Coronavirus daily news updates, August 14: What to know today about COVID-19 in the Seattle area, Washington state and the world – Seattle Times

14August 2020

“We have more work to do” to combat the novel coronavirus, Gov. Jay Inslee said Thursday while visiting Okanogan County, a virus hot spot in the north-central part of the state. He noted that widespread mask use had helped beat back the virus in another hot spot, Yakima County.

According to a New York Times analysis of estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, at least 200,000 more people in the United States have died than usual since March, which is about 60,000 higher than the number of deaths that have been directly linked to the coronavirus. And most Americans won’t be able to get the shots until spring or summer next year at the earliest.

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 coronavirus coverage can be found here.

The state Department of Health has stopped releasing the number of tests that have come back negative. The agency, which initially cited technical difficulties for the lack of data, announced Wednesday it is changing its test-tracking methodology and won’t report testing totals or the state’s positivity rate again until its new data reporting system is operational, which it estimates will be around the middle of next week.

The state Department of Health has stopped releasing the number of tests that have come back negative. The agency, which initially cited technical difficulties for the lack of data, announced Wednesday it is changing its test-tracking methodology and won’t report testing totals or the state’s positivity rate again until its new data reporting system is operational, which it estimates will be around the middle of next week.

The state Department of Health has stopped releasing the number of tests that have come back negative. The agency, which initially cited technical difficulties for the lack of data, announced Wednesday it is changing its test-tracking methodology and won’t report testing totals or the state’s positivity rate again until its new data reporting system is operational, which it estimates will be around the middle of next week.
(Jennifer Luxton / The Seattle Times)

(Jennifer Luxton / The Seattle Times)

1:51 pm

U.S. will prepare coronavirus strain for potential human challenge trials

Lehua Gray has volunteered to test a coronavirus vaccine through a website called 1Day Sooner, which aims to reduce the time until FDA vaccine approval by crowdsourcing volunteers. (Julia Robinson / The Washington Post)

Lehua Gray has volunteered to test a coronavirus vaccine through a website called 1Day Sooner, which aims to reduce the time until FDA vaccine approval by crowdsourcing volunteers. (Julia Robinson / The Washington Post)

Lehua Gray has volunteered to test a coronavirus vaccine through a website called 1Day Sooner, which aims to reduce the time until FDA vaccine approval by crowdsourcing volunteers. (Julia Robinson / The Washington Post)

U.S. researchers will create a strain of the coronavirus that could be used in possible vaccine trials called human challenge experiments, Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said in an interview Friday.

The United States isn’t committed to embarking on such ethically fraught trials but has begun the process to create a stock of coronavirus strain that could be used to infect people, in case such trials become necessary, Fauci said. He called it a “Plan C or Plan D,” a preliminary step being taken because creating a strain that meets exacting regulatory standards will take months. Large, 30,000-person trials that are testing the effectiveness of experimental vaccines are likely to yield results sooner and provide much-needed safety data.

“You generally do [human challenge trials] if you don’t have enough infections in the community at any given time to get a signal from the vaccine,” Fauci said. “Unfortunately for us, we don’t have that problem — we have a lot of infections.”

Read the full story here.

—The Washington Post
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1:19 pm

Study hints, but can’t prove, that survivor plasma fights COVID-19

Mayo Clinic researchers reported a strong hint that blood plasma from COVID-19 survivors helps other patients recover, but it’s not proof and some experts worry if, amid clamor for the treatment, they’ll ever get a clear answer.

More than 64,000 patients in the U.S. have been given convalescent plasma, a century-old approach to fend off flu and measles before vaccines. It’s a go-to tactic when new diseases come along, and history suggests it works against some, but not all, infections.

There’s no solid evidence yet that it fights the coronavirus and, if so, how best to use it. But preliminary data from 35,000 coronavirus patients treated with plasma offers what Mayo lead researcher Dr. Michael Joyner on Friday called “signals of efficacy.”

Read the full story here.

