Editor’s note: This is a live account of COVID-19 updates from Wednesday, Nov. 4, as the day unfolded. It is no longer being updated. Click here to see all the most recent news about the pandemic, and click here to find additional resources.
As election results poured in Tuesday evening, the coronavirus pandemic appeared to trail the economy as the leading issue for voters, according to early exit polls. But regardless of the election’s outcome, virus experts have expressed concern about the nation’s growing number of infections as we approach winter months, which they say is a critical moment to stop the spread of the virus.
Throughout Wednesday, on this page, we’ll post updates on the pandemic and its effects on the Seattle area, the U.S. and the world. Updates from Tuesday are here, and all our coronavirus coverage can be found here.
Gov. Jay Inslee will hold a press conference at 2:30 p.m. today.
Seattle-Tacoma International Airport now offering COVID-19 tests to travelers
The Seattle-Tacoma International Airport announced Wednesday evening that it's now offering COVID-19 tests to its travelers.
Discovery Health MD, a Tukwila-based health care firm, started offering appointment-only tests Wednesday to passengers 72 hours before they travel, the airport said in a video. The cost of the test is $250, which is "consistent with the pricing in airports in Alaska and in California," said Dr. Ann Jarris, CEO of Discovery Health MD, in the video.
"This is non-medically necessary testing for anybody who needs to test to meet a state mandate or country mandate to have a negative PCR test in order to enter," Jarris said.
She continued, "If you are sick or have any symptoms consistent with COVID ... you should test through your doctor or through one of the city of Seattle sites designed for symptomatic testing."
More information about booking an appointment can be found here.
Huskies’ season opener in jeopardy after a positive COVID-19 test at Cal
BERKELEY, Calif. — California’s season-opening game Saturday night against Washington is in jeopardy following a positive coronavirus test Wednesday on the Golden Bears that has caused what coach Justin Wilcox said is a “significant” number of players needing contact tracing.
Wilcox said that Cal’s athletic department was in contact with Washington officials Wednesday night about the game scheduled for a 7:30 p.m. kickoff at Memorial Stadium in Berkeley.
“If it is feasible for us to play we are going to play the game,” Wilcox said on a Zoom call. “Are there hurdles? There are hurdles, yes. With the players in question the game is in jeopardy. If we have the bodies available to play the game we will play the game. Several people are being held out and that’s a legitimate threat to the game.”
Wednesday’s practice was limited and some team drills were not doable based on the number of players held out. Wilcox wouldn’t specify how many players were sidelined. The player with a positive COVID-19 test is asymptomatic.
UW baseball to pause offseason workouts after uptick in positive COVID-19 cases
UW’s baseball program will pause offseason workouts “after discovering positive COVID-19 cases and using contact tracing within the program while following its rigorous testing protocols,” a university release stated on Wednesday.
As of Wednesday, 547 Husky athletes have gone through testing and there are currently active positive cases within the athletics department. The university declines to announce which programs the active cases are connected to, though the baseball team’s sudden pause indicates an uptick. This is the first UW athletics program that has been forced to pause training due to positive COVID-19 cases since athletes began returning to campus on June 15.
At the same time last week, UW Athletics reported three active positive cases.
New coronavirus outbreak reported at Alaska’s largest prison
ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Alaska’s largest prison has experienced the latest outbreak of the coronavirus within the state’s correctional system.
The Alaska Department of Corrections said 22 inmates and five staff at Goose Creek Correctional Center tested positive for COVID-19, The Anchorage Daily News reported Monday.
It is not clear how many inmates, if any, displayed symptoms of the virus, but none have required hospitalization, department spokeswoman Sarah Gallagher said Monday.
There are now two large COVID-19 outbreaks at the state’s prisons, officials said. The other is at Fairbanks Correctional Center, an overcrowded facility where the state in mid-October said 33 people had contracted the virus.
Inslee declares election win affirms COVID-19 mandate
OLYMPIA — Washington Gov. Jay Inslee said Wednesday the election results give him a mandate to continue with a public-health-based approach to tamping down the COVID-19 outbreak.
Speaking in a news conference, Inslee contrasted his actions during the pandemic to Republican challenger Loren Culp, who had campaigned against virus restrictions, such as making people wear facial coverings to prevent the spread of the virus.
