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Here’s what we know so far regarding the COVID-19 outbreak for Clallam and Jefferson counties, plus around the state, nationally and internationally:
Saturday, April 4
• The number of people infected in the U.S. has exceeded 300,000, with the death toll climbing past 8,100; more than 3,500 of those deaths are in the state of New York.
• President Donald Trump warned Saturday that the country could be headed into its “toughest” weeks yet as the coronavirus death toll mounts, but at the same time he expressed growing impatience with social distancing guidelines and said he’s eager to get the country reopened and its stalled economy back on track.
“There will be a lot of death, unfortunately,” Trump said in a somber start to his daily briefing on the pandemic. “There will be death.”
• President Donald Trump and Democrats are bickering over how to provide voters with safe and secure access to a ballot as the coronavirus pandemic rages and threatens to extend into the fall, affecting the general election. Democrats favor expansion of voting by mail, which Trump opposes, arguing it would encourage fraud and lead to so many people voting that his party could not win.
• Another cruise ship with coronavirus victims on board, including two fatalities, is docking in Florida.
Friday, April 3
• Washington State Department of Health, Health Care Authority, Department of Social and Health Services and partner agencies recently launched a statewide public awareness campaign to help stop the spread of COVID-19.
The Spread the Facts campaign urges people in Washington to stay home, stay healthy and stay informed to help themselves, their families and their communities slow the spread of COVID-19.
People statewide will start seeing and hearing Spread the Facts, and Stay Home, Stay Healthy messaging on websites, in streaming and broadcast media, in print and other media this week. The goal of the campaign is to reinforce the importance of staying home while also providing resources for staying connected with loved ones and managing the stress and anxiety that many Washingtonians are experiencing.
• The Intertribal Canoe Journey, the annual late-summer gathering of Northwest Native canoe cultures, is postponed until further notice because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Canoes from the region’s down-sound Tribal Nations were expected to visit Swinomish and Samish’s shores in July en route to Nanaimo, B.C., the territory of the Snuneymuxw First Nation.
This would have been the 28th annual Canoe Journey, which ends each year at a different Tribal Nation or First Nation for a week-long cultural celebration.
• The WNBA has postponed the start of its season because of the coronavirus pandemic, with no indication when play would begin.
• The North Olympic Peninsula has its first case of a person 80 or older confirmed as having been infected with COVID-19, the highly contagious respiratory virus.
• Washington state’s confirmed coronaviruses cases have jumped to 6,585, including 262 deaths.
• Many Americans should wear face coverings. The White House is poised to make that recommendation, which appears more limited than what the CDC urges.
• The FDA has approved a new coronavirus blood test that could be a key part of helping Americans resume a more normal life.
• Life Care Center of Kirkland, the epicenter of the Seattle-area coronavirus outbreak, faces a $611,000 fine for its “systemic failure” to provide care.
• U.S. employers cut 701,000 jobs in March amid a weakening labor market.
• Delta Airlines has given passengers two years to rebook their flights.
Thursday, April 2
• Gov. Jay Inslee on Thursday extended his statewide stay-home order through 11:59 p.m. on May 4, saying it is proving to be an effective weapon in the war against the deadly coronavirus.
• The number of confirmed coronavirus cases worldwide passed the 1 million threshold Thursday as the pandemic swept across the globe.
• Army soldiers are setting up a military hospital at Seattle’s CenturyLink Field and it will include 250 beds for non-coronavirus patients.
• The mayor of Canada’s most populous city — Toronto — says anyone caught walking within 2 meters (6 feet) of another person in a Toronto public park or square may be subject to a fine of up to $5,000 Canadian (U.S. $3,536).
• The British government has written off 13.4 billion pounds ($16.5 billion) of historic debt that hospitals owe in order to free up resources in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.
Mayor John Tory says the public has been warned many times and the willful disobedience needs to stop.
• The Environmental Protection Agency says it will give Americans more time to comment on its proposal to change the way it regulates public health threats, after a storm of complaints that it was pushing through the rollback during the coronavirus crisis.
The agency said it would accept public comment through May 18, a four-week extension.
• New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo warned Thursday that the state’s supply of breathing machines could be exhausted in six days.
• The Trump administration is formalizing new guidance to recommend that many, if not almost all, Americans wear face coverings when leaving home, in an effort to slow the spread of the new coronavirus.
• Passengers aboard two cruise ships that have had coronavirus cases and deaths have been given the green light to disembark at a Florida port.
