Editor’s note: This is a live account of COVID-19 updates from Saturday, Aug. 29, as the day unfolded. It is no longer being updated. Click here to see all the most recent news about the pandemic, and click here to find additional resources.
As the coronavirus persists in Washington state, many of its 7.5 million people are thinking ahead to September and fall activities.
While classroom instruction has moved mostly online, most counties are slowly reopening, so people may soon be able to tour livestock farms, pumpkin patches and corn mazes. Even haunted houses are possible under strict sanitation guidelines, under new state guidance issued Friday.
Throughout Saturday, on this page, we’ll be posting Seattle Times’ journalists updates on the outbreak and its effects on the Seattle area, the Pacific Northwest and the world. Updates from Friday can be found here, and all our coronavirus coverage can be found here.
Seoul enforces limits on diners, shuts gyms
SEOUL, South Korea — South Korea has reported 299 new cases of the coronavirus as officials placed limits on dining at restaurants and closed fitness centers and after-school academies in the greater capital area to slow the spread of the virus.
The 17th consecutive day of triple-digit increases brought the national caseload to 19,699, including 323 deaths.
The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said 209 of the new cases came from capital Seoul, nearby Gyeonggi province and Incheon, a region that had been at the center of a viral resurgence this month.
Thirty cases were also reported in the southeastern city of Daegu, the epicenter of the previous major outbreak in late February and March.
Churches have emerged as a major source of infections in the Seoul region and elsewhere, with many of them failing to properly enforce masks and allowing worshippers to sing and eat together. Clusters have also popped up from restaurants, schools, nursing homes and apartment buildings.
Matt Calkins: This coronavirus-shortened season has seriously damaged the Mariners’ ‘step-back’ plan
For a fleeting moment, it looked as though the 2020 season might be a gift for the Mariners. Not talented enough to contend for a postseason spot over 162 games, there was a glimmer of hope that they could sneak into the expanded playoffs in a 60-game season.
If nothing else, perhaps a swift start would make for meaningful games in late August and early September. But that hasn’t been the case. Not even close.
The Mariners entered Saturday’s game vs. the Angels at 13-21, good for the third-worst record in the American League. Fangraphs.com has put its playoff odds at 1.2%, which actually seems generous.
So what does this mean for a rebuilding team in the midst of another “step back” season? That 2020 will likely go down as a disaster.
This was supposed to be a season of development for the Mariners, but it has provided little opportunity to develop. This, of course, is the fault of a pandemic — not the organization — but that won’t help subdue the frustration.
State confirms 578 new COVID-19 cases
State health officials reported 578 new COVID-19 cases in Washington as of Friday night, and no new deaths.
The update brings the state’s totals to 73,879 cases and 1,905 deaths, meaning that 2.6% of people diagnosed in Washington have died, according to the state Department of Health (DOH). The data is as of 11:59 p.m. Friday.
Statewide, 1,447,460 COVID-19 tests have been administered. The state will no longer report deaths on the weekend.
In King County, the state’s most populous county, state health officials have confirmed 19,449 diagnoses and 723 deaths.
Health experts decry shunning of virus rules at last day of Republican convention
WASHINGTON — Public health experts expressed concern Friday about President Donald Trump’s largely mask-free, socially un-distanced Republican convention event on the White House lawn, saying some of his 1,500 guests may have inadvertently brought and spread the coronavirus to others.
“There almost certainly were individuals there who were infected with COVID-19 but don’t know it,” said Dr. Leana Wen, an emergency physician and public health professor at George Washington University.
“I worry about these individuals infecting one another and most certainly going back to their home,” said Wen, who previously served as Baltimore’s health commissioner.
Trump delivered his speech accepting the GOP presidential nomination at the Thursday night event, which continued a pattern of flouting coronavirus safety guidelines. Few in the audience wore masks when virtually all leading public health professionals, including the administration’s, say face coverings play a big part in slowing virus transmission.
