Editor’s note: This is a live account of COVID-19 updates from Wednesday, Oct. 7, 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 It is no longer being updated.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 range of businesses and activities in Washington state will soon be allowed to start up again, depending on their county’s status in Gov. Jay Inslee’s reopening plan. This comes despite a recent uptick in infections in Washington. Inslee described Tuesday’s orders as “targeted things to show how we can do this in a safe way.”
President Donald Trump, who returned to the White House earlier this week after being treated for COVID-19 at Walter Reed military hospital, says he’s eager to return to the campaign trail. His team is grappling with how to do that safely, especially as he sickens more of his aides.
Throughout Wednesday, on this page, we’ll be posting Seattle Times journalists’ updates on the pandemic and its effects on the Seattle area, the Pacific Northwest and the world. Updates from Tuesday can be found here, and all our coronavirus coverage can be found here.
Trump hails experimental treatment for his virus recovery
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump credited an experimental drug treatment with helping his recovery from COVID-19 and suggested his diagnosis could be a “blessing in disguise” in the nation’s battle against the pandemic. But there is no way for the president or his doctors to know whether the drug had any effect.
In a new White House video posted Wednesday evening, Trump said his illness had shed light on an experimental antibody cocktail that he tied to his improved condition. Seemingly sensitive to the fact that his treatment course has been far more comprehensive than the care received by average Americans, he promised to swiftly get the drug approved for broader use — and distribute it for free — even though he does not have the power to order that himself.
“I want everybody to be given the same treatment as your president, because I feel great,” Trump said in a video from the Rose Garden. “I feel, like, perfect.”
Still, questions continue to swirl about the trajectory of Trump’s recovery and when he might be able to return to normal activities, including campaigning, less than four weeks before Election Day. The video marked Trump’s first appearance before a camera — albeit a White House-operated one —in nearly two days. The White House has released only limited details about his condition and treatment, leading to questions about what lies ahead for Trump.
Sri Lanka closes key state offices as virus outbreak surges
COLOMBO, Sri Lanka — Authorities in Sri Lanka closed key government offices and further expanded a curfew Thursday to contain a surging coronavirus outbreak.
The foreign ministry closed the consular affairs office for the week and suspended all services to prevent the public from congregating. The ministry said it would only accept queries and documentation assistance related to deaths of Sri Lankans overseas, strictly by appointment.
Other departments providing services related to revenue, immigration, pensions, vehicle license and registrations also closed for the week, and a state-sponsored exhibition was canceled.
The outbreak that surfaced this week has grown to 1,034 cases with more than 2,000 others asked to quarantine at home.
It is centered around a garment factory in the Colombo suburbs where the first patient and many others worked. Police have widened the curfew in the suburbs where many of the patients live. Schools have closed, public gatherings were ordered halted and restrictions were imposed on public transport.
Pandemic comes up in first question of Washington's gubernatorial debate
In Washington's first gubernatorial debate between Gov. Jay Inslee and GOP challenger Loren Culp on Wednesday night, the coronavirus pandemic took center stage early on.
The first question went to Culp, who answered a question about his choice to hold rallies during the pandemic.
"I've never spoke out against wearing masks, I've come out against" orders from government, said Culp. He emphasized that he believes in individual liberties.
In response to a question about why residents should believe he has a coronavirus plan, Inslee said, "It's simple, because we are saving Washingtonians' lives," adding that his statewide restrictions have saved lives.
California evangelical school tells students to quarantine
SAN FRANCISCO — An evangelical college in Northern California said Wednesday it has asked its entire 1,600-student body to self-quarantine as the number of coronavirus cases among students and staff rose to 137 since classes started a month ago.
In a statement, the Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry in Redding, California, said off-campus housing has been a primary source of transmission, along with “social interactions outside of school hours.” The school does not have on-campus housing and encourages students on its website to “infiltrate the neighborhoods of Redding,” recommending 17 “revival regions in need of transformation.”
Officials in Shasta County, where the school is located, say the outbreak has driven a recent spike in COVID-19 cases that led the state on Tuesday to restore more restrictions on restaurants, bars and other businesses there.
The county recorded more than 500 new coronavirus cases in the past two weeks, pushing its total number of cases since March to 1,158. It is now in the red tier of California’s color-coded framework for business and school reopenings, which indicates a substantial rate of infection and is one level away from the most restrictive purple tier.
