Coronavirus in Washington state: A timeline of the outbreak through March 2020

A timeline of the coronavirus outbreak in Washington state, from the day the first U.S. case was confirmed in Snohomish County through the end of March 2020, is below.

On April 1, State Department of Health staff said there were 247 deaths from 5,984 cases through the end of March. Nationwide the U.S. death toll topped 5,000.

Follow this link for ongoing coronavirus coverage, get details from the State Department of Health here, and download the KIRO 7 News app for breaking alerts.

March 31

President Donald Trump said there could be between 100,000 and 240,000 deaths nationwide from the coronavirus. A quarantine site opened at Angel of the Winds Arena in Everett. Pierce County reported 26 new cases and no new deaths. Snohomish County reported 102 new cases, including two new deaths. The State Department of Health again did not have updated numbers and cited technical issues.

March 30

The Tokyo Olympics were rescheduled for July 23-August 8, 2021. Snohomish County updated their counts to 31 total deaths among 1,127 coronavirus cases. The Washington State Department of Health did not release an updated coronavirus case and death count. The State Attorney General warmed about scams related to the coronavirus.

March 29

Dr. Anthony Fauci said the U.S. could have millions of cases and more than 100,000 deaths from the coronavirus pandemic. King County issued a new order that threatened involuntary detention for those who refused to isolate after testing positive for the coronavirus. Public Health – Seattle and King County reported five new deaths and 82 new coronavirus cases. The Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department reported one new death and 36 new coronavirus cases. President Trump extended federal social distancing guidelines through April 30. Gov. Jay Inslee said Washington still needed more help from the federal government. Local animal shelters were closed. The Spokane Regional Health District reported two new deaths and seven new coronavirus cases in Spokane County. Michigan State Rep. Isaac Robinson, who represented a part of Detroit, died of a suspected coronavirus infection. The Washington State Department of Health increased their county to at least 195 deaths among 4,896 coronavirus cases.

March 28

Everett’s Angel of the Winds Arena was being converted to a coronavirus quarantine site. It was announced a King County Metro driver tested positive for the coronavirus. Gov. Jay Inslee and Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan talked about the deployment of a new field hospital at the CenturyLink Field Event Center. The Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department reported 55 new cases there. One resident and five staff members at a long-term care facility in Skagit County tested positive for the coronavirus. Public Health – Seattle and King County reported 11 new deaths and 249 new coronavirus cases. The State Department of Health increased its counts to 189 deaths from 4,300 cases. The United States reached 2,000 deaths nationwide. Three of the largest homeless shelters in the Seattle area were closed. Three Seattle-area shelters closed after resident tests positive for the coronavirus.

March 27

President Trump issued an order allowing the Pentagon to reactivate former troops for the coronavirus response. The Department of Health updated its statewide count to 175 deaths from 3,700 cases. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson tested positive for coronavirus. The Army scouted CenturyLink Field as a possible field hospital.

March 26

Gov. Jay Inslee signed a proclamation effective immediately to provide payment for doctor’s appointments handled over the phone the same way that a claim for an in-person appointment would be handled. That prevented telemedicine claims from being denied by insurance companies. (Senate Bill 5385, passed by the State Legislature this year, would do the same thing, but wouldn’t take affect until January 2021.) More than 133,000 people in Washington filed for unemployment benefits in the previous week, The Associated Press reported. It was announced a record 3.3 million Americans filed new unemployment claims nationwide. State Department of Health numbers rose to 147 deaths from 3,207 cases. Of those cases, 15 deaths were reported as new. Whatcom County and Pierce County each reported two new coronavirus deaths. King County reported nine new deaths and 218 new cases. The United States overtook all other counties for the number of confirmed coronavirus cases. New York had the highest number of cases in a state with 519 deaths from 44,635 reported cases.

March 25

The State Department of Health’s numbers increased to 132 deaths from 2,580 cases. All non-essential businesses closed. The DOH also said 34,292 people were tested in Washington, and the 2,580 positive tests are 7% of those. Washington State University postponed its spring commencement. Federal officials reached a deal on a $2 trillion aid package. Public Health – Seattle and King County reported six new deaths, bringing the county total to 100. Home test kits also were launched in King County. Pierce County reported a second death. Snohomish County reported 20 new cases, but no new deaths. Prince Charles tested positive for the coronavirus.

