Editor’s note: This is a live account of COVID-19 updates from Friday, July 24 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 It is no longer being updated.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.
The U.S. now has more than 4 million confirmed cases of COVID-19. The grim milestone is a reminder of how much more rapidly the virus is spreading this summer, having gone from 3 million cases to 4 million in just 15 days.
Washington state is reacting to its own recent uptick in infections by imposing expanded mask requirements and stricter limitations on bars, restaurants, gyms and other places people congregate. Plus, more schools are announcing they’ll teach mostly or completely online this fall.
Throughout Friday, on this page, we’ll be posting updates on the pandemic and its effects on the Seattle area, the Pacific Northwest and the world. Updates from Thursday can be found here, and all our coronavirus coverage can be found here.
In-store dancing leads to Hawaii visitor quarantine arrest
HONOLULU (AP) — Investigators with the Hawaii attorney general’s office arrested a 20-year-old woman after seeing videos of her dancing in a store and dining out when she was supposed to be obeying a traveler quarantine the state mandated to protect against the spread of the coronavirus.
Anne Salamanca arrived in Honolulu on July 6 and four days later, the Hawaii Tourism Authority learned she was out in public, in violation of the 14-day quarantine, the state said in a news release Friday.
The tourism authority informed attorney general special agents, who were shown videos of her dancing and dining.
The state’s news release said Salamanca is from Birmingham, Alabama. She’s also a “social media influencer” in the Philippines who goes by Mika Salamanca and arrived from Manila, KITV reported.
The Honolulu news station reported she apologized on social media, but she claimed law enforcement came to the house where she’s staying and told her if she had a negative COVID-19 test, she could go out.
Hundreds of Texas bar owners pledge defiance to Abbott order
FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — Hundreds of Texas bar owners say they’ll defy Gov. Greg Abbott’s mandate that ordered them closed after a surge in coronavirus cases.
Fort Worth bar owner Chris Polone has organized what’s labeled as “Freedom Fest,” in which hundreds of bar owners say they’ll open their doors and set ’em up Saturday. About 800 bar owners have promised participation, Polone told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, which could place their state liquor licenses in jeopardy.
Bars must adhere to safety measures that include taking customers’ temperatures before entering, maintaining social distancing, requiring face coverings and having hand sanitizer available, Polone said. He said he plans to use a germicide approved by the U.S. Centers For Disease Control and Prevention to fog his place.
Participants will charge a $10 cover charge, the proc
San Francisco bus driver hit with bat over mask requirement
SAN FRANCISCO — A San Francisco bus driver was beaten with a bat by a passenger who refused to wear a face mask, police said.
Three young men without masks got on a public bus Wednesday afternoon and the driver repeatedly asked them to don face coverings, police said.
A city health order requires masks to be worn on public transport, an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
When the driver pulled over to escort the men off the bus, one pulled out a wooden bat and hit the driver several times, police said.
The men fled and haven’t been arrested.
Federal judge rejects legal challenges to Inslee’s emergency orders to curb spread of COVID-19
OLYMPIA — A federal judge Friday denied a request for a preliminary injunction against Gov. Jay Inslee’s emergency coronavirus orders that had been brought by some Republican state lawmakers.
Filed in May by those legislators and other plaintiffs, the legal challenge contended “the emergency has been contained” and that ongoing restrictions for businesses, workers and residents weren’t legally justified.
The legal challenge — one of several seeking to stop Inslee’s use of emergency powers to slow the spread of the virus — was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington.
In a court order dated Friday, Judge Benjamin Settle wrote that federal lawsuits against state officials are allowed in certain instances where the state official being sued has a connection with the enforcement of an allegedly unconstitutional act.
But attorneys for Inslee persuasively argued that while the governor issues emergency orders, Settle wrote, it is other officials who actually enforce those orders.
New study documents systemic racism in Seattle restaurants
What happens if a white server and a person of color with the same qualifications apply for jobs at 100 different upscale Seattle restaurants?
Using pairs of actors to conduct same-day tests, a new study by Restaurant Opportunities Centers United (ROC United) and the Seattle Office for Civil Rights shows that they received the same treatment only a little over a third of the time, while white workers received preferential treatment almost half the time. Evidence of treatment favoring people whom the report classified as Black or Latinx was found in 17% of the tests.
