Editor’s note: This is a live account of COVID-19 updates from Monday, Oct. 19, 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 It is no longer being updated.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.
A fatigued American public may be heading into the pandemic’s darkest stretch, health experts warn. The planet today surpassed 40 million confirmed cases, according to Johns Hopkins University, as the virus surges anew in places it’s already hit. Rising cases in presidential battleground states are the latest worry for election officials and voters. Track the spread with these maps.
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 pulls ahead among major economies in post-COVID recovery
TAIPEI, Taiwan – China, the first country to be struck by covid-19 and the first to bring it under control with aggressive measures, is pulling ahead in the world’s economic recovery.
But even China’s comeback may be underwhelming.
That was the mixed message borne in new figures released Monday that showed Chinese economic output grew 4.9% during the third quarter compared to a year ago, an impressive gain that nevertheless fell short of expectations by most economists, who predicted a growth rate of more than 5%.
Much of the gross domestic product gains came after massive stimulus from the Chinese government, while employment and retail sales in China are still suffering, much like in vast swaths of the world. But China’s economy contracted by an unprecedented 6.8% during the first quarter, its cumulative growth for 2020 is now narrowly in the black – a far cry from countries such as Britain, Germany and the United States, whose economies have shrunk in absolute terms.
It may be a preview of the post-pandemic world, economists say.
Top military leaders cleared to return to work at Pentagon
WASHINGTON — The nation’s top military leaders have been cleared to return to work at the Pentagon after having self-quarantined as a precaution following the positive COVID-19 test of a senior Coast Guard official in early October.
The go-ahead to resume work from the Pentagon was given last week, in accordance with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines and after members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff had multiple negative tests for the virus, officials said Monday.
Some members of the Joint Chiefs happen to be away this week on personal business unrelated to the virus.
The chiefs began working remotely two weeks ago after learning that Adm. Charles W. Ray, the vice commandant of the Coast Guard, had tested positive. Ray had attended a meeting of the Joint Chiefs of Staff days earlier.
Oregon mask requirements expanded as COVID cases rise
SALEM, Ore. — As the total number of COVID-19 cases in Oregon nears 40,000 people, health officials announced Monday that face-covering requirements are once again being expanded to include all private and public work spaces, outdoor markets and colleges.
The Oregon Health Authority reported 266 new and presumptive COVID-19 cases Monday and eight deaths. The numbers bring the state’s case tally to 39,794. The death toll is 627.
Currently, Oregonians are required to wear masks at indoor public spaces and outside when they cannot maintain 6 feet of space between others.
The Oregon Health Authority is expanding the requirement to now include all private and public workplaces, including classrooms, offices, meeting rooms, work spaces, outdoor markets, street fairs, private career schools and public and private colleges and universities.
California won’t allow virus vaccines without state approval
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — California won’t allow any distribution of coronavirus vaccines in the nation’s most populous state until it is reviewed by the state’s own panel of experts, Gov. Gavin Newsom said Monday.
Vaccinations for the pandemic “will move at the speed of trust,” said Newsom, a Democrat, and the state wants its own independent review no matter who wins the presidential election next month.
“Of course we won’t take anyone’s word for it,” Newsom said as he named 11 doctors and scientists to review any rollout of vaccines by the federal government or vaccine developers. The board members hail from top California universities and medical providers, along with state and local public health officials.
The pledge raises the possibility that California residents might not receive a vaccine as distribution begins in other states, though the governor said widespread vaccinations are unrealistic until sometime next year.
10 residents dead amid virus outbreak at Kansas nursing home
TOPEKA, Kan. — A coronavirus outbreak has killed 10 residents in a nursing home in a northwestern Kansas county that proportionally already had the nation’s largest increase in cases over two weeks.
The health department in Norton County reported Monday night that all 62 residents and an unspecified number of employees at the Andbe Home in Norton had tested positive for the novel coronavirus. The agency also said one Andbe Home resident was hospitalized, while the remaining 51 were being treated at the home.
