Editor’s note: This is a live account of COVID-19 updates from Monday, September 28, 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 It is no longer being updated.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.
The coronavirus has killed more than a million people worldwide. In Washington state, while 25% of all confirmed coronavirus infections have occurred in King County residents, they represent 32% of patients hospitalized and 36% of the state’s death toll, state data show. Track how the virus is spreading here.
Some good news: Through desperate efforts to save their lives, scientists now have a clearer grasp on ways to treat and prevent COVID-19, and that’s apparently driving death rates down.
Throughout Monday, 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 Sunday are here, and all our coronavirus coverage can be found here.
Washington state confirms 369 new COVID-19 cases
State health officials reported 369 new COVID-19 cases in Washington as of Monday night, but didn't have an updated count for virus-related deaths.
The update brings the state’s totals to 86,638 cases as of 11:59 p.m. Sunday. According to the state Department of Health (DOH), the death total remains at 2,100 — the number of deaths in Washington as of Friday, Sept. 25.
The state no longer updates death tallies over the weekend, but the lack of a new death count on Monday is due to "interruptions in [its] data linkage processes," according to a DOH statement. The department also said the issues affected its data on hospitalizations.
"New death data will not be reported and data on hospitalizations will not be complete today due to interruptions in our data linkage processes," the statement said Monday evening. "We anticipate full reporting will resume tomorrow."
In King County, the state’s most populous, state health officials have confirmed 22,198 diagnoses and 768 deaths.
Worldwide death toll from coronavirus eclipses 1 million
The worldwide death toll from the coronavirus eclipsed 1 million on Tuesday, nine months into a crisis that has devastated the global economy, tested world leaders’ resolve, pitted science against politics and forced multitudes to change the way they live, learn and work.
“It’s not just a number. It’s human beings. It’s people we love,” said Dr. Howard Markel, a professor of medical history at the University of Michigan who has advised government officials on containing pandemics and lost his 84-year-old mother to COVID-19 in February.
The bleak milestone, recorded by Johns Hopkins University, is greater than the population of Jerusalem or Austin, Texas. It is 2 1/2 times the sea of humanity that was at Woodstock in 1969. It is more than four times the number killed in the 2004 earthquake and tsunami in the Indian Ocean.
Even then, the figure is almost certainly a vast undercount because of inadequate or inconsistent testing and reporting and suspected concealment by some countries.
And the number continues to mount. Nearly 5,000 deaths are reported each day on average. Parts of Europe are getting hit by a second wave, and experts fear the same fate may await the U.S., which accounts for about 205,000 deaths, or 1 out of 5 worldwide. That is far more than any other country, despite America’s wealth and medical resources.
WHO, partners roll out faster COVID tests for poorer nations
The World Health Organization announced Monday that it and leading partners have agreed to a plan to roll out 120 million rapid-diagnostic tests for the coronavirus to help lower- and middle-income countries make up ground in a testing gap with richer countries — even if it’s not fully funded yet.
At $5 apiece, the antigen-based rapid diagnostic tests for which WHO issued an emergency-use listing last week, the program initially requires $600 million and is to get started as early as next month to provide better access to areas where it’s harder to reach with PCR tests that are used often in many wealthier nations.
The rapid tests look for antigens, or proteins found on the surface of the virus. They are generally considered less accurate — though much faster — than higher-grade genetic tests, known as PCR tests. Those tests require processing with specialty lab equipment and chemicals. Typically that turnaround takes several days to deliver results to patients.
Dutch government announces new restrictions to rein in virus
The Dutch government introduced new nationwide restrictions Monday aimed at tackling the swift spread of coronavirus infections that is sweeping across the country, including banning supporters from professional sports matches and ordering bars and restaurants to close at 10 p.m. for the coming three weeks.
Prime Minister Mark Rutte also advised people to wear face masks when shopping in Amsterdam, Rotterdam and The Hague, the three cities with the highest rates of infections, and said store owners can refuse entry to customers who aren’t wearing a mask.
Infections have been soaring in the Netherlands in recent weeks. The country’s coronavirus dashboard registered 2,921 new infections in the last 24 hours, down slightly from the 2,996 registered Sunday by the country’s public health institute.
Standoff over Madrid’s response to virus pandemic continues
Spain’s health minister pleaded Monday for the third time in four days for tougher coronavirus restrictions in the capital, after a meeting with Madrid regional officials without agreeing on how to tackle a worrying wave of COVID-19 infections.