While each pair of interviewees was coached together and matched in terms of gender, age, resume credentials and manner, their interviews varied in ways starkly described in the report: “White tester was invited to contact general manager, Black tester was not,” “White tester offered job as server, Black tester asked to consider a position as a barista,” “General manager shook white tester’s hand only.”
How to return your Seattle Public Library books
Before Seattle Public Library can begin its next phase of reopening — curbside pickup service — it needs to get back the thousands of books lent out before the pandemic closed library doors back in March.
That process has now begun: The library is now accepting book returns at the Ballard, Broadview, Douglass-Truth, Green Lake, High Point, Lake City, Northeast, Rainier Beach and Southwest branches, on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays from noon to 6 p.m. or until the bookdrops are full. The Central Library will be added to that list Saturday, July 25, and the Columbia and Beacon Hill branches on Tuesday, July 28.
King County health official says weekly average of new coronavirus cases is higher than it's been since April
King County's top health official warned residents Friday that the current seven-day average of new coronavirus cases has reached the highest it's been since the beginning of April, and urged community members to start making "long-term fundamental changes."
Jeff Duchin, health officer at Public Health - Seattle & King County, said in a virtual news conference that King County is currently averaging 171 cases per day, compared to the approximately 40 cases per day in early June. Last week, Duchin added, the county saw more than 1,000 new cases.
"We all need to reboot our attitude about this disease and our resolve to take the necessary steps to live with it safely," Duchin said, reminding residents to limit activities, avoid group gatherings, wear a mask whenever in public and wash and sanitize their hands frequently.
The median age of coronavirus patients has risen from 26 years old in early June to 36 now, though hospitalizations have remained steady, he said. Currently, about 2% of all county hospital beds are occupied by COVID-19 patients.
"We need to think through how we as individuals, as families, businesses and as community members can interact as safely as possible and respect one another by taking the prevention measures very seriously," Duchin added in a statement. "The alternative will ultimately be increasing numbers of serious illnesses for some of our most vulnerable community members and bad outcomes that will inevitably occur even among healthy younger people.”
26 deaths in 3 US convents, as nuns confront the pandemic
LIVONIA, Michigan — At a convent near Detroit, 13 nuns have died of COVID-19. The toll is seven at a center for Maryknoll sisters in New York, and six at a Wisconsin convent that serves nuns with fading memories.
Each community perseveres, though strict social-distancing rules have made communal solidarity a challenge as the losses are mourned.
Only small, private funeral services were permitted as the death toll mounted in April and May at the Felician Sisters convent in Livonia, Michigan — a spiritual hardship for the surviving nuns.
Nearly all communal activities have been suspended since March, and the 40 remaining residents are not allowed to see visitors, said Michael O’Loughlin, communications director for the School Sisters of St. Francis.
“The changes are confusing for the sisters — the loss of their religious activities has been very difficult, with no Masses or daily Rosary in chapel,” he said. “They do not understand the virus and find it difficult to stay confined to their rooms.”
‘Clear as mud’ housing refund plans irk college students
RALEIGH, N.C. — When Laura Comino opened the housing email from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro in June, she knew she had to take action.
At the direction of the state’s public university system, UNCG asked her to sign a housing contract addendum acknowledging that she might not get a refund if the school kicks her out of her dorm in the fall because of the coronavirus pandemic.
An online petition Comino circulated days later collected nearly 40,000 signatures from people demanding that all 16 UNC System colleges offer prorated refunds and return deposits if the virus closes dorms.
With classes scheduled to begin in August, the possibility of no refunds has left students and administrators alike with questions. Comino and the dean of her school, Andrew Hamilton, both called the policy “clear as mud.”
Like Comino, students across the country are facing uncertainty about whether they’ll get housing refunds if they’re displaced from campus by the pandemic. And they are pushing back against policies they view as prioritizing university revenue over their financial well-being.
Thousands of families evicted in Sao Paulo amid pandemic
The growing number of evictions driven by Brazil’s COVID-19 pandemic is worsening an already serious housing problem in the country. Before the pandemic, local authorities counted more than 200,000 families waiting for adequate housing in Sao Paulo, a city of 12 million.
