Editor’s note: This is a live account of updates from Tuesday, April 21, as the events unfolded. Click here to see updates from Wednesday, April 22. And click here to find the latest extended coverage of the outbreak of the coronavirus known as SARS-CoV-2; the illness it causes, COVID-19; and its effects on the Seattle area, the Pacific Northwest and the world.

While deciding when to reopen state economies remains a hot topic, and some countries take steps in that direction, the World Health Organization’s chief is warning that “the worst is yet ahead of us.” President Donald Trump, who has encouraged mass protests against states’ stay-home orders, cited concerns about the coronavirus when he tweeted Monday about a plan to temporarily halt immigration to the United States.

Meanwhile, local community leaders are trying to come up with ways to protect the most vulnerable communities. A new food bank opened Monday in Seattle’s Sodo neighborhood, and King County officials are hoping to slow the virus’ spread in homeless shelters, where cases have skyrocketed.

Throughout Tuesday, 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 Monday can be found here, and all our coronavirus coverage can be found here.

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Live updates:

Protesters pushing to reopen economy are ‘idiots,’ says top manufacturing lobbyist

One of Jay Timmons’ Facebook friends invited him last week to attend a “Reopen Virginia” rally in Richmond, a protest against the stay-at-home order issued amid the coronavirus by the state’s Democratic governor.

Timmons unfriended the sender, then published a searing retort, criticizing the protesters and accusing them of putting manufacturing workers’ lives at risk by defying rules meant to limit the spread of the virus.

Timmons’ post began with a single word in all capital letters: “IDIOTS.”

A chief of staff to a Republican former governor of Virginia, Timmons now heads the National Association of Manufacturers, one of America’s largest business lobbying groups. His frustrations, which he detailed this week online and in a 30-minute interview, show the stark divide between the small-but-loud groups of protesters who are marching on state capitols to demand an immediate lifting of restrictions on economic activity and business leaders who have called for more gradual and careful steps toward reopening.

—The New York Times
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Metro will use advertising, announcements to urge riders to wear masks

King County Metro will use advertising, on-board announcements, signs and rider alerts to urge bus riders to wear masks, the agency said Tuesday night. Metro asks riders to wear face coverings on board buses and while waiting at stops.

The move stops short of a demand from the union representing 4,000 Metro workers that security guards be present to tell riders, "No mask, no ride."

A Metro driver, 59-year-old Samina Hameed, died Thursday due to complications from COVID-19. Hameed, the first Metro driver known to have died from the illness caused by the novel coronavirus, was remembered by coworkers as upbeat and warm. Metro drivers have asked for more protection as they work through the pandemic.

Metro previously said it would distribute two cloth masks to each of its frontline employees, and the agency has suspended fare collection and instructed riders to board through the back doors to reduce contact with drivers. Due to decreased ridership and staffing issues, Metro has significantly cut service.

The agency two weeks ago began encouraging riders to wear masks and to reserve transit for people taking essential trips.

"Masks or face coverings help protect the wearer, other passengers and Metro employees," Metro said Tuesday.

Metro has declined to release a count of how many employees have tested positive for COVID-19.

—Heidi Groover

Seattle Times Co. gets nearly $10 million in federal coronavirus-aid funds

The Seattle Times Co. has received a $9.9 million federal coronavirus-aid loan that will give the newspaper temporary relief in the face of a sharp drop in advertising revenue due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This is a lifeline for us for the next 60 days,” said company president and chief financial officer Alan Fisco, who acknowledged the Seattle Times had otherwise faced the prospect of layoffs and cutbacks in hours. “This gives us a little bit of breathing room.”

The loan, offered under the $349 billion Payroll Protection Program (PPP), allowed small businesses to borrow as much as two and a half months of payroll, up to $10 million.

Still, Fisco acknowledged that the loan is only a short-term fix.

Read the full story here.

