Coronavirus daily news updates, October 29: What to know today about COVID-19 in the Seattle area, Washington state and the world

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Gatherings are a big reason behind the rise in cases in Washington, the state’s health officer said yesterday. The number of people infected and hospitalized rose between mid-September and mid-October, according to the state’s latest situation report. In particular, South King County is seeing high rates of positive tests compared to the rest of the county. Track the trends and know the key things to look for on the charts.

Throughout Thursday, on this page, we’ll post updates on the pandemic and its effects on the Seattle area, the Pacific Northwest and the world. Updates from Wednesday are here, and all our coronavirus coverage can be found here.

(Jennifer Luxton / The Seattle Times)(Jennifer Luxton / The Seattle Times)

Live Updates:

9:56 am

How does the coronavirus affect the heart?

How does COVID-19 affect the heart?

Doctors believe coronavirus can directly infect the heart muscle and cause other problems leading to heart damage. It is not known yet whether that damage is permanent.

In some people, as COVID-19 decreases lung function, it may deprive the heart of adequate oxygen or cause an overwhelming inflammatory reaction that taxes the heart as the body tries to fight off the infection.

People with heart disease are most at risk for virus-related damage to the heart, but heart complications also have been found in COVID-19 patients with no known previous disease. Heart involvement has been found in at least 25% of hospitalized coronavirus patients, according to the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, and in some centers the rate is 30% or higher.

Read the story here.

AP Illustration/Peter Hamlin; A recent review in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology notes evidence of heart involvement found in at least 25% of hospitalized coronavirus patients. At some centers, the rate is 30% or higher. It is not known whether that damage is permanent.AP Illustration/Peter Hamlin; A recent review in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology notes evidence of heart involvement found in at least 25% of hospitalized coronavirus patients. At some centers, the rate is 30% or higher. It is not known whether that damage is permanent.
AP Illustration/Peter Hamlin; A recent review in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology notes evidence of heart involvement found in at least 25% of hospitalized coronavirus patients. At some centers, the rate is 30% or higher. It is not known whether that damage is permanent.

—The Associated Press

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9:36 am

San Francisco curbs virus but once-vibrant downtown is empty

 San Francisco is reopening more businesses this week, thanks to low coronavirus case numbers that have allowed the city to move into California’s most permissive tier. It means more people can go back to offices, dine indoors and visit museums.

But businesses and those residents who haven’t joined an exodus out of the city are wondering when san Francisco’s once-vibrant economy may bounce back.

As the coronavirus pandemic transforms the workplace, legions of tech workers have left, able to work remotely from anywhere. Families have fled for roomy suburban homes. The exodus has pushed rents in the prohibitively expensive city to their lowest in years. Tourists are scarce, and the famed cable cars sit idle. Bay Area Rapid Transit ridership is down nearly 90%.

That has people wondering will it ever be as busy as it once was, and if so, when?

A worker crosses an intersection in San Francisco’s financial district mid-afternoon, during what would’ve been a bustling time before the COVID-19 pandemic, on Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2020. The area remains largely devoid of activity as many employees continue to work from home. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)A worker crosses an intersection in San Francisco’s financial district mid-afternoon, during what would’ve been a bustling time before the COVID-19 pandemic, on Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2020. The area remains largely devoid of activity as many employees continue to work from home. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)
A worker crosses an intersection in San Francisco’s financial district mid-afternoon, during what would’ve been a bustling time before the COVID-19 pandemic, on Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2020. The area remains largely devoid of activity as many employees continue to work from home. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press

8:35 am

Relief and despair; France braces for monthlong lockdown as virus deaths mount

French doctors expressed relief but business owners were in despair as France prepared Thursday to shut down again for a month to try to put the brakes on a fast-moving fall coronavirus outbreak.

Shoppers at a Paris farmers’ market said Thursday they were ready to restrict their freedoms given the rising number of virus-related deaths and COVID-19 patients filling French hospitals.

The new lockdown is gentler than what France saw in the spring, but still a shock to restaurants and other non-essential businesses that have been ordered to close their doors in one of the world’s biggest economies.

French schools will stay open this time, to reduce learning gaps and allow parents to keep working. Farmer’ markets, parks and factories can also continue operating, officials said.

French lawmakers are voting Thursday on the new restrictions announced by President Emmanuel Macron, which are set to come into effect at midnight.

Read the story here.

8:05 am

Pelosi scolds White House over no response in virus talks

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi issued a scolding assessment of COVID-19 relief talks on Thursday, blaming Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin for failing to produce answers to her demands for Democratic priorities as part of an almost $2 trillion aid package.

Pelosi lobbed her latest public relations volley with a letter to Mnuchin that blames Republicans for the failed talks, which ground on for three months only to crater in the final days before the election. Disagreement remains on big-ticket items, including a testing plan, aid to state and local governments, funding for schools, jobless benefits and a GOP-sought shield against coronavirus-related lawsuits, she said.

Republicans, who will control the White House and the Senate until January regardless of the outcome of Tuesday’s election, have said items like refundable tax credits for the working poor and families with children aren’t directly related to fighting COVID-19.

