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Coronavirus in Washington state: Updates from March 19-22

Facts not fear: Find updates on the coronavirus outbreak in Washington state from March 19-22, 2020.

Editor’s note: This story shows updates about the coronavirus outbreak in Washington state from March 19-22, 2020.

Click here for real-time updates for March 23-26, 2020.

Key facts:

  • 95 coronavirus deaths among at least 1,996 overall cases in Washington.
  • A total of 28,879 people (94% of tests) have tested negative for the virus.
  • Gov. Inslee said Friday he would not legally order Washington residents to shelter-in-place, but he pleaded with everyone to stay home, especially those over age 60. Watch his announcement
  • King County is partnering with Harborview Medical Center to open a 45-bed isolation and recovery center at the Harborview Hall building, located at 326 Ninth Avenue. 
  • The city of Seattle is temporarily suspending some parking enforcement measures in an effort to not punish people for staying inside and leaving their cars parked. For instance, the 72-hour rule is now suspended.
  • Track the statewide outbreak with this map of Washington counties

Click here for previous daily updates

March 22:

6:25 p.m.

In a letter, the mayors of Auburn, Kent, Renton, Federal Way, Tukwila, Enumclaw, Algona and Pacific said they may take additional steps to "protect our communities and mandate those best practices issued by health professionals are followed. The most imperative practice to reduce the spread of this virus is to stay home and avoid contact with others." 

3:12 p.m.

There are now 95 deaths among 1,996 total confirmed cases in Washington.

1:08 p.m.

President Donald Trump declared that a major disaster exists in the State of Washington and ordered Federal assistance to supplement State, tribal, and local recovery efforts in the areas affected by the coronavirus pandemic beginning on January 20, 2020, and continuing.

12:57 p.m.

Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission (Parks), Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) and the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) announced the closure of all state campgrounds across Washington to help reduce the spread of coronavirus. Campgrounds will remain closed through April 30.

The closure includes roofed accommodations like cabins and yurts.

No new campers will be allowed into Parks, WDFW or DNR lands beginning Monday, March 23

11:56 a.m.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) is looking at postponing the Tokyo Olympics during four weeks of talks amid mounting criticism by athletes and sports officials during the coronavirus pandemic.

11:45 a.m.

Gov. Jay Inslee has named retired Navy Vice Admiral Raquel C. Bono as the head of the Washington state coronavirus health care response team.

March 21:

10:24 p.m.

U.S. elections have been upended by the coronavirus pandemic. At least 13 states have postponed voting and more delays are possible as health officials warn that social distancing and other measures to contain the virus might be in place for weeks, if not months.

5:55 p.m.

Grant County residents who are at a higher risk for coronavirus are being advised to shelter-in-place by the Grant County Health Officer. This includes people over 60 and those with compromised immune systems. The governor has not yet ordered a statewide shelter-in-place order. 

3:47 p.m.

Target is apologizing after a spokesperson said in some Seattle-area stores shipments of N95 masks were accidentally made available for purchase. Surgical masks and other personal protective equipment are in short supply across the state right now due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Target said it's removing the masks from stores and will donate them to the Washington State Department of Health for distribution to local hospitals. 

"We are also thoroughly reviewing our full inventory for any additional masks, which will be donated given the critical need across the medical community. Target’s commitment to communities is unwavering and we apologize for our error," the company said in a statement Saturday.

3:35 p.m.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved the first rapid coronavirus test, which produces results in about 45 minutes.

An FDA spokeswoman confirmed the approval after an announcement from Cepheid, a Silicon Valley molecular diagnostics company. Cepheid said it will begin shipping its tests next week with roll-out availability by March 30. 

3:03 p.m.

The Washington Department of Health confirmed Saturday a total of 94 people have died from coronavirus statewide among 1,793 total cases.

2:00 p.m.

The Department of Corrections' Correctional Industries in Washington state will start producing personal protective equipment for medical staff to help with the statewide shortage. The agency expects to start production the coming days at its textiles shop in Connell, Wash. 

Once it's fully operational, the agency estimates it will produce 5,000-6,000 gowns per day with 12 staff and 160 incarcerated workers, according to a press release Saturday.

The agency will coordinate with the Washington State Emergency Operations Center to distribute the gowns. 

1:55 p.m.

The city of Seattle is temporarily suspending some parking enforcement measures in an effort to not punish people for staying indoors and leaving their cars parked in one spot. 

