Editor’s note: This is a live account of COVID-19 updates from Friday, May 29, as the day unfolded. To find resources and the latest extended coverage of the pandemic, click here.
Gov. Jay Inslee’s office is poised to release new guidance about when Washington’s largest counties may be able to begin lifting the restrictions of the state’s stay-home order. The governor released several new COVID-19 prevention requirements Thursday, including ones that address protections for agriculture workers and long-term care facilities.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also recently announced recommendations on the safest way for American employers to reopen their offices, including requiring temperature checks and desk shields. As national health officials continue updating their guidelines on how to stay safe, President Donald Trump and presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden have also shared their pandemic plans, which show stark differences from each other.
Throughout Friday, 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 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.
Supreme Court rejects challenge to limits on church services
A divided Supreme Court on Friday rejected an emergency appeal by a California church that challenged state limits on attendance at worship services that have been imposed to contain the spread of the coronavirus.
Over the dissent of the four more conservative justices, Chief Justice John Roberts joined the court’s four liberals in turning away a request from the South Bay United Pentecostal Church in Chula Vista, California, in the San Diego area.
The church argued that limits on how many people can attend their services violate constitutional guarantees of religious freedom and had been seeking an order in time for services on Sunday.
Roberts wrote in brief opinion that the restriction allowing churches to reopen at 25% of their capacity, with no more than 100 worshipers at a time, “appear consistent” with the First Amendment. Justice Brett Kavanaugh wrote in dissent that the restriction “discriminates against places of worship and in favor of comparable secular businesses. Such discrimination violates the First Amendment.”
Snohomish County will hold COVID-19 testing at two libraries next week
Snohomish County officials are offering two days of COVID-19 testing for the community next week, the county's health department said Friday.
The health district, which is partnering with the Sno-Isle Libraries for Snohomish and Island Counties, is making testing available Monday at the library's Monroe branch at 1070 Village Way, and Wednesday at the Stanwood branch, located at 9701 271st St. N.W.
Criteria for testing and registration details remain the same, according to the Snohomish Health District.
Registration for appointments is available now, with appointments offered from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., the district said. More information about registration is available here.
Federal judge demands ICE explain why it can’t immediately begin testing NW immigration detainees for coronavirus
A federal judge has given Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials until Tuesday to explain why they can’t begin immediate testing for the novel coronavirus of the more than 600 immigration detainees at the Northwest Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Processing Center.
U.S. District Judge James Robart issued the order late Thursday in response to a proposed class-action petition by the American Civil Liberties Union and the Northwest Immigration Rights Project (NWIRP) on behalf of four vulnerable center detainees, alleging inadequate testing could be allowing the virus to spread within the facility without anyone knowing.
In his order, Robart noted that the center and its private-contractor operator, The GEO Group, have tested 16 of 645 detainees and 15 staff at the SeaTac facility since the coronavirus emerged in the U.S. more than five months ago. ICE maintains there have been no confirmed cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, at the center.
The petition seeks to have medically vulnerable detainees released because of their increased susceptibility to serious coronavirus infections.
Supreme Court considers churches’ demands that states lift pandemic restrictions
Religious organizations eager to reopen faster and with fewer pandemic-related restrictions are calling on courts to step in.
The Supreme Court is considering two emergency petitions, from California and Illinois, even though governors of those states have removed some restrictions and agreed to demands that in-person worship services be allowed on Sunday, the Christian holy day of Pentecost.
The larger issue is how the responsibility of governments to control the spread of COVID-19 can be applied to churches, synagogues and mosques, and the constitutionally protected right to worship.
Department of Health issues new COVID-19 guidelines for child care programs
The Washington State Department of Health (DOH) on Friday released new guidance on how child care services, summer day camps and youth programs should safely operate during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The guidelines, which don't address overnight camps, youth athletics or K-12 education programs, tell families that if they do drop their child at child care, they'll need to take their temperatures, either at home or on-site. Families will also need to answer questions about the child's symptoms, close contacts and possible medications.
Families who are still able to keep their children at home should continue to do so, DOH said in a blog post.
