Editor’s note: This is a live account of COVID-19 updates from Tuesday, September 29, 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 It is no longer being updated.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 world surpassed 1 million coronavirus deaths on Monday, a bleak milestone that comes nine months into the pandemic — and even then, it’s almost certainly a vast undercount. Despite the need for an accurate reporting of data, scientific experts are saying the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been blundering for months, leading to serious questions about the agency’s credibility.
Meanwhile, President Donald Trump announced Monday that the federal government will begin distributing millions of rapid coronavirus tests to states this week, and is urging governors to use them to reopen schools for students in kindergarten through 12th grade.
Throughout Tuesday, 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 Monday are here, and all our coronavirus coverage can be found here.
Even before pandemic struck, more US adults were uninsured
WASHINGTON — About 2.5 million more working-age Americans were uninsured last year, even before the coronavirus pandemic struck, according to a government report issued Wednesday.
The study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that 14.5% of adults ages 18 to 64 were uninsured in 2019, a statistically significant increase from 2018, when 13.3% lacked coverage.
The increase in the uninsured rate came even as the economy was chugging along in an extended period of low unemployment. The findings suggest that even during good times, the U.S. was losing ground on coverage gains from the Obama-era health care overhaul.
Health insurance coverage has eroded under President Donald Trump, who is still trying to overturn the Affordable Care Act, or “Obamacare.” By contrast, Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden wants to expand the ACA and add a new public plan in a push to eventually cover all Americans.
Seattle’s Canlis pivots again. This time, to start ‘Canlis Community College’
Amid a global pandemic that continues to cripple the restaurant industry, “fine dining is not what Seattle needs right now,” has been the constant refrain from Mark and Brian Canlis, owners of the soon-to-be-70-year-old Seattle dining institution. As the food industry wrestles with how to stay afloat in a constantly changing landscape, Canlis has been a bellwether for restaurants looking for alternative business models.
Now, they’ve done it again and their next act is a bigger, more complex pivot than filling the upper parking lot with sand for a crab shack. It’s idea No. 10 and they’re calling it “Canlis Community College,” playing off the fall back-to-school momentum. The program will launch by the end of this week.
Canlis Community College is a six-week “semester” of programming complete with all the trappings of school. There will be classes, field trips, intramural sports, and even a shop stuffed with Canlis-themed collegiate wear. Tuition fees are $25. In addition to the food and wine-centric classes one might expect, there will also be programming that delves into Seattle history and culture as well as tips and tricks that skim the surface of homesteading.
The six-week program’s “Finals Week” culminates in a scavenger hunt not dissimilar to the Canlis menu hunt that captivated the city a decade ago, except this time the grand prize will be one $5,000 gift certificate to Canlis.
Notre Dame president apologizes for no mask at White House
SOUTH BEND, Ind. — The University of Notre Dame’s president has issued an apology for not wearing a mask at a White House event after pictures surfaced online of him shaking hands and sitting shoulder-to-shoulder with people without one.
Rev. John I. Jenkins attended the Rose Garden ceremony Saturday for Judge Amy Coney Barrett, President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee. Jenkins’ letter Monday explained he was there because Barrett is a Notre Dame alumna and law professor. He also pointed out that upon arrival, he and other guests received rapid-response COVID-19 tests, the South Bend Tribune reported.
“I regret my error of judgment in not wearing a mask during the ceremony and by shaking hands with a number of people in the Rose Garden,” Jenkins wrote in his letter to students, faculty and staff. “I failed to lead by example, at a time when I’ve asked everyone else in the Notre Dame community to do so.”
Notre Dame students Ashton Weber, Makira Walton and Patrick Kelly-Dutile shared an online petition with students on Sunday, calling for the Student Senate to demand that Jenkins resign. They have the minimum 200 signatures needed to present their resolution to the board, which meets Thursday.
“To see him appear on a national stage not following the rules he’s asked us to follow is frustrating and a bit hypocritical,” Weber said by phone Monday before Jenkins issued his apology.
Orthodox Jewish areas in NYC may see city-issued mask fines
NEW YORK — Alarmed by a spike in coronavirus infections in a few Orthodox Jewish neighborhoods, New York City officials will start issuing fines in those areas to people who refuse to wear masks, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Tuesday.
De Blasio said he was sending teams of hundreds of outreach workers and contact tracers to nine Brooklyn and Queens ZIP codes that have seen an upswing in positive COVID-19 tests in hopes of avoiding harsher enforcement measures.
Those workers will be handing out masks, but also insisting that people put them on if they are in a place where they could be within 6 feet of other people.
“Anyone who refuses to wear a face covering will be told that if they don’t put one on they will be fined, and anyone who still refuses will be fined. That will happen aggressively,” de Blasio said.
The maximum fine for refusing to wear a mask is $1,000. “We don’t want to fine people. If we have to, we will,” de Blasio said.