March 24

The State Department of Health reported a new total of 123 deaths from 2,469 cases. The Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department reports 12 new cases, no new deaths. The Snohomish Health District reported five new deaths among 95 new cases. Public Health – Seattle and King County reported seven new “estimated” deaths among 107 new “estimated” cases. It was announced that a TSA officer at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport tested positive for the coronavirus. A Northwest group raised $27 million in 72 hours for local businesses and people impacted by the coronavirus. The Summer Olympics in Tokyo were postponed.

March 23

Boeing announced a temporary suspension of production at its Puget Sound facilities. In their daily update, the State Department of Health reported 110 deaths among 2,221 cases. In a 5:30 p.m. statewide address, Gov. Jay Inslee directed Washington residents to stay home by executive order. Inslee’s executive order had exceptions for essential critical infrastructure workers, including first responders. Grocery stores, pharmacies, convenience stores, liquor stores that sell food, food banks and farmers’ markets were among businesses that could stay open. People also could go outside for exercise, but Inslee also said people should not make a run on the grocery store to overstock. Supplies to grocery stores would continue, he said. The Snohomish Health District reported one new death among 39 new cases. The Skagit County Public Health reported the first coronavirus death there. The Tacoma-Pierce County Health District reported 19 new cases, no new deaths.

March 22

President Trump approved the state’s disaster declaration. Washington campgrounds were closed through the end of April. The mayor of Edmonds issued a stay-at-home order that started at 11:59 p.m. Rand Paul was the first U.S. Senator to test positive for the coronavirus. The Navy ship Mercy was sent to California instead of Washington. Elton Washington, 58, is the first Boeing worker known to die from the coronavirus. Gov. Jay Inslee named retired Navy Vice Admiral Raquel C. Bono as the director for the state’s COVID-19 Health System Response Management.

March 21

Pierce County reported 12 new coronavirus cases. The Department of Health updated its statewide count to 94 deaths from 1,793 cases. Of those, 74 deaths were in King County deaths from 934 cases. King County converted Harborview Hall into a recovery center for up to 45 people. That became the fourth King County recovery center. Gov. Jay Inslee diverted masks being sold on shelves at local Target stores to Washington health care workers in need of safety equipment. Target apologized, saying the N95 masks were available for purchase in error. Local grocery stores started special hours for seniors. The State Department of Corrections announced plans to produce protective hospital gowns to help with the nationwide shortage. Seattle temporarily eased some parking restrictions. Everett’s mayor issued a directive instructing all residents to stay home starting Monday.

March 20

The Department of Health updated their statewide count to 81 deaths from 1,512 cases. King County announced 100 new cases and seven new deaths. Pierce County had eight new cases; Thurston County had two new cases; Snohomish County had 37 new cases and one new death Friday. Inslee sent a letter to President Trump requesting a federal major disaster declaration. The U.S. deadline to file taxes was pushed back to July 15. Non-essential travel was restricted between US and Mexico border. President Trump said people with student loans can suspend payments for 60 days without interest. A member of Vice President Mike Pence’s staff tested positive for the coronavirus, but other staff said the positive person did not come in contact with Pence or President Donald Trump. Gov. Jay Inslee did not issue a shelter-in-place order during his Friday afternoon news briefing, but said he could take legally binding action if people did not take proper steps for social distancing. Inslee said Washington state needed powerful volunteers and social pressure to make proper distancing decisions that would avoid additional measures. Inslee also said 1.6 million N95 masks – the kind used by health professionals to block spread of the coronavirus – would be arriving in Washington as early as March 22. Playgrounds and sport courts across King County were closed. Fields were open for non-team activities. The mayor of Everett issued a directive Friday instructing all residents to stay home, with exceptions for essential activities. The order, which takes effect at noon Monday, tells everyone to stay home except for necessary errands, walks and caring for friends and relatives. Essential businesses, such as grocery stores, pharmacies, child care and banks, can remain open. Nonessential business owners were directed to stay home.

