Editor’s note: This is a live account of COVID-19 updates from Saturday, July 11, 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 It is no longer being updated.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.
COVID-19 isn’t going away anytime soon in Washington, King County’s top public health official said Friday — so we need to learn to make protecting each other’s health part of our daily lives, he added. The county saw an average of 118 new cases per day during the week ending July 9, according to the county’s COVID-19 dashboard.
Meanwhile, Washington’s colleges and universities are pushing back on 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, President Donald Trump — in another push to get schools and colleges to reopen this fall — threatened schools’ tax-exempt status.
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.
‘Blood on his hands’: In scathing obituary, woman blames Arizona governor for her father’s COVID-19 death
When her father died of COVID-19 last month, Kristin Urquiza minced no words assigning blame.
Mark Urquiza, 65, should still be alive, his daughter wrote in a scathing obituary, published Wednesday in the Arizona Republic.
“His death is due to the carelessness of the politicians who continue to jeopardize the health of brown bodies through a clear lack of leadership, refusal to acknowledge the severity of this crisis, and inability and unwillingness to give clear and decisive direction on how to minimize risk,” she wrote.
The searing tribute encapsulates the fury of critics who say governments at multiple levels are failing at their most basic duty: keeping citizens safe. The obituary also nods at the outbreak’s disproportionate impact on Black and Hispanic communities, who have been devastated by higher rates of coronavirus-related hospitalization and death.
Among the leaders whom Kristin Urquiza feels disregarded her father, a Mexican American resident of Phoenix who worked in manufacturing, are Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, a Republican, and the Trump administration. Ducey, she said, “has blood on his hands” for beginning to reopen the state in early May, roughly three weeks before new infections started to rise quickly.
Patrick Ptak, a spokesperson for Ducey, said in a statement: “Our hearts go out to the family and loved ones of Mark Anthony Urquiza. We know nothing can fully alleviate the pain associated with his loss, and every loss from this virus is tragic.”
The full story here.
Okinawa governor wants tougher action as 61 Marines infected
The governor of Japan’s Okinawa island demanded a top U.S. military commander take tougher prevention measures and provide more transparency hours after officials were told that more than 60 Marines at two bases have been infected over the past few days.
Okinawan officials on Sunday reported a total of 61 cases — 38 of them at Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, which is at the center of a relocation dispute, and another 23 at Camp Hansen — since July 7. They said that U.S. military officials told them the two bases have since been put in lockdown.
The disclosure of the exact figures came only after Okinawa’s repeated requests to the U.S. military. Gov. Denny Tamaki, in telephone talks late Saturday with Lt. Gen. H. Stacy Clardy, commander of III Marine Expeditionary Force, demanded the U.S military increase disease prevention measures to maximum levels, stop sending personnel from the mainland U.S. to Okinawa and seal the bases, as well as provide more transparency.
“Okinawans are shocked by what we were told [by the U.S. military],” Tamaki told a news conference Saturday. “It is extremely regrettable that the infections are rapidly spreading among U.S. personnel when we Okinawans are doing our utmost to contain the infections. We now have strong doubts that the U.S. military has taken adequate disease prevention measures."
Read the full story.
No masks required at two events in Taiwan, where number of coronavirus cases are relatively low
Taiwan wrapped up an annual film festival with an awards ceremony Saturday night as it holds more public events after keeping its coronavirus outbreak to a few hundred cases.
Actors and others lined up for photo shoots with no social distancing, and participants didn’t wear masks in historic Zhongshan Hall in Taipei. Taiwan, with a population of about 23 million people, has had 451 confirmed cases and seven deaths.
A baseball game in the city of Taichung on Saturday drew more than 10,000 fans for the first time this season, the official Central News Agency said. Health authorities said last week that fans would be allowed to sit in alternate seats and no longer would have to wear masks, except when leaving their seats.
The horror film “Detention,” set during martial law in Taiwan in the 1960s, was the biggest winner at the Taipei Film Festival, taking six awards including the Grand Prize and Best Actress for 22-year-old Gingle Wang.
Chang Jung-chi, the Best Director winner for “We Are Champions,” said the virus outbreak had forced him to slow down his work. “This comes to me like a friend patting my shoulder and saying, ‘Hang in there,’ ” he said.
Disney parks begin reopening even as coronavirus cases surge in Florida
"Hot or not, mask or not, we're just happy to be here," said an emotional guest as Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom reopened Saturday with new rules in place to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
The reopening comes even as a huge surge of Floridians have tested positive for the new coronavirus in recent weeks. On Saturday, there were about 10,000 new cases reported, according to state statistics. Many cities and counties around the state have recently reinstated restrictions that had been lifted in May, when cases seemed to drop.
