Editor’s note: This is a live account of COVID-19 updates from Friday, Sept. 4, 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 It is no longer being updated.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.
Throughout Friday, on this page, we’ll be posting updates on the outbreak and its effects on the Seattle area, the Pacific Northwest and the world. Updates from Thursday can be found here, and all our COVID-19 coverage can be found here.
Victoria police brace for anti-lockdown rallies
MELBOURNE, Australia — Police in Australia’s hardest-hit Victoria stare are urging people to stay away from Saturday rallies protesting the lockdown in Melbourne, as the country’s death toll rose to 748.
Victoria reported 11 more deaths and 76 new infections.
The Melbourne restrictions, including a night curfew, were put in place in an attempt to reduce a huge spike in infections and deaths.
Police are urging people to adhere to restrictions on community movement. Four men have been arrested and charged with incitement over the so-called “Freedom Day” protests planned for several Melbourne locations.
Police have also warned about 80 people against attending the rallies as they enforce Victoria’s lockdown rules.
Government officials are expected to announce on Sunday how and when Melbourne and regional Victoria will come out of respective stages of lockdowns.
Northeastern dismisses 11 students who gathered in same room
BOSTON — Northeastern University said Friday it has dismissed 11 freshman students for the fall semester for violating campus social distancing guidelines after they were discovered in the same hotel room.
The students were given 24 hours to leave the Boston campus and were ordered to undergo COVID-19 tests, the university said in a statement. It said any who test positive would be moved into isolated wellness housing rather than sent home, to contain the spread of the coronavirus.
Northeastern said the 11 people, whose names were not released, were part of an international experience for first-year students. It said they were among more than 800 students housed in two-person rooms at the Westin Hotel not far from the main campus.
Staff members said the students would not be reimbursed for tuition and fees for the fall semester.
Restaurant built in 1784, casualty of pandemic, to be razed
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — A restaurant and onetime inn built along a stagecoach route in 1784 has closed permanently, another casualty of the coronavirus pandemic, and officials say it’s been approved for demolition.
The Sun Chronicle reports that the Lafayette House, on what’s now Route 1 in Foxborough and just down the road from Gillette Stadium, has been cleared for the wrecking ball after the town’s historical commission found little of the original building that hadn’t been altered over the centuries.
Commission chair Mark Ferencik said that the fine dining restaurant had been shuttered since the pandemic began and that its owners had requested permission to raze it.
The eatery was established by Aaron Everett and originally was known as the Everett Inn. It was renamed the Lafayette House in tribute to the Marquis de Lafayette, a French military officer who fought in the American Revolution.
Lafayette was said to have spent the night on his way back to New York in 1825 after laying the cornerstone for a monument in Boston to the Battle of Bunker Hill, which was waged in 1775.
Benjamin Franklin and George Washington are believed to have been among the dignitaries who dined at or slept at the inn.
Virginia Mason Medical Center dealing with COVID-19 outbreak
Four employees and a patient at Virginia Mason Medical Center in Seattle have tested positive for the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.
The infections have been connected to someone who visited the patient. The visitor tested positive after being at the hospital, said Gale Robinette, Virginia Mason’s spokesperson and media relations manager.
The four employees and the patient have been quarantined, and every patient and employee who works on that floor has been tested, with no new infections discovered, Robinette said.
“We are continuing our surveillance efforts and working closely with Public Health – Seattle & King County,” he said.
Kate Cole, a spokesperson for Public Health – Seattle & King County, said the agency is working with Virginia Mason and that the five infections “meets our definition for a healthcare setting outbreak.”
Experts warn U.S. covid-19 deaths could more than double by year’s end
The global death toll from the coronavirus pandemic could triple by year’s end, with an additional 1.9 million deaths, while a fall wave of infections could drive fatalities in the United States to 410,000, according to a new forecast from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington.
The estimate reinforces warnings by many experts that cooler, drier weather and increased time spent indoors could boost viral transmission in the Northern Hemisphere surge this fall and winter – something typically seen with other respiratory viruses.
The institute’s forecasts were influential earlier in the pandemic in guiding policies developed by the White House coronavirus task force, but they have been criticized by some experts as projecting further into the future than can be done reliably.
The U.S. death toll from covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, now stands at 183,000, according to health data analyzed by The Washington Post. The IHME model projects that under the most likely scenario, 410,451 people in the United States will have died by Jan. 1.
The best-case scenario is 288,381 deaths and worst-case is 620,029, that model forecasts.
Former Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi hospitalized with COVID-19
Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has been admitted to a hospital in Milan with symptoms of COVID-19 after testing positive this week.
