Simone Alicea | KNKX

Simone Alicea

Business & Labor Reporter

A Seattle native and former knkx intern, Simone Alicea has returned to the Pacific Northwest from covering breaking news at the Chicago Sun-Times. She earned her Bachelor's of Journalism from Northwestern University. During her undergraduate career, she spent time in Cape Town, South Africa, covering metro news for the Cape Times. 

Ways to Connect

Visitors at Seattle's Gas Works Park practice social distancing, Friday April 9, 2020.
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Gov. Jay Inslee's announcement opening public lands to some recreation on May 5 shows that Washington state is taking steps to slowly reopen amid the COVID-19 pandemic. 

There are a lot of factors that go into rolling back each restriction. Olympia correspondent Austin Jenkins discussed these moving parts with KNKX Morning Edition host Kirsten Kendrick. 

Right: Turk Holford greets his family through his window on the Colville Reservation. Left: A sign posted on the front door of another home on the reservation urging residents to protect their elders.
Joseph Holford and Jalene Finely / Courtesy of the Washington State Historical Society

The COVID-19 pandemic has been a difficult time for everyone as it ripples through all aspects of life. But that also makes it a historic time. 

That's why the Washington State Historical Society is asking people to submit artifacts documenting their experiences to help future historians understand this period.

An aerial view of several housing developments in Kent
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, tenants who are unable to pay rent will be able to remain in their homes for another month. Gov. Jay Inslee has extended the eviction moratorium enacted last month, adding more protections for renters. 

Elaine Thompson / The Associated Press

The state is taking steps to reduce Washington's prison population to stop the spread of COVID-19. Gov. Jay Inslee has issued a new emergency proclamation and an order commuting the sentences of some nonviolent inmates. 

In this 2019 file photo, Tacoma Mayor Victoria Woodards speaks at a press conference.
Ted S. Warren / The Associated Press

Leaders of Washington cities outside of Seattle are asking to be included in federal coronaivurs relief plans. 

The third COVID-19 package that Congress passed late last month included $150 billion for state and local governments. But only cities with more than 500,000 people are eligible for direct funding from that package. In Washington, only Seattle meets the population threshold. 

In this photo from March 11, 2020, Gov. Jay Inslee addresses reporters at a news conference.
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

A West Coast pact, prisoner furloughs, and a new state Supreme Court justice: It’s already shaping up to be a busy week for Gov. Jay Inslee and other Washington leaders. 

Sam Tanner is co-founder of Joe Chocolate Company, which opened its cafe at Pike Place Market last year. The cafe has been closed since March due to the coronavirus.
Courtesy of Sam Tanner

Joe Chocolate Co. spent early March preparing for a busy cruise season at its Pike Place Market cafe before the coronavirus disrupted life in the Seattle area and across the country.

People walk by boarded up businesses in Seattle's Capitol Hill neighborhood.
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Gov. Jay Inslee's recent announcements extending his "Stay Home, Stay Healthy" order and keeping schools physically closed through the end of the academic year are just the latest indications that social distancing will remain the new normal for a while.

Here are three things to know about the state's COVID-19 response.

In this 2015 file photo, Marina Albero performs in KNKX's Seattle studio. Albero is one of the artists featured in a virtual concert series put on by Town Hall Seattle and Earshot Jazz.
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Venues may be closed due to the coronavirus, but there is still a lot happening virtually in the music scene.

Locally, Town Hall Seattle and Earshot Jazz are livestreaming a weekly series on Saturdays featuring local artists. Cafe Racer also has taken its more avant garde improvisational sessions onto the Zoom videoconferencing platform.  Jazz fans can even watch a virtual festival through April 7 that benefits New York musicians.

Caution tape closes off swings and other playground equipment in Seattle.
Simone Alicea / KNKX

For weeks, Gov. Jay Inslee has pleaded with Washingtonians to stay home. Now, he's warning that officials will crack down on people defying his "Stay Home, Stay Healthy" order.

Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

With rent due for many people this week, worries are increasing for both tenants and landlords as more people find themselves out of work due to the coronavirus. Those worries remain despite a statewide moratorium on evictions and a pause in non-emergency court proceedings.

A directive from Public Health — Seattle & King County that requires people to wear face coverings in most public spaces,  including the bus , begins Monday.
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Reduced service on King County Metro Transit begins Monday as the agency responds to the effects of the coronavirus. Some routes have been suspended entirely while others are operating less frequently or during more limited hours.

The temple of justice in Olympia
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

In response to the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, courts across Washington state will limit in-person proceedings and try to keep jails less crowded, per an order this week from the state Supreme Court.

Lucy Pemoni / The Associated Press (file)

Virtual medicine is becoming more common as the state responds to the new coronavirus. It can help limit exposure for both patients and providers and ease some strain on hospitals and clinics.