The human rights and research group LabCidade estimates more than 2,000 families have lost their homes in Sao Paulo state since March, with another 1,000 facing the same risk in upcoming weeks. It is a high figure for a state with 46 million residents, about the same population as Spain.
Raquel Rolnik, a former U.N. special investigator on adequate housing and a coordinator for LabCidade, says similar evictions have happened all over Brazil.
“We will see many more people on the streets soon,” Rolnik told The Associated Press on the phone. “There is no public policy to handle these cases.”
No virus bill yet: White House, GOP at odds over jobless aid
WASHINGTON (AP) — Negotiations over a new COVID-19 rescue bill were in flux Friday after the White House floated cutting an unemployment benefits boost to as little as $100 and President Donald Trump turned to a new priority, adding money to build a new FBI headquarters.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell sent senators home, promising a Republican proposal would be ready on Monday. Outraged Democrats warned that time was being wasted on GOP infighting as the virus worsens, jobless aid expires and the death toll rises.
“We call upon Leader McConnell to get serious,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer in a statement.
During a head-spinning week of start-and-stop efforts, McConnell abruptly halted the rollout of the Republicans’ $1 trillion plan, which was supposed to provide a counter-offer to the Democrats’ $3 trillion bill in an opening bid for negotiations. Trump was forced to abandon his push for a payroll tax break, which his party opposed, and the White House turned to new priorities.
As Republicans struggled, the nation’s infections topped 4 million, deaths rose by several thousand, to nearly 145,000, and the $600 unemployment benefit boost for millions of out-of-work Americans was on track to expire.
As McConnell shut down the Senate, he promised to return with “a strong, targeted piece of legislation aimed directly at the challenges we face right now.”
State DOH confirms 815 new COVID-19 cases and 13 new deaths in Washington
State health officials confirmed 815 new COVID-19 cases and 13 new deaths in Washington on Friday afternoon, concluding a week in which Gov. Jay Inslee added restrictions to the state's reopening plans to slow the surge of the novel coronavirus.
The update brings state totals to 50,824 cases and 1,495 deaths, meaning about 2.9% of people diagnosed in Washington have died, per the state Department of Health (DOH) COVID-19 dashboard. The data is as of 11:59 p.m. Thursday.
So far, 883,982 tests for the novel coronavirus have been conducted in Washington, per state DOH. Of those, 5.7% have come back positive.
In King County, the state's most populous, officials have confirmed 14,026 diagnoses and 643 deaths, accounting for about 43.01% of the state’s COVID-19 death toll.
COVID-19 recovery can take a few weeks, even for young adults
Recovering from even mild coronavirus infections can take at least two to three weeks, according to U.S. research published Friday.
Lingering symptoms can even affect otherwise healthy young adults. Among those aged 18 to 34 with no chronic illness, 1 in 5 were still experiencing COVID-19 symptoms after two to three weeks, the study found.
Cough, fatigue and body aches were among the most common persistent symptoms.
Most previous research on long-lasting COVID-19 symptoms has focused on sicker, hospitalized adults. Only 7% of patients in the new study needed hospital treatment.
The study was led by researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. They did phone surveys of 274 patients in several states who tested positive for the virus between the end of March and June 4. Patients were queried two to three weeks after those tests.
About one-third of middle-aged adults had not fully recovered, and for those 50 and older, the rate was almost half.
With a COVID-19 death every 8 minutes, this Florida community fears who will be next
Jack Forst and Don Garcy have been close friends longer than most elderly couples have been married.
For years they were neighbors in Longwood, Fla., where Forst was a marketing and sales executive for a beverage company and Garcy ran an insurance office. For the last decade they’ve lived near one another in The Villages, a sprawling retirement community not far from their old homes.
But when they met at a Starbucks on a recent weekday morning, their greeting was infused with the fear that has gripped many across this state.
“My wife’s in quarantine,” Forst called across the lobby.
Garcy, 84, nodded but didn’t speak, as if a bemused character in a John Updike novel. He had recently finished two months in quarantine himself, and has become so accustomed to the blue cotton face mask he wears that he sometimes tries to eat with it on.
Word of a new COVID-19 case isn't so much news as it is a conversation starter in the Villages, a master-planned community that has over 132,000 residents, three ZIP codes and 55 golf courses. News of rising infections arrive with unnerving frequency.
