SEATTLE (AP) — A look at virus-related developments in Washington:
PEAK IN THREE WEEKS?
Dr. Kathy Lofy, state health officer with the Washington Department of Health, said on Tuesday that a University of Washington data model estimates that the state COVID-19 outbreak will peak around April 19. That’s when the state might see the highest number of cases, she said, adding that cases and deaths are continuing to rise although not exponentially. Testing has increased around the state which Lofy said explains why the number of confirmed cases per day jumped from some 200 to 250 earlier this month to 500 to 600 per day starting late last week. More importantly, Lofy said, the proportion of tests that are positive every day has also risen from 6% or 7% to 8% or 9%. “This suggests an increase of the virus in the state,” she said, emphasizing that people should continue to comply with the stay home order issued by Gov. Jay Inslee last week. She said while the majority of virus activity had been focused in King and Snohomish counties it is now being detected all over the state including 108 outbreaks of the virus at long-term care facilities.
Washington state is set to receive nearly $3 billion from the federal stimulus bill passed to help with the economic hit from the coronavirus outbreak, with at least $1.6 billion coming directly to the state, and the amount to be allocated to local governments to be determined by the U.S. Department of Treasury in the coming weeks, said Casey Katims, Gov. Jay Inslee’s director of federal and interstate affairs. State and local governments will be taking huge budget hits due to the shutdown of many businesses.
NO NEW NUMBERS
The state Department of Health said Tuesday it has had trouble posting daily updates about the number of confirmed cases of COVID19 and the number of deaths. The department said that the reporting program it’s using, the Washington Disease Reporting System (WDRS), has previously only been used to report on those who test positive. The current pandemic requires that the system also track negative test results and that the “volume is overwhelming the tool.” The health department reported that it is working with the vendor to increase capacity and is investigating additional solutions, which may include a separate reporting tool for negative results, accounting for roughly 93 percent of the current data, and the automatic removal of duplicated results. The last data reported on the Department of Health’s website was for the period up to 11:59 p.m. on March 28.
COMPLAINTS ABOUT BUSINESSES
A day after the release of a website where people can report violations of non-essential businesses operating in violation of the governor’s current stay-at-home order, the state has received more than 4,000 complaints through the online form, according to David Postman, Gov. Jay Inslee’s chief of staff. Postman said they will be wading through the complaints and following up with the businesses. The public has been told to not call 911 to report individuals or private groups who are not following the proclamation, but should instead contact local law enforcement.
AG WARNS PRICE GOUGERS
Washington’s attorney general is warning Amazon sellers who hike prices on virus-related products like hand sanitizer and face masks that he could sue them. Attorney General Bob Ferguson ’s office said Tuesday it sent letters to five Washington-based independent sellers who raised prices. “We will use all of the tools at our disposal to prevent price-gouging during this public health emergency,” Ferguson said in a statement. Ferguson said one seller based in Spokane raised the price of an 8-ounce bottle of hand sanitizer from just over $3.50 in January to an average price of more than $25 — a more than 600 percent increase. Some buyers may have paid as much as $40 for the product.