Inslee presses pause on rollbacks in reopening plan, offers no info on Phase 3

14 hours ago
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee speaks during a news conference on Nov. 30, 2020, at the Capitol in Olympia.
Ted S. Warren / The Associated Press

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee said none of the state’s regions will revert back to more restrictive COVID-19 requirements under the state’s economic reopening plan under a pause in potential rollbacks the Democratic governor announced Thursday amid dropping case counts.

In this March 11, 2020, photo, a laboratory technician prepares COVID-19 patient samples for semi-automatic testing at Northwell Health Labs, in Lake Success, N.Y.
John Minchillo / The Associated Press file

The coronavirus variant that was first detected in South Africa has now been discovered in King County. It’s the first time the variant, which is more contagious, has been identified in Washington. 

Vials of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine are shown, Thursday, Jan. 21, 2021, at the Isles of Vero Beach assisted and independent senior living community in Vero Beach, Fla.
Wilfredo Lee / The Associated Press

More vaccines are on the way to Washington state. 

Cassie Sauer, the CEO of the Washington State Hospital Association, says the thousands of doses that were postponed because of bad weather last week will arrive this week.  



Even though the rollout has been rocky, COVID vaccines are here. The number of new COVID cases is dropping. Is it safe to feel a little optimistic about the future?

Not just yet, say researchers at Fred Hutch.


Eleven-year-old Kamari Johnson, right, wants to go back to in-person school, but her mother, Jasmine Raelynn, is not so sure. She has worries about safety.
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Kamari Johnson is 11 years old. She’s trying to make the best of remote school, including keeping up with orchestra class, which means playing violin at home by herself.

She remembers what it was like to play music together with other students as an ensemble, back in fifth grade, back before the coronavirus.

In this Feb. 2, 2021, photo, students wear masks as they work in a fourth-grade classroom, at Elk Ridge Elementary School in Buckley.
Ted S. Warren / The Associated Press

Washington state is expanding COVID-19 testing options for many public schools and Gov. Jay Inslee said Tuesday more students should have access to in-person learning.

Capitol dome in Olympia in January 2020.
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

This is the first week that every region in Washington is in Phase 2 of the state's COVID recovery plan. Olympia correspondent Austin Jenkins joined KNKX Morning Edition host Kirsten Kendrick live Tuesday morning to talk about the latest in the state's pandemic response as well as what's happening in the Legislature this week.

A view of Hobuck Beach Resort during the shutdown in Neah Bay. Tourism is currently prohibited under 'Phase 3' health orders from the Makah tribal council. Their hope is to reopen to the public in June.
Courtesy of TJ Green

The Makah Tribe was the first community in the state to shut down because of COVID-19. Now they’re more than halfway through a vaccine rollout and are hoping to reopen this summer. The remote nation in Northwest Washington has remained closed to visitors since mid-March, with a checkpoint on the only road in and out.

Almost all of WA will be in Phase 2 of reopening plan next week

Feb 11, 2021
Falafel shop workers Bryant Movern, left, and Javohn Ferguson work to pack customer's take-out orders in a restaurant otherwise closed because of the coronavirus outbreak Tuesday, May 19, 2020, in Seattle.
Elaine Thompson / The Associated Press file

All but six of Washington state's 39 counties will be in Phase 2 of the state's economic reopening plan as of Monday, with five new regions meeting the requirements necessary to join two other regions that have already seen a loosening of COVID-19 restrictions, including limited indoor dining.

A person wears a sticker after they were given the first of two doses of the Pfizer vaccine for COVID-19, Sunday, Jan. 24, 2021, at a one-day vaccination clinic set up in an facility in Seattle and administered Virginia Mason Franciscan Health.
Ted S. Warren / The Associated Press

Leaders with the state Department of Health say there are inequities in vaccine distribution based on race and ethnicity. According to a new report, Hispanic, Black and multiracial people have gotten vaccinated at low rates compared to their representation in the population.

Soldiers stand outside a barracks building at Fort Lewis in Pierce County in 1918. A sign over the door of the barracks reads partially “Company B." The men were under quarantine for Spanish influenza.
Gregg Courtwright Collection / Washington State Historical Society

When Washington experienced the first reported case of COVID-19 in the country, the Washington State Historical Society began receiving requests for archival materials about the 1918 Spanish influenza. Margaret Wetherbee, the museum’s head of collections, says she didn’t find much – just some photos of officials and quarantined soldiers at Fort Lewis. 

Washington State Hospital Association

Dozens of hospitals in Washington have learned that N95 respirator masks thought to be purchased from 3M are knockoffs. The Washington State Hospital Association said there could be up to 2 million of these fake masks circulating in the state. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security is investigating. 