—The Associated Press
11:47 am

Postal Service warns 46 states their voters could be disenfranchised by delayed mail-in ballots

The letters to states detailing concerns for November followed ramped-up vote-by-mail primaries marred by serious delivery problems in some states. Above, a box of absentee ballots awaits counting at the Albany County Board of Elections in Albany, N.Y., on June 30, 2020. (AP Photo/Hans Pennink)

The letters to states detailing concerns for November followed ramped-up vote-by-mail primaries marred by serious delivery problems in some states. Above, a box of absentee ballots awaits counting at the Albany County Board of Elections in Albany, N.Y., on June 30, 2020. (AP Photo/Hans Pennink)

The letters to states detailing concerns for November followed ramped-up vote-by-mail primaries marred by serious delivery problems in some states. Above, a box of absentee ballots awaits counting at the Albany County Board of Elections in Albany, N.Y., on June 30, 2020. (AP Photo/Hans Pennink)

Anticipating an avalanche of absentee ballots as people avoid voting in person during the pandemic, the U.S. Postal Service recently sent detailed letters to 46 states and the District of Columbia warning that it cannot guarantee all ballots cast by mail for the November election will arrive in time to be counted — adding another layer of uncertainty ahead of the high-stakes presidential contest.

Washington state was not among them.

The letters sketch a grim possibility for the tens of millions of Americans eligible for a mail-in ballot this fall: Even if people follow all of their state’s election rules, the pace of Postal Service delivery may disqualify their votes.

The Postal Service’s warnings of potential disenfranchisement came as the agency undergoes a sweeping organizational and policy overhaul amid dire financial conditions. Cost-cutting moves have already delayed mail delivery by as much as a week in some places, and a new decision to decommission 10% of the Postal Service’s sorting machines sparked widespread concern the slowdowns will only worsen. Rank-and-file postal workers say the move is ill-timed and could sharply diminish the speedy processing of flat mail, including letters and ballots.

Read the full story here.

—The Washington Post
11:25 am

Washington state House Republican leader says he had COVID-19

Rep. J.T. Wilcox, a Republican from the 2nd District, speaks on opening day of the 2019 legislative session. (Bettina Hansen / The Seattle Times)

Rep. J.T. Wilcox, a Republican from the 2nd District, speaks on opening day of the 2019 legislative session. (Bettina Hansen / The Seattle Times)

Rep. J.T. Wilcox, a Republican from the 2nd District, speaks on opening day of the 2019 legislative session. (Bettina Hansen / The Seattle Times)

OLYMPIA — House Republican Leader J.T. Wilcox, of Yelm, Thurston County, is the first Washington lawmaker known to have tested positive for COVID-19, posting on Facebook this week that he has completed a self-isolation period and is “feeling great now.”

In his Tuesday post, Wilcox wrote that he decided to get tested after developing a cough in early August, later followed by temperature spikes in the afternoons.

Lawmakers haven’t been at the Capitol since they adjourned in March. Any meetings have been held remotely, and it’s unclear what the 105-legislative session will look like when it convenes in January.

Read the full story here.

—The Associated Press
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11:14 am

Rural families without internet face tough choice on school

Barlow Mitchell sits outside the Lee County Public Library while using the public WIFI, in Beattyville, Ky., Wednesday, July 29, 2020. As in other places, parents and officials are concerned about the virus, but dramatically limited internet access in many rural places also means kids could fall seriously behind if the pandemic keeps them home again. (AP Photo/Bryan Woolston)

Barlow Mitchell sits outside the Lee County Public Library while using the public WIFI, in Beattyville, Ky., Wednesday, July 29, 2020. As in other places, parents and officials are concerned about the virus, but dramatically limited internet access in many rural places also means kids could fall seriously behind if the pandemic keeps them home again. (AP Photo/Bryan Woolston)

Barlow Mitchell sits outside the Lee County Public Library while using the public WIFI, in Beattyville, Ky., Wednesday, July 29, 2020. As in other places, parents and officials are concerned about the virus, but dramatically limited internet access in many rural places also means kids could fall seriously behind if the pandemic keeps them home again. (AP Photo/Bryan Woolston)

BEATTYVILLE, Ky. — John Ross worries about his children returning to their classrooms this fall with coronavirus cases rising in Kentucky, but he feels he doesn’t have much of a choice: His family’s limited internet access makes it nearly impossible for the kids to keep up with schoolwork from home.

“They’re going to have their education,” the father of three in rural Lee County said as he recalled his children’s struggles to do their work this spring over a spotty cellphone connection.