Muslim commemoration of holy day Ashoura adjusted amid pandemic
Shiite Muslims are observing the solemn holy day of Ashoura that they typically mark with large, mournful gatherings, in the shadow of the coronavirus pandemic.
Ashoura commemorates the seventh-century killing of Imam Hussein, the grandson of the Prophet Muhammad, in the Battle of Karbala.
The Day of Ashoura falls on the 10th of the Islamic month of Muharram and is preceded by days of commemorations and remembrance.
But with the pandemic, Iraq’s top Shiite cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, encouraged people to observe the mourning in other ways such as watching online or televised commemorations from home. Those attending public commemorations must adhere to health guidelines, including social distancing and wearing masks.
Anchorage to allow restaurants, bars to open for dine-in
Restaurants and bars in Anchorage will reopen Monday for dine-in service with multiple restrictions after city officials announced an updated emergency order in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
The updated regulation means businesses will be allowed to resume dine-in service at no more than 50% of each building’s capacity. Patrons will also be required to practice social distancing and are limited to table service only. Businesses must also maintain visitor logs for 30 days to assist with potential contract tracing procedures, officials said.
The updated restrictions also loosen gathering size requirements. Indoor gatherings are now limited to 30 people, while outdoor gatherings with food and drink are limited to 50 people and without food or drink are limited to 100 people.
Gyms, theaters and other entertainment establishments, such as bingo halls, may also operate at 50% capacity.
In Mount Vernon, COVID-19 has brought a crop of new business opening
Around Seattle, COVID-19 has caused dozens of businesses to shutter and thousands to lose work.
But in Mount Vernon, two new breweries have opened, a media company has expanded into a downtown storefront, and a new flooring and cabinetry showroom is getting ready to open -- all since the start of the pandemic.
“Folks took a deep breath, marshaled their resources, adjusted as needed and put one foot in front of the other,” said Ellen Gamson, executive director of the Mount Vernon Downtown Association.
The economic downturn is providing some small businesses an opportunity, Gamson said. Learn why here.
Nurses on the front lines of New York's battle against COVID-19 call for minimum staffing ratios
Ahead of another possible wave of coronavirus infections, New York nurses are calling for the state to enact legislation that would ensure a ratio of one nurse for every two patients in intensive care units.
The legislation would boost the quality of care, reduce staff burnout and let the state hold health care facilities accountable for inadequate staffing, nurses say.
“If we had better staffing in place before COVID-19, if we weren’t stretched so thin, we would have been able to handle the flex and surge that was required,” said Pat Kane, who leads a union representing nurses statewide.
Health care industry leaders, though, warn that passing such a law would saddle facilities with billions of dollars in extra costs they can’t afford.
Fact-checking the president's most recent claims about COVID-19
President Donald Trump and those close to him shared a string of lies and half-truths about the administration's response to the novel coronavirus during last week's Republican National Convention.
The Associated Press examined some of the most glaring falsehoods, including Trump's boast that "the United States has among the lowest case fatality rates of any major country anywhere in the world."
Not true -- not if you consider Russia, Saudi Arabia, the Philippines and India to be major countries. The U.S. has the 10th-lowest mortality rate, 3.1 deaths for every 100 infections, among 20 large nations.
South Korea links more than 1,000 COVID-19 cases to a conservative church
South Korea saw its 16th-consecutive day of triple-digit jumps in coronavirus cases Saturday, adding 323 new cases and raising fears about overwhelming hospitals. The vast majority came from densely-populated Seoul, where about half of the country's 51 million people live.
However, a cluster of more than 1,000 infections has been linked to a northern Seoul church led by a conservative pastor who opposes the country’s president. The spread worsened after thousands of anti-government protesters, including members of the church and its pastor marched in downtown Seoul on Aug. 15. More than 300 have tested positive, including the pastor, Jun Kwang-hun.
Catch up on the latest coronavirus developments from the Asia-Pacific region here, including news from Australia, China, India and Malaysia.
