SEATTLE, WA — The number of confirmed cases of the new coronavirus neared 2,600 in Washington as the number of deaths linked to COVID-19 in the state reached 132, according to estimates released Wednesday night.
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State health officials have battled technical issues this week and said precise case counts were not immediately available on the statewide level. The total released Wednesday represents an estimated count. The department of health said a ten-fold increase in the number of lab reports received, due to increased testing, created a slowdown in their database.
We ran into problems today with our COVID-19 data repository which has prevented us from having updated case counts for the day. We are releasing our best estimate of the case counts. https://t.co/mOvUJ2wB1r pic.twitter.com/cahfOs962T
— WA Dept. of Health (@WADeptHealth) March 26, 2020
In King County, where the virus has hit Washington hardest, the virus's death toll hit 100 and the number of confirmed cases is now 1,359, according to public health officials. Pierce County reported its second death linked to the virus Wednesday, a Spanaway man in his 70s with underlying health conditions who died at a Puyallup hospital.
According to data from Johns Hopkins University, the U.S. death toll topped 1,000 Wednesday, with more than 12,000 new cases reported nationwide.
King County launches new coronavirus tracking dashboard
Seattle and King County Public Health will provide daily updates on confirmed COVID-19 cases via an interactive dashboard moving forward, providing residents with a real-time map to learn about cases confirmed nearest to their homes.
Data will be updated every day between 1 - 2 p.m. and includes information on testing results and breakdowns on patients' age groups.
A mobile version of the dashboard is available here.
The county said a high volume of traffic may create longer loading times, but a PDF version of the data is available on the same webpage.
Pierce County confirms second COVID-19 death, 17 new cases
A Spanaway man in his 70s has died from complications related to the virus, becoming the second death linked to COVID-19 in Pierce County, the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department announced Wednesday.
Among the latest cases are two additional employees at Western State Hospital, a state psychiatric facility in Lakewood. Last week, the Department of Social and Health Services announced a staff member and two patients had contracted the illness. So far, two of them have recovered.
The union representing hospital workers said staff members have become increasingly worried that the situation at Western State could soon become a tragedy if management does not take more steps to follow public health guidance.
Army deploys medical unit to assist Washington health care providers
The U.S. Army is sending a team of more than 300 from Fort Carson, Colorado, to assist ongoing health care efforts related to COVID-19 in Washington. The military personnel are likely to work in a support role and can handle routine medical cases to lessen the load on state health workers. The Seattle Times reports the unit is also capable of creating and running a 148-bed field hospital, should it become necessary.
What is an "essential business?"
State officials have established an online form for businesses to request an official determination on whether they are classified as essential, and may continue to operate, or non-essential, and required to close. Business owners can also use the form to request the state place them in the essential category. A detailed list of industries classified among both groups can be found on the state coronavirus website.
Washington State University postpones May commencement
Washington State University, which operates campuses in Pullman, Vancouver and the Tri-Cities, will postpone its traditional May commencement ceremonies until at least August, according to WSU President Kirk Schulz.
The university said new graduates will be able to participate in a first-ever online commencement on May 9, with plans to reschedule in-person ceremonies, when possible, for each campus.
Amtrak Cascades reduces trips, halts food service on trains
Beginning Thursday, Amtrak will run just two daily, round-trip trains between Portland and Seattle, citing a steep drop-off in ridership during the coronavirus outbreak. In recent days, Amtrak says less than 300 passengers have taken trips on average. The long-distance Coastal Starlight will continue one daily trip from Seattle to Eugene.
Amtrak's announcement follows a string of similar cuts for public transit, including reduced service on Sound Transit trains and buses operated by King County Metro, Pierce Transit and Community Transit.
Seattle Public Schools reaches deal on staff pay, outlines education plan during closure
Superintendent Denise Juneau announced a deal with the Seattle Education Association Wednesday over pay for teachers and staff during the district-wide coronavirus closure. According to district officials, certificated and classified full-time staff will continue to receive all contracted pay and benefits during the closure period. Substitute teachers on long-term assignments, or those who worked at least 200 hours before the closure, will be paid based on average hours worked per week preceding the closure.
Today, @SeattleSupt announced that SPS and @SeattleEA have collaboratively developed a Memorandum of Agreement to address work issues that have emerged as a result of school closures in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. Read the full press release: https://t.co/YuZwidhmAn pic.twitter.com/M0MsooryrG
— Seattle Public Schools (@SeaPubSchools) March 26, 2020
The district said most staff will be able to work remotely. Educators will work to develop plans to satisfy graduation requirements, provide digital office hours for students, and provide online or other supplemental learning materials. The district said school make-up days would be limited only to those required by law.
Estimated coronavirus cases by county
Illnesses confirmed statewide: 2,580 (132 deaths)
King: 1,359 cases (100 deaths)
Snohomish: 634 cases (16 deaths)
Pierce: 155 cases (2 death)
Whatcom: 66 cases (2 deaths)
Skagit: 63 cases (1 death)
Yakima: 51 cases (1 death)
Spokane: 54 cases
Island: 38 cases (1 death)
Grant: 27 cases (1 death)
Kitsap: 27 cases
Clark: 16 cases (4 deaths)
Thurston: 14 cases
Benton: 10 cases (2 deaths)
Jefferson: 10 cases
Chelan: 10 cases
Franklin: 7 cases
Kittitas: 6 cases
Klickitat: 6 cases
Clallam: 4 cases
Cowlitz: 3 cases
Lewis: 2 cases
Mason: 2 cases
San Juan: 2 cases
Walla Walla: 2 cases
Douglas: 2 cases
Stevens 2 cases
Whitman: 2 cases
Columbia: 1 case
Grays Harbor: 1 case
Lincoln: 1 case
Okanogan: 1 case
We want all Washingtonians to #StayHome #StayHealthy. These tips will help you prevent the spread of #COVID19. Learn more at https://t.co/mOvUJ2ObSZ pic.twitter.com/BVa1PRXnnT
— WA Dept. of Health (@WADeptHealth) March 25, 2020