coronavirus

Washington State Governors Office

Washington Governor Jay Inslee and the state Health Secretary are hitting the pause button on the county-by-county reopening process in response to the worsening coronavirus pandemic. Inslee announced that for at least the next two weeks all counties in Washington state will stay in whatever reopening phase they are currently in -- with a couple of exceptions.

Courtney Flatt/NWPB

The Tri-Cities has seen what Gov. Jay Inslee called an “astronomical increase” in COVID cases. 

In a visit Tuesday, he said local officials have asked him to implement stricter mask requirements. They also asked to open more small businesses.

About 10 protesters – one wearing a T-shirt that read “Inslee is Non-essential” and none appearing to wear masks – shouted the governor away from his podium at Columbia Basin College in Pasco.

Grassroots Garbage Gang

A favorable weather forecast and the Fourth of July falling on a weekend has beach communities in the Pacific Northwest bracing for an onslaught despite the ongoing pandemic. Two beach towns that tend to be holiday crowd magnets are particularly in the limelight this year.

Tom Banse / NW News Network

Washington state leaders are expressing hesitancy about opening the door to the final phase of the governor's four-phase reopening plan. By the end of this week, eight rural counties will have spent the minimum three weeks in Phase 3 and can then theoretically apply to lift most remaining coronavirus restrictions.

Tom Banse / NW News Network

Summer officially begins on Saturday, but it still feels like winter if you study the sailing schedule of Washington State Ferries. With ridership depressed by the ongoing pandemic, the nation's biggest ferry system is sticking to a reduced schedule through what would normally be its busiest season.

Tom Banse / NW News Network

An iconic, but disappearing American institution -- the drive-in movie theater -- came to the rescue of the senior classes in several Pacific Northwest communities this month. As luck would have it, a drive-in cinema is well suited for a socially-distanced graduation ceremony.

Washington Traffic Safety Commission

Impaired driving citations dropped sharply across Oregon and Washington this spring during the coronavirus pandemic. There are multiple possible explanations for the decline, but people drinking and using drugs less does not appear to be a likely one.

Tom Banse / NW News Network

Washington's least populous counties will lead the way into the next phase of relaxing COVID-19 restrictions on businesses and social gatherings. This next phase allows for the resumption of team sports as well as for libraries, museums, gyms and movie theaters to at least partially reopen.

Tom Banse / NW News Network

Fresh salt air and a good night's sleep to the sound of lapping waves might be just what the doctor ordered for Pacific Northwesterners left frazzled by current events. A getaway to the seashore is back in the realm of possibility as many coastal Oregon and Washington towns relax closure orders on tourist lodgings and vacation rentals.

There are a few holdout places along the Pacific Coast that are staying closed to visitors until further notice, along with considerable wariness about reintroducing a virus that has largely spared coastal counties up to now.

Williamborg / Wikimedia - tinyurl.com/y9geafwv

The county-by-county reopening of Washington state is picking up steam. The state Secretary of Health on Friday approved four additional places where closed businesses can now restart immediately if they have safety plans in place. At least a half-dozen more counties -- backed by antsy business communities -- are queuing up close behind.

Courtesy of YMCA Camp Reed

The coronavirus is spreading a pandemic of disappointment among Pacific Northwest families and camp counselors via the widespread cancellation of traditional sleepaway summer camps. But some camp operators in Washington state and north Idaho are waiting to make the final call for this summer in hopes that overnight camps can still take place -- albeit with a late start probably. Others are putting an assortment of backup options into play.

Tom Banse / NW News Network

San Juan County in the northwest corner of Washington state is about to become the first county in the Pacific Northwest to require residents and visitors to wear a face covering in public places. Elsewhere in the region, governments have highly recommended wearing masks, but it's not the law.

Tom Banse / NW News Network

More than 100 Washington state parks made the cut to reopen for day use beginning Tuesday, but aficionados of Pacific Coast and Columbia River Gorge getaways will have to wait a while longer.

Keith Ridler/AP

Idaho Governor Brad Little kicked off the process Thursday of “re-opening” the state after five weeks of “stay home, stay healthy” measures to help stem the spread of coronavirus.

Tom Banse / NW News Network

Outdoor enthusiasts in Washington may be looking forward to the reopening of many shuttered state parks and public lands next week. But a few of Washington's most popular state parks could stay closed because the surrounding communities are worried about crowds and renewed disease spread.

