Coronavirus daily news updates, July 20: What to know today about COVID-19 in the Seattle area, Washington state and the world – Seattle Times

20July 2020

As the number of new coronavirus cases continues to rise in Washington and across the country, President Donald Trump said Sunday that many of the cases “shouldn’t even be cases.” He said that case numbers include young people who “have the sniffles and we put it down as a test.”

He was met with aggressive, real-time fact-checking by his questioner, “Fox News Sunday” anchor Chris Wallace.

Meanwhile, the U.S. death toll has topped 137,000.

In Washington, 920 new cases were recorded Saturday, bringing the total in the state to 46,946 cases. Three more people died from COVID-19, with the total toll reaching 1,447.

Throughout Monday, 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 Sunday can be found here, and all our coronavirus coverage can be found here.

(Jennifer Luxton / The Seattle Times)

(Jennifer Luxton / The Seattle Times)

Live updates:

10:48 am

Study shows alcohol use surging in U.S. during the pandemic

As the coronavirus pandemic stretches into the year, more adults are drinking to cope, and alcohol sales have surged across the country, a new study says.

Parents, women, unemployed people, Black people and adults with mental health concerns increased their alcohol consumption between February and April, according to a study released from RTI International, a nonprofit research institute.

“After the terrorist attacks on September 11 and also Hurricane Katrina, there was sustained increases in alcohol assumption,” said Carolina Barbosa, a health economist at RTI. “The weeks of isolation imposed by stay-at-home policies and the scale of the current pandemic are unmatched by these recent disasters.”

A bartender mixes a drink this month while wearing a mask and face shield at Slater’s 50/50 in Santa Clarita, Calif. A survey found that about 35% of people reported excessive drinking in April, compared to 29% in February; 27% reported binge drinking. (Marcio Jose Sanchez / AP, file)

A bartender mixes a drink this month while wearing a mask and face shield at Slater’s 50/50 in Santa Clarita, Calif. A survey found that about 35% of people reported excessive drinking in April, compared to 29% in February; 27% reported binge drinking. (Marcio Jose Sanchez / AP, file)

A bartender mixes a drink this month while wearing a mask and face shield at Slater’s 50/50 in Santa Clarita, Calif. A survey found that about 35% of people reported excessive drinking in April, compared to 29% in February; 27% reported binge drinking. (Marcio Jose Sanchez / AP, file)

RTI surveyed nearly 1,000 people online in the United States last month to see how their alcohol consumption changed between February and April.

States across the country implemented different shelter-in-place measures beginning in March to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

The respondents on average upped their daily alcohol intake from 0.74 drinks in February to 0.94 in April, RTI said.

About 35% reported excessive drinking in April, compared to 29% in February, and 27% reported binge drinking. The survey did not differentiate between different types of alcohol.

Read the story here.

— Alyssa Lukpat, The News & Observer (Raleigh, N.C.)
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9:44 am

85 crew members aboard American Seafoods trawler in Alaska test positive for COVID-19

Eighty-five crew members on an American Seafoods ship docked in the Aleutians tested positive for COVID-19 over the weekend, according to the company.

The American Triumph, a factory trawler, departed Oregon on June 27 and headed to Alaska with 119 crew members to fish for pollock, the company wrote in a statement. Seven crew members reported COVID-19 symptoms two weeks after the ship departed, and they were tested in Unalaska shortly after arriving on Thursday. Six of the seven tested positive.

After testing all the remaining crew members, 79 more workers were found to be positive, bringing the total number of COVID-19 cases on the American Triumph to 85, according to a statement from the city.

It was not immediately clear how many of the crew members were experiencing COVID-19 symptoms prior to testing, but American Seafoods spokeswoman Suzanne Lugoni said the company screens employees before they board and no one showed COVID-19 symptoms prior to departure.

Alaska saw a record number of COVID-19 cases reported Sunday, with 119 new infections statewide. Of the 85 Unalaska cases, thirty-six were reported in time to be included in the state’s daily total Sunday.

