Coronavirus daily news updates, August 24: What to know today about COVID-19 in the Seattle area, Washington state and the world – Seattle Times

24August 2020

As the coronavirus pandemic continues, people are settling into new routines — or a lack of routine all together. And that can be a problem, especially as the days grow shorter and coronavirus fatigue settles in. Experts say getting therapy, establishing routines and going outside for a few minutes can help.

The looming fall has parents in full back-to-school mode, creating learning pods or looking for different kinds of school supplies, like little IKEA desks instead of backpacks.

Though people seem to be mostly familiar now with what’s allowed under their county’s coronavirus restrictions, the desire to travel and take a break from the same four walls has people wondering again what they can do and where. Here’s an updated look at what’s allowed county-by-county.

Throughout Monday, on this page, we’ll be posting Seattle Times’ updates on the outbreak and its effects on the Seattle area, the Pacific Northwest and the world. Updates from Saturday 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 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 for the lack of data, 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 for the lack of data, 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)

3:15 pm

State DOH confirms 359 new COVID-19 cases in Washington, plus 4 more deaths

State health officials confirmed 359 new COVID-19 cases in Washington on Monday afternoon, bringing the state’s total case count to 71,371.

There have been 1,867 deaths attributed to COVID-19 in Washington, according to the state Department of Health (DOH) coronavirus dashboard, meaning 2.6% of people diagnosed here have died. Four of those deaths were confirmed Monday. The data is as of 11:59 p.m. Sunday.

At least 6,542 people have been hospitalized in the state due to the novel coronavirus. The DOH is changing its methodology for reporting testing numbers and isn’t currently reporting the percent of positive tests.

State health officials have confirmed 18,797 diagnoses and 716 deaths in King County, the state’s most populous; this figure constitutes 38.35% of statewide deaths.

—Trevor Lenzmeier
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2:40 pm

Judge pauses Florida’s mandate to reopen schools

A county judge has temporarily scuttled Florida’s plans to reopen schools by the end of this month, arguing districts should be able to decide for themselves how to respond to continuing health concerns over the novel coronavirus.

As coronavirus case counts in Florida fell over the summer, Gov. Ron DeSantis and top education officials had told the state’s public schools to reopen brick-and-mortar classrooms in the fall — or risk lose funding.

Teachers’ unions, concerned about the ability of schools to keep children and teachers healthy, sued the state.

Monday, Leon County Judge Charles Dodson said that forcing schools to reopen usurps local control from school districts in deciding for themselves whether it is safe for students, teachers and staffers to return.

“If an individual school district chooses safety, that is, delaying the start of schools until it individually determines it is safe to do so for its county, it risks losing state funding, even though every student is being taught,” Dodson wrote. “The districts have no meaningful alternative.”

Read the full story here.

—The Associated Press
12:40 pm

How our brains numb us to COVID-19’s risks

Back in March, going just about anywhere felt like entering a combat zone. As COVID-19 case counts rose across the country, I quaked at the prospect of going to the grocery store. I donned my mask and tried not to inhale as I threaded through the aisles, dousing myself with sanitizer as soon as I got out.

But as the pandemic stretched into summer, my vigilance began to flag.

I often suspect I’m getting too blasé about the ongoing threat from COVID-19 and I know I’m not alone.

Pedestrians mostly wearing face masks walk in downtown San Antonio. (Eric Gay / The Associated Press)

Pedestrians mostly wearing face masks walk in downtown San Antonio. (Eric Gay / The Associated Press)

Pedestrians mostly wearing face masks walk in downtown San Antonio. (Eric Gay / The Associated Press)

We’re swarming the beaches and boardwalks, often without masks. We’re crowding into restaurants we haven’t visited for months. And some of us are gathering in large groups for raucous parties — even in COVID-19 hot spots such as Miami, Houston and northern Georgia.

As the pandemic drags on, people are unknowingly performing a kind of exposure therapy on themselves, said University of Oregon psychologist Paul Slovic, author of “The Perception of Risk” — and the results can be deadly.

Read the story here.