—Paul Roberts

Email addresses and passwords allegedly from NIH, WHO and Gates Foundation, are dumped online

Anonymous activists have posted nearly 25,000 email addresses and passwords allegedly belonging to the National Institutes of Health, the World Health Organization, the Gates Foundation and other groups working to combat the coronavirus pandemic, according to SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors online extremism and terrorist groups.

While SITE was unable to verify whether the email addresses and passwords were authentic, the group said the information was released on Sunday and Monday and almost immediately used to foment attempts at hacking and harassment by far-right extremists. An Australian cybersecurity expert, Robert Potter, said he was able to verify that the WHO email addresses and passwords were real.

The report by SITE said the largest group of alleged emails and passwords was from the NIH, with 9,938 found on lists posted online. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had the second-highest number, with 6,857. The World Bank had 5,120. The list of WHO addresses and passwords totaled 2,732.

Smaller numbers of entries were listed for the Gates Foundation, a private philanthropic group whose co-founder, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, last week announced $150 million in new funding to combat the pandemic.

—The Washington Post
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Issaquah plans layoffs, furloughs and salary cuts to address budget shortfall

Issaquah will lay off some city government employees, implement a 10-day furlough for staff in nonunion jobs and reduce the salaries of senior leadership by 7% as part of budget cuts to address a $10 million general-fund gap that officials in the Eastside city attribute to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Issaquah City Council approved the salary cuts and furloughs Monday as the first phase of the city’s efforts to address the shortfall. The city estimates reduced revenues for 2020 because of decreases in sales tax revenue, business and occupation taxes and utility taxes that have occurred since the start of the U.S. coronavirus outbreak.

The first phase of reductions totals about $5 million. More than half the total comes from eliminating 22 positions through layoffs and retirements, and freezing 15 vacant positions, according to the city.

City employees not represented by a union will be required to take 10 furloughed days from May 1 through the end of 2020. The city administrator, deputy city administrator and department directors won’t be furloughed but will have their salaries reduced by 7% for the rest of the year.

The City Council voted 7-0 to pass the proposal. During the meeting, held through video chat, councilmembers noted the somber mood.

“I never thought a unanimous vote in the affirmative would feel so absolutely painful,” said Mayor Mary Lou Pauly.

—Paige Cornwell

Poison center calls spike during coronavirus pandemic as more people are exposed to cleaning and disinfecting agents

Washingtonians are more frequently reporting concerning exposures to household cleaning products such as bleach, ammonia and antiseptics, according to the Washington Poison Center.

The poison center has received 23% more of these calls, year-to-date, compared with the same time period last year.

The center is urging people to be cautious handling — and mixing — cleaning supplies and to read labels and follow directions. Many of the accidental, and potentially dangerous, recent exposures reported have been from ordinary household cleaning supplies or the combination of them, according to a statement released Tuesday by the center.

The trend holds nationally as well. Researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) say they suspect, but cannot prove, the spike in accidental poisonings from cleaners and disinfectants is related to the coronavirus pandemic.

Read the full story here.

—Christine Clarridge

Washington’s statewide food fund says it needs more monetary donations to help meet demand

As the state’s unemployment claims rose to nearly 600,000 last week, Washington’s statewide food fund says it needs an additional $11.2 million in donations to meet increased demand at food banks for the month of April, based on calculations by the Washington State Department of Agriculture  (WSDA).

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee announced the new state initiative, called WA Food Fund, on April 7. Over the last two weeks, it has raised more than $1.8 million, which goes directly to three organizations that supply food to every food bank in Washington: Second Harvest, Food Lifeline and Northwest Harvest.

“We’re anecdotally hearing that there’s at least a 50 to 100% increase in clients seeking services [at food banks],” Katie Rains, policy advisor at WSDA told The Seattle Times on April 9. “Many communities are reporting double the number of folks.”

Food banks run on donations and volunteer support, said Rains. Due to the crisis, food banks are having to buy more food for more people, including many who are relying on food banks for the first time.

