Editor’s note: This is a live account of COVID-19 updates from Tuesday, Sept. 15, 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 It is no longer being updated.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.
College and university officials continue to struggle with coronavirus outbreaks as students return to campuses, a difficult problem that leaves even the most prepared of schools scrambling.
In Pullman, health officials and administrators are dealing with Washington State University’s party problem, which has led to one of the state’s most dire coronavirus hot spots. In Seattle — following an outbreak that began in fraternity houses — the University of Washington is planning widespread, voluntary COVID-19 testing for students, faculty and staff as they return to campus.
Throughout Tuesday, on this page, we’ll post updates on the outbreak and its effects on the Seattle area, the Pacific Northwest and the world. Updates from Monday are here, and all our coronavirus coverage can be found here.
U.S. poverty hit a record low before the pandemic recession
WASHINGTON — A record-low share of Americans were living in poverty, incomes were climbing, and health insurance coverage was little changed in 2019, a government report released Tuesday showed — although the circumstances of many have deteriorated as pandemic lockdowns and industry disruptions have thrown millions out of work.
The share of Americans living in poverty fell to 10.5% in 2019, the Census Bureau reported, down 1.3 percentage points from 2018. That rate is the lowest since estimates were first published in 1959.
Household incomes increased to their highest level on record dating to 1967, at $68,700 in inflation-adjusted terms. That change came as individual workers saw their earnings climb and as the total number of people working increased.
Methodology changes made after 2013 make comparing data across time tricky. But even adjusting for those differences, the 2019 income figures appeared to be the highest on record, based on Census Bureau estimates.
The data may also have been somewhat skewed by the pandemic. Interviews for this year’s income and poverty report were disrupted by the virus, the Census Bureau said. Some economists warned that the disruptions could have made the data look too rosy: The people who responded to surveys were more likely to have high education and income levels. Analysts at the Census Bureau estimated that poverty would have been slightly higher, at 11.1%, without the resulting data quirks.
Iowa governor won’t budge on masks even as virus deaths rise
DES MOINES, Iowa — Plenty of Republican governors initially rejected mask mandates, but few have held to their skepticism amid soaring coronavirus cases with the tenacity of Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds.
Reynolds scoffs at calls for a statewide mask order, calling them “feel-good” actions, and refuses to let city officials enforce local mandates, even as the small, largely rural state maintains one of the highest COVID-19 positivity rates and has topped 1,200 dead. While she implores residents to wear masks while indoors when social distancing isn’t possible, she has said not everyone believes they’re effective and frequently is photographed mingling at crowded events without a mask.
“I think the goal is to do what we can to reduce the spread of the virus,” Reynolds said last week. “I believe that is the end goal and that we can get there without a mask mandate. I believe that and that’s what I’m going to consistently do.”
It’s a stand that has frustrated public health experts and exasperated some mayors, but unlike governors in other states, Reynolds has made clear she’s not budging.
Reynolds’ argument against a mandate boils down to three points: a mask requirement can’t be enforced, other factors are to blame for rising virus cases and people should have the freedom to make their own choices.
India surpasses 5 million coronavirus cases, 82,066 deaths
NEW DELHI — India’s coronavirus confirmed cases crossed 5 million on Wednesday, still soaring and testing the country’s feeble health care system in tens of thousands of impoverished towns and villages.
The Health Ministry reported 90,123 new cases in the past 24 hours, raising the nation’s confirmed total to 5,020,359, about 0.35% of its nearly 1.4 billion population. It said 1,290 more people died in the past 24 hours, for a total of 82,066.
India’s total coronavirus caseload is closing in on the United States’ highest tally of more than 6.6 million cases and expected to surpass it within weeks.
India reported a record daily high of 97,570 cases on Sept. 11 and has added more than 1 million cases this month alone.
Experts warned that India’s case fatality rate could increase in coming weeks with lockdown restrictions relaxed except in high-risk areas.
Some Tacoma Public Schools students to possibly return to in-person learning by the end of the month
Tacoma Public Schools' youngest students, who now are enrolled in remote learning because of the spread of coronavirus, could return to in-person classes by the end of September, the district said in an email to families Tuesday night.