Forst and Garcy didn’t expect their lives to spool out this way, worrying about a pandemic in a nation on edge. But this America — they had endured Vietnam, civil rights marches, Kennedy assassinations, recessions, terrorist attacks and the scandal of Watergate — is somehow different, less certain when it takes stock of itself in an age of fresh graves and hoped-for vaccines.
COVID-19 has ravaged Florida, with more than 237,000 people testing positive and 2,013 dying from the virus in July alone. A record 173 Floridians died from the virus Thursday, an average of more than one every eight minutes. And that has taken a heavy toll on residents older than 65, who account for just 13% of the state’s coronavirus cases but 82% of the fatalities.
Mounting virus cases spark concern in Florida nursing homes
The coronavirus transformed Florida’s nursing homes into closely guarded fortresses beginning in March, with the state banning family visits, isolating infected residents in separate wings and now requiring staff be tested every two weeks. But the explosion of cases statewide is proving that is not enough.
The numbers are already showing the grim reality, underscoring how mask compliance and restrictions in the outside world impact the state’s most vulnerable. In the past three weeks, cases have gone from about 2,000 to some 4,800 at Florida nursing homes. Roughly 2,550 long-term care residents and staff have died overall, accounting for about 45% of all virus deaths in Florida.
“Where you see COVID hot spots, our anxiety level in our centers automatically goes up. Our vigilance goes through the roof,” said Luke Neumann, a vice president at Palm Garden, which has 14 facilities across Florida.
“That’s how societies are judged in part — by how you care for the weak and aged,” Neumann said.
Florida recorded 173 new coronavirus deaths Thursday, a daily high that pushed its toll from the pandemic to more than 5,500. Deaths inside nursing homes have also been on the rise, averaging about 40 per day in the last week after those numbers had dropped in mid-June to lower than 20 deaths per day.
In sharp reversal, CDC now calls for opening schools
The top U.S. public health agency issued a full-throated call to reopen schools in a package of new resources posted on its website Thursday night that opened with a statement listing numerous benefits for children of being in school, while downplaying the potential health risks.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published the new guidance two weeks after President Donald Trump criticized its earlier recommendations on school reopenings as “very tough and expensive,” ramping up an anguished national debate over the question of how soon children should return to classrooms. As the president was criticizing the initial CDC recommendations, a document from the agency surfaced that detailed the risks of reopening and the steps that districts were taking to minimize those risks.
“Reopening schools creates opportunity to invest in the education, well-being and future of one of America’s greatest assets — our children — while taking every precaution to protect students, teachers, staff and all their families,” the new opening statement said.
The package of materials began with the opening statement, titled “The Importance of Reopening America’s Schools This Fall,” and described children as being at low risk for being infected by or transmitting the coronavirus, even though the science on both aspects is far from settled.
“The best available evidence indicates if children become infected, they are far less likely to suffer severe symptoms,” the statement said. “At the same time, the harms attributed to closed schools on the social, emotional, and behavioral health, economic well-being, and academic achievement of children, in both the short- and long-term, are well-known and significant.”
Mandatory masks becoming the rule amid Europe’s virus uptick
New rules on wearing masks in England went into effect Friday, with people entering shops, banks and supermarkets now required to wear face coverings, while Romania reported a record for daily infections and new cases nearly doubled in France.
People in England can be fined as much as 100 pounds ($127) by police if they refuse. The British government had given mixed signals for weeks before deciding on the policy. Places like restaurants, pubs, gyms and hairdressers are exempt.
John Apter, the national chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales, said officers would be available as a last resort but added that he hopes the public “will continue to do the right thing” to protect other citizens.
In Belgium, health authorities said a 3-year-old girl has died after testing positive for COVID-19 as new infections surged 89% from the previous week.
Belgian authorities have bolstered up restrictions to slow the spread of coronavirus, including making masks mandatory in crowded outdoor public spaces. Belgium has been hard hit by the pandemic, with 64,847 cases and 9,812 deaths registered so far.
Overall, Europe has seen over 201,000 deaths in the pandemic, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University. Experts say the true toll from the coronavirus worldwide is much higher, due to limited testing and other issues.
