Editor’s note: This is a live account of COVID-19 updates from Thursday, May 28, as the day unfolded. Click here to see updates from Friday, May 29. To find resources and the latest extended coverage of the pandemic, click here.

Washington’s houses of worship can hold services again — with restrictions — under new safety guidance from Gov. Jay Inslee. As certain counties start to reopen and people flock in, some residents worry their home will turn into a virus hot spot.

Meanwhile, the U.S. surpassed a jarring pandemic milestone Wednesday: 100,000 deaths. Although scientists continue to work furiously toward developing a vaccine, a new poll shows only about half of Americans say they would get one if it existed.

Throughout Thursday, 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 Wednesday 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 Thursday.

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Live updates:

Washington students want to have a say in what high school looks like in light of the coronavirus. This is how they’re doing it.

When the pandemic hit Washington, a trio of students from Sammamish wanted to try to record what was happening, thinking maybe they could reach out to other students about how they were feeling and reference the answers as historical documents for school projects.

Now that schools have closed for the rest of the year, the students — all juniors at Skyline High School in the Issaquah School District — have launched a new version of the survey for the entire state.

Instead of just catching impressions of the moment, they want to collect data and ideas that might ensure student voices influence decision making.

The three students are trying to get the survey to high schoolers across the state by reaching out to student groups, school principals and other community partners. After the survey closes June 19, they’ll share the data with the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction and other school decision makers and through social media so other young people can read it.

“At the end of the day, we’re the ones being impacted,” Ortiz-Villacorta said. “It’s our education, and it’s the way that we get shaped for the future and get prepared.”

Read the full story here.

—Anne Hillman
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Temperature checks and desk shields: CDC suggests big changes to offices

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have released sweeping new recommendations on the safest way for American employers to reopen their offices to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

According to the new guidelines, employees should get a temperature and symptom check when they arrive at work, desks should be 6 feet apart, seating should be barred in common areas and face coverings should be worn at all times.

If followed, the guidelines would lead to a far-reaching remaking of the corporate work experience. They even upend years of advice on commuting, urging people to drive to work by themselves, instead of taking mass transportation or carpooling, to avoid potential exposure to the virus.

The recommendations run from technical advice on ventilation systems (more open windows are most desirable) to suggested abolition of communal perks like latte makers and snack bins.

—The New York Times

Inslee announces new requirements to slow spread of COVID-19 in agriculture industries where outbreaks are on the rise

Gov. Jay Inslee on Thursday announced new requirements to help protect farm and fruit- and vegetable-processing workers in an agriculture industry that has emerged as a focal point of concern in the spread of the novel coronavirus in Washington.

Earlier this month, outbreaks of COVID-19, the illness the coronavirus causes, prompted some workers in Yakima fruit warehouses to walk off the job to press for hazard pay and more safety assurances.

Inslee cited their protests as he rolled out new measures that require employers to provide masks and other protective equipment to employees at no cost to them and to place more hand-washing stations at closer intervals in fields and orchards. The new requirements also call for workers to be spaced out in vans and shuttles carrying them to job sites.

On Thursday, farmworker groups had different reactions to Inslee’s new rules, which will take effect June 3.

Read the full story here.

—Hal Bernton

White House and CDC remove coronavirus warnings about choirs in guidance for reopening houses of worship

The Trump administration with no advance notice removed warnings contained in guidance for the reopening of houses of worship that singing in choirs can spread the coronavirus.

Last Friday, the administration released pandemic guidance for faith communities after weeks of debate flared between the White House and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Those guidelines posted on the CDC website included recommendations that religious communities “consider suspending or at least decreasing use of choir/musical ensembles and congregant singing, chanting, or reciting during services or other programming, if appropriate within the faith tradition.”

It added: “The act of singing may contribute to transmission of Covid-19, possibly through emission of aerosols.”

By Saturday, that version was replaced by updated guidance that no longer includes any reference to choirs or congregant singing and the risk for spreading virus.