Students in kindergarten and first and second grade could move to a "hybrid model" of learning by Sept. 28 — a model that would allow them to come in to school four days a week, the email said. Wednesdays would be spent learning from home.
By Oct. 12, the district is hoping students in third, fourth and fifth grade would return to in-person learning two days a week — either Monday and Tuesday, or Thursday and Friday.
By Nov. 2, the oldest students, those in sixth through 12th grade, could possibly return to school for two days a week.
The in-person learning model would only go into effect if Pierce County continues to meet COVID-19 targets set by the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department and state Department of Health, the email said.
No further information about the district's plan was immediately available.
COVID-19 testing in Seattle homeless shelters highlights risks of communal conditions
Border detention facilities, prisons and refugee camps have something in common with communal homeless shelters, University of Washington School of Medicine researchers say.
They’re home to “closed, crowded conditions where people have to live in small spaces and share a lot of common facilities,” said Dr. Helen Y. Chu, associate professor at the UW School of Medicine. Researchers from her lab have spent the last four months routinely testing residents of King County homeless shelters for COVID-19.
An analysis of those four months of testing was published Tuesday in the Annals of Internal Medicine. Researchers found that of the 1,434 homeless shelter residents tested for COVID-19 across 14 shelters, 29 turned up positive. Twenty-one had no symptoms when they were tested, and 24 of them had slept in a communal shelter in the prior week, as opposed to a private or family room.
The findings, particularly those showing the degree of asymptomatic spread, highlight how important it is to create safer conditions for people in crowded settings and to test vulnerable people regularly outside of the clinic, researchers say.
Coronavirus deaths in kids echoes toll in adults, CDC says
NEW YORK — A detailed look at COVID-19 deaths in U.S. kids and young adults released Tuesday shows they mirror patterns seen in older patients.
The report examined 121 deaths of those younger than 21, as of the end of July. Like older adults, many of them had one or more medical condition — like lung problems, including asthma, obesity, heart problems or developmental conditions.
Deaths were also more common among those in certain racial and ethnic groups, according to the report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC found 54 were Hispanic, 35 were Black, and 17 were white, even though overall there are far more white Americans than Black and Hispanic.
“It’s really pretty striking. It’s similar to what we see in adults,” and may reflect many things, including that many essential workers who have to go to work are Black and Hispanic parents, said Dr. Andrew Pavia, a pediatric infectious diseases expert at the University of Utah. He was not involved in the CDC study.
The numbers of young deaths are small though. They represent about 0.08% of the total U.S. deaths reported to CDC at the time, though children and college-age adults make up 26% of the U.S. population.
Minnesota calls on Trump, Biden to follow virus guidelines
MINNEAPOLIS — Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz urged the campaigns of President Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden on Tuesday to abide by the state’s guidelines for slowing the spread of the coronavirus when the candidates visit Minnesota on Friday.
“Partner with us in the fight against COVID-19,” the Democratic governor said in a letter to both campaigns.
Trump may be running as the “law and order” candidate, but that hasn’t stopped him and his campaign from openly defying state emergency orders and flouting his own administration’s guidelines as he holds rallies in battleground states. Trump has an airport rally scheduled for Friday in the north-central Minnesota city of Bemidji. Biden’s campaign has not yet announced a city or venue for his visit.
Walz said Minnesota requires face masks inside public places and strongly encourages them for outdoor gatherings.
The governor did not say in his letter how state and local officials will respond if either campaign fails to follow the guidelines for their events. Walz spokesman Teddy Tschann said they hope to hear back from the campaigns soon, and that they’ll comply voluntarily instead of forcing the state to enforce its guidelines.
Experts worry as U.S. virus restrictions are eased or violated
PROVIDENCE, R.I. — State and local officials around the U.S. are rolling back social-distancing rules again after an abortive effort over the summer, allowing bars, restaurants and gyms to open. Fans are gathering mask-free at football games. President Donald Trump is holding crowded indoor rallies.
While some Americans may see such things as a welcome step closer to normal, public health experts warn the U.S. is setting itself up for failure — again.
“Folks are becoming very cavalier about the pandemic,” said Mark Rupp, professor and chief of infectious diseases at the University of Nebraska Medical Center. Nebraska’s governor ended nearly all of his state’s restrictions on Monday, even with new cases of COVID-19 on the rise.
