Editor’s note: This is a live account of COVID-19 updates from Friday, May 15, as the day unfolded. Click here to find resources and the latest extended coverage of the pandemic.

Schools, businesses, mass transit systems, restaurants and other organizations received new guidance from U.S. health officials Thursday, detailing what they should consider before reopening. Some voiced concerns, however, after seeing that places of worship were left off the list.

In Washington, as the economy gradually reopens, Gov. Jay Inslee said he would “be very confident to go out to a restaurant” with new safety guidelines, though he expressed some worries about tribal casinos starting to operate again.

Meanwhile, new information about the spread of the virus continues to surface, including the possibility that it arrived in Washington, and the United States, earlier than previously known. Two Snohomish County residents, health officials recently confirmed, had positive serology tests potentially linked to COVID-like illnesses dating back to December, raising questions about the official timeline.

Throughout Friday, 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 Thursday 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 Friday.

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Live updates:

Fighting coronavirus rumors, Department of Health says contact tracing isn’t mandatory and enforced quarantines are rare

OLYMPIA — People won’t be forced to participate in contact tracing and enforced quarantines are a rare measure used only by local health districts, Washington health officials said Friday, in an effort to dispel rumors over the state’s coronavirus response.

Friday night’s statement came as “rumors and misinformation” circulate online “about quarantine orders and specialized quarantine facilities” around Washington, according to the state Department of Health (DOH).

Health officials often ask people infected with or exposed to an infectious disease to voluntarily stay at their home and avoid contact with others, according to the statement by Secretary of Health John Wiesman and Dr. Kathy Lofy, the state health officer.

It’s a strategy “used for decades to combat the spread of tuberculosis, measles, Ebola and SARS,” according to the statement.

Read the full story here.

—Joseph O'Sullivan
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City of Kenmore directs all residents to wear face coverings in public, beginning next week

The city of Kenmore announced Friday that, beginning next week, all residents will be instructed to wear a face covering in most public spaces to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus.

The proclamation, which directs all Kenmore residents to comply with the Public Health - Seattle & King County directive, applies to anyone in local grocery stores, retail stores, convenience stores, restaurants for takeout and on public transportation, among other public spaces, according to a statement from the city.

A face covering isn't necessary during outdoor activities where 6-feet distancing guidelines can be maintained, the statement said.

The directive will go into effect Monday. There will be no penalties for failing to wear a face covering.

To help residents comply with the directive, Kenmore officials are planning to give away a limited supply of disposable face masks outside City Hall on Tuesdays from 10 a.m. to noon and Thursdays from 5 to 7 p.m. Residents without access to face coverings can pick up a pack of four disposable face masks for free, the statement said.

—Elise Takahama

Inslee retracts requirement that diners provide contact info to be able to dine at restaurants

When dining rooms in Washington state start to reopen in the coming months, restaurants will not be required to record diners’ names and phone numbers after all.

In a reversal of his controversial order earlier this week, Gov. Jay Inslee’s office issued a statement on Friday evening “clarifying” that effective immediately, the state will no long require customers to provide their contact information to businesses.

Instead, businesses are asked to still maintain a log of customers who would like to voluntarily provide their contact information.

Previously, in Inslee’s list of guidelines for restaurants issued Monday night, restaurants were to keep a log for 30 days that included the name, contact information and time of visit for every diner who entered their premises.

“We are asking visitors to voluntarily provide contact information in case of COVID-19 exposure. We only need information for one person per household. If we learn you may have been exposed to COVID-19 during your visit, the information will only be shared with public health officials,” Inslee’s office stated in the news release.

Read the full story here.

—Tan Vinh

Pandemic claims another retailer: 118-year-old J.C. Penney

The coronavirus pandemic has pushed the storied but troubled department store chain J.C. Penney into Chapter 11 bankruptcy. It is the fourth major retailer to meet that fate.