March 19

The Department of Health reported at least 74 deaths from 1,376 coronavirus cases. The first death in Lewis County was announced. Pierce County announced 19 new coronavirus cases, but no new deaths Thursday. Snohomish County announced one more death, moving its total to seven. President Trump said the Food and Drug Administration was fast-tracking approval of antiviral treatments for coronavirus. A Shoreline soccer field was being converted to a site to treat future coronavirus patients. All clam digs in Pacific County were canceled indefinitely by the deputy health officer there. The Whatcom County Health Department reported the first death in that county, a man in his 60s. A Kitsap County sheriff’s corrections officers tested positive for the coronavirus. The Washington State Department of Commerce made $30 million in funding available to every county under a new grant in response to the coronavirus pandemic. The Washington Distillers Guild announced several small, family-owned distilleries have banded together, converting their operations to make thousands of gallons of hand sanitizer for nurses and doctors taking care of patients. King County Metro announced it will temporarily reduce transit services starting Monday in response to the coronavirus pandemic. The city of Sammamish announced it will begin closing all park playgrounds and the Sammamish Commons Skate Park until further notice. WorkForce Central announced it will temporarily close its doors until further notice. The Fairmont Olympic Hotel announced it will temporarily close starting Sunday in response to limit the spread of the coronavirus.

March 18

Johns Hopkins University confirmed coronavirus cases topped 200,000 worldwide. Seattle restaurants that initially tried to continue with take-out announced closures. Grocery stores limited the number of people allowed in at a time. President Trump said the U.S. would close the border with Canada for non-essential traffic. Canlis, which started a drive-thru option on March 16, had an overwhelming response of people wanting $14 burgers and the $12 Canlis salad. The U.S. Census Bureau suspended all field operations until April 1. President Trump announced he’d invoke the 1950 Defense Production Act to ensure medical professionals had essential supplies. The Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department reported the county’s first coronavirus death. The state Department of Health numbers increased to 66 deaths from 1,187 cases, not including the Pierce County death. Inslee announced a 30-day statewide moratorium on evictions. The Seattle International Film Festival was cancelled. The Washington Department of Social and Health Services confirmed a patient at Western State Hospital in Lakewood tested positive for COVID-19. The Thurston County Board of Commissioners announced county facilities will close from March 19 through April 3. The University of Washington announced Wednesday that it has extended its remote instruction through the spring quarter. Clallam County announced its first confirmed case of COVID-19. Some residents called for a shelter-in-place order.

March 17

The Department of Health’s updated numbers had at least 1,009 cases statewide with 54 deaths. Inslee signed multiple coronavirus relief bills. A University of Washington faculty member tested positive for the coronavirus, bringing the number of cases in the campus community to nine. A new coronavirus site was setup in Burien. Coronavirus cases were confirmed in all 50 states.

March 16

The total number of coronavirus cases in Washington state was 904 with at least 48 deaths, according to the Department of Health. A Seattle woman became the first person in the country to receive an experimental coronavirus vaccine through Kaiser Permanente. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau closed the border to non-citizens amid the pandemic. It was announced an Evergreen Health emergency room doctor tested positive, and that doc in his 40s was in critical but stable condition.

March 15

The death toll in the state reached 42, with 772 confirmed cases. Public Health - Seattle & King County reported 37 deaths and 420 confirmed cases in the county, with 29 of the deaths linked to Life Care Center of Kirkland. Gov. Inslee announced that all entertainment and recreational facilities, including gyms, will close, as well as bars and restaurants; however, restaurants will be allowed to do take out and delivery. King County health officials warned the blood supply could collapse due to the emergency. Starbucks announced it is temporarily closing some stores nationwide for at least two weeks and will shift others to a to-go model. A Pike Place community member tested positive for the coronavirus, as well as a Sounders FC support staffer. An EvergeenHealth physician was diagnosed with COVID-19. Seattle temporarily suspended farmers markets to reduce the coronavirus spread. Gov. Jay Inslee’s statewide school closure will take effect Monday. A second Washington State Department of Corrections employee tested positive for the coronavirus. UW Medicine announced it plans to expand its ability test for the coronavirus starting Monday. Royal Caribbean suspended services through April 10. QFC announced it is hiring and will hold a hiring event Monday in downtown Bellevue. Washington’s ban on crowds will not apply to the state’s ferry system. The Federal Reserve cut short-term interest rates to zero. Washington Rep. Derek Kilmer will push for more help for people affected by the economic fallout from the pandemic and has introduced the Coronavirus Worker Relief Act.

