Editor’s note: This is a live account of COVID-19 updates from Monday, Oct. 12, 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 It is no longer being updated.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.
President Donald Trump found himself flagged on Twitter over the weekend for misinformation after claiming he was “immune” to the coronavirus. So far, science hasn’t been able to determine how long people who’ve contracted the virus might be resistant to catching it again, and researchers are studying examples of people being reinfected.
In Washington, the state Department of Health said Sunday that a data processing error prevented publishing updated tallies of infections, hospitalizations and deaths. State officials say they hope to fix the problem today.
Throughout Monday, on this page, we’ll post updates on the pandemic and its effects on the Seattle area, the Pacific Northwest and the world. Updates from Sunday are here, and all our coronavirus coverage can be found here.
China city says it’s tested 3 million for virus
BEIJING — Authorities in the eastern Chinese port city of Qingdao said Tuesday that they have completed coronavirus tests on more than 3 million people following the country’s first reported local outbreak of the virus in nearly two months.
The city’s health department said no new positive cases had been found among the more than 1.1 million test results returned thus far. The city said it had a total of 12 cases, six with symptoms and six without, since the new outbreak was first spotted over the weekend at a hospital.
The National Health Commission, however, said Tuesday that at least six new cases of the virus were found in Qingdao in the past 24 hours.
The reason for the discrepancy was not immediately clear. China’s methods for logging and reporting of virus numbers has been questioned since the pandemic first began late last year in its city of Wuhan.
2nd COVID-19 vaccine trial paused over unexplained illness
NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. — A late-stage study of Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine candidate has been paused while the company investigates whether a study participant’s “unexplained illness” is related to the shot.
The company said in a statement Monday evening that illnesses, accidents and other so-called adverse events “are an expected part of any clinical study, especially large studies,” but that its physicians and a safety monitoring panel would try to determine what might have caused the illness.
The pause is at least the second such hold to occur among several vaccines that have reached large-scale final tests in the U.S.
The company declined to reveal any more details about the illness, citing the participant’s privacy.
Temporary stoppages of large medical studies are relatively common. Few are made public in typical drug trials, but the work to make a coronavirus vaccine has raised the stakes on these kinds of complications.
Companies are required to investigate any serious or unexpected reaction that occurs during drug testing.
South Seattle neighbors brainstorming ways to continue trick-or-treating during the pandemic
Although some say they're planning on seeing a much quieter Halloween this year, with several families scaling back or canceling their festivities, a group of South Seattle households are brainstorming creative, new ways to trick-or-treat.
In Columbia City, Mount Baker, Seward Park and other South Seattle neighborhoods, people have created a map of nearby houses that are offering socially distanced candy delivery options, including leaving bags of treats outside and creating a "candy chute" system. Others are also allowing trick-or-treaters to come up to their door, as long as they're wearing masks, the map says.
Say goodbye to your local coffee shop in America’s cafe shake-up
Starbucks and other coffee chains are expanding their grip on America’s coffee culture as independent cafes struggle to survive a pandemic-fueled industry shake-up.
The number of coffee shops in the U.S. is shrinking for the first time in nine years as sales plunge and COVID-19 forces the industry to rethink its business. That’s helping coffee-serving chains such as Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts and even McDonald’s gain ground at the expense of independent outlets fighting to keep their doors open.
“Closures have happened already and we believe the winter could bring another wave, especially for coffee shops depending on outdoor seating or even walk-up foot traffic,” Rabobank’s senior beverage analyst James Watson said in an interview from New York.
Fewer coffee shops means thousands of lost jobs, adding to an unemployment surge since the start of the pandemic. The shift may also curb demand from specialty coffee producers around the world, since cafe patrons tend to drink more premium beverages made from higher-grade beans.
The U.S. will have 25,307 outlets specializing in coffee or tea by the end of 2020, down 7.3% from a year earlier in the first decline since 2011, according to estimates by research firm Euromonitor International. Annual sales will plunge 12% to $24.7 billion.
Sen. Mike Lee, recently infected with coronavirus, speaks without a mask at Barrett hearing
On Sept. 29, Sens. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and Mike Lee, R-Utah, attended a party together to watch the first presidential debate.
Two days later, feeling sick, Lee took a test for the coronavirus, receiving a positive diagnosis, the first of three GOP senators to announce in a 24-hour span they contracted the virus. Less than 11 full days later, Lee participated in Monday’s Supreme Court confirmation hearing for Judge Amy Coney Barrett, delivering an opening statement in person – with no mask – and periodically whispering to his GOP colleagues.