As part of its reorganization, the 118-year-old company said late Friday it will be shuttering some stores. It said the stores will close in phases throughout the Chapter 11 process and details of the first phase will be disclosed in the coming weeks.

Penney is the biggest retailer to file for bankruptcy reorganization since the pandemic and joins luxury department store chain Neiman Marcus, J.Crew and Stage Stores. Plenty of other retailers are expected to follow as business shutdowns across the country have evaporated sales.

—Associated Press
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Massive $1.8 billion Washington State Convention Center expansion project could run out of money as coronavirus decimates travel and tourism

Friday, May 15, 2020.   Steel beams and metal flooring rise up at the corner of Pine St. and Boren Ave.in downtown Seattle near I5 as the Convention Center expansion continues.  The $1.8 billion expansion could run out of money in the next year unless federal coroavirus relief includes additional funding for infrastructure projects. 213980 (Steve Ringman / The Seattle Times)
Friday, May 15, 2020. Steel beams and metal flooring rise up at the corner of Pine St. and Boren Ave.in downtown Seattle near I5 as the Convention Center expansion continues. The $1.8 billion expansion could run out of money in the next year unless federal coroavirus relief includes additional funding for infrastructure projects. 213980 (Steve Ringman / The Seattle Times)

Without federal aid, local officials say, the $1.8 billion Washington State Convention Center expansion in downtown Seattle could be out of money by the end of the year, putting 1,000 people out of work and stalling one of the city’s largest-ever construction projects.

Project managers say the economic crisis induced by the coronavirus means they can’t guarantee they’ll be able to sell $300 million in bonds to finance the rest of the project, which is now about one-third complete. Meanwhile, the sprawling construction site at Ninth Avenue and Olive Way is snarling traffic and rerouting transit until the project winds up, currently scheduled for mid-2022.

Developers are asking for a federal grant or a bridge loan to sustain it for the next few years. If they don’t get it, the project will run out of money as soon as next March.

Read the full story here.

—Katherine K. Long

Rick Steves on the beach in downtown Edmonds, Friday. Steves is known for his guidebooks and popular European vacation tours. However, the coronavirus pandemic has essentially shut down his business. 
 (Amanda Snyder / The Seattle Times)
Rick Steves on the beach in downtown Edmonds, Friday. Steves is known for his guidebooks and popular European vacation tours. However, the coronavirus pandemic has essentially shut down his business. (Amanda Snyder / The Seattle Times)

Rick Steves announced plans Friday that he will keep his entire staff of about 100 employed, but will require pay cuts due to “very difficult math” if the coronavirus pandemic continues through the summer and winter.

Steves’ Edmonds-based travel business will reduce hours for employees by 20% on July 1, then another 20% on Jan. 1. That will allow Rick Steves’ Europe to retain its employees up to two years with healthcare, should travel to the continent not return.

“My goal is to emerge from this crisis with our organization intact and prepared to fill the buses once Americans can travel to Europe again,” Steves said in a statement. “But as the global situation becomes increasingly dire, it’s becoming clear that we may need to fund our company for two years or longer with no revenue. This is not possible without cutting our payroll dramatically.”

Steves said his company’s budget is about $15 million a year. While portions of the economy are slowly reopening, it still appears that the tourism industry is a long way from reaching pre-virus levels of business.

Read the full story here.

—Chris Talbott

Apple, Google are building a virus-tracking system. Health officials say it will be practically useless.

Apple and Google’s announcement last month of a joint effort to track the coronavirus by smartphone sparked a wave of excitement among public health officials hoping the technology would help alert them to potential new infections and map the pandemic’s spread.

But as the tech giants have revealed more details, officials now say the software will be of little use.

Due to strict rules imposed by the companies, the system will notify smartphone users if they’ve potentially come into contact with an infected person, but it won’t share any data with health officials or reveal where those meetings took place.

Local health authorities in states like North Dakota, as well as in countries such as Canada and the United Kingdom, say they’ve pleaded with the companies to give them more control over the kinds of information their apps can collect.

