Editor’s note: This is a live account of COVID-19 updates from Sunday, June 21, 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 It is no longer being updated.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.
While some Washington counties ease restrictions meant to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus, the World Health Organization said Friday the global case count of the virus is accelerating overall.
Meanwhile, President Donald Trump held a comeback rally in Tulsa, Olka. on Saturday despite health warnings. Before the event, his campaign disclosed that six staff members who helped set it up had tested positive for the novel coronavirus. During the rally, Trump announced that he asked his administration to slow down coronavirus testing to avoid the optics of bad statistics.
Nationwide, colleges are asking athletes to sign a waiver acknowledging the risk of exposure to COVID-19 when using team facilities over the summer.
In Washington, 455 new coronavirus cases were confirmed Sunday. So far, the state has confirmed 28,680 cases out of 474,938 tests for the novel coronavirus, including 1,270 deaths, according to the state Department of Health. Soaring case counts of the virus in Yakima County led Gov. Jay Inslee to announce Saturday that he would order the area’s residents to wear masks in public places.
Throughout Sunday, 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 Saturday 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 evening.
Correction: An outdated graphic with Friday’s data was attached to this post previously.
State DOH confirms 28,680 total COVID-19 cases in Washington
State health officials confirmed 455 new COVID-19 cases in Washington on Sunday, including five additional deaths.
The update brings the state’s totals to 28,680 cases and 1,270 deaths, meaning about 4.4% of people diagnosed in Washington have died, according to the state Department of Health (DOH). The data is as of 11:59 p.m. Saturday.
So far, 474,938 tests for the novel coronavirus have been conducted in the state, per DOH. Of those, 6.0% have come back positive.
The state has confirmed 9,211 diagnoses and 600 deaths in King County, the state's most populous, accounting for a little less than half of the state's death toll.
Snohomish Co. schedules drive-thru COVID-19 testing sites
The Snohomish County Health District is continuing its expanded community-based testing operations and has scheduled drive-thru testing throughout the area.
The testing is available to those who have developed fever, chills, cough, difficulty breathing and other symptoms within the last 14 days.
It will also be available to asymptomatic people who are or have been in close contact with a confirmed COVID-19 case; live in a congregate setting, like a shelter, group home or assisted living facility, or work in a location that has had a case. And testing will be one on those who work in health care, EMS, law enforcement or other fields where work settings have a higher risk of catching or spreading COVID-10; or are part of a racial or ethnic group that has been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.
It will also be made available to those required to be tested for health care, employment or travel.
The testing has been scheduled for: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday, June 23 at McCollum Park, 600 128th St. SE in Everett; 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Wednesday, June 24 at the Sno-Isles Libraries branch at 1070 Village Way in Monroe; noon to 7 p.m. on Thursday, June 25 at McCollum Park; 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Sno-Isles Libraries branch at 311 Maple Ave. in Snohomish, and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, June 27 at McCollum Park.
Registration is now open at www.snohd.org/drive-thru-testing.
Fremont Brewing reopens after coronavirus scare
Six days after a server tested positive for the coronavirus, Fremont Brewing reopened Sunday, declaring it’s safe to drink in its beer garden.
Since its first reported case on June 16, the entire “Urban Beer Garden staff tested negative for COVID-19,” Fremont Brewing said in a Saturday Facebook post. “We did an extra deep sanitation cleaning” at the patio and both brewery locations in Ballard and Fremont, the post said, before deciding to reopen on Father’s Day at noon.
Management could not be reached for comment to answer questions about its safety plan, but in a statement posted online, the brewery said it “contracted with a medical professional who developed back-to-work protocols for us based on the latest CDC (Centers for Disease and Control Prevention) guidelines. “
The server who tested positive for the coronavirus last worked on June 9 at its beer garden, one of the most popular drinking haunts in Fremont. The employee informed management a week later of the positive test result, which prompted management to close not only its taproom and beer garden but also its production facilities while all 70-plus employees were tested for the coronavirus.
Several Virginia Mason Medical Center operating room staffers test positive for coronavirus
Several staff members at Virginia Mason Medical Center in Seattle have tested positive for COVID-19.
“Fewer than five” staff members “who work in or near” the hospital’s operating rooms have tested positive for the disease caused by the novel coronavirus within the span of one week, a Virginia Mason spokesman confirmed in response to an inquiry from The Seattle Times.
In a statement, the spokesman, media relations manager Gale Robinette said that each staff member who tested positive has been treated and will stay home for at least two weeks in accordance with Centers of Disease Control and Prevention guidelines.
