Editor’s note: This is a live account of COVID-19 updates from Tuesday, June 16, as the day unfolded. It is no longer being updated. Click here to see updates from Wednesday, June 17, click here to see all the most recent news about the pandemic, and click here to find additional resources.
Coronavirus infections are on the rise throughout Washington state, with particularly large increases in Yakima, Benton, Spokane and Franklin counties.
In King County, barbers, tattoo artists and pet groomers could soon be mostly open to customers if the state approves the county’s application to move to Phase 2 of reopening. The King County Board of Health voted unanimously Monday evening to send its application to the state.
Also on Monday, Gov. Jay Inslee called on the federal government to create a national aviation screening system to protect airline passengers against the new coronavirus.
Throughout Tuesday, on this page, we’ll post updates from Seattle Times journalists and others on the pandemic 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.
The following graphic includes the most recent numbers from the Washington State Department of Health, released Tuesday.
Report: 60% of Beijing flights canceled to stem virus spread
The Chinese capital on Wednesday canceled more than 60% of commercial flights and raised the alert level amid a new coronavirus outbreak, state-run media reported.
The website of the Communist Party’s Global Times said that as of 9 a.m. Wednesday, a total of 1,255 flights to and from the capital’s two major airports have been scrapped.
Beijing has enacted a number of measures to limit travel in and out of the city, especially among those coming from districts where new cases have been detected. Beijing had essentially eradicated local transmissions but in recent days has added a total of 137 new cases with no new deaths.
On Wednesday, the city raised its threat level from 3 to 2, leading to the cancellation of classes, suspension of plans for opening up and stiffened requirements for social distancing.
Study shows nearly a quarter of adults in this Idaho county have coronavirus antibodies
BOISE, Idaho — A study has shown that roughly 23% of Blaine County’s adult population has coronavirus antibodies, according to a news release from the city of Ketchum.
Preliminary results from the antibody study — conducted by The Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, and Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences in New York — showed that antibodies were most prevalent in Ketchum, where roughly 35% of the city’s adults have virus antibodies, one of the highest per-capita rates of any city in the country.
More than 2,500 residents completed a survey for the study, and tests were administered to 917 of those selected.
The test results showed the large prevalence of antibodies, and the city’s news release indicated that the specificity of the test is 99.9%, meaning that only one in 1,000 could be a false positive.
Some participants noted that they did not develop antibodies even though “they live in the same household as persons with the disease and did not practice social distancing."
Coronavirus shutdowns lead to layoffs at SAM, ACT, Chihuly Garden & Glass, Space Needle
The coronavirus pandemic continues to devastate Seattle’s arts and entertainment community, with Seattle Art Museum, ACT Theatre, Chihuly Garden & Glass and the Space Needle all experiencing new or continued layoffs.
Seattle Art Museum said in a statement this week that it will begin furloughs and reductions in hours for its staff on July 5. ACT Theatre said Tuesday that its 2020 season, which was to have begun in March and continued through November, has been canceled in its entirety, along with its ACTLab season and the Young Playwrights Program.
The Space Needle and Chihuly Garden and Glass, both of which have been closed for several months, have extended the March layoffs of the majority of their employees: 182 staffers for the Space Needle and 97 for the Chihuly Garden. Public relations manager Amanda Lansford said that a little more than 50 employees remain. A return date for the laid off workers has not been set.
Nordstrom to reopen all Washington stores by June 23
After staying shuttered to walk-in shoppers for nearly three months to comply with social distancing precautions, all of Nordstrom’s 15 Washington locations will reopen by the end of June, the company announced Tuesday.
All of the company’s stores have been closed since mid-March. Most Washington locations opened earlier in June; stores in Lynnwood, Bellevue and Seattle are slated to reopen Thursday.
The last will be the downtown Seattle flagship store, scheduled to reopen June 23.
By Thursday, 319 of the company’s 378 locations will be open to in-person shoppers. The company has said it will take social distancing precautions like limiting the number of people in the store and providing face coverings for employees and shoppers.
