EAST WENATCHEE — Cars lined up outside Evergreen Memorial Park on Thursday, family members of Anita M. Coon listening on cellphones from their vehicles as she was laid to rest.
Coon died April 24 from natural causes at the age of 98, said Jeremy Weber, Waterville Funeral Home director. Five generations of her family attended her funeral, but because of the COVID-19 restrictions only 10 people could attend her graveside service.
Family members held up cellular phones for the pastor, who oversaw interment, so the remaining members who were watching from their cars could hear his sermon.
“It is just really hard because this is the time when families want to be together and need to be together and can’t,” Weber said. “Especially when you have Mrs. Coon who is 98 years old and her family is five generations. What do you do?”
State restrictions say funeral services can only be attended by immediate family members of the deceased and they must maintain a distance of 6 feet, according to a letter from Gov. Jay Inslee’s office.
Weber said people are putting off memorial services for later dates because of the virus.
“They will make plans in the summertime to do something,” Weber said. “But that’s hard to do, because when you put something off for long enough then it isn’t as fresh on their minds as it would be during the week.”
Icicle River Middle School student Charlie Lyons was scanning actress Kristen Bell’s Instagram feed recently and saw that she was partnering with the Ving Project, an online effort inspiring teens to help others.
Ving is giving away $250,000 and asked teens to create a short nomination video describing a deserving person in their community. Nationwide, 250 awards will be granted.
“I remembered that a lot of restaurants are not doing well (because of the coronavirus situation),” Charlie told me. He said he immediately thought of Wenatchee restaurateur Cuc Tran, who started the Vietnamese restaurant that bears her name more than 40 years ago. She came to Wenatchee after the end of the Vietnam War and has been a fixture in downtown Wenatchee.
Charlie, an eighth-grader who has been active in musicals and theater in the valley, including parts in “The Full Monty” at the Numerica Performing Arts Center and the Sound of Music for Leavenworth Summer Theater, said Tran has been a long-time friend of his family and that she always makes it a point to attend his performances.
My grandma (Paula Lyons) takes me to restaurant,” said Charlie. Tran “is so genuine. No matter what you are doing, she is always the same sweet person,” he added. Charlie’s parents are Mat Lyons and Andrea Lyons.
Mat, a former elementary principal in the Eastmont School District, is the executive director of TREAD, a local trails organization, found out about it when he heard his son yelling at him from his bedroom recently. Charlie had just gotten word that his nomination had been accepted and that Cuc Tran would receive the $1,000 check.
Working with two of her children, sons Huy Nguyen and Hoang Nguyen, they arranged for an online presentation by way of a Zoom meeting on Thursday while they were preparing meals. Paula Lyons and her husband Dick were also on the video call.
Restaurants are indeed challenged in this time of social distancing and business closures. Cuc Tran and her sons continued to provide take-out service in the community.
These are challenging times and it’s heartening to see people looking out after their neighbors while our society is undergoing this wrenching situation with the economy shut down, children out of school and physical distancing to slow down the spread of the disease so that our medical facilities can better handle the most serious cases.
OLYMPIA — Gov. Jay Inslee, at a press conference Friday, said businesses around the state will start reopening, based on a four-phase plan. The first phase began this week, as some construction is now aloud along with outdoor activities like golf, hunting, fishing, and access to state parks.
Every subsequent phase will require social distancing going forward and appropriate health precautions, including the use of personal protective equipment, he said.
“We will be working with the industries to have protocols to them by mid-May that will allow retail curbside pickup operations, automobile sales, and car washes,” Inslee said. “These would be with restrictions. Also, drive-in spiritual service with one vehicle per household. More activities will start next week.”
Inslee said there would be at least three weeks between phases, each of which will further loosen the restrictions on businesses.
Phase two will allow social gatherings of no more than five people outside your household per week. All outdoor recreation involving fewer than five people outside your household is allowed for camping, beaches, etc. There can be limited non-essential travel within proximity of your home.
“There could be new construction and in-store retail purchases. Barbershops and salons could reopen. Restaurants will reopen with 50 percent capacity and table size no larger than five. Some professional services and offices could open as well, though telework would remain strongly encouraged,” Inslee said.
In-home/domestic services could return such nannies and housecleaning. Remaining manufacturing could restart. Real Estate could continue.
Inslee said individuals and businesses would still need to follow safety and health guidelines. The state will work with industries and business leaders to make sure to do this in a smart and healthy way, he said.
Phase three would allow gatherings of no more than 50 people, including sports activities and non-essential travel. Outdoor recreation could resume, up to 50 people, such as sports activities. Non-essential travel could resume.
