Editor’s note: This is a live account of COVID-19 updates from Wednesday, July 8, 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 It is no longer being updated.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 of Tuesday, Washington businesses are required to turn away customers who aren’t wearing face coverings, per a new statewide order.
The rule comes as the World Health Organization acknowledges that airborne transmission of the virus may be a threat indoors — which could have broad implications for our daily lives.
Throughout Wednesday, 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 Tuesday can be found here, and all our coronavirus coverage can be found here.
‘We’re in a good position’ for now: Seattle Public Schools anticipates it has coronavirus-costs covered for upcoming school year
In the wake of a pandemic that has triggered unpredictable costs for school districts across the country, the Seattle School Board approved $1.3 billion in spending for the upcoming school year at its Wednesday meeting.
The budget passed with four yes votes and three abstentions from Board members Lisa Rivera-Smith, Eden Mack and Leslie Harris. Mack and Harris questioned the accuracy of the budget, given uncertainty about how many students will re-enroll in the fall, and what additional costs may arise from the district’s negotiations with its teachers union over reopening schools.
“I’m rather concerned that we are not set up effectively for the current crisis and what is actually going to happen come fall,” Mack said.
District officials said they’re confident they can flex the 2020-21 budget to meet the anticipated costs associated with reopening in the fall, about $15 million. The district will also receive more than $10 million from the federal CARES Act.
Mariners coronavirus testing: Three positives and lots of speculation, but Jerry Dipoto is encouraged
Wearing a mask and standing against the wall while reporters stood in an awkward configuration 6 to 10 feet apart down T-Mobile Park’s club-level hallway, Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto answered questions about the start of summer camp Wednesday.
The coronavirus has changed just about everything.
On Wednesday, the Mariners released their results from 122 initial intake tests prior to the start of summer camp workouts, and three players tested positive for COVID-19. All three were asymptomatic and are in minimum 14-day quarantine and following the required procedure to be cleared, which includes daily testing. After the 14-day quarantine, a person must test negative on consecutive days before beginning the process to be admitted to workouts.
Dipoto said he’s encouraged because other teams have reported more positive tests in the intake period.
U.S. Department of Labor approves trade adjustment assistance petition filed by hundreds of Alcoa workers
The United States Department of Labor on Wednesday approved a trade adjustment assistance petition filed by hundreds of Alcoa workers trying to save their jobs at the company's Ferndale aluminum smelter.
The petition was filed by the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAMAW) for the more than 700 workers at the Whatcom County plant. It will provide the workers with training and resources to get rehired, according to a statement from Rep. Suzan DelBene's office.
Alcoa announced in April that the plant — the last remaining smelter west of the Mississippi — would curtail production by July, citing challenges created by the coronavirus crisis. The company also announced it would cut $100 million in capital expenditures and defer $220 million in pension fund contributions.
In May, DelBene and Sen. Patty Murray, joined by Sen. Maria Cantwell and Rep. Rick Larsen, wrote a letter to the U.S. Secretary of Labor Eugene Scalia to support the petition, according to the statement.
“These layoffs could not have come at a worse time amid a global pandemic," DelBene said in the statement. "The transition for the workers at the Intalco facility won’t be easy but the TAA assistance approved today is a critical resource for them and their families during this difficult time."
The four lawmakers also wrote to the president and CEO of the Alcoa Corporation, as well as to President Donald Trump, urging him to "prioritize resolving the issue of excess Chinese aluminum capacity, which has depressed prices in the global market and harmed American businesses and workers, specifically in Washington state."
Health department shuts down Duke’s Seafood on Alki Beach after coronavirus outbreak
Public Health – Seattle & King County shut down Duke’s Seafood on Alki Beach on Wednesday morning as a safety precaution after seven employees at the popular West Seattle hangout tested positive for the coronavirus in the past two weeks, management confirmed.
A source told The Seattle Times that two employees at its branches in Bellevue and Tacoma also tested positive, though neither of those restaurants was shut down.
Duke’s management released a statement Wednesday saying “team members at three locations alerted us to exposure to COVID-19 outside of the restaurant over the past few weeks. Each subsequently tested positive. When we learned of their exposures, we worked to contain it, evaluated each situation, informed all company team members, alerted the health department, and notified our guests through a variety of channels. In each case, we closed these stores for cleaning and to allow time for team members to be tested.”
UW Athletics’ coronavirus testing reveals zero new positive cases as athletes continue to return to campus
Washington Athletics performed coronavirus tests on 17 athletes who returned to campus this week and those tests revealed zero positive cases, according to a university release.