  • The 72-hour parking rule is temporarily suspended. This suspension will last for two weeks at least. People should still follow posted signs regarding other time restrictions and vehicles without Residential Parking Zone permits must still obey time limits those zones.
  • Booting and towing changes - The city will suspend booting vehicles with unpaid parking tickets for the time being. The city will limit towing to situations that create safety hazards, block access, or create other major issues. 
  • SDOT is installing temporary loading zones at restaurants to support businesses and facility food pick-up orders. 

1:50 p.m.

King County is partnering with Harborview Medical Center to open a 45-bed isolation and recovery center at the Harborview Hall building, located at 326 Ninth Avenue.

Harborview Hall is across the street from Harborview Medical Center. The center will be used primarily for people who don't have a home to rest and recover or who may have other health needs that need monitoring. 

Harborview Hall previously housed a 24/7 enhanced shelter operated by the Salvation Army, but that shelter will be temporarily moving to the former King County Records warehouse so the Hall can be used for this coronavirus isolation center. 

1:40 p.m.

The Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission confirmed a volunteer campground host at Bay View State Park in Skagit County tested positive for coronavirus. The person immediately took measures to self-isolate once they were not feeling well and hasn't been at the park since March 14. Health officials do not believe visitors or campers were put at risk. 

12:40 p.m.

Everett Mayor Cassie Franklin issued a mayoral directive Friday instructing all residents and business owners to stay home, except for essential activities and work to provide essential business, government services or public infrastructure. 

Everett residents and business owners are directed to stay home and limit all non-essential activities and interactions with others outside the home. Homeless individuals are not subject to this directive but are strongly urged to find shelter, according to the press release. Government agencies are urged to take steps needed to provide shelter for those individuals.  

12:10 p.m.

Tacoma Public Schools will start delivering free meals to students via their buses starting Monday, March 23. The buses will make scheduled stops throughout Tacoma neighborhoods and at all elementary schools where kids ages 0-18 can get a free lunch and breakfast for the next day. TPS also has 10 middle schools doing "drive-through" meal sites. Here is their map to find your location. 

12:02 p.m.

The Federal Aviation Administration has lifted a brief suspension of flights to New York City-area airports because of coronavirus-related staffing issues at a regional air-traffic control center, according to the Associated Press.

In an alert posted online Saturday, the agency advised air traffic controllers to “stop all departures” to Kennedy, LaGuardia, Newark and other airports in the region. The directive also affected the Philadelphia International Airport.

The halt was lifted after about 30 minutes. Initially air traffic controllers were warned it could last several hours.

11:00 a.m.

Fred Meyer and QFC are offering special hours for seniors and other high-risk shoppers, such as pregnant women and people with compromised immune systems, starting Monday, March 23. Both companies will reserve the hours of 7-8 a.m. for those shoppers Monday-Thursday. The grocery stores will be open for all customers starting at 8 a.m. 

Albertsons and Whole Foods implemented similar measures earlier this week. 

10:55 a.m.

The Skagit County Public Health Department is investigating what they're calling a "cluster" of recently confirmed coronavirus (COVID-19) cases. The cases were traced to a group meeting of approximately 60 people in early March, health officials said Saturday.

The investigation has revealed that more than half of the attendees who were at the gathering are now confirmed or probable cases of COVID-19. 

"This situation clearly illustrates the highly contagious nature of COVID-19 and emphasizes the importance of following social distancing guidelines in order to control the spread of the virus," health officials said.

Health officials are contacting all the symptomatic and asymptomatic attendees of this meeting as well as their close contacts and advising them to quarantine or isolate themselves. 

March 20:

10 p.m. 

The US-Canada border is closed to all non-essential travel. Commercial trade and health care workers can still cross. Tourism and family visits will be suspended. 

RELATED: US-Canada border closes to all non-essential travel

9:15 p.m.

Starbucks announced it's closing all its cafés in the U.S. and will operate on a drive-thru and delivery basis only due to coronavirus concerns. The closures will last at least two weeks. Starbucks shops in or around hospitals and other health care centers will remain open to support workers and first responders.

8:25 p.m. 

Tacoma-Pierce County Health will open a coronavirus testing site at 9 a.m. Saturday, March 21 for first responders, medical professionals, grocery store workers, and employees in critical infrastructure roles. Members of those groups are getting tested after being screened online and receiving a confirmation number for testing. This site will operate until Wednesday, March 25.  

7:20 p.m. 