“Restaurants would move up to 75 percent capacity and bars at 25 percent capacity,” Inslee said. “Gyms and movie theaters could reopen at 50 percent. Retail, libraries, and government buildings will reopen. Recreational facilities like pools could open at 50 percent capacity. Night Clubs and entertainment venues would need to wait for the next phase.”
This phase includes all other business activities not yet listed, except for night clubs and events with more than 50 people.
Phase four is going to involve resuming that majority of public interactions, sporting events, night clubs, and concerts.
Gatherings of more than 50 people will be allowed but still while practicing social distancing. All recreational activities could resume.
“I’ve said our return to normal will still not look like it did before the virus hit until we have pharmaceutical interventions like a vaccine,” he said. “No one knows when that will happen. That will mean bars and restaurants and entertainment can return to allowing their maximum licensed capacity. We could resume unrestricted staffing of worksite while still practicing physical distancing.”
Inslee said local officials can make the restrictions tighter if they so choose. To move to the next phase, Inslee said the state will rely on a number of metrics. The governor presented a chart with dials on five categories, ranging from low risk to high risk.
The first dial, COVID-19 Disease Activity, showed the dial at low risk, measured by COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths in WA, rates of COVID-19 spread throughout WA, modeling data from IDM, IHME and Youyang Gu, physical distancing adherence trends in the state.
“That is obviously the most important of the metrics that we will look at. Under that metric, we have numerous pieces of information. We look at dozens of data points to determine the status of the virus,” he said.
The Testing Capacity and Availability dial pointed to high risk. Inslee said this is critical to their efforts, as they shift from using social distancing to slow the virus to relying on testing capacity to find people that are affected by the virus. Then move to isolate them.
This is measured by the number of tests performed per day and testing capacity, including supply chain and speed.
“Central to that is our test capability. As you know, this has been way more limited than we would want. We’ve been limited to 4,000 tests per day. We want to do several times that to make sure everyone who needs a test can get one quickly,” Inslee said. “We hope that will ramp up shortly. That dial needs to move toward low risk to move into the next phase.”
The Case and Contact Capability dial pointed to high risk. Inslee said after a person is tested, the state needs to investigate their contacts to see if the people they have contacted need a test.
Those people who have tested positive have to be isolated so they don’t transmit the disease, he said.
This is measured by the number of investigators trained and working, availability of insolation and quarantine facilities in active jurisdictions, percent of cases investigated within 24 hours of receipt of positive test report, and percent of contacts reached within 48 hours of receipt of report.
“It’s going to take a small army to do all this work. It’s very labor-intensive. We now have 200 people a day we would have to trace all the people they’ve met. We have to get that army built up. We want to have 1,500 people built up by mid-May,” Inslee said.
The next issue is Risk to Vulnerable Populations. This dial was midway between high and low risk. Inslee said they need to be attentive to caring for those that are most vulnerable in long term care facilities.
This will be measured by the number of outbreaks in long term care facilities per week and demographic and equity data.
The last dial is Healthcare System Readiness. This is measured by hospital beds, ICU capacity, ventilator numbers, and state PPE procurement.
“We have to make sure our health care is ready for the job in the event we saw an increase in the disease. That includes the need to have PPE, not for just healthcare workers,” he said.
Inslee said he and health officials will be looking at these metrics and making a judgment on a regular basis to determine if the state can go to the next phase. The decision will be based on numbers, metrics, and scope of the virus, he said, with all dials in the safety zone.
Several counties have been impacted less by COVID-19, Inslee said, so the state is going to allow these counties the possibility of moving to the next phase sooner.
The 10 counties eligible have extremely low numbers of cases and their combined populations represent less than 3 percent of the state. The counties that could move sooner are Columbia, Garfield, Jefferson, Lincoln, Pend Oreille, Skamania, Wahkiakum, Kittitas, Ferry, and Grays Harbor.
“These counties, in partnership with their health department, can find ways to open up sectors that prove effective, then they can move earlier to the next phase. What we learn from those counties could help larger counties as well,” he said. “These counties will have a high bar to meet. In the next weeks, the Department of Health and my office will consider additional criteria that could allow other counties to apply for a variance.”
Inslee said his office and health officials are going to continue to look at the data and make adjustments accordingly. He said they will monitor and adapt, be agile, and aggressive against the virus.
“It’s gratifying that Washingtonians have been hugely committed to the stay home, stay healthy initiative. Because of that, we’ve had this early success. This remains a very precarious situation. We cannot be lulled into some sense of relief or thinking we are out of the woods,” Inslee said.