OLYMPIA, Wash. — All bars, entertainment and recreational facilities have been ordered by the state to close across Washington and restaurants will be limited to take-out or delivery orders only, Gov. Jay Inslee said Sunday night.
The order goes into effect at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday morning, an Inslee spokesperson said, though King County has chosen to enact its ban immediately.
Gov. Inslee Press Conf. on COVID-19 Update
“Given the explosion of COVID-19 in our state and globally, I will sign a statewide emergency proclamation tomorrow to temporarily shut down restaurants, bars and entertainment and recreational facilities,” Inslee said in a press release announcing the new order. “Restaurants will be allowed to provide take-out and delivery services but no in-person dining will be permitted. The ban will not apply to grocery stores and pharmacies. Other retail outlets will have reduced occupancy.”
Retail outlets include gas stations, banks, hardware, stores and shopping centers.
Governor Jay Inslee
King County will shut down these establishments immediately. As the largest population center and current epicenter of this outbreak, they must act with even greater urgency. I applaud @kcexec’s decision.
We will hold a joint press conference with more details tomorrow. 5/6
The closure is in effect until March 31 for now.
“Hopefully it’s just a couple weeks, but we don’t know,” said Grace Jurado, General Manager of Red Mill Burgers.
Red Mill Burgers was already planning to make changes to its restaurant operations before Inslee’s announcement Sunday night. The Red Mill Burgers Totem House location in Ballard is now temporarily closed. Starting Tuesday, the locations in Phinney Ridge and Interbay will have limited hours and only take to-go orders without cash, Jurado said.
“We were trying to get ahead of the curve on it, but I’m happy that right now – it’s allowing us to at least stay open for to-go orders,” she told KOMO News on Sunday night.
Inslee also increased a ban on gatherings over 250 people down to a ban of over 50 people, and all gatherings under 50 people are prohibited unless previously announced criteria for public health and social distancing are met.
“We are at a critical moment in this crisis,” said King County Executive Dow Constantine. “We are leaving the phase of COVID-19 outbreaks in concentrated areas of the county, and entering the phase of potentially rapid and widespread infection.”
He suggests just assume the new coronavirus is already widespread.
“It is time, right now, for people to assume that they and everyone they meet is infected, to avoid any unnecessary interactions that might lead to further infection, and to wait and monitor to see if they have in fact been infected so that they can isolate and recover without presenting a risk to others,” Constantine said.
Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan says a recent study by the Institute for Disease Modeling found that if the Puget Sound region didn’t take any mitigating steps for the virus, that by early April the Puget Sound region could have as many as 25,000 cases of COVID-19, and 400 deaths. But with strong to extreme social distancing efforts, we can limit future infections to between 1,700 and 4,800 in the region with 30-100 deaths, depending on their effectiveness, the study found.
“The study underscored the importance of social distancing in saving lives, preventing the further spread of the virus, and relieving pressure on the health care system and first responders,” Durkan said.
‘Your actions could kill someone’
The announcement comes hours after Inslee had stern words Sunday for those who are ignoring the state mandates to avoid large crowds and practice strong social distancing as the new coronavirus continues to spread:
“Your actions could kill someone. Stop it.”
Inslee’s tweet praised most Washingtonians for adhering to the recommendations, designed to slow the widening outbreak. Two more deaths were announced Sunday afternoon in King County, bringing the county’s total to 37 and the statewide total to 42 with 769 total cases.
The deaths include a woman in her 60s who died at Franciscan Medical on March 14 and a woman in her 70s who died on March 12. Both were residents of Life Care Center of Kirkland.
Of the 37 deaths reported in King County, 29 are associated with Life Care. As of Saturday, 47 staff members tested positive for coronavirus, 24 tested negative, one test came back inconclusive, and five tests are still pending. Eighteen additional employees will be tested Saturday.
So far, more than 9,000 people who tested for coronavirus came back with negative results.
“Although the laboratory test is becoming more broadly available, there are limitations in the health care industry’s capacity to obtain samples from people as rapidly as we would like,” Public Health Seattle & King County wrote in a press release. “In addition, people do not always need to be tested for clinical care purposes since there is currently no medication to treat COVID-19.”
EvergreenHealth Hospital ER Doctor hospitalized with coronavirus
An emergency room doctor with EvergreenHealth hospital, which is treating several COVID-19 cases, has been hospitalized himself due to the coronavirus infection, hospital officials and the American College of Emergency Officials said Sunday.
Hospital officials say the doctor is in critical but stable condition. His name is not being released due health privacy laws.
“I am deeply saddened by this news, but not surprised,” ACEP President Dr. William Jaquis said in a statement. “As emergency physicians, we know the risks of our calling. We stand united with our colleagues and our thoughts and prayers for a full and speedy recovery are with each of them and their families.”
Jaquis says it’s unclear whether the doctor picked up the virus at the hospital or via community spread.
