Editor’s note: This is a live account of COVID-19 updates from Monday, Aug. 10, 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 It is no longer being updated.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.
Throughout Monday, 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.
New York’s true nursing home death toll cloaked in secrecy
NEW YORK — Riverdale Nursing Home in the Bronx appears, on paper, to have escaped the worst of the coronavirus pandemic, with an official state count of just four deaths in its 146-bed facility.
The truth, according to the home, is far worse: 21 dead, most transported to hospitals before they succumbed.
“It was a cascading effect,” administrator Emil Fuzayov recalled. “One after the other.”
New York’s coronavirus death toll in nursing homes, already among the highest in the nation, could actually be a significant undercount. Unlike every other state with major outbreaks, New York only counts residents who died on nursing home property and not those who were transported to hospitals and died there.
That statistic that could add thousands to the state’s official care home death toll of just over 6,600.
California worship leader gathers hundreds in Cal Anderson Park in violation of health regulations
A California worship leader who came to Seattle and packed Cal Anderson Park Sunday night with hundreds of people, many of them not wearing masks or social distancing, has left a trail of questions in his wake.
Among them: Is anybody enforcing health regulations? Also: Was Sean Feucht’s “Riots to Revival” rally an example of Christian love or its antithesis?
Wading through a maze of bureaucracy suggests an answer to the first question: No, not at this point, although Tara Lee, a spokeswoman for Gov. Jay Inslee, said her office “will have a conversation” with the Seattle Police Department (SPD) about its lack of enforcement.
The second question taps into deep feelings about the right to pray as a group during the COVID-19 pandemic — feelings that President Donald Trump gave voice to in May when he declared houses of worship “essential” and said he would reopen them if governors did not.
Restrictions on group worship still exist, including in Washington, and Feucht defied them with his prayer rally. Local pastors didn’t necessarily cheer him on.
Washington’s coronavirus data reporting problems persist: State hasn’t had complete testing tallies since Aug. 1
Data reporting problems continue to hamper Washington’s daily COVID-19 updates, leaving an incomplete picture of the virus’s spread in this state.
The latest problem, which the state Department of Health has said involves duplicate counts of negative test results, has led the agency to stop publishing daily tallies of negative test results. That number has not been available since Aug. 1.
The agency continues to provide daily updates on positive tests statewide but is “having problems with our de-duplicating processes to ensure we are not over reporting the number of negative tests,” DOH spokesperson Lisa Stromme Warren wrote in an email Monday.
Without complete data, it’s impossible to calculate the state’s positivity rate — the percentage of total tests that have come back positive — which is a key metric.
Promising COVID-19 treatment sends Seattle biotech company’s stock soaring
Shares in a Seattle biotech firm shot up more than 60% Monday after a preliminary trial suggested a new drug could boost survival rates for patients with severe COVID-19 symptoms.
Omeros, a biopharmaceutical firm focused on immune-related diseases and other disorders, said the trials showed its drug narsoplimab improved recovery and survival for patients with acute respiratory distress syndrome associated with COVID-19.
Those results, coupled with news that Omeros was in talks to receive federal funding to scale up production of narsoplimab, pushed the company’s share price to a high of $25.46, or 80% above Friday’s closing price, before it fell back below $20 in after-hours trading.
“We look forward to being able to make narsoplimab broadly available to hospitalized COVID-19 patients,” Omeros’s CEO, Greg Demopulos, said in a statement. Because the company is currently seeking additional investment, Demopulos declined to comment about results in order to adhere to U.S. security rules.
Washington state confirms 575 new COVID-19 cases and 9 more deaths
The Washington state Department of Health has reported 575 new COVID-19 cases and nine additional deaths.
The update brings the state’s totals to 63,647 people infected, including 1,697 who have died, as of 11:59 p.m. Sunday. The DOH reports that 6,049 people have been hospitalized and that hospitalization status is unknown for 31% of statewide confirmed cases.
The department has been unable to tally negative tests for 10 days due to a technical problem, making it impossible to calculate the percentage of tests that have come back positive.
In King County, 5% of the 337,664 tests conducted have been positive, according to Public Health - Seattle & King County, which tracks epidemiological data separately from the state DOH and often has slightly different numbers for a given day.
State tallies put King County at 16,707 cases, 137 more than the previous day, according to the DOH.
No federal relief leaves states, cities facing big deficits
State and local government officials across the U.S. have been on edge for months about how to keep basic services running while covering rising costs related to the coronavirus outbreak as tax revenue plummeted.
It’s now clear that anxiety will last a lot longer. Congressional talks over another coronavirus relief package have failed, with no immediate prospects for a restart.
The negotiation meltdown raises the prospect of more layoffs and furloughs of government workers and cuts to health care, social services, infrastructure and other core programs. Lack of money to boost school safety measures also will make it harder for districts to send kids back to the classroom.
