As nation marks sad 500,000 milestone, a look at the deadly COVID-19 numbers in Seattle and King County

The New York Times illustrated the nation’s death toll in response to crossing the 500,000 milestone

President Joe Biden has ordered flags to half staff this week as the nation marks 500,000 COVID-19 deaths — a milestone predicted by only the most pessimistic forecasts in the early weeks of the crisis. Meanwhile, Seattle and King County are approaching the one year anniversary of what would quickly grow into a global pandemic — on February 28th, 2020, the Washington State Department of Health made a Friday night announcement about the first “presumptive positive” case of COVID-19 in King County.

Here, the county reports 1,357 people have died including 16 across Capitol Hill and the Central District.

King County’s data and reports on deaths (PDF) illustrate the painful truths of the pandemic: COVID-19 strikes at the weakest corners of society’s fabric.

Across Seattle and King County, more than 90% of those who have died here were age 60 or older. Nine out of ten had “underlying medical conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, chronic kidney disease, chronic lung disease, or immunosuppression.” Continue reading

Police respond to armed man reported at 23rd and Yesler Catholic Community Services building — UPDATE

(Image: Alex Garland)

A large police response filled the area around 23rd and Yesler’s Catholic Community Services building Tuesday afternoon after a report of an armed man at the facility filled with dozens of people.

Officers located several employees inside the Randolph Carter Center building and were evacuating them from the area after finding the possible gunman down with a gunshot wound, according to East Precinct radio reports. UPDATE: Police were continuing to search for a possible suspect. It’s not clear at this point if the downed man is a victim or the suspect. UPDATE x2: Police have determined the downed man is the shooter.

UPDATE 2:51 PM: Police say the gunman is dead — shooting himself after trying to shoot a woman at the facility:

A man fatally shot himself after attempting to shoot a woman at a housing services program in the Central District Tuesday afternoon. Around 1:15 PM, the man met with the woman in a courtyard of a building in the 100 block 23rd Ave and made threatening statements to her. He then pulled out a gun and fired at the woman, who managed to get away uninjured. The suspect then fatally shot himself. Police surrounded the building, confirmed the suspect was deceased, and searched floor by floor. They located one person who had sustained minor injuries while fleeing from the sounds of gunfire.

UPDATE: In a letter to the community, Archbishop Paul Etienne described the gunman as “a distraught individual.”

“This afternoon, a distraught individual came to the headquarters at the Randolph Carter Family and Learning Center,” Etienne writes. “He threatened the life of a staff member before taking his own life. Mercifully, no one else was harmed and all of the staff were able to safely leave the building.”

In his letter, Etienne expressed his gratitude for the employees and management “who quickly followed all safety protocols and took control” of the situation and thanked the Seattle Police Department and emergency responders.

“Events like this remind us of the stress and pain that unrelenting poverty can bring. Events like this remind us of the real suffering and frustration that coincide with untreated health conditions, Etienne writes. “Events like this remind us of the desperation and hopelessness people feel before taking their own lives — a tragic trend that is exacerbated by the pressures of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Continue reading

A plan in COVID-19 limbo: Pike/Pine’s big Glossier Seattle showroom

A rendering of Glossier’s steamy pop-up on Broadway in 2019

While we’re uncertain how many neighborhood bars, restaurants, and shops we’ll find permanently closed as the COVID-19 crisis lifts, there are a few things to keep your fingers crossed for and to look forward to on the post-pandemic Capitol Hill — provided there is a post-pandemic Capitol Hill.

One center of this limbo of potential joy are plans for a new 7,000-square-foot Glossier showroom in the core of Pike/Pine on 10th Ave. But the hope hinges on a change of direction and overall recovery for the makeup and skincare company that shuttered its few stores around the globe this summer and furloughed employees to wait out the COVID-19 crisis.

It is possible the project could end up, instead, the center of things that could have been. Continue reading

Now you just need a garage for your pandemic cider bar: New bill would make it easier to run ‘home-based’ businesses in Seattle

Yonder Cider (Image: City of Seattle)

Don’t mess with a Seattle neighborhood cider bar. While solutions for the city’s biggest problems around equity, police violence, and homelessness have been elusive, the Seattle City Council is quickly nailing down the red tape that allowed complaints to take down a much loved neighborhood business in Greenwood.

