Editor’s note: This is a live account of COVID-19 updates from Monday, Sept. 14, 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 It is no longer being updated.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 Monday, 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 Sunday are here, and all our coronavirus coverage can be found here.
South Carolina’s lieutenant governor contracts COVID-19
COLUMBIA, S.C. — South Carolina Lt. Gov. Pamela Evette was diagnosed with COVID-19 on Friday and is recovering in isolation with her family at home, officials said.
Evette had a sore throat and headache Thursday and was tested for the virus. She has stayed at her family’s home near Greenville since noting the symptoms, said Brian Symmes, the spokesman for Gov. Henry McMaster.
“She is feeling better now,” said Symmes, adding Evette plans to stay out of the public for two weeks.
Evette’s positive test prompted McMaster and his wife to get COVID-19 tests, which both came back negative Sunday. It was the fifth negative test since the pandemic began for the governor and the third for his wife, Symmes said.
Two members of Evette’s staff and some of her security detail are also isolating but have not tested positive for COVID-19, Symmes said.
Turkey’s virus deaths rise to levels not seen since May
ISTANBUL — Turkey’s daily coronavirus deaths have topped its numbers from early May, with 63 fatalities in the past 24 hours.
The health ministry also confirmed 1,716 new infections Monday, bringing the number of positive COVID-19 cases to nearly 293,000 since March. The death toll now stands at 7,119, but experts say all numbers undercount the true impact of the coronavirus pandemic due to limited testing and missed mild cases, among other factors.
Health Minister Fahrettin Koca tweeted that the rate of infections was not slowing and urged people to take precautions. Turkey eased restrictions like temporary weekend lockdowns at the end of May and reopened businesses and travel routes in June.
Horsfield latest to withdraw from US Open with positive test
MAMARONECK, N.Y. — Sam Horsfield became the second player in two days to test positive for the coronavirus without any symptoms, knocking him out of the U.S. Open on Monday after he had traveled from England.
Horsfield, who won twice during the European Tour’s “U.K. Swing” to earn one of 10 spots in the U.S. Open, tested negative in a pre-arrival test taken last week.
Upon arrival in New York, his nasal swab test was asymptomatic positive.
Scottie Scheffler, the leading candidate as PGA Tour rookie of the year who tied for fourth in the PGA Championship last month, withdrew Sunday after a positive test.
“It goes without saying that I am hugely disappointed to not have the opportunity to play in my fourth U.S. Open but clearly the safety of the tournament and other players is paramount,” Horsfield said in a message posted to Twitter.
Horsfield said he was asymptomatic and feeling well, but based on CDC guidelines he will notify those with whom he has had close contact and self-isolate until he returns a negative test.
500,000 counterfeit N95 masks seized in Chicago
CHICAGO — About 500,000 counterfeit N95 respirator masks have been seized in Chicago by Customs and Border Protection officers, federal officials announced Monday.
The shipment of masks from China was seized Sept. 10 at O’Hare International Airport, according to the federal agency. It said the masks were headed to a company in Manalapan, New Jersey. The masks are used to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
Thirty were sent to a testing facility where it was determined that 10% of the respirators tested had a filter efficiency rating below 95%.
“These masks did not meet the safety standards outlined by the CDC, which puts the public at risk, jeopardizing the health and well-being of everyone,” said Shane Campbell, port director for the Chicago area.
Amazon to hire 100,000 workers as e-commerce swells amid the pandemic
Amazon said Monday it will hire another 100,000 workers to meet surging demand in the COVID-era, bolstering an already dramatic expansion of its workforce this year and underscoring the massive shifts in online spending the pandemic has helped fuel.
The latest hiring drive, which includes full- and part-time jobs, is the fourth largest campaign the Seattle-based retail giant has initiated this year. All told, they add up to 308,000 positions. By comparison, Amazon said it employed 798,000 Americans at the end of 2019.
Competition among major online retailers has intensified as many Americans adapt to a prolonged period of working from home and consumers look to online shopping to replace visits to the store.
But in the early months of the pandemic, Amazon was caught flat footed. As consumers rushed to stock up on cleaning supplies, home office equipment, and recreational goods, Amazon was rocked by shipping delays and a depleted inventory.
—The Washington Post
A university had a great coronavirus plan, but students partied on
At the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, more than 40,000 students take tests twice a week for the coronavirus. They cannot enter campus buildings unless an app vouches that their test has come back negative. Everyone has to wear masks.
This is one of the most comprehensive plans by a major university to keep the virus under control. University scientists developed a quick, inexpensive saliva test. Other researchers put together a detailed computer model that suggested these measures would work, and that in-person instruction could go forward this fall.
But the predictive model included an oversight: It assumed that all of the students would do all of the things that they were told to.
