Editor’s note: This is a live account of COVID-19 updates from Friday, July 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 It is no longer being updated.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.
Although President Donald Trump has repeatedly pressured governors to reopen schools in the fall despite rising coronavirus numbers, Gov. Jay Inslee said in a news conference Thursday that his comments were “hogwash” and that Washington state is “not going to be bullied” into making potentially unsafe decisions during the pandemic.
Meanwhile, Washington for the past four days in a row — for the first time since May — has reported double-digit numbers of COVID-19 deaths. But public health experts say watching a different metric paints a clearer picture of whether the virus’ impacts are worsening.
Throughout Friday, 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 Thursday can be found here, and all our coronavirus coverage can be found here.
His cancer has returned. But this Seattle man won’t stop delivering meals to health care workers
Ryan Dwyer wanted to do something for all the nurses who had taken such good care of him and his stepdaughter while both battled cancer last year.
So in March, he began delivering meals to those hospital workers, from his car and with his own money.
“We had a goal to impact the people — and we were literally living in these hospitals — that had their hands on us every day or every other day, both of us, throughout our treatment,” Dwyer said. “It was those people I wanted to somehow impact.”
Then came some tough news. On May 20, Dwyer was told his leukemia had returned.
But neither that news, nor undergoing chemotherapy again, has stopped Dwyer from his mission. He is still running the nonprofit, and still delivers food when he is medically allowed, getting help from volunteers in the Seattle rugby community when he can’t do it.
Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott tests positive for COVID-19
Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott has tested positive for COVID-19, according to a conference release.
Scott, 55, was reportedly tested late this week after experiencing mild flu-like symptoms. As a result of the positive test, he is self-quarantining at the direction of his physician. He is continuing to carrying out his normal work duties remotely.
A former professional tennis player, Scott was named commissioner of the Pac-12 (then the Pac-10) in July 2009. The New York City native graduated from Harvard in 1986 and previously served as president and COO of ATP (Association of Tennis Professionals) Properties and chairman and CEO of the Women’s Tennis Association. Scott and his wife, Cybille, live in Danville, Calif., and have three children: Alexander, Sebastien and Alannah.
Universities blast ICE rule that would make international students go home if classes go online
Washington’s colleges and universities didn’t pull any punches this week when they blasted a new federal directive that would require international students to return to their home countries if the schools have to go to all-online classes this fall.
On Thursday, U.S. Rep. Pramila Jayapal of Seattle joined with Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, both Democrats, to urge federal agencies to withdraw the guidance, saying it threatened the status of more than 1 million international students this fall. The letter has been signed by nearly 100 lawmakers in the House and Senate.
On Friday, Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson said he would file a lawsuit in federal court in Seattle challenging the proposed rule, set to go into effect July 15. Harvard and MIT have filed a lawsuit to try to block the guidance, and one state university, Western Washington University, joined an amicus brief in support of that lawsuit.
The guidance, issued earlier this week by U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement and the Department of Homeland Security, throws tens of thousands of international students who study in Washington state into limbo at a time when coronavirus cases are rising here and across the nation.
Health officials confirm 637 new coronavirus cases
Washington health officials confirmed 637 additional coronavirus cases on Friday, including 15 more deaths.
The update brings the state’s totals to 39,218 cases and 1,424 deaths, meaning about 3.6% of people diagnosed in Washington have died, according to the state Department of Health (DOH). The data is as of 11:59 p.m. Thursday.
So far, 668,466 tests for the novel coronavirus have been conducted in the state, per DOH. Of those, 5.9% have come back positive since testing began — slightly higher than the percentage of positive tests in the past week, which the state reports is at 5.2%.
Overall deaths are concentrated in King County, Washington's most populous county, where DOH has confirmed 11,568 diagnoses and 633 deaths — accounting for about 45% of the state's death toll.
Note: The state Department of Health data system will be shut down for maintenance on Saturday. Coronavirus data will begin updating again Sunday afternoon, according to the DOH.
As COVID-19 cases climb, King County’s top health official warns: ‘If we don’t deal with it, it will deal with us’
COVID-19 isn’t going away anytime soon, so we need to learn to make protecting each other’s health part of our daily lives, King County’s top public health official said Friday.
“It’s just critical that, as a community, we understand the long-term nature of COVID-19,” Dr. Jeff Duchin, health officer for Public Health – Seattle & King County, said during a news conference. “None of us asked for this, none of us wanted this. But it’s with us and we have to deal with it. And if we don’t deal with it, it will deal with us.”
King County saw an average of 118 new cases per day during the week ending July 9, according to the county’s COVID-19 dashboard. That’s nearly triple the daily average for the week ending June 9 (40.3 per day).
But those young people are likely to spread it to older and more vulnerable populations unless they limit unnecessary interactions, stay a safe distance away from others and wear masks, Duchin said.
