Editor’s note: This is a live account of COVID-19 updates from Friday, Sept. 11, 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 It is no longer being updated.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.
Gov. Jay Inslee and U.S. Sen Patty Murray on Thursday blasted President Donald Trump after reports this week that he knew the new coronavirus was a potential threat and then deliberately downplayed it, weeks before the nation’s first reported death was announced.
As the pandemic continues, food insecurity around the state is at historically high levels, state officials and food providers said Thursday morning — and the U.S. Senate’s failure to pass a scaled-back virus rescue package won’t help.
Throughout Friday, 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 Thursday are here, and all our coronavirus coverage can be found here.
Teatro ZinZanni pulls plug on Woodinville venue, pressed by COVID-19 and unpaid bills
Teatro ZinZanni, the iconic neo-cirque dinner theater known for its multicolored spiegeltent and its elaborate shows, will abandon plans for a permanent facility at the old Redhook Brewery in Woodinville and suspend operations until the pandemic is over.
Co-owners Norm and Jane Langill, who announced the news on Friday, said COVID-19 has killed the market for live performance and forced the couple to rethink a costly new venue at the 20-acre site that was supposed to open in time for the holidays.
But Norm Langill, who founded Teatro ZinZanni in 1998 near the Seattle Center, acknowledged that the company was struggling financially before the pandemic. That was due mainly to problems at an upscale stand-alone restaurant, known as the Wheelhouse, which the Langills opened last year in the old Redhook pub.
The Teatro ZinZanni “show was running just fine, but the restaurant had just started up and it was not running as we’d hoped,” said Norm Langill in a phone interview Friday. The Wheelhouse, operated on a limited capacity this summer, closed permanently this month.
There’s good news aplenty about the coronavirus. So why does it feel like we’re stuck?
When Nathan Watson logged onto a coronavirus contact tracing feature on his cellphone that was announced a few weeks ago by Apple, about the last thing the Tukwila accountant expected was what he saw.
“Exposure notifications have not been turned on for your region by your public health authority,” his phone told him.
The tool is a privacy-protected way to have your phone possibly notify you if you’ve been near someone who reports they’ve tested positive for coronavirus — even in anonymous situations, such as at the grocery store. It’s potentially a major leap in the detective game of contact tracing that’s needed to quell the virus so people can eventually get back to work and school.
Canada launched one of these in July and nearly 3 million have signed up. Twelve U.S. states have joined in, including Alabama, Arizona, New York and Wyoming. Our state has yet to decide, though — which is also what they said at a state legislative hearing on the topic back in July.
To Watson, who said he just wanted to “fractionally help in any way I can,” it all seems emblematic of a troubling phase we find ourselves in with the coronavirus crisis. Which is that it no longer feels like a crisis. We’re going along, doing whatever we’ve been doing, with no apparent sense of urgency or plan for getting out.
College students test positive for coronavirus, throw party
A college student house held a party over the Labor Day weekend that included people who had recently tested positive for the coronavirus, according to police body camera footage.
Oxford police cited six men who attended a house party near Miami University on Saturday for violating the state’s mass gathering and quarantine ordinance.
Bodycam footage shows an officer arriving at a home near the campus and finding men without masks on the porch.
One of the men tells police that 20 people have gathered at the house, twice the amount of people allowed to congregate in Ohio. The officer asks the group to disperse while he runs the ID of one of the residents.
“I’ve never seen this before,” the officer is heard saying to the student after running his ID. “There’s an input on the computer that you tested positive for COVID?”
“Yes,” the student answers. He goes on to disclose that he tested positive a week before and that every single person at the party has COVID-19, including two people from the house across the street.
“Oh, God. This is what we’re trying to prevent,” the officer responds. “We want to keep this town open.”
The officer questioned why the students weren’t practicing a self-imposed quarantine for 14 days, as recommended by state and federal health officials.
Washington confirms 544 new coronavirus cases
State health officials reported 544 new COVID-19 cases and six additional deaths in Washington on Friday.
The update brings the state’s totals to 79,011 cases and 1,991 deaths, meaning that 2.5% of people diagnosed in Washington have died, according to the state Department of Health (DOH). The data is as of 11:59 p.m. Thursday.
Health officials also reported that 7,018 people have been hospitalized in the state due to the virus. Statewide, 1,614,748 COVID-19 tests have been administered as of Thursday night.
