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Coronavirus Live Updates: The latest COVID-19 developments in Seattle and the world of tech – GeekWire


The Seattle skyline. (GeekWire Photo / Kurt Schlosser)

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March 6, 6:48 p.m. — Pierce County has reported its first coronavirus case, a man in his 50s who is in stable condition at a Gig Harbor hospital. The Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department says the patient has underlying health conditions and experienced pneumonia. He hasn’t traveled outside the country. UW Medicine conducted the test, which is presumptive positive until confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

March 6, 6:10 p.m. — An employee at the Starbucks store at 1st Avenue and University Street in downtown Seattle has been diagnosed with COVID-19, and the store has been closed for cleaning. It’s the company’s first confirmed coronavirus case.

March 6, 4:29 p.m. — Seattle-King County Public Health reports seven new cases of COVID-19, raising the county’s total to 58. One previously reported case has resulted in a newly reported death, involving a male in his 60s who visited Kirkland’s Life Care Center. The death toll is now 11 for the county and 12 for Washington state. Nine of those deaths are associated with Life Care Center.

March 6, 4:08 p.m. — King County Parks says it’s postponing all of its sponsored public meetings and events through the end of March, but “all of our parks, trails and other facilities are open at this time.”

March 6, 4:06 p.m. — Seattle Pacific University is suspending in-person classes starting Monday, March 9 through the end of winter quarter

March 6, 3:55 p.m. — President Trump called Washington Gov. Jay Inslee a “snake” during a press conference at the CDC headquarters. Inslee had a cordial meeting with Vice President Mike Pence in Washington state Thursday. The governor said “I just wish the president and vice president could get on the same page.”

March 6, 3:50 p.m. — Seattle tech giants will continue paying hourly support staff during coronavirus recess

March 6, 3:40 p.m. — Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan said city employees should work from home if they can. She said the city may make it a mandatory rule.

March 6, 3:10 p.m. — eBay told employees at its Bellevue, Wash. office to work from home for the foreseeable future.

March 6, 3 p.m. — Twitter closed its Seattle office after an employee was advised by their doctor that they likely have COVID-19

March 6, 2:37 p.m. — Study says travel restrictions can delay, but can’t defeat a global coronavirus outbreak

March 6, 2 p.m. — SXSW has been canceled. The annual tech and music event in Austin, Texas drew more than 400,000 people in 2019. It’s the first cancelation in 33 years.

March 6, 1:40 p.m.— Seattle Academy, which serves nearly 1,000 students grades 6-through-12, will shut down until April 20 and conduct online classes.

March 6, 1 p.m. Washington State Department of Health issues updated numbers on coronavirus cases: Its total is 79 confirmed cases and 11 deaths as of 11 a.m., but those numbers may change later today when King County issues an update. The running tally is 58 cases and 10 deaths in King County, 19 cases and one death in Snohomish County, one case in Grant County and the first reported case in Jefferson County. State officials say 231 people are under public health supervision.

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March 6, 12:55 p.m. Billionaire alpha geek Elon Musk, the CEO of SpaceX and Tesla, has weighed in on the outbreak in a tweet: “The coronavirus panic is dumb.” Tesla’s share price has fallen more than 23 percent since its all-time high last month.

March 6, 12:35 p.m. — Expedia Group said it, too, will pay hourly workers in areas such as food service, transportation, janitorial and security their normal wages even if their hours are reduced. The company is encouraging its Seattle-based employees to work from home if possible.

March 6, 12:12 p.m. UW Medicine: We’ve processed 400 tests for coronavirus so far — and can handle 1,000 a day

March 6, 12:00 p.m. — Seattle University followed the University of Washington’s lead, announcing in-person classes will be suspended through the winter quarter.

March 6, 11:26 a.m. — Amazon will continue paying hourly employees at its Seattle and Bellevue campuses during its work-from-home guidance, affecting approximately 10,000 people. It will also subsidize one month of rent for small businesses that operate inside the company’s owned buildings. In addition, Amazon adjusted its guidance for Bay Area workers, asking them to work from home throughout March if they are able to.

March 6, 10:43 a.m. — Emerald City Comic Con finally postpones event, relenting to backlash amid coronavirus outbreak

March 6, 10:33 a.m. — Traffic impact: New data shows average speeds increase noticeably as many workers stay home

March 6, 8:15 a.m. — The University of Washington is suspending in-person classes starting Monday. UW classes will be conducted online for the rest of the quarter, which ends March 20.

March 6, 4:45 a.m. — Two Microsoft workers have contracted coronavirus, the company said. One is a remote LinkedIn worker, who hasn’t had any contact with other employees, and the other one works out of the company’s Redmond, Wash. HQ.

March 5, 10:11 p.m. — In response to recommendations from public health officials, Boeing has updated its guidance to Puget Sound employees to put more emphasis on working from home. “In coordination with their managers, employees who are able to perform work offsite should telecommute from home,” the company said.

March 5, 7:41 p.m. — Living Computers Museum + Labs in Seattle will close until further notice due to the novel coronavirus. “As a uniquely hands-on museum, this is a preventative action to ensure the safety of all our guests and employees,” it said. The museum was started by the late Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen.

March 5, 6 p.m. — Microsoft says it will continue to pay all vendor hourly service providers, whether or not their full services are needed. The company has 4,500 hourly employees in the Seattle region. Microsoft previously recommended that its Seattle-area employees work from home until March 25.

March 5, 2:36 p.m. Washington state takes steps to cut costs of coronavirus testing and treatment

March 5, 1:30 p.m. —  The GeekWire Awards have been postponed until May 19.