“I think it is setting us up for further transmission and more people getting ill and, unfortunately, more people dying,” Rupp said.
Amid virus surge, Bordeaux closes matches to spectators
PARIS — Top-flight French football club Bordeaux has decided to play without fans for the indefinite future, after regional officials tightened restrictions on public gatherings in the city to curb surging COVID-19 infections.
A club statement Tuesday said its “next matches” would be closed to spectators, without specifying the exact duration. Bordeaux next plays at home on Sept. 27, against Nice.
Washington confirms 327 new coronavirus cases
Health officials confirmed 327 new COVID-19 cases and nine additional deaths in Washington on Tuesday.
The update brings the state’s totals to 80,465 infections and 2,015 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. Monday. Death tallies may be higher early in the week, as DOH is no longer reporting COVID-19-related deaths on weekends.
Health officials also reported that 7,127 people have been hospitalized in the state due to the virus.
In King County, the state’s most populous, state health officials have confirmed 20,960 infections and 748 deaths.
A woman with covid-19 gave birth while on a ventilator. Months later, the baby is close to going home.
Blanca Rodriguez was overjoyed anticipating the October due date of her first daughter. But she came down with covid-19 over the summer when she was seven months pregnant, and the Southern California woman was put on a ventilator.
The baby wasn’t getting enough oxygen and her life was in danger, so doctors made an agonizing decision: They performed a Caesarean section and baby Jade came into the world nearly three months early, at just 28 weeks.
The situation was dire for both mother and baby, and doctors did not know if they would survive, said Kanwaljeet Maken, one of the doctors who cared for Rodriguez in the intensive care unit of Loma Linda University Health in Loma Linda, Calif.
“It’s my nightmare when I get a pregnant patient in the ICU,” Maken said. “It’s stressful because you’re dealing with two lives at that time.”
Rodriguez’s symptoms came on suddenly and severely in late July, when she struggled to breathe and assumed it was because the baby was pressing on her ribs.
“It felt like somebody’s suffocating you,” said Rodriguez, 32, a stay-at-home mom who lives in Adelanto, Calif. “It felt horrible.”
Washington COVID Response Corps is recruiting young people to fight hunger during the pandemic
In an effort to involve young people in helping those impacted by the current pandemic, the Schultz Family Foundation has partnered with Serve Washington to form the Washington COVID Response Corps.
The youth-service corps -- which the foundation believes is the first of its kind in the nation -- will combine resources from federal and state governments with support from private philanthropy.
In October, 100 Americorps members between the ages of 17 and 25 will be “recruited and deployed” over the next year, assisting community organizations working to offset food insecurity in Washington state, according to a statement from the Schultz Family Foundation.
In announcing the Washington COVID Response Corps, the foundation quoted statistics from the Washington State Department of Agriculture saying that the number of people relying on food assistance has doubled since the beginning of the pandemic to more than 2.2 million people.
The Washington COVID Response Corps “will build the capacity of local non-profits to address food insecurity,” the statement said, “while creating service opportunities for young people from diverse racial, ethnic and financial backgrounds.”
Corps members will support food packing and distribution at food banks, managing and serving meal distribution sites at schools, delivering food to the elderly and people with disabilities, providing food access to vulnerable populations and cultivating and harvesting fresh fruits and vegetables from community gardens.
The University of Washington estimates that that 30 percent of households in the state are food insecure, the foundation said, and that people of color are 1.5 times more likely to be food insecure than white people.
“At the same time,” the statement said, “a generation of young people are having their lives disrupted as their educations are interrupted and work opportunities are harder to find.”
Up to 40 percent of incoming freshmen are unlikely to attend college this fall, the statement said, quoting SimpsonScarborough, a higher education research agency; and nationally, the youth unemployment rate was at 18.5 percent in 2020 -- twice as high as the year before.
Young people interested in applying for the Washington COVID Response Corps can visit www.CovidResponseCorps.org to find an AmeriCorps program in their local community. Programs plan to select members by October 15 so they can participate in the AmeriCorps Swearing-in Ceremony on October 30.
