Seattle officials have booked an entire downtown hotel for three months to house first responders and other essential city employees who’ve been exposed to the novel coronavirus and can’t isolate or quarantine at home.
The city is set to spend at least $2.8 million on the 155-room Executive Hotel Pacific as more firefighters, police officers and other crucial workers in Seattle and across Washington are contracting the COVID-19 illness caused by the virus.
Only six rooms at the Executive Hotel Pacific were occupied by first responders as of Tuesday, though officials expected that number to grow. Seattle has begun offering rooms to essential transportation and utilities employees and also may coordinate with other cities to house their first responders. Independent journalist Erica Barnett first reported the hotel contract.
The number of city of Spokane firefighters in quarantine continues to drop, but department leaders will remain vigilant and adhere to a requirement that employees wear masks around-the-clock.
Only five firefighters were in quarantine on Wednesday, a precipitous drop from 33 the department reported out of work on March 19, amounting to about 10% of the workforce.
Of the 16 firefighters tested for COVID-19, none have been positive, according to Deputy Fire Chief Jay Atwood.
The department saw an immediate reduction in the number of sidelined firefighters when it updated its quarantine policy in line with state Department of Health guidelines, which do not recommend quarantining a first responder who has only had contact with a person potentially infected with the disease.
The department now only necessitates a quarantine if the firefighter is symptomatic.
Collaboration started more than a month ago with fire chiefs sharing information in daily video conference calls with key staff, Snohomish County 911 and Dr. Eric Cooper, Medical Program Director for Snohomish County Emergency Medical Services. Now fire service agencies have taken the next step by establishing a Fire Coordination Center to provide unified tracking, planning and response to the outbreak.
Participating agencies are the Arlington Fire Department, Everett Fire Department, Marysville Fire District, Mukilteo Fire Department, North County Regional Fire Authority, Paine Field Airport Fire Department, Snohomish County Fire District 7, South County Fire and Tulalip Bay Snohomish County Fire District 15. Together, these departments serve about 680,000 residents, nearly 83% of the county’s population.
North Couty Outlook
Almost two weeks ago, the agency leading Washington state’s response to the coronavirus outbreak reassured Southwest Washington’s highest-ranking lawmaker.
Clark County, at the time home to nine positive cases of COVID-19 and three deaths, would move near the top of the list for resupplies of protective gear and testing kits.
“I would anticipate you would receive at least part of your order,” wrote Robert Ezelle, director of the Washington Military Department’s Emergency Management Division, in response to the question from U.S. Rep. Jamie Herrera Beutler, R-Washington.
That was March 21. Clark County by then had tested just 230 people. At the time, the county sought 6,500 test kits from the state.
Despite being placed as a priority on par with counties near Puget Sound — one of the earliest epicenters for COVID-19 — Clark County has received a fraction of the supplies it has requested.
Oregon Public Broadcasting
Pasco police officers responded to a couple suspicious fires in the early hours of Wednesday morning.
The first fire broke out around 2:41 a.m. in an alley at North 14th Avenue and West Clark Street by the Franklin PUD building.
Police said someone set fire to a pile of car parts and tires, damaging a fence, pole and some stucco on the side of the building. The Pasco Fire Department responded and put it out.
The second involved stolen 2005 Nissan Altima that was set on fire near East Lewis Street and Cedar Avenue.
When police called the owner, she said the car should have been parked in the 400 block of N. Douglas Ave. Firefighters responded and again put out the flames.
The case is being investigated as a vehicle theft and arson.
Doctors and nurses short of face masks has some local artists making use of their 3D printers.
It's a long process, but after the group met with hospital staff about what they need, they say they're planning to make hundreds for both Astria Health and Virginia Mason Memorial.
The Yakima Maker Space has been closed to the public for weeks now, but a small group of members are working to pump out hundreds of masks for hospitals in the area with their 3D printers.
"Our first responders are out there trying to save lives, and we're trying to do our part to make sure we keep them safe," says Nick Romero of Thrive Industries.
Romero says when he found out the place his mother works, Astria Health in Toppenish, was running low on hospital masks, they decided to get to work.
KIMA-TV CBS/CW+ 29 Yakima