The worldwide death toll from coronavirus has surpassed 10,000. See real-time national updates here

7:15 p.m. 

A staff member for Vice President Mike Pence has tested positive for coronavirus.

5:45 p.m. 

King County and the City of Seattle just announced the closure of all playgrounds and sports courts as part of statewide social distancing guidelines issued by Washington Gov. Jay Inslee.

"The closure includes picnic shelters, basketball and tennis courts, ballfields, and other active recreation locations. Parks, natural lands, regional trails, backcountry trails, and beaches where social distancing can be maintained remain open." Read more

5 p.m. 

King County Metro and Sound Transit will stop collecting fares until further notice and ask riders to board and exit from the rear door when possible, to protect drivers. 

RELATED: King County Metro and Sound Transit go fare-free amid coronavirus pandemic

4:45 p.m. 

According to Shoreline Community College, "a student in the nursing program has tested positive for COVID-19 after working at a local Virginia Mason Medical Center. This is the first known case at the College.The student is now in isolation at home and is recovering, and the affected instructor and classmates are also self-quarantining as a precaution."

4:30 p.m.

Gov. Jay Inslee stopped short of ordering Washington residents to shelter-in-place, but he left the door open for the future if residents continued to ignore the guidelines that recommend social distancing practices to curb the spread of coronavirus.

“I am asking you, you may say I am pleading with you, stay home, stay home, unless it is necessary for you to go out,” he said.

Inslee also said he would make a proclamation that calls for employers to accommodate workers older than 60 who want time off or to be allowed to work from home. He said his office is looking into whether the state can impose greater legal protections for older workers and workers who are in other high-risk populations.

He also pleaded with people older than 60 to stay home.

“It is too dangerous particularly of this age group to be going to dinner parties, to be going to coffee klatches,” he said. “That’s just too dangerous right now.” 

WATCH: Gov. Inslee urges Washington residents to stay home

Washington schools remain closed.  Check here for developments.

3:24 p.m.

Nine additional people in Washington state are confirmed to have died of COVID-19, state health officials announced Friday. So far, 83 people have died in the coronavirus outbreak in Washington state, out of a total of 1,524 cases. The state reported that 67 of those deaths were in King County.

2:30 p.m.

New unemployment claims in Washington increased more than 116% last week, the state Employment Security Department reported today. The week of March 8 - 14, the state received 14,154 new claims for unemployment benefits, which was an increase of 7,606 new claims over the previous week. 

The Employment Security Department officials believe that the number of insurance claims could continue to rise as a result of the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

KING 5 reported on how the sharp rise in claims is putting pressure on the state unemployment system. We also reported on who might qualify for unemployment assistance from the state..

2 p.m.

The U.S.-Canada border closes tonight for all non-essential travel for the next 30 days, in a mutual response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Tourism and family visits will be halted, but trade will continue across the border.  Essential workers including health-care professionals, airline crews and truck drivers will be permitted to cross.

11 a.m.

Washington State Ferry service between the U.S. and Canada is suspended until at least April 26. 

The route serving Anacortes, Sidney, and British Columbia is suspended due to the coronavirus outbreak. 

International service was originally scheduled to resume March 29. 

Domestic routes in the San Juan Islands are not affected. 

10:30 a.m.

King County officials and faith-based leaders came together Friday morning in a show of unity.

Faith leaders from the Puget Sound region shared modified religious practice and gathering information in Washington state. 

8:15 a.m.

Starting Friday, March 20, the City of Sammamish will close the Commons Skate Park and all park playgrounds until further notice. 

All playgrounds will close by midday. 

The city's parks and trails remain open, but the city encourages people to avoid congregating in them. 

8 a.m.

Secretary of Treasury Steven Mnuchin has announced that the deadline to file income taxes will be moved to July 15 from April 15, at President Trump's direction. All taxpayers and businesses will be get additional time to file and make payments without interest or penalties. 

7 a.m.

It is now free to ride Community Transit buses as the agency works to distance drivers and passengers. 

Passengers will now board and exit through the rear doors only, unless they require ADA services. 

The changes come after four drivers tested positive for the coronavirus. 

6:30 a.m.

Seattle Pride announced it is dedicating $25,000 in emergency funds to support organizations in the region providing coronavirus support services for vulnerable populations. Organizations can request more information and apply for funding here

6 a.m.

The King County Sheriff's Office says it has seen a spike in search and rescue calls of lost, missing and injured hikers as people look to escape the confines of their homes during the coronavirus outbreak.

