While the restrictions have apparently helped slow the virus, they have devastated businesses, in particular restaurants and hotels. The Space Needle is closed. Pike Place Market’s breezeways are largely barren. As in other parts of the country, unemployment claims have soared.
Ubah Dahraan, who drives for Uber and Lyft in Seattle, said she began seeing business decline in the first week of March, well before the major mandates imposed by state and local leaders, as city residents started to stay home voluntarily.
A single mother with three teenagers living in her apartment, Ms. Dahraan said the family doesn’t go outside now, focusing instead on prayer, cooking, reading, and keeping in touch with friends by phone. Originally from Somalia, Ms. Dahraan said she hears every day from relatives who are worried about her, including those whom Ms. Dahraan has supported financially in the past.
“One said, ‘I wish I could help send you money to pay bills. This time it’s your turn,’” Ms. Dahraan said.
Dr. Jeff Duchin, who is Health Officer for the regional health agency, Public Health Seattle and King County, said that while the region is seeing positive effects of social distancing measures, there are still significant numbers of new cases developing. He said the area not only needs to continue the current measures, it should also watch to see whether additional containment efforts are needed.
“The threat of a rebound that could overwhelm the health care system remains, and will remain for the foreseeable future, if we let up too soon,” Dr. Duchin said.
Many of the Seattle area’s cases surfaced in the suburb of Kirkland, at EvergreenHealth Medical Center, which has handled some 246 confirmed cases and 47 deaths.