The 83-year-old leader of the Forza Italia party had been isolating at his home near the Italian financial capital. His admission to the San Raffaele clinic is a precautionary measure and Berlusconi’s medical condition is not a cause for concern, a spokeswoman for the media mogul said Friday.
Berlusconi, who controls Mediaset SpA, Italy’s largest commercial broadcaster, recently returned from vacation on the island of Sardinia and is campaigning ahead of Sept. 20-21 regional and local elections. Italians will also vote in a referendum on cutting the number of lawmakers in the Rome parliament.
Italy, the original epicenter of the pandemic in Europe, reported 1,397 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, taking the total to 272,912, according to data collected by Johns Hopkins University and Bloomberg News. The number of daily infections has ticked up in recent weeks, though remains far below the levels seen at the height of the crisis in the spring.
Technical glitches on first day back to school for Seattle kids
Seattle Public Schools kicked off its soft start to school today, and technical glitches made for a bumpy morning in some homes. Students spent a few hours Friday getting to know their teachers and classmates over Microsoft Teams, but many families reported difficulty getting on the platform.
Some said they were booted out of class calls or couldn’t access certain features such as the chat window or view camera feeds.
“We are currently experiencing slow internet and learning platform access due to the high volume of traffic this morning. This has resulted in disruption of service on district issued laptops,” SPS spokesperson Tim Robinson wrote in an email. “Our technology teams are actively working the issues. We will update this alert when we have a resolution.”
Another glitch occurred Wednesday when the district prematurely called families to tell them school would start the next day.
The district is slated to have its first day of full instruction on Sept. 14.
How much of Washington’s roughly $190 million in federal COVID-19 relief money went to Puget Sound-area cities and counties this week
Washington’s small and medium-sized cities and counties that didn’t get coronavirus relief money directly from the federal government were given nearly $190 million this week from the state’s share of the funding.
Local health districts will receive $62 million of that money, with the remaining $126 million going directly to cities and counties.
Cities in King County got about $18.5 million. King County itself and the city of Seattle weren’t included because those jurisdictions got money directly from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Congress passed the $2.2 trillion relief package in the spring.
Pierce County cities received $7 million, and Snohomish County cities were given $6.8 million. Cities in Kitsap County were awarded $1.4 million, while the county itself got $5.4 million.
Three miles of Lake Washington Boulevard will remain closed to through traffic until Oct. 5, SDOT says
Seattle Department of Transportation announced Friday evening that 3 miles of Lake Washington Boulevard will remain closed to through traffic until at least Oct. 5, extending the city's Keep Moving Streets initiative on the verdant, waterfront boulevard.
The stretch of Lake Washington Boulevard between Mount Baker Beach and Seward Park in South Seattle was initially closed to encourage social distancing with a pilot program in June — one of four spots near major Seattle parks designated as Keep Moving Streets. The others are West Green Lake Way North, Golden Gardens Drive Northwest and Alki Point.
The pilot program was extended through Sept. 8 in July, with a possibility of extension that came to fruition Friday. The program has been executed in coordination with the more expansive Stay Healthy Streets network.
The city said the Keep Moving Streets section of Green Lake Way will remain closed to through traffic until the park's Small Craft Center reopens. Pedestrians, bikers and the like will reserve the right of way at Alki Point until King County reaches Phase 3 of Washington state's reopening plan, and Golden Gardens Drive will also remain closed to through traffic through Oct. 5.
State DOH confirms 479 new COVID-19 cases in Washington
State health officials confirmed Friday afternoon 479 new COVID-19 cases in Washington, bringing the state's total count to 76,335.
The state also confirmed eight new deaths, meaning 1,953 Washingtonians have died from COVID-19. According to the State Department of Health's (DOH) data dashboard, 2.6% of people diagnosed in Washington have died. The data is as of 11:59 p.m. Thursday.
The dashboard reports that 6,848 people have been hospitalized due to the novel coronavirus in Washington, where in January the first case of COVID-19 in the United States was confirmed in Snohomish County.
Statewide, 1,534,090 COVID-19 tests have been administered as of Thursday night.
In King County, the state’s most populous, state health officials have confirmed 20,022 diagnoses and 735 deaths.
Biden confirms he's been tested for virus, says he’ll be tested regularly
Joe Biden said Friday that he’s been tested at least once for the COVID-19 virus and promised he will be tested regularly during his general election campaign against President Donald Trump.
The Democratic presidential nominee told reporters of his testing protocol during a wide-ranging news conference in which he blasted Trump.
State Department says it's a good time to get a passport
State Department officials say now is a good time to renew an expired passport or apply for a new one, though dozens of countries still do not admit most American tourists because of coronavirus fears.