“It’s a complicated landscape,” Jason Clark, president and CEO of Second Harvest, told the Seattle Times in early April. “We’re all scrambling … just trying to adapt to a constantly moving target.

The remaining $11.2 million is an estimate based on what the WSDA is hearing from food banks and the three main organizations working to supply food banks, said Chris McGann, representative of WSDA.

—Anna Patrick
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Inslee’s plan for Washington’s economic recovery from coronavirus outbreak includes massive testing, resources for mental health

OLYMPIA – Gov. Jay Inslee Tuesday evening announced a road map for reopening Washington’s economy once cases of the new coronavirus have fallen enough that the state is prepared to manage future outbreaks.

Inslee’s three-part plan includes massive statewide testing, teams of workers performing contact tracing, resources for mental health and homelessness and a phased-in reopening of certain businesses, while practicing social distancing.

In a 5 p.m. televised public address, Inslee laid out the plan to make sure the state could quickly tamp down new outbreaks of COVID-19, the illness caused by the virus, reopen the economy in phases and help workers and businesses recover from the economic downturn.

Read the full story here.

—Joseph O'Sullivan

197 new cases, 30 new deaths: Today's Washington State updated coronavirus figures

Figures released at 4 this afternoon by the Washington State Department of Health show 12,282 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 682 deaths. That's 197 new cases and 30 new deaths over yesterday.

The percent of deaths to confirmed cases is 5.6%.

Details can be seen here at the state's coronavirus website.

—Erik Lacitis

All-day happy hour? Americans drinking while working at home in pandemic, surveys say

Millions of Americans are drinking on the job as they work from home during the COVID-19 outbreak, according to multiple worker surveys.

Beer is their drink of choice over cocktails, according to Alcohol.org, but that’s probably little consolation to corporate bigwigs.

One survey, released Monday, found 42% of nearly 13,000 workers were drinking on the clock at home, according to Fishbowl, a social network “for verified employees.”

“Advertising and marketing agency employees had the highest percentage of employees answering with ‘Yes’, with 49.14%,” Fishbowl reported.

More than half of those surveyed said they feared layoffs due to the pandemic and 60% said COVID-19 “had caused clients to pause or cancel work,” the survey said.

Read the full article here.

—The Charlotte Observer (TNS)
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Watch Trump deny saying things about the coronavirus that he definitely said

Two weeks ago, President Donald Trump made news as he opened his daily coronavirus briefing: “We’re going to put a hold on money spent to the [World Health Organization],” Trump said. “We’re going to put a very powerful hold on it.”

But asked 17 minutes later whether the best time to freeze aid to the organization was during a global health pandemic, Trump falsely claimed he had not said what he clearly just said.

“I mean, I’m not saying I’m going to do it, but we’re going to look at it,” Trump said.

(One week later, Trump said he would in fact freeze aid to the WHO.)

The WHO denial was one of a half-dozen claims Trump has made amid the coronavirus outbreak that he later falsely claimed he had not said, some of which occurred only minutes apart.

Read the full article and see the video here.

—The Washington Post

Senate approves $483B virus aid deal, sends it to House

A $483 billion coronavirus aid package flew through the Senate on Tuesday after Congress and the White House reached a deal to replenish a small-business payroll fund and provided new money for hospitals and testing.

Passage was swift and unanimous, despite opposition from conservative Republicans. President Donald Trump tweeted his support, pledging to sign it into law. It now goes to the House, with votes set for Thursday.

“I urge the House to pass the bill,” Trump said at the White House.

After nearly two weeks of negotiations and deadlock, Congress and the White House reached agreement Tuesday on the nearly $500 billion package — the fourth as Washington strains to respond to the health and economic crisis.

Read the whole story.

—The Associated Press

Virus misinformation flourishes in online protest groups

Hundreds, sometimes thousands, of posts fly in the new Facebook groups daily.

