Editor’s note: This is a live account of COVID-19 updates from Tuesday, September 22, 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 It is no longer being updated.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.
Tuesday is the first official day of autumn, and Washingtonians in five central and eastern counties can celebrate with traditional — and socially distanced — fall activities, including hayrides, corn mazes and pumpkin patches, according to new coronavirus guidance Gov. Jay Inslee issued Monday.
Businesses and workers continue to feel the pandemic’s economic impacts. Yet another downtown Seattle store, Columbia Sportswear, recently joined the list of businesses that won’t reopen after the pandemic.
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.
Nike shakes off pandemic blues with surging online sales
NEW YORK — Nike appears to have recovered from its pandemic slump, posting a solid quarterly profit driven by soaring online sales of its sneakers and workout apparel.
The world’s largest sports apparel maker on Tuesday reported a net profit of $1.5 billion profit, or 95 cents per share, in the three-month period ending Aug. 31, up 11% from the same 2019 quarter.
That was well ahead of Wall Street analysts’ expectations of 47 cents a share, according to FactSet. Nike’s stock surged 13% in after-hours trading following the release of the results.
In previous quarter that ended May 31, the Beaverton, Oregon-based company reported an unexpected loss, with its revenue falling 38% after digital sales failed to make up for losses in physical stores shuttered to combat the spread of the coronavirus.
But analysts had predicted a rebound because Nike has been popular with online shoppers.
In the latest quarter, Nike’s digital sales rose 82%, helping offset declines in its wholesale business and Nike-owned stores.
Walmart expands drone program with COVID-19 test-kit delivery
Walmart will test using drones to drop COVID-19 diagnostic kits at customers’ homes, the retailer’s latest move in the pandemic-fueled arena of contactless deliveries.
The company is piloting drone delivery of at-home coronavirus self-collection kits in North Las Vegas and Cheektowaga, New York, it said in a blog post Tuesday. It’s partnering with Quest Diagnostics and DroneUp, a Virginia-based drone services provider that works across various industries.
There’s no customer cost for the service, which delivers nasal swab kits to patients living within one mile of the local Walmart supercenter in those two markets. The kits include pre-paid shipping labels to send the samples back to Quest.
The goal of the experiment is to “shape contactless testing capabilities on a larger scale,” said Tom Ward, Walmart’s senior vice president of customer product.
This marks Walmart’s third drone trial in as many weeks, as it looks to catch up to rival Amazon.com.
Saudi Arabia to lift ban on Mecca pilgrimage amid virus
RIYADH, Saudi Arabia — Saudi Arabia on Tuesday said Muslims will be allowed to perform the smaller, year-round pilgrimage starting Oct. 4 as the kingdom gradually begins lifting restrictions that had been in place on Islam’s holiest site for the past seven months due to the coronavirus.
State media reported the government plans to allow up to 6,000 visitors a day at the sprawling Grand Mosque in Mecca, which will be open to Saudi citizens and residents only during this first phase.
Before visitors can enter the mosque to pray or perform the “umrah” pilgrimage, they will have to apply and reserve a specific time and date through an online application that is launching Sept. 27 to avoid crowding and maintain social-distancing guidelines. Visitors can also select via the app their means of transportation and meeting points.
The second phase launches Oct. 18, allowing a maximum of 15,000 pilgrims and 40,000 in for prayer from among residents and citizens based on allocated times via the app.
Washington confirms 645 new coronavirus cases, after error in data Monday
Health officials have confirmed the state has seen 645 new coronavirus cases and 33 additional deaths in Washington since Sunday.
The update brings the state’s totals to 83,193 infections and 2,070 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.
Health officials also reported that 7,314 people have been hospitalized in the state due to the virus. In King County, the state’s most populous, state health officials have confirmed 21,559 infections and 757 deaths.
The most recent numbers may be higher than usual, as they come after DOH retracted its Monday update when officials discovered it contained incorrect data. As a result, Tuesday's total includes additional cases that weren't reported Monday. Additionally, DOH is no longer reporting COVID-19-related deaths on weekends, so Tuesday's death tally includes all new deaths since Friday.
A department spokesperson wrote in an email Monday evening that officials have "no more clarity" to offer on the error.
DOH added Tuesday that updated negative tests results still aren't available, and expects to return to regular reporting of all data on Wednesday.
