Editor’s note: This is a live account of COVID-19 updates from Tuesday, May 12, as the day unfolded. Click here to see updates from Wednesday, May 13, and click here to find resources and the latest extended coverage of the pandemic.

After weeks of closures and cancellations to slow the spread of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, eight Washington counties have been approved to move to Phase 2 of Gov. Jay Inslee’s four-phase plan to reopen the state’s decimated economy. That includes a new set of rules for restaurants.

King County, which hasn’t yet qualified to launch into the next phase of reopening, is directing people to wear face coverings in certain settings.

Meanwhile, the White House is recommending that all residents of the United States’ 15,000 nursing homes be tested for the virus. Nursing homes account for at least one-third of the nation’s 76,000 COVID-19 deaths.

Track the spread of the virus across our state and the globe

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, is warning Congress that if the country reopens too soon during the coronavirus pandemic, it will result in “needless suffering and death.”

Throughout Tuesday, on this page, we’ll be posting 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.

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Live updates:

A contractor promised FEMA 10 million masks for $55 million; it did not deliver

A little-known Virginia-based defense company that was awarded a $55 million federal contract to provide 10 million N95 masks for the U.S. government’s coronavirus response failed to deliver and had its contract canceled on Tuesday, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Panthera Worldwide LLC, whose parent company filed for bankruptcy protection last year, had promised to deliver the much-needed personal protective equipment by May 1, despite having no history of providing such materials to the government.

Lea Crager, a FEMA spokeswoman, said Tuesday the company requested another four-day extension, to May 15, but the agency denied the request. The agency moved to cancel the contract Tuesday, a day after the deadline.

The unfulfilled contract leaves the U.S. government without an expected delivery of 10 million of the sought-after masks, which provide enhanced protection against the novel coronavirus by filtering airborne particles and droplets. It was the latest misfire by the Trump administration in its frantic quest for medical supplies, in this case relying on an untested company for critically needed masks.

—The Washington Post
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REI plans to partly reopen six Seattle-area stores this week; customers will be asked — but not required — to wear face coverings

Starting Wednesday, Seattle-area REI fans can enjoy at least a taste of the pre-pandemic shopping experience as the outdoor retailer partly opens six local locations under Washington’s new coronavirus rules.

And while REI hopes returning customers will wear masks, CEO Eric Artz says, that won’t be a requirement.

At five REI locations — in downtown Seattle, Bellevue, Tacoma, and at the Alderwood and Southcenter shopping centers — customers will be able to make curbside pickups of online orders, the Kent-based outdoor retailer announced Tuesday.

On May 3, the five locations began offering so-called zero-contact bicycle-repair services, where employees receive, repair and return bikes without any direct contact with customers. A sixth local REI location, in Issaquah, also has offered the bicycle-repair service since May 3, but it will not yet open for curbside pickup.

Read the full story here.

—Paul Roberts

To combat coronavirus, Sea-Tac is stretching lines, blocking seats — but some ask what took so long

The number of passengers coming through Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, just a trickle for weeks, is starting once more to rise.

That has Port of Seattle officials concerned about how to ensure social-distancing precautions as the airport grows more crowded.

“There’s one goal,” said Port of Seattle Commissioner Stephanie Bowman at a Tuesday meeting of the commission. “Make Sea-Tac the safest airport in the country.”

In recent days, travel has picked up. The number of passengers in the airport increased by nearly one-third from the last week of April to the first week of May. Monday was the first day since the start of the pandemic that saw more than 5,000 travelers go through Sea-Tac.

Read the full story here.

—Katherine K. Long

King County Council approves $60 million for coronavirus response, small business help

The Metropolitan King County Council approved about $60 million in spending for the county’s response to the coronavirus pandemic Tuesday, including money to continue operating quarantine facilities in Shoreline, Renton and elsewhere.

The funding package also includes $8 million to fund tourism efforts throughout the county, which some council members framed as a way to prepare to restart the local economy and get tax dollars flowing again once social distancing measures are relaxed.

Another $4 million will go toward arts and science organizations and live music venues.

Read the full story here.

—Heidi Groover
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Burien postpones or cancels several summer events

Burien is planning to postpone or cancel several events this summer due to concerns about spreading the coronavirus, city officials said Tuesday.

All city-organized events through August will be canceled, including the Spring Moshier Pottery Sale, Spring and Summer Family Fun Run, Great Day of Play and Music in the Park, according to a statement from the city.

