Across the United States, the COVID-19 pandemic is killing more men than women, a new analysis has shown, with 12 men dying for every 10 women. Health officials confirmed 777 new COVID-19 cases in Washington on Saturday, bringing the state’s totals to 97,671 cases and at least 2,239 deaths.
To help people grapple with the deaths of loved ones, meanwhile, Seattle’s First AME Church is joining a nationwide series of weekly vigils, with one scheduled for Monday evening. And colleges in Washington are reporting a drop in enrollment this fall for students from low-income families.
Throughout Sunday, 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 Saturday are here, and all our coronavirus coverage can be found here.
As the virus surges, stark differences over what is around the corner
As the coronavirus continued to surge in many parts of the United States, officials and experts offered starkly different outlooks Sunday about what was to come and when the situation might improve.
Alex Azar, secretary of Health and Human Services, noted that many people had grown tired of pandemic precautions, and tried to paint an optimistic picture of how much longer they would be needed.
“Hang in there with us,” he said Sunday on the NBC program “Meet the Press.” “We’re so close. We’re weeks away from monoclonal antibodies for you, for safe and effective vaccines. We need a bridge to that day.”
But any notion that life in America might be returning to normal within weeks or even within a few months was too hopeful, other officials and experts said. The public health strategies with which the public is fatigued will be needed for some time to come, even after new drugs and vaccines can be approved. And compliance with those strategies is already spotty.
Read more here.
New York shuts down Hasidic wedding that could have had 10,000 guests
NEW YORK — New York state health officials have taken extraordinary steps to shut down an ultra-Orthodox wedding planned for Monday that could have had brought up to 10,000 guests to Brooklyn, near one of New York City’s coronavirus hot spots.
The state health commissioner personally intervened to have sheriff’s deputies deliver the order to the Hasidic synagogue Friday, warning that it must follow health protocols, including limiting gatherings to fewer than 50 people.
On Sunday, the synagogue, Congregation Yetev Lev D’Satmar, accused state officials of “unwarranted attacks” on the wedding, where a grandson of Zalman Leib Teitelbaum, the synagogue’s rabbi, was to be married.
Read more here.
In election's homestretch, coronavirus surge underscores the parties' contrasts
WASHINGTON — In the homestretch of the presidential campaign, with the U.S. coronavirus caseload trending ominously upward, the rival campaigns of President Donald Trump and Joe Biden more than ever are providing a clash of contrasts on how to contain COVID-19 and tend to the virus-battered economy.
That was evident in their own actions over the weekend, and in the statements of their surrogates. With the election over in 16 days and voting underway in all 50 states, the country is entering “the most difficult phase of this epidemic,” said Dr. Scott Gottlieb, a former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration under Trump, now a critic of his response.
“I think the next three months are going to be very challenging,” he said Sunday on CBS’ “Face the Nation,” adding, “There’s really no backstop against the spread that we’re seeing.”
Read more here.
Twitter deletes Trump health adviser's claim that masks don't work
Twitter blocked a tweet from a contrarian medical adviser to President Donald Trump that said that wearing masks doesn’t help slow the spread of the coronavirus.
“Masks work? NO,” Scott Atlas said in a tweet removed Sunday by the social media site. The post, which linked to an article in the American Institute for Economic Research that argued against the effectiveness of masks, was in violation of the company’s rules against sharing false and harmful information, Twitter told CNN.
Read more here.
Sea-Tac Airport traffic hits a pandemic high — but still far from normal
It doesn’t take much to top recent volumes of passenger traffic at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. Edging up by a few hundred travelers per day meant the week ending Oct. 4 was the busiest for the airport since early March.
Other indicators offer a mixed bag as the economy wobbles along. See today's coronavirus economy, in charts.
Washington confirms 530 new COVID-19 cases
State health officials confirmed 530 new COVID-19 cases in Washington on Sunday afternoon.
The update brings the state's totals to 98,201 cases and 2,239 deaths, although the state no longer reports new deaths on weekends. The data is as of 11:59 p.m. Saturday.
The Department of Health also reported that about 8,018 people have been hospitalized in the state because of the virus.
In King County, the state's most populous, state officials have confirmed 25,093 diagnoses and 793 deaths.
Pelosi sets Tuesday deadline for reaching stimulus deal with White House
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said Sunday that an economic stimulus deal must be struck within 48 hours in order for Congress to pass legislation before Election Day, but she noted that significant differences still divide her and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.
“Well, that depends on the (Trump) administration,” Pelosi said on ABC’s “This Week” when asked if it was still possible to get relief to Americans ahead of the election barely two weeks from now.
