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. 

Windows in the Seattle skyline light up in the shape of a heart, offering encouragement for a city reeling from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

It’s been less than two months since residents were ordered to stay home to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus. And it will be at least another two months before life starts to resemble normal again, according to a plan released Friday by Gov. Jay Inslee’s office.

Inslee announced that he’ll extend the stay-at-home order Monday, the day it’s set to expire, until at least May 31. But he also announced a phased plan that will slowly reopen public life across Washington state over the coming weeks and months.

Elaine Thompson / Associated Press

Colleges and universities are conducting classes online right now to limit the spread of the coronavirus. They're also trying to plan for the fall.

University of Washington President Ana Mari Cauce said the plan is to return to in-person instruction in the fall quarter. That comes after Washington State University President Kirk Schulz said WSU also will resume in-person instruction in the fall.

But Cauce said it will be a “new normal.”

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.

Adrian Florez / KNKX


Telling stories live is both the oldest form of entertainment, probably, and a newish thriving art form. In the Pacific Northwest there are a whole range of storytelling series and events. These usually happen in a smallish venue, maybe a coffee shop. 

And needless to say, that’s been interrupted. 

Emergency food boxes are filled by members of the Oklahoma Air National Guard at the Regional Food Bank Thursday, April 23, 2020, in Oklahoma City.
Sue Ogrocki / The Associated Press

The WA Food Fund is facing an uphill battle, as it nears its deadline to raise millions of dollars for food relief. Gov. Jay Inslee launched the effort in early April to raise money to fight hunger caused by the novel coronavirus.

Suzi LeVine, right, the state's Employment Security Department Commissioner
Ted S. Warren / The Associated Press file

Since March, 1 in 5 workers in Washington have filed unemployment benefit claims, and nearly $1.5 billion in benefits have been paid out. That includes federal money that has increased weekly payments in response to the coronavirus pandemic, state officials said Thursday.

Employment Security Department Commissioner Suzi LeVine said that of the 787,533 people who have filed for benefits since March 7, more than half a million who have filed an initial claim since the pandemic began have been paid.

New Democratic Party of Canada leader Jagmeet Singh on election night, Oct. 21, 2019 in Burnaby, British Columbia.
Craig McCulloch / KNKX

Tuesday marked the National Day of Mourning across Canada for workers killed on the job. This year’s memorials were especially poignant due to the novel coronavirus.

This year, different memorials that usually attract thousands to public squares across Canada had to be moved online because of COVID-19.

Signs like this one reading "Temporarily Closed," in a storefront in Seattle's Queen Anne neighborhood, are common sights around the country right now.
Ed Ronco / KNKX

From shuttered businesses to record unemployment, the economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic are all around us.

Businesses themselves — whether small neighborhood stores or huge global corporations — face tough decisions. And that got us wondering about ethics: Will the way businesses behave now, even if they’re closed or doing limited business, affect the decisions consumers make later?

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. 

A drive-through COVID-19 testing site is operating on the campus of Skagit Valley College.
Courtesy of Skagit County Public Health

A new drive-through testing site is up and running in Skagit County for people who suspect they have COVID-19. It’s open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Skagit Valley College. The site has the capacity to perform up to 200 tests a day.

Volunteers handed out hundreds of boxes of meals to families at Kentridge High School in the Kent school district. The boxes contain five breakfasts and five lunches.
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Rosa showed up 40 minutes early to Kentridge High School in the Kent school district on Monday for the weekly school meal distribution. And she wasn’t even the first one in line.

Cars soon lined up behind her, snaking out onto Southeast 208th Street in front of the school — an eye-opening example of the importance of school meals as a lifeline for families right now.

Deception Pass State Park
Geoffrey Redick / KNKX

Gov. Jay Inslee has turned his proverbial dial another notch toward normal. The governor announced Monday afternoon that some recreation may resume across Washington state, including hunting, fishing and golfing. 

“Reconnecting people to nature is the first step in the journey back to normalcy,” said Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz. She joined the governor and other state leaders for Monday’s announcement, the latest development in the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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.

Jim Levitt

Over the next few weeks, the King County Council will be considering a $57 million emergency supplemental budget from County Executive Dow Constantine. Within it is a new push to support arts and culture workers and organizations. 

If passed, the bulk of the spending package would send $33 million to continue funding facilities to isolate COVID-19 patients in treatment and recovery. An additional $16 million would be directed in support of small businesses, arts and culture groups, and programs for homeless youth. 

In a dramatic example of COVID-19’s impact on the criminal justice system, the number of people in Washington jails has plummeted in recent weeks, ending virtually overnight an overcrowding problem that plagued many facilities for years. Today, a few of the state’s smallest jails are reporting inmate populations in the single digits.

“Honestly, I would never have expected to see something like this in my lifetime and I’ve been doing this for 20 years now,” said Jose Briones, the chief deputy of the Island County Jail on Whidbey Island where the population has dropped by approximately half.

