Editor’s note: This is a live account of COVID-19 updates from Monday, July 20 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 It is no longer being updated.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 the number of new coronavirus cases continues to rise in Washington and across the country, President Donald Trump said Sunday that many of the cases “shouldn’t even be cases.” He said that case numbers include young people who “have the sniffles and we put it down as a test.”

He was met with aggressive, real-time fact-checking by his questioner, “Fox News Sunday” anchor Chris Wallace.

Meanwhile, the U.S. death toll has topped 137,000.

In Washington, 920 new cases were recorded Saturday, bringing the total in the state to 46,946 cases. Three more people died from COVID-19, with the total toll reaching 1,447.

Throughout Monday, 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 Sunday can be found here, and all our coronavirus coverage can be found here.

(Jennifer Luxton / The Seattle Times)

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Live updates:

EU nations clinch $2.1T budget, virus aid deal after 4 days

BRUSSELS — Weary but relieved, European Union leaders finally clinched a deal on an unprecedented 1.8 trillion-euro ($2.1 trillion) budget and coronavirus recovery fund early Tuesday, somehow finding unity after four days and nights of fighting and wrangling over money and power in one of their longest summits ever.

With masks and hygienic gel everywhere at the summit, which was spread over five days, the 27 leaders were constantly reminded of the potent medical and economic threat the virus poses to their continent, and grudgingly committed to a massive aid package for those hit hardest by the pandemic. 

To confront the biggest recession in its history, the EU will establish a 750 billion-euro coronavirus fund, partly based on common borrowing, to be sent as loans and grants to the hardest-hit countries. That comes on top of the seven-year, 1 trillion-euro EU budget that leaders had been haggling over for months even before the pandemic.

“This was a summit meeting where I believe the consequences will be historic,” said French President Emmanuel Macron. “It created the possibility of setting up loans together, of setting up a recovery fund in the spirit of solidarity.”

—Associated Press
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Virus stalks Egypt’s prisons amid news blackout

CAIRO — The coronavirus has infected people inside several Egyptian prisons and killed at least 14 detainees, as authorities seek to stifle news of the spread of the virus behind bars, a leading human rights watchdog said Monday.

Human Rights Watch released a report based on letters smuggled from prison and interviews with inmates and their relatives. It documented multiple cases of detainees who died after experiencing suspected virus symptoms without being tested or receiving adequate medical treatment.

Tens of thousands of people in Egypt are crammed into what rights groups say are overcrowded and unsanitary prisons.

Despite appeals for the government of President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi to release thousands of inmates to curb the pandemic, authorities have accelerated a long-running crackdown on dissent, arresting health workers, journalists and critics who voice concerns over the government’s handling of the pandemic.

—Associated Press

Virginia unemployment agency getting outside PR help

RICHMOND, Va. — A Virginia state agency that has faced criticism for its handling of an unprecedented flood of claims for unemployment benefits has hired a well-connected lobbying and communications firm to help with public relations, according to a purchase order. 

The Virginia Employment Commission will pay Capital Results for services including press releases, reporter briefings and social media campaigns, according to a report obtained through the state’s procurement website. The cost is listed at $124,000.

Dozens of Democratic Virginia lawmakers called for reforms at the agency last week, saying in a letter that they were worried about its ability to “adequately address” the high volume of claims sparked by the COVID-19 crisis. Republican state lawmakers and Democratic U.S. Rep. A. Donald McEachin have also separately raised concerns.

The legislators say their offices have been flooded with calls and emails from constituents having trouble accessing unemployment benefits or reaching anyone at the commission for help. News outlets have documented similar issues.

The VEC’s director and Gov. Ralph Northam’s chief workforce adviser have both defended the agency’s work. 

—Associated Press

Texas passes 4,000 deaths, but Houston sees rates steady

AUSTIN, Texas — Texas surpassed 4,000 deaths in the coronavirus pandemic Monday but officials in Houston, one of the hardest-hit cities in the U.S., say they are cautiously optimistic about recent trends following weeks of alarming surges at hospitals.

