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 Thursday, July 23rd, Governor Jay Inslee announced a number of changes to the statewide “Safe Start” reopening plan, which were further clarified on July 28th. As of July 25th, face masks are required in all common spaces.
As of July 30th, dining inside restaurants is only allowed for members of the same household, and for those counties in Phase III of the reopening plan, no party may be larger that five individuals. Occupancy within restaurants will be reduced from 75% to 50%, and gaming and social areas with such items as pool tables, dart boards and video games are to be closed for the time being.
Outdoor dining and take-away remains available for small parties from different households. Bars may remain open for outdoor service, but may no longer have indoor service. Alcohol may be served in restaurants until 10 PM.
For counties in Phase II, fitness centers may have no more than five people using a given facility at any one time. For counties in Phase III, no fitness center may have more than 25% occupancy. No fitness class may have more than ten participants, not including the instructor.
As of August 6th, weddings and funerals are to be no more than at 20% of possible occupancy or no more than thirty people present, whichever is less. Receptions for either ceremony are prohibited.
Governor Inslee also extended the eviction moratorium to October 15th.
That same day, the Washington State Supreme Court upheld Governor Inslee’s decisions regarding under what circumstances and how many inmates may be released from prison as a result of the local COVID-19 pandemic.
On that same day, the Washington Education Association released a statement opposing the resumption of in-person learning for the coming school year.
“[W]e cannot responsibly support a return to school buildings for in-person learning this fall. We call on Governor Inslee to continue leading with science and safety and declare that schools will open remotely this fall,” WEA said.
On Friday, July 24th, Judge Benjamin H. Settle of the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington rejected two requests filed on May 5th and May 18th, respectively, for injunctions that would reverse the emergency orders put into place by Governor Inslee to combat the pandemic.
Settle held that in both cases, while Governor Inslee issued the related proclamations, other officials were responsible for their enforcement.
Settle, whose courtroom is based in Tacoma, also found that there was no evidence that these proclamations were in of themselves unconstitutional acts.
Settle’s ruling left political scammer and Republican gubernatorial candidate Tim Eyman (a plaintiff in one of the suits) fuming.
While Settle was handing down in his ruling, Washington’s Attorney General Bob Ferguson was suing the federal Education Department (presently under the control of Betsy DeVos) over CARES Act funding, requesting a preliminary injunction to block DeVos’ plans for the distribution of the funds.
In happier news, the recently formed Washington Dream Coalition has raised $5.2 million and continues to interest potential financial partners in their goal of providing financial assistance to new Americans who have been immorally excluded from publicly funded relief initiatives.
And it’s very much needed in a state where 13% of the population is Hispanic/Lantinx, but has been afflicted with 44% of confirmed cases of COVID-19, the novel coronavirus. Some residents in Yakima County are using artistic representation to tell the story of their community’s suffering.
On Tuesday, July 28th, The Washington State Department of Health released its latest statewide situation report, which confirms increasing spread of the virus in Western Washington and a high spread of in Eastern/Central Washington.
On Wednesday, July 22nd, Governor Kate Brown announced that as of July 24th, mask wearing requirements for indoor areas would apply to children five years of age and older. Brown also reduced the maximum number of people who can gather in an indoor space, including bars and restaurants, from two hundred and fifty to one hundred. Bars and restaurants in counties in Phase II of the reopening process have also been directed to close down by 10 PM.
While a number of urban school districts in Oregon are considering remote learning for most to all of their classes, rural school districts are focusing on in-person instruction as at least part of their instruction for the coming school year.
Compared to the WEA in Washington, the Oregon Education Association’s views on resuming in person learning are slightly different.
Even so, Oregon officials have established a more concrete requirement: Oregon counties must have fewer than ten cases per 100,000 people for three weeks straight before in-person classes may resume.
On Tuesday, July 28th, a record fourteen deaths were confirmed within the state from COVID-19. On Thursday, July 30th, to combat a shortage of tests and test components, a new test using saliva spit into a tube will be implemented.
On Tuesday, July 21st, Eastern Idaho Public Health’s board of Directors, in a unanimous vote, made wearing masks in public in Bonneville County mandatory. All events of more than one hundred and fifty people are now prohibited as well.
On July 13th, nurse practitioner Samantha Hickey died from cardiac complications resulting from being infected with COVID-19.
On Wednesday, July 22nd, Republican state legislator Tammy Nichols shared a Facebook post questioning the cause of her death. This quickly drew fire from Hickey’s coworkers and employer, St. Luke’s Hospital in Caldwell.
There were five hundred and twenty-eight new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, July 24th, five hundred and sixty-three new cases on Saturday, July 25th, five hundred and seventeen new cases on Monday, July 27th and five hundred and twenty-eight new cases on Tuesday, July 28th.
Boise State University has lifted a requirement of mandatory testing for every student to live on its campus because not enough tests are available.
They will instead ask students to take a COVID-19 test in their hometowns — if they are available — before moving into campus housing.
All patrons in restaurants, bars and nightclubs will be required to be seated, no groups larger than six allowed at restaurants, alcohol will only be available at table and not at a bar, and dance floors will be closed. She also made a point or requesting that people’s “bubbles,” or groups of people within which they interact and not outside it, to limit spread of COVID-19, be kept small.
A new Cantonese pop song about the pandemic, with lyrics penned by a University of British Columbia music student, hit digital streams this past week.
Restaurateurs are asking patrons for patience and to follow rules regarding capacity, wearing masks and physical distancing as the pandemic frays nerves.
A province-wide plan for returning children to schools will be presented on Wednesday, July 29th. There have been delays in presenting the plan largely to account more readily for the evolving situation regarding the pandemic within the province, and also to account for the most likely scenario this fall, which might include a “second wave” with an additional concurrent influenza outbreak.
Washington state has had 55,434 cases and 1,526 attributable deaths.
933,304 people have been tested.
Oregon has had 17,416 cases and 303 attributable deaths.
386,786 people have been tested.
Idaho has had 19,222 cases and 160 attributable deaths.
171,892 people have been tested.
British Columbia has had 3,523 cases and 194 attributable deaths.
255,728 people have been tested.