Editor’s note: This is a live account of COVID-19 updates from Thursday, July 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 It is no longer being updated.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.
Coronavirus infections continue to rise around the state and across the nation, and data compiled Wednesday shows that the number of cases surged nearly 50% in June as states relaxed quarantine rules and tried to reopen their economies. In Washington, the increase in infections has prompted Gov. Jay Inslee to announce upcoming changes to Washington’s coronavirus reopening plan, expected early next week.
Throughout Thursday, on this page, we’ll post updates from Seattle Times journalists and others on the pandemic and its effects on the Seattle area, the Pacific Northwest and the world. Updates from Wednesday can be found here, and all our COVID-19 coverage can be found here.
Hospitalization rise is cause for concern
Patients suffering from COVID-19 are rapidly filling hospitals across the South and West, with Mississippi, Tennessee, Texas, Nevada and Arizona setting records for hospitalizations Thursday, a sign that the coronavirus pandemic is entering a dangerous new phase.
In Arizona, where the virus appears to be spreading out of control, hospitals rushed to expand capacity and adopted practices similar to those employed at the height of the outbreak in New York City and Italy, including doubling up hospital beds in rooms, pausing elective surgeries and bringing in health-care workers from other states.
Perhaps most chillingly, at the urging of doctors and advisers, state officials this week activated “crisis standards of care” protocols, which determine for hospitals which patients get ventilators and care as the system becomes overwhelmed under the crush of patients.
The coronavirus continued its recent surge across swaths of the United States, with more than 55,000 new cases reported Thursday, eclipsing the record for the largest single-day total that was set on Wednesday.
Sounders planning to fly to Orlando on Friday, but many teams delaying travel as COVID-19 cases rise
Multiple reports across Major League Soccer state teams are delaying travel plans and suspecting schedule changes for the “MLS Is Back Tournament” because of positive cases of COVID-19 among the clubs already sequestered in Florida.
The league’s 54-game return is slated to kickoff July 8 at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports Complex at the Walt Disney World Resort. There are 10 teams sequestered at Disney’s Swan and Dolphin Resort located southwest of Orlando, Florida.
As of Thursday evening, the Sounders FC remained on schedule to take a chartered flight to Orlando on Friday. It’s the last possible date to allot for the league-mandated seven-day quarantine and testing before a team’s opening match, which is July 10 for Seattle.
The Sounders’ travel delegation underwent two tests for coronavirus this week and no positive cases were detected, according to coach Brian Schmetzer. The club hasn’t had a positive test since one occurred in May.
Fears about opening Kansas schools drive state’s mask order
TOPEKA, Kan. — Kansas’ governor and its top public health official said Thursday that they worry that the state won’t be able to reopen its K-12 schools for the new school year in August if it doesn’t reverse a recent surge in reported coronavirus cases.
Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly told legislative leaders that a desire to reopen schools is a key reason for her executive order requiring Kansas residents to wear masks in public and their workplaces. The order takes effect at 12:01 a.m. Friday, with a fine of up to $2,500 possible for violators.
“The trend is going in the wrong direction,” Kelly said during a meeting to review her order. “If we continue that way, we will not be able to open our schools for in-classroom learning in the fall.”
Kelly and other state officials don’t expect strict enforcement with decisions about pursuing violations left up to prosecutors in each of the state’s 105 counties. Attorney General Derek Schmidt, a Republican, can pursue violations but said he will leave them to local officials.
Bellevue's beach parks won't have lifeguards over Independence Day weekend after employee exposed to COVID-19
Bellevue’s six beach parks won’t have lifeguards over Fourth of July weekend because a staff member may have been exposed to COVID-19.
Chesterfield, Chism, Clyde, Enetai and Newcastle beach parks, as well as Meydenbauer Bay Park, will remain open, but unguarded, the City of Bellevue said Thursday. Lifeguards had been monitoring the city’s Lake Washington swim beaches since last week.
The employee was potentially exposed to COVID-19 outside of work, said Bellevue Parks and Community Services spokeswoman Christina Faine.
Other staff members who were around that person during training are self-quarantining, according to the city, which will re-evaluate its lifeguard staffing next week. The city employs 61 lifeguards, Faine said.
The REI Boathouse at Enatai and REI Boathouse at Meyedenbauer Bark Park remain closed, as are playgrounds and picnic shelters.
'Not the time' for Fourth of July barbecues, officials say
Officials are urging Washington state residents to take precautions this holiday weekend, as cases of coronavirus disease have risen in recent weeks.
