Editor’s note: This is a live account of COVID-19 updates from Monday, June 22, 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 It is no longer being updated.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.
Soaring infections in Yakima County led Gov. Jay Inslee to announce Saturday that he would order that area’s residents to wear masks in public places.
Several operating room staff members at Seattle’s Virginia Mason Medical Center in Seattle have tested positive for COVID-19.
Statewide, another 455 coronavirus cases were confirmed on Sunday, bringing official state totals to 28,680 diagnoses — out of 474,938 tests administered, meaning a 6% positive test rate — including 1,270 deaths, according to the state Department of Health.
Throughout Monday, 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 Sunday can be found here, and all our coronavirus coverage can be found here.
MLB plans 60-game slate, shortest since 1878 as union balks
Major League Baseball plans to unilaterally issue a 60-game schedule for its shortest season since 1878 after the players’ association rejected a negotiated deal of the same length, putting the sport on track for a combative and possibly unhappy return to the field amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Six days after baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred and union head Tony Clark negotiated to expand the playoffs from 10 teams to 16, widen use of the designated hitter to National League games and introduce an experiment to start extra innings with a runner on second base, the deal was rejected by the Major League Baseball Players Association’s executive board in a 33-5 vote.
“Needless to say, we are disappointed by this development,” MLB said in a statement. “The framework provided an opportunity for MLB and its players to work together to confront the difficulties and challenges presented by the pandemic. It gave our fans the chance to see an exciting new postseason format. And, it offered players significant benefits.”
MLB asked the union to respond by 5 p.m. EDT Tuesday as to whether players can report to training and whether the players’ association will agree on the operating manual of health and safety protocols. The schedule would be the shortest since the National League’s third season.
Surging U.S. virus cases raise fear that progress is slipping
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Alarming surges in coronavirus cases across the U.S. South and West raised fears Monday that the outbreak is spiraling out of control and that hard-won progress against the scourge is slipping away because of resistance among many Americans to wearing masks and keeping their distance from others.
Confirming predictions that the easing of state lockdowns over the past month and a half would lead to a comeback by the virus, cases surpassed 100,000 in Florida, hospitalizations are rising dramatically in Houston and Georgia, and a startling 1 in 5 of those tested in Arizona are proving to be infected.
“It is possible to open up at a judicious pace and coexist with the virus, but it requires millions and millions of people to do the right thing,” Boom said.
Texas is among a number of states — including Arizona, Alabama, Florida and South Carolina — whose governors have resisted statewide mask requirements, leaving the matter to local authorities.
“Everybody is out lounging on the beaches. Just thinking that it’s over. And it’s not,” said Kevin Cole, a respiratory therapist at Maryland’s Fort Washington Medical Center. “It’s far from being over. And unfortunately, it’s those people that will keep this pandemic going.”
Saudi Arabia to hold ‘very limited’ hajj due to virus
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Saudi Arabia said Tuesday that because of the COVID-19 pandemic, only “very limited numbers” of people will be allowed to perform the annual hajj pilgrimage that traditionally draws about 2 million Muslims from around the world.
The decision comes after weeks of speculation over whether Saudi Arabia would cancel the pilgrimage altogether or allow the hajj to be held in symbolic numbers. It’s unclear why the government waited until just five weeks before the hajj to announce its decision, but the timing indicates the sensitivity around major decisions concerning the hajj that affect Muslims around the world.
Trump: U.S. doing ‘too good a job’ on testing
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump said Monday the United States has done “too good a job” on testing for the novel coronavirus, even as his staff insisted the president was only joking when he said over the weekend that he had instructed aides to “slow the testing down, please.”
The president’s comments at a campaign rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on Saturday brought quick rebukes from the campaign of likely Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden as well as scores of Democratic lawmakers.
Orlando Pride withdraws from NWSL tourney after COVID-19 positives
The Orlando Pride have withdrawn from the upcoming National Women’s Soccer League tournament after six players and four staff members tested positive for COVID-19.
