Washington still hasn’t seen a turnaround in its rise in COVID-19 cases, and case numbers continue to trend upward in many counties, according to the state Department of Health’s latest situation report, released Friday.
Meanwhile, the White House and its GOP allies appear to be retreating from their opposition to a $600-per-week supplemental unemployment benefit that has propped up the economy and family budgets. Negotiations continued Friday night.
Throughout Saturday, 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 Friday can be found here, and all our coronavirus coverage can be found here.
After a delay, state reports 1,738 new cases over the last two days, and 28 deaths
State health officials reported 1,738 new COVID-19 cases in Washington for Thursday and Friday after a delay caused a one-day lag in testing results, and 28 new deaths for both days.
The update brings the state’s totals to 57,541 cases and 1,592 deaths, meaning that 2.8% of people diagnosed in Washington have died, according to the state Department of Health (DOH). The data is as of 11:59 p.m. Friday.
DOH was unable to update the dashboard Friday because of a data processing issue which resulted in “duplicate records” in the state COVID-19 database.
So far, 1,001,528 tests for the novel coronavirus have been conducted in the state, per DOH. Of those, 5.7% have come back positive.
In King County, the state’s most populous county, state health officials have confirmed 15,390 positive diagnoses and 655 deaths.
Durkan vetoes Seattle Council’s plan to spend $86 million from emergency reserves on COVID-19 relief
Mayor Jenny Durkan has vetoed a City Council plan to spend $86 million from Seattle’s emergency reserves on relief for residents and small businesses dealing with the COVID-19 crisis, calling the move “irresponsible.”
The council’s vote on the bill was unanimous, suggesting Durkan’s veto likely will be overridden.
“We are in the middle of an unprecedented public health and economic emergency. It is irresponsible to spend the entirety of our rainy day and emergency funds in the first few months of what is likely a multi-year crisis,” Durkan said in a statement Saturday.
Read more here.
Coronavirus threat rises across U.S.: ‘We just have to assume the monster is everywhere’
The coronavirus is spreading at dangerous levels across much of the United States, and public health experts are demanding a dramatic reset in the national response, one that recognizes that the crisis is intensifying and that current piecemeal strategies aren’t working.
This is a new phase of the pandemic, one no longer built around local or regional clusters and hot spots. It comes at an unnerving moment in which the economy suffered its worst collapse since the Great Depression, schools are rapidly canceling plans for in-person instruction and Congress has failed to pass a new emergency relief package. President Donald Trump continues to promote fringe science, the daily death toll keeps climbing and the human cost of the virus in America has just passed 150,000 lives.
“Unlike many countries in the world, the United States is not currently on course to get control of this epidemic. It’s time to reset,” declared a report released last week by Johns Hopkins University.
Read more here.
A ‘weird dance’: Washington schools caught in limbo in fight for coronavirus stimulus money
As school districts in Washington state frantically prepare for fall, Chris Reykdal has spent the summer thinking of ways to help them, sometimes running into red tape.
Since June, the state schools chief has pushed for roughly $21 million owed to his department, the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI), from the federal stimulus package. It’s money he plans to spend on training teachers in remote instruction; a grant program for community organizations offering language translation for families; internet access for up to 67,000 low-income households; and funding additional staff in his department.
After six weeks of lobbying, he’s just now secured $2.5 million for training, and $450,000 in additional general aid for schools.
But with nearly half of the state’s students likely to attend school online starting next month, Reykdal hasn’t been able to convince state officials to give him the rest, including the roughly $8.8 million for internet access.
“It’s not gonna change the world,” Reykdal said in an interview last week. “But it would create a framework for districts to move more confidently forward.”
France starts testing travelers from 16 nations for virus
PARIS (AP) — Travelers entering France from 16 countries where the coronavirus is circulating widely now must undergo virus tests upon arrival at French airports and ports.
French Prime Minister Jean Castex announced last month that the tests would be required starting Aug. 1 for passengers France is allowing in from a list of approved countries unless they present proof of a negative test done within 72 hours of their departure.
Those who test positive in France as of Saturday must quarantine for 14 days.
Italian island runs out of room to quarantine new migrants
ROME (AP) — About 250 Tunisian migrants in several small boats have reached a tiny Italian island that has run out of room to quarantine them as required by Italy’s anti-coronavirus measures, local officials said Saturday.
The Sicilian newspaper Giornale di Sicilia quoted Lampedusa Mayor Toto’ Martello as saying the island can’t wait until the government sends a chartered ferry where the migrants can be held for 14 days to fulfill the country’s quarantine requirement.
The island’s migrant holding center, which was built for a maximum capacity of 95 people, was already holding 950 when the latest passengers arrived, Martello said. The 250 who arrived between Friday night and Saturday must stay on the dock for now, until the promised ferry arrives or some other solution is found.
Thousands protest in Berlin against coronavirus restrictions
BERLIN (AP) — Thousands protested Germany’s coronavirus restrictions Saturday in a Berlin demonstration marking what organizers called “the end of the pandemic” — a declaration that comes just as authorities are voicing increasing concerns about an uptick in new infections.
With few masks in sight, a dense crowd marched through downtown Berlin from the Brandenburg Gate.
Protesters who came from across the country held up homemade signs with slogans like “Corona, false alarm,” “We are being forced to wear a muzzle,” “Natural defense instead of vaccination” and “We are the second wave.”
Catch up on the past 24 hours
More testing in Seattle: The city of Seattle will open a third free COVID-19 testing site, this one at Rainier Beach High School on Aug. 7. Unlike Seattle’s drive-thru coronavirus testing sites in North Seattle and Sodo, this Rainier Beach site will accept walk-ups. An aim is to reach more of the city’s Black and Indigenous people and other people of color, many of whom live in the South End, Mayor Jenny Durkan said Friday. The city plans to open a fourth site in Southwest Seattle later this summer.
Testing questions answered: Where can you get tested for COVID-19? What does a test cost? The Seattle Times answered those questions and others submitted by readers about testing — the kind used to diagnose an active infection and the kind that detects antibodies to the virus.
Adventurous life remembered: Strong-willed, well dressed and outgoing, Geraldine Gormley blazed a path from her hometown of Portland to Alaska and Germany before she landed in Edmonds. Along the way, she raised three daughters and forged enduring friendships. Gormley, who lived at Edmonds Landing retirement and assisted living facility, died April 11 of COVID-19. Sunday would have been her 97th birthday.
Unemployment boost?: The White House and its GOP allies appear to be retreating from their opposition to a $600-per-week supplemental unemployment benefit that has propped up the economy and family budgets but expired Friday. Meanwhile, a 16,000-member Facebook group focused on Washington’s overwhelmed unemployment system is dispensing good advice and serving as an unexpected, welcoming community.
First child dies: California health officials reported the state’s first coronavirus death of a child on Friday, saying the victim was a teenager who had other health conditions. It’s extremely rare for children to die of the coronavirus. But a new study says infected children younger than age 5 may host up to 100 times as much of the virus in the upper respiratory tract as adults.
“Weird dance”: Washington state’s schools chief is engaging in what a staff member described as a “weird dance” with lawmakers in his quest for COVID-19 stimulus funding to help teachers and students prepare for classes this fall.
Unexpected loser: While work-from-home policies are helping to make lumber a top performer as shut-in Americans build decks and fences, office closures are devastating another tree product: paper.