COVID-19 (Coronavirus)
COVID-19 (Coronavirus; CDC graphic)

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 across the coun­try are work­ing to mitigate.


On Tues­day, May 19th, the Fire­stone Pacif­ic Foods pro­cess­ing facil­i­ty in Van­cou­ver was closed due to an out­break that result­ed in thir­­ty-eight infect­ed employ­ees. It also result­ed in a “pause” of Clark Coun­ty upgrad­ing to Lev­el 2 sta­tus, and Clark Coun­ty Pub­lic Health is present­ly work­ing with Fire­stone to redeem the situation.

A sim­i­lar sit­u­a­tion is sad­ly unfold­ing at the Stemilt Grow­ers Old sta­tion facil­i­ty – twen­­ty-five employ­ees on a pack­ag­ing line crew out of six­ty have test­ed pos­i­tive for COVID-19 as of May 23rd — but no “pause” is present­ly under con­sid­er­a­tion as a result with­in Chelan County.

On Thurs­day, May 21st, state offi­cials con­firmed that hun­dreds of mil­lions of dol­lars in unem­ploy­ment ben­e­fits were stolen in what appears to have been a “coor­di­nat­ed crim­i­nal attack” through the cre­ation of thou­sands of fraud­u­lent accounts.

We at NPI strong­ly rec­om­mend that you cre­ate an account on the state Employ­ment Secu­ri­ty Divi­sion web­site and then link your Social Secu­ri­ty Num­ber to that account as a means of pre­vent­ing fraud through use of your per­son­al data.

If you already have a Secure Access Wash­ing­ton (SAW) account because you’ve use DOL’s Licen­seX­press to renew your dri­ver’s license, sim­ply login with your cre­den­tials on the ESD web­site and then cre­ate your pro­file. Cre­at­ing the pro­file is the essen­tial step that you must to take to deter fraud.

Also last Thurs­day, state Insur­ance Com­mis­sion­er Mike Krei­dler extend­ed his emer­gency order to facil­i­tate health­care cov­er­age in terms of the means by which access is avail­able and diag­no­sis is attempted.

Pacif­ic, Cowlitz, Grant, Island, Jef­fer­son, Mason and San Juan coun­ties were approved on Sat­ur­day, May 23rd, to move into Phase II of Gov­er­nor Jay Inslee’s “Safe Start” plan. They join four­teen oth­er coun­ties in Phase II.

Mean­while, a Tim Eyman hyped demon­stra­tion against Gov­er­nor Inslee’s stay home, stay healthy orders — which report­ed­ly drew around four hun­dred par­tic­i­pants — took place at the Yaki­ma Speed­way.

As not­ed in the state’s COVID-19 — Risk Assess­ment Dash­board, more than one third of new cas­es are hap­pen­ing in Yaki­ma County.

Almost 20% of new cas­es are from fruit-pack­­ing warehouses.

Lack of PPE on the job has ini­ti­at­ed work actions, which have devel­oped into full-blown strikes over a num­ber of issues left unre­solved over the years.

Contro­ver­sy regard­ing home­less sweeps in var­i­ous neigh­bor­hoods in Seat­tle since the start of the pan­dem­ic final­ly being addressed by their City Council.

Funds will no longer be avail­able to clear camps that don’t rep­re­sent an “active” health risk, and the city will be pro­vid­ing show­er trail­ers, portable toi­lets and hand-wash­ing sta­tions across the city to improve access to hygiene.

King Coun­ty Metro is con­sid­er­ing adopt­ing a reser­va­tion sys­tem to man­age rid­er access to bus­es that are part of its Night Owl ser­vice between 1 AM and 5 AM, in order to ensure best use of exist­ing resources.

Rid­er­ship has declined sig­nif­i­cant­ly since the onset of the pandemic.

Com­pared to last year, depend­ing on the day of the week, esti­mat­ed rid­er­ship in the morn­ings has dropped 75–84%, mid­day and evening rid­er­ship has dropped 60–67%, and late-night to ear­ly morn­ing rid­er­ship is down an esti­mat­ed 53–57%.

The Wash­ing­ton State Depart­ment of Labor and Indus­tries has approved a set of rules effec­tive start­ing May 26th which are meant to cite and fine busi­ness­es vio­lat­ing the stay home, stay healthy orders by cre­at­ing an unsafe workplace.

