Editor’s note: This is a live account of COVID-19 updates from Sunday, Aug. 2 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 It is no longer being updated.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.
Life under (modified) lockdown continues.
State health officials reported 1,738 new COVID-19 cases in Washington for Thursday and Friday after a delay caused a one-day lag in testing results, and 28 new deaths for both days.
Meanwhile, Okanogan County is struggling with a rapidly escalating number of COVID-19 cases. And publich-health officials are grappling with who should be first in line for a vaccine, once it’s available.
Throughout Sunday, on this page, we’ll post 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.
More on the COVID-19 pandemic
State reports 632 new COVID-19 cases and four deaths
State health officials reported 632 new COVID-19 cases in Washington as of Saturday night, and four new deaths.
The update brings the state’s totals to 58,173 cases and 1,596 deaths, meaning that 2.7% of people diagnosed in Washington have died, according to the state Department of Health (DOH). The data is as of 11:59 p.m. Saturday.
So far, 1,008,280 tests for the novel coronavirus have been conducted in the state, per DOH.
In King County, the state most populous, state health officials have confirmed 15,501 diagnoses and 657 deaths, accounting for a little less than half of the state’s COVID-19 death toll.
Yakima County corrections officer dies of COVID-19
A Yakima County Department of Corrections officer has died of COVID-19, the department said.
Officer Dan Oaks, a 15-year veteran of the department, died Saturday after being hospitalized with the disease, corrections department Director Ed Campbell said.
“He will be missed by his family, co-workers and friends,” Campbell wrote in a prepared statement. “He was an exemplary officer and public servant.”
The jail was the scene of an outbreak that, at its peak, saw 34 officers and 130 inmates infected.
Read the full story here.
More King County beaches closed because of high bacteria levels, COVID-19 concerns
Six King County beaches on Lake Washington — three in Seattle, two in Bellevue and one in Renton — are closed because of high bacteria levels measured in water samples.
Results from Matthews, Mount Baker and Madrona beaches in Seattle, Enatai and Newcastle beaches in Bellevue, and Gene Coulon Beach in Renton all had high bacteria concentrations in the past week, according to King County data. The beaches are closed for all wading and swimming and are not safe for humans or pets.
The beaches had been on a shrinking list of lakeside sites that are still open as others shut down throughout the region because of concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Seattle closed Magnuson Park Beach, Seward Park Beach and east Green Lake beach for the entire summer because of budget cuts.
This week, Mercer Island closed Groveland Beach Park, and in Kirkland, the pier at David Brink Park and the pier and parking lot at Houghton Beach Park were closed to avert large gatherings.
Hundreds become lawyers in Washington state without bar exam requirement due to COVID-19 exemption
Fewer than 80 applicants to the Washington State Bar Association took the exam Tuesday and Wednesday at sites in Tacoma and Spokane.
Hundreds opted out, thanks to a state Supreme Court decision to temporarily waive the test requirement because of concerns about COVID-19, including the potential spread of the virus among test takers.
Jennifer Olegario, a spokeswoman for the bar association, said 571 applicants chose to receive law licenses through “diploma privilege” — that is, on the merit of their degrees from accredited law schools. Only those who were registered to take the bar exam this week or in September were given that option.
About 50 more people are expected to take the exam in September. The bar association scheduled that second session and split the test groups between Tacoma and Spokane to allow for social distancing.
The Washington Supreme Court decided the state should grant diploma privilege in June after a petition from the faculty of Seattle University’s School of Law.
Read the full story here.
COVID-19 has left baseball 'teetering on the brink of extinction,' Stone writes
Just when the Mariners start getting fun to watch, the league may be shutting down, writes Larry Stone in his latest baseball column.
Six teams — a full 20% of baseball — are idle this weekend, either because of their own COVID-19 eruptions or their proximity on the schedule to afflicted teams. Players are opting out of the season, and 19 games and counting have been called off, leaving an increasingly tenuous outlook — not just for the next two months, but the next two weeks. Or the next two days.
Maybe, Stone suggests, local baseball fans had better savor this young Mariners team while they can — warts and all.
U.W. Huskies join other Pac-12 players in threatening to opt out of 2020 season if health demands not met
A group claiming to represent hundreds of college football players, including some at the University of Washington, has asked the National Collegiate Athletics Association and Pac-12 conference to ensure players have greater health and safety protections amid the COVID-19 pandemic, among other requests.
If its demands are not met, the College Football Player Opt-Out Movement wrote in a letter circulated Sunday to media outlets, members will boycott practices and games.
In addition to asking for greater protections from COVID-19, the group made a set of demands around the fight against racial injustice; the preservation of all existing Pac-12 sports; extended healthcare; name, image and likeness rights; and revenue sharing within the conference.
An online support group is a lifeline for laid-off Washington workers in the pandemic
As tens of thousands of laid-off Washington workers found themselves mired in bureaucracy trying to access unemployment benefits through the state's Employment Security Department (ESD), a Facebook group founded by a Spokane couple has proved a lifeline for many.
