West Seattle, Washington
As of Wednesday, we’re all under a “stay-home order” statewide for at least two weeks. It tops tonight’s quick recap of the day’s developments:
‘STAY-HOME’ ORDER: Gov. Inslee, in a 5:30 pm address (WSB coverage here), took pains to say it wasn’t a “shelter-in-place” order. The three main points:
Require every Washingtonian to stay home unless they need to pursue an essential activity.
Ban all gatherings for social, spiritual and recreational purposes.
Close all businesses except essential businesses.
So what IS an “essential business,” you ask? Here’s the list. And as for activities – going out for a walk or a run is “essential,” he stressed, but stay with members of your own household; the “stay-home order” does NOT mean you can’t leave your home, but the more time you spend there, the governor says, the safer you and others are.
NEWEST KING COUNTY NUMBERS: From today’s 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 3/22/20.
1170 confirmed cases (up 130 from yesterday)
87 confirmed deaths (up 12 from yesterday)
These additional deaths include:
A woman in his 70s, who died on 3/21
A man in his 70s, who died on 3/21 at EvergreenHealth
A man in his 80s who died on 3/22 at EvergreenHealth
A man in his 80s, who died on 3/22 at Swedish Issaquah
A woman in her 70s, who died on 3/22
A woman in her 90s. who died on 3/22
A man in his 70s, who died on 3/22
A woman in her 90s, who died on 3/22
A woman in her 60s, who died on 3/22 at Swedish Cherry Hill
A man in his 60s, who died on 3/21 at Swedish Cherry Hill
A man in his 60s who died on 3/22 at University of Washington Medical Center
A man in his 60s who died on 3/22 at Virginia Mason
Of the 87 deaths reported, 37 are confirmed to be associated with Life Care Center of Kirkland.
One week ago today, King County had 488 cases and 43 deaths.
STATEWIDE NUMBERS: Find them here.
WORLDWIDE NUMBERS: Find them here.
BOEING SUSPENDS PRODUCTION: Hours before the governor’s order, Boeing announced all Puget Sound production would be suspended for two weeks starting Wednesday; workers will be paid.
CONFUSED ABOUT PARKS? The city has a list of what’s open/what’s closed. Meantime, crews keep making the rounds:
Randy sent that photo (thank you!) of a crew picking up the stray toys at little-kid favorite Ercolini Park.
POSTAL DISTANCING: We share a letter carrier’s plea.
SOCIAL DISTANCING: We also shared what a reader came up with to ensure she’s far enough away.
MOTIVATIONAL ART: Thanks to Sheri for tonight’s parting pic:
INFO TO SHARE? email@example.com or text/voice 206-293-6302 – thank you!
Warm-hearted people keep offering help. Here’s one place that can use it – the Senior Center of West Seattle. An update from interim executive director Amy Lee Derenthal:
Help us help our seniors! Make a donation to provide food to a senior in our community.
At the Senior Center of West Seattle, we’re uniquely qualified to reach out to seniors in our community. Our building in the Junction has been closed since March 6th but we’re still providing essential services of delivering daily lunches, groceries from the West Seattle Food Bank and Meals on Wheels.
We want to continue doing this and need your help. As we make calls and check-in with our members and participants we’re learning what they need from us and we want to be able to fulfill their needs and expand the outreach in to the community.
Here are three ways we’re asking the community to help out:
1. DONATE. So you can help us continue and expand our essential needs programs to seniors in our community. CLICK HERE TO MAKE A SECURE DONATION
2. VOLUNTEER. So you can help us deliver the items seniors are requesting and any other help we may find we need. Please email SCWSVolunteer@soundgenerations.org if you are able to help out (please note: we are asking people 60+ to stay home per the King County Health Department so we’re not accepting applications from anyone over 60 at this time.)
3. CONNECTING US TO SENIORS. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 206.932.4044 x 1 if you know of a senior who doesn’t have family or friends to help them out. We’ll do our best to connect with them and offer services.
We’re also exploring purchasing meals from our local restaurants for delivery but do not have the funds to do this at this time. If we get enough support through this fund drive, we’ll work to support our local community in this way while feeding seniors.
For everyone texting to ask: Big response but small incident at the apartment complex at 3033 California SW – believed to be a kitchen situation (aka “food on the stove”). Most of the units should be clearing before too long.
5:31 PM: Gov. Jay Inslee is speaking right now, for an address billed as outlining “enhanced strategies” for dealing with COVID-19. He’s announced a “stay-home order” that he says will result in the closure of more businesses. That doesn’t mean you can’t leave your house, he says. It “builds on” previous orders. He says that though he’s already asked people to stay home, not everyone is heeding the call. “This weapon, this distancing ourselves, is the only weapon we have against this virus.”
It’s in effect for “at least two weeks,” he says. “This does not mean you can’t go outside” for a walk or bike ride, or to go to work in an “essential” industry. But the order bans ALL social/spiritual/ recreational gatherings – no beach parties, no pick-up sports, no wedding or funeral gatherings. The order takes effect in 48 hours, he says. He says the definition of “essential” largely follows federal guidelines.”The media will continue to operate as well,” he adds after listing health, emergency, defense industries. For restaurants, to-go and delivery service CAN CONTINUE, he says.
