Coronavirus Coverage | KNKX

Coronavirus Coverage

KNKX Public Radio is working to keep you updated on the latest developments of the outbreak of COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus. In addition to bringing you daily stories and updates on air during Morning Edition and All Things Considered, you can find stories about the outbreak below. Find the latest numbers from officials tracking confirmed cases below, as well as all the stories from KNKX. 

  • Have questions or stories we should cover, email outreach@knkx.org.
  • We’ve also started a podcast, Transmission, about life in the heart of this outbreak. Subscribe using the links to your right on desktop or below on mobile. 

Latest COVID-19 Cases by County 

Protesters march through Seattle on Saturday, in response to the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis last week.
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Washington state health officials say they’re watching carefully to see whether crowded protests will contribute to a spike in COVID-19 cases.

Heath Secretary John Wiesman says, in general, outdoor activities are less risky than indoor ones. But he says anything that brings people close together for long periods is concerning.

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. 

The Point Ruston development in Pierce County, home to many local businesses, is among the places that have been quieter after businesses shuttered due to the novel coronavirus. Those businesses may be cleared to open up soon.
Tom Collins / KNKX

Pierce County is preparing to reopen its economy, after Gov. Jay Inslee announced a more flexible strategy  for easing social-distancing restrictions in counties across Washington.

Friday’s announcement came just as the governor’s original stay-home order was set to expire Monday.

In an exclusive interview with KNKX Public Radio, County Executive Bruce Dammeier said officials plan to move swiftly on an application to begin reopening the economy under the new criteria of Inslee’s so-called Safe Start plan.

Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Washington has faced and met unprecedented demand for food assistance. The economic crisis brought on by the new coronavirus caused the number of people in Washington seeking food assistance to double overnight, starting in early March.

It’s now almost 2 million, according to a new report from the state’s largest independent hunger relief agency, Northwest Harvest.

Rick Bowmer, File / The Associated Press

Good news for OL Reign fans. It looks like the National Women's Soccer League will be the first professional sports organization in the country to return to action amid the coronavirus pandemic. KNKX sports commentator Art Thiel talked with Morning Edition host Kirsten Kendrick about the plan to have all teams play in Utah starting at the end of June.

The nation’s first reported coronavirus case — a Snohomish County resident — returned to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport from China in mid-January. New research suggests the patient, known as WA-1, may not the source of the outbreak in Washington.
Elaine Thompson / The Associated Press

 

New research suggests the nation’s first reported coronavirus case — a Snohomish County resident — was not the source of the outbreak in Washington, as previously thought.

Bridget Parkhill, right, talks on the phone as she visits with her mother, Susan Hailey, center, who tested positive for the new coronavirus, Thursday, April 2, 2020, at the Life Care Center in Kirkland, Wash.
Ted S. Warren / The Associated Press

Gov. Jay Inslee announced Thursday that long-term care facilities statewide will have access to widespread testing for all their residents and staff in the coming weeks.

Michael Geller, a longtime architect, urban planner and real estate consultant based in Vancouver, says the city has fallen behind most world cities for making better use of streets.
Courtesy of Michael Geller

The idea of “slow streets,” where lanes of traffic are taken out for pedestrians or restaurant patios, is coming to Vancouver, B.C. It is being seen as one way to both fight the novel coronavirus and help rebuild the economy.

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. 

A small homeless encampment sits under a bride in Seattle. Officials in the Puget Sound region are bracing for the novel coronavirus to hit homeless shelters and camps.
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Seattle officials continue to debate how to address homeless encampments during the pandemic. Seattle City Council members met Wednesday to consider legislation that would limit the city’s ability to remove encampments during COVID-19. 

Paula Wissel / KNKX


Recently, a small group of janitors gathered outside a downtown Seattle high-rise around 10 p.m. Standing socially distant from each other, they lit candles to honor a member of their union, SEIU-6, who had died from COVID-19.

 

More than 15 out of 7,500 members of the union are sick with the virus. The janitors say it highlights the dangers they face on the job. They say while their work is essential, it isn’t being recognized as such.

A racoon spotted by one of the cameras in the Grit City Carnivore Project in Tacoma on May 5th, 2020.
Courtesy of the Grit City Carnivore Project, Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium, and UW Tacoma.

The slowdown of daily life under stay-at-home orders because of the coronavirus has many of us feeling more connected to nature. We hear more birdsong in the mornings. The air seems cleaner. Perhaps we’re seeing more wildlife in the parks as we take walks in our neighborhoods. But the change of pace hasn’t necessarily benefitted urban wildlife.

Wikimedia Commons

One size does not fit all. That's the message from the mayors of Sumner and Bonney Lake, neighboring communities in eastern Pierce County with a combined population of about 31,000 people. They wrote a joint letter to Gov. Jay Inslee earlier this month asking for a little more leeway in the state's phased reopening plan, especially for small businesses in their communities.

Westport in Grays Harbor County is a surfing destination. Grays Harbor's economy relies heavily on tourism, which has taken a hit as a result of COVID-19. The county faces its highest unemployment rate in decades.
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX (file)

A clearer picture of how many people are out of work in Washington state is starting to emerge.

