Coronavirus daily news updates, July 16: What to know today about COVID-19 in the Seattle area, Washington state and the world – Seattle Times

16July 2020

Washington health officials reported an additional 742 COVID-19 cases and 17 deaths on Wednesday, bringing the state’s totals to 43,046 cases and 1,421 deaths. So far, 733,886 tests for the novel coronavirus have been conducted in the state, per DOH. Of those, 5.9% have come back positive — slightly higher than the 5.8% rate of positive infections in the past week.

In King County, a new report suggests efforts to curb the spread of the coronavirus in school buildings — such as screening students and staff, and requiring masks — won’t control the overall pace of transmission unless community activity is kept far below pre-pandemic levels.

Throughout Thursday, 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 Wednesday can be found here, and all our coronavirus coverage can be found here.

Gov. Jay Inslee will hold a press conference at 2:30 p.m. today to discuss the state’s ongoing response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The governor will be joined by Washington Secretary of Health John Wiesman.

(Jennifer Luxton / The Seattle Times)

(Jennifer Luxton / The Seattle Times)

Live updates:

9:25 am

Starbucks customer who refused to wear mask demands half of barista’s $105,000 in donations

A customer who had a tiff with a Starbucks barista over face masks — which ended up earning the worker $105,000 in donations — says she wants half the money.

Amber Lynn Gilles had posted a photo of Lenin Gutierrez to social media, calling Gutierrez out for refusing to serve her at the San Diego coffee shop unless she wore a mask, McClatchy News previously reported.

Gilles’ post inspired supporters of Gutierrez to start a GoFundMe account to raise “tips” commending him for standing up to her. The page had raised $105,000 by Wednesday.

“It was discrimination and everybody is OK with it and enabling and rewarding that behavior,” Gilles said, according to KGTV. She says she’s owed half the money raised for Gutierrez.

Gilles said she’s unable to wear a mask, citing a 2015 pelvic exam for ovarian cysts and a handwritten note from an anonymous chiropractor, according to the station.

“One of them I get shortness of breath, dizziness and it messes with the heartbeat,” Gilles said, KGTV reported. “And I do have asthma as well, and I do get mask-acne. So there’s several things going on and not only that but it doesn’t even work.”

Read the story here.

—Don Sweeney, The Sacramento Bee
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9:12 am

Russian cyberspies may be trying to steal vaccine research, says U.K., U.S. and Canada

LONDON — Security officials in the United States, Britain and Canada announced Thursday that hackers linked to Russia were actively trying to steal information from researchers working to produce coronavirus vaccines and anti-viral drugs.

Paul Chichester, director of operations at Britain’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), said the hackers had undertaken “despicable attacks against those doing vital work to combat the coronavirus pandemic.”

“We would urge organizations to familiarize themselves with the advice we have published to help defend their networks,” Chichester said in a statement.

In an advisory published Thursday, the NCSC said that a group named APT29 and also known by the names “the Dukes” or “Cozy Bear,” had targeted British, American and Canadian vaccine research and development organizations.

The British government said it was 95% certain that APT29 were part of the Russian intelligence service.

Read the story here.

—The Washington Post
9:10 am

More states and businesses make masks mandatory

They have emerged as an unlikely symbol of partisan divide and a source of bottomless derision for President Donald Trump.

But masks moved ever closer to becoming a new national reality in America’s pandemic-scarred life, with businesses, states and health experts preaching their promise as the country’s last line of defense against a fast-growing viral threat.

Even as the White House continued to resist pushing for a national mask mandate, evidence abounded that face coverings were becoming a de facto requirement — and not only in big cities where they have been in widespread use for months.

Alabama’s governor, who leads one of the country’s most conservative states, on Wednesday said people would be obligated to wear masks when leaving the house. The announcement, which came as Alabama recorded a new single-day novel coronavirus death record, means nearly half of all states have a mandate.

The world’s largest retailer and a staple of rural communities nationwide, Walmart issued the same requirement for shoppers in its stores. A powerful trade group quickly embraced the choice, raising the prospect that other major chains will soon follow.

“Shopping in a store is a privilege, not a right,” said the National Retail Federation. “If a customer refuses to adhere to store policies, they are putting employees and other customers at undue risk.”

