Editor’s note: This is a live account of COVID-19 updates from Tuesday, June 9, as the day unfolded. Click here to see updates from Wednesday, June 10. To find resources and the latest extended coverage of the pandemic, click here.
Across the country and around the world, more people are forgoing physical distancing. It’s not just the George Floyd protests, which have drawn floods of demonstrators — economies are starting to reopen and people are inching back toward their normal routines.
Meanwhile, the protests continue, and medical experts reiterate their warnings that tear gas and pepper spray can increase the spread of respiratory viruses. Local businesses in Washington face unprecedented financial challenges as they struggle to recover from both the effects of the pandemic and recent looting, although many owners of the hardest-hit businesses have been quick to voice support for the protests.
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.
After coronavirus outbreak on carrier Roosevelt, many have antibodies
The agonizing tale of the coronavirus outbreak on the carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt starting in March led to the infection of hundreds of crew members, an emergency stop in Guam, the removal of the ship’s captain and the resignation of the acting Navy secretary.
But while the Navy and civic leaders in Guam struggled to quell the spread of the virus, naval officials and researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention began a medical investigation into the outbreak, the results of which were released Tuesday.
The study found that, among a few hundred service members who volunteered to be tested and questioned about their experiences onboard and while in Guam, more than a third had enough functioning antibodies to the coronavirus to indicate they could have some protection against the virus, at least for a limited time.
Some were still showing the presence of neutralizing antibodies, which block the virus from binding to cells, three months after the onset of symptoms.
Most rents in Seattle area stagnate — but drop for cheaper apartments and those in West Seattle
The coronavirus pandemic has caused most rents in the Seattle area to stagnate, though they’re falling for the least-expensive apartments, according to data from analytics firm RealPage. One neighborhood — West Seattle — is seeing especially sharp cuts, according to landlords and property managers, though not just from the pandemic.
Overall, in the Seattle-Bellevue-Everett area, May asking rents were nearly the same as they were a year ago, averaging just under $1,900, whereas before the pandemic, rents were up nearly 5% year-over-year in the area. RealPage looks at effective asking rents, which include advertised discounts offered by landlords and property managers to entice new tenants to ink a deal, like one month of free rent.
The big slide has been among the least-expensive properties, where May asking rents were off 0.8% compared with a year earlier, to an average of $1,518. Rents for apartments near Boeing offices and factories in Renton and Everett were also down, by as much as 3.1%. The company recently announced cuts of almost 10,000 jobs in Washington state.
Still, even national landlords with huge luxury portfolios are sweetening deals to close contracts. A statewide eviction moratorium and ban on rent increases have kept area renters in their apartments and slowed demand.
King County partners with coronavirus testing initiatives led by Beyoncé and her mother
King County and other local organizations announced Tuesday they're planning to partner with free coronavirus-testing campaigns led by Beyoncé and her mother, Tina Knowles Lawson.
The partnership — a part of Knowles Lawson's #IDIDMYPART campaign and Beyoncé’s BeyGood initiative — will provide two days of free drive-thru COVID-19 testing in South King County cities, "where Black and brown communities are suffering disproportionately from coronavirus," said a statement from the county.
Attendees will also receive community care packages, diapers and toiletries for free.
“I could not be prouder and elated that organizations in King County, Washington, stepped up in such a responsible way,” Knowles Lawson said in the statement. “It is imperative that we remember during these difficult times, when we are fighting for social justice, that we are also in a pandemic that is killing people at an alarming rate. We are dealing with two diseases that are disproportionately ravaging the Black community; COVID-19 and racism. We have to do all we can to combat both.”
The first day of free testing will take place on June 13 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at HealthPoint Administration at 955 Powell Ave. Southwest in Renton. The second day will take place June 14 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Sea Mar Community Health Medical Center at 31405 18th Ave. South in Federal Way.
“We’ve always known that Black and brown communities face barriers to quality healthcare compared to white communities,” said Hamdi Mohamed, King County policy advisor for the Executive Office of Equity and Social Justice, in the statement. “We see it in high maternal mortality rates for Black women, we see it in disproportionately high populations of uninsured people in communities of color, and we see it now in the COVID-19 crisis, as people of color are being affected at a rate nearly two-and-a-half times higher than that of whites."
More information about the testing is available here.
Larry Stone column: In trying to stem coronavirus-shutdown losses, myopic MLB owners have damaged the sport’s soul
In negotiations with players to resume a season shut down by the coronavirus pandemic, Major League Baseball is administering self-inflicted wounds from which it might never fully recover, no matter how tight the pennant races or majestic the play, Seattle Times sports columnist Larry Stone writes.
Stone, a lifelong baseball fanatic, has reflexively fought back against criticism of the sport over the years. "But," he writes, "you’re on your own this time, fellas."