The figures are sobering. Data released from Washington state’s Employment Security Department show that the state lost 527,000 jobs last month.

The county with the highest unemployment rate in April is Snohomish, with 20.2 percent. Grays Harbor is second at 19.4 percent.

Adrian Florez / KNKX

In many ways, “family planning” is a misnomer. The “planning” part only goes so far. Even with all the tools at your disposal, a lot of it is mostly out of your control and up to chance. A million little things have to go exactly right to bring life into the world. 

When you throw a global pandemic into the equation, the typical uncertainty that comes with starting a family is amplified to tremendous proportions. 

In this episode of Transmission, we explore how the response to COVID-19 has altered the lives of growing families. 

Even before the COVID-19 crisis, pregnant Somali women had a special need for care. Whether in Somalia or in the diaspora, Somali women are a high-risk subpopulation for maternal health.

Courtesy Kari Plog

When my husband, Christian, and I talked about starting our family, we knew only so much would be within our control. But we never imagined just how out of our control everything would get.

The view down 11th Street from Pacific Avenue in downtown Tacoma on March 15, 2020.
Tom Collins / KNKX

Washington cities are spending a lot of money to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, and reduced business activity is putting a damper on tax revenue. In Tacoma, leaders are looking at a $40 million shortfall in the general fund.

Wearing a face mask, a member of the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment also known as The Old Guard, places flags in front of each headstone for "Flags-In" at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va., Thursday, May 21, 2020
Carolyn Kaster / The Associated Press

It's fair to say that this Memorial Day is unlike most that have come before. For one, there won’t be the usual parades or ceremonies.

Those rituals can be of great comfort to many who are coping with loss on Memorial Day, especially people in or connected to the military.

KNKX spoke with Lt. Col. Jason Nobles, deputy chaplain for First Corps, based at Joint Base Lewis McChord near Tacoma.

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.

Erin Hennessey / KNKX

Every year, recreational boaters are reminded to stay safe on the water, to wear life jackets and avoid using alcohol and drugs. This time around, the warnings include tips for avoiding coronavirus.

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.

Northwest Folklife Festival has shifted online and will take place May 23-25.
Photo courtesy of Christopher Nelson

Countless staple regional events that typically mark the start of summer have been canceled due to COVID-19. But the 49th annual Northwest Folklife Festival has made the shift to online. “From Home to Home: Northwest Folklife Festival” takes place this Memorial Day weekend. 

Isaac Lopez, 19, right, and his mother, Antonia Zamorano, center, work in a Tacos El Tajin food truck in Seattle's South Lake Union neighborhood. Isaac's father, Thomas Lopez, died from COVID-19 on April 2, 2020.
Ted S. Warren / Associated Press

By the time Thomas Lopez died of COVID-19 on April 2, social distancing had taken hold in Washington. But the disparate effects the disease was having on the state’s Latino population was not yet clear.

The data that have emerged since then are stark. Latinos only make up about 13 percent of Washington's population. But they make up more than a third of the state's COVID-19 cases. 

Ashley Gross / KNKX

In recent years, students experiencing homelessness or housing instability in Washington have numbered in the tens of thousands. A new survey shows that many of those students are struggling with basic needs amid the pandemic.

As Washington Gov. Jay Inslee exerts his emergency powers to battle COVID-19, behind the scenes legislative leaders are exploring the idea of a special session of the Legislature, perhaps as early as next month. 

“We are very much deeply in the weeds on trying to figure that out and I think in the next week or two we should have some more clarity,” said Senate Majority Leader Andy Billig, a Spokane Democrat.

Elaine Thompson / The Associated Press

The COVID-19 pandemic has renewed interest across the country in mail-in voting — which is how Washington state voters have cast ballots universally for nearly a decade.

Washington's Secretary of State Kim Wyman often is called upon by those elsewhere to explain how the process works. She's also a Republican, and leaders of her party — including President Donald Trump — have expressed skepticism about the idea of voting by mail. (She says she'd like to convince him otherwise.)

Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

February was a high point for Olawumi Olaniyan. The 12-year-old seventh grader from Heatherwood Middle School in Mill Creek had traveled with her recreational cheerleading team, the Bruins Elite, to Anaheim, California, for nationals. The girls accomplished what they’d always dreamed of — winning first place.

Then came the coronavirus pandemic, bringing an abrupt close to her cheerleading’s parade season, just as it truncated seasons for so many other young athletes. But Olawumi has found a way to redirect her cheerleading energy.

Nurses conduct drive-through COVID-19 testing at UW Neighborhood Northgate Clinic in March.
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Washington state officials say they have received a big shipment of coronavirus testing materials from the federal government, putting the state on track to have enough resources to keep a lid on the outbreak in coming months. 

The streets of downtown Tacoma are empty amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Photo by Tom Collins

A new coronavirus relief bill passed the House last week, but appears dead in the Senate. 

Still, U.S. Rep. Derek Kilmer, D-Gig Harbor, hopes some of the provisions aren't lost. The original measure included more support for Medicare and Medicaid and hazard pay to health care workers dealing with the pandemic. 

Kilmer talked to KNKX about the bill, and the larger response to COVID-19.

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