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, a Democrat, urged Congress to restart negotiations, boost the jobless benefit back to $600 and immediately provide more aid to state and local governments.
“Let’s be clear about something: States are going broke and millions of Americans are unemployed, yet the solution called for states to create a new program we cannot afford and don’t know how to administer because of this uncertainty,” he said.
Antonio Banderas says he’s tested positive for coronavirus
Antonio Banderas says he’s tested positive for COVID-19 and is celebrating his 60th birthday in quarantine.
The Spanish actor announced his positive test in a post Monday on Instagram. Banderas said he would spend his time in isolation reading, writing and “making plans to begin to give meaning to my 60th year to which I arrive full of enthusiasm.”
“I would like to add that I am relatively well, just a little more tired than usual and hoping to recover as soon as possible following medical instructions that I hope will allow me to overcome the infection that I and so many people in the world are suffering from,” wrote Banderas.
A spokeperson for Banderas didn’t immediate respond to messages Monday.
Earlier this year, Banderas was nominated for the Academy Award for best actor for his performance in Pedro Almodóvar’s “Pain & Glory.”
Reports suggest college football is about to be canceled
On July 31, the Pac-12 unveiled a 10-game, conference-only fall 2020 football schedule.
Ten days later, that schedule appears to be all but scrapped.
On Monday, the Detroit Free Press reported that the Big Ten Conference has voted 12-2 to cancel its 2020 football season. A Big Ten spokesperson, meanwhile, reportedly told Yahoo Sports’ Pete Thamel that no such vote has occurred. The conference’s presidents will make a final decision on a call at 3 p.m., according to the Lansing Sports Journal.
The Big Ten’s seismic deliberations come two days after the Mid-American Conference, which resides in the same geographic footprint as the Big Ten, announced the cancellation of its fall football season.
Dan Patrick reported separately on his national radio show on Monday that both the Big Ten and Pac-12 will formally announce the cancellations of their respective seasons on Tuesday, according to a source. The Pac-12 presidents will not make any final decisions until their scheduled meeting on Tuesday at the earliest, according to Jon Wilner of the Bay Area News Group.
Health officials are quitting or getting fired amid outbreak
Vilified, threatened with violence and in some cases suffering from burnout, dozens of state and local public health officials around the U.S. have resigned or have been fired amid the coronavirus outbreak, a testament to how politically combustible masks, lockdowns and infection data have become.
The latest departure came Sunday, when California’s public health director, Dr. Sonia Angell, quit without explanation following a technical glitch that caused a delay in reporting virus test results — information used to make decisions about reopening businesses and schools.
Last week, New York City’s health commissioner was replaced after months of friction with the Police Department and City Hall.
A review by the Kaiser Health News service and The Associated Press finds at least 48 state and local public health leaders have resigned, retired or been fired since April across 23 states. The list has grown by more than 20 people since the AP and KHN began tracking departures in June.
Israeli jeweler making $1.5M gold coronavirus mask
An Israeli jewelry company is working on what it says will be the world’s most expensive coronavirus mask, a gold, diamond-encrusted face covering with a price tag of $1.5 million.
The 18-karat white gold mask will be decorated with 3,600 white and black diamonds and fitted with top-rated N99 filters at the request of the buyer, said designer Isaac Levy.
Levy, owner of the Yvel company, said the buyer had two other demands: that it be completed by the end of the year, and that it would be the priciest in the world. That last condition, he said, “was the easiest to fulfill.”
He declined to identify the buyer, but said he was a Chinese businessman living in the United States.
Amid pandemic, future of many Catholic schools is in doubt
As the new academic year arrives, school systems across the United States are struggling to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic. Roman Catholic educators have an extra challenge — trying to forestall a relentless wave of closures of their schools that has no end in sight.
Already this year, financial and enrollment problems aggravated by the pandemic have forced the permanent closure of more than 140 Catholic schools nationwide, according to officials who oversee Catholic education in the country.
Three of the nation’s highest-ranking Catholic leaders, in a recent joint appeal, said Catholic schools “are presently facing their greatest financial crisis” and warned that hundreds more closures are likely without federal support.
Iran shutters newspaper after expert questions virus numbers
Iran shut down a newspaper on Monday after it published remarks by an expert who said the official figures on coronavirus cases and deaths in the country account for only 5% of the real toll.
Mohammad Reza Sadi, the editor-in-chief of Jahane Sanat, told the official IRNA news agency that authorities closed his newspaper, which began publishing in 2004 and was mainly focused on business news.
On Sunday, the daily quoted Mohammad Reza Mahboobfar, an epidemiologist the paper said had worked on the government’s anti-coronavirus campaign, as saying the true number of cases and deaths in Iran could be 20 times the number reported by the Health Ministry.
Many landmark restaurants, bars won’t reopen after virus
La Tropicana Cafe has been a cornerstone of Tampa’s historic Latin-influenced Ybor City neighborhood since the 1960s, well known as a gathering spot where movers and shakers and even mobsters mixed with construction workers over Cuban coffee and sandwiches.