In King County, the state’s most populous, state health officials have confirmed 20,640 infections and 744 deaths.
ICE flew detainees to Virginia so the planes could transport agents to D.C. protests. A huge coronavirus outbreak followed
The Trump administration flew immigrant detainees to Virginia this summer to facilitate the rapid deployment of Homeland Security tactical teams to quell protests in Washington, circumventing restrictions on the use of charter flights for employee travel, according to a current and a former U.S. official.
After the transfer, dozens of the new arrivals tested positive for the novel coronavirus, fueling an outbreak at the Farmville, Va., immigration jail that infected more than 300 inmates, one of whom died.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said the agency moved the detainees on “ICE Air” charter flights to avoid overcrowding at detention facilities in Arizona and Florida, a precaution they said was taken because of the pandemic.
But a Department of Homeland Security official with direct knowledge of the operation, and a former ICE official who learned about it from other personnel, said the primary reason for the June 2 transfers was to skirt rules that bar ICE employees from traveling on the charter flights unless detainees are also aboard.
The transfers took place over the objections of ICE officials in the Washington field office, according to testimony at a Farmville town council meeting in August, and at a time when immigration jails elsewhere in the country had plenty of beds available because of a dramatic decrease in border crossings and in-country arrests.
ICE statistics show the facilities the detainees came from were not near capacity on June 1, when the transfers were arranged.
Heart injury after COVID spurs call to screen college athletes
Doctors recommend cardiac screening tests for competitive athletes who have recovered from COVID-19 after a small study found heart damage in 1 in 7 college sports competitors, including in those whose coronavirus infection caused no obvious symptoms.
Cardiac magnetic resonance imaging on 26 competitive college athletes who had either a mild or asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infection found four, or 15%, with signs of inflammation of the heart muscle. These suspected myocarditis patients were males in their late teens and early 20s, including two who experienced no COVID-19 symptoms, doctors at Ohio State University in Columbus reported Friday in a research letter to the Journal of the American Medical Association.
The finding adds to a growing body of evidence that the pneumonia-causing coronavirus is also resulting in damage to the heart, as well as other organs. While little is known about the long-term cardiac consequences, screening for heart complications may identify people at risk of further injury, the researchers said.
“Myocarditis is a significant cause of sudden cardiac death in competitive athletes,” Saurabh Rajpal, an assistant professor of internal medicine, and colleagues wrote. “Cardiac magnetic resonance imaging has the potential to identify a high-risk cohort for adverse outcomes and may, importantly, risk-stratify athletes for safe participation.”
Evidence of myocardial inflammation seen on cardiac MRI scans has been associated “with poor outcomes, including myocardial dysfunction and mortality,” the authors said. Athletes with probable myocarditis should be asked to rest for three months to recover, based on current guidelines, Rajpal said in an email. Additional research is needed to determine whether that can prevent further injury, he said.
Central European leaders discuss Belarus, fighting COVID-19
WARSAW, Poland — The prime ministers of four central European countries said Friday that a new election should be held in Belarus to allow the country’s voters to decide the course of its future.
“We all agree that Belarus should hold free elections so that the Belarusian nation can on its own and in a sovereign way determine their fate and future,” Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said after he hosted fellow Visegrad Group leaders at a meeting in Poland’s eastern city of Lublin.
Gearing up for a European Union summit later this month, Morawiecki and the prime ministers of the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary also called for all political prisoners to be freed in Belarus and proposed a plan of economic cooperation in the small business sector and in infrastructure to help the nation move forward economically.
Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis said it was “very important” for the situation in Belarus to be discussed at the EU summit in Brussels on Sept. 24-25.
Washington State eliminates 10 athletic dept. positions with new cost containment plan
In mid-April, when Washington State realized the full scope of the financial ramifications that would come with not playing a spring sports slate, the athletic department announced its first wave of cost-cutting strategies.
At the time, those measures, not insignificant by any means, included voluntary 5% pay reductions for president Kirk Schulz, athletic director Pat Chun, football coach Nick Rolovich and men’s basketball coach Kyle Smith, and the forfeiture of any incentives or bonuses for the time being.
It turns out, they were just the tip of the iceberg.
As WSU continues to deal with the financial fallout of not holding a football season, Chun announced another wave of cost containment measures to mitigate what could be a $30 million loss in athletic department revenue this fall.