Ted Warren / AP Photo

Last weekend should have seen thousands of anglers flock to Washington state lakes for the always-popular lowland lakes trout opener. Like so much else, opening day of fishing season was canceled due to the coronavirus. But freshwater fishing is coming back soon, along with significant additional elements of the  outdoor recreation scene.

Courtney Flatt/NWPB

As we all know, entertainment options are limited right now. Everyone is working to keep a social distance to help their communities stay healthy.

But for movie lovers like me and my roommate Sara Schilling, our living room, streaming services and homemade popcorn just aren’t cutting it.

Courtesy of Tyson Foods

Updated April 30, 2020, 10:40 p.m. PT:

County health officials are updating their numbers on the Tyson Fresh Meats plant near Pasco, Washington. They now say there are 56 new positive cases of coronavirus instead of 75, as they first said Thursday afternoon, April 30. That’s on top of more than 100 workers who were already confirmed positive.

Mason PUD 3

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.

Tom Banse / NW News Network

Coronavirus risk and ongoing shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE) are leading fire departments around the region to rediscover the enduring truth of the idiom, "Necessity is the mother of invention." Since the virus epidemic emerged in the Pacific Northwest, the fire service has changed tactics, improvised and resorted to creativity to keep first responders healthy and available to serve the public.

Capt. Brad Chaney / South King Fire and Rescue, 2019

More than 500 firefighters and EMTs in the Pacific Northwest have been temporarily quarantined after suspected exposure to the coronavirus over the past two months. The Washington State Council of Fire Fighters and the Oregon Fire Service Coronavirus Response Team have been monitoring the number of first responders taken out of service. Fortunately, only a small fraction have tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

Office of WA Governor Jay Inslee

Gov. Jay Inslee announced on Tuesday that state officials believe the spread of COVID-19 in Washington is likely on the decline. That's based on point-in-time data on hospitalizations.

However, Inslee said officials don't expect to lift many social distancing restrictions by May 4, the current end date for his stay-at-home order.

Inslee outlined the state's approach to relaxing social distancing orders during a televised public address Tuesday afternoon.

Inciweb/National Wildfire Coordinating Group

Blaine Vandehey spends his summers rappelling from helicopters into active wildfires. 

This is his 12th year in the U.S. Forest Service. And he’s worried about going to fire camp this summer with the menace of COVID-19.

Megan Farmer / KUOW

Fresh numbers of initial claims for jobless benefits showed some moderation in the past week in the staggering wave of layoffs across the Pacific Northwest caused by the coronavirus pandemic. But the level of unemployment claims continues to hover at record levels, as reported Thursday by the state labor and employment departments of Oregon, Washington and Idaho.

South King Fire and Rescue

Protective surgical gowns are one of the most scarce and eagerly sought items in the current coronavirus pandemic. Responders-turned-MacGyvers in at least three separate places, including two in Washington state, have independently hit upon a do-it-yourself alternative using common construction house wrap.

Jaksmata / Wikimedia - tinyurl.com/nxtz7xz

Construction industry advocates are asking Washington Gov. Jay Inslee to allow more home building to continue under his “stay home, stay healthy” order meant to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Tom Banse / NW News Network

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.

U.S. Army

Washington Governor Jay Inslee has generally earned praise for his handling of the coronavirus pandemic. But a recent decision has prompted tough words from a fellow Democrat.

Mason County Auditor Paddy McGuire is preparing to hold a special election later this month for fire and school district levies.

Beginning 18 days before the election, Washington law requires that he offer in-person voter registration.

But because of COVID-19, McGuire said the county has closed his building and he doesn’t think in-person registration is a safe idea. So, he asked the governor’s office to use its emergency powers to waive the requirement for this election. The answer back, he said, was “no.”

Courtesy: Maria Claudio

As a psychiatric social worker at Washington’s Western State Hospital, Maria Claudio’s job is to care for some of the most complex mental health patients in the state.

But these days when she gets home, she has a second job waiting for her: making homemade masks for her colleagues who are on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic.

William Birchfield / US Air Force, 2019

When the coronavirus outlook got scary and hairy in mid-March, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee recruited an outsider to join his crisis management team. He convinced a retired vice admiral to temporarily move cross-country to serve as Washington state's COVID-19 hospital "czar." Dr. Raquel Bono says she is now cautiously optimistic the state's health care system can handle a surge of ill patients.

Pages