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. 

A King County Metro bus had no passengers during a ride through Seattle’ Pioneer Square neighborhood March 11. Elderly people are being advised not to use public transit amid the coronavirus pandemic. But some don’t have a choice.
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Audio Pending...

To avoid exposure to the new coronavirus, the elderly are encouraged to stay home. Many can turn to friends and family to bring them what they need. But for those who live alone without anyone around to help that can be challenging. That was one of the issues that came up during a telephone town hall organized by AARP Washington with public health officials.

People sit near the fire during a 2016 Silent Reading Party, at the Sorrento Hotel in Seattle.
Christopher Frizzelle / The Stranger

Lots of events have moved online since the pandemic forced bans on public gatherings. 

That includes The Stranger's popular Silent Reading Party. Once a month, people would gather in the Fireside Room of Seattle's Sorrento Hotel and just sit together in silence, and read. Christopher Frizzelle is editor of The Stranger, and co-founded the party about 15 years ago.

courtesy of Rowan Carrick

In this age of distance learning, educators are trying to figure out the best way to connect with and engage their students. They’re emailing, holding video chats, recording video lessons, and making phone calls.

And some are singing.

The unemployment rolls in Washington state and Oregon continue to swell like never before. Washington's Employment Security Department said Thursday that close to half a million workers have applied for jobless benefits over the past three weeks. Oregon recorded just shy of 270,000 new claims in the same period, which is far more than the 147,800 net job losses in Oregon over the whole duration of the Great Recession.

There are hundreds of thousands of additional jobless workers waiting in the wings to file claims, including part-time and gig economy workers and self-employed who qualify under expanded federal benefits. But they are temporarily frozen out. The wait for overloaded unemployment systems to catch up is leaving some of them frustrated or anxious.

Adrian Florez / KNKX

Today's episode: The Virus-Eye View. 

We know, more or less, what the new coronavirus looks like … but what do we look like to it? 

In today’s episode, we imagine a little movie filmed from the point of view of the virus itself. We follow it as it enters the body, and get the blow-by-blow as it goes about its dastardly business of locking on to a cell, invading it, taking over its machinery and turning it into a virus factory. 

And we hear about an especially diabolical trick the virus pulls on its way out of a cell, which still gives me the creeps. 

Ross D. Franklin / The Associated Press


Major League Baseball is considering a plan that would start the season as soon as mid-May, despite the coronavirus pandemic. KNKX sports commentator Art Thiel told Morning Edition host Kirsten Kendrick that the idea is pretty out there.

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

Tacoma City Council recently issued a statement condemning acts of discrimination, citing an increase in reports around the region and nation from Asian-American community members and other marginalized groups experiencing racism amid COVID-19.

University of Washington freshman Byron Chen walks on the campus among the nearly 30 cherry trees nearing their peak bloom Thursday, March 19, 2020, in Seattle.
Elaine Thompson / The Associated Press

Universities and colleges are facing the possibility of large budget cuts due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The list of uncertainties is long: How many students will attend in the fall? Will it even be possible to have face-to-face instruction? And will publicly funded institutions see a big drop in state funding because of declining tax revenue?

An employee at Whole Foods near Interbay restocks shelves on Tuesday, March 17, 2020.
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX


As medical workers deal with the current health crisis, grocery store workers are finding themselves sometimes bearing the brunt of our stress and frustration.

Sue Wilmot works as a cashier at a Safeway on Bainbridge Island. She has more than 25 years of experience working in grocery stores. Employees at her Safeway are represented by the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union. Wilmot is her store's shop steward.

 Food Lifeline Hunger Solution Center warehouse in Seattle's South Park neighborhood. Staff are prototyping emergency food boxes that will soon be the primary means for donated food distribution statewide.
Aaron Czyzewski / Food Lifeline

An estimated 1.6 million people are expected to turn to Washington's food banks by the end of this week, to keep from going hungry. That’s about twice as many as normal. Federal aid to address that new need is not expected to be available until July.

So, the state is asking for help raising about $13 million dollars — to keep the shelves stocked and people from going hungry, despite the challenges created by the new coronavirus.

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.

Courtesy KOMO TV

A large disturbance Wednesday evening at the Monroe Correctional Complex was likely triggered by rising tensions over COVID-19, according to the Washington Department of Corrections. So far, six inmates at the facility have tested positive for the virus.

courtesy of Aulona Hoxha

The coronavirus pandemic has turned all of our lives upside-down. But what is it like to live through this crisis as a kid or a teen?

Among the crops at risk are Washington's renowned apples. Some of the crop is dumped when labor shortages prevail.
Shannon Dininny / The Associated Press (file)

Farmworkers are considered an essential part of the food supply system, so they have to stay on the job, even under Gov. Jay Inslee’s “Stay Home, Stay Safe” order.

But many of the people who work the fields or ranches here lack sufficient protection to keep them safe from the coronavirus. Human rights advocates say that needs to change immediately.

