Editor’s note: This is a live account of COVID-19 updates from Saturday, September 19, 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 It is no longer being updated.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.
While the White House has pushed for a quick approval of a nationwide coronavirus vaccine, China and Russia have already begun a mass rollout of theirs — before clinical tests are complete. In the U.S., two companies have revealed their secret blueprints for vaccine trials, a move meant to ease suspicions that President Donald Trump’s rush to produce a vaccine could result in an unsafe product.
Meanwhile, as we near six months since Washington’s stay-home order, mental health experts warn that things may get worse. Here’s some resources for those struggling with life mid-pandemic.
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.
Washington confirms 597 new COVID-19 cases
Health officials confirmed 597 new coronavirus cases on Saturday. The state no longer updates deaths on weekends.
The update brings the state’s totals to 82,199 infections and 2,037 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 7,248 people have been hospitalized in the state due to the virus and 1,723,040 total coronavirus tests have been administered.
In King County, the state’s most populous, state health officials have confirmed 21,388 infections and 751 deaths.
Virus measures targeted by protesters in Europe and Israel despite case spikes
LONDON (AP) — Demonstrators took the streets of London, Tel Aviv and other cities on Saturday to protest coronavirus restrictions, decrying how the measures have affected daily life even with infection rates rising in many places and the global death toll approaching 1 million.
In the U.K., the latest official estimates released Friday showed that new infections and coronavirus hospital admissions have been doubling every seven to eight days. Britain has Europe’s highest death toll since the start of the pandemic, with 41,821 confirmed virus-related deaths.
The government recently banned social gatherings of more than six people in the hopes that it would help reverse a steep rise in COVID-19 cases and suggested that tougher restrictions could be coming.
Saturday’s protest in Trafalgar Square, which was themed “Resist and Act for Freedom,” ended in clashes between demonstrators and London police, as officers tried to disperse hundreds of people holding banners and placards scrawled with anti-restriction messages such as “This is now Tyranny.”
London Mayor Sadiq Khan has warned that the city may add curfews, force pubs to close earlier and ban household visits to try to limit the city’s sharp rise in new cases.
“I am extremely concerned by the latest evidence I’ve seen today from public health experts about the accelerating speed at which COVID-19 is now spreading here in London,” Khan said Friday. “It is increasingly likely that, in London, additional measures will soon be required to slow the spread of the virus.”
Read more about the international protests here.
Election-year politics complicate vaccine message
President Donald Trump's promise that a coronavirus vaccine will be available before Election Day is presenting a delicate political challenge for Democratic officials.
Democrats, independents and even some Republicans have expressed concern about the safety and effectiveness of a vaccine produced on such an aggressive timeline. But attacking the vaccine claims could risk undermining public confidence in a potential lifesaving medicine, and make it look as though Democrats are rooting against a potential cure.
The tricky balancing act Democrats must make was reflected this week in an answer Gov. Jay Inslee gave when asked whether he'd be willing to roll up his sleeve for a vaccine released by this administration before the election.
"If all the protocols had been followed and the evidence is in, of course, I'd follow science. It doesn't matter when it happens," Inslee told The Associated Press. "But I would have to look at the science, not Donald Trump. There isn't one single thing I would ever trust from Donald Trump to be true."
Read more about how election-year politics is shaping the Democrats' response to the coronavirus here.
Wary of coronavirus, Bavarians cut Oktoberfest celebrations
Saturday marked the start of Oktoberfest in Germany, but this year's official celebration in Munich has been canceled, replaced with smaller parties due to the coronavirus pandemic.
About 50 Munich beer halls are hosting celebrations that follow guidelines on mask wearing, social distancing and other restrictions. Police are patrolling the regular festival grounds to make sure no spontaneous parties break out.
Canceling the official ceremony is likely to be a huge financial hit for the Bavarian city. Last year, 6.3 million guests came to raise a stein celebrating the festival's 186th year. The toned-down celebrations will run through Oct. 4.
Read more about how Germans are celebrating Oktoberfest this year here.
Maine blueberry harvest jeopardized by coronavirus
Maine's wild blueberry harvest is being jeopardized by a variety of factors this year, from environmental issues to a shortage of seasonal workers to pick the crop due to COVID-19.
Drought, which affected much of northern New England throughout the summer, has been one of the biggest problems. The pandemic is making it more difficult to hire seasonal workers and is creating a need for additional safety measures that are complicating the harvest.
This year, after some blueberry workers tested positive for coronavirus, companies responded by keeping them in quarantine. Workers were tested before they began work to prevent future outbreaks. That helped prevent the virus from spreading to surrounding communities, a local industry expert spokesman said.
Read more about Maine's wild blueberry harvest here.
Coronavirus cases continue to surge in India
India has maintained its surge in coronavirus cases, adding 93,337 new confirmed infections in the past 24 hours.
The Health Ministry on Saturday raised the nation’s caseload to more than 5.3 million out of the nearly 1.4 billion people. It said 1,247 more people died in the past 24 hours for a total of 85,619. The country has over a million active cases with about 80% recovery rate.
India has been reporting the highest single-day rise in the world every day for more than five weeks. It’s expected to become the pandemic’s worst-hit country within weeks, surpassing the United States.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government has faced scathing criticism from opposition lawmakers in India’s Parliament for its handling of the pandemic amid a contracting economy leaving millions jobless.
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