The post also instructs child care programs to develop a system for pickup and drop-off that keeps families physically distant from each other, wash their hands before and after signing in and out, screen staff and children for COVID-19 symptoms daily, stagger outdoor play, use cloth face coverings (excluding children younger than 2 years old or anyone who has trouble breathing) and prevent large group gatherings during snack or meal time.
Anita May ‘Anna’ Wynalda, who died from COVID-19 this month, was a devoted nurse, grandmother and Walmart cashier
Through much of her 66 years, Anita May “Anna” Wynalda packed each minute of her day with life.
Whether it was working as a nurse during the day and as a Walmart cashier overnight, talking with people she encountered while out in the community or sending each of her children and grandchildren a text message, funny picture or emoji — “something to encourage you to get through the day” — she always found time for others, her daughter Patricia Martinez said.
Given how busy she kept her schedule, you may wonder how she fit it all in and still found time for sleep.
Since she never turned down a request for help, she often took naps in her Honda minivan while waiting for people to finish appointments for which she provided transportation, Martinez said.
Ms. Wynalda died May 12 from COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, her family said.
Feds tell Seattle entrepreneur to remove online postings about a purported coronavirus ‘vaccine’
Federal authorities have sent a warning letter telling a Seattle-based entrepreneur to stop all efforts to sell a purported coronavirus “vaccine’’ and remove any online claims that he can treat, cure or prevent COVID-19 symptoms.
The Food and Drug Administration sent the letter May 21 to Johnny Stine, 55, roughly three weeks after he made news for offering up his “nCov19 spike protein vaccine’’ for $400 on social media — including a pitch to his friend, the mayor of a San Juan Island town. Among the March and April postings referred to in the FDA letter was one on the personal Facebook page of Friday Harbor Mayor Farhad Ghatan offering to visit the island to administer the purported vaccine to him.
The FDA letter warns that vaccines claiming to cure or prevent illness require “well-controlled human clinical studies, substantiating that the claims are true at the time they are made. For COVID-19, no such study is currently known to exist for the product identified above."
Metro will remain fare-free through at least June
King County Metro will not require fares on its buses “at least through the month of June,” the agency said in a blog post Friday.
Riders are still encouraged to wear masks or face coverings while aboard transit.
Metro announced March 20 fares would be eliminated and instructed riders to board through the back doors.
Sound Transit and Community Transit will begin charging fares June 1 on some routes where riders can pay before boarding buses and trains. Pierce Transit will reinstate regular fares on buses and paratransit vehicles starting June 14.
Metro has also been skipping riders waiting at some stops when passenger levels reach maximum levels to maintain safe social distancing.
Ridership on Metro has dropped significantly.
Between May 18 and May 22, the average weekday bus ridership was about 112,00 — about a 73% drop compared with the same time period in 2019.
Woodland Park Zoo cuts staff and salaries due to coronavirus closures
The Woodland Park Zoo, like many cultural nonprofits in the region, is laying off and furloughing staff because of lost revenue due to coronavirus closures. The zoo will lay off 27 employees and temporarily furlough 43 others on July 1, when the funding from the Payroll Protection Program loan runs out. Senior staff who are not operations-critical and make more than $100,000 will take a 10% pay cut.
Since the zoo closed in March, the organization has lost $6 million in revenue from admissions and events, according to a press release. The CEO and other senior leaders already took pay cuts, and the organization's staff reduced other nonsalary expenses.
Read about life at the zoo during the closure here.
Washington hits 21,071 COVID-19 cases, state health officials confirm
State health officials confirmed 307 new COVID-19 cases in Washington on Friday, as well as five additional deaths.
The update brings the state’s totals to 21,071 cases and 1,111 deaths, according the Department of Health’s (DOH) data dashboard. The dashboard reports 3,455 hospitalizations in Washington.
So far, 348,233 tests for the novel coronavirus have been conducted in the state, per DOH. Of those, 6.1% have come back positive.
King County, the state's most populous, has reported 7,949 positive test results and 564 deaths (two of which were confirmed Friday), accounting for 50.8% of the state's death toll.