Durkan’s 2021 budget would use cuts, reserves and big-business tax to close revenue hole and invest in communities of color
Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan’s 2021 budget plan, unveiled Tuesday and sent to the City Council for review, would use cuts across departments, money from emergency reserves and the City Council’s new tax on big businesses to close a revenue gap, continue COVID-19 relief programs and allocate $100 million for communities of color.
Durkan’s plan calls for $6.5 billion in total spending next year, including $1.5 billion in general-fund spending. Those are the same record amounts City Hall budgeted to spend this year, before the pandemic hit. Under the mayor’s plan, Seattle’s budget would remain flat for the first time in quite a while, after growing by leaps and bounds during the city’s tech-powered boom. The plan could entail up to 40 layoffs.
“This has been a brutal year for everyone in Seattle,” Durkan said in a video speech that aired Tuesday, mentioning COVID-19, unemployment and the Black lives uprising against police brutality and racism. “Our work and community needs have grown, but our revenue is shrinking.”
In her budget speech, prerecorded at multiple locations around the city and interspersed with images of Seattle residents pushing through the pandemic, the mayor touted her administration’s work to stand up testing sites, distribute personal protective equipment and provide childcare.
North Korea on virus threat: ‘Under safe and stable control’
North Korea on Tuesday called on the world’s governments to “display effective leadership” in the fight against COVID-19 and said its own measures against the pandemic, which it called “preemptive, timely and strong,” ensured it had the threat “under safe and stable control.”
Kim Song, the country’s U.N. ambassador, said a tightly administered anti-pandemic effort in his nation had been working. North Korea strictly regulates foreign visitors — even more so during the pandemic that’s killed more than 1 million people worldwide — and filters all information through its state propaganda apparatus, with details about its approach to the coronavirus relatively scant.
“(The) anti-epidemic situation in our country is now under safe and stable control,” the ambassador said in a rare live address at the U.N. General Assembly.
“A series of state measures are now being taken to block the virus inflow into the country, and all people adhere strictly to anti-epidemic regulations while maintaining the highest alert,” he said.
Disney to lay off 28,000 at its parks in California, Florida
ORLANDO, Fla. — Squeezed by limits on attendance at its theme parks and other restrictions due to the pandemic, The Walt Disney Co. said Tuesday it planned to lay off 28,000 workers in its parks division in California and Florida.
Two-thirds of the planned layoffs involve part-time workers but they ranged from salaried employees to hourly workers, Disney officials said.
Disney’s parks closed last spring as the pandemic started spreading in the U.S. The Florida parks reopened this summer, but the California parks have yet to reopen as the company awaits guidance from the state of California.
In a letter to employees, Josh D’Amaro, chairman of Disney Parks, Experience and Product, said California’s “unwillingness to lift restrictions that would allow Disneyland to reopen” exacerbated the situation for the company.
D’Amaro said his management team had worked hard to try to avoid layoffs. They had cut expenses, suspended projects and modified operations but it wasn’t enough given limits on the number of people allowed into the park because of social distancing restrictions and other pandemic-related measures, he said.
Appalachian State student dies following COVID complications
RALEIGH, N.C. — The University of North Carolina system reported its first coronavirus-related student death on Tuesday since several campuses reopened with at least partial in-person learning last month.
Chad Dorrill, a 19-year student at Appalachian State University who lived off campus in Boone and took all of his classes online, died on Monday due to coronavirus complications, officials said.
“Any loss of life is a tragedy, but the grief cuts especially deep as we mourn a young man who had so much life ahead,” said a statement from Peter Hans, chancellor of the system overseeing the state’s 16 public colleges and universities. “I ache for the profound sadness that Chad Dorrill’s family is enduring right now. My heart goes out to the entire Appalachian State community.”
The university reported a new high of 159 current COVID-19 cases among students on Tuesday. Nearly 550 students have tested positive for the virus since in-person classes resumed last month. Appalachian State remains open for in-person instruction.
State confirms 404 new COVID-19 cases and 24 new deaths
State health officials reported 404 new COVID-19 cases in Washington as of Monday night, and 24 new deaths.
The update brings the state’s totals to 87,042 cases and 2,124 deaths, meaning that 2.4% 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.
The DOH also reported that 7,483 people have been hospitalized in the state due to the virus.
Statewide, 1,854,399 COVID-19 tests have been administered as of Monday night.
In King County, the state’s most populous, state health officials have confirmed 22,237 diagnoses and 761 deaths -- seven fewer than reported on Monday.
The state Department of Health removes deaths from the statewide total when the primary cause of death is determined not to have been COVID-19.
Photos from Sept. 29, 2020, as world marks 1M COVID deaths, cases rise
COVID-19 cases rising among US children as schools reopen
After preying heavily on the elderly in the spring, the coronavirus is increasingly infecting American children and teens in a trend authorities say appears driven by school reopenings and the resumption of sports, playdates and other activities.
Children of all ages now make up 10% of all U.S cases, up from 2% in April, the American Academy of Pediatrics reported Tuesday. And the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Monday that the incidence of COVID-19 in school-age children began rising in early September as many youngsters returned to their classrooms.
