Editor’s note: This is a live account of COVID-19 updates from Tuesday, July 28 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 It is no longer being updated.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.
Thousands of volunteers helped launch the world’s biggest COVID-19 vaccine trial Monday by testing shots created by the U.S. government. President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence visited development sites in North Carolina and Florida, in an attempt to highlight the study that’s one of several candidates racing to develop a vaccine.
Throughout Tuesday, 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 Monday can be found here, and all our coronavirus coverage can be found here.
Port of Seattle seeks to bring more tourists to state as coronavirus case counts climb
The Port of Seattle will help bankroll a $3.57 million ad campaign to lure travelers back to Washington state, hoping to repair damage done to its hospitality sector as a result of lockdown measures to control the spread of the novel coronavirus.
The money won’t be spent, Port officials assured the public at a Tuesday meeting, until travel begins picking up again. That may come when the state signals nonessential travel is safe once more, allaying travel anxieties. Public health agencies and even local tourism groups continue to advise people to stay home to control the spread of coronavirus.
“We don’t want to fish when the fish aren’t biting,” said Port tourism director Ron Peck.
The Washington Tourism Alliance, which is producing the campaign, outlined a preliminary September start date for the advertising campaign. Peck said he “wouldn’t be surprised” if that were pushed out. The alliance, he said, is relying on market research from industry groups including the U.S. Travel Association to determine when to time the camapaign, but didn’t articulate a specific trigger that would prompt its rollout.
Inslee to pause reopening Washington counties indefinitely
Gov. Jay Inslee announced Tuesday he's extending the pause on reopening Washington counties indefinitely, citing increasing COVID-19 cases.
When Inslee initially announced the pause July 14, he said the freeze would be in place for two weeks, adding that the current rise of confirmed cases here — along with an estimated transmission rate indicating infected people are spreading the virus to others — would leave Washington in a "dangerous position” if left unchecked.
Inslee also added new requirements that restaurants, breweries, recreational centers, card rooms and movie theaters must follow, starting Thursday. Restaurants, breweries, taverns, wineries and distilleries must stop alcohol service by 10 p.m., according to a Tuesday memo from Inslee's office, and game areas — including billiards, darts and video games — are prohibited.
The pause halts the state's four-phase "Safe Start Washington" plan, which lays out emergency coronavirus requirements counties must meet before they're able to progress to the next phase.
Last week, Inslee also announced several tighter restrictions on bars, restaurants, fitness centers, weddings and funerals, as well as a statewide mandate requiring Washingtonians wear facial coverings in public.
Hundreds wait hours for coronavirus care in Ecuador capital
QUITO, Ecuador — Hundreds of people with breathing problems waited for hours in long lines in Ecuador’s capital Tuesday seeking medical attention and tests to determine if they were infected with the new coronavirus.
Hospitals and funeral homes have been overwhelmed for weeks in Quito, where city officials have reported 12,747 confirmed cases and 605 deaths so far in the pandemic.
The result is that long lines of people observing social distancing snake from hospitals, with waits of up to four hours before they can undergo clinical examinations and a quick coronavirus test.
Health Minister Juan Carlos Zevallos said Quito is “in a critical situation.”
“There is a very big demand for hospital beds and beds that have been adapted to care for critical patients who require ventilation and intensive care beds,” he said. “We are in a position that doesn’t compare in any way to what is happening in the rest of Latin America.”
GOP tucks $8 billion for military weaponry in virus bill
WASHINGTON — A new $1 trillion COVID-19 response package by Senate Republicans is supposed to give the government more weapons to battle the surging coronavirus pandemic. But GOP lawmakers have more than just the “invisible enemy” in mind.
The Republican measure includes billions for F-35 fighters, Apache helicopters and infantry carriers sought by Washington’s powerful defense lobby. Overall, the proposal stuffs $8 billion into Pentagon weapons systems built by defense contractors like Boeing, Lockheed Martin and General Dynamics — corporate titans that sit atop the Washington influence industry.
The bill, drafted by Senate Appropriations Committee Chair Richard Shelby, R-Ala., would deposit $2.2 billion in Pentagon shipbuilding accounts, boost missile defense systems in California and Alaska and deliver about $1.4 billion for C-130 transport planes and F-35 fighters manufactured by Lockheed Martin Corp. Some of the F-35s could be delivered to an Air National Guard unit in Montgomery, Alabama.
The outlook for Shelby’s proposed defense projects could be dim. Democrats slammed the add-ons, and Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said Tuesday that the final package should not stray from the coronavirus response.
