SEATTLE (AP) — First responders and other essential workers lined up at the Tacoma Dome for drive-thru COVID-19 testing, the Department of Corrections said inmates will start making hospital gowns, and King County announced that it's converting another facility into a center for vulnerable patients Saturday as Washington continued its fight against the coronavirus.
Washington has reported at least 83 deaths from COVID-19, the most in the United States, and more than 1,500 confirmed cases. Those numbers are expected to continue to rise.
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee warned Friday that while he has not yet enacted more stringent social distancing requirements to fight the spread of coronavirus like those imposed by California, New York and other states, if people continue to ignore current requirements he "will go farther to protect 7 million Washingtonians.”
He reiterated that message Saturday during a telephone town hall with some 14,000 seniors from around the state, urging them to use the power of peer pressure to get people to stay home.
“We can influence our neighbors, we can influence our grandkids,” he told them. “We're all leaders here.”
Appointments filled up quickly for drive-through testing slots at the Tacoma Dome, where health officials said they would administer 240 tests per day from Saturday through Wednesday to vulnerable people, health care professionals, first responders and other essential workers, including grocery store employees.
The Department of Corrections announced Saturday that within the next few days, inmates in its Corrections Industries program at Coyote Ridge Corrections Center in Connell will begin making protective gowns in response to a nationwide shortage. Production will then expand to textiles shops at Airway Heights Corrections Center, Clallam Bay Corrections Center and Washington Corrections Center. Eventually 12 Corrections staff and 160 incarcerated workers are expected to make up to 6,000 gowns per day, the department said.
Everett Mayor Cassie Franklin issued a stay-home directive to the city's 110,000 residents Friday — believed to be the first such order issued in the state. Franklin said residents should only leave their houses for errands to maintain health and safety, such as picking up medicine, seeing a doctor or obtaining supplies, or for essential government or business functions. People who must leave their homes, or who do so for outdoor exercise, are asked to keep 6 feet away from others, she said.
King County, which has already set up several sites to treat patients unable to quarantine at home, said Saturday it was working with Harborview Medical Center to set up another such facility for vulnerable patients at a county-owned building across the street from the hospital. The building, Harborview Hall, currently houses an enhanced homeless shelter, but the Salvation Army has agreed to move the shelter for now to a nearby warehouse.
That will allow the county to open a 45-bed COVID-19 recovery center for vulnerable patients, freeing up more space within the hospital for those who need acute care, officials said in a news release.
For most people, the coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, or death. The vast majority of people recover.