Will James | KNKX

Will James

South Sound Reporter

Will James covers the South Sound region, as well as housing and immigration issues, for KNKX. He came to the station from Newsday in his home state of New York. 

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Dr. Jeff Duchin, public health officer for Seattle and King County, talks to reporters, Wednesday, March 4, 2020 at a news conference in Seattle.
Ted S. Warren / The Associated Press

King County health officials say they're monitoring rising COVID-19 infections in younger people, as new cases in the Seattle area reach levels last seen during a peak this spring. 

Nearly three quarters of new cases are in people under 40 years old, King County's top public health official, Dr. Jeff Duchin, told reporters in a briefing Friday. 

Protesters gather in Tacoma on June 2 to demand justice for Bennie Branch, who was shot and killed by Tacoma police in September 2019.
Ashley Gross / KNKX

Two cases in which police in Pierce County shot and killed Black men in their 20s are getting renewed attention following weeks of protest sparked by the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

Bennie Branch, 24, and Said Joquin, 26, were shot and killed in separate incidents eight months apart. 

Katrina Johnson, cousin to the late Charleena Lyles, spoke at a rally on June 18, 2020, the three-year anniversary of Lyles' death.
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Katrina Johnson had prepared for a career in nursing. Then Seattle police shot and killed her cousin, Charleena Lyles, on June 18, 2017.

"From that day, it's just been a constant fight trying to understand and come to terms with what happened," said Johnson, a Tacoma resident.

Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson's office is reviewing at least 30 cases in which police killed or wounded people in 2020, amid concerns law enforcement agencies are not following new rules governing how they hold each other accountable in cases of deadly force.

Manuel Ellis
Courtesy of Tacoma Action Collective

The Washington State Patrol will take over an investigation into the death of Manuel Ellis, a Black man who was killed in Tacoma police custody in March after telling an officer, "I can't breathe, sir."

Gov. Jay Inslee made the announcement in a written statement Wednesday afternoon.

Manuel Ellis, who was killed while in Tacoma police custody March 3. Ellis is remembered as a musician and father whose life was marked by  by pain, struggle, and a search for redemption.
Courtesy of Tacoma Action Collective

A newly released video taken by a witness appears to show a Tacoma police officer wrap his arm around Manuel Ellis' neck and then press a knee into Ellis' body.

The video reveals new details of the struggle that preceded Ellis' death on a South Tacoma street the night of March 3. The case has gotten increasing attention and scrutiny amid nationwide protests decrying police brutality against Black people.

Manuel Ellis, who was killed while in Tacoma police custody March 3. Ellis is remembered as a musician and father whose life was marked by  by pain, struggle, and a search for redemption.
Courtesy of Tacoma Action Collective

Manuel Ellis has been a focus of national attention for the way he died: saying he couldn’t breathe while lying on the ground, handcuffed by Tacoma police officers, one night in March.

Ellis’ 33 years of life also were marked by trauma and struggle against forces pressing down on him ⁠— as well as a long, slow road toward stability, according to friends and family members. 

Tacoma activist Shalisa Hayes chooses, among other things, to sit out marches and protests for her own mental health. She talked with KNKX about navigating personal pain, mental health and activism.
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Americans have now lived through more than a week of intense national focus on Black people dying violently.

Tacoma activist Shalisa Hayes says, for some Black Americans, that barrage of news takes a personal toll.

A demonstrator holds up a sign in front of police and National Guard members in Seattle on June 2, 2020 during a protest over the death of George Floyd.
Shauna Sowersby / KNKX

After five days of protest against police brutality and racism, activists continue marching the streets of Seattle and Tacoma. 

In Seattle, hundreds of people flooded the streets of Seattle's Capitol Hill neighborhood on Tuesday.

Black church leaders gather on the streets of Tacoma to pray for their community's fight against COVID-19 and the "virus" of racism.
Will James / KNKX

As protests raged across the country over the weekend, dozens of black church leaders in Tacoma gathered on street corners to pray.