The American Triumph is a 285-foot factory trawler, part of a fleet of six fishing vessels owned by Seattle-based company. Four crew members tested positive on the vessel last month.

Read the story here.

—Tess Williams, Anchorage Daily News
8:45 am

GOP leaders meet at White House as virus crisis deepens

Top Republicans in Congress met Monday with President Donald Trump at the White House on the next COVID-19 aid package as the crisis many hoped would have improved has dramatically worsened, just as emergency relief is expiring.

New divisions between the Senate GOP majority and the White House posed fresh challenges. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was prepared to roll out the $1 trillion package in a matter of days. But the administration panned more virus testing money and interjected other priorities that could complicate quick passage.

“It’s not going to magically disappear,” said a somber McConnell, R-Ky., last week during a visit to a hospital in his home state to thank front-line workers.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said Monday any attempt by the White House to block testing money “goes beyond ignorance.”

Lawmakers were returning to a Capitol still off-limits to tourists, another sign of the nation’s difficulty containing the coronavirus. Rather than easing, the pandemic’s devastating cycle was happening all over again, leaving Congress little choice but to engineer another costly rescue. Businesses were shutting down again, schools could not fully reopen and jobs were disappearing, all while federal aid expired.

Without a successful federal strategy, lawmakers are trying to draft one.

Trump insisted again Sunday that the virus would “disappear,” but the president’s view did not at all match projections from the leading health professionals straining to halt the alarming U.S. caseload and death toll.

The U.S. Capitol is still off-limits to tourists amid the pandemic. (/Andrew Harnik / AP, File)

The U.S. Capitol is still off-limits to tourists amid the pandemic. (/Andrew Harnik / AP, File)

The U.S. Capitol is still off-limits to tourists amid the pandemic. (/Andrew Harnik / AP, File)

Read the story here.

— Lisa Mascaro, The Associated Press
8:16 am

Travel Troubleshooter: Dealing with EU’s ban on Americans visiting due to COVID-19

The European Union recently banned Americans from visiting due to the coronavirus situation in the United States, prompting lots of questions: Who can travel to Europe? Who can’t? How long will the ban last? Can I get a refund for my airline ticket if I cancel? And is there a way around any of these restrictions?

“It’s more uncertainty,” says Cate Caruso, a travel adviser with Virtuoso-affiliated True Places Travels in Vancouver, Washington. “As if we didn’t have enough of that.”

A passenger at the Barcelona airport in Barcelona, Spain in June. (Emilio Morenatti / AP)

A passenger at the Barcelona airport in Barcelona, Spain in June. (Emilio Morenatti / AP)

A passenger at the Barcelona airport in Barcelona, Spain in June. (Emilio Morenatti / AP)

The worry extends beyond summer. Travelers are already looking for ways to cancel or postpone their fall trips. I had plans to visit Portugal’s Azores in December, and I’m starting to doubt that I’ll make it.

“It’s unlikely that this ban will be lifted soon,” says Mahalia Desruisseaux, an infectious-disease specialist at Yale Medicine. “The next few months will be crucial in determining whether the restrictions will be loosened, depending on how successful we are in better controlling the spread of the virus. It is probably prudent to postpone any European vacations until at least 2021.”

Read the answers to the most frequently asked questions about the Europe travel ban here.

—Christopher Elliott Special to The Seattle Times
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7:46 am

Arizona reopened early to revive its economy, but now faces greater devastation

Arizona was one of the last states to close, and the first to reopen, when the coronavirus started to sweep the nation this spring. But a brazen gamble to restart its struggling economy has backfired months later, threatening to plunge workers and businesses into a deeper financial hole.

Hundreds of thousands of people are still out of a job, some for the second time this year. Restaurants, gyms and other companies are closing up shop once again – perhaps for good. Even government officials say they are bracing for a crippling blow, with the latest shutdown expected to cleave further into their still-souring finances.

The economic devastation comes as Congress prepares to return Monday and begin debating how to structure another round of federal stimulus. The $2 trillion Cares Act, which lawmakers adopted in March, helped buttress the country during the early days of the pandemic. But many of those benefits are on the verge of expiring, imperiling states that are in worse shape than they were nearly four months ago.

