Covid updates for Seattle: City's eviction moratorium to end in February
Updated news about the coronavirus pandemic in Seattle and Washington state.
According to data from King County and Washington state departments of health, as of Monday, February 14, 2022:
- 733 new cases since Friday in King County. That's a 25% decrease over the last seven days. An average of 1,211 new cases are emerging each day.
- 70 new hospitalizations since Friday in King County. That's a 7% decrease over the past seven days.
- 18% decrease in deaths over the past two weeks, with seven people dying every day in King County. The county reports 17 new deaths since Friday.
- 78.6% of King County residents are fully vaccinated.
- 11,316 Covid-19 related deaths across Washington state; 1% death rate since the beginning of the pandemic.
Local pandemic status check
As we start a new week, here is where the Covid-19 pandemic stands in Washington state:
- More than 11,000 people are contracting Covid each week in the state, on average; Washington was last at this rate in early January.
- 27% of hospital beds are occupied by Covid patients; That's lower than at our peak, but still a historically high rate.
- 66% of Washington state's total population is fully vaccinated; 78.5% of King County is fully vaccinated.
— Paige Browning, KUOW
Seattle's pandemic street permit for restaurants may be extended into 2023
The street permit program for Seattle restaurants and cafes is set to expire in May. But this week, the Seattle City Council is looking to extend it.
In pre-Covid times, a small business that wanted to use city streets or sidewalks for outdoor dining, had to pay for permits and occupation fees. It also had to pay for annual parking replacements if parking stalls were converted for café space.
But when the Covid-19 pandemic hit in 2020, the City Council waived those fees to help restaurants and cafes reeling from shutdowns and restrictions. Since then, more than 270 permits have been issued.
With the street permit program set to expire in May, the Council is looking to extend it to January 2023.
Communities around Seattle are also debating the streateries that have popped up during the pandemic, such as Edmonds were city officials recently implemented a $4,000 fee for a restaurant to open up sidewalk and street space. After some pushback, that was lowered to $2,000. But the debate there continues as some residents don't like the way they look and also want parking spaces back. On the other side of that debate are cafes, small businesses, and customers who have found value in the outdoor accommodations. Hear more about Edmonds here.
— Ruby de Luna, KUOW
Time to end the indoor mask mandate?
Washington Governor Jay Inslee says he'll set an expiration date for the state's indoor mask mandate by the end of this week. Early indications suggest that will be in March.
Epidemiologist Ali Mokdad with the University of Washington says the decision to wear a mask should be left up to individuals.
"Because the pandemic phase has ended, and we are moving into an endemic phase," Mokdad said. "And we need to look at what is happening in our own community and, based on that, put a mask on and go back to physical distancing. But what we're looking at right now is very encouraging."
— Katie Campbell, KUOW
Seattle's eviction moratorium will end February 28
Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell announced Friday that the city's eviction moratorium will not last past February.
The eviction moratorium was first implemented under Mayor Jenny Durkan in 2020. It was initially set to expire within a matter of months, but has consistently been extended as the pandemic continued to impose financial hardships. It allowed tenants to stay in their homes despite being late on rent while the pandemic disrupted work and steady paychecks.
The latest expiration date for the eviction moratorium was set for February 14. Mayor Harrell signed a new executive order that extends the moratorium through the end of February. But after that, he says, it will expire.
“With Covid cases steadily declining, the time has come for the City to move on from the broad approach of the eviction moratoria and instead drive more deliberate and focused efforts to support those most in need,” Harrell said in a statement. “In addition to distribution of all available emergency rental assistance, truly vulnerable tenants – those still suffering significant pandemic-related financial hardships – will continue to have enhanced eviction protections, while at the same time small landlords have needed clarity as they evaluate how to move forward.”
Harrell also said that the city will continue to help those in need. He has directed the the city's Office of Housing to distribute more than $25 million to support renters and small landlords. The funding will be provided through King County. The city is also developing a new website for renters and landlords to find financial help and information.
— Dyer Oxley, KUOW
Child dies of Covid in Pierce County
The Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department reports that the first child in the county has died of Covid.
A girl under the age of 10 from Lakewood, with multiple underlying health conditions, passed away on Jan. 30. It marks the first person under 18 who has died from Covid in the county.
“This sad news of this young girl’s death reminds us that we need to use all the best public health practices to protect each other from Covid-19,“ said Director of Health Dr. Anthony L-T Chen. “Covid-19 will continue to be with us for some time. Making healthy choices and getting vaccinated are the best ways to help our community recover."
While children are generally at less risk of severe disease from Covid, the virus can still affect them. Pierce County health officials note that, while kids 5 and older are eligible to get a vaccine, ages 5-11 are the least vaccinated group in the county, with 19% being fully vaccinated.
— Dyer Oxley, KUOW