2 million stillbirths every year, pandemic might worsen toll
LONDON — The World Health Organization, UNICEF and partners said there are about 2 million stillbirths every year, mostly in the developing world, according to the first-ever global estimates published Thursday.
The U.N. health agency said that last year three of every four stillbirths occurred in sub-Saharan Africa or Southern Asia. It defined a stillbirth as a baby born with no signs of life at 28 weeks of pregnancy or later.
“Every 16 seconds, a mother somewhere will suffer the unspeakable tragedy of stillbirth,” said Henrietta Fore, UNICEF’s executive director. She said the majority of stillbirths could be prevented with better monitoring, proper antenatal care and a skilled birth attendant.
The report warned that the coronavirus pandemic could worsen the global toll, estimating that a 50% reduction in health services during the pandemic could result in an additional 200,000 stillbirths in the next year in 117 developing countries.
In a first, New England Journal of Medicine joins never-Trumpers
Throughout its 208-year history, The New England Journal of Medicine has remained staunchly nonpartisan. The world’s most prestigious medical journal has never supported or condemned a political candidate.
In an editorial signed by 34 editors who are U.S. citizens (one editor is not) and published Wednesday, the journal said the Trump administration had responded so poorly to the coronavirus pandemic that it “have taken a crisis and turned it into a tragedy.”
The journal did not explicitly endorse Joe Biden, the Democratic nominee, but that was the only possible inference, other scientists noted.
The editor-in-chief, Dr. Eric Rubin, said the scathing editorial was one of only four in the journal’s history that were signed by all of the editors. The NEJM’s editors join those of another influential journal, Scientific American, who last month endorsed Biden, the former vice president.
The political leadership has failed Americans in many ways that contrast vividly with responses from leaders in other countries, the NEJM said.
In the United States, the journal said, there was too little testing for the virus, especially early on. There was too little protective equipment, and a lack of national leadership on important measures like mask wearing, social distancing, quarantine and isolation.
UW reports 212 Greek Row students have tested positive for COVID-19
The latest numbers from the University of Washington, updated this afternoon, report 212 UW students in 15 sororities and fraternities have tested positive for COVID-19. That's up from 179 cases as of Tuesday afternoon, and 131 cases by 4 p.m. on Friday.
A preview Greek Row flare-up in June infected 154 students in 15 fraternity houses.
According to the UW's COVID-19 case tracking system, as of Oct. 6 a total of 476 students, 63 staff and 10 faculty have tested positive since Feb. 27, 2020.
"The congregant living situation in the Greek community certainly presents a greater challenge and we will continue to work with them to respond effectively and try to limit the spread," UW spokesperson Victor Balta told The Seattle Times yesterday.
The UW has not reported any students who have been hospitalized.
Trump could still be infectious with coronavirus at the next debate
There is no certainty that President Donald Trump will have recovered from COVID-19 by the time of the next scheduled presidential debate on Oct. 15, nor will it be assured that he won’t still be contagious, experts say.
And the 74-year-old president may still take another turn for the worse, as a common progression for severe cases of COVID-19 can involve a sudden deterioration about a week after the illness begins.
Also concerning, experts added, was the labored breathing Trump was observed to be suffering from in videotaped footage Monday. And worth watching for, they said, are the effects that can occur from taking powerful steroids like the one Trump is taking to combat COVID-19. Such medication can cause emotional instability and euphoria.
Those were some of the observations a panel of University of California, San Francisco physicians and professors made Tuesday, as the nation heads into an election month unlike any in the modern era.
Pandemic is amplifying the U.S. anti-vaccine movement — and globalizing it
A nephew of President John F. Kennedy rallied a German crowd against big pharma and Bill Gates.
American conspiracy theories have spurred anti-vaccine protests in Canada and Britain.
A California-made video seeded “plandemic” panic around the world.
The coronavirus crisis is energizing America’s anti-vaccine movement and expanding its reach.
Even as countries and companies race to develop a safe and effective vaccine, U.S. activists and influencers are working to undermine it, seizing on the legitimate fear that the vaccine might be rushed and leveraging that to further a broader anti-vaccine — even anti-science — agenda.
It is a campaign that is primarily playing out on U.S.-owned social networks such as Facebook and YouTube, where misinformation about a potential coronavirus vaccine is flooding hate networks, neighborhood groups and “wellness” communities focused on food or yoga.