But Apple and Google have refused, arguing that letting the apps collect location data or loosening other smartphone rules would undermine people’s privacy.

—The Washington Post
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‘Clearly false’ that Snohomish County man was coronavirus Patient Zero, public-health official says

The notion that the first recorded case of COVID-19 in the United States — a Snohomish County man diagnosed with the illness in mid-January — represents America’s Patient Zero for the novel coronavirus is “clearly false,” the county’s top public-health official said Friday.

“Maybe it was that individual that was the first introduction in January, (but) it certainly wasn’t the only one,” said Dr. Chris Spitters, health officer for the Snohomish Health District. “And it’s reasonable to assume, given reports like the ones that we’ve had and others around the country, that introduction may have occurred prior to January, as we initially suspected.”

Spitters’ remarks came during a morning telebriefing with reporters to provide a regular update on the district’s coronavirus case counts and give a new accounting of 35 “probable” cases that are based on positive serology tests of residents previously exposed to the virus.

A definitive timeline of when COVID-19 was introduced into the U.S. remains in question, as scientists say the virus spread undetected before testing was widespread here.

Read the full story here.

—Lewis Kamb

House poised to adopt historic changes allowing remote voting during pandemic

The House is set Friday to approve the most radical change to its rules in generations — allowing its members to cast committee and floor votes from afar — the culmination of a months-long struggle to adapt the 231-year-old institution to the coronavirus pandemic.

Despite bipartisan frustrations with the virus’s effect on the legislative process, the changes, which include temporarily authorizing remote committee work and proxy voting on the House floor, appear likely to be adopted along party lines.

Democratic leaders pushed forward with the changes this week after failing to come to terms in two weeks of negotiations with Republicans, who firmly opposed several key measures in the proposal.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. and top Democrats said the changes were temporary and tailored to the current crisis — which has made mass gatherings of lawmakers hazardous — but necessary to ensure that the House fulfills its constitutional obligations.

—The Washington Post

Perkins Coie, Seattle’s biggest law firm, cuts pay in reaction to economic downturn of coronavirus pandemic

The economic crisis triggered by the coronavirus pandemic has hit hardest at the lowest-paid tiers of the workforce, such as hotel and restaurant workers. But the effects are reaching up into the upper echelons of the legal profession as well.

Perkins Coie, Seattle’s largest law firm and a source of high-powered, high-priced legal help for corporate clients from the U.S. to Asia, is among the Big Law firms now cutting costs — though it hasn’t resorted to the more drastic steps of some others.

Perkins began deferring more than 19% of the payouts for its partners in March, and is cutting salaries for associates and many professional staff, the firm said this week, confirming a report in the online publication Law360.

Nonpartner lawyers as well as professional staff making more than $200,000 at Perkins will get a 15% salary reduction effective in June. There’s a 10% cut for staff members making between $125,000 to $200,000, while those making less than $125,000 annually will be spared. It also has deferred the usual midyear staff salary increases and bonuses until an assessment in December.

Read the full story here.

—Rami Grunbaum
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Pacific Coast Fruit tapped to prep 20 million pounds of produce for PNW families impacted by COVID-19

Portland-based Pacific Coast Fruit Company announced Friday that it was awarded a contract by the U.S. Department of Agriculture for the production of 20 million pounds of fresh food that will be distributed to families in need across the Pacific Northwest this summer.

The company will prepare 810,000 total boxes of fresh food between May 18 and June 30. PCF is partnering with nonprofits to set up pickup sites and distribute the food to 135,000 people weekly in Washington, Oregon, Idaho and California.

The family-operated company will box 12 million pounds of fresh produce and 8 million pounds of dairy, eggs and protein, mass-producing three distinct Farmers to Families Food Boxes. There is a produce box, a dairy box and a combo box (deli meat, dairy, fruits and veggies) that contain 25 pounds of food each.