"This is not the time for extended family or friends, neighborhood birthday parties, retirements or Fourth of July barbecues," state Secretary of Health John Wiesman said during a Thursday news conference.
In counties that are in the second phase of the state's reopening plan, like King County, residents can gather outdoors with up to five people from outside their household. But these gatherings still present health risks, said King County health officer Dr. Jeff Duchin.
"To the extent possible, the message is to avoid contact with others outside of the family," Duchin said. "We understand people will want to get together with small groups, but the smaller the better."
If people do decide to gather, they should take precautions to mitigate risk, Duchin said. These include maintaining distance from others, wearing masks, staying outdoors and not sharing objects or utensils.
King County has seen a recent spike in new cases, from about 40 per day in the first two weeks of June to more than 100 per day in recent weeks, Duchin said. Cases among young adults have risen in particular, and officials are concerned they may unknowingly spread the disease to older family members.
Washington state reports most coronavirus cases ever in a single day
Washington reported 716 new coronavirus cases on Thursday — the state's highest daily total since the beginning of the pandemic — including three more deaths.
The update brings the state’s totals to 34,151 cases and 1,342 deaths, meaning about 3.9% of people diagnosed in Washington have died, according to the state Department of Health (DOH). The data is as of 11:59 p.m. Wednesday.
The latest count also puts Washington at an average of about 497 cases per day for the past 14 days, the state's highest 14-day average since the pandemic began.
So far, 584,989 tests for the novel coronavirus have been conducted in the state, per DOH. Of those, 5.8% have come back positive since testing began. In the past week, 4.8% of tests in Washington have come back positive, according to the state's risk assessment dashboard.
In King County, Washington's most populous, DOH has confirmed 10,535 diagnoses and 615 deaths, accounting for nearly 46% of the state's death toll.
At 6%, King County's all-time positive test rate is higher than the statewide average, but the county's positive test rate for the past week is 3.5%, which is lower than the state's rate for the same period.
Gov. Inslee will require Washington businesses to turn away customers without coronavirus facial coverings
OLYMPIA — Gov. Jay Inslee Thursday announced a range of new emergency actions to slow the spread of the new coronavirus, including new restrictions for bars and a two-week pause on any county advancing to a broader phase in the governor’s four-part reopening plan.
Thursday’s announcement comes as confirmed cases of COVID-19 have been rising in Washington and around the nation.
The new restrictions will still allow bars to start back up in the third phase of the reopening plan, but they won’t be allowed to have bar seating. Customers will still be able to sit down at tables in those establishments.
Inslee announced that next week he will put in place a statewide order barring businesses from serving customers who don’t wear facial coverings to minimize spread of the virus.
Oregon notches 2nd straight day of record COVID-19 cases
PORTLAND, Ore. — The Oregon Health Authority said Thursday there were 375 additional confirmed and presumptive cases of the coronavirus statewide, the second straight day that Oregon has broken a record for the number of daily cases since the pandemic began.
Oregon has seen an increase in case numbers for five weeks in a row and the virus is spreading faster in rural communities in the central and eastern part of the state, state health authorities said. The total number of cases statewide as of Thursday was 9,294.
Umatilla County, more than 200 miles (322 kilometers) east of Portland, accounted for 88 of the cases announced Thursday, while Multnomah County had 64 cases. Health authorities attributed the high numbers in Umatilla County to both an outbreak and community spread.
The state also reported another death, bringing the total to 209 deaths statewide.
Oregon governor blasts state troopers for not wearing masks
SALEM, Ore. — Oregon’s governor on Thursday denounced four state troopers who were seen on video without face masks in a coffee shop, saying such behavior was “inexcusable.”
Under an order from Democratic Gov. Kate Brown, people statewide are required to wear a face covering in indoor public spaces to slow the mounting spread of the coronavirus.
Many people have been complying but others have refused, saying the order infringes on their rights.
Oregon health officials on Thursday reported a record 375 new confirmed and presumptive coronavirus cases, an increase of nearly 100 over Wednesday. Officials predict the increases could reach 900 new cases a day in the state.
“It is inexcusable that a few Oregon State Troopers disregarded my face covering requirement yesterday, and ignored a request from a fellow Oregonian to follow the rule,” Brown said. “No one is above the law.”
Texas governor issues mask order to fight coronovirus
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Thursday ordered that face coverings must be worn in public across most of the state, a dramatic ramp up of the Republican’s efforts to control spiking numbers of confirmed coronavirus cases and hospitalizations.
