Editor’s note: This is a live account of COVID-19 updates from Tuesday, July 7, 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 It is no longer being updated.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.
Researchers continue to unearth more information about the novel coronavirus. Researchers are pointing out that the virus can spread in the air, and the CDC quietly added to its list of COVID-19 symptoms.
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.
Few grumbles as Washington state businesses begin requiring customers to wear masks
There were few ripples Tuesday at businesses around the Seattle area as a new statewide order took effect mandating that businesses refuse service to customers who are not covering their nose and mouth to slow the spread of COVID-19.
The July 2 order, which took effect Tuesday, is the latest in a string of public health proclamations from Gov. Jay Inslee that have paused reopening plans and ratcheted up masking protocols around the state as the daily COVID-19 case count has climbed. Authorities believe the increase isn’t wholly attributable to expanded testing, leading some officials to consider reversing steps they’ve taken to reopen the economy in recent weeks.
Inslee required Washingtonians to mask up in public two weeks ago. The same day, he mandated businesses in Yakima County, one of the places hardest-hit by the virus, to turn away unmasked customers. The latest order expanded that rule to the entire state.
Qatar Airways is requiring passengers to wear face shields. This is what health experts had to say.
As mask rules have caused some controversy on U.S. airlines in recent months, Qatar Airways is taking an even stronger stance by requiring economy passengers and cabin crew to wear both face masks and face shields on board.
In its recent announcement, the airline says it will provide passengers with a complimentary kit of disposable protective gear that includes a shield, surgical mask, gloves and hand sanitizer gel.
Anyone refusing to wear a face shield during the boarding process will not be allowed to travel on the flight, the company said.
While health experts still encourage people to avoid nonessential travel while the number of coronavirus cases continues to rise, some say the shield provides more protection from contracting or spreading the virus than wearing a mask alone.
UW Greek Row COVID-19 outbreak
Five more students who live in University of Washington fraternity houses have tested positive for COVID-19 — bringing the total number of infected residents to 151, the university's Interfraternity Council confirmed Tuesday.
The council — a student-led governing board for UW fraternities — said the residents, who self-reported that they tested positive, span 15 houses.
Of the 151 cases, UW health officials have confirmed 139 of the infections.
"The University continues to conduct its own testing and verification of cases, which may account for a discrepancy in reported cases," according to a statement on its website.
Washington confirms 435 additional coronavirus cases
Washington health officials confirmed 435 additional coronavirus cases on Tuesday, including 14 more deaths.
The update brings the state’s totals to 37,420 cases and 1,384 deaths, meaning about 3.7% 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, 635,524 tests for the novel coronavirus have been conducted in the state, per DOH. Of those, 5.9% have come back positive since testing began.
Overall deaths are concentrated in King County, Washington's most populous county, where DOH has confirmed 11,182 diagnoses and 626 deaths -- accounting for about 45% of the state's death toll.
Are you and your spouse separated because of the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown at long-term care facilities? We want to hear from you
Washington’s long-term care facilities have been locked down for months as COVID-19 raged through nursing homes, assisted living wings and memory care units. Residents’ worlds are often limited to their rooms. In-person visits are through windows. Trips and activities are canceled for the foreseeable future.
Meanwhile, their loved ones are on the outside, connecting through phone calls, dropping off care packages and waving from parking lots. This has been especially difficult for couples, where one spouse lives in a facility and the other lives someplace else.
If you and your spouse are separated because of the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown (for example, you live in assisted living and your spouse lives at your house; or you both live in different facilities), we would like to hear from you.
Please fill out the form here.
New York requires visitors from 3 more states to quarantine
ALBANY, N.Y. — New York is now requiring people from three additional states to quarantine for 14 days as more individuals are testing positive for COVID-19 nationwide.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a Tuesday press release that Delaware, Kansas and Oklahoma now join a total of 19 states that qualify under New York’s metrics for community spread.
Cuomo’s advisory applies to states with a positive test rate higher than 10 per 100,000 residents over a seven-day rolling average, or states with a 10% or higher positivity rate over a seven-day rolling average.
At least 8 Mississippi lawmakers test positive for COVID-19
JACKSON, Miss. — At least eight Mississippi lawmakers have tested positive for the coronavirus after working several weeks in a Capitol where many people stood or sat close together and did not wear masks.
