NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Friday, July 17th, 2020

COVID-19 Update: Rolling, rolling, rolling…

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.

Wash­ing­ton

The direc­tion of the pan­dem­ic with­in the state has changed while the gen­er­al out­look remains the same.  King, Sno­homish and Pierce coun­ties still have the most cas­es, but now Franklin Coun­ty has a test­ed pos­i­tive rate of 28%, Yaki­ma Coun­ty 26%, Ben­ton Coun­ty 17%, and Grant Coun­ty 11%.

(As a basis of com­par­i­son, King Coun­ty is at 5.8%.)

Franklin Coun­ty present­ly has one of the worst infec­tion rates on the West Coast, while Yaki­ma Coun­ty now has more deaths con­firmed from COVID-19 than Sno­homish Coun­ty, but the lat­ter has dropped its repro­duc­tion rate below one due to an aggres­sive mask cam­paign.

As was put suc­cinct­ly in a recent KUOW arti­cle, “The trend now is toward younger peo­ple, peo­ple in their 20’s and 30’s.

And as we’ve seen before, there are still racial dis­par­i­ties in who is get­ting COVID-19 in King Coun­ty. Com­pared to white peo­ple, the rate of Covid cas­es is three times high­er for Black peo­ple, five times high­er for Lat­inx peo­ple, and six times high­er for Native Hawai­ian and Pacif­ic Islanders.”  King Coun­ty’s num­bers of infect­ed are at their high­est lev­els since April of this year.

With restric­tions relaxed, more peo­ple are act­ing as if the pan­dem­ic does­n’t exist.  And that has a very detri­men­tal effect.  A phase roll­back for most coun­ties with­in the state is under con­sid­er­a­tion, but at this time the cur­rent pause in reopen­ing the state has been extend­ed through July 28th.

Gov­er­nor Inslee also, as of Mon­day, July 20th, will reduce the num­ber of indi­vid­u­als allowed in social gath­er­ings in Phase 3 Safe Start coun­ties from fifty peo­ple to ten peo­ple. (Phase 2 Safe Start coun­ties may con­tin­ue to have social gath­er­ings of up to five peo­ple.)

The munic­i­pal­i­ty of Mount­lake Ter­race, using CARES Act fund­ing from the Fed­er­al gov­ern­ment, will be mail­ing two cloth masks to every address with­in its zip code.  This is after hav­ing made avail­able free cloth face masks to low-income res­i­dents at a dri­ve through/walk up event on Mon­day, June 29th.

A num­ber of munic­i­pal­i­ties, such as Belle­vue have either imple­ment­ed or are con­sid­er­ing free mask pick-up pro­grams for their res­i­dents, and these are after King Coun­ty ini­ti­at­ed a free PPE give­away for small busi­ness­es start­ing July 1st.

The North Cen­tral Region­al Library, which includes Chelan, Dou­glas, Fer­ry, Grant, and Okanogan coun­ties, will be increas­ing their WiFi sig­nal to make it more read­i­ly avail­able for use out­side of their libraries.

Oregon

The three-day spe­cial leg­isla­tive ses­sion in Salem, which com­plet­ed on Fri­day, June 26th, pro­vid­ed a num­ber of passed bills regard­ing respond­ing to the pan­dem­ic. On Wednes­day, July 8th, sev­en employ­ees at a gro­cery store in Eugene test­ed pos­i­tive for COVID-19. As of Sun­day, July 12th, there were 60 active COVID-19 work­place out­breaks in Ore­gon.

On Mon­day, July 13th, Gov­er­nor Kate Brown fol­lowed the lead of Wash­ing­ton state and required face masks in use for out­door spaces if a per­son can­not stay out­side of six feet from anoth­er per­son.

Ore­gon also announced a statewide lim­it of ten peo­ple in indoor social gath­er­ings, but that they would not apply to busi­ness­es or to wor­ship ser­vices.

Both announce­ments take effect on Wednes­day, July 15th.

As in Wash­ing­ton state, while high-pop­u­la­tion coun­ties such as Mult­nom­ah, Mar­i­on and Wash­ing­ton coun­ties have the most cas­es, rur­al areas such as Umatil­la, Union, Mahleur and Mor­row coun­ties have pos­i­tive test rates of between 15% and 17% The Deschutes Coun­ty Cir­cuit Court is con­sid­er­ing mov­ing to the Deschutes Coun­ty Fair & Expo Cen­ter in Red­mond in order to pro­vide ade­quate phys­i­cal dis­tanc­ing while resolv­ing court cas­es.

Idaho

As of Mon­day, July 13th, the state had sev­en straight days of more than 400 con­firmed cas­es of COVID-19, with 556 con­firmed cas­es on Sat­ur­day, July 11th.  This was fol­lowed by 316 con­firmed cas­es on Tues­day, July 14th, 727 con­firmed cas­es on Wednes­day, July 15th and 688 cas­es on Thurs­day, July 16th.

The Cen­tral Dis­trict Health’s board vot­ed on Tues­day, July 14th, to man­date the wear­ing of face masks and cov­er­ings through­out Ada Coun­ty, join­ing the city of Boise, which did so start­ing July 4th. On the same day, the Ida­ho Depart­ment of Cor­rec­tion report­ed that 40% of the inmates at the Ida­ho State Cor­rec­tion­al Cen­ter at Kuna test­ed pos­i­tive for COVID-19.

British Colum­bia

The effect of the pan­dem­ic on the provin­cial econ­o­my will be laid out some­time this week or next by Finance Min­is­ter Car­ole James, but how a $1.5 Bil­lion CDN relief fund will be dis­persed may not be made known until August.

A small out­break over the Cana­da Day cel­e­bra­tions in Kelow­na is being assessed and traced to min­i­mize its impact.  Nev­er­the­less twen­ty-one new con­firmed cas­es of COVID-19 hap­pened between July 14th and 15th, and health author­i­ties are con­cerned as the virus “silent­ly cir­cu­lates” with­in the broad­er com­mu­ni­ty.

The hard, cold numbers

Wash­ing­ton state has had 44,559 cas­es and 1,432 attrib­ut­able deaths.

753,174 peo­ple have been test­ed.

Ore­gon has had 13,510 cas­es and 249 attrib­ut­able deaths.

318,244 peo­ple have been test­ed.

Ida­ho has had 13,133 cas­es and 114 attrib­ut­able deaths.

139,481 peo­ple have been test­ed.

British Colum­bia has had 3,170 cas­es and 189 attrib­ut­able deaths.

226,147 peo­ple have been test­ed.

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