COVID-19 updates: 598 new cases, 15 new deaths –

Kevin and Laurie Callahan (L) say goodbye after visiting with Laurie’s mother at the Life Care Center of Kirkland on August 24, 2020. This is the first time they’ve seen each other in person since February when COVID-19 raced through the facility. Recently, Gov. Inslee issued a directive to allow visitors to long-term care facilities. The families cannot touch, must visit outside and stay socially distant. (Photo by Karen Ducey/Getty Images)

The state Department of Health reports over 73,000 cases of coronavirus in Washington state. The DOH says 1,905 people have died from the virus. Check below for more updates.

Confirmed coronavirus cases across Washington state

Friday, Aug. 28

4:20pm – Health officials say there have been 73,301 positive cases of coronavirus in Washington state, and 1,905 deaths due to the virus. The DOH reports 1,423,771 tests have been conducted, which would indicate the rate of positive cases in Washington state is 5.12%.

3:38pm – In June, word began to circulate about the small Thurston County town of Tenino, Washington printing its own wooden money to help out businesses struggling amid the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. Over two months later, it’s become clear that the unconventional idea has been a hit. Read more

1:20pmThe latest estimates from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation predict that the U.S. could see as many as 317,000 COVID-19 deaths by December. That being so, the IHME also notes that over 67,000 lives could be saved if 95% of people wear masks in public.

11:14am – The Washington Department of Health announced Friday that it will no longer be posting COVID-19 death totals on weekends. Regular publishing of COVID death counts will occur only between Monday and Friday. All counts generated over weekends will be added to Monday and Tuesday reports.

9:26am – Seattle’s fourth free COVID-19 community testing site opens Friday at Chief Sealth High School in West Seattle. Testing sites are open Monday through Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., unless stated otherwise. Schedule an appointment online here.

7:40am – The first two days of in-person school went off without a hitch in the Clarkston School District. Superintendent Thaynan Knowlton said there appears to be no end-of-summer blues among the kids who are back in the school buildings, adding that students were “giddy” to be back in-person with their classmates for the first time in half a year. Read more.

5:37amStevens Pass is preparing to reopen this winter with new COVID-19 safety restrictions in place. Vail Resorts, which operates the ski resort, announced it will require reservations in advance. As part of the new expectations, skiers and snowboarders will have to wear masks and social distance on chairlifts.

Thursday, Aug. 27

5:07pm – Health officials say there have been 72,703 positive cases of coronavirus in Washington state, and 1,890 deaths. That’s out of 1,408,164 total tests. The state reports there have been 6,674 people hospitalized since the outbreak began.

3:19pm – The state’s Employment Security Department on Thursday reported 18,389 initial unemployment claims for the week of Aug. 16-22. That’s a drop from 21,942 the week prior. That’s a major drop from the week of March 22-28 when initial claims were 181,975.

2:11pm – King County Public Health Officer Dr. Jeff Duchin tells KIRO Radio’s Dave Ross and Aaron Granillo that it’s important people get a flu shot this fall, especially if you’re at high risk. He said they’d love for as many people as possible to get a flu shot as a preventative way to keep people out of hospitals. Read more. 

11:32am – A study published on explains that men and women respond differently to COVID-19. University of Washington Public Health says it may help explain why men are more susceptible to severe outcomes from the virus. In Washington state, 49% of all cases are among females and 46% among males (4% unknown). However, males make up 53% of hospitalizations and 54% of deaths due to the virus.

9:22am – Just over 1 million Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week, a sign that the coronavirus outbreak continues to threaten jobs even as the housing market, auto sales and other segments of the economy rebound from a springtime collapse.

The Labor Department reported Thursday that the number of people seeking jobless aid last week dropped by 98,000 from 1.1 million the week before. Read more.

7:16am – How have businesses in Seattle been coping as the pandemic and riots stretch on? Jon Scholes, President of the Downtown Seattle Association, joined KIRO Radio’s Gee and Ursula Show to discuss how the early economic relief is not enough to sustain the downtown core. Read more.

6:24am – After a visit to Bremerton’s St. Michael Medical Center, the state health department is now formally investigating how the coronavirus outbreak there is being handled. There are 45 cases of COVID-19 connected to the hospital in patients and staff.

The department of health has already recommended additional infection control measures, and will decide if the medical center needs to do more.

A group of workers at St. Michael Medical Center say the COVID-19 outbreak there might have been prevented if they had better protective gear and were notified sooner. Read more.

