Editor’s note: This is a live account of updates from Sunday, April 26, as the events unfolded. Click here to see updates from Monday, April 27. 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.

State health officials on Sunday confirmed an additional 202 cases and 11 deaths from COVID-19 in Washington, bringing the total number of cases to 13,521 and the total number of deaths to 749 as of Saturday. A day earlier, there were 342 new cases and 15 deaths reported.

In another sign of the economic havoc dealt by the coronavirus pandemic, Boeing on Saturday killed its proposed $4.2 billion acquisition of the commercial jet business of Embraer, the regional Brazilian jetmaker. Industry observers who had been expecting the decision said the real reason for terminating the deal is the collapse in demand for airplanes due to the pandemic and Boeing’s urgent need to conserve cash as revenue dries up.

The Navy reports that the number of sailors aboard the Everett-based USS Kidd confirmed to be infected with the novel coronavirus has nearly doubled, rising from 18 on Friday to 33.

Throughout Sunday, 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 Saturday can be found here, and all our coronavirus coverage can be found here.

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King, Snohomish and Pierce counties together account for nearly three quarters of state's COVID-19 deaths

The Washington Department of Health (DOH) confirmed 202 new cases and 11 deaths from COVID-19 in Washington as of midnight Saturday, bringing the total of cases to 13,521 infections statewide, including 749 deaths.

So far, 175,477 tests for the illness have been conducted in Washington, the department said Sunday.

King County remains the state's epicenter of the virus, with 5,863 positive test results and 408 deaths, accounting for 54% of the state's death toll, according to DOH data. In Snohomish County, 2,311 people have tested positive and 104 people have died. Pierce County has seen 1,244 residents test positive, including 46 deaths. Together, the three counties account for 70% of positive test results and 74% of deaths from COVID-19.

Female residents account for 52% of people who've tested positive, compared to 46% for male residents. But men represent 56% of deaths compared to 43% for women. Though 4% of positive test results occurred in children and youth under 19, no one in that age group has died, the DOH data shows.

—Sara Jean Green
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Social distancing could last through summer; Americans getting mixed messages from leaders

Some form of social distancing will probably remain in place through the summer, Deborah Birx, the White House’s coronavirus task force coordinator, said Sunday – the same day several governors expressed optimism about the course of the virus and outlined their plans for a piecemeal reopening of their economies.

It was the latest instance of conflicting signals coming not just from state and federal leaders but also from within the Trump administration amid a coronavirus pandemic that so far has claimed the lives of more than 54,000 Americans. Last week, Vice President Mike Pence predicted that “we will largely have this coronavirus epidemic behind us” by Memorial Day weekend in late May.

But on Sunday, Birx said in an interview on NBC News’ “Meet the Press” that “social distancing will be with us through the summer to really ensure that we protect one another as we move through these phases.” She cited the need for further testing to be developed after a potential scientific “breakthrough.”

The mixed messages come as Americans are entering a confusing and uncertain new phase in the coronavirus crisis. After weeks of being told to simply stay home to halt the spread of the virus, individuals and business owners are now facing more complex decisions about how to proceed in the absence of clear guidance from their leaders.

In places where restaurant dining rooms are reopening, is it safe to go? Is it a good idea to return to the hair salon for a much-needed trim? And for business owners facing a litany of new guidelines about how to reopen without endangering their workers or customers, are the risks worth it?

Steps being taken toward reopening vary by state. In some places, such as Florida, beaches have reopened on a limited basis, with police urging visitors to keep moving and avoid congregating. In Oklahoma, salons, barbers and pet groomers were given the green light to resume business late last week, and restaurants will be allowed to reopen their doors Friday. In New York, construction and manufacturing businesses outside of the New York City region might be able to reopen after May 15, when the state’s stay-home order expires. And in Georgia, businesses including bowling alleys, tattoo parlors, gyms and hair salons have already been allowed to reopen, with movie theaters and dine-in restaurants expected to follow suit Monday.

Read the full story here.