• A record 6.6 million Americans filed for unemployment last week.
• The U.S. Forest Service announced temporary closures of forest service recreation sites across Washington and Oregon on Wednesday in an effort to slow the spread of coronavirus.
• Florida, Georgia, Mississippi and Nevada have ordered residents to stay at home.
• Seattle officials have booked an entire downtown hotel for three months to house first responders and other essential city employees who’ve been exposed to the novel coronavirus and can’t isolate or quarantine at home.
• A key climate summit in Glasgow will be delayed until next year due to disruption caused by the coronavirus. The announcement was made in a joint statement from the UK and UN after a “virtual” meeting of officials. Dozens of world leaders were due to attend the COP26 gathering that was set to run in Glasgow from Nov. 9 this year.
Wednesday, April 1
• The Washington State Department of Health confirmed 5,984 cases and 247 deaths from COVID-19 Wednesday evening, marking the first time in several days that it’s updated its numbers.
• The Starbucks Foundation announced Wednesday that it’s planning to donate more than $3 million to support global coronavirus-response efforts.
• The USPS store in Port Angeles remains open but on reduced hours, which are now Mondays-Fridays, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., closed weekends.
During this time, please visit our website at locations.theupsstore.
• Background checks required to buy firearms have spiked to record numbers in the past month, fueled by a run on guns from Americans worried about their safety during the coronavirus crisis.
According to figures from the FBI, 3.7 million background checks were done in March — the most for a single month since the system began in 1998. It eclipsed the previous record, set in December 2015, when 3.3 million checks were conducted.
• Leaders of America’s largest labor unions, 45 New York elected officials and a group of Amazon employees called on Amazon to change its warehouse policies and practices in response to the novel coronavirus outbreak.
• In a Wednesday afternoon press briefing, President Donald Trump encouraged people to keep distance between each other to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Asked by a reporter why, if social distancing is so important, he doesn’t issue a stay-home order for the whole country, the president deferred to the states and said, “We have to have a little flexibility.”
“There are some states that are different,” he said. “There are some states that don’t have much of a problem. They don’t have thousands of people that are positive.”
It is unknown how many people in each state have the virus. States have each reported the number of cases they’ve been able to confirm by testing individual people, but widespread testing of entire populations has not been done.
• Gov. Jay Inslee’s emergency stay-home order didn’t deem firearms dealers essential — like grocery stores and pharmacies — and necessary to stay open as much of society closes down to slow the spread of the new coronavirus.
But that isn’t stopping some gun shops from keeping their doors open. Owners are pointing to the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and to recent guidance from President Donald Trump that deemed firearms dealers essential.
• Because of the pandemic, Washingtonians without health insurance will still be allowed to get coverage through the state’s health insurance marketplace despite regular enrollment having closed at the end of last year.
The Washington Health Benefit Exchange introduced a special enrollment period for people who are uninsured. It began March 10 and was set to end April 8, but has now been extended through May 8.
Health insurance plans can be found through the exchange’s Healthplanfinder website.
• The state of Washington has purchased a shuttered Seattle rehabilitation and nursing home and plans to repurpose it for use by hospital patients who need long-term care and have tested negative for COVID-19.
• While state and health officials have acknowledged that social distancing measures have helped slow the spread of the novel coronavirus in Washington, Gov. Jay Inslee said Wednesday that it’s likely he’ll extend his stay-at-home order for at least the next 30 days.
• The Capitol building is temporarily closed to the public as another measure against the new coronavirus.
• In a move that has implications for international arrangements with Canada regarding protection of the North American environment, the Environmental Protection Agency of the United States, citing the coronavirus pandemic as its justification, has announced that it will temporarily not seek penalties against companies that violate monitoring, reporting and other obligations under U.S. federal environmental laws.
In a policy statement issued March 26, 2020, the agency indicated that it will exercise “enforcement discretion … for noncompliance covered by this temporary policy and resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic” if the regulated community takes the steps set out in the policy.
• As have many other major professional sports teams around the country, the Seahawks confirmed on Wednesday they will work with season-ticket holders whose ability to pay may be impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak.
• An Oregon veteran who turns 104 today could be one of the oldest people in the world to survive the new coronavirus.
• The government’s emergency stockpile of respirator masks, gloves and other medical supplies is running low and is nearly exhausted due to the coronavirus outbreak, leaving the Trump administration and the states to compete for personal protective equipment in a freewheeling global marketplace rife with profiteering and price-gouging, according to Homeland Security officials involved in the frantic acquisition effort.