Starbucks says it sees better times ahead as stores reopen
Starbucks’ revenue shrank 38% in its most recent quarter but the coffee giant says it’s recovering faster than expected as its stores reopen from coronavirus lockdowns.
The Seattle-based company said Tuesday that it expects coronavirus-related losses to ease through the rest of this year.
“We believe the worst is behind us,” Chief Financial Officer Patrick Grismer said.
Starbucks said 97% of its company-operated stores around the world are now open, including 99% of stores in China and 96% in the U.S. However, some franchised locations remain closed, especially at airports and on college campuses.
The company ended its fiscal third quarter on June 28 with 32,180 stores; a little less than half of those are in the U.S.
$1,000 fine for head of U.S. whale watch association after crossing into closed Canadian waters
The U.S. head of the Pacific Whale Watch Association was fined $1,000 after his whale watching tour crossed into Canadian waters that are closed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Jeff Friedman of Maya’s Legacy Whale Watching, based in Friday Harbor on San Juan Island, said he was more than surprised when enforcement officers approached his boat on July 17, 1.5 miles over the border at Boundary Pass.
He was required to travel with his customers to a nearby Canadian customs office, where everyone’s identification was checked — and he was fined $1,000 for the crossing. Officials also ordered him back to the dock at Friday Harbor to clear U.S. customs.
The incident was the second time in recent weeks Canadian authorities have written $1,000 tickets for boaters not authorized to be across the border during the COVID-19 shutdown.
State confirms 884 new COVID-19 cases and 30 new deaths; positive test rate at 5.2%
State health officials reported 884 new COVID-19 cases in Washington as of Monday night, and 30 new deaths -- the most in a single day since April.
Department of Health spokesman Jamie Nixon said the spike in numbers was caused by "a small technical glitch that caused a backlog."
Twenty-one of the deaths were reported in the last three days, and all 30 were reported in the last week, Nixon said.
The update brings the state’s totals to 54,205 cases and 1,548 deaths, meaning that 2.9% of people diagnosed in Washington have died, according to the state Department of Health (DOH). The data is as of 11:59 p.m. Monday.
So far, 945,234 tests for the novel coronavirus have been conducted in the state, per DOH. Of those, 5.7% have come back positive.
In King County, the state most populous, state health officials have confirmed 14,717 diagnoses and 648 deaths in King County, accounting for a little less than half of the state’s COVID-19 death toll.
US officials: Russia behind spread of virus disinformation
WASHINGTON — Russian intelligence services are using a trio of English-language websites to spread disinformation about the coronavirus pandemic, seeking to exploit a crisis that America is struggling to contain ahead of the presidential election in November, U.S. officials said Tuesday.
Two Russians who have held senior roles in Moscow’s military intelligence service known as the GRU have been identified as responsible for a disinformation effort reaching American and Western audiences, U.S. government officials said. They spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly.
The information had previously been classified, but officials said it had been downgraded so they could more freely discuss it. Officials said they were doing so now to sound the alarm about the particular websites and to expose what they say is a clear link between the sites and Russian intelligence.
Read the full story here.
Baseball season teeters, while states resist mask rules
JACKSON, Miss. — The baseball season descended deeper into crisis Tuesday, states such as Mississippi and South Carolina cast about for more hospital beds, and governors in some of the hardest-hit places staunchly resisted calls to require masks, despite soaring cases of the coronavirus.
Major league baseball suspended the Miami Marlins’ season through Sunday because of an outbreak that has spread to at least 15 of the team’s players, and a series of games this week between the New York Yankees and Philadelphia Phillies was called off as a precaution.
With states like Florida, Arizona and Texas in dire condition, the virus has also been spreading farther north in recent days, causing alarm among public health officials who fear states are not doing enough to avoid catastrophic outbreaks like those in the Sun Belt.
‘Not sparing anyone’: Texas funeral homes can’t escape virus
Johnny Salinas Jr., owner of Salinas Funeral Home in Elsa, Texas, typically handles five funerals a week. But on a recent day, with the coronavirus tearing through his community, he saw that many grieving families in a single day.
A sixth family was waiting, too. His own.
Salinas changed from a polo shirt into a crisp black suit and left his office for the chapel next door. The light blue coffin of his great-uncle, who died of COVID-19, sat at the front of the room, adorned with white flower arrangements and a wooden crucifix.