Other community events that will be postponed or canceled include the Taste of Burien, Burien Pride, Strawberry Days & Father’s Day Car Show and the Independence Day Parade.

“Our community events are a big part of what makes Burien such as special place to live and play,” said Burien city manager Brian J. Wilson in the statement. “As we struggle through weeks of social isolation, we know many were looking forward to seeing friends and neighbors again. Canceling these events was a very difficult decision, but public health and safety is our top concern. We look forward to finding ways to support creative opportunities for community members to connect with each other safely.”

Updates about other Burien events will be available on the city's website, the statement said.

—Elise Takahama

Twitter employees don’t ever have to go back to the office (unless they want to)

It was one of the first companies to send its workforce home when the novel coronavirus started spreading. Now Twitter could be the first to make working remotely a permanent option.

Twitter announced Tuesday that employees who were able could continue working from home, or possibly anywhere else that makes them happy and productive, forever. The policy will not apply to employees who have to do things in person, like maintain the offices or technology like servers.

“Opening offices will be our decision, when and if our employees come back, will be theirs,” said Jennifer Christie, Twitter’s head of HR, in a blog post.

Its main offices including the San Francisco headquarters won’t begin to open until September, and the company says there will be additional precautions in place when workers do return. All in-person events are canceled for the rest of the year, and it will revisit whether to have any 2021 events later this year. Business travel will also be on hold through September.

—The Washington Post

Biden plans to stay home, testing limits of virtual campaign

Joe Biden has no foreseeable plans to resume in-person campaigning amid a pandemic that is testing whether a national presidential election can be won by a candidate communicating almost entirely from home.

The virtual campaign Biden is waging from Wilmington, Delaware, is a stark contrast with President Donald Trump, who is planning travel despite warnings from public health experts about the coronavirus’s spread.

For now, Biden and his aides are brushing back hand-wringing from Democrats and mockery from Republicans who argue that the 77-year-old is “hiding in his basement.”

“Voters don’t give a s— about where he’s filming from,” campaign manager Jen O’Malley Dillon told The Associated Press. “What they care about is what he’s saying and how we connect with them.”

—Associated Press
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6 takeaways from Anthony Fauci’s and health officials’ testimony to Senate panel

White House coronavirus task force medical expert Anthony Fauci delivered his long-awaited coronavirus testimony Tuesday to a Senate health committee.

The appearance came after the White House blocked Fauci from testifying in the Democratic-controlled House but allowed him to testify in the GOP-controlled Senate. Fauci and the committee’s chairman, Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., appeared via video after being exposed to those who had come down with the novel virus.

Also appearing at Tuesday’s hearing were Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield, Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Stephen Hahn and President Donald Trump’s coronavirus testing czar, Adm. Brett Giroir.

Here are some takeaways from the hearing.

—The Washington Post

King County Metro will run out of federal coronavirus aid by end of year, seeks more money from Congress

King County Metro will likely run out of federal coronavirus funding by the end of the year, General Manager Rob Gannon told the Metropolitan King County Council on Tuesday.

Gannon and other transit executives are now hoping for more federal help.

Metro and other agencies across the country are now asking congressional leaders to include more money for transit systems in the next federal relief package.

Metro will receive about $244 million from the federal CARES Act, distributed through reimbursements for coronavirus-related costs like staffing and cleaning. That will offset much of the $240 million to $265 million Metro expects to lose this year in fares and sales tax revenue. Metro is now attempting to craft a budget for 2021-2022.

Read the full story here.

—Heidi Groover

Amazon urged by 13 attorneys general to disclose data on worker coronavirus infections and reinstate unpaid time off policy

Thirteen attorneys general asked Amazon to disclose the number of COVID-19 infections and deaths among its workers, data a top executive described as “not particularly useful” in an interview on “60 Minutes” that aired Sunday.

The attorneys general, including Washington’s, also sought details of health and safety measures put in place by Amazon and Whole Foods Market and evidence that the companies have complied with state paid sick leave laws. The attorneys general also urged Amazon to reinstate the unlimited unpaid time off policy it canceled at the beginning of the month.

They cite local reporting on deaths of at least two Whole Foods workers — in Portland and Swampscott, Mass. — and say a failure to disclose material information to consumers could violate consumer protection laws.