• During the COVID-19 outbreak, the Washington Department of Ecology will continue to respond to spills, provide technical assistance, ensure permit coverage for regulated activities, and enforce the laws that protect the environment throughout the current crisis.
“However, we recognize the public health crisis and economic disruptions related to the COVID-19 outbreak may temporarily affect some of the regulated entities’ ability to comply with all state requirements,” a press release stated.
All applicable state requirements remain in effect, but Ecology will exercise reasonable discretion within its authority when deciding whether to pursue potential violations that may be linked to the current COVID-19 pandemic.
For permitting, inspection and compliance questions and concerns, visit the COVID-19 Regulatory Flexibility page.
• The IRS and the Treasury Department say Americans will start receiving their economic impact checks in the next three weeks.
• U.S. companies shed 27,000 jobs in March, according to a private survey, a figure that mostly reflected the economy as it stood before the full impact of the viral outbreak.
• The coronavirus pandemic couldn’t come at a worse time for rural communities across the U.S. that have lost their hospitals. Nearly 200 small-town hospitals have closed nationwide since 2005, often forcing residents to drive much farther for health care. Last year was the worst yet for shutdowns, and officials say hundreds more rural hospitals are endangered by the pandemic.
• Wimbledon has been canceled for the first time since World War II because of the coronavirus pandemic.
• The U.N. weather agency says the coronavirus pandemic is affecting global efforts to monitor climate change and collect meteorological data for forecasting.
• The United Nations’ atomic watchdog agency says it’s sending equipment to more than 40 countries to give them the capability to use a highly accurate, nuclear-derived, coronavirus detection technique.
The International Atomic Energy Agency says 4 million euros ($4.4 million) worth of supplies will help countries use the technique to detect in real time the coronavirus in samples sent to their labs.
• Careage of Whidbey discovered a widespread outbreak — at least 27 residents and 20 employees — because, unlike other nursing homes, it tested everyone there.
• The USS Theodore Roosevelt’s captain is begging commanders to take the warship out of duty to save lives.
• All cruise ships must remain at sea “indefinitely,” the Coast Guard has ordered. Thousands of passengers are aboard, many of them ill.
• Florida officials were locked in a standoff with two cruise ships steaming toward the coast as more coronavirus hot spots flared around the country.
• Embattled New York City used forklifts to load bodies onto refrigerated trucks in plain view outside overwhelmed hospitals.
• Gas sales are plummeting as coronavirus hits hard — yet pump prices aren’t dropping much. Why? It has to do with a bit of psychology amid the upheaval that local stations are seeing.
• An 8-ounce bottle of hand sanitizer for $40? The state has warned five Washington businesses to stop price-gouging on Amazon.
Tuesday, March 31
• Washington National Guard members could soon be deployed to assist with coronavirus response efforts, officials said Tuesday.
“I expect that they will be deployed in a supportive way very soon,” said David Postman, chief of staff for Gov. Jay Inslee, in a question-and-answer session with reporters.
• As health care workers face shortages of medical-grade masks, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is weighing whether to advise the public to use face coverings or homemade masks in an attempt to prevent transmission of the virus that causes COVID-19.
• West Pierce Fire & Rescue in Pierce County announced Tuesday that one of its firefighters has tested positive for COVID-19.
• At least seven National Park Service employees have tested positive for the novel coronavirus, yet the Trump administration continues to operate the park system that attracts thousands of Americans each day.
• The White House on Tuesday projected 100,000 to 240,000 deaths in the U.S. from the coronavirus pandemic if current social distancing guidelines are maintained. President Donald Trump called American efforts to slow the spread of the coronavirus “a matter of life and death” and urged the public to heed his administration’s social distancing guidelines.
Trump called on Americans to brace themselves for a “rough two-week period” but predicted the country would soon see a “light at the end of the tunnel” of the global catastrophe that has killed more than 3,500 Americans and infected 170,000 more.
• Washington may get only a fraction of the ventilators it requested from the federal government’s national stockpile of medical supplies, Gov. Jay Inslee’s chief of staff said Tuesday.
• Authorities are warning Washington residents to be wary of scammers taking advantage of economic anxiety amid the coronavirus shutdown, with schemes related to federal stimulus checks expected to be issued in the coming weeks, according to The Seattle Times.
The $2 trillion stimulus package approved by Congress and President Donald Trump includes $1,200 checks for most adults, and $2,400 for married couples. But the Washington State Attorney General’s Office said Tuesday it will likely take several weeks for the Treasury Department to start mailing checks, and any purported refund checks arriving now are not authentic.