Inslee says they expect people will voluntarily comply – but if they don’t, the order is enforceable by law. He says this is tough but “we want to get back to normal as soon as humanly possible … (to do that) we need to hit this hard.”
He urges people NOT to make a run on grocery stores. And he advises turning “to what gives you hope.” He also lauds health-care workers and emergency responders as heroes.
“This challenge is temporary,” he offers in reassurance. “Every Washingtonian needs to enlist in this tumultuous struggle … if we are to win.”
He offers the new slogan “stay home, stay healthy” again in closing. We’ll be looking for more details on the specifics and will add them here as we get them. Also, he has a media briefing at 6:15 pm and we’ll add any additional details that come from that.
6 PM: Here’s the governor’s writeup on Medium. Not seeing the actual text of the order yet.
6:16 PM: The media briefing with various state officials has begun. One clarification: This is NOT “shelter in place” – that’s a term “for hurricanes” or shootings, you SHOULD go outside, they stress, but it’s a “full suite of things that can be enforced by law.” They say they talked to many local officials around the state to come up with the list.
Q&A: How many people can you be outside with? Your household members. Not even with friends or neighbors unless you’re at least six feet apart. If you break any of these laws, it is a gross misdemeanor. Are construction workers “essential”? Those on the call said they’re not sure – definitely if you’re, say, building a new hospital, but otherwise, they’re checking.
Can the order be renewed after two weeks? Yes. What would lead to an end of the order? Factors such as, what are they seeing in case count? Average incubation is 5-6 days, but can be up to two weeks. Also, the stress on the health-care system, as they’re trying to “prevent it from being … so stressed that we can’t protect our health-care workers.” And – “how well people are heeding this warning.” Is it OK to drive somewhere, like to an out-of-town trail? Yes, but not with a group of people from outside your household. What about June brides? “I’m not going to tell June brides to start canceling … that one’s hard to call.”
6:58 PM: Briefing’s over. Here’s the list of “essential businesses.”
UPDATED 4:59 PM: The city has announced an emergency closure of the high-rise West Seattle Bridge “until further notice,” starting at 7 pm tonight. Here’s our video of the Skype briefing during which this was announced:
Here’s the SDOT news release. Below, our as-it-happened coverage of the announcement, and further updates:
2:55 PM: Just announced via a sudden online media briefing: The West Seattle Bridge has been developing cracks over time, says the mayor, with “further deterioration” detected recently – so “there are concerns that the high-rise bridge cannot safely support vehicular traffic at this time” so they need to assess it further. So tonight “the West Seattle high-rise bridge will be closed to all traffic … until we can do further assessment” to determine how the bridge can be safely operated. The low bridge will remain open to transit and first responders, and freight. “I’m grateful they found this” before something bad happened.
SDOT director Sam Zimbabwe says the bridge will close at about 7 pm “until further notice.” The cracking is in the concrete, he says. They’ve been noticing cracking for several years but it’s now to the point where they feel they have to remove “live-load traffic.” He reiterates that traffic outside of the categories mentioned will not be able to use the low bridge – they’ll have to use other paths out such as the 1st Ave. S. Bridge.
Council President Lorena González says a public briefing on this will be scheduled.
We’ve asked several questions via the web chat feature and they’re now answering. Why so sudden? Zimbabwe says some new federal load-rating requirements last year led to a “more detailed assessment” while deterioration continued. “There really wasn’t another choice at this point.”He says it’ll be weeks before they know the type of repairs they need – but then the repairs could last months.
Regarding details on the damage, SDOT engineer Matt Donahue is answering off-camera. He says a “post tensioning steel strand” in the bridge supports is where the problem is. What kind of repairs are needed? Zimbabwe says some shoring for starters, followed by likely “some kind of fiber wrap” among other things. “They take some time to design and construct.”
The timing with the drop in traffic is just coincidental, says Zimbabwe. We asked about other transportation options – this is so sudden they don’t have that worked out yet.
They will be out with maps soon to show the closure. From WS east, detour signage will start in The Junction, Admiral, Delridge, 35th, etc., appearing starting tonight. I-5 traffic will not be allowed onto the Spokane St. Viaduct (the east half of the high bridge) except for transit, freight, and emergency vehicles, to “avoid confusion.”
Zimbabwe says it was no one thing that led to this decision – but for example some of the vehicles and volumes on it are more than it was designed for. Couldn’t load restrictions enable reopening? Not in this case, he said. Plus, he notes, the bridge design means “80 percent of the load is the bridge itself.”
3:26 PM: The briefing is over. We recorded it on video (shakily off a Skype feed but it’ll have to do unless the city has a copy available) and will add that after we upload it.
