Editor’s note: This is a live account of COVID-19 updates from Saturday, Sept. 12, 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 It is no longer being updated.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.
Although restaurants, gyms, salons and more businesses have reopened 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.
Many other scientists are saying the same — despite the decline in the number of daily U.S. deaths from the coronavirus, a new bout with the disease this fall could claim more lives.
Throughout Saturday, 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 Friday are here, and all our coronavirus coverage can be found here.
Ten Auburn football players sidelined with issues related to COVID-19
Coach Gus Malzahn said No. 11 Auburn had five starters out of practice this week because of COVID-19-related issues.
Malzahn said Saturday the Tigers had two new positive tests this week and 10 total players are sidelined from practice because of the virus or close contact. He didn’t identify the players and declined to say if a particular position group had been hit hardest.
Auburn opens the season Sept. 26 against Kentucky and is set to begin specific game preparation on Sunday.
“All those guys will be back for the opener,” Malzahn said. But he noted that they will face challenges in getting ready when they are out until game week.
Breeders’ Cup to race without fans
The Breeders’ Cup in November will be held without spectators, joining the Triple Crown races in having only essential personnel and participants on hand because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The world championships are set for Nov. 6-7 at Keeneland in Lexington, Kentucky.
The decision announced Saturday was made after consultation with Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear, Keeneland, local and state government and public health officials as well as independent medical experts. Before the pandemic, attendance had been capped at 45,000.
“It was a very difficult decision but we felt obviously it was the right thing to do,” Breeders’ Cup President and CEO Drew Fleming said by phone from Kentucky. “Safety always comes first with us.”
Breeders’ Cup officials also announced Keeneland will play host for a third time in 2022, a way for those who had planned to attend this year to be present soon after missing out.
Vatican wants in-person Masses as soon as allowable
The Vatican said Saturday it was “necessary and urgent” to return to in-person Masses as soon as anti-coronavirus measures permit.
The head of the Vatican’s liturgy office, Cardinal Robert Sarah, said in a letter to bishops conferences that virtual liturgies, while useful, were no replacement for the real thing. He said physical presence by the faithful in churches was “vital, indispensable, irreplaceable.”
Pope Francis has adhered to Italy’s strict lockdown, halting public Masses at the Vatican and livestreaming his morning liturgies during the peak of Italy’s outbreak, but the Vatican said the pope had approved Sarah’s letter.
Washington confirms 465 new COVID-19 cases
State health officials reported 465 new COVID-19 cases in Washington on Saturday. The state no longer updates deaths on weekends.
The update brings the state’s totals to 79,476 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. Friday.
Health officials also reported that 7,048 people have been hospitalized in the state due to the virus. Statewide, 1,631,162 COVID-19 tests have been administered as of Friday night.
In King County, the state’s most populous, state health officials have confirmed 20,774 infections and 744 deaths.
Antarctica free of coronavirus and hoping to stay that way
At this very moment a vast world exists that’s free of the coronavirus, where people can mingle without masks and watch the pandemic unfold from thousands of miles away.
That world is Antarctica, the only continent without COVID-19. Now, as nearly 1,000 scientists and others who wintered over on the ice are seeing the sun for the first time in weeks or months, a global effort wants to make sure incoming colleagues don’t bring the virus with them.
Field guide Rob Taylor described Rothera Research Station off the Antarctic peninsula as “our safe little bubble.” Thanks to the internet, they’ve watched closely as the pandemic circled the rest of the planet. Now, new colleagues scheduled to start arriving as soon as Monday, will be tested for the virus and any positive case will spark a “red response level,” he said.
Harshmallow: Virus prompts pause for Peeps holiday treats
Peeps treats are going on hiatus for several months — another consequence of the coronavirus pandemic.
Just Born Quality Confections said it won’t be producing the popular marshmallow sweets for Halloween, Christmas or Valentine’s Day as the Bethlehem, Pennsylvania-based company prepares for next Easter, PennLive.com reports.
Production of the holiday-shaped candies was suspended in the spring as the coronavirus spread across the state. Limited production resumed in mid-May with protocols in place to protect employees, Just Born said.
“This situation resulted in us having to make the difficult decision to forego production of our seasonal candies for Halloween, Christmas and Valentine’s Day in order to focus on meeting the expected overwhelming demand for Peeps for next Easter season, as well as our everyday candies,” the company said.
Feds to help end virus outbreak among homeless in Anchorage
Alaska’s biggest city will receive federal support to aid in the suppression of a coronavirus outbreak in its homeless population.
There have been 168 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Anchorage’s homeless shelters and one death as of Thursday. Roughly 100 of those cases are associated with an outbreak at the Brother Francis Shelter, said Anchorage Health Department Epidemiologist Janet Johnston.
In response, the city was assigned three employees from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and one from the Department of Housing and Urban Development. The four federal staffers will help with on-site epidemiology, contact tracing and other management of the city’s outbreak, the Anchorage Daily News reported.
Oxford, AstraZeneca resumes coronavirus vaccine trial
Oxford University announced Saturday it was resuming a trial for a coronavirus vaccine it is developing with pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca, a move that comes days after the study was suspended following a reported side-effect in a U.K. patient.
In a statement, the university confirmed the restart across all of its U.K. clinical trial sites after regulators gave the go-ahead following the pause on Sunday.
The vaccine being developed by Oxford and AstraZeneca is widely perceived to be one of the strongest contenders among the dozens of coronavirus vaccines in various stages of testing around the world.
COVID-19 cases generally declining in Washington, but spike in Whitman County
The number of new coronavirus cases throughout the state has generally decreased across all age groups since the start of August, according to the most recent situation report from the Washington State Department of Health.
There’s one notable exception: Whitman County, which saw a sharp spike in cases in mid-August, around the time when health officials identified an outbreak among Washington State University students living off campus in Pullman.
“While we see some encouraging trends in case counts, the risk remains extremely high throughout the state,” state Secretary of Health John Wiesman said in a Friday statement. “The situation in Whitman County illustrates just how quickly an outbreak can wipe out our progress toward keeping case counts low."
Read the full story here.
Study: Kids infected at day care spread coronavirus at home
NEW YORK — 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.
Read the full story here.
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