Texas reported more than 7,400 confirmed new cases and at least 62 new deaths. But in Houston, officials say they are seeing signs of optimism.

Dr. David Persse, Houston’s health authority, said during a news conference that the positivity rate for COVID-19 testing has slightly dipped in recent days and the number of people requiring hospitalization “seems to have tapered off a bit.”

The positivity rate was at 24.5% on Friday, slightly down from a high of 25.9% earlier this month, Persse said, adding that the positivity rate was still “very high.” 

Persse said some of the reasons why hospitalizations might have leveled off recently include hospitals doing a better job of treating patients and the length of time people are staying at medical facilities is getting shorter.

—Associated Press
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Grocery chain Winn-Dixie reverses policy, will require masks

ATLANTA — The parent company of Southern supermarket chain Winn-Dixie said Monday that it is reversing its policy and will now require customers to wear masks at its stores to help reduce the spread of the coronavirus.

Southeastern Grocers Inc. said the requirement will go into effect next Monday. The company had initially rejected a mask mandate, saying it did not want to put its workers in the position of having to ban customers.

But in a statement, the company headquartered in Jacksonville, Florida, said its position had “evolved” and it wanted to more clearly emphasize the importance of its customers’, workers’ and communities’ safety. Still, the company said state and federal officials should be responsible for issuing mask requirements.

“We will continue to work with our peers in the retail industry to advocate for this sensible mandate to be passed into law to remove the burden from employers and their heroic frontline associates,” the company said.

—Associated Press

Seattle City Council approves big-business tax, spending from emergency reserves

The City Council voted unanimously Monday to authorize spending $86 million from Seattle’s emergency reserves to provide additional relief to residents and small businesses struggling to deal with the public health and economic crises caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

It also unanimously approved a resolution laying out a detailed plan for more than $200 million per year in expected proceeds from a new tax on big businesses, allocating the lion’s share to affordable housing projects.

The COVID-19 relief bill and the spending plan for the big-business tax are linked, because the spending plan calls for the first $86 million raised by the tax next year to be used to replenish the emergency reserves.

The council took the steps over objections lodged by Mayor Jenny Durkan, who described them as fiscally, legally and economically risky.

Council members, including sponsor Teresa Mosqueda, celebrated the actions as essential to help Seattle’s most vulnerable households survive the pandemic and to build a more resilient tax system for the city in the years ahead, with large companies paying a greater share for public services.

Read the full story here.

—Daniel Beekman

Seahawks rookies likely will not report on Tuesday as NFL and union work out COVID-19 testing details

While the Seahawks could ask their rookies to report for training camp on Tuesday, that appears unlikely to happen as the league and the NFL Players Association continue to work out details on testing and other matters related to the COVID-19 outbreak.

The Seahawks, instead, are waiting until all issues are sorted out before setting report dates.

Seattle’s rookies were scheduled to report Tuesday, as were 29 other teams around the league. But some teams announced Monday they are moving their report dates back as the league and the union continue to iron things out.

That could mean a delay of only a day or two as the league and the NFLPA made some significant progress in talks Monday. However, it remained unclear exactly when Seattle’s rookies will report with the team making no official announcement one way or the other.

Read the full story here.

—Bob Condotta
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Trump to re-up virus briefings amid lagging polls

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump is set to once again take center stage in the government’s coronavirus response after a White House debate over how best to deploy its greatest and most volatile asset — him — played out in public as his poll numbers falter.

One week after a campaign shake-up, the plan is for Trump to again become a regular public presence at the podium starting Tuesday as confirmed coronavirus cases spike nationwide. 

Trump advisers have stressed the urgency of the president adopting a more disciplined public agenda in an effort to turn around his lagging poll numbers against Democratic rival Joe Biden.