New cadets march in formation Monday at the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, N.Y. The Army is welcoming more than 1,200 candidates from every state. Candidates will be COVID-19 tested upon arrival, wear masks, and practice social distancing. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

New cadets march in formation Monday at the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, N.Y. The Army is welcoming more than 1,200 candidates from every state. Candidates will be COVID-19 tested upon arrival, wear masks, and practice social distancing. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

New cadets march in formation Monday at the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, N.Y. The Army is welcoming more than 1,200 candidates from every state. Candidates will be COVID-19 tested upon arrival, wear masks, and practice social distancing. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

The moves came only hours after Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, declared that coronavirus outbreaks — raging across much of the country — could be “under control” within one or two months if the public adopts widespread mask use.

Read the story here.

—The Washington Post
9:03 am

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp forbids cities, counties from requiring masks as coronavirus surges in the state

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp signed an executive order Wednesday night explicitly banning cities from enacting their own mask mandates, even as the state experiences a sharp rise in coronavirus cases and other Republican governors are turning to mask orders to try to quell the surge.

Kemp’s order voids existing mask mandates in more than a dozen cities or counties, while also extending other coronavirus social-distancing restrictions statewide.

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp speaks in Augusta, Ga., on July 2. Kemp signed an executive order Wednesday night explicitly banning cities from enacting their own mask mandates, even as the state experiences a sharp rise in coronavirus cases. (Michael Holahan/The Augusta Chronicle via AP, file)

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp speaks in Augusta, Ga., on July 2. Kemp signed an executive order Wednesday night explicitly banning cities from enacting their own mask mandates, even as the state experiences a sharp rise in coronavirus cases. (Michael Holahan/The Augusta Chronicle via AP, file)

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp speaks in Augusta, Ga., on July 2. Kemp signed an executive order Wednesday night explicitly banning cities from enacting their own mask mandates, even as the state experiences a sharp rise in coronavirus cases. (Michael Holahan/The Augusta Chronicle via AP, file)

The Republican governor had previously tried to ban cities and counties from passing any coronavirus restrictions that went further than Georgia’s guidelines. But many cities, including Atlanta, defied him by passing mask mandates anyway, arguing it was essential to flatten the curve. Kemp’s new order “strongly encourages” masks.

Local officials who had issued mask mandates as hospitals filled up were outraged Wednesday night as Kemp overrode their judgment. The order came on the same day Georgia recorded its second-highest number of coronavirus cases since the start of the pandemic, logging 3,871 cases and 37 deaths

“It is officially official. Governor Kemp does not give a damn about us,” Savannah Mayor Van Johnson, Democrat, who was the first local official to issue a mask mandate, wrote on Twitter. “Every man and woman for himself/herself. Ignore the science and survive the best you can. In #Savannah, we will continue to keep the faith and follow the science. Masks will continue to be available!”

Kemp order comes as other Republican governors have recently abandoned their previous opposition to mask mandates in the interest of public health.

Read the story here.

—Meagan Flynn, The Washington Post
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8:59 am

‘Let’s stop this nonsense,’ Fauci says after Trump aides’ attacks

After several days spent weathering attacks from White House officials, Dr. Anthony S. Fauci hit back Wednesday, calling recent efforts to discredit him “bizarre” and a hindrance to the government’s ability to communicate information about the coronavirus pandemic.

“I cannot figure out in my wildest dreams why they would want to do that,” Fauci said in an interview with The Atlantic published Wednesday, speaking of recent attempts by President Donald Trump’s aides to undermine him. “I think they realize now that that was not a prudent thing to do, because it’s only reflecting negatively on them.”

It was the latest salvo in a war that has broken out in the middle of a pandemic between Fauci, the government’s top infectious disease expert, and the White House.

On Wednesday, Peter Navarro, Trump’s top trade adviser, published a brazen op-ed article in USA Today describing Fauci as “wrong about everything.” Over the weekend, another of Trump’s top advisers shared a mocking cartoon that portrayed Fauci as a leaky faucet. Other White House officials have targeted Fauci by distributing opposition-research-style documents to reporters that detail what they say are his mistakes.

All the while, White House officials — including the president and the press secretary — assert in the face of the evidence that there is no concerted effort to attack Fauci.