The NWSL is the first professional team sport scheduled to return amid the coronavirus pandemic. The month-long Challenge Cup tournament is set to start Saturday in Utah.
After weekend of campaign setbacks, Trump argues that vote-by-mail won't be necessary during the pandemic
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump, reeling from a weekend rally that failed to give his reelection campaign a jolt of energy, suggested Monday that if he loses in November, forged mail-in ballots could be partly to blame.
In a tweet, the president argued that vote-by-mail won’t be necessary during the coronavirus pandemic because “we voted during World War One and World War Two with no problem.”
Absentee voting began during the Civil War. It is becoming increasingly common in the U.S., and Trump is trying to make it a partisan issue. As the coronavirus pandemic makes large gatherings risky, many states have broadened access to absentee ballots in an effort to reduce exposure through in-person voting.
‘American Idol’ 2019 winner Laine Hardy diagnosed with COVID-19
LIVINGSTON, La. — Laine Hardy, the 2019 winner of “American Idol,” says he has been diagnosed with COVID-19 but his symptoms are mild and he is recovering under home quarantine.
UN: Pandemic appears to be peaking in several big countries
GENEVA — A record level of new daily COVID-19 cases worldwide could suggest the pandemic is peaking in some large countries, even as the coronavirus has become “well established” in some regions, the World Health Organization’s emergencies chief said Monday.
At a media briefing on Monday, Dr. Michael Ryan said “the numbers are quickly rising because the epidemic is developing in a number of populous countries at the same time,” even as it appears to be stabilizing and even reducing in parts of Western Europe.
Golden Globes set Feb. 28 for pandemic-delayed ceremony
LOS ANGELES — The Golden Globes is refusing to let the pandemic get in the way of its party.
The ceremony will be held Feb. 28, 2021, in Beverly Hills with previously announced hosts Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association said Monday.
The date, as with that of other awards, had been delayed amid the coronavirus disruption.
State confirms 190 more diagnoses, six more deaths; positive test rate unchanged
State health officials confirmed 190 new COVID-19 infections in Washington on Monday, as well as six additional deaths.
The update brings the state’s totals to 28,870 cases and 1,276 deaths, meaning about 4.4% 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. Sunday.
So far, 477,204 tests for the novel coronavirus have been conducted in the state, per DOH. Of those, 6% have come back positive. The rate of positive tests in Washington has hovered around 6% in recent days, even as the total number of infections has been climbing.
The state has confirmed 9,253 diagnoses and 602 deaths in King County, the state's most populous, accounting for almost half of the state's death toll.
Washington State Fair to host drive-in summer concert series
The Washington State Fair will likely look a lot different this year thanks to coronavirus-related restrictions on large gatherings. But (part of) the show must go on, so the widely popular, 120-year-old fair will host a six-act drive-in country concert series July 16-19 on the fairgrounds site in Puyallup.
The headlining music acts will be announced starting Tuesday and tickets go on sale June 30. Prices start at $80 per vehicle, which includes up to eight passengers. Shows will be held in the fair’s Green parking lot.
Seattle man hawking unapproved COVID-19 vaccine will repay customers
A Seattle entrepreneur who marketed and sold an unauthorized coronavirus vaccine has agreed to settle a lawsuit by the Washington state Attorney General’s Office by repaying his customers and permanently refraining from similar activity.
Johnny Stine on Monday signed a legally binding consent decree to repay up to 30 people he’d allegedly sold his COVID-19 “spike protein’’ vaccine to for $400 each. He also agreed to pay the Attorney General’s Office $8,500 in legal fees; $30,000 in potential fines will be suspended as long as he complies with the agreement.
Stine had faced a maximum fine of $2,000 for each of the 30 counts of allegedly selling the purported vaccine and for allegedly touting his scientific credentials and the benefits of his concoction to those questioning its legality on social media.