In another sign of recalibration, Trump belatedly tweeted a photo of himself in a face mask Monday, calling it an act of patriotism, after months of resistance to being publicly seen in the coverings — deemed vital to slowing the spread of the virus — as a sign of weakness.

—Associated Press

Washington judge upholds farm housing coronavirus rules

OLYMPIA — A Washington judge Friday upheld coronavirus-related housing rules for farmworkers, rejecting claims by a union that the state bowed to the agricultural industry and adopted unsafe standards.

The Department of Labor and Industries (L&I) and Department of Health strove to protect workers from a disease about which little was known, Thurston County Superior Court Judge John Skinder said.

Familias Unidas por la Justicia, a farmworker union based in northwest Washington, filed the suit, arguing that Washington should have followed Oregon and completely banned bunk beds, The Capital Press reported. Attorney for the union, Andrea Schmitt of Columbia Legal Services, said the rules were the result of political pressure and that state agencies didn’t consider the best evidence available for protecting workers.

Several farm groups intervened in the lawsuit, saying a complete ban on bunk beds would force out of work about 10,000 foreign farmworkers, far more than in Oregon.

—Associated Press

797 new coronavirus cases reported

A total of 797 new cases of COVID-19 were reported in Washington on Sunday, bringing the state's total to 47,743. The Washington State Department of Health also reported six additional deaths. In Washington, 1,453 people have now died from the disease.

In King County, 13,319 cases and 636 deaths have been reported, an increase of 166 cases and one death from the day before.

The data reported Monday was updated as of 11:59 p.m. Sunday.

A total of 826,354 tests have been conducted in the state, with 5.8% of them coming back positive.

—Seattle Times Staff
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American tourists are barred from Bahamas as coronavirus cases spike

One of the few countries to welcome U.S. tourists has changed its mind, citing soaring infection numbers.

The Bahamas will close its borders to most visitors from the United States starting Wednesday, Prime Minister Hubert Minnis said Sunday. While commercial flights from Canada, Britain and the European Union will still be allowed to land, all visitors must show proof that they tested negative for the coronavirus at an accredited lab in the past 10 days. Other foreign flights will be banned.

“Regrettably, the situation here at home has already deteriorated since we began the reopening of our domestic economy,” Minnis said. “It has deteriorated at an exponential rate since we reopened our international borders.”

The statement from the ministry noted that while Bahamasair will cease outgoing flights to the U.S. immediately, “outgoing flights will be permitted to accommodate any current visitors scheduled to return to the United States after Wednesday, July 22.”

Read the full story here.

—Antonia Noori Farzan, The Washington Post

California high school sports seasons delayed until ‘December or January’

The sports seasons for more than 800,000 California high school athletes are on pause until “December or January” because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The decision by the California Interscholastic Federation, which administers high school playoffs, was announced Monday and follows a COVID-19 summer surge that has caused most public and private schools in the state to start the academic year with online classes. The CIF’s 10 sections determine their starting and ending dates, according to the CIF.

“This is the best possible plan we have with what’s going on to give students an opportunity to participate,” Vicky Lagos, the Los Angeles City Section commissioner, said, according to the Los Angeles Times. “There are going to be issues in terms of facilities and multiple-sport athletes, but this is the best scenario for the most people. I have confidence the schools and coaches will work it out among themselves. My take from coaches is they want the opportunity to participate and be with the kids.”

High school football practice was originally scheduled to begin Aug. 3, with games following on Aug. 21. Now, the last day for the football state championships will be April 17. Girls’ volleyball, cross country, boys’ water polo, girls’ golf, girls’ tennis and field hockey also face delays.

Locally, the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association (WIAA), which oversees high school sports in the state, in early July pushed back start dates to Sept. 5 for football and Sept. 7 for all other sports. The WIAA's board will convene Tuesday to determine if further delays are necessary.

Read the full story here.

—The Washington Post

UW coronavirus vaccine shows strong immune response in monkeys, mice

University of Washington researchers, in partnership with a Seattle biotech company, say they have developed a promising candidate for vaccination against the virus that causes COVID-19.