The event had been planned to highlight the impact of COVID-19 on communities of color, but it took on new meaning amid nationwide unrest over the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. KNKX’s Will James attended the event to talk with those faith leaders and record their remarks.

Volunteers and city workers clean up in Seattle's Chinatown-International District following a weekend of protests that ended with vandalism.
Will James / KNKX

Seattle's Chinatown-International District teemed with volunteers and city workers Sunday. They were trying to undo some of the damage in a neighborhood hit hard by vandalism during the weekend's protests.

Nativity House, operated by the nonprofit Catholic Community Services, recorded the first known COVID-19 cases in Washington's homeless population in March.
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Two Tacoma shelters that disclosed the first known cases of COVID-19 in Washington's homeless population have avoided widespread outbreaks and now appear virus-free, the shelters' operators said.

Nativity House, operated by the nonprofit Catholic Community Services, had four guests test positive for the coronavirus in March, raising fears that the virus could spread quickly through a population that shares sleeping and living spaces. 

Pedestrians walk past the Legislative Building as trees bloom, April 23, 2020, at the Capitol in Olympia, Wash.
Ted S. Warren / The Associated Press

What does it look like when a city's downtown reopens after weeks of lying dormant?

Washington's capital, Olympia, is among the first and largest cities in the Puget Sound region to find out — and officials say the city's business district will operate differently. 

Workers load eggs for packaging at a farm in Roy, Wash., on April 9, 2020.
Ted S. Warren / The Associated Press

Across the United States, communities of color have been over-represented in the ranks of people suffering from COVID-19.

In Washington, that's especially true of the Latino population. Latino residents account for more than a third of the state's COVID-19 cases, despite being just 13 percent of the overall population.

Daffodils bloom near the Legislative Building on April 6, 2020, at the Capitol in Olympia, Wash.
Ted S. Warren / The Associated Press

Thurston County is poised to enter Phase 2 of reopening as soon as next week, a step that would be a first among counties in the populous Puget Sound region. 

Under Gov. Jay Inslee's "Safe Start Washington" plan, Phase 2 allows restaurants, retail stores, hair and nail salons, and offices to reopen their doors, with restrictions meant to limit spread of the novel coronavirus.

Adrian Florez / KNKX

 

As the COVID-19 pandemic has unfolded, some clear patterns have emerged. One is that people of color are being affected by this virus at higher rates than white people. 

In Washington state, the disparities are especially stark among the Latino population.

More than a third of the state's COVID-19 cases have been Latino, which is way out of proportion to their 13 percent share of the general population.

A steep drop in hotel tax revenue has jeopardized the construction of a sprawling new convention center facility that sits about 30 percent complete along Interstate 5 in downtown Seattle, the developer behind the project said Friday.

Neal Browning receives a shot in the first-stage safety study clinical trial of a potential vaccine for COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus on March 16, 2020, at the Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute in Seattle.
Ted S. Warren / The Associated Press

Washington state's database of adult vaccinations is "incomplete" and "inaccurate," a group of King County doctors says, leading some to worry that the system may complicate efforts to eventually vaccinate residents for COVID-19.

Ted S. Warren / Associated Press

In a normal March and April, the Seattle Fire Department receives roughly 30 to 40 calls from people having heart attacks. But this spring those calls were cut in half, to around 15.

Health officials aren't celebrating.

In fact, the trend could be a troubling side effect of the coronavirus pandemic, said the fire department's medical director, Dr. Michael Sayre.

In this March 2020 photo provided by Gilead Sciences, a vial of the investigational drug remdesivir is visually inspected at a Gilead manufacturing site in the United States.
Gilead Sciences via AP

White House health adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci said this week that early results from an experimental COVID-19 treatment were "quite good news." 

Doctors in Washington state already had been treating dozens of patients with the antiviral drug, remdesivir, for more than a month — and seeing some of the same promising signs, one researcher said.

A Red Lion Hotel in Renton that now houses 200 people from Downtown Emergency Service Center shelters in Seattle.
Facebook / Red Lion Hotel & Conference Center

Counties and nonprofits have moved hundreds of people out of the region's crowded homeless shelters and into individual hotel rooms.

