CORONAVIRUS: Wednesday toplines – new cases; recommendations; cancellation list; schools; ferries; more

Though we published new information earlier today, that’s not all you should know about, so here’s our nightly roundup:

NEW KING COUNTY CASES/DEATHS: From today’s daily Seattle-King County Public Health update:

COVID-19 test results have come back from the Washington State Public Health Laboratory confirming ten additional cases of COVID-19 in King County residents including one death. With these ten new results, the total number of cases in King County is 31. The total number of deaths is nine.

The ten new cases are in:
A female in her 60s, Life Care resident, hospitalized at EvergreenHealth
A male in his 50s, associated with Life Care, not hospitalized
A male in his 60s, Life Care resident, hospitalized at EvergreenHealth
A female in her 70s, Life Care resident, hospitalized at EvergreenHealth
A male in his 60s, Life Care resident, hospitalized at Evergreen
A female in her 90s, Life Care resident, was hospitalized at Evergreen and died on 3/3/20
A female in her 70s, Life Care resident, hospitalized at EvergreenHealth
A male in his 30s, no known exposure, not hospitalized
A female in her teens, associated with Life Care, not hospitalized
A male in his 80s, a resident of Life Care, hospitalized at EvergreenHealth

The announced-earlier cases and deaths are recapped here.

SKCPH RECOMMENDATIONS: Also at this afternoon’s King County briefing, these recommendations – NOT requirements – were announced:

*People at higher risk of severe illness should stay home and away from large groups of people as much as possible, including public places with lots of people and large gatherings where there will be close contact with others. People at higher risk include:

-People 60 and older
-People with underlying health conditions including heart disease, lung disease, or diabetes
-People who have weakened immune systems
-People who are pregnant

Workplaces should enact measures that allow people who can work from home to do so. Taking these measures can help reduce the number of workers who come into contact with COVID-19 and help minimize absenteeism due to illness

If you can feasibly avoid bringing large groups of people together, consider postponing events and gatherings.
Public Health is not recommending closing schools at this time. If there is a confirmed case of COVID-19, Public Health will work with the school and the district to determine the best measures including potential closure of the school.
All people should not go out when they are sick.
Avoid visiting hospitals, long term care facilities, or nursing homes to the extent possible. If you need to go, limit your time there and keep six feet away from patients.

CANCELLATIONS & POSTPONEMENTS: Those recommendations have started leading to some local postponements and cancellations, so we launched a list. You can find the list here as well as atop our Event Calendar page. Please let us know of cancellations, postponements, changes by emailing or texting/calling our hotline, 206-293-6302.

SCHOOLS: At noted in today’s briefing (the video is atop our afternoon report), it’s up to local schools/districts to decide when/whether to close schools. There are NO cases in Seattle Public Schools, which is publishing daily updates here. From today’s update:

As of today, Public Health continues to recommend that we don’t close schools unless there is a lab-confirmed COVID-19 test result for a student or staff person in attendance at the school. …

Schools are prioritizing hand washing when students arrive at school, anytime they have used the restroom, and prior to lunch. Staff are reinforcing good hygiene and reminding students to sneeze into a tissue or elbow, not to touch their face, and reducing physical hand contact. And, our custodial staff have been working tirelessly to prioritize cleaning common and high traffic areas multiple times a day.

We have also postponed all district-sponsored out of state travel (flights, bus, car, etc.) for staff and students through the end of the school year, including district-sponsored field trips and international travel. Washington state travel is still approved, but flights are cancelled. Schools are working with families on reimbursements and the superintendent will be issuing a letter of support this week to provide to travel agencies and airlines.

Additionally, we have cancelled all school-day professional development in order to prioritize substitute coverage in schools so that we can maintain a focus on student learning.

WASHINGTON STATE FERRIES: The alerts page on the WSF website now carries a coronavirus advisory – this is the heart of it:

We have received questions from customers concerned about having to exchange money or passes with tollbooth staff. Unfortunately, wireless or hands-free ticket scanning is not available at all of our terminals, so it would be very difficult for staff to completely avoid handling money or transit passes. The CDC urges people to practice good personal hygiene, especially hand-washing and using hand sanitizer, as the best defense.

In addition to taking the personal health preparedness steps that have been widely circulating in the news – wash your hands, don’t touch your face, cover coughs and sneezes – there are some other things passengers might consider doing to protect themselves while on the ferry. For example, those who drive onto the ferry are welcome to stay in their vehicle for the duration of the crossing to avoid congested public areas. Those in the passenger cabin should try to maintain a personal distance of six feet; according to the CDC, that is a safe distance to avoid catching most respiratory viruses.