The researchers on Monday published a peer-reviewed paper in Science Translational Medicine that shows their vaccine induced a strong immune response in mice and macaque monkeys, a key step toward human trials.

“We’re very excited about the results and seeing our vaccine entered into the pipeline,” said Deborah Fuller, a microbiologist whose UW Medicine lab developed the potential vaccine. “It’s not going to be one vaccine that’s going to knock down this pandemic.”

The RNA vaccine produced an antibody and T-cell response after a single dose in both young and old mice, as well as in the macaques, said Fuller, an author on the Science Translational Medicine paper.

The strong response to the vaccine by non-human primates suggests it could work with people, too.

Read the full story here.

—Evan Bush
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Fauci to throw first pitch at Nationals opening day

Dr. Anthony Fauci, who has worked to shape the country's response to the coronavirus from within the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, will throw the first pitch at opening day for the Washington Nationals on July 23, the baseball team announced this afternoon.

"Dr. Fauci has been a true champion for our country during the Covid-19 pandemic, and throughout his distinguished career," the team tweeted. "It is only fitting that we honor him as we kick off the 2020 season and defend our World Series Championship title."

Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease effort, has been the target of frequent rhetorical attacks by the Trump administration, which has sought to characterize his science-based approach to battling the coronavirus as mired in fear and detrimental to the economy.

But in popular culture, Fauci's measured tone has won him a devoted following, including donuts, candles and throw pillows bearing his face.

—Katherine K. Long

Stretch of Lake Washington Boulevard will close to vehicle traffic


Lake Washington Boulevard will be closed to cars between Mount Baker Park and Seward Park from late July through Labor Day, Seattle City Councilmember Debora Juarez said Monday.


The announcement comes after Seattle temporarily closed a portion of Lake Washington Boulevard to through traffic in late June.

Amid efforts to encourage social distancing measures during the coronavirus pandemic, Seattle implemented so-called Stay Healthy Streets on mostly residential streets, where vehicle traffic is restricted so people walking, biking and recreating have more space to spread out.

Mayor Jenny Durkan announced in May that the city would make 20 miles of Stay Healthy Streets permanent.

Lake Washington Boulevard was voted the most popular street to be converted next into a Stay Healthy Street, in a Seattle Times Traffic Lab poll.

—Michelle Baruchman and Daniel Beekman

Beefeaters guarding the Tower of London face job cuts

For the first time in their long history, Britain’s iconic Beefeaters, who guard the millennium-old Tower of London, are facing job cuts.

Visitors to the landmark have fallen off sharply amid the novel coronavirus pandemic, according to the Historic Royal Palaces, the independent charity that manages the site.

The Beefeaters, seen in this 2007 photo, were founded by Henry VII in 1485, and they are formally called the Yeomen Warders. (Lefteris Pitarakis / AP, file)
The Beefeaters, seen in this 2007 photo, were founded by Henry VII in 1485, and they are formally called the Yeomen Warders. (Lefteris Pitarakis / AP, file)

Founded by Henry VII in 1485, the Yeomen Warders, as they are formally known, clad in flamboyant ruby and gold or navy blue uniforms, were the traditional guards of prisoners and the Crown Jewels, a collection of more than 23,000 gleaming gemstones and key items connected to the British Monarchy — including emerald encrusted crowns, coronation robes and medals.

Today, their role is ceremonial, focused on welcoming tourists and sharing historical knowledge during group tours of the attraction. For thousands of visitors to London, no sightseeing trip is complete without a photograph with one of the guards.

But after more than 500 years, the future of the Beefeaters looks uncertain.

A Beefeater who wished to remain anonymous due to fear of backlash in the workplace said that the corps had spent years serving the public and protecting the tower only to be asked to take voluntary redundancies during an uncertain time. He said the treatment of the group had been “nothing short of disgusting.”