“Steps are being taken to prevent any further outbreak, including quarantining residents in their rooms and not allowing outside visitors into the facility,” the county health department said in a statement Monday evening.
The outbreak at the nursing home came after the state Department of Health and Environment last week reported more than 100 cases at the state’s prison in Norton over the two weeks ending Wednesday.
High school gathering spurs COVID-19 cases, closes schools
ALBANY, Ore. — At least 19 students in Greater Albany Public Schools attended a gathering without masks, spurring new COVID-19 cases and setting back progress made toward holding in-person classes, officials said.
At least three positive cases have been traced to a large gathering in a local home with students from West Albany High School, South Albany High School and Lebanon High School, the Albany Democrat-Herald reported.
“In addition to the large gathering, a number of the same individuals have been together since then,” Schools Superintendent Melissa Goff said. “So we have an additional six students who should be quarantining right now.”
The families of the students have been contacted by local health authorities but according to Goff, some families may not be cooperating with efforts to trace the potential outbreak.
Washington confirms 460 new COVID-19 cases
State health officials reported 460 new coronavirus cases and 19 more deaths in Washington on Monday afternoon.
That brings the total number of reported cases to 98,661 and the number of deaths to 2,258.
Because the state Department of Health is no longer reporting deaths on weekends, tallies may be higher early in the week.
At least 8,077 people have been hospitalized in the state due to the virus, according to the Department of Health.
Border closure can’t keep Maine grandparents from Canadian wedding
ST. STEPHEN, New Brunswick (AP) — With the border closed, a Canadian couple still found a way for their grandparents from Maine to see their waterfront wedding.
It involved a boat used for hauling lobster traps, naturally.
Alex Leckie and Lindsay Clowes were married on a wharf in St. Stephen, New Brunswick, while their grandparents and a few other relatives from Calais, Maine, watched from a boat in the St. Croix river that divides the countries. Other families and friends watched from Maine.
How accessibility for all could make the world better after COVID-19
If there is one good thing that can come from this year, it might be that we have a chance to dramatically reset our way of doing things.
One of the opportunities we have now as we look ahead to the future is in the realm of accessibility.
If you have never thought about accessibility before, you likely will in the future. Today, 26% of people have some kind of disability, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says, and that number is expected to increase with the aging of the baby boomer generation.
Actor Mickey Rowe, the founding artistic director of the National Disability Theatre has described disability as "the only equal opportunity minority group. Anyone can join our prestigious club at any time and will, should they be lucky enough to live long enough, right?”
EU to link national COVID-19 tracing apps together
The European Commission on Monday launched an EU-wide system devised to link national COVID-19 tracing apps together in its latest effort to slow down the coronavirus pandemic.
Following testing in different EU countries earlier this autumn, the bloc’s executive arm said the system got underway with three national apps — Germany’s Corona-Warn-App, Ireland’s COVID tracker, and Italy’s immuni — now linked through the so-called interoperability gateway.
According to the European Commission, these three apps have been downloaded by around 30 million people, the equivalent of two-thirds of all tracing app downloads in the EU. Tracing apps alert people if they’ve been near someone who has been infected.
Some states allow ballots if voters die before Election Day
At 90 years old and living through a global pandemic, Hannah Carson knows time may be short. She wasted no time returning her absentee ballot for this year’s election.
As soon as it arrived at her senior living community, she filled it out and sent it back to her local election office in Charlotte, North Carolina. If something were to happen and she doesn’t make it to Election Day, Carson said she hopes her ballot will remain valid.
“I should think I should count, given all the years I have been here,” she said.
Questions over whether ballots will count if someone votes early but dies before Election Day are especially pressing this year, amid a coronavirus outbreak that has been especially perilous for older Americans.
A desk of their own to ease remote learning for kids in need
As remote schooling surged during the pandemic, parents across the country have been making desks at home for their own kids and others .