Enough students continued to go to parties even after testing positive, showing how even the best thought-out plans to keep college education moving can fail when humans do not heed common sense or the commands from public health officials.
Early this month, the university reported an unexpected upswing of coronavirus cases and imposed a lockdown.
“Can’t understand why someone with a physics degree would be bad at judging how often college students get invited to parties,” says one of the XKCD characters in Randall Munroe’s popular internet comic strip XKCD.
Nigel Goldenfeld, one of the physicists who was the butt of the comic strip, replied in good humor. But, he noted, it was not a completely accurate portrayal of what happened.
They had indeed taken into account college partying and quite a bit of it — more than 7,000 students partying three times a week in their model. What the scientists had not taken into account was that some students would continue partying after they received a positive test result.
Read the full story here.
—The New York Times
A family struggle as pandemic worsens food insecurity
NEW YORK — At the peak of the coronavirus pandemic this spring, Sharawn Vinson often woke up crying. A recurring thought was making the unemployed single mother desperate: That her kids could go hungry.
There was also fear of contracting the virus, which has disproportionately hit low-income Black families like hers. Meanwhile some of the largest protests against racial injustice in decades were transpiring right outside their window, after the family had experienced its own terrifying encounter with police earlier in the year. There were unpaid bills, and feelings of shame from having to go to a soup kitchen in search of a meal.
So Vinson made the painful decision to send 11-year-old twins Mason and Maddison to live with their father, six states to the south, knowing that way they’d at least be fed.
“I needed them to breathe,” Vinson said, wiping away tears in her living room of peeling gray walls in a Brooklyn housing development.
Vinson was not alone in struggling to put food on the table in this historically tumultuous year. In New York City alone, an estimated 2 million residents are facing food insecurity, a number that the city’s mayor estimates nearly doubled in the pandemic amid the biggest surge in unemployment since the Great Depression. The scope of the problem outstrips previous crises such as the Great Recession, according to those who are working to combat it, and it’s not going away anytime soon.
UW to offer extensive COVID-19 testing for faculty, students, staff
Hoping to head off a campus outbreak of coronavirus when students return to school this fall, the University of Washington is planning widespread, voluntary COVID-19 testing for students, faculty and staff.
The university is encouraging anyone who will be on campus regularly, or will be living in group housing in nearby neighborhoods, to get tested when they return. It expects to test about 10,000 people returning to the Seattle, Bothell and Tacoma campuses this fall, and will likely find several hundred positive cases with that initial round of testing, said Dr. Geoffrey Gottlieb, an infectious disease expert in the UW School of Medicine and chair of the UW’s Advisory Committee on Communicable Diseases.
“Identifying these positive individuals right away — and getting them into self-isolation — is critical toward stemming any spread on campus once in-person instruction and other campus activities begin,” Gottlieb said in a statement. Nationwide, college students returning to campus have fueled major outbreaks of the virus.
After the initial round of testing, the UW’s goal is to test about 1,000 people each week to help detect asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic cases. Tests started Sept. 8 for students in fraternities and sororities, and students living in on-campus housing will be offered testing throughout their move-in period Sept. 22-25. The tests are being performed for free by the Brotman Baty Institute for Precision Medicine, which runs the Seattle Flu Study.
Fall quarter starts Sept. 30. About 90% of UW classes will be taught remotely.
Indonesia’s capital under virus order, hospitals nearly full
JAKARTA, Indonesia — Main streets were less crowded as Indonesia’s capital began two weeks of social restrictions Monday to curb a rise of coronavirus infections that has pushed its critical-care hospital capacity to unsafe levels.
Police at checkpoints imposed sanctions on bikers that did not wear their masks. But business owners were confused, and workers said supporting the health care system, strained by COVID-19 patients, should be the priority.
Jakarta Gov. Anies Baswedan announced the restrictions Sunday, to last from Monday to Sept. 27, in what he described as an emergency decision to control a rapid expansion in coronavirus cases in Jakarta.
Social, economic, religious, cultural and academic activities will be restricted, with 11 essential sectors, like food, construction and banking, allowed to operate with health protocols and 50% of usual staffing levels.
Schools, parks, recreation sites and wedding reception venues must close entirely. Restaurants and cafes are limited to takeaway and delivery service. Shopping centers must limit the number of visitors and their hours. Only religious places at residential areas are able to open.
City of Seattle to spend millions on housing and rental assistance for those at risk of evictions
The city of Seattle is planning to allocate more than $19 million in COVID-19 relief funding to provide housing assistance for low-income households hit hard by the pandemic, according to a Monday statement from Mayor Jenny Durkan’s office.
Seattle and King County will also launch a $41 million program providing mortgage counseling and direct assistance to homeowners at risk of foreclosure, the statement said. Through the King County Eviction Prevention and Rent Assistance program, which will last through the end of the year, tenants, small landlords, large property landlords and managers, manufactured home park owners and managers can apply for rent assistance. For more information on how to apply, click here.