—The Washington Post

California beaches drawing big crowds, busting quarantine

Thousands of beach-goers enjoy a warm, sunny day at the beach amid state-mandated stay-at-home and social distancing guidelines in a bid to stave off the coronavirus pandemic in Huntington Beach, Calif., on Saturday, April 25, 2020. (Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times/TNS)
Thousands of beach-goers enjoy a warm, sunny day at the beach amid state-mandated stay-at-home and social distancing guidelines in a bid to stave off the coronavirus pandemic in Huntington Beach, Calif., on Saturday, April 25, 2020. (Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times/TNS)

California, the first state in the nation to adopt a stay at home order to slow the spread of the coronavirus, is seeing huge crowds at some beaches.

There are so many people so close together the sand doesn't show in sweeps of Huntington Beach and other locations.

In Washington state, parks officials have kept a wary eye on the weather and closed parks when the sun shines.

The first heatwave of the year over the weekend tested Californians' quarantine resolve. The thousands of people gathering for beach outings raised questions about whether allowing the beaches to reopen could set back California's progress on slowing the spread of the coronavirus.

Read the full story here.

—By Kevin Baxter, Cindy Chang and Alex Wigglesworth, The Los Angeles Times

Bellinghamsters shake it up to beat pandemic, quarantine blues

Stefanie Cornell, of Bellingham, dances to “This Ain’t Goodbye” by Bellingham band Local Ghost in a video Cornell made to cheer people up during coronavirus quarantine. (Jeff Smith)
Stefanie Cornell, of Bellingham, dances to “This Ain’t Goodbye” by Bellingham band Local Ghost in a video Cornell made to cheer people up during coronavirus quarantine. (Jeff Smith)

They dance with their cat, their baby, each other.

They clap and laugh and sing. Juggle.

A dance video created by a Bellingham children's book author set to a track by a local band is so funny it is impossible to watch without smiling. And that, said Stefanie Cornell, who made the video, was exactly the idea.

Cornell started making dance videos in her house during the coronavirus pandemic to post on her personal Facebook page. She kept going ... and going, and then, "I decided it would be fun to take it up a notch, and have my friends dancing too," Cornell said.

Watch the video and read more here.

—Lynda Mapes
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Think you won't get coronavirus? That's what this New Yorker cartoonist thought, too

A panel from New York cartoonist Jason Chatfield’s “Covid-19 Diary.” (Jason Chatfield 2020)
A panel from New York cartoonist Jason Chatfield’s “Covid-19 Diary.” (Jason Chatfield 2020)

Letting his guard down was costly, even life threatening for a cartoonist who fled New York for a farm in Oklahoma, only to pick up the novel coronavirus en route.

The cartoonist, Jason Chatfield, has drawn a cartoon to draw attention to the very real risk of the virus even for young, healthy people such as himself, partly out of anger that too many people are dismissing the danger of the virus.

Chatfield is 35 and was skeptical the virus was really a risk for himself or his wife, 32 -- until they both got sick. The disease was debilitating and at times he feared for his life, Chatfield reports in his online comic, titled "COVID-19 Diary." He says he drew it partly as a public service because too many people don't seem to take the virus as a grave threat.

"We all have a responsibility to stay home and flatten the curve," said Chatfield, a New York based cartoonist who has been published in The New Yorker, Mad and Wired.

Click here to read the full story.

—The Washington Post

Microsoft tech chief pivots to help during pandemic

As Microsoft's chief technology officer, Kevin Scott usually oversees thousands of engineers and scientists working on projects from artificial intelligence research to computer science. But right now, he is all about helping to battle the novel coronavirus. 

His latest projects include setting up a chatbot for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and even repurposing Microsoft's supercomputers to assist in drug discovery.

Read a full Q&A with Scott here, via The Associated Press.

—The Associated Press

Frail, elderly vets being tested for coronavirus at Seattle affordable housing facility

Frail, elderly vets are being tested at the Arion Court affordable housing facility in Seattle after at least three residents contracted the novel coronavirus.

Executive director Sharon Lee of the nonprofit Low Income Housing Institute confirmed all residents at the building at 1814 Minor Ave. are being tested by Public Health - Seattle & King County Sunday morning. Any residents that test positive should be moved from the facility to recover in isolation, she said, for the protection of the rest of the residents, who share bathrooms and a kitchen facility.

A resident was hospitalized Friday, and two others had tested positive at the facility, a manager at the building said. Lee said she could not discuss details to protect resident confidentiality.

"We are pushing public health to offer isolation or quarantine," Lee said. "We serve a large population of veterans and many of them are disabled and frail and it is very important for whoever is testing positive to be moved to a place that is safe for them and the rest of our residents."