Jayapal and other Democratic lawmakers back Amazon employees’ lawsuit over working conditions
U.S. Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Seattle, and at least 14 other Democratic members of Congress planned to ask a court to require greater COVID-19 safety measures at an Amazon warehouse in New York, in a legal brief supporting workers who sued the company last week.
Employees at Amazon’s Staten Island distribution center known as JFK8 alleged in the suit that the company did not adequately inform them of disease outbreaks in the facility and maintained “oppressive” productivity requirements, among other conditions that contributed to the spread of COVID-19 and the death of one of the plaintiffs’ family members.
The lawmakers urged the judge to issue an emergency injunction under New York state labor law and common law, citing inaction by federal workplace safety regulators and noting their own legislative efforts will “take time to enact and implement.”
Photos: How the pandemic is playing out around the world
Around the world, in varying stages, people are cautiously venturing out to shop, eat, vote, protest and more.
See more images from today of a world coping with a new version of daily life.
What is herd immunity and could it work with COVID-19?
Herd immunity is when a virus can no longer spread easily because enough people are immune to it. That lowers the chances of the virus jumping from person to person and reaching those who haven’t been infected yet.
People can become immune to certain viruses after surviving infection or being vaccinated. Typically, at least 70% of a population must be immune to achieve herd immunity. But how long immunity lasts varies depending on the virus, and it’s not yet known how long COVID-19 survivors might have that protection.
Vienna Philharmonic purrs back to life after pandemic pause
The Vienna Philharmonic returned home, and its famous strings purred for the first time since March 10.
Its 2,854-seat Musikverein, considered by many the world’s most beautiful concert hall, was filled with only 100 people Friday for the first of three days of programs with Daniel Barenboim. Because of the negligible number, tickets were distributed to family, friends and donors for among the first performances by a major orchestra since the pandemic paused the season.
The three-month gap was difficult for members of the orchestra, which is considered in the music world to rank among the best.
“Even if we are not allowed to play a concert, we want to do some recordings or just to play for ourselves, because we are quite convinced that we need to play as an orchestra,” said Daniel Froschauer, a first violinist and the orchestra chairman. “The best soccer teams like Real Madrid, they have to play together.”
Inslee extends emergency order intended to protect high-risk workers from virus
OLYMPIA — Gov. Jay Inslee has extended through Aug. 1 an emergency proclamation intended to protect workers at high risk of COVID-19 from losing their jobs or income.
The order applies to workers 65 or older, as well as people of any age with underlying conditions that could put them at risk if they got infected with the virus.
Among other things, the order bars employers from permanently replacing high-risk workers.
It mandates that high-risk workers be given a choice of alternative work settings, such as working remotely.
High-risk workers can also use leave they've accrued or unemployment benefits if an alternate work assignment isn’t feasible and the employee can’t safely work.
DOH confirms 313 new cases in Washington and 15 new deaths
State health officials confirmed 313 new COVID-19 cases in Washington on Tuesday, as well as 15 additional deaths.
The update brings the state’s totals to 24,354 cases and 1,176 deaths, according to the state Department of Health’s (DOH) data dashboard. The dashboard reports 3,747 people hospitalized in Washington.
So far, 415,054 tests for the novel coronavirus have been conducted in the state, per DOH. Of those, 5.9% have come back positive.
King County, the state's most populous, has reported 8,529 positive test results and 580 deaths, accounting for a little less than half of the state's death toll.
‘We are a hot spot’: Yakima County has nearly 5,000 COVID-19 cases
The coronavirus pandemic continues to rage in Yakima County, with the total number of cases closing in on 5,000.
The Yakima Health District reported 215 more infections Monday, bringing the total of confirmed cases to 4,929.
The Yakima Herald-Republic reported deaths from COVID-19 remained at 96.
“We are a hot spot for COVID-19,” health district spokeswoman Lilian Bravo said.
Read the story here.
WHO backtracks on doctor's comments about asymptomatic transmission
The World Health Organization walked back its comments that asymptomatic people rarely spread the new coronavirus.
Less than 24 hours after Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, the head of the WHO's emerging disease and zoonosis unit, said that asymptomatic transmission was "very rare" in response to a journalist's question the organization held a press conference Tuesday morning to clarify its position.
But the comment from Monday had already spread widely and been seized upon by conservatives and others to bolster arguments that people do not need to wear masks or maintain social distancing precautions.
The episode sparked criticism of WHO’s public health messaging and highlighted just how fraught and easily politicized such work remains months into the pandemic.
“I wasn’t stating a policy of WHO or anything like that,” Kerkhove said. “We do know that some people who are asymptomatic, or some people who do not have symptoms, can transmit the virus on.”
