With so much changing so fast, it’s already once again time for a 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.
WHO declares the novel coronavirus a pandemic
The World Health Organization has belatedly issued a formal determination that the COVID-19 outbreak is a pandemic as opposed to just an epidemic.
Watch their press conference:
Governor Jay Inslee forbids large public gatherings
Washington Governor Inslee has used the authority vested in him by the Constitution and the Revised Code of Washington to issue an order prohibiting public gatherings of two hundred and fifty people or more.
If you’re wondering whether this is legal, the answer is yes… the Governor isn’t improvising with this order. He’s using the authority granted to him by this RCW.
Read the emergency proclamation:Inslee emergency proclamation pertaining to large gatherings
The King County Sheriff’s Office has asked NPI to advise you not to call 911 or the county’s non-emergency line to report gatherings over 250 people.
If you need to contact someone in relation to a gathering, you can call the King County Novel Coronavirus call center at 206–477-3977.
Their hours of operation are 8 AM — 7 PM.
Governor Kate Brown copies Inslee’s move
Oregon Governor Kate Brown wasted no time in following Inslee’s lead.
“Nobody is immune to this virus, it can touch everyone,” said Brown, who advised she would also ban gatherings of two hundred and fifty people or more.
“We can’t let fear and anxiety stigmatize people,” the Governor added.
“We are seeing cases across multiple counties and age groups, and in people exposed through different circumstances. It’s time for us all to do what we can to slow its spread and take care of one another.”
The Governor has a press conference planned for 9 AM tomorrow to detail the ban and other measures the state is taking, including social distancing measures.
School for many Puget Sound students gets canceled
Several large school districts have announced that their buildings and facilities will be closed and all classes canceled for the next few weeks, including Seattle, Lake Washington, Shoreline, and Bellevue. Learn more about the closures.
New cases in Washington
Washington State now has a total of three hundred and sixty-six confirmed cases and twenty-nine deaths, according to updated Department of Health statistics.
Public Health – Seattle & King County is reporting the following confirmed cases and deaths due to COVID-19 through 11:59 PM 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.
The Washington State cases account for a significant percentage of the total known and confirmed cases in the United States as a whole.
New cases in Oregon
Oregon reported several new cases of the novel coronavirus today.
The Oregon Health Authority (OHA) today announced Linn County’s first two presumptive positive cases of COVID-19.
The new cases, involving two males over the age of 80, brings Oregon’s total to 21 total cases in eight counties.
Like the cases in Polk, Marion and Deschutes, the Linn County cases had no known close contacts with confirmed cases, so they are considered community-spread.
An Infection Control and Specimen Collection Strike Team will deploy to Linn County. The team will assess and work with the facility to assess infection control. The team will collect specimen samples for COVID-19 testing from all residents and care providers.
Upon initial evaluation, residents with symptoms were initially tested for flu, and respiratory illness. As an extra precaution, that facility had previously switched its ventilation system to circulating 100% outside air to mitigate the potential spread of infectious disease. the residents continued to receive appropriate medical care and were placed in isolation. Infectious disease prevention protocols also continued to be followed to protect other residents and staff.
Oregon Department of Veterans’ Affairs Director Kelly Fitzpatrick said “our highest priority has always been the health and safety of our most honored veteran residents that we serve in our two veterans’ homes. From the start of concerns about COVID-19, and especially upon learning that the very age group that resides in our veterans’ homes is also the most susceptible, we took immediate measures to protect our veterans, including adhering to state and federal guidelines. Even before COVID-19 emerged, the two veterans’ homes regularly followed strict infectious disease protocols.”
“We believe that protecting the health and safety of the veterans in our homes helps ensure we live up to their motto, ‘the place where honor lives.’ We have a sacred trust to safeguard them now.”
OHA, in consultation with the Oregon Department of Human Services, issued a policy to limit exposure to COVID-19 at long-term care facilities yesterday.
The guidance directs nursing, assisted living and residential care facilities, including those providing memory care, to:
- Restrict visitation to only essential individuals;
- Limit essential visitors to two per resident at a given time;
- Screen all permitted visitors for respiratory or other symptoms potentially indicating COVID-19 and for recent travel to an affected geographic area or high-risk setting prior to entering the facilities;
- Document the screenings for all visitors;
- Limit community outings; and
- Support residents’ access to socialization when visitors are not able to enter the facility through virtual visits.