A voter drops a ballot into a ballot drop box Monday, Nov. 4, 2019, in Seattle.
Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

UPDATE 11 p.m., Tuesday: Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Vice President Joe Biden were virtually tied Tuesday night in Washington's Democratic presidential primary, separated by less than one percentage point.

Sanders barely led Biden, 32.7 percent to 32.5 percent, in early returns. More than 1.5 million votes have been counted so far. 

Taiko drummers open an event remembering Japanese incarceration in front of the immigrant detention center on Tacoma's tideflats.
Simone Alicea / KNKX

Hundreds of people gathered Sunday outside the Northwest ICE Processing Center in Tacoma. The crowd was filled with signs bearing slogans that have become typical during anti-detention protests.

"Libertad, no murallas," read one. "Freedom, not fences."

Other sights spoke to the particular moment of this wet and windy February day. Strings of paper cranes covered in plastic lined the chainlink fence surrounding the immigrant detention center, along signs that read, "Never again is now."

King County elections officials demonstrate one of the machines that helps sort ballots in advance of the March 10 presidential primary.
Simone Alicea / KNKX

Ballots will begin arriving in mailboxes this week for Washington's presidential primary.  They're due by March 10.

The process will look a little different compared to other primary elections here. Here are five things you need to know.

KNKX photo

A new report released Tuesday is raising questions about the way the King County Sheriff's Office investigates shootings by deputies.

U.S. Department of Justice seal
Simone Alicea / KNKX

The Trump administration is suing King County after a 2019 directive that resulted in the stoppage of flights at Boeing Field chartered by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Students study notes during a class at El Centro de la Raza's new Federal Way location.
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Responding to shifts in the region's demographics, El Centro de la Raza has opened a new space in Federal Way. It's a significant expansion for the iconic Seattle organization.

The Evictions Study

Interactive maps from an ongoing study of evictions in Washington state illustrate striking patterns in the Puget Sound region, including the way evictions continue to disproportionately impact people of color.

Tents under an overpass in Seattle
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Communities across the state will fan out this week to count people experiencing homelessness. The yearly point-in-time count is one tool local leaders use to measure the scope of the homelessness crisis.

Crews continue to dig underneath the roof of KeyArena during the day while trucking out the dirt at night.
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX Public Radio

Progress continues on the redevelopment of Seattle's KeyArena. Officials say they're on track to finish the project by summer 2021. 

Tacoma light rail
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

A state senator from Pierce County has introduced a bill that would remove the county from the regional public transportation plan known as Sound Transit 3. But at least one leader there is speaking up against the idea.

Cory Walster, Lewis Conway Jr. and Tarra Simmons
Courtesy of Cory Walster, Lewis Conway Jr., and Tarra Simmons

We all fall somewhere on a spectrum when it comes to political participation. Maybe we just skim the news or vote in big races, but sometimes we're pushed to do more: join a march, testify in Olympia, or even run for office.

Getting involved can be risky, because it's public and there's no guarantee your voice will be heard. Those risks are amplified when you have a criminal record.

Hundreds of Amazon and other tech workers in Seattle marched from the company's headquarters to City Hall on Sept. 20, 2019, to call for action on climate change.
Simone Alicea / KNKX

A group of Amazon employees who organized a walkout in September to call for action on climate change says the Seattle-based company has threatened to fire some of them if they continue to speak publicly about Amazon's business.

Light rail pulling in to Westlake Station
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Light rail through downtown Seattle will be closed this weekend. The closure preempts a longer disruption that will affect everyone traveling through the city for the next few months.

"Light Side Dark Side," by artist Shaunte Gates depicts the legacy of comedian and activist Dick Gregory, one of the men featured in the exhibit "Men of Change."
Courtesy of the artist via the Smithsonian

The Washington State History Museum in Tacoma is one of only two museums on the West Coast hosting a new traveling exhibit from the Smithsonian. "Men of Change" highlights the stories of iconic African American men.

There are 125 unnamed headstones at the old prison cemetery on McNeil Island.
Simone Alicea / KNKX

Author’s note: This story followed up on one we told in Episode 4 of Forgotten Prison, KNKX's podcast about the history of McNeil Island. It really bothers people that there are no names on these graves. Maybe it seems like a little thing, but it just reinforces ideas about what prison is and who ends up there. It's difficult to overstate how special a place McNeil Island is. Taking listeners there through these stories was a big highlight of my year. I highly recommend the rest of the series. (This story originally aired Oct. 10.)  

Model trains at the state history museum in Tacoma
Simone Alicea / KNKX

School was still in session for many kids Friday, the opening day of the Model Train Festival. But there were still a handful of children and adults spread across multiple floors of the state history museum in Tacoma to watch miniature locomotives chug.