In four weeks of testing, 157 Husky athletes have been tested and there have been three positive tests (1.9%). Of those three positive tests, just one is an “active positive case.” That unnamed individual is currently going through UW’s COVID-19 care and quarantine protocols.
Additionally, the release stated that “surveillance testing” is being done on athletes who have previously returned to campus, and those tests have returned zero positive cases as well.
The university declines to name the athletes who tested positive or provide details on which sports they participate in.
2020 Washington State Fair canceled due to COVID-19 concerns
This year's Washington State Fair — which has run mostly uninterrupted for about 120 years — has been canceled due to coronavirus concerns, the fair said in a statement Wednesday.
"We have met the challenges of fires and floods, withstood changes in culture and the challenges of time and, except for the four years of World War II, operated uninterrupted that entire span," the statement said. "Now, after thoughtful consideration, we have made the difficult decision to cancel the 2020 Fair."
The decision was made by the fair's board of directors, which voted on the cancellation after reviewing recommendations from the management team. This year’s fair was supposed to take place in Puyallup in September.
"Though it was a difficult decision, it was really the only decision possible based on what we currently know," the statement said. "It was a decision made in what we feel are the best interests of the health and safety of all of our guests, our employees, our exhibitors."
The fair still plans to host three events this summer, including a drive-thru food-to-go event, a drive-in concert series and a drive-in movie night. More information about each event is available here.
State health officials confirm 521 new COVID-19 cases
Washington health officials confirmed 521 additional coronavirus cases on Wednesday, including 10 more deaths.
The update brings the state’s totals to 37,941 cases and 1,394 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. Tuesday.
So far, 645,072 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 11,284 diagnoses and 628 deaths — accounting for about 45% of the state's death toll.
Meet the gleaners, combing farm fields to feed the newly hungry
SPRINGFIELD TOWNSHIP, N.J. — Armed with a cheap steak knife and a plastic basket lined with a garbage bag, a high-school sophomore named Alicia Garlic sat cross-legged in the dirt at Specca Farms, a pick-your-own operation here in South Jersey.
Garlic wasn’t picking greens for herself on this Tuesday morning in June, but for Farmers Against Hunger, a program of the New Jersey Agricultural Society. Along with more than a dozen others spread out along the rows for social distancing — a retired schoolteacher, a Census Bureau employee, a young mother with her grade-schooler in tow — she was there to glean, a practice traditionally defined as gathering anything left over after a harvest.
Then came the coronavirus pandemic, mile-long traffic jams at food banks and the disturbing sight of farmers plowing under their onions when food-service contracts disappeared overnight.
Now, gleaning groups are at the front lines of those helping to stabilize the nation’s shaky food supply, perfectly positioned to leverage one problem — a bounty of unsellable crops — to help solve another: rampant hunger.
Some U.S. health officials lament a coronavirus crisis that didn’t need to happen
In late May, former World Bank president Jim Yong Kim, an American who has served in Democratic and Republican administrations, waxed incredulous at the lack of a coordinated U.S. strategy aimed at combating the novel coronavirus.
“The thing that’s been driving me crazy is that we’ve just decided that the standard health response – the only thing that’s worked in any of the countries that suppressed the virus – is something that we’re just not going to do,” Kim said.
Sara Cody, head of the public health department in California’s Santa Clara County, known now for orchestrating one of the country’s earliest coronavirus shutdowns, was also on the call. She seemed relieved to hear him say so.
Cody is not alone among U.S. health officials, epidemiologists, virologists and other experts in feeling like she missed the memo saying the world’s richest nation really couldn’t do much to keep this virus from paralyzing it. Many local officials are still asking the same question Kim posed that day: “Why have we given up on containment?”
Ivy League calls off fall sports due to outbreak
The Ivy League on Wednesday became the first Division I conference to say it will not play sports this fall because of the coronavirus pandemic, a person with knowledge of the decision told The Associated Press. The league left open the possibility of moving some seasons to the spring if the outbreak is better controlled by then.
Although the coalition of eight academically elite schools does not grant athletic scholarships or compete for an NCAA football championship, the move could have ripple effects throughout the big business of college sports. Football players in the Power Five conferences have already begun workouts for a season that starts on Aug. 29, even as their schools weigh whether to open their campuses to students or continue classes remotely.
The Ivy decision affects not just football but everything before Jan. 1, including soccer, field hockey, volleyball and cross country, as well as the nonconference portion of the basketball season.