Among those who have publicly acknowledged having COVID-19 are Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann, who presides over the 52-member Senate, and House Speaker Philip Gunn, who presides over that 122-member chamber.
The state health officer, Dr. Thomas Dobbs, said Tuesday that there are also at least 11 other suspected cases of the virus among legislators and Capitol employees.
In addition, Dobbs said the virus is spreading in social gatherings across the state. Dobbs said, for example, he was told about teenagers having a party on a Pearl River sandbar in Jackson during the July 4 weekend and about people going without masks in restaurants and other public settings.
Sweden has become the world’s cautionary tale
LONDON — Ever since the coronavirus emerged in Europe, Sweden has captured international attention by conducting an unorthodox, open-air experiment. It has allowed the world to examine what happens in a pandemic when a government allows life to carry on largely unhindered.
The results of Sweden’s experience are relevant well beyond Scandinavian shores.
In the United States, where the virus is spreading with alarming speed, many states have — at President Donald Trump’s urging — avoided lockdowns or lifted them prematurely on the assumption that this would foster economic revival, allowing people to return to workplaces, shops and restaurants.
WHO to review evidence of airborne transmission of coronavirus
After hundreds of experts urged the World Health Organization to review mounting scientific research, the agency acknowledged Tuesday that airborne transmission of the coronavirus may be a threat in indoor spaces.
WHO expert committees are going over evidence on transmission of the virus and plan to release updated recommendations in a few days, agency scientists said in a news briefing.
The possibility of airborne transmission, especially in “crowded, closed, poorly ventilated settings, cannot be ruled out,” said Dr. Benedetta Allegranzi, who leads the WHO’s committee on infection prevention and control.
She said the agency recommends “appropriate and optimal ventilation” of indoor environments, as well as physical distancing.
French government data show virus hit African immigrants hardest
Officially, the French republic is colorblind, refusing to categorize or count people by race or ethnicity. For critics, that guiding philosophy has made the state oblivious to discrimination and put minorities at additional risk during the pandemic.
Now, a study from the French government’s statistics agency released Tuesday shows that death rates among immigrants from sub-Saharan Africa doubled in France and tripled in the Paris region at the height of France’s coronavirus outbreak. The study was the first in France to cross-reference deaths that occurred in March and April, when intensive care units were swamped with COVID-19 patients, with the regions of origin of the people who died.
The topic has become an increasingly hot-button issue for French administrators in the wake of Black Lives Matter protests sparked by the police killing of George Floyd. French researchers hailed the study as an important step but also said it only begins to scratch the surface of how the pandemic is impacting France’s minorities, who often live in crowded, under-resourced neighborhoods.
Trump administration sends letter withdrawing U.S. from World Health Organization over coronavirus response
The Trump administration has sent a letter to the United Nations withdrawing the United States from the World Health Organization over its handling of the coronavirus pandemic, a dramatic move that could reshape public health diplomacy. The decision to withdraw comes after months of criticism and threats from Trump.
It is not clear whether the president can pull the United States out of the organization and withdraw funding without Congress. When Trump first threatened to withdraw, Democratic lawmakers argued that doing so would be illegal and vowed to push back.
In the early days of the outbreak, Trump praised both China and the World Health Organization for their handling of the crisis. But as the coronavirus took hold in the United States, Trump took aim at the agency.
McConnell eyes virus aid as evictions, benefits cuts loom
With many programs designed to ease Americans through the pandemic and economic fallout expiring at the end of this month, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is outlining $1 trillion in new aid, centered on liability protections.
Republicans are seeking to shield doctors, schools, businesses and others from coronavirus-related lawsuits brought by patrons claiming injuries during reopenings. McConnell wants the liability shield to run for five years, retroactive to December 2019. He is also considering a fresh round of direct payments targeted at those earning $40,000 a year or less.
Democrats have proposed a far more ambitious aid approach in the $3 trillion House-passed coronavirus rescue package. The two sides share many common goals in boosting public health research toward treatments and a vaccine, but present stark differences regarding economic aid to Americans, which Democrats promote and Republicans mostly oppose.