The federal government won’t ask Americans to confirm personal or banking details by email, phone or text message, nor demand a “processing fee” to receive or rush a stimulus payment, the Attorney General’s Office said. The office advises people to not click on links in email or text messages about stimulus checks, and to avoid providing personal information to anyone who contacts them.
• The IRS and the Treasury Department say Americans will start receiving checks in the next three weeks, as part of a $2.2 trillion rescue package aimed at combating the economic ravages of the coronavirus outbreak.
Most people don’t need to do anything to get the money. But some — including senior citizens and low-income people who might not traditionally file tax returns — do need to take action. People behind on filing their taxes might also want to get caught up.
• Thousands of callers are reporting stay-at-home violators in Washington state. The state will turn up the heat on individuals and businesses, Gov. Jay Inslee said. Don’t call 911 if you see a business acting badly, though; there’s an online complaint form to use instead.
• The governor of New York is begging for a million medical workers after deaths topped 1,000.
• British Airways suspends flights to and from London’s Gatwick airport, second-largest in the U.K.
• Ford and GE plan to produce produce 50,000 ventilators in 100 days.
Monday, March 30
• Washington state’s driver-licensing lobbies will temporarily close starting Tuesday in response to the coronavirus pandemic, according to the Washington Department of Licensing.
• Tribal Journeys 2020 has been postponed indefinitely because of the coronavirus.
• Gov. Jay Inslee on Monday detailed how state and local governments plan to enforce the emergency measures put in place to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.
• In response to Gov. Jay Inslee’s order halting all nonemergency dental procedures for two months, Delta Dental of Washington is pledging $10 million in grants and advance payments for its in-network dentists and their staffs to ease financial hardships.
• Two residents of a Whidbey Island nursing home that has been the site of a COVID-19 outbreak have died, public health officials said Monday.
• Despite protests that the policy puts profits over public health, the Trump administration clarified that gun shops are “essential” businesses that should remain open as other businesses are closed to try to stop the spread of coronavirus.
• Influential folk and country musician John Prine is in stable condition after being placed on a ventilator while being treated for COVID-19-type symptoms, his wife, Fiona Whelan Prine, said Monday.
• Hospitalizations for patients with symptoms of COVID-19-like illnesses in Washington declined last week by more than 20 percent, a hopeful sign for the region and a nation gripped by the coronavirus pandemic.
• The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife today announced a decision to cancel the youth turkey hunt previously scheduled for April 4-5. In addition, six game management units (GMUs) that were scheduled to open on April 1 for spring bear hunting will now be closed pending further evaluation and could reopen if conditions allow.
• The Washington State Supreme Court has agreed to hear a lawsuit seeking the release of thousands of people incarcerated in state prisons to protect them from the potential spread of the novel coronavirus.
• The top infectious-disease expert in the United States is warning that smaller U.S. cities are about to witness the rapid acceleration in coronavirus cases that New York is seeing.
Dr. Anthony Fauci said on ABC’s “Good Morning America” that New Orleans and Detroit are showing signs that “they’re going to take off,” and other, smaller cities are “percolating.”
Fauci’s warning comes a day after President Donald Trump braced the nation for a death toll that could exceed 100,000 people. Trump extended restrictive social distancing guidelines through April 30, bowing to public health experts who presented him with even more dire projections for the expanding coronavirus pandemic.
• COVID-19 cases continue to climb in Washington, although not as quickly. The state Department of Health announced 586 new cases on Sunday, bringing the state total to 4,896. The state’s confirmed death toll rose to 195, up six from Saturday.
• Olympic organizers announced that the summer games will kick off almost exactly a year after they were due to kick off in Tokyo.
• Macy’s, which closed its more than 500 stores this month, will furlough a majority of its 130,000 workers.
• Amazon said it would begin screening employees for elevated temperatures each day, starting at sites in Seattle and New York City.
• Spain has surpassed China in infections, even though its population is much smaller. Meanwhile, Moscow went into lockdown.
• The Emergency Coordinating Center has set up a Donation Drop-off Center at Greywolf Elementary School, located at 171 Carlsborg Road in Sequim, to support the emergency response efforts to the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) threat. Donations will be accepted Mondays through Fridays from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
To drop off a donation, residents are asked to drive through the north gate of the school and circle around to the back of the building. Please stay in your car. A volunteer will meet you at your car to accept your donation.