Wednesday, Aug. 26

4:43pm – Washington now has 72,161 total COVID-19 cases, a single day increase of 456 cases. The state’s total death total rose to 1,880, for an increase of four. Out of nearly 1.4 million tests run, 5.47% have been positive.

4:19pm – Michelle Fay Cortez, health, science and medical technology reporter for Bloomberg News, reports that Abbott has launched a $5 coronavirus test that gives results in 15 minutes, without needing a laboratory setting. 50 million tests per month are expected. The tests include a nasal swab and drops.

2:29pm – Dr. John Wiesman, Secretary of Health, says new cases at college campuses in Washington are not surprising, but they are preventable.

“Be diligent about this,” Wiesman said of wearing masks beyond just the grocery store. “This isn’t a part-time job. This is full time.”

2:06pm – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released new COVID-19 testing standards this week, advising against testing for people not presenting with symptoms of the virus, even if they’ve been previously exposed. In the wake of that decision, health experts both in Washington and across the United States have spoken out. Read more

12:19pm – In response to the isolation, loneliness, uncertainty and stress many are experiencing during quarantine, the state launched Washington Listens, an anonymous phone line people can call to get emotional support and coping strategies. Read more.

11:28am – Traditional farm visits this fall may be sidelined as the restrictions included in the new state guidelines for counties in Phase 2 of the Safe Start plan to reduce COVID-19 exposure could be too costly for the agritourism industry. Restrictions include wagon rides, haunted houses, petting areas, animal viewing, and campfires, which are activities that many farms were depending on to help recover from the loss of revenue due to the pandemic. Any farms that violate the guidelines will be fined $10,000.

10:04am – A new report commissioned by the Washington State Department of Commerce worries that the COVID-19 crisis could soon stress the state’s already strained child care system. Read more.

8:52am – Grays Harbor County Public Health and Grays Harbor Emergency Operations Center have identified 74 new laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19 among people who reside in the county since Aug. 17. At least half of the new cases have been linked to separate outbreaks identified at two private businesses. Investigations are still pending, but approximately 10% of the 74 cases so far have no known source of exposure.

7:19am – The Olympia Harbor Days festival, held every Labor Day weekend, will look a bit different this year. It will be a virtual event with at-home community participation activities, including a self-guided tour along the Percival Landing Boardwalk, links to a decade of Olympia Harbor Days videos, Lego tugboat building at home, and more family friendly activities.

“While we want to continue our 47-year-long Harbor Days legacy, we are also aware that we need to offer a safe event for the public in this coronavirus pandemic era,” said board president Don Chalmers.

6:00am – Clarkston School District in southeast Washington is welcoming students back to campus today.

Superintendent Thaynan Knowlton says the older students are divided in half — one group will come in Tuesdays and Fridays, the other will come in Mondays and Thursdays. Younger students either come in the mornings or afternoons. Wednesdays are at-home days, with the exception for kids who may want or need extra help from a teacher on site. At school, masks are required at all times, desks and chairs will be cleaned before each class, and high-touch spots will be wiped down frequently.

Knowlton says case counts have been low overall since March, and Asotin County is already in Phase 3. He says 95 percent of staff and 85 percent of community members wanted in-person classes. Students are able to opt for an all-remote model. The current plan is intended to be in place for 4-6 weeks, as trends allow. There is a modified plan in the event that cases rise in the schools that involves having fewer students on campus or shifting to an entirely remote model.

Tuesday, Aug. 25

5:04pm – Health officials say there have been 71,705 cases of coronavirus in Washington state, and 1,876 people have died from the virus. Nearly 6,600 people have been hospitalized since the outbreak.

4:07pm – As your kids go back to school remotely, experts say that it’s more important than ever to talk to them about how they’re feeling. That’s the advice of the director of Spokane’s Frontier Behavioral Health program, Aly Gibson, who emphasizes the importance of creating spaces where children are comfortable sharing their feelings. Read more.

2:45pm – There has been a rise in confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Whitman County that’s been linked to parties held by students returning to campus at Washington State University (WSU). Nearly 70 new cases were confirmed over the weekend, all among young people. Read more

1:29pm – If your child is working with a team or a group, Seahawks team doctor and director of the UW Medicine Center for Sports Cardiology, Jonathan Drezner, said each group should have a clear COVID procedure and plan. Read more.

