Coronavirus daily news updates, August 21: What to know today about COVID-19 in the Seattle area, Washington state and the world – Seattle Times

21August 2020

Gov. Jay Inslee said Thursday that he’s “cautiously pleased” with the state’s coronavirus situation, which shows tallies for new daily confirmed cases have trended down — although not long after his remarks, state health officials announced 700 new confirmed cases, as well as 15 deaths.

Meanwhile, unemployment claims in Washington state dropped for the fifth consecutive week — but the number of people filing remains at historic levels and nearly 60,000 workers who have filed for jobless benefits are waiting for the state to resolve those claims.

Throughout Friday, on this page, we’ll be posting Seattle Times journalists’ 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, announced Aug. 12 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.

The state Department of Health has stopped releasing the number of tests that have come back negative. The agency, which initially cited technical difficulties, announced Aug. 12 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.

The state Department of Health has stopped releasing the number of tests that have come back negative. The agency, which initially cited technical difficulties, announced Aug. 12 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.
(Jennifer Luxton / The Seattle Times)

(Jennifer Luxton / The Seattle Times)

3:17 pm

Judge denies motion by Oregon schools to reopen in-person

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — A federal judge denied a proposal by three Christian schools in Oregon that wanted to reopen for in-person learning this fall, finding Gov. Kate Brown’s regulations on schools during the coronavirus constitutional.

The attorney for the three schools urged U.S. District Judge Michael W. Mosman to grant a temporary restraining order that would have halted the governor’s order.

“We want to be treated the same as universities and daycare centers,” said John Kaempf, representing Horizon Christian School, Life Christian School and McMinnville Christian Academy.

The state argued that health concerns take precedent and that the temporary limitations on in-person instruction is necessary because of the risk to public health.

Gov. Brown issued an executive order on June 24 that allowed in-person learning at public and private K-12 schools only if it they met guidance issued by the Oregon Health Authority and Oregon Department of Education.

That order was extended by a subsequent one that allowed public and private schools from 4th grade to 12th grade to open for in-person instruction once the state experienced 5% or fewer cases statewide for three consecutive weeks. The school’s county has 5% or fewer cases; and there are 10 or fewer new cases per 100,000 people in the county.

Read the full story here.

—The Associated Press
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3:13 pm

Quarantines, closures: Confusion reigns as schools reopen

Frightening calls from the school nurse. Waiting in vain for word from school officials. Canceled sports practices. Marching bands in quarantine.

For countless families across the country, the school year is opening in disarray and confusion, with coronavirus outbreaks triggering sudden closings, mass quarantines and deep anxiety among parents.

Schools in at least 10 states have had students and staff test positive for the virus since they began opening. The outbreaks have occurred in a variety of school settings: marching bands, high school football teams, elementary classrooms, high schools.

A Colorado high school shut down for two weeks after two students tested positive. Football teams in Utah canceled practices and games after several players came down with the virus. The entire football team and marching band in a small Alabama town were placed under quarantine because of exposure to the virus, the second time the team had to be quarantined this summer.

Michigan is reporting 14 outbreaks at schools. Mississippi started the week with about 2,000 students and 600 teachers in quarantine; the state has had 245 cases of coronavirus in teachers and about 200 in students since districts began returning to school in late July.

Read the full story here.

—The Associated Press
1:53 pm

Can you get coronavirus via secondhand smoke? The smell is a warning sign

What if you’re close enough to smell someone’s secondhand smoke, or pass through a cloud of smoke on your way into a store? Does that expose you to the coronavirus, if the smoker happens to be infected?

There is little evidence to suggest the smoke itself could be carrying the coronavirus, but researchers and physicians say that merely being able to smell someone’s cigarette is a warning sign you’re breathing air that was just in someone else’s lungs.