Now its doors are likely closed for good, like so many other bars and restaurants nationwide done in by the coronavirus pandemic.
Every neighborhood loses something precious when local eateries and hangouts get shuttered, but as infections spread and the economic fallout continues, the loss of iconic establishments like La Tropicana is particularly hard to swallow.
As schools reopen, much remains unknown about risk to kids and peril they pose to others
The photos showed up on social media just hours into the first day of school: 80 beaming teens in front of Etowah High School near Atlanta, with not a mask on a single face and hardly 6 inches of distance between them — let alone the recommended 6 feet.
Amanda Seghetti, a mom in the area, said her parent Facebook group lit up when the pictures of the seniors were posted. Some people thought the images were cute. Others freaked out. Seghetti was in the latter constituency.
“It’s like they think they are immune and are in denial about everything,” Seghetti said.
Pictures of packed school hallways in Georgia and news of positive tests on the first day of classes in Indiana and Mississippi sparked the latest fraught discussions over the risk the coronavirus presents to children — and what’s lost by keeping them home from school. Friday brought reports of more infections among Georgia students, with dozens forced into quarantine in Cherokee County, among other places.
‘I’d rather stay home and die’: Fear of hospitals is driving virus deaths in Mexico
A gray Suzuki stopped outside the General Hospital of Mexico and deposited a heaving Victor Bailón at the entrance. He had refused to come to the hospital in Mexico City for days, convinced that doctors were killing coronavirus patients. By the time he hobbled into the triage area and collapsed on the floor, it was too late.
“Papito, breathe!” his wife screamed. “Please breathe.”
Within an hour, Bailón was dead.
Mexico is battling one of the worst coronavirus outbreaks in the world, with more than 52,000 confirmed deaths, the third-highest toll of the pandemic. And its struggle has been made even harder by a pervasive phenomenon: a deeply rooted fear of hospitals.
Young smokers at higher risk for severe COVID-19 symptoms than nonsmokers their age
Young adults who smoke have double the risk of getting seriously sick with COVID-19 than do nonsmokers, according to new research from the University of California San Francisco.
Smoking and vaping are risky for any age group when it comes to respiratory illnesses, including COVID-19. But they stand out as a vulnerability for people between 18 and 25 years old partly because that age group has so few other high-risk conditions for severe COVID-19, according to the study, which was published July 13 in the Journal of Adolescent Health (JAH).
The study in the JAH also said young adults are now picking up cigarettes at higher rates than adolescents, a reversal of previous initiation patterns.
But Washington adults, on the whole, don’t smoke as much as those in most other states.
A pandemic ‘silver lining’: You can start drug treatment over the phone — and more people are starting to
A big barrier to getting people into drug treatment has always been getting the addicted person to go see a doctor — especially in rural areas where the nearest clinic is many miles away.
But that’s changed since COVID-19 reached the U.S. and Washington’s governor ordered the state to stay at home. In response to the pandemic, restrictions around in-person visits to prescribers for medication-assisted treatment have been suspended across the country, restrictions on billing phone visits to Medicaid were eased, and providers began expanding telemedicine options. At many clinics, you can now get a substance use disorder assessment over the phone, and pick up your prescription at a local pharmacy.
Leading experts in the field want the changes to stay, at least until expanded access can be studied.
Evidence mounts for masks
From a beauty shop in Missouri to a summer camp in Georgia to good old-fashioned lab tests, there’s increasing evidence that masks can protect against the coronavirus. And it looks like some types are better than others at limiting how far respiratory droplets travel.
More on masking:
- The right way to wear a mask: an illustrated guide
- When, where and why to wear a mask: common myths busted
- How to sew your own: step-by-step instructions, plus video
- You should clean your mask daily; here’s how.
- Yes, you can wear a mask while exercising. We tested three kinds to find the best option.
- All major airlines have mask rules in place. The difference is in how much weight they’re putting behind them.
Catch up on the past 24 hours
While Latinos are 13% of Washington’s population, they comprise 43% of the state’s COVID-19 cases. Here’s a look at some of the reasons why.
Sad but true: Scammers are trying to capitalize on the coronavirus pandemic. Here are some things to know to avoid becoming a victim.
Fresh air, outside visitors and more testing: An independent state watchdog has recommended changes in how Washington’s prisons are handling the pandemic.
When the school year starts, and with it remote learning, day care providers will be thrust into the role of de facto teachers. How will the already struggling industry cope?
President Donald Trump’s attempt to circumvent Congress to provide coronavirus relief in the absence of a broad agreement resulted in confusion and uncertainty Sunday for tens of millions of unemployed Americans and countless businesses seeking aid after critical benefits lapsed.
Remember the school in Georgia where two students were briefly suspended after images they shared of a crowded hallway went viral? Nine people there have tested positive for the virus.
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