—The Washington Post
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Inslee expected to issue new guidance on Phase 2; Snohomish County plans to apply for reopening amid coronavirus crisis

Gov. Jay Inslee is poised to release new guidance as soon as Friday about when Washington’s largest counties may be able to begin lifting the economic and social restrictions that have been in place for more than two months.

Most of Washington’s 39 counties already have moved on to the second phase of Inslee’s four-phase reopening plan. But the state’s three biggest counties, among others, have coronavirus infection rates that remain stubbornly above the threshold Inslee laid out as among the criteria for a variance from his “stay home” order.

Other smaller counties, including Yakima, Benton and Franklin, that have seen major outbreaks, are also far from the threshold.

The stay-home order is set to expire Monday. Inslee’s office on Thursday said they were finalizing the steps that would come afterward and would address it Friday.

Read the full story here.

—David Gutman

For top U.S. virus experts, faith and science work together

The relationship between faith and science has faced its share of strain during the coronavirus pandemic — but for some scientists leading the nation’s response, the two have worked in concert.

“One of the great things about faith is, you can approach life with a sense of hope — no matter what the challenges you’re dealing with, that there’s a path forward,” said Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The influence of faith on some of the government’s top coronavirus fighters illustrates its complicated connection to science. While tensions over public worship’s effect on public health amid the pandemic – with President Donald Trump declaring religious services “essential” – personal spirituality, in all of its forms, remains an unquestioned guidepost for some scientists guiding the U.S. response.

—Associated Press

The year of the decommit? How a football recruiting cycle altered by the coronavirus pandemic could affect UW

In the current reality in college football recruiting during the coronavirus shutdown, you can still connect with college coaches. You can still share your tape. You can still text and talk. You can still establish relationships, hear a pitch and take a (virtual) tour.

You just can’t visit.

And amid an ongoing recruiting dead period — which on Wednesday was extended through at least July 31 — recruits are increasingly committing to schools without stepping foot on campus. They’re committing to coaches they’ve conversed with on Zoom or FaceTime but haven’t physically met.

"You’re going to see recruits (who committed without ever visiting campus) go to a campus and be like, ‘Dude, this is not for me. The virtual tour didn’t tell me what the town was really like, what the school was really like,'" 247Sports national recruiting editor Brandon Huffman said. “So I think we’re gearing up to see a gigantic number of decommitments happen, and schools may be encouraging (committed) players to look elsewhere, too.”

Read the full story here.

—Mike Vorel
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41 million have lost jobs since virus hit, but layoffs slow

Roughly 2.1 million people applied for U.S. unemployment benefits last week, a sign that companies are still slashing jobs in the face of a deep recession even as more businesses reopen and rehire some laid-off employees.

About 41 million people have now applied for aid since the virus outbreak intensified in March, though not all of them are still unemployed. The Labor Department’s report Thursday includes a count of all the people now receiving unemployment aid: 21 million. That is a rough measure of the number of unemployed Americans.

States are gradually restarting their economies by letting some businesses — from gyms, retail shops and restaurants to hair and nail salons — reopen with some restrictions. As some of these employers, including automakers, have recalled a portion of their laid-off employees, the number of people receiving unemployment benefits has fallen.

—Associated Press

Seattle monorail returns to service

After shutting down due to the local outbreak of the coronavirus, the Seattle Center Monorail resumed service Thursday with limited hours and extra precautions.

The monorail between Seattle Center and Westlake Center will initially run every 10 minutes from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekends. Eventually, service will be expanded to 7:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekdays and 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekends, but that date is still to be determined, according to an online post from Seattle Monorail Services.

Monorail employees will undergo mandatory temperature checks before their shift and will receive cloth masks, gloves and coveralls, Seattle Monorail Services said.

Passengers will not be able to pay for tickets with cash and will be asked to keep 6 feet apart from others. Some seats will be closed.

Only one of the monorail's two trains will run per day for a "concentrated effort on sanitizing," the post said. Trains will be cleaned before the day they are to be in service and high-touch areas inside the train will be disinfected every three to four hours, according to Seattle Monorail Services.