—Elizabeth Svoboda, The Washington Post
11:42 am

Splash! Virus spawns portable pool fad in Spain

A couple enjoy the portable outdoor pool at their Seville, Spain, home. They bought it secondhand right before a heat wave hit. ( AP Photo/ Laura Leon)

A couple enjoy the portable outdoor pool at their Seville, Spain, home. They bought it secondhand right before a heat wave hit. ( AP Photo/ Laura Leon)

A couple enjoy the portable outdoor pool at their Seville, Spain, home. They bought it secondhand right before a heat wave hit. ( AP Photo/ Laura Leon)

As pretty much everywhere else, the coronavirus pandemic has meant more time at home for Spaniards. For many of those furloughed or out of business it has also meant less income and no way to afford a vacation to escape the sweltering temperatures of the Spanish summer.

Conchi Moreno and Juan Carlos Morales cool off in the portable plastic pool they set up on their community association patio in Seville. They said they bought it because “we are scared to go to the public pool or the beach due to the COVID.” (AP Photo/ Laura Leon)

Conchi Moreno and Juan Carlos Morales cool off in the portable plastic pool they set up on their community association patio in Seville. They said they bought it because “we are scared to go to the public pool or the beach due to the COVID.” (AP Photo/ Laura Leon)

Conchi Moreno and Juan Carlos Morales cool off in the portable plastic pool they set up on their community association patio in Seville. They said they bought it because “we are scared to go to the public pool or the beach due to the COVID.” (AP Photo/ Laura Leon)

Searching for a solution to keep cool, portable pools have become the newest fad, taking over backyards, terraces, communal patios and even the streets of Seville in the country’s south.

An inflatable flamingo floats in a plastic pool at a home in Seville, in southern Spain. (AP Photo/Laura Leon)

An inflatable flamingo floats in a plastic pool at a home in Seville, in southern Spain. (AP Photo/Laura Leon)

An inflatable flamingo floats in a plastic pool at a home in Seville, in southern Spain. (AP Photo/Laura Leon)

Sales of all portable pools, including the cheapest inflatable models, started this year as early as May, when Spain was still in the middle of a strict lockdown and few feared that their summer would mean they would be confined at home. By June, most models had sold out from shopping malls and online websites.

View the gallery here.

—The Associated Press
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10:59 am

U.N. cautions that virus plasma treatment still experimental

The World Health Organization on Monday cautioned that using blood plasma from COVID-19 survivors to treat other patients is still considered an experimental therapy, voicing the concern as a U.S. boost for the treatment has many scientists afraid formal studies will be derailed.

On Sunday, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorized what’s called “emergency use” of the treatment under its special powers to speed the availability of promising experimental drugs during a public health crisis. The action isn’t the same as approving plasma as safe and effective, and numerous rigorous studies are underway to find out if it really works.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorized the use of blood plasma for what’s called “emergency use” during the coronavirus pandemic, but the World Health Organization (WHO) on Monday, Aug. 24, 2020, cautioned that using blood plasma from COVID-19 survivors to treat other patients is still considered an experimental therapy. Above, a bag of blood plasma donated by a COVID-19 survivor at a blood bank in La Paz, Bolivia. (AP Photo/Juan Karita, file)

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorized the use of blood plasma for what’s called “emergency use” during the coronavirus pandemic, but the World Health Organization (WHO) on Monday, Aug. 24, 2020, cautioned that using blood plasma from COVID-19 survivors to treat other patients is still considered an experimental therapy. Above, a bag of blood plasma donated by a COVID-19 survivor at a blood bank in La Paz, Bolivia. (AP Photo/Juan Karita, file)

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorized the use of blood plasma for what’s called “emergency use” during the coronavirus pandemic, but the World Health Organization (WHO) on Monday, Aug. 24, 2020, cautioned that using blood plasma from COVID-19 survivors to treat other patients is still considered an experimental therapy. Above, a bag of blood plasma donated by a COVID-19 survivor at a blood bank in La Paz, Bolivia. (AP Photo/Juan Karita, file)

So far, “The results are not conclusive,” WHO’s chief scientist, Dr. Soumya Swaminathan, said during a press briefing. “At the moment, it’s still very low-quality evidence.”