Abbott, who had pushed Texas’ aggressive reopening of the state economy in May, had previously said the government could not order individuals to wear masks. His prior virus-related orders had undercut efforts by local governments to enforce mask requirements.
But faced with dramatically rising numbers of both newly confirmed cases of the COVID-19 virus and the number of patients so sick they needed to be hospitalized, Abbott changed course with Thursday’s mask order. It requires “all Texans to wear a face covering over the nose and mouth in public spaces in counties with 20 or more positive COVID-19 cases, with few exceptions.”
“We are now at a point where the virus is spreading so fast, there is little margin for error,” Abbott said.
Trump’s Mount Rushmore welcoming committee will include tribal protesters
Tribal leaders in South Dakota plan to protest President Donald Trump’s appearance Friday at an elaborate Mount Rushmore fireworks display, arguing that the event could worsen the state’s coronavirus outbreak and violates Native Americans’ claims to the Black Hills.
The objections of seven Sioux tribal governments — all of whom had raised concerns when Trump officials were planning the trip — underscore how the president has become a polarizing figure regardless of where he travels in the United States. Critics of the president demonstrated outside his recent rallies in Tulsa, Okla., and Phoenix, and they will greet him once he returns to Washington on Saturday for the “Salute to America” celebration he has orchestrated to commemorate Independence Day.
National Park Service officials have not allowed pyrotechnics to be ignited at Mount Rushmore for more than a decade, out of concern that it could set off wildfires and contaminate local drinking water supplies. But Trump has pushed to resume fireworks at the memorial to four U.S. presidents, and this spring the Interior Department finalized an environmental assessment concluding that it would not pose a significant risk to either the land or its waterways.
But that same analysis indicated that six tribes who engaged in consultations with the department “expressed an overall objection to the event and its impacts.” Based on past pyrotechnic shows, the assessment concluded, resuming fireworks “would result in additional unexploded ordnance and debris on the landscape.”
Officials: Students in Alabama threw COVID contest parties
Several college students in an Alabama city organized “COVID-19” parties as a contest to see who would get the virus first, officials said.
Tuscaloosa City Councilor Sonya McKinstry said students hosted the parties to intentionally infect each other with the new coronavirus, news outlets reported.
McKinstry said party organizers purposely invited guests who tested positive for COVID-19. She said the students put money in a pot and whoever got COVID first would get the cash.
“It makes no sense,” McKinstry said. “They’re intentionally doing it.”
Tuscaloosa Fire Chief Randy Smith confirmed the incidents to the City Council on Tuesday. Smith did not say whether actions would be taken against the students. He also did not say which schools the students attend.
Herman Cain hospitalized with COVID-19; he attended Trump's Tulsa rally
Herman Cain, the former pizza chain executive who ran in the Republican presidential primary in 2012, has been hospitalized with COVID-19 less than two weeks after attending President Donald Trump’s campaign rally in Tulsa, Okla.
Cain, 74, learned that he tested positive for the virus Monday, and by Wednesday required hospitalization for his symptoms but is not on a ventilator, according to a statement on his Twitter account.
“There is no way of knowing for sure how or where Mr. Cain contracted the coronavirus, but we do know he is a fighter who has beaten Stage 4 cancer,” the statement says.
While it is unclear where Cain contracted the disease or how long he had it, Cain was among the several thousand attendees at Trump’s Tulsa rally, most of whom did not wear masks.
Vanilla Ice melts under pressure
Vanilla Ice has indefinitely postponed a Texas concert that drew fierce criticism due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The 1990s rapper with the hit single “Ice Ice Baby” had been scheduled to play a lakeside concert just outside Austin on Friday, but on Thursday he announced it was being postponed.
“Due to the increase in COVID-19 numbers in Austin we’re gonna move the concert to a better date,” Vanilla Ice tweeted. “We were hoping for better Coronavirus numbers by July but Unfortunately the numbers have increased quite a bit so for the safety and health of everyone we’re going to stay home.”
Barrett Brannam, who owns the venue where Vanilla Ice had been scheduled to play, said the star — real name Robert Van Winkle — had expressed concern about the health of his fans and himself. Brannam said he didn’t know when the show would be rescheduled.
“Hard to say. Could be later this summer or not until next summer. We don’t now how long this virus will be around,” he said.
Man who went to party warned people not to be 'an idiot like me' before dying of COVID-19
Thomas Macias died a day after sharing his regret on Facebook for going to a party and risking the health of loved ones.