Despite the pandemic, more than 100 Seattle-area bars and restaurants petition Inslee to extend alcohol sales to 2 a.m.
From neighborhood dive bars to some of the biggest players in the local restaurant industry, more than 100 Seattle-area spots have signed a petition to extend last call for alcohol service to 2 a.m., seeking to replace Gov. Jay Inslee’s pandemic-prevention mandate of 10 p.m.
Restaurant moguls Tom Douglas and Ethan Stowell lent their establishments’ names to the long list asking for the change, as did bar maven Linda Derschang. The current 10 p.m. on-site drinking cutoff was instituted on July 30 as an augmentation to the governor’s Safe Start program to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
The petition — authored by Dan Austin, owner of West Seattle’s Peel & Press and Flight Path in Burien — argues that “These closing hours are causing more of an issue than they are solving,” calling for the state to enforce COVID-19 pandemic-prevention rules instead of curtailing hours. It also lobbies for bar games including billiards and darts to be allowed again.
“All I ask,” Austin writes to Inslee, “is that you trust me and my fellow owners to follow the mask requirements and distancing protocols you have asked for and for you to give us back our hours so we can survive.”
Under Inslee’s Safe Start Phase 2 rules, Seattle-area restaurants and bars are open at 50% capacity, with indoor seating at bars allowed only if minimum food-service requirements are met, and no seating at the bartop itself.
Inslee issues guidance for miscellaneous venues
As part of Washington’s Safe Start phased reopening plan, Gov. Jay Inslee on Tuesday issued guidance for miscellaneous venues, including convention/conference centers, designated meeting spaces in hotels, event centers and other similar venues.
The guidance allows business meetings, professional development training and similar activities to be held away from business premises, and with additional attendees, as long as all requirements are met.
Receptions (other than for limited weddings and funerals), networking events and live entertainment are prohibited.
But business meetings, trainings and testing are permitted. Indoor capacity and each room is limited to 30 percent capacity, per fire marshal code, or 200 people, whichever is less, as long as six feet of physical distance can be maintained by all employees. This excludes venue staff.
Businesses must adhere to CDC elevator and escalator protocols, and signs must be posted strongly advising no talking in elevators.
Venues must ensure persons engaging in activity conducted outdoors wear a proper face covering and maintain six feet of physical distance between other persons.
Businesses must require that meeting/training organizers ensure all attendees are pre-registered and retain contact information for all attendees.
And food service provided to attendees shall be self-contained, pre-plated or grad-and-go meals or snacks to limit contact.
Meeting/testing organizers' move-in and move-outs must be staggered to reduce gathering in groups. Scheduled meeting/tests must be adjusted to minimize attendees in common areas.
And public seating areas must be adjusted and/or removed to ensure physical distancing compliance.
State announces new COVID relief funds to support nonprofits helping youth
The Washington State Department of Commerce has partnered with School’s Out Washington to distribute approximately $9 million in state Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding to non-profits serving school-aged children and young adults that have been impacted by COVID-19.
“COVID-19 is straining individuals, families and communities in profound ways,” Commerce Director Lisa Brown said in a statement. “Many community-based nonprofits are trusted places for young adults and parents seeking safe, healthy support systems for their children. These groups have been working to address inequity and disparities in the same communities where the COVID-19 crisis threatens to widen existing disparities.”
Since Gov. Jay Inslee directed state CARES Act funds to the Department of Commerce, the agency has distributed more than $700 million in CARES funding to help with COVID-19 relief efforts across Washington.
“The COVID-19 outbreak, extended school closures and social distancing have deepened inequities and hardships for children and youth across Washington state,” said School’s Out Washington executive Director Elizabeth Whitford. “During the pandemic, youth development programs have quickly adapted their services to provide responsive supports for youth and families, and they have also been particularly impacted by the financial and programmatic challenges that have come with COVID-19.”
School’s Out Washington developed application criteria and will award grants between $10,000 and $50,000, based on the organization’s 2019 budget. Priority consideration will be given to programs that serve youth with lower access to educational opportunity and whose leaders are reflective of the populations they serve.
More details regarding this opportunity, and how to apply for a grant or to become a reviewer, are available at: http://youthdevrelief.schoolsoutwashington.org/
NIH officer retires ahead of report on his spreading virus misinformation
It would have been a dangerous assertion in the middle of a deadly pandemic no matter where it came from: that wearing masks has “little to no medical value” and could do more “harm” than wearing no mask at all.