Yet Cruz, who tested negative and has never had any symptoms, remained in quarantine at his Washington apartment and delivered his statement via videoconference technology on a big screen just over Lee’s right shoulder in the hearing room.
That split-screen image summed up the Republican response to a pandemic that has killed more than 210,000 Americans – caution from some, pre-coronavirus behavior from others – as well as the confusion about the medical protocols, both on Capitol Hill and throughout America, more than seven months after the virus started spreading across the nation.
First, a vaccine approval. Then ‘chaos and confusion.’
The United States may be within months of a profound turning point in the country’s fight against the coronavirus: the first working vaccine.
Demonstrating that a new vaccine was safe and effective in less than a year would shatter the record for speed, the result of seven-day workweeks for scientists and billions of dollars of investment by the government. Provided enough people can get one, the vaccine may slow a pandemic that has already killed 1 million people worldwide.
The first vaccines may provide only moderate protection, low enough to make it prudent to keep wearing a mask. By next spring or summer, there may be several of these so-so vaccines, without a clear sense of how to choose from among them. Because of this array of options, makers of a superior vaccine in early stages of development may struggle to finish clinical testing. And some vaccines may be abruptly withdrawn from the market because they turn out not to be safe.
Some of this confusion is inevitable, but some is the result of how coronavirus vaccine trials were designed: Each company is running its own trial, comparing its jab with a placebo. But it didn’t have to be this way.
Data processing glitch again prevents state from updating COVID-19 numbers
Citing "data issues," the state Department of Health (DOH) announced Monday that it would not be updating its COVID-19 data dashboard.
The state normally posts updated coronavirus infection, hospitalization and death numbers from the day before on its website every afternoon.
"We have identified the data issues but it will take until tomorrow to fully test and implement required revisions," said DOH in a statement posted to the state's COVID-19 data dashboard. DOH said that it had also not been able to process a weekly COVID-19 data file usually available to download.
Numbers were also unavailable Sunday. Current dashboard data still shows reporting from 11:59 p.m. Friday, October 9.
DOH said it expects regular reporting to resume Tuesday.
Seattle libraries extend curbside service to Greenwood and Northeast branches
The Seattle Public Library is expanding its curbside pickup service to the Greenwood and Northeast branches starting Wednesday.
The branches on Greenwood Avenue North and 35th Avenue Northeast will offer curbside pickups without appointments for people who have books on hold from noon to 6 p.m. on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays.
The seven other library locations offering curbside service are the Central Library in downtown Seattle and the Ballard, High Point, Lake City, Rainier Beach, Broadview and Douglass-Truth branches. They are open for curbside pickup on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays from noon to 6 p.m. Readers can schedule appointments or drop by for walk-up service.
Each curbside location will have a selection of high-demand Peak Picks titles that can be checked out without holds or waits. Books can also be returned at any curbside location.
Even dentist visits go remote during the COVID-19 pandemic
The COVID-19 pandemic has transformed many in-person activities into remote services delivered over the internet. The latest example is the dreaded visit to the dentist.
Dvora Brandstatter used to drive her son to the orthodontist every month to make sure his braces were working properly. Now, the new Jersey woman attaches a special scope to her smartphone camera, opens an app and inserts the contraption into the 11-year-old’s mouth.
A video of the boy’s choppers is sent to his dentist, who checks progress, diagnoses any issues and sometimes ends the appointment right there.
Such technology may help orthodontists keep their businesses running in the short term and could also change dentists visits far beyond the pandemic.
India cases cross 7 million as experts warn of complacency
India’s confirmed coronavirus toll crossed 7 million on Sunday with a number of new cases dipping in recent weeks, even as health experts warn of mask and distancing fatigue setting in.
The Health Ministry registered another 74,383 infections in the past 24 hours. India is expected to become the pandemic’s worst-hit country in coming weeks, surpassing the U.S., where more than 7.7 million infections have been reported.
The ministry also reported 918 additional deaths, taking total fatalities to 108,334.
The number of people who have died of COVID-19 has remained relatively low in South and Southeast Asia — from India to Vietnam and Taiwan — compared to European countries and the United States, said Dr. Randeep Guleria, a government health expert.
COVID stalks Montana town already saddled with asbestos disease
Frank Fahland has spent most days since the pandemic began at the site of his dream house, working to finish a 15-year labor of love while keeping away from town and the people closest to him.
Like thousands of people from Libby and Lincoln County in the far northwestern corner of Montana, the 61-year-old Fahland has scarred lungs after years of breathing in asbestos fibers from dust and soil contaminated by the town’s now-defunct plant that produced vermiculite, a mineral used in insulation and gardening.