Pac-12 announces conference-only seasons for fall sports, delays beginning of mandatory activities
A day after the Big Ten announced it would adopt conference-only schedules for all sports this fall, the Pac-12 arrived at the same decision on Friday following a meeting with conference presidents, chancellors and athletics directors.
For Washington, that means home games against Sacramento State on Sept. 12 and Utah State on Sept. 19 have both been canceled.
The previously scheduled season opener against Michigan on Sept. 5 was wiped out with the Big Ten’s announcement on Thursday, though the Huskies are still scheduled to meet the Wolverines in Ann Arbor, Mich., in 2021. Husky athletics director Jen Cohen said in a statement on Thursday that efforts are being made to reschedule the Seattle leg of UW’s home-and-home series with Michigan.
For now, there’s more anxiety than answers. And the loss of football games, specifically, will put a significant financial strain on athletics departments nationwide.
State says live entertainment at restaurants and bars — indoors or out — not allowed for a while
Restaurants and tavern owners hoping to cautiously venture back into presenting live performances will have to wait longer after updated guidance from the governor’s office made it clear this week that live performances in such venues will have to wait.
Gov. Jay Inslee issued the new guidelines Tuesday clarifying what is and isn’t allowed for restaurants and taverns under the Safe Start plan. The new guidelines say live performances at restaurants and bars aren’t allowed under Phases 2 and 3. (King and Snohomish counties are currently in Phase 2.)
That applies to performances both indoors and out, according to Mike Faulk, the governor’s press secretary.
“That doesn’t mean it won’t return, but we need more time to assess the increase in the spread of COVID and adjust accordingly,” Faulk said in an email. “The current pause is for two weeks, which happens to be the incubation period for the virus. Unfortunately, for live entertainment, it’s hard to put a timeline on its return right now.”
Trump threatens to pull tax exemption for schools, colleges
In his push to get schools and colleges to reopen this fall, President Donald Trump is again taking aim at their finances, this time threatening their tax-exempt status.
Trump said on Twitter on Friday he was ordering the Treasury Department to re-examine the tax-exempt status of schools that he says provide “radical indoctrination” instead of education.
“Too many Universities and School Systems are about Radical Left Indoctrination, not Education,” he tweeted. “Therefore, I am telling the Treasury Department to re-examine their Tax-Exempt Status and/or Funding, which will be taken away if this Propaganda or Act Against Public Policy continues. Our children must be Educated, not Indoctrinated!”
The Republican president did not explain what prompted the remark or which schools would be reviewed. But the threat is just one more that Trump has issued against schools as he ratchets up pressure to get them to open this fall. Twice this week Trump threatened to cut federal funding for schools that don’t reopen, including in an earlier tweet on Friday.
Trump undercuts health experts — again — in schools debate
WASHINGTON — The White House seating chart spoke volumes.
When the president convened a roundtable this week on how to safely reopen schools with coronavirus cases rising, the seats surrounding him were filled with parents, teachers and top White House officials, including the first and second ladies.
But the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, usually the leader of disease-fighting efforts, was relegated to secondary seating in the back with the children of parents who had been invited to speak.
Intentional or not, it was a telling indication of the regard that President Donald Trump has for the government’s top health professionals as he pushes the country to move past the coronavirus. Whatever they say, he’s determined to revive the battered economy and resuscitate his reelection chances, even as U.S. hospitalizations and deaths keep climbing.
COVID hits dozens of Latin leaders, including presidents
HAVANA — The COVID-19 pandemic is sweeping through the leadership of Latin America, with two more presidents and powerful officials testing positive this week for the new coronavirus, adding a destabilizing new element to the region’s public health and economic crises.
In Brazil, President Jair Bolsonaro, 65, announced his illness Tuesday and is using it to publicly extol hydroxychloroquine, the unproven malaria drug that he’s been promoting as a treatment for COVID-19, and now takes himself.
Bolivian interim President Jeanine Añez, 53, made her own diagnosis public Thursday, throwing her already troubled political propects into further doubt.
And in Venezuela, 57-year-old socialist party chief Diosdado Cabello said Thursday on Twitter that he, too, had tested positive, at least temporarily sidelining a larger-than-life figure considered the second-most-powerful person in the country.
Another powerful figure, Venezuela’s Oil Minister Tarek El Aissami, announced Friday he has the bug.
Touting criticized study, White House presses FDA to authorize hydroxychloroquine again
WASHINGTON — White House trade adviser Peter Navarro is leading a Trump administration effort to demand the Food and Drug Administration reverse course and grant a second emergency authorization for the antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.
Navarro, armed with a controversial new study that he says shows the drug’s effectiveness, is being cheered on by President Donald Trump, who has long touted the drug as a “game changer” and even used himself as a possible preventive measure. Trump praised the study on Twitter earlier this week, urging the FDA to “Act Now.” The campaign also has been promoted by Rudolph W. Giuliani, the president’s lawyer, and Laura Ingraham’s show on Fox News.
