coronavirus pandemic | KNKX

coronavirus pandemic

Ted S. Warren / The Associated Press

Diagnosed COVID-19 cases have been dropping for weeks in Washington, following record high rates of infection through the holiday season. But King County's top public health official said the decline is likely temporary. 

Airlift Northwest flight nurse Mikaela Hagberg looks on as she receives one of the first COVID-19 vaccinations at UW Medicine on Dec. 15, 2020, in Seattle.
Elaine Thompson / The Associated Press

Doctors and nurses on the critical-care team of Seattle-based medical system Swedish were left out of an initial electronic call-out inviting staff to get the coronavirus vaccine, sparking confusion and anger among workers caring for some of the sickest COVID-19 patients, according to internal emails and meeting recordings.

A sign directs vehicles toward a drive-up testing site at the Tacoma Dome in March 2020. It was one of the test sites hosted by the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department early in the pandemic.
Ted S. Warren / The Associated Press (file)

Pierce County residents had their first opportunity to respond to a controversial proposal that would terminate a public health partnership between the county and the City of Tacoma.
 
And their collective response during Monday’s Pierce County Council committee meeting was overwhelming: many called the effort “reckless” and “dangerous” as the county faces a surge of COVID-19 cases.

Ted S. Warren / Associated Press

Gov. Jay Inslee and the president of the Washington Education Association had a meeting on Wednesday to talk about the process of reopening schools for in-person learning. But they disagree about the content of the conversation.

Sen. Karen Keiser, D-Des Moines, bangs the gavel as she presides over the Washington Senate, Friday, Feb. 15, 2019, in Olympia, Wash.
Ted S. Warren / The Associated Press (file)

Washington state's Employment Security Department has been hit hard during the pandemic. There was a dramatic increase in jobless claims when businesses were forced to shut down in the spring. And a crime ring used stolen identities to take hundreds of millions of dollars from the unemployment insurance program.

Anya Gavrylko (left) and Anna Nollan are part of the Washington COVID Response Corps working on food insecurity issues.
Courtesy of Schultz Family Foundation

Demand for food assistance has surged this year as many people have lost their jobs.

The Schultz Family Foundation, which was started by former Starbucks Chief Executive Howard Schultz and his wife, Sheri, has created something called the Washington COVID Response Corps to employ young people to work on addressing food insecurity.

Ted S. Warren / The Associated Press

Joshua Piatok should be in London right now.

It’s where he had planned to spend his first semester as a Northeastern University student. Instead, he’s staying in a Boston hotel with other science, technology, engineering and math majors.

It’s one of many adjustments college freshmen have had to make in a year of crisis. The coronavirus pandemic has forced many to temper dreams and expectations, and navigate a new social world amid social-distancing rules.

screenshot of online class / courtesy of the Franklin Pierce School District

Being a teacher right now is not easy. Ryan Davenport had to buy a new Ikea chair because teaching online means sitting around a lot, and that makes his neck hurt. During a regular school year, he’s usually on his feet much of the day, moving around. 

Ryan teaches social studies to seventh-graders in the Franklin Pierce School District in Parkland. But even more than that discomfort, this school year of disruption means Ryan has a harder time making the connections with his students that normally bring him joy. KNKX is following one of his classes this year to illustrate what school is like in the middle of a pandemic. 

Jack McQuade, center, the owner of The Swiss Restaurant and Pub in Tacoma, Wash., walks behind his bar on Wednesday, April 29, 2020. The restaurant announced in September that it was closing permanently.
Ted S. Warren / The Associated Press

The governor’s new ban on indoor dining in restaurants will mean a financial toll for many businesses, and it’s a particular blow for new restaurants. Gov. Jay Inslee announced the new restrictions on Sunday as coronavirus cases have hit a new peak in the state.

Dr. Nicole Yarid, an associate medical examiner for King County, walks into the autopsy room dedicated to examining people who died from COVID-related complications. Yarid told KNKX that the pandemic response has detracted from other priorities.
Ted S. Warren / The Associated Press

Since its founding more than a century ago, Washington state has seen few changes to the way sudden or unusual deaths are investigated. And experts from every corner of the system acknowledge it’s far from perfect. 

New COVID-19 restrictions on dining, gyms in Washington

Nov 15, 2020
The Legislative Building, left, stands at night after Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and his wife, Trudi, gave a statewide televised address on COVID-19, which health officials have warned is accelerating rapidly throughout the state, Thursday, Nov. 12, 2020.
Ted S. Warren / The Associated Press

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — Washington Gov. Jay Inslee has announced new restrictions on businesses and social gatherings for the next four weeks, as the state continues to combat a rising number of coronavirus cases.

Starting at 11:59 p.m. Monday, a host of businesses must close their indoor services, including fitness facilities and gyms, bowling centers, movie theaters, museums, zoos and aquariums. Retail stores — including grocery stores — must limit their indoor capacity to 25 percent.

Gov. Jay Inslee and his wife, Trudi, delivered a live address to the state Thursday night urging Washington residents to change their Thanksgiving plans amid a surge in COVID-19 cases.
Ted S. Warren / The Associated Press

The number of COVID-19 cases has doubled in Washington state over the past two weeks. In response, Gov. Jay Inslee recommends a 14-day quarantine for people coming into the state and is asking people to stay close to home. California and Oregon are doing the same to try and slow the spread of the virus.

