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Tribal casinos in WA closing due to coronavirus

April 6, 2020 GMT
Rows of patient beds are shown at a military field hospital, Sunday, April 5, 2020, at the CenturyLink Field Event Center in Seattle. Officials said the facility, which will be used for people with medical issues that are not related to the new coronavirus outbreak, has more than 200 beds and is ready now to receive patients. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Rows of patient beds are shown at a military field hospital, Sunday, April 5, 2020, at the CenturyLink Field Event Center in Seattle. Officials said the facility, which will be used for people with medical issues that are not related to the new coronavirus outbreak, has more than 200 beds and is ready now to receive patients. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

SEATTLE (AP) — A look at coronavirus-related developments in Washington:

SCHOOL CLOSURE EXTENDED

Schools in Washington state will remain physically closed for the remainder of the school year due to the coronavirus and the state’s more than 1.2 million public and private K-12 students will continue distance learning until their terms end in June.

Schools have been shut statewide since March 17, and were originally scheduled to reopen April 27. Schools have been shut statewide since March 17, and were originally scheduled to reopen April 27. Now, that closure is extended until midnight June 19 — when the spring term ends — and schools are encouraged to continue to provide distance learning. Gov. Jay Inslee’s order also asks schools to start planning for a potential expansion of the order into the summer and fall.

TRIBAL CASINOS CLOSING

Numerous Indian tribes around the state are temporarily closing their casinos because of the coronavirus outbreak. The Kalispel Tribe of Indians announced this week that it’s Northern Quest casino in the Spokane suburb of Airway Heights will be closed for two weeks. The Spokane Tribe also closed its casino in Airway Heights. Meanwhile, The Seattle Times is reporting that the Suquamish, Puyallup, Tulalip, Muckleshoot, Lummi, Cowlitz and Jamestown S’Klallam tribes are temporarily shutting down their casinos.

The Yakama Nation is also closing its casino in Toppenish.

As sovereign nations, the tribes are not bound by the orders of Gov. Jay Inslee, who has shut down schools, bars and restaurants in the state and limited the size of public gatherings. Closing the tribal casinos is significant because they fund many tribal government operations, and have thousands of employees.

CORRECTIONAL FACILITIES

Authorities say an incarcerated man at Monroe Correctional Complex-Minimum Security prison tested positive for COVID-19, making his the first confirmed case contracted within the state’s correctional facilities.

The Seattle Times reports that the Department of Corrections said Monday the sick man at Monroe had symptoms and was taken on Sunday to a community hospital center for examination.

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The housing unit where the individual was previously housed was placed on quarantine and health care staff will be evaluating the approximately 119 other inmates for symptoms. There are a total of 420 individuals in the minimum security prison.

MONEY FOR FOOD WORKERS

A new fund in Seattle is aimed at helping restaurant and food-service workers who have lost jobs and income due to the pandemic. The Schultz Family Foundation, launched by Starbucks founder Howard Schultz, announced the effort in partnership with the Seattle Foundation and other organizations Monday. It’s called The Plate Fund and it’s starting with $4 million, with additional contributions welcome.

It will provide one-time payments of $500 to restaurant workers in King County, hardest hit by the COVID-19 crisis, to help them immediately pay for essentials such as rent, food and medicine. It’s also intended to support workers who don’t qualify for unemployment or federal stimulus support because of their immigration status or other issues. To qualify, workers need to confirm that they’ve lost hours or been laid off and demonstrate that they make less than $62,000 a year.

LAPTOPS FOR STUDENTS Seattle Public Schools and Amazon say the company is donating 8,200 laptops to families of elementary-school students who don’t have access to a device needed for remote learning while schools are closed due to the coronavirus. Amazon will work with Seattle Public Schools (SPS) to ship the laptops directly to students, who will keep them.