“It distracts from what I hope would be the common effort of getting this thing under control, rather than this back-and-forth distraction, which just doesn’t make any sense,” Fauci said. “We’ve got to almost reset this and say, ‘OK, let’s stop this nonsense.’ We’ve got to figure out, how can we get our control over this now, and, looking forward, how can we make sure that next month, we don’t have another example of California, Texas, Florida and Arizona?”

Read the story here.

—The Washington Post
8:54 am

Barbados wants you to work from its beaches during the pandemic

A surfer takes advantage of the waves in eastern Barbados. The government is launching “Barbados Welcome Stamp,” which will allow visitors to stay on the Caribbean island visa-free for up to one year. The aim is to attract remote workers, with a bill to be introduced in Parliament that will remove the local income taxes that normally kick in after six months. (AP Photo/Chris Brandis, file)

A surfer takes advantage of the waves in eastern Barbados. The government is launching “Barbados Welcome Stamp,” which will allow visitors to stay on the Caribbean island visa-free for up to one year. The aim is to attract remote workers, with a bill to be introduced in Parliament that will remove the local income taxes that normally kick in after six months. (AP Photo/Chris Brandis, file)

A surfer takes advantage of the waves in eastern Barbados. The government is launching “Barbados Welcome Stamp,” which will allow visitors to stay on the Caribbean island visa-free for up to one year. The aim is to attract remote workers, with a bill to be introduced in Parliament that will remove the local income taxes that normally kick in after six months. (AP Photo/Chris Brandis, file)

This has been the year a virus shut down our globalized lives. In the first half of 2020, governments around the world imposed entry restrictions or strict quarantine procedures; flight traffic fell to its lowest level in decades. Many are confined not just to their countries, but to their homes, as offices were shut down along with travel.

But even as the pandemic continues to rage, the government of Barbados, a country in the eastern Caribbean, is sending a very different message: Come here, not just for a holiday, but for up to a year. Bring your laptop. Soak up the sun, the sea, the sand — and forget about the coronavirus.

“COVID-19 has placed a severe strain on people’s mental wellness,” Barbadian Prime Minister Mia Mottley told The Washington Post. “The sunshine is powerful. The seawater is powerful. They’re both therapeutic in ways that are hard to explain. And we felt that, why not share it?”

Dubbed the “Barbados Welcome Stamp” and launching this week, the program will allow visitors to stay on the Caribbean island visa-free for up to one year. The aim is to attract remote workers, with a bill to be introduced in Parliament by the government that will remove the local income taxes that normally kick in after six months.

The program has unsurprisingly sparked global interest.

Read the story here.

—The Washington Post
7:59 am

Quarantine Corner: Things to read, watch and reflect on while staying home

(Seattle Times features staff)

(Seattle Times features staff)

(Seattle Times features staff)

What do you miss from the time before the coronavirus, and what do you hope never comes back? Seattle Times staffers (currently scattered across the Puget Sound area in tiny, one-person bureaus) sketched answers that may hit close to home for you. One introvert writes that she used to think independence was everything, but the pandemic and a goofy little cat taught her otherwise.

Get lost in history with these four biographies of vastly different people.

Fans of live music, here’s a jolt of jazz in the form of two swinging documentaries on Ella Fitzgerald and Miles Davis.

—Kris Higginson
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7:46 am

Do I have the coronavirus? Many who get tested must wait … and wait … and wait to find out

John Lederer, executive dean of North Seattle College, was tested for the new coronavirus at an Edmonds clinic, as was his wife. They waited 10 days to learn they hadn’t contracted the virus. (Erika Schultz / The Seattle Times)

John Lederer, executive dean of North Seattle College, was tested for the new coronavirus at an Edmonds clinic, as was his wife. They waited 10 days to learn they hadn’t contracted the virus. (Erika Schultz / The Seattle Times)

John Lederer, executive dean of North Seattle College, was tested for the new coronavirus at an Edmonds clinic, as was his wife. They waited 10 days to learn they hadn’t contracted the virus. (Erika Schultz / The Seattle Times)

John Lederer came down with flu-like symptoms, so he and his wife got coronavirus tests in Edmonds. Ten days later, they finally learned the results.

Massive backlogs at overwhelmed commercial labs are hitting Washington patients, exacerbating the risk that the virus will spread — particularly in communities that have been hit disproportionately hard by COVID-19.

Read the full story here.