The coronavirus numbers are fake, some of the social media videos claim. “Social distancing is the new way to control you, your family and your behavior,” another commenter warns. Others say the pandemic is an overblown hoax.

The loose network of Facebook groups spurring protests of stay-at-home orders across the country have fast become a hotbed of misinformation, conspiracy theories and skepticism around the coronavirus pandemic. Launched in recent weeks by pro-gun advocacy groups and conservative activists, the pages are repositories of Americans’ suspicion and anxiety — often fueled by notions floated by television personalities or President Donald Trump himself and amplified by social media accounts.

There’s little basis in reality for many of the claims on the sites. The coronavirus has infected millions of people worldwide, and the U.S. has recorded more deaths — 43,000 — than anywhere else in the world, according to a Johns Hopkins University count. Stay-at-home orders have been used by governments across the world — and the political spectrum — to try to contain the spread, as recommended by the world’s top health officials.

Read the whole story.

—The Associated Press
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Public health officials searching for two former jail inmates who have tested positive for COVID-19

Two former inmates who were booked into the King County Jail in Seattle and then transferred to the Maleng Regional Justice Center (RJC) in Kent have tested positive for COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus, according to the Department of Adult and Juvenile Detention.

The inmates, who were both released after being booked on investigation of driving under the influence, are the first people with confirmed infections to have been inside a county correctional facility, said a news release issued by the department Tuesday. The Medical and Health Area Command, operated by Public Health — Seattle & King County,  is trying to locate both former inmates and provide them with services, the release said.

Both former inmates were transferred to the RJC and placed in "droplet protection" per recommendations by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to prevent the spread of infectious disease.

The first inmate was booked around 1 a.m. Friday and released around 3 a.m. Saturday; the second was booked around 3 a.m. Saturday and released around 7 p.m. Monday, according to the release.

Read the whole story.

—Sara Jean Green

White House: Oregon among bottom 4 states in virus testing

The White House told governors their leadership is critical in testing for the coronavirus, providing a map showing that Oregon is among four states with the lowest testing capacity in the United States.

Oregon, Montana, Oklahoma and Maine are able to test fewer than 30 in 1,000 people a month, according to an email sent Monday by the White House coronavirus task force.

The states with the highest monthly testing capacity — more than 90 in 1,000 people — are Wyoming, Utah and Vermont, the email said.

Rapid and efficient testing is needed to identify where the virus is emerging and allow authorities to track people who may have been exposed, according to the email, which Gov. Kate Brown’s office released after a public records request by The Oregonian/OregonLive. It also gives states a tool as they decide when and how to start lifting stay-at-home orders.

Read the whole story.

—The Associated Press

Netflix adds 16 million subscribers

Netflix picked up nearly 16 million global subscribers during the first three months of the year, helping cement its status as one of the world’s most essential services in times of isolation or crisis.

The quarter spanned the beginning of stay-at-home orders in the U.S. and around the world, a result of the coronavirus pandemic. People appeared to latch on to its vast video library as a source of entertainment and comfort at a time when most had nowhere to be but home.

Netflix more than doubled the quarterly growth it predicted in January, well before the COVID-19 outbreak began to shut down many major economies. It was the biggest three-month gain in the 13-year history of Netflix’s streaming service.

Read the whole story.

—The Associated Press
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$100 million fund created for dead health workers’ families

New York Life Insurance Co. and Cigna Corp. said Tuesday they are setting up a $100 million fund to support the families of health care workers who have died treating COVID-19 patients.

The philanthropic arms of the two insurers will contribute $25 million each to the Brave of Heart Fund, which will support the survivors of fallen health care workers around the country, the companies said. The New York Life Foundation will additionally match contributions from individuals to the fund up to another $25 million.

Cigna will offer counseling to the families by phone and online.