A new “Bringing Business Home” bill introduced Monday would give more flexibility in city codes for small businesses run out of apartments, homes, and garages while Seattle remains under its COVID-19 emergency:

Councilmember Dan Strauss (District 6 – Northwest Seattle), Chair of the City’s Land Use and Neighborhoods Committee, together with Council President M. Lorena Gonzalez (Pos. 9 – Citywide), introduced C.B. 120001 on Monday, titled “Bringing Business Home, a Small Business Flexibility Bill,” in an effort to provide additional support and a means towards economic recovery for small businesses adversely affected by current land use codes during the pandemic. After hearing from a small business impacted by the current rules, Strauss drafted, and González co-sponsored, legislation to adopt interim regulations to allow businesses greater flexibility to operate out of garages and residences.

“The proposed changes recognize that while the current COVID-19 economic recession has forced small, independent businesses to find creative solutions to survive, City regulations have not kept up,” the announcement reads. “This legislation allows small businesses to bring their businesses home, reducing one of their largest expenses, rent.” Continue reading

Seattle Public Schools delays March 1st start of reopening classrooms

(Image: Seattle Public Schools)

A plan from the Seattle School Board to return the city’s youngest students to the classroom won’t hit its March 1st target date.

In a message to families from Seattle Public Schools, the state’s largest district is telling parents and guardians it will take at least one additional week to work out an agreement with the teachers union. The new target date is March 8th:

An increase of in-person instruction also requires we negotiate new working conditions with Seattle Education Association. Unfortunately, we don’t yet have an agreement with SEA. To begin phasing in students on March 1, we needed an agreement by today. Without an agreement the in-person return date has been delayed until at least March 8. We know that changes like these are difficult for families and students. We are committed to keeping you informed as new information becomes available.

The district plan would begin with preschool, kindergarten, and first grade students and “a phased increase of in-person instruction for students enrolled in Special Education Intensive Service Pathways.” Continue reading

To help Capitol Hill pets and their owners get back on a healthy track, Urban Animal holding vaccination clinic

Dr. Cherri Trusheim

In the middle of a major expansion and the challenges of 2020, Capitol Hill’s Urban Animal is hoping to help the neighborhood’s pets and owners get a healthy start on 2021 with a first come, first served vaccination clinic.

It’s not just people waiting in lines for vaccines right now. Many dogs and cats have also been waiting for vaccines or boosters while COVID-19 restrictions and busy human schedules have made getting things scheduled a little more difficult than normal. Tuesday at the Capitol Hill clinic, Dr. Cherri Trusheim and her staff are hosting a day of walk up vaccinations and quick wellness checks to try to help Urban Animal families get needed care.

The first come first serve walk-up clinic will be from 11 AM to 2 PM on Tuesday, February 23rd. According to Liz Weber of Urban Animal, “this will be a low cost, brief exam, vaccine day where people who haven’t been able to get into our clinics for an appointment with the restrictions can now get updated.”

In late 2019, CHS reported on Urban Animal’s big plans to expand on Capitol Hill as Cafe Solstice got out from under its expensive just off-Broadway lease. The plans for a new expanded clinic — complete with separate entrances for dogs and cats — have been delayed through the pandemic. Urban Animal is currently operating out of the old cafe space while remodeling the original location next door as part of the expansion.

“We feel like all we do is tell people no all day, they call and we tell them we can’t get you in, because we can’t have people waiting outside,” Trusheim said. “It’s been really challenging. The expansion will help, we will be able to get more people in the door.” Continue reading

QFC says will lay off 109 workers in Seattle hazard pay closures including 15th Ave E store

QFC’s decision to close two Capitol Hill stores including its 15th Ave E grocery over Seattle’s COVID-19 hazard pay ordinance will cost 109 workers their jobs, the company revealed in a state filing Friday afternoon.

Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification announcements are federally required for employers with 100 or more employees “to provide at least 60 calendar days advance written notice of a plant closing and mass layoff affecting 50 or more employees at a single site of employment.”

A QFC spokesperson did not respond to CHS’s inquiry about how many workers of the 109 are currently employed at the 15th Ave E store.

Parent company Kroger also blamed COVID-19 hazard pay requirements for its decision to close a Ralphs and a Food 4 Less in Long Beach, California. Continue reading

Surrounded by taller buildings with room for more people on all sides, two 1906-built houses set to finally make way for development on Bellevue Ave E

A rendering shows how the building will fit in on Bellevue Ave E

Already surrounded by buildings ranging from three to eleven stories, the last remaining single family-style homes on a stretch of Capitol Hill’s Bellevue Ave E just off E Olive Way will meet with demolition crews if a project coming before the East Design Review Board is approved. But questions remain about whether or not a small stand of trees will meet the same fate.

The project involves properties and two 1906-built homes that have been lined up for redevelopment for most of the past of decade as new buildings sprung up in the nearby area and filled the neighborhood in.

The around 170-unit project comes amid ongoing demand for new housing in the city despite the COVID-19 crisis and economic fallout.

The plan is for two adjacent parcels at 123 and 127 Bellevue Ave E, roughly where E John hits Bellevue and stops – about a block north of Denny. Each of the two sites is currently occupied by a building constructed in 1906.

One is still a single-family home. The other started that way and has been renovated and expanded to become a 13-unit apartment building with a small parking lot. The proposed building is surrounded on all sides by apartment buildings, ranging from three to 11 stories. Continue reading

South Lake Union neighborhood leader to challenge for Mosqueda’s seat on Seattle City Council

(Image: McQuaid for Seattle)

A South Lake Union community leader and public affairs executive is opting to pass on tangling with a crew of political upstarts in one race for the Seattle City Council and instead will take on incumbent Teresa Mosqueda for her citywide “Position 8” seat.

Mike McQuaid, head of public affairs firm McQuaidUSA Strategic and a leader with the South Lake Union Community Council, announced his candidacy last week, from a neighborhood point of view.

“All of our neighborhoods including downtown are facing historic challenges with the combined effects of the pandemic, job loss, ongoing civic violence and the unchecked public health crisis of homelessness,” McQuaid said. “We must be laser focussed on emerging from this pandemic and rebuilding the trust and promise of our city.” Continue reading

Pikes/Pines | Hitting the pavement for a geological trip through the natural history and present day questions of the Capitol Hill streets and sidewalks beneath our feet

Ready for shipping from CalPortland’s Ready Mix and Pioneer Aggregates Plant in DuPont (Image: Cal Portland)

I don’t know about you, but I rarely consider the streets and sidewalks I travel over unless they’re an impediment. Biking around Seattle I know where to veer past a specific pothole. I’ve found myself in a groggy rage having spilled coffee down my sleeve, tripped by a tree root uplifted section of sidewalk. My car is old and I know when a road is equally as pocked by time.

And yet, it’s easy to just feel as if roads happen (if one ignores the traffic revisions that we endure for years). A good number of folks reading this do not remember a time when new roads were built on or adjacent to the Hill. They were just there and unless you are a civil engineer, an urban planner, or a mass transit or bicycling advocate, you might not have considered them either.

Sometimes roads take us in directions we hadn’t considered. When I first pondered the natural history of roads, I had this quaint idea of delving into what grows in the cracks of the concrete. There are surely compelling stories here, but really, you can figure it out: roads are made of earthly materials and plants grow in and wear at said medium with their roots, which combine forces with other types of weathering. We’ve all probably seen a bokeh image of a tree growing out of rock in some misty locale. Give some seeds a few years without any bother and our streets and sidewalks would quickly begin weathering away, all manner of vegetation sprouting from the cracks.

Ultimately, I realized I didn’t really know what roads are made of. Where did the material come from? What are the environmental costs of putting in and maintaining roads? How long does a road last? These are all questions I recently put forward to folks at the Seattle Department of Transportation who endured such infantile questions about our city streets with grace. Continue reading