It’s time for another installment of of our special series COVID-19 Update, bringing you the latest developments on the novel coronavirus outbreak that public health authorities here and throughout the country are working diligently to mitigate.
Unlike some of the nonsense that is unfortunately circulating on social media, all the information you’ll find here is accurate and based on sound science.
Governor Jay Inslee asks Washingtonians to stay home
Washington State’s chief executive appealed to its seven plus million inhabitants not to leave home unless absolutely necessary in a press conference today, explaining that not enough people are doing a sufficient job of physical distancing.
“I’m asking you, and you may say I am pleading with you, to stay home; stay home unless it is necessary that you go out,” Inslee said from his conference room in the State Capitol, where a Cisco WebEx system was set up and a pool camera rolling. “I am exercising every ounce of the bully pulpit authority that I have.”
Governors in several other states have now issued so-called “shelter in place” orders. Inslee has not, but he has closed schools and restaurant dining rooms, and prohibited large gatherings of people. Many Washingtonians are anxious for him to go further, and Inslee hinted that he is preparing to do so.
Workers in their sixties and people with health conditions that leave them particularly vulnerable to COVID-19 ought to be able to elect to stay home even if their employer wants them to come in, Inslee said. He explained that his staff are exploring whether he may issue an executive order to that effect.
“If you are in one of these vulnerable groups, I want to see to it you have the right to stay home … and I urge you to do so,” he said.
Local authorities: Keep off playgrounds and sports courts
Meanwhile, King County and the City of Seattle announced that all playgrounds, basketball/racket courts and sports fields would be closing.
“With schools closed and people adapting to new work habits, our parks and open spaces can provide an important break in these stressful times. It is clear, however, that we must continue to be vigilant in these places as well, and make sure all our residents put into practice Public Health directives,” said King County Executive Dow Constantine. “Go for a hike. Take the family for a stroll. Kick a soccer ball around with your kids. But use good sense and avoid gatherings, team sports, pick-up games, and playground equipment.”
“Parks are beloved by all, but we must be smart about our behaviors during this unprecedented public health emergency. We are in a new normal. While individuals and families can bike, walk, or run, we cannot allow gatherings at Seattle’s best locations including Alki, Golden Gardens, Seward, Volunteer Park or Magnuson. Every single resident should take social distancing guidelines to heart – it could save someone’s life,” said Mayor Jenny Durkan.
Reporters from several different media outlets have observed large crowds congregating at Alki Beach, and the staff of The Seattle Times have observed people failing to practice physical distancing on basketball courts.
More deaths, more cases in Washington State
The death toll from the novel coronavirus continues to increase in the Evergreen State, as does the number of newly confirmed cases. The Department of Health reports there are 1,524 confirmed cases and eighty-three deaths. 21,719 individuals have tested negative for COVID-19.
In King County:
Public Health—Seattle & King County is reporting the following confirmed cases and deaths due to COVID-19 through 11:59 PM on 3/19/20.
- 793 confirmed cases (up 100 from yesterday)
- 67 confirmed deaths (up 7 from yesterday)
These additional deaths include:
- A man in his sixties, who died on March 19th
- A woman in her nineties, who died on March 17th
- A man in his seventies, who died on March 18th
- A woman in her eighties. who died on March 18th
- A woman in her seventies, whose date of death has not been confirmed
- A man in his seventies, who died on March 19th at Valley Medical Center
- A woman in her sixties, who died on March 19th at Harborview Medical Center
Of the 67 deaths reported, 35 are confirmed to be associated with Life Care Center of Kirkland.
More cases in Oregon
Oregon’s confirmed cases now number in the triple digits.
Oregon Health Authority reported 26 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the state total to 114, as of 8:30 AM today, March 20th. The COVID-19 cases reported today are in the following counties: Clackamas (4), Deschutes (2), Grant (1), Linn (1), Marion (4), Multnomah (5), Union (1), Washington (6), Yamhill (2).