Don’t overstock on supplies
Inslee also praised most state residents for buying supplies responsibly but noted that those that are overbuying are “putting their friends and neighbors at risk.”
“Grocers say consumer overstocking – not a disrupted supply chain — is the main reason their store shelves are empty of many supplies and food items, especially hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes, toilet paper, and plastic gloves,” according to a Department of Health Press Release.
Officials say they want to assure everyone once shoppers return to the normal pace of purchases there will be an adequate supply. They added that water supplies are fine and there is no need to overstock bottled water.
“These are very difficult decisions, but hours count here and very strong measures are necessary to slow the spread of the virus,” Inslee said. “I know there will be significant economic impacts to all our communities and we are looking at steps to help address those challenges.”
CDC: Avoid gatherings over 50 for 8 weeks
Officials across the country curtailed many elements of American life to fight the coronavirus outbreak on Sunday, with health officials recommending that groups of 50 or more don’t get together and a government expert saying a 14-day national shutdown may be needed.
Governors were closing restaurants, bars, and schools as the nation sank deeper into chaos over the crisis. Travelers returning home from overseas trips were stuck in line for hours at major airports for screenings, causing them to be crammed into just the kind of crowded spaces that public health officials have been urging people to avoid.
As Americans struggled to come to terms with how to change their daily habits, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a dramatic recommendation: Because large events can fuel the spread of the disease, it said gatherings of 50 people or more should be canceled or postponed throughout the country for the next eight weeks. It added that, at any event, proper precautions should be taken, including making sure people are washing their hands and not getting too close.
But in a sign of the difficulty of striking the right balance, the statement from the CDC also said the recommendation does not apply to “the day to day operation of organizations such as schools, institutes of higher learning, or businesses.”
Blood supply in jeopardy of collapse
Health officials say that the local blood supply is in jeopardy of collapsing with multiple blood drives closing and more than 2,500 donations lost amid coronavirus concerns.
“New donors are needed now to step-up and save a life, and for donors to make this a generous and consistent habit,” Public Health Seattle & King County said. “All types of blood are needed for cancer treatment, trauma cases and many other situations. The process only takes an hour and actual donation time is about ten minutes.”
“Donating blood is a safe activity, and there is no risk of contracting coronavirus from the blood donation process,” health officials added.
Inslee said the coronavirus outbreak has now spread to 15 counties in Washington state, where 70% of the state’s population lives.
First vaccine trial begins in Seattle Monday
A clinical trial evaluating a vaccine designed to protect against the new coronavirus will begin Monday in Seattle, according to a government official.
The first participant in the trial will receive the experimental vaccine on Monday, the official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because the trial has not been publicly announced yet. The National Institutes of Health is funding the trial, which is taking place at the Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute in Seattle, the official said.
Public health officials say it will take a year to 18 months to fully validate any potential vaccine.
Starbucks implements “To-Go” model in its stores
Starbucks is implementing a “to go” model for at least two weeks to encourage social distancing and help contain the spread of coronavirus.
The policy will apply to all company-owned stores in the U.S. and Canada. The Seattle-based coffee giant will close in high-social gathering locations, including malls and university campuses. Communities with high clusters of COVID-19 cases will also temporarily close or have reduced operating hours.
Other changes include pausing all use of seating, including both in the café and patio areas. Customers may still walk up and order at the counter, through the “order ahead” feature in the Starbucks app or drive-through.
Pike Place Market member tests positive for COVID-19
A member of the Pike Place Market community has tested positive for new coronavirus, according to a Market spokesperson.
“The individual spent time in a very specific area of the Market and that area has been closed and is undergoing a deep cleaning,” says spokesperson Madison Bristol. “We are following the cleaning regimen advised by public health officials.”
Market officials have notified everyone at the market who came in contact with the person so they can evaluate their exposure risk and any need to self-quarantine, Bristol said.
“Currently, the risk to the public is low to Market visitors, according to county officials,” Bristol said, adding that the Market remains open.
Sounders support staff member tests positive for COVID-19
Seattle Sounders FC announced Sunday that the club has learned a member of the organization’s support staff has been confirmed to have COVID-19.
So far it’s the only known case in the organization and the person is in an “appropriate isolation protocol,” according to the team.
The person did work the Sounders’ March 7 match against Columbus but did not interact with the general public. His symptoms didn’t surface until 4 days after the match and experts don’t believe he has posed a risk to the general public, team members or visiting team members.
Seattle food truck struggles to stay open as virus forces customers to work from home
Veronica Weaver is among many local food truck operators feeling the pinch of the coronavirus.
“We go from working five days a week to maybe working one to two days or maybe none at all,” she said.
That’s because the coronavirus outbreak is causing people to work at home, meaning many offices are empty.
“I go to a lot of the big corporations like Microsoft and Expedia and now those locations are shut down to us,” Weaver said.
Less business means the trucks stay parked and charging while Weaver continues to lose money.
“We’re down 80 to 90% of our revenue during this time,” she said.