In these digital spaces, vaccine hesitancy is mixing with coronavirus denial and merging with far-right American conspiracy theories, including QAnon, which claims that President Donald Trump is secretly fighting a cabal of Satanist pedophiles embedded in the so-called “deep state.”
What’s emerging is a sprawling, international movement that opposes basic public health measures, such as vaccines and masks, denies or downplays the reality of the pandemic, and is increasingly, though not always, linked to the politics of the far right.
State confirms 545 new COVID-19 cases and 12 new deaths
State health officials reported 545 new COVID-19 cases in Washington as of Tuesday night, and 12 new deaths.
The update brings the state’s totals to 91,208 cases and 2,177 deaths, meaning that 2.4% of people diagnosed in Washington have died, according to the state Department of Health (DOH). The data is as of 11:59 p.m. Tuesday.
The DOH also reported that 7,703 people have been hospitalized in the state due to the virus.
Statewide, 1,978,477 COVID-19 tests have been administered as of Tuesday night.
In King County, the state’s most populous, state health officials have confirmed 23,351 diagnoses — 113 more than last reported — and 780 deaths, which is five more than the previous day.
Scotland shuts Glasgow, Edinburgh bars as virus cases surge
The Scottish government ordered pubs in Glasgow and Edinburgh to close and restricted food and drink business in the rest of the country as Britain seeks to control a surge in coronavirus cases.
The U.K. government is mulling whether to follow suit and tighten restrictions for England.
Like other European countries, Britain has seen a second wave of coronavirus infections since pubs and restaurants reopened, children went back to school and students returned to university.
Most of the U.K. is under national restrictions on socializing, but Scotland went even further on Wednesday, saying pubs, cafes and restaurants can only open between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. to sell food and non-alcoholic drinks.
Drinking alcohol is only allowed outdoors.
Wisconsin activates field hospital as COVID keeps surging
Wisconsin health officials announced Wednesday that a field hospital is opening in the coming days at the state fairgrounds near Milwaukee as a surge in COVID-19 cases threatens to overwhelm hospitals.
Wisconsin has become a hot spot for the disease over the last month, ranking third nationwide this week in daily new cases per capita.
The move comes as a state judge is considering a lawsuit seeking to strike down Democratic Gov. Tony Evers’ mandate that masks be worn in enclosed public spaces.
In May, the Wisconsin Supreme Court struck down Gov. Tony Evers’ coronavirus stay-at-home order after Republican legislators challenged it in court.
Protests greet move to impose new virus shutdowns in NYC
A New York City neighborhood erupted in protests after Gov. Andrew Cuomo moved to shut down schools and businesses and restrict capacity at houses of worship in areas where coronavirus cases are spiking.
Many areas that stand to be affected are home to large enclaves of Orthodox Jews, and community leaders have complained they are being unfairly singled out, though the Democratic governor insists the clampdown is based solely on coronavirus case clusters and science.
Videos posted on social media Tuesday night showed hundreds of Orthodox Jewish men gathered in the streets of Borough Park, a neighborhood in Brooklyn, in some cases setting bonfires by burning masks.
I made a mistake taking off mask inside White House, says NC senator
North Carolina Republican Sen. Thom Tillis says he made a mistake by taking off his face mask indoors last month at a White House event. Many attendees — including Tillis and President Donald Trump — later tested positive for COVID-19.
The senator, who has been a strong supporter of wearing masks in public, was wearing one outside at the White House Rose Garden on Sept. 26, when Trump nominated Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court. But photos showed him without one at an indoor reception later.
“I have to admit that I let my guard down because we’d all been tested about two hours before the event,” Tillis told WRAL-TV in an interview Tuesday.
“That doesn’t excuse the fact that, in every case, we should wear a mask because scientists tell us to do it."
Brussels bars close for a month after spike in virus cases
Brussels on Wednesday decided at that all bars, dance halls and cafeterias will have to close for a month to counter a surge in coronavirus cases.
The measures in the Belgian capital went beyond nationwide restrictions that were announced only Tuesday, which ordered bars to close at 11 p.m.
But because the pandemic is hitting the capital especially hard, the Brussels region said additional action was needed.