"We have not identified any risk of exposure to patients, as these team members were always wearing appropriate personal protective equipment while in their presence," Robinette said. "Our Employee Health Department is closely monitoring the situation and performing surveillance testing of other team members as a precaution. Protecting the health and safety of patients and team members is our highest priority."
Read the full story, which is updating, here.
NYC virus tracing off to a bumpy start: report
NEW YORK (AP) — New York City's effort to stop the spread of the coronavirus through contact tracing has been hampered by the reluctance of many people who are infected with the virus to provide information to tracers, according to a report in The New York Times.
The Times report said just 35% of the 5,347 city residents who tested positive or were presumed positive for COVID-19 in the first two weeks of the contact tracing program gave information about their close contacts.
Perry N. Halkitis, dean of the School of Public Health at Rutgers University, called the 35% rate for eliciting contacts “very bad.”
“For each person, you should be in touch with 75 percent of their contacts within a day," Halkitis told the Times.
Dr. Ted Long, head of New York City’s new Test and Trace Corps, defended the program Sunday and said 69% of the people who complete an interview provide contacts. “We think that’s a strong start but we also do want to get that number up,” Long told The Associated Press.
Read the full story here.
106-year-old Yakima woman recovers from COVID-19
A 106-year-old woman from Yakima has reportedly recovered from COVID-19. After testing positive for the novel coronavirus in April, Fritzi Bryant — the grandmother of KING 5 chief investigative reporter Susannah Frame — is now symptom free, making Bryant one of the oldest patients in the country to recover from the virus, the TV station reports.
"Well, I worked very hard at [beating it]," Bryant told KING 5. "I can't believe I got [the virus] but I was very fortunate to cut it short. Actually, it went by so fast, I didn't have time to be scared."
Bryant was one of the first residents at her long-term care facility in Yakima to be diagnosed with the virus, according to the report. KING 5 did not name the facility, but reported that 10 residents there have died from COVID-19.
Yakima County has become a hotbed for the coronavirus. On Saturday, Gov. Jay Inslee said he would order all residents to wear face masks in public places. An official proclamation is expected in the coming days.
Nursing homes across the country evict vulnerable residents
On a chilly afternoon in April, Los Angeles police found an old, disoriented man crumpled on a Koreatown sidewalk.
Several days earlier, RC Kendrick, an 88-year-old with dementia, was living at Lakeview Terrace, a nursing home with a history of regulatory problems. His family had placed him there to make sure he got round-the-clock care after his condition deteriorated and he began disappearing for days at a time.
But on April 6, the nursing home deposited Kendrick at an unregulated boardinghouse — without bothering to inform his family. Less than 24 hours later, Kendrick was wandering the city alone.
According to three Lakeview employees, Kendrick’s ouster came as the nursing home was telling staff members to try to clear out less-profitable residents to make room for a new class of customers who would generate more revenue: patients with COVID-19.
More than any other institution in America, nursing homes have come to symbolize the deadly destruction of the coronavirus crisis. More than 51,000 residents and employees of nursing homes and long-term care facilities have died, representing more than 40% of the total death toll in the United States.
But even as they have been ravaged, nursing homes have also been enlisted in the response to the outbreak. They are taking on coronavirus-stricken patients to ease the burden on overwhelmed hospitals — and, at times, to bolster their bottom lines.
Read the full story here.
A 'second wave' of coronavirus cases? Not yet, experts say
What's all this talk about a “second wave” of U.S. coronavirus cases?
In The Wall Street Journal last week, Vice President Mike Pence wrote in a piece headlined “There Isn’t a Coronavirus ‘Second Wave'" that the nation is winning the fight against the virus.
Many public health experts, however, suggest it's no time to celebrate. About 120,000 Americans have died from the new virus and there are worrisome recent increases in reported cases in the South and West.
But there is at least one point of agreement: “Second wave” is probably the wrong term to describe what's happening.
“When you have 20,000-plus infections per day, how can you talk about a second wave?" said Dr. Anthony Fauci of the National Institutes of Health. “We’re in the first wave. Let’s get out of the first wave before you have a second wave.”
Read the full story here.
Rise in coronavirus cases brings new concerns in Alabama
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Alabama and much of the Deep South are seeing a spike in coronavirus cases as some have stopped heeding warnings of the virus, alarming public health officials and people who have lost loved ones because of COVID-19. Over the past two weeks, Alabama had the second highest number of new cases per capita in the nation. South Carolina was fourth. Louisiana and Mississippi were also in the top 10.