“The heroes today are not only the courageous and selfless frontline healthcare workers and volunteers who, without hesitation and without question, have put themselves in harm’s way to help those who desperately need it, but also their families who are living with the anxiety and fear of what may happen to their loved ones in the days ahead,” Ted Mathas, chairman and CEO of New York Life Insurance Company, said in a statement.

Cigna President and CEO David M. Cordani said, “We are proud to partner with New York Life to support the families of these American heroes who give so much while treating others.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said last week that based on limited data, about 9,000 U.S. health care workers had positive coronavirus tests as of April 9 and 27 had died. The true number of fallen health care workers is likely much higher.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press

Study: No benefit to patients when touted malaria drug used for new coronavirus

A malaria drug being analyzed as a treatment for the new coronavirus showed no benefit in a nationwide study.

The experiment involving 368 patients found that more people died after treatment with hydroxychloroquine than did after standard treatment. President Donald Trump has touted the drug publicly.

The study, conducted on patients at Veterans Health Administration medical centers, was posted on an online site for researchers. Other scientists did not review the findings before publication.

The drug is known for serious side effects. More rigorous studies are underway.

—The Associated Press

More layoffs at an empty Sea-Tac

Hundreds more airport staff are temporarily out of work after contractor G2 Secure laid off 232 wheelchair escorts for Alaska and United flights at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.

The airport has seen a 90% decline in passenger traffic since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, compared to March and April last year, airport director Lance Lyttle said recently. At least 51 storefronts have temporarily closed and half the airport’s dining and retail workers — nearly 1,300 people — were laid off in March.

G2 began laying off wheelchair escorts in March, according to the state Employment Security Department, but did not notify the agency of the job losses until late last week.

—Katherine Khashimova Long
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Inslee bans utilities from disconnecting due to nonpayment through May 4

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee has banned utility companies until May 4 from disconnecting water, energy and phone service to homes due to nonpayment, citing the coronavirus public health emergency and the resulting unemployment crisis.

Inslee previously urged utilities to halt disconnections during the emergency, but some smaller, private water providers did not make a commitment.

—Daniel Beekman

New “enhanced” shelter opens by Bitter Lake

The city and Seattle nonprofit the Low Income Housing Institute (LIHI) announced the opening of a new shelter by Bitter Lake in North Seattle, a so-called enhanced shelter with 28 single or doubled-up rooms and shared restrooms and showers.

LIHI executive director Sharon Lee estimates the new shelter, named the Lakefront Community House, will serve between 40 and 45 people, with one floor for couples, one floor for men and one floor for women.

This project was under consideration prior to the COVID-19 pandemic and public health crisis, which gave Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan power to open the shelter ahead of schedule, according to a blog post on the city’s website. The building was previously a rehab treatment facility, and then a perinatal treatment facility for women in recovery from substance use, Lee said.

Lee said LIHI and the city plan will host a virtual meeting about the new shelter with its Bitter Lake neighbors.

The facility,  at 600 N 130th St., will primarily serve people coming from unsanctioned camps in Seattle, and convalescing hospital patients who don’t need to take up a hospital bed but have no homes, Lee said.

“We don’t want people who are recently in the hospital to recover in the streets,” Lee said. “They need a warm, safe place to be.”

—Scott Greenstone

Inslee to address state Tuesday evening on coronavirus recovery plan for Washington

Gov. Jay Inslee will address the public at 5 p.m. Tuesday to lay out a plan for Washington’s recovery from the new coronavirus.

The remarks come as other states across the country take steps to plan, or actually begin, to reopen their economies in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreaks.

Inslee’s address will be streamed on TVW.org.

After his remarks, members of Inslee’s staff and cabinet will give a media briefing. That briefing will include Raquel Bono, director of the state’s COVID-19 health care response team, Department of Commerce Director Lisa Brown and State Health Officer Kathy Lofy.

—Joseph O'Sullivan
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Trump administration officials figuring out details on immigration halt, after president's tweet caught some off-guard

President Donald Trump caught some aides and top officials off-guard when he announced on Twitter on Monday night that he would enact a temporary suspension of immigration.

