coronavirus pandemic | KNKX

coronavirus pandemic

The Associated Press (file)

Wash your hands, wear a mask, stay socially distant — and get a flu shot. This is the message health officials are preaching as we head into cooler months when we’ll all be spending more time indoors.

A bed sits made at a long-term care center in Rockland, Mass., back in March. Long-term care facilities in Washington state and across the country have been particularly vulnerable to COVID-19 outbreaks during the pandemic.
David Goldman / The Associated Press (file)

For months, long-term care facilities in Washington were closed not only to visitors but also to state regulatory authorities due to the COVID-19 pandemic. These facilities were early hotspots, driving the nation's coronavirus death toll this spring.

That posed a big problem for the staff and volunteers of Washington's long-term care ombuds office.

"For our role, visitation is key," ombuds Patricia Hunter told KNKX. 

Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX (file)

Since the onset of the pandemic, food insecurity rates have more than doubled in our state. That’s according to researchers at the University of Washington who have just compiled the results from their first round of a statewide survey. 

It was done this summer in cooperation with Washington State University and Tacoma Community College, as well as partners in local, county and state governments.

Ryan Davenport teaches seventh grade social studies at Keithley Middle School in Parkland. He's welcomed KNKX to follow one of his classes through this unprecedented year.
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

At schools around the region, a new ritual has been taking place. It’s the back-to-school, COVID-era laptop distribution, as almost all public schools in the state have begun the year with remote learning.

A trio of dogs peer out of the back, open window of a vehicle while on an outing Friday, April 3, 2020, in Seattle.
Elaine Thompson / The Associated Press

UPDATE, 6 a.m. Sept. 10: Friday's pop-up event has been postponed due to wildfire conditions. You can find an up-to-date calendar of future events here.

Local animal shelters in King County have banded together to create a mobile pet food bank to help owners feed their animals during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Several organizations offer pet food to owners who need it. But after animal shelters initially closed in response to Gov. Jay Inslee's stay-home order, they decided to get out into the community with a truck and a tent.

Adrian Florez / KNKX

The King County Prosecutor’s Office recently filed it’s 11th domestic violence homicide charge for the year. There were only four domestic violence murder cases all of last year. Calls to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, which includes Washington state, also are up. Domestic violence experts say COVID-19 is making the situation for domestic violence victims worse.

Mila and Dempsey are students in Seattle Public Schools. Dempsey has cerebral palsy and receives assistance from an instructional aide as part of his individualized education program.
Courtesy of Daniela Hall

As school kicks off remotely in much of the Puget Sound region, one big question is what kind of in-person services will be offered to students with special needs. It’s a pressing topic for many parents, especially if their children require a full-time instructional aide.

In this file photo from March, a man carrying a sleeping bag looks at a sign on the door of the Bread of Life Mission in Seattle's downtown Pioneer Square neighborhood. COVID-19 cases have risen in King County’s homeless population throughout the summer.
Ted S. Warren / The Associated Press (file)

UPDATE, Aug. 26: King County public health officials say one person has died in connection with the Harborview Hall outbreak. The man, who was in his 70s, died Aug. 7 and had "underlying medical conditions," public health officials said. The King County Medical Examiner's Office lists COVID-19 as one of the causes of death.  

Nurses conduct a COVID-19 test at UW Neighborhood Northgate Clinic in March. Skagit County will soon limit its own drive-through testing.
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX (file)

Skagit County soon will limit its drive-through testing for COVID-19 to only those who live or work in the county. The change starts in less than a week, on Monday, Aug. 31. County officials say the current model is not sustainable.

courtesy of Kittitas school district

Only a handful of school districts in the state are aiming to hold school in person this fall. One of them is Kittitas School District in Central Washington, near Ellensburg.

Nutrition staff, bus drivers, paraprofessionals and volunteers load prepared meals onto school buses on the first day of Franklin Pierce Schools' meal distribution program.
Jovelle Tamayo for NPR

The Edmonds School District has issued layoff notices to 175 bus drivers, and other districts are warning that they may have to do the same thing.

