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 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.

British Colum­bia

On Wednes­day, July 22nd, in response to the recent spike in cas­es, provin­cial health offi­cer Dr. Bon­nie Hen­ry announced new pub­lic health measures.

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.

The hard, cold numbers

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.

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