SEATTLE, WA — Washington’s death toll from the new coronavirus grew by 10 to 634 on Sunday, but the state’s official case totals decreased as officials removed nearly 200 cases among out-of-state residents who had been incorrectly counted here.
The number of confirmed cases, which stood at 11,802 Saturday, is now 11,790. A message on the Department of Health website says that data cleaning on Saturday revealed 190 confirmed cases discovered to be out-of-state residents.
Notwithstanding the out-of-state residents, then, Sunday’s totals include 178 more cases than Saturday’s — the smallest increase since Wednesday.
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Washington recalls 12,000 COVID-19 test kits
About 12,000 COVID-19 test kits that had been sent to local health agencies across Washington are being recalled due to possible contamination, the state Department of Health announced Sunday.
The possible contamination did not affect test results, according to testing completed Sunday by UW Medicine, who first alerted state officials to the possible contamination on Friday.
According to the state, UW Medicine researchers noticed an unusual color in the viral transport media (VTM) — the fluid in which specimens like nasal swabs are kept during transport. Patients being tested do not come into contact with VTM, so there is no health risk, officials said.
The test kits had been sent to local health jurisdictions, tribal nations and other state agencies across Washington. They had been procured by UW Medicine and donated to the state Department of Health by Lingen Precision Medical Products, a Chinese company.
“Though the quality control issue has only been observed in a small number of tubes of viral transport media, we adhere to the highest quality standards for COVID-19 testing in Washington state,” state Secretary of Health John Wiesman said in a statement. “We are working with our partners to have them discard the product and will work to replace them as quickly as we can.”
The jurisdictions that received the recalled tests can contact the state to get a new shipment of swabs and VTM transport tubes, the state does not currently have enough to fully replace all the recalled kits. A large shipment expected later this week from another vendor should shore up the supply, according to the state.
Protesters in Olympia demand end to state’s stay-home order
More than 2,000 people gathered at the steps of the State Capitol in Olympia Sunday, deliberately violating the state’s stay-home order, as they asked officials to lift the orders that have now been in place for nearly a month, the Seattle Times reported.
The Olympia protest has drawn support from Republican state legislators, and President Donald Trump has backed similar protests in other states, despite repeated warnings from public health officials that such gatherings risk spreading the virus further.
On Friday, Gov. Jay Inslee strongly condemned tweets Trump signaling support for the protests, calling the President’s remarks “unhinged rantings” and warning that his behavior could undo the coordinated work accomplished by state and federal leaders.
“His words are likely to cause COVID-19 infections to spike in places where social distancing is working — and if infections are increasing in those places, that will further postpone the 14 days of decline that his own guidance says is necessary before modifying any interventions,” Inslee wrote. “I hope political leaders of all sorts will speak out firmly against the president’s calls for rebellion.”
In Washington, Republican legislators have proposed allowing some businesses to reopen, including car dealers, landscapers and residential construction, the Times reports.
Anglers protest Washington’s recreational fishing closure
Meanwhile, protesters in boats and on shore Saturday demanded that restrictions on recreational fishing and shellfish harvesting in Washington because of the coronavirus be lifted.
About 50 boats along with several hundred protesters on shore gathered on Saturday around Columbia Point Marina in Richland in southwestern Washington, the AP reports.
The state Department of Fish and Wildlife on March 25 temporarily closed recreational fishing and shellfish harvesting to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
But the protesters say the restrictions should be lifted because anglers can practice social distancing while fishing. They said kayakers, jet skis, wake boarders, pleasure boaters and others are on the water.
“The anglers of Washington state aren’t going to put up with (the ban) much longer,” organizer Ben Hanes said.
Confirmed COVID-19 cases by county (from the Washington Department of Health*)
Total confirmed cases: 11,790 (634 deaths)
King: 5,135 cases (346 deaths)
Snohomish: 2,101 cases (94 deaths)
Pierce: 1,109 cases (32 deaths)
Yakima: 771 cases (36 deaths)
Benton: 314 cases (34 deaths)
Spokane: 302 cases (15 deaths)
Whatcom: 275 cases (26 deaths)
Clark: 266 cases (15 deaths)
Skagit: 238 cases (8 deaths)
Franklin: 187 cases (4 deaths)
Island: 157 cases (8 deaths)
Grant: 141 cases (2 deaths)
Kitsap: 138 cases (1 death)
Thurston: 94 cases (1 death)
Chelan: 71 cases (4 deaths)
Adams: 41 cases
Douglas: 32 cases (1 death)
Cowlitz: 29 cases
Jefferson: 28 cases
Walla Walla: 28 cases
Mason: 22 cases
Lewis: 21 cases (2 deaths)
Klickitat: 16 cases (3 deaths)
San Juan: 15 cases
Clallam: 14 cases
Okanogan: 14 cases
Kittitas: 14 cases
Whitman: 13 cases
Asotin: 12 cases
Grays Harbor: 12 cases
Stevens: 8 cases (1 death)
Skamania: 3 cases
Lincoln: 2 cases
Pend Oreille: 2 cases
Wahkiakum: 2 cases
Columbia: 1 case
Ferry: 1 case
Pacific: 2 cases
159 cases remain unassigned to any individual counties. The state is still determining how to sort the hundreds of cases with no definite origin.
*Some numbers differ from the totals provided separately by county health agencies.