Amazon executives and spokespeople have consistently declined to disclose a tally of the pandemic’s toll on the company’s 935,000-person workforce.

Read the full story here.

—Benjamin Romano
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With new state guidelines, the dining experience will be dramatically different when Seattle-area restaurants reopen after coronavirus

When Seattle area restaurants reopen, perhaps as soon as early-June, customers should brace for a dining experience that will look little like what they encountered before the coronavirus epidemic, many restaurateurs warn.

Servers will likely don masks and gloves. You’ll order from a disposable paper menu while your server stands six feet away. If you leave your seat to use the restroom, you will be asked to put on your cloth face covering. And in what will likely ignite the biggest controversy, restaurants will be required to take down your personal data: names, numbers, email addresses, log the time of your visit and maintain those records for 30 days.

Gov. Jay Inslee on Monday night issued a checklist outlining 13 criteria and in-depth guidelines that restaurants hoping to reopen their dining rooms must abide by as they inch toward a return to full capacity over a four-phase plan.

On Tuesday morning, as news of the governor’s guidelines spread, many Seattle restaurant owners scrambled to set up Zoom meetings with their management teams to prep for the pending reopening. Several owners said one major sticking point is how to deal with contentious customers who refuse to disclose personal data or turn belligerent if the host logs their visits.

Read the full story here.

—Tan Vinh

Bellevue cancels annual Fourth of July celebration and fireworks show

Bellevue has canceled its annual Fourth of July celebration and fireworks show because of restrictions from Washington state’s phased reopening plan amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Bellevue Family 4th in the city’s Downtown Park has nearly 60,000 visitors each year and is the largest Independence Day celebration on the Eastside. With ongoing restrictions on public gatherings, the City of Bellevue and the Bellevue Downtown Association considered other smaller options for the event, but decided to cancel the day’s events and evening fireworks show.

2020 will be the first time in 28 years that the Eastside city has not had a Fourth of July show, according to the City of Bellevue.

Tacoma announced this week that its Fourth of July fireworks show has been postponed, and could be held later in the year depending on whether restrictions on crowds change.

—Paige Cornwell

Fearing a second wave, California State university system will keep classes online in the fall

SACRAMENTO — In the most sweeping sign yet of the long-term impact of the coronavirus on American higher education, California State University, the nation’s largest four-year public university system, said Tuesday that classes at its 23 campuses would be canceled for the fall semester, with instruction taking place almost exclusively online.

The system is the first large American university to tell students they will not be returning to campus in the fall. Most of the nation’s colleges and universities have gone out of their way to say they intend to reopen, but they are also making backup plans for online classes.

The pandemic has had a devastating impact on the finances of colleges and universities, a large number of which were already struggling before virus-related closures. Many are concerned about growing signs that a large number of students will choose to sit out the fall semester if classes remain virtual, or demand hefty cuts in tuition.

Read the full article here.

—The New York Times
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Counterfeit masks reaching frontline health workers in US

WASHINGTON (AP) — On a day when COVID-19 cases soared, healthcare supplies were scarce and an anguished doctor warned he was being sent to war without bullets, a cargo plane landed at the Los Angeles International Airport, supposedly loaded with the ammo doctors and nurses were begging for: some of the first N95 medical masks to reach the U.S. in almost six weeks.

Already healthcare workers who lacked the crucial protection had caught COVID-19 after treating patients infected with the highly contagious new coronavirus. That very day an emergency room doctor who earlier texted a friend that he felt unsafe without protective supplies or an N95 mask, died of the infection. It was the first such death reported in the U.S., according to the American College of Emergency Physicians.

But the shipment arriving that night in late March wasn’t going to solve the problem. An Associated Press investigation has found those masks were counterfeits — as are millions of medical masks, gloves, gowns and other supplies being used in hospitals across the country, putting lives at risk.

Read the full article here.

—Associated Press

17,330 cases in Washington, health officials confirm

State health officials confirmed 208 new COVID-19 cases in Washington on Tuesday, including 17 more deaths.

The recent update brings the state's totals to 17,330 confirmed cases and 962 deaths.

So far, 256,321 tests for the illness caused by the novel coronavirus have been conducted in Washington, according to the state. Of those, 6.8% have come back positive.

King County, the state's most populous, has had 7,137 positive test results and 513 deaths (seven of which were announced Tuesday), accounting for more than half of the state's death toll.

