Editor’s note: This is a live account of COVID-19 updates from Thursday, May 7, as the day unfolded. Click here to find resources and the latest extended coverage of the pandemic.
New information about Washington’s COVID-19 cases continues to come to light. State health officials this week confirmed that the majority of deaths in our state have been linked to long-term care facilities, including residents, employees and visitors who were at nursing homes, assisted living facilities or adult family homes around the time they were exposed. And it appears that in late March and early April, while deaths spiked dramatically elsewhere, Washington saw only 4% more deaths than it typically does in that time period.
Scientists are working hard to develop a vaccine as virus-related deaths worldwide push toward 300,o00, but a recent survey shows millions of Americans would not get a vaccine even if one were available. Meanwhile, regulators and scientists have raised concerns about potentially serious side effects from hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine, while a different proposed treatment, the antiviral therapy remdesivir, was cleared for U.S. use.
Throughout Thursday, 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 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.
Feds will send $50 million in coronavirus relief money to Washington state seafood firms, fishermen, tribes and charter boat operators
Washington state will receive about $50 million in federal-relief dollars to assist both the commercial-seafood and sport-fishing-charter industries stung by the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a statement released Thursday by the federal Commerce Department.
The money is carved out of the massive economic stimulus package known as the CARES ACT that was passed by Congress in March and is intended to assist in both direct and indirect fishery-related losses. Those eligible to apply for the funds include fishermen, tribes, processors and aquaculture companies.
Earlier in the spring, Washington’s charter-boat operations were shut down amid the broader restrictions imposed by Gov. Jay Inslee as he sought to combat the pandemic through social distancing. The seafood industry has remained open because it’s considered essential to food production, but it has been battered as restaurants — a key market for processors — have been closed to sit-down dining across the United States and internationally.
Frontier just became the first U.S. airline to require passenger temperature screening
Frontier Airlines said Thursday it will require passengers to have their temperatures taken before boarding flights, starting June 1, in an effort to make traveling safer during the coronavirus pandemic.
Anyone with a temperature of 100.4 or higher will not be allowed to fly, the budget carrier said. While the move is a first for U.S. carriers, according to the airline, Air Canada announced a similar measure earlier this week. London’s Heathrow Airport is testing temperature screenings, an official there told the BBC this week.
“The health and safety of everyone flying Frontier is paramount and temperature screenings add an additional layer of protection for everyone onboard,” Frontier Airlines CEO Barry Biffle said in a statement. “This new step during the boarding process, coupled with face coverings and elevated disinfection procedures, will serve to provide Frontier customers an assurance that their well-being is our foremost priority and we are taking every measure to help them travel comfortably and safely.”
A flurry of activity, confusion as Washington begins phase one of reopening amid the new coronavirus
OLYMPIA — Vehicle dealers resuming sales. Religious groups offering drive-in services. Some car washes reopening.
Gov. Jay Inslee this week continued lifting restrictions in his stay-home order meant to slow the spread of the new coronavirus, part of phase one in his four-phase plan to reopen the state. Some outdoor recreation opened earlier this week.
By the end of Friday, Inslee’s office will be trying to issue guidance to restart the remaining phase-one businesses, according to Nick Streuli, Inslee’s external relations director. That would allow landscapers and pet walkers back to work, and for retail stores to offer curbside pickup.
But the flurry of activity hits as residents, businesses, Inslee’s office and other government officials try to navigate confusion and uncertainty on the way to resuming commerce amid a pandemic.
Zillow, Redfin will start flipping houses again as homebuying demand rebounds from coronavirus slump
Banking that homebuying demand vastly outstrips pandemic-suppressed supply, Zillow and Redfin are restarting their home flipping programs, both announced on earnings calls Thursday. But they forecast falling revenues ahead, especially if sellers continue to be reluctant to list their homes.
The rival Seattle-based digital brokerages reported stronger-than-expected revenue in the first three months of the year, but ended the quarter sunk in the red.
Home flipping has slim margins and requires huge amounts of capital, but both companies have jumped into the market with vigor, threatened by SoftBank-backed home flipping outfit Opendoor.