Nearly half say job lost to virus won’t return, AP-NORC poll finds
Nearly half of Americans whose families experienced a layoff during the coronavirus pandemic believe those jobs are lost forever, a new poll shows, a sign of increasing pessimism that would translate into about 10 million workers needing to find a new employer, if not a new occupation.
It’s a sharp change after initial optimism the jobs would return, as temporary cutbacks give way to shuttered businesses, bankruptcies and lasting payroll cuts. In April, 78% of those in households with a job loss thought they’d be temporary. Now, 47% think that lost job is definitely or probably not coming back, according to the latest poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.
The poll is the latest sign the solid hiring of May and June, as some states lifted stay-at-home orders and the economy began to recover, may wane as the year goes on. Adding to the challenge: Many students will begin the school year online, making it harder for parents to take jobs outside their homes.
“Honestly, at this point, there’s not going to be a job to go back to,” said Tonica Daley, 35, who lives in Riverside, California, and has four children ranging from 3 to 18 years old. “The kids are going to do virtual school, and there is no day care.”
New cuts threaten the Postal Service when it’s most needed
“Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night nor COVID-19 stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.”
Except for the pandemic mention, these words have long been the unofficial motto of U.S. Postal Service letter carriers. They were chiseled in granite on the monumental 1912 New York General Post Office. They are lived daily by hundreds of thousands of postal workers.
For their fellow citizens, the mail has assumed new importance, with millions shut in by the pandemic.
The Postal Service, the most popular of federal agencies, is essential, affordable and goes everywhere. As in the 1918 influenza pandemic, the agency has continued its logistical feat during COVID-19. Meanwhile, at least 12,000 of its workers have been infected and 67 have died.
Columnist Jon Talton writes that unfortunately, President Donald Trump has long been an enemy of the Postal Service, repeating the false assertion that it loses money by delivering for Amazon, calling the agency “a joke” and threatening to strangle its funding.
Now, his new postmaster general, Louis DeJoy, is imposing draconian cutbacks, including eliminating overtime.
In an internal memo obtained by The Washington Post, DeJoy states that USPS “must make immediate, lasting and impactful changes in our operations and in our culture.”
Quarantine Corner: How to make the most of your socially distanced weekend
What to watch: Memorable films (and a series) take us on the trail of U.S. election campaigns and the making of the presidents.
What to eat: From life-changing sandwiches to Seattle's best pizza, restaurant critic Bethany Jean Clement is sharing favorite takeout dinners.
2020's most prominent and important fashion accessory
No matter how you feel about it, the humble mask is now the world’s most ubiquitous accessory, both a practical safeguard and a political symbol for many.
Fashion designer Luly Yang and other Seattleites are on the cutting edge, "so excited" about a chance to make things better with their creations — which are quickly becoming a lifeline for the industry.
Not since humans invented shoes and undies has a single item of dress caught on so quickly, spanning borders, cultures and generations.
Catch up on the past 24 hours
A series of jaw-dropping new numbers suggests America is badly losing the fight against the coronavirus.
Gov. Jay Inslee has announced sweeping new restrictions on bars, restaurants, fitness centers and more as coronavirus cases rise, and a stricter mask order takes effect tomorrow. Here's what you need to know, and where that leaves us on the activities you can (and can't) do in each Washington county.
A Renton doctor knew she had COVID-19 and kept working at a nursing home, telling nobody that she was infected while she spread the virus, a lawsuit alleges.
The virus killed one Floridian every eight minutes yesterday, on average, leaving residents of one retirement community fearing who will be next. And how did things get so dire in California, where coronavirus cases have rocketed past 400,000? "We got impatient," an epidemiologist explains. This is a health expert's "worst nightmare," and we might not even be halfway through it, Dr. Anthony Fauci said yesterday.
An Eastside tech executive took $5.5 million in fraudulent virus relief funds, federal officials say.
President Donald Trump has scrapped plans for a four-night Republican National Convention celebration in the pandemic hot spot of Florida.
The school year will begin remotely, the Lake Washington and Tacoma districts have announced, joining other major public-school systems around the region. WSU and Seattle U will teach almost all classes remotely this fall as well, and UW is working on sharply limiting its in-person classes. Meanwhile, as Trump calls for schools to fully reopen, his son's school will not.
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