QUARANTINE SITES: During today’s briefing, County Executive Dow Constantine announced that in addition to the Top Hat modular-housing site unveiled Tuesday, the county will also set up portable buildings at sites in Interbay and North Seattle. They have been in storage on Harbor Island and are like this one we photographed at the Top Hat site yesterday:

He also said the motel the county is buying is in Kent (where city leaders are unhappy, The Seattle Times reports). He acknowledged community concerns about the Top Hat site and explained the criteria that it met. No one has been moved to any of those sites yet.

WHAT’S NEXT: Public-health agencies are continuing to release new information daily, late morning or early afternoon. Watch the SKCPH site here and the state Health Department site here. Tomorrow, the Seattle City Council is having a special meeting to discuss Mayor Jenny Durkan‘s civil-emergency proclamation (1 pm Thursday); their planned committee briefing this afternoon with city department heads was cancelled. (Added) Also Thursday, Vice President Pence visits our state; he and Gov. Jay Inslee plan a joint briefing at 5 pm.

WSB COVERAGE: It’s all categorized so that you can find it anytime at We’re also using Twitter (@westseattleblog) for instant bursts.

27 Replies to "CORONAVIRUS: Wednesday toplines - new cases; recommendations; cancellation list; schools; ferries; more"

  • Greg March 5, 2020 (5:00 am)

    How many cases there are is totally unknown. The CDC has not been testing people other than in small numbers. We have no idea if there are 30 cases or 2,000 cases in King county. If it’s been circulating here for weeks, as evidence suggests, the number of cases— I suspect— is being vastly underreported. Until they are testing thousands of people a day we will have no idea how large or small this public health risk is. 

    • Kim March 5, 2020 (7:52 am)

      Exactly right. 

    • Jethro Marx March 5, 2020 (7:58 am)

      In terms of public health risk, it’s worse than Y2K but not as bad as zombies. Glad I could help.

      • notatroll March 5, 2020 (9:46 am)

        Not as bad as zombies is a relief. 

      • Anon March 5, 2020 (10:16 am)

        I wish there were a like button. Part of me has been wanting to re-watch 28 Days Later… but it doesn’t exactly inspire nobility and compassion.  I think the balance of danger is really is somewhere between 1918 Influenza.. and Swine Flu. I’m sure there are some preppers having a real “Fall of Rome/Plague of Justinian” psychological crisis right now, and there could be some actual geopolitical implications- or not.

  • Frog March 5, 2020 (7:41 am)

    The Times says the Northshore school district has closed its buildings and switched to e-learning for up to two weeks.  Meanwhile, according to an email last night, SPS has forbidden teachers to use e-learning platforms due to equity.

  • J March 5, 2020 (8:56 am)

    I’m really glad UW is coming online to test. Without information all the complex risk calculations, that every individual is called to do for themselves, are exponentially more complex. What a mental burden!

  • Kathy March 5, 2020 (9:32 am)

    I am wondering why the guidance doesn’t suggest that food service employees use gloves? Yesterday I got my personal mug filled at a coffee shop and the employees were not wearing gloves. I was wearing gloves and I wiped down my mug with alcohol when I got it home.  I notice that Starbucks is now not accepting personal containers to fill. So bad for the environment with more use of disposable gloves, containers and masks. But good for the environment since so many people are staying home and not driving around in their polluting vehicles. I wonder if businesses will figure out that replacing a lot of business travel  with virtual meetings is much better for the environment, for health, and probably the bottom line.

    • JG March 5, 2020 (11:10 am)

      Remember gloves are just as liable to carry germs as hands the moment they are pulled out of the box, and a worn glove is really only as clean as the hands that put them on. The most important thing is that service workers are washing hands regularly, especially after handling money, which I have seen made clear already multiple times.

    • flimflam March 5, 2020 (5:54 pm)

      yet there you are out in public “taking risks” huh?  you poor dear…as a service industry lifer, this attitude is chafing…i will say, you are right, they should have gloves if they were touching the rim of your mug, etc – but you don’t see servers with gloves on delivering a plate of food, right?anyway, it chafes me because for some strange reason, no matter what may be happening, people (yes, the owners as well) think that be it snow storm, power outage, virus outbreak people expect their food/coffee/routines to stay relatively undisturbed. that someone BE there to make something for you. at all says, “bad snow storm, stay home if you can” and now the same with the virus. “avoid large gatherings” “stay 6 feet from other people” – not going to happen in the service industry. 