William Ristenpart, a professor of chemical engineering at the University of California at Davis who researches how pathogens are transported, told The Washington Post that the smoke particles themselves are unlikely to be carrying a virus that could infect other people. This is partly because the heat from the cigarette would probably kill the virus, but also because “a large fraction of the smoke particulates go into your lungs, never hit anything, and then are exhaled,” Ristenpart said.

But there is reason to be concerned about transmission if you get a whiff of someone’s smoke — the respiratory particles that come along with it.

Read the story here.

—The Washington Post
12:18 pm

Syracuse students suspended in latest crackdown by colleges

Syracuse University has suspended 23 students following a large on-campus gathering, the latest example of a college cracking down on the kind of socializing that can spread the coronavirus and sink plans for in-person learning this semester.

Syracuse officials announced the disciplinary action late Thursday and said they were reviewing security camera footage to identify additional students seen on video crowding into the campus quad Wednesday night in violation of rules limiting crowds and requiring masks.

“We have one shot to make this happen,” Vice Chancellor J. Michael Haynie wrote in a letter to students. “The world is watching, and they expect you to fail. Prove them wrong.”

Students are seen gathering on the Syracuse University quad Wednesday. The school has issued suspensions to 23 students in the gathering’s wake. College officials announced the disciplinary action late Thursday. (Walter Freeman / The Associated Press)

Students are seen gathering on the Syracuse University quad Wednesday. The school has issued suspensions to 23 students in the gathering’s wake. College officials announced the disciplinary action late Thursday. (Walter Freeman / The Associated Press)

Students are seen gathering on the Syracuse University quad Wednesday. The school has issued suspensions to 23 students in the gathering’s wake. College officials announced the disciplinary action late Thursday. (Walter Freeman / The Associated Press)

Social media has been filled with images of such gatherings in recent weeks as college students make their way back to campuses nationwide.

Purdue University suspended 36 students for going to a party. Other suspensions have been reported at Virginia Tech, St. Olaf College in Minnesota and Radford University in Virginia.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press
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12:16 pm

WWII veterans to gather in Hawaii amid pandemic to mark Japan’s surrender

Several dozen aging U.S. veterans, including some who were in Tokyo Bay as swarms of warplanes buzzed overhead and nations converged to end World War II, will gather on a battleship in Pearl Harbor next month to mark the 75th anniversary of Japan’s surrender, even if it means the vulnerable group may be risking their lives again amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The 75th anniversary was meant to be a blockbuster event, and the veterans have been looking forward to it for years. There were to be thousands of people watching in Hawaii as parades marched through Waikiki, vintage warbirds flying overhead, and gala dinners to honor the veterans.

Now, most in-person celebrations have been canceled over fears the virus could infect the veterans, who range from 90 to 101. But about 200 people, mostly veterans, their families and government officials, will still commemorate the milestone on the USS Missouri, which hosted the surrender on Sept. 2, 1945, in Tokyo Bay.

It comes as Oahu — Hawaii’s most populated island and the home of Pearl Harbor — has seen an alarming spike in coronavirus cases in the past two weeks, forcing many restrictions to be reinstated, including a ban on gatherings of more than five people and the closure of all beaches.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press
9:34 am

Michigan appeals court upholds governor’s emergency powers

 Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s emergency declarations and orders to curb the coronavirus clearly fall within the scope of her legal powers, the Michigan appeals court ruled Friday, rejecting a lawsuit filed by the Republican-led Legislature.

The 2-1 ruling upheld a lower judge’s decision but is expected to be appealed to the state Supreme Court. The appellate panel denied GOP lawmakers’ contention that a 1945 law only lets a governor indefinitely extend emergencies that are local, not statewide, in nature. A separate 1976 law requires the Legislature’s blessing to extend an emergency.

