2 More Deaths, 20 New Cases

PIERCE COUNTY, WA — Health officials for Pierce County reported two new deaths and 20 new cases of the coronavirus on Tuesday.

The health department has identified the two dead as a Puyallup man in his 80s and a Tacoma man in his 70s. Both reportedly had underlying health conditions that complicated treatment.

Pierce County has now seen a total of 1,821 lab-confirmed coronavirus cases and 70 total deaths. 21,344 Pierce residents have been tested for the virus, meaning 7.9 percent of tests come back positive. That’s slightly above the statewide average of 6.4 percent.

The two deaths in Pierce County are part of a relative jump in deaths Washington saw Tuesday. On the preceding Sunday and Monday the state reported just one death each day; on Tuesday 29 deaths were reported statewide, alongside 200 new illnesses. Across Washington a total of 1,031 people have died and 18,811 have gotten sick with the coronavirus since the outbreak began.

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Catch up on the latest developments:

10 more counties may enter Phase 2 early

On Monday, Asotin County became Washington’s tenth county cleared to enter Phase 2 of Gov. Inslee’s Safe Start plan early.

Tuesday, Gov. Inslee announced that 10 more counties are now eligible to apply for a “variance” to enter Phase 2 before the rest of the state. Originally, only counties with populations under 75,000 and who had not reported a single coronavirus case for three weeks could apply for the variance. Now, under Inslee’s revised guidelines, counties that have had fewer than 10 new cases per every 100,000 residents in the past two weeks are also eligible. Inslee says the metrics were adjusted to meet new recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The change frees up ten more counties to apply to enter Phase 2 early, including Spokane, Thurston, Clallam, Kitsap and Island Counties. Including the ten who have already applied and received the variance and two that could but did not, a total of 22 counties can now enter Phase 2 early. Inslee says that accounts for around 30 percent of the state’s population.

In Phase 2 of the governor’s Safe Start plan a number of businesses are allowed to return to work, including restaurants, salons and retail stores. However, those businesses will be required to follow new coronavirus-related safety guidelines.

Read more about Phase 2 and the counties that are eligible here.

Washington sees spike of poisonings related to coronavirus

The number of accidental poisonings has been spiking across Washington, and health experts say it’s likely because more people are keeping hazardous cleaning supplies around the house during the coronavirus pandemic.

According to a new dashboard from the Washington Poison Center, exposure to household cleaners like bleach and rubbing alcohol have jumped 53 percent compared to the same time last year. Similarly, exposures to hand sanitizer have gone up 52 percent in children 0 – 12 years old. Suspected suicide cases from all substances also went up 10 percent.

Poison control says that of all those people who were exposed to household products, 87 percent were able to be treated at home, keeping hospitals and emergency rooms free for coronavirus patients.

Anyone with questions about safe storage, potential hazards and poison-related emergencies can call Washington’s poison hotline at 1-800-222-1222. The line is staffed by nurses and pharmacists 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Read more about the spike in poisonings here.

State suing two gyms for remaining open

Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson says that two gyms that have stayed open despite the stay-at-home order have the opportunity to shut down without being fined, or face a lawsuit from the state.

Ferguson says his team has issued several warnings to Fitness 101 Team Puyallup, sometimes called Northwest Fitness Co., and to Power Alley Fitness in Arlington. The Attorney General’s Office claims that both gyms have remained open, endangering public health and engaging in unfair business practices since their competitors shut down following state guidelines. Ferguson says that’s a violation of the state Consumer Protection act.

Lawsuits have been filed in both the Pierce County and Snohomish County superior courts, but Ferguson’s office says that if the gyms both close down by Wednesday, their respective lawsuits will be dropped.

Northwest Fitness Company’s website says the gym is closed, but also advertises “protest hours” gym members can attend every day of the week except Sunday. Meanwhile, Power Alley Fitness reopened May 11, and claims that the government has overstepped their constitutional rights by ordering them to close.

Read more about the lawsuits here.

Ocean Shores hotels reopen for Memorial Day business

Ocean Shores hotels have been reopened in time for Memorial Day tourism, according to a new report from Q13 News’ Steve Kiggins.

According to the report, Ocean Shores Mayor Crystal Dingler has allowed hotels to reopen after ordering them closed in March. Grays Harbor has only had 15 confirmed cases of the virus since.

Some are celebrating the move as a necessary boost to the area’s struggling tourism industries, but other residents are concerned that tourists could bring the coronavirus with them.

“One of the biggest places people come from is King County. That’s kind of scary,” Pirate’s Cove Pup owner Jim Edwards told Q13.

Mayor Dingler says the move is necessary, saying the city has lost tax revenues upwards of $100,000 a month.

Read the full report on Q13s website here.

Inslee releases guidance for reopening pet groomers

The governor has been releasing a steady stream of new guidance for industries that are reopening under Phase 2 of his Safe Start plan. The latest to receive new rules and regulation: professional pet groomers.

Under the new regulations, pet groomers must limit the clientele inside at a time to less than 50 percent normal capacity. They also must be able to keep a six-foot social distance between all employees and clients. Pet owners are also being asked to screen themselves for coronavirus symptoms before taking their pet to a grooming, and should call ahead before they enter the salon with their animal.

Read more about the new pet grooming guidelines here.

Coronavirus cases by city:


Confirmed Cases


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This article originally appeared on the Puyallup Patch

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