      • The truth March 7, 2020 (3:01 pm)

        Gloves are actually dirtier in most cases than properly washed hands.  Reason is you don’t feel liquid, soil buildups or other sensory indicators to wash your hands.  If I touch raw chicken juice that is on a counter with my bare hand I know.  If I accidentally touch it with a gloved hand I won’t feel the the juice and my brain will not trigger to was my hands.  Also, they are an environmental disaster.

  • Kathleen March 5, 2020 (9:52 am)

    Ever notice how the SBUX folks that give you your coffee grab the cup from over the top so their fingers are grabbing where your mouth would be?  They should be grabbing the cup from the side, but they never do.  This has been going on for years.  That is not the reason I do not go to SBUX, but is totally baffles me that they are not trained to grab from the side, unless they are and nobody pays attention.  (and I am not a germophobe, far from it)…

  • jissy March 5, 2020 (10:21 am)

    Kathleen:  I HAVE noticed that too and it turns my stomach.  I don’t go there often …. maybe no more entirely.

  • Cycleman March 5, 2020 (10:48 am)

    Kathleen, what the people at Starbucks are doing with your coffee should be the least of your worries. Stay home and make your own coffee and save $5 while you’re  at it. The things people complain about!!! Honestly. 

  • WS4Life March 5, 2020 (11:16 am)

    If your worried about people contaminating your food or drinks then you should probably not eat or drink out. And you probably shouldn’t have only started worrying about it now!! People have been not washing their hands and coughing without covering their mouths for centuries. 

  • WSB March 5, 2020 (12:22 pm)

    Today’s King County update just in: 20 more lab-confirmed cases. 51 total including 10 deaths – one reported since yesterday, a previously counted case, “a woman in her 90s, hospitalized at EvergreenHealth.” They are no longer providing specifics on each case. I’ll add the link to today’s news release when it’s up. No new health recommendations. -TR

    • Anon March 5, 2020 (1:38 pm)

      Every day it seems like there is less information. How many people have been tested that turned up 20 positive?

      • WSB March 5, 2020 (1:55 pm)

        That I don’t know, but I’m listening to the City Council-hosted briefing right now. A Seattle-King County Public Health official said they’d had the capacity to test 200 a day but now with a UW lab being able to test too, they’re hoping to be able to run 1,000 tests a day.

        • Concerned March 5, 2020 (9:31 pm)

          Is there any confirmed news stating how many tests Washington state is doing daily? Or any percentage of positive tests vs negative tests? It’s encouraging to hear we can potentially do upwards of 1000 tests per day but all I hear or read is that healthcare agencies are declining testing people with appropriate symptoms. Some say they only met 2 out of the 3 symptoms. Some believe the tests are too costly so the government is withholding the tests unless it puts the mortality rate at risk. I just don’t understand why we aren’t testing people with symptoms, minor or not. The MD from Pence’s press conference today mentioned the bridge to understanding and hopefully stopping this epidemic lies especially within the minor cases yet those are the very cases being denied testing. They praise South Korea’s efforts at the vast amount of testing they are doing and the low mortality percentage yet they don’t want to mimic it.

    • Joe March 5, 2020 (2:43 pm)

      It would be nice if they would at least say the part of the city that the new cases were from. Or maybe that wouldn’t be valuable, because what matters is where they’ve been (?)

  • Mrclean March 5, 2020 (3:15 pm)

    +1 To ws4life’s comment.  If  poor hand sanitation is a worry then you must NEVER go to any resteraunt again. You must NEVER buy fresh fruit or vegitables(or any unpackaged food) in a supermarket again. You must NEVER handle anything that a co worker has touched. I’m alway’s amazed at the # of people AFRAID of soap and water. And i get a kick out of seeing the empty hand sanitiser shelves. Most of that will go unused…………  

  • Mj March 5, 2020 (5:53 pm)

    It’s a bad flu and in time it will pass.  

  • Mj March 5, 2020 (6:42 pm)

    Thank you, the symptoms and treatment are similar.  The vast majority of people who unfortunately get affected will not know the difference.  The mortality rate in South Korea where testing has been extensive is less than 1%.

    • Anon March 5, 2020 (8:51 pm)

      But much higher for baby boomers and their parents.

    • KP March 6, 2020 (9:27 am)

      Requiring food handlers to wear gloves is no guarantee of food purity. There was a food handler for a Boeing “satellite” cafeteria who was well-known for re-stocking salad bar and DIY sandwich supplies, etc. with her regulation-compliant food handler gloves on, then go over to the cash register to work the console keys, take everybody’s money and make change for them out of the change drawer – then right back to dipping  into those nice clean plastic bins full of salad greens, sandwich meats, cheese and the like without out once removing or changing those gloves. Betcha her hands stayed really, really clean, though. 

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