“The virus is not sparing anyone,” Salinas said. “Not even my family.”
In the Rio Grande Valley of Texas, where a surge of virus cases has set off a flood of deaths this month, funeral homes — like hospitals — are overloaded and struggling to carry out basic services and keep up with the expanding crisis. Local funeral homes, officials said, have not experienced such demand in decades.
Pandemic will keep Puget Sound government employees working remotely till next year
Local government employees around the Puget Sound region will continue working from home until 2021, officials announced Tuesday.
Leaders from King, Pierce and Snohomish counties, from the cities of Everett, Kenmore, Redmond, Seattle, Shoreline and Tacoma, and from the ports of Seattle and Everett, “are taking a united approach to slow the spread of COVID-19 and maximize physical distancing by extending teleworking for eligible employees until 2021,” according to a news release from King County Executive Dow Constantine.
King County previously had advised employees they would be working from home until at least Labor Day, Constantine spokesperson Chase Gallagher said. The county’s mandatory teleworking policy applies to all employees, “except those where there is an operational need” to physically be at work. For example, bus operators cannot work from home, Gallagher noted.
Eligible King County employees now will telework at least through Jan. 8.
Photos from across the globe: New precautions as coronavirus returns
Labor unions petition Transportation Department for a mandatory mask rule
Labor unions representing transportation workers formally asked the U.S. Department of Transportation this week to issue an emergency rule ordering passengers to wear masks on planes, buses and trains or be denied a ride.
Larry Willis, the president of the Transportation Trades Department, a coalition of 33 unions, wrote in the petition that the government needed to go beyond issuing guidance and set clear rules for the use of masks to protect workers and passengers from the coronavirus.
“This regulation should require that passengers wear masks covering the nose and mouth while on board buses, trains, airplanes, and passenger vessels, as well as in boarding areas and associated facilities including airports and stations,” Willis wrote to Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao on Monday.
The transportation department has been willing to waive existing safety rules at the request of industry groups to ease the transportation of freight on trucks, trains and airplanes. But Chao has said she doesn’t generally support the idea of writing new rules in response to the pandemic, saying they could prove difficult to undo once the crisis passes.
National teachers union supports strikes over reopening plans
One of the nation’s largest teachers unions is authorizing its members to strike if their schools plan to reopen without proper safety measures during the pandemic.
The American Federation of Teachers, which represents 1.7 million school employees, issued a resolution Tuesday saying it will support any local chapter that decides to strike over reopening plans. The group says school buildings should open only in areas where coronavirus infections are low and schools enact certain safety measures.
In announcing the measure, the union’s president blasted President Donald Trump for ordering schools to reopen as the virus surges. Randi Weingarten called Trump’s response “chaotic and catastrophic,” saying it has left teachers angry and afraid.
“We will fight on all fronts for the safety of our students and their educators,” Weingarten said during the group’s annual convention. “But if authorities don’t protect the safety and health of those we represent and those we serve, as our executive council voted last week, nothing is off the table.”
Fears of virus' second wave strike blow to tourism industry
Concerns over a second wave of coronavirus infections brought on by returning vacationers are wreaking havoc across Europe’s tourism industry, particularly in Spain, following Britain’s effective ban on travel to the country.
In a move that reflects the continent’s piecemeal approach to keeping the virus at bay, the British government has recommended against all but essential travel to the whole of Spain following an upswing in new infections.
As part of the new stricter approach, all travelers arriving in Britain from Spain will have to undergo a 14-day quarantine.
“I’m afraid you are starting to see in some places the signs of a second wave of the pandemic,” British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Tuesday in defending his government’s new travel advice.
The move has not only dashed the hopes of many British holidaymakers for a getaway this summer, but also fanned renewed uncertainty within Europe’s tourism industry over how to plan ahead amid authorities’ responses to new COVID-19 outbreaks.
‘Appalled’ Cuomo to investigate crowded Chainsmokers concert
New York’s governor says he is “appalled” by videos showing crowds standing close together at a Hamptons concert featuring electronic music duo The Chainsmokers over the weekend.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the state Department of Health will conduct an investigation into “egregious social distancing violations.”
“We have no tolerance for the illegal reckless endangerment of public health,” reads the governor’s Monday night tweet.
The Saturday night concert — called “Safe & Sound” — was billed as a charity drive-in show where Goldman Sachs CEO David Solomon and Southampton Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman’s band also performed.
Cuomo shared a social media video that showed crowds of people standing closer than six feet and swaying near the stage.