Citing challenges posed by coronavirus, women’s professional network The Riveter shuts down coworking operations
In an email sent today to members of the women’s coworking organization The Riveter, company founder Amy Nelson said the network’s coworking spaces would all be closed due to the outbreak of COVID-19, the illness caused by the new coronavirus.
“During the course of this devastating pandemic, the safety and health of our employees and members have been our top priority,” said Nelson. “As these safety concerns and unforeseen circumstances continue, we've been forced to make the tremendously difficult decision to close our coworking operations.”
In a separate email, Nelson said that current members of The Riveter’s Fremont location would have the option of working with the building’s management to maintain their workspaces. Those who do not must remove their personal items and vacate the space by June 23; Nelson noted that members would not be billed for June occupancy.
“Even as states begin the untested process of reopening, we — like many other businesses — understand that to protect the health of our communities and colleagues we cannot resume regular operations,” said Nelson in that message. “With no roadmap for the safe return to shared workspaces or in-person gatherings, our coworking business does not have a path forward.”
Nelson said that while she and her colleagues had “worked tirelessly… to examine every viable possibility to keep our physical spaces operational,” they had not succeeded, and the spaces would be closing.
The Riveter is a national coworking organization for women professionals, with locations in Fremont, Capitol Hill and Bellevue.
Workers must wear face coverings, Snohomish County could soon reopen under Inslee’s new coronavirus recovery plan
OLYMPIA — Snohomish County could soon reopen barberhops, nail salons and some restaurant and in-store retail under a new coronavirus recovery plan announced Friday by Gov. Jay Inslee.
The new order will replace Inslee’s existing emergency stay-at-home order, which is set to expire on Monday.
Originally issued March 23, the stay-at-home order clamped down on businesses and social activity to prevent the spread of COVID-19 as the pandemic roared across the state and nation.
Inslee’s new proclamation could accelerate efforts to reopen parts of Washington under the governor’s existing four-phase recovery plan.
The new directive will require workers at their jobs to wear facial coverings, unless they don’t have in-person interactions. That provision will take effect June 8.
But mainly, the new plan relaxes a key standard — the number of new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 in a county over a 14-day span. That metric has prevented Washington’s largest counties — like King, Pierce and Snohomish counties — from moving to the second phase.
Durkan asks Congress for aid, clashes with Ohio Republican
Mayor Jenny Durkan urged the federal government to provide cities like Seattle with more coronavirus emergency assistance and clashed with an Ohio Republican as she and other mayors spoke to a congressional subcommittee Friday about the pandemic.
Joining a panel that also included the mayors of Los Angeles and Atlanta, Durkan told the U.S. House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis the feds should use the Defense Production Act to churn out more personal protective equipment and test kits.
She called for a “21st century New Deal,” including a national program to create 1 million jobs by investing in infrastructure projects, green technology, Internet access and affordable housing.
And Durkan requested more direct financial help for cities that are trying to provide emergency relief while maintaining basic services and grappling with plunging local tax revenues.
“We are your front line in this battle,” she told the committee chaired by Rep. James Clyburn.
Sparks flew later on in the briefing, when Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, criticized L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti and Calif. Gov. Gavin Newsom for closing churches and gun stores along with other businesses. “During crises, the Constitution still stands,” Jordan said immediately before Durkan jumped in.
“To insinuate that any city in America is trying to restrict liberties is not helpful at this time. We must fight this virus as a country,” she said, mentioning her own stint as U.S. attorney in Seattle.
“Nobody has suspended the Constitution. The leaders of faith (in Washington state) stood up with me and (Gov. Jay Inslee) saying, ‘We don’t want to hold services. We respect the sanctity of life.’”
Jordan interrupted to ask whether Durkan had been encouraging Seattle residents to “snitch” on neighbors for violating social distancing guidelines. The mayor stuck to her script. “Today, cities, states are fighting to get the weapons they need to fight this virus,” she said. “Please help us.”
Trump says U.S. to withdraw from World Health Organization and announces new broadsides against Beijing
WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump on Friday leveled an extraordinary broadside at the Chinese government, accusing it of a comprehensive “pattern of misconduct” and ordered U.S. officials to begin the process of revoking Hong Kong’s special status under U.S. law.