An executive order on the policy could be signed as soon as Tuesday, according to White House officials, but attorneys and administration officials were still working through logistical details and the legal implications of shutting down the country’s immigration system.

Stopping the issuance of immigration visas has no modern precedent and would leave close relatives of U.S. citizens in limbo. It also would take Trump’s restrictionist immigration policies to new and untested levels.

—The Washington Post

Barr says Justice Department may act against governors with strict virus limits

The Justice Department will consider taking legal action against governors who continue to impose stringent rules for dealing with the coronavirus that infringe on constitutional rights once the crisis subsides in their states, Attorney General William Barr said Tuesday.

Blunt means to deal with the pandemic, such as stay-at-home orders and directives shutting down businesses, are justified up to a point, Barr said in an interview on “The Hugh Hewitt Show.” Eventually, though, states should move to more targeted measures, Barr said. He said he supports the approach laid out by President Donald Trump.

“We have to give businesses more freedom to operate in a way that’s reasonably safe,” Barr said. “To the extent that governors don’t and impinge on either civil rights or on the national commerce — our common market that we have here — then we’ll have to address that.”

Read the story here.

—Bloomberg News

FDA approves first self-swab coronavirus test

Regulators with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday OK’d the first coronavirus test that allows people to collect their own sample at home, a new approach that could help expand testing options in most states.

The test from LabCorp will initially only be available to health care workers and first responders under a doctor’s orders. The sample will still have to be shipped for processing back to LabCorp, which operates diagnostic labs throughout the U.S.

Allowing people to self-swab at home would help reduce infection risks for front-line health care workers and help conserve protective gear.

Read more here.

—The Associated Press
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National Spelling Bee canceled for first time since 1945

There will be no fidgeting at the National Spelling Bee microphone, no banter with pronouncer Jacques Bailly, no pointed questions about definitions or languages of origin, no dreaded bell that signals a misspelled word.

This year’s Scripps National Spelling Bee was canceled Tuesday, the latest beloved public event to be scrapped because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The bee will return next year, Scripps said, but that’s little comfort to the eighth-graders who are missing out on their last shot at the national stage. Scripps will not change eligibility requirements for the next bee, which is scheduled for June 1-3, 2021. The bee, which began in 1925 and was last canceled from 1943-45 because of World War II, has always been restricted to elementary and middle-schoolers.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press

Doctors: Execution drugs could help COVID-19 patients

Many medications used to sedate and immobilize people put on ventilators, and to treat their pain, are the same drugs that states use to put inmates to death.

Demand for such drugs surged 73% in March. But secrecy surrounding executions could hinder efforts by medical professionals who are asking the nation’s death penalty states to open up their stockpiles of some medications also used in lethal injections, so that they can go to coronavirus patients who are on ventilators, according to a death penalty expert and a doctor who’s behind the request.

In a letter sent this month to corrections departments, a group of seven pharmacists, public health experts, and intensive care doctors asked states with the death penalty to release any stockpiles they might have of execution drugs to health care facilities.

“Your stockpile could save the lives of hundreds of people; though this may be a small fraction of the total anticipated deaths, it is a central ethical directive that medicine values every life,” according to the letter.

But it’s unclear what drugs the states may have, as they have tended to release information about execution protocols and drug supplies only through open records requests or lawsuits. Only one state, Wyoming, responded directly to the letter, and it indicated it doesn’t have the drugs in question.

“I’m not trying to comment on the rightness or wrongness of capital punishment,” said Dr. Joel Zivot, one of the medical professionals who signed the letter. “I’m asking now as a bedside clinician caring for patients, please help me.”

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press

Conspiracy theorists burn 5G towers claiming link to coronavirus

The CCTV footage from a Dutch business park shows a man in a black cap pouring the contents of a white container at the base of a cellular radio tower. Flames burst out as the man jogs back to his Toyota to flee into the evening.