John Barnes, the chief executive of Historic Royal Palaces, said the charity was “heartbroken,” but had “no choice but to reduce payroll cuts” amid the financial blow dealt by the global health crisis.

Read the story here.

—Jennifer Hassan, The Washington Post
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Judge to hear arguments in Atlanta mask mandate lawsuit

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp returns to his office after giving a coronavirus briefing Friday in Atlanta.  Kemp is suing Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms over the city’s face-mask mandate. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp returns to his office after giving a coronavirus briefing Friday in Atlanta. Kemp is suing Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms over the city’s face-mask mandate. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

A judge plans to hear arguments on an emergency request by Georgia’s governor to stop Atlanta from enforcing a mandate to wear a mask in public and other restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic while a lawsuit on the issue is pending.

Fulton County Superior Court Judge Kelly Ellerbe has scheduled a hearing for 11 a.m. Tuesday on Gov. Brian Kemp’s motion. Because of “the current public health crisis,” the hearing will be held by videoconference, Ellerbe’s order says.

Georgia has tallied 143,123 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 3,173 deaths, with 3,036 people hospitalized as of Sunday afternoon, the most recent figures available.

In a lawsuit filed Thursday against Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and the members of the City Council, Kemp argues that local leaders don’t have the legal authority to change or ignore his executive orders.

“Governor Kemp must be allowed, as the chief executive of this state, to manage the public health emergency without Mayor Bottoms issuing void and unenforceable orders which only serve to confuse the public,” the lawsuit states.

A pandemic-related executive order issued last Wednesday strongly encourages but does not require the wearing of face coverings, and suspends any local laws or rules that are more restrictive, the lawsuit says. Bottoms and some other mayors responded by saying they would continue to enforce local mask mandates.

The lawsuit asks a judge to overturn Bottoms’ orders that are more restrictive than Kemp’s, block her from issuing any more such orders and ban Bottoms from making public statements claiming she has authority that exceeds Kemp’s.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press

Study shows alcohol use surging in U.S. during the pandemic

As the coronavirus pandemic stretches into the year, more adults are drinking to cope, and alcohol sales have surged across the country, a new study says.

Parents, women, unemployed people, Black people and adults with mental health concerns increased their alcohol consumption between February and April, according to a study released from RTI International, a nonprofit research institute.

“After the terrorist attacks on September 11 and also Hurricane Katrina, there was sustained increases in alcohol assumption,” said Carolina Barbosa, a health economist at RTI. “The weeks of isolation imposed by stay-at-home policies and the scale of the current pandemic are unmatched by these recent disasters.”

A bartender mixes a drink this month while wearing a mask and face shield at Slater’s 50/50 in Santa Clarita, Calif. A survey found that about 35% of people reported excessive drinking in April, compared to 29% in February; 27% reported binge drinking. (Marcio Jose Sanchez / AP, file)
A bartender mixes a drink this month while wearing a mask and face shield at Slater’s 50/50 in Santa Clarita, Calif. A survey found that about 35% of people reported excessive drinking in April, compared to 29% in February; 27% reported binge drinking. (Marcio Jose Sanchez / AP, file)

RTI surveyed nearly 1,000 people online in the United States last month to see how their alcohol consumption changed between February and April.

States across the country implemented different shelter-in-place measures beginning in March to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

The respondents on average upped their daily alcohol intake from 0.74 drinks in February to 0.94 in April, RTI said.

About 35% reported excessive drinking in April, compared to 29% in February, and 27% reported binge drinking. The survey did not differentiate between different types of alcohol.

Read the story here.

— Alyssa Lukpat, The News & Observer (Raleigh, N.C.)

85 crew members aboard American Seafoods trawler in Alaska test positive for COVID-19

Eighty-five crew members on an American Seafoods ship docked in the Aleutians tested positive for COVID-19 over the weekend, according to the company.