The agency will work with managers at the building to coordinate isolation and quarantine for residents or staff that test positive, have symptoms of COVID-19, or were exposed, even if they don't have symptoms, said Kate Cole, spokeswoman for Public Health- Seattle & King County.

Read more here.

—Lynda Mapes
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Cuomo: Virus deaths drop below 400 for 1st time this month

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the 367 deaths from the coronavirus that he reported Sunday were “horrific,” but the number was less than half the nearly 800 deaths that occurred in a single day during the pandemic’s peak in New York.

It is the first time this month that the statewide daily death toll has been below 400.

He also reported that the number of hospitalizations, which still topped 1,000, and the number of individuals put on a ventilator had dropped as well.

More information on the coronavirus in New York can be found by clicking here.

—The Associated Press

Watch: Brad Pitt portrays Dr. Anthony Fauci in SNL’s 2nd at-home edition

Brad Pitt portrayed Dr. Anthony Fauci in the second at-home episode of “Saturday Night Live,” that featured musical guest Miley Cyrus, an Adam Sandler cameo and plenty of disinfectant jokes.

Watch the video below and click here to read more.

—The Associated Press

The healing power of plants in a pandemic

Athena Byrd, left, and Steven Klute, regular shoppers at Zenith Holland Gardens in Des Moines, check flowers available as they shop at the nursery. Zenith Holland Gardens has been open since 1907 and is staying open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day. (Ellen M. Banner / The Seattle Times)
Athena Byrd, left, and Steven Klute, regular shoppers at Zenith Holland Gardens in Des Moines, check flowers available as they shop at the nursery. Zenith Holland Gardens has been open since 1907 and is staying open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day. (Ellen M. Banner / The Seattle Times)

People have come to this Des Moines nursery for plant starts, seeds, and garden supplies through recession, the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and now a pandemic.

"There is history here, but also a perseverance," said Lyn Robinson, owner of Zenith Holland Gardens.

The nursery has come through hard times before, and now is once again during the coronavirus outbreak helping its customers do the same. 

 

—Nicole Brodeur
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Inslee's coronavirus test: Weighing public safety vs. economic, political pain

Washington Governor Jay Inslee isn't too proud to make government a shipping clerk to source coronavirus tests and protective gear if that's what it takes to help get Washington back on its feet, and the governor has been personally dialing suppliers to get the job done.

In an interview at the governor's office, Inslee contrasted his new role with a remark by President Donald Trump on a call with governors, saying the federal government was not a "shipping clerk" for the response to COVID-19 outbreaks.

"I have a different view from the president," Inslee said.

"Actually being quartermaster is the highest public role you can play right now."

During the interview, conducted with 10 feet of social distance, Inslee discussed his changed role during the outbreak, and the difficulty of balancing the twin needs of keeping the public safe and the need to get Washington back to work.

Read more here.

—Joseph O’Sullivan and Jim Brunner

Coronavirus restrictions impact Washington state's efforts to produce maple syrup

Forest ecologist Greg Ettl, the director of the University of Washington’s Center for Sustainable Forestry at the Pack Forest, checks the flow of sap from a bigleaf maple tree in February. (Steve Ringman / The Seattle Times)
Forest ecologist Greg Ettl, the director of the University of Washington’s Center for Sustainable Forestry at the Pack Forest, checks the flow of sap from a bigleaf maple tree in February. (Steve Ringman / The Seattle Times)

Do Washington's bigleaf maples have what it takes?

That's what University of Washington researchers are trying to learn as they taste test their way through an experiment to produce syrup from the sap from bigleaf maples.

The researchers are hoping to grow an industry that will boost margins for small forest landowners. The real prize is keeping forestland in production, rather than losing forests to housing and other development. Maples also add diversity to the forest landscape.

So how does bigleaf maple syrup taste? Move over, Vermont, for a syrup more rich and layered in flavor than any supermarket brand.

However, the new coronavirus has upended life. Not even maple syrup could escape its effects.

Sap stopped flowing in late February at Pack Forest, and UW narrowly managed to finish processing and clean up before Gov. Jay Inslee halted most nonessential travel.

