West Seattle, Washington
This was the biggest news day in the 12 days since our area’s first COVID-19 case was announced. Here are today’s many (mostly) local toplines:
CROWD BANS & BUSINESS GUIDANCE: The day began with Governor Inslee announcing that in King, Pierce, and Snohomish Counties – whose executives and biggest-city mayors joined him for the occasion – he’s banning gatherings of 250+ people. Here’s our coverage, including video. As for smaller gatherings – King County is banning those too, unless new rules are followed. Plus, SKC Public Health has new guidance so that retail businesses can keep operating (read about that here).
P.S> – DON’T CALL 911 … to report big crowds, the King County Sheriff’s Office says.
SCHOOLS CLOSING: The biggest announcement today came at noontime from Seattle Public Schools – closing as of tomorrow, for at least two weeks. Most independent/parochial schools have followed, and at least one other nearby public district (Vashon Island, starting Friday). We have launched a school-closure list to track them all, and will continue adding to it.
NEWEST KING COUNTY NUMBERS: From this afternoon’s daily Seattle-King County Public Health news release:
Public Health – Seattle & King County is reporting the following confirmed cases and deaths due to COVID-19 through 11:59 p.m. on 3/10/20
234 confirmed cases (up 44 from yesterday)
26 confirmed deaths (up 4 from yesterday)
The four deaths being reported today were all among previously reported cases. These additional deaths include:
A woman in her 90s, Life Care Center resident, died on 3/3.
A man in his 90s, Life Care Center resident, hospitalized at EvergreenHealth, died on 3/5.
A woman in her 60s, Life Care Center resident, hospitalized at EvergreenHealth, died on 3/9.
A woman in her 90s, a resident of Redmond Care and Rehab, hospitalized at EvergreenHealth, died on 3/10.
Of the 26 deaths reported, 22 are associated with Life Care Center.
FOR STATEWIDE NUMBERS … go here – including not just cases and deaths by county, but also total number of tests, positive and negative.
FOR A WORLDWIDE LOOK … go here.
CHURCH CHANGES: Not only did the Archdiocese of Seattle order Catholic schools to close, the Archbishop has also suspended public Masses.
YOUTH SPORTS: The West Seattle Little League has canceled “all games, practices, clinics, and events.” School sports were already being affected – CYO sports already had been called off for this weekend, and the SPS middle-school basketball playoffs too.
CRUISE SEASON DELAYED: Last Sunday, we reported that the first cruise ship due in Seattle this season, on April 1st, was the coronavirus-beset Grand Princess. Today the Port of Seattle announced that sailing and the second one of the season are canceled.
WHAT CAN YOU DO TO HELP? We hope to publish many more answers to this question in the days ahead. Tonight, the West Seattle Food Bank says what it needs most is money.
WHAT’S CANCELED, POSTPONED, CHANGED LOCALLY: We’re continuing to update our West Seattle list – see it here. If your organization, business, church, school, group, etc. has cancellations, postponements, changes, PLEASE let us know – email@example.com or text/voice 206-293-6302.
WSB CONTINUING COVERAGE: All the stories published on WSB related to the COVID-19 situation are categorized so that you can find them anytime at westseattleblog.com/category/coronavirus. We’re also using Twitter (@westseattleblog) for instant bursts. Any local info you’re NOT finding, please let us know so we can try to serve you better.
Many have asked how they can help neighbors in the midst of all this. We sent that question to the West Seattle Food Bank, for starters. Here’s how executive director Fran Yeatts replied, with an update on ther operations as well as what you can do to help:
We want to keep our community healthy while still ensuring access to basic needs!
In light of the news regarding COVID-19, we are taking measures to keep our spaces safe for clients and volunteers. It is our priority to keep our community healthy while continuing to ensure all our neighbors have access to food, emergency financial assistance, diapers, and other basic needs.
Here’s how we are moving forward with our services:
· At this time, the Food Bank will remain open. We have slightly expanded hours in order to limit the number of individuals in the food bank at one time. Our lobby is closed so shoppers are waiting outside. We are continually cleaning surfaces and carts and encouraging social distancing while at the food bank.
The Clothesline will be closed until further notice.