Power Five conferences told The Associated Press on Wednesday that they were still considering their options. But it was the Ivy League’s March 10 decision to scuttle its postseason basketball tournament that preceded a cascade of cancellations that eventually enveloped all major college and professional sports.
CDC: Minorities affected much more in meatpacking outbreaks
A new report studying the impact of the coronavirus on workers at meat processing plants has found that 87% of people infected were racial or ethnic minorities and that at least 86 workers have died.
The report released Tuesday by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention examined more than 16,000 COVID-19 cases at 239 plants in 21 states. It offers perspective on how the virus devastated U.S. pork, beef and poultry processing plants, but the figures likely understate the problem as Iowa officials declined to participate in the study.
Iowa is the nation’s largest pork-producing state and saw severe coronavirus outbreaks at several huge processing plants.
The CDC report found 87% of coronavirus cases occurred among racial and ethnic minorities even though they made up 61% of the overall worker population. The data shows 56% of coronavirus illnesses involved Hispanic workers, 19% were non-Hispanic Blacks and 12% were Asians. The data showed 13% of coronavirus cases involved white workers, who made up 39% of the overall workforce studied.
Health official: Trump rally ‘likely’ source of virus surge
President Donald Trump’s campaign rally in Tulsa that drew thousands of people in late June, along with large protests that accompanied it, “likely contributed” to a dramatic surge in new coronavirus cases, Tulsa City-County Health Department Director Dr. Bruce Dart said Wednesday.
Tulsa County reported 261 confirmed new cases on Monday, a one-day record high, and another 206 cases on Tuesday.
Although the health department’s policy is to not publicly identify individual settings where people may have contracted the virus, Dart said those large gatherings “more than likely” contributed to the spike.
“In the past few days, we’ve seen almost 500 new cases, and we had several large events just over two weeks ago, so I guess we just connect the dots,” Dart said.
A spokesman for the Trump campaign didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
CDC will issue new guidance on school openings, Pence says, after criticism from Trump
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will issue new guidance on school openings, Vice President Mike Pence said on Wednesday, hours after President Donald Trump criticized earlier recommendations as “very impractical” and vowed to meet with the agency himself.
Citing Trump’s concern that the guidance might be “too tough,” Pence said the CDC would issue additional recommendations starting next week that would provide “more clarity” and stressed that the guidelines should not supplant judgments by local officials.
“We don’t want the guidance from CDC to be a reason why schools don’t open,” Pence said. “I think that every American, every American knows that we can safely reopen our schools. . . . We want, as the president said this morning, to make sure that what we’re doing doesn’t stand in the way of doing that.”
His comments, at a White House coronavirus task force briefing, came about two hours after Trump undercut the recommendations of administration health experts as he continued to ramp up pressure on state and local officials to reopen schools this fall.
United will warn 36,000 workers they could be laid off
United Airlines is warning 36,000 employees – nearly half its U.S. staff – they could be furloughed in October, the clearest signal yet of how deeply the virus pandemic is hurting the airline industry.
The outlook for a recovery in air travel has dimmed in just the past two weeks, as infection rates rise in much of the U.S. and some states impose new quarantine requirements on travelers.
United officials said Wednesday that they still hope to limit the number of layoffs by offering early retirement benefits, and that 36,000 is a worst-case scenario. The notices going to employees this month are meant to comply with a 60-day warning ahead of mass job cuts.
The furloughs could include up to 15,000 flight attendants, 11,000 customer service and gate agents, 5,500 maintenance workers and 2,250 pilots.
Japan sees coronavirus case uptick but no will for closures
TOKYO – Japan is facing a sudden spike in coronavirus cases, but this time with no political will for another round of economically punishing shutdowns.
At the end of last month, the national government abruptly dismantled a panel of medical experts that had been guiding the response to the virus, and replaced it with a group that includes envoys from the business world and others.
Tokyo’s municipal government also abandoned an alert system based on numerical targets that could have triggered fresh shutdowns if the virus started spreading again.
The message from Japan’s leadership has been clear: The virus will be tackled only through measures “that would not further harm the economy,” according to Tokyo’s governor, Yuriko Koike.
Atlanta mayor to defy governor, require masks in city
ATLANTA — Atlanta’s mayor says she will sign an executive order mandating masks in Georgia’s largest city Wednesday, defying Gov. Brian Kemp’s decision to strongly encourage but not require face coverings.
Spokesman Michael Smith said Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms plans to sign an order requiring masks, which could set up a confrontation with the Republican Kemp.