Italy eyes mandate for masks outdoors as virus rebounds
Italy was expected to order a nationwide outdoor mask mandate Wednesday with fines of up to 1,000 euros ($1,163) for violators, as the European country where COVID-19 first hit scrambles to keep rebounding infections from spiralling out of control.
The government was taking the measure even though Italy’s overall per capita infection rate is currently among the lowest in Europe. But public health authorities have warned that a steady, nine-week rise in infections nationwide demands new measures to counter it.
With 239 deaths, Iran hits its highest daily COVID-19 toll
Iranian state TV said the country has hit its highest number of daily deaths from the coronavirus, with 239 new fatalities reported on Wednesday.
The report quoted the spokesperson of the country’s health ministry, Sima Sadat Lari, as saying that the 239 died since Tuesday. Iran has in the past had 235 daily deaths.
The latest death toll brought the total number of fatalities to 27,658 and confirmed cases in Iran to 483,844. The Islamic Republic has been struggling with both the region’s largest outbreak and the highest number of fatalities in the Middle East.
Some states plan to vet COVID-19 vaccines themselves. Bad idea, say experts
As trust in the Food and Drug Administration wavers, several states have vowed to conduct independent reviews of any COVID-19 vaccine the federal agency authorizes.
But top health experts say such vetting may be misguided, even if it reflects a well-founded lack of confidence in the Trump administration — especially now that the FDA has held firm with rules that make a risky preelection vaccine release highly unlikely.
But scientists who study vaccine policy said such plans could backfire, confusing the public, eroding confidence in any eventual vaccine and undermining the best strategy to end the pandemic, which has sickened nearly 7.5 million Americans and killed more than 210,000.
How much would Trump’s coronavirus treatment cost most Americans?
President Donald Trump does not have to worry about the costs of his medical care, which are covered by the federal government, but most Americans, including many who carry health coverage, do worry about receiving medical care they cannot afford.
Trump spent three days in the hospital. He arrived and left by helicopter. And he received multiple coronavirus tests, oxygen, steroids and an experimental antibody treatment that would cost more than $100,000 in the American health system, not including the helicopter.
Across the country, patients have struggled with both the long-term health and financial effects of contracting coronavirus. Nearly half a million have been hospitalized. Routine tests can result in thousands of dollars in uncovered charges; hospitalized patients have received bills upward of $400,000.
What do we know about superspreader events in the pandemic?
It seems that much of the spread of the coronavirus has been caused by what disease trackers call superspreader events.
That’s when a single person infects a large number of other people, or when a gathering is linked to a large number of cases.
In the United States, for instance, a choir member with symptoms attended a rehearsal in Mount Vernon in March. Of 60 others who attended, 52 got sick with COVID-19, including two who died.
Anne Rimoin, an infectious diseases expert at the University of California, Los Angeles, said the timing of the Sept. 26 reception at the White House for Supreme Court nominee Judge Amy Coney Barrett suggests a superspreader event.
Spain unveils economic recovery plan amid pandemic
Spain’s prime minister unveiled a major plan Wednesday to boost his country out of recession by spending 140 billion euros ($162 billion) of European Union aid to reshape the economy, with the aim of creating 800,000 jobs over the next three years.
The program is a response to the sharp downturn caused by the coronavirus pandemic and its worldwide disruption of economies. The plan focuses primarily on getting Spain to transition to green energy and a digital economy, which will take up about 70% of the financing.
“We have to turn this heavy blow into an opportunity,” Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez said, referring to the pandemic’s far-reaching effects on society and the economy. “This is the challenge of our generation.”
Spain is the latest EU country to say how it intends to use the bloc’s 750-billion-euro coronavirus recovery fund, approved last July and designed to help the world’s biggest trading bloc exit its deepest-ever recession.
Australia expects COVID-19 vaccination is still a year away
Australia considered a rollout of a coronavirus vaccine no sooner than mid-2021 a best-case scenario in its pandemic planning that would save the economy tens of billions of dollars, the treasurer said on Wednesday.
The Treasury and Health Departments developed economic modelling based on an assumption that a vaccine would be widely available in Australia toward the end of next year, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said.
Treasury modelling doesn’t contemplate a vaccine becoming available in Australia early next year. An early vaccine is regarded as one that is rolled out from July 1, providing certainty to households and businesses while promoting consumption and investment.
