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

21July 2020

With the coronavirus crisis worsening in the United States and emergency relief about to expire, President Donald Trump is resuming daily virus briefings and talking with top Republicans in Congress about the next step for another COVID-19 aid package.

Meanwhile, researchers at the University of Washington say they’ve developed a promising vaccine candidate.

Throughout Tuesday, 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 Monday 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:

11:34 am

Most in the U.S. are still susceptible to the coronavirus, CDC study finds

A nurse draws blood last month for an antibody test at a District of Columbia testing site. (Amanda Voisard for The Washington Post)

A nurse draws blood last month for an antibody test at a District of Columbia testing site. (Amanda Voisard for The Washington Post)

A nurse draws blood last month for an antibody test at a District of Columbia testing site. (Amanda Voisard for The Washington Post)

Only a tiny fraction of the population in many parts of the United States had antibodies to the novel coronavirus as of mid-May, indicating most people remain highly susceptible to the pathogen, according to new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The agency also said the number of actual coronavirus infections is probably 10 times higher than reported cases, confirming its previous estimate of a vast undercount. There are about 3.8 million reported cases; the CDC data suggests the actual number of infections could be 38 million.

The data appeared Tuesday in JAMA Internal Medicine as the nation struggles with a wily pathogen that can produce no symptoms at all, or sicken and kill — 138,000 Americans have died of the coronavirus to date.

Large swaths of the nation are in turmoil as many communities debate how to reopen schools this fall, wrestle with rising virus-related hospitalizations and, in some cases, roll back restrictions to restart a flailing economy.

Read the story here.

—The Washington Post
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11:25 am

Most Washingtonians say it’s not time to reopen, new poll finds

A majority of registered voters in Washington who were polled this month remain wary in the face of COVID-19, with nearly three-quarters saying they wear masks regularly and 59% saying that any reopening should be at least paused for the time being.

According to the Crosscut/Elway poll gauging public opinion on pandemic response and policing, which was conducted by phone and online earlier this month, 35% of participants said they or someone they know personally has contracted coronavirus, which causes COVID-19.

Nearly 50% of the respondents said they are not yet back to their normal work routine and more than 30% reported wearing a mask at all times in public, in- and out-of-doors; 43% said they wear a mask in public when indoors or unable to social distance outdoors.

“People are taking this pandemic seriously,” said pollster Stuart Elway.

Questioned on politics, 49% of the 402 respondents gave Gov. Jay Inslee positive marks for his handling of the pandemic while the same number viewed his record negatively. About 45% of those polled said they intend to vote for Inslee and 14% said they favor GOP candidate Loren Culp.

According to the poll, released on Tuesday, a little over 25% want to reimpose state restrictions to contain the virus, and a third said the state should put reopening on hold to see how things develop. However, 38% said the state should continue reopening, “and learn to live with the virus.”

—Christine Clarridge
11:03 am

Washington added to Northeast states’ quarantine list as COVID spikes

Residents from 31 states — including Washington — must now quarantine for 14 days when arriving in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, as dozens of states experience rising positive COVID-19 rates.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo acknowledged Tuesday that the quarantine is “imperfect,” but said the quarantine could help protect the states against the risk of increased spread. The list of states no longer includes Minnesota, but now includes Alaska, Delaware, Indiana, Maryland, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, Nebraska, Virginia and Washington.

“The infection rate across the country is getting worse, not better,” Cuomo said in a conference call with reporters.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo acknowledged Tuesday that the quarantine is “imperfect,” but said it could help protect the states who imposed it against the risk of increased spread. He’s shown speaking in May. (Jacquelyn Martin / The Associated Press, file)

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo acknowledged Tuesday that the quarantine is “imperfect,” but said it could help protect the states who imposed it against the risk of increased spread. He’s shown speaking in May. (Jacquelyn Martin / The Associated Press, file)

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo acknowledged Tuesday that the quarantine is “imperfect,” but said it could help protect the states who imposed it against the risk of increased spread. He’s shown speaking in May. (Jacquelyn Martin / The Associated Press, file)

New York, New Jersey and Connecticut last month issued a joint travel advisory that requires a 14-day quarantine period for travelers from a list that now includes 31 states, including Texas and Florida, where COVID-19 appears to be spreading.

The advisory includes states if their seven-day rolling average of positive tests exceeds 10%, or if the number of positive cases exceeds 10 per 100,000 residents.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press
10:59 am

‘Your whole life can change if you get this;’ COVID-19 patients at risk for chronic fatigue

As the world continues to watch the number of COVID-19 cases increase (and daily records being broken), patients with myalgic encephalomyelitis, aka chronic fatigue syndrome, want to tell those recovering from coronavirus to listen up.