“There is no doubt that our residents and businesses are feeling the deep impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting economic crisis,” Durkan said in the statement. “This pandemic has put people out of work, caused families to struggle to put food on the table and pay rent, and forced some of our most beloved small businesses to shutter for good.”
She continued, “Since the onset of COVID-19, the City has worked tirelessly to provide critical resources to our most impacted residents and communities of color that have been most disproportionately impacted by this crisis.”
Of the $19 million the city is planning to provide in relief funding, $12 million will go toward rental assistance through United Way of King County’s Home Base Eviction Prevention and Rental Assistance program, $4 million will come through affordable housing providers and $3 million will come through the city’s Human Service Department homelessness prevention programs.
United Way of King County launched its eviction prevention and rental assistance program in April, and by July, it had served more than 2,800 households in the county, the statement said.
“The pandemic’s economic effects are still disproportionately impacting communities of color, and thousands of our neighbors are still unemployed and can’t pay their rent,” Gordon McHenry, Jr., president and CEO of United Way of King County, said in the statement. “We are grateful for Seattle’s efforts to secure these additional funds, which will help families stay in their homes and avoid accumulating more debt.”
Washington confirms 312 new coronavirus cases
Health officials confirmed 312 new COVID-19 cases and 15 additional deaths in Washington on Monday.
The update brings the state’s totals to 80,138 infections and 2,006 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. Sunday. Death tallies may be higher early in the week, as DOH is no longer reporting COVID-19-related deaths on weekends.
Health officials also reported that 7,098 people have been hospitalized in the state due to the virus.
In King County, the state’s most populous, state health officials have confirmed 20,912 infections and 747 deaths.
Emergency order to waive COVID-related telehealth costs extended
State Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler has once again extended his emergency requiring insurers to adapt coverage to address consumer needs amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The order requires state-regulated health insurers to continue coverage for telehealth visits, and to cover diagnostic testing and COVID-19 drive-thru testing with no copay, coinsurance or deductible.
According to a news release from the Office of the Insurance Commissioner, the order has been extended through Oct. 14. It was originally issued on March 24 and has been extended several times.
“This continues to be critical time for all Washingtonians and we need to provide safe and flexible access to care,” Kreidler said in the release. “During this unprecedented time, people should not have to worry about their insurance coverage.”
Skyrocketing COVID-19 cases could bring reckoning for WSU
Last week, the National Guard recognized Pullman as one of Washington’s most dire coronavirus hot spots, moving in to conduct mass testing at rotating sites near the Washington State University campus there.
Pullman, home to WSU’s main campus, ranked third on The New York Times’ list of U.S. cities with the most new cases relative to population Friday. On Monday, Pullman ranked first.
Whitman County has had 975 cases total as of Friday, mostly in the college age bracket, the county health district reported. Before Aug. 20, when students started returning, the county had reported 138 cases since March.
While school officials applauded more than 500 students for showing up to get tested when the university set up a testing site on Greek Row, there’s still a critical mass of students who seemed to return to campus “specifically” to party, said Jared Holstad, Sigma Phi Epsilon chapter president.
And, while a sevenfold increase in cases was enough to top The Times list Monday, the actual number of cases is higher than the reported 975, according to a Whitman County Health District news release. A delay receiving lab results has artificially lowered local case numbers this week, it said.
Read the full story.
—Maggie Quinlan, The Spokesman-Review
With COVID-19, flu vaccine will be especially important this year
With COVID-19 primed to complicate this year’s flu season, getting your flu shot will be especially important. That’s the message from Public Health — Seattle & King County.
“The prospect of our annual flu outbreak compounding COVID-19 during this fall and winter’s ‘respiratory virus’ season is worrisome,” said health officer Jeff Duchin in an update posted today to the agency’s Public Health Insider website. “Hospitals, clinics, and doctors’ offices are likely to be busy caring for COVID-19 patients and other health needs. Getting a flu vaccine will help keep you and your loved ones out of those medical settings.”
Duchin said getting vaccinated would reduce rates of hospitalization for the flu, conserving resources that hospital systems need to treat COVID-19 patients. Public Health is urging everyone over six months of age be vaccinated.
“When the rest of us get vaccinated for the flu, it also helps protect our household members and others in the community – especially older adults, young children, pregnant women, people with chronic medical conditions or weakened immune systems, and others at high risk for severe influenza,” said Duchin.
While it’s impossible to predict the fallout from COVID-19 and the flu, “there is concern that the combination could lead to serious illnesses,” said Duchin. Given the significant overlap between flu and COVID-19 symptoms, differentiating between the two will be challenging, meaning that people who suspect they have the flu will likely need to adhere to the same quarantine protocols as those with suspected cases of COVID-19.