The Sheriff's Office warns that Search and Rescue volunteers are also impacted by the pandemic and their numbers could be reduced. 

5 a.m.

All clam digging in Pacific County has been canceled until further notice. Pacific County Deputy Health Officer Dr. Steven Krager ordered the cancelation of digs to help slow the spread of COVID-19.

“The Deputy Health Officer has determined that this step is now necessary in Pacific County in light of the increasing scope and severity of the threat that COVID-19 poses. Although no cases are confirmed in Pacific County at this time, the increasing instances of community spread in Washington State have influenced the decision,” a press release read.

March 19:

10:20 p.m. 

Seattle's Ronald McDonald House is making an urgent plea for cleaning supplies for families who have immune-compromised children.

RELATED: Seattle Ronald McDonald House needs vital cleaning supply donations

9:15 p.m. 

The Puyallup School District will offer meal services for all children ages 0-18 and childcare for medical workers and first responders starting Monday, March 23. 

Meal service will be available from 11-12 p.m. Monday-Friday at each of the district's 22 elementary schools. In addition, childcare options will be available from 8-4 p.m. Monday-Friday. 

Here is more information on the district's plan. 

9:06 p.m. 

A second-class petty officer assigned to Naval Special Warfare who was training at Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor has tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19), according to officials. 

The officer is currently in isolation on the base and other members who were in close contact with the sailor are quarantined and being monitored.  

7:40 p.m.

Gov. Jay Inslee has requested the U.S.S. Mercy come to Seattle to help fight the coronavirus outbreak. The governor sent a letter to President Donald Trump this week requesting help from the U.S. Navy hospital ship, which comes equipped with its own set of doctors, nurses, and medical equipment. 

"While we are taking very aggressive measures to slow the spread of this deadly disease among our vulnerable citizens, it is becoming clear that our hospitals will be overwhelmed soon," wrote Gov. Inslee. "To address this urgent situation, I am asking that you send one of the U.S. Navy’s hospital ships to Seattle as soon as possible. We anticipate that our hospitals will be in crisis by the end of this month."

6:50 p.m. 

California governor issues statewide order for people to stay at home. Track national updates in this real-time blog. 

6:00 p.m. 

A Whatcom County man in his 60s has died from coronavirus, health officials confirmed Thursday. It’s the first death from the virus in Whatcom County since the outbreak began. The man was a patient at PeaceHealth St. Joseph Medical Center.

Health officials are working to identify anyone who may have had contact with the man and they’ll be closely monitored to prevent further spread of the virus.

This death was reported by the Whatcom County Health Department and has not yet been reflected on the Washington State Department of Health website.

5:38 p.m.

Washington state has received 8,000 additional COVID-19 test kits from the U.S. Department of Human Services. The department also delivered more protective equipment.

The supplies will be distributed to local health agencies in King, Pierce, and Snohomish counties, which are the areas with the highest number of cases.

Despite more test kits being delivered, officials say limited testing supplies continue to be an issue across the state. As of Thursday, at 3 p.m., a total of 20,742 people have been tested for the virus with 1,376 of them testing positive.

4:22 p.m.

Western Washington University will hold spring quarter classes remotely.

"As nationwide social distancing requirements continue to increase and evolve daily, we believe this is the best course of action for reducing uncertainty and allaying some anxiety, while establishing a reliable and safe method of instruction and academic progress for Western’s students," WWU President Sabah Randhawa wrote in a letter to the campus.

The university said it expected and encouraged most students who went home over spring break to remain at home for spring quarter. However, residence halls will be open to students who need housing.

4:13 p.m. 

Gov. Jay Inslee has ordered a temporary halt to elective medical and dental surgeries in the state to free up enough protective gear for medical staff working to curb the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19).

The governor’s proclamation affects all hospitals, ambulatory surgery centers, and dental, orthodontic and endodontic offices in Washington state.

It applies to any non-urgent medical or dental procedure that requires medical professionals to wear personal protective equipment. Read more here.

3:20 p.m.

The number of deaths from coronavirus climbed in Washington state Thursday to 74 among 1,376 total cases. Of those 74 deaths, 60 of them are in King County. 

3:05 p.m.

Starting Monday, March 23, Sound Transit will be reducing its Link light rail and Sounder train service due to the coronavirus. Closures of the Downtown Seattle Link stations will start Friday evening and last through the weekend allowing crews to wrap up the Connect 2020 construction process. When the stations reopen on Monday, Sound Transit will retain the 14-minute train frequencies that have been in place during the construction period. Officials said this change provides enough capacity for current ridership and allows for social distancing. 