His condition makes him more vulnerable to complications from COVID-19 like many others in Lincoln County which has one of the nation’s highest asbestos mortality rates.
The county public health officer has issued an order requiring people to wear masks in public, a more stringent rule than the statewide requirement, but there's also a strong libertarian streak among residents whose distrust of government is heightened by the town’s history with the mine.
AMC movie theaters reopening in Washington Oct. 16
AMC Theaters will be among those cinemas reopening in Washington state on Friday, Oct. 16, after newly revised Phase 2 guidelines from the governor’s office gave them the go-ahead to do so.
AMC is the largest movie theater chain in the U.S. and has 15 theaters in Washington state — 14 of which will be reopening, including the ones at Pacific Place, Oak Tree and Southcenter.
Also reopening on Friday is the local chain Far Away Entertainment, which includes the Admiral in West Seattle and the Varsity in the University District.
U.N. warns against pursuing herd immunity to stop coronavirus
The head of the World Health Organization warned against the idea that herd immunity might be a realistic strategy to stop the pandemic, dismissing such proposals as “simply unethical.”
“Never in the history of public health has herd immunity been used as a strategy for responding to an outbreak,” said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus at a media briefing Monday.
He said health officials typically aim to achieve herd immunity by vaccinating about 95% of the population against highly infectious diseases such as measles.
Some researchers have argued that allowing COVID-19 to spread in populations that are not obviously vulnerable will help build up herd immunity and is a more realistic way to stop the pandemic, instead of the restrictive lockdowns that have proved economically devastating.
But Tedros said, “Allowing a dangerous virus that we don’t fully understand to run free is simply unethical."
As a pandemic presses on, waves of grief follow its path
Fiona Prine talks hauntingly about loss. From her COVID-19 infection and isolation — self-imposed in hopes of sparing her husband, folk-country legend John Prine — to his own devastating illness and death, she’s had more than her share in this year like no other.
Illness and death are the pandemic’s most feared consequences, but a collective sense of loss is perhaps its most pervasive. Around the world, the pandemic has spread grief by degrees.
While less than 1% of the global population is known to have been infected, few on Earth have been spared some form of loss since the coronavirus took hold. With nearly 1 million deaths worldwide, full-blown bereavement is the most recognizable.
But even smaller losses can leave people feeling empty and unsettled.
Layoffs. Canceled visits with Grandpa. Shuttered restaurants. Closed gyms. These are losses that don’t fit neatly into a “Hallmark category.’’ But they are not insignificant — especially when anxiety is already heightened, says psychologist and grief specialist Robert Neimeyer of the Portland Institute for Loss and Transition.
Stimulus talks remain deadlocked as House told no votes expected
Prospects for a quick end to the stalemate over a new stimulus faded Monday with members of the House being told not to expect any action this week and many Senate Republicans rejecting the White House proposal for a deal.
President Donald Trump, well behind Democrat Joe Biden in every recent poll, again attempted to prod negotiations by urging the GOP by tweet to cut short confirmation hearings for his Supreme Court nominee, Judge Amy Coney Barrett, to focus on bolstering the economy.
Even if there were to be a bridge between the Democrat’s $2.2 trillion proposal and the administration’s $1.8 trillion counteroffer, there’s almost no chance of getting legislation written and passed by Congress before the Nov. 3 election, in which control of the White House and the Senate is at stake.
University of Washington's Greek Row virus outbreak keeps spreading
The COVID-19 outbreak on the University of Washington's Greek Row continues to grow.
As of Monday morning, there are 238 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in 16 houses in the 45-chapter system, which is north of campus.
The outbreak was identified Sept. 11 with two cases and by Oct. 1 had reached 104 cases, according to the university’s tally.
Another COVID-19 Greek Row outbreak happened in June, with 154 students infected in 15 houses.
If Greek houses are found to be in violation of the Interfraternity Council's moratorium on social events there will be consequences, UW President Ana Mari Cauce, said Monday during her annual address.
"We will continue to make it clear that if they don't get it and continue to break the rules, party, that there will be harsher disciplinary actions," she said.
University officials told The Seattle Times last week that they have limited options beyond not recognizing chapters when dealing with the Greek system because it is off-campus.
If a chapter loses university recognition it can still operate but can’t participate in university activities.
UW has been testing students off and on campus. The university worked with the Greater Seattle Coronavirus Assessment Network Study, or SCAN study, and tested 1,256 Greek members between Sept. 8 and Sept. 20, before they moved into their houses, and found four positive cases.
The Husky Coronavirus Testing program, which launched Sept. 24 in collaboration with the Seattle Flu study, has tested 4,453 students on the Seattle campus with 2.1% testing positive, according to the university’s coronavirus dashboard.
