Editor’s note: This is a live account of COVID-19 updates from Monday, Sept. 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 It is no longer being updated.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.
As we celebrate Labor Day today, top U.S. Health official Dr. Anthony Fauci warned that this holiday weekend is “a critical point” in the pandemic as health officials worry about a possible COVID-19 spike from backyard parties, crowded bars and other gatherings. Track the spread of the pandemic here.
Throughout Monday, on this page, we’ll post Seattle Times journalists’ updates on the outbreak 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.
The following graphic includes the most recent numbers from the Washington State Department of Health, released Sunday afternoon.
Worshippers gather despite park closure
Several hundred worshippers gathered on a closed street in Seattle's Fremont neighborhood to sing and pray together. Few wore masks.
Organizers had intended to hold the event in Gas Works Park, but the city closed the park in advance of the event over crowding and public-health concerns over the spread of COVID-19.
Instead, worshippers took to the intersection of North 34th Street and Meridian Avenue North next to a bulldozer.
Worship leader Sean Feucht said the city's closure amounted to discrimination against Christians, who he said have a mandate to worship.
Feucht described the street worship as a protest. Gov. Jay Inslee has used emergency powers to limit the size and nature of spiritual gatherings over concerns they could become superspreader events.
State DOH confirms 310 new COVID-19 cases in Washington
State Department of Health officials reported 310 new COVID-19 diagnoses, bringing Washington's total number of cases to 77,545. The state is no longer reporting new deaths on the weekend.
In all, 1,953 Washingtonians have died from the virus, or about 2.5% of confirmed cases. About 6,910 have been hospitalized and 1,573,044 people have been tested.
In King County, the state’s most populous county, state health officials have confirmed 20,326 diagnoses and 736 deaths, or 3.6% of confirmed cases. A total of 500,569 people in the county have been tested.
The summer of COVID-19 ends with health officials worried
The lost summer of 2020 drew to a close Monday with many big Labor Day gatherings canceled across the U.S. and health authorities pleading with people to keep their distance from others so as not to cause another coronavirus surge like the one that followed Memorial Day.
Downtown Atlanta was quiet as the 85,000 or so people who come dressed as their favorite superheroes or sci-fi characters for the annual Dragon Con convention met online instead. Huge football stadiums at places like Ohio State and the University of Texas sat empty. Many Labor Day parades marking the unofficial end of summer were called off, and masks were usually required at the few that went on.
“Please, please do not make the same mistakes we all made on Memorial Day weekend. Wear your masks, watch your distance and wash your hands,” said Dr. Raul Pino, state health director in Orange County, Florida, which includes the Orlando area.
The U.S. had about 1.6 million confirmed COVID-19 cases around Memorial Day, before backyard parties and other gatherings contributed to a summertime surge. It now has more than 6.2 million cases, according to the count kept by Johns Hopkins University. Deaths from the virus more than doubled over the summer to nearly 190,000.
In New Orleans, which had one of the largest outbreaks outside of New York City this spring, city officials reminded residents that COVID-19 doesn’t take a holiday after they received 36 calls about large gatherings and 46 calls about businesses not following safety rules on Friday and Saturday.
College basketball floats idea of bubbles for safe season
The NBA bubble has held. So has the NHL’s double bubble. The WNBA and MLS, no leaks. In this unprecedented landscape of sports in a pandemic world, one indisputable fact has emerged: Bubbles work.
Thousands of tests, minimal to no positive COVID-19 test results.
So as the NCAA gets set announce its plans for the 2020-21 college basketball season, there are clear precedents and blueprints in place should it decide to go the bubble route.
“It’s certainly viable,” said Mark Starsiak, vice president of sports at Intersport, a Chicago-based sports marketing and media agency, “From a basketball standpoint, I think we can follow those models.”
The NCAA hopes to start the season in late November/early December, with a vote by the Division I council expected Sept. 16.
Easy ways to fix common mask problems
To help contain COVID-19, one of the most important things you can do is wear a mask. But this can sometimes come up little annoyances.
Here are some tips for addressing some common problems:
Foggy glasses — Look for a mask with a metal wire sewn in that goes over your nose bridge, as many reusable cotton face coverings do. Then you can pinch the top of your mask so that it fits the shape of your nose, says Sidney Gicheru, clinical spokesman for the American Academy of Ophthalmology and medical director at LaserCare Eye Center in Dallas. If possible, tighten the sides of your mask as well, by adjusting the straps, so it fits snugly.
Difficulty communicating — “People assume that they just need to speak louder, but that’s not it — it’s making sure you speak as deliberately as possible, so that you can be understood,” says Douglas Hildrew, an ear, nose and throat specialist at the Yale School of Medicine.
Seattle’s Hearing, Speech & Deaf Center offers instructions for making a deaf-friendly mask, which has a clear window over the mouth to allow for lip-reading. (Some companies sell premade masks with a similar design.)