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press
10:59 am

Thousands allowed to bypass environmental rules in pandemic

Thousands of oil and gas operations, government facilities and other sites won permission to stop monitoring for hazardous emissions or otherwise bypass rules intended to protect health and the environment because of the coronavirus outbreak, The Associated Press has found.

The result: approval for less environmental monitoring at some Texas refineries and at an Army depot dismantling warheads armed with nerve gas in Kentucky, manure piling up and the mass disposal of livestock carcasses at farms in Iowa and Minnesota, and other risks to communities as governments eased enforcement over smokestacks, medical-waste shipments, sewage plants, oilfields and chemical plants.

Thousands of oil and gas operations, government facilities and other sites won permission to skirt various environmental laws during the coronavirus outbreak, The Associated Press has found. This is the Marathon Petroleum Corp. refinery in Detroit. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya, File)

Thousands of oil and gas operations, government facilities and other sites won permission to skirt various environmental laws during the coronavirus outbreak, The Associated Press has found. This is the Marathon Petroleum Corp. refinery in Detroit. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya, File)

Thousands of oil and gas operations, government facilities and other sites won permission to skirt various environmental laws during the coronavirus outbreak, The Associated Press has found. This is the Marathon Petroleum Corp. refinery in Detroit. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya, File)

The Trump administration paved the way for the reduced monitoring on March 26 after being pressured by the oil and gas industry, which said lockdowns and social distancing during the pandemic made it difficult to comply with anti-pollution rules. States are responsible for much of the oversight of federal environmental laws, and many followed with leniency policies of their own.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press
10:47 am

Children ages 6 to 11 should wear masks at times, WHO recommends

Just as millions of children are heading back to school, the World Health Organization says those aged 6 to 11 should wear masks in some cases to help fight the spread of coronavirus.

Parents wait with children for the start of their first day at a school in Gelsenkirchen, Germany, on Aug. 12. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner, File)

Parents wait with children for the start of their first day at a school in Gelsenkirchen, Germany, on Aug. 12. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner, File)

Parents wait with children for the start of their first day at a school in Gelsenkirchen, Germany, on Aug. 12. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner, File)

The recommendations presented Monday follow the widespread belief that children under 12 are not considered as likely to propagate the virus as much as adults. Children in general face less severe virus symptoms than do adults, with older people the most vulnerable to severe infection and death.

Now WHO says decisions about whether children aged 6 to 11 should wear masks should consider factors like whether COVID-19 transmission is widespread in the area where the child lives; the child’s ability to safely use a mask, and adult supervision when taking the masks on or off.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press
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9:53 am

South Korea sees 11th day of triple-digit case increases

A pedestrian walks through an empty street in the Itaewon district of Seoul, South Korea, on Friday, Aug. 21, 2020. South Korea’s fight against the virus is at a critical juncture as an infection flareup threatens to spread nationwide, said the country’s Vice Health Minister Kim Gang-lip. (Jean Chung / Bloomberg)

A pedestrian walks through an empty street in the Itaewon district of Seoul, South Korea, on Friday, Aug. 21, 2020. South Korea’s fight against the virus is at a critical juncture as an infection flareup threatens to spread nationwide, said the country’s Vice Health Minister Kim Gang-lip. (Jean Chung / Bloomberg)

A pedestrian walks through an empty street in the Itaewon district of Seoul, South Korea, on Friday, Aug. 21, 2020. South Korea’s fight against the virus is at a critical juncture as an infection flareup threatens to spread nationwide, said the country’s Vice Health Minister Kim Gang-lip. (Jean Chung / Bloomberg)

South Korea counted its 11th straight day of triple-digit daily jumps in coronavirus cases Monday and health officials pleaded for people to follow guidelines or risk further restrictions or strains on hospitals.

Most of the 266 new cases reported by the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention were in the Seoul metropolitan area, home to half of the country’s 51 million people, but new infections were also reported in other major cities, including Busan, Daejeon and Sejong.

KCDC director Jeong Eun-kyeong said it’s likely the country will continue to report huge infection numbers in coming days as health workers scramble to trace and test contacts of virus carriers.