“Because of my stupidity I put my mom and sisters and my family’s health in jeopardy,” the California truck driver wrote in a post his family shared with The Washington Post. He’d gone out to a party where no one wore masks, his niece Danielle Lopez said, only to learn afterward that someone knowingly attended with the novel coronavirus, apparently reasoning — erroneously — that without symptoms, it couldn’t do anyone harm.
But 51-year-old Macias was also at risk, made extra vulnerable by his diabetes and weight, Lopez said. The morning after that June 20 Facebook post, he called his mother saying he couldn’t breathe. She told him to rush to the hospital.
By 9 p.m., family say, he’d died.
Perhaps, Lopez said, her uncle would not have gone out if their Southern California county had not been reopening and if people hadn’t thought the virus’s threat was easing.
“It was absolutely preventable,” Lopez told The Post.
Family say Macias was diligent for months about minimizing his trips outside the home, knowing his health conditions made him vulnerable. But Macias was also a social creature, they said, calling his mom every day and eager to see his loved ones.
Riverside County, where he lived in Lake Elsinore, was approved late in May to enter Phase 2 of California’s reopening process, which meant people could head back to malls and dine in at restaurants. Gyms, nail salons and more followed in June.
Oregon trooper on leave after shop says he didn’t wear mask
PORTLAND, Ore. — An Oregon State Trooper has been put on paid administrative leave after a coffee shop worker complained that he didn’t wear a mask when entering the establishment as required under a statewide order by the governor designed to slow the spread of COVID-19.
The Oregonian/OregonLive reports that the assistant manager of Allan’s Coffee & Tea in Corvallis said the trooper on Wednesday told him that Democratic Gov. Kate Brown had no authority to “take our civil liberties” and then uttered a vulgarity directed toward the governor.
The coffee shop reported the incident to local police.
Capt. Timothy Fox, a spokesman for the state police, said the agency is conducting an internal investigation.
Does wearing a mask pose any health risks?
No, not for most people.
Babies and toddlers should not wear masks because they could suffocate. The same goes for anyone who has trouble removing a mask without help.
Others can wear masks without risking their health, according to experts, despite false rumors to the contrary.
In areas where COVID-19 is spreading, health experts agree that wearing masks or other face coverings in public helps reduce the risk of spreading the virus when people can’t socially distance by staying 6 feet apart.
The coronavirus mainly spreads through droplets that are emitted when people talk, laugh, sing, cough and sneeze. Masks lower the likelihood of those droplets reaching other people. Even if you don’t have symptoms, you could be carrying the virus and could spread it.
Masks don't lower oxygen levels in the body, health experts say. There's also no evidence they cause fungal or bacterial infections.
COVID-19 cases are rising in 40 of 50 states
The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the U.S. climbed to an all-time high of more than 50,000 per day on Thursday, with the infection curve rising in 40 out of 50 states, including Washington state, in a reversal that has largely spared only the Northeast.
In yet another alarming indicator, 36 states are seeing a rise in the percentage of tests that are coming back positive for the virus.
The surge has been blamed in part on Americans not wearing masks or following other social distancing rules as states lifted their lockdowns over the past few weeks.
The U.S. recorded 50,700 new cases, according to a tally kept by Johns Hopkins University. That represents a doubling of the daily total over the past month and is higher even than what the country witnessed during the deadliest phase of the crisis in April and May.
New data as released Wednesday showed Washington state’s case and death counts rose to 33,435 and 1,339 deaths, meaning about 4% of people diagnosed have died, according to the state Department of Health (DOH). The data is as of 11:59 p.m. Tuesday.
The latest count also puts Washington at an average of 475 cases per day for the past 14 days, the state's highest 14-day average since the pandemic began.
All but 10 states are showing an increase in newly confirmed cases over the past 14 days, according to data compiled by the COVID Tracking Project, a volunteer organization that collects testing information. The outbreaks are most severe in Arizona, Texas and Florida, which together with California have re-closed or otherwise clamped back down on bars, restaurants and movie theaters.
Watch directors of the CDC and NIH testify before Senate on coronavirus vaccine
Robert Redfield the director of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes for Health testify before the U.S. Senate regarding a vaccine for SARS-CoV-2.
Why are more young people getting coronavirus?
Reports of outbreaks across the country tied to fraternity houses and college-town bars have helped fuel a perception that people in their teens and 20s — who are far less likely to die from COVID-19 but can still suffer debilitating bouts of the virus or pass it along to others who are more vulnerable — have thrown caution to the wind because they don’t feel threatened by it.
A long list of other factors may also be at play in the increase, however.
“I see plenty of irresponsibility going on across the age spectrum as we have opened up,” said Dr. Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo, chair of the University of California San Francisco’s Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics. “I don’t think it’s helpful to demonize one group or another.”
