Here's What You Need to Know About Coronavirus in Seattle
Editor's Note: This blog provided updates through March 26. Our new version, "We Got This, Seattle," focuses on good acts happening in our community during these difficult times. That post can be found here.
Coronavirus has been taking over our coverage here at Seattle Met: We’ve looked at how it's impacting local restaurants, and how Washington’s paid sick leave laws could help reduce its spread. We’ve provided safer handshake alternatives and recipes for all those dried beans you optimistically bought. We’ll keep it up. But there’s too much information coming in to dedicate a single article to every topic. Here, we’ll be keeping you updated on crucial coronavirus news as it happens—as well as crucial-to-you coronavirus news, like when the Pike/Pine QFC mysteriously runs out of garlic.
Keep hunkering down, everyone. Our current stay-at-home order will last through at least midnight on April 8, and governor Jay Inslee said today that he expects it to remain in place even longer. On the bright side, he says the local measures thus far have helped reduce the spread of COVID-19.
The Senate unanimously passed a $2.2 trillion relief bill yesterday to combat the coronavirus's toll on the economy. The takeaways? Americans making less than $75,000 will each receive a payment of $1,200 in the coming weeks from the government, with that number increasing by $500 for every child age 16 and under. Self-employed and part-time workers would also be eligible for unemployment benefits, news that comes after a record 3.3 million workers made unemployment claims last week.
Info on local COVID-19 cases is now more easily accessible. Public Health—Seattle and King County debuted a new dashboard for viewing specific data about local cases of the novel coronavirus. If it takes a while to load (mine did), you can also download a one-page PDF version. Today's report includes 82 more confirmed cases and 6 more deaths in the county, bringing those totals to 1,359 and 100, respectively.
Breathe, parents. Three child care sites reopen today via Seattle Public Schools and friends. Within the next week, providers at up to 12 Seattle school sites will return. Today's list? The Boys and Girls Clubs at B.F. Day Elementary, Lawton Elementary, and Salmon Bay K-8 School.
Seattle was still not totally social distancing before Inslee's order. Some interesting numbers out today courtesy of The Seattle Times's FYI Guy, Gene Balk. As of Sunday, about 5 percent of Seattleites were still doing everything they normally do, according to Elucd, a polling firm that conducted surveys of city residents over two weeks. Another 18 percent had reduced their exposure but were still leaving home some of the time. If that doesn't seem like much, take note that San Francisco and New York City (!) had possibly reduced their mobility more than us.
KUOW Public Radio got some attention on Twitter yesterday for a decision not to air live White House coronavirus briefings "due to a pattern of false or misleading information." The station will still share the important info. (Speaking of briefings: Get to know the public officials behind local coronavirus updates.)
However, we will not be airing the briefings live due to a pattern of false or misleading information provided that cannot be fact checked in real time. (2)— KUOW Public Radio (@KUOW) March 24, 2020
COVID-19 has had a staggering impact on the arts. According to a new survey of 85 arts organizations in the Puget Sound region, 94 percent of organizations have canceled programming and projected losses through the end of May total $74.1 million.
Canlis, the original takeout pivoter, has pivoted once again. The formerly fine dining restaurant announced that Wednesday March 25 will be the last day of its ad hoc drive-thru setup, which has dispensed burgers and bagels to enormous crowds. From here on out, Canlis will focus on its family meal deliveries (dinner and a bottle of wine, preordered and dropped on your porch) and a CSA box of produce from local farms that supply ingredients to the restaurant under normal circumstances.
Your Instagram feed just got a little less scenic. Though you can still exercise outside, Washington State Parks are now closed for the time being. The news comes a day after governor Jay Inslee's "Stay Home, Stay Healthy" order.
Following @GovInslee's order yesterday to #ShelterInPlace, #WaStateParks is closing all parks starting tomorrow morning. We appreciate your full cooperation and understanding. https://t.co/sKH9HFZO0j#StayHomeStayHealthy #FlattenTheCurve #WeGotThisWA pic.twitter.com/n9y27aMPIf— WA State Parks (@WAStatePks) March 24, 2020
All In Seattle launched today with over 200 donors and an initial $27 million in donations for local nonprofits working to help those affected by COVID-19, from small business owners to healthcare workers to artists. The donor list includes some recognizable names: Russell Wilson, Jeff Bezos. Join them here.