It’s a scene that’s been repeated dozens of times in recent weeks in Europe, where conspiracy theories linking new 5G mobile networks and the coronavirus pandemic are fueling arson attacks on cell towers.

In Britain alone this month, some 50 fires targeting cell towers and other equipment have been reported, leading to three arrests.

Popular beliefs and conspiracy theories that wireless communications pose a threat have long been around, but the global spread of the virus at the same time that countries were rolling out fifth-generation wireless technology has seen some of those false narratives amplified.

Officials in Europe and the U.S. are watching the situation closely and pushing back, concerned that attacks will undermine vital telecommunications links at a time they’re most needed to deal with the pandemic.

“I’m absolutely outraged, absolutely disgusted, that people would be taking action against the very infrastructure that we need to respond to this health emergency,” Stephen Powis, medical director of the National Health Service in England, said in early April.

Read the story here.

 

—The Associated Press
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Officials link 7 Wisconsin virus cases to in-person voting

Officials have identified seven people who appear to have contracted the coronavirus through activities related to the April 7 election in Wisconsin, Milwaukee’s health commissioner said.

Commissioner Jeanette Kowalik said six of the cases involve Milwaukee voters, many of whom stood in long lines without protective apparel to vote, and one is a Milwaukee poll worker, the Journal Sentinel reported.

Officials hope to have additional information on the cases by the end of the week, including whether any of them were concentrated in any of the city’s five polling places or if any resulted in death, Kowalik said Monday.

Wisconsin Department of Health Services Secretary Andrea Palm said Monday there were no signs yet of a surge in cases from the election as some feared. Palm noted, however, that if cases do exist symptoms may not have appeared yet.

Tuesday marks the 14th day since the election, which is a time frame during which health officials say symptoms typically appear.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press

Why Seattle kids were among the last in the region to start getting laptops after schools closed

Emily Wang, left, digital learning specialist with the Seattle School District, checks to make sure Zemebech Haile’s children have the correct devices. 
Seattle Schools issued laptops to students and their parents Wednesday at the Southshore K-8 in south Seattle to help them start online learning while schools are closed. (Dean Rutz / The Seattle Times)
Emily Wang, left, digital learning specialist with the Seattle School District, checks to make sure Zemebech Haile’s children have the correct devices. Seattle Schools issued laptops to students and their parents Wednesday at the Southshore K-8 in south Seattle to help them start online learning while schools are closed. (Dean Rutz / The Seattle Times)

In a city whose tech culture is rivaled only by San Francisco’s, scores of kids lack access to computers or the internet at home.

It was a quiet reality that predated the pandemic. Seattle kids without reliable Wi-Fi or computers could get their work done at a public library or on school grounds. With some exceptions, most elementary school students never needed a device at home to complete work, and the school district didn’t have plans to distribute them.

Now, with months of schooling from home still to come, the state’s largest school district faces a Herculean task: get computers and Wi-Fi in the hands of kids who need them. The district launched a laptop pick-up plan on April 6 to address that gap, supplemented by a donation of Chromebooks worth $2 million from Amazon that will be mailed directly to families.

No district’s response has been perfect, and some crises can’t be anticipated. But before the pandemic, critical delays in spending millions in taxpayer money dedicated to technology — including a 2016 levy with $16 million earmarked for student devices — left Seattle Public Schools less prepared than many other neighboring districts, even those with fewer resources.

This fact, coupled with a response plan launched later and paced more slowly than others, meant Seattle kids were among the last in their region to start receiving computers.

It's what one parent calls "the story of the haves and the have-nots." Since the coronavirus closed school buildings, nearly one-third of SPS students haven’t logged into the online portal where teachers post assignments, according to an analysis released last week.

Read the full story here.