Ethicists say Trump special treatment raises fairness issues
The special treatment President Donald Trump received to access an experimental COVID-19 drug raises fairness issues that start with the flawed health care system many Americans endure and end with the public’s right to know more about his condition, ethics and medical experts say.
Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc. revealed on Tuesday how rare it was for anyone to get the drug it gave Trump outside of studies testing its safety and effectiveness. The drug, which supplies antibodies to help the immune system clear the coronavirus, is widely viewed as very promising.
“I think there is something wrong with the privileged, the president, getting special treatment that’s not available to the rest of us,” said Dr. Steven Joffe, medical ethics chief at the University of Pennsylvania. “There’s so much injustice in our health care system, with so many people not even having access to the basics,” that the favoritism shown Trump is “a symptom of a much larger problem.”
Lilly seeks emergency use of its antibody drug for COVID-19
A drug company says it has asked the U.S. government to allow emergency use of an experimental antibody therapy based on early results from a study that suggested the drug reduced symptoms, the amount of virus, hospitalizations and ER visits for patients with mild or moderate COVID-19.
Eli Lilly and Company announced the partial results Wednesday in a news release; they have not yet been published or reviewed by independent scientists.
Its drug is similar to one that President Donald Trump received on Friday from Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc. These medicines supply concentrated versions of specific antibodies to help the immune system clear the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. They’re given as a one-time treatment through an IV.
Israeli police clash with ultra-Orthodox over virus rules
Israeli police clashed with hundreds of ultra-Orthodox Jews overnight as they sought to enforce restrictions on public gatherings during a nationwide coronavirus lockdown, the police said Wednesday.
Footage released by police showed huge crowds of ultra-Orthodox Jews in Jerusalem chanting and hurling stones and metal bars at police officers.
Segments of Israel’s ultra-Orthodox community have defied restrictions on religious gatherings intended to contain the country’s coronavirus outbreak, even as the insular community has seen its own cases soar.
Israel went into a second nationwide lockdown last month after developing one of the worst outbreaks in the world on a per capita basis.
She’s 13, and the source of a family’s COVID-19 outbreak
Adolescents who contract COVID-19 usually do not get as sick as adults and often experience few if any symptoms, but they can spread the novel coronavirus that causes the disease to others.
Scientists from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the health departments of four states — Georgia, Illinois, Massachusetts and Rhode Island — described a 13-year-old girl who became infected with the coronavirus just before a three-week family gathering. Eleven other relatives, including her mother, her father, two brothers and two grandparents, also became infected.
“This outbreak highlights several important issues,” wrote the authors, led by Dr. Noah G. Schwartz of the CDC, in the article, which was published Monday. “First, children and adolescents can serve as the source for COVID-19 outbreaks within families, even when their symptoms are mild.”
The finding, which appeared in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, may also fit with claims that teenagers are more likely to become infected and spread the virus than younger children.
Catch up on the past 24 hours
Gov. Jay Inslee loosened some restrictions yesterday on a range of businesses and activities, from movie theaters to restaurants and sports. This comes despite a recent uptick in coronavirus cases. For many local theaters, though, it isn't enough to reopen the doors. Find the latest on what you can and can't do in each county.
Bellevue students may be among the first in the Seattle area to return to classrooms under a timeline unveiled yesterday.
The United States' top military leaders are in quarantine because a senior Coast Guard official tested positive after meeting with the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
The U.S. Surgeon General has been cited for breaking Hawaii's coronavirus rules.
UW says it can't do much to contain the outbreak on Greek Row, as cases multiply and students report that the effects of big parties are spilling beyond sororities and fraternities. Cases are climbing at the University of Oregon, too.
The latest on the White House outbreak
How to send an infected president back on the campaign trail? President Donald Trump's team is grappling with that question as he itches to get out and debate Joe Biden next week, even as the coronavirus that put Trump in the hospital sickens more of his aides.
Trump called an abrupt end to negotiations on COVID-19 relief yesterday, despite a dire warning from the Fed about the deteriorating economy. But hours later, he called on Congress to approve direct payments to most Americans, along with billions for airlines and small businesses.
Facebook removed a new post by Trump that misleadingly suggests COVID-19 is less deadly than the seasonal flu. Twitter added a warning about the misinformation.
From columnist Danny Westneat: "You didn’t really think he’d change after getting COVID, did you?"
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