The national government wants to see existing restrictions against the spread of the virus extended to the entire city while regional officials say that time is needed to see if the current limitations have an effect and that drastic measures would further hurt Spain’s economy.
The disagreement is echoed publicly, raising concern among many in Madrid and the rest of Spain.
Images from around the world: COVID-19 lockdowns, protests and grief
Mississippi: ‘Fake’ letter claims mask mandate abolished
A letter circulating on social media claiming to be from the office of Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves and abolishing the statewide mask mandate is fake, Mississippi Emergency Management Agency officials said Sunday.
“The letter is a FAKE,” the agency wrote on its Facebook page, adding that all of the governor’s executive orders can be found on the Secretary of State’s website.
Mississippi’s statewide mask mandate has been in place since Aug. 4 to stem the spread of the coronavirus. It is set to expire at 5 p.m. Wednesday unless the governor extends it. He has chosen to extend the mandate several times already.
Internal blunders, external attacks erode CDC’s credibility as coronavirus vaccine campaigns loom
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was created to stop deadly pathogens. It battled malaria and polio. It helped eradicate smallpox. It sent intrepid disease doctors to Africa to fight Ebola. Over the course of seven decades, it became the world’s most admired public health agency.
The CDC had been preparing for decades for this moment — the arrival of a virus rampaging across the planet, inflicting widespread death and suffering.
But 2020 has been a disaster for the CDC.
The agency’s response to the worst public health crisis in a century — the coronavirus pandemic — has been marked by blunders, botched messaging and a loss of institutional credibility at a time when the nation desperately needs to know whom to trust.
“It’s been a terrible year for the CDC,” said Ross McKinney Jr., chief scientific officer at the Association of American Medical Colleges. “There’s no question that their credibility and effectiveness have been damaged by a combination of external threats, leadership that has been perceived to be ineffective and mistakes they have made internally.”
WhidbeyHealth staffer tests positive for COVID-19
A member of the surgical services team at WhidbeyHealth tested positive for COVID-19, according to Island County Public Health.
WhidbeyHealth determined that the employee had contracted the virus outside of work, the health department said.
Exposure of patients and staff was limited to people who were in the operating room between September 22 and 24, Island County Public Health reported Monday.
Elective surgeries and non-urgent visits to the surgery, obstetrics and orthopedic clinics are postponed until October 7.
UK university students furious over virus restrictions
As authorities sought to contain COVID-19 outbreaks at British universities Sunday, some students complained they were being “imprisoned” in their dormitories and politicians debated whether young people should be allowed to go home for Christmas.
Students at universities in Glasgow, Manchester and Edinburgh — who have returned to campus in the past few weeks — are being asked to self-isolate in their residence halls, with security guards at some schools preventing young people from leaving their buildings.
While students at Glasgow University greeted the lockdown with humor, posting signs asking passersby to “send beer,” those in Manchester had a darker message, taping “HMP MMU” in their windows, suggesting the dormitory had become “Her Majesty’s Prison Manchester Metropolitan University.”
The grumbling comes as some parts of the UK face tighter rules to control local spikes. By Monday, about one-quarter of the U.K.’s 65 million people will be living under these heightened restrictions.
Know of a restaurant that will be open on Thanksgiving Day? Tell us here for a list we are compiling
As we all know by now, the pandemic disregards any boundaries when it comes to interrupting our routines, and the holidays will be no different. It’ll be a weird Thanksgiving, with fewer multigenerational family gatherings and many more small dinners.
To try to make this time a little easier for those who might not want to cook themselves an entire turkey, we’re compiling a list of establishments you can turn to for your Thanksgiving dinner.
We want to know about restaurants that will be open for takeout and/or delivery on Thanksgiving Day, whether they’re offering a holiday special, premade meals or the usual menu, and how much these holiday deals will cost.
If you would like to submit a restaurant for consideration, please fill out the form below. We will publish the list online and in print in November, and continue to update it through Thanksgiving week.
If you want to be included in the print edition of these listings, please enter your submission no later than Nov. 2.
US to ship millions of tests in push to reopen K-12 schools
President Donald Trump planned to announce Monday that the federal government will begin distributing millions of rapid coronavirus tests to states this week and urging governors to use them to reopen schools for students in kindergarten through 12th grade.
The move to vastly expand U.S. testing comes as confirmed new COVID-19 cases remain elevated at more than 40,000 per day and experts warn of a likely surge in infections during the colder months ahead. It also comes just five weeks before the November election, with Trump facing continued criticism for his handling of the crisis.