Lee County, a community of around 7,000 people deep in the Appalachian Mountains, is one of many rural school districts around the country where the decision over whether to bring students back into classrooms is particularly fraught. As in other places, parents and officials are concerned about the virus, but dramatically limited internet access here also means kids could fall seriously behind if the pandemic keeps them home again.

Read the full story here.

—The Associated Press
11:03 am

Health insurance emergency order for telehealth extended again

An emergency order directing all state-regulated health insurers to cover a variety of COVID-19 related services has been extended until Sept. 15 by Washington state Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler.

The order requires state-regulated insurers to cover telehealth visits, which include appointments by telephone and video chats. The order also extends to all medically necessary diagnostic testing for viral respiratory illnesses including the flu.

Drive-thru tests for COVID-19 won’t require a co-pay or deductible under the order.

Kreidler first implemented the emergency order on March 5.

—Ryan Blethen
11:00 am

Alabama governor’s chief of staff quarantines after exposure

In this file photo from July 29, 2020, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey announces the extension of a state order requiring face masks in public during a news conference in Montgomery, Ala. Ivey’s chief of staff is quarantining at home after his wife tested positive for COVID-19. Ivey spokesperson Gina Maiola said Friday, Aug. 14, that Ivey’s Chief of Staff Jo Bonner does not have symptoms but is in quarantine at home. (Kim Chandler / The Associated Press, File)

In this file photo from July 29, 2020, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey announces the extension of a state order requiring face masks in public during a news conference in Montgomery, Ala. Ivey’s chief of staff is quarantining at home after his wife tested positive for COVID-19. Ivey spokesperson Gina Maiola said Friday, Aug. 14, that Ivey’s Chief of Staff Jo Bonner does not have symptoms but is in quarantine at home. (Kim Chandler / The Associated Press, File)

In this file photo from July 29, 2020, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey announces the extension of a state order requiring face masks in public during a news conference in Montgomery, Ala. Ivey’s chief of staff is quarantining at home after his wife tested positive for COVID-19. Ivey spokesperson Gina Maiola said Friday, Aug. 14, that Ivey’s Chief of Staff Jo Bonner does not have symptoms but is in quarantine at home. (Kim Chandler / The Associated Press, File)

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey’s chief of staff is quarantining at home after his wife tested positive for COVID-19.

Ivey spokeswoman Gina Maiola said Friday that Ivey’s Chief of Staff Jo Bonner does not have symptoms but is in quarantine at home.

Maiola said Bonner was not with the 75-year-old Republican governor this week and his wife Janee Bonner has not been around the governor in several months.

Read the full story here.

—The Associated Press
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10:49 am

Fear and empathy at L.A. funeral home serving Black families

Darryl Hutchinson, facing camera, is hugged by a fellow relative during a funeral service for Lydia Nunez, who was Hutchinson’s cousin, Tuesday, July 21, 2020, at the Metropolitan Baptist Church in Los Angeles. Nunez died from COVID-19. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

Darryl Hutchinson, facing camera, is hugged by a fellow relative during a funeral service for Lydia Nunez, who was Hutchinson’s cousin, Tuesday, July 21, 2020, at the Metropolitan Baptist Church in Los Angeles. Nunez died from COVID-19. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

Darryl Hutchinson, facing camera, is hugged by a fellow relative during a funeral service for Lydia Nunez, who was Hutchinson’s cousin, Tuesday, July 21, 2020, at the Metropolitan Baptist Church in Los Angeles. Nunez died from COVID-19. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

LOS ANGELES (AP) — When people began dying from COVID-19 in the United States, for a few weeks funeral home owner Candy Boyd declined to receive the remains of such patients.

There were too many unknowns, and Boyd didn’t feel like her employees had the training or equipment to safely handle the remains of people who may have active coronavirus infection in their bodies. But the calls kept coming. Desperate families said other funeral homes were also not receiving people who died of the virus.

Boyd, 53, decided she had to make it work. She reminded herself that she got into the funeral home business more than 10 years ago after running a construction company because she wanted to help people in their most vulnerable state. And the communities her funeral home serves, Black people and others of color in South Los Angeles, were clearly being hard hit.

“It tugged at my heart strings,” said Boyd. “To hear some of the stories I’ve heard in the last three months has been incredible. People having to say goodbye through an iPad, a window.”

“Many have not seen their family members in 30 days. The next time they see them is in a casket,” she said.

Read the full story here.