People wearing face masks to help protect against the spread of the coronavirus ride an escalator as they arrive at the Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, Monday, Aug. 24, 2020. South Korea counted its 11th straight day of triple-digit daily jumps in coronavirus cases Monday, and health officials pleaded for people to follow guidelines or risk further restrictions or strains on hospitals. (AP Photo / Ahn Young-joon)

People wearing face masks to help protect against the spread of the coronavirus ride an escalator as they arrive at the Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, Monday, Aug. 24, 2020. South Korea counted its 11th straight day of triple-digit daily jumps in coronavirus cases Monday, and health officials pleaded for people to follow guidelines or risk further restrictions or strains on hospitals. (AP Photo / Ahn Young-joon)

People wearing face masks to help protect against the spread of the coronavirus ride an escalator as they arrive at the Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, Monday, Aug. 24, 2020. South Korea counted its 11th straight day of triple-digit daily jumps in coronavirus cases Monday, and health officials pleaded for people to follow guidelines or risk further restrictions or strains on hospitals. (AP Photo / Ahn Young-joon)

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press
9:38 am

China says it began public use of COVID-19 vaccine a month ago, bypassing clinical trials

China is claiming the dubious honor of the first nation to roll out an experimental coronavirus vaccine for public use, saying it began inoculating high-risk groups in late July.

For those keeping score, that would put Beijing’s civilian rollout three weeks earlier than Russia’s, with neither vaccine having yet passed standard clinical trials. Beijing health officials said Saturday they began dosing some medical workers and state-owned enterprise employees with an experimental COVID-19 vaccine in late July under “urgent use” protocols.

Officials around the world have been debating how far they should suspend ordinary drug-development protocols to get COVID-19 vaccines and treatments to market. Many governments declared early on that they would not cut corners in developing a vaccine, but they are proving amenable in practice to corner-cutting as the pandemic’s human and economic tolls mount.

The Beijing announcement followed a diplomatic controversy last week, in which Papua New Guinea said it had turned back a group of Chinese miners who had received an experimental coronavirus vaccine.

Read the story here.

—Eva Dou, The Washington Post
9:09 am

California’s crises converge: fleeing wildfires in a pandemic

In California, more than 14,000 firefighters are scrambling to protect the state’s communities from two dozen major blazes, which have left at least seven people dead and dozens injured, and have forced more than 100,000 people from their homes under evacuation orders.

Roughly 1.1 million acres have burned — an area larger than Rhode Island — since Aug. 15, according to Cal Fire. More than 600,000 acres of that has been in the groups of fires known as the LNU Lightning Complex and the SC Lightning Complex, which have become the second- and third-largest fires in state history.

And the weather is only making matters worse: Dry thunderstorms are expected to bring more lightning without rain, with a red flag warning in place for much of Northern California and down to the Central Coast.

A fire burns in Napa County, Calif., part of the LNU Lightning Complex fire, on Sunday, Aug. 23, 2020. (Ian C. Bates / The New York Times)

A fire burns in Napa County, Calif., part of the LNU Lightning Complex fire, on Sunday, Aug. 23, 2020. (Ian C. Bates / The New York Times)

A fire burns in Napa County, Calif., part of the LNU Lightning Complex fire, on Sunday, Aug. 23, 2020. (Ian C. Bates / The New York Times)

But while the fires have burned near communities where residents are learning to live with a predictable annual threat and terrible air quality, Californians have been faced with dueling, interlocked catastrophes: the wildfires and the pandemic.

Now families who might ordinarily flee to the homes of relatives or close friends face worries about the virus and a dilemma.

Read the story here.

—The New York Times
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9:04 am

NFL says contamination caused 77 ‘most likely false positive’ virus tests

The lab used by the NFL for COVID-19 tests said Monday that an isolated contamination caused 77 “most likely false positive results.”

The NFL revealed Sunday, Aug. 23, 2020, that several positive COVID-19 tests were found a day earlier by one of its testing partners, and the Chicago Bears said they had nine false positives. The false positives were blamed on lab contamination. (Richard Sheinwald / Bloomberg News)

The NFL revealed Sunday, Aug. 23, 2020, that several positive COVID-19 tests were found a day earlier by one of its testing partners, and the Chicago Bears said they had nine false positives. The false positives were blamed on lab contamination. (Richard Sheinwald / Bloomberg News)

The NFL revealed Sunday, Aug. 23, 2020, that several positive COVID-19 tests were found a day earlier by one of its testing partners, and the Chicago Bears said they had nine false positives. The false positives were blamed on lab contamination. (Richard Sheinwald / Bloomberg News)

In a statement, BioReference Laboratories said the test results on Saturday were contaminated during preparation at its lab in New Jersey. Eleven clubs were affected, and the tests were reexamined and found to be false positives.