For Mitch Couch in the Central California town of Lemoore, inspiration struck when his 16-year-old daughter and 9-year-old son kept taking over the kitchen table for their remote lessons. He made desks for them, and thought: Why not provide others’ children with individual learning areas they could decorate with stickers and paint?
The desks he made were kid-size, simple and inexpensive, fashioned from plywood with a hutch for workbooks and papers. But they did the trick.
“I was like, you know what, I built these desks for like $20,” Couch said. “Maybe I can show other people how to do it. So I made a quick YouTube video” to guide fellow parents in Desk-Making 101.
A grocery store saw it online and offered to provide materials if he would build more. Managers contacted local school officials to help identify those in need. From the initial batch of a couple dozen, plans quickly ramped up to build at least 50 more, and on a recent day he was sawing and sanding with a driveway full of more than a dozen desks
A single sheet of plywood, 4 feet by 8 feet, yields four desks. By now Couch is so practiced, he can knock one out in just about 15 minutes.
In the D.C. suburb of Gaithersburg, Maryland, Jessica Berrellez was already involved in a project with other moms to provide virtual educational materials for kids in low-income families. The logical next step was supplies like headphones and whiteboards — and desks, of course.
Judge puts Wisconsin capacity limit order back into effect
A Wisconsin judge on Monday reimposed an order from Gov. Tony Evers’ administration limiting the number of people who can gather in bars, restaurants and other indoor venues to 25% of capacity.
The capacity limits order was issued Oct. 6 by Andrea Palm, secretary of the state Department of Health Services, in the face of surging coronavirus cases in Wisconsin.
A judge blocked the order on Oct. 14 after it was challenged by the Tavern League of Wisconsin, which argued it amounted to a “de facto closure” order for the bars and restaurants it represents.
U.S. air passengers exceed 1 million, first time since March
The virus-ravaged airline industry reached a milestone Sunday, carrying more than 1 million passengers for the first time in seven months.
U.S. airport security checkpoints processed 1,031,505 people, or 39.6% of the equivalent day in 2019, according to a tally by the Transportation Security Administration.
At Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, a 900 passenger uptick per day the first week of October made it the busiest for the airport since early March. But that's still just one-third the level from one year earlier.
Report: nursing homes in the U.S. could see a third spike of new COVID-19 cases
The American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living, which represents more than 14,000 nursing homes and assisted living communities across the country, released a report today showing nursing homes in the U.S. could see a third spike of increasing new COVID-19 cases.
Recent data released by John Hopkins and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services show that with the recent spike in new COVID-19 cases in the general U.S. population, weekly nursing home cases rose in late September for the first time in seven weeks after new cases dropped significantly throughout August and early September.
According to John Hopkins, COVID-19 cases in the general U.S. population rose by 62,139 cases per week in late September correlating with an uptick in nursing home cases during the week of September 27.
This Seattle teacher uses the didgeridoo to help kids get through online classes, one breath at a time
Beth Anderson, a mother of two, suddenly found herself back in middle school music class this fall.
When school started, her sixth grade daughter Catelyn sat by her side while they learned and worked at the kitchen table. For the most part, Beth, an administrator at Seattle Colleges, tuned middle school out.
But she couldn’t tune out Cuauhtemoc Escobedo, a 30-year Seattle Public Schools (SPS) veteran who teaches music and band at Eckstein Middle School. Through his virtual classroom, the tone of his voice, one that Beth said makes you sit down and listen,caught her ear. And “now I’m paying attention to middle school band class. I felt a little bit like I was his student.”
Since schools shut down, teachers of the most interactive subjects — such as physical education, art and music — have to go an extra mile to figure things out.
And some, like Escobedo, are turning into techies, DJs and entertainers just to do their jobs. Recently, Anderson heard the wavery sound of a didgeridoo, a wind instrument developed by the aboriginal peoples of northern Australia, piping through her home.
