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Virus: Seattle closes more streets to ease social distancing

April 26, 2020 GMT
A person sleeps on the sidewalk near a closed AllSaints clothing store, Saturday, April 18, 2020, in downtown Seattle. Streets remained mostly empty due to Washington state's ongoing stay-at-home order and non-essential businesses continuing to be closed as a result of the outbreak of the coronavirus. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
A person sleeps on the sidewalk near a closed AllSaints clothing store, Saturday, April 18, 2020, in downtown Seattle. Streets remained mostly empty due to Washington state's ongoing stay-at-home order and non-essential businesses continuing to be closed as a result of the outbreak of the coronavirus. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

SEATTLE (AP) — Seattle will close six more miles of residential streets to vehicle traffic to create space for pedestrians and bicyclists during the coronavirus outbreak.

The closures began Friday in he Greenwood, Othello, Rainier Beach, Beacon Hill and Central District neighborhoods. That’s in addition to about 2.5 miles of street that were closed last week in the Central District and West Seattle.

The Seattle Times reports that ultimately, the city wants to close about 15 miles of streets across Seattle in the coming weeks to nonessential vehicle traffic to give more space for people to practice social distancing.

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Through traffic isn’t permitted but people who live along the streets can drive to and from their homes, and delivery workers can operate on the streets. The city will install signs to alert residents about the closures.

Seattle’s initiative follows efforts from other cities, including Denver and Philadelphia, to provide more space for pedestrians and bicyclists at a time when vehicle traffic in many areas has plummeted. Legislation proposed in New York City would close up to 75 miles of streets across all boroughs.

Nearly 13,000 people in Washington state have tested positive for the virus and at least 723 have died. The virus causes mild to moderate symptoms in most patients, and the vast majority recover. But it is highly contagious and can be spread by those who appear healthy and can cause severe illness and death in some patients, particularly the elderly and those with underlying health conditions.

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