New Statewide Restrictions on Social Gatherings and Businesses as COVID-19 Cases Surge

On November 15, Governor Jay Inslee issued new statewide restrictions on social gatherings and businesses in response to the surge of COVID-19 across Washington state. Seattle was the initial epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic in America. Unlike the other Washington, every step of the way our local officials, residents, and businesses have understood how dangerous and deadly COVID-19 is to our communities. Following the advice of experts, scientists, and public health officials, our collective actions have led to lowest cases and hospitalizations in the nation of every major American city. We must continue to listen to doctors, healthcare workers, and public health officials who are warning about rising cases and hospitlizations.

While Seattle has one of the lowest rates of cases of any major city, we are not immune to the virus surging in the nation, state, and region. Seattle’s cases and hospitalizations are skyrocketing.

During the first two weeks of November, Seattle had 1,550 residents diagnosed with the virus, which is nearly 20% of our total cases since March 2020.

The Seattle case count per 100,000 residents is more than five times higher than what it was at the end of the summer, rising from 40.8 cases per 100,000 residents to over 232 cases per 100,000 residents. Cases severe enough to require hospitalizations are four times higher than at the end of the summer, increasing from 1.3 hospitalizations per 100,000 residents to 6.1. The number of residents from Seattle currently in the hospital with COVID-19 has increased quickly over the past week and is the highest since April 2020. The number of hospitalizations in King County last week increased by over 70 percent compared to the previous four weeks.

Members of the public can track the current level of COVID-19 in Seattle and King County on Public Health – Seattle & King County’s data dashboard. The dashboard is updated daily.

Governor Inslee and public health officials are rightfully raising alarm bells for surging cases and hospitalizations. Because of the latest hospitalizations and cases, Governor Inslee has imposed new statewide restrictions that will last until at least December 14, 2020. Please visit the state’s website for a full list of restrictions.

We know that people are hurting right now. This pandemic has led to worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, the City of Seattle has worked quickly to launch COVID-19 relief programs including rent relief, expanding shelter for people experiencing homelessness, grocery vouchers for working families, direct cash assistance for immigrants and refugees, and financial assistance to small businesses. Residents and businesses can find a list of existing COVID-19 relief resources and policies on this website. Seattle will work with the state on the new $50 million fund for small businesses and workers.

As we head into the holiday season, our instinct is to come together and celebrate with our loved ones. But the reality is that out of public health necessity, this year’s holiday celebrations will look and feel different. It will be difficult, but we are at a crucial point in the pandemic when our actions will shape our ability to return to normal life in the months to come. Everyone who lives and works in Seattle must mask up, avoid gatherings especially all indoor social gatherings, and follow all public health guidance. It’s up to all of us to slow the spread of COVID-19 and protect our friends, families, colleagues, and community.