“Family is extremely important to our culture here at Pacific Coast Fruit Company,” said PCF Vice President of Development Nancy Nemarnik Brugato in a statement. “By being awarded this generous USDA grant, we are able to help our food industry and community during a time when they need it most.”

The funds are part of the federal Coronavirus Farm Assistance Program, which will see the USDA purchase and distribute up to $3 billion in agricultural products to those in need under the authority of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.

—Trevor Lenzmeier

Washington dental association to distribute 300,000 masks to state's practicing dentists preparing to reopen offices

Two Washington dental organizations announced Friday afternoon they're planning to distribute 300,000 pieces of personal protective equipment (PPE) to every practicing dentist in the state this weekend, as they prepare to reopen their offices from coronavirus shutdowns.

The Washington State Dental Association and Delta Dental of Washington have secured 150,000 KN95 masks and 150,000 surgical masks from the Washington State Emergency Management Division, according to a joint statement Friday. Each dentist will receive 50 masks — 25 of each — as many offices in the state plan to welcome non-urgent patients back next week.

“This is very exciting news," said Bracken Killpack, executive director of the state dental association, in the statement. "Washington state dentists were among the first to donate their supplies of personal protective equipment when their offices were closed in March due to COVID. Enabling them to safely reopen will provide great health benefits for patients across the state.”

Distribution will take place Saturday at the Washington State Dental Association's office, located in Seattle's Fremont neighborhood, from 9 a.m. to noon.

—Elise Takahama

State health officials confirm 17,951 COVID-19 cases in Washington

State health officials confirmed 178 new COVID-19 cases in Washington on Friday afternoon, including nine more deaths.

The update brings the state totals to 17,951 confirmed cases and 992 deaths.

So far, 273,303 tests for COVID-19, the illness caused by the novel coronavirus, have been conducted in Washington, according to the state. Of those, 6.6% have come back positive.

King County, the state's most populous, has had 7,325 positive test results and 521 deaths, accounting for about 52.5% of the state's total death toll.

—Trevor Lenzmeier
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US begins 'warp speed' vaccine push as studies ramp up

President Donald Trump vowed to use “every plane, truck and soldier” to distribute COVID-19 vaccines he hopes will be ready by year's end — even as the country's top scientists gear up for a master experiment to rapidly tell if any really work.

Trump on Friday declared the vaccine program he calls “Operation Warp Speed” will be “unlike anything our country has seen since the Manhattan Project.”

The goal is to have 300 million doses in stock by January, a huge gamble since a vaccine never has been created from scratch so fast — and one that could waste millions if shots chosen for the production line don't pan out. As the manufacturing side gets into place, the National Institutes of Health is working in parallel to speed the science.

At least four or five possible vaccines “look pretty promising” and one or two will be ready to begin large-scale testing by July with others to follow soon, NIH Director Francis Collins told The Associated Press.

"The big challenge now is to go big and everybody is about ready for that. And we want to be sure that happens in a coordinated way,” Collins said.

That year-end goal is a “very bold plan ... a stretch goal if there ever was one,” he said in an interview late Thursday.

Read the full story here.

—Associated Press

Sailors on sidelined carrier get virus for second time

USS Theodore Roosevelt (Source: U.S. Navy/Getty Images)
USS Theodore Roosevelt (Source: U.S. Navy/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Five sailors on the U.S. aircraft carrier sidelined in Guam due to a COVID-19 outbreak have tested positive for the virus for the second time and have been taken off the ship, according to the Navy.

The resurgence of the virus in the five sailors on the USS Theodore Roosevelt underscores the befuddling behavior of the highly contagious virus and raises questions about how troops that test positive can be reintegrated into the military, particularly on ships.

All five sailors had previously tested positive and had gone through at least two weeks of isolation. As part of the process, they all had to test negative twice in a row, with the tests separated by at least a day or two before they were allowed to go back to the ship.