Governor Jay Inslee didn't call it "shelter in place," but his much-anticipated "Stay Home, Stay Healthy" order issued tonight is pretty strict. It prohibits non-essential activities outside the home in Washington for at least two weeks. The state's residents can still visit the grocery story or pharmacy, go to the doctor's office, and walk the dog, but gatherings are now banned, and all non-essential businesses are now closed. (Restaurants can continue offering takeout and delivery.) No, you're not shut in. Outdoor exercise is still permitted, provided social distancing measures are followed. “We’ve been very clear on the need for everyone to stay home,” Inslee said. “And, while most Washingtonians are doing their part, some still don’t grasp the seriousness of this pandemic.”
King County Metro will no longer collect fares, starting Saturday, The Seattle Times reports. The agency asks riders to board busses through the back doors.
While most of us have been using the extra time at home to try and make nice toast or learn to crochet, Seattleite and Death Cab for Cutie singer and guitarist Ben Gibbard wrote a new song, "Life in Quarantine," which he performed on the Stranger's YouTube page for the first time this morning.
The Sounders won't be playing in April, either. The MLS announced today that it will adhere to CDC guidelines related to large gatherings and push back the resumption of its season. May 10 is now the targeted return date. The league still aims to play the season's full slate of games, perhaps holding the MLS Cup in December.
Seattle is putting an emergency hold on evictions: Yesterday, the Seattle city council approved a 60-day moratorium on most residential evictions; as of today, nonprofits and businesses with 50 or fewer employees are also protected.
Russell Wilson and Ciara have stepped up to donate one million meals through Seattle's Food Lifeline. Check the couple's Twitter announcement below for a link to find a Feeding America food bank near you.
The world needs us ALL. Unprecedented times. @Ciara & I are supporting our community in Seattle by donating 1 million meals with Seattle @FoodLifeLine https://t.co/TMUkkwjDV6 Rally & support your local food bank @FeedingAmerica— Russell Wilson (@DangeRussWilson) March 18, 2020
Let’s all keep the Faith during this difficult time pic.twitter.com/i2oJnQoOgb
Mayor Jenny Durkan announced an "initial" $1.1 million arts recovery package. Of it, $100,000 will go directly to artists and creative workers through writer Ijeoma Oluo's Seattle Artists Relief Fund (where you can donate too) and through Artist Trust's COVID-19 Artist Relief Fund. The $1 million will go to an "Arts Stabilization Fund to invest in arts and cultural organizations." The money will go to over 200 local arts and culture organizations, which have lost revenue under the public gatherings bans.
Governor Jay Inslee has signed a measure that provides $200 million in emergency funding to fight coronavirus and aid businesses. The bill passed state legislature last week.
Seattle Repertory Theatre has canceled the rest of its 2019/2020 season, including The Importance of Being Ernest and the world premiere of Lydia and the Troll, which was planned for May 8–June 14 (one of the more distant arts cancelations so far).
Amazon has stopped third-party sellers from shipping "non-essential items" to its warehouses in the U.S., making room for necessities amid the outbreak. Baby products, health products, and groceries are among the product categories that will still be warehoused.
Here's one way to raise our health care system's capacity, represented with a dotted line on all those "flatten the curve" graphs: Seattle Children's Hospital will now see patients as old as 21 in order to make more beds available at other Seattle medical facilities for those diagnosed with the novel coronavirus.
Last night, governor Jay Inslee announced an emergency declaration shutting down bars, restaurants, and places of entertainment across the state, also lowering the cap on all gatherings to 50 people. Restaurants can still provide takeout and delivery. In King County, retail can remain open, alongside grocery stores, banks, and gas stations.