“We are extremely concerned about these numbers. We know if they continue, we will see more hospitalizations and more deaths,” Alabama State Health Officer Scott Harris said.
As of Saturday, Alabama had more than 29,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with more than a quarter of the cases reported in the last two weeks.
The combination of preexisting health conditions and limited health care access in the region, along with pockets of public skepticism about health officials' advice on the illness, complicate attempts to manage the virus.
Read the full story here.
William Burr, engineer who enjoyed travel and found joy in helping people, dies of coronavirus
William “Bill” Burr enjoyed traveling and adventure, climbed every major mountain peak in Washington, and loved working on the Lunar Orbiter program in 1966-67.
Mr. Burr was also a family man, helping raise three children with Ruth, his wife of 62 years, and became devoted to charitable work as a retiree.
He died March 24 at age 91 from complications of the coronavirus.
“He was very humble,” said son Kenneth Burr. “I’ve had a lot of people comment on his life, and he would be surprised at how many people were fans of his. He went about his stuff and did what he did without thinking about being popular.”
Learn about Burr's life here.
Northwest’s small pig farmers face promise and perils amid the coronavirus pandemic
Small Washington livestock farmers report soaring demand for their products amid a pandemic that has put big strains on the nation’s meat industry. The giant Midwest plants where pigs are butchered have been staggered this year by large outbreaks of COVID-19 among workers. Their operations then had to slow or sometimes shut down, which created a huge backup in pigs ready for slaughter with no place to go. Even with plant outputs rising in recent weeks, 2.5 million animals may end up killed on farms and buried by year’s end, according to the National Pork Producers Council.
This debacle in the Midwest heartland, along with tightened supplies in grocery stores, has helped stoke consumer interest in alternatives to industrial-scale meat production and created new opportunities for a struggling small livestock industry that has been seeking to play a bigger role in feeding the region.
“Our food system is out of whack, and something like this shows that,” Issa said. “People need to eat closer to their food source.”
Read more about local farmers' opportunities — and challenges — here.
New numbers: 700 out of every 100,000 people in Yakima County diagnosed with COVID-19
The number of new COVID- 19 cases per capita in Yakima County continues to increase, the state reports.
A total of 700 people per 100,000 were diagnosed with COVID-19 over the past two weeks in Yakima County, according to the state Department of Health. That’s up from 638 as of Thursday.
State DOH data is usually a few days behind local numbers.
While the increase isn’t surprising because of continuing high daily case counts, the number is the highest in the state and puts Yakima County further beyond the state’s reopening criteria of fewer than 25 cases per 100,000 over the past two weeks. Read the full story here.
Coronavirus outbreak at Seattle teen group home raises questions about quarantine plans
Last month, the Department of Children, Youth and Families sent children to sleep on cots in an office building when a youth center refused to take them back for quarantining. The episode raised questions about DCYF’s preparedness for outbreaks, with some children’s advocates sharply critical of using an impersonal office building to house vulnerable youth in the foster-care system.
And it came as the department, responsible for the state’s child-welfare system, is dealing with myriad other challenges amid the pandemic: likely budget cuts due to the economic fallout; a 50% drop in the number of calls about suspected abuse and neglect, prompting concern about unseen harm to kids; and a host of details that need figuring out as counties open up and the agency restarts visits between parents and children in state care. Read the full story here.
Catch up on the past 24 hours
Hello and welcome to this first Sunday in Phase 2, at least in King County. Here are some new stories related to the coronavirus from Times staffers.
Finding shelter for kids with coronavirus is a task that stretched the Department of Children, Youth and Families (DCYF). When a youth center refused to take kids back for quarantining, the agency resorted to a Plan B: sending kids to sleep on cots in a West Seattle office building.
Remembering William Burr, a climber, family man and Boeing engineer whose favorite project was working on the Lunar Orbiter program for NASA. Burr died at 91 from complications of the coronavirus. Learn about his life here.
Small pig farmers in Washington state have seen soaring demand amid a pandemic that has strained the nation's meat industry. Outbreaks in bigger plans in the Midwest have stoked interest in alternatives to industrial-scale meat production. But local farmers are facing challenges, mostly because of a decades-long contraction in the number of small regional slaughterhouses that can process meat for retail sale.
In case you missed it, and because I typically cover education: Late Friday, Seattle Public Schools announced it would return to in-person schooling — but only if King County has reached Phase 4. Lots still to be determined. More here.
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