Seattle schools will likely have some in-person instruction this fall. But what will it look like?
If public health guidance permits it, Seattle Public Schools Superintendent Denise Juneau says next school year should involve some degree of in-person instruction.
What that will look like isn’t clear yet. By Friday, Juneau and other district leaders say they will announce a model for how they would start classes in the fall, likely a hybrid of in-person and online learning.
To inform their decision, district officials met Tuesday to hear from teams of community representatives, students and educators who’d spent about a week-and-a-half brainstorming ways to start the next school year safely without leaving students behind.
Based on the presentations from the team members, who were selected by the district, there was no consensus on which of those scenarios would be best. But many of their ideas assumed some students would be taught in the classroom by fall.
Whatever the decision announced on Friday, it will be fraught with complexity and disagreement over the path forward. And any plan decided on now will need a back-up, completely virtual plan in case coronavirus infection rates require buildings to close again.
State confirms 373 new COVID-19 cases and 10 more deaths
State health officials confirmed 373 new COVID-19 cases in Washington on June 16, as well as 10 additional deaths.
The update brings the state’s totals to 26,531 cases and 1,231 deaths, meaning about 4.6% of people diagnosed in Washington have died, according to the state Department of Health’s (DOH) data dashboard. The data is as of 11:59 p.m. Monday, June 15.
So far, 480,026 tests for the novel coronavirus have been conducted in the state, per DOH. Of those, 5.5% have come back positive. The rate of positive tests in Washington has hovered between 5.5% and 6% in recent weeks, even as total case numbers have been climbing.
The state has confirmed 8,850 diagnoses and 595 deaths in King County, the state's most populous, accounting for a little less than half of the state's death toll.
Correction: An earlier version of this item misstated the proportion of Washington state's COVID-19 deaths that have occurred in King County.
Mary's Place clients to receive free COVID-19 testing
Individuals and families at three area Mary's Place shelters will receive free COVID-19 testing this week in a partnership between the non-profit and Medical Teams International (MTI), a global disaster response and humanitarian agency.
The testing is part of MTI's "broader, ongoing effort" with Seattle and King County Public Health to reach people at heightened risk of the illness who lack access to testing, according to a statement from MTI.
The testing will be done over three days at three locations: from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday, June 17 at Mary's Place White Center at 10821 8th Ave. NW; from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday, June 18 at the Mary's Place Day Center at 1830 9th Ave.; and from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. Friday, June 19 at the Mary's Place Family Diversion Center at 712 Aurora Avenue North.
“Keeping our staff and guests healthy during this pandemic is our number one priority,” said Mary’s Place Executive Director Marty Hartman said in a statement. “We’re so grateful to the frontline workers at Medical Teams International for providing this critical testing and support.”
Earlier this month, MTI took their mobile COVID-19 testing van on the road with the purpose to test vulnerable communities throughout the Greater Seattle area. Since beginning COVID-19 testing in March 2020, the statement said, the non-profit has screened more than 1,000 patients for the coronavirus.
Oh, great! Flushing the toilet may fling coronavirus aerosols all over
Here’s one more behavior to be hyper-aware of in order to prevent coronavirus transmission: what to do after you use the toilet.
Scientists have found that in addition to clearing out whatever business you’ve left behind, flushing a toilet can generate a cloud of aerosol droplets that rises nearly 3 feet. Those droplets may linger in the air long enough to be inhaled by a shared toilet’s next user, or land on surfaces in the bathroom.
This toilet plume isn’t just gross. In simulations, it can carry infectious coronavirus particles that are already present in the surrounding air or recently shed in a person’s stool. The research, published Tuesday in the journal Physics of Fluids, adds to growing evidence that the coronavirus can be passed not only through respiratory droplets but also through virus-laden feces, too.
And while it remains unknown whether public or shared toilets are a common point of transmission of the virus, the research highlights the need during a pandemic to rethink some of the common spaces people share.