In an email update from WSU, Chun said the department has eliminated 10 full-time staff positions. While it’s unclear what those positions are, they’re the first COVID-19-related layoffs to take place at WSU since the global pandemic shuttered college sports in March.
Study: Kids infected at day care spread coronavirus at home
NEW YORK (AP) — Children who caught the coronavirus at day cares and a day camp spread it to their relatives, according to a new report that underscores that kids can bring the germ home and infect others.
Scientists already know children can spread the virus. But the study published Friday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention “definitively indicates — in a way that previous studies have struggled to do — the potential for transmission to family members,” said William Hanage, a Harvard University infectious diseases researcher.
The findings don’t mean that schools and child-care programs need to close, but it does confirm that the virus can spread within those places and then be brought home by kids. So, masks, disinfection and social distancing are needed. And people who work in such facilities have to be careful and get tested if they think they may be infected, experts said.
Earlier research from the U.S., China and Europe has found that children are less likely than adults to be infected by the virus and are less likely to become seriously ill when they do get sick.
There also was data suggesting that young children don’t spread the virus very often, though older kids are believed to spread it as easily as adults.
Fauci: Don't expect a return to pre-COVID normalcy until late 2021
As restaurants, gyms, salons and more businesses reopen across the country with varied COVID-19 guidelines, Dr. Anthony Fauci on Friday warned against the idea of a return to "normal," pre-coronavirus life until 2021, when a vaccine can be widely distributed in the United States, NBC News reports.
In an interview Friday afternoon on MSNBC's "Andrea Mitchell Reports," Fauci said "being indoors absolutely increases the risk" of being exposed to the coronavirus, and that everyday life won't look like pre-COVID days until late 2021.
He remains optimistic that a vaccine will be available by early 2021, per NBC.
Amenities like reduced-capacity indoor dining are resuming (or have resumed) across the U.S., which is approaching 200,000 total deaths from COVID-19. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, expressed concern that the draw of indoor activities will only grow stronger as the weather sours in the fall and winter.
All but five counties in Washington state have reached Phase 2 of Gov. Jay Inslee's reopening plan, allowing some businesses and everyday amenities to open with COVID-19 restrictions in place.
He said lowering community transmission — for instance, by avoiding indoor, close-contact situations like you might find at a restaurant — is the best way to safely and (relatively) quickly resume these exact activities.
COVID-19 etiquette: A comprehensive guide
The novel coronavirus is wreaking havoc on practically every aspect of society. So, of course, it’s rewriting the rules of etiquette faster than we can keep up.
In the linked post, we’ve collected advice for handling some of the most common quandaries involving manners that have sprung up during the pandemic, including some scenarios encountered by readers.
Please keep in mind that as our scientific knowledge of COVID-19 deepens, “covidiquette” advice may change. But in the meantime, as we all gingerly navigate our way through this turbulent year, there is one etiquette rule we know applies universally: Be kind.
(A couple of quick hits, for starters: wear that mask in public, plus what to do on elevators, answers for paying with cash vs. credit cards and more.)
The pandemic has changed Seattle's fall arts scene. Here's what to expect
The coronavirus pandemic has thrown the entire world into a tailspin, upending a lot of what we think things should look like, including a fall arts season.
Seattle’s fall arts scene looks different this year, but events — from virtual author talks to exhibits at reopened museums — are happening, one way or another.
Here’s a snapshot of what to expect in this very unusual year.
The Seahawks and NFL have successfully navigated the COVID-19 pandemic. Can they keep it up?
The ethos of Seahawks coach Pete Carroll can be summed up in a word: compete. So it should come as no surprise that when the COVID-19 pandemic hit and threatened to disrupt the NFL season, Carroll took it as an opportunity for his team to compete against a frightening new foe.
So far the Seahawks are beating the odds and beating back the coronavirus better than even the most optimistic projections could have forecast. Benefiting from daily testing conducted in a parking-lot trailer at the team’s Renton headquarters, Seahawks players completed five weeks of summer training-camp practices without any reported coronavirus cases. Count that among the most improbable victories of Carroll’s career.
The rest of the NFL isn’t far behind in successfully navigating football’s startup amid a pandemic, giving reasonable hope that the country’s most popular league can, over the next four months, have its 32 teams play all 256 regular-season games in every corner of the country outside of a bubble isolation.
