But a few inches of the white stuff did little to keep crowds from once again clearing many store shelves as coronavirus closures continue
BATTLE GROUND — A late-Winter snowfall surprised a lot of people on Saturday morning. Several inches of the white stuff fell across Clark County, giving families a welcome break from worries over the coronavirus outbreak that has canceled school across the state until late April.
At McConnell Park in Battle Ground, Tarl Sanders, his wife Rebekah, and sons Wyatt and Lincoln made snowballs, and enjoyed a bit of cathartic roughhousing after a stressful week.
“I get up this morning and I’m like, ‘boys! You want to go play in the snow?’” Tarl says, “and they’re like, ‘what?’ I said, ‘yeah! There’s snow outside!’”
Both are teachers in the Battle Ground School District, and wondering what the next six weeks might hold. But, for this morning, it was fun to spend a couple hours not worrying about any of that.
“I hope everyone is willing to be a little lenient over this next couple of weeks,” Tarl said, adding he’s not yet sure what their income situation will be during the shutdown, as he’s a substitute teacher. The school district said they are still awaiting guidance from the state about whether classified staff will be paid during the closure.
For this morning, though, it was a bit of frozen precipitation that was helping to melt away the worries of thousands who had flocked to stores across the region, emptying shelves out of concern they might need to remain home as the virus closed schools, canceled events, and threatened to overrun hospitals with new patients.
Nearby, a couple walking their two dogs watched as they ran excitedly through the snow. Other children rolled the sticky stuff into grass-covered snowmen.
By mid-afternoon, most of it was gone as things warmed up. The forecast calls for temperatures in the 60s by next Tuesday, as Spring officially hits on Thursday.
The late snowfall didn’t seem to stop the hoards of people from descending, once again, upon area stores. Lines of shoppers were outside of most Winco stores, which are temporarily closing between midnight and 5 a.m. in order to restock shelves and sanitize.
At Costco, lines formed outside, well into the parking lot, before opening at both Vancouver locations. Shelves at Walmart and Winco stores across the region were largely barren, according to posts on social media.
Winco announced on Friday they are taking the unusual step of closing from midnight until 5 a.m. for the next week, in order to give employees time to stock shelves and properly sanitize surfaces.
By Saturday afternoon, most people were reporting shorter lines, but still a distinct lack of produce, pasta, rice, canned items, frozen foods, toilet paper, paper towels, cleaning products, and lots more.
As of Saturday, the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Washington state had risen to 572, including 37 deaths. There remain three confirmed cases in Clark County. Nationwide, there were just under 2,700 cases, 53 fatalities, and 12 people recovered.
That number is expected to grow next week, after the FDA approved new tests that take as little as a few hours. The president has promised half a million new test kits sent to labs across the country early next week, and is working with pharmacies like CVS, Walgreens, Target, and others to bring drive-through testing.
Worldwide, known cases rose to nearly 150,000, with 5,600 fatalities. China remains the hardest hit, but the number of active cases fell by more than 1,400 since Friday, with only 41 new cases reported.