Seattle-area schools close as Washington coronavirus death count climbs to 31

Seattle-area schools close as Washington coronavirus death count climbs to 31

(The Center Square) – Seattle-area schools are closing for the next two weeks as the state of Washington on Wednesday announced five new deaths from the novel coronavirus and Gov. Jay Inslee issued an executive order banning events of more than 250 people in three counties.

The state's death toll now stands at 31 and the number of confirmed cases climbed to 375. Twenty-three of the deaths in Washington are connected to the Life Care Center facility in Kirkland.

“The decision to close the district was extremely difficult,” the Seattle school district said in a news release. “We know that closing our schools will impact our most vulnerable families and we recognize that working families depend on the consistency and predictability of supports and services our schools offer. We are working with partners and the city to determine how to best mitigate the impact closing schools will have on working families.”

Inslee's ban on large public gatherings in King, Snohomish and Pierce counties lasts through March but could be extended.

“This is an unprecedented public health situation and we can’t wait until we’re in the middle of it to slow it down,” Inslee said. “We’ve got to get ahead of the curve. One main defense is to reduce the interaction of people in our lives.”

Health officials in Seattle and King County also are urging businesses to allow employees to work remotely if possible. A number of colleges in the state already had announced virtual-only classes.

The World Health Organization declared the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, a pandemic on Wednesday.

The NCAA decided to ban fans from March Madness games that begin next week.

* This article was originally published here


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