All of Disney’s Orlando parks closed in mid-March in an effort to stop the virus’s spread. Universal Orlando and SeaWorld Orlando closed around the same time but reopened several weeks ago. Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios are expected to open next week.
No new Washington coronavirus numbers Saturday; state data system down for maintenance
There will be no daily update on coronavirus cases Saturday from the Washington state Department of Health.
The DOH announced that its data system would be down for maintenance on Saturday, and that new figures will be available in the late afternoon on Sunday.
Here's where to find the state's COVID-19 Data Dashboard.
Bollywood star Amitabh Bachchan hospitalized with coronavirus
Amitabh Bachchan has tested positive for the coronavirus and is hospitalized in Mumbai, India’s financial and entertainment capital, the Bollywood superstar announced Saturday.
Bachchan, 77, said in a tweet on Saturday that his family and staff have also undergone tests and are awaiting results. He appealed to those who were in close proximity to him in the past 10 days to get themselves tested.
The elder Bachchan has acted in more than 200 Indian films over the past five decades. He is also a former politician and a television host.
The Bachchans are often called Bollywood’s first family. His wife, Jaya, is also an actress and a one-time member of Parliament. Their son, Abhishek, and daughter-in-law, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, are Bollywood superstars as well. Abhishek Bachchan, who is 44, tweeted Saturday night that he also has tested positive for COVID-19 and is hospitalized.
“Both of us having mild symptoms have been admitted to the hospital,” he wrote. “I request all to stay calm and not panic.”
The full story here.
Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman has coronavirus; Astros cancel workout
New York Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman became the latest high-profile player to test positive for the coronavirus, his diagnosis announced Saturday hours after the Houston Astros canceled another practice due to virus concerns.
In New York, manager Aaron Boone said Chapman wouldn’t “be here for the foreseeable future.” Boone said the left-handed reliever “overall was doing well” despite experiencing mild symptoms.
The Yankees are scheduled to start the virus-delayed season July 23 at the World Series champion Washington Nationals. The AL champ Yankees already were missing star infielder DJ LeMahieu and right-hander Luis Cessa, who both tested positive last week and are still isolating at home.
Boone wouldn’t say whether Chapman had been at Yankee Stadium since throwing a bullpen session Tuesday.
In Houston, the Astros canceled their workout after learning that a staff member could have been exposed to a person outside the organization with the coronavirus. It’s the second time this week the Astros have wiped out a practice session because of concerns about the pandemic. Houston also scrapped its Monday workout because of delays with testing results due to the holiday weekend.
Church asks Utah Mormons to wear face coverings in public
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has asked all its members in Utah to wear face coverings when in public, a request that comes as confirmed infections in the state increase.
The Deseret News reports that the Utah Area Presidency sent out the request in an email on Friday evening. The area presidency operates under the authority of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.
“Now we ask all Latter-day Saints in the Utah Area to be good citizens by wearing face coverings when in public,” the email said. “Doing so will help promote the health and general welfare of all.”
About 62% of Utah’s 3.1 million residents are members of the church.
Nearly 900 new cases were reported in the state on Friday, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University. Overall, Utah had 28,223 confirmed cases and 207 deaths due to the virus as of Saturday. The number of infections is thought to be far higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected with the virus without feeling sick.
Trump wears mask in public for first time during pandemic
President Donald Trump wore a mask during a visit to a military hospital Saturday, the first time the president has been seen in public with the type of facial covering recommended by health officials as a precaution against spreading or becoming infected by the novel coronavirus.
Trump flew by helicopter to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in suburban Washington, D.C., to meet wounded service members and health care providers caring for COVID-19 patients. As he left the White House, he told reporters: “When you’re in a hospital, especially … I think it’s expected to wear a mask.”
Trump was wearing a mask in Walter Reed’s hallway as he began his visit. He was not wearing one when he stepped off the helicopter at the facility.
The president was a latecomer to wearing a mask during the pandemic, which has raged across the U.S. since March and infected more than 3.2 million and killed at least 134,000. Most prominent Republicans, including Vice President Mike Pence, endorsed wearing masks as the coronavirus gained ground this summer.
Trump, however, has declined to wear a mask at news conferences, coronavirus task force updates, rallies and other public events. People close to him have told The Associated Press the president feared a mask would make him look weak and was concerned that it shifted focus to the public health crisis rather than the economic recovery.
Read the full story here.
Oregon reports 400+ new coronavirus cases on Saturday
Oregon officials Saturday reported 409 new coronavirus cases.
The Oregon Health Authority said the high number is partially due to a new reporting system that prevented processing some positive cases Thursday.
The state is reporting 11,851 total cases with 232 deaths.