COVID-19 patients may be at risk of developing the neuroimmune condition ME/CFS, which depletes one’s energy. ME/CFS, which leaves 75% of those affected unable to work and 25% homebound or bedridden, impacts 15 million to 30 million people worldwide, and symptoms may be triggered by an infection, according to the National Institutes of Health.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, says some people diagnosed with coronavirus are showing symptoms that resemble those seen in ME/CFS patients.

“The ME/CFS community is saying: 80% of us had some sort of virus and that went away, and we’re still stuck with all of these symptoms,” said Sanna Stella, an Oak Park resident who was diagnosed with ME/CFS. “If you’re a patient, you really have to listen to your body and not all those ‘shoulds’ we tell ourselves. … Because if you keep pushing, for some of these patients, it really will make things a lot worse.”

Read the story here.

—Darcel Rockett, Chicago Tribune
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10:37 am

UW Medicine lays off 100 as it reels from COVID-19’s financial impacts

UW Medicine laid off about 100 staffers, the hospital system announced Monday. 

The layoffs include those who work in outpatient therapy, laboratory medicine, population health, enterprise records, information technology and voluntary psychiatric care. 

UW Medicine previously announced the closure of Seven North, its voluntary psychiatric care unit. 

“This was a difficult decision, and we sincerely regret the hardship this will create for the employees affected by these layoffs,” said Lisa Brandenburg, president of UW Medicine Hospitals & Clinics. “As a critical provider of healthcare in the Pacific Northwest, we recognize the need to allocate resources in new ways so that we can continue to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and meet all of the health needs of our patients.”

COVID-19’s disruptions, including the cancellation of many elective procedures early in the pandemic, have caused financial hardship for the health care system.

The organization sent furlough notices to some 5,500 staffers in May in an effort to shore up its budget.

—Evan Bush
10:32 am

Antibody study will gauge prevalence of COVID-19 in Washington

The new coronavirus has been present in Washington state since at least January, when a Snohomish County man received the United States’ first known diagnosis.

Yet, public health officials and researchers still don’t know how many people have been infected because many people who have the virus show mild symptoms or, in some cases, no symptoms at all.

The state Department of Health (DOH) and UW Medicine are setting out to discover how prevalent COVID-19 is across the state by studying the blood of Washingtonians.

“We’re still trying to really understand, at a state level, where’s the virus really been? How many people have had it? And how does that vary between different parts of the state?” said Dr. Keith Jerome, head of the virology division in UW Medicine’s Department of Laboratory Medicine.

Dr. Keith Jerome, head of the virology division in UW Medicine’s Department of Laboratory Medicine, is next to a machine that detects whether blood samples have coronavirus antibodies. (Erika Schultz / The Seattle Times)

Dr. Keith Jerome, head of the virology division in UW Medicine’s Department of Laboratory Medicine, is next to a machine that detects whether blood samples have coronavirus antibodies. (Erika Schultz / The Seattle Times)

Dr. Keith Jerome, head of the virology division in UW Medicine’s Department of Laboratory Medicine, is next to a machine that detects whether blood samples have coronavirus antibodies. (Erika Schultz / The Seattle Times)

The survey is expected to provide a clearer picture of whether certain populations — for example, racial and ethnic groups, or people working particular types of jobs — have been infected at higher rates, Jerome said.

Serological surveys detect whether people have antibodies that develop in response to the body fighting an infection. Specimens for an antibody test are collected by drawing blood, as opposed to the nasal swabs used for diagnostic tests. Antibodies can develop five days to two weeks after symptoms stop.

The study is also intended to provide data to inform policymakers’ public health decisions as cases of COVID-19 continue to mount.

Washington state saw its largest one-day total on July 16, with 1,267 new cases. As of Monday, 47,743 people in the state had been infected, including 1,453 who have died.

Read the story here.

—Ryan Blethen
10:11 am

Florida is recording more coronavirus deaths than any state

Florida’s skyrocketing coronavirus death rate is now higher than any other state, edging out Texas, which has about 25% more people.

Florida recorded another 134 deaths Tuesday, bringing its daily average for the past week to 115, topping the 112 deaths a day Texas has reported during that same time, Associated Press statistics show. A month ago, Florida was averaging 33 coronavirus deaths a day.

Overall, 5,317 people have died in Florida from COVID-19 since March 1 and nearly 370,000 have tested positive for the disease. About 19% of tests have returned positive in Florida over the last week, compared to 10% a month ago and 2.3% in late May.

The state reported that an additional 517 people have been admitted to hospitals with the disease.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has a scheduled news conference Tuesday afternoon to discuss the outbreak.

