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Coronavirus in Washington state: Updates from May 4-5

Find updates on the coronavirus outbreak in Washington state from May 4-5.

Editor’s note: This story shows updates about the coronavirus outbreak in Washington state from May 4-5, 2020.

Click here for real-time updates for May 6-8.

Key facts:

Find previous daily coronavirus updates here.

Tuesday, May 5:

Tyson beef plant in Wallula reopens after 12 day closure

A Tyson Fresh Meats beef plant in eastern Washington state has reopened with limited production of beef, after closing 12 days ago to test workers for the new coronavirus

Tyson said Tuesday that nearly 12% of workers tested had COVID-19, not counting 38 pending test results.The Tri-City Herald reported there have been 147 positive test results out of 1,239 returned so far, plus at least 104 workers diagnosed with COVID-19 before testing began.

The plant, located near Pasco, Washington, has more than 1,400 workers.Two workers who live in the Tri-Cities have died of complications of COVID-19, according to the Benton Franklin Health District.

RELATED: Coronavirus outbreak at Washington beef plant could have impact on grocery shelves

RELATED: VERIFY: Here's the basics of the food supply chain amidst COVID-19

Federal credit protection for Washington residents

The Washington State Department of Health released the following update about federal credit protections: 

"Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler is reminding consumers of a new federal protection that applies to how insurance companies use a consumer’s credit history. The federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act amends the Fair Credit Reporting Act and protects consumers during the coronavirus pandemic from any negative credit reporting as long as their accounts were in good standing before the pandemic started. This protection also applies to how insurers use credit history to calculate how much consumers pay for auto and homeowners insurance." 

Gov. Jay Inslee says additional Phase 1 businesses to open by early next week

Gov. Jay Inslee said that the state is working with industry groups to create protocols to open other businesses listed in Phase 1 "by this week or early next week."

These include landscaping, auto sales, dog walking, retail curbside pickup and car washes that could resume with restrictions. 

"So businesses can be confident, and importantly their customers can be confident that all businesses can be providing for their safety. This is kind of a consumer protection responsibility we have," he said. 

Inslee said that these protocols will be announced by early next week so businesses can reopen. 

"I know they’re chomping at the bit." he said.

He also announced the creation of advisory groups to focus on different aspects of the state's recovery from the coronavirus crisis.

  • Public health and healthcare system, led by Department of Health Secretary John Weisman. The group will focus on broadening test efforts, and to prepare for vaccines.
  • Safe Work and Economic Recovery, led by state Commerce Director Lisa Brown. The group will focus on phased recovery plans, and business and worker assistance.
  • Social supports and social services, led by Department of Social and Health Services Secretary Cheryl Strange. The group will focus on food, safe shelter, housing, healthcare and equity.

“We don’t know when the go button will be pushed for the next steps but we do know how to do it, and these groups are going make sure we know the best way to go about doing that,” he said.

Inslee said that the group will also look at inequities in addressing economic recovery and health impacts. 

"We know our vulnerable populations always have had stresses, and we want to do what we can to minimize those," Inslee said.

Washington state adds 21 coronavirus deaths in latest update 

The Washington State Department of Health reported 21 new deaths and 132 new coronavirus cases in the state, as of Tuesday.

In total, the state has had 862 deaths among 15,594 overall confirmed cases of coronavirus in Washington state. 

Additionally, 219,453 people in Washington have taken a test for coronavirus and 7.1% of those tests have been positive, according to the state Department of Health.

Republican state lawmakers to file lawsuit to end stay-home order

Several Republican state lawmakers plan to file a federal lawsuit in Pierce County targeting Gov. Jay Inslee's stay at home order. The lawmakers want to abolish it and reopen businesses.

The lawsuit argues that the governor's orders are unconstitutional and too broad.

"There's not an emergency in Washington anymore. That's actually great news and it's ridiculous that the governor is continuing over the course he's on," said attorney Joel Ard. "This is not a disease that affects the youth of this state. No one under 20 has died from it. It doesn't even really people under 60 unless they're already really sick.”

Ard argued that the governor's order should be targeted toward those at most risk.

“There’s randomness in the order that is a constitutional problem.”

Rep. Andrew Barkis of Olympia is one of the lawmakers who is part of the lawsuit.

"Any death has been a tragedy. We are not saying that this is not a crisis that does not exist." Barkis said. "We have policies and procedures in place for us to continue if in fact it does come back, in the fall or whatever else." 

He said that the restrictions are hard on families and businesses statewide, even as some counties are not seeing as big an impact from the outbreak or have seen cases and deaths decline.

