COVID-19 UPDATE: TUESDAY LATE NIGHT, MARCH 17

A nation clamps down, one city and state at a time.

LOCAL

* Washington state passed a milestone today of 1,000 cases. The new total is 1,013 confirmed cases, with 55 deaths. In King County: 518 cases, 46 deaths.

* Seattle City Council today unanimously expanded a moratorium on residential evictions, extending Mayor Durkan’s Saturday order from 30 to 60 days and including some non-rent-related evictions.

* Most homeless encampment removals have been “paused” as the Navigation Teams that enable the sweeps pivot to COVID-19 outreach, according to the city’s Human Services Department. The trust destroyed by Mayor Durkan’s emphasis on sweeps will prove to be a significant problem. HSD also announced that it will set up portable toilets, handwashing stations, and four hygiene trailers around the city. Um, that’s good, but where was this during the five years, and counting, of the city’s State of Emergency on homelessness

* Medical providers have begun offering drive-through testing for the public, at sites from Northgate and Lynnwood to Puyallup.

* Albertsons and Safeway announced they would dedicate the first two hours their local stores are open to “at-risk” customers. Whole Foods stores announced a similar measure for their first hour, from 8 to 9 AM. Uwajimaya announced a similar measure. Safeway also announced it would provide two weeks’ pay to any employee diagnosed with COVID-19, and reached an agreement with UFCW to, among other things, set up a child care fund for employees. The University Trader Joe’s has closed after an employee tested positive. An Issaquah Costco employee who died Sunday had tested positive for COVID-19, the company announced.

* An employee at King County Jail has tested positive.

* CenturyLink waives late fees and is promising no service shut-offs for 60 days. It also says that it will suspend limits on data usage. Comcast, similarly, is offering free Wi-Fi for 60 days.

*On an MSNBC interview tonight, Seattle mayor Jenny Durkan suggested that Seattle was 11 days behind Lombardy, the region that is the epicenter of Italy’s outbreak, in the arc of the pandemic. She also appeared to suggest that up to 950,000 jobs could be lost in our area during the pandemic.

* Metro is closing its customer service offices.

* State ferry service to and from Canada has been suspended until at least April 25.

* Seattle Repertory Theater has cancelled the rest of its season.

* The Seattle Mariners launched a fund to help support event staff, and began with a $1 million donation.

* Seahawk Russell Wilson and his entertainer wife, Ciara, pledged today to donate one million meals to local food banks.

NATIONAL

* The US passed 100 COVID-19 deaths today. About 85 percent of the fatalities were older than 60, and many also had underlying medical problems. Overall confirmed cases stand tonight at 6,496. West Virginia became the final state to record a confirmed case.

* Pfizer announced a new partnership with biotech and the Trump Administration to seek a COVID-19 vaccine. Oh, good, Big Pharma is on it! I feel better already. “Here’s your shot. That will be $800, please…”

* Bill Gates and Michael Bloomberg also jointly announced efforts to fund research.

* The Pentagon announced that it would make available five million respirator masks and 2,000 specialized ventilators from its medical reserves for civilian use.

* The Trump Administration announced plans to turn away asylum seekers at the southern border with no due process, citing overcrowded conditions at federal detention camps. Because, of course. They *could* have just fallen back on the legal practice of releasing people to relatives already here, but that would let the brown hordes in during an election year.

* Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told Congress today that without a stimulus package, unemployment during the pandemic could reach 20 percent.

* Trump plans to meet tomorrow with representatives of 12 different nursing associations. In Lombardy, Italy, an estimated 12 percent of Lombardy’s COVID-19 cases involve medical care staff.

* Three Brazilian officials, plus the mayor of Miami, who met with Trump at Mar-a-Lago have now tested positive.

* Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is calling for older federal judges to resign, so he can replace them with younger ideological picks. The US Senate *still* hasn’t voted on the emergency relief bill the House, with Trump’s approval, passed last Thursday. Um, priorities?

* Superstar Kevin Durant and three other Brooklyn Nets NBA players have tested positive for COVID-19.

* New York City now has 938 cases, an exponential growth in recent days. New York governor Andrew Cuomo says the state won’t likely reach the peak of the pandemic for at least 45 days, estimating his state needs between 55,000 and 100,000 new hospital beds to avoid a collapse of the state’s health care system.

* Arizona, which voted in today’s presidential primary, abruptly closed some polling places today. Why? They ran out of hand sanitizer.

* A less publicized shortage: Q-tips, used for nasal swabbing in COVID-19 tests.

* Today Ohio banned elective surgeries statewide and Michigan banned price gouging.

There will doubtless be much more tomorrow. WASH YOUR HANDS!

Leave a Reply