But Navarro, an economist known more for his aggressive approach to trade issues and China policy than for his medical credentials, faces serious challenges as he denounces what he calls “media-induced hydroxy hysteria.”
Victoria Clipper ferry suspends service to and from Seattle until April 2021
Due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and the closure of the U.S.-Canadian border, the Victoria Clipper V is suspending service between Seattle and Victoria, B.C., until April 30, 2021.
“We wholeheartedly agree with the steps and health precautions taken by Canadian and U.S. government officials to date to reduce the risk of coronavirus transmission through non-essential travel,” Clipper CEO David Gudgel said in a Friday news release. “Our intent in suspending operations is to hopefully allow ample time to pass so that we may return to service next spring when travel across the border is safe and welcomed once again.”
Clipper is subsequently laying off Canadian employees, and furloughing those based in Seattle until its expected reopening.
During peak season, Clipper employs 200 people, just over half of whom are Seattle-based.
As Oregon virus cases set records, health officials urge limiting social gatherings
SALEM, Ore. — Oregon health officials urged people Friday to limit indoor social gatherings to fewer than 10 people during the next three weeks as coronavirus cases in the state surge and reveal a “troubling” trend of exponential growth.
New projections by the Oregon Health Authority predict that if transmission of COVID-19 continues at the current pace, the estimated number of new infections confirmed per day could reach anywhere from 1,100 to 3,600.
“Given these projections and the prognosis that they represent for our citizens, we are calling on Oregonians to take action, to help us bring down the spread of COVID-19 and get it under control so we can again bend the curve back down,” said Patrick Allen, the director of the Oregon Health Authority.
U.S. bets on untested company to deliver vaccine
When precious vats of COVID-19 vaccine are finally ready, jabbing the lifesaving solution into the arms of Americans will require hundreds of millions of injections.
As part of its strategy to administer the vaccine as quickly as possible, the Trump administration has agreed to invest more than half a billion in tax dollars in ApiJect Systems America, a young company. Its injector is not approved by federal health authorities and the company hasn’t yet set up a factory to manufacture the devices.
The commitment to ApiJect dwarfs the other needle orders the government has placed with a major manufacturer and two other small companies.
“The fact of this matter is, it would be crazy for people to just rely on us. I would be the first to say it,” said ApiJect CEO Jay Walker. “We should be America’s backup at this point, but probably not its primary.”
Trump administration officials would not say why they are investing so heavily in ApiJect’s technology. The company has made only about 1,000 prototypes to date, and it’s not clear whether those devices can deliver the vaccines that are currently in development. So far, the leading candidates are using traditional vials to hold the vaccine, and needles and syringes in their clinical trials.
Click here to read the full story, part of an ongoing investigation by The Associated Press, the PBS series FRONTLINE and the Global Reporting Centre that examines the deadly consequences of the fragmented worldwide medical supply chain.
Why India cases are rising to multiple peaks
In just three weeks, India went from the world’s sixth worst-affected country by the coronavirus to the third, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University. India’s fragile health system was bolstered during a stringent monthslong lockdown but could still be overwhelmed by an exponential rise in infections.
India has tallied 793,802 infections and more than 21,600 deaths, with cases doubling every three weeks. It’s testing more than 250,000 samples daily after months of sluggishness, but experts say this is insufficient for a country of nearly 1.4 billion people.
“This whole thing about the ‘peak’ is a false bogey because we won’t have one peak in India, but a series of peaks,” said Dr. Anant Bhan, a bioethics and global health researcher. He pointed out that the capital of New Delhi and India’s financial capital, Mumbai, had already seen surges, while infections had now begun spreading to smaller cities as governments eased restrictions. The actual toll would be unknown, he said, unless India made testing more accessible.
Coronavirus Economy: New business starts in Washington are warming up
Washington state’s new business starts, as indicated in applications for federal tax IDs, have climbed back into the territory they were in before the pandemic struck — running several percentage points above their level in 2019.
The national pace of business formation has definitely accelerated, popping to more than 113,000 last week from 82,600 three weeks earlier. (The chart uses a rolling four-week average to smooth out fluctuations.)
The number of new businesses also surpassed 100,000 the previous week — a level not seen in the past 18 months, hence the large leap in comparison with a year ago.
Explanations might include the record number of people who have recently lost their primary job in the pandemic and are resorting to new ways of earning money.
WHO experts to visit China to plan COVID-19 investigation
Two World Health Organization experts were heading to the Chinese capital on Friday to lay the groundwork for an investigation into the origins of the coronavirus pandemic.
An animal health expert and an epidemiologist will meet Chinese counterparts in Beijing to work out logistics, places to visit and the participants for a WHO-led international mission, the U.N. organization said.