March 14

The Washington State Department of Health reported 40 deaths and 642 confirmed cases of coronavirus. Public Health - Seattle & King County reported 60 new cases, bringing the case count in the county to 388. Three new deaths were reported, bringing the county total to 35. Seven new COVID-19 cases were announced in Pierce County. Laboratory tests have been made more broadly available. King County health officials said anyone with a fever and cough should assume their illness could be COVID-19. Forty-Seven Life Care workers tested positive for the coronavirus. King County added more temporary housing for people exposed to the virus. UW reached its testing capacity with 2,360 people tested. The U.K. and Ireland were added to the travel ban for passengers flying from Europe to the U.S. Seattle Municipal Court confirmed a staff member tested positive for coronavirus. A Seattle City Attorney’s Office employee was diagnosed with the coronavirus, forcing the closure of the office for at least one week. Fire Station 21 in Kirkland is back in service after undergoing an eight-hour deep clean Friday. Spokane health officials announced three confirmed cases of COVID-19. Comcast offered free access to Wi-Fi hotspots in response to the coronavirus emergency. Summit at Snoqualmie closed ticket sales until further notice. Crystal Mountain and Steven Pass resorts announced they would temporarily shut down. Shoreline Community College said it would shift to remote operations Sunday. University of Washington Medicine postponed elective surgeries as it is faced with an unprecedented need to respond to the coronavirus pandemic. A Seattle Dragons XFL player tested positive for the coronavirus, the team confirmed. The Pac-12 Conference canceled all spring sports and championships amid coronavirus concerns.

March 13

Evergreen Health Hospital announced it is canceling elective surgeries per CDC guidelines. Critical and necessary surgeries will still take place. The hospital said the elective surgeries are being suspended to conserve resources, people and supplies. A coronavirus patient in Kent left the quarantine facility unauthorized. The person later tested negative. President Trump declared a national emergency. Inslee said all Washington schools would be closed until April 24, so the first day back would be April 27. The Washington death count went up to 37 from 570 cases. The Washington State Office of the Secretary of State announced it will suspend public access to critical in-person services until further notice but will remain fully operational. Dr. Jeff Duchin, public health officer in Seattle and King County, tweeted Friday evening that, “All hospitals need to urgently prepare for a surge in critically ill patients.” Officials with Seattle Children’s Hospital said it is limiting visitors to a maximum of two primary caregivers for each patient to help protect against possible exposure to the coronavirus. King County Metro ridership declines as the public heed the guidance of health officials. Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan prepares to sign an emergency order, ensuring renters are not evicted during the coronavirus emergency. A second University of Washington student in as many days has tested positive for the coronavirus. An employee at the Monroe Correctional Facility tested positive this week for COVID-19.

March 12

The statewide death count increased to 31 from 457 total cases. King County had 27 of those deaths from 270 cases. Gov. Jay Inslee said all schools in King, Pierce and Snohomish counties would close through April 24. Some Seattle hospitals banned visitors. The NHL suspended its season. Stock futures were halted for the second time this week. Princess Cruises halted sailing for 60 days. The Pac-12 men’s basketball tournament was canceled, and the NCAA championships also were canceled. President Trump said restricting domestic travel to Washington state is a possibility, though it’s not been discussed, The New York Times reported. The Washington Department of Corrections stopped visits and limited events in prisons. Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan said all library locations and community centers would be closed starting March 14 until at least April 13. Some casinos will stay open. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s wife, Sophie Trudeau, has tested positive for the new coronavirus. A University of Washington graduate student tested positive for the coronavirus, according to the UW Advisory Committee on Communicable Diseases. The Space Needle temporarily suspended its operations until March 31. King County Metro temporarily ceases its fare enforcement inspections in response to the coronavirus outbreak. Antioch University announced that all of its classes will move to remote learning. Boeing said it was going on a hiring freeze amid the coronavirus crisis. The Seattle Art Museum announced it would temporarily close its three sites effective Friday until March 31.