The Roosevelt has been at port in Guam since late March after the outbreak of the virus was discovered. More than 4,000 of the 4,800 crew members have gone ashore since then for quarantine or isolation. Earlier this month hundreds of sailors began returning to the ship, in coordinated waves, to get ready to set sail again.

In a statement Friday, the Navy said that, while onboard, the five sailors self-monitored and adhered to strict social distancing protocols.

“These five Sailors developed influenza-like illness symptoms and did the right thing reporting to medical for evaluation,” the Navy said, adding that they were immediately removed from the ship and put back in isolation. A small number of other sailors who were in contact with them were also taken off the ship.

Read the full story here.

—The Associated Press

Whitman County given permission to fast-track reopening under Washington’s coronavirus recovery plan

OLYMPIA – State health officials have given Whitman County permission to fast-track its reopening under Gov. Jay Inslee’s four-phase coronavirus recovery plan.

Friday’s announcement now means nine of Washington’s 39 counties can move to phase two of Inslee’s reopening plan.

Under the second phase, counties can begin letting restaurants to open up at 50% of capacity, with tables of no more than five people and special health guidelines to protect customers and staff.

Likewise, barbershops, hair stylists, tattoo and makeup artists and other personal-service businesses can reopen with protections, as can a host of professional services.

The counties reopening more quickly have smaller populations and no recent confirmed cases of COVID-19. The other counties allowed so far to begin the second phase include: Columbia, Ferry, Garfield, Lincoln, Pend Oreille, Skamania, Stevens and Wahkiakum counties.

Inslee and health officials have said other counties may start proceeding to phase two June 1, as long as public-health data surrounding the virus looks favorable.

The safety guidance issued so far by Inslee’s office allowing businesses to reopen can be found here.

—Joseph O'Sullivan
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Portland, Oregon, homeless tax tests voter mood in pandemic

Voters in metropolitan Portland, Oregon, will be asked Tuesday to approve taxes on personal income and business profits that would raise $2.5 billion over a decade to fight homelessness even as the state grapples with the coronavirus and its worst recession in years.

The ballot measure was planned before the pandemic reduced the U.S. economy to tatters. Proponents, including many business leaders and major institutions, argue the taxes are needed now more than ever in a region that has long been overwhelmed by its homeless problem.

How voters in the liberal city react amid the pandemic will be instructive for other West Coast cities struggling to address burgeoning homeless populations as other sources of revenue dry up. The measure is believed to be one of the first nationwide to ask voters to open their wallets in a post-COVID -19 world.

Read the full story here.

—The Associated Press

Poll: U.S. believers see message of change from God in virus

The coronavirus has prompted almost two-thirds of American believers to feel that God is telling humanity to change how it lives, a new poll finds.

While the virus rattles the globe, causing economic hardship for millions and killing more than 80,000 Americans, the findings of the poll by the University of Chicago Divinity School and The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research indicate that people may also be searching for deeper meaning in the devastating outbreak.

The poll found that 31% of Americans who believe in God feel strongly that the virus is a sign of God telling humanity to change, with the same number feeling that somewhat. Evangelical Protestants are more likely than others to believe that strongly, at 43%, compared with 28% of Catholics and mainline Protestants.

In addition, black Americans were more likely than those of other racial backgrounds to say they feel the virus is a sign God wants humanity to change, regardless of education, income or gender. Forty-seven percent say they feel that strongly, compared with 37% of Latino and 27% of white Americans.

Read the full story here.

—The Associated Press

Inslee may be reconsidering some parts of contact-tracing requirements for restaurants

Gov. Jay Inslee may be reconsidering the extent to which restaurants will have to maintain logs on their customers to aid in contact tracing.

"I think where we'll end up is giving customers an option of leaving a phone number or not," Inslee said during his Thursday afternoon news conference.

In guidance released Monday night, Inslee's office specified that restaurants choosing to reopen in Phase 2 would have to keep a detailed log of customers, including their name and contact information, and maintain that log for 30 days to aid in any subsequent necessary contact tracing.