Another coronavirus cancellation: No free Slurpees today on 7/11
DALLAS — The coronavirus pandemic has taken away another summertime tradition in the U.S.: There will be no free Slurpees at 7-Elevens on Saturday — July 11 — to hail a date that doubles as an abbreviation of the convenience store chain's name.
7-Eleven has been giving away its slushy beverage to all customers for nearly 20 years on July 11, but it scrapped the promotion this summer to reduce the risk of people flocking to its stores and risking contracting the coronavirus.
“Gathering nine million of our closest friends in stores on one day just didn’t feel right," said Marissa Jarratt, 7-Eleven's chief marketing officer.
The Dallas-based chain instead decided to donate 1 million meals to Feeding America, a hunger relief group.
COVID closures jam tourists into tiny corner of Glacier National Park
As Montana warily reopened last month to pandemic-weary tourists, an isolated community held firm with closures and stay-at-home orders. Few outsiders would have paid much attention but for one detail: The Blackfeet Nation borders Glacier National Park, and its decision blocked access to much of the vast wilderness there.
The result this month has meant throngs of visitors crowding into a tiny corner of Glacier — a crown jewel of the park system — with long lines of cars at what is now the only entry point.
And the bottleneck won’t disappear anytime soon. Tribal leaders recently announced they would keep the eastern entrances and roads to Glacier, which lie on reservation land, closed at least through August.
“Our number one objective is to keep people alive,” said Robert DesRosier, who leads the tribe’s COVID-19 incident response team. “We don’t want one person to die. Our elders are the keepers of the culture, and we can’t afford to lose them.”
The Blackfeet’s fears are well-founded. COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, has ravaged some Native American communities. In Montana, state data show that more than a third of the people to have died so far identified as Native American, though natives make up less than 7% of the population. In the Southwest, the Navajo Nation has been one of the country’s worst hot spots.
The National Park Service and local tourist companies are backing the Blackfeet. Boat and bus operators are shut down for the summer, as are hotels and restaurants on Glacier’s east side, and Park Service officials are weighing Glacier’s first-ever ticketing and reservation plan to deal with the crush of traffic.
The park, which extends north to Canada, encompasses a million acres of glacially carved peaks, turquoise-colored lakes, trails and wild country. Until a controversial land agreement in 1895, all of it was Blackfeet country.
Read the full story here.
Coronavirus deaths take long-expected turn for worse
NEW YORK — A long-expected upturn in U.S. coronavirus deaths has begun, driven by fatalities in states in the South and West, according to data on the pandemic, according to The Associated Press.
The number of deaths per day from the virus had been falling for months, and even remained down as states like Florida and Texas saw explosions in cases and hospitalizations and reported daily U.S. infections broke records almost daily.
Scientists warned it wouldn’t last. A coronavirus death, when it occurs, typically comes several weeks after a person is first infected. And experts predicted states that saw increases in cases and hospitalizations would, at some point, see deaths rise too.
Now that’s happening.
“It’s consistently picking up. And it’s picking up at the time you’d expect it to,” said William Hanage, a Harvard University infectious diseases researcher.
According to an Associated Press analysis of data from Johns Hopkins University, the seven-day rolling average for daily reported deaths in the U.S. has increased from 578 two weeks ago to 664 on July 10 — still well below the heights hit in April.
Daily reported deaths increased in 27 states over that time period, but the majority of those states are averaging under 15 new deaths per day. A smaller group of states has been driving the nationwide increase in deaths.
Read a detailed story here.
Inmates complain of "inhumane" condition in Yakima Jail during COVID surge
Angel Pacheco tested positive for coronavirus last week. Before he was released from the Yakima County Jail on bail Wednesday, he said he spent a week in an isolation cell with no hot water.
Despite his “continuous” vomiting and diarrhea, he said corrections officers denied him a shower and change of clothes for three or four days, saying he could expose other inmates in the showers.
“They allowed me to sit in my own, you know, filth,” Pacheco, hoarse from coughing, said over the phone about an hour and a half after his release. “When I was hospitalized, I was in really bad shape. I would consider myself on the verge of dying.”
Pacheco is one of 83 inmates out of about 400 inmates who had tested positive for the coronavirus at the jail as of Tuesday, and he described conditions in the jail as “gross and unhuman” with “mold growing in the showers – it’s appalling.”
But jail administrators deny the claims of Pacheco and other inmates. They say officers are not denying sick men showers and that the jail is following Centers for Disease Control and Prevention standards, though they acknowledge the facility has been affected by the pandemic like other institutions.
Jeremy Welch, chief of the security operations division of Yakima County Department of Corrections, said Yakima County has reduced the jail’s inmate population to 40% capacity through work with local courts, law enforcement and contract jurisdictions, Welch said.
But Pacheco, who suffers from underlying heart problems including hypertension, said his treatment was inhumane.
Read the full story here.
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