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.
In Seattle, an undisclosed number of people living in University of Washington Greek houses have tested positive for the virus in the past week, and campus officials are working to track down anyone else who may need to be tested. The university did not specify which residences the infected students are living in or whether they are members of the Greek organizations.
Meanwhile, in King County, where Black residents account for about 6% of the total population, Black workers make up about 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.
Throughout Monday, 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 Sunday can be found here, and all our COVID-19 coverage can be found here.
Serious coronavirus-linked condition hit 285 US children
At least 285 U.S. children have developed a serious inflammatory condition linked to the coronavirus and while most recovered, the potential for long-term or permanent damage is unknown, two new studies suggest.
The papers, published online Monday in the New England Journal of Medicine, provide the fullest report yet on the condition.
The condition is known as multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children. It is considered uncommon and deaths are rare; six children died among the 285 in the new studies.
Including cases in Europe, where it was first reported, about 1,000 children worldwide have been affected, a journal editorial said.
State confirms 501 new COVID-19 cases and 10 additional deaths
State health officials confirmed 501 new COVID-19 cases in Washington on Monday, and 10 additional deaths.
The update brings the state’s totals to 32,253 cases and 1,320 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. Sunday.
So far, 548,220 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 10,019 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 6.1%, King County’s positive test rate is higher than the statewide average.
More-infectious mutation of coronavirus taking over the world
When the first coronavirus cases in Chicago appeared in January, they bore the same genetic signatures as a germ that emerged in China weeks before.
But as Egon Ozer, an infectious-disease specialist at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, examined the genetic structure of virus samples from local patients, he noticed something different.
A change in the virus was appearing again and again. This mutation, associated with outbreaks in Europe and New York, eventually took over the city. By May, it was found in 95 percent of all the genomes Ozer sequenced.
At a glance, the mutation seemed trivial. About 1,300 amino acids serve as building blocks for a protein on the surface of the virus. In the mutant virus, the genetic instructions for just one of those amino acids – number 614 – switched in the new variant from a “D” (shorthand for aspartic acid) to a “G” (short for glycine).
But the location was significant, because the switch occurred in the part of the genome that codes for the all-important “spike protein” – the protruding structure that gives the coronavirus its crownlike profile and allows it to enter human cells the way a burglar picks a lock.
And its ubiquity is undeniable. Of the approximately 50,000 genomes of the new virus that researchers worldwide have uploaded to a shared database, about 70% carry the mutation, officially designated D614G but known more familiarly to scientists as “G.”
The mutation doesn’t appear to make people sicker, but a growing number of scientists worry that it has made the virus more contagious.
U.S. unlikely to make cut as EU finalizes virus ‘safe list’
The European Union is edging toward finalizing a list of countries whose citizens will be allowed to enter Europe again in coming days, with Americans almost certain to be excluded in the short term due to the number of U.S. coronavirus cases.
Spain’s foreign minister said that the list could contain 15 countries that are not EU members and whose citizens would be allowed to visit from Wednesday, July 1. EU diplomats confirmed that the list would be made public on Tuesday. The diplomats spoke on condition of anonymity because the procedure is ongoing and politically very sensitive.
EU envoys in Brussels worked over the weekend to narrow down the exact criteria for countries to be included, mostly centered on their ability to manage the spread of the disease. Importantly, the countries are also expected to drop any travel restrictions they have imposed on European citizens.
The number of confirmed cases in the United States has surged over the past week, and President Donald Trump also suspended the entry of all people from Europe’s ID check-free travel zone in a decree in March, making it highly unlikely that U.S. citizens would qualify.
Bars are closed again in L.A. and 6 other Calif. counties
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 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 orders 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 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.”
The list of counties impacted by Sunday’s order was based, state officials said, on daily reports on the spread of the virus. Counties that have been on the state’s watch list for between three and 14 days are being asked to close bars. Those being ordered to close the local businesses have been on the state’s watch list for more than 14 days.
Worst virus fears are realized in poor and war-torn countries
For months, experts have warned of a potential nightmare scenario: After overwhelming health systems in some of the world’s wealthiest regions, the coronavirus gains a foothold in poor or war-torn countries ill-equipped to contain it and sweeps through the population.
Some poor countries, like Uganda, which already had a sophisticated detection system built up during its yearslong battle with viral hemorrhagic fever, have thus far been arguably more successful than the U.S. and other wealthy countries in battling coronavirus.
But since the beginning of the pandemic, poor and conflict-ravaged countries have been at a major disadvantage. The global scramble for protective equipment sent prices soaring. Testing kits have also been hard to come by. Tracking and quarantining patients requires large numbers of health workers.
In southern Yemen, health workers are leaving their posts en masse because of a lack of protective equipment, and some hospitals are turning away patients struggling to breathe. In Sudan’s war-ravaged Darfur region, where there is little testing, a mysterious illness resembling COVID-19 is spreading through camps for the internally displaced.