The governor did not specify on Thursday whether restaurants would still be required to keep a log of names. However, his office said Friday morning that additional guidance on the issue is forthcoming today.

—Stefanie Loh
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Don’t count on a quick recovery, writes columnist Jon Talton

What will be the shape of the future: V, W, U, L, or a swoosh?

"This is shorthand for the direction of the economic recovery," writes Jon Talton in a column for The Seattle Times. "V is a big fall but quick bounce-back to expansion. W indicates a double-dip recession — that might happen if another wave of the pandemic hits — while U signals a steep drop and a harder recovery. A deep dive and a long stay in contraction/depression is L."

And swoosh? According to The Wall Street Journal, “Named after the Nike logo, it predicts a large drop followed by a painfully slow recovery, with many Western economies, including the U.S. and Europe, not back to 2019 levels of output until late next year — or beyond.”

Sorry, but no one anticipates an Amazon Smile trajectory.

Read the rest of Talton's column here.

—Jon Talton, Special to The Seattle Times

Large-scale vaccine testing expected by July

Having a COVID-19 vaccine by January is “a stretch goal,” but the head of the National Institutes of Health is gearing up for a master experiment to rapidly tell if any really work.

At least four or five possible vaccines “look pretty promising” and one or two will be ready to begin large-scale testing by July with others to follow soon, NIH Director Francis Collins told The Associated Press.

“Your big challenge now is to go big and everybody is about ready for that. And we want to be sure that happens in a coordinated way,” Collins said in an interview late Thursday.

The NIH in partnership with some of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies is creating a master plan that vaccine makers can follow. Separately, the Trump administration is working on how to produce possible vaccines, a huge gamble before anyone knows which ones will pan out. The goal is to have 300 million doses available to distribute to Americans by January.

Collins called it a “very bold plan … a stretch goal if there ever was one,” but one he’s optimistic the science side can help speed.

But he added: “If we can get this vaccine out there even a day sooner than otherwise we might have, that’s going to matter to somebody.”

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press

FDA gives White House new guidance on rapid COVID-19 test

The head of the Food and Drug Administration said Friday his agency has provided new guidance to the White House after data suggested that a rapid COVID-19 test used by President Donald Trump and others every day may provide inaccuracies and false negatives.

Commissioner Steve Hahn said that if a person is suspected of having the disease caused by the coronavirus, “it might be worth, if the test is negative, getting a second confirmatory test. That’s what our guidance is about.”

The researchers found that the Abbott Laboratories test, run on the company’s portable ID NOW system, missed one-third of the infections caught by Cepheid’s test when swabs were stored in liquid used to transport laboratory samples. When the samples were kept dry the test missed 48% of the cases flagged by Cepheid’s test.

The Abbott test is used daily at the White House to test Trump and key members of his staff, including the coronavirus task force.

Hahn, asked on CBS on Friday whether he’d continue to recommend using the test at the White House, said, “That will be a White House decision.” But he said the test is on the market and the FDA continues to “recommend its use or to have it available for use.”

Federal health officials have been alerting doctors to the potential inaccuracy in the test, which is used at thousands of hospitals, clinics and testing sites across the United States.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press
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Don't let masks lead to in-flight disruptions, flight crews told

New York University student Hector Medrano, of Los Angeles, checks in for his flight using a touchscreen Saturday, March 14, 2020, at jetBlue’s terminal in John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York. Medrano is traveling home during the school’s spring break, and opted to wear a face mask as he travels to protect himself. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
New York University student Hector Medrano, of Los Angeles, checks in for his flight using a touchscreen Saturday, March 14, 2020, at jetBlue’s terminal in John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York. Medrano is traveling home during the school’s spring break, and opted to wear a face mask as he travels to protect himself. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

U.S. airlines have all rolled out new policies requiring travelers to wear masks when they board and fly in an effort to keep passengers and employees as safe as possible from the coronavirus.

But crew members are being told to avoid escalating a situation once in the air if a passenger refuses to keep the mask on. There are exceptions for those who are very young or who have a medical condition.