An analysis released last week found 44% of new coronavirus cases in California were among people 34 or younger, compared to 29% a month ago. Meanwhile, the analysis of California Department of Public Health data, conducted by infectious disease epidemiologist George Lemp, found the share of cases from people over 50 was dropping.
People between the ages of 20 and 39 account for more than half of new COVID-19 cases in King County during the past two weeks.
Which non-medical face masks are most effective?
A study has found the best non-medical face masks for protection from the coronavirus are stitched masks made from two layers of quilting fabric.
The study from Florida Atlantic University researchers used a mannequin head, a manual pump and a smoke generator to approximate a human sneeze and mapped the path of droplets to see how they were altered by various kinds of masks.
The study found the stitched-quilting fabric masks most effective at reducing the distance the droplets traveled, followed by cone-style masks and fold cotton handkerchiefs. Of the face-coverings studied a bandana performed the worst.
Health appointments to keep during the pandemic
People have been putting off regular health appointments during the coronavirus pandemic.
While COVID-19 cases continue to mount, health experts don't want people to avoid seeking care for other things. They have some suggestions on which appointments you shouldn't skip.
Air travel through Sea-Tac Airport is slowly rebuilding
Seattle-Tacoma International Airport has seen passenger volumes multiply from their historic low levels of April 2020, but they remain far below the levels of February before the coronavirus interrupted Sea-Tac’s growth streak.
In the reopening, airline flights have rebounded more quickly than passenger counts. Aircraft takeoffs and landings at Sea-Tac have been above 50% of February levels for the past two weeks, while passenger volumes are at 30% of their recent peak and 21% of their year-ago levels.
Lives Remembered: Blues musician Wade Hickam
Wade Hickam was a member of regional bands including Night Train, The Fabulous Mojo Kings, and most recently, the Moe Ribbs Blues Band. He was held in the highest esteem by fellow musicians and blues enthusiasts in the state.
Mr. Hickam died of COVID-19 on March 26. He was 67.
Quarantine Corner: Things to do while staying home
The glorious “Hamilton” comes to our living rooms tomorrow. It’s a dream to watch, critic Moira Macdonald writes in her roundup of new must-see streaming offers.
Food critic Tan Vinh went a little wild for dumplings from Seattle-area restaurants during the coronavirus shutdown. OK, a lot wild for them. He devoured about 1,000. Here are his top 10, and tips for dumpling newcomers.
Had enough real-life stress lately? Try these three crime thrillers for a bit of fictional relief.
Bad sign for college reopenings: At least 80 UW students in frats test positive for coronavirus
The University of Washington's Greek Row has been hit hard by an outbreak of COVID-19, with at least 12 fraternities involved and hundreds of test results pending. It's a troubling signal of what may be in store if colleges reopen in person, as UW hopes to do.
Why are we seeing a surge in young people testing positive for coronavirus? There's a perception that they're throwing caution to the wind, but several other factors are at play, too.
Catch up on the past 24 hours
As COVID-19 cases rise, Gov. Jay Inslee will lay out updated requirements for businesses, and he's also preparing changes to Washington’s coronavirus reopening plan.
The U.S. hit a record of more than 50,000 new cases yesterday, led by states that reopened first. Oregon also set a new high, but officials there are bracing for far worse. And hard-hit California threw much of its reopening into reverse.
Hundreds of thousands of federal coronavirus testing supplies are arriving in Washington state unlabeled or poorly packaged, leading to major delays and costs, the state health secretary says. Need a test? Here's our updated list of where to get one, plus guidance on getting tested in a way that will yield useful results.
Researchers say they've uncovered the best non-medical face mask for protecting against coronavirus. With the help of a mannequin head and fake sneezes, they compared how four common face coverings stack up. And does wearing a mask pose health risks? Not for most people.
Jobs have been coming back, new numbers out today show, but spiking coronavirus cases are jeopardizing that progress. And Seattle-area job listings are trailing the nation as a whole. One industry that's fizzling out at the moment: fireworks companies, many of them family-owned.
Coronavirus autopsies are stunning the professionals and opening up new mysteries. This is the story of what they're learning from 38 brains, 87 lungs and 42 hearts.
The NFL is expected to cut its preseason in half. Here's what that could mean for the Seahawks, as we head into a season that could see Russell Wilson rising above everyone else to be the league's best quarterback.
Speed dating for baseball: That's what the Mariners' season will look like, one exec said as the M's reported to "Summer Camp."
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