The second day of Gov. Jay Inslee’s statewide order for Washingtonians to wear masks in public spaces was met with mixed results. Fremont tea shop B. Fuller’s Mortar & Pestle, faced backlash after posting a notice earlier this week that characterized the stay-at-home order as an overreaction and encouraged customers to not wear masks.
Meanwhile, as new coronavirus cases continue to rise throughout the state, Inslee has put a pause on counties moving to Phase 4, which would mean no restrictions.
Throughout Sunday, on this page, we’ll post updates from Seattle Times journalists and others on the pandemic and its effects on the Seattle area, the Pacific Northwest and the world. Updates from Saturday can be found here, and all our COVID-19 coverage can be found here.
World hits coronavirus milestones amid fears worse to come
ROME — The world surpassed two sobering coronavirus milestones Sunday — 500,000 confirmed deaths, 10 million confirmed cases — and hit another high mark for daily new infections as governments that attempted reopenings continued to backtrack and warn that worse news could be yet to come.
“COVID-19 has taken a very swift and very dangerous turn in Texas over just the past few weeks,” said Gov. Greg Abbott, who allowed businesses to start reopening in early May but on Friday shut down bars and limited restaurant dining amid a spike in cases.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom rolled back reopenings of bars in seven counties, including Los Angeles. He ordered them to close immediately and urged eight other counties to issue local health orders mandating the same.
More Florida beaches will be closing again to avoid further spread of the new coronavirus as officials try to tamp down on large gatherings amid a spike in COVID-19 cases. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said interactions among young people are driving the surge.
“Caution was thrown to the wind and so we are where we are,” DeSantis said.
Read the full story here.
UW Greek house residents test positive for COVID-19
An undisclosed number of people living in University of Washington Greek houses have tested positive for COVID-19 in the past week and campus officials are working to track down anyone who may need to be tested for the virus.
The university did not specify which residences the students are living in or whether they are members of the Greek organizations. Many Greek houses have reduced occupancy and rent out room to non-members over the summer, UW spokesman Victor Balta said Sunday in an email.
Students who live in or near Greek Row, which is a high-density housing area, should contact the university’s Environmental Health and Safety Office if they believe they have been exposed or are showing symptoms of COVID-19, Balta said. The office’s email is email@example.com. Students who contact the office will be tested.
State confirms 348 new COVID-19 cases and 0 additional deaths
State health officials confirmed 348 new COVID-19 cases in Washington on Thursday, and no additional deaths.
The update brings the state’s totals to 31,752 cases and 1,310 deaths, meaning about 4.1% of people diagnosed in Washington have died, according to the state Department of Health (DOH). The data is as of 11:59 p.m. Saturday.
So far, 534,443 tests for the novel coronavirus have been conducted in the state, per DOH. Of those, 5.9% have come back positive.
The state has confirmed 9,895 diagnoses and 610 deaths in King County, the state’s most populous, accounting for a little less than half of the state’s death toll. At 6.2%, King County’s positive test rate is higher than the statewide average.
California governor orders bars closed in L.A., six other counties as coronavirus spreads
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Citing the rapid pace of coronavirus spread in some parts of the state, Gov. Gavin Newsom on Sunday ordered seven counties including Los Angeles immediately to close any bars and nightspots that are open and recommended eight other counties take action on their own to close those businesses.
The decision, a sign of growing concern about new COVID-19 cases, was announced in a statement issued by the governor’s state public health director, Dr. Sonia Angell. Bars in seven counties are immediately impacted by the state order: Los Angeles, Fresno, Kern, San Joaquin, Tulare, Kings and Imperial.
Eight other counties have been asked by state officials to issue local health order closing bars: Contra Costa, Santa Clara, Sacramento, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, Santa Barbara and Stanislaus.
“COVID-19 is still circulating in California, and in some parts of the state, growing stronger,” Newsom said in a written statement. “That’s why it is critical we take this step to limit the spread of the virus in the counties that are seeing the biggest increases.”
Read the full story here.
With flights banned, son sails solo across Atlantic to reach father, 90
BUENOS AIRES — Days after Argentina canceled all international passenger flights to shield the country from the new coronavirus, Juan Manuel Ballestero began his journey home the only way possible: He stepped aboard his small sailboat for what turned out to be an 85-day odyssey across the Atlantic.