No COVID-19 vaccine has attained Food and Drug Administration approval, and developing one is expected to take at least until next year.
White House scales back temperature checks
Visitors are able to enter the White House complex without having their temperatures checked for the first time since mid-March, although several other coronavirus precautions remain in place.
Those who come near the president will still undergo temperature checks and testing for the virus.
Over the past three months, those seeking to access the White House complex first had to get their temperatures checked and answer a question about whether they had experienced any symptoms associated with COVID-19. The White House said Monday it was scaling back complex-wide temperature checks as the District of Columbia enters phase two in its reopening.
4th-worst-hit India sees rural virus cases soar
India’s coronavirus caseload has risen to 425,282 as infections soar in rural areas to which migrant workers fleeing major cities have returned in recent weeks.
India’s health ministry on Monday reported 14,821 new cases and about 300 new deaths, bring the toll of fatalities up to more than 13,000. The coastal state of Goa reported its first COVID-19 death.
India is the fourth most-affected country globally after the United States, Brazil and Russia.
China reported 18 new cases of the coronavirus, including nine in Beijing and two in neighboring Hebei province.
South Korea has reported 17 new cases of COVID-19, the first time its daily jump came down to the teens in nearly a month. Its 40 to 50 cases per day increases over the past two weeks have occurred as people increased their public activities amid eased attitudes on social distancing. An increase in imported cases has prompted authorities to halt providing new visas for travelers from Pakistan and Bangladesh.
Coronavirus lockdowns increase poaching in Asia, Africa
A camera trap photo of an injured tigress and a forensic examination of its carcass revealed why the creature died: A poacher’s wire snare punctured its windpipe and sapped its strength as the wound festered for days.
Snares like this one set in southern India’s dense forest have become increasingly common amid the coronavirus pandemic, as people left jobless turn to wildlife to make money and feed their families.
Authorities in India are concerned this spike in poaching not only could kill more endangered tigers and leopards but also species these carnivores depend upon to survive.
“It is risky to poach, but if pushed to the brink, some could think that these are risks worth taking,” said Mayukh Chatterjee, a wildlife biologist with the non-profit Wildlife Trust of India.
Since the country announced its lockdown, at least four tigers and six leopards have been killed by poachers, Wildlife Protection Society of India said. But there also were numerous other poaching casualties — gazelles in grasslands, foot-long giant squirrels in forests, wild boars and birds such as peacocks and purple moorhens.
Greece sees 99% drop in travel revenue during April lockdown
The restrictions on travel and business imposed to stem the coronavirus’s spread wiped out nearly all travel revenue for Greece in April, according to Bank of Greece figures.
Provisional figures show travel receipts stood at 7 million euros in April, compared with 544 million euros in the same month last year, or a drop of 98.7%, Greece’s central bank said Monday.
“The fall in travel receipts resulted from a 96.2% decline in inbound traveler flows and a 62.2% decrease in average expenditure per trip,” the Bank of Greece said in a statement.
Greece’s economy depends heavily on tourism, which directly and indirectly accounts for around 20% of annual gross domestic product. After an early lockdown imposed in early March kept coronavirus deaths and serious illnesses at low levels, the country is reopening to visitors from abroad, with the government hoping to salvage what it can from the lucrative summer tourist season.
Virus may spin 'out of control' in South Sudan
It began with a dry cough, weakness and back pain. For Reagan Taban Augustino, part of South Sudan’s small corps of health workers trained in treating COVID-19 patients, there was little doubt what he had.
Days later, hardly able to breathe, the 33-year-old doctor discovered just how poorly equipped his country is for the coronavirus pandemic: None of the public facilities he tried in the capital, Juba, had oxygen supplies available until he reached South Sudan’s only permanent infectious-disease unit, which has fewer than 100 beds for a country of 12 million people.
It took more than an hour to admit him. “I was almost dying at the gate,” he told The Associated Press from the unit last week.