2% of Puget Sound households received grocery delivery last year, but that was before coronavirus changed shopping
Last year, 2% of Puget Sound households received a grocery delivery and 1% received a meal or other food delivery on an average weekday, numbers that have likely increased amid the coronavirus pandemic – though many people still see grocery shopping trips as essential.
More than half of the 1,152 U.S. consumers surveyed by Coresight Research in mid-March had purchased groceries online in the prior year, and nearly 63% planned to in the next 12 months.
Among those already grocery shopping online, 35% said they were doing so more because of the pandemic and 14% said it had prompted them to start. An additional nearly 11% said the pandemic caused them to buy groceries online less.
Almost 47% of respondents said they bought only a small amount of their groceries online and nearly 22% said they got almost none of their groceries this way. But shoppers are expanding the grocery categories they’re willing to buy online, with increases in fresh foods, including dairy, meat and baked goods, Coresight found.
Sixth resident of Spokane Veterans Home dies after testing positive for COVID-19
The Spokane Veterans Home confirmed Thursday another one of its residents diagnosed with COVID-19 has died, marking the sixth resident who has died after testing positive for the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.
The facility didn't confirm if the veteran died from effects of the virus or from "other medical conditions that were present prior to the COVID-19 diagnosis," according to a statement from the Washington State Department of Veterans Affairs.
“It’s never easy to say goodbye to a Veteran or Family member in our Veterans Homes,” department director Lourdes E. Alvarado-Ramos said in the statement. “Each Resident in our care brings their unique story, history and personality that make our Veterans Homes, a true Home. To the family and friends of each resident who passes, we offer our most sincere condolences.”
Memorial services for the veteran will be scheduled at a later date, the statement said.
Puget Sound flyovers aim to show region's appreciation of health care workers
Members of the Northwest BeechBoys, a Bremerton-based flying team, flew over several hospitals in the area Thursday afternoon as a tribute to health care workers on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic.
The group — all in Beechcraft Bonanza single-engine planes — cruised over Swedish Medical Center, Seattle Children’s Hospital and Providence Regional Medical Center in Everett, among others.
On Friday, the U.S. Air Force's 62nd Airlift Wing is also planning a Puget Sound flyover in honor of essential workers.
The C-17 Globemaster III two-ship formation flyover will begin around 12:30 p.m. and last for about two-and-a-half hours, making appearances over the University of Washington Medical Center, Swedish campuses and Kirkland's Evergreen Medical Center, in addition to more than 30 other facilities in the region, according to a post from the 62nd Airlift Wing.
The post also shared Friday's planned flight pattern and listed each facility and "place of interest" the planes would fly over.
"This is to say thank you to all of the American heroes at the forefront of the battle against COVID-19," the 62nd Airlift Wing said on Facebook.
Virus hospitalization is new barrier to military enlistment
The Defense Department has begun barring the enlistment of would-be military recruits who have been hospitalized for the coronavirus, unless they get a special medical waiver.
Under a Pentagon memo signed Wednesday, applicants who have tested positive for the virus but did not require hospitalization will be allowed to enlist, as long as all health and other requirements are met.
Those recruits who tested positive won’t be allowed to begin the enlistment process until 28 days after the diagnosis, and they’ll be required to submit all medical documentation. They’ll be cleared for military service 28 days after they’re finished with home isolation, and they won’t need a waiver.
Proposal to tax big businesses will be shelved by Seattle City Council during coronavirus emergency
The Seattle City Council will stop deliberating a proposal to tax large corporations, council leaders said Thursday, citing a statewide coronavirus-emergency proclamation that restricts what public agencies can discuss during the health crisis.
The decision by Council President M. Lorena González and Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda will stall the big-business tax championed by Councilmembers Kshama Sawant and Tammy Morales, who already faced opposition from Mayor Jenny Durkan.
The council’s budget committee, chaired by Mosqueda, met twice last month via teleconference to consider the proposal by Sawant and Morales to enact a payroll tax on corporations with annual wage bills over $7 million, and a third remote meeting was scheduled for next week. But Councilmember Lisa Herbold skipped both discussions and wrote a letter to González last week expressing concern about compliance with the state proclamation.
Seattle will permanently close 20 miles of residential streets to most vehicle traffic
Nearly 20 miles of Seattle streets will permanently close to most vehicle traffic by the end of May, Mayor Jenny Durkan announced Thursday.
