Editor’s note: This is a live account of COVID-19 updates from Saturday, July 4, 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 It is no longer being updated.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 in many parts of the U.S., coronavirus cases have been accelerating recently in Washington state, where on Friday there were 469 new cases and two more deaths.
The virus is surging the fastest in eastern Washington, where cases per capita in the Tri-Cities area are more than double the rate in urban King County. Gov. Jay Inslee visited the Tri-Cities, Yakima, and Spokane in the past two weeks to urge greater precautions. Inslee was jeered this week in Pasco, where someone yelled, “You’re taking away our freedoms.” Retired Gen. James Mattis, a resident of nearby Richland, made an ad last month encouraging fellow Tri-Citians to mask up, so they can “get to phase two” of reopening — and back to work.
Nationally, 40 out of 50 states are experiencing rising caseloads. The Mexican state of Sonora this weekend is banning non-essential border crossings, because of outbreaks in neighboring Arizona.
Here in Western Washington, state ferry crews are decimated by COVID-19, including high-risk employees staying home. Sailings remain below normal summer levels but people are traveling this holiday weekend. Expect long waits. Lines stretched as long as two hours Friday at Fauntleroy and Edmonds.
Throughout Saturday, 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 Friday can be found here, and all our coronavirus coverage can be found here.
The following graphic includes the most recent numbers from the Washington State Department of Health, released Saturday afternoon.
Former Mariners ace Felix Hernandez decides not to play in 2020 because of coronavirus concerns
The coronavirus struck out a few major-leaguers Saturday.
Former Mariners pitcher Felix Hernandez was among them. His agent, Wilfredo Polidor, tweeted Saturday night that Hernandez will skip the season because of concerns from the coronavirus.
Hernandez was starting his first season with the Atlanta Braves after he and the Mariners went their separate ways after the 2019 season. Hernandez was with the Braves on a minor-league deal.
He wasn’t the only one impacted by the virus. Braves All-Star Freddie Freeman was among those who tested positive for COVID-19. Los Angeles Dodgers starter David Price announced he won’t play this season.
South Korea reports 60-plus coronavirus cases for third straight day
South Korea has recorded 60-plus COVID-19 cases for a third consecutive day as the virus spread beyond the greater Seoul area.
The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Sunday it has confirmed 61 additional cases, bringing national totals to 13,091. It says the death toll remains the same at 283.
The agency says 43 of the newly reported cases were locally infected while the other 18 were linked to international arrivals. It says 41 of the 43 cases were either from the Seoul metropolitan area or two central cities, Gwangju and Daejeon.
South Korea has been grappling with an uptick in new infections after it eased social distancing rules in early May. South Korea recorded 63 new cases on both Saturday and Friday.
Advocates want to ensure that nursing home residents' stimulus checks aren't being misused
Nursing home residents are among the Americans getting $1,200 checks as part of the U.S. government’s plan to revive the economy. But with many long-term care facilities under lockdown to prevent COVID-19 outbreaks, what are the rules around how the money is handled?
The situation underscores the vulnerability of many elderly residents and potential confusion about what homes can and can’t do with residents’ money. One worry is that nursing homes could pressure residents to use the checks to pay outstanding balances.
Visitor bans put in place months ago are making it difficult to tell whether such problems are widespread, said Lindsay Heckler, of the Center for Elder Law and Justice.
It’s not yet known whether there are widespread problems with nursing homes taking residents' checks. After receiving a few queries about the issue, the Federal Trade Commission in May told people to contact their state attorney general with any problems.
About two dozen state attorneys general contacted by The Associated Press say they’ve had few to no complaints, while a couple said they had several. Some noted that reports could have been filed with local police or other agencies.
New outbreaks push inmate coronavirus cases past 50,000
The number of prison inmates nationally testing positive for the coronavirus soared well past the 50,000 mark last month, as recent outbreaks threatened to undo control measures put in place earlier in the pandemic.
At the end of June, the total number of coronavirus cases among prisoners had reached at least 52,649, an increase of 8% from the week before, according to data compiled by the Marshall Project, a nonprofit news organization focusing on criminal justice, and The Associated Press.
Of those, at least 35,796 have recovered, and at least 616 inmates have died, the data showed.
Among staff, more than 11,180 cases of coronavirus have been reported, including 43 deaths.
New cases in prisons began to drop last month, with less of the rapid growth seen in the spring when Michigan, Ohio, Tennessee, Texas and other states began mass testing of prisoners, the data shows. But by the end of June, new outbreaks in Arkansas, California and Texas began to push the numbers up again.
GOP-ers possibly exposed to virus by Trump Jr. girlfriend
The wife and the running mate of Republican governor candidate Greg Gianforte, as well as several other top GOP officials, were possibly exposed to the coronavirus after attending an event with the girlfriend of President Donald Trump’s oldest son, the Bozeman (Montana) Daily Chronicle reported.