About two times more teens were infected than younger children, the CDC report said. Most infected children have mild cases; hospitalizations and death rates are much lower than in adults.
Titans have NFL’s first COVID-19 outbreak, with 8 positives
The Tennessee Titans suspended in-person activities through Friday after the NFL says three Titans players and five personnel tested positive for the coronavirus, becoming the first COVID-19 outbreak of the NFL season in Week 4.
The outbreak threatens to jeopardize the Titans’ game this weekend against the Pittsburgh Steelers and poses the first significant in-season test to the league’s coronavirus protocols.
The NFL issued a statement Tuesday saying both the Titans and Minnesota Vikings suspended in-person activities Tuesday following the Titans’ test results. The Titans beat the Vikings 31-30 in Minneapolis last weekend.
Virus, strife prompt ‘resiliency’ funds in Black communities
The modest cash grant Iguehi James received from the Oakland African American Chamber of Commerce helped the clothing designer defray costs, including surge prices on elastic and fabric that jumped dramatically due to the pandemic.
The application process was simple and she qualified for a $5,000 “resiliency” grant, despite being a solo practitioner with no employees or storefront.
Along with the fiscal help, the grant reminded the 38-year-old novice entrepreneur that she is part of a community with a tradition of mobilizing to help members in times of distress.
“We’ve been denied opportunities, we’ve had to work really hard to get to where we are,” said James, who lives in Oakland, California. “When you have other people who know the struggle, know the plight, know how hard it is to be valued … to be seen, you just feel like you have a community.”
The chamber announced this summer that it had raised $1 million for its fund to help Black-owned businesses. It’s one of several similar efforts launched in the U.S. since the pandemic began closing businesses and schools, and it’s a nod to the difficulty that Black businesses have in landing bank loans and the disproportionate impact the virus has on African American families.
In Washington, the Black Business Equity Fund began 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.
Can I be part of a COVID-19 vaccine study?
Do you want to be COVID-19 vaccine study volunteer?
Governments and companies are setting up websites where people can sign up and, so far, interest is high: More than 400,000 people have signed a registry of possible volunteers that’s part of a vaccine network set up by the U.S. National Institutes of Health.
But before raising your hand, it’s important to understand how the research works.
Initial studies include only a few dozen young, healthy volunteers, since this is the first chance to see if a shot causes a risky reaction in people. Older adults, anyone with a serious underlying illness, and pregnant women are typically excluded from this testing stage.
Mid-stage studies of COVID-19 vaccines recruit a few hundred people, including some older adults. The focus is on comparing how people’s immune systems react to different doses, as well as getting more safety data.
In final-stage studies, scientists need tens of thousands of volunteers who reflect the diversity of the population, including those at high risk of severe illness from the virus.
Chancellor Angela Merkel and the governors of Germany’s 16 states were conferring Tuesday on how to prevent the country’s coronavirus infection figures from accelerating to the levels being seen in other European countries, and new restrictions were possible.
New infections in Germany have hit the highest levels since April in recent weeks, with more than 2,000 new cases per day on several occasions.
That's far from the figures now being recorded in some other European countries — notably France and Spain.
But it has set alarm bells ringing in Germany and leaders are discussing what measures might be needed next.
Stay fit at home. Seattle-area fitness pros are sharing advice for building an at-home gym and getting your fitness routine figured out without spending gobs of money.
Find your groove with sourdough. A former skeptic offers tips and resources to make it work for you.
What not to read? J.K. Rowling’s latest, "Troubled Blood," is ... troubling. Our critic writes about how it made her not care about two characters she used to love, for reasons having to do partly with Rowling’s recently aired opinions.
Catch up on the past 24 hours
"It’s not just a number. It’s human beings. It’s people we love." And the number you've likely been hearing — a million people now dead from the coronavirus — is almost certainly a vast undercount. We've been telling the stories of some of those who have died in the Seattle area.
After their home burned to the ground, everyone in an Eastern Washington family of seven is sick with COVID-19. But "even though we lost everything, we still have everything," father Matthew Graham says from their quarantine in two Spokane Valley hotel rooms. "We're going to get out of this OK."
As COVID-19 hits people of color disproportionately hard in Washington, Fred Hutch researchers are trying to enroll diverse volunteers in a study to build a better understanding of the virus.
White House officials pressured the CDC to play down the risk of sending children back to school buildings and sought alternate data on the pandemic's dangers to kids, according to documents and interviews that provide a look inside the push. And that was just one battlefront in a disastrous 2020 for the CDC.
Yakima County health officials have given the OK to reopen school buildings gradually, although the county is considered "high risk." Meanwhile, New York City is sending a half-million kids to classes in a controversial move being watched around the country, and the federal government says it will ship millions of coronavirus tests in a bid to reopen school buildings.
The emotional toll of the pandemic is steep, but one group appears to be handling it better than the rest: retirees.
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