Editor’s note: This is a live account of COVID-19 updates from Sunday, July 12, 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 It is no longer being updated.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.
As COVID-19 continued to ravage the nation and the world, President Donald Trump wore a mask in public Saturday for the first time. In other news, Disney began reopening its Florida resorts even as that state continued to report high numbers of cases.
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 following graphic includes the most recent numbers from the Washington State Department of Health, released Sunday evening. DOH did not report new numbers on Saturday as its system was down for maintenance.
1,438 new cases in Washington over the weekend
Washington health officials confirmed 1,438 additional coronavirus cases over the weekend, including 14 more deaths.
The state Department of Health's data system was shut down for maintenance on Saturday, so this data is for Friday and Saturday, and is current as of 11:59 p.m. Saturday.
The update brings the state’s totals to 40,656 cases and 1,438 deaths, meaning about 3.5% of people diagnosed in Washington have died, according to the state Department of Health (DOH).
So far, 686,005 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 11,866 diagnoses and 637 deaths.
Virtual try-ons are replacing fitting rooms during the coronavirus pandemic
Andrea Dragna’s pre-pandemic pastime of scouting new makeup colors at Sephora has given way to a new, more socially distant ritual: trying on lipstick, eye shadow and blush through the webcam on her phone.
It’s easy and surprisingly accurate, she says, and most importantly, doesn’t require setting foot in a store. “It’s the perfect way to shop in the days of COVID,” said Dragna, 40, who ordered nearly $300 worth of cosmetics last weekend after a virtual try-on session.
The coronavirus pandemic is reshaping the way Americans shop. Stores are reopening but being reoriented to avoid interaction: Fitting rooms are taped off, sample counters are closed and product testers have been put away.
That’s set off a scramble to re-create an integral part of the shopping experience, allowing people to virtually “try on” clothing, shoes, cosmetics, eyeglasses, even a new haircut or eyebrow shape, on their smartphones and computers. If consumers are presented with an authentic representation of themselves, analysts say, they are more likely to buy and less likely to make a return. But privacy experts warn the technology could also form a pipeline to valuable personal and biometric information.
Read more here.
Mountlake Terrace intends to mail masks to every household in town
Mountlake Terrace, a city of 21,338 north of Seattle, plans to mail two masks to every address in the city’s ZIP code.
Using CARES Act funding from the federal government, the city will mail cloth masks to roughly 9,700 addresses in Mountlake Terrace, meaning business addresses will receive them as well, according to the city’s Community Relations Director, Virginia Olsen. The masks cost almost $40,000, and mailing them to every address using a local distributor will cost $8,500, Olsen wrote in an email.
The city hopes the mailing will go out by the end of the month, Olsen said.
Separately, the city received 8,000 free masks from Snohomish County, which the city has been giving away at food banks and at Edmonds School District schools.
Masking up: Protective coverings not just for MLB dugouts
Protective face coverings won’t be out of sight when Major League Baseball resumes in less than two weeks. Some players and coaches are planning to wear them on the field.
MLB’s safety protocols require masks in clubhouses to prevent the spread of COVID-19, and coaches and managers are required to wear them in dugouts, but they’re optional on the field. Some are going to wear them during games as well.
Read more here.
Houston leaders push for city lockdown as COVID-19 cases surge
Top officials in Houston are calling for the city to lock back down as area hospitals strain to accommodate the onslaught of patients sick with the new coronavirus.
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner and Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo, both Democrats, said this weekend that a stay-at-home order is needed for America’s fourth largest city to cope with the surge of COVID-19 cases.
The call comes after a week in which Texas continued to break records for confirmed COVID-19 cases and deaths linked to the disease. State health officials reported 8,196 new cases Sunday, another 80 deaths and a total of 10,410 people hospitalized due to the virus.
The true number of cases is likely far higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected and not feel sick.
The decision over a lockdown, however, rests with Republican Gov. Greg Abbott— who has resisted this step, saying it should be a last resort.
Read the full story.
South Africa returns to ban on alcohol sales as virus surges
JOHANNESBURG (AP) — South African President Cyril Ramaphosa says the country will immediately return to a ban on the sale of alcohol to reduce the volume of trauma patients so that hospitals have more beds open to treat COVID-19 patients.
Confronted by surging hospitalizations due to the coronavirus, South Africa is also reinstating a night curfew to reduce traffic accidents and made it mandatory for all residents to wear face masks when in public.
Ramaphosa said, in a nationally televised address Sunday night, that top health officials warn of impending shortages of hospital beds and medical oxygen as South Africa reaches a peak of COVID-19 cases, expected between the end of July and September. He said some hospitals have had to turn away patients because all their beds are full.
Upperclass midshipmen to return to Naval Academy this month
ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — First and second class midshipmen will begin to return to the Naval Academy in Annapolis in about a week under a staggered plan.
The midshipmen’s return will start on or about July 20, Naval Academy spokeswoman Cmdr. Alana Garas told the Capital Gazette on Friday. The fall semester will feature in-person and online classes.
Students will be tested for the coronavirus when they return to campus. Their movements will be restricted for 14 days, and they will undergo another test at the end of that period.
Garas said midshipmen will be six feet apart and wear masks during classes. Tents will soon be set up on campus to expand the space where students can eat their meals.