March 11

The World Health Organization declared the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic. Inslee banned gatherings of more than 250 people in King, Pierce and Snohomish counties, including weddings. The NCAA announced March Madness games would be played without fans. Seattle Public Schools announced a closure through the end of March. The Shoreline and Lake Washington school districts also closed through the end of March. Everett and Bellevue public schools announced a closure for the month starting March 13. Schools in the Archdiocese of Seattle announced closures from March 16 until the end of the month. The Monroe School District announced all schools would close for six weeks, starting Friday. The Sounders postponed their March 21 match, and the Mariners were working with Major League Baseball on how to handle games. The Woodland Park Zoo closed for the month. The death toll rose to 31 deaths from 374 confirmed cases statewide. That included 27 deaths from 235 cases in King County. Of those deaths, at least 23 were linked to Life Care Center in Kirkland. The Snohomish County toll increased to three deaths from 75 cases. The coronavirus was known to have spread to 13 Washington counties. State health officials also said 36 confirmed coronavirus cases were not yet assigned to a specific county. Luise Weatherill, 85, is the first person officially announced as a coronavirus victim by the King County medical examiner, though her death is not the first from the coronavirus in King County. Weatherill was first identified by her son, Mike, outside Life Care Center during the March 5 family briefing with reporters. Tom Hanks and his wife, Rita Wilson, announced they had the coronavirus. President Trump announced Wednesday a 30-day travel ban on all incoming travel from Europe, except for the U.K. The ban begins Friday and applies to foreign nationals who have been in 26 European countries with open border agreements and have been in the countries in the last 14 days. U.S. citizens are exempt and will be directed to airports where screening can take place. The NBA suspended games. On Wednesday, Sen. Maria Cantwell closed her D.C. office after a staff member tested positive for the coronavirus. The person has been in isolation since symptoms started. That person has not had any known contact with the senator or other members of Congress.

March 10

The new statewide coronavirus case number, as reported by health officials, reached at least 269. There were two new deaths reported in King County and 74 new cases there. The Snohomish Health District reported 17 new coronavirus cases, bringing its total to 54. It also announced a presumptive positive case at a Stanwood caregiving facility. There were reports that Inslee would ban gatherings of 250 people or more. Amazon announced a $5 million grant to help businesses impacted by the coronavirus. Trevor Bedford, a computational biologist at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, and collaborators at the University of Washington and the Institute for Disease Modeling were looking at the genome sequencing of 18 cases and the infection rate in the recent Seattle Flu Study. Based on that data, they believed there could be 1,100 active infections, Bedford told The Associated Press.

March 9

The statewide death toll increased to 22 deaths. Jefferson County confirmed its first coronavirus case, which was a man who visited Life Care Center in Kirkland and traveled back to Jefferson County. The State Department warned about cruise ship travel. The number of deaths linked to Life Care Center in Kirkland increased to 19. University of Washington Medicine explained plans to let some people be tested in their cars. Stocks plunged 7% on Wall Street, triggering a 15-minute trading halt. It was the Dow’s worst day since the 2008 recession.

March 8

A U.S. Department of Health and Human Services strike team started work at Life Care Center, the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in King County. Clark County confirmed its first case of the coronavirus after a man in his 70s tested positive for the virus. Inslee said Washington officials were considering mandatory social distancing measures to combat the coronavirus. The statewide totals increased to 123 people in eight Washington state counties. Grant County reported its first coronavirus death. King County announced two more coronavirus deaths.

March 7

For the first time since its start in 1972, the St. Patrick’s Day parade in Seattle and Irish Week events were canceled. The Washington coronavirus death total increased to 16, and there were at least 102 confirmed cases statewide. Starbucks closed a downtown Seattle store after learning an employee was diagnosed with the coronavirus.