The tests will go out to states based on their population and can be used as governors see fit, but the administration encourages states to place a priority on schools.
Rapid, convenient testing is considered essential to reopening the U.S. economy. But the federal government's testing efforts have been plagued by problems since the earliest days of the outbreak. And rapid, point-of-care tests have some downsides. They are less accurate, and positive results often need to be confirmed with higher-grade lab tests. Additionally, because the tests are often performed outside the health care system, state officials have warned that many tests are going unreported. That could lead to undercounts of new cases, skewing government data needed to track the virus.
Who is handling the pandemic best emotionally? Boomers and retirees
The emotional toll of the coronavirus pandemic is steep for most everyone, but it turns out that one group is handling it better than the rest: retirees.
That might seem counterintuitive, since the virus is more dangerous for older people, but studies looking at mental health in the pandemic show that retirees who live at home are free from two of the stressors that are squeezing their younger counterparts – job security and parenting children as they navigate at-home learning and isolation.
“My life hasn’t changed all that much,” said Claine Tanner, 71, a retired banker who lives in Hurricane, Utah.
Tanner, who teaches part time at a boys school to supplement his Social Security income, said the biggest changes in his life since the pandemic hit are not being able to go to church on Sundays, and observing the social distancing measures the school put in place.
Younger generations are feeling angst from the pandemic more acutely.
The CDC study found that 46 percent of people ages 18 to 24 report experiencing pandemic-related “anxiety and stress disorder.” That number dropped steadily as people age, with just 9 percent of people 65 and older reporting pandemic-related despair.
Despite virus-related obstacles, baseball reaches postseason
The 2020 baseball season began with Juan Soto testing positive for COVID-19. Now, he’s a 21-year-old batting champion — after beating out another player who went through his own ordeal with the coronavirus.
Boston pitcher Eduardo Rodríguez missed the whole season after coronavirus follow-up tests showed a heart issue.
But although it seemed initially that the season might fall apart because of postponements and positive tests, every team except St. Louis and Detroit managed to play the full 60 games. The Cardinals and Miami Marlins — the two teams hit particularly hard by the virus — both made the expanded postseason.
Teams played shortened doubleheaders and the extra-inning rules were different, but in some small ways this season did feel at least a little bit normal.
Romanian villagers re-elect mayor despite his COVID-19 death
After handing Ion Aliman victory in the election for their local mayor, residents of a small village in southern Romania went to his grave to light candles for him.
Aliman was reelected in a landslide for an unprecedented third term as mayor of the village of Deveselu despite having died from COVID-19 complications 10 days prior to the country’s municipal elections.
His death came too late to remove his name from Sunday’s ballot, but the news of his passing spread fast through the village, home to just over 3,000 people. The popular incumbent would have celebrated his 57th birthday on election day.
To honor the man they admired, hundreds of Deveselu villagers went to the polling stations Sunday and voted for Aliman anyway.
Coronavirus outbreak on cruise ship sailing in Greece
Greek authorities say 12 crew members of a Maltese-flagged cruise ship on a Greek island tour with more than 1,500 people on board have tested positive to the coronavirus and have been isolated on board.
The Mein Schiff 6, operated by TUI Cruises, began its trip in Heraklion on the southern Greek island of Crete on Sunday night, with 922 passengers and 666 crew members on board, Greece’s Shipping Ministry said Monday. It had been due to sail to Piraeus, the country’s main port near the Greek capital, Athens, and later to the western island of Corfu.
Sample tests for the coronavirus were carried out on 150 of the crewmembers, the ministry said, and 12 of them were found to be positive. The passengers had undergone coronavirus tests before boarding and were not part of the sample testing.
India’s confirmed coronavirus tally reaches 6 million cases
India’s confirmed coronavirus tally reached 6 million on Monday, keeping the country second to the United States in number of reported cases.
The Health Ministry reported 82,170 new coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours, driving the overall total to 6,074,703. At least 1,039 deaths were recorded in the same period, taking total fatalities up to 95,542.
New infections in India are currently being reported faster than anywhere else in the world. The world’s second-most populous country is expected to become the pandemic’s worst-hit country in coming weeks, surpassing the U.S., where more than 7.1 million infections have been reported.
A gift from the nearly 1M who havedied of COVID-19
The nearly 1 million people around the world who have lost their lives to COVID-19 have left us a gift: Through desperate efforts to save their lives, scientists now better understand how to treat and prevent the disease — and millions of others may survive.