How long can the NFL team keep this up? The league’s latest testing results are encouraging: Of the 44,510 tests conducted of 8,349 players and team personnel from Aug. 30 to Sept. 5, only one player had a confirmed positive result. There were seven new cases among other team personnel.
Now the real challenges begin, as teams resume two activities health experts have consistently cautioned against doing in a pandemic: traveling and coming in close contact with others (because you can’t tackle somebody from six feet away).
Juneau to hold pop-up testing following virus outbreak at bars
Juneau plans to conduct testing events this weekend for people who visited bars involved in a recent outbreak of the coronavirus.
Officials said the testing is scheduled for Friday, Saturday and Sunday at the city’s Centennial Hall, KTOO Public Media in Juneau reported.
Officials on Wednesday said the outbreak was related to a single large event and is believed to have infected at least nine people.
The number of infections is thought to be far higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected with the virus without feeling sick.
Virus spikes in UK, new restrictions in Birmingham, England
Households in England's second city, Birmingham, were being urged to stop socializing with others from Friday as part of a dramatic tightening of coronavirus restrictions in the wake of a sharp spike in new confirmed cases.
Amid mounting evidence of increasing transmission rates across the U.K., the mayor of the West Midlands, Andy Street, said tougher restrictions on household mixing in Birmingham, and the nearby boroughs of Solihull and Sandwell, were necessary in light of a big local increase in virus cases.
The city’s director of public health, Dr. Justin Varney, said the uptick in cases is “linked primarily to private household gatherings” at the end of August.
According to NHS Digital data, the latest seven-day rate for the city to Sept. 8 showed 78.2 cases per 100,000, with 892 infections over the period — among the highest in Birmingham since April’s peak. For the previous seven-day period, the rate was just over 30.
Daily U.S. virus deaths decline, but trend may reverse in fall
The number of daily U.S. deaths from the coronavirus is declining again after peaking in early August, but scientists warn that a new bout with the disease this fall could claim more lives.
The arrival of cooler weather and the likelihood of more indoor gatherings will add to the importance of everyday safety precautions, experts say.
“We have to change the way we live until we have a vaccine,” said Ali Mokdad, professor of health metrics sciences at the University of Washington in Seattle. In other words: Wear a mask. Stay home. Wash your hands.
The U.S. has seen two distinct peaks in daily deaths. The nation’s summertime surge crested at about half the size of the first deadly wave in April.
Now about 700 Americans are dying of the virus each day. That’s down about 25% from two weeks ago but still not low enough to match the early July low of about 500 daily deaths, according to an Associated Press analysis of data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
Smoke can make you more susceptible to COVID-19, health officials say
Breathing the smoke inundating the air this week can make you more susceptible to contracting a respiratory infection, including the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, according to the Washington state Department of Health (DOH).
Smoke is bad for the lungs under normal circumstances, but health officials are warning people to be extra cautious because of the pandemic.
Smoke can also worsen symptoms for people who already have COVID-19, air-quality specialist Kaitlyn Kelly of the DOH wrote in a Thursday evening post on the Washington Smoke Blog, a joint effort of state, county and federal agencies, and Indian tribes.
"There were already limited ways to protect ourselves from wildfire smoke, and COVID-19 makes it even more challenging," Kelly wrote.
The more severe symptoms associated with wildfire smoke — including wheezing, coughing and shortness of breath — are some of the same symptoms commonly seen with COVID-19, Kelly wrote.
The DOH recommends these steps to protect your health:
- Stay informed about current and forecasted air quality.
- Reduce outdoor physical activity.
- Stay indoors when it’s smoky and keep indoor air clean.
- Close your windows and doors to reduce intake of smoke. However, ventilation is good for helping prevent COVID-19, so when air quality is good, open them to get fresh air and reduce potential viral load.
- Improve filtration of indoor air in your home and create a clean-air room where you spend most of your time. Making your own box-fan filter can be a less expensive option to filter air and improve indoor air quality in a single room. Filtering indoor air is an effective way to reduce fine particles from wildfire smoke. It can also provide some protection from COVID-19, but this alone is not enough to protect you from COVID-19.
- Avoid avoiding burning candles or incense, smoking inside, frying or broiling, or vacuuming (unless your vacuum has a HEPA filter).