Pelosi’s on-again-off-again talks with Mnuchin over a deal costing between $1.8 trillion and $2.2 trillion have been dragging on for months without producing results.
The window for action is narrowing fast. For the first time, Pelosi put a deadline on them, indicating that if no agreement can be struck by Tuesday, it will not be possible to produce a new relief deal by the election. Pelosi and Mnuchin spoke for 75 minutes on Saturday and agreed to speak again Monday.
Some in North Dakota wish for tougher virus tack by governor
James Yantzer strode into a Harbor Freight Tools store in one of North Dakota’s worst hot spots for the coronavirus, brushing off a sign telling customers to wear a face mask.
“If they kick me out, I’ll go somewhere else,” Yantzer said, calling masks about as effective at blocking the virus as “stopping sand with chicken wire.” Despite the Bismarck store’s mask requirement, the 69-year-old trucking company owner wasn’t asked to leave.
“I just don’t take B.S. from people,” Yantzer said. “I rely on my own common sense.”
It’s a common attitude in highly conservative North Dakota, and one many believe has contributed to the state’s ranking in recent weeks among the worst in the nation for coronavirus spread. The state’s worsening numbers have prompted sharp questions over how Republican Gov. Doug Burgum, who is up for reelection next month, has handled the virus.
Even some supporters wish Burgum, a wealthy former Microsoft executive, would take a tougher line in terms of requiring masks and enforcing limits on social gatherings and business occupancies.
Millions more virus rapid tests, but are results reported?
After struggling to ramp up coronavirus testing, the U.S. can now screen several million people daily, thanks to a growing supply of rapid tests. But the boom comes with a new challenge: keeping track of the results.
All U.S. testing sites are legally required to report their results, positive and negative, to public health agencies. But state health officials say many rapid tests are going unreported, which means some new COVID-19 infections may not be counted.
And the situation could get worse, experts say. The federal government is shipping more than 100 million of the newest rapid tests to states for use in public schools, assisted living centers and other new testing sites.
“Schools certainly don’t have the capacity to report these tests,” said Dr. Jeffrey Engel of the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists. “If it’s done at all it’s likely going to be paper-based, very slow and incomplete.”
COVID-19 pandemic cuts enrollment at some Washington state colleges, forces others to reimagine higher ed
Washington’s colleges and universities were braced for a big drop in enrollment this fall, expecting college kids to opt out of remotely taught classes and defer their educations for the duration of the coronavirus pandemic.
The good news: Most kids showed up after all. The not-so-good news: Colleges are reporting that students from low-income families were more likely to hold back.
Students eligible for financial aid “were less likely to apply, less likely to deposit, and less likely to enroll at any institution,” said Jens Larson, associate vice president for enrollment management at Eastern Washington University, in an email. That trend is “disheartening and a new challenge,” he said.
State educators say they’ll need to work harder to convince students whose families can’t afford college that state and federal aid is there to help — they just need to apply for it.
Even with challenges of pandemic, health benefits may not change much
Open enrollment season is here again for workers fortunate enough to have health insurance through their job.
Workers could pay 4% to 5% more for their health premiums next year, according to various estimates of cost increases.
That’s in line with increases in recent years, even as the pandemic continues to bring economic challenges and uncertainty for both workers and their employers. People may use more medical services in 2021 because they put off routine care this year during the pandemic shutdowns. And the costs of treating coronavirus cases continue, while the country awaits a vaccine.
Still, many employers have indicated that they are trying to avoid major changes in health benefits for next year to avoid jarring workers already stressed by the pandemic. Some employers may absorb much of the cost increase so workers pay about the same in premiums as they do this year, said Steve Wojcik, vice president of policy with the Business Group on Health.
“Quite a number are recognizing the financial challenges employees face,” said Wojcik, whose organization represents employers on health care and benefit matters.
Catch up on the past 24 hours
Underscoring the uneven impact of the COVID-19 crisis, sales of the most expensive Seattle-area homes surged in the third quarter of the year at more than double the rate of the area’s most affordable homes.
In King County, the official tally of “health-permitted food trucks,” which includes both trucks and trailers, fell from 460 in January 2020 to 327 as of September, according to the Washington State Food Truck Association, with the pandemic at least partly to blame.
Doctors and health officials in the rural Midwest worry that infections may overwhelm communities with limited medical resources. Many say they are still running up against attitudes on wearing masks that have hardened along political lines and a false notion that rural areas are immune to widespread infections.
The streets of Paris and eight other French cities were deserted on Saturday night on the first day of the government-imposed 9 p.m. curfew that is scheduled to last for at least four weeks.
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