Editor’s note: This is a live account of COVID-19 updates from Friday, September 25, 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 It is no longer being updated.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.
House Democrats have returned to the drawing board to work on a huge COVID-19 relief bill, an effort that has stalled for months while they negotiate with Senate Republicans on hundreds of legislative details.
In Washington, Gov. Jay Inslee on Thursday announced safety requirements for commercial airport service, which include physical distancing, employee screening, personal protective equipment and ways to provide services while reducing close interactions with others.
Throughout Friday, 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 Thursday are here, and all our coronavirus coverage can be found here.
Washington surpasses 1.8 million coronavirus tests conducted
The state Department of Health (DOH) reported 988 new coronavirus cases and 20 additional deaths on Friday, based on data through Thursday night.
Although the number of new cases seemingly indicates a big spike from recent days, Thursday's number includes 486 cases from Clark County that had been previously reported but had not been entered into the state’s data system, the DOH said.
The number of tests conducted in the state has surpassed 1.8 million, with nearly 18,000 more tests reported Thursday compared to Wednesday. Hospitalizations from the virus that causes the COVID-19 disease rose to 7,412, 55 more than a day earlier, the data show.
Of the 20 additional deaths reported in Friday's update, nine of them occurred in King County. Of the 2,100 deaths reported state-wide, nearly 37% of patients have died here, the state's most populous county.
U.S. COVID fight not over "by a long shot" large study suggests
Fewer than 1 in 10 Americans showed signs of past infection with the novel coronavirus as of late July, suggesting that most of the country may still be vulnerable to infection, according to one of the largest studies of its kind published Friday in the journal The Lancet.
That proportion is an estimate based on the percentage of dialysis patients whose immune systems produced coronavirus antibodies. It does not indicate exactly how many Americans may be immune to the virus, because not every infected individual develops antibodies. It is also unclear how strong a defense antibodies might confer or for how long. But, combined with similar results from studies by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other institutions, it’s evident a large majority may not be protected against a disease that has already killed 200,000 Americans.
“We are still in the middle of the fight,” said Eli Rosenberg, a State University of New York at Albany epidemiologist who was not part of the study. “We’re all tired, and we’re all hoping for a vaccine. This shows us how it’s not over here, not even by a long shot.”
View the full story here.
Business group offers pandemic grants to Seattle-area Black-owned businesses
Tabor 100, a business group with a nearly 20-year history of support for the Seattle area’s Black- and minority-owned businesses, will begin offering grants to Black-owned businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic — many of which have been left out of state and federal coronavirus relief programs.
Tabor launched its Black Business Equity Fund this week with nearly $1.3 million contributed by Amazon, the city of Seattle, Facebook, Puget Sound Energy, the Seattle Foundation and Vulcan. Half the fund will go to grants; the rest will support small-business training offered through Tabor’s Economic Development Hub.
The group, which aims to raise an additional $3.2 million for the fund, hasn’t yet determined the size of the grants or how it will select recipients, said Tabor 100 President Ollie Garrett.
As debate over Sweden’s COVID-19 response continues, cases in the country are on the rise
Sweden, where a shutdown-free pandemic response prompted a global debate, is seeing another wave of COVID-19 cases, with the country’s state epidemiologist warning this week that it was heading in the “wrong direction” as winter approaches.
Sweden’s public health body recorded 554 new COVID-19 cases Thursday — the highest since early July — and 417 on Friday, according to its online tracking tool, capping off what epidemiologist Anders Tegnell had warned would be a “record week” for new cases.
Unlike many other nations, Sweden pursued a policy for containing the virus that avoided strict government measures such as school or restaurant closures. The success or failure of that policy is still being debated far beyond Sweden’s border.
77 workers at Oregon seafood plant test positive for virus
Dozens of employees at a seafood processing plant on the Oregon coast have tested positive for the coronavirus, Clatsop County officials said Thursday.
Pacific Seafood used a private lab earlier this week to test the Warrenton, Oregon, plant’s 159 night-shift workers, and 77 tested positive, The Astorian reported.
The Oregon Health Authority is taking the lead in arranging for quarantine of the affected individuals and is conducting contact tracing, the county said in a statement. The agency was also testing other employees, officials said.
The cases are believed to be connected to Labor Day activities, a Pacific Seafood manger said.
Officials report Oregon’s largest daily COVID-19 case count
The Oregon Health Authority reported 457 new confirmed COVID-19 cases Friday, the state’s largest daily total since the start of the pandemic.
Officials attributed the rise in cases to Labor Day gatherings, the return of college students to campuses and the interruption of testing during recent wildfires.
“Today we find ourselves at another crossroads,” said Oregon Health Authority Director Patrick Allen. “After weeks of steady decline in COVID-19, cases have begun rising.”
Currently more than 32,300 people in Oregon have tested positive for the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. The death toll is 542.