The U.S. as a result will no longer treat Hong Kong and China as separate entities for the purposes of extradition, customs, trade and visa issues, he said.
In Rose Garden remarks, Trump also attacked the World Health Organization, which he said was effectively controlled by Beijing.
“We will today be terminating our relationship” with the WHO, the president said, adding that the organization’s more than $400 million annual U.S. contribution would be diverted to other health groups.
Read the full story here.
Customs officials in Seattle seize unapproved COVID medicine
SEATTLE — Customs officials say they seized a shipment of unauthorized COVID-19 medication at the Port of Seattle.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection said Thursday the seizure involved 360 pills of Lianhua Qingwen. The medicine has been used in China and some other countries to treat the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, but it remains unapproved in the U.S.
CBP spokesman Jason Givens said the package was arriving from Canada when it was seized Wednesday. Agents in Baltimore seized a shipment of 1,200 capsules from Hong Kong earlier this month, and on Tuesday agents in Chicago confiscated three shipments from China totaling 28,800 capsules.
CBP said the use of unauthorized medications can give consumers a false sense of security and can be dangerous or fatal.
Virus ignited in U.S. no earlier than mid-January, study says
NEW YORK — The spark that started the U.S. coronavirus epidemic arrived during a three-week window from mid-January to early February, before the nation halted travel from China, according to the most comprehensive federal study to date of when the virus began spreading.
That means anyone in the U.S. who thought they had the virus in December or early January probably had the flu, public health researchers said.
Some people have claimed Americans were getting sick from the coronavirus as early as November and that infections were spreading in the U.S. before any case was identified, said Dr. Robert Redfield, the head of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“(This) puts data into the discussion. Prior to this we had discussion without a lot of data,” he said.
Another recent study showed that the virus entered the United States via multiple paths and at multiple times. But Washington still seems to be the place where it first took hold in this country and flared into a community outbreak.
Read the full story here.
Some Washington campgrounds to reopen starting Monday
OLYMPIA – Some camping will resume starting Monday at state campgrounds in 22 counties, Washington lands officials announced Friday.
Coronavirus more dangerous for current and former cancer patients, new studies find
New research shows how dangerous the coronavirus is for current and former cancer patients. Those who developed COVID-19 were much more likely to die within a month than people without cancer who got it, two studies found.
They are the largest reports on people with both diseases in the United States, the United Kingdom, Spain and Canada. In one study, half of 928 current and former cancer patients with COVID-19 were hospitalized and 13% died. That’s far more than the various rates that have been reported in the general population.
Results were published Thursday in the journal Lancet and will be discussed this weekend at an American Society of Clinical Oncology conference being held online because of the pandemic.
A second study in Lancet from researchers in England of 800 patients with various types of cancer and COVID-19 found an even higher death rate — 28%. The risk rose with age and other health problems such as high blood pressure.
The studies have big implications: More than 1.6 million new cancers are diagnosed in the United States each year, several million Americans are in treatment now and about 20 million are cancer survivors.
Dr. Jeremy Warner, a Vanderbilt University data scientist who led the larger study, said the results show the wisdom of measures that many hospitals have taken to delay or modify care for many cancer patients, and the need for people treated in the past to be extra careful now.
“If they don’t have COVID-19, they want to do anything they can to avoid getting it,” he said.
Assistance League of Seattle asks, ‘What else can we do?’ The answer: care packages for families in need
Carrie Slavin was helping with a project to get food to those in need during the coronavirus pandemic, but she wanted to do more.
She had learned that many families were spending what little money they had on food. “But everyone needs things like toothpaste, toilet paper, shampoo and other personal hygiene items, and the necessities that we need to keep our homes clean,” Slavin said. “So we talked to Seattle Public Schools and got a list approved of 15 items.”
Slavin and Theresa Roberts, president of the Assistance League of Seattle, teamed up to deliver a total of 325 packages, full of personal hygiene and cleaning supplies, to four high-need Seattle Public Schools last Friday, to be given to families in need.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject “Stepping Up.”
As the sports world gradually returns, we share what the games and moments mean to us
After the sports world quickly shut down during a roughly 24-hour period in March to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus, fans (and Seattle Times staffers) have tried to pass the time with stay-at-home activities such as exercise, books, Netflix and cooking.