UW Medicine tested 1,620 students living in residence halls between Sept. 22 and 25 and found five positive cases.
Singapore Air’s A380 popup restaurant tickets sold out in 20 minutes
Singapore Airlines Ltd. said all seats on its Airbus SE A380 jetliner pop-up restaurants were reserved within 30 minutes of bookings opening Monday.
With flights largely grounded by the coronavirus pandemic, Singapore Airlines is trying novel ways to raise money, including using two of the superjumbos parked at Changi Airport as temporary eateries.
A meal in a suite costs S$642 ($474), while seats in business class are going for S$321, dropping to S$96.30 for premium economy and S$53.50 for economy. Customers can also pay with frequent-flyer miles.
After lunch on the initial dates of Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 24 and 25, sold out, Singapore Airlines said it will extend the offer for a further two days the following weekend and also add a dinner option on all four days.
NYC virus lockdown protest leader arrested on riot charge
A leader of protests against new coronavirus restrictions in Brooklyn has been arrested on charges of inciting people to riot and unlawful imprisonment of a journalist, police said.
Heshy Tischler, a City Council candidate and activist in the Orthodox Jewish neighborhood of Borough Park, was taken into custody Sunday evening in connection with his actions during an Oct. 7 street protest.
Video shows a crowd of men, egged on by Tischler, surrounding, jostling and taunting Jewish Insider journalist Jacob Kornbluh, who has been reporting on resistance to social distancing in the neighborhood. Tischler, who was not wearing a mask, can be seen screaming in Kornbluh’s face. Kornbluh, who is also an Orthodox Jew, said he was struck and kicked during the incident.
Following the arrest, several dozen Tischler supporters gathered outside the reporter’s apartment late Sunday to protest the arrest.
Iran has highest day death toll from virus, currency plunges
Iran announced on Sunday its highest single-day death toll from the coronavirus with 251 confirmed dead, the same day local media reported two senior officials had been infected and the nation’s currency plunged to its lowest level ever.
Health Ministry spokesperson Sima Sadat Lari said the total confirmed death toll now stands at 28,544, making Iran the hardest-hit country in the region. Iran had just recently recorded its highest daily death toll four days earlier with 239 new fatalities.
Money exchange shops in Tehran sold the U.S. dollar at 315,000 rials on Sunday, compared to what was 32,000 rials to the dollar at the time of Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers.
4 Swiss Guards test positive as COVID-19 penetrates Vatican
Four Swiss Guards have tested positive for coronavirus and were showing symptoms, the Vatican said Monday, as the surge in infections in surrounding Italy penetrates the Vatican walls.
The Swiss Guards, the world’s oldest standing army, provide ceremonial guard duty during papal Masses, man the Vatican gates and help protect the 83-year-old Pope Francis.
The four are in isolation while their contacts are being traced, the Vatican said Monday. They join three other Vatican residents who tested positive in recent weeks plus a dozen or so Holy See officials who tested positive earlier.
Despite the positive cases among his own guards, Francis on Monday was seen once again without a mask, drawing sharp criticism on social media.
Coronavirus likes cooler temps, can live 28 days on cell phone glass, study finds
Coronavirus may remain infectious for weeks on banknotes, glass and other common surfaces, according to research by Australia’s top biosecurity laboratory that highlights risks from paper currency, touchscreen devices, grab handles and rails.
Scientists at the Australian Centre for Disease Preparedness showed SARS-CoV-2 is “extremely robust,” surviving 28 days on smooth surfaces such as the glass screens on mobile phones at room temperature or about 68 degrees. That compares with 17 days survival for the flu virus.
The findings published Monday in Virology Journal suggest the virus survives longer in cooler weather and underscore the importance of basic hand-washing.
Wisconsin judge upholds mask order for enclosed spaces
A Wisconsin judge on Monday upheld Gov. Tony Evers’ mask mandate in the face of a conservative challenge.
Conservative law firm Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty argued in the lawsuit that Evers overstepped his authority by issuing multiple emergency orders to curb the pandemic, that the multiple emergency declarations amounted to a power grab and that the mask mandate was an “invasion” of personal liberty.
Republican legislators have skirmished repeatedly with Democratic governors over their powers during the pandemic seeing success in May when the conservative-controlled Wisconsin Supreme Court struck down Evers’ virus-related stay-at-home order.
Tips for cleaning and disinfecting your iPhone or Android
Beyond our faces, what do we touch all the time? Our phones.