DeVos rejects part-time reopening for schools amid pandemic
“Ultimately, it’s not a matter of if schools need to open, it’s a matter of how,” Education Secretary Betsy DeVos told governors during a call, as Donald Trump scheduled a White House event for later Tuesday to press his case for reopening schools.
Trump said Monday on Twitter that Democrats want to keep schools closed “for political reasons, not for health reasons.”
In the call, DeVos slammed districts that plan to offer in-person instruction only a few days a week. “A choice of two days per week in the classroom is not a choice at all,” she said, noting that distance learning last spring in some districts was a “disaster.”
Iowa’s Grassley to skip GOP convention due to virus concerns
“I’m not going to go, and I’m not going to go because of the virus situation,” said Sen. Chuck Grassley, announcing he will not attend the Republican National Convention for the first time in his 40-year Senate career due to concerns about the coronavirus.
White House urges schools to reopen in fall, says students can return ‘quite safely’
“SCHOOLS MUST OPEN IN THE FALL!!!” wrote Donald Trump yesterday on Twitter. Today, Trump administration officials said schools can reopen safely even as coronavirus cases spike, dialing up pressure on local officials to resume in-person learning.
A senior official said schools—colleges and universities as well as elementary and secondary schools—can still reopen with protections in place for particularly vulnerable students and employees.
The administration officials made their remarks before a Tuesday meeting about reopening schools, attended by Donald and Melania Trump, school administrators and teachers.
Statewide job listings show encouraging upswing
Job openings in Washington state increased last week at a robust clip, up almost 3.9 percentage points from the week before. That contrasts with Seattle-area openings, which rose less than half as much and have been recovering more slowly.
The nationwide level of job listings rose weakly — after many weeks in which it had grown more strongly than the state or local figures. Still, the U.S. volume of job openings is closer to its pre-pandemic level of Feb. 1 than either Washington’s or the Seattle area’s.
Virus outbreak at Mount Vernon care center confirmed
A Mount Vernon nursing home is experiencing an outbreak of COVID-19 among residents and employees, Skagit County confirmed in a press release Monday.
So far, 21 residents and employees at Mira Vista Care Center have tested positive for the novel coronavirus. The first case of this outbreak was confirmed June 19, and others were confirmed with follow-up testing, the release states. Most cases have been mild or asymptomatic.
Paid parking in Seattle to resume July 13
Paid on-street parking and hourly parking enforcement will resume July 13, the Seattle Department of Transportation announced Tuesday.
Drivers will pay $0.50 per hour in all zones.
That rate will be in place for “at least a month” as the department reviews parking data and commerce activity in neighborhood business districts. Further rate increases could come later this year.
Seattle temporarily eliminated paid and time-limited street parking rules on April 3 in the wake of Gov. Jay Inslee's stay-at-home order, to facilitate “access to essential businesses” and “prevent residents from worrying about accruing tickets while they remain at home.”
In some neighborhoods, like First Hill, parking had cost $5 in the evening prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The city planned to phase paid parking back in as the stay-at-home restrictions eased.
The city converted some on-street parking spaces near restaurants into loading zones intended for meal pickups and offered free on-street parking to staff at several hospitals in Seattle. Towing, the city said, would be limited to “situations which create safety hazards, block access or create other major issues.”
Starting Monday for two weeks, parking enforcement officers will focus on education about the reinstated parking rules, SDOT said.
U.S. will pay $1.6 billion to Novavax to develop coronavirus vaccine
The Trump administration has awarded a contract worth $1.6 billion to a Maryland biotechnology company to develop a coronavirus vaccine, the largest bet yet by the federal government on an individual vaccine to combat the pandemic.
The deal with Novavax, a publicly traded company based in Gaithersburg, will pay for late-stage clinical trials and secure 100 million doses of the vaccine to be used by the United States, the company said Tuesday. Novavax already has an ambitious manufacturing plan underway and said it expects to have 100 million doses ready for distribution in late 2020 and early 2021, if clinical trial data shows the vaccine is safe and effective.
Novavax is among multiple companies pushing ahead with manufacturing plans without yet knowing whether their vaccines will work, a strategy designed to speed a vaccine to the population as rapidly as possible.
The Novavax contract award via President Donald Trump’s Operation Warp Speed vaccination effort eclipses the $1.2 billion deal struck with AstraZeneca in May for 300 million doses of the vaccine. The government also has vaccine development contracts with Moderna and Johnson & Johnson that each fall in the range of hundreds of millions of dollars.