"We could be under a state of emergency all the way through the summer months and we just don’t feel that it is appropriate at this point in time."

Joining Barkis in signing onto the lawsuit are House lawmakers Drew MacEwen  (Union), Brandon Vick (Clark County), Chris Corry (Yakima), Kelly Chambers (Puyallup), Drew Stokesbary (Auburn) and Morgan Irwin (Enumclaw).

At a following press conference, Inslee told reporters who asked about the lawsuit that he stood by his orders.

“We had hundreds of new cases just yesterday," he said. "I think it’s a bit heartless to think that some people somehow are disposable citizens, and I just think that’s just wrong. We can’t have a good economy without a healthy Washington, and the measures we have taken are designed to preserve health and life itself.” 

He also had pointed criticism for the politicians who are promoting a quick reopening.

“I think they’re not only short-sighted but dangerous,” he said. “They are not compliant with the science that is very clear on this, that if we today released all of our efforts… this virus will come back with a vengeance. Apparently, those politicians, as far as I can tell that doesn’t bother them too much.”

You can watch the entire briefing here:

Phase 1 of reopening Washington's economy starts Tuesday

Governor Inslee's stay-at-home order is in effect until May 31, but starting Tuesday, Phase 1 of 'Safe Start Washington' paves the way for some businesses to reopen with restrictions.

In Phase 1, places like golf courses can begin operations again with a social distancing plan in place. More than 100 state parks will also reopen for day use, hiking and fishing, but camping remains prohibited. 

RELATED: Over 100 Washington state parks to reopen May 5

Outdoor activities like golfing and fishing can recommence, but people will have to take extra precautions.  

The state is taking a four-phase approach to reopening, with an estimated three weeks between each phase. 

RELATED: What's allowed during Washington's reopening? Here are the four phases

King County Metro adds trips, extends no fare period

King County Metro added 15 additional buses to six high-demand routes on Monday. The buses were added to routes where “coaches are either reaching capacity or passing up customers to maintain social distancing guidelines.”

The routes include Route 7, Route 36, Route 180, RapidRide A, RapidRide D, and RapidRide E.

The additional buses will run on weekdays between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m., a time Metro said has the highest ridership and most reports of buses reaching capacity.

Passengers will also soon see begin to see more social distancing reminders this week. King County Metro said seat signs will be installed this week across the transit network that read, “Seat Closed,” and, “For your safety, this seat is closed to support social distancing between our passengers.”

Metro also extended its fare suspension through at least May 31.

Click here for more information.

Carnival cancels Alaskan cruises from Seattle

Carnival Cruise Line canceled all of its Alaskan cruises from Seattle. The announcement came as Carnival said it would resume sailing again starting August 1.

Carnival Spirit Alaskan cruises from Seattle will remain canceled even after no-sail restrictions were lifted.

Carnival said all North American cruises from June 27 to July 31 are canceled. The Carnival Spirit Vancouver-Honolulu cruise on September 25 and the Honolulu-Brisbane transpacific cruise on October 6 were also canceled.

The Port of Seattle said each cruise ship brings in close to $4 million in business.

Obamas to deliver virtual commencement speeches 

ormer President Barack Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama are getting ready to celebrate the Class of 2020.

The Obamas announced Tuesday they'll be participating in three virtual celebrations for graduating seniors in high school and college. 

The graduation events include "Show Me Your Walk, HBCU Edition," "Graduate Together: High School Class of 2020 Commencement," and "Dear Class of 2020 Commencement Address." 

"Graduate Together" was organized by NBA superstar LeBron James and features an hour-long prime time TV special airing on Saturday, May 16 at 8 p.m. Eastern. The event will air live on ABC, CBS, FOX, and NBC, and will be streaming on multiple online platforms.

Impact of COVID-19 on Seattle police

The Seattle Police Department is sharing how it has been affected by the novel coronavirus.

As of Monday, 24 SPD employees were either in quarantine or isolation, and nearly 300 employees have returned to work following public health guidelines.

SPD said a total of seven employees had tested positive for COVID-19, but only one of those happened in the last month.

Over 130 employees have tested negative for the virus at the SPD first responder testing site.

Updated UW COVID-19 death projection model

The University of Washington's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) has nearly doubled its projection for how many people in the U.S. may die from COVID-19.

The key projection model, which has been cited by the White House, is now projecting 134,475 COVID-19 deaths by August 4, with an estimated range of 95,092 to 242,890.