“The NFL immediately took necessary actions to ensure the safety of the players and personnel,” said Dr. Jon R. Cohen, executive chairman of BioReference, which does all COVID-19 testing for the 32 NFL teams in five labs across the country. “Re-agents, analyzers and staff were all ruled out as possible causes and subsequent testing has indicated that the issue has been resolved. All individuals impacted have been confirmed negative and informed.”

Read the story here.

9:01 am

Researchers document first case of virus reinfection

Researchers in Hong Kong are reporting the first confirmed case of reinfection with the coronavirus.

“An apparently young and healthy patient had a second case of COVID-19 infection which was diagnosed 4.5 months after the first episode,” University of Hong Kong researchers said Monday in a statement.

Researchers in Hong Kong are reporting the first confirmed case of reinfection with the coronavirus. AP Illustration / Peter Hamlin

Researchers in Hong Kong are reporting the first confirmed case of reinfection with the coronavirus. AP Illustration / Peter Hamlin

Researchers in Hong Kong are reporting the first confirmed case of reinfection with the coronavirus. AP Illustration / Peter Hamlin

The report is of concern because it suggests that immunity to the coronavirus may last only a few months in some people. And it has implications for vaccines being developed for the virus.

The 33-year-old man had only mild symptoms the first time and no symptoms this time around. The reinfection was discovered when he returned from a trip to Spain, the researchers said, and the virus they sequenced closely matched the strain circulating in Europe in July and August.

“Our results prove that his second infection is caused by a new virus that he acquired recently rather than prolonged viral shedding,” said Dr. Kelvin Kai-Wang To, a clinical microbiologist at the University of Hong Kong.

Given that there are millions of cases worldwide, it is not unexpected that a few, or even a few dozen, people might be reinfected with the virus after only a few months, experts have said.

Read the story here.

—The New York Times
6:32 am

Catch up on the past 24 hours

Trump touted a “very historic breakthrough” in treating coronavirus as he announced that the U.S. has authorized the emergency use of blood plasma from recovered COVID-19 patients. Scientists and some public health experts are skeptical. And fact-checkers are digging into Trump’s accusation that the FDA is slowing down vaccines to hurt his re-election bid.

Veronica Gonzalez, left, shares the layout of her living room with Alfonso Duran, an employee of Washington Broadband, right, to determine a good location for running an internet cable through her home in Cowiche, Yakima County, last week. (Amanda Ray / Yakima Herald-Republic)

Veronica Gonzalez, left, shares the layout of her living room with Alfonso Duran, an employee of Washington Broadband, right, to determine a good location for running an internet cable through her home in Cowiche, Yakima County, last week. (Amanda Ray / Yakima Herald-Republic)

Veronica Gonzalez, left, shares the layout of her living room with Alfonso Duran, an employee of Washington Broadband, right, to determine a good location for running an internet cable through her home in Cowiche, Yakima County, last week. (Amanda Ray / Yakima Herald-Republic)

Washington’s remote school year is beginning, but some families still can’t connect. Many schools have solved a big barrier to remote learning by hustling up thousands of laptops and tablets. But access to fast, reliable internet? That’s a much more challenging problem, especially in rural areas.

Parties around WSU’s Greek Row have been linked to a “substantial increase” in COVID-19 cases.

The extra $300 unemployment payment from the U.S. government is hung up in bureaucracy in most states. Here’s who may get it, and when.

In China, where the pandemic began, life is starting to look … normal.

Hotels and vacation rentals have changed since the pandemic started. Travel Troubleshooter walks through what to expect, including new approaches to cancellations. People miss travel so much that it’s taking a clear emotional toll, a new study found.

——Seattle Times staff & news services
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6:31 am

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Source: seattletimes.com

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