'We will not survive this as an industry': Restaurants, gyms slam California virus rules, see closings
Owners of restaurants, gyms and nail salons criticized California’s new rules guiding when businesses can reopen during the coronavirus pandemic, saying the plan will bring financial misery to their industries and further weaken the state’s battered economy.
After a false start to reopening California's economy earlier in the summer that led to a surge in hospitalizations, Newsom announced stricter reopening measures Friday. Those rules keep most indoor dining rooms closed, while others will have strict limits on capacity.
Restaurants “are closing for good, by the thousands,” California Restaurant Association President Jot Condie said in a statement. The group estimates as many as 1 million restaurant workers have been furloughed or laid off during the pandemic.
Aestheticians and fitness club owners also had harsh words for the governor.
Runners line up for next month's virtual Boston Marathon
After it was canceled in May for the first time in its 124-year history, the Boston Marathon is back -- though like many things amid the pandemic, it looks, well, different.
Rather than lining up in Hopkinton, Massachusetts, and making the long trek to Boston, athletes will run this year’s marathon solo. Registered runners are being encouraged to complete the 26.2-mile distance by themselves between Sept. 7-13 — wherever they are in the world — and share accounts of their preparation, motivation and execution.
While athletes won't be cheered on by Boston’s raucous crowds, that doesn't mean all the fanfare is gone.
233 more COVID-19 cases reported at ICE detention facility in Arizona
ELOY, Ariz. — Immigration and Customs Enforcement has reported 233 more confirmed cases of COVID-19 at one of its detention centers in Arizona.
The infections are at the La Palma Correctional Center in Eloy, which has so far seen a total of 356 cases. It’s unclear how many people are detained at La Palma, but overall there are more than 21,000 people being held in ICE custody on civil immigration violations nationwide.
The latest outbreak, the largest by far among any ICE facility, has added fuel to immigrant rights advocates' calls for the agency to release the people it's detaining during the pandemic.
COVID-19 cases plateau in some parts of Washington State
People sick with the novel coronavirus are infecting fewer people. And in some counties, COVID-19 case counts are plateauing or even falling, according to the latest statewide situation report from the Washington State Department of Health.
That’s the good news.
Despite those bright spots, new outbreaks around prisons, college towns and hospitals, as well as rising case counts in some counties, underscore that Washington State is not out of the woods, the department warned.
Catch up on the past 24 hours
This weekend marks a grim anniversary: Six months since the report of the first death from COVID-19 at the Life Care Center of Kirkland, the site of the first outbreak of the virus in the United States. Within four weeks, 39 residents of the Eastside facility had died from complications related to COVID-19.
The past six months have upended daily routines and rituals for many in Washington and across the nation. As school starts, the return to remote learning for most Washington students has meant added tension for students and their parents, many of whom say they're facing tough economic choices.
Colleges that have made the decision to reopen campuses to in-person instruction are now grappling with a wave of infections that threaten to spread into surrounding communities.
One outbreak at the University of Alabama that has infected more than 1,000 students. And after nearly 800 people tested positive following their return to campus, three of North Carolina’s largest public universities clamped down.
But some traditional late-summer and autumn attractions are back on the schedule. Friday, Gov. Jay Inslee announced that agritourism, including hayrides, u-pick berry farms, corn mazes and pumpkin patches, can reopen in some counties. (And in case you missed our FAQ Friday, here are some tips for pulling off road trips and get-togethers with out-of-town-guests safely.)
President Donald Trump's decision to hold campaign-style events amid a pandemic is heightening coronavirus risks among the people closest to the president. Attendees aren't safe either.
In the United Kingdom, it may soon be possible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine -- though the drug may not be fully licensed. The government says allowing the emergency use of any effective coronavirus vaccine can help shave months off the introduction of the drug.
And in Germany, which has been praised for effectively containing the pandemic, Berlin police shut down a protest by people opposed to Germany’s pandemic restrictions after participants refused to observe social distancing rules.
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