—Scott Greenstone

Western Washington University expects to teach classes in hybrid format this fall: some online learning, some in-person lectures — but no big parties

Western Washington University will open for in-person classes this fall, but it expects to use a hybrid approach that allows for a mix of online and in-person classes,  (Steve Ringman / The Seattle Times, 2016)
Western Washington University will open for in-person classes this fall, but it expects to use a hybrid approach that allows for a mix of online and in-person classes, (Steve Ringman / The Seattle Times, 2016)

Western Washington University will open for in-person classes this fall, but it expects to use a hybrid approach that allows for a mix of online and in-person classes, President Sabah Randhawa announced in an email to campus Tuesday. The first day of the fall semester is Sept. 25.

To safeguard students and staff against COVID-19, Randhawa said a planning committee has recommended a variety of options, including: moving large lecture-hall sections online, supplemented with smaller, in-person seminars; moving small- and medium-sized classes to large lecture halls; and spreading classes across days and times, with staggered end times to reduce class size and ensure safe social distancing.

Read more here.

—Katherine Long
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Washington has 1,371 trained officials ready to begin contact tracing on the coronavirus, Inslee says

Gov. Jay Inslee, shown in his office in Olympia on April 21, says the state has 1,371 trained contact-tracing personnel who contact each new person who tests positive for the novel coronavirus in an effort to find and stem the spread of the virus. (Ted S. Warren / The Associated Press)
Gov. Jay Inslee, shown in his office in Olympia on April 21, says the state has 1,371 trained contact-tracing personnel who contact each new person who tests positive for the novel coronavirus in an effort to find and stem the spread of the virus. (Ted S. Warren / The Associated Press)

Washington has nearly 1,400 trained contact tracing personnel who are beginning to contact each new person who tests positive for the novel coronavirus, in an effort to track down other people who they’ve potentially infected, as the state moves to its next step of trying to limit the spread of the virus, Gov. Jay Inslee said Tuesday.

The newly trained brigade of contact tracers are part of what Inslee called a three-pronged approach to locking down the virus: broad-based testing, isolation and contact tracing.

Read more here.

—David Gutman

200,000 pounds of potatoes will be given away at the Tacoma Dome

Washington farmers will be giving away more than 200,000 pounds of potatoes meant to be sold to restaurants at the Tacoma Dome on Thursday.

These potatoes would have been turned into french fries, tater tots, hash browns and other frozen potato products, a group of Washington potato farmers said in a news release Monday.

“Our farmers and their families recognize that they are not the only ones suffering financially, and they have the potatoes in their storage sheds that can feed so many," the release said.

The event starts at 11 a.m. at the Tacoma Dome "G" and "F" parking lots. The Washington State Potato Commission and local volunteers at the Tacoma Dome, the City of Tacoma and Emergency Food Network will load potatoes right into vehicles.

Local food banks can pick up pallets of potatoes by calling the Potato Commission at 509-765-8845 or emailing office@potatoes.com.

Mount Vernon choir outbreak was ‘superspreader event,’ says CDC

Disease trackers are calling a choir practice in Mount Vernon, Skagit County, a superspreader event that illustrates how easily the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 can pass from person to person.

The act of singing itself may have spread the virus in the air and onto surfaces, according to a report published Tuesday by Skagit County Public Health.

The Skagit singers sat 6 to 10 inches apart in different configurations during the 2½-hour rehearsal at a church in Mount Vernon, about 60 miles north of Seattle, according to a report published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“One individual present felt ill, not knowing what they had, and ended up infecting 52 other people,” said lead author Lea Hamner, calling the outbreak a tragedy.

Two choir members died of COVID-19 after attending the March 10 practice of the Skagit Valley Chorale. The rehearsal was held nearly two weeks before the state’s stay-home order went into effect.

Read the story here.

 

—The Associated Press
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Highlights of Democrats’ $3 trillion-plus virus relief bill

WASHINGTON (AP) — Democrats controlling the House have unveiled a $3 trillion-plus coronavirus relief bill — the fifth coronavirus response legislation so far — and are planning to pass the measure on Friday. The legislation replenishes existing accounts to respond to both the COVID-19 health care crisis and to try to ease the economic impact of the pandemic, which has produced record job losses and fears of a depression.

Read some of the highlights of the Democratic bill.

—Associated Press

Los Angeles almost certain to extend stay-home orders three more months

Los Angeles County’s stay-at-home orders will “with all certainty” be extended for the next three months, the Los Angeles Times reported on Tuesday, citing county Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer speaking at a Board of Supervisors meeting.