Like Florida, Texas and others that opened early, Arizona now ranks as one of the country’s worst coronavirus hot spots, with more than 143,000 cases and more than 2,700 deaths as of this weekend. Some residents in cities such as Phoenix and Scottsdale say the surge is the result of the state’s return to old routines, after Republican Gov. Doug Ducey lifted his stay-at-home order in May in part to give the local economy a boost – leading people to flock, often without masks, to cramped public places.

Read the story here.

—The Washington Post
7:41 am

Kentucky announces single-day high of new coronavirus cases

A daily record of nearly 1,000 coronavirus cases was reported Sunday in Kentucky, a spike that the governor said should be a “wake-up call” for the state’s citizens to abide by mask and social distancing restrictions.

Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear announced in a news release that there were 979 new cases reported Sunday, including 30 involving children 5 years old or younger.

“I have faith and I have trust in the people of Kentucky,” Beshear said in a news release. “But today and in the days ahead we’ve got to do a whole lot better. We’re going to have to take some more action.”

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear released a message calling on state residents to be vigilant in their efforts to combat the coronavirus. (Ryan C. Hermens / Lexington Herald-Leader via AP)

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear released a message calling on state residents to be vigilant in their efforts to combat the coronavirus. (Ryan C. Hermens / Lexington Herald-Leader via AP)

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear released a message calling on state residents to be vigilant in their efforts to combat the coronavirus. (Ryan C. Hermens / Lexington Herald-Leader via AP)

Beshear said there were at least 23,161 coronavirus cases in Kentucky as of 4 p.m. Sunday, including the new cases reported on Sunday. The state’s public health commissioner said efforts would be made to confirm the accuracy of the results with some of the laboratories that submitted them.

“We typically have limited reporting on Sunday, which makes today’s record-setting number of positives particularly alarming,” said Dr. Steven Stack, commissioner of the Department of Public Health.

Stack urged Kentuckians to wear masks and socially distance and said the state “has flattened the curve before, and it must act immediately and decisively to flatten it again.”

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press
7:34 am

First COVID-19, now mosquitoes: Bracing for bug-borne ills

Sophia Garabedian, 6, of Sudbury, Mass., contracted eastern equine encephalitis in 2019. As the coronavirus pandemic subsides for now in the hard hit Northeast, public health officials in the region are bracing for another mysterious virus: eastern equine encephalitis, a rare but severe mosquito-borne virus. (Steven Senne / AP)

Sophia Garabedian, 6, of Sudbury, Mass., contracted eastern equine encephalitis in 2019. As the coronavirus pandemic subsides for now in the hard hit Northeast, public health officials in the region are bracing for another mysterious virus: eastern equine encephalitis, a rare but severe mosquito-borne virus. (Steven Senne / AP)

Sophia Garabedian, 6, of Sudbury, Mass., contracted eastern equine encephalitis in 2019. As the coronavirus pandemic subsides for now in the hard hit Northeast, public health officials in the region are bracing for another mysterious virus: eastern equine encephalitis, a rare but severe mosquito-borne virus. (Steven Senne / AP)

Sophia Garabedian had been dealing with a persistent fever and painful headache when her parents found her unresponsive in her bed one morning last fall.

Doctors ultimately diagnosed the then-5-year-old Sudbury, Massachusetts, resident with eastern equine encephalitis (EEE), a rare but severe mosquito-borne virus that causes brain swelling.

Garabedian survived the potentially fatal virus after about a month in Boston hospitals, but her parents say her ordeal and ongoing recovery should be a warning as people take advantage of the outdoors this summer.

“It’s been a rough year,” said David Garabedian, her father. “With any brain injury, it’s hard to tell. The damage is there. How she works through it is anyone’s guess.”

As the coronavirus pandemic subsides for now in the hard-hit Northeast, public health officials in the region are warning about another potentially bad summer for EEE and other insect-borne illnesses.