Slipping masks — “Put it on and cup your hands around the edges, then pull the mask first up towards your cheeks, then down towards your chin,” says William Schaffner, a professor of medicine in the Division of Infectious Diseases at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Nashville.
The mask should feel a little harder to breathe in, and you should notice it moving in and out as you breathe. If it doesn’t, you need to tighten it. Adjust the ear loops so the mask fits snugly against your face and does not gap at the sides or top.
Here's a detailed list of more tips and tricks.
India now has 2nd highest number of COVID cases
On Monday, India reported 90,802 new coronavirus cases, making it second-worst hit country in the world for COVID-19, according to The New York Times.
India's newest report, totaling 4.2 million cases, bumps Brazil from second to third. The United State's remains in the No. 1 position with more than 6 million cases.
This summer, India has has the world's fastest-growing outbreak. The country has recorded 71,642 deaths from the virus, the world’s third-highest toll after the United States and Brazil.
Learn more here.
Catch up on the past 24 hours
WSU sees spike: The pent-up desire to socialize is proving irresistible at Washington State University, where health authorities counted 343 coronavirus cases last week, for a total of 707 cases. WSU urged students to stay in Pullman this holiday weekend, in hopes of limiting viral transmission to family and friends statewide, the Moscow-Pullman Daily News reported.
Rethinking career paths: As economic fallout from the pandemic continues, layoffs and furloughs are forcing millions of people to soul-search and reassess their career choices. A growing number in the Seattle area, forced outside comfort zones, have changed careers and even returned to school in pursuit of longtime dreams.
Temporary shelters close: Dozens of people moved into three Seattle community centers to help thin out homeless shelters and keep the virus from spreading. Now they're moving back to a shelter system permanently transformed by COVID-19. Here's how it looks.
School returns tomorrow: On Tuesday, Seattle schools will start a new week trying to iron out last week's software snafus, before they strive to keep children's brains engaged in online classes.
Closed streets continue: Seattle extended its Keep Moving Streets a month so people can recreate and socially distance on roads near Golden Gardens, Alki Point, Seward Park and Green Lake -- but closed Gas Works Park all day Monday, in advance of a prayer event, "due to anticipated crowding that could impact the public health of residents."
Virus stalls migrants' attempts to find refuge
In Panama, thousands of migrants seeking refuge in the U.S. are stuck in transit due to COVID-19, which has forced the state's government to close its border.
"We want to give our children a better life,” said Jean Edoly, a 30-year-old Haitian, who has been living in a camp in Panama for months, hoping to one day reach the U.S.
Panama, the slender bottleneck between the North and South American continents, is a transit point for virtually every migrant heading from South America to the United States by land and it closed its borders on March 16 to halt the spread of COVID-19. The closure left nearly 2,000 migrants from Haiti and a handful of African and Asian countries stuck in camps in the jungle along Panama’s northern and southern borders.
And it's not just happening in Panama. Thousands of temporary workers from around Asia were stuck outside New Zealand when that country closed its borders. Other Asian workers got stranded in Moscow airports. Migrants have also been left in makeshift conditions in the Sahara Desert after being expelled without warning from detention centers in Algeria and Libya.
Read the full story here.
French Open to allow spectators
Despite a growing number of coronavirus cases in France, spectators will be allowed at the French Open in Paris this month, organizers said Monday.
Organizers unveiled the health protocols for the clay-court Grand Slam, which will take place at Roland Garros in western Paris starting Sept. 27 after being postponed from its May start due to the pandemic.
“Since the international circuit restarted, Roland Garros will be the first tournament with the privilege of hosting an audience,” French Tennis Federation president Bernard Giudicelli said. Although, attendance numbers will be greatly scaled down.
Some of the new health protocols include strict testing guidelines for players and mask requirements for all in attendance.
French officials have confirmed more than 30,000 deaths from COVID-19 while the number of new daily cases surpassed 8,000 last Friday.
Read the full story here.
2020 is a bust for travel industry
It’s hard to imagine an industry more battered by COVID than travel. A report by The Seattle Times' today shows that air travel's recovery is sputtering, hotels are only half-full and the cruise line industry is in particularly bad straights.
“It’s nearly impossible to quantify just how significantly the pandemic has impacted the tourism sector,” says Daniel Guttentag, the director of the office of tourism analysis at the College of Charleston. “But there is little question that the impact has been devastating in many ways for the travel industry."
The latest numbers from the Official Aviation Guide show air travel in the United States is down 45% from January. And many people, 60% of U.S. consumers, are worried about being infected from flying, according to a report from a Boston Consulting Group.
A sharp decline is showing across the globe. According to a tourism index published by Temple University, the global tourism index is scoring 29.32 out of 100, while America's index is slightly better at 31.03.
“It’s the apocalypse,” says Felix Brambilla, CEO of Overseas Leisure Group, a luxury travel operator. “It felt like someone pulled the hand brake and slammed the business in reverse. We went from 100 to zero in a matter of days.”
Read the full story here.
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