It sounded to Catelyn’s ears like “voooom voooooom, very wavery and really fun.”
Lithuanians with COVID-19, self-isolating vote in drive-ins
Lithuanians started voting Monday in the second round of a national election, with some of them casting ballots from their cars in special drive-in polling stations amid a local spike in COVID-19.
Voters arrived alone in their vehicles as instructed, wore face masks and dropped their votes into ballot boxes. There are four such drive-in stations in Lithuania. Only those in isolation and on an official list can vote that way until Thursday.
So far, Lithuania has recorded 7,726 coronavirus cases and 113 deaths.
Earlier this year, Czechs citizens also cast their ballots from their cars, a measure forced by the coronavirus pandemic, in one of the 156 drive-in temporary voting stations across the country for those quarantined because of COVID-19 infections.
Wales locks down as COVID-19 cases spike
Wales has become the second nation in the United Kingdom to lock down large swaths of its economy to combat rising coronavirus infections, even as British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is resisting loud calls to do the same throughout England.
Wales’ First Minister Mark Drakeford said Monday that his administration was backing a short, sharp “firebreak” to slow the spread of COVID-19. All non-essential retail, leisure, hospitality and tourism businesses will close for two weeks beginning at 6 p.m. Friday — a lockdown similar in scope to the U.K.-wide measures imposed in March.
Public health experts say a lockdown can help reset the pandemic at a lower level, giving doctors time to treat the ill and providing breathing room for the government to improve its response. Britain has the deadliest coronavirus outbreak in Europe, with over 43,700 confirmed deaths.
Poll: 1 in 4 U.S. workers have weighed quitting
NEW YORK — The coronavirus pandemic has put millions of Americans out of work. But many of those still working are fearful, distressed and stretched thin.
A quarter of U.S. workers say they have even considered quitting their jobs as worries related to the pandemic weigh on them, according to a new poll by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research in collaboration with the software company SAP. One-fifth say they have taken leave.
About seven in 10 workers cited juggling their jobs and other responsibilities as a source of stress. Fears of contracting the virus also was a top concern for those working outside the home.
The good news is that employers are responding. The poll finds 57% of workers saying their employer is doing “about the right amount” in responding to the pandemic; 24% say they are “going above and beyond.” Just 18% say their employer is “falling short.”
As virus surges, Iran breaks one-day record for deaths again
TEHRAN, Iran — Iran’s single-day death toll from the coronavirus smashed a record set less than a week ago, with 337 dead confirmed Monday as a resurgence of infections is overwhelming hospitals.
The Islamic Republic emerged early in the pandemic as a global epicenter of the virus and has since seen the worst outbreak in the Middle East, with deaths topping 30,000, as fatalities have soared in recent weeks. Health officials announced last week that Iran’s capital, Tehran, had run out of intensive care beds for virus patients, and overwhelmed hospitals across the city suspended all nonemergency treatments.
But the government has resisted a total lockdown because it does not want to further weaken an economy already devastated by unprecedented U.S. sanctions. On Monday, Health Ministry spokeswoman Sima Lari sought to shift responsibility for the surge to Iranians, scolding them for failing to take precautions.
Belgium fears virus ‘tsunami’ as COVID-19 cases keep soaring
BRUSSELS — Bars and restaurants across Belgium shut down for a month and a night-time curfew took effect Monday as health authorities warned of a possible “tsunami” of new virus cases in the hard-hit nation that hosts the headquarters of the European Union.
The new measures aim to limit social interactions to slow down the exponential growth of the pandemic in the nation of 11.5 million people. The new surge of coronavirus cases has already prompted several hospitals to delay nonessential operations to focus on treating COVID-19 cases.
According to AP figures based on data collected by Johns Hopkins University, Belgium recorded an average of 73.95 daily cases per 100,000 people over the past seven days, the second-worst record in the EU behind the Czech Republic.