Adrian Florez / KNKX

Today’s episode: Saying Goodbye.

When a person infected with COVID-19 dies, those precious final moments aren’t spent with loved ones at their bedside. They’re spent surrounded by doctors and nurses, dressed head to toe in protective gear.

One nurse at a hospital in Issaquah, east of Seattle, wanted to do what she could to connect a mother and daughter one last time.

Using FaceTime, Tatyana Huber held her personal cellphone up to Carolann Gann’s face, so her daughter could share her final message of love and forgiveness.

Michelle Bennett talks to her mother, Carolann Gann, using FaceTime. Tatyana Huber, a charge nurse at Swedish Issaquah, connected mother and daughter one last time, before Gann died of COVID-19 on March 26.
Courtesy of Michelle Bennett

When people die after becoming infected with COVID-19, they typically spend their final moments in isolation, surrounded only by nurses and doctors. A nurse in Issaquah recently made it possible for a mother and daughter to connect one last time.

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.

A tent stands at the emergency entrance to Seattle Children's Hospital. As health officials across Washington state scramble to secure hospital beds and supplies, rural hospitals face unique challenges.
Elaine Thompson / The Associated Press

As the coronavirus pandemic stretches on, many of the concerns voiced months ago are starting to be realized. Personal protective equipment for health care workers is in short supply. And some places are seeing their hospital capacity pushed to the limit.

Officials at rural hospitals are also worried. They operate on a tight budget, and with elective procedures on hold, there are very real financial concerns.

Matt Fleming,  the man behind Tacoma Shout Outs on Instagram. Pay him $1 and he will shout out your message to the person it's intended for.
Courtesy of Matt Fleming


As we all hunker down and stay physically away from friends and neighbors, people are finding creative ways to be together. One man in Tacoma is connecting across distances by talking really loud.

If you pay 27-year-old Matt Fleming $1, he will ride his bike to the location you send him and deliver your message to the person it’s intended for. Fleming spends about six hours a day doing this — covering up to 20 miles, yelling messages from the top of his lungs at people stuck in their homes.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

Gov. Jay Inslee said there will be no more in-person instruction for the rest of the school year, as the state continues to take extraordinary measures to combat the spread of the coronavirus, which has claimed the lives of more than 300 Washington residents.

Schools will continue to provide instruction via distance learning, a transformation that district leaders have been trying to pull off in the span of just a few weeks.

Aaron Yoo / Flickr

Amazon said it’s donating 8,200 laptops to students in the Seattle school district to help close the technology gap that’s made it difficult for some students to continue their learning while schools are shuttered due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The donation is valued at about $2 million. The machines will be given to students to keep, and the school district said it’s prioritizing giving them to elementary students who lack access to a device at home.

Seattle Indian Health Board opened a new COVID19 testing site Thursday at Chief Seattle Club! "This is our testing team! This is what #dreamteam looks like!" wrote Esther Lucero, chief executive officer of the Seattle Indian Health Board on Facebook.
Courtesy of Esther Lucero

After weeks of waiting for a response from the federal government, the Seattle Indian Health Board says it finally received a shipment of personal protective equipment — from a small business.

Like most companies these days, Eighth Generation has had to cut back and cancel many orders because of the coronavirus. But that didn’t stop the retail company from messaging Esther Lucero two weeks ago. The founder and CEO, Louie Gong, told her he wanted to leverage his contacts with manufacturers overseas to help get the agency critical supplies of personal 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. 

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

April is child abuse prevention month, and a top state official said the coronavirus crisis has put children at heightened risk.  

Ross Hunter, secretary of the Department of Children, Youth and Families, said he's worried about the welfare of children because families are experiencing severe financial strain. Many people have suddenly lost their jobs because businesses have shut down to comply with the governor’s measures to stem the spread of the virus. And with the long-term closure of schools, everyone is at home much more than normal.

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.

Stephen Brashear / AP Photo


It's business as usual for the NFL despite the COVID-19 pandemic. The league held a teleconference with members of the media this week. KNKX sports commentator Art Thiel talked about it with Morning Edition host Kirsten Kendrick.  

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. 

Windows are boarded up at Seattle's Lost Lake Cafe, after Gov. Jay Inslee ordered the statewide closure of businesses and dine-in restaurants. Inslee announced Thursday that he's extending his stay-at-home order by five weeks.
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Gov. Jay Inslee is prolonging the timeline of his statewide stay-at-home order by a month, the latest in a series of extraordinary measures aimed at slowing the spread of the novel coronavirus.  

courtesy of Launch

UPDATE, April 7: Corrects name of Boys and Girls Clubs of King County.

The Seattle school district has backed away from a plan to assign educators to provide child care for first responders and medical workers, after the union representing teachers and other school staff said providing that care had not been negotiated and was outside of their regular duties.

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.