We continue to process requests for financial assistance for eviction notices and utility shut off notices.
We will communicate with community partners to determine how to best ensure our students stay fed during school closures.
We will continue to provide Home Delivery services to those on our list and add deliveries as able for individuals unable to get to the food bank due to illness.
We will not be taking any new orders through the Baby & Child Corner but will distribute orders on hand and diapers & supplies if they are available.
People at higher risk for COVID-19 infection and anyone in poor health are encouraged to stay home.
Here’s how you can help:
· Financial assistance allows us the flexibility of using funds for specific needs that arise from this situation. If interested in providing financial assistance, please donate here.
· This is a very fluid situation. As we identify additional ways this community can assist, we will keep you posted.
As we’ve been reporting, the West Seattle Food Bank recently merged with the West Seattle Helpline, so its mission is broader than ever, keeping people from becoming homeless, as well as fighting hunger.
The Senior Center of West Seattle serves thousands of local residents, so we’ve been publishing updates on how the COVID-19 outbreak is affecting its operations and programs. The latest from interim director Amy Lee Derenthal:
March 11, 2020
The Senior Center of West Seattle (SCWS) shares your concerns about the rapidly evolving and expanding global novel coronavirus (COVID-19). At this time, there are no cases of COVID-19 at the SCWS, nor any staff with symptoms.
The SCWS will continue to be closed except for essential programs listed below through March 31st following the Seattle School Closure notice and recommendations from the King County Department of Public Health.
SCWS ESSENTIAL PROGRAM UPDATE
–Community Dining – sack lunches are available between 11:45 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
–Food Bank distributions on Tuesdays at 10:00 a.m.
–Meals on Wheels will be delivered as normal on Wednesdays.
–Social Workers are continuing outreach and will have office hours for individuals as needed.
–Stop and Shop: We will keep the Stop and Shop open as long as we have volunteer coverage. Communications will go out as we know more and if we have to close.
Please call the Senior Center at 206-932-4044 if you have questions about these services.
With three Catholic churches in West Seattle, along with at least one chapel, this is of note – forwarded by Helen at Our Lady of Guadalupe:
Archbishop Etienne has just finished recording a message to the people of the Archdiocese. In the video, he expresses that out of abundance of caution, and despite our best efforts to slow this rapidly spreading virus down, he has suspended all public Masses effective immediately. We have not seen a contagion of this magnitude in our country for 100 years and it is important that we take it seriously. We recognize that there are many implications to this decision and there will be additional communication forthcoming as the situation unfolds. Here is the link to the Archbishop’s video.
Catholic schools in the area are also under orders to close starting Monday; we’re adding them to our newly launched school-closures list.
In addition to the Seattle Public Schools decision to close starting Thursday, more local independent schools are making their decisions as well. We have started an ongoing page to track West Seattle school closures since we’d already reported on several in recent days.
Explorer West Middle School (WSB sponsor), starting Thursday 3/12 (details)
Hope Lutheran School, after Friday 3/13 (details)
Tilden School (WSB sponsor), starting Thursday
Seattle Lutheran HS, no classes after Thursday 3/12 (details)
Holy Rosary School – starting Thursday (details)
Our Lady of Guadalupe, no classes after Thursday 3/12 (details)
Holy Family, no classes after Thursday (details)
A Child Becomes Preschool (WSB sponsor) as of Thursday
The Cove School – starting Monday
West Seattle Montessori
Not West Seattle but of local relevance & announced today
Any others? We’re doing our best to check around but it helps to hear directly – firstname.lastname@example.org or text/voice 206-293-6302 – we’ll update this, and our new school-closures master-list page, with whatever more we get.
12:36 PM: Seattle Public Schools are closing, according to an announcement sent to staff.
“Together, we are facing an unprecedented health crisis in our community. In our response to COVID-19, we must depend on the wisdom of our health experts and elected officials and lean on the resolve of our strong community.
We have been following the guidance of Public Health Seattle & King County and implementing preventive and responsive strategies, but in light of Governor Inslee’s request that all citizens practice measures to slow the spread of COVID-19, it is now time for the district to act swiftly. Starting tomorrow, Thursday March 12, Superintendent Denise Juneau and the Seattle School Board will close Seattle Public Schools for a minimum of 14 days as the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) currently guides. This necessary action is an effective way to disrupt widespread infection.