Gianforte’s wife, Susan, lieutenant governor candidate Kristen Juras, as well as Republican congressional candidate and state auditor Matt Rosendale and state auditor candidate Troy Downing, were at a Trump fundraising event July 1 in Gallatin County with Kimberly Guilfoyle, the girlfriend of Donald Trump Jr., the newspaper reported.
Guilfoyle was diagnosed with the coronavirus on July 3, the New York Times reported.
Greg Gianforte, Montana’s representative in the U.S. House, did not attend the event because Congress was in session, the Daily Chronicle reported.
Mariners manager Scott Servais: 'I don’t think I’ve ever had a Fourth of July we didn’t have a game'
Perhaps the only thing normal about this Fourth of July in terms of tradition were the cooler temperatures and cloudy morning skies in the Puget Sound region, which gave way to a minimally warmer afternoon with a few less clouds and hints of sunshine.
The spread of the novel coronavirus canceled the annual major fireworks shows — Seattle Seafair Summer Fourth, Tacoma Freedom Fair, Bellevue Family 4th, Everett Colors of Freedom Festival and JBLM Freedom Fest — and forced limitations on barbecues and outdoor gatherings.
And of course, there were no Major League Baseball (MLB) games being played. Afternoon baseball games on the Fourth of July are a staple for MLB. The Mariners would have been hosting the Phillies at 1:10 p.m. at T-Mobile Park. Instead, they had their second day of split-squad workouts in the restart to spring training being sold as “summer camp.”
“I don’t think I’ve ever had a Fourth of July we didn’t have a game,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said. “I said to somebody last night that it’s too bad that we weren’t able to open up our season today. I think it would have been awesome if it all could have come together."
Mexico tops 30,000 COVID-19 deaths
Mexico topped 30,000 COVID-19 deaths Saturday, overtaking France as the country with the fifth-highest death toll since the coronavirus outbreak began.
Officials reported 523 more confirmed coronavirus deaths for the day, bringing the nation’s total to 30,366 for the pandemic. Mexico’s total confirmed infections rose by almost 6,000 to 251,165, about on par with Spain, the eighth highest caseload.
Also Saturday, about 200 street vendors briefly blocked several major avenues in downtown Mexico City to demand they be allowed to sell again amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The sidewalks of the colonial-era downtown are usually crowded with vendors who lay out their wares on wire racks or blankets. But since March, the city has banned such informal commerce and closed most established businesses in the district to stem the spread of the new coronavirus.
Protesting vendors carried signs and chanted slogans claiming they could no longer bear the lockdown. Most have no unemployment insurance, and after three months of not selling many are growing desperate.
Around the world: Brits inch toward more normalcy, while other nations struggle with surging cases
Pubs, hair salons and movie theaters across England reopened Saturday as part of Britain’s biggest step toward post-outbreak normal, while South Africa and other parts of the world signaled anything but — reporting another day of record confirmed coronavirus cases.
Many people relished the easing of restrictions on public life that had shuttered U.K. restaurants and bars. The ones that decided to start pouring at the earliest hour allowed — 6 a.m. — had customers to serve.
“Let’s not blow it now,” British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said as some in England rushed to restaurants or barbers for the first time in more than three months.
Elsewhere, South Africa and India reported spikes in cases, and Russia surpassed the grim milestone of 10,000 deaths.
More than 11.1 million people globally are known to have been infected with the virus. More from around the world in this story.
State confirms 469 new coronavirus cases, and 2 additional deaths
Washington reported 469 new coronavirus cases on Friday and two additional deaths.
The update brings the state’s totals to 35,247 cases and 1,354 deaths, meaning about 3.8% of people diagnosed in Washington have died, according to the state Department of Health (DOH). The data is as of 11:59 p.m. Friday.
It was a significant decrease from the number of new cases reported the last two days, 716 and 627, respectively.
So far, 607,276 tests for the novel coronavirus have been conducted in the state, per DOH. Of those, 5.8% have come back positive since testing began. In the past week, 4.8% of tests in Washington have come back positive, according to the state's risk assessment dashboard.
In King County, Washington's most populous county, DOH has confirmed 10,782 diagnoses and 619 deaths, accounting for nearly 46% of the state's death toll.
At 5.9%, King County's all-time positive test rate is higher than the statewide average, but the county's positive test rate for the past week is 3.7%, which is lower than the state's rate for the same period.
Oregon reports four new coronavirus deaths, edges toward 10,000 total cases
Authorities confirmed four new COVID-19 deaths in Oregon and 303 new confirmed cases Saturday, putting the state’s total number of confirmed cases at 9,930.
The four new deaths bring Oregon’s COVID-19 death toll to 213. KOIN television in Portland reports three of the four latest people to die from the virus had underlying medical conditions. It was not confirmed if underlying medical conditions played a role in the other death — an 86-year-old woman from Lincoln County, according to the Oregon Health Authority.