A major issue will be to “look at whether or not it jumped from species to human, and what species it jumped from,” WHO spokesperson Dr. Margaret Harris said at a briefing in Geneva.
Scientists believe the virus may have originated in bats and was transmitted to another mammal such as a civet cat or an armadillo-like pangolin before being passed on to people.
A cluster of infections late last year focused initial attention on a fresh food market in the central Chinese city of Wuhan, but the discovery of earlier cases suggests the animal-to-human jump may have happened elsewhere.
Oxygen already runs low as COVID-19 surges in South Africa
The coronavirus storm has arrived in South Africa, but in the overflowing COVID-19 wards the sound is less of a roar than a rasp.
Medical oxygen is already low in hospitals at the new epicenter of the country’s outbreak, Gauteng province, home to the power centers of Johannesburg and the capital, Pretoria. Health Minister Zweli Mkhize, visiting a hospital Friday, said authorities are working with industry to divert more oxygen their way.
Some of the hospital’s patients spilled into heated tents in the parking lot. They lay under thick blankets in the middle of winter in the Southern Hemisphere, with a cold front arriving this weekend and temperatures expected to dip below freezing.
South Africa overnight posted another record daily high of confirmed cases, 13,674, as Africa’s most developed country is a new global hot spot with 238,339 cases overall. More than a third are in Gauteng.
“The storm that we have consistently warned South Africans about is now arriving,” Mkhize said this week.
Foreign students weigh studying in person vs. losing visas
PHOENIX — International students worried about a new immigration policy that could potentially cost them their visas say they feel stuck between being unnecessarily exposed during the coronavirus pandemic and being able to finish their studies in America.
Students from countries as diverse as India, China and Brazil told The Associated Press they are scrambling to devise plans after federal immigration authorities notified colleges this week that international students must leave the U.S. or transfer to another college if their schools operate entirely online this fall.
Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology filed a lawsuit this week to block the decision, and now California has become the first state to seek an injunction against enforcing the new visa policy.
“Shame on the Trump Administration for risking not only the education opportunities for students who earned the chance to go to college, but now their health and well-being as well,” California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said Thursday.
Exercise and masks? No sweat
Working out with a mask isn’t so bad — if you have the right one. Here’s how three common mask choices stood up to a good sweaty run.
We'll be steering clear of the one that induced a "particularly gross lower-face flora experience" for our writer, "like you’re sitting inside a slippery, stinky cave that is your own mouth."
And here's a crucial bit of knowledge: how to clean your mask afterward!
Dinner ideas for your quarantined evening
Takeout for a Friday night: Indochinese food isn’t common in the Seattle area, but two spots in Rainier Valley and Kirkland do it deliciously.
Pantry Kitchen Challenge: Readers pulled out all the stops for our extra-challenging Round 5. Get inspired by the spectacular finalists, then sharpen your knives: Here are details of our vegan-friendly Champions Round.
Coronavirus throws cold water on summer in Seattle
Five of Seattle’s swimming beaches won’t open with lifeguards until Wednesday at the earliest, and the rest won’t open at all this summer, the city says. Blame coronavirus concerns and a massive hole in the budget. But clearly, not everyone is heeding the closures, and that has the city parks department worried.
Catch up on the past 24 hours
Washington state's coronavirus deaths have been in double digits for four days, with officials yesterday reporting 15 deaths and 640 new cases. But daily tallies don’t paint much of a picture on their own. For perspective, here's a key trend line to watch, and what it's telling us.
"We see the hurricane coming": Unnerved U.S. public health experts are pushing for renewed shutdown orders as coronavirus cases multiply. Sun Belt hospitals are overrun amid record deaths. Oregon smashed its daily case record yesterday. California counties that defied shutdown are seeing a particularly alarming surge, but some residents still think "this is all a hoax." And the nation's economy is stumbling as six states throw their reopenings in reverse.
Washington state hasn't hit bottom in pandemic-related job losses, but the $600 weekly federal unemployment benefit is set to expire soon. Layoffs are coming at REI, and furloughs are expected for tens of thousands of state employees. Meanwhile, other workers who are coming back in person are fearing the health risks. Here's where to find emergency aid, from paying the rent to getting mental-health support.
“Hogwash”: Washington state won’t be bullied by President Donald Trump into making unsafe decisions, Gov. Jay Inslee said after Trump demanded that governors reopen schools in the fall. The CDC pushed back on Trump, too, saying its guidelines for reopening stand.
The virus may linger in the air and float from person to person indoors, the World Health Organization has conceded after hundreds of scientists got loud. Even a small possibility of this has enormous implications for how people should protect themselves. It could help explain how a Mount Vernon choir practice turned into a superspreader event.
What's happening with antibody testing: Here's a Q&A on what it is, why it's important and how this is working.
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