With more people spending more time outdoors amid the coronavirus pandemic, health officials are also warning about the risk of contracting other insect-borne illnesses.

EEE saw an unexpected resurgence last summer across 10 states: Alabama, Connecticut, Georgia, Indiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, North Carolina, Rhode Island and Tennessee.

And Zika, an invasive mosquito known to transmit dengue, and other tropical viruses has already been detected for the first time this season in Michigan, said Mary Grace Stobierski, the state’s public health veterinarian.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press
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6:59 am

UK coronavirus vaccine prompts immune response in early test

Scientists at Oxford University near London say their experimental coronavirus vaccine has been shown in an early trial to prompt a protective immune response in hundreds of people who got the shot.

British researchers first began testing the vaccine in April in about 1,000 people, half of whom got the experimental vaccine. Such early trials are usually designed only to evaluate safety, but in this case experts were also looking to see what kind of immune response was provoked.

In research published Monday in the journal Lancet, scientists said that they found their experimental COVID-19 vaccine produced a dual immune response in people aged 18 to 55.

In this handout photo released by the University of Oxford a doctor takes blood samples for use in a coronavirus vaccine trial in Oxford, England, Thursday June 25, 2020. Scientists at Oxford University say their experimental coronavirus vaccine has been shown in an early trial to prompt a protective immune response in hundreds of people who got the shot. In research published Monday July 20, 2020 in the journal Lancet, scientists said that they found their experimental COVID-19 vaccine produced a dual immune response in people aged 18 to 55. British researchers first began testing the vaccine in April in about 1,000 people, half of whom got the experimental vaccine. (John Cairns, University of Oxford via AP)

In this handout photo released by the University of Oxford a doctor takes blood samples for use in a coronavirus vaccine trial in Oxford, England, Thursday June 25, 2020. Scientists at Oxford University say their experimental coronavirus vaccine has been shown in an early trial to prompt a protective immune response in hundreds of people who got the shot. In research published Monday July 20, 2020 in the journal Lancet, scientists said that they found their experimental COVID-19 vaccine produced a dual immune response in people aged 18 to 55. British researchers first began testing the vaccine in April in about 1,000 people, half of whom got the experimental vaccine. (John Cairns, University of Oxford via AP)

In this handout photo released by the University of Oxford a doctor takes blood samples for use in a coronavirus vaccine trial in Oxford, England, Thursday June 25, 2020. Scientists at Oxford University say their experimental coronavirus vaccine has been shown in an early trial to prompt a protective immune response in hundreds of people who got the shot. In research published Monday July 20, 2020 in the journal Lancet, scientists said that they found their experimental COVID-19 vaccine produced a dual immune response in people aged 18 to 55. British researchers first began testing the vaccine in April in about 1,000 people, half of whom got the experimental vaccine. (John Cairns, University of Oxford via AP)

“We are seeing good immune response in almost everybody,” said Dr. Adrian Hill, director of the Jenner Institute at Oxford University. “What this vaccine does particularly well is trigger both arms of the immune system,” he said.

Hill said that neutralizing antibodies are produced — molecules which are key to blocking infection. In addition, the vaccine also causes a reaction in the body’s T-cells which help to fight off the coronavirus.

He said that larger trials evaluating the vaccine’s effectiveness, involving about 10,000 people in the U.K. as well as participants in South Africa and Brazil are still underway. Another big trial is slated to start in the U.S. soon, aiming to enroll about 30,000 people.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press
6:46 am

Quarantine Corner

—Kris Higginson
6:46 am

Catch up on the last 24 hours

Congress has little choice but to engineer another economic rescue. Businesses are shutting down, schools cannot fully reopen and jobs are disappearing, all while federal emergency aid expires.

Even local businesses that are trying to reopen are facing months of uncertainty, as the entire ecosystem they depend on has been upended.

More than 6 million applied for food stamps during the pandemic, growing the program three times faster than in any previous three months.

This strange time is one for the history books, and you can be a part of that by sending your COVID-19 stories and photos to the Seattle Public Library and other historical organizations.

Source: seattletimes.com

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