Health officials continue to urge all Oregonians to take steps to protect those who are most vulnerable to complications from COVID-19.
New cases in British Columbia
British Columbia also reported a slew of new cases today.
VICTORIA — 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 seven new cases of COVID-19, for a total of 46 cases in British Columbia. The individuals are in the Vancouver Coastal Health, Fraser Health and Island Health regions.”
“Two cases are connected to the Lynn Valley Care Centre, three cases are travel-related and two are community cases.”
“Case 40 is a male in his twenties living in the Vancouver Coastal Health region, and case 45 is a woman in her fifties living in the Fraser Health region. Both work at the Lynn Valley Care Centre. There are no new resident cases.”
“Case 43 is a male in his seventies living in the Vancouver Coastal Health region. Case 46 is a man in his sixties living in the Island Health region. Both cases 43 and 46 have returned from travelling in Egypt. Case 42 is a man in his seventies from Egypt, who is visiting family in the Fraser Health region.”
“Case 41 is a woman in her sixties currently in hospital. Case 44 is a man in his sixties. Both are new community cases, who were identified through laboratory surveillance, and both reside in the Fraser Health region.”
“Three patients have been discharged from hospital and are now recovering at home. One person is in hospital.”
“All other patients with COVID-19 remain in isolation at home with care and support from public health teams.”
“We have seen an increase in community cases in the Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley in recent days, where the source of the virus infection is not yet known. Public health teams are actively investigating, as we continue work to limit the spread of transmission in B.C.
“Today, we are asking British Columbians to take additional care of seniors and people with compromised immune systems. Do not visit them if you are sick. If they are living at home and are sick, consider how you may support them with food and other necessities. If you need to visit a long-term care home or other health-care facility, go one person at a time and limit your visit to the person you know.”
“We are working with all long-term care and assisted living facilities to implement enhanced prevention measures to further protect all residents.”
“If any British Columbian has been notified by event organizers that they may have been exposed to COVID-19, such as the recent Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada conference in Toronto, we are strongly recommending social distancing in the workplace and at home, especially from those most vulnerable, in addition to closely monitoring for symptoms.”
“Today, the World Health Organization declared the outbreak of COVID-19 a pandemic. As part of the British Columbia Pandemic Provincial Co-ordination Plan, we continue to focus on containment to break the chains of transmission, and we are using all the tools in our toolbox required at this time.”
“As an example, callers to British Columbia’s HealthLink 811 line have experienced intermittent busy signals today as call volume has increased. We are resolving this by adding more staff, more phone lines and a new menu option to provide a dedicated queue for calls about COVID-19.”
“The British Columbia Pandemic Provincial Co-ordination Plan details the preparations and comprehensive toolkit to respond to the evolving outbreak. This will be an ongoing resource for the province.”
Congressional Democrats unveil COVID-19 response bills
The Senate and House Democrats each introduced measures to provide emergency economic relief to working people.
The Senate Democrats held a press conference to announce their plan.
The House Democrats introduced the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.
Read the bill:Families First Coronavirus Response Act
Staffer in Senator Cantwell’s office tests positive for virus
A staff member in Senator Maria Cantwell’s office has tested positive for COVID-19. Senator Cantwell was not exposed, we understand.
Cantwell has directed her staff to work from home until further notice.
CDC issues Seattle-specific guidance
The Centers For Disease Control and Prevention released guidance targeted at people living in and near Seattle, the largest city in the Pacific Northwest.
Read and download:CDC’s Seattle Community Mitigation advice
COVID-19 kills off the bull market
NBA suspends its season
The National Basketball Association has pulled the plug on its season after one of its players (Rudy Gobert) tested positive for COVID-19.
Just a few days ago, Gobert stupidly dismissed concerns about the novel coronavirus and made a point of touching all the microphones in front of him at a press conference to demonstrate his lack of concern.
Tom Hanks says he and Rita Wilson have the virus
On social media, well known actor Tom Hanks said he and his wife have also tested positive for the disease, stunning millions of people around the world. Hanks and Wilson are in Australia for the filming of a movie.
Bloomberg assesses how Patient Zero spread the virus
The first person in Washington to have a confirmed case of COVID-19 likely spread it to other people despite health authorities’ best efforts to follow up with all of the people that the individual had come into contact with.