The American Triumph, a factory trawler, departed Oregon on June 27 and headed to Alaska with 119 crew members to fish for pollock, the company wrote in a statement. Seven crew members reported COVID-19 symptoms two weeks after the ship departed, and they were tested in Unalaska shortly after arriving on Thursday. Six of the seven tested positive.

After testing all the remaining crew members, 79 more workers were found to be positive, bringing the total number of COVID-19 cases on the American Triumph to 85, according to a statement from the city.

It was not immediately clear how many of the crew members were experiencing COVID-19 symptoms prior to testing, but American Seafoods spokeswoman Suzanne Lugoni said the company screens employees before they board and no one showed COVID-19 symptoms prior to departure.

Alaska saw a record number of COVID-19 cases reported Sunday, with 119 new infections statewide. Of the 85 Unalaska cases, thirty-six were reported in time to be included in the state’s daily total Sunday.

The American Triumph is a 285-foot factory trawler, part of a fleet of six fishing vessels owned by Seattle-based company. Four crew members tested positive on the vessel last month.

Read the story here.

—Tess Williams, Anchorage Daily News
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GOP leaders meet at White House as virus crisis deepens

Top Republicans in Congress met Monday with President Donald Trump at the White House on the next COVID-19 aid package as the crisis many hoped would have improved has dramatically worsened, just as emergency relief is expiring.

New divisions between the Senate GOP majority and the White House posed fresh challenges. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was prepared to roll out the $1 trillion package in a matter of days. But the administration panned more virus testing money and interjected other priorities that could complicate quick passage.

“It’s not going to magically disappear,” said a somber McConnell, R-Ky., last week during a visit to a hospital in his home state to thank front-line workers.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said Monday any attempt by the White House to block testing money “goes beyond ignorance.”

Lawmakers were returning to a Capitol still off-limits to tourists, another sign of the nation’s difficulty containing the coronavirus. Rather than easing, the pandemic’s devastating cycle was happening all over again, leaving Congress little choice but to engineer another costly rescue. Businesses were shutting down again, schools could not fully reopen and jobs were disappearing, all while federal aid expired.

Without a successful federal strategy, lawmakers are trying to draft one.

Trump insisted again Sunday that the virus would “disappear,” but the president’s view did not at all match projections from the leading health professionals straining to halt the alarming U.S. caseload and death toll.

The U.S. Capitol is still off-limits to tourists amid the pandemic. (/Andrew Harnik / AP, File)
The U.S. Capitol is still off-limits to tourists amid the pandemic. (/Andrew Harnik / AP, File)

Read the story here.

— Lisa Mascaro, The Associated Press

Travel Troubleshooter: Dealing with EU's ban on Americans visiting due to COVID-19

The European Union recently banned Americans from visiting due to the coronavirus situation in the United States, prompting lots of questions: Who can travel to Europe? Who can’t? How long will the ban last? Can I get a refund for my airline ticket if I cancel? And is there a way around any of these restrictions?

“It’s more uncertainty,” says Cate Caruso, a travel adviser with Virtuoso-affiliated True Places Travels in Vancouver, Washington. “As if we didn’t have enough of that.”

A passenger at the Barcelona airport in Barcelona, Spain in June.  (Emilio Morenatti / AP)
A passenger at the Barcelona airport in Barcelona, Spain in June. (Emilio Morenatti / AP)

The worry extends beyond summer. Travelers are already looking for ways to cancel or postpone their fall trips. I had plans to visit Portugal’s Azores in December, and I’m starting to doubt that I’ll make it.

“It’s unlikely that this ban will be lifted soon,” says Mahalia Desruisseaux, an infectious-disease specialist at Yale Medicine. “The next few months will be crucial in determining whether the restrictions will be loosened, depending on how successful we are in better controlling the spread of the virus. It is probably prudent to postpone any European vacations until at least 2021.”

Read the answers to the most frequently asked questions about the Europe travel ban here.