Massive layoffs, fraud and technical issues have marred ESD's response to the worst economic crisis in living memory, leaving workers waiting for checks for weeks -- or months.
Amid the panic and frustration, the 15,700-strong Washington State Unemployment Support Group has proven a welcoming community for many who said they felt lost down a bureaucratic rabbit hole.
And its members have come up with some novel, attention-grabbing tactics to respond when a claim is delayed or flat-out denied by ESD.
Recovery could backslide and leave permanent damage, economists warn
WASHINGTON — The nation learned Thursday that the U.S. economy endured its worst slump on record this spring, but a larger problem now looms: The nascent recovery appears to be faltering, and lawmakers are more divided than ever over what to do about it.
The risk is growing that the economy is going to backslide, a painful scenario where workers who regained jobs in May and June lose them again, and businesses that had started to reopen are forced to shutter, possibly forever. It’s already happening in parts of the country that are seeing a spike in coronavirus cases.
Once the downward spiral starts — more job losses leading to less consumer spending leading to more business closures leading to more job losses — it can lead to an even deeper downturn that permanently damages the economy for years to come. Economists say the United States is not spiraling yet, but the nation is at an inflection point.
With a vaccine still months away, there’s a growing consensus among economists that the best tool the nation has to prevent a long, ugly downturn is for Congress to go big on another relief package, though a deal is nowhere in sight.
Who should get COVID-19 vaccine first?
Who gets to be first in line for a COVID-19 vaccine? U.S. health authorities hope by late next month to have some draft guidance on how to ration initial doses, but it’s a vexing decision.
Traditionally, first in line for a scarce vaccine are health workers and the people most vulnerable to the targeted infection.
But some experts say geography should be considered and priority given to people where an outbreak is hitting hardest.
And don’t forget volunteers in the final stage of vaccine testing who get dummy shots, the comparison group needed to tell if the real shots truly work.
Washington was a vote-by-mail pioneer; now other states are following suit amid coronavirus
Tens of millions of Americans are expected to vote by mail for the first time this fall, as pandemic-stricken states look to assure an accessible, fair election.
For Washington voters, sticking a ballot in the mail or a drop box is old hat — a system that has been the default for a decade and which has recently expanded to become postage-free.
But because much of the 2020 election revolves around President Donald Trump, what might seem a common-sense shift has become sharply politicized.
Trump for months has tried to sow distrust about the November election — and mail voting in particular — as he sags in national and swing-state polling that shows dissatisfaction with his performance dealing with COVID-19 and the related economic collapse.
Notwithstanding the president’s claims, election experts in Washington and nationally say there is no evidence universal mail balloting has proved particularly vulnerable to widespread fraud.
Still, as Washington voters cast mail ballots in Tuesday’s primary — and look ahead to the Nov. 3 general election — news cycles and social media accounts are awash in efforts to discredit or question the security of mail voting.
Can coronavirus spread through the air? Researchers think so, and HVAC pros are scrambling
The coronavirus pandemic has challenged the heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) industry, which has suddenly been asked to help ensure the air in offices, stores and other buildings is safe for occupants.
Given the cost of completely replacing HVAC systems can run $100,000 to $500,000 for smaller buildings and into the millions for bigger ones, specialists are instead finding creative ways of improving what’s already there.
Their scramble to make changes increased after more than 200 researchers recently pushed the World Health Organization to recognize that the coronavirus can spread through air currents. That followed a springtime University of Oregon study, which found the virus present in a quarter of the vents in hospital rooms where COVID-19 patients were treated — suggesting it might spread through air separate from an infected person’s location.
Catch up on recent coronavirus coverage
How the timber industry is faring in the pandemic: While work-from-home policies are helping to make lumber a top performer as shut-in Americans build decks and fences, office closures are devastating another tree product: paper. Read the full story.
Seattle Mayor nixes emergency spending: Mayor Jenny Durkan has vetoed a City Council plan to spend $86 million from Seattle’s emergency reserves on relief for residents and small businesses dealing with the COVID-19 crisis, calling the move “irresponsible.” The council’s vote on the bill was unanimous, suggesting Durkan’s veto likely will be overridden. Read more.
Berlin protests: Thousands protested Germany’s coronavirus restrictions Saturday in a Berlin demonstration marking what organizers called “the end of the pandemic” — a declaration that comes just as authorities are voicing increasing concerns about an uptick in new infections. Read the story.
Washington schools in limbo: Since June, Washington Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal has pushed for roughly $21 million owed to his department from the federal stimulus package. It’s money he plans to spend on training teachers in remote instruction; a grant program for community organizations offering language translation for families; internet access for up to 67,000 low-income households; and funding additional staff in his department. After six weeks of lobbying, he’s just now secured $2.5 million for training, and $450,000 in additional general aid for schools. But with nearly half of the state’s students likely to attend school online starting next month, Reykdal hasn’t been able to convince state officials to give him the rest, including the roughly $8.8 million for internet access. Learn more.
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