—Heidi Groover

House passes bill to ease access to small-business loans in pandemic, but impasse with Senate remains

The House overwhelmingly passed a bill Thursday that would make it easier for small businesses to utilize funds under the new Paycheck Protection Program, Congress’s latest response to the coronavirus pandemic’s roiling economic fallout. But the measure’s future remains uncertain because Senate leaders have not yet signaled support.

The House legislation, strongly supported by business groups that lobbied hard for changes to the existing program, would give businesses more time to have the loans forgiven and paid off by the U.S. government.

Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee Chairman Marco Rubio, R-Fla., is supporting a different bill and made clear Thursday he does not back the House approach. There are similarities between the two pieces of legislation, though, and the White House also supports making changes to the PPP, so a compromise could emerge.

—The Washington Post
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Amazon offering full-time jobs to majority of 175,000 coronavirus seasonal hires

Amazon is offering regular, full-time jobs eligible for benefits including health insurance to 125,000 of the people it hired in March and April.

The company added 175,000 hourly workers in its operations and delivery network to deal with the unexpected surge in demand as shoppers avoided physical stores and stocked up, and workers stayed home under a since-rescinded unlimited unpaid time off policy during the onset of the coronavirus pandemic in the U.S.

Those were seasonal roles — like the ones the company fills ahead of its annual winter holiday peak — for which Amazon does not provide health insurance and other benefits, including career training opportunities.

A company spokesperson had no comment on whether the move to make roughly 70% of the seasonal pandemic hires into full-time employees would reduce the company’s seasonal hiring ahead of the holiday peak.

Read the full story here.

—Benjamin Romano

People are mistaking stimulus payments for junk mail or a scam

The IRS has to explain, yet again, a snafu in issuing stimulus payments.

To help speed up the delivery of up to $1,200 in economic impact payments to individuals made available under the $2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (Cares) Act, the Treasury Department last week began mailing prepaid debit cards to 4 million Americans.

The cards were intended to speed up the process of getting out the payments. Tens of millions of others have received their money by direct deposit, check or the Direct Express prepaid debit cards used to deliver Social Security payments and other federal benefits.

Here’s the problem. Like so many other glitches that have plagued the distribution of the stimulus payments, communication has been confusing and conflicting. The debit card is arriving in a plain envelope that doesn’t indicate it’s coming from the federal government.

Included in the letter is information indicating that the debit card is being sent on behalf of the Treasury Department in place of a paper check.

But some taxpayers still thought it was a scam or junk mail, which may have prompted the IRS to issue a release on Wednesday explaining the prepaid debit cards.

—The Washington Post

Inslee announces coronavirus testing for long-term care facilities staffers, residents

OLYMPIA — Gov. Jay Inslee Thursday announced a state directive requiring long-term care facilities such as nursing homes to offer testing for the new cororavirus to their residents.

That directive also requires those facilities to test staffers for COVID-19, except those who can give a medical justification as to why they shouldn’t be tested.

“To help in this effort, our state is going to be sending test kits and personal protective equipment supplies to nursing homes” as well as memory-care units, Inslee said in a news conference Thursday.

The state will pay the costs for staffers to take tests, and insurance should cover tests for residents, Inslee said.

The tests are meant to help detect — and ideally curb — the spread of the virus in long-term care facilities, which emerged immediately as high-risk locations for outbreaks and fatalities.

The order is effective immediately, said state Secretary of Health John Wiesman, and will allow for testing in facilities where outbreaks haven’t been detected.

Read the full story here.

—Joseph O'Sullivan
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State officials confirm 20,764 COVID-19 cases

State health officials confirmed 358 new COVID-19 cases in Washington on Thursday, as well as 11 additional deaths.

The update brings the state’s totals to 20,764 cases and 1,106 deaths, according the Department of Health’s (DOH) data dashboard. The dashboard reports 3,413 hospitalizations in Washington.

So far, 343,091 tests for the novel coronavirus have been conducted in the state, per DOH. Of those, 6% have come back positive.

King County, the state's most populous, has reported 7,923 positive test results and 562 deaths (three of which were confirmed Thursday), accounting for 50.8% of the state's death toll.