Elaine Thompson / The Associated Press

Early in the pandemic, King County worked to limit the number of people in jail as a way of preventing the spread of the coronavirus. To help meet that goal, King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg pledged to limit case filings to the serious felonies. Now, the prosecutor has increased filings for a broader array of crimes. He says the growing backlog left him with no choice. 

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. 

Gov. Jay Inslee has appointed Dr. Umair A. Shah as the next Secretary of Health. Shah is currently the director of public health in Harris County (Houston), Texas. He will replace outgoing Sec. John Wiesman.
Officer of Gov. Jay Inslee

Washington state's new Secretary of Health says he understands the frustration that many people have regarding COVID-19 vaccinations. But he expects things to start improving soon.

Courtesy of King County

South King County is an area of Washington hit especially hard by COVID-19. Positive test rates in this part of the county are very high compared to places like north Seattle and Mercer Island.

This is why Public Health – Seattle & King County has set up two vaccination clinics that will be operating indefinitely. One is located at the ShoWare Center in Kent. The other is located at Auburn’s General Services Administration Complex.

A promotional poster for Keep Music Live.
Keep Music Live

It's been nearly a year since music venues held live and in-person performances. Now, independent venues throughout the state can apply for grants from the fundraising effort known as Keep Music Live.

A person is given the first of two doses of the Pfizer vaccine for COVID-19 Sunday, Jan. 24, 2021, at a one-day vaccination clinic set up in an Amazon facility in Seattle.
Ted S. Warren / The Associated Press

Seattle hospitals rushed out COVID-19 vaccines to hundreds of people in the middle of the night after a freezer they were being stored in failed.

Seattle-area hospitals see hopeful signs in virus fight

Jan 28, 2021
Registered nurse Diane Miller pulls on gloves and other protective equipment as she prepares to enter patient rooms in the COVID acute care unit at UW Medical Center on Tuesday.
Elaine Thompson / The Associated Press

Earlier this week, there was only one patient in the COVID-19 intensive care unit at UW Medical Center-Montlake, a hospital near the University of Washington campus in Seattle. The unit had cared for as many as eight patients at a time during the heights of the pandemic.

courtesy of Sen. Brad Hawkins

Acknowledging the degree to which education has been disrupted during the pandemic, state lawmakers are discussing ways to help students catch up academically.

courtesy of Bellevue School District

The Bellevue School District will bring first-graders and kindergartners back for in-person learning in February, a couple of weeks later than originally planned.

The district had been in a standoff with the Bellevue Education Association, but the two sides have reached an agreement that was narrowly approved by union members.

Cashiers at a grocery store sanitize a card reader and the checkout area.
Steve Senne / The Associated Press file

Seattle has joined other cities in approving extra pay for grocery store workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ted S. Warren / The Associated Press

Officials across Washington state are trying to vaccinate people for COVID-19 more quickly, and some of those plans begin this week.

People enjoy a sunny day outside the Washington state Capitol.
Ted S. Warren / The Associated Press file

House and Senate Democrats on Friday released a plan that looks to spend $2.2 billion in federal aid money on COVID-19 relief efforts in Washington state.

Gov. Inslee and his wife receive COVID-19 vaccine

Jan 22, 2021
Gov. Jay Inslee gets the first shot of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, Friday, Jan. 22, 2021, from Elizabeth Smalley, a medical assistant at a Sea Mar Community Health Center in Olympia.
Ted S. Warren / The Associated Press

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and his wife, Trudi, each received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on Friday.

The Inslees, both 69, received the Moderna shots at the Sea-Mar Clinic in Olympia.

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

On the anniversary of the first confirmed COVID-19 case in the United States, Amazon said Thursday it will host a one-day vaccination drive in Seattle this weekend to inoculate as many as 2,000 people.

courtesy of Bellevue School District

Amid a dispute over the Bellevue School District’s expansion of in-person learning to young students, the district asked a King County Superior Court commissioner to issue a temporary injunction against its educators union to force them to resume both in-person and live online instruction.

courtesy of Bellevue School District

UPDATE, 4:12 pm: Adds information about the Sedro-Woolley School District.

Bellevue Superintendent Ivan Duran says the district will continue with its plan to welcome about 770 second-graders back for in-person learning on Thursday, even though teachers may not show up.

Adrian Florez / KNKX

It’s been about one month since the first coronavirus vaccine arrived in Washington state. Residents, some of them in tears, watched a nurse receive the first injection. This event was supposed to herald the beginning of the end of the coronavirus pandemic.

But, since then, the vaccine rollout has progressed more slowly than some had hoped. More than 600,000 doses have arrived in Washington, but only about a third of those have been administered.

The Associated Press

The demand for COVID vaccines is great - but the rollout here in Washington is slow going. It's been a month since the first shipment of vaccines arrived, and the state has only used a quarter of its doses.