With the Connect 2020 construction wrapping up, passengers will no longer have to transfer at Pioneer Square station and the bicycle restrictions will be lifted. 

Also starting Monday, March 23, Sounder South weekday service will be reduced from 13 round trips to eight round trips. The following northbound trips are being canceled: 1502, 1504 and 1506 departures from Lakewood, and the 1516 and 1522 departures from Tacoma. The southbound trips being canceled are 1503, 1509, 1517, 1519, and 1523 departures from Seattle.

Sounder North weekday service will be reduced from four round trips to two round trips, with the cancellation of the 1701 and 1705 departures from Everett and the 1700 and 1704 departures from Seattle.

The changes reflect the significant decline in ridership since the start of the coronavirus outbreak in the state, according to officials. 

The ST Express buses operated by Community Transit and Pierce Transit, as well as service on Tacoma Link will remain unchanged for the time being, but officials said that could change in the future based on ridership and staffing impacts. 

1:09 p.m.

A patient at Western State Hospital, Washington state's largest psychiatric hospital, has tested positive for coronavirus. Workers at the hospital say they fear that number will increase due to a lack of protective gear. Read more here.

10:30 a.m.

Major League Soccer announced it extended postponement of matches. That means the end of the season could be pushed back, with the MLS Cup being played in December.

Seattle Sounders matches have been suspended for the next eight weeks. 

8 a.m.

The Pierce County Sheriff's Department announced it is taking the following precautions during the coronavirus outbreak:

• Deployed hand sanitizer and disinfectants to all work stations
• Instructed that surgical masks be placed on symptomatic arrestees
• Suspended the public ride-along program
• Suspended in-service training
• Advised patrol deputies to handle calls for service over the phone if possible; if not possible, residents will be asked to meet deputies outside their residences of place of business
• Postponed all department ceremonies and gatherings scheduled in March and April
• Closed the lobby area at our Parkland-Spanaway Precinct; currently the front desk at our Headquarters remains open for sex offender registrations, our South Hill Precinct lobby remains open for accessibility to the domestic violence order kiosk, and our Property Rooms remains open. Our desk staff at these locations are behind glass.
• Implemented social distancing and geographic distancing measures for our investigations units and support staff
• Screened all persons entering the corrections facility for symptoms of COVID-19
• Designated cleaning times for all units inside the jail
• Restricted visitations at the jail 

7 a.m.

King County selected a soccer field in Shoreline as the location of a temporary field hospital for people exposed to, at risk of exposure, or becoming ill with the coronavirus. 

The county is creating field hospitals at multiple locations for people who cannot safely remain isolated in their homes.

6:30 a.m.

Skagit Transit announced it will go fare free for the "duration of the COVID-19 emergency.." 

5:20 a.m.

King County Metro is planning to temporarily reduce transit service starting on Monday, March 23, 2020. Metro said some bus routes will not operate, and “nearly all routes will see individual trip cancelations.”

“These service reductions are in response to significant drops in ridership, and are designed to maintain a resilient and sustainable transit system able to ramp back up when this chapter closes,” King County Metro said on its website.

Metro’s ridership was 45% less, about 185,000 passengers, on March 12 than a comparable day in 2019. Click here for more information.

5 a.m.

China's health ministry says the virus epicenter of Wuhan and its surrounding Hubei province have reported no new cases.

The ministry said Thursday that results over the past 24 hours showed 34 new cases, all detected in people arriving from abroad. Eight new deaths were reported, all in Wuhan.

Wuhan at the peak reported thousands of new cases of coronavirus infection daily, overwhelming its health care system.

What are coronavirus symptoms?

The symptoms of coronavirus are similar to the flu or colds. Symptoms include a fever, cough, and shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, according to the Washington State Department of Health.

The severity of symptoms ranges significantly. Some cases are very mild with symptoms similar to the common cold, and some cases are more like severe pneumonia that require hospitalization. Most deaths have been reported in older adults who had other health conditions, according to DOH.

Symptoms may appear as soon as two days after being exposed to the coronavirus or as long as 14 days.

A new Washington call center has been set up to answer your questions about COVID-19. If you have questions about how the virus spreads, what is being done in Washington state, and what you can do if you have symptoms, call 1-800-525-0127 and press #.