Find developments on Washington’s coronavirus outbreak and the state’s plan for recovery.
- Several Washington state and local parks are now open as well as National Forests in time for the Memorial Day weekend.
- 6 new deaths among 148 new cases reported Friday in Washington.
- TOTAL: 1,050 deaths among 19,265 overall cases in Washington state.
- 308,358 people in Washington have taken a test for coronavirus and 6.2% of those tests have been positive, according to the state Department of Health.
Friday, May 22:
Antiviral drug remdesivir speeds recovery in severe COVID-19 cases, trial finds
Experts with UW Medicine say the antiviral drug remdesivir speeds up recovery in patients with severe COVID-19 infections.
A large, multinational trial has found that remdesivir reduced recovery time for severe COVID-19 patients by about one-third, according to a release from UW Medicine.
Preliminary results of the trial were published Friday in the New England Journal of Medicine.
Early results are being released after independent experts overseeing the trial’s conduct and safety determined that patients who received the drug were clearly benefiting, officials said.
“The main take-home messages are that remdesivir is effective in reducing the duration of illness in people who are hospitalized with COVID-19, but it’s obviously not a cure-all. We will need other treatments on top of this antiviral to really improve outcomes,” said Dr. Helen Chu, a study co-author and an assistant professor of allergy and infectious diseases at the University of Washington School of Medicine.
The trial is being conducted by the Adaptive COVID-19 Treatment Trial (ACTT-1) Study Group, a collaboration sponsored by U.S. National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. The study includes medical centers in North America, Europe and Asia.
Kittitas County requiring everyone to wear face masks in public starting Saturday
Starting Saturday, May 23, Kittitas County will require everyone in the county to wear cloth face coverings to help limit the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).
Health officials say anyone who is in a confined indoor public setting must wear a face mask, and face masks must be worn outside as well when people cannot maintain six feet of physical distance.
All commercial establishments in Kittitas County are also required to post signage advising people to wear face masks.
The following individuals do not have to comply with the county’s directive:
- Children under 2
- Any child under 12 years of age, unless supervised by a parent or caregiver
- Any individual who is deaf and uses facial and mouth movements as a way of communication
- Individuals advised by medical professional that masking would pose a health risk
- Any individual who has trouble breathing or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance
WDFW announces some recreational fishing to reopen in Washington’s coastal waters next week
After weeks of closures due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) announced many of the state’s coastal waters are set to reopen for fishing next week.
Marine areas 1-3, including Willapa Bay and Grays Harbor, will open for bottom fish, shellfish, mussels, clams, oysters, and other species on May 26, according to a WDFW release. Crabbing on the Columbia River is also set to resume under normal regulations on May 26.
However, halibut and razor clam harvest will remain closed in these areas due to continued port closures and concerns about spreading the coronavirus in local communities, officials said. Marine Area 4, Neah Bay, also remains closed to all recreational fishing and shellfish harvesting.
People still need to follow state guidelines by continuing to recreate in their local communities, traveling only with family or other members of their immediate household and practicing physical distancing by keeping at least six feet apart.
Some areas in Puget Sound are also scheduled to open for recreational spot shrimp fishing on May 28, WDFW also announced Friday. Other areas within central Puget Sound and Hood Canal are set to open June 11 under seasons announced by WDFW.
The process of finalizing dates this year has taken longer than usual due to COVID-19 related challenges and public health considerations, said Don Velasquez, a shellfish biologist for WDFW.
King County continues to urge anyone with COVID-19 symptoms to get tested right away
Health officials with Public Health Seattle & King County released a list of sites where people can go and get tested for COVID-19.
County health officials are urging anyone with even mild symptoms of COVID-19 to get tested to help limit the spread of the deadly virus.
King County residents can contact the sites directly for testing hours and to make an appointment. If people are having trouble, they can also call the King County COVID-19 call center, which is open seven days a week from 8 a.m. – 7 p.m. at 206-477-3977.
Mitsubishi Aircraft closing overseas locations, cutting jobs in Washington
Officials say Mitsubishi Heavy Industries will cut hundreds of jobs in Washington state and close its U.S. operations for the troubled SpaceJet project as it “consolidates all activities back to Japan.”
The company said Friday that Mitsubishi Aircraft will close its overseas locations due to budget directives. The announcement was made as the pandemic-driven downturn hits all of Mitsubishi’s aviation operations.
Spokesman Jeff Dronen said in a statement that it will impact the majority of the company’s employees in the United States. The Mitsubishi Aircraft U.S. headquarters in Renton will close, and flight test operations in Moses Lake will cease.