—Katherine K. Long

Clallam County approved to move to Phase 2 of reopening

Clallam County has been cleared to move to the second phase of reopening its economy, the 26th of Washington's 39 counties to take the step.

The move to Phase 2 of Gov. Jay Inslee's four-phase reopening process allows retail businesses to reopen and lets restaurants resume in-house dining, but only at half-capacity.

It also permits in-person gatherings of five people or fewer, and lets barbers and salons reopen.

The county's plan has one modification, however. Clallam County will continue to prohibit overnight camping at county parks until the rest of the state moves into the second phase of the governor's Safe Start reopening plan, the Peninsula Daily News reported Wednesday.

Other counties that have been approved for Phase 2 are: Adams, Asotin, Columbia, Cowlitz, Ferry, Garfield, Grant, Grays Harbor, Island, Jefferson, Kittitas, Kitsap, Lewis, Lincoln, Mason, Pacific, Pend Oreille, San Juan, Skamania, Spokane, Stevens, Thurston, Wahkiakum, Walla Walla and Whitman.

—Katherine K. Long

Democrats charge OSHA isn’t protecting front-line workers

WASHINGTON — As U.S. coronavirus deaths top 100,000, Democrats are slamming the Trump administration for failing to protect front-line workers, including those at meatpacking plants and health care facilities where outbreaks of the disease are spiking.

At a House hearing Thursday, Democrats charged that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has been “largely invisible” during the pandemic and hasn’t found ways to combat it, such as by issuing an emergency temporary standard for worker protection.

“Deep into this pandemic, OSHA has still not developed any enforceable standards for employers to follow that can protect workers from the airborne transmission of the novel coronavirus,” said Rep. Alma Adams, D-N.C., chairwoman of a House subcommittee on workforce protections. OSHA’s existing enforcement tools, including standards that address respirators and personal protective equipment, are “inadequate and unused,” Adams said.

Read the full story here.

—The Associated Press
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Administration initially dispensed scarce COVID-19 drug to some hospitals that didn’t need it

The Trump administration mishandled the initial distribution of the only approved coronavirus medication, delaying treatment to some critically ill patients with COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, according to nine current and former senior administration officials.

The first tranche of 607,000 vials of the antiviral medication remdesivir, donated to the government by drugmaker Gilead Sciences, was distributed in early May — in some cases to the wrong hospitals, to hospitals with no intensive care units and therefore no eligible patients, and to facilities without the needed refrigeration to store it, meaning some had to be returned to the government, said the officials familiar with the distribution effort.

Demand for remdesivir soared after the National Institutes of Health announced on April 29 that a clinical trial had shown that hospitalized patients with advanced COVID-19 who received the experimental drug recovered faster than similar patients who received a placebo. Two days later, the Food and Drug Administration, citing those results, approved the drug to treat severely ill patients.

Doctors said that because the drug is the only approved treatment for COVID-19 patients and in extremely short supply, any delay or reduced availability would be potentially catastrophic.

Read the full story here.

—The Washington Post

‘It’s too late’: In sprawling Indonesia, coronavirus surges

The 1,340 Maluku islands of Indonesia are a long way from anywhere, but the coronavirus is stalking the furthest reaches of the planet.

Though the first case of the virus in the Malukus was confirmed in mid-March, the central government was loath to impose a national lockdown, and local officials took matters into their own hands instituting quarantines and limiting flights and ferries. It did not work.

Since then, 25 medical workers at one hospital in Ambon, the biggest city in the Malukus, have tested positive for the coronavirus, though none had contact with COVID-19 patients there, and over the last week positive coronavirus tests have increased by double digits each day even with limited testing of only around 600 people.

“We didn’t expect it to happen this fast,” said Kasrul Selang, the head of the coronavirus task force in Maluku province whose wife has tested positive for the virus.

The world’s fourth most populous country offers both a cautionary tale for how dithering leadership can thwart public health and a medical puzzle for why an unprepared nation’s hospitals have so far not been overwhelmed.

In early May, Indonesia had recorded fewer than 12,000 cases of the coronavirus, with about 865 deaths. By Thursday, the number had increased to 24,538 confirmed cases and 1,496 deaths. Health experts say even this doubling of cases reflects the limits of testing rather than the true caseload.