—Dahlia Bazzaz

Stepping Up: Stories of compassion, duty and community in uncertain times

Seattle Pacific University professor Bradley Hawkins leads a cello lesson online. (Courtesy of Bradley Hawkins)
Seattle Pacific University professor Bradley Hawkins leads a cello lesson online. (Courtesy of Bradley Hawkins)

Seattle Pacific University professor Bradley Hawkins offers free daily video lessons for cello students of all ages who are missing out on school orchestra or just want to learn.

While Hawkins feeds minds and souls, one Seattle woman is on a mission to fill the bellies of front-line workers as they fight the coronavirus. Seattle Sketcher drew the flurry of generosity coordinated by Ellen Kuwana, who believes “food is love.”

(Illustrations by Gabriel Campanario)
(Illustrations by Gabriel Campanario)

Editor’s note: These stories are part of a periodic series called Stepping Up, highlighting moments of compassion, duty and community in uncertain times. Have a story we should tell? Send it via email to newstips@seattletimes.com with the subject “Stepping Up.”

—Kris Higginson
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Quarantine Corner: Making it easier to be stuck at home

Need a "sexy, raucous house party of a book"? Try the one Moira’s Seattle Times Book Club will be reading next. Or let a tricky novel whisk you into a great guessing game in "The King at the Edge of the World."

"Cake is life." Former "MasterChef Junior" competitor Sadie Davis-Suskind, 14, shares her recipe for a delicious vanilla cake that you can keep building on to create culinary masterpieces.

Your cooking questions answered: Here’s how much "a pinch of salt" really is (it depends, actually) and how long those condiments in your fridge and pantry are supposed to last.

Refrigeration can extend the life and quality (color, flavor, texture) of items that could also be stored in the pantry, such as hot sauce and peanut butter. (Photo by Stacy Zarin Goldberg for The Washington Post).
Refrigeration can extend the life and quality (color, flavor, texture) of items that could also be stored in the pantry, such as hot sauce and peanut butter. (Photo by Stacy Zarin Goldberg for The Washington Post).

—Kris Higginson

Catch up on the past 24 hours

In his most wide-ranging attempt yet to seal off the country, President Donald Trump is planning an executive order to suspend immigration to the U.S., citing concerns over the coronavirus and American jobs. It's not clear what legal basis he'll cite.

“The worst is yet ahead of us,” the World Health Organization's chief is warning as many countries ease restrictive measures. Our map tracks the spread of the coronavirus across Washington state and the world.

COVID-19 cases are skyrocketing at King County homeless shelters. A man died yesterday in a facility for people with no other place to quarantine, health officials say.

The first Metro bus driver known to have died of COVID-19 complications had a smile that would "overshadow any problems," a coworker says. Samina Hameed, 59, is survived by her husband (also a Metro driver), three children and a daughter-in-law. Fellow drivers are left reckoning with anxiety amid the pandemic.

An oil rig stands against the setting sun in Midland, Texas on Friday, April 17, 2020. (Odessa American / Eli Hartman)
An oil rig stands against the setting sun in Midland, Texas on Friday, April 17, 2020. (Odessa American / Eli Hartman)

The price of oil dropped below zero yesterday, showing how badly the pandemic has slammed the world’s energy markets. Here's how this works, and why it's worth attention.

U.S. Rep. Pramila Jayapal wants to cancel all residential rent and mortgage payments during the coronavirus crisis. The Seattle Democrat is co-sponsoring a plan for "full payment forgiveness" that would be retroactive to April.

Seattle high-school students will get either A’s for effort — signifying they've done their work to the extent possible given their situation — or incompletes. Meanwhile, colleges are being urged to grade generously.

The skeleton crews left on Seattle's arts and culture scene are frantically fundraising and trying to lay hands on relief to "keep the wolves from the door." Here's what's happening for individual artists, theaters, museums, Seattle Symphony Orchestra and more.

Rich Americans have activated their pandemic escape plans, holing up in elaborate, multimillion-dollar bunkers in New Zealand.

—Kris Higginson

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