Aimee Rodriguez Webb works on her computer reading emails at her dinning room table that she set up as a virtual classroom for a Cobb County school, on Tuesday, July 28, 2020, in Marietta, Ga.
Brynn Anderson / The Associated Press (file)

Because of the pandemic, the Washington state Supreme Court waived the bar exam for new lawyers who were supposed to take it this past July or in September. But new teachers still have to take an exam to get their teaching certificate, and now they’re asking the governor to eliminate that requirement.

Kids in masks work on homework at the Boys and Girls Club in Ballard.
Boys and Girls Clubs of King County

Parents in Western Washington – and in many parts of the country – are facing a school year like no other. Most districts here will begin with no in-person instruction, and for parents or guardians who work outside the home, that means a scramble to find some kind of child care.

And many will have to dig into their pockets to pay for care during the seven hours or so when children normally attend school.

A person wears a mask as she waits to enter the Ram Restaurant and Brewery, Tuesday, June 23, in Tacoma.
Ted S. Warren / The Associated Press

Health officials in Pierce County are taking steps to learn just how many people are wearing masks in public, and if they’re wearing them correctly. They say their findings show it’s not enough, and habits vary widely depending on the type of location.

Staff and volunteers with the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department recently conducted a 48-hour survey, during which they observed people in more than 20 locations countywide.

In this Friday, June 5, 2020 photo, fourth-grader Sammiayah Thompson, left, and her brother third-grader Nehemiah Thompson work outside in their yard on laptops provided by their school system for distant learning in Hartford, Conn.
Jessica Hill / The Associated Press (file)

The Federal Way school district is getting some assistance from a local crowdfunding platform to buy 5,000 laptops for students. It’s an example of the many ways school districts are trying to make sure children have what they need for remote learning.

Youths float atop stand-up paddle boards offshore at Seattle's Alki Beach on July 29. To the south, in Pierce County, large gatherings of young people are causing a surge in COVID-19 cases among people between the ages of 20 to 29 years old.
Elaine Thompson / The Associated Press

Right now, there are more than 2,000 contact tracers working across Washington state. Kelsie Lane is one of them.

Contact tracing is a low-tech approach to keeping the virus in check. But it’s only effective if officials have timely test results.

Ashley Gross / KNKX

Marina Gray says her 11-year-old son has fallen into a pandemic pattern.

Like many kids his age, he plays the video game Fortnite with his friends. Back in the pre-coronavirus days, Gray had strict screen-time limits, but now she’s relaxed those restrictions because the game allows him to stay social while also staying safe from the virus.

Ashley Gross / KNKX

School districts are moving forward with the huge task of reinventing school during a pandemic. Now, the state has issued guidance to help with one important part — how to serve students in special education.

Across the state more than 160,000 students receive special education services, and the abrupt switch to remote learning in the spring caused a lot of upheaval for those families.

The Crocodile in Seattle
Joe Mabel / Wikimedia Commons

The statewide stay-at-home order shuttered live music venues in March. Now, those businesses are questioning if they will be able to survive, with no source of revenue for the foreseeable future.

That could be the fate for The Crocodile in Seattle's Belltown neighborhood, despite the venue receiving a Paycheck Protection Program loan. 

The port of entry to Point Roberts, a tan building with a flagpole out front.
J. Stephen Conn / Flickr Creative Commons

The border between the United States and Canada remains closed to all but essential travel. The closure went into effect in mid-March and it has been repeatedly extended as the pandemic grows, particularly in the U.S.

It’s caused a lot of difficulty for the people who live and work along the 5,525-mile border. But perhaps no community in the United States is in the situation of Point Roberts, Washington.

David Goldman / The Associated Press

Medicines that help people stop using opioids are heavily regulated, and people seeking them usually have to navigate in-person doctor visits, daily stops at a clinic, frequent urine tests, and other requirements that derail or discourage many.

But, in response to the coronavirus pandemic, federal officials have loosened rules for the medications methadone and buprenorphine, in order to limit in-person contact between providers and patients.