The government is funding the development of multiple vaccine candidates based on an assumption that some may not work. Of those that are effective, more than one vaccine probably will be required to inoculate billions of people in the United States and around the world against the virus.
Brazil’s President Bolsonaro tests positive for COVID-19
Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro says he has tested positive for COVID-19 after months of downplaying the virus’s severity.
Bolsonaro confirmed the test results while wearing a mask and speaking to reporters in capital Brasilia.
“I’m well, normal. I even want to take a walk around here, but I can’t due to medical recommendations,” Bolsonaro said.
The president has often appeared in public to shake hands with supporters and mingle with crowds, at times without a mask. He has said that his history as an athlete would protect him from the virus, and that it would be nothing more than a “little flu” were he to contract it.
Protective gear for medical workers begins to run low again
The personal protective gear that was in dangerously short supply during the early weeks of the coronavirus crisis in the U.S. is running low again as the virus resumes its rapid spread and the number of hospitalized patients climbs.
A national nursing union is concerned that gear has to be reused. A doctors association warns that physicians’ offices are closed because they cannot get masks and other supplies. And Democratic members of Congress are pushing the Trump administration to devise a national strategy to acquire and distribute gear in anticipation of the crisis worsening into the fall.
Battling new wave of virus, Australia puts city of Melbourne under lockdown
Thousands of Australians got just an hour's notice before the government banned them from leaving home.
Now, after a new wave of coronavirus infections, officials are imposing restrictions on some 5 million more people in Melbourne, Australia's second-largest city.
Blame is flying in the state of Victoria, a giant exception in one of the world’s most successful countries at containing the coronavirus.
Florida orders schools to reopen in the fall, even as virus cases soar
Florida’s top school official issued a sweeping executive order Monday requiring all schools in the state to reopen their buildings for in-person instruction for the coming school year, even as coronavirus cases in the state continued to rise.
Quarantine Corner: Making it easier to stay home
Music is both a welcome distraction and an essential voice in these strange times. Listen to some of the best Seattle tunes of 2020 so far.
Finding good broadcast TV this summer will be like looking for a needle in a haystack. Here's help.
Is streaming TV and movies more your thing? Check out these must-see options if you haven't already.
Hair today, there tomorrow
Dina Pupera got misty-eyed packing up her salon, Columbia City Cuts. But then she was on to her next business model: mobile haircuts and styling services. See her story, enjoy the photos and check our breakdown of what you can do as each county reopens, from getting haircuts to taking fitness classes.
Catch up on the past 24 hours
Starting today, Washington businesses must turn you away if you’re not wearing a face covering. (Here's what researchers have found about the most effective non-medical masks, and how to wear a face mask properly.)
Washington state confirmed 1,087 additional coronavirus cases yesterday, noting the numbers were not just from the previous 24 hours.
The U.S. is on a harrowing coronavirus seesaw. Restaurant and gym doors slammed shut again yesterday as hospitals across the Sunbelt neared capacity with COVID-19 cases, and Atlanta’s mayor was stunned by her positive test. Big retailers are begging governors to mandate masks.
Two Tom Douglas restaurants are permanently closed. Bravehorse Tavern and Trattoria Cuoco are in the heart of Amazon turf, an uncertain place to be these days.
“I’m not ready to go back to restaurants. Is anyone?” New York Times restaurant critic Tejal Rao writes about the consequences we’re seeing as restaurateurs are left to make life-changing decisions that affect public health. Health officials recommend diners know the risks and take precautions. Here's our updating list of the Seattle-area restaurants offering takeout, delivery and — for those who are ready — dining-room service.
Kanye West, the Girl Scouts and hedge funds: All of them got PPP loans under the federal program that aimed to minimize layoffs at small businesses amid the pandemic. When you look at the newly released list, seven unlikely recipients jump out. High-priced law firms and lobbyists also raked in the dough.
Close contact: South Dakota's governor joined President Donald Trump on Air Force One on Friday after hugging Donald Trump Jr.’s girlfriend, who had tested positive for the virus. Gov. Kristi Noem didn't wear a mask as she chatted with the president.
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