There is still a need for Personal Protective Equipment, specifically masks and gloves. Hand sanitizers and disinfectant wipes are also needed.
• In Port Angeles, a Volunteer and Donation Center is open at the Vern Burton Community Center, 308, E. Fourth St.
The entrance is on the northeast side of the building, and hours ar Mondays through Fridays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
The count of cases and deaths is a moving target, with jurisdictions reporting sometimes-contradictory numbers. Ours might not match what other media are reporting.
• As of 11:59 p.m. April 1, 79,418 individuals have been tested in Washington state, with 6,585 confirmed cases (meaning the person has the virus) and 262 deaths, according to the state Department of Health.
• 262 fatalities statewide.
• 2,609 cases in King County. 175 fatalities.
• 1,266 cases in Snohomish County. 38 fatalities.
• 368 cases in Pierce County. 7 fatalities.
• 114 cases in Island County. 3 fatalities.
• 85 cases in Kitsap County.
• 112 cases in Clark County. 7 fatalities.
• 19 cases in Jefferson County.
• 7 cases in Clallam County.
• Other counties reporting cases: Adams (20), Benton (133; 4 fatalities), Chelan (18; 2 fatalities), Columbia (1), Cowlitz (16), Douglas (6), Ferry (1), Franklin (43), Grant (68; 1 fatality), Grays Harbor (2), Kittitas (9), Klickitat (8; 1 fatality), Lewis (12), Lincoln (1), Mason (10), Okanogan (4), San Juan (5), Skagit (148; 4 fatalities), Skamania (1), Spokane (167; 5 fatalities), Stevens (5), Thurston (49), Walla Walla (8), Whatcom (124; 8 fatalities), Whitman (10) and Yakima (216; 6 fatalities).
• 245,658 U.S. confirmed cases; 6,586 total deaths; 9,311 total recovered
• 1,041,126 global confirmed cases; 55,781 deaths; 221,262 total recovered
• Peninsula restaurants offer takeout, delivery options (updated daily)
• Virus prompts cancellations on the Peninsula (updated daily)
COVID-19 information & best practices
What is the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)?
Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2, known as SARS-CoV-2, is the virus strain identified in January that causes COVID-19, coronavirus disease, and is spreading from person to person.
While the virus has the potential to cause severe illness and pneumonia in some people, about 80 percent of cases are relatively mild.
• Key symptoms of COVID-19: shortness of breath, inability to eat or drink water due to nausea, fever, cough.
• Symptoms may appear two to 14 days after exposure.
• COVID-19 is transmitted by being in close contact with someone who is coughing or sneezing for a long period of time.
• Exposure must occur >15 minutes, “which is still more than most casual contact but is quite a bit shorter than what we were initially told,” said Dr. Allison Unthank, Clallam County health officer, in an email. Transmission occurs from particulates from coughing and sneezing.
• People are thought to be most contagious when they are most symptomatic (the sickest).
• Some spread might be possible before people show symptoms; there have been reports of this occurring with this new coronavirus, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.
• It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads, according to the CDC.
“That’s why we push the handwashing and surface cleaning so much,” Unthank said.
• Older adults and people who have severe underlying chronic medical conditions like heart or lung disease or diabetes seem to be at higher risk for developing more serious complications from COVID-19 illness, according to the CDC. Please consult with your health care provider about additional steps you may be able to take to protect yourself.
What to do if you’re sick
• If you suspect you have COVID-19, isolate at home during illness. Restrict activities outside of the home except for getting medical care. Call ahead unless you are in crisis.
• Call 360-417-2430, a hotline that provides local information on the infection.
There is currently no vaccine to prevent COVID-19. The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus.
As a reminder, according to the CDC, here are recommended everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory diseases:
• Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
• Stay home when you are sick.
• Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
• Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
• CDC does not recommend that people who are well wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory diseases, including COVID-19.
• Facemasks should be used by people who show symptoms of COVID-19 to help prevent the spread of the disease to others. The use of facemasks is also crucial for health workers and people who are taking care of someone in close settings (at home or in a health care facility).
• Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
• If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.
• Once home from work, school, runnings errands, etc., immediately wash your hands.
• Consider purchasing the following supplies: extra fluids and hydrating drinks (Gatorade and Pedialyte); food for when you’re sick (soups, broths, crackers, honey, nonperishable items); pain and fever medications (acetaminophen or ibuprofen); cough drops and cough medications; prescription medications; tissues; household cleaners (bleach, alcohol, soap, disinfecting wipes).