—The Associated Press
10:38 am

California governor on the hot seat over pandemic response

In this file photo from June 30, 2020, Gov. Gavin Newsom removes his face mask before giving an update on the state’s initiative to provide housing for homeless Californians amid the coronavirus pandemic, during a visit to Pittsburg, Calif. Newsom has had a summer of muddled messaging and bad news in the coronavirus fight, a trend crystallized by the governor’s delayed response to a data error that caused a backlog of nearly 300,000 virus test results. (Rich Pedroncelli / The Associated Press, Pool, File)

In this file photo from June 30, 2020, Gov. Gavin Newsom removes his face mask before giving an update on the state’s initiative to provide housing for homeless Californians amid the coronavirus pandemic, during a visit to Pittsburg, Calif. Newsom has had a summer of muddled messaging and bad news in the coronavirus fight, a trend crystallized by the governor’s delayed response to a data error that caused a backlog of nearly 300,000 virus test results. (Rich Pedroncelli / The Associated Press, Pool, File)

In this file photo from June 30, 2020, Gov. Gavin Newsom removes his face mask before giving an update on the state’s initiative to provide housing for homeless Californians amid the coronavirus pandemic, during a visit to Pittsburg, Calif. Newsom has had a summer of muddled messaging and bad news in the coronavirus fight, a trend crystallized by the governor’s delayed response to a data error that caused a backlog of nearly 300,000 virus test results. (Rich Pedroncelli / The Associated Press, Pool, File)

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — California Gov. Gavin Newsom has had a summer of muddled messaging and bad news in the coronavirus fight, a trend crystallized this week by his delayed response to a data error that caused a backlog of nearly 300,000 virus test results.

“The buck stops with me, I’m accountable,” he said in a tense Monday news conference, his first appearance since state officials revealed the error a week earlier. “No one’s trying to hide that, no one’s trying to mask that, we’re owning that, we’re moving forward to address those issues.”

His tone couldn’t have been more different than it was in March, when California’s public battle with the virus began and the state initially avoided the worst outcomes. In commanding news conferences held almost daily, he announced the country’s first statewide stay-at-home order and won mostly adherence from the state’s 40 million residents.

But things began to change in May, when Newsom, under pressure from business leaders, allowed parts of the economy to begin reopening under a complicated, county-by-county process. Within weeks he reversed course as confirmed cases and the positive test rate rose.

Read the full story here.

—The Associated Press
10:27 am

Canada-U.S border restrictions extended to at least September

A ditch marks the Canada-U.S. border and separates people walking on the road, right, in Surrey, British Columbia, and those gathered at Peace Arch Historical State Park, left, in Blaine, Wash., on July 5, 2020. Although the B.C. government closed the Canadian side of the park in June due to concerns about crowding and COVID-19, people are still able to meet in the U.S. park due to a treaty signed in 1814 that allows citizens of Canada and the U.S. to unite in the park without technically crossing any border. (Darryl Dyck / The Canadian Press via AP)

A ditch marks the Canada-U.S. border and separates people walking on the road, right, in Surrey, British Columbia, and those gathered at Peace Arch Historical State Park, left, in Blaine, Wash., on July 5, 2020. Although the B.C. government closed the Canadian side of the park in June due to concerns about crowding and COVID-19, people are still able to meet in the U.S. park due to a treaty signed in 1814 that allows citizens of Canada and the U.S. to unite in the park without technically crossing any border. (Darryl Dyck / The Canadian Press via AP)

A ditch marks the Canada-U.S. border and separates people walking on the road, right, in Surrey, British Columbia, and those gathered at Peace Arch Historical State Park, left, in Blaine, Wash., on July 5, 2020. Although the B.C. government closed the Canadian side of the park in June due to concerns about crowding and COVID-19, people are still able to meet in the U.S. park due to a treaty signed in 1814 that allows citizens of Canada and the U.S. to unite in the park without technically crossing any border. (Darryl Dyck / The Canadian Press via AP)

TORONTO — The Canada-U.S. border will remain closed to non-essential travel for at least another month, Canada’s public safety minister said Friday.

The statement by Public Safety Minister Bill Blair came a day after Mexico announced a similar measure for its border with the United States.

The land border restrictions aimed at controlling the coronavirus pandemic were first announced in March and have been renewed monthly.