Beginning Thursday, March 12, all school building activities including school day instruction, childcare, health services, enrichment, etc. are canceled until further notice. Today, March 11, childcare and extended day supports will continue as planned. We have an emergency food plan which will be put into place on Monday, March 16. More information will be provided directly to families by Friday, March 13.”
12:51 PM: A letter has now been sent to families too. (Thanks for the forwards!) It’s now on the SPS website. The district is having a media briefing at 2:30 pm.
2:35 PM: The news conference is under way – watch here – and we will add any notes of interest. Superintendent Denise Juneau reiterates that not offering online instruction is a matter of equity. … School Board president Zachary DeWolf addresses students directly, both asking them to do their part, and saying the district is working to address questions such as how this lost time will affect on-time graduation. … Also speaking, Seattle Council PTSA president Manuela Slye, a West Seattleite, asking families to reach out to her organization t help coordinate volunteer help – email@example.com .
2:59 PM: They’ve clarified that 14 calendar days means not the school calendar, but the actual calendar, two weeks.
(11:20 AM NOTE: Video now available for playback – you may have to advance a while to get to the start)
10:17 AM: Click “watch” (and then “play”) to see live video from the news conference Gov. Jay Inslee is having in downtown Seattle right now with county executives and mayors from the metro area “to announce new community strategies and social distancing plans to contain COVID-19.” We’ll publish as-it-happens notes below.
10:23 AM: Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan introduced the governor: “This will be hard … we’ll get through it.” Inslee thanks everyone for following guidelines on social distancing and cleanliness. “It is clear our state needs a more vigorous, comprehensive position” to stop COVID-19. “This is not your ordinary flu … this is a virus … at least 10 times more potentially fatal than the flu.” Starting today, he says, “certain events in King, Snohomish, Pierce Counties with more than 250 people are prohibited by order of the governor” – civic, recreational, faith-based, with more than 250 people. “This prohibition could be expanded in the days to come.” He says this will be an “effective tactic.” He says the “world scientific community” was consulted as well as “the experience of other communities.” The prohibition is in effect “through March” but “could be extended.”
10:32 AM: Inslee reiterates that he’s asking as many employers as possible to have workers telecommute. He’s also asking businesses to implement “social distancing … in a way that can … allow you to continue. This is key to success.” He’s asking public transit “to follow King County’s lead” in expanded cleaning measures. He also says you may need to talk with your health-care providers about delaying elective surgery.
About schools, he says: “The good news is that our children are relatively free of serious disease (with this) …” but can spread it. So he’s asking all schools “to begin contingency plans” for potential closures, including figuring out how to keep kids fed and cared for. “It is expected I will give more guidance in the next few days” and he will be talking to district superintendents in the three counties later today.
King County Executive Dow Constantine says Public Health will issue an order canceling SMALLER (than 250 people) events unless very specific health guidelines are followed. But he adds, “Business can and must continue … if they are able to meet these criteria.” If unstopped, the number can double “every 5 to 7 days,” he says. He thanks the business community for “finding ways … to make their workforce and the public safer.”
10:43 AM: Constantine makes way for Seattle-King County Public Health’s Dr. Jeff Duchin.”I want to fully acknowledge the disruption these actions will cause in people’s lives.” He adds, “We expect a large-scale outbreak in weeks” and says this is like “a major earthquake that will shake us for weeks and weeks.” He says the social-distancing measures will “delay the spread” of the illness and adds that while most who get sick will have only “mild illness,” this is vital because those at high-risk will be much sicker. “Minimizing the number of people who become ill” will lessen the strain on the health-care system. “This outbreak will go on for weeks and likely for months.”
He says his order (the “fewer than 250” one) is NOT intended to apply to “grocery or other retail establishments” or to “family events.” He urges everyone to look at new CDC recommendations on “community mitigation.”
Duchin introduces Pierce Co. Executive Bruce Dammeier, who in turn is followed by Snohomish Co. Executive Dave Somers. Dammeier makes a point of note for all – this will affect many nonprofits that have fundraisers this time of year; please keep supporting them.