Even as cases rise, Europe is learning to live with the coronavirus
PARIS — In the early days of the pandemic, President Emmanuel Macron exhorted the French to wage “war” against the coronavirus. Today, his message is to “learn how to live with the virus.”
From full-fledged conflict to cold war containment, France and much of the rest of Europe have opted for coexistence as infections keep rising, summer recedes into a risk-filled autumn and the possibility of a second wave haunts the continent.
Having abandoned hopes of eradicating the virus or developing a vaccine within weeks, Europeans have largely gone back to work and school, leading lives as normally as possible amid an enduring pandemic that has already killed nearly 215,000 in Europe.
The approach contrasts sharply to the United States, where restrictions to protect against the virus have been politically divisive and where many regions have pushed ahead with reopening schools, shops and restaurants without having baseline protocols in place. The result has been nearly as many deaths as in Europe, although among a far smaller population.
3 more COVID cases linked to American’s bar crawl in Bavaria
BERLIN — Authorities in southern Germany have recorded three more COVID-19 infections in people who frequented bars visited by a 26-year-old American woman suspected of flouting quarantine rules in the Alpine resort of Garmisch-Partenkirchen.
The latest cases take the total number of recent infections in the town to 59, including 25 staff at a hotel resort where the woman worked that caters to U.S. military personnel.
Anton Speer, who heads the county administration, told reporters Tuesday that authorities are still waiting for the results of about 300 tests conducted Monday and it was too soon to give the “all-clear.” The three new infections emerged from 740 tests conducted over the weekend.
Bavaria’s governor, Markus Soeder, called the outbreak in Garmisch-Partenkirchen “a model case of stupidity” because the 26-year-old American had gone partying despite having COVID-19 symptoms and awaiting a test result.
MLB bubble playoffs: The World Series will be played in Arlington; first time at one site since 1944
NEW YORK — The World Series will be played entirely at the Texas Rangers’ new ballpark in Arlington, Texas, as part of a bubble agreement between Major League Baseball and the players’ association, the first time the sport’s championship will be played entirely at one site since 1944.
As part of an agreement finalized Tuesday, the Division Series, League Championship Series and World Series will be part of a bubble designed to minimize exposure to the coronavirus, which decimated the regular season and limited it to a 60-game schedule for each club. The best-of-three first round of the postseason — expanded from 10 to 16 teams this year — will be at the top-seeded teams.
The World Series will be at Globe Life Park in Arlington, a retractable roof stadium with artificial turf that opened this year adjacent to the Rangers’ old ballpark. The American League Championship Series will be at San Diego’s Petco Park, and the National League at Globe Life Park.
The AL Division Series will be at San Diego and Los Angeles’ Dodger Stadium, and the NL Division Series at Globe Life and Houston’s Minute Maid Park.
Covid-19 kills far more Hispanic and Black children than white ones
The coronavirus is killing Hispanic, Black and American Indian children at much higher numbers than their white peers, according to federal statistics released Tuesday.
The new numbers — the most comprehensive U.S. accounting to date of pediatric infections and fatalities — show there have been 391,814 confirmed cases and 121 deaths among people under the age of 21 from February to July.
Of those killed by covid-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus, more than three-quarters have been Hispanic, Black and American Indian children, even though they represent 41 percent of the U.S. population, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The federal agency collected data from health departments throughout the country.
Trump seizes on judge’s ruling that Pennsylvania lockdown is unconstitutional
Shutdown restrictions ordered by Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus were unconstitutional, a federal judge ruled Monday – a decision that was quickly celebrated by President Donald Trump, who said he hopes the decision is followed by similar pronouncements in other states.
The state’s limits on gatherings and closure of nonessential businesses violated the First Amendment and the due process and equal protection clauses of the 14th Amendment, according to a 66-page opinion by U.S. District Judge William Stickman, a Trump appointee. The governor’s office confirmed that sit will appeal the decision.
The case stemmed from a complaint filed in May by four Pennsylvania counties – Butler, Fayette, Greene and Washington – that argued against the state’s orders to close “non-life-sustaining” businesses and limit gatherings to 25 people indoors or 250 people outdoors.
Stickman said “open-ended” measures imposed on people with no known end are an overreaching violation of constitutional rights.
