Gov. Jay Inslee announced another statewide coronavirus restriction Monday that triples the minimum distance required for people exercising at gyms and fitness facilities.
Meanwhile, in Washington, D.C., lawmakers continue to negotiate on a huge coronavirus relief bill, and multiple obstacles remain.
Throughout Tuesday, on this page, we’ll post 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.
‘Too many are selfish’: U.S. nears 5 million virus cases
Big house parties and weddings, summer camps, concerts, crowded bars and restaurants, shopping trips without masks — Americans’ resistance to curbs on everyday life is seen as a key reason the U.S. has racked up more confirmed coronavirus deaths and infections by far than any other country.
The nation has recorded more than 155,000 dead in a little more than six months and is fast approaching an almost off-the-charts 5 million COVID-19 infections.
Some Americans have resisted wearing masks and social distancing, calling such precautions an over-the-top response or an infringement on their liberty. Public health experts say such behavior has been compounded by confusing and inconsistent guidance from politicians.
“The thing that’s maddening is country after country and state after state have shown us how we can contain the virus,” said Dr. Jonathan Quick, who is leading a pandemic initiative for the Rockefeller Foundation. “It’s not like we don’t know what works. We do.”
In Virginia, cases have surged so much in cities like Norfolk and Virginia Beach that Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam, a physician, placed limits last week on the region’s alcohol sales and gatherings of more than 50 people. He cited rising infections among young people and said the problem is that “too many people are selfish.”
The number of confirmed infections in the U.S. has topped 4.7 million, with new cases running at over 60,000 a day.
Unlikely reunion: COVID-19 patient and medical aide are long-lost sisters
It was a regular day at the Nebraska rehabilitation center last month when Bev Boro, a medication aide, looked over her patient list. A name on the list stopped her cold: Doris Crippen.
“I kept saying, ‘Oh my God,’” said Boro, 53. “That must be her.”
She had not seen her older sister in more than 50 years, though the two had long been searching for each other.
The unlikely reunion was set in motion in May when Crippen, 73, was diagnosed with COVID-19 and hospitalized for more than a month at Nebraska Medicine, where she said she was not sure if she would survive.
She did, and once she had recovered from the virus and tested negative, Crippen was sent to Dunklau Gardens – a rehabilitation center and nursing home in Fremont, Neb. Boro has worked there for more than two decades.
Neither sister imagined they would find each other, let alone like this.
Boro and Crippen share the same father but were born to different mothers. Their father had been married three times and had 10 children. Crippen is the oldest and Boro is the youngest.
Both women grew up in Nebraska and knew each other’s names. They spent years searching for each other, but never had any luck until now.
Can you get the coronavirus from secondhand smoke?
Can you get the coronavirus from secondhand smoke?
Secondhand smoke isn’t believed to directly spread the virus, experts say, but infected smokers may blow droplets carrying the virus when they exhale.
Being able to smell the smoke might be a red flag that you’re standing too close to the smoker. The respiratory droplets people spray when they talk, cough or sneeze are believed to be the main way the virus spreads. And people also exhale those droplets when smoking, as well as when they’re vaping.
“Not only are they potentially spreading virus by not wearing a mask, they are blowing those droplets to the people around them to potentially get infected,” says Dr. Albert Rizzo, chief medical officer for the American Lung Association.
You should steer clear of secondhand smoke regardless. Breathing in secondhand smoke from cigarettes can cause various health problems, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Manila back under lockdown as virus cases surge
Commuter trains, buses and other public vehicles stayed off the main roads of the Philippine capital Tuesday and police were again staffing checkpoints to restrict public travel as surging virus cases forced another lockdown.
Officials deployed dozens of shuttle buses, along with army trucks, to ferry stranded medical personnel and workers of authorized businesses. Most domestic flights to and from the capital were canceled, and night curfews will return in places.
The lockdown is milder than was first one imposed, which largely confined most people to their homes for months, but is more severe than the quarantine restrictions the capital had been under recently. It is being imposed in metropolitan Manila and outlying provinces for two weeks.
COVID-19 reshapes back-to-school spending
For Michelle Lynn England, back-to-school shopping always meant heading to Target and the local mall with her two girls and dropping about $500 on each of them for trendy outfits.
Not this year.
The Charlotte, North Carolina, resident has slashed her spending on clothing in half for her 10-year-old and 14-year-old and instead upped spending on masks and supplies as a surge in coronavirus cases has forced her local school district to extend online learning through the fall.
“The kids always looked forward to getting something new,” said England, who spent $500 in total this time around. “It didn’t make any sense to buy any extra clothes that won’t be worn.”
At one point inconceivable, the pandemic has now dragged into the new school year, wreaking havoc on reopening plans. That has extended to the back-to-school shopping season, the second most important period for retailers behind the holidays.
Parents are buying less dressy clothes and more basics for their kids, while stepping up purchases of masks and other protective equipment as well as electronics. They’re also holding back on spending amid uncertainty over what the school year will look like. The back-to-school season typically kicks off in mid-July and peaks in mid-August; this year, the peak should hit in late August and spill into most of September, experts say.
“We are definitely seeing a delay,” said Jill Renslow, senior vice president of Bloomington, Minnesota-based Mall of America, which reopened in mid-June with social distancing protocols. “People just don’t know what they need.”