Many Canadians fear a reopening. Canada has flattened the epidemic curve while the U.S. has more confirmed cases and deaths from COVID-19 than any other country.

Essential cross-border workers like health care professionals, airline crews and truck drivers are still permitted to cross. Much of Canada’s food supply comes from or via the U.S.

Americans who are returning to America and Canadians who are returning to Canada are also exempted from the border closure.

Canada sends 75% of its exports to the U.S. and about 18% of American exports go to Canada. The U.S. Canada border is world’s longest between two nations.

—The Associated Press
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10:16 am

British vacationers in France told to immediately return home or face 14-day quarantine

LONDON — This anxious, germaphobic summer just got a bit worse for 160,000 British citizens vacationing in France. They must return home immediately — or face a 14-day quarantine upon return to the United Kingdom.

The sudden announcement of emergency isolation measures by the British government, sparked by a rising number of coronavirus cases in France, took most by surprise.

Anyone — British citizens or travelers — arriving in the U.K. from France on Saturday will be ordered to self-quarantine for two weeks.

Britain and France share one of the most highly crossed borders in the world, and English tourists traditionally pour into France, Spain and Italy during the summer.

The isolation measures also apply to people arriving in the U.K. from the Netherlands, Monaco, Malta, Turks and Caicos, and Aruba.

Read the full story here.

—The Washington Post
8:08 am

Washington park employees and volunteers are working overtime as people flock outdoors amid COVID-19

Connie Spangler, shown Aug. 8, 2020, is a retired nurse and volunteer camp host at Nolte State Park near Enumclaw. She does her best to eradicate invasive plants, but says there is neither the funding nor the staffing to do it properly. (Bettina Hansen / The Seattle Times)

Connie Spangler, shown Aug. 8, 2020, is a retired nurse and volunteer camp host at Nolte State Park near Enumclaw. She does her best to eradicate invasive plants, but says there is neither the funding nor the staffing to do it properly. (Bettina Hansen / The Seattle Times)

Connie Spangler, shown Aug. 8, 2020, is a retired nurse and volunteer camp host at Nolte State Park near Enumclaw. She does her best to eradicate invasive plants, but says there is neither the funding nor the staffing to do it properly. (Bettina Hansen / The Seattle Times)

Visitation to Washington’s Enchantments has gone “berserk” in the wake of coronavirus lockdowns according to Carly Reed, the permit administrator for the scenic Cascades spot in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness near Leavenworth.

In the first week of August, one of her rangers counted 999 people on a single Saturday at Colchuck Lake, while other workers buried 200 piles of poop and toilet paper. “And we have four toilets up there,” Reed says.

On the weekend, parking winds a mile and a half down the road from the trailhead. Visitors bring loud music and flotation devices like stand-up paddleboards to the lake. “It’s not your normal wilderness experience,” Reed says.

A common refrain among public lands staff: Monday is the new Friday; weekends are now like holiday weekends.

Read the full story here.

—Colleen Stinchcombe / Special to The Seattle Times
7:57 am

Despite fears, cruise ships prepare to return to sea

The Hurtigruten ship “Fridtjof Nansen” enters the port of Hamburg, Germany, in the morning and sails along the Elbphilharmonie concert hall, Friday, Aug. 7, 2020. Several major cruise liners are trying to restart their business in Europe, with Italy as the epicenter of the effort. (Bodo Marks/dpa via AP)

The Hurtigruten ship “Fridtjof Nansen” enters the port of Hamburg, Germany, in the morning and sails along the Elbphilharmonie concert hall, Friday, Aug. 7, 2020. Several major cruise liners are trying to restart their business in Europe, with Italy as the epicenter of the effort. (Bodo Marks/dpa via AP)

The Hurtigruten ship “Fridtjof Nansen” enters the port of Hamburg, Germany, in the morning and sails along the Elbphilharmonie concert hall, Friday, Aug. 7, 2020. Several major cruise liners are trying to restart their business in Europe, with Italy as the epicenter of the effort. (Bodo Marks/dpa via AP)

CIVITAVECCHIA, Italy — Though cruising has been ordered to a halt in the United States, several major cruise liners are trying to restart their business in Europe, with Italy as the epicenter of the effort.

The companies have consulted with scientists, drawn up new safety protocols and received Italian government clearance; MSC Cruises, on its website, says passengers can now “cruise with confidence.”