The pandemic is now accelerating in Africa, the World Health Organization says.
South Sudan, a nation with more military generals than doctors, never had a fighting chance. Five years of civil war and corruption stripped away much of its health system, nearly half of the population was hungry before the pandemic, and a locust outbreak arrived just weeks before the virus.
Second wave? No, this is still the first, 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 daily counts of new cases in the U.S. are the highest they’ve been in more than a month, driven by alarming recent increases 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.”
COVID-19 surge poses growing threat, experts warn
Infectious disease experts expressed alarm Sunday over the pace of new coronavirus infections in several states in the South and Southwest, with one likening the spread in parts of the country to a “forest fire.”
At the same time, President Donald Trump’s surrogates insisted he was joking on Saturday when he told rally-goers he had ordered a testing slowdown because the results painted an overly dire picture of the pandemic.
With the United States now reporting a quarter of the world’s coronavirus cases, and daily new-infection counts exceeding 30,000 nationwide on at least two recent days, eight states — California among them — last week hit single-day new-case highs, according to figures compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
Nearly 26% of parents are hesitant about flu shots for their children, study finds
Nearly 26% of parents with children 6 months to 18 years old say they are hesitant to have their children get a flu shot, according to research published in the journal Pediatrics.
It found that the parents’ reluctance stems not from concerns about safety but from doubts about the effectiveness of the influenza vaccine. By contrast, just 6% of parents question the effectiveness of routine childhood vaccines, such as those for measles, mumps and whooping cough.
Public health experts are particularly concerned that people of all ages get flu shots this year, given that the flu season and an expected second wave of cases of the new coronavirus are likely to coincide this fall and winter, severely stressing hospitals and the health-care system generally.
Live Nation announces drive-in concert series with spaced-out tailgating
NEW YORK — Tour promoter Live Nation has announced its first-ever drive-in concerts series in the U.S. for July, months into the live music industry's lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The entertainment company on Monday announced “Live from the Drive-In” — a set of nine shows to take place July 10-12 in Nashville, Tennessee; Maryland Heights, Missouri; and Noblesville, Indiana. Performers include Nelly, Brad Paisley, Darius Rucker and Jon Pardi.
Concertgoers will be able to drive into the parking lots of the amphitheaters — a maximum of four people per car — and will have two empty parking lot spaces in between each vehicle so fans can watch and party from their designated individual tailgating zones.
Welcome to summer ... ish: Here's what to do if coronavirus disruptions are knocking you off balance
Hot, sunny weather is on the way, but with restrictions in place and an anxiety-provoking start to 2020, the usual summery sense of ease may be hard to find.
It might seem easier to stay hunkered down. But this is, perhaps, when we need summer most of all.
Amid the interruption in our physical rhythms and daily lives, a psychiatrist has practical recommendations for taking care of yourself.
School’s finally out: Taking stock
As school districts plunge into an intense planning period for the fall, worn-out Washington parents are analyzing what worked and what didn’t in at-home lessons.
Parents are reporting high levels of stress and concern about their kids' education, and the crisis has been harder on some families than others.
Catch up on the past 24 hours
The world just saw its largest single-day increase in COVID-19 cases, driven partly by new U.S. cases that are at the highest levels in more than a month. The coronavirus' spread like a "forest fire" through parts of the U.S. is not simply a result of more testing, public health experts say, contradicting the White House.
The worst may be yet to come in Yakima County. Soaring cases are overwhelming hospitals, and agricultural workers are increasingly falling ill despite mask requirements. Health officials believe the virus's spread is tied to what happens outside work.
Virginia Mason Medical Center has confirmed four COVID-19 cases among people who “who work in or near” the hospital’s operating rooms.
Today is a big day for New Yorkers. They're flooding back to office life, restaurants and more after tens of thousands of deaths. But the reopening strategy is hitting a crucial snag: People with COVID-19 aren't giving information to contact tracers about whom they've seen.
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