In a memo sent to American Airlines pilots, the carrier said enforcement of the requirement around face coverings would depend on where a customer is. At the gate, for example, travelers can be prevented from boarding if they are not wearing a mask.

“Once on board and off the gate, the face covering policy will become more lenient,” the communication says. “The flight attendant’s role is informational, not enforcement, with respect to the face covering policy. The flight attendants are instructed not to escalate the issue if the passenger refuses to wear a face covering and to consider options, such as reseating if other passengers are involved, to defuse the situation.”

Read the full story here.

—Bloomberg

Quarantining with a ghost? It’s scary

Adrian Gomez lives with his partner in Los Angeles, where their first few days of sheltering in place for the coronavirus pandemic proved uneventful. They worked remotely, baked, took a 2-mile walk each morning and refinished their porcelain kitchen sink.

But then, one night, the doorknob began to rattle “vigorously,” so loud he could hear it from across the apartment. Yet no one was there.

Another night, a window shade began shaking intensely against the window frame — despite the fact that the window was closed, an adjacent window shade remained perfectly still, the cats were all accounted for, and no bug nor bird nor any other small creature had gotten stuck there.

Now, though neither he nor his partner noticed any unexplained activity at home before this, the couple can “distinctly” make out footsteps above their heads. No one lives above them.

The window shade Adrian Gomez saw shaking in his Los Angeles bedroom even though he says the window was closed. For those who believe they’re locked down with spectral roommates, the pandemic has been less isolating than they bargained for. (Adrian Gomez via The New York Times)
The window shade Adrian Gomez saw shaking in his Los Angeles bedroom even though he says the window was closed. For those who believe they’re locked down with spectral roommates, the pandemic has been less isolating than they bargained for. (Adrian Gomez via The New York Times)

For those whose experience of self-isolation involves what they believe to be a ghost, their days are punctuated not just by Zoom meetings or home schooling but by disembodied voices, shadowy figures, misbehaving electronics, invisible cats cozying up on couches, caresses from hands that aren’t there and even, in some cases — to borrow the technical parlance of “Ghostbusters” — free-floating, full-torso vaporous apparitions.

Read the full story here.

—Molly Fitzpatrick, The New York Times

Quarantine Corner: Making it easier to stay home

The month's top eats and drinks: Our five picks for takeout food range from fried chicken to a French bistro, pairing nicely with these five great Seattle-area spots to grab cocktails to-go.

So ... what are you doing this weekend? Here are ideas for breaking the monotony. And our features staffers share the daily delights and sanity-saving practices that are getting them through this stay-home era.

If you're feeling cooped up, consider immersing yourself in a world of different cultures with these five books.

Zoom ballet classes, dancing with pets: Take a cue from how PNB dancers are staying fit at home, and enjoy the video of them coming together (but apart) to perform a George Balanchine work.

Pacific Northwest Ballet principal dancer Kyle Davis teaches a class to the Professional Division students of PNB via Zoom video conferencing, in the living room of the Lower Queen Anne condo he shares with corps de ballet dancer Sarah-Gabrielle Ryan. (Corinne Chin / The Seattle Times)
Pacific Northwest Ballet principal dancer Kyle Davis teaches a class to the Professional Division students of PNB via Zoom video conferencing, in the living room of the Lower Queen Anne condo he shares with corps de ballet dancer Sarah-Gabrielle Ryan. (Corinne Chin / The Seattle Times)

—Kris Higginson
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Donate food, get a mask

A bush decorated with a massive mask marks the  food donation site Mike Fletcher and his neighbors started in their Greenwood community. “People want to help, and this is the opportunity to take care of people and get people to wear masks,” Fletcher said about the project. People are asked to donate three cans of food before selecting a mask. (Amanda Snyder / The Seattle Times)
A bush decorated with a massive mask marks the food donation site Mike Fletcher and his neighbors started in their Greenwood community. “People want to help, and this is the opportunity to take care of people and get people to wear masks,” Fletcher said about the project. People are asked to donate three cans of food before selecting a mask. (Amanda Snyder / The Seattle Times)

Even the bush is wearing a mask at the food-donation site Mike Fletcher and his neighbors started in their Greenwood neighborhood. People are asked to donate three cans of food, destined for a Ballard food bank. before selecting a mask in exchange. Here are more images of the day from Seattle Times photographers, who are documenting the pandemic's effects on our region.