It's a temporary step meant to prevent an outbreak of the novel coronavirus. But some shelter operators say they already see added benefits, and the possibility of permanent changes to the shelter system.

Protesters rally against social-distancing measures at the Washington state Capitol on April 19, 2020.
Will James / KNKX

Protesters ignored government orders intended to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus Sunday, amassing at the Washington state Capitol to decry social-distancing measures and demand officials reopen the economy.

State police estimate 2,500 people gathered for the rally, some standing shoulder-to-shoulder on or around the Capitol steps as they chanted "Let us work" and "U.S.A." Few covered their faces or made efforts to stand apart from one another. 

State Secretary of Health John Wiesman talks to reporters at a prior news conference on March 12, 2020, in Olympia.
Rachel La Corte / The Associated Press

Washington state's top public health official said it will take "many, many months," and probably the development of a vaccine, before life can return to pre-COVID-19 normalcy. 

Secretary of Health John Wiesman made the statement during a briefing to reporters Tuesday, saying he wanted to manage the public's expectations as the state appears to reach a plateau in the number of infections and deaths. 

Courtesy of the Everett Clinic

Most people tested for COVID-19 have had to endure an extra-long swab inserted into a nostril and snaked through the nasal cavity until it touches the back of the throat.

This process, called a nasopharyngeal swab, isn't just uncomfortable for the patient. It often induces sneezing and coughing, putting health care workers at risk of infection and making them use up valuable protective gear.

Ted S. Warren / The Associated Press

Health care workers are taking steps to ensure they have enough protective gear to last them through a peak period of coronavirus infections projected to hit hospitals as soon as this week. 

The measures include having doctors, nurses, and other front-line workers wear equipment for longer periods of time or reusing gear more quickly than they would under ideal circumstances. They also include moving patients through the medical system in a way that limits the exposure of health care workers and preserves resources. 

Federal officials are reportedly re-evaluating whether people should wear face masks in public to help prevent the spread of the new coronavirus.

Dr. Jeff Duchin, health officer for Public Health–Seattle & King County, told reporters earlier this week there’s no evidence a homemade face mask, or one that’s not medical-grade, will prevent you from getting sick. But there’s a chance having something covering your nose and mouth could protect someone else from you. 

Dr. Nick Mark, a pulmonary critical care doctor in Seattle, tries on new protective gear.
Courtesy of Nick Mark

Dr. Nick Mark usually takes 10 or 15 seconds to breathe, relax and focus before starting a delicate procedure like inserting a breathing tube into a patient.

But, on a recent day, the tactic backfired. Mark was about to perform a procedure on a patient with COVID-19, a situation that puts him at risk of catching the coronavirus if his protective gear were to fail. 

Seattle and King County health officer Dr. Jeff Duchin talks to reporters while Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and King County Executive Dow Constantine listen on March 11, 2020.
Stephen Brashear / The Associated Press

Limits on social interaction seem to be slowing the spread of the novel coronavirus in King County, health officials said Monday.

Two studies from the Bellevue-based Institute for Disease Modeling appear to show people have been moving around less and that each person carrying the virus is now infecting fewer people on average than they were a month ago.

Swedish Medical Center has launched a mobile COVID-19 testing clinic for people staying in homeless shelters or living in Plymouth Housing buildings.
Will James / KNKX

Four people staying in King County shelters have tested positive for COVID-19, county officials said, signaling the first signs of the novel coronavirus in the Seattle area's homeless population. 

The four people were staying in at least three different shelters, according to a news release Saturday by health officials in King County.

Dr. Jeff Duchin, right, public health officer for Seattle and King County, talks to reporters on March 4, 2020.
Ted S. Warren / The Associated Press

King County's top health official ordered residents to follow quarantine and isolation guidelines meant to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus. 

Dr. Jeffrey Duchin, public health officer for Seattle and King County, signed the order Saturday.

It directs anyone who has COVID-19 symptoms and has been tested to remain in quarantine while awaiting results.

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