Worker aiding federal execution prep has positive virus test
WASHINGTON (AP) — The federal Bureau of Prisons said Sunday that a staff member involved in preparing for the first federal executions in nearly two decades has tested positive for coronavirus.
The Justice Department said the development will not mean an additional delay in the government’s timetable, already stalled by a federal court, because the worker had not been in the execution chamber and had not come into contact with anyone on the specialized team sent to the prison to handle the execution.
The agency made the disclosure in court filings in response to lawsuits that have sought to halt executions scheduled to resume Monday.
Florida shatters US record for COVID-19 cases reported in a single day
Florida has broken the record for a single-day increase in COVID-19 cases in a single state.
Health officials reported 15,300 new cases in Florida on Sunday.
The last state to report a single-day record in cases was California, which reported 11,694 just this past Wednesday.
The total number of cases has now reached 269,811 in Florida, where bars, restaurants and gyms began reopening in May.
The staggering increase in cases in one day comes as more testing in Florida is underway.
The state reported Sunday that 99,003 more tests were conducted. The latest for positive cases in Florida cases was 11.25%, according to the Florida Department of Health.
Forty-five additional deaths were posted by the state Sunday, bringing the death toll to 4,242.
With 104 nonresident deaths included, the toll is 4,346.
Read the full story.
New York offers COVID-19 lessons, prepares for next potential wave
The push in New York to tame the nation’s deadliest outbreak in the spring could offer a blueprint for other states now swamped by the disease.
It could also soon come in handy for leaders in New York as the region prepares for a potential second wave of infection.
As coronavirus rages in the South and West, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, D-New York, warned Friday it would eventually rear up again in his state.
A widely cited University of Washington model doesn’t project spikes — at least through its Nov. 1 time frame — in New York, New Jersey or Connecticut, whose Democratic governors have coordinated on traveler quarantines and, earlier, some shutdown policies. But that doesn’t mean the densely populated tri-state area is in the clear.
“We expect the virus to return in all of those states,” said Dr. Christopher Murray, head of the university’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation. “The question is one of timing.”
Cuomo has offered advice, ventilators, masks, gowns and medicine to states dealing with spikes in cases and hospitalizations and, in some places, rising deaths.
At the same time, the Democratic governor has ordered travelers from more than a dozen states to quarantine for 14 days, while urging New Yorkers not to let up on wearing masks or social distancing.
Others are preparing, too.
Mount Sinai Hospital expanded from 94 intensive-care beds to 235 and converted an atrium and lobby into wards for less-critical patients at the height of the crisis. Now, it’s developing a coronavirus playbook of sorts, so clinicians will have how-tos immediately at hand, said Dr. Roopa Kohli-Seth, who oversees intensive care.
Read the full story.
Public health experts urge caution, monitoring coronavirus' spread in reopening schools
Public health experts warn that a one-size-fits-all to reopening schools could drive coronavirus infection and death rates higher.
They’re urging a more cautious approach ahead of the next academic year, as the Trump administration seeks to pressure schools to resume in-person education.
The American Academy of Pediatrics, whose guidance the Trump administration has cited to support its demands, says the goal is for all students to be physically present in school. But it says school districts need to be flexible, consult with public health authorities and be ready to pivot as virus activity waxes and wanes.
“It is not that the American Academy of Pediatrics thinks this is a done deal because we have put out guidance,” said Dr. Nicholas Beers, a member of the academy’s school health council. “But what we do know is that we need to have a more realistic dialogue about the implications of virtual learning on the future of children. We have left whole swaths of society behind, whether it’s because they have limited access to a computer, or broadband internet,” or because of other challenges that online education can’t address.
President Donald Trump has threatened federal funding cuts for districts that don’t fully reopen.
While most funding typically comes from state and local sources, experts say schools will need more federal funding, not less, to reopen safely.
Masks, extra cleaning supplies or janitors, additional classroom space, mental health support for students and staff traumatized by the pandemic are among potential costs. And with more parents out of work, more children will qualify for federally funded school lunches.
Read the full story.
Cruise ship companies contend with challenges, from docking to costly maintenance
The cruise ship industry is facing an array of challenges during the coronavirus pandemic as it tries to ensure vessels worldwide remain operable.
Since mid-March, only a small handful of the world’s 400-or-so cruise ships have been able to accept passengers — all on hyperlocal itineraries. A few dozen are sailing the world with purpose, repatriating crew members from every corner of the globe.
The rest are sitting idle, unable to sail commercially for the foreseeable future. (In the U.S., the industry has agreed not to resume business at least until Sept. 15. Princess Cruises, Holland America Lines and Carnival Cruises in May canceled their remaining Alaska cruises from Seattle for the season.)
But idling through the pandemic present huge issues for cruise ship companies, from finding a place to park vessels and dealing with mechanical issues to hurricane risks and regulatory hurdles.
The expense is staggering. In a recent SEC filing, Carnival — whose nine brands comprise the world’s largest cruise company — indicated that its ongoing ship and administrations expenses would amount to $250 million a month once all its ships are on pause.
With the company saying it’s unable to predict when cruises resume, that’s a long-term line item on a balance sheet that logged $4.4 billion in losses in the second quarter alone.
Read the full story.
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