Like a number of other local leaders in Georgia, Bottoms has unsuccessfully appealed to Kemp to change his order that local governments can’t exceed the state’s requirements.
Missouri summer camp virus outbreak raises safety questions
Missouri leaders knew the risk of convening thousands of kids at summer camps across the state during a pandemic, the state’s top health official said, and insisted that camp organizers have plans in place to keep an outbreak from happening.
The outbreak happened anyway.
An overnight summer camp in rural southwestern Missouri has seen scores of campers, counselors and staff infected with the coronavirus, the local health department revealed this week, raising questions about the ability to keep kids safe at what is a rite of childhood for many.
Missouri is one of several states to report outbreaks at summer camps. The Kanakuk camp near Branson ended up sending its teenage campers home. On Friday, the local health department announced 49 positive cases of the COVID-19 virus at the camp. By Monday, the number had jumped to 82.
Some states, like Oregon, New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, closed summer camps this year, and many camps elsewhere have voluntarily canceled programs. But other camps are plowing ahead, hoping that precautions like social distancing, masks and requiring children to quarantine before coming to camp will quell the risk. Other states where outbreaks have been reported have included Texas, Georgia, North Carolina and Tennessee.
Stanford drops 11 sports to cut costs during pandemic
Stanford announced Wednesday that it is dropping 11 sports amid financial difficulties caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
The school will discontinue men’s and women’s fencing, field hockey, lightweight rowing, men’s rowing, co-ed and women’s sailing, squash, synchronized swimming, men’s volleyball and wrestling after the 2020-21 academic year. Stanford also is eliminating 20 support staff positions.
Numerous schools have cut athletic programs in recent weeks as the pandemic shut down campuses. Stanford is believed to be the first Power Five school to eliminate any sports programs.
Churches were eager to reopen. Now they are a major source of coronavirus cases.
PENDLETON, Ore. — Weeks after President Donald Trump demanded that America’s shuttered houses of worship be allowed to reopen, new outbreaks of the coronavirus are surging through churches across the country where services have resumed.
More than 650 coronavirus cases have been linked to nearly 40 churches and religious events across the United States since the beginning of the pandemic, with many of them erupting over the last month as Americans resumed their pre-pandemic activities, according to a New York Times database.
Brazil’s president, infected with virus, touts malaria drug
RIO DE JANEIRO — Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, who said he is infected with the coronavirus, on Wednesday defended his government’s handling of the pandemic that has killed tens of thousands of Brazilians and touted his use of a contentious anti-malaria drug.
Bolsonaro posted a photo of himself eating breakfast on Facebook, and a message that said his government provided payouts to informal sector laborers, thereby saving jobs and lives without spreading panic about the pandemic. The nation’s confirmed death toll from COVID-19 is the second highest in the world after the United States.
“No country in the world did it like Brazil,” Bolsonaro said. “For those who root against hydroxychloroquine, but don’t present alternatives, I regret to inform you that I’m very well with its use and, with God’s grace, I will live for a long time still.”
Bolsonaro said Tuesday that he tested positive for the virus, after months of downplaying its severity while deaths mounted rapidly inside the country. He repeatedly touted chloroquine, a more toxic version of the anti-malarial drug.
A string of studies in Britain and the United States, as well as by the World Health Organization, have found it ineffective and sometimes deadly because of its effects on the heart. Several studies were canceled early because of that.
Volunteers can now sign up for large coronavirus vaccine studies
A network of more than 100 clinical trial sites at hospitals and medical clinics across the United States will take on the unprecedented challenge of testing COVID-19 vaccines and other preventive treatments, federal officials announced Wednesday.
The COVID-19 Prevention Trials Network, which knits together existing federal clinical trial infrastructure developed largely to test HIV vaccines and treatments, launched with a website for volunteers to join the roster of people to be considered when the first trials begin later this month.
The scientific effort to develop a COVID-19 vaccine will depend crucially on tens of thousands of volunteers, in a gargantuan scientific, medical and logistical undertaking, with the aim of providing “substantial quantities of a safe, effective vaccine by January 2021,” Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said in a statement.
Trump threatens to cut federal aid if schools don’t reopen
President Donald Trump on Wednesday threatened to slice federal funding from schools if they do not reopen in the fall.
It was not clear how or under what authority Trump would cut off the funding.
Trump on Tuesday pressed state and local officials to reopen the nation’s schools and colleges this fall as officials at a White House event argued keeping kids out of school would do more harm than good.
Dr. Robert Redfield, who heads the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), is a proponent of opening schools.