But it was especially remarkable given the source. Published on the right-wing website RedState, it turned out to have been written under a pseudonym by William B. Crews, a public affairs officer at the National Institutes of Health, promoting the same type of discredited information about dealing with the virus that his employer was working aggressively to beat back.
Crews abruptly retired from the NIH as The Daily Beast prepared to expose his clandestine role as purveyor of misinformation. But by that point, writing for RedState under the name Streiff, Crews had published a slew of incorrect claims about this virus this year, some even directly attacking his boss, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
Finland to deploy coronavirus-sniffing dogs at Helsinki Airport
BERLIN — Finland is set to launch a coronavirus-sniffing-dog pilot program at Helsinki Airport on Wednesday, hoping that dogs could come to play a key role in screening for COVID-19.
The voluntary canine tests will deliver results within 10 seconds, and require less than a minute of travelers’ time, said Anna Hielm-Björkman, a researcher at the University of Helsinki who is using the trial to gather data.
Researchers in other countries, including the United States and the United Arab Emirates, are studying canine coronavirus tests. But the Finnish trial is among the largest in scale and furthest along.
In Dubai, health officials this summer began using dogs to analyze sweat samples from randomly selected air travelers, with more than 90% accuracy, according to initial results.
A COVID-19 vaccine for children may not arrive before fall 2021
The pandemic has many parents asking two burning questions. First, when can I get a vaccine? And second, when can my kids get it?
It may come as a surprise that the answers are not the same. Adults may be able to get a vaccine by next summer. But their kids will have to wait longer.
Perhaps a lot longer.
Pentagon used taxpayer money meant for masks and swabs to make jet engine parts and body armor
A $1 billion fund Congress gave the Pentagon in March to build up the country’s supplies of medical equipment has instead been mostly funneled to defense contractors and used to make things such as jet engine parts, body armor and dress uniforms.
The change illustrates how one taxpayer-backed effort to battle the novel coronavirus, which has killed more than 200,000 people in the United States, was instead diverted toward patching up long-standing perceived gaps in military supplies.
The Cares Act, which Congress passed this year, gave the Pentagon money to “prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus.” But a few weeks later, the Defense Department began reshaping how it would award the money in a way that represented a major departure from Congress’ intent.
The payments were made even though U.S. health officials think major funding gaps in pandemic response still remain. Many U.S. hospitals still face a severe shortage of N95 masks.
But the spending shows how the blizzard of bailout cash was — in some cases — redirected to firms that weren’t originally targeted for assistance. It also shows how difficult it has been for officials to track how money is spent and — in the case of Congress — intervene when changes are made.
Defense department officials contend they sought to strike a balance between boosting U.S. medical production and supporting the defense industry, the health of which they consider critical to national security.
Photos as world copes with pandemic on Sept. 22, 2020
Photographs from around the world on September 22, 2020.
Philippines extends state of calamity for a year
Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte says he has extended the country's state of calamity for a year to allow the government to draw COVID-19 emergency funds faster and to harness the police and military for law and order.
Duterte first placed the country under a state of calamity in March when the number of confirmed infections was approaching 200 with about a dozen deaths. The country now has more than 291,700 confirmed cases, the highest in Southeast Asia, with more than 5,000 deaths. His order will extend the state of calamity until September 2021.
The tough-talking president lashed anew at critics in his televised remarks late Monday for accusing his administration of not doing enough to contain the outbreak.
“You know Leni, if you want, if you really want to do away with COVID, let’s spray the Philippines or Manila over with pesticide to kill all …" said Duterte, specifying Vice President Leni Robredo, who leads the opposition. "The only thing that we can do, really, is to wear a mask, wear a face mask, and that’s it and wait for the vaccine.”
France’s weak spot: Virus infections rise at nursing homes
Confirmed coronavirus cases and deaths are rising in France’s nursing homes for the first time in months.
French President Emmanuel Macron, who visited a nursing home in the town of Bracieux in central France on Tuesday, tweeted shortly after his arrival that “our elders, more fragile, are more exposed to the virus. We must collectively redouble our attention.”
Families fear that French authorities have not absorbed the lessons from earlier in the pandemic, when nursing homes across the country shuttered elderly residents inside and were short of protective equipment for employees.