Volunteers came to the rescue as virus raged in Kyrgyzstan
When his mother began deteriorating from the coronavirus two weeks ago, Bektour Iskender knew that hospitals in Kyrgyzstan’s capital, Bishkek, were full. So he turned to Twitter for advice.
He was directed to a volunteer group that made house calls with oxygen concentrators for patients with trouble breathing. Two hours later, volunteers in full protective gear arrived and showed Iskender how to use one of the machines he had borrowed from friends of his relatives. His mother started improving soon after using it.
“I later spoke to my friend, a doctor, and he said that it was probably a breakthrough moment,” said the 35-year-old Iskender, co-founder of the Kloop online news site.
One of the poorest countries to emerge from the former Soviet Union, Kyrgyzstan has been hit hard by the coronavirus, with the outbreak pushing the Central Asian nation’s outdated and poorly funded health care system to near collapse.
Armies of volunteers, however, have played a major role in filling the gaps in dealing with the crisis in the country of 6.5 million people.
“For such a small country with limited resources, volunteers did a colossal amount of work,” said Bermet Baryktabasova, a medical expert in Bishkek. “They saved thousands of lives.”
Virus-linked hunger tied to 10,000 child deaths each month
The lean season is coming for Burkina Faso’s children. And this time, the long wait for the harvest is bringing a hunger more ferocious than most have ever known.
That hunger is already stalking Haboue Solange Boue, an infant who has lost half her former body weight of 5.5 pounds in the last month. With the markets closed because of coronavirus restrictions, her family sold fewer vegetables. Her mother is too malnourished to nurse her.
“My child,” Danssanin Lanizou whispers, choking back tears as she unwraps a blanket to reveal her baby’s protruding ribs. The infant whimpers soundlessly.
All around the world, the coronavirus and its restrictions are pushing already hungry communities over the edge, cutting off meager farms from markets and isolating villages from food and medical aid. Virus-linked hunger is leading to the deaths of 10,000 more children a month over the first year of the pandemic, according to an urgent call to action from the United Nations shared with The Associated Press ahead of its publication in the Lancet medical journal.
Further, more than 550,000 additional children each month are being struck by what is called wasting, according to the U.N. — malnutrition that manifests in spindly limbs and distended bellies. Over a year, that’s up 6.7 million from last year’s total of 47 million. Wasting and stunting can permanently damage children physically and mentally, transforming individual tragedies into a generational catastrophe.
“The food security effects of the COVID crisis are going to reflect many years from now,” said Dr. Francesco Branca, the World Health Organization head of nutrition. “There is going to be a societal effect.”
Facebook deleted a viral video full of false coronavirus claims. Then Trump shared it on Twitter.
On Monday evening, Facebook scrubbed from its site a viral video showing a group of doctors making misleading and false claims about the coronavirus pandemic after more than 14 million people had watched it. Hours later, President Donald Trump tweeted out multiple clips of the same video to his 84.2 million followers.
Trump shared the video — which claims that face masks and lockdowns are not needed to stop the disease — as he shared 14 tweets over a half-hour span defending the use of hydroxychloroquine, an antimalarial drug that the president has repeatedly promoted, and attacking Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s top infectious-diseases expert.
Twitter soon followed Facebook and YouTube in removing the videos, deleting several of the tweets that Trump shared, and even adding a note to its trending topics warning about the potential risks of hydroxychloroquine use.
“Tweets with the video are in violation of our COVID-19 misinformation policy,” Liz Kelley, a spokeswoman for Twitter, told The Washington Post.
Trump’s decision to share the misleading video comes amid mounting criticism, from opponents and allies alike, over his handling of a pandemic that has now killed at least 145,000 people in the U.S. The president spent months denying the severity of the crisis, refusing to wear a mask in public, blaming rising case numbers on testing, and campaigning against governors’ shutdown orders. In recent weeks, however, Trump has occasionally changed tack, donning a mask in public for the first time earlier this month and deciding to cancel the Republican National Convention celebrations set to take place in Jacksonville, Fla.
Trump again pushes unproven drug as COVID-19 treatment
A week after appearing to project a more serious tone about the coronavirus, President Donald Trump is back to spreading misinformation about how to combat the virus and about the credibility of Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease expert.
Fauci pushed back Tuesday, saying he will keep doing his job.
Trump pushed unproven claims that an anti-malaria drug, hydroxychloroquine, is an effective treatment for COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. But numerous studies have shown that hydroxychloroquine is not effective and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently withdrew an order that allowed the drug’s use as a emergency treatment for COVID-19.