Ferrer said that while she had not officially extended the orders, further loosening of the rules will be slow and the timeline will change only if there were a “dramatic change to the virus and tools at hand,” the Times reported.

Ferrer made her remarks shortly after Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, warned Congress that states pushing too quickly to ease orders could undo progress and trigger outbreaks. Fauci said a 14-day decline in cases is the major checkpoint that states should meet before reopening.

—Christine Clarridge

Can the coronavirus survive on money? Tips for being safe when you pay

Can the coronavirus survive on paper currency?

Yes, but experts say the risk of getting the virus from cash is low compared with person-to-person spread, which is the main way people get infected.

Still, many businesses worldwide have banned cash transactions and governments are taking extra precautions.

When it’s an option, use touch-free payment methods, such as purchasing goods over the phone or online, says the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. If you must use cash or a debit card, the agency recommends using hand sanitizer immediately after paying.

A study in March found the virus can live on cardboard for up to 24 hours, but it did not test how long it survives on paper money. And using a plastic credit or debt card instead doesn’t eliminate risk either. The study found the virus can live on plastic for up to three days, though it didn’t prove anyone has been infected by touching contaminated surfaces.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press
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Cop who made video on "tyrannical" COVID-19 arrests placed on paid leave

A Port of Seattle police officer who posted a YouTube video last week telling fellow officers that they're violating people's Constitutional rights when they follow "tyrannical" orders and arrest and cite people for COVID-19-related infractions has been placed on paid administrative leave.

Officer Greg Anderson is on leave pending an investigation, according to a Port of Seattle spokesman, who declined to comment further on the pending personnel matter.

In the video posted on May 7, Anderson, in uniform and talking from a patrol vehicle, says, "I want to remind you that regardless of where you stand on the coronavirus, we don't have the authority to do those things to people just because a mayor or a governor tells you otherwise... We don't get to violate people's constitutional rights because somebody in our chain of command tells us otherwise."

https://www.instagram.com/p/B_0t-MLJlbA/

Anderson said he had been disturbed to see law enforcement arresting or citing people for "going to church, for travelling on the roadways, for going surfing, opening their businesses, going to the park with their families or doing nails out of their own house using their own house as a place of business."

"I don't know what crime people are committing by doing nails in their own house," he said.

—Christine Clarridge

Broadway theater shutdown extended until Labor Day

The shutdown on Broadway has been extended again — until at least early September.

Although an exact date for performances to resume has yet to be determined, Broadway producers are now offering refunds and exchanges for tickets purchased for shows through Sept. 6.

Pedestrians in a sparsely populated Times Square in New York on March 20, 2020. COVID-19 has shaken theater fans and shuttered all New York City’s venues, including Broadway, which grossed $1.8 billion last season and attracted a record 15 million people. How Broadway — one of the city’s jewels — will reopen is still not clear. (AP Photo/John Minchillo, File)
Pedestrians in a sparsely populated Times Square in New York on March 20, 2020. COVID-19 has shaken theater fans and shuttered all New York City’s venues, including Broadway, which grossed $1.8 billion last season and attracted a record 15 million people. How Broadway — one of the city’s jewels — will reopen is still not clear. (AP Photo/John Minchillo, File)

“While all Broadway shows would love to resume performances as soon as possible, we need to ensure the health and well-being of everyone who comes to the theater — behind the curtain and in front of it — before shows can return,” said Charlotte St. Martin, president of the Broadway League, which represents producers.

Broadway theaters abruptly closed on March 12, knocking out all shows — including 16 that were still scheduled to open — and postponing indefinitely the Tony Award schedule. Producers, citing health and city authorities, previously extended the shutdown to June 7.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press

Fearing COVID-19, and ventilators, older people alter their living wills

Last month, Minna Buck revised a document specifying her wishes should she become critically ill.

"No intubation,” wrote Buck, 91, in large letters on the form, making sure to include the date and her initials.

The resident of a continuing care retirement community in Denver knows her chances of surviving a serious bout of COVID-19 were slim and wants to make sure she wouldn’t be put on a ventilator under any circumstances.

For some older adults contemplating what might happen to them during this pandemic, ventilators are a fraught symbol, representing a terrifying lack of personal control as well as the fearsome power of technology. For others, there is hope that the machine might pull them back from the brink, giving them another shot at life.