“The aerosols generated by toilets are something that we’ve kind of known about for a while, but many people have taken for granted,” said Joshua L. Santarpia, a professor of pathology and microbiology at the University of Nebraska Medical Center who was not involved in the research. “This study adds a lot of the evidence that everyone needs in order to take better action.”
Seattle-area high school students offer free virtual tutoring to younger kids during coronavirus pandemic
Psst, can you solve for x? 3x+5 = 8
A little rusty? You’re not alone. At Students Helping Students Seattle, the No. 1 request for tutoring assistance is math, especially algebra.
Logan Spoonemore, a junior at The Northwest School (a private school on First Hill), recruited some 70 Seattle-area high school volunteers to tutor elementary and middle-school kids. The high-schoolers can cover anything from reading stories to younger students just to give their parents a little break, all the way up to homework help for Algebra 2.
Parents can sign up for free online tutoring on the SHSS website, and Spoonemore will match kids to a volunteer tutor. Lessons can take place over virtual conferencing like Zoom, Teams, FaceTime or even email, phone and text. So far, about 50 kids have been matched with tutors.
Spoonemore started the group in response to the coronavirus school shutdown: teachers doing their best adjusting to online teaching, some students falling behind, parents stressed out. She built the site herself, on Squarespace, and launched it April 28. The program will continue through the summer and into the next school year.
Read the whole story here.
Queen Elizabeth misses Royal Ascot for first time in reign
Until now, nothing has kept Queen Elizabeth II away from the Royal Ascot horse racing meeting during her 68-year reign as U.K. monarch — not pregnancy, a speech to Parliament or even an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease.
But this year, the 94-year-old queen will not be attending Royal Ascot, which starts Tuesday, because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The queen has been isolating at Windsor Castle, west of London, with her 99-year-old husband, Prince Philip, over the past three months.
Read more here.
Canada, U.S. extend border restrictions to July 21
Canada and the U.S. have agreed to extend their agreement to keep their border closed to non-essential travel to July 21 during the coronavirus pandemic.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Tuesday’s agreement extends the closure by another 30 days. The restrictions were announced on March 18 and were extended in April and May.
Many Canadians fear a reopening.
Americans who are returning to the U.S. and Canadians who are returning to Canada are exempted from the border closure.
Canada sends 75% of its exports to the U.S. and about 18% of American exports go to Canada. The U.S.-Canada border is world’s longest between two nations.
Ukraine president’s wife hospitalized with coronavirus
The wife of Ukrainain President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has been hospitalized with double pneumonia after contracting the new coronavirus, joining the ranks of several first ladies around the world who got infected with COVID-19 earlier this year.
Zelenskiy’s office said in a statement Tuesday that Olena Zelenska’s condition was stable and the president and the couple’s children tested negative for the virus on Monday.
Zelenska, 42, said she tested positive for the virus on Friday. In an Instagram post that day, she said she “felt good,” was receiving outpatient treatment and isolated herself from her family “in order not to put them in danger.”
Zelenskiy, also 42, has limited his contacts to a “very small circle” of people and started conducting meetings and talks via teleconference, but continued going to the office, his spokeswoman told the Ukrainska Pravda news outlet.
In mid-March, the wife of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tested positive for the virus.
Read more here.
Italian survey finds what parents suspect: Lockdowns make kids irritable and weepy
A survey conducted in Italy on the psychological impact of coronavirus lockdowns on children has quantified what many parents observed during weeks cooped up at home: Kids were more irritable, had trouble sleeping and for some of the youngest, wept inconsolably and regressed developmentally.
Those symptoms were more pronounced in families in which the parents were particularly stressed and in families with elderly relatives at high risk of becoming seriously ill with COVID-19, the national survey by the Giannina Gaslini Pediatric Hospital in Genoa in conjunction with the University of Genoa found.
