KING COUNTY, WA — Health officials with Seattle and King County reported 42 new cases of the coronavirus Wednesday and three new deaths.
Two of those deaths were reported in Seattle, the third was in Kirkland.
The new numbers bring the total case count to 7,221 confirmed infections and 514 deaths. Across the county roughly 7.1 percent of people who test positive for the virus are killed by the disease.
King County's deaths made up about a fourth of the state's total death toll Wednesday. State health officials reported 13 new deaths and 182 confirmed cases of the virus Wednesday. As of the last report, 365 coronavirus patients have been hospitalized for treatment, of those 111 are in the ICU for extreme cases.
A total of 243,568 people have now been tested for the virus across Washington, meaning about 7 percent of tests come back positive.
County expands testing recommendations
King County is now recommending immediate testing for anyone who shows symptoms of the coronavirus or who has been in contact with someone who tested positive for the disease.
Earlier the state had prioritized testing for high-risk patients and health care workers and first responders.
The change comes in part thanks to new testing supplies from the federal government. Last week Gov. Inslee announced that the first shipment of tests had arrived in Washington. The first shipment held enough for 37,000 tests, but later weekly shipments are planned to house even more.
Now that tests are more available, health officials say residents even with mild symptoms should immediately self-isolate and try to reach out to their health care provider to get tested. Those who don't have a health provider can get tested by contacting the county call center at 206-477-3977.
SCAN coronavirus tracking program on hold
The Seattle Coronavirus Assessment Network, or SCAN, has been placed on hold after new guidance from the FDA prohibited the program from working as it had before.
SCAN worked by collecting self tests from volunteers all over King County, and using their tests to map how and where the coronavirus is spreading most. The program was also notable for testing volunteers without coronavirus symptoms in an attempt to understand how asymptomatic carriers may be spreading the virus.
However, an issue arose recently over emergency use authorization, or EUA. Earlier, the Washington State Department of Health had granted SCAN EUA to take and study nasal swab tests for the coronavirus, but now the federal government says they also need to give SCAN EUA before they can continue their study.
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UW studying how virus affects pets
Reports of cats, dogs and other pets catching the new coronavirus has left some pet owners worried about protecting their beloved animals from the disease. Now, UW is launching a new study to try and put some of those fears to bed.
The study is called the COVID-19 and Pets Study, or CAPS, and is seeking adult volunteers who live in King County, have tested positive for the coronavirus in the past two weeks, and have a pet that is up to date on its rabies shots.
Researchers will study the diseases impact on a variety of pets, from dogs and cats, down to ferrets and hamsters. However, reptiles, like iguanas and snakes, and birds are not included.
The study starts with a 15 to 3o minute survey that can be taken online or over the phone. Afterwards, a vet visits the volunteer's home to test their pet for the coronavirus.
Read more or get involved: UW Studying Coronavirus's Impact On Pets
Police warn of contact tracing scams
Tuesday Washington announced a contact tracing program that will track the virus by interviewing and gathering data from coronavirus patients and all the people those patients may have exposed the virus to. However, scammers have already started posing as contact tracing experts to try and steal personal information.
According to Olympia Police, the scammers are reportedly trying to gather sensitive information that legitimate investigators would never need.
The state says that genuine contact tracing interviewers will only ask questions from a pre-approved template, including the patients date of birth, gender at birth, address, race and ethnicity. They will never ask for social security numbers, bank information, marital or immigration status.
Police are urging everyone, stay wary and ignore any suspicious links sent through text message.
Inslee orders state hiring freeze
The coronavirus pandemic will cost Washington billions of dollars over the coming years, according to state economists. To try and hamper some of that damage, Gov. Inslee has ordered a hiring freeze for all of the state's executive and small cabinet agencies, effective Monday. The move also freezes personal service contracts and new equipment purchases for state agencies.
There are some exceptions to the freeze, largely for jobs that are required to keep the government functioning and those that impact public safety.
The governor is also calling on higher education institutions, boards, commissions and other elected officials to impose similar hiring freezes.
Coronavirus cases by city
Lake Forest Park