“So it is clear that people chose to continue with our scientifically based program,” said Inslee. “And I do believe that’s based on the success of the program.”
“I think voters were aware that other places were experiencing tremendous losses, hospitals that were full,” he said, adding later: “We have avoided that fate, and I think voters understood that we’ve had success because we’ve made decisions on a scientific basis.”
Inslee said he would make more remarks Thursday on the new coronavirus, which is spiking across the nation.
In virus era, bubbles provide game-changing lessons learned
The NBA wants to be back in December. The NHL is aiming at games resuming in January. Baseball’s spring training may begin in February, like normal.
They almost certainly won’t be in bubbles if and when any or all of that happens.
But many of the lessons learned from being in some form of a bubble environment — where the NBA, NHL and Major League Baseball each crowned a champion after finding a way to finish their seasons in most unusual circumstances — could apply to whatever the new definition of normal is for those and other sports.
A new set of rules are coming in just about every sport, almost all with enhanced health and safety in mind. If they work, games could return to arenas and stadiums with some fans in attendance sometime soon. Perhaps more importantly, they could also provide some common-sense solutions to virus issues in the real world.
“The testing isn’t what made it successful, the testing sort of showed that it was successful,” said NBA senior vice president David Weiss, who helped oversee all the health and safety efforts at the Walt Disney World bubble in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. “But the thing that made it successful in the first place was the adherence to all those protocols that most people can follow most of the time in their lives.”
COVID-19 cases exceed 100,000 a day for the first time, even as the nation is split on the pandemic versus the economy
The coronavirus pandemic reached a dire milestone Wednesday when the number of new U.S. infections topped 100,000 a day for the first time, continuing a resurgence that showed no sign of slowing.
The pandemic is roaring across the Midwest and Plains states. Seven states set records for hospitalizations for COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus. And Connecticut, Iowa, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska and North Dakota saw jumps of more than 45 percent in their seven-day rolling average of new infections, considered the best measure of the spread of the virus.
The record 104,004 cases was reached a day after the deeply divided nation went to the polls to choose between President Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden, an election widely seen as a choice between fully reopening the economy and aggressively quelling the outbreak.
Just as they split almost down the middle on the two candidates, voters broke into almost equal camps on how to address the pandemic that has killed more than 233,000 people and infected nearly 9.5 million people in the United States.
“It’s clear we’re heading into a period where we’re going to see increasing hospitalization and deaths in the U.S. And it worries me how little we’re doing about it,” said Tom Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention during the Obama administration. “We know by now how fast this virus can move. You have to get ahead of it.”
Washington sets record for daily coronavirus cases with 1,469 new infections
Health officials reported 1,469 new coronavirus cases — a daily record for the state — and 16 more deaths in Washington on Wednesday.
The state Department of Health's (DOH) most recent update brings the total number of reported cases to 111,480 and the number of deaths to 2,416. The data is as of 11:59 p.m. Tuesday.
At least 8,735 people have been hospitalized in the state due to the virus, according to the DOH.
In King County, the state's most populous, the DOH has confirmed 28,926 diagnoses and 822 deaths.
The previous record for confirmed cases of the new coronavirus was set July 16, when state health officials reported 1,267 new cases, along with six deaths.
New virus cases prompt hospital capacity concerns in Alaska
Hospital capacity is a concern as COVID-19 cases in Alaska rise, and testing isn’t keeping pace with new cases, the state health department reported Wednesday.
Since the pandemic’s start, Alaska has reported about 16,700 confirmed resident cases of COVID-19. Of those, about 10,200 cases are considered active, and there have been 84 COVID-19-related deaths, according to the department.
In many cases, contact tracers haven’t been able to identify where a person got the virus, the department said. “This means that there are cases in our communities that we do not know about.”
In an overview of the past week, the department said cases continued to rise fastest among those between the ages of 20 and 39, though the proportion of cases in older Alaskans slightly increased.
Nontraditional nursing homes fare well amid pandemic. Why aren’t they more widespread?
Not a single resident has contracted coronavirus at Goodwin House’s small residential facility in Northern Virginia, where about 80 seniors live in homey apartments and keep their own sleeping and meal schedules. There’s been just one case at the Woodlands at John Knox Village in Broward County, Fla., where all 140 residents live in private rooms, cared for by nurses who earn enough not to take a second job.