The streets had been closed temporarily to through traffic to provide more space for people to walk and bike at a safe distance apart during the coronavirus pandemic.
Now the closures, which have been implemented in the Aurora-Licton Springs, Ballard, Central District, West Seattle, Greenwood, Othello, Rainier Beach and Beacon Hill neighborhoods, will continue even after Gov. Jay Inslee’s stay-at-home order is lifted.
Residents, delivery drivers, garbage and recycling workers, and emergency response vehicles can continue to use the streets, but no through traffic is allowed.
State confirms 16,231 COVID-19 cases
State health officials confirmed 326 new COVID-19 cases Thursday, including 21 more deaths.
The update brings Washington's totals to 16,231 cases and 891 deaths. So far, 230,680 tests for the illness have been conducted in Washington, according to the latest data released by the Washington State Department of Health. Approximately 7.0% have come back positive.
King County, the state's most populous, has had 6,809 positive test results and 480 deaths, accounting for 53.9% of the state's death toll.
Fact check: Kids are not safe from coronavirus, despite Trump claims
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump is falsely suggesting that children are safe from the coronavirus as he pushes to reopen the country now and schools in the summer or fall.
Although Trump is broadly correct that the disease is most deadly to the elderly and to people with existing health problems, his statement that “the children aren’t affected” is heedless. Some have died from it. His recent comments also skirt the threat of children spreading the virus to healthy adults in their 50s and younger.
Here's a full fact-check of his statements.
Forks Forum tries for a coronavirus comeback
After suspending print publication due to financial losses during the coronavirus pandemic, The Forks Forum is offering subscriptions for print publication.
The paper was a free distribution tabloid, and is converting to a broadsheet offered for $75 per year. Editor and reporter Christi Baron said she returns to work Monday full time.
The paper needs at least 100 paid subscribers to resume publication in print, Baron said. "I think it's good news," Baron said. "I hope it is." She wondered how people would respond to the offer, made by publisher Terry Ward in an online announcement in the paper May 7.
The paper serves the West End of the Olympic Peninsula and has been published since 1931. Forks is a rural community with a population of about 3,500, the largest of the Peninsula’s West End communities, including Sekiu and Clallam Bay, Neah Bay, Beaver, La Push, Hoh and more.
"I know people want the paper back," Baron said. "But it is hard to ask for that much money, when everybody is out of work. We are in a down economic time and we are not super wealthy on the West End."
Baron is the only reporter working on the West End of the Olympic Peninsula. Suspending print publication and putting her on furlough brought an outcry from readers and advertisers.
The potential to return to print is important to the community both because of spotty internet service in remote and rural areas and readers who won't read a paper online.
Uber reports nearly $3 billion loss, lays off thousands
NEW YORK (AP) — Uber lost $2.9 billion in the first quarter as its overseas investments were hammered by the coronavirus pandemic.
The ride-hailing giant is cutting 3,700 full-time workers, about 14% of its workforce, and Chief Executive Dara Khosrowshahi, former CEO of Seattle-based Expedia, will waive his base salary through year-end.
Revenue in its Eats meal delivery business grew 53% as customers shuttered at home ramped up demand. But its bottom line was hurt when the value of Uber’s investment in Chinese ride-hailing giant Didi, Singapore-based Grab and others plummeted by $2.1 billion as demand collapsed in those regions.
Blood thinners show promise for boosting survival chances
Treating coronavirus patients with blood thinners could help boost their prospects for survival, according to preliminary findings from physicians at New York City’s largest hospital system that offer another clue about treating the deadly condition.
The results of an analysis of 2,733 patients, published Wednesday in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, are part of a growing body of information about what has worked and what has not during a desperate few months in which doctors have tried dozens of treatments to save those dying of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.
Read more here.
Coronavirus may lurk in semen, researchers report
Scientists across the world are trying to piece together a perplexing puzzle: how exactly the coronavirus affects the body, and how it spreads from person to person.
Now researchers in China have found that the coronavirus, or bits of it, may linger in semen. But the paper, published Thursday in JAMA Network Open, a peer-reviewed open-access medical journal, does not prove that the virus can be sexually transmitted.