Respiratory therapist Neeru Kaur, right, and other medical staff assist a patient in the COVID-19 Intensive Care Unit at Harborview Medical Center on Friday, May 8, 2020, in Seattle. For some older people, a ventilator is their greatest fear. For others, there is hope it might pull them back from the brink. (Elaine Thompson / The Associated Press)
Respiratory therapist Neeru Kaur, right, and other medical staff assist a patient in the COVID-19 Intensive Care Unit at Harborview Medical Center on Friday, May 8, 2020, in Seattle. For some older people, a ventilator is their greatest fear. For others, there is hope it might pull them back from the brink. (Elaine Thompson / The Associated Press)

Read the story here.

—Judith Graham, The Washington Post
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Please call 911 like you normally would, say fire chiefs concerned by drop in calls

Worried about a 25% decrease in the number of calls from people with symptoms of heart attacks, strokes and other serious medical issues -- and a 10% increase in instances in which the patient dies before emergency medical personnel arrive -- the King County Fire Chiefs organization is urging people to call 911 when needed.

In a statement posted Tuesday on its website, the fire chiefs' association said it's understandable that people are reluctant to call 911 during the COVID-19 pandemic but that King County's fire departments have the resources to take care of people and the policies to protect workers.

The apprehension about calling 911 could be related to fear of contracting COVID-19 or putting an overwhelming burden on emergency services, the statement says.

"Emergency medical providers including fire departments, EMS, private ambulance services, emergency rooms and hospitals are prepared for all medical emergencies, COVID-related or not," the statement says. "While first responders may approach incidents with increased Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) their ability to respond to emergencies has not changed."

“We want people to call 911 immediately if they have any symptoms of heart attack or stroke. If you are having chest pain, or suddenly develop face, arm, or leg weakness or difficulty speaking, please do not wait to call 911," said Seattle Fire Department Medical Director Dr. Michael Sayre in the statement.

The association noted particular concern about the recent decrease in calls from people having symptoms of an ST-elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI) heart attack, caused by a blockage of the coronary artery. Symptoms include chest pain, shortness of breath, sweating, nausea, vomiting, anxiety, palpitations, dizziness or light-headiness. In King County, paramedics carry equipment on medic units to diagnose a STEMI heart attack in the field and can coordinate with the hospital so that the patient receives specialty care upon arrival.

—Christine Clarridge

Washington prison inmate volunteers sew gowns, masks for coronavirus fight

While the Sisters of Charity live inside the confines of the Washington Corrections Center for Women in Gig Harbor, they’re providing plenty of help for those on the outside in the fight against the coronavirus.

The group, formed about 20 years ago at the Corrections Center, with many serving life sentences, make items from donated materials for about 30 different charities. South King Fire & Rescue needed protective gowns for an anticipated surge in coronavirus cases this fall and winter, and the women were happy to help. Not only have they made 700 gowns for South King Fire & Rescue, they also made 300 for the Gig Harbor Fire Department, with 600 more on order.

“I think this project meant so much because it was a call to action and an opportunity for them to be part of their community despite the walls,” said Carrie Hesch, WCCW’s recreation and athletic director. “They are absolutely thrilled to be able to do something for the community and stay busy.”

To read more from this  article, one of a periodic series called Stepping Up, highlighting moments of compassion, duty and community in uncertain times, click here.

—Scott Hanson

Homophobia threatens South Korea’s fight against coronavirus

As South Korea grapples with a new spike in coronavirus infections thought to be linked to nightspots in Seoul, including several popular with gay men, it’s also seeing rising homophobia that’s making it difficult for sexual minorities to come forward for diagnostic tests.

The first confirmed patient in the new coronavirus cluster was a 29-year-old man who visited five nightclubs and bars in Seoul’s Itaewon entertainment neighborhood in a single night before testing positive for the virus last Wednesday. Further investigation has since found more than 100 infections that appear linked to the nightspots.

A Christian church-founded newspaper, Kookmin Ilbo, reported last week that the places the man visited in Itaewon on May 2 included a gay club. The report was followed by a flood of anti-gay slurs on social media that included blaming the man and those at the club for endangering the country’s fight against the pandemic.

Views on sexual minorities in South Korea have gradually improved in recent years, but anti-gay sentiments still run deep in the conservative country.

Read more here.