These facilities, part of a national movement to create less-institutionalized long-term care, stand out in a pandemic that has killed more than 61,000 nursing home residents since March. At Green House homes, the best-known nontraditional model, residents are five times as likely to be coronavirus-free as those who live in typical nursing homes — and 20 times as likely to have survived the pandemic.
For Harvard-trained doctor Bill Thomas, who specializes in geriatrics, the contrast is bittersweet.
He has spent two decades calling for the “abolition” of standard nursing homes in favor of the “Green House” model, which allows the elderly to live in groups of eight to 10 in settings that resemble homes rather than hospitals.
Oregon reports nearly 600 new, confirmed COVID-19 cases
The Oregon Health Authority said Wednesday there were 597 new confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19 in the state.
Oregon has now surpassed 47,000 coronavirus cases since the start of the pandemic. The death toll is 705.
Wednesday’s count is three cases short of the the state’s daily record — 600 cases, which was recorded at the end of October.
In mid-October, the health authority released modeling that predicted if transmission continued at the current level at the time, then by Nov. 5 the number of new daily infections would increase from 1,300 to 2,200 and that 570 cases would be diagnosed daily.
Lions and tigers and anteaters? U.S. scientists scan the menagerie for COVID-19
As COVID-19 cases surge in the U.S., one Texas veterinarian has been quietly tracking the spread of the disease — not in people, but in pets.
Since June, Dr. Sarah Hamer and her team at Texas A&M University have tested hundreds of animals from area households where humans contracted SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. They’ve swabbed dogs and cats, sure, but also pet hamsters and guinea pigs, looking for signs of infection. “We’re open to all of it,” said Hamer, a professor of epidemiology, who has found at least 19 cases of infection.
Across the country, veterinarians and other researchers are scouring the animal kingdom for signs of the virus that causes COVID-19. At least 2,000 animals in the U.S. have been tested for the coronavirus since the pandemic began, according to federal records. Cats and dogs that were exposed to sick owners represent most of the animals tested and 80% of the positive cases found.
But scientists have cast a wide net investigating other animals that could be at risk. In states from California to Florida, researchers have tested species ranging from farmed minks and zoo cats to unexpected critters like dolphins, armadillos and anteaters.
As we await election results, health care hangs in the balance
With the winner of the presidency and party control of the Senate still unclear the morning after Election Day, the future of the nation’s health system remains uncertain.
At stake is whether the federal government will play a stronger role in financing and setting the ground rules for health care coverage or cede more authority to states and the private sector.
Should President Donald Trump win and Republicans retain control of the Senate, Trump has pledged to continue his efforts to get rid of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and if the Supreme Court overturns the sweeping law as part of a challenge it will hear next week, the Republicans’ promise to protect people with preexisting medical conditions will be put to the test. In a second term, the administration would also likely push to continue to revamp Medicaid with its efforts to institute work requirements for adult enrollees and provide more flexibility for states to change the contours of the program.
If former Vice President Joe Biden wins and Democrats gain a Senate majority, it would represent the first time the party has controlled the White House and both houses of Congress since 2010 — the year the ACA was passed. He pledged to address parts of the ACA that haven’t worked well and add a government-run “public option.”
Public health may be US election loser as coronavirus surges
Regardless of the presidential election outcome, a vexing issue remains to be decided: Will the U.S. be able to tame a perilous pandemic that is surging as holidays, winter and other challenges approach?
Public health experts fear the answer is no, at least in the short term, with potentially dire consequences.
Donald Trump’s current term doesn’t end until Jan. 20. In the 86 days until then, 100,000 more Americans will likely die from the virus if the course is not shifted, said Dr. Robert Murphy, executive director of the Institute for Global Health at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine.
Denmark wants to cull all farmed minks over COVID fears
Denmark’s prime minister said Wednesday the government wants to cull all minks in Danish farms, to minimize the risk of them re-transmitting the new coronavirus to humans.
Mette Frederiksen said a report from a government agency that maps the coronavirus in Denmark has shown a mutation in the virus found in 12 people in the northern part of the country who got infected by minks. Health Minister Magnus Heunicke said half the 783 human COVID-19 cases in northern Denmark ”are related” to mink.
Denmark’s minister for food, Mogens Jensen, said 207 farms were now infected, up from 41 last month.