Of the 31,338 people confirmed to have died with the virus in France so far, more than 14,000 lived in nursing homes.
Pandemic highlights opportunity gaps in U.S. public schools
This pandemic has Geri Swann working her cellphone constantly as she deals with up to 100 emails a day seeking help for students and their families.
Finding them Chromebooks, and then buying eyeglasses for kids squinting at screens. Helping people get unemployment checks. Delivering groceries so a woman can feed her school-aged grandchildren while their parents recover from COVID-19.
This is what a community schools coordinator does — and as coronavirus infections cloud a new academic year, Swann has only been busier in support of the struggling families at her diverse Baltimore charter school.
But just when jobs like Swann's are needed most, school districts nationwide are cutting them as states lose tax revenue due to coronavirus shutdowns.
As U.S. struggles, Africa’s COVID-19 response is praised
While the coronavirus pandemic has fractured some global relationships, John Nkengasong — the director of the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — has helped to steer Africa’s 54 countries into an alliance praised as responding better than some richer countries, including the United States.
A former U.S. CDC official, Nkengasong modeled Africa’s version after his former employer and said it pains him to see the U.S. agency struggling.
While the U.S. surpasses 200,000 COVID-19 deaths and the world approaches 1 million, Africa’s surge has been leveling off. Its 1.4 million confirmed cases are far from the horrors predicted. Antibody testing is expected to show many more infections, but most cases are asymptomatic. Just over 34,000 deaths are confirmed on the continent of 1.3 billion people.
‘Unfathomable’: US death toll from coronavirus hits 200,000
The U.S. death toll from the coronavirus topped 200,000 Tuesday, a figure unimaginable eight months ago when the scourge first reached the world’s richest nation with its state-of-the-art laboratories, top-flight scientists and stockpiles of medicines and emergency supplies.
“It is completely unfathomable that we’ve reached this point,” said Jennifer Nuzzo, a Johns Hopkins University public health researcher.
The bleak milestone, by far the highest confirmed death toll from the virus in the world, was reported by Johns Hopkins, based on figures supplied by state health authorities. But the real toll is thought to be much higher, in part because many COVID-19 deaths were probably ascribed to other causes, especially early on, before widespread testing.
The number of dead in the U.S. is equivalent to a 9/11 attack every day for 67 days. It is roughly equal to the population of Salt Lake City or Huntsville, Alabama.
And it is still climbing. Deaths are running at close to 770 a day on average, and a widely cited model from the University of Washington predicts the U.S. toll will double to 400,000 by the end of the year as schools and colleges reopen and cold weather sets in. A vaccine is unlikely to become widely available until 2021.
Campus outbreak brings uncertainty to San Diego’s reopening
The start of the semester at San Diego State University was, as always, a time for students to make and renew friendships on and off its urban campus and enjoy the beach and the city’s unmatched August weather.
The coronavirus meant far fewer people returned to campus this year but the parties, cookouts and other festivities that mark the start of the fall semester went on as usual for a week or two, then abruptly stopped as infections quickly mounted.
James Floyd, a freshman from Davis, California, noticed a mood change when classmates began getting tested. “Once a friend got it, they got scared,” he said.
There have been larger outbreaks at U.S. colleges, but none may be more impactful than the one at San Diego State.
A pandemic upshot: Seniors are having second thoughts about where to live
Older adults are rethinking the question of where to live as they age anew in light of the ongoing toll of the coronavirus pandemic — disrupted lives, social isolation, mounting deaths.
Some people who planned to move to senior housing are now choosing to live independently rather than communally. Others wonder whether transferring to a setting where they can get more assistance might be the right call.
These decisions, hard enough during ordinary times, are now fraught with uncertainty as the economy falters and COVID-19 deaths climb, including tens of thousands in nursing homes and assisted living centers.
As Europe faces second wave of virus, tracing apps lack impact
Mobile apps tracing new coronavirus cases were touted as a key part of Europe’s plan to beat the outbreak. Seven months into the pandemic, virus cases are surging again and the apps have not been widely adopted due to privacy concerns, technical problems and lack of interest from the public.
Britain, Portugal and Finland this month became the latest to unveil smartphone apps that alert people if they’ve been near someone who turned out to be infected so they can seek treatment or isolate – a key step in breaking the chain of contagion.