—The Associated Press
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Seattle-area job listings plunge 40%

As temporary or permanent layoffs have ballooned, unemployment has climbed to the worst levels since the Great Depression. Can those dislocated workers hope to find other jobs? An index of new listings shows the number of openings has plunged. Metro Seattle has seen a slightly steeper drop than the state as a whole.

For more local indicators on the Coronavirus Economy, click here.

—Seattle Times business staff

Consumer prices off by most since ’08 as virus slows economy

The economic paralysis caused by the coronavirus led in April to the steepest month-to-month fall in U.S. consumer prices since the 2008 financial crisis — a 0.8% drop that was driven by a plunge in gasoline prices.

And excluding the normally volatile categories of food and energy, so-called core prices tumbled 0.4% last month, the Labor Department said Tuesday in its monthly report on consumer inflation. That was the sharpest such drop on records dating to 1957.

The widespread business shutdowns, reduced travel and shrunken consumer spending that the virus has caused have likely sent the U.S. economy into a severe recession. The resulting drop in economic activity is exerting a powerful downward force on prices throughout the economy.

The absence of any inflation pressures has given the Federal Reserve leeway to keep interest rates ultra-low as it seeks to help restart the economy. But Tuesday’s report also raises the prospect of deflation, a prolonged drop in prices and wages that typically makes people and companies reluctant to spend and can prolong a recession. Not since the Great Depression of the 1930s has deflation posed a serious economic threat in the United States.

Read more here.

—The Associated Press

The rich infected the poor as travelers spread COVID-19

When it arrived in the unforgiving industrial towns of central Mexico, the sand-swept sprawl of northern Nigeria and the mazes of metal shanties in India’s commercial capital, Mumbai, COVID-19 went by another name.

People called it a “rich man’s disease.”

Pandemics throughout history have been associated with the underprivileged, but in many developing countries the coronavirus was a high-class import — carried in by travelers returning from business trips in China, studies in Europe, ski vacations in the Rockies.

As infections initially concentrated in better neighborhoods, many poor and working-class people believed the disease wouldn’t touch them, as if something terrible but rarefied. The misperception was fed by elites, including the governor of Mexico’s Puebla state, Luis Miguel Barbosa, who said in March: “If you’re rich, you’re at risk, but if you’re poor, you’re not. The poor, we’re immune.”

By now it is clear that COVID-19 spares no one and disproportionately harms the hungry, the forgotten, those with preexisting illnesses and substandard health care.

Read the story here.

—Los Angeles Times
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New details emerge on U.S. kids severely sickened by coronavirus

As concern grows over the potential for children to become seriously ill from the coronavirus, a new study paints the most detailed picture yet of American children who were treated in intensive care units throughout the United States as the pandemic was taking hold in the country.

None of the children in the study, published Monday in the journal JAMA Pediatrics, were stricken by the new mysterious inflammatory syndrome linked to the coronavirus that can cause life-threatening cardiac issues in children. They suffered from the virus’ primary line of attack: the severe respiratory problems that have afflicted tens of thousands of American adults.

The study looked at 48 cases from 14 hospitals, from infants to age 21, during late March and early April. Two of the children died. Eighteen were placed on ventilators and two of them remain on the breathing machines more than a month later, said Dr. Lara S. Shekerdemian, chief of critical care at Texas Children’s Hospital, and an author of the study.

Overall, the study both reinforces the evidence that only a small percentage of children will be severely affected by the virus and confirms that some can become devastatingly ill.

“You can read this either like a half-empty glass or a half-full glass,” said Dr. Daniele De Luca, the president-elect of the European Society for Pediatric and Neonatal Intensive Care, who was not involved in the study. “At the end of the day, we have to realize that this disease can actually be serious in children. It’s not like in the beginning when some people said, OK, this is never going to happen.”

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press

Border closure leaves Alaska cut off from Canadian backyard

Some residents in Southeast Alaska who have seen the border with Canada closed because of the coronavirus feel cut off from an area they visit and drive through frequently.

Haines, Skagway and Hyder all have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting border closure that has altered life dramatically for some, The Anchorage Daily News reported Monday.

The communities are connected to the rest of the state by the Alaska Highway through Canada, and each place depends on its neighboring Canadian town for necessities such as food, health care and medicine and various activities conducted across the border.