Issaquah man faces federal charges in alleged scheme to get COVID-relief funds
An Issaquah man faces fraud charges after being accused of seeking more than $1.5 million in federal loans meant for small businesses struggling economically in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
Baoke Zhang, 35, was charged in a federal criminal complaint filed in the Western District of Washington with wire fraud and bank fraud, according to a press release from the U.S. Department of Justice.
According to court documents, Zhang allegedly submitted loan applications to multiple banks seeking $1.5 million under the Paycheck Protection Program, and claimed to have paid 25 employees in 2019 and provided fraudulent IRS documentation. According to investigators, when one of the banks tried to clarify discrepancies in his application and information from the IRS, he said he no longer needed the loan.
The Paycheck Protection Program is one of the coronavirus crisis relief programs in the $2 trillion federal CARES act. Under the program, qualifying small businesses can borrow money with an interest rate of 1%. The interest and principal can be forgiven if businesses use at least 75% of the forgiven amount for payroll.
Investigators say that neither financial institution issued Zhang a loan.
Washington state coronavirus cases as of Friday
The Washington State Department of Health reported 6 new deaths Friday among 148 new cases statewide. It brings to the total number of deaths from coronavirus to 1,050 among 19,265 overall cases.
A total of 308,358 people in Washington have taken a test for coronavirus and 6.2% of those tests have been positive, according to the state Department of Health.
More counties approved for Phase 2
Additional counties are moving to Phase 2 of Gov. Jay Inslee’s “Safe Start plan” that relaxes social distancing and allows more businesses to open.
A total of 14 counties have now been approved to move to Phase 2: Adams, Asotin, Columbia, Garfield, Grays Harbor, Lincoln, Lewis, Ferry, Pend Orielle, Skamania, Spokane, Stevens, Wahkiakum, and Whitman.
Eleven counties are eligible to apply for a variance to move to Phase 2: Clallam, Clark, Cowlitz, Grant, Island, Jefferson, Kitsap, Mason, Pacific, San Juan, and Thurston.
Kittitas County’s application is on pause until Tuesday, May 26 due to an outbreak investigation.
Two cases of Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome
Two cases of Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children associated with coronavirus have been confirmed in western Washington
One child lives in Snohomish County, the other in King County.
Both were treated at Seattle Children’s.
These are the only cases reported so far in Washington state.
“In Washington, we are tracking this issue closely and working with local health departments and providers to learn more,” said Dr. Kathy Lofy, health officer for the state Department of Health. “Early last week we asked all health care providers in the state to be on the lookout and immediately report possible cases to local health authorities.”
According to the CDC, Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C) is a condition where different body parts can become inflamed, including the heart, lungs, kidneys, brain, skin, eyes, or gastrointestinal organs. It is unclear what causes MIS-C, but many children with symptoms were previously diagnosed with coronavirus, or has been around someone diagnosed with coronavirus.
MIS-C can be deadly, but most children diagnosed have recovered.
“While the vast majority of children appear to have mild or asymptomatic infection, it’s important to remember that—although rare—some children can develop serious complications like these,” said Dr. Chris Spitters, health officer for the Snohomish Health District. “Our thoughts are with the young patient, their family and the care team at Seattle Children’s, and we wish for a speedy recovery.”
Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest begins phased reopening Friday
The Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest began a phased approach of reopening on Friday.
Most trailheads, day-use areas, and other developed recreation sites reopen on May 22, according to the U.S. Forest Service website. Campgrounds will remain closed so staff can prepare the areas for operation. Restrooms will also be closed, and garbage service and water facilities will be unavailable.
“We are making every effort to expand access within the context of CDC guidelines and state and local government orders for residents,” said Nicole Branton, acting forest supervisor. “To align with our Washington State partners, we will be reopening sites where we can do so safely.”
Visitors are asked to be prepared and self-sufficient as possible before visiting, including bringing your own water, packing out all trash, and knowing how to properly dispose of human and dog waste.
Free face coverings offered in Everett
Everett Emergency Management is collecting and distributing free face coverings during the month of May.
Anyone needing a cloth face covering can visit American Legion Memorial Park on Friday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. to donate or pick up a face covering for themselves or their family for free.
Another event is scheduled for May 27 from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. at Garfield Park in Everett. The face cover donation and distribution event is scheduled for May 29 at American Legion Memorial Park from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Donations are also being accepted at Volunteers of America, located at 1230 Broadway, during regular business hours.
Grays Harbor County awaiting word on Phase 2 application
Grays Harbor County health officials are awaiting word on whether the county can move into Phase 2 of Washington state’s recovery plan.
The director of Grays Harbor County Public Health submitted the county’s application for a variance to move to Phase 2 on Wednesday.
There are 16 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Grays Harbor County. One case was identified on Thursday.