In an alarming glimpse at what could be runaway transmission, a random sampling of 11,555 people in Surabaya, the country’s second largest city, found last week that 10% of those tested had antibodies for the coronavirus.

“Massive infection has already happened,” said Dono Widiatmoko, a senior lecturer in health and social care at the University of Derby and a member of the Indonesian Public Health Association. “This means it’s too late.”

Read the story here.

—The New York Times

Boston Marathon canceled for first time in 124 years due to pandemic

The Boston Marathon has been canceled for the first time in its 124-year history.

Organizers said Thursday that they instead will have a “virtual event” in which participants who verify that they ran 26.2 miles on their own will receive their finisher’s medal. The race had originally been scheduled for April 20 before being postponed for five months because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“While we cannot bring the world to Boston in September, we plan to bring Boston to the world for a historic 124th Boston Marathon,” said Tom Grilk, the CEO of the Boston Athletic Association.

Although the title of Boston Marathon champion is contested by a few dozen elite athletes, the field includes more than 30,000 recreational and charity runners, with as many as 1 million people lined up along the course trek from Hopkinton to Boston’s Back Bay. That presented organizers with a social distancing problem that won’t be solved by the fall.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press
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Kitsap County approved to move to Phase 2 of reopening

Kitsap County has been cleared to move to the second phase of reopening its economy, the 25th of Washington's 39 counties to take the step.

The move to Phase 2 of Gov. Jay Inslee's four-phase reopening process allows retail businesses to reopen and lets restaurants resume in-house dining, but only at half-capacity.

It also permits in-person gatherings of five people or fewer, and lets barbers and salons reopen.

Washington Health Secretary John Wiesman approved Kitsap County's application on Thursday.

In its application, Kitsap County said it has only 2.2 cases of the novel coronavirus per 100,000 people, well below the threshold set by Inslee's administration of 10 cases per 100,000 over the prior two weeks.

Other counties that have been approved for Phase 2 are: Adams, Asotin, Columbia, Cowlitz, Ferry, Garfield, Grant, Grays Harbor, Island, Jefferson, Kittitas, Lewis, Lincoln, Mason, Pacific, Pend Oreille, San Juan, Skamania, Spokane, Stevens, Thurston, Wahkiakum, Walla Walla and Whitman.

—David Gutman

Snohomish County officials intend to move to Phase 2 in coronavirus reopening

Snohomish County officials announced plans on Thursday to apply to reopen more sectors of public life, including retail stores and services such as barber shops and nail salons.

The county's executive, board of health chair, and county council chair together announced their intention to move to the second phase of Gov. Jay Inslee's four-phase reopening plan.

Officials say they have sufficient personal protective equipment, testing and contact tracing capacity, and the ability to quarantine individuals with the novel coronavirus — several of the requirements for moving into Phase 2.

“We will respond to the pandemic with everything we have and recover as quickly as we can. We now must move forward with our request to enter Phase 2 and help our people safely get back to work," County Executive Dave Somers said in a press statement.

Snohomish Health District Board of Health and the Snohomish County Council plan to take up the request on Friday, county officials said. If approved, the county's plan will be sent to the Washington Secretary of Health.

Entering Phase 2 would allow for gatherings of five people or fewer (outside of household members), limited non-essential travel, and the reopening of in-person dining with social distancing restrictions. New construction could begin. Camp sites and beaches are also expected to reopen.

Biden’s testing strategy sets up a clear contrast with Trump on the coronavirus

Joe Biden has proposed harnessing the broad powers of the federal government to step up coronavirus testing, with a public-private board overseeing test manufacturing and distribution, federal safety regulators enforcing testing at work and at least 100,000 contact tracers tracking down people exposed to the virus.

The presumptive Democratic nominee’s plan, laid out in a little-noticed Medium post, stands in stark contrast to President Donald Trump’s leave-it-to-the-states strategy, detailed in an 81-page document released over the weekend. And it presents voters in November with a classic philosophical choice over the role they want Washington to play during the worst public health crisis in a century.