The CDC offered guidance for reopening, suggesting schools ensure students and teachers wear masks whenever feasible, spread out desks, stagger schedules, eat meals in classrooms instead of the cafeteria, and add physical barriers between bathroom sinks.
President Trump disagreed with the agency’s guidance. He tweeted:
“I disagree with @CDCgov on their very tough & expensive guidelines for opening schools. While they want them open, they are asking schools to do very impractical things. I will be meeting with them!!!”
Months into crisis, Americans face frustrating test delays
LOS ANGELES — Four months, 3 million confirmed infections and more than 130,000 deaths into the U.S. coronavirus outbreak, Americans confronted with an alarming resurgence of the scourge are facing long lines at testing sites and going a week or more without receiving a diagnosis. Some sites are running out of kits as testing is ramped up.
Labs are reporting shortages of materials and don’t have enough workers to process the tests, leading to severe backups that could worsen as economies reopen and new infections emerge.
Scenes of testing sites turning away people and motorists waiting in the summer heat in long lines separated into numerous lanes by traffic cones have left Americans frustrated and wondering why the U.S. can’t seem to get its act together, especially after it was given fair warning over the past several months as the virus spread from China to hot spots such as Italy, Spain and New York.
In an especially alarming indicator, the percentage of tests coming back positive for the virus is on the rise across nearly the entire country, hitting almost 27% in Arizona, 19% in Florida and 17% in South Carolina.
As more people are tested, an increase in the raw number of positive tests is to be expected. But if the virus is under control, then the percentage of positive results should be coming down.
In Washington state, about 5.1% of tests in the past week have been positive, up slightly from 4.8% in the week ending June 30. Since testing began in Washington, 5.9% of all tests conducted in the state have been positive.
Quarantine Corner: Things to do while staying home
A beach read isn’t just for the beach. Here are six delightful, sun-drenched tales to carry you far from worries. Plus, Kevin Kwan, the author of "Crazy Rich Asians," is talking about his newest novel and the sequel to his hit movie.
A Pierce County ironworker is testing her strengths in the new CBS reality competition "Tough as Nails," premiering tonight. And if it feels like you’re living “Groundhog Day” in quarantine, we have just the film for you: “Palm Springs,” new on Hulu. Here’s more on that, and what else is streaming this week.
Shrimp and grits: Teen chef Sadie shares her recipe for a party in your mouth.
'We're all socialists now, apparently'
The coronavirus has even local anti-tax groups reaching their hands out for big government aid under Congress' $2 trillion rescue act, columnist Danny Westneat writes.
Billions of dollars in PPP loans went to nearly 16,000 small businesses in Washington state, including some well-known eateries.
And some of the lawmakers who created the virus aid have reaped the benefits.
Catch up on the past 24 hours
Washington state coronavirus hospitalizations are rising. But they’re still far below the spring peak, our analysis shows. The numbers provide a window into who’s getting infected and how that’s changed in a surge that “seriously threatens” local reopenings.
A new order took effect yesterday mandating that businesses refuse service to customers without face coverings. How did it go? In some areas, it was no big deal. But in others, where wearing masks has been less common, the day brought a "very tough" shift. If you're new to this mask thing, here's what you should know about picking one that's effective, wearing it properly, making your own and getting it clean.
Airborne transmission of the virus may be a threat indoors, the World Health Organization now says after hundreds of experts called on the agency to take a harder look at its guidance. This could have broad implications for our daily lives.
Texas surpassed 10,000 new coronavirus cases in a single day yesterday after reversing course on one of America's fastest reopenings. And from Texas to Oregon, churches were eager to reopen, but now they're a major source of infections.
Should all schools reopen this fall? Yes, President Donald Trump said emphatically as he accused Democrats of trying to keep them closed for political reasons. What about bringing kids back only a few days a week, as Seattle and other local districts might? That “robs students, not to mention taxpayers,” Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said.
Hundreds of global health experts are alarmed after the Trump administration sent a letter announcing the U.S. will withdraw from the WHO over its handling of the coronavirus crisis. A pullout would have broad ripple effects, but it might not be simple to do.
Is it safe for older adults to seek elective care? Many people are skipping it in the pandemic, but some kinds of appointments shouldn't be delayed. Patient-safety advocates recommend asking your provider some key questions and considering these factors when deciding.
What happens in a pandemic when a government allows life to carry on, largely unhindered: Sweden has become the world's cautionary tale.
Lap dances with masked strippers: Even strip clubs are adapting to the coronavirus age.
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