COVID-19 UPDATE: FRIDAY AFTERNOON, MARCH 13
President Trump finally declared a national state of emergency today. On Friday the 13th – that can’t possibly be a good sign…
Ours was only one of many governments ramping up efforts to combat the pandemic. Here’s the latest:
* Gov. Jay Inslee has expanded K-12 public school closures and the ban on gatherings of more than 250 people to include the entire state.
* A homeless person quarantined at the county’s new Kent motel facility left the facility and got on a bus this morning, before being tracked down. As a result, King County will limit the facilities to are “able to quarantine or isolate without the need of social services or additional support.” Um, doesn’t that defeat the purposes?
* The Washington State Legislature doubled its emergency response to COVID-19 last night.
* There are currently 568 cases in our state, with 37 deaths, so far. King County accounts for 328 of those cases, and 32 deaths. One of the deaths was a 60-year-old woman who worked in the Bellevue office of legal giant Davis, Wright, Tremaine, and who had left work only Tuesday with flu-like symptoms.
* Northwest Harvest is converting its SoDo location to a drive-up system with pre-packaged bags.
* UW Medical Center Northwest reports two confirmed cases among patients in its psychiatric ward. It is believed the infections occurred before the patients were hospitalized.
* The University of Washington has, finally, suspended all athletic events.
* The city has closed libraries, parks, and the Space Needle. The Seattle Aquarium has also closed, as have King County libraries.
* The Eastside’s Evergreen Hospital – site of the first COVID-19 deaths in the country – and Seattle Children’s Hospital are postponing all elective surgeries.
* Trump declares a national emergency, freeing up about $50 billion in aid for state governments and the overall federal response. He and Pence shared the stage with a dozen large companies – a spectacle meant to reassure Wall Street, especially the presence of several large retailers. Almost nothing was said about the economic peril facing small businesses and ordinary Americans.
* Trump’s emergency declaration press conference was simply bizarre. He trotted out a succession of speakers who were there to represent various huge corporations: not just medical suppliers, but retailers like Wal-Mart, Target, CVS, and Walgreen’s. And then Vice President Post spoke, with the apparently sole purpose of fellating Trump and saluting his greatness. Both Pence and Trump lied, by omission and commission, about past actions taken and how favorably the US response compares to other countries. There were no scientists (except corporate ones) among the over a dozen who spoke, no mention of the CDC, zero mention of medical care costs, or the millions of people who will be economically crippled during this crisis.
* The mayor of Miami, Francis Suarez, who attended the Mar-a-Lago meeting last week with Trump, Pence, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, and a Bolsonaro aide who later tested positive, announced today that he had also tested positive.
* Were Trump and Pence following their own government’s guidelines, they would be self-isolating. Instead, there they were amidst a crowd of people, blithely shaking hands. Trump, in response to repeated questions, did eventually vaguely say he would get tested “most likely, yeah,” but not because of any exposure. What kind of leadership by example is that?
* House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she had reached an agreement with the Trump Administration on a relief package, which the House is expected to pass tonight. The Senate reconvenes Monday.
* Democratic senators Jeff Merkley (OR) and Elizabeth Warren (MA) have called on Pres. Trump to place a moratorium on evictions in federally subsidized housing.
* Sen. Ted Cruz extended his self-quarantine to March 17 after learning he had come into contact with a second infected individual. Two other prominent Republican senators, Lindsay Graham and Rick Scott, are also self-isolating themselves after potential exposures.
* The Australian Minister for Home Affairs tested positive today, days after meeting with AG William Barr and Ivanka Trump in their ongoing effort to prove Ukraine, not Russia, meddled in the 2016 election.
* Louisiana has cancelled its April 4 presidential primary. All four of the states scheduled to vote next Tuesday are planning to proceed.
* The Boston Marathon and the Masters golf tournament were called off today.
* Twelve states, double the number this morning, have now closed their public schools entirely: Alabama, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, New Mexico, Ohio, Oregon, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, and Wisconsin. Most private schools in these states are following suit. Also major city districts, including Los Angeles, Harris County (Houston), San Diego, San Francisco, Austin, Denver, and Washington DC, are closing at a rapid rate.
* New York state now has 421 cases. New York City is resisting demands to close its public school system, the nation’s largest with 11 million students. The second largest, in Los Angeles, announced that its schools would be closed beginning Monday – and Harris County (Houston) also closed its doors. NYC now has 151 cases, compared to 158 in suburban Westchester County, where the virus first took hold in the region. Long Island’s suburban Nassau County, which had 51 cases, declared a state of emergency.
* In Iran, the military has been deployed to literally disinfect the streets in one of the world’s worst outbreaks. Satellite photos appeared to show the digging of mass, football-field-long graves near the holy city of Qom, where Iran’s outbreak began. BBC Persian estimates that Iran’s death toll is about 800 people, far higher than the official government count of 429.
* Spain nearly doubled its confirmed cases overnight, with well over 4,000. Its government declared a state of emergency, with the epicenter of the country’s outbreak being its capitol and largest city, Madrid.
* Italy’s total confirmed cases skyrocketed again, to 17,660, and 250 additional people have died since yesterday, bringing the total to 1,266.
* Europe now has over 35,000 cases, nearly double its total three days ago, and including ten of the 15 hardest-hit countries in the world.
* Denmark is closing its borders to everyone except Danish citizens and officials or people allowed for an exceptional emergency. Family members who are not citizens of Denmark are not allowed to enter.
* The total number of confirmed cases globally is now 140,875. Deaths have now passed 5,000, with 5,359 total.
South Korea 7,979
United States 1,268
More later…and, as always, WASH YOUR HANDS. GO DO IT. NOW.