ADDED 7:42 PM: SDOT crews are out blocking off access points. Also City Councilmember Lisa Herbold has sent a statement:
“I have questions why the lower level bridge cannot be used for vehicular traffic at this time, and how soon it can be opened for traffic given lower traffic volumes in Seattle due to COVID-19 guidance, and specifically reduced traffic volumes to West Seattle via the West Seattle Bridge in light of the new COVID-19 Shelter in Place Orders. My office has requested that SDOT appeal to the Coast Guard to make fewer bridge openings of the lower level bridge to allow for more buses and cars to cross, like they did in early 2019 when the Alaskan Way Viaduct closed and the SR99 tunnel was not yet open.
“My office will continue to monitor the closure and work with SDOT and other partners to provide West Seattle residents and the public updates.
Looking for something to brighten your days and nights? Two independent West Seattle businesses specialize in that.
FLEURT COLLECTIVE: (4536 California SW):
The shop front is closed; however, our website is updated with all “NEW” spring and summer goodies. Clothing, purses, jewelry, candles, lotions etc.
We have been making deliveries each day so far since we closed!!
Customers can order online through: www.fleurtcollective.com.
We are offering FREE DAILY HOME DELIVERIES IN WEST SEATTLE.
WE ARE SHIPPING FREE VIA USPS ANYWHERE IN THE USA.
ALL purchases will receive a lovely free gift from us.
Instagram – we will have “shop from the feed” and shop from “stories”. These orders will also be processed each day.
Also getting lots of folks who DM for special requests and things not found on the website (plants).
Private shopping via FaceTime -or by phone. DM email or call us (206) 937.1103 and we can set up a time to FaceTime whilst we are in the shop. We can do a “virtual” shopping tour and you can buy anything you see and we will deliver that day, or ship if its outside of West Seattle.
We are also sending out specific photos of products for those requesting them (clothing, plants and other items not on the site but have been seen popping up in our feed).
The West Seattle Junction has set up an “Adopt a Business” link. Please adopt Fleurt (or your other favorite retailers/restaurants) in West Seattle. All donations go specifically to the business you donate to. For Fleurt, our donations will go towards our upcoming rent (yep – our landlord is still holding us to paying rent), utilities, and the purchase of another security camera inside the shop.
FLOWER LAB (California/Admiral): They sent a simple update – “Flower Lab hours in the Admiral Junction will be 8:30-2:30. We are available for pickup or no contact delivery.”
The photo is of a poster at Highland Park improvement Club – we’ve reported on the community effort there to get food to kids, and now they’ve sent word:
We need volunteers!
We need to get all this generously donated food to our students by having a daily distribution. If you are healthy and not at risk, please help us reach families by signing up at the link below. Social-distancing protocols are in place. Thank you!
HPIC is at 1116 SW Holden.
Governor Inslee “will address the public today to lay out enhanced strategies to mitigate the COVID-19 outbreak,” according to a media advisory we received. His speech is scheduled for 5:30 pm and will be livestreamed here; we’ll also carry the feed here, and will be on the media conference call afterward.
From the WSB inbox, this photo and message from a West Seattleitei:
You might see me out and about with my “Six-Foot Pole” and I wanted you to know, it’s not you, it’s me! I have always been terrible at estimating distances. Plus, I am such an extrovert and people person that it feels ridiculous to me to have the proper distance that keeps our community safe. So I made myself a reminder:
I made it as bright, friendly, and visible as my available materials allowed. It is bamboo, so it’s light an easy to carry. I don’t want my terrible space-estimate issues to intimidate you! However, I do want to be doing my very best to be six feet away. Perhaps I will see fellow spatially challenged neighbors trying out a “Six-Foot Pole” of their own as we maneuver this crisis, and we can wave or chat from an accurately measured, safe distance. Thank you!
Stay safe and healthy,
Today’s first major local announcement, public or private – Boeing will suspend all Puget Sound production for two weeks starting Wednesday (March 25th). Here’s the announcement. The company says employees who can’t work from home “will receive paid leave for the initial 10 working days of the suspension – double the company policy – which will provide coverage for the 14 calendar day suspension period.”
Among the workers who don’t have the option of staying home to do their job … your U.S. Postal Service employees. Letter carriers, for example, are continuing to deliver, to houses, apartments, businesses, and other places, as always. One of your local letter carriers called us the other night, asking if we could share her request: Please allow your letter carriers to observe “social distancing.” Some residents, she said, are “coming right up to the door” to greet her as usual – but as we all have to remember, these are not “usual” times. “A lot of people don’t realize how serious this is all getting,”she said. She can’t necessarily disinfect every single thing before and after she touches it – “we’re touching so many things all day” – so please allow her to drop off the packages, put the mail in the box or slot, and move on, for your safety and hers. “I adore my people, I would do anything for them,” she said. “I’m not trying to be rude …” just trying to stay safe.
P.S. As for whether the mail itself can spread the virus – the latest USPS statement on COVID-19 was issued on Sunday. It reiterates “the CDC the World Health Organization, as well as the Surgeon General have indicated that there is currently no evidence that COVID-19 is being spread through the mail.”
With in-person meetings out of the question, some support-group participants have lost a lifeline – but online meetings are springing into the void. Thanks to Pam for sending word that AA is among them – if you haven’t already, you can find the list of Seattle-area online meetings by going here.