—Christopher Elliott Special to The Seattle Times

Arizona reopened early to revive its economy, but now faces greater devastation

Arizona was one of the last states to close, and the first to reopen, when the coronavirus started to sweep the nation this spring. But a brazen gamble to restart its struggling economy has backfired months later, threatening to plunge workers and businesses into a deeper financial hole.

Hundreds of thousands of people are still out of a job, some for the second time this year. Restaurants, gyms and other companies are closing up shop once again – perhaps for good. Even government officials say they are bracing for a crippling blow, with the latest shutdown expected to cleave further into their still-souring finances.

The economic devastation comes as Congress prepares to return Monday and begin debating how to structure another round of federal stimulus. The $2 trillion Cares Act, which lawmakers adopted in March, helped buttress the country during the early days of the pandemic. But many of those benefits are on the verge of expiring, imperiling states that are in worse shape than they were nearly four months ago.

Like Florida, Texas and others that opened early, Arizona now ranks as one of the country’s worst coronavirus hot spots, with more than 143,000 cases and more than 2,700 deaths as of this weekend. Some residents in cities such as Phoenix and Scottsdale say the surge is the result of the state’s return to old routines, after Republican Gov. Doug Ducey lifted his stay-at-home order in May in part to give the local economy a boost – leading people to flock, often without masks, to cramped public places.

Read the story here.

—The Washington Post
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Kentucky announces single-day high of new coronavirus cases

A daily record of nearly 1,000 coronavirus cases was reported Sunday in Kentucky, a spike that the governor said should be a “wake-up call” for the state’s citizens to abide by mask and social distancing restrictions.

Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear announced in a news release that there were 979 new cases reported Sunday, including 30 involving children 5 years old or younger.

“I have faith and I have trust in the people of Kentucky,” Beshear said in a news release. “But today and in the days ahead we’ve got to do a whole lot better. We’re going to have to take some more action.”

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear released a message calling on state residents to be vigilant in their efforts to combat the coronavirus.  (Ryan C. Hermens / Lexington Herald-Leader via AP)
Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear released a message calling on state residents to be vigilant in their efforts to combat the coronavirus. (Ryan C. Hermens / Lexington Herald-Leader via AP)

Beshear said there were at least 23,161 coronavirus cases in Kentucky as of 4 p.m. Sunday, including the new cases reported on Sunday. The state’s public health commissioner said efforts would be made to confirm the accuracy of the results with some of the laboratories that submitted them.

“We typically have limited reporting on Sunday, which makes today’s record-setting number of positives particularly alarming,” said Dr. Steven Stack, commissioner of the Department of Public Health.

Stack urged Kentuckians to wear masks and socially distance and said the state “has flattened the curve before, and it must act immediately and decisively to flatten it again.”

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press

First COVID-19, now mosquitoes: Bracing for bug-borne ills

Sophia Garabedian, 6, of Sudbury, Mass., contracted eastern equine encephalitis in 2019. As the coronavirus pandemic subsides for now in the hard hit Northeast, public health officials in the region are bracing for another mysterious virus: eastern equine encephalitis, a rare but severe mosquito-borne virus. (Steven Senne / AP)
Sophia Garabedian, 6, of Sudbury, Mass., contracted eastern equine encephalitis in 2019. As the coronavirus pandemic subsides for now in the hard hit Northeast, public health officials in the region are bracing for another mysterious virus: eastern equine encephalitis, a rare but severe mosquito-borne virus. (Steven Senne / AP)

Sophia Garabedian had been dealing with a persistent fever and painful headache when her parents found her unresponsive in her bed one morning last fall.

Doctors ultimately diagnosed the then-5-year-old Sudbury, Massachusetts, resident with eastern equine encephalitis (EEE), a rare but severe mosquito-borne virus that causes brain swelling.

Garabedian survived the potentially fatal virus after about a month in Boston hospitals, but her parents say her ordeal and ongoing recovery should be a warning as people take advantage of the outdoors this summer.