But it remains unclear how risky it might be for people to climb back onboard and restart an activity that, at the beginning of the pandemic, helped seed the virus around the world and was connected to several dozen deaths.

Read the full story here.

—The Washington Post
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7:51 am

Six months into pandemic, Washington state still struggles with COVID-19 data

A technician processes coronavirus tests at the UW Medicine Virology Lab in Seattle in July. A series of technical problems has hampered the state Department of Health’s reporting of COVID-19 data. (Erika Schultz / The Seattle Times)

A technician processes coronavirus tests at the UW Medicine Virology Lab in Seattle in July. A series of technical problems has hampered the state Department of Health’s reporting of COVID-19 data. (Erika Schultz / The Seattle Times)

A technician processes coronavirus tests at the UW Medicine Virology Lab in Seattle in July. A series of technical problems has hampered the state Department of Health’s reporting of COVID-19 data. (Erika Schultz / The Seattle Times)

When the state’s top health official announced this week that Washington would revamp how it counts negative COVID-19 test results, he said the change would give officials a more up-to-date snapshot of the disease.

But it also added even more delays to the state’s daily reporting of the positivity rate, a key metric that determines how many of those tested are infected with the virus.

Ongoing data troubles had already slowed reporting of the statewide positivity rate for 10 straight days — the latest in a series of technical problems hampering the state Department of Health’s (DOH) COVID-19 case reporting since the pandemic erupted here in late February.

State health officials have variously blamed an overwhelmed disease reporting system, software challenges, methodology changes and other fits and starts for periodically stalling timely, comprehensive and accurate data reporting.

Read the full story here.

—Mary Hudetz and Lewis Kamb
7:45 am

Trump and Biden trade barbs over coronavirus response, masks

WILMINGTON, Del. — President Donald Trump is attacking former Vice President Joe Biden for calling on governors to mandate that all Americans wear masks for the next three months, accusing the Democratic presidential candidate of politicizing an issue Trump himself has used for political gain in recent months.

Trump falsely claimed Biden was advocating for the president to use executive power to institute a nationwide mask mandate and that Biden was in favor of “locking all Americans in their basements for months on end.”

Biden did not call for an executive order, but he did at an earlier campaign event call for the institution of “a mask mandate nationwide, starting immediately.” Biden clarified, however, that it should be left up to the governors to make mask-wearing mandatory. He said nothing about keeping Americans indoors, but he has argued that economic reopenings in states have been rushed and without proper guidance from the federal government to keep Americans safe.

The back-and-forth marked a new line of attack from Trump, who is trailing Biden significantly in most nationwide and swing state surveys. Biden has made what he says is Trump’s mishandling of the pandemic — which has now caused the deaths of at least 167,000 people in the United States — a centerpiece of his attacks on the president.

Read the full story here.

—The Associated Press
7:35 am

Trump admits he’s blocking Postal Service funding to stop mail-in votes

Eric Severson holds a sign as a few dozen people gather Aug. 11 in front of a United States Post Office in Midland, Mich., to protest recent changes to the U.S. Postal Service under new Postmaster General Louis DeJoy. (Katy Kildee / Midland Daily News via AP)

Eric Severson holds a sign as a few dozen people gather Aug. 11 in front of a United States Post Office in Midland, Mich., to protest recent changes to the U.S. Postal Service under new Postmaster General Louis DeJoy. (Katy Kildee / Midland Daily News via AP)

Eric Severson holds a sign as a few dozen people gather Aug. 11 in front of a United States Post Office in Midland, Mich., to protest recent changes to the U.S. Postal Service under new Postmaster General Louis DeJoy. (Katy Kildee / Midland Daily News via AP)

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump frankly acknowledged that he’s starving the U.S. Postal Service of money to make it harder to process an expected surge of mail-in ballots, which he worries could cost him reelection.

In an interview on Fox Business Network, Trump explicitly noted two funding provisions that Democrats are seeking in a relief package that has stalled on Capitol Hill. Without the additional money, he said, the Postal Service won’t have the resources to handle a flood of ballots from voters who are seeking to avoid polling places during the coronavirus pandemic.

“If we don’t make a deal, that means they don’t get the money,” Trump told host Maria Bartiromo on Thursday.