People visit Clearwater Beach in early May in Clearwater, Florida. (Mike Ehrmann / Getty Images North America)

People visit Clearwater Beach in early May in Clearwater, Florida. (Mike Ehrmann / Getty Images North America)

People visit Clearwater Beach in early May in Clearwater, Florida. (Mike Ehrmann / Getty Images North America)
—The Associated Press
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10:08 am

U.S. accuses Chinese hackers in targeting of COVID-19 research

An American flag flies outside the Department of Justice in Washington, D.C. The Justice Department has accused two Chinese hackers of stealing trade secrets from companies worldwide. (Andrew Harnik / AP)

An American flag flies outside the Department of Justice in Washington, D.C. The Justice Department has accused two Chinese hackers of stealing trade secrets from companies worldwide. (Andrew Harnik / AP)

An American flag flies outside the Department of Justice in Washington, D.C. The Justice Department has accused two Chinese hackers of stealing trade secrets from companies worldwide. (Andrew Harnik / AP)

The Justice Department on Tuesday accused two Chinese hackers of stealing hundreds of millions of dollars of trade secrets from companies across the world and more recently targeting firms developing a vaccine for the coronavirus.

The indictment, which officials expected to discuss at a news conference, says the hackers in recent months had researched vulnerabilities in the computer networks of companies publicly known for their work in developing vaccines and treatments.

The indictment includes charges of trade-secret theft and wire-fraud conspiracy against the hackers, who federal prosecutors say stole information not only for themselves but also details that they knew would be of interest and value to the Chinese government.

The charges are believed to be the first accusing foreign hackers of targeting scientific innovation related to the coronavirus, though U.S. and Western intelligence agencies have warned for months about those efforts.

Last week, for instance, authorities in the U.S., Canada and the United Kingdom accused a hacking group with links to Russian intelligence with trying to target research on the disease.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press
8:41 am

More than 1 in 5 in Delhi have had coronavirus, study indicates

More than one in five people in Delhi have been infected with the coronavirus, according to a study released Tuesday, indicating that most cases in the Indian capital region have gone undetected.

The National Center for Disease Control tested 21,387 people selected randomly across Delhi, the state that includes New Delhi, and found that 23.48% had antibodies to the virus. Adjusting for false positives and negatives, it estimated that 22.86% of the population had been infected by the virus, Dr. Sujeet Kumar Singh, who heads the institute, said in a news conference Tuesday.

Delhi, with a population of 29 million, has officially reported 123,747 cases and 3,663 deaths. The study, however, indicates more than 6.6 million likely cases, with most not identified or tested.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press
8:26 am

Virus concerns nudge some teachers toward classroom exits

As pressure mounts for teachers to return to their classrooms this fall, concerns about health risks from the coronavirus are pushing many toward alternatives, including career changes, as others mobilize to delay school reopenings in hard-hit areas.

Among those opting for early retirement is Liza McArdle, a 50-year-old high school language instructor in New Boston, Michigan. She considered the health risks and the looming instructional challenges — trying to teach French and Spanish with a mask obstructing her enunciation, or perhaps a return to virtual learning — and decided it was time to go.

Rachel Bardes demonstrates in front of the Orange County Public Schools headquarters in downtown Orlando, Fla., earlier this month as teachers protest what they see as unnecessarily aggressive timetables for reopening school classrooms. (Joe Burbank / Orlando Sentinel via AP, file)

Rachel Bardes demonstrates in front of the Orange County Public Schools headquarters in downtown Orlando, Fla., earlier this month as teachers protest what they see as unnecessarily aggressive timetables for reopening school classrooms. (Joe Burbank / Orlando Sentinel via AP, file)

Rachel Bardes demonstrates in front of the Orange County Public Schools headquarters in downtown Orlando, Fla., earlier this month as teachers protest what they see as unnecessarily aggressive timetables for reopening school classrooms. (Joe Burbank / Orlando Sentinel via AP, file)

“We’re always expected to give, give, give. You’re a teacher. You have to be there for the kids,” McArdle said. “And now it’s like, ‘Oh, yeah, now you have to put your life on the line for the kids because they need to be in school.’”

Teachers unions have begun pushing back on what they see as unnecessarily aggressive timetables for reopening. The largest unions say the timing should be guided by whether districts have the ability — and funding — to implement protocols and precautions to protect students and teachers, even if that means balking at calls from President Donald Trump to resume in-person instruction.

On Monday, a teachers union filed a lawsuit to block the reopening of schools in Florida, where state officials have ordered school districts to reopen campuses as an option unless local health officials deem that to be unsafe. Educators in several cities have called for the school year to start with remote instruction. Some have joined demonstrations in Arizona, where three teachers sharing a classroom during summer school tested positive for the virus and one died.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press
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8:14 am

Judge recuses self in lawsuit over Atlanta coronavirus mask rule

A judge has recused herself from hearing a lawsuit filed by Georgia’s governor to get Atlanta to stop enforcing a mask mandate and other measures related to the COVID-19 pandemic, causing a hearing scheduled for Tuesday to be canceled, according to the attorney general’s office.