- Wear your cloth face covering to slow the spread of COVID-19. While cloth face coverings may help a small amount with smoke, they won’t filter out the fine particles or hazardous gasses. N95 respirators, if fitted and worn properly, can reduce exposure to wildfire smoke, but as the supply remains limited, these need to be reserved for workers that are required to wear them for their job.
Poll: Pandemic takes toll on mental health of young adults
PHOENIX — The coronavirus pandemic has taken a harsh toll on the mental health of young Americans, according to a new poll that finds adults under 35 especially likely to report negative feelings or experience physical or emotional symptoms associated with stress and anxiety.
A majority of Americans ages 18 through 34 — 56% — say they have at least sometimes felt isolated in the past month, compared with about four in 10 older Americans, according to the latest COVID Response Tracking Study conducted by NORC at the University of Chicago. Twenty-five percent of young adults rate their mental health as fair or poor, compared with 13% of older adults, while 56% of older adults say their mental health is excellent or very good, compared with just 39% of young adults.
In the midst of the pandemic, young adults are navigating life transitions such as starting college and finding jobs, all without being able to experience normal social activities that might be especially essential for people who are less likely to have already married and started their own families. Some young people are just beginning their adult lives amid a recession, and older members of the group are already experiencing their second.
Virus spiking in eastern Europe; Hungary drafts ‘war plan’
BUDAPEST, Hungary — The number of new confirmed coronavirus cases spiked Friday in parts of eastern Europe, with Hungary and the Czech Republic registering all-time daily highs. Signs of the pandemic’s resurgence were also evident in Britain and the Netherlands.
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said his government was drafting a “war plan” to defend against the second wave of the pandemic. The plan’s aim was “not for everyone to stay at home and bring the country to a halt … but to defend Hungary’s functionality,” Orban said.
The prime minister said measures meant to protect the economy and spur growth would be introduced in the coming weeks. In the second quarter of the year, Hungary’s gross domestic product fell 13.6%, the worst drop in the region.
Russian schools open with classroom, cafeteria precautions
MOSCOW — Russian children have returned to schools after attending classes online since the coronavirus pandemic swept the country in late March.
To prevent another spike in cases, all teachers underwent mandatory virus tests before primary and secondary schools reopened on Sept. 1. Temperature checks are conducted each morning and and school schedules were amended to reduce the number of students attending at the same time.
Authorities also limited how many children can be together in school cafeterias and recreation areas is also limited.
Masks in schools are not mandatory for all of Russia’s 85 regions, though some provinces are requiring both students and teachers to wear them. Children with a classmate who tests positive for the coronavirus will be quarantined for two weeks.
Parents have the option of keeping their home to continue studying online.
Study finds India missed early cases, lockdown was leaky
NEW DELHI — Results of India’s first nationwide study of prevailing coronavirus infections found that for every confirmed case detected in May, authorities were missing between 82 and 130 others.
At the time, India had confirmed around 35,000 cases and over 1,000 deaths. The study released Thursday showed that 6.4 million people were likely infected. And the virus had already spread to India’s villages, straining fragile health systems.
Experts say the study confirms India’s limited and restrictive testing masked the actual toll and underlines the fact that the harsh lockdown was only able to slow the spread of the virus, not sever the chain of transmission.
Catch up on the past 24 hours
Are masks for COVID-19 protection also enough to block wildfire smoke? And what are coronavirus tests telling us about asymptomatic people? Find answers in our FAQ Friday.
All of this social distancing and mask wearing has a bonus: fewer respiratory bugs of all kinds in King County, a new analysis has found. But doctors emphasize that it's more important than ever to get a flu shot.
"A wholesale failure": Gov. Jay Inslee and U.S. Sen Patty Murray blasted President Donald Trump after reports that he acknowledged the threat of the coronavirus weeks before the nation's first reported death in Washington state, and then deliberately downplayed it.
Washington has the nation's best pandemic safety net for workers, a new report says. FYI Guy digs into how we stack up against other states on key measures, and where workers are crashing to the hard ground. The net is crucial now, with Washington's jobless claims rising amid fears that autumn could bring sharper losses.
One in five Washington residents could go hungry this year as food insecurity hits historically high levels. Across the nation, the threat of worsening hunger and poverty remains high after a coronavirus relief bill failed in the Senate yesterday.
The U.S. will stop coronavirus screening of airline passengers arriving from overseas.
Nebraska is dropping nearly all social distancing restrictions, even as cases rise.
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