At the moment, there still is no evidence that a person could be infected by sexual contact or an intrauterine insemination procedure with infected sperm. Transmission during sex is far more likely by the usual means: infectious respiratory droplets.
There’s an urgent need for more studies, some researchers say.
Walla Walla County retracts claim about ‘coronavirus parties,’ now says they never occurred
WALLA WALLA — Officials in Walla Walla County, in southeastern Washington, are retracting their claim that some people held parties in which they intentionally exposed themselves to the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.
Meghan DeBolt, the director of the county’s Department of Community Health, issued a statement late Wednesday saying her earlier remarks were incorrect.
“I formally call back my interview today,”’ DeBolt said in the new statement. “After receiving further information, we have discovered that there were not intentional COVID parties. Just innocent endeavors.”
DeBolt had told the Union-Bulletin newspaper this week that contact tracing had revealed some people were attending parties with the idea that it is better to get sick with COVID-19 and recover. She called such parties irresponsible.
Her earlier comments prompted state Department of Health officials on Wednesday to release a statement saying, in part, “Gathering in groups in the midst of this pandemic can be incredibly dangerous and puts people at increased risk for hospitalization and even death.”
Axl Rose, Steven Mnuchin and their pandemic Twitter feud
By all accounts, 2020 has been, to put it mildly, a weird year.
This week alone has seen a 5-year-old boy from Utah attempt a solo drive to California on a mission to buy a Lamborghini, a llama named Winter emerge as a potential key player in the race for a treatment targeting the novel coronavirus, and Tesla chief executive Elon Musk and Canadian singer Grimes naming their newborn baby X Æ A-12.
But just when it seemed like things couldn’t possibly get any weirder, Wednesday night rolled around with a Twitter feud no one could have anticipated: Guns N’ Roses frontman Axl Rose versus Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.
Rose threw down the gauntlet shortly before 6:30 p.m. Wednesday when he hopped on his seldom-used Twitter account and declared to his 1.2 million followers, without context, “Whatever anyone may have previously thought of Steve Mnuchin he’s officially an a—hole.”
“It’s official!” tweeted the rock star, who is a prominent critic of President Donald Trump.
Then, in a move that prompted collective surprise, Mnuchin hit back.
“What have you done for the country lately?” he tweeted, tacking what appeared to be an emoticon of the United States flag to the end of his response.
Upon closer examination, however, eagle-eyed social media users noticed that Mnuchin had used an icon of the flag of Liberia, which is nearly identical to the American flag except instead of 50 stars it only has one. The original tweet was deleted and replaced with one using the correct flag, but not before numerous screen grabs had been taken.
Read the story here.
White House valet tests positive for coronavirus; Trump and Pence 'in great health’
President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence were tested for COVID-19 and found to be negative after a member of the U.S. military who works on the White House campus contracted the virus.
The president and vice president “remain in great health,” White House spokesman Hogan Gidley said in a statement on Thursday.
The White House declined to identify the service member. CNN reported that the person was a member of the U.S. Navy who served as a valet in the White House residence, suggesting possible close contact with the president or his family. Service members detailed to the White House provide a range of household functions, including food service, hospitality and medical support.
This is the second person working on the White House grounds who the administration has said tested positive for the coronavirus. A member of Pence’s staff contracted the disease in March and fully recovered.
Read more here.
Rogue tourists arrested as Hawaii tries to curb virus spread
Hawaii authorities are cracking down on rogue tourists who are visiting beaches, riding personal watercraft, shopping and generally flouting strict requirements that they quarantine for 14 days after arriving.
A newlywed California couple left their Waikiki hotel room repeatedly, despite being warned by hotel staff, and were arrested. Others have been arrested at a hotel pool, loading groceries into a vehicle outside a Costco and bringing take-out food back to a hotel room.
The rules, the strictest in any U.S. state, have helped keep infections relatively low. As of Wednesday, Hawaii reported 626 coronavirus cases and 17 deaths.
Yet the shutdown has devastated the islands’ economy, which is hugely dependent on tourism. Since March 26, when Hawaii put the rules in place, about 5,000 visitors have arrived, compared to pre-pandemic times when about 30,000 came daily.