Trump signs extension of COVID-relief fund for businesses
President Donald Trump on Saturday signed into law a temporary extension of a subsidy program for small businesses battered by the coronavirus,
The legislation extends the June 30 deadline for applying for the program to Aug. 8. Lawmakers created the program in March and have modified it twice since, adding money on one occasion and more recently permitting more flexible use of the funding despite some grumbling among GOP conservatives.
About $130 billion of $660 billion approved for the program remains eligible for businesses to seek direct federal subsidies for payroll and other costs such as rent, though demand for the Paycheck Protection Program has pretty much dried up in recent weeks.
The Democratic-controlled House voted Wednesday to approve the extension of the program after the Republican-controlled Senate did the same. Trump had been expected to sign the measure.
Man in famous 9/11 photo dies from COVID-19
A man photographed fleeing smoke and debris as the south tower of the World Trade Center crumbled just a block away on Sept. 11, 2001, has died from coronavirus, his family said.
The Palm Beach Post reported that Stephen Cooper, an electrical engineer from New York who lived part-time in the Delray Beach, Florida, area, died March 28 at Delray Medical Center due to COVID-19. He was 78.
The photo, captured by an Associated Press photographer, was published in newspapers and magazines around the world and is featured at the 9/11 Memorial Museum in New York.
Cooper was delivering documents near the World Trade Center, unaware of exactly what had happened that morning, when he heard a police officer yell, “You have to run.”
The photo shows Cooper, who was 60 at the time, with a manila envelope tucked under his left arm. He and several other men were in a desperate sprint as a wall of debris from the collapsing tower looms behind them.
Girlfriend of Donald Trump Jr. tests positive for coronavirus
Kimberly Guilfoyle, a Trump campaign fundraiser who is dating Donald Trump Jr., tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, ahead of the president’s Independence Day celebration Friday night at Mount Rushmore National Memorial in South Dakota, a person familiar with the situation said.
Guilfoyle had not arrived at the event and was not in contact with President Donald Trump, and Don Jr. tested negative, said the person, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss their personal situation. Guilfoyle and Don Jr. were not seen in television footage of the president joined by aides, son Eric and daughter Tiffany, and they are planning to drive back to Washington, D.C., to avoid contact with others, the person said.
The New York Times first reported Guilfoyle’s positive test Friday evening.
Recent uptick in coronavirus cases has Oregon teetering on becoming overwhelmed
Across Oregon, coronavirus numbers are surging and stretching into small communities that at the start of June had had few cases. The situation has Oregon teetering on the line of controlling the pandemic or becoming overwhelmed.
Throughout the pandemic, state officials have boasted having one of the lowest infection rates in the country, which remains true. At the end of May, Oregon only had about 4,200 cases and until June, daily confirmed new case numbers never hit triple digits.
Some officials said the pandemic seemed “distant,” as Oregonians watched the disease clobber other states, such as California and Washington, where far more people have tested positive.
But in June, things shifted. Oregon continuously set record highs in the state for new daily cases. Over the past month, the case confirmed count more than doubled, surpassing 9,600.
Pay cuts for millions of U.S. workers worsen the pain of pandemic
Denise Iezzi, an accounting assistant, has had every Friday off since the pandemic escalated in March. This isn’t by choice. Her employer cut her hours and pay. It’s an involuntary sacrifice that more and more workers are being asked to make.
At least 4 million private-sector workers have had their pay cut during the pandemic, according to data provided to The Washington Post by economists who worked on a labor market analysis for the University of Chicago’s Becker Friedman Institute.
Read the story here.
Catch up on the past 24 hours
Infections rise, but deaths declining: After a minor late-spring lull, the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the United States is once again on the rise. And yet the virus appears to be killing fewer of the people it infects. In April and May, COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, led to as many as 3,000 deaths per day, and claimed the lives of roughly 7% to 8% of infected Americans. The number of daily deaths is now closer to 600, and the death rate is less than 5%. More patients placed on ventilators are surviving, too.
Surge in state COVID-19 cases driven by Eastern Washington: While the virus at first pounded the greater Seattle area, the state’s epicenter has now moved east across the Cascade Range thanks to exploding case loads in June. Washington is seeing rising cases of COVID-19, driven in large part by increasing numbers in Yakima, Benton, Franklin and Spokane counties, the largest communities in Eastern Washington.
UW Greek row outbreak: As of Friday, 117 students living in 15 fraternity houses this summer have reported testing positive for the virus. The UW’s outbreak underscored the risks of bringing students back to school if they don’t stick to the health department’s rules regarding physical distancing and mask-wearing.
Second Metro Bus driver dies of coronavirus: Mike Winkler, an early riser who drove buses for 32 years, has become the second known King County Metro Transit worker to lose his life to COVID-19.
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