Trump’s statements come as he is searching for a strategy to gain an advantage in his November matchup against former Vice President Joe Biden. He’s pairing the tough Postal Service stance in congressional negotiations with an increasingly robust mail-in-voting legal fight in states that could decide the election.

Read the full story here.

—The Associated Press
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7:10 am

New Zealand extends Auckland lockdown as virus cluster grows

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern reacts during a press conference in Wellington, New Zealand, on Friday, Aug. 14, 2020. Ardern announced that the three-day lockdown in Auckland would be extended by another 12 days at level 3, while the rest of New Zealand will stay at level 2 restrictions as health authorities investigate the source of the first domestic coronavirus outbreak in more than three months. (Mark Mitchell / New Zealand Herald via AP)

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern reacts during a press conference in Wellington, New Zealand, on Friday, Aug. 14, 2020. Ardern announced that the three-day lockdown in Auckland would be extended by another 12 days at level 3, while the rest of New Zealand will stay at level 2 restrictions as health authorities investigate the source of the first domestic coronavirus outbreak in more than three months. (Mark Mitchell / New Zealand Herald via AP)

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern reacts during a press conference in Wellington, New Zealand, on Friday, Aug. 14, 2020. Ardern announced that the three-day lockdown in Auckland would be extended by another 12 days at level 3, while the rest of New Zealand will stay at level 2 restrictions as health authorities investigate the source of the first domestic coronavirus outbreak in more than three months. (Mark Mitchell / New Zealand Herald via AP)

WELLINGTON, New Zealand — New Zealand’s government on Friday extended a lockdown of its largest city, Auckland, for another 12 days as it tries to stamp out its first domestic coronavirus outbreak in more than three months.

The outbreak has grown to 30 people and extended beyond Auckland for the first time. Until the cluster was discovered Tuesday, New Zealand had gone 102 days without infections spreading in the community. The only known cases were travelers quarantined after arriving from abroad.

Health authorities believe the virus must have been reintroduced from overseas, but genome testing hasn’t found a link with any of the quarantined travelers. That has prompted authorities to investigate whether shipping workers were a source, after several employees at a food storage facility were infected.

Read the full story here.

—Nick Perry / The Associated Press
7:00 am

Young adults report rising levels of anxiety and depression in pandemic

The collateral damage from the pandemic continues: Young adults, as well as Black and Latino people of all ages, describe rising levels of anxiety, depression and even suicidal thoughts, and increased substance abuse, according to findings reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In a research survey, U.S. residents reported signs of eroding mental health in reaction to the toll of coronavirus illnesses and deaths, and to the life-altering restrictions imposed by lockdowns.

The researchers argue that the results point to an urgent need for expanded and culturally sensitive services for mental health and substance abuse, including telehealth counseling. In the online survey completed by some 5,400 people in late June, the prevalence of anxiety symptoms was three times as high as those reported in the second quarter of 2019, and depression was four times as high.

Read the full story here.

—The New York Times
6:49 am

U.S. nursing homes in hot spots see virus surge

The novel coronavirus is surging back into U.S. nursing homes, where it killed tens of thousands at the start of the pandemic and now once again threatens some of the people most vulnerable to COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus.

The development is a discouraging result of widespread community transmission of the virus in many parts of the country and in hot spots where it is even less controlled. With staff — and in some cases patients and visitors — entering and leaving facilities, the community-acquired infection almost inevitably finds its way inside.

Read the full story here.

—The Washington Post
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6:40 am

FAQ Friday

People and dogs walk around Green Lake on Monday, July 6, 2020. Some people wore masks and some didn’t. (Ellen M. Banner / The Seattle Times)

People and dogs walk around Green Lake on Monday, July 6, 2020. Some people wore masks and some didn’t. (Ellen M. Banner / The Seattle Times)

People and dogs walk around Green Lake on Monday, July 6, 2020. Some people wore masks and some didn’t. (Ellen M. Banner / The Seattle Times)

After we published several stories in the past week about masks, Seattle Times readers sent us a lot of great questions that were still on your minds.

On this week’s FAQ Friday, we address a handful of those questions, including choosing the best one, washing it and, if masks are so effective, why don’t we wear them during cold and flu season?

Plus, here’s more guidance on masks:

—Gina Cole and Ryan Blethen
6:30 am

Catch up on the past 24 hours

—Julie Hanson
6:28 am

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Source: seattletimes.com

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