Given those risks and the fact that there’s no vaccine for COVID-19, flu vaccinations will be especially critical. “Vaccines for COVID-19 are currently undergoing large scale safety and effectiveness testing and have not been evaluated or approved for use outside of these studies,” said Duchin. “But we do have a vaccine for flu that has been safely given to millions of Americans for more than 50 years. And it works.”
Public Health — Seattle & King County will host a number of flu-vaccination events this fall, with several already scheduled. Flu shots will be available on Thursday, Sept. 17, at Eastgate Public Health Center in Bellevue; Wednesday, Oct. 7 and Saturday, Oct. 17 at ShoWare Center in Kent; every Saturday at Stepping Stone Pediatrics in Bellevue; and by appointment at ICHS flu clinics in the International District, Holly Park, Bellevue, and Shoreline.
Most of these events will take patients by appointment, and may require advance registration. Updates will be available on Public Health’s “Find an Immunization” webpage.
France tightens screws on public activities to fight COVID
Two of France’s biggest cities with COVID-19 infection rates gathering speed even faster than the national surge in new cases are tightening limits on public activities as the French government seeks to ward off a new nationwide lockdown.
The stricter restrictions announced Monday in Marseille and Bordeaux were responses to a demand from France’s prime minister that both cities take additional steps to stem their growing numbers of infections, which were putting pressure on regional health services.
Read the story here.
—The Associated Press
Anti-inflammatory drug may shorten COVID-19 recovery time
A drug company says that adding an anti-inflammatory medicine to a drug already widely used for hospitalized COVID-19 patients shortens their time to recovery by an additional day.
Eli Lilly announced the results Monday from a 1,000-person study sponsored by the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. The results have not yet been published or reviewed by independent scientists.
The study tested baricitinib, a pill that Indianapolis-based Lilly already sells as Olumiant to treat rheumatoid arthritis, and found those who were given baricitinib recovered one day sooner than those who were not.
Read the story here.
—The Associated Press
Italy’s initial virus hotspot back to school after 7 months
Monday was the first time the children of Codogno returned to their classes since February when they were picked up by panicked parents in this northern Italian town that gained notoriety as the first Western hot seat of the coronavirus.
While all of Italy’s 8 million school students endured Italy’s strict 2½-month lockdown, few suffered the trauma of the children of Codogno, many of whom lost grandparents.
So while the reopening of Italian schools marks an important step in a return to pre-lockdown routine, the step bears more symbolic weight in the 11 towns in Lombardy and Veneto that were the first to be sealed off as coronavirus red zones.
Read the story here.
—The Associated Press
UK tests if COVID-19 vaccines might work better inhaled
British scientists are beginning a small study comparing how two experimental coronavirus vaccines might work when they are inhaled by people instead of being injected.
In a statement on Monday, researchers at Imperial College London and Oxford University said a trial involving 30 people would test vaccines developed by both institutions when participants inhale the droplets in their mouths, which would directly target their respiratory systems.
Read the story here.
—The Associated Press
Florida man beaten after asking unmasked man to socially distance
A 70-year-old man was beaten after he asked a man who wasn’t wearing a mask to practice social distancing inside a central Florida gas station earlier this month, according to an Orange County arrest affidavit.
After the two men argued, the 70-year-old paid for his items and went outside the Citgo gas station in Winter Park, police said.
Rovester Ingram, 24, followed him outside and began kicking and punching the older man, according to the report.
Winter Park police confirmed the victim’s account through eyewitness accounts and security footage. Ingram has been charged with inflicting bodily harm as well as aggravated battery, according to court records.
Read the story here.
—The Associated Press
Catch up on the past 24 hours
New COVID-19 cases have been falling across all age groups in Washington state since early August, according to the state. One notable exception: Pullman’s party problem has sent cases skyrocketing. That illustrates why “the risk remains extremely high throughout the state,” the health secretary says. Track the trends here.
Amid glimmers of good news about the virus, why does it feel like we’re stuck? It turns out going into lockdown was the easier part, columnist Danny Westneat writes.
President Donald Trump defied Nevada’s rules yesterday by hosting his first indoor rally since June. Trump told a packed, nearly mask-less crowd that U.S. is “making the last turn” in defeating the virus. But Trump’s optimism is at odds with what his top health advisers say, fact-checkers point out.
COVID-19 doesn’t exist in Antarctica. But will it stay that way? The first U.S. flight in months arrived today amid meticulous precautions.
Married for decades, separated by COVID-19: It has been five months since Diane Lewan last saw the man she has been married to for 44 years. Theirs is among the stories of Seattle-area couples separated last spring because of lockdowns at senior facilities. Here’s how they coped and what’s happening to them now.
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