A large backlog of passport applications that was waiting to be processed when the Bureau of Consular Affairs, which also handles visas, went into lockdown in mid-March has been tackled.
Passport processors are now chipping away at applications that have arrived since then.
Will Labor Day bring another spike?
Americans headed into Labor Day weekend — the unofficial end to the Lost Summer of 2020 — amid warnings from public health experts that backyard parties, crowded bars and other gatherings could cause the coronavirus to come surging back.
“I look upon the Labor Day weekend really as a critical point,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government’s top infectious-disease expert. “Are we going to go in the right direction and continue the momentum downward, or are we going to have to step back a bit as we start another surge?”
The rise in infections, deaths and hospitalizations over the summer was blamed in part on Americans behaving heedlessly over Memorial Day and July Fourth.
More beaches will be open on Labor Day than on Memorial Day, but Fauci said that is not cause in itself for concern, as long as people keep their distance.
“I would rather see someone on a beach, being physically separated enough, than someone crowded in an indoor bar,” he said.
UN: No vaccine to be endorsed before it’s safe and effective
The head of the World Health Organization said the U.N. health agency will not recommend any COVID-19 vaccine before it is proved safe and effective, even as Russia and China have started using their experimental vaccines before large studies have finished and other countries have proposed streamlining authorization procedures.
At a press briefing on Friday, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said vaccines have been used successfully for decades, and credited them with eradicating smallpox and bringing polio to the brink of being eliminated.
“I would like to assure the public that WHO will not endorse a vaccine that’s not effective and safe,” Tedros said.
He said newly developed Ebola vaccines helped end the recent Ebola outbreak in Congo and urged people opposed to vaccination to do their own research.
India adds another 83K COVID-19 cases, nears 2nd most in world
The number of people confirmed to be infected with the coronavirus in India rose by another 80,000 and is near Brazil’s total, the second-highest in the world.
The 83,341 cases added in the past 24 hours pushed India’s total past 3.9 million, according to the Health Ministry. Brazil has confirmed more than 4 million infections while the U.S. has more 6.1 million people infected, according to Johns Hopkins University.
India’s Health Ministry on Friday also reported 1,096 deaths in the past 24 hours, taking total fatalities up to 68,472.
In a country of 1.4 billion people, only those places most affected by the virus remain under lockdown.
Russia publishes virus vaccine results, claims success
Russian scientists have belatedly published first results from early trials into the experimental Sputnik V vaccine, which received government approval last month but drew considerable criticism from experts, as the shots had only been tested on several dozen people before being more widely administered.
In a report published in the journal Lancet on Friday, developers of the vaccine said it appeared to be safe and to prompt an antibody response in all 40 people tested in the second phase of the study within three weeks. However, the authors noted that participants were only followed for 42 days, the study sample was small and there was no placebo or control vaccine used.
International experts remained cautious over the vaccine’s effectiveness and safety. Nevertheless, its Russian developers made some bold assertions, claiming the vaccine's protection will remain for two years.
Quarantine Corner: Things to do while keeping your distance
“Mulan” belongs in theaters, but don’t wait. Disney’s new movie shows great strength, beauty and action even on a small screen, our critic writes.
Stock your bookshelf with four Seattle-based crime fiction titles.
Students’ heartbreaking plea
More than 100 Washington high-school athletes rallied at the state Capitol in Olympia last night. As they called on the governor to reinstate a fall sports season, some pointed out the high stakes for their collegiate future and family finances.
The pleas were heartfelt and heartbreaking, but playing fall sports doesn’t align with COVID-19 realities, columnist Larry Stone writes.
Catch up on the past 24 hours
FAQ Friday: Can you catch the virus through a building's ventilation system? Do we still need to worry about surfaces? We're breaking down what's known about the risks as businesses scramble to deal with fears about the air in their buildings.
A COVID-19 outbreak that spread through a Bremerton hospital might be traceable to certain medical procedures, according to a state report that also says staffers were using personal protective equipment longer than recommended.
A vaccine by Election Day? That's "extremely unlikely but not impossible," the White House's chief adviser on vaccines says, running counter to the optimism you might have heard.
UW's Huskies might play football in 2020, after all. The Pac-12 has a "groundbreaking" deal to test athletes every day for COVID-19. Here's how it would work. But it wouldn't happen right away, which has us thinking about the things we'll miss the most about fall football — like that view from Husky Stadium on a brilliant day.
"A godsend": As Seattle business owners talk about how aid from the city gave them a fighting chance after the pandemic hit, their experiences seem to suggest many businesses will need additional help.
COVID-19 has hit Gotham: Filming of Warner Bros.' much-anticipated "The Batman" is shut down after its star reportedly tested positive.
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