Italy’s Health Ministry on Tuesday released the results of the anonymous survey of 6,800 people who voluntarily responded to an online questionaire March 24-April 3. The start date was two weeks into a 10-week lockdown in Italy, the first country in the West to be hit by the coronavirus pandemic.
Read the story here.
Poll: Americans are the unhappiest they’ve been in 50 years
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Spoiler alert: 2020 has been rough on the American psyche. Folks in the U.S. are more unhappy today than they’ve been in nearly 50 years.
This bold — yet unsurprising — conclusion comes from the COVID Response Tracking Study, conducted by NORC at the University of Chicago. It finds that just 14% of American adults say they’re very happy, down from 31% who said the same in 2018. That year, 23% said they’d often or sometimes felt isolated in recent weeks. Now, 50% say that.
The survey, conducted in late May, draws on nearly a half-century of research from the General Social Survey, which has collected data on American attitudes and behaviors at least every other year since 1972. No less than 29% of Americans have ever called themselves very happy in that survey.
Read the full story here, including additional findings from the survey.
U.S. casinos push for cashless gambling payments, citing virus
ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. — The American casino industry wants gambling regulators to make it easier to adopt cashless payment transactions on the casino floor, citing a desire to help customers avoid handling money during the coronavirus outbreak.
In a report released Tuesday, the American Gaming Association, the gambling industry’s national trade group, called on regulators in states where gambling is allowed to update their rules or laws to integrate cashless options for gamblers.
Presently, a small number of casinos use such payments, which include debit or credit cards, as well as apps like Apple Pay, Google Pay, and PayPal. Wider acceptance of these options has long been a goal of the gambling industry.
What are the potential long-term effects of having COVID-19?
It’s hard to say exactly what the long-term effects are of having COVID-19 because the coronavirus is still so new.
The best evidence comes from patients themselves, and some experience a variety of symptoms long after their infections have cleared.
UK unemployment expected to hit levels last seen in 1980s
LONDON — Unemployment in the U.K. is widely expected to hit levels not seen since the mid-1980s over the coming months as a result of the coronavirus-induced recession.
Though the number of people officially labelled as unemployed held steady in April, the first full month after lockdown, analysts said Tuesday it’s only a matter of time before the full impact of the economic collapse is seen.
That’s because the British government’s efforts to insulate the jobs market from the economic damage of the lockdown is coming to an end.
Coronavirus tracing app a test for privacy-minded Germany
BERLIN — Germany launched a coronavirus tracing app Tuesday that officials say is so secure even government ministers can use it, though developers acknowledge it isn’t perfect yet.
Smartphone apps have been touted as a high-tech tool in the effort to track down potential COVID-19 infections. Experts say finding new cases quickly is key to clamping down on fresh clusters, especially as countries slowly emerge from lockdowns and try to avoid a second wave of infections and deaths.
But governments in Europe have run into legal and cultural hurdles trying to reconcile the need for effective tracing with the continent’s strict data privacy standards.
Germany, where a person’s right to their own data even after death is rooted in the constitution, has proved a particular challenge.
‘Still scared’: Health workers feel the toll of virus fight
NEW YORK — Outside a back door to a hospital where the coronavirus hit like a hurricane, a half-dozen staffers gathered recently to look back, and look inward.
“I am still scared,” Dr. Gwen Hooley told her colleagues at Elmhurst Hospital, which was swamped with patients in late March as the virus rampaged through New York.
Physician’s assistant Diane Akhbari recalled her husband leaving food on the cellar stairs while she isolated herself for months for fear of infecting her family: “I felt like an animal,” she said, her voice cracking.
Co-workers talked about how terrifying it felt early on, not knowing whether they’d have enough protective gear. How one endured his own case of COVID-19 and others saw young and healthy people like themselves get critically sick. How colleagues discussed drawing up wills.
And how haunting it is to think it may all happen again.
“I feel like it’s a calm before a second storm,” said Hooley, an emergency room physician who lost a relative to the virus.