Denmark is one of the world’s main mink fur exporters, producing an estimated 17 million furs per year with most of its exports going to China and Hong Kong.
Connecticut election worker tests positive for coronavirus
An election employee in New Haven, Connecticut, has tested positive for the coronavirus, leading to a dozen other workers being quarantined, city officials said Wednesday.
Maritza Bond, the city’s public health director, said the infected employee has not been to work since experiencing symptoms last week. She said offices in City Hall have been disinfected.
The 12 people placed in quarantine were temporary employees who spent Tuesday in the city clerk’s office counting absentee ballots and had no known contact with voters. Everyone was wearing masks and taking other precautions, Bond said.
Could your smartwatch help detect the next COVID-19 outbreak? Scientists think so
A new study by scientists at Scripps Research describes a tool that could help public health officials spot and contain COVID-19 outbreaks.
You might already be wearing it.
One in five Americans owns a wearable device, such as a Fitbit or Apple Watch. These gadgets monitor your heart rate, how many steps you take, and your sleep patterns — measurements that often change when you’re sick.
Scripps scientists found that combining symptoms with wearable device data from devices such as Fitbit or Apple Watch predicted whether a person had COVID-19 better than either input on its own. That makes these popular devices a potential way to track the scope and spread of the pandemic, they said.
Pope returns to private library for audience as virus surges
Pope Francis urged people to follow recommendations from governments and health authorities to prevent coronavirus infections as he returned to his private library for his Wednesday general audience amid a surge of infections in Europe.
In another sign that the Vatican was reentering a semi-lockdown mode again, the Holy See announced that it was shuttering the Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel to the public until at least Dec. 3.
The Vatican announced last week that Francis, 83, was suspending public audiences and would celebrate all upcoming liturgies without throngs of faithful present. It made the decision after someone who attended the pope’s Oct. 21 audience tested positive, 13 Swiss Guards who protect the pope came down with the virus and Italy reimposed new restrictions on gatherings to try to tame resurging infections.
Virus crisis in Belgium shows more signs of abating
Belgium, proportionally still the worst-hit nation in Europe when it comes to coronavirus cases, said Wednesday there are increasing signs that a turning point in the crisis was drawing close.
The announcement came in the wake of increased measures over the past few weeks with bar and restaurant closures capped by a partial lockdown, which started Monday and put further restrictions on gatherings and forced non-essential shops to shut.
Despite the guarded optimism on the figures, virologist Steven Van Gucht of the Sciensano government health group said that “let there be no doubt that the tough rules need to be maintained.”
Coronavirus cause of Algeria president’s hospitalization
Algeria’s secretive presidency confirmed Wednesday that the mysterious illness that caused President Abdelmadjid Tebboune to be hospitalized in Germany last month was the coronavirus.
The presidency said that the state of 74-year-old Tebboune’s health is “gradually improving” and he “continues to receive treatment in a specialized German hospital after contracting COVID-19.”
It was the first time that officials explicitly mentioned COVID-19 in connection with the Oct. 28 hospitalization.
Catch up on the past 24 hours
Two Dick's Drive-In locations have closed until further notice. The Kent and Queen Anne locations were shut after employees tested positive for COVID-19.
Everyone is struggling with remote learning — but it's been especially hard on kids in foster care in Washington state.
NFL legend John Elway has tested positive along with another Denver Broncos executive.
San Francisco Bay Area residents who travel out of state this holiday season to visit family and friends may be met with a 14-day quarantine advisory when they return.
Health officials in South Korea have approved a new test that’s designed to detect both COVID-19 and seasonal influenza from the same samples, which would help prevent disruption at hospitals as the pandemic stretches into the flu season.
Bottoms up: Drinkers in England will enjoy their final freshly poured pub pints for a month as the country joins large swaths of Europe in lockdown until at least Dec. 2 to contain the resurgent coronavirus.
The cruise industry has thrown in the towel on 2020 and is looking to 2021.
Fried tacos? Bigfoot-themed hot dogs? Here are four fun Seattle-area pop-up restaurants worth trying.
Blanket forts and wine. A self-hosted Bob Ross painting class. Readers are sharing bright ideas for indoor date nights as the weather gets soggy.
Enjoy this visual art: Tariqa Waters, a force in Seattle’s arts community, is expanding her gallery and curating a vibrant show at BAM. Take a look.
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