Under virus strain, Europe’s leaders plead at U.N. for unity
Struggling to contain resurgent virus infections, European leaders decried a collective failure to vanquish the pandemic and told the U.N. General Assembly on Friday that the time has come for countries to reinvent international cooperation.
This year’s unusual work-from-home General Assembly — with leaders communicating only in prerecorded speeches — comes as COVID-19 cases escalate in many regions but especially in Europe, where some of the world’s most advanced hospitals in some of the world’s richest countries are again under strain.
“This emergency has, more than a thousand treaties or speeches, made us suddenly realize that we are part of one single world,” said Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez.
The pandemic “has also revealed the fragility of countries that thought they were strong. It has thrown us all into the same sudden battle, against the same common enemy,” EU Council President Charles Michel said.
Pope to U.N.: Use the virus emergency for good, not evil
Pope Francis urged world leaders Friday to use the coronavirus emergency as an opportunity to reform the injustices of the global economy and the “perverse logic” of the nuclear deterrence doctrine, warning that increased isolationist responses to problems “must not prevail.”
Francis laid out his appeal for greater involvement and influence of the United Nations in protecting the poor, migrants and the environment in a videotaped speech Friday to the U.N. General Assembly, held mostly virtually this year because of the pandemic.
Francis said the world has a choice to make as it emerges from the COVID-19 crisis and addresses the grave economic impact the pandemic has had on the planet’s most vulnerable: greater solidarity, dialogue and multilateralism, or self-retreat into greater nationalism, individualism and elitism.
Florida governor reopening state’s economy despite spread
Gov. Ron DeSantis lifted all restrictions on restaurants and other businesses in Florida on Friday in a move to reopen the state’s economy despite the spread of the coronavirus.
“We’re not closing anything going forward,” DeSantis said, while insisting that the state is prepared with plans in place if infections increase again.
The Republican governor’s move is sure to stoke debate in a politically crucial state, where the pandemic has become intertwined with the upcoming presidential election. DeSantis is a major ally of President Donald Trump.
Infections in Florida, where 14,000 have died, have steadily declined since peaking in July.
2 charged for handling of virus outbreak at veterans home
Two former administrators of a Massachusetts veterans home where nearly 80 people sickened by the coronavirus died have been charged for their handling of the outbreak, the state’s attorney general said Friday.
It’s believed to be the first criminal case in the country brought against nursing home officials for actions taken during the pandemic, Attorney General Maura Healey said.
Former Holyoke Soldiers’ Home Superintendent Bennett Walsh and former Medical Director Dr. David Clinton were indicted by a grand jury on charges stemming from their decision in March to combine two dementia units, packing residents who were COVID-19 positive into the same space as those with no symptoms, Healey said.
The charges come three months after a scathing independent report said “utterly baffling” decisions made by Walsh and other administrators allowed the virus to spread there unchecked.
Local lockdowns imposed in several cities as UK cases rise
Cities around the U.K. imposed new coronavirus restrictions Friday as they raced to slow the spread of COVID-19 — with London at risk of following soon.
Leeds, a city of more than 750,000 in northern England, barred residents from meeting with members of other households either indoors or in private backyards.
In the Welsh cities of Cardiff, Swansea and Llanelli, households also will be banned from mixing indoors. And in Scotland, students were asked not to go to bars and restaurants this weekend.
London, meanwhile, home to almost 9 million people, was added to the British government’s COVID-19 watchlist as an “area of concern.” That means the U.K. capital could face new restrictions as well, if infections continue to rise.
Virus cases rise in U.S. heartland, home to anti-mask feelings
The coronavirus is now striking cities with much smaller populations in the heartland, often in conservative corners of America where anti-mask sentiment runs high.
Wisconsin is averaging more than 2,000 new cases a day over the last week, compared with 675 three weeks earlier. Hospitalizations in the state are at the highest level since the outbreak took hold in the U.S. in March.
Utah has seen its average daily case count more than double from three weeks earlier. Oklahoma and Missouri are regularly recording 1,000 new cases a day, and Missouri Gov. Mike Parson, a staunch opponent of mask rules, tested positive for the virus this week. South Dakota, Idaho and Iowa also are seeing sky-high rates of tests coming back positive.
Virus slashes French Open crowd sizes to only 1,000
With only one week separating the end of one and the start of the other, the Tour de France and the French Open were shaping up as a double bill of sports entertainment, with masked but nevertheless live crowds, that would bear out President Emmanuel Macron’s arguments that the country can live with the coronavirus.
The virus, however, had different ideas.
Whereas the three-week Tour reached Paris last Sunday having pulled off the coup of getting through the country’s worsening epidemic without any virus positives among its 176 riders, the French Open isn’t proving so lucky with its timing. Play is still scheduled to start Sunday, but as infections soar across France, organizers’ plans to have thousands of spectators there each day to cheer for Rafael Nadal, Serena Williams and others have been drastically scaled back to allow just 1,000 daily visitors.