With more than 100,000 Americans already dead from the coronavirus and at least 1.7 million infected, testing has emerged as a major campaign issue. Polls show that most people want better access to testing and believe it is the job of the federal government. Like Biden, Democrats running for Congress have seized on testing as a prime example of what they view as Trump’s incompetent response to the crisis.

Read the full story.

—The New York Times
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Backed by ACLU, whistleblowing doctor sues Bellingham hospital after he was fired for raising coronavirus concerns

BELLINGHAM — Fired whistleblower emergency physician Dr. Ming Lin, backed by attorneys from the American Civil Liberties Union, filed suit Thursday against former employer PeaceHealth, one of its top administrators and a national medical staffing firm, seeking damages and reinstatement after his March dismissal from a Bellingham hospital.

Lin, 58, was fired from PeaceHealth St. Joseph Medical Center after publicly protesting what he called inadequate workplace measures to protect hospital personnel and patients from the COVID-19 disease. He became a global cause célèbre among health care workers who said they were threatened or intimidated by employers when they spoke out about safety issues during the early days of the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The suit, filed in Whatcom County Superior Court, claims wrongful termination, breach of contract, discrimination, defamation and infliction of emotional stress. It also seeks unspecified damages and reinstatement of Lin to his post of more than 17 years.

Read the full story.

—Ron Judd

Boeing slashes jobs, restarts production of grounded 737 MAX

Some of about 60-737 MAX airplanes share a parking lot between East Marginal Way South and the Duwamish Waterway across the street from Boeing Field in Seattle on February 20, 2020. 213077 (Mike Siegel / The Seattle Times)
Some of about 60-737 MAX airplanes share a parking lot between East Marginal Way South and the Duwamish Waterway across the street from Boeing Field in Seattle on February 20, 2020. 213077 (Mike Siegel / The Seattle Times)

A new downturn in Boeing jobs has begun in the Puget Sound area.

On a day when Boeing announced more than 12,300 job cuts in the U.S., with Washington state taking the biggest hit, the company also pushed the button on re-starting 737 MAX production.

Boeing's future business relies on the rebirth of the jet, grounded more than a year ago after two deadly crashes.

—Dominic Gates

Seattle artists’ free coloring book challenges you to stay inside the lines while you’re inside your home

Galen Driver has compiled illustrations kids can print and color from his website stayinsidethelines.co. (Courtesy of Galen Driver)
Galen Driver has compiled illustrations kids can print and color from his website stayinsidethelines.co. (Courtesy of Galen Driver)

When Galen Driver was wondering how to help during the pandemic, he decided to call on his connections in the local art scene to collaborate on a coloring book project called “Stay Inside the Lines Seattle.”

The illustrations are available as free downloads on the website stayinsidethelines.co, which is now "evolving into a growing resource of free art activities," Driver said.

He’s also considering selling a print version of the “Stay Inside The Lines Seattle” coloring book, with proceeds benefiting a charity or an organization supporting local arts.

The hope is that the project can help parents incorporate the arts into home schooling, and be a mental health tool for adults who are struggling right now.

Read the full story and see more illustrations here.

Editor’s note: This is one in a periodic series called Stepping Up, highlighting moments of compassion, duty and community in uncertain times. Have a story we should tell? Send it via email to newstips@seattletimes.com with the subject “Stepping Up.”

—Percy Allen
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Wearable tech can spot COVID-19 symptoms before you even realize you’re sick. Here’s how.

Sara Belch, a nurse manager in Morgantown, W.Va., is taking part in a study at the Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute, which is testing whether Oura ring technology can predict the onset of the coronavirus. (Photo by Jeff Swensen for The Washington Post)
Sara Belch, a nurse manager in Morgantown, W.Va., is taking part in a study at the Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute, which is testing whether Oura ring technology can predict the onset of the coronavirus. (Photo by Jeff Swensen for The Washington Post)

Data from a wearable device can reveal COVID-19 symptoms days before you even realize you’re sick, researchers have found in preliminary studies.

That means fitness trackers could be on their way to becoming sickness trackers.