Fauci, a leading member of the White House coronavirus task force, responded to Trump’s tweets during an appearance Tuesday on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”
“I go along with the FDA,” said Fauci, the longtime director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases. “The overwhelming prevailing clinical trials that have looked at the efficacy of hydroxychloroquine have indicated that it is not effective in coronavirus disease.”
Georgia governor backs out of hearing on Atlanta mask order
Georgia’s governor said he’s withdrawing a request for an emergency hearing in his lawsuit that aims to block the state’s largest city from ordering people to wear masks in public or imposing other restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Gov. Brian Kemp earlier this month sued Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and the City Council. The Republican governor argues local leaders cannot impose measures that are more or less restrictive than those in his executive orders.
The two sides met for court-ordered mediation Monday. Kemp spokesman Cody Hall announced Monday night that the governor wanted “to continue productive, good faith negotiations” and had decided to withdraw the request for a hearing that was scheduled for Tuesday morning. But that request would not withdraw the underlying lawsuit.
Can you get coronavirus twice?
Can you get the coronavirus twice?
Scientists don’t know for sure yet, but they believe it’s unlikely.
Health experts think people who had COVID-19 will have some immunity against a repeat infection. But they don’t know how much protection or how long it would last.
There have been reports of people testing positive for the virus weeks after they were believed to have recovered, leading some to think they may have been reinfected. More likely, experts say, people were suffering from the same illness or the tests detected remnants of the original infection. There’s also the chance tests could have been false positives.
Scientists say there has been no documented instance of a patient spreading the virus to others after retesting positive.
Quarantine Corner: Things to do, cook and read while staying home
Cookie’s Country Chicken has perfected its technique for fried chicken. That might be best left to the pros, but the Seattle company's delicious picnic potato salad can be made at home. Here’s the recipe.
Then, dessert: Teen chef Sadie's cool, creamy panna cotta is just the thing for these toasty days.
The first proper biography of Chris Cornell, the late frontman for Soundgarden and Audioslave, has arrived. It’s an intimate and incredibly detailed portrait.
Seattle-area home prices keep rising fast, despite pandemic
Deep into the pandemic, prices for Seattle-area homes were still rising faster than any major city in the country, save Phoenix. There’s one sign, though, that the growth may be slowing.
Homes in the King, Pierce and Snohomish tri-county area saw average year-over-year price increases of 6.8% in May, according to the new release of the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller Home Price Index — the sixth consecutive month Seattle-area price growth has topped national averages. Phoenix saw 9% year-over-year price growth in May.
The index, which lags by two months, reports a three-month rolling average of home prices — meaning the numbers for May actually represent average home price gains since the onset of lockdown measures to control the pandemic in March.
Catch up on the past 24 hours
"I have sold everything I had, any jewelry, everything." Hunger and anxiety are rising in Corona, a Latino neighborhood in New York City that was among the world's hardest-hit places. Globally, virus-linked hunger is leading to the deaths of 10,000 more children a month, according to an urgent U.N. call to action.
The clock is ticking down on jobless benefits. With just four days until the federal $600 benefit expires, economists say our fragile economy needs help now. But the very hairy talks in Congress threaten to leave millions of Americans in the lurch. When it comes to the pace of new job openings, Washington state and Seattle lag the nation, our Coronavirus Economy chart shows.
Facebook deleted a viral video full of false coronavirus claims last night, but then President Donald Trump shared it on Twitter. It's way too easy to spread misinformation these days; here's guidance on how to avoid doing that, along with some common coronavirus myths, debunked.
Speaking of myths: After an outcry, Sinclair Broadcast Group won't air a conspiracy theorist's speculation (with no evidence) that Dr. Anthony Fauci manufactured the coronavirus and shipped it to China. Sinclair owns KOMO in Seattle.
Google is keeping most of its employees home until NEXT July. Its new order could sway other major employers.
Dogs can sniff out coronavirus infections, a new study indicates.
One crucial thing shut down by coronavirus: Seattle's bathrooms. With many public buildings closed, delivery workers and others who make their living outside an office building have nowhere to go. For homeless people, it's a worsening of a longtime problem. All of this has one professor warning about "criminalizing having a bladder."
As Pac-12 schools shift to remote-only instruction, why is football rolling on? As tough questions are raised about athletes' health vs. the economics of football, answers can be found in the fine print in colleges' plans.
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