10:55 AM: Governor returns to the microphone and reads a message from Italy saying people shouldn’t underestimate this. It’s not the flu, the person in Italy told him – “people can’t breathe.” Following him, Dr. Duchin shows a chart from an expert showing what could happen in terms of the outbreak growing if social distancing is NOT implemented.
11 AM: Now Q&A with reporters – Inslee says his order is legally binding but “we don’t expect enforcement to be (necessary)” because he expects people to want to save lives. (“You might be killing your granddad if you don’t do it.” But there are steps that could be taken if needed. He’s then asked for the rationale behind choosing 250 as a threshold. “What we did after long consideration … this was a level (at which you can control crowds, social distancing).” He also repeated that the federal government is expected to issue some similar guidelines.
Will he use the National Guard? “As necessary … to supplement, where we need logistical help … (and) potential medical assistance” if hospitals become overloaded.
Asked again about enforcement, Constantine says “we’re not going to have public-health police running around.”
Asked for details on his forthcoming order re: smaller-than-250 gatherings, Duchin says people at higher risk will be asked not to attend, that employees are to be screened for symptoms each day, that sanitizer (etc.) be readily available for attendees/customers. “We realize we can’t stop all people from getting together in the community, and we don’t want to, life goes on …” they’re just trying to reduce the risk.
He also says, “If you don’t NEED to be in a health-care setting, don’t go.” That would include visiting people, non-essential medical services, etc. … Meantime, Inslee stresses that he’s asking people to do everything possible. And he says for decisionmakers, “This is not easy work.” In response to another Q, he says they are trying to avoid having to shut down cities (etc.) as has happened in other nations.
11:12 AM: News conference is over. We will add any related links we get – we’ve already added the governor’s proclamation above – and note that the video IS available for playback (above and here).
–Governor’s summary here (including the chart mentioned above)
12:40 PM: As we’ve reported separately, Seattle Public Schools is closing for at least two weeks starting tomorrow.
Again today and TFN, our daily list is in two parts. First, what IS happening today/tonight:
‘EARLY DESIGN’ SITE WALK: We verified this morning that this IS still happening at 6056 41st SW- it’s an outdoor event: 11 am “early design outreach” site walk, at this location proposed for two small apartment buildings, as previewed here. (41st/Graham)
COMMUNITY BIKE RIDE: Second day for this ride, all welcome – meet at 4 pm on the Les Schwab corner. (Fauntleroy/Alaska)
PING-PONG: 7 pm at Admiral Pub, weekly tournament. 21+. (2306 California SW)
‘SAINT JOAN’: Pay-what-you-can preview night, 7:30 pm at ArtsWest. (4711 California SW)
ONLINE ‘CORONAVIRUS SUPPORT GROUP’: Counselor Eileen Dey Wurst is starting this twice weekly, 7:30 pm Wednesdays and 6 pm Sundays:
Let’s join online with Zoom and spend some time in a safe and supportive space checking in about our experience of the last week followed by a calming meditation for ourselves, our community and the globe.
AT PARLIAMENT TAVERN: 9 pm, live music with Joe Doria’s McTuff featuring Esshan Karimi and Cole Schuster. 21+. (4210 SW Admiral Way)
What’s NOT happening – from our changes, cancellations, postponements list:
(added) CANCELED – Talarico’s Trivia Night
CANCELED – Running Start info session at West Seattle High School
CANCELED – 34th District Democrats‘ meeting
CANCELED – Admiral Neighborhood Association meeting
CANCELED – Poetry/Storytelling @ C & P Coffee
CANCELED – American Legion Post 160 meeting
CANCELED – Seattle Public Library events – here’s SPL’s current plan
CANCELED – Senior Center of West Seattle programs/events (except what’s specified in the newest update)
CANCELED – Some Seattle Parks programs – most recent update here
Please continue sending in not only cancellations/changes but also announcements of what IS happening – firstname.lastname@example.org or text 206-293-6302 – thank you!
7:04 AM: Good morning! We just checked around – no incidents or alerts so far.
WEEKEND REMINDER: Northbound Highway 99 Tunnel is scheduled to be closed for maintenance, Friday (March 13) 10 pm-Saturday (March 14) 8 am.