Poland turning National Stadium into COVID-19 field hospital
WARSAW, Poland — Poland’s government is transforming the National Stadium in Warsaw into a field hospital to handle the surging number of people infected with the coronavirus.
Government spokesman Piotr Müller said Monday that the stadium will have room for 500 patients and will be equipped with oxygen therapy for those who need it.
“We can see that the number of cases is growing so fast that we need to secure places for hospitalization for those who need it,” Müller said, speaking on TVP Info, the state TV’s all-news channel.
Anchorage military ordered to avoid bars and restaurants
Personnel stationed at a military base in Alaska’s largest city were ordered to avoid bars and interior dining at restaurants amid rising coronavirus cases on and off the base.
Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson placed the restrictions on airmen and soldiers in Anchorage, The Anchorage Daily News reported.
Members of the 673rd Air Base Wing are not allowed to visit businesses that “primarily engage in preparing and serving alcoholic beverages for on-site consumption,” an Oct. 8 memo from base Commander Col. Kirsten Aguilar said.
The restrictions were enacted as a “precaution” because of increasing COVID-19 cases statewide, Media Operations Section Chief Erin Eaton said.
IMF: Nearly all Mideast economies hit by pandemic recession
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — The coronavirus pandemic has pushed nearly all Mideast nations into the throes of an economic recession this year, yet some rebound is expected as all but two — Lebanon and Oman — are anticipated to see some level of economic growth next year, according to a report published Monday by the International Monetary Fund.
This comes as the IMF estimates that the global economy will shrink 4.4% this year, marking the worst annual plunge since the Great Depression of the 1930s.
Well before the coronavirus swept across the globe, several Mideast countries had been struggling with issues ranging from lower oil prices and sluggish economic growth to corruption and high unemployment.
Fact check: Trump's falsehoods on the virus and more
WASHINGTON — Back fully campaigning after COVID-19 sidelined him, President Donald Trump returned to familiar form, spreading a litany of falsehoods.
Over the weekend, he asserted yet again the virus was “rounding the corner” when it isn’t, among other unfounded claims and misrepresentations.
New coronavirus relief may be delayed past election
WASHINGTON — Congress is quickly moving past the point at which it can deliver more pandemic relief before the election, with differences between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, her Senate Republican rivals and President Donald Trump proving durable despite the glaring needs of the country.
Trump’s GOP allies are reconvening the Senate this week for a revote on a virus proposal that about one-third the size of a measure being negotiated by Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. But the Senate GOP bill has failed once before, and Trump himself now says it's too puny. The debate promises to bring a hefty dose of posturing and political gamesmanship, but little more. A procedural vote on a stand-alone renewal of bipartisan Paycheck Protection Program business subsidies is slated for Tuesday.
Quarantine Corner: Things to eat while you're staying home
Hot cooking oil can be intimidating, but there's a secret to making super-crispy chicken wings at home — no frying needed. If you'd rather get takeout, know where to find some of the Seattle area's best wings. (Just don't call them "boneless wings," because that's at the center of a whole hilarious flap.)
On the other hand, if you're vegetarian-curious, these tips and a recipe from nutritionist Carrie Dennett can help you explore whether a meatless diet would feel good and stretch your food budget.
Catch up on the past 24 hours
"Oh my goodness … that's got to be a problem." Dr. Anthony Fauci last night said he wasn't surprised at Trump's illness after watching the event that would become a superspreader, and he also described how the White House kept him from speaking to journalists.
No, you can't have 10,000 guests. That was the message as New York officials shut down a wedding planned for today.
The answers to COVID-19 fall apart in a tiny medical clinic that went nearly a year without a working refrigerator. The need to keep the most promising vaccine candidates chilled could leave 3 billion people out in the cold, across a vast swath of the world. The task won't be easy even in the richest countries.
Is it OK to travel yet? With many people making plans, and traffic at Sea-Tac Airport hitting a pandemic high, Travel Troubleshooter outlines key coronavirus benchmarks to consider.
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