March 6

Emerald City Comicon, which brings tens of thousands of visitors to Seattle and tens of millions of dollars to the local economy, was postponed. The University of Washington announced classes would no longer meet in person beginning the following Monday. That was the plan through the end of winter quarter. Seattle University, Seattle Pacific University and Bellevue College also announced classes would no longer meet in person. Pierce County health officials announced the first confirmed coronavirus case there. The SXSW festival was canceled in Austin, Texas. Other large events locally and nationally were canceled. Kent’s mayor announced a plan to file a restraining order to stop the county from turning the former EconoLodge into a quarantine shelter. A King County Superior Court judge sided with King County, and plans moved forward. Winter graduation at Western Washington University was canceled. The Ida Culver House, at 2315 N.E. 65th St. in Seattle, also reported a positive coronavirus case. That man, Kenneth Robert Hunt, 86, had underlying health issues and died March 9.

March 5

The death toll increased to 11. A CenturyLink Field employee who worked the Feb. 2 Seattle Dragons game tested positive for the coronavirus. The total case number increased to 70 statewide. That included 10 deaths from 51 cases in King County; 18 cases and one death in Snohomish County; and one death in Grant County. Snohomish County and Everett officials declared a state of emergency. Copays and deductibles for coronavirus testing were waived by emergency order in Washington state. Monroe School District schools closed. Vice President Mike Pence landed in Washington and met with Gov. Jay Inslee. Families of Life Care Center patients in Kirkland talked about the deaths of their parents from the coronavirus and said staff members were overwhelmed. One said the report that people were quarantined there was false. Amazon employees in Seattle and Bellevue whose jobs can be done remotely were advised to work from home. Microsoft, Nordstrom and Starbucks corporate offices and Boeing also gave the same advice to workers.

March 4

The coronavirus death toll in Washington state increased to 10. King County bought the EconoLodge in Kent to quarantine coronavirus patients. Kent’s mayor objected. Most employees at Fred Hutch Cancer Research Center in Seattle were told to stay home all month for nonessential work. King County Executive Dow Constantine recommended that pregnant people and people over 60 with underlying health conditions avoid crowds.

March 3

The Washington state death toll increased to nine. Life Care in Kirkland, at 10101 N.E. 120th St., was the epicenter of the outbreak. A new coronavirus case in North Carolina was linked to King County after the person visited Life Care. Seattle’s Homeland Security/immigration building closed after concerns an employee was exposed to the coronavirus. That case was later confirmed. Additional schools announced closures, including the Northshore School District, for up to 14 days. Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan declared a state of emergency.

March 2

The coronavirus-related death count increased to six in Washington state. Public Health – Seattle and King County reported 14 new coronavirus cases, including five deaths. A student petition to close the University of Washington drew thousands of signatures. The Puyallup School District closed two schools for deep cleaning, and two North Sound schools closed. The F5 tower in downtown Seattle announced a Monday closure because of coronavirus concerns. Two Kent schools announced Monday closures.

March 1

A local postal service employee tested positive for the coronavirus. A man in his 70s with ties to Life Care Center of Kirkland was the second person to die from the coronavirus in King County. More schools announced closures, including Hazen High in Renton. Local Costcos were packed with people stocking up on toilet paper and supplies, and some locations sold out.

Feb. 29

At 9:38 a.m., Public Health – Seattle and King County confirmed the first coronavirus-related death in Washington, which also was the first in the United States. Word of the death was initially emailed to staff at EvergreenHealth in Kirkland, where the first patient died. Dozens of residents reported symptoms at Life Care Center in Kirkland, roughly 20 miles from downtown Seattle, and the first death was linked there. Jackson High School announced a Monday closure after a student had a presumptive positive test. Two people treated for the coronavirus at Sacred Heart Medical Center in Spokane were released Jan. 21. Health officials said Feb. 29 that what we’re seeing is the tip of the iceberg.

Jan. 21

The first coronavirus case in the United States was confirmed in Washington state. The patient recently returned from Wuhan, China, where a pneumonia outbreak caused by the coronavirus started in December 2019. The person who returned to the United States did so Jan. 15. “While originally thought to be spreading from animal-to-person, there are growing indications that limited person-to-person spread is happening,” a news release from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said. “It’s unclear how easily this virus is spreading between people.”

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