It was not the “intent of WHO to say there is a new or different policy,” added Mike Ryan, head of emergency programs for WHO. “There is still too much unknown about this virus and still too much unknown about its transmission dynamics.”
While asymptomatic transmission does occur, no one knows for sure how frequently that happens. Studies and models have suggested many of those infected never show symptoms. And it remains an open question whether they are a large force driving transmission. At the same time, however, some countries using contact tracing to work backward from confirmed cases have not found many instances of asymptomatic spread, WHO officials noted.
Moscow lifts lockdown restrictions amid virus concerns
Moscow emerged from a strict lockdown Tuesday with the city government citing a slowdown in the coronavirus outbreak and critics expressing concerns over the potential for a new wave of infections in the Russian capital.
As of Tuesday, Moscow residents are no longer required to stay at home or obtain electronic passes for traveling around the city, Mayor Sergei Sobyanin said Monday. All restrictions on taking walks, using public transportation or driving have been lifted as well.
The sudden ending of restrictions imposed in late March comes weeks before a nationwide vote on a constitutional change that would allow President Vladimir Putin to stay in power until 2036 and was condemned by Kremlin critics as premature and politically motivated.
The lifted lockdown measures not only permitted Moscow residents to move about, but allowed beauty parlors to reopen Tuesday. Outdoor terraces of cafes and restaurants, as well as museums and dental clinics, are set to open on June 16. Kindergartens, gyms and indoor spaces of cafes and restaurants will be allowed to operate starting June 23.
“The fight isn’t over yet,” Sobyanin said in a video address Monday. “Nevertheless, I would like to congratulate you on our common victory and a big step towards returning to a full-fledged life.”
Read the story here.
UK drops plan to get all young children in school by summer
The British government on Tuesday backed away from plans to have all primary school children return to school in England before the summer holidays, following concerns by principals that they could not meet coronavirus social distancing requirements if everyone returned.
Education Secretary Gavin Williamson admitted that the goal for England’s approximately 5 million primary schoolchildren from age 4 to 11 was not possible, given constraints related to classroom sizes, the need for social distancing and inadequate numbers of teachers.
“While we are not able to welcome all primary children back for a full month before the summer, we continue to work with the sector on the next steps,” Williamson told lawmakers.
Although many of England’s primary schools have been open this entire spring for the children of key workers — including health care professionals, delivery drivers and journalists — the Conservative government had planned to get all younger children back in stages. Britain’s school year normally runs until late July.
Read the story here.
As coronavirus lockdown eases, new U.S. business starts top last year’s
An indicator of new business starts is running ahead of last year’s pace at the national level, though in Washington state it still trails.
According to the Census Bureau, applications for new tax IDs, which it considers a sign of new business formation, have turned upward in recent weeks.
When calculated as a rolling average over four weeks, the U.S. figure now surpasses the level at this time last year. Washington state has been slower to relax restrictions imposed because of the coronavirus pandemic, and new business formation has been slower to recover.
For more charts on the coronavirus economy and other economic news, click here.
What’s it like to be 9 and longing to go to the playground amid the pandemic? This young poet tells us.
Ardra Arwin, 9, is a third grader and resident of the East Renton Highlands. Her poem "Let's not go out and play!" reflects her longing to visit a nearby playground and see friends amid the COVID-19 pandemic. It was recently chosen as a winner in the kids category of King County Library System’s Rhyme On! contest. You can read it here.
Double duty: Health care workers of color fight the twin pandemics of coronavirus and racism
For the past few weeks, the United States has been wrestling through two tough conversations with itself about two pandemics — though the volume got turned way up on the one about racism — and health care workers, particularly those of color, are living in the middle of both.
“Racism is the biggest public health crisis of our time,” one Black surgeon at UW explained during a recent march.
Disconnected in isolation
When many jobs and schools suddenly went online-only, the pandemic cast a harsh light on the digital divide in Washington state, making it clear that closing the gap isn’t as simple as handing out computers.
Catch up on the past 24 hours
Washington state health officials confirmed 312 new COVID-19 cases yesterday. Globally, the pandemic is worsening, with countries on Sunday reporting the biggest-ever one-day total of cases. Track the spread of the virus here.
"We need to get open, because we’re hemorrhaging cash." Seattle-area small businesses are facing unprecedented challenges, staggered first by coronavirus closures, then by looting.
Here come the masks, Washington hopes. A federal agency's approval of a coveted N95 mask from China paves the way for the state to complete its huge order.
The shutdowns prevented about 60 million coronavirus infections in the U.S, researchers say, and easing them brings new risks. As Washington state creaks back open again, here's our county-by-county guide to what you can do, from haircuts to horse races.
You can go to Canada ... if you're family. The country is easing border restrictions a bit, but requiring a quarantine period.
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