A federal appeals court ruled this week that Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s emergency declarations and orders to curb the coronavirus clearly fall within the scope of her legal powers. (Michigan Office of the Governor via AP, Pool, File)

A federal appeals court ruled this week that Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s emergency declarations and orders to curb the coronavirus clearly fall within the scope of her legal powers. (Michigan Office of the Governor via AP, Pool, File)

A federal appeals court ruled this week that Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s emergency declarations and orders to curb the coronavirus clearly fall within the scope of her legal powers. (Michigan Office of the Governor via AP, Pool, File)

The Democratic governor’s ongoing state of emergency is the underpinning of her measures to close businesses, limit gathering sizes and restrict other activities to limit COVID-19.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press
9:17 am

As U.S. deaths mount, virus takes outsize toll on minorities

As many as 215,000 more people than usual died in the U.S. during the first seven months of 2020, suggesting that the number of lives lost to the coronavirus is significantly higher than the official toll. And half the dead were people of color — Blacks, Hispanics, Native Americans and, to a marked degree unrecognized until now, Asian Americans.

The new figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention highlight a stark disparity: Deaths among minorities during the crisis have risen far more than they have among whites.

A count of deaths from all causes during the seven-month period — because some early coronavirus deaths were incorrectly attributed to other causes — yields what experts believe is a fuller picture of the disaster and its racial dimensions.

Among the reasons communities of color may be disproportionally affected are lower incomes and the need to share living space, higher rates of health problems, and having essential jobs that keep them working during the pandemic.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press
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8:02 am

Some Sturgis motorcycle rally attendees now testing positive for COVID-19

Motorcyclists clog the annual Sturgis rally in South Dakota on Aug. 7. (Getty Images via Bloomberg)

Motorcyclists clog the annual Sturgis rally in South Dakota on Aug. 7. (Getty Images via Bloomberg)

Motorcyclists clog the annual Sturgis rally in South Dakota on Aug. 7. (Getty Images via Bloomberg)

South Dakota health officials warned Thursday that a number of people who attended the 10-day Sturgis Motorcycle Rally this month, including some who came from out of state, have come down with COVID-19.

Department of Health officials did not give an exact number of rallygoers who tested positive, but they said it was under 25.

The rally, which ended Sunday, is one of the biggest motorcycle events in the country. It brought hundreds of thousands of people from far and wide to the city in the western part of the state.

Even before it kicked off, some locals and officials expressed concern that COVID-19 could spread rapidly at the rally and that it would be hard to track rallygoers who got infected before heading home.

The state’s health department has received reports from other states that people who traveled from the rally have tested positive, state epidemiologist Josh Clayton said.

Contact tracers have been able to work with most people to determine who they were around and may have infected. But the health department has issued public warnings for two bars — one in Sturgis and the other at a popular stop for riders along U.S. Highway 385 near Mount Rushmore. Clayton said they did not know how many people were exposed at the bars.

Sturgis is planning to conduct mass testing of its residents next week in an attempt to stem a possible outbreak of infections from the rally.

Read the story here

—The Associated Press
7:47 am

Spanish region orders brothels to close to avoid contagion

A Spanish region on Friday ordered all brothels to close after recent coronavirus clusters highlighted how hard it is to track down people who’ve visited them.

That came after seven women and five men tested positive for the virus at a brothel in the central Ciudad Real province.

With no official registry of clients, authorities haven’t been able to trace other people who may have been exposed.

The Castilla La Mancha region, where many of the country’s brothels are concentrated, ordered them to close by Sunday.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press
7:45 am

Seoul’s virus surge spreads around South Korea

 South Korea added its most new virus cases in months on Friday, driven by a surge around the capital that appears to be spreading nationwide.

Workers disinfect pews at the Yoido Full Gospel Church in Seoul, South Korea, on Friday. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

Workers disinfect pews at the Yoido Full Gospel Church in Seoul, South Korea, on Friday. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

Workers disinfect pews at the Yoido Full Gospel Church in Seoul, South Korea, on Friday. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

The 324 new infections represent its highest single-day total since early March and the eighth consecutive triple-digit daily increase.