But a few countries have scrapped their tracing apps and others that have rolled them out have found so few users that the technology is not very effective. The adoption rate goes from about a third of the population in Finland and Ireland, to 22% in Germany and a meager 4% in France.
Health officials initially targeted a 60% adoption rate, an optimistic goal based on an Oxford University study from April, although researchers noted a lower uptake still helps if other measures, such as social distancing, are enforced.
Greece: Prosecutors told to put anti-maskers on trial
Judicial authorities in Greece received instructions Tuesday to pursue the prosecution of anti-mask activists with fast-tracked trials and penalties for convictions of up to a year in prison.
The instructions issued by a Supreme Court prosecutor described activists who oppose government orders to wear masks to curb the coronavirus as a threat to public health and public order.
While Greece’s COVID-19 infection rate remains lower than in most other European Union member nations, the country has seen a sharp increase in confirmed cases since early August. Anti-maskers have since stepped up activity.
Six more months of coronavirus restrictions, UK leader warns
Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned Britons on Tuesday that they should not expect to return to a normal social or work life for at least six months, as he ordered new restrictions that he hopes will suppress a dramatic surge in coronavirus cases.
Saying that Britain had to act now or face a huge second wave of COVID-19, Johnson announced a package of new restrictions, including requiring pubs, restaurants and other entertainment venues in England to close down between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. and urging people to work from home where possible.
Just weeks ago, Johnson had encouraged workers to go back into the office to keep city centers from becoming ghost towns and expressed hope that society could return to normal by Christmas. In a stark change of tone, he said Tuesday that “for the time being, this virus is a fact of our lives.”
Quarantine Corner: Things to do while staying home
Looking for something new to read? Here are six appealing nonfiction titles, fresh out in paperback.
The first day of autumn calls out for comfort food, like this homemade tomato soup from teen chef Sadie.
What to do with those beans you panic-purchased last spring: Try this recipe from a new cookbook that features easy recipes your kids will eat.
South Africa’s rhino poaching drops during virus lockdown
South Africa’s anti-COVID-19 lockdown is credited with helping to achieve a dramatic drop in rhino killings, but as the country opens up experts warn of a possible resurgence of poaching of one of Earth’s most endangered mammals.
Redoubled efforts are critical to protect the country’s rhinoceros population, South African officials and wildlife activists say, as World Rhino Day is marked Tuesday.
South Africa’s nationwide shutdown to combat the spread of the coronavirus was imposed at the end of March and stopped all international and domestic travel. The country has gradually reopened and will allow a return of international tourists on Oct. 1.
In the first six months of 2020, the numbers of South African rhinos killed by poachers fell by more than 50% from the previous year, to 166, according to official statistics from the environment department.
Does the coronavirus spread easily among children?
Does the coronavirus spread easily among children?
It appears the virus can spread among children and teens, but how easily may vary by age. Research is still underway, but children under age 10 seem to be less likely than older kids to transmit the virus to other children and adults.
With other respiratory viruses, “young children are the germ factories. In this case, it’s different and we don’t really know why,’’ said Dr. Sean O’Leary of the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Catch up on the past 24 hours
New guidelines about how the virus spreads were yanked down from the CDC's website yesterday. The guidelines marked a profound shift, experts said after they were posted quietly. But the CDC said they were a "draft version" that had been posted in error. This threatens to undermine the agency's credibility, amid accusations that the Trump administration is meddling in its scientific process.
How the economic downturn is hitting Washingtonians: The state has unveiled a new interactive tool to track the virus' impact on our economy. It's already showing where residents are most in need of food assistance, which industries are recovering fastest and more.
Millions of Americans are in danger of missing relief payments of up to $1,200 per individual because of incomplete government records. Eligible people are urged to register as soon as possible.
Why are N95 masks still so hard to get in the world's richest country? The story of one mask that wound up on an ER nurse's face illustrates what's keeping the lifesaving item largely out of reach for millions of Americans.
Older Americans are having second thoughts about where to live as COVID-19 steals lives, independence and social interactions at senior housing facilities.
Mass testing is no magic bullet against the virus, and in some ways it may be making matters worse, Europe is finding. Britain is imposing new restrictions today as infections double there every seven days. Smartphones were supposed to be a key part of the fight, too, but that's not working out so well.
The NFL fined Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll and two others $100,000 yesterday for violating rules regarding wearing face coverings during games. The league's actions are designed to send a message about compliance with COVID-19 protocols.
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