The latest numbers are nearly double a previous prediction from just last week of 72,000 deaths by the same time. 

The researchers explained the revised projection is due in part to rising mobility in most states and the easing of social distancing measures expected in the next couple weeks.

The updated IHME model is projecting 1,159 deaths in Washington state by August 4. 

RELATED: UW model cited by White House now projects 134K US COVID-19 deaths by August

Poll: Americans oppose reopening businesses during outbreak 

A new Washington Port-University of Maryland poll claims Americans are widely against reopening restaurants, stores, and other businesses. 

The poll said that most people, 82 percent, were against reopening movie theaters. Reopening gyms (79 percent opposition), dine-in restaurants and nail salons (both 74 percent) followed close behind.

This comes as several states are starting to lifting restrictions that helped prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

The Washington Post said the interviews of 1,005 random adults for the poll were conducted between April 28 and May 3.

COVID-19 cases in the US, worldwide

There have been 1.18 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the U.S. as of 5 a.m. Tuesday, according to Johns Hopkins University. There have been nearly 69,000 deaths and more than 187,000 people recovered.

Worldwide, there have been 3.6 million confirmed cases with 251,000 deaths and 1.1 million recovered.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death.

Pfizer and BioNTech test COVID-19 vaccine on people 

For the first time, Pfizer and BioNTech announced the first U.S. participants have been dosed with a possible coronavirus vaccine. Individuals in Germany were tested last week.

It was part of Phase 1/2 in clinical trials for the BNT162 vaccine program.

The Phase 1/2 study is designed to determine the safety, immunogenicity and optimal dose level of four mRNA vaccine candidates evaluated in a single, continuous study.

"With our unique and robust clinical study program underway, starting in Europe and now the U.S., we look forward to advancing quickly and collaboratively with our partners at BioNTech and regulatory authorities to bring a safe and efficacious vaccine to the patients who need it most," said Albert Bourla, Chairman and CEO, Pfizer. 

Monday, May 4:

Seattle City Council extends eviction protection legislation

The Seattle City Council unanimously passed legislation that adds six months of eviction protection for tenants. 

In Seattle and statewide, the moratorium on evictions was scheduled to end June 4. Now Seattle renters will have an additional six months of forgiveness. 

According to the legislation, Council Bill 119784 protects Seattle renters from eviction in several ways. 

  1. After the city’s moratorium on residential evictions ends, the legislation provides a defense a tenant may use for six months should a landlord take their tenant to eviction court. 
  2. The tenant can use non-payment of rent for any reason as a defense to eviction, as long as they submit a declaration of financial hardship to the court.

Seattle City Council President M. Lorena González said. “Tenants may use this defense if needed, but this bill does not release renters of their contractual obligations to pay their monthly rent. If you are a tenant who can afford to pay your rent in full, you absolutely should.”  

RELATED: Gov. Inslee extends state eviction moratorium through June 4

RELATED: Washington landlords and lawmakers discuss rent and evictions during coronavirus crisis

Hundreds of Washington health care workers sickened by coronavirus

Hundreds of health care workers and dozens of first responders in Washington state have become sick with the coronavirus while on the job. That's according to workers’ compensation claims. 

This data provides some insight into how the coronavirus has impacted the health care community, but it's an underestimation. The real number isn't known because state and federal health officials have failed to collect the data. 

Washington health officials don't have complete data on the occupations of positive cases. And other states that reported coronavirus cases to the CDC only had job information for 16% of all cases. 

Experts say knowing how COVID-19 is impacting front-line workers in the health care system is vital in handling the crisis. 

Contributed by the Associated Press

277 new coronavirus cases in Washington state

The Washington State Department of Health reported 7 deaths among 277 new coronavirus cases in the state, as of Monday.

In total, the state has had 841 deaths among 15,462 overall confirmed cases of coronavirus in Washington state. 

Additionally, 216,320 people in Washington have taken a test for coronavirus and 7.1% of those tests have been positive, according to the state Department of Health.

Three Washington nursing homes to open specific COVID-19 units

Authorities say three nursing homes in Western Washington will open coronavirus units to house people recovering from COVID-19 and help prevent its spread to other long-term care residents.

The Washington Department of Social and Health Services said Monday 135 beds will be available at facilities in  Tacoma, Shoreline and  Bellingham. The country's first deadly COVID-19 cluster happened at a Seattle-area nursing home where more than 40 died.

The three facilities are Avamere Transitional Care of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Richmond Beach Rehab in Shoreline and Avamere Bellingham Health Care and Rehab in Bellingham. All three nursing homes are owned by Oregon-based Avamere Family of Companies, according to DSHS.