The U.S.-Canada border closed March 20 to all nonessential traffic, and the closure was recently extended to May 21. Yukon has stringent travel restrictions and quarantine requirements for anyone entering the territory until it is no longer in a state of emergency.

Read the full story here.

—The Associated Press

Putin’s spokesman hospitalized in Russia with coronavirus

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov says he is hospitalized with the coronavirus.

Peskov, a key aide of Russian President Vladimir Putin, told the Interfax news agency on Tuesday, “Yes, I’ve gotten sick. I’m being treated.”

Peskov, 52, has been Putin’s spokesman since 2008, but started working him with in the early 2000s.

Russians who have the virus but light or no symptoms of illness are allowed to stay home, and it wasn’t immediately clear if Peskov’s hospitalization reflects the gravity of his condition or was an extra precaution.

Reporters from the Kremlin pool said on Twitter that Peskov was last seen in public on April 30 “at a meeting with Vladimir Putin.” It was not clear whether it means the two were in the same room, as Putin has been conducting all his meetings via teleconference in recent weeks.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press
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Quarantine Corner: Making it easier to stay at home

Marx Foods’ Slow-Grilled Lamb Chops with Pea-Mint Pesto features grass-fed, pasture-raised Ovation lamb rubbed with Dijon and herbs. (Zach Walker)
Marx Foods’ Slow-Grilled Lamb Chops with Pea-Mint Pesto features grass-fed, pasture-raised Ovation lamb rubbed with Dijon and herbs. (Zach Walker)

How to get the world’s best meat delivered: Until recently, Marx Foods sold meat only to restaurants. Now their samplers have become best-sellers for regular folks, who can use them to try these recipes.

Kids (and grownups) in the kitchen: Mac and cheese is the ultimate comfort food. Teen chef Sadie Davis-Suskind shares her recipe.

Capture your family’s slice of history in a box: Here's how to make a coronavirus time capsule.

Need a little joy and heart-thumping activity? Try jumping: Jumping rope is highly time-efficient, burning a huge number of calories in a short amount of time. It works your upper and lower body simultaneously. And it improves your timing and coordination, says Paul Tolmé in an ode to the old children's classic.

—Kris Higginson

Catch up on the past 24 hours

This will be a more familiar sight after May 18, when the county’s guidance about wearing face masks or coverings in many indoor public places takes effect. Officials said they won’t be issuing citations or fines if they see people who aren’t complying. (Mike Siegel / The Seattle Times)
This will be a more familiar sight after May 18, when the county’s guidance about wearing face masks or coverings in many indoor public places takes effect. Officials said they won’t be issuing citations or fines if they see people who aren’t complying. (Mike Siegel / The Seattle Times)

A new King County directive focuses on your face. You might see more people wearing masks in many indoor and outdoor public spaces after it takes effect May 18. But nobody will be ticketed or arrested, officials say. Here's some help navigating this with a look at where the new guidance applies (including Metro buses), how to wear your mask properly and how to clean it. Plus, a pediatrician shares advice on kids and masks.

Washington state restaurants will have to keep a log of customers' names and contact information if they reopen in Phase 2. The measure, to aid in possible contact tracing, is among 13 new restaurant requirements from Gov. Jay Inslee.

Despite Inslee's shutdown order and hundreds of complaints from the public, Seattle-area construction projects kept swinging hammers — and the state took no enforcement action. Read the Times Watchdog story.

Reopening too quickly risks "needless suffering and death," top U.S. infectious-disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci will testify today as the Senate questions virus experts about where to go from here. (Check back for updates.) This comes as COVID-19 spikes at workplaces, some of them newly reopened.

How dangerous is the coronavirus to children? A new study paints the most detailed picture yet of how a small percentage are becoming devastatingly ill. The study, however, did not include the dozens of New York City children stricken by a deadly and possibly coronavirus-related syndrome.

Staff cuts and furloughs are coming at UW Medicine, which faces a $500 million shortfall because of the pandemic. It's been a key player in the fight against coronavirus.

Washington, still trying to ramp up coronavirus testing, is running into a new challenge: assembling test kits. Officials are scrambling to get their hands on missing pieces.

Major League Baseball owners approved a plan to start the 2020 season, but expect a fight over finalizing it. Here's what the plan involves.

Wanted: an army of 100,000 contact tracers to track the virus' spread and notify people who have been infected. A free course will teach you how to do it.

Democrats today will take their first step toward a virtual national convention.

—Kris Higginson