While the global pandemic hasn’t abated, the days when gasping patients arrived at Elmhurst nonstop, when ventilators ran low and deaths so high that a refrigerated morgue truck was stationed outside, have subsided. Not necessarily the pain.
At Elmhurst and hospitals around the country, nurses, doctors and other health care workers are reckoning with the psychological toll of the virus fight, coupled with fears that the disease could flare anew later this year.
As COVID-19 infection rate spikes in Tulsa, don’t ask the mayor about Trump rally plans
OKLAHOMA CITY — For most mayors in deep-red states like Oklahoma, the prospect of hosting the first rally for President Donald Trump in months would be a delight. It would showcase the city on an international stage and draw revenue for local businesses that have been shuttered for months amid the coronavirus outbreak.
But G.T. Bynum, the first-term mayor of Tulsa, isn’t celebrating Trump’s planned rally Saturday at the city’s 19,000-seat downtown BOK Center arena. While other Oklahoma GOP officials are hailing the event, Bynum finds himself in a precarious position, balancing partisan politics, the city’s deep racial wounds and a COVID-19 infection rate that is suddenly spiking.
Job listings for Seattle area trail national rebound
Seattle’s economy was booming by many measures before the COVID-19 pandemic struck, and job listings here grew faster than the nationwide rate into early March. Then the pandemic, and the subsequent lockdown, sent job openings plummeting and put millions out of work.
The recovery from those blows has been painful everywhere, and new job opportunities for those left unemployed have come back only slowly. Washington state trails the national rate of improvement, and the Seattle metro area trails the state. That’s been the case since both local and national listings hit bottom in early May.
For more economic news, including more charts explaining the coronavirus economy, click here.
Quarantine Corner: Things to do while staying home
Cake for breakfast! Teen chef Sadie Davis-Suskind shares her recipe for a coffee cake that kids can make (hmmm, Father’s Day is coming up), and we also have the secrets to making treasured Norwegian waffles.
Our book critic has a new favorite detective. Meet resourceful, no-nonsense housekeeper Blanche White. And what would our reality look like if Hillary Clinton had split with Bill and become president? The alternate-history book “Rodham” paints an amusing picture.
Children are only half as likely to get infected by the coronavirus, research shows
Children are only half as likely as adults to get infected by the coronavirus, according to new research that could influence tough decisions on when and how to reopen schools.
And kids usually don't develop clinical symptoms of COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, according to the study, published Tuesday in the journal Nature Medicine.
From the start of the pandemic, it has been known that children are typically spared the worst effects of the disease. They rarely die of it. But they can still get sick and can spread the virus, including to older family members more likely to have a severe illness.
Catch up on the past 24 hours
King County businesses' doors could soon open wider, from barbers to restaurants and more. The county is applying for the second phase of reopening, even as COVID-19 cases climb. Here's what that involves, as well as a county-by-county look at what you can (and can't) do.
Researchers say they have the first evidence that a drug called dexamethasone can improve COVID-19 survival. The same study earlier showed a malaria drug touted by President Donald Trump was not working against the coronavirus. The FDA, citing new information on safety risks, yesterday revoked its emergency authorization for that drug, hydroxychloroquine.
Airline passengers need a national screening program to protect them against the coronavirus, Gov. Jay Inslee says, and he has a plan for how this could look. Meanwhile, a Seattle company has come up with a design that it says will protect passengers by creating an invisible barrier around them, and airlines are cracking down on travelers who won't wear masks.
Drivers for meal- and grocery-delivery app companies must get "premium pay" for each Seattle order during the coronavirus crisis, the City Council voted. Some companies warned that they'll pass the cost along to customers.
China has slammed the doors shut in a swath of Beijing as officials rush to contain a fresh coronavirus outbreak — a sign of the challenges faced by reopening nations around the world.
As MLB owners and players bicker over reopening, millions of fans may be going, going, gone, columnist Matt Calkins writes.
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