—Lewis Kamb and Sydney Brownstone
7:12 am

Catch up on the past 24 hours

King County school buildings should not reopen this fall if virus transmission levels don’t drop, according to a new report unveiled by health officials. Community-wide efforts to curb the virus “must improve significantly” to support opening school doors, the researchers wrote. The state’s total number of cases has topped 43,000.

Many more businesses are requiring masks. Walmart waded into this divisive issue yesterday, and Kroger and Kohl’s soon followed with their own mask rules. Nearly half of U.S. states now have a mask mandate. A loud exception is Georgia, whose governor has forbidden cities from requiring them. And a Starbucks customer is steaming after her refusal to wear a mask changed a barista’s life in a “mind-blowing” way.

The small birthday lunch was the first time anyone but immediate family had set foot in Bill and Serona Schey’s house for months. The Tacoma couple followed Pierce County’s guidelines, limiting their circle to just three other people. But everyone at the lunch got COVID-19. Small, clustered outbreaks like this are growing more common.

In this file photo from Sunday, May 24, 2020, visitors set up inside circles designed to help slow the spread of the coronavirus by encouraging social distancing at Dolores Park in San Francisco. The city said it would continue to delay the reopening of some businesses because of a surge of infections in the city, where the positive case rate per 100,000 has increased to nearly 8%. The goal is to keep it at around 2%, said Dr. Grant Colfax, director of public health. San Francisco’s population of nearly 900,000 people has fared remarkably well during the pandemic, with a total of 4,696 cases and 50 deaths, as of Wednesday, July 15, 2020. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File)

In this file photo from Sunday, May 24, 2020, visitors set up inside circles designed to help slow the spread of the coronavirus by encouraging social distancing at Dolores Park in San Francisco. The city said it would continue to delay the reopening of some businesses because of a surge of infections in the city, where the positive case rate per 100,000 has increased to nearly 8%. The goal is to keep it at around 2%, said Dr. Grant Colfax, director of public health. San Francisco’s population of nearly 900,000 people has fared remarkably well during the pandemic, with a total of 4,696 cases and 50 deaths, as of Wednesday, July 15, 2020. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File)

In this file photo from Sunday, May 24, 2020, visitors set up inside circles designed to help slow the spread of the coronavirus by encouraging social distancing at Dolores Park in San Francisco. The city said it would continue to delay the reopening of some businesses because of a surge of infections in the city, where the positive case rate per 100,000 has increased to nearly 8%. The goal is to keep it at around 2%, said Dr. Grant Colfax, director of public health. San Francisco’s population of nearly 900,000 people has fared remarkably well during the pandemic, with a total of 4,696 cases and 50 deaths, as of Wednesday, July 15, 2020. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File)

The outlook is so “alarming and dangerous” in California that the Rose Parade has been canceled six months ahead of time, and many more schools have barred reopenings. Around the world, countries are blasting “reckless” tourists” amid new clampdowns.

At least 20 more Seattle-area restaurants have closed permanently, and the list is certain to grow. But there are a few silver linings as restaurateurs make new plans.

Tens of thousands of Amazon corporate employees can work from home until 2021, the company said yesterday. Many other businesses may follow, extending the pain for merchants in downtown Seattle and Bellevue. (If you’re logging on remotely, one tropical paradise hopes you’ll work from its beaches.)

Visitors to Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona on July 8, 2020. National parks — sometimes many miles from equipped hospitals — are grappling with how to safely stay open. (Adriana Zehbrauskas / The New York Times)

Visitors to Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona on July 8, 2020. National parks — sometimes many miles from equipped hospitals — are grappling with how to safely stay open. (Adriana Zehbrauskas / The New York Times)

Visitors to Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona on July 8, 2020. National parks — sometimes many miles from equipped hospitals — are grappling with how to safely stay open. (Adriana Zehbrauskas / The New York Times)

National parks may become the next battleground in reopening. Pressure is mounting to close major parks, pitting Americans’ urge to escape against spiking virus cases in the parks’ home states.

Heroic sacrifice, or ethical nightmare? A Chinese company “pre-tested” experimental vaccine shots on its workers even before the government OK’d the shots for people.

“Let’s stop this nonsense,” Dr. Anthony Fauci urged, hitting back as clashes with the White House spilled further into public view yesterday. Fauci has become quite the symbol, with his own bobblehead and plush doll.

—Kris Higginson
6:46 am

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Source: seattletimes.com

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