The initial findings from two academic studies are a small step in the fight against the novel coronavirus, and a giant leap for wearable tech. If Fitbits, Apple Watches and Oura smart rings prove to be an effective early-warning system, they could help reopen communities and workplaces – and evolve from consumer tech novelties into health essentials.

Read the full story here.

—The Washington Post

Property manager will pay tenants nearly $300K in state’s first eviction moratorium lawsuit

A Nevada-based property management company that issued eviction notices to tenants in Tacoma has agreed to pay nearly $350,000, including almost $300,000 directly to tenants in the form of refunds, payments and rent forgiveness, to resolve a lawsuit filed by Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson.

It was the first lawsuit to enforce one of Gov. Jay Inslee’s emergency proclamations during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The governor on March 18 established a moratorium on evictions for the inability to pay rent. The proclamation specifically prohibits landlords from issuing notices to pay or vacate during the effective period of Inslee’s proclamation, according to a statement from Ferguson’s office.

Read the full story here.

—Christine Clarridge

New weekly unemployment claims in Washington fall sharply in wake of fraud revelations

A week after state officials acknowledged “hundreds of millions of dollars” in potential losses from an organized fraud scheme in Washington’s unemployment insurance system, the state saw a sharp decline in new claims for jobless benefits.

For the week ending May 23, Washington received 53,280 initial claims for unemployment insurance, a decrease of nearly 62% from the prior week, according to figures released Thursday morning by the U.S. Department of Labor.

The fall in the number of new claims in Washington state comes as state and law enforcement officials investigate a Nigerian fraud ring, dubbed “Scattered Canary” by fraud experts, that may have filed “hundreds of millions of dollars” in bogus claims for jobless benefits from the state Employment Security Department (ESD). As of last week, Washington had paid out nearly $3.8 billion in benefits since the start of the coronavirus crisis, with most of the money coming from the federal government’s $2.2 trillion pandemic relief measure.

The state ESD will release its own figures for weekly jobless claims later Thursday.

Read more here.

—Paul Roberts
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Catch up on the past 24 hours

People under 40 account for half of newly diagnosed coronavirus cases in Washington. That worrisome shift deserves attention as counties reopen, the analysis' lead author says. Meanwhile, the U.S. death toll has topped 100,000, meaning more Americans have now died from the virus than were killed in the Vietnam and Korean wars combined.

Washington's houses of worship can start holding services in person again — with restrictions — under new guidance from Gov. Jay Inslee. Here's what they can and can't do, and an updated guide to when you'll be able to get a haircut, go to the gym, eat at restaurants and more.

A fourth child in Washington has been diagnosed with a coronavirus-related inflammatory syndrome. Parents should know the signs and not delay seeking care, a Seattle Children's research director says.

One of Seattle's most beloved movie theaters will stay closed "for the foreseeable future." Vulcan is keeping the Cinerama shuttered and leaving the Seattle Art Fair's fate up in the air as the company's Arts + Entertainment division folds.

The Cinerama movie theater opened in 1963, eventually fell into disrepair, and then was restored to its former glory and stocked with movie memorabilia in the late 1990s. (Alan Berner / The Seattle Times)
The Cinerama movie theater opened in 1963, eventually fell into disrepair, and then was restored to its former glory and stocked with movie memorabilia in the late 1990s. (Alan Berner / The Seattle Times)

The coronavirus may never go away. Coming to terms with that reality is crucial to the next phase of America’s pandemic response, disease experts say. They're laying out steps for communities that amount to a new mindset: "The question is, how do we live with it safely?"

How to find a job amid a recession … or a pandemic: Millennials who graduated during the last recession are recalling their own stories of the uphill fight to overcome terrible odds. They're sharing advice for the class of 2020.

You can golf, but you can't play tennis on most Seattle courts. Why? Columnist Matt Calkins looks at the reasons, the risks and a potential solution.

Last week's Seattle-area home sales outpaced the same week in 2019 despite the pandemic, our daily Coronavirus Economy chart shows.

Is that a lampshade you're wearing? Restaurants are getting weirdly creative to lure customers back and ease their fears.

—Kris Higginson