—Evan Bush

Coronavirus pandemic echoes past trauma of HIV/AIDS scourge in Seattle

As they lose friends and loved ones to the coronavirus, survivors of the AIDS epidemic in Seattle are reliving a terrible and traumatic time in Seattle.

At the peak of the AIDS epidemic in Seattle funerals for victims of HIV were held nearly every week in the Seattle area.

Now survivors of those deadly days are once again loving loved ones. 

 

—Crystal Paul
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Students, teachers challenged by virtual AP class tests

Students sitting for high-stakes Advanced Placement exams have their work cut out for them during this school year like none other.

May is the month students will sit for the tests that will determine if they will get college credit for the work they have done all year. Working with their teachers they have spent the last month figuring out how to prep for the exams. 

Administrators also have significantly cut the length of the tests, from three hour exams, to open-book tests lasting 45 minutes each.

Read more here.

—Katherine Long

Lives Remembered

(Design by Frank Mina / The Seattle Times)
(Design by Frank Mina / The Seattle Times)

This many cases. That many deaths. More and more each day. If you don't know someone who's been sickened or killed by COVID-19, it can be easy to grow numb to these figures.

But whole families and communities are grieving, and if we are to truly understand the toll this coronavirus has taken — and is taking — their stories need to be front and center.

Each data point you hear about represents a human life whose loss is felt by countless other people.

Here, we chronicle some of them in a series we're calling "Lives Remembered."

If someone special to you has died of COVID-19, and you would like to share their story, please tell us about them by emailing newstips@seattletimes.com with the subject line “Lives Remembered.”

Read their stories here.

—The Seattle Times

Catch up on the past 24 hours

President Donald Trump expands his battle with the World Health Organization: Trump and his top aides are working behind the scenes to sideline the WHO on several new fronts as they seek to shift blame for the coronavirus pandemic to the world body, according to U.S. and foreign officials involved in the discussions. The steps now being taken go beyond the temporary funding freeze the president announced last week, raising concerns that the organization could be permanently weakened amid a rapidly spreading crisis.

Stimulus money brings relief, splurges and generosity: As federal payments of up to $1,200 per person pour in, Washingtonians are using the money in ways that show how deeply the pandemic has changed our lives — and how difficult it may be to put things back to normal. Meanwhile, Kirkland is distributing $1,000 checks to businesses hit early by the virus, and the City of Seattle is considering how to spend its $14 million in federal relief money.

Can Washington reach the governor's wide-scale testing goal? A dramatic ramp-up of testing and contact tracing called for by Gov. Jay Inslee this week in his plan for gradually ending the lockdown faces stark and daunting obstacles, from the practical to the political. It's unclear how, whether and when Washington could actually achieve its ambitious testing goals.

Boeing kills its $4.2 billion purchase of Embraer as the pandemic roils the aviation industry: After more than two years of negotiations, Boeing on Saturday terminated its proposed $4.2 billion deal to acquire the commercial jet business of Brazilian regional jet maker Embraer. As Boeing and Embraer trade barbs, industry observers believe the real reason for terminating the deal is the collapse in demand for airplanes due to the coronavirus pandemic and Boeing’s urgent need to conserve cash as revenue dries up.

The leader of Belarus scoffs at lockdowns: “There are no viruses here,” the autocratic Belarusian president, Alexander Lukashenko, recently told a reporter at a crowded arena. “Do you see any of them flying around? I don’t see them either.” Belarus is an outlier, having never imposed any restrictions on gatherings, businesses and schools. Nearly 9,000 people in the country are known to have been infected, with 63 having died — although there is some evidence the true numbers are being suppressed.

One rich New York hospital got Warren Buffett's help; this one got duct tape: Every hospital in New York has struggled to cope with the pandemic, but the outbreak has laid bare the deep disparities in the city’s health care system. The virus is killing black and Latino New Yorkers at about twice the rate of white residents, and hospitals serving the sickest patients often work with the fewest resources.

How should you stock your medicine cabinet? Right now, there is no cure for the coronavirus. And although doctors and researchers are making progress on different ways to treat the illness, much remains uncertain. Many common symptoms continue to be identified, and families staying at home can take steps now to prepare in case someone falls ill, to best monitor one’s health and to alleviate symptoms. Here's what doctors and pharmacists say you should — and should not — have in your medicine cabinet at this time.

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