Most of the new cases are in the densely populated Seoul region, where health workers are scrambling to track transmissions from sources such as restaurants, schools, workers and churches — including the Sarang Jeil Church, whose leader, Rev. Jun Kwang-hun, tested positive for coronavirus this week.

But the new infections reported Friday were from practically all major cities, including Busan, Gwangju, Daejeon, Sejong and Daegu, the southeastern city that was the epicenter of a massive outbreak in late February and March.

Read more here.

—The Associated Press
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7:21 am

Virus cases reported at 41 schools in Germany’s capital

At least 41 schools in Berlin have reported that students or teachers have become infected with the coronavirus not even two weeks after schools reopened in the German capital.

Daily Berliner Zeitung published the numbers Friday and city education authorities confirmed the figures to The Associated Press.

Hundreds of students and teachers are in quarantine, the newspaper reported. Elementary schools, high schools and trade schools are all affected, the paper wrote. There are 825 schools in Berlin.

Students arrive at the Friedensburg Oberschule for the first day of school after summer vacation during the new coronavirus outbreak in Berlin, Germany, on Aug. 10, 2020. At least 41 schools in Berlin have reported that students or teacher have become infected with the new coronavirus, not even two weeks after schools reopened in the German capital. (AP Photo / Michael Sohn)

Students arrive at the Friedensburg Oberschule for the first day of school after summer vacation during the new coronavirus outbreak in Berlin, Germany, on Aug. 10, 2020. At least 41 schools in Berlin have reported that students or teacher have become infected with the new coronavirus, not even two weeks after schools reopened in the German capital. (AP Photo / Michael Sohn)

Students arrive at the Friedensburg Oberschule for the first day of school after summer vacation during the new coronavirus outbreak in Berlin, Germany, on Aug. 10, 2020. At least 41 schools in Berlin have reported that students or teacher have become infected with the new coronavirus, not even two weeks after schools reopened in the German capital. (AP Photo / Michael Sohn)

The reopening of schools and the possible risks of virus clusters building up in educational institutions and then spreading beyond to families and further into society have been a hotly debated concern in Germany.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press
6:49 am

Catching up on the past 24 hours

Gov. Jay Inslee is “cautiously pleased” as confirmed COVID-19 cases trend lower, but that doesn’t mean most restrictions on businesses and social life will end soon. He’s allowing museums and bowling alleys in King and other counties to reopen, though. Here’s a county-by-county look at what you can do these days.

Why don’t we know how many people have been tested in Washington, and how many have recovered? Our Friday FAQ tackles those questions, and interactive maps show what we do know about the spread of the pandemic.

Evidence is growing that children may play a larger role in coronavirus transmission than previously believed, with three recent studies painting a worrisome new picture.

What will it take to reopen schools in Washington? In short, it’s up to everybody. Numbers are part of the answer, but education and health leaders face big-picture questions that are tougher to tackle. If you’re worried about your child falling behind on benchmark skills in the meantime, here’s what to do.

King County renters and landlords will soon be able to apply for assistance from a new $41 million fund. Here are more emergency resources, including mortgage help and food aid.

Nearly 60,000 workers in our state are still waiting for unemployment benefits, weeks and even months after losing their jobs. 

A mother traveling with her six children was forced off a JetBlue flight when her 2-year-old wouldn’t keep a mask on. The “nasty” scene, with passengers yelling at a flight attendant, is just one example of how kids are posing big dilemmas for airlines with mask rules

A former Navy SEAL who says he killed Osama bin Laden wouldn’t keep his mask on in flight, either. Delta has banned him. And after a teenage worker at a Sesame Street theme park told guests to wear a mask, his jaw was shattered in response.

Months into the pandemic, some folks still think 5G mobile networks spread COVID-19. (Uh, no.) Here are eight common and whopping myths, debunked.

The stock market is soaring, so why are we hearing so much talk of a pandemic depression? Columnist Jon Talton explains the supercharged economic risks right now, and what might help.

—Kris Higginson

Source: seattletimes.com

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