For most sports fans, it’s probably safe to say none has come close to filling the massive void created by the absence of games and events.
With that in mind, and as the sports world gradually begins to return, we're sharing staff essays and illustrations about what sports mean to us.
Yakima County child diagnosed with severe illness linked to COVID-19, bringing total in Washington to 5 cases
A Yakima County child has been diagnosed with multisystem inflammatory syndrome related to COVID-19, according to the Yakima Health District.
It is one of five cases of the syndrome identified in the state, and the first in Yakima County. A case was reported in the Benton Franklin Health District earlier this week.
Multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children is a condition where different body parts can become inflamed, including the heart, lungs, kidneys, brain, skin, eyes or gastrointestinal organs. The cause is still unclear. However, many of the children had the virus that causes COVID-19, or had been around someone with COVID-19, the health district said.
Read the full story here, including a list of symptoms and advice for parents.
Seattle-based Airbnb rental startup Loftium misses its own rent payments, slashes staff as coronavirus undercuts business
Loftium, a startup that secured $15 million in venture capital last year, rents homes from owners and subleases a portion of the space to tenants — who then manage Airbnb listings in the rest of the home on the company’s behalf. Tenants typically pay half or less of the rent that Loftium owes to landlords; Loftium picks up the difference. The company keeps the revenue from its short-term Airbnb rentals.
In pre-pandemic times in the 11 heavily touristed cities where Loftium operates, including Seattle, the Bay Area and San Diego, it could be far more lucrative to list a home on Airbnb and collect short-term rental fees than to lease it long-term.
But the steep drop in travel triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic is suffocating businesses built on that kind of rental arbitrage, leaving landlords and tenants in the lurch.
Quarantine Corner: Making it easier to stay home
Maple Valley's Brandi Carlile will perform her entire catalog of albums in a virtual concert series, but you'll have to plan ahead to see it. Here's when and how to watch.
What can you make with pancake mix, olives, cheese and herbs? Seattle Times readers are showing off surprisingly fancypants creations in Round 2 of our Pantry Kitchen Challenge. Here's your mission for Round 3.
Need a new movie to watch at home? Our critic shares what she adored this week.
Be sure to check out our full list of 16 things to do while staying home this weekend.
A wrench in retirement plans
The coronavirus pandemic has thrown Washington's retired people (and those who soon hope to be) into limbo, with major pressures coming from every direction — financial, medical and emotional.
As retirees face difficult choices and an uncertain future, financial experts and retirees are sharing ways to mitigate the damage, and a few reasons for optimism.
Catch up on the past 24 hours
Washington state has clawed back more than $300 million from unemployment fraud, but the whole mess may further delay payments as 323,000 newly jobless residents wait for their checks. (Know what to do if your name is used by the fraudsters.) There's a bit of good news for job seekers, though: Job listings are on the rise, and Amazon is offering full-time employment to most of its 175,000 pandemic hires.
Washington nursing homes and the memory-care units in assisted-living facilities must test staffers for coronavirus and offer the tests to residents, under a new directive from Inslee.
"A flood of tips" led Seattle police to identify a man suspected of hate crimes targeting Asians. David Altomare is under investigation for multiple acts of harassment and violence, possibly triggered by conspiracy theories about the coronavirus, charging papers say.
Look out: People are mistaking stimulus payments for junk mail or a scam. They do look suspicious, particularly to people who were expecting a direct deposit.
The CDC is recommending sweeping changes at offices, involving everything from masks to desk shields and even the sacred coffeepot. The new guidelines also upend years of advice on commuting.
A property manager must pay tenants nearly $300,000 in the first lawsuit stemming from Washington’s ban on evictions.
Nordstrom has lost half a billion dollars and sales have dropped 40% in a walloping far worse than anyone expected, but the company says it has a plan to stay ahead of the uncertainties.
New Zealand has all but eradicated the coronavirus, with just one person in the nation of 5 million known to be still infected. But it's still rising sharply in many countries, including some that have thrown their doors back open. Our maps track the spread of the virus around the globe.
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