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 Wednesday, June 17th, in response to the latest state revenue forecast, which anticipates an $8.8 billion drop in revenue over the next few years due to the coronavirus-induced recession, Governor Jay Inslee canceled a scheduled three percent pay raise for the state’s highest paid general employees.
Inslee also decreed that that over 40,000 employees would be required to take at least one furlough day per week through July 25th and one furlough day per month thereafter through at least the fall of this year. He urged higher education institutions, the state Legislature, courts and separately elected officials, all of which are not under his authority, to adopt similar measures.
King County was approved to move to Phase II of Governor Inslee’s “Safe Start” reopening plan on Friday, June 19th, despite an uptick in cases. Island, Lewis and Mason counties were approved to move toward Phase III.
On the same day, the state Department of Health declared that, as of Wednesday, June 17th, 43% of all cases of COVID-19 and 23% of all hospitalizations due to COVID-19 in the state had been contracted by Latinos and Hispanics, which make up only 13% of the state’s population.
Also on the same day, the Yakima Health District had had to transport twenty-two patients out of its area because they had exceeded staffing capacity, many of them ICU patients sent to Seattle area hospitals.
It also suffered over two hundred new cases of COVID-19 in one day; the second such event in June for Yakima County.
On Saturday, June 20th, Governor Jay Inslee declared in a press conference that he would be issuing an order Monday that all Yakima County residents must wear face masks when out in public.
“It is a legal requirement; it is not just a suggestion…It is required if we are going to prevent this disaster from overtaking this beautiful valley.”
“This is, frankly, a desperate situation for public health, for our ability to reopen Yakima which we want to do, and for the health and safety of the entire state of Washington, because as Yakima County goes, so goes the rest of the state.”
Governor Inslee also made it clear to businesses within Yakima County to refuse service to anyone who refuses to follow the law: “No mask, no service.”
Other counties within the state, such as Spokane County, which has also seen a significant rise in cases, are beginning to wonder if they will be next. King County has had a directive to wear a face covering in any public space where a person might be within six feet of someone who does not live with them since May 18th.
On Tuesday, June 16th, Governor Kate Brown called the state Legislature in Salem into a special session, to start Wednesday, June 24th.
While the passage of police accountability legislation is the primary purpose of the special session, passing into law specific policies put into effect by Governor Brown’s previous executive orders will also be part of the purpose of the session.
Although not specified, as Governor Brown had mentioned a possible outline for budget cuts as a result of COVID-19’s effect on the state economy as of Friday, June 19th, it’s also possible that budget cuts could be considered.
On Friday, June 19th, Multnomah County, which includes the city of Portland, was the last county in the state to be approved for Phase I of Governor Kate Brown’s reopening plan. On the same day, the Oregon Health Authority published a set of face covering rules for people within indoor public spaces that must take effect in seven counties: Clackamas, Hood River, Lincoln, Marion, Multnomah, Polk and Washington (as of Wednesday, June 24th).
As the Beaver State eases restrictions, almost 20% of all cases of COVID-19 ever diagnosed in the state happened in the last week – over 1,373 people in the last eight days. Of those, two hundred and thirty-six cases were a result of an outbreak among congregants at the Lighthouse Pentecostal Church in Island City.
On June 5th, to counter the effects of perceived disincentives to returning to work via enhanced federal unemployment and related COVID-19 benefits, Republican Governor Brad Little announced the Idaho Return to Work bonus program, which provides up to $1,500 to full time employees and up to $750 to part time employees to return to work. After some apparent confusion, the state clarified the program’s specifics on Wednesday, June 17th.
An illness cluster that began with a group of approximately ten bar hoppers in Boise on June 5th or 6th has grown to almost one hundred cases of COVID-19 as of Saturday morning, June 20th. Central District Health, which covers Ada County, have met virtually with a number of bar owners in downtown Boise to deal with the issue, but not all are taking the same course of action.
Some will make masks inside their establishments mandatory, some voluntarily, and some bars will be closed for the foreseeable future.
Idaho has declared more than one hundred diagnosed cases of COVID-19 for three days running – Thursday, June 18th, through Saturday, June 20th.
Due to an overwhelming response after being re-opened May 14th, British Columbia closed its portion of the Peace Arch Park as of Thursday evening, June 18th. The park straddles the U.S.-Canadian border at Blaine, Washington.
As of Saturday, June 20th, Canadian Federal officials will take full responsibility for border controls within the province, according to Premier John Horgan.
Washington state has had 28,849 cases and 1,257 attributable deaths.
455,941 people have been tested.
Oregon has had 6,750 cases and 189 attributable deaths.
194,095 people have been tested.
Idaho has had 4,006 cases and 89 attributable deaths.
72,547 people have been tested.
British Columbia has had 2,790 cases and 168 attributable deaths.
175,454 people have been tested.