Heard about Houston? Heard about Detroit? Heard about Pittsburgh P-A?…
* Yesterday evening’s COVID-19 case totals: Washington state 2,580; King County 1,359; Pierce County 155; Snohomish County 634. Statewide deaths 132; King County 94; Snohomish County 16.
* The Seattle monorail has closed until at least April 6. Ridership had dropped to five percent of its previous normal.
* Some Seattle community centers are being used now as homeless shelters, to help with social distancing among the homeless.
* A total of two patients and five staff members at Lakewood’s Western State Hospital have now tested positive.
* Yesterday, Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler followed up on his Monday order expanding health insurance options with another order mandating a grace period and halting cancellations until May 9 on home, auto, life, and other property insurance.
* Amazon workers at ten different distribution warehouses have tested positive. Its delivery drivers are now on the front line of the pandemic.
* Brad Little, the Republican governor of Idaho – one of the last states to take statewide action against the pandemic – issued a stay at home order yesterday. The bulk of the state’s cases are in Boise and the area around Sun Valley. The entire West Coast is in bunker mode now.
* Last night the Senate unanimously passed the $2 trillion stimulus bill. Today the House is expected to pass it and Trump to sign it into law.
* National unemployment numbers are out today. They are historically awful – more than 3.28 million jobless, four times the peak of the 2008 recession. That number is a gross undercount – it doesn’t include the gig economy, nor people unable to file when their states’ filing systems were overwhelmed last week. In Washington state, one of the states where online systems were overloaded, 133,478 people filed for unemployment – up from 14,240 last week.
* The US death toll surged past 1,000 last night; it’s now at 1,046, with 69,246 confirmed cases.
* Remember those 1,000 bed hospital ships Trump promised to New York City and the West Coast last week? Relax, New York! Help is on its way! The USNS Comfort will now arrive in New York Harbor sometime after Easter, when, according to President Nero, this will all be over. The USNS Mercy might get to Los Angeles by May.
* A hospital in New York City has begun “ventilator sharing” – treating multiple patients on one ventilator – to cope with the shortage of the life-saving machines.
* Detroit’s hospitals are at capacity. New Orleans’ infections continued to explode, with 827 confirmed cases and at least six clusters of cases tied to different nursing homes. Eleven cases are from one nursing home alone. Louisiana officials project that New Orleans’ outbreak is on a similar arc as Italy’s and Spains’. Orleans Parish has had 37 deaths – the highest number per capita of any county in the country. Both Detroit and New Orleans have critical shortages of ventilators.
* Mississippi’s Republican governor, Tate Reeves, signed an executive order yesterday banning gatherings of more than 10 people, but making numerous exceptions….including shopping malls. He also forbade Mississippi cities from enacting more stringent measures, voiding a stay at home order issued earlier this week in Tupelo. Hopefully the idea of overriding local measures against the spread of the virus does not spread to other Republican governors watching mayors and county executives shut down their urban areas, and the economic engines for their states.
* Entertainer Andy Cohen and actor Daniel Dae Kim have tested positive.
* The Guardian UK reports that the gun lobby is engaged in an “intense attempt” to lobby federal, state and local governments to list gun shops, dealers, and shooting ranges as an “essential business” during any stay at home orders. Background checks for gun purchasers are up 300 percent this month.
* Pakistan, like neighboring India, has instituted a domestic travel ban. Afghanistan, with almost no public health infrastructure, is bracing for a serious outbreak as people flee neighboring Iran. More than 115,000 people have crossed the border since March 8, in large crowds. Herat, the nearest major Afghan city, has nearly three-fourths of that country’s cases.
* A “continuous tsunami” of new COVID-19 patients is threatening to overload London’s hospitals, which are also dealing with a high infection rate among health care workers – up to 50 percent in some hospitals. As with many other countries, the UK has a critical shortage of ventilators. A large London conference center is being repurposed as a makeshift hospital. Most of the UK’s cases are in Greater London.
* A bit of good news: In Italy the growth in the rate of infections slowed for the fourth consecutive day, suggesting that that country’s lockdown is starting to work.
* Global cases are certain to reach half a million today; as of 9:00 this morning they’re at 492,603, with 22,184 deaths.
As always, be kind – everyone’s under unusual stress. And WASH YOUR HANDS often and thoroughly.