“It’s been a rough year,” said David Garabedian, her father. “With any brain injury, it’s hard to tell. The damage is there. How she works through it is anyone’s guess.”

As the coronavirus pandemic subsides for now in the hard-hit Northeast, public health officials in the region are warning about another potentially bad summer for EEE and other insect-borne illnesses.

With more people spending more time outdoors amid the coronavirus pandemic, health officials are also warning about the risk of contracting other insect-borne illnesses.

EEE saw an unexpected resurgence last summer across 10 states: Alabama, Connecticut, Georgia, Indiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, North Carolina, Rhode Island and Tennessee.

And Zika, an invasive mosquito known to transmit dengue, and other tropical viruses has already been detected for the first time this season in Michigan, said Mary Grace Stobierski, the state’s public health veterinarian.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press

UK coronavirus vaccine prompts immune response in early test

Scientists at Oxford University near London say their experimental coronavirus vaccine has been shown in an early trial to prompt a protective immune response in hundreds of people who got the shot.

British researchers first began testing the vaccine in April in about 1,000 people, half of whom got the experimental vaccine. Such early trials are usually designed only to evaluate safety, but in this case experts were also looking to see what kind of immune response was provoked.

In research published Monday in the journal Lancet, scientists said that they found their experimental COVID-19 vaccine produced a dual immune response in people aged 18 to 55.

In this handout photo released by the University of Oxford a doctor takes blood samples for use in a coronavirus vaccine trial in Oxford, England, Thursday June 25, 2020. Scientists at Oxford University say their experimental coronavirus vaccine has been shown in an early trial to prompt a protective immune response in hundreds of people who got the shot. In research published Monday July 20, 2020 in the journal Lancet, scientists said that they found their experimental COVID-19 vaccine produced a dual immune response in people aged 18 to 55. British researchers first began testing the vaccine in April in about 1,000 people, half of whom got the experimental vaccine. (John Cairns, University of Oxford via AP)
In this handout photo released by the University of Oxford a doctor takes blood samples for use in a coronavirus vaccine trial in Oxford, England, Thursday June 25, 2020. Scientists at Oxford University say their experimental coronavirus vaccine has been shown in an early trial to prompt a protective immune response in hundreds of people who got the shot. In research published Monday July 20, 2020 in the journal Lancet, scientists said that they found their experimental COVID-19 vaccine produced a dual immune response in people aged 18 to 55. British researchers first began testing the vaccine in April in about 1,000 people, half of whom got the experimental vaccine. (John Cairns, University of Oxford via AP)

“We are seeing good immune response in almost everybody,” said Dr. Adrian Hill, director of the Jenner Institute at Oxford University. “What this vaccine does particularly well is trigger both arms of the immune system,” he said.

Hill said that neutralizing antibodies are produced — molecules which are key to blocking infection. In addition, the vaccine also causes a reaction in the body’s T-cells which help to fight off the coronavirus.

He said that larger trials evaluating the vaccine’s effectiveness, involving about 10,000 people in the U.K. as well as participants in South Africa and Brazil are still underway. Another big trial is slated to start in the U.S. soon, aiming to enroll about 30,000 people.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press
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Quarantine Corner

Is anything cuter than a 3-month-old cheetah? Here are five things for your kids to enjoy this week, from wild webcams to weather geekery.

With all the new streaming services abound, how can you tell which is best for you? Here's a breakdown of costs and benefits, plus a look at what's new on broadcast TV this summer.

—Kris Higginson

Catch up on the last 24 hours

Congress has little choice but to engineer another economic rescue. Businesses are shutting down, schools cannot fully reopen and jobs are disappearing, all while federal emergency aid expires.

Even local businesses that are trying to reopen are facing months of uncertainty, as the entire ecosystem they depend on has been upended.

More than 6 million applied for food stamps during the pandemic, growing the program three times faster than in any previous three months.

This strange time is one for the history books, and you can be a part of that by sending your COVID-19 stories and photos to the Seattle Public Library and other historical organizations.