Cases are soaring in India and Pakistan, together home to more than 1.5 billion people and where authorities say nationwide lockdowns are no longer an option because of high poverty.
In Latin America, Brazil has a confirmed caseload and death count second only to the United States, and its leader is unwilling to take steps to stem the spread of the virus. Alarming escalations are unfolding in Peru, Chile, Ecuador and Panama, even after they imposed early lockdowns.
The first reports of disarray are also emerging from hospitals in South Africa, which has its continent’s most developed economy. Sick patients are lying on beds in corridors as one hospital runs out of space. At another, an emergency morgue was needed to hold more than 700 bodies.
“We are reaping the whirlwind now,” said Francois Venter, a South African health expert at the University of Witswatersrand in Johannesburg.
Quarantine Corner: Things to do while staying home
What to read: Are you in the mood for a fresh read, or a classic? Vote by noon today for the next Moira’s Book Club selection.
What to watch: Pierce County iron worker Tara Davis is tough as nails. She’ll test her strength in a new CBS reality competition, and she has a strong message for viewers.
What to cook: Nice job, readers. You came up with platters full of appetizing surprises — and even desserts involving chicken! — in Round 4 of our Pantry Kitchen Challenge. Here are the top recipes and your challenge for the final round.
Governments worldwide backpedal as coronavirus surges
Governments are stepping up testing and reimposing restrictions as newly confirmed coronavirus infections surge in many countries.
India reported 20,000 on Monday, while the caseload in the U.S. is growing by about 40,000 a day.
The United States on Monday reported 38,800 newly confirmed infections, with the total surpassing 2.5 million, or about a quarter of the more than 10 million cases worldwide, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.
Health authorities are using what they describe as the world’s first saliva test for the coronavirus in Australia’s second-largest city, Melbourne, in the state of Victoria, where the disease is spreading at an alarming rate.
Victorian Health Minister Jenny Mikakos said Monday that 75 people had tested positive in the state in the latest 24 hours, bringing the total to about 2,100.
In the Philippines, a Southeast Asian coronavirus hot spot with more than 35,000 confirmed infections, local officials were under fire for allowing a street parade and dance during a weekend religious festival to honor St. John the Baptist despite prohibitions against public gatherings.
Experts say the actual numbers, both in the U.S. and globally, are probably far higher, in part because of testing limitations and the large number of people without symptoms.
In the U.S., Florida, Texas and other states are backpedaling on their reopenings, ordering mandatory wearing of masks in public and closing down restaurants and bars.
In China, nearly 8.3 million out of about 21 million have undergone testing in recent weeks in Beijing after an outbreak centered on a wholesale market. The country reported just 12 new cases Monday, including seven in Beijing.
On the fly, an Amazon building in Kent took an outsized role in pandemic precautions
Amazon employees entering a cavernous fulfillment center are greeted with masks dispensed through a door that opens in a shield.
From self-cleaning door handles to infrared cameras that take workers’ temperatures, this facility has become proving ground for new safety measures, with the successful ones exported across Amazon’s empire.
But the coronavirus has not left the fulfillment center alone. Go inside to see the dramatic changes.
Voices that won’t be silenced
Mother Brown’s son, Isaiah P. Thomas, 24, had just a few months left at the Reynolds Work Release facility in Seattle when she suddenly stopped hearing from him.
He’d been sent back to prison, along with several other men, after their family members protested outside to demand safer conditions amid coronavirus infections.
The story of the Reynolds Six is illuminating coronavirus outbreaks some officials would rather keep in the dark, columnist Naomi Ishisaka writes.
Catch up on the past 24 hours
The world has surpassed two grim coronavirus milestones: 500,000 confirmed deaths, 10 million confirmed cases. Government leaders worry the worst is yet to come. In Washington state, cases have topped 31,000 and deaths have surpassed 1,300. As virus numbers float around, here’s a smart look at what they mean and which ones are particularly important to watch.
Beaches are closing and bars are shutting down as Florida, Texas and other states backpedal on reopening.
The race for a COVID-19 vaccine is entering a defining summer as the U.S. prepares to open the largest trials — but many scientists don’t expect a vaccine to be nearly as protective as the measles shot. Even if a shot pans out, the line for it is very long.
How many Seattle-area residents got stimulus payments? Not as many as in most other major metro areas, FYI Guy writes. He digs into who’s benefited and what they’re doing with the cash.
Seattle Aquarium reopens today with limited capacity. Here’s what to expect, and our updating guide to when residents of each Washington county will be able to resume other parts of life, from restaurant dining to working out at the gym.
Vice President Mike Pence implored Americans to wear face masks and wore one himself yesterday, a striking contrast with Trump administration officials’ actions in recent months. Here’s how to make a mask and wear it properly.
The coronavirus loves America the best. Columnist Danny Westneat explains why, “if I were a coronavirus microbe, my bristles would be positively quivering” in our fractious, belligerent Petri dish for the pandemic.
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