The COVID-19 wings will be cordoned off, have their own entrances and dedicated staff. Once a resident has recovered and has two negative COVID-19 tests over a period of at least two weeks, they will return to their original long-term care facility or other residential setting of their choice.

Lummi Nation reports 40 positive cases

The Lummi Public Health Department says it has confirmed a total of 40 people have tested positive for coronavirus.

Five new cases were confirmed on May 1. Lummi Communications reported an additional two cases on May 2 on its Facebook page.

On May 1, the Lummi Public Health Department reported the last 16 positive cases were found in people 39 years old or younger. Of those, about half were under the age of 19.

"The Lummi Public Health Department would like to share this additional demographic information because it demonstrates that all age groups can be affected," the department wrote in a statement. "It is apparent that families and their children are not following the "Shelter in Place" order and not practicing social distancing. Part of this new cluster involves families visiting other households." 

Another 368 people have tested negative for coronavirus, according to the health department and 21 people have recovered. 

A tribal health official told the Associated Press that after several weeks without new cases people became complacent. The Lummi Indian Business Council extended its stay-at-home order through May 31 and added a curfew from 10 p.m. to 4 a.m.

Starbucks reopening locations across the country

Starbucks has announced it is reopening locations across the United States and Canada starting Monday after some were closed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

But it’s not back to business as usual. Customers can expect a handful of adjustments to the Starbucks experience. 

A majority of stores will continue drive-thru only service. While some locations may continue to operate only as a drive-thru, other stores will expand their current service to include order ahead or grab-and-go.

Click here to find out how new changes could impact your next visit.

Four-phase plan to reopen Washington starts this week

Phase 1 of Gov. Jay Inslee's plan to re-open the state starts this week. 

Under the first phase that begins Tuesday, May 5, some outdoor recreation will be allowed (as long as social distancing is practiced), car sales can recommence, retail curbside pickup will be allowed as will some construction projects.

Inslee initially set May 4 as the day to open the state, however, it was pushed back to May 31 last week.

State releases list of over 100 state parks that will open on May 5

The state Parks and Recreation Commission has announced a list of over 100 state parks and properties that will open on Tuesday for day-use only.

Gov. Jay Inslee announced last week that some state parks would slowly open for public use during the coronavirus pandemic. The stay home order has been extended until May 31.

The list of more than 100 parks and properties is posted to the agency’s website and includes popular destinations for hiking and boating across the state.

State Parks will delay the opening of some areas beyond May 5, including all ocean beach parks and those along the Columbia River Gorge. 

State Parks will also take steps to reduce parking capacity at some urban locations such as Lake Sammamish, Saint Edward and Dash Point by limiting parking. Reducing the number of parking stalls available will help decrease the number of people who can access the parks at one time, minimizing crowds.

Visitors are encouraged to:

  • Stay close to home.
  • Check the status of their favorite park or trailheads before heading out.
  • Come prepared with their own handwashing supplies.

See a full list here.

Yakima County has highest rate of COVID-19 cases on West Coast

The highest rate of coronavirus cases of any county on the U.S. West Coast is in Washington state's Yakima County.

As of Friday, Yakima County had 1,128 positive cases, a rate of 455 cases per 100,000 residents. Health experts point to a large number of essential workers, a large number of cases in long-term care facilities, and a large agricultural workforce living and working in close quarters as the causes.

Yakima County, which is 140 miles southeast of Seattle, also had a relatively high number of deaths from coronavirus with 47. The county has about 250,000 residents. 

COVID-19 cases in the US, worldwide

There were more than 1.1 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the U.S. by 5 a.m. Monday, according to Johns Hopkins University. Over 67,000 people in the United States have died.

Worldwide, over 3.5 million cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed. More than 247,000 people have died around the globe.

For most, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death. The vast majority of people recover.

Russia sees steady rise in virus cases 

Russian officials are reporting a steady rise in the number of the new coronavirus infections that raises pressure on the nation’s healthcare system.

The government’s headquarters dealing with the outbreak reported more than 10,500 new cases Monday, including nearly 6,000 in Moscow.

That has brought the nation’s total to over 145,000, including almost 1,400 deaths.

The number of cases has risen quickly over the past few days, fueling concerns that the nation’s hospitals could be overwhelmed. Authorities have charged that broader testing has contributed to a surge.

Russia’s economy has been partially shut down since late March, and the lockdown measures have been extended through May 11.

Coronavirus | Neighbors Helping Neighbors 

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