud investigation team and is requiring authentication from customers filing claims.
Washington is at the center of a wave of fraudulent claims that has also may have targeted the unemployment systems in Florida, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Rhode Island and Wyoming.
- UW Medicine furloughs: A shocking economic component of the crisis is the financial repercussions playing out in the healthcare industry. UW Medicine is the latest large employer to join a wave of furloughs with news that 4,000 union workers will be temporarily out of work for “one to eight weeks.” “The healthcare-system says the financial situation is the result of lost revenue at clinics due to the cancellation of elective and non-urgent procedures and surgeries as well as the high cost of treating COVID-19 patients which includes testing and personal protective equipment,” KOMO reports.
- Seattle City Hall launches new event site: The city continues to invest in new online efforts. Last week, it channeled its inner Amazon and launched a face mask marketplace. Now it is adding an event and community project to its resources. Seattle Together is designed to be “a curated hub that features local artistic content, mental health breaks, physical activities, and helpful resources designed to provide respite and hope for our community.” You can check it out at seattletogether.org.
Shop from home: Speaking of websites, the supportcapitolhill.com effort CHS wrote about in April has continued to grow. Check out the directory of shops and retailers from Chophouse Row, Pike/Pine, Broadway 15th and 19th Ave, and more.
- Signs of normalcy — Vita edition: Caffe Vita is back in business. After a soft launch last week, Memorial Day marked the start of the E Pike cafe returning in the “to go” phase of Capitol Hill’s recovery with daily 8 AM to 2 PM hours. Other Vitas are also back in motion — hours vary by location.
- Counting the days: Seattle residents have now been under COVID-19 restrictions for 76 days.
CHS COVID-19 TIMELINE: + Feb. 29 First ‘presumptive positive’ COVID-19 case in King County + Mar. 11 Washington puts ‘over 250’ restrictions in place + Mar. 11 Schools closed + Mar. 15 Restaurants and bars closed, ‘over 50’ threshold + Mar. 21 Police begin clearing parks + Apr. 2 Washington restrictions extended + Apr. 6 Schools closed for rest of year + Apr. 8 Can’t relax those social restrictions yet but, exhale, Seattle — COVID-19 model says you’ve made it through this outbreak’s peak + Apr. 27 Washington eases restrictions on some outdoor activities but you’ll still need to give six feet on the trail + May 1 Washington extends COVID-19 restrictions through May, readies ‘four phase’ plan for reopening with limits on groups, restaurant capacity, and travel
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