Distance learning, ordering groceries online or applying for unemployment, those are all kind of difficult without a good internet connection. So, at least seven public utilities spanning Washington state are setting up drive-up Wi-Fi hotspots amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The purpose is to provide free high speed internet to families, especially rural students, who don't have access at home. Many traditional public Wi-Fi access points such as libraries and coffee shops are currently closed.

photo courtesy of Seattle Central College respiratory care BAS program

A piece of medical equipment most of us didn’t know much about has now become critically important around the world – ventilators.

The machines are used to help people breathe if their lungs are compromised, and many people sick with COVID-19 have been placed on ventilators.

The people who are experts in running those machines are known as respiratory therapists. And while their skills are in great demand right now, a program that trains the next generation of respiratory therapists has seen some big changes due to the pandemic.

A crane towers over a building under construction in Tacoma in late summer 2019.
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Washington state has reached a small milestone in the fight against COVID-19: some construction projects may resume, Gov. Jay Inslee announced Friday. 

But there are strings attached to the loosened guidelines, and resuming work relies on a continued downward trend of novel coronavirus cases.  

Information signs display at Islamic Cultural Center of Greater Chicago in Northbrook, Ill., Friday, April 24, 2020. Muslims start Ramadan fasting on April 24 amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Nam Y. Huh / The Associated Press

Ramadan, the holiest month on the Islamic calendar, kicked off Thursday, and local Muslim parents are preparing their kids for a socially distanced celebration. 

Jeanne Clark / Courtesy of SDOT

At the same time that the City of Seattle has been keeping some parks closed because of concerns about COVID-19, it has opened up certain neighborhood streets for pedestrians, cyclists and skaters to get out more and move.


We explore the power of the antibody — a protein that our blood cells make when our body encounters a virus.

Scientists have known for more than 100 years that if you take antibodies from someone who has recovered from a virus and transfer plasma, a blood byproduct, from that person to someone who is sick with that same virus, the patient will usually fare better than someone who doesn’t get this extra help.

Gibraltar Senior Living, located in the Parkland area of unincorporated Tacoma, has experienced an outbreak of COVID-19 among its residents and staff. The long-term care facility serves formerly homeless and mentally ill residents.
Kari Plog / KNKX

State officials are investigating how COVID-19 managed to infect a majority of residents at a Pierce County long-term care facility, which houses many residents who are formerly homeless and suffering from severe mental illness. 

Passengers spread out as they wait at a screening area meant for hundreds at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport Wednesday, April 15, 2020.
Elaine Thompson / The Associated Press

Passenger volumes at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport were down 56 percent in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic. And officials with the Port of Seattle expect the numbers for April to show a 90 percent decline.

Harborview Medical Center in Seattle is among the hospitals in the UW Medicine system, which will likely start allowing elective surgeries again if COVID-19 modeling continues to show improvement.
Ted S. Warren / The Associated Press

Hospitals in Washington state are mapping out plans to once again offer elective surgeries. Gov. Jay Inslee, who halted the procedures as part of his emergency order, has indicated he may loosen restrictions if Thursday’s COVID-19 models show enough of an improvement.

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.

People wearing a protective face mask as a precaution against the coronavirus walk past a mural of the world in Philadelphia, Wednesday, April 22, 2020.
Matt Rourke / The Associated Press

Washington’s broadest coalition of climate activists is using the 50th anniversary of Earth Day to call for a just recovery from COVID-19.

photo courtesy of Launch

When Gov. Jay Inslee ordered a statewide school closure, he said districts should provide child care so health care personnel and first responders could still go to work.

But how to pay for that care is still not sorted out. Tara Lee, a spokeswoman for the governor, said in an email that “it’s at the discretion of each local school district as to how they decide to respond and provide these services.”

In recent weeks, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee has repeatedly thanked Washington residents for complying with his emergency orders to shutter their businesses, avoid crowds and stay home unless absolutely necessary. He often praises Washingtonians as heroes who are saving lives in the face of a global pandemic.

But while most may be complying with his orders, not all are. In fact, there’s evidence of growing restlessness with the shutdown of the economy, the skyrocketing job losses and the infringement on normal, daily activities. And in some places there are examples of outright opposition.

Adrian Florez / KNKX

Today’s episode: Learning as we go. 

The thing that makes COVID-19 so tricky is its newness. It’s a disease that literally did not exist in humans until a few months ago. There was no handbook for treating it, no established way to screen for it and, as has become painfully clear, no detailed protocols for how doctors should handle the waves of sick patients. 

That has meant that health workers at virtually every point on the spectrum — from paramedics to primary-care doctors to ICU specialists — have had to learn on the fly. 

An artist paints murals outside the shuttered Sonic Boom Records in the Ballard neighborhood of Seattle on April 9, 2020.
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Gov. Jay Inslee has unveiled what it’s going to take for Washington state to return to normal again. And while the plan is thorough, it still doesn’t specify how soon the transition could begin in the face of this unpredictable pandemic.