What Lockdown 2.0 looks like: harsher rules, deeper confusion
Australia’s second-largest city, Melbourne, grappling with a spiraling coronavirus outbreak in a country that once thought it had the pandemic beat, has now imposed some of the toughest restrictions in the world.
But as officials cast about for ways to break the chain of infections, the city has become a confounding matrix of hefty fines for disobedience, minor exceptions for everything from romantic partners to home building, and endless versions of the question: So, wait, can I ____?
Restaurant owners are wondering about food delivery after an 8 p.m. curfew began Sunday. Teenagers are asking if their boyfriends and girlfriends count as essential partners. Can animal shelter volunteers walk dogs at night? Are house cleaners essential for those struggling with their mental health? Can the COVID-tested exercise outside?
Pandemic lockdowns, never easy, are getting ever more confusing and contentious as they evolve in the face of second and third rounds of outbreaks that have exhausted both officials and residents.
For some places, risk calculations can change overnight. In Hong Kong, officials banned daytime dining in restaurants last month, only to reverse themselves a day later after an outcry. Schools in some cities are opening and closing like screen doors in summer.
But in many areas where the virus has retreated and then resurged, the future looks like a long, complicated haul.
‘A line in the sand’: Both sides in Congress dig in on virus relief bill
Negotiators on a huge coronavirus relief bill reported slight progress after talks resumed in the Capitol, with issues like food for the poor and aid to schools struggling to reopen safely assuming a higher profile in the talks.
Multiple obstacles remain, including an impasse on extending a $600-per-week pandemic jobless benefit, funding for the U.S. Postal Service and aid to renters facing eviction. Democratic negotiators spoke of progress Monday, but Republicans remain privately pessimistic.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told her Democratic colleagues on a call that she’s hopeful a deal could be reached this week but doesn’t know if it’s possible, according to a Democratic aide who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Neither side has budged from their positions, with Democrats demanding an extension of the $600-per-week supplemental unemployment benefit that’s credited with propping up the economy. Republicans have yet to offer any aid to states to prevent furloughs, layoffs and cuts to services. Both will have to compromise before a deal can be agreed to.
“The $600 unemployment insurance benefit is essential because there are no jobs to go back to,” House Democratic Caucus Chair Hakeem Jeffries of New York said on MSNBC on Tuesday morning. “We’ve got to help out everyday Americans. That’s a line in the sand.”
Parents unhappy with school options assemble learning ‘pods’
On the 4-acre farm at the edge of the Everglades where Timea Hunter runs a horse academy, she has hosted plenty of parties, picnics and workshops. So with her children’s school building closed, she figured why not use it as a classroom?
While her son and daughter will participate in distance learning at their school, she plans to hire a teacher together with the families of four to six other children who could provide supplemental, in-person instruction on the farm shaded by royal poinciana trees.
“We have a very nice picnic area, a mini playground and big tables where the kids can seat under the shade and they can study there,” Hunter said. “We are not educated to do this, so everybody is freaking out and saying, ‘What are we gonna do, how we are going to do it?’”
As the coronavirus pandemic has clouded hopes of reopening schools nationwide, parents who want more than remote instruction have been scrambling to hire tutors and private teachers for small groups of children. The race to set up “learning pods” threatens to vastly deepen inequities in access to education.
In some cases, parents are paying thousands of dollars each to include their children in pods, promising teachers $40 to $100 an hour or more. A Facebook group on learning pods attracted more than 30,000 members within three weeks of being formed and launched numerous offshoots in states and cities. New sites like pod-up.com and partnerpods.org have emerged offering to connect families and instructors.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican, has called learning pods “luxuries” that are not an option for low-income parents.
Bad news for bubbly
The market for Champagne is losing its fizz during the pandemic.
For months, lockdown put the cork on weddings, dining out, parties and international travel — all key sales components for the French luxury wine marketed for decades as a sparkling must at any celebration.
Producers in France’s eastern Champagne region, headquarters of the global industry, say they’ve lost an estimated 1.7 billion euros ($2 billion) in sales for this year, as turnover fell by a third — a hammering unmatched in living memory, and worse than the Great Depression.
They expect about 100 million bottles to be languishing unsold in their cellars by the end of the year.
Need socially distant summer activity ideas? Wander flower fields or pick berries at these Seattle-area ‘U-Pick’ farms
Summer was slow off the blocks due to COVID-19 restrictions, but there’s still plenty to savor.
We’ve compiled some outdoor outings — each within about an hour’s drive of Seattle — great for some fresh air, perspective and that feeling of summer.
Just remember to practice social distancing, wear a mask and wash your hands frequently.
Catch up on the past 24 hours
In King County, positive test rates are trending downward overall. But does that tell the whole story? FYI Guy Gene Balk took another look at the data. Find the local hot spots and check how your neighborhood is doing.
State officials put a dollar figure on the massive fraud committed against the unemployment system during the pandemic, and it’s staggering.
If you work out at a gym, read the new state rules for distancing and mask-wearing.
Will we get another round of stimulus payments? Lawmakers reported “some progress” toward a deal.
While the virus ravages the sports world, the Seahawks have not yet had a positive case. Coach Pete Carroll attributes that to a special kind of “bubble.”
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