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March 5, 1:30 p.m. — Seattle tech company Moz is temporarily closing its offices in Seattle and Vancouver, B.C., and asking all staff to work from home until March 13. “For many years, we have actively cultivated distributed teams and remote work,” said Moz CEO Sarah Bird. “This decision felt like the right one for our company in support of our team and communities, while having no negative impact to our business operations.”

March 5, 10:50 a.m. GeekWire Health Tech Podcast: Coronavirus and the future of vaccines: Inside the quest to develop faster responses to epidemics

March 5, 9:05 a.m. — Salesforce is encouraging all Salesforce and Tableau employees in the Seattle area to work from home until the end of March.

March 5, 8:05 a.m. — The annual TED conference in Vancouver, B.C., will be postponed or go digital, Axios reports.

March 5, 8 a.m. — Google, which previously said it would allow employees to work from home Wednesday evening, is now asking all employees who can work remotely to do so.

March 4, 11:09 p.m. — New story: Amazon changes coronavirus plan, tells Seattle area employees to work from home until March 31

March 4, 10:11 p.m. — New story: Seattle-area school district closes due to COVID-19, will move 23K students to online learning

March 4, 7:25 p.m. — New story: Facebook contractor in Seattle tests positive for coronavirus, company closes office

March 4, 5:10 p.m. — Seattle-based coffee giant Starbucks is suspending the use of personal cups and tumblers at its storesIt is also boosting efforts to clean and sanitize all company-owned stores, and restricting business-related air travel through March 31.

March 4, 5:08 p.m. — Seattle startup RealSelf is pulling out of SXSW, the popular tech event in Austin, Texas. The company had planned to host its RealSelf House of Modern Beauty event. Apple also said it is withdrawing from SXSW.

March 4, 5:05 p.m. — Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center implemented a mandatory remote work policy through March 31, except for essential on-campus staff. Fred Hutch researchers are among those tracking the spread of the virus.

March 4, 4:56 p.m. — Microsoft recommends that its Seattle-area employees work from home until March 25. The company is following guidelines set by King County. Those that need to be on-site are instructed to do so, unless they are over 60, have underlying heart conditions, are immune system compromised, or pregnant. Microsoft is also asking workers to postpone travel to Puget Sound or Bay Area campuses, and to limit close interactions with other people in work environments.

March 4, 4:23 p.m. — Nordstrom said it is encouraging employees to work from home or telecommute if they can.

March 4, 4:20 p.m. — Boeing is focusing company travel on business-essential activities, rescheduling events, shifting from face-to-face meetings to virtual conferencing, and enabling telecommuting when possible. The company said it’s “encouraging employees to exercise caution and take all appropriate health and safety measures, in coordination with their managers.”

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March 4, 3:20 p.m. — Microsoft said it will withdraw from participating at the health-tech conference HIMSS 2020 in Orlando, Fla. Amazon, Intel, Salesforce, and others already pulled out. Microsoft withdrew from the Game Developers Conference last week and also cancelled its MVP Summit in the Seattle region.

March 4, 2:31 p.m. — Health officials advise people to work at home, postpone gatherings to slow spread of coronavirus. There were 10 new confirmed cases reported Wednesday in the Seattle region, including one additional death, bringing the total for King County to 31 confirmed cases and nine deaths.

March 4, 2020, 2:00 p.m. — The Amazon employee who tested positive for COVID-19 and went home sick on Feb. 25 had dinner at Facebook’s Seattle office the previous night. Facebook confirmed the employee visited its building, Arbor Blocks 333, on Feb. 24. Facebook said Wednesday that it “took immediate action and implemented targeted deep cleaning and enhanced sanitization measures at our cafes at our Arbor Blocks location.”

March 4, 2020, 1:45 p.m. — Federal lawmakers in the House passed an $8.3 billion bill to fight the outbreak on Wednesday. The Senate is expected to vote on the bill Thursday.

March 4, 2020, 1:16 p.m. — UW Medicine ramps up new coronavirus lab test; Gates Foundation pledges $5M for detection: The University of Washington School of Medicine is moving forward with a new clinical lab test for the COVID-19 coronavirus, and plans to be able to test up to 1,500 samples per day by the end of the week. Also today, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation announced that it’s committing an additional $5 million to help public health agencies in the Seattle area enhance their capacity to detect the virus. Read more.

March 4, 2020 at 10:11 a.m. — Google bars visitors in Seattle, allows employees to work remotely amid coronavirus outbreak: Employees at Google’s Washington state offices were given the option to work from home this week amid a coronavirus outbreak in the Seattle region. Read more.

March 3, 2020, 5:26 p.m. — Amazon employee in Seattle tests positive for coronavirus: An Amazon employee at the company’s Seattle headquarters has tested positive for the novel coronavirus spreading across the country, according to an internal email obtained by GeekWire. The employee went home sick on Tuesday, Feb. 25 and later tested positive for COVID-19. Amazon notified employees who came into close contact with the individual. The employee is based out of Amazon’s Brazil building at 400 9th Ave N, near downtown Seattle. Read more.

March 3, 2020, 7:20 a.m. — High school student near Seattle builds website to serve as a leading place for coronavirus information: Along with his concern for the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus, Avi Schiffmann was concerned about the spread of misinformation. So the 17-year-old from just outside Seattle set out to make a website that pulls together the latest and most accurate data about the epidemic — and he’s heard from people around the world about how useful his effort has been. Read more.





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