While the coronavirus most frequently spreads among close contacts via respiratory droplets and transmission to persons from contaminated surfaces has not been documented, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, health officials encourage cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched objects and surfaces because the virus can remain viable for hours to days on a variety of materials.
The agency recommends using a regular household cleaning spray or wipes. Apple products can be cleaned with a 70% isopropyl alcohol wipe or a disinfecting wipe.
Danes start culling 2.5 million minks after virus hits farms
Danish veterinarians and farmers have begun culling at least 2.5 million minks in northern Denmark, authorities said Monday, after coronavirus has been reported in at least 63 farms.
Denmark is among the largest mink exporters in the world and produces an estimate 17 million furs per year.
The coronavirus pandemic could “threaten the entire profession,” said Tage Pedersen, chairman of Danish Fur Breeders Association. “All breeders are right now in a huge amount of uncertainty and frustration over this ‘meteor’ that has fallen on our heads.”
In August, the Netherlands the mandatory end of mink farming has been moved up by three years to 2021 amid a growing number of coronavirus infections at fur farms.
Black churches mobilizing voters despite virus challenges
For the Rev. Jimmy Gates Sr., the 2008 presidential election year was one to remember — and not just because it yielded a historic result as the nation elected its first Black president.
The pastor of Zion Hill Baptist Church in Cleveland recalls how, on the last Sunday of early voting before the general election, he and his congregation traveled in a caravan of packed buses, vans and cars to the city’s Board of Elections office and joined a line of voters that seemed to stretch a mile.
“What a sight to see,” Gates said. “Seniors, middle-aged people, young people.”
In recent election cycles, Black church congregations across the country have launched get-out-the-vote campaigns commonly referred to as “souls to the polls” to counteract racist voter suppression tactics that date back to the Jim Crow era.
But outreach has been complicated by COVID-19, which has taken a disproportionate toll on Black America and has many churches holding virtual services, and it will look different this year.
French PM refuses to rule out lockdowns as virus spikes
French Prime Minister Jean Castex refused to rule out further local lockdowns in France Monday, after French health authorities reported about 43,000 new infections over the weekend.
The path of the virus is accelerating rapidly across the country and the situation in hospitals is deteriorating by the day with 42% of beds occupied by COVID-19 patients.
Nine big cities, including Paris and Marseille, have now been placed under maximum virus alert as officials warn France is amid the much-feared second wave of the COVID-19 epidemic.
France is one of Europe’s hardest-hit countries, with at least 32,730 virus-related deaths.
Quarantine Corner: Things to do while staying home
Read: Lose yourself in a good mystery. Here are six recommendations, including the clever "Paris Librarian."
Watch: Get an early peek at the made-in-Seattle kung fu comedy "The Paper Tigers."
Cook: "Kid food" doesn't have to be bland and boring. Children will enjoy making this savory, nourishing, protein-packed riff on the classic cereal party mix.
Prepped for hurricanes, Miami pivoted quickly to online classes. What can Seattle learn from this?
Unlike Seattle, Miami isn’t known as a tech hub. And its school district is larger and more diverse than any in Washington: Of its more than 350,000 students, two-thirds are from low-income families, more than 70% are Hispanic and about 20% are Black, according to district records.
But Miami has a lot to teach the Pacific Northwest about how to make online education engaging and effective — starting with its preparedness last spring.
Despite having the earliest coronavirus lockdown in the nation, Seattle struggled to implement any sustained online education in the spring, and some parents say offerings remain a patchwork in the new school year. This fall, after the sluggish spring start, about 92% of Seattle Public School students logged on to at least one of the district’s tools during the first two weeks of school; Miami achieved that level of participation daily back in April.
COVID-19 has homeless-shelter providers scrambling as winter approaches
Seattle-area shelter providers are scrambling to protect homeless people from COVID-19 and the coming winter weather.
Federal money bought some social distance by moving hundreds of people out of crowded shelters and into hotel rooms, but it runs out soon.
Catch up on the past 24 hours
The coronavirus may linger for weeks on phone screens, banknotes and other common high-touch surfaces, a new study has found.
Twitter flagged one of President Donald Trump’s tweets for spreading misinformation yesterday after he claimed, without evidence, that he was "immune" to the coronavirus. It isn't yet known how strongly or how long someone who's had the virus might be resistant to it, and researchers are studying examples of people who have been reinfected.
Trump also drew fire from Dr. Anthony Fauci, who was surprised by a campaign ad featuring him. The president is back on the campaign trail today, though experts are puzzled over what led his doctor to decide he isn't contagious.
What will Thanksgiving be like? Look north for a preview. Canadians are marking the holiday today and making painful decisions amid the virus' second wave.
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