Ming Wang, 71, and his wife were on a cruise from Australia, taking a break after decades of running the family’s Chinese restaurant in Papillion, Nebraska, when he was infected. In the 74 days he was hospitalized before his death in June, doctors frantically tried various experimental approaches, including enrolling him in a study of an antiviral drug that ultimately showed promise.
“It was just touch and go. Everything they wanted to try we said yes, do it,” said Wang’s daughter, Anne Peterson. “We would give anything to have him back, but if what we and he went through would help future patients, that’s what we want.”
Patients are already benefiting. Though more deaths are expected this fall because of the recent surge in coronavirus infections in the U.S. and elsewhere, there also are signs that death rates are declining and that people who get the virus now are faring better than did those in the early months of the pandemic.
Brussels imposes curfew on bars as coronavirus cases soar
Facing a surge of new coronavirus cases far higher than in other parts of Belgium, Brussels authorities are closing bars early.
Beginning Monday, all bars and cafes have to close between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m., while any other businesses selling drinks or food will shut down at 10 p.m. In addition, eating at street markets is forbidden.
Local media said authorities thought about starting the bar curfew at 10 p.m. but the proposal was rejected to support virus-ravaged businesses. According to the Belgian cafes federation, half of the country’s 12,000 bars may not survive the coronavirus crisis.
Since the start of the pandemic, more than 114,000 coronavirus infections have been recorded in hard-hit Belgium — a country of 11.5 million residents — including 9,980 deaths. From Sept. 17-23, 11,934 new infections were diagnosed, with the biggest spike in Brussels, where the positive rate averages 9.7% compared to 4.7% in the whole of Belgium.
Bubble won’t be back for full 2020-21 NHL season
EDMONTON, Alberta — The 64 days spent in the NHL playoff bubble feel like six months to Barclay Goodrow.
“It’s tough,” the Tampa Bay Lightning forward said. “It’s been a grind.”
It’s a grind he and players won’t do again next season. The league and Players’ Association will meet within the next two weeks to discuss the many possibilities of what the 2020-21 season could look like, but there’s no desire to stage it entirely within quarantined bubbles.
Rabbis ponder COVID-19 queries of ultra-Orthodox Jewish life
JERUSALEM — Must an observant Jew who has lost his sense of taste and smell because of COVID-19 recite blessings for food and drink? Can one bend the metal nosepiece of a surgical face mask on the Sabbath? May one participate in communal prayers held in a courtyard from a nearby balcony?
Months into the coronavirus pandemic, ultra-Orthodox rabbis in Israel are addressing questions like these as their legions of followers seek advice on how to maintain proper Jewish observance under the restrictions of the outbreak.
Social distancing and nationwide lockdowns have become a reality around the globe in 2020, but for religious Jews, they can further complicate rites and customs that form the fabric of daily life in Orthodox communities. Many of these customs are performed in groups and public gatherings, making it especially challenging for the religious public to maintain its lifestyle.
Who's working from home in the Seattle area
Nearly half of Seattle-area adults have switched to working from home because of the pandemic, one of the highest percentages in the nation.
FYI Guy looks at who's switched to telework, and who's still hitting the road. There's a gap along racial lines.
Catch up on the past 24 hours
The coronavirus has killed nearly a million people. Through desperate efforts to save their lives, scientists now have a clearer grasp on ways to treat and prevent COVID-19, and that's apparently driving death rates down. Track how the virus is spreading here.
Suffering from COVID-19 science overload? A small UW team wades through the deluge so you don’t have to, nosing out the best research to provide a quick daily read on the key developments.
The coronavirus may affect how you vote — if you’re a woman. Recent polls in Washington state reveal plenty about empathy and what drives people’s voting choices, particularly women, columnist Danny Westneat writes.
Long before coronavirus, patients suffered as Washington nursing homes struggled with staffing. But the state still lacks a sweeping response, according to our Times Watchdog story.
How risky is it to fly? Airlines say it's safe, but recent studies reveal the potential for superspreader events. If you have to fly, follow this guidance from health and industry experts on doing it as safely as possible, and take steps to cut your hotel check-in time when you reach your destination.
Health officials are linking a string of COVID-19 cases to off-campus parties at the University of Oregon and Oregon State University, even though both schools are holding the vast majority of classes online. Nationwide, worried college leaders are already canceling spring break.
Seattle-area ski resorts will reopen this fall with social distancing rules. Here’s when that will happen (weather permitting) and what to expect.
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