Queen Elizabeth II to trim costs as COVID-19 hits income
Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II and her family are facing a 35 million-pound ($45 million) hit from the coronavirus pandemic, partly due to a shortage of tourists, the monarch’s money manager said Friday.
Releasing the royal household’s annual accounts, Keeper of the Privy Purse Michael Stevens said a lack of income from visitors to royal buildings was likely to bring a general funding shortfall of 15 million pounds ($19 million) over three years.
Buckingham Palace has already introduced a staff pay freeze and a halt to hiring.
China aims to make 1 billion COVID-19 vaccine doses next year
A Chinese health official said Friday that the country’s annual production capacity for coronavirus vaccines will top 1 billion doses next year, following an aggressive government support program for construction of new factories.
Capacity is expected to reach 610 million doses by the end of this year, Zheng Zhongwei from the National Health Commission said.
“Next year, our annual capacity will reach more than 1 billion doses,” he said at a news conference.
American pharmaceutical giants Pfizer and Moderna aim to produce a billion doses each in 2021 as well.
Zheng said distribution of the vaccines would prioritize groups such as medical workers, border personnel and the elderly before they are made available to the general public.
U.S. drugmaker Novavax begins late-stage vaccine trial in UK
U.S.-based Novavax has begun a late stage trial of its potential COVID-19 vaccine in the United Kingdom because the high level of the coronavirus circulating in the country is likely to produce quick results, the pharmaceutical company said.
Novavax plans to test the effectiveness of its vaccine in a trial involving 10,000 people between the ages of 18 and 84, it said Thursday. At least 25% of the subjects will be over the age of 65, and 400 participants will also receive a licensed flu vaccine.
The trial is being conducted in partnership with the U.K. government’s Vaccine Taskforce, which was created in April to help speed the development of a COVID-19 vaccine.
Virginia governor, wife test positive for coronavirus
Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam announced Friday that he and his wife have both tested positive for the coronavirus, though he said he is showing no symptoms.
He’s among four governors around the country who have tested positive for the virus that causes COVID-19, but one of the others turned out to be a false positive.
The Democrat, the country’s only governor who is also a doctor, has been criticized by some Republican lawmakers who say his restrictions aimed at slowing the spread of the virus are too stringent.
Northam said in a statement that his test result shows that the virus is “very real and very contagious.”
Bar owners in Marseille fight against closures as virus rebounds in France
Angry restaurant and bar owners are demonstrating in Marseille to challenge a French government order to close all public venues as of Saturday to battle resurgent virus infections.
The protesters, and local officials in France’s second-biggest city, are also threatening legal action, to try to block the order via the courts. They argue that Marseille’s virus case rise has been stabilizing, and that the central government in Paris is unfairly singling out Marseille for the toughest virus measures in the nation.
On Thursday, France reported more than 16,000 new infections, and more than 10% of intensive care beds nationwide are occupied by COVID-19 patients. France has reported 31,511 virus-related deaths, among the highest tolls in Europe.
How Seattle-area commutes have changed this year
Traffic is getting thicker again in many places, after the coronavirus kept people home earlier this year. This could mean a return to the hellacious delays of the 2010s, unless people shake up their lifestyles.
Our special project provides a visual look at how commutes have changed and where they're the worst in the Puget Sound region.
In the moment, you can always check traffic here.
What’s the risk of virus exposure while you're out walking or running? And what can you do to reduce that risk? In this week's FAQ Friday, researchers are outlining the recommendations as we learn more about respiratory droplets. Plus, an explanation of the three different kinds of tests for the virus.
Catch up on the past 24 hours
Gov. Jay Inslee on Thursday announced new requirements aimed at protecting airport workers, passengers and flight crews from the coronavirus, but his reach only extends to the security gate. Meanwhile, airlines are putting their own safety precautions in place at Sea-Tac Airport, and United will be the first U.S. airline to offer coronavirus tests to passengers. (Ellen M. Banner / The Seattle Times)
Why COVID-19 may make some healthy people critically ill, while others recover much more easily: Geneticists are finding that "this virus has one big trick," and their new understanding highlights the potential for helping these people before it's too late.
Ivar’s has temporarily closed its two spacious Seattle restaurants after they couldn't break even during the pandemic.
“People act like our safety doesn’t matter.” As businesses slowly reopen, workers say their employers are leaving them defenseless against customers who refuse to wear masks.
Drive-thru flu vaccine clinics are coming to Kent and Seattle, and families will also find childhood vaccinations for school-age kids.
Tahiti, a tropical paradise, has become a kind of prison. Money and food are running out for 25 people who have been stranded there for six months after flights were canceled due to the virus.
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