That’s left the state reeling — unemployment is estimated to be in the range of 25% to 35%. Tourism industry officials say the hotel occupancy rate was down about 34% compared to March last year. More than 100 hotels have suspended operations and workers laid off from their jobs wait in long lines at food distribution sites.
It makes those who ignore the rules especially offensive, said Honolulu City Councilmember Kym Pine, who wants travelers tracked via their cellphones or tested for the virus before boarding planes for Hawaii.
“The people that are coming don’t care about us. They’re coming to Hawaii on the cheap and they obviously could care less whether they get the virus or not,” she said. “So they obviously could care less about that mom and dad who have no job and no food.”
Read the story here.
Shooting over dining area closure hurts 3 McDonald’s workers in Oklahoma
Three McDonald’s employees in Oklahoma City suffered gunshot wounds when a customer opened fire because she was angry that the restaurant’s dining area was closed because of the coronavirus pandemic, police said Thursday.
Gloricia Woody, 32, was in custody after the Wednesday night shooting on four counts of assault and battery with a deadly weapon, said police Capt. Larry Withrow.
It was not known if Woody has an attorney, Withrow said.
Woody entered the restaurant lobby and was told the dining room was closed for safety reasons, Withrow said.
“(Woody) was asked to leave but refused,” leading to a physical altercation between Woody and one employee, according to Withrow.
“The suspect was forced out of the restaurant by employees. She reentered the restaurant with a handgun and fired approximately three rounds in the restaurant,” Withrow said.
One employee was shot in the arm, one suffered a shrapnel wound in the shoulder area and another employee was struck in the side by shrapnel. The employee who fought with Woody suffered a head injury during the altercation, police said.
Read more here.
Coronavirus Economy daily chart: More Washington households seek food aid, while restaurants struggle to survive
You can tell a lot about the food system's crisis by looking at restaurant sales and the number of Washingtonians seeking food aid.
The dramatic rise in hungry Americans is fueling the partisan fight over food stamps.
For more local indicators on the Coronavirus Economy, see our other charts here.
Should I still go to college?
High school seniors across the country are having to make the most consequential decision of their young lives during a national health emergency.
Faced with an uncertain economic future and a need to help parents pay bills at home, some students are scaling back their ambitions.
As a result, fall enrollment may plunge, particularly among students of color.
In hunt for coronavirus supplies, Gov. Inslee looks globally — and within his personal network
When Washington state sent out an emergency plea for medical supplies in March, hundreds of businesses and individuals replied through the state website.
With competitive bidding suspended, the governor took the unusual step of connecting his own contacts, including a cousin, with state buyers.
It's just one example of how the coronavirus pandemic has upended the normal workings of government.
Washington seems to be avoiding the dramatic nationwide spike in deaths
We looked at government figures on all deaths, not just those already determined to be from COVID-19, for an early glimpse of the pandemic's likely toll.
Mask or no mask? Choice brings new social tensions and, sometimes, the stink-eye
Health officials recommend that everyone wear face coverings in public, but that message isn't resonating with everyone in the Seattle area. As neighbors eye each other warily, we look at why people are and aren't wearing masks, and what's behind the guidance.
When you wear one, do it correctly; this visual guide shows how.
There's no better year to play Summer Book Bingo
Reading has taken on different meaning, linking us together even as coronavirus keeps us apart.
Catch up on the past 24 hours
Washington’s growing army of unemployed workers filed nearly 110,000 initial claims for jobless benefits in the week ending May 2, according to a report released this morning.
Coronavirus walloped the Seattle-area home market, knocking down sales and prices. See what's happening near you with this area-by-area look.
The Trump administration has ditched the CDC's step-by-step guide to reopening the country, shifting more emphasis toward states charting their own paths.
Bars in Washington can sell cocktails to-go now. The state liquor board's surprise announcement is expected to put many bars back in business.
The quest for a treatment involves a llama named Winter. Scientists think she may be carrying a crucial weapon against the virus.
Top officials around the world keep getting caught breaking lockdown rules.
How is the pandemic affecting you?What has changed about your daily life? What kinds of discussions are you having with family members and friends? Are you a health care worker who's on the front lines of the response? Are you a COVID-19 patient or do you know one? Whoever you are, we want to hear from you so our news coverage is as complete, accurate and useful as possible. If you're using a mobile device and can't see the form on this page, click here.
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