“The court believes that defendants undertook their actions in a well-intentioned effort to protect Pennsylvanians from the virus,” the ruling said. “However, good intentions toward a laudable end are not alone enough to uphold governmental action against a constitutional challenge.”
What are the 3 types of coronavirus tests?
What are the different types of coronavirus tests?
There are three broad categories of coronavirus tests in the U.S.: genetic tests, antigen tests and antibody tests.
Two diagnose whether you have an active infection, and a third indicates if you previously had the virus.
Virus death toll linked to Maine wedding grows to 5
At least five people have died in connection to a coronavirus outbreak that continues to sicken people in Maine following a wedding reception over the summer that violated state virus guidelines, public health authorities said.
The August wedding reception at the Big Moose Inn in Millinocket is linked to more than 175 confirmed cases of the virus, the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention said Monday.
The cases stemming from the wedding, attended by more than 65, have spanned hundreds of miles in a state that had largely controlled the spread of the coronavirus to fewer than 5,000 cases since March.
The wedding was officiated by pastor Todd Bell of Calvary Baptist Church in Sanford. Calvary Baptist Church issued a statement Tuesday that defended its right to continue holding services.
Pelosi: House to stay in session until COVID-19 rescue pact
WASHINGTON — Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Tuesday the House will remain in session until lawmakers deliver another round of COVID-19 relief, a move that came as Democrats from swing districts signaled discontent with a standoff that could force them to face voters without delivering more aid.
“We are committed to staying here until we have an agreement, an agreement that meets the needs of the American people,” Pelosi said on CNBC.
Pelosi told her Democratic colleagues on a morning conference call that “we have to stay here until we have a bill.” That’s according to a Democratic aide speaking on condition of anonymity but authorized to quote her remarks.
Bobsled world championships moved to Germany over coronavirus worries
This season’s bobsled and skeleton world championships were awarded to Altenberg, Germany, and moved out of Lake Placid, New York, on Tuesday because of concerns about the coronavirus pandemic and potential travel complications.
The International Bobsled and Skeleton Federation said it made the move “to protect the health of athletes and spectators across the globe.” Lake Placid will be awarded the 2025 world championships instead.
Concerns with going forward with the event in Lake Placid as planned included the possibility that athletes from some nations would be unwilling or unable to come to the U.S. during the pandemic; an uncertainty about whether Mount Van Hoevenberg — the site of Lake Placid’s sliding track — would be able to have fans present; and the lack of clarity about whether a lengthy quarantine period would be required for those coming into the area for the championships.
Pandemic forces journalists to rethink campaign coverage
The pandemic that instantly changed the 2020 presidential campaign forced news organizations to reevaluate coverage plans, too. It’s an ongoing process: several reporters who followed Trump to Nevada on Sunday stayed outside when they learned the president’s rally would be held indoors.
For months, news executives wondered if they would be covering a campaign without campaigning, although it has grown more public after Labor Day.
“In a way, it gave us an opportunity to reassess how we do things,” said Peter Wallsten, senior politics editor at The Washington Post. “It’s not clear whether how the media has been covering campaigns in the past has been the right way.”
Quarantine Corner: Things to do while staying home
If you're juggling work and school at home, making lunches might feel like the last straw. Here are five great options for free or low-cost lunches for kids in the Seattle area.
Celebrate the sweetness of life with teen chef Sadie Davis-Suskind's recipe for Apple and Honey Challah, just in time for Rosh Hashana.
Moira’s Book Club has chosen a New York Times bestselling novel to read next. If you're in search of something else, try "Homeland Elegies," in which Ayad Akhtar cements himself as one of America’s most vital writers.
Catch up on the past 24 hours
UW is planning extensive COVID-19 testing this fall and expects to find hundreds of positive cases in the first round. A cautionary tale awaits at another university that had a tiptop coronavirus plan … except that its students partied on.
The virus' second wave is hitting sooner than expected in the U.K., where some people must travel hundreds of miles to find a test.
A top Trump aide in the fight against the virus has accused scientists of broad conspiracies and warned of an armed revolt by hit squads, without evidence. "You understand that they’re going to have to kill me,” Michael Caputo told followers in a video on his Facebook page.
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