Wondering how the Sounders are handling social distancing? Here's midfielder Harry Shipp's answer:
Very good social distancing content from @championShipp11. 🐶 pic.twitter.com/AY5ykSSJJN— Seattle Sounders FC (@SoundersFC) March 16, 2020
The Seattle Times printed its first paper with a 100 percent remote newsroom team, according to executive editor Michele Matassa Flores. Historic. And a great time to support local news. (Speaking of: The Stranger, which relies on events for most of its funding, could use your help right now.)
Starting Friday, March 13 at 6pm, all Seattle Public Library locations will be closed until at least April 13. (But you can still get book suggestions from librarians online.)
Parents, prepare yourselves: Governor Jay Inslee has ordered schools in King, Snohomish, and Pierce counties to close by Tuesday and remain that way through April 24. Work-life balance has officially taken on a whole new meaning.
President Donald Trump hasn't discussed limiting travel to Washington state and other areas experiencing coronavirus outbreaks. But when asked about the idea, he didn't exactly dismiss it, according to The New York Times. Trump said it was a possibility "if an area gets too hot.”
Big deal restaurateur Tom Douglas (Palace Kitchen, Dahlia's Lounge, the list goes on) will close 12 of his 13 restaurants for eight to 12 weeks, citing a huge drop in sales. We hope it paves the way for other restaurants to make survival plans.
More coronavirus-related restaurant closures. Tapas bar Pintxo and cocktail bar Branchwater, both in Belltown, closed permanently today after a drop in sales, the owners announced via Facebook: "the only, but heartbreaking option."
Many arts venues and organizations in the city announced they would cancel (or reschedule) all events until March 31, following the prohibition on gatherings of more than 250 announced today. These include STG Theaters (Paramount, Moore, Neptune), Pacific Northwest Ballet, Seattle Symphony, Dimitriou's Jazz Alley, Seattle Arts and Lectures, Town Hall Seattle, Seattle Repertory Theatre, the Tacoma Dome, and others.
Seattle Public Schools will be closed for the next two weeks, likely longer, starting tomorrow. Check out the Seattle Times' website for a full list of school closures in the area.
Starbucks announced today that it will provide "catastrophe pay" for workers who need to self-quarantine or care for loved ones. The downtown Starbucks Reserve on 1st and University (not the big Capitol Hill roastery) closed over the weekend after an employee tested positive for COVID-19, and all 13 of the store's employees are now self-quarantining, according to the Seattle Times.
The Seattle Times reports that governor Jay Inslee is expected to announce a restriction on gatherings of over 250 people (that means you, Sounders) at a press conference today. Guess those wild parties of yours will have to wait.
The Washington Department of Health reported 105 new COVID-19 cases in the state today, our biggest rise in confirmed cases since a Snohomish County man became the first in the nation on January 20. Today's increase is likely due to improved access to testing, the Stranger reports.
The outbreak is having a serious impact on Seattle restaurants. Local 360, a Belltown restaurant emphasizing sustainability and local ingredients, announced today that it will be "closing immediately due to the impacts of the COVID-19 situation," citing the impacts of shorter hours and an anticipated drop in tourism. Ravenna's Arriba Cantina announced its last day of service is March 13, citing COVID-19.
Don't panic...but Costco has stopped offering food samples, as reported by the @costcodeals Instagram page (instant follow), joining the recent demise of the Costco food court cheeseburger in dealing a huge blow to cheap dates statewide. But food's not the only thing in low supply at our favorite local bulk retailer. As one South Seattle Costco employee told MyNorthwest, "Toilet paper is golden in an apocalypse."
Emerald City Comic Con has been postponed until the summer. (Hopefully you didn't plan your cosplay around chilly spring weather.) According to GeekWire, the nerd community is rallying with remote events for would-be convention goers and alternative outlets for vendors.
Regretting that too-cheap-to-be-true flight you planned before coronavirus panic reached full hysteria? Alaska Airlines won't charge change or cancellation fees for flights scheduled through March 31 or new tickets purchased between February 27 and March 31. (The airline notes that, according to the CDC, traveling throughout the West Coast is still a-okay for members of the general public.)
Meanwhile, on Seattle Met...
Here's what you can do to help your community right now.
Misconceptions about COVID-19 are hurting local Chinese restaurants.
A UW student's perspective on college life under quarantine.