Final­ly, right wing activists are up in arms a month after the Wash­ing­ton State Supreme Court, in a 5–4 vote on April 23rd, denied a peti­tion from Colum­bia Legal Ser­vices demand­ing the ear­ly release of thou­sands of inmates with­in Wash­ing­ton state pris­ons to pro­tect them from falling vic­tim to COVID-19 due to con­di­tions with­in the facil­i­ties, most espe­cial­ly overcrowding.

Because the peti­tion’s con­di­tions for release were sole­ly focused on the health, age and time towards com­ple­tion of sen­tence of the pris­on­ers, if accept­ed as pre­sent­ed, the peti­tion could have poten­tial­ly released vio­lent pris­on­ers, although it’s very like­ly that there would have been excep­tions placed on an accept­ed form of the peti­tion that would ensure vio­lent crim­i­nals remained in custody.

State Supreme Court jus­tices Mon­­toya-Lewis, Gon­za­lez, McCloud and Yu vot­ed in favor of grant­i­ng relief sought by the peti­tion. Jus­tice Mon­­toya-Lewis was appoint­ed by Gov­er­nor Inslee to the state Supreme Court in Decem­ber of 2019 and is run­ning for elec­tion to the seat in her own right this year.

This deci­sion did not have an effect on the over three hun­dred pris­on­ers released by Gov­er­nor Inslee on April 16th, pos­si­bly to be expand­ed to over 1,100 over time, due to health concerns.


The State Supreme Court has decreed thay Bak­er Coun­ty Cir­cuit Judge Matthew Shirt­cliff either vacate his recent rul­ing (which has been stayed for the moment), or more com­plete­ly explain his rul­ing and give both the church­es involved in the suit and the state the abil­i­ty to present argu­ments that but­tress their cases.

Shirt­cliff had opined last week that Brown’s order was invalid.

Brown’s stay at home order has been extend­ed to July 6th, but most coun­ties are present­ly in Phase I of the state’s “Build­ing a Safe & Strong Ore­gon” plan.

Some con­fu­sion seems to exist regard­ing Port­land’s pan­dem­ic-era response to home­less­ness. Jon­ny Lewis, with the city’s Home­less­ness and Urban Camp­ing Impact Reduc­tion Pro­gram, said on May 19th that they would con­tin­ue to clear camps that pose the great­est pub­lic health risk, but that in gen­er­al peo­ple and their prop­er­ty would not be moved. How­ev­er, on May 21st, sweeps took place in the Old Town and Chi­na­town dis­tricts of the city, exac­er­bat­ing fears.


Gov­er­nor Brad Lit­tle ini­ti­at­ed the sec­ond stage of a four-stage reopen­ing of the state on May 16th. On Fri­day the 22nd, Lit­tle and the Depart­ment of Health and Wel­fare’s Elke Shaw-Tul­loch joined togeth­er at a press con­fer­ence to estab­lish new plans to increase test­ing and attempt to inte­grate it with improved lev­els of con­tact trac­ing, phys­i­cal dis­tanc­ing and per­son­al hygiene to be effective.

Notable is that anti­body test­ing will have a  lim­it­ed role in this new process.

There were also issues with the state Depart­ment of Health and Wel­fare track­ing web­site the next day. A num­ber of cas­es were miss­ing, tab­u­lat­ed incor­rect­ly or declared in the incor­rect coun­ty of ori­gin. Ida­ho offi­cials have been try­ing to resolve those issues and set yes­ter­day as their tar­get date for get­ting them fixed.

The hard, cold numbers

Wash­ing­ton state has had 21,422 cas­es and 1,093 attrib­ut­able deaths.

335,801 peo­ple have been tested.

Ore­gon has had 4,038 cas­es and 148 attrib­ut­able deaths.

116,992 peo­ple have been tested.

Ida­ho has had 2,731 cas­es and 82 attrib­ut­able deaths.

43,629 peo­ple have been tested.

British Colum­bia has had 2,550 cas­es and 162 attrib­ut­able deaths.

138,043 peo­ple have been tested.

Adjacent posts

One reply on “COVID-19 Update: Food, fraud, the homeless, strikes, the courts and miscalculations”

  1. And mean­while, in devel­op­ing coun­tries, cas­es of COVID-19 are soaring. 

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