The 47-year-old sailor could have stayed put on the tiny Portuguese island of Porto Santo, to ride out the era of lockdowns and social distancing in a scenic place largely spared by the virus. But the idea of spending what he thought could be “the end of the world” away from his family, especially his father who was soon to turn 90, was unbearable.
So he said he loaded his 29-foot sailboat with canned tuna, fruit and rice and set sail in mid-March.
“I didn’t want to stay like a coward on an island where there were no cases,” Ballestero said. “I wanted to do everything possible to return home. The most important thing for me was to be with my family.”
The coronavirus pandemic has upended life in virtually every country, gutting the global economy, exacerbating geopolitical tension and halting most international travel. A particularly painful aspect of this awful era has been the inability of an untold number of people to rush home to help ailing loved ones and attend funerals.
Friends tried to dissuade Ballestero from embarking on the perilous journey, and authorities in Portugal warned him he might not be allowed to re-enter if he ran into trouble and had to turn back. But he was resolute.
Read about Ballestero’s incredible journey here.
Inslee urges people to ‘mask up,’ criticizes Trump on ‘Face the Nation’
Gov. Jay Inslee appeared on “Face the Nation” Sunday morning to discuss the spike in COVID-19 cases in some Washington counties and criticize President Donald Trump’s handling of the novel coronavirus.
One day after blocking counties from entering Phase 4 in his Safe Start reopening plan, Inslee urged people to “mask up,” telling host John Dickerson it was the pathway to reopening Washington’s economy. Likening the flare-ups to a fire, the governor described situations where patients were being transported 100-plus miles “by ambulance over a mountain range” to receive treatment and criticized President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence — who appeared on the CBS political talk show before him — for painting a misleadingly rosy picture of the pandemic.
“Right now, we are in an urgent national mission — or should be — to mask up,” Inslee said, according to a transcript provided by CBS News. “And the fact is, is that Donald Trump is for masking up like George Wallace was for integration. And we governors are urging people now to use this effective technique. 100% masking means 100% opening up. And all of us should be on that bandwagon right now.”
Asked about resistance from some rural sheriffs to his order requiring people to wear masks in public, Inslee said mask usage in Yakima County, one of the areas experiencing a surge in cases, has increased by 25% and again turned his focus to the president. Inslee said Trump should be encouraging people to wear masks instead of tweeting about the controversy around toppling Confederate monuments.
“Now we need a president who will care more about living Americans and less about dead Confederates,” Inslee said. “This has an enormous impact. And if we can get everybody wearing a MAGA hat to wear a mask, we’re going to tame this virus, because this masking is very, very effective. And I do want to reiterate, this is the way to open our economy.”
Inslee also called for increased testing among the agriculture industry and said “there is a reasonable probability” Washington’s college campuses could reopen sometime this year.
Video and a complete transcript of Inslee’s appearance can be found here.
Coronavirus pandemic job losses falling hardest on people who were already hurting
Where previous recessions killed jobs across many industries and demographic groups, layoffs in the COVID-19 era often have been concentrated among workers who were often behind economically before the pandemic. Among them, working moms, younger workers, and workers who are less educated, lower-paid, and non-white.
In King County, where Black residents account for around 6% of the total population, Black workers make up around 11% of recent layoffs. That’s according to a new report by Washington STEM, a Seattle-based nonprofit that has analyzed weekly, or “continuing,” claims for jobless benefits filed by unemployed workers during the pandemic.
By contrast, white residents, who make up 63% of the county’s population, have accounted for just 48% of pandemic-related unemployment, Washington STEM found.
One factor: Pandemic-related layoffs struck earliest and hardest in sectors where Black workers were already over-represented. That includes food service and lodging, as well as in personal service, such as hair salons, and gig work, says Andrea Caupain, CEO of Byrd Barr Place, a Seattle-based nonprofit that works with low-income families. “Low-wage workers in those industries were the first to go,” Caupain says.
Read the full story here.
COVID-19 data: What the numbers tell us
Months into the COVID-19 pandemic, the public is used to seeing a cavalcade of numbers and charts that show how the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 is spreading or how it’s affecting a given place.
This data is crucial for informing decisions about how to respond to the crisis and keep ourselves and others safe.
But the more numbers floating around, the more potential for misinterpretation — especially when epidemiological concepts such as R0 were unknown to most people before 2020.
Seattle Times reporters Ryan Blethen and Hal Bernton and Times graphic artist Emily Eng describe and illustrate how to interpret this data to better understand the pandemic.
Here’s an example below about the state’s positive test rate. Read more here.