Oregon Governor Kate Brown is coming under pressure to issue a “shelter in place” order, just like Washington Governor Jay Inslee is, the Willamette Week reports.
More cases in Idaho
The Gem State is now beginning to grapple with the pandemic just like its western neighbors. The state now has thirty-one total confirmed cases.
|Public Health District||County||Cases||Deaths|
|Panhandle Health District||Kootenai||3||0|
|Southwest District Health||Canyon||1||0|
|Central District Health||Ada||4||0|
|South Central Public Health District||Blaine||19||0|
|Eastern Idaho Public Health||Madison||1||0|
Employees of Boise State University, Micron Technology Inc. and the Boise VA Medical Center have all tested positive for coronavirus, the Idaho Statesman reports.
Governor Brad Little issued a statement following the disclosure of the new cases.
“My office and members of my Coronavirus Working Group are fully engaged with the South Central Public Health District, Blaine County Commissioners, and mayors in that area to ensure a strong response is in place. Our number one priority is to slow the spread of the virus in that community and outside of it. To ensure that happens, the director of the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare will issue an isolation order for residents in the area. We are still working on the details, and residents will still have essential services available to them, such as access to grocery stores and, of course, healthcare.”
“I am firm in my commitment to making decisions in our coronavirus planning and response based on science, not fear. Every step of the way, we have made decisions based on the best information and guidance from the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention and our nation’s leaders, and we will continue to do so.”
“I urge everyone to be even more vigilant of the preventative measures to slow the spread of coronavirus. And most of all, I continue to urge Idahoans to take care of each other. Be mindful of our actions. Find someone you can help. We will get through this together.”
More deaths, more cases in British Columbia
The news isn’t better north of the border.
VANCOUVER — Adrian Dix, Minister of Health, and Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.‘s provincial health officer, have issued the following joint statement regarding updates on the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) response in British Columbia:
“We are announcing 77 new cases of COVID-19, for a total of 348 cases in British Columbia.”
“Of the new cases, one patient is a health-care worker at the Dufferin Care Centre, a long-term care home in Coquitlam. Fraser Health authority public health and infection control teams are on site.”
“Every health region in British Columbia has patients with COVID-19: 200 are in the Vancouver Coastal Health region, 95 are in the Fraser Health region, 30 are in the Vancouver Island Health region, 19 are in the Interior Health region and four are in the Northern Heath region.”
“Additionally, of the total COVID-19 cases, six people have completely recovered, 22 are receiving acute care, 10 are in intensive care and the remaining patients are at home in isolation.”
“As the number of cases increases and the pressure on our health-care system intensifies, we would like to acknowledge and thank our healthcare workers as they support all those in B.C. who require testing and care for COVID-19.”
“In step with World Health Organization recommendations, the Public Health Agency of Canada’s National Advisory Committee on Infection Prevention and Control provides clear guidance for all health-care workers to follow. They can be confident that by following these guidelines on appropriate use, we will have sufficient supply of personal protective equipment.”
“We need everybody to be aware of the risk in every community and every health region across B.C. And, equally important, because of the incubation period and rapid transmission, the self-isolation and [physical] distancing that we do today will benefit all of us two weeks and two months from now.”
“Given the challenges social distancing presents for restaurants, effective immediately, all dine-in food services are prohibited. Restaurants must move to delivery or take-out options only, or close.”
“We also want to be clear that while spending time outdoors is important, people still need to stay away from groups in any environment — to prevent bringing the virus into their homes.”
“New resources are being made available every day to support everyone in our province as we continue to work to stop the transmission of COVID-19.”
Adjusting to life during a pandemic: Practical advice
This is unquestionably a difficult, stressful time. It’s hard for everybody. Here’s some practical advice for coping with pandemic life.
- Wirecutter: How to Work From Home With Kids
- Wired: All the Gear You Might Need During a Pandemic
- New York Times: What to Watch, Read and Listen to During Your Quarantine
- Washington Post: The completely correct guide to vacationing at home
Stay safe, keep your distance, and be well.