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

The state reported 576 new cases of COVID-19, and 15 deaths, according to data released Sunday afternoon.

The state Department of Health has stopped releasing the number of tests that have come back negative. The agency, which initially cited technical difficulties for the lack of data, announced Aug. 12 it is changing its test-tracking methodology and won’t report testing totals or the state’s positivity rate again until its new data reporting system is operational.
The state Department of Health has stopped releasing the number of tests that have come back negative. The agency, which initially cited technical difficulties for the lack of data, announced Aug. 12 it is changing its test-tracking methodology and won’t report testing totals or the state’s positivity rate again until its new data reporting system is operational.
(Jennifer Luxton / The Seattle Times)

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As students return to Gonzaga and Whitworth, health officer urges personal responsibility

Spokane’s two private universities — Gonzaga and Whitworth — are welcoming thousands of students back onto their campuses this fall, even as other universities move nearly all classes online and close most of their residence halls to prevent outbreaks of the novel coronavirus.

Both schools say they have invested in COVID-19 testing, contact tracing and other measures to limit the health effects of the pandemic, but Spokane County’s health officer, Dr. Bob Lutz, said it’s inevitable that some students will become infected. He and other experts are urging students to behave responsibly, especially if they choose to socialize with peers.

More here.

—Chad Sokol, The Spokesman-Review
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State confirms 576 new COVID-19 cases and 15 new deaths

State health officials reported 576 new COVID-19 cases in Washington on Sunday afternoon, and 15 new deaths.

The update brings the state’s totals to 67,461 cases and 1,781 deaths, meaning that 2.6% of people diagnosed in Washington have died, according to the state Department of Health (DOH). The data posted Sunday afternoon is as of 11:59 p.m. Saturday.

The DOH is in the process of changing its methodology for reporting testing numbers and isn't currently reporting the percent of tests in the state that have been positive.

In King County, the state’s most populous, state health officials have confirmed 17,623 diagnoses and 694 deaths. The rate of deaths is 3.9%.

—Katherine Long

2014 US Open finalist Kei Nishikori tests positive for COVID

Kei Nishikori of Japan tested positive for COVID-19 on Sunday said he will pull out of  the Western & Southern Open, a tuneup for the U.S. Open. (AP Photo/Eduardo Munoz Alvare)
Kei Nishikori of Japan tested positive for COVID-19 on Sunday said he will pull out of the Western & Southern Open, a tuneup for the U.S. Open. (AP Photo/Eduardo Munoz Alvare)

Kei Nishikori, the 2014 U.S. Open runner-up, tested positive for COVID-19 on Sunday and said he will pull out of the tuneup tournament at Flushing Meadows that starts next week.

Nishikori posted what he called “some unfortunate news” on his mobile app.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press

South Korea Warns of Another COVID-19 Outbreak Tied to a Church

Health officials in South Korea reported 279 new coronavirus cases Sunday, warning of a resurgence of infections, many linked to a church that has vocally opposed President Moon Jae-in.

South Korea had battled the epidemic down to two-digit daily caseloads since April. But the number of new cases has soared recently, with 103 on Friday and 166 on Saturday, most of them worshippers at the Sarang Jeil Church in Seoul, the capital, and another church in the surrounding province of Gyeonggi.

Read the story here.

—The New York Times
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Georgia governor allows local mask mandates, with limits

Georgia’s governor, who has opposed local mask mandates and even sued over one in Atlanta, has signed a new executive order that allows local governments to enact mask requirements to help fight the coronavirus pandemic.

As with previous orders, the one issued Saturday says residents and visitors of the state are “strongly encouraged” to wear face coverings when they are outside of their homes, except when eating, drinking or exercising outside. But unlike previous orders, this one allows local governments in counties that have reached a “threshold requirement” to require the wearing of masks on government-owned property.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press

Bar owners on Greek island angry over virus restrictions

Workers close a bar at midnight on the island of Mykonos, Greece. The forced early closure has some bar owners angry. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)
Workers close a bar at midnight on the island of Mykonos, Greece. The forced early closure has some bar owners angry. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

Wary of a rise in daily coronavirus cases that threatens to undo its relative success in containing the pandemic so far, the Greek government is imposing local restrictions on businesses, especially those that cater to big crowds, and business owners on the island of Mykonos don’t like it one bit.

“You can’t take a unilateral decision and shut down the island the following day, at midnight,” bar owner Stavros Grimplas told The Associated Press of the government edict on Aug. 10, imposing a midnight closing time on bars, cafes, clubs and restaurants from Aug. 11 until Aug. 23.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press

Taller cubicles, one-way aisles: Office workers must adjust

President Mike Davis of the design firm Bergmeyer arranges lighting for zoom meetings. Around the U.S,. office workers sent home when the coronavirus took hold in March are returning to the world of cubicles and conference rooms and facing certain adjustments: masks, staggered shifts, limits on how many people can be there at any one time, spaced-apart desks and daily questions about their health, closed break rooms, sanitizer everywhere. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
President Mike Davis of the design firm Bergmeyer arranges lighting for zoom meetings. Around the U.S,. office workers sent home when the coronavirus took hold in March are returning to the world of cubicles and conference rooms and facing certain adjustments: masks, staggered shifts, limits on how many people can be there at any one time, spaced-apart desks and daily questions about their health, closed break rooms, sanitizer everywhere. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

Bergmeyer, a design firm in Boston, has erected higher cubicles, told employees to wear masks when not at their desks and set up one-way aisles in the office that force people to walk the long way around to get to the kitchen or the bathroom.

“The one-way paths take me a little out of the way, but it was easy to get used to,” said Stephanie Jones, an interior designer with the company. “It actually gives me the opportunity to see more people and say a quick hello when I might have just walked directly to my desk before.”

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press
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Catch up on the past 24 hours

Back to school: Many of Washington state's school districts are gearing up to start the year remotely. While the remote learning experience will vary by family and school system, all parties can agree: they don't want a repeat of last spring. Here's what K-12 schools have learned since then, and what they're planning to change. Also: What will kindergarteners experience this fall? For those select districts and schools that will offer in-person instruction, what risks will that pose for students' elderly family members?

Drop in U.S. testing numbers: Though health experts have advocated for widespread and expanded testing as a critical component to contain the coronavirus, for the first time, the number of known tests conducted each day in the United States has fallen.

Rare blood clots tied to virus: Health experts are now encountering a rare complication tied to COVID-19: plug-like blood clots in the limbs of coronavirus victims that strangle circulation. And that means you could lose a limb to COVID-19, even if you don’t lose your life.

Congress takes a recess: As millions wait for another economic stimulus from the federal government, collecting less and less from unemployment checks, both chambers of Congress won't be back until September. “I don’t get to take a recess from my life. I don’t get to take a recess from paying my bills,” a frustrated Fresno cosmetologist said.

Firefighting and COVID testing: Meet some of the Seattle Fire Department employees who staff the city of Seattle's free coronavirus testing centers. “People were complaining that this wasn’t what we should be doing as a fire department," said Brian Wallace, who heads the program. “That may be true in normal times, but everyone is doing what we can to manage this."

—Dahlia Bazzaz

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