Fulton County Superior Court Judge Kelly Ellerbe had scheduled a hearing for 11 a.m. Tuesday on Gov. Brian Kemp’s emergency motion. But a spokeswoman for Attorney General Chris Carr said the hearing is not happening because Ellerbe is recusing herself. Further details were not immediately available.

The state plans to seek another emergency hearing once the case has been assigned to another judge, Carr spokeswoman Katie Byrd said in an email.

Atlanta is among at least 15 local jurisdictions statewide that has ordered people to wear masks in many public places to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. In a lawsuit filed Thursday against Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and the members of the City Council, Kemp argues that local leaders do not have the authority to impose measures that are more or less restrictive than those in his executive orders.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press
7:32 am

The flood of information — and misinformation

Seileen Mullen, with the Virginia Medical Reserve Corps, passes through the halls where the Alexandria Health Department of Alexandria, Va., set up offices for coronavirus contact tracing and investigations. (Jahi Chikwendiu / The Washington Post)

Seileen Mullen, with the Virginia Medical Reserve Corps, passes through the halls where the Alexandria Health Department of Alexandria, Va., set up offices for coronavirus contact tracing and investigations. (Jahi Chikwendiu / The Washington Post)

Seileen Mullen, with the Virginia Medical Reserve Corps, passes through the halls where the Alexandria Health Department of Alexandria, Va., set up offices for coronavirus contact tracing and investigations. (Jahi Chikwendiu / The Washington Post)

Lacking federal guidance on how to navigate the pandemic safely, Americans are turning elsewhere: friends, social media, self-appointed experts, TV entertainers. The result: a hodgepodge of practices and beliefs.

Here’s advice on inoculating yourself against rumors and not spreading them yourself, along with four myths about masks, debunked.

—Kris Higginson
7:23 am

Quarantine Corner: Things to do while staying home

East 62nd Street Lemon Cake is one of the classic recipes in Maida Heatter’s book “Happiness is Baking.” The recipe comes from Heatter’s daughter, who lived on East 62nd Street in New York. (David Miller / The Seattle Times)

East 62nd Street Lemon Cake is one of the classic recipes in Maida Heatter’s book “Happiness is Baking.” The recipe comes from Heatter’s daughter, who lived on East 62nd Street in New York. (David Miller / The Seattle Times)

East 62nd Street Lemon Cake is one of the classic recipes in Maida Heatter’s book “Happiness is Baking.” The recipe comes from Heatter’s daughter, who lived on East 62nd Street in New York. (David Miller / The Seattle Times)

Some of the best recipes are the oldest ones. One such classic, burnished by time: this summery lemon cake.

You need only five ingredients to make your own delicious flour tortillas. Seattle teen chef Sadie Davis-Suskind explains how.

“Marrying Millions”: Nonie Creme is rich, Reese Record is not, and the Seattle couple is headed for reality TV. Age and wealth gaps aren’t issues for them, Creme says, but filming the show has had its moments.

—Kris Higginson
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7:00 am

Catch up on the past 24 hours

UW researchers say they’ve developed a promising vaccine candidate that induced a strong immune response in monkeys and mice. Trials of the vaccine, created in partnership with a Seattle biotech, may start this summer.

President Donald Trump has reversed course on masks, tweeting “it is Patriotic” to wear one. He added a photo of himself wearing one: “There is nobody more Patriotic than me, your favorite President!” He’s also bringing back his public coronavirus briefings.

Congress and Trump are deeply divided over virus aid as emergency relief for Americans nears its expiration date. Among the toughest issues: school reopenings and a payroll tax cut.

The U.S.T.A. Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Queens is transformed into a temporary hospital on April 8, 2020. New York City spent at least $52 million to convert the tennis center into a field hospital, but the facility ultimately treated only 79 patients. (Hilary Swift / The New York Times)

The U.S.T.A. Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Queens is transformed into a temporary hospital on April 8, 2020. New York City spent at least $52 million to convert the tennis center into a field hospital, but the facility ultimately treated only 79 patients. (Hilary Swift / The New York Times)

The U.S.T.A. Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Queens is transformed into a temporary hospital on April 8, 2020. New York City spent at least $52 million to convert the tennis center into a field hospital, but the facility ultimately treated only 79 patients. (Hilary Swift / The New York Times)

An overwhelmed New York hurried to open a new hospital for virus patients, at the cost of $52 million. It treated just 79 people before closing.

Workers have sued Whole Foods, accusing the grocer of discriminating against them when it barred them from wearing Black Lives Matter face coverings while on the job.

The Beefeaters guarding the millennium-old Tower of London are facing job cuts for the first time in their storied 535-year history.

—Kris Higginson
6:49 am

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