12:36pm – King County Safeway locations will be give free face masks to customers with their groceries starting Tuesday thanks to a new partnership between King County, Safeway, and UFCW Local 21.

According to a release from the King County Executive’s Office, the county purchased more than 25 million face masks for county residents, and has distributed more than 14 million reusable and disposable masks to date through direct distribution and partnerships with local chambers of commerce and community organizations.

“As we all learn to wear masks when we’re heading into a public setting, we’re starting to see progress in defeating the spread of COVID-19, and this partnership between Safeway and UFCW 21 will help get more masks into the hands of people throughout King County,” said Executive Dow Constantine.

11:49am – The Seattle Public Library is now offering curbside pickup at seven locations for books and materials by appointment. The locations open from noon to 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday include: Central Library, Broadview, High Point, Lake City, Ballard, Douglass-Truth, and Rainier Beach branches.

Patrons with existing holds are receiving emails about the process for picking up holds, including how to schedule an appointment for pickup. Patrons who requested items for pickup at a branch not offering curbside service have been notified of a default pickup location at this time.

The SPL is currently operating under Phase 2 of Gov. Inslee’s plan for reopening services in Washington state. Libraries are not allowed to open their buildings to the public until Phase 3.

10:22am – Bloodworks Northwest announced that they will be testing all blood donations for COVID-19 antibodies now through Sept. 30. The testing can help identify people who may be able to donate to the convalescent plasma program and help COVID-19 patients directly. Test results will be mailed to blood donors within two weeks of their donation.

8:35am – The National Nordic Museum is set to reopen on Sept. 4 with two visiting exhibitions from Sweden. Advance tickets will be required to visit the museum, available online. All museum visitors must wear masks and follow a directional pathway that allows for proper social distancing, and gallery capacity will be limited to 25% until further notice. The National Nordic Museum will be open Wednesday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

7:57am –  There’s another mask distribution event for King County residents Tuesday from 1-5 p.m. at the Pickering Barn in Issaquah. Each resident may receive two cloth reusable masks per household member, up to six household members.

5:32am – At Bremerton’s St. Michael Medical Center, there are 45 patients and employees who have tested positive for COVID-19 since Aug. 4, 2020. A staff screening showed the first known case, but state epidemiologist Scott Lindquist says it’s not certain how the outbreak started.

St. Michael managers say the sick patients are in three units that are not currently accepting new patients. Visitor restrictions and other safety measures are in place.

Monday, Aug. 24

9:41pm – It’s been a month now since Suzi LeVine, the head of Washington’s Employment Security Department, said the state had cleared the backlog. However, listeners have reached out to KIRO Radio’s Gee & Ursula Show to say that’s not the case, and they’re still waiting on their first unemployment checks.

Jeff Hermsen has been waiting five months. Read more.

3:27pm – Health officials say there have been 71,371 positive cases of coronavirus in Washington state, and there have been 1,867 deaths due to the virus since the outbreak began.

2:01pm – The FDA has given an emergency use authorization to plasma treatment for coronavirus. How effective is the treatment? Read more. 

12:22pm – The Seattle Art Museum will reopen to the general public on Friday, Sept. 11. The museum in downtown Seattle will initially be open at a limited capacity Friday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Timed tickets will be sold online only beginning Sept. 4.

11:56am – After months of lighter rush hour traffic during the pandemic, congestion levels are starting to rise back to normal levels across the state. Read more.

10:30am – The annual Christmas Lighting Festival in Leavenworth has been postponed for 2020, but the Village of Lights holiday light display will shine from Thanksgiving to Valentine’s Day.

In addition to the lighting ceremony and countdown, also on hold are other festival activities, including carolers, chestnut roasting, live entertainment, the Gluhwein tent, and the children’s Cookie Crawl.

Front Street in Leavenworth has been closed to vehicle traffic since July to allow for social distancing, and masks and sanitizing stations are being made readily available.

7:55am – The Quinault Indian Reservation is closed to visitors for at least two weeks due to a recent outbreak of COVID-19. The reservation saw its first positive tests last week and quarantined several households. The closure will last through Sept. 6, but could be extended.

5:23amHealth officials are investigating two recent outbreaks of COVID-19 in the state. Parties on Greek Row at Washington State University are being blamed for a spike in cases in Whitman County where health officials recorded 30 new cases Saturday, all aged 20-39, and most linked to gatherings around campus.

At the St. Michael Medical Center in Bremerton, more than 30 cases have been reported in patients and staff.

Read least week’s updates.