—Kris Higginson

State’s potato growers giving away surplus spuds

Justin Murner, left, and Darek Gorring, of Washington Air National Guard, tossed taters during Thursday’s spud giveaway at the Tacoma Dome. The coronavirus pandemic has cut the need for potatoes, so Washington Potato Growers offered 200,000 pounds of bagged and washed potatoes to all comers. (Steve Ringman / The Seattle Times)
Justin Murner, left, and Darek Gorring, of Washington Air National Guard, tossed taters during Thursday’s spud giveaway at the Tacoma Dome. The coronavirus pandemic has cut the need for potatoes, so Washington Potato Growers offered 200,000 pounds of bagged and washed potatoes to all comers. (Steve Ringman / The Seattle Times)

The pandemic has cut restaurants' appetite for potatoes, so growers offered 200,000 pounds to all comers during a spud giveaway at the Tacoma Dome yesterday. The epic glut has upended Washington's powerhouse french fry industry. Farmers are trying to avoid going broke as they weigh what to do with millions of pounds of tubers. Meanwhile, around the nation, thousands of pigs are rotting on compost heaps as grocers run out of meat.

—Kris Higginson

Catch up on the past 24 hours

An X-ray taken of a Snohomish County resident’s lungs in January found them to be “hyperinflated,” with “linear opacities …. suggestive of superimposed upper respiratory lung infection,” according to a doctor’s interpretation. The patient also later tested positive for antibodies to COVID-19. (Courtesy photo)
An X-ray taken of a Snohomish County resident’s lungs in January found them to be “hyperinflated,” with “linear opacities …. suggestive of superimposed upper respiratory lung infection,” according to a doctor’s interpretation. The patient also later tested positive for antibodies to COVID-19. (Courtesy photo)

The coronavirus may have arrived in Washington state weeks earlier than previously known. Antibody test results for two Snohomish County residents throw the official timeline into question.

Washington has halted unemployment payments for two days as it scrambles to halt a gush of fraudulent claims that are likely to bleed off more than $1.6 million. This comes as more than a million workers have filed jobless claims in the state since early March.

The U.S. House is set to vote today on a $3 trillion rescue bill that would send new cash payments to individuals and nearly $1 trillion to state and local governments. Find updates here.

Every second of talking can send thousands of coronavirus droplets into the air — and they don't go away quickly, according to new research that could help explain some of the infection clusters we're seeing.

Gov. Jay Inslee wishes tribes would wait to reopen casinos, but says he'll feel confident about eating at restaurants. Several more tribal casinos are unlocking their doors next week with a different look and feel.

In Wisconsin, reopened bars were packed last night and the governor warned of "mass confusion" after the state's high court threw out his stay-home order. In Texas, which is reopening quickly, new cases and deaths broke single-day records yesterday. And in L.A. County, the beaches are open again — but surfers must wear masks and nobody can sunbathe.

Don't count on a quick economic recovery. Joblessness and fear has Americans changing their behavior, columnist Jon Talton writes. Our daily chart shows the pandemic's painful toll on small businesses in the Northwest.

More people are flying again, and airlines are bracing for disruptions over new mask rules. They can't kick passengers off in flight, so what can they do? Here's what to expect at airports and on planes.

"No intubation": Seniors fearful of COVID-19 are changing their living wills. Experts recommend talking about your wishes and taking a few key steps now to help yourself and your loved ones navigate hard questions later.

—Kris Higginson
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