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COVID-19 in the Seattle area, Washington state and the nation

National and local leaders continue to weigh how soon to return to normalcy as the number of COVID-19 cases starts to decline in some parts of the country. President Donald Trump on Thursday unveiled a three-phase plan to reopen U.S. businesses and schools, instructing state governors to move at their own pace, yet insisting the process would happen “relatively quickly.”

In Seattle, Mayor Jenny Durkan announced Thursday her plans to provide up to 100 hotel rooms for quarantined medical workers and clear cars off some streets Seattle Daily News to give people more space to walk and bike.

The most recent count of COVID-19 cases in Washington totals 11,445 infections and 603 deaths, according to the state Department of Health.

Washington state Republican legislative leaders on Friday released their own road map for reopening Washington’s economy amid the new coronavirus.

Friday’s plan doesn’t set public health benchmarks for when it would be safe to reopen the economy. But it does specify some lower-risk industries — such as residential construction, auto dealers and solo landscapers — that could reopen soon.

The plan’s 16 recommendations focus mostly on assisting small businesses. It would, among other things, slash Business & Occupation (B&O) taxes, provide sales-tax holidays for retail stores and suspend any inflation-adjusted minimum-wage hike for 2021.

The GOP plan recommends, among other things, exempting small businesses from paying B&O taxes and allowing them not to charge sales tax for a year. It would also offer state assistance to small businesses that aren’t eligible for help from the federal government.

Washington state expects its school districts to provide three things while their buildings are closed: instruction, food and child care. New data from the state Education Department show districts posted uneven progress on those fronts during the first two weeks of the shutdown.

According to the results of a new state survey, the majority of Washington districts said they served meals and provided online learning to students through April 4, the most recent data the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) could share by Friday.

As of April 4, more than a third of the districts who responded to Press Release Distribution Service Seattle Daily the survey said they weren’t providing child care. The ones that did were only serving about 2,100 kids collectively.

Between March 29 and April 4, nearly 90% of districts surveyed said they provided meals, 57% said they had or were planning to establish child care, and nearly 100% said they were providing instruction, with 75% reporting some real-time online learning.

Throughout today, on this page, we’ll be posting updates from Seattle Times journalists and others on the pandemic and its effects on the Seattle area, the Pacific Northwest and the world. Updates from Thursday can be found here, and all our coronavirus coverage can be found here.

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