A worker wears PPE as he walks along a line of cars, Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2020, at a King County COVID-19 testing site in Auburn.
Ted S. Warren / The Associated Press (file)

Make some sacrifices now to avoid future pain. That was the message from Washington state health officials Tuesday as confirmed COVID-19 cases in the state are at their highest levels yet — and accelerating quickly.

The Grand Cinema is a nonprofit movie theater in Tacoma.
Amelia Vaugh / Courtesy of The Grand

Many of the region’s annual film festivals are going virtual this year, as the pandemic continues. That includes next year’s Seattle International Film Festival and the Tacoma Film Festival, which is going on now and continues through Sunday.

Ted S. Warren / The Associated Press

For weeks, public health officials have been sending the same message: confirmed COVID-19 cases are rising quickly in many parts of Washington state, and it's more important than ever to take precautions. 

But, amid "pandemic fatigue" and muddled messaging from political leaders, it's gotten harder to break through with that advice, King County's top public health official said Friday. 

screenshot of State Board of Education virtual meeting

Most students in the state are still doing school remotely because of the pandemic. Some parents who are frustrated with distance learning are criticizing a move by the State Board of Education to allow the status quo to continue.

This summer, the state board passed emergency rules to allow schools to provide Zoom classes or other remote instruction in the pandemic. Now the board has adopted new emergency rules to continue that, with a plan to propose permanent rules and hold a public hearing in early January.

AP File Photo

It’s not a matter of if a third wave of the coronavirus will hit Washington state, but a matter of when, says Dr. Steve Mitchell at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle. Positive cases are ticking up in Washington, and area hospitals are planning for a surge.

javacolleen / Flickr

It’s been eight weeks since the school year began, and Seattle Public Schools has just started offering in-person services for students in special education. One student started this week and the district plans to expand that to 65 children.

A house in West Seattle has a candy chute among its Halloween decorations, in preparation for socially distanced trick-or-treating. But experts say families should steer clear of the annual door-to-door tradition.
Posey Gruener / KNKX

Getting COVID-19 can be scarier than any horror movie or Halloween haunted house. Health officials and pediatricians aren't telling us to skip Halloween this year, but they do urge serious caution.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee said in a statement about the relief fund: “The pandemic continues to impact all aspects of life for Washingtonians, and we need to remain steadfast in our support of those bearing the greatest burden.”
Ted S. Warren / The Associated Press

Washington state’s $40 million COVID-19 relief fund for immigrants is open to applications. It’s intended to help undocumented workers who have been hurt financially in the pandemic.

Hayley Thompson, the coroner in Skagit County, says the makeshift morgue she rents from the local hospital — a space converted from a closet — has a lot of flaws. But it's better than what most coroners have.
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

It isn’t often a coroner gets to deliver good news. Last week was an exception for Hayley Thompson.

The Skagit County coroner learned her office was awarded a $250,000 federal grant, seed money that will eventually fund a renovation to bring all of her operations under one roof.

Thompson told KNKX Public Radio that this will offer the county consistent control of death investigations. And it’s long overdue.

 

There has been some talk at the national level about aiming for herd immunity with this pandemic. Officials in the Trump administration are eager to reopen the economy. 

Herd immunity would involve allowing COVID-19 to spread, which in theory would eventually make people immune.

Photo courtesy of Michael Gill

Most music venues in Washington closed early on in the pandemic, and they'll be among the last to reopen under the state’s phased plan. A new fundraising effort called Keep Music Live aims to raise more than $10 million to provide relief for the state's small, independently owned venues.

University of Washington President Ana Mari Cauce in February 2019.
Elaine Thompson / The Associated Press (file)

Instead of a room full of people, University of Washington President Ana Mari Cauce gave her annual address in the empty Intellectual House, a longhouse style building on UW’s main campus built as a gathering space for Native American and Alaskan Native students.

Wearing purple, she spoke into a camera to her remote audience.

Before entering the school, students at Blue Heron Middle School in Port Townsend go through a screening process to prevent anyone who might show COVID-19 symptoms from entering.
Ashley Gross / KNKX

On a recent sunny fall morning, a school bus pulled up in front of Blue Heron Middle School in Port Townsend. A few kids got off, but before they could enter the school, they had to go through a new pandemic-era procedure.

Skagit County Coroner Hayley Thompson (left) and Connie Le Sourd, owner of Mount Vernon Cemetery, arrange urns of unclaimed remains in a shared crypt during a committal service in October 2019. Thompson is one of 17 elected coroners in Washington state.
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Dr. Carl Wigren could stand in for just about any medical examiner as seen on TV. He’s witty, a fast talker who knows a lot about investigating deaths.

In fact, Wigren has been on TV, after testifying as an expert witness in high-profile criminal cases. He’s the guy you call when a death investigation furnishes more questions than answers. 

And, Wigren says, that happens a lot more than you think. 

Barrett and Audrey Stowe with their parents, Courtney and James. Barrett interviewed Audrey and two friends about what advice they'd give themselves if they could travel back in time to before the pandemic.
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Imagine you could step into a time machine and travel back to a year ago. What would you tell yourself now that you’ve experienced life in a pandemic? 

Seventeen-year-old Barrett Stowe, who attends Tacoma School of the Arts, asked two friends and his sister that question. It turns out the upheaval of the past six months has led to some realizations about what’s important to them in life.

Barrett produced his own radio story, with guidance from KNKX staff, as part of our Take the Mic youth voices project.

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.

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