Read the story here.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill, in Washington, Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill, in Washington, Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill, in Washington, Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

—The Associated Press

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7:55 am

Merkel warns of ‘difficult winter’ as virus surges in Europe

Chancellor Angela Merkel told Germans to expect a “difficult winter” as the number of newly reported coronavirus cases in the country hit a new high Thursday, neighboring France prepared to resume life under a new lockdown and some experts urged the Spanish government to take more aggressive action to curtail the latest wave of infections.

Speaking to Parliament a day after she and the governors of Germany’s 16 states agreed upon new, far-reaching restrictions to curb the spread of the virus, Merkel said the country faces “a dramatic situation at the beginning of the cold season.”

Germany’s disease control agency said local health authorities reported 16,774 new positive tests for COVID-19 in the past day, pushing the country’s total since the start of the outbreak close to the half million-mark. The Robert Koch Institute also recorded 89 additional deaths, taking the country’s total in the pandemic to 10,272, a number that is one-fourth the death toll in Britain.

“The winter will be difficult, four long, difficult months. But it will end,” Merkel told lawmakers.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) takes off her mask after a press conference at the Chancellery in Berlin, Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2020. Merkel is pressing for a partial lockdown as the number of newly recorded infections in the country hit another record high Wednesday. (Fabrizio Bensch/pool photo via AP)German Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) takes off her mask after a press conference at the Chancellery in Berlin, Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2020. Merkel is pressing for a partial lockdown as the number of newly recorded infections in the country hit another record high Wednesday. (Fabrizio Bensch/pool photo via AP)
German Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) takes off her mask after a press conference at the Chancellery in Berlin, Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2020. Merkel is pressing for a partial lockdown as the number of newly recorded infections in the country hit another record high Wednesday. (Fabrizio Bensch/pool photo via AP)

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press

7:25 am

Quarantine Corner: Ideas to help you get through the pandemic

Rachel Tom and her husband, Brandon Tams, moved to the Puget Sound area from Washington, D.C., and didn’t immediately forge new friendships — but they’ve made connections despite social isolation during the coronavirus pandemic. They’re shown in Burien Oct. 9, 2020. (Dean Rutz / The Seattle Times)Rachel Tom and her husband, Brandon Tams, moved to the Puget Sound area from Washington, D.C., and didn’t immediately forge new friendships — but they’ve made connections despite social isolation during the coronavirus pandemic. They’re shown in Burien Oct. 9, 2020. (Dean Rutz / The Seattle Times)
Rachel Tom and her husband, Brandon Tams, moved to the Puget Sound area from Washington, D.C., and didn’t immediately forge new friendships — but they’ve made connections despite social isolation during the coronavirus pandemic. They’re shown in Burien Oct. 9, 2020. (Dean Rutz / The Seattle Times)

What Seattle Freeze? Moving here during a pandemic may seem like a recipe for bone-chilling loneliness, but new Seattleites are finding ways to thaw it. “You can actually forge lifelong, lasting friendships from home, too,” says one woman who came here from the other Washington in June. Maybe the rest of us could learn from what’s working for the fresh arrivals.

Pandemic project of the week: We’re loving this sweet, sassy newspaper sculpture made for a beloved’s 85th birthday.

—Kris Higginson

7:04 am

Taiwan marks 200 days without domestic COVID-19 infection

Taiwan hit 200 days without any domestically transmitted cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, highlighting the island’s continued success at keeping the virus under control even as cases surge in other parts of the world.

Taiwan’s Center for Disease Control last reported a domestic case on April 12. CDC officials noted the milestone and thanked the public for playing a role, while urging people to continue to wear masks and to wash their hands often. Since the pandemic began, Taiwan has recorded 553 cases of COVID-19, and just seven deaths.

A municipal worker sprays sanitizer into a woman’s hands at the entrance to the Ningxia Night Market in Taipei, Taiwan, earlier in July. (Bloomberg)A municipal worker sprays sanitizer into a woman’s hands at the entrance to the Ningxia Night Market in Taipei, Taiwan, earlier in July. (Bloomberg)
A municipal worker sprays sanitizer into a woman’s hands at the entrance to the Ningxia Night Market in Taipei, Taiwan, earlier in July. (Bloomberg)

Taiwan has been pointed to as a success story in how to respond to the pandemic, especially considering its close business and tourism ties with China, where the virus first emerged late last year.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press

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7:04 am

Coronavirus spreading rapidly in South King County as public health officials urge more testing

At a King County COVID-19 testing site in Auburn on Wednesday, Cody Tupen, a firefighter with the Puget Sound Regional Fire Authority, performs a deep nasal swab to test for the coronavirus on Nancy Backus, left, the mayor of Auburn. (Ted S. Warren / The Associated Press)At a King County COVID-19 testing site in Auburn on Wednesday, Cody Tupen, a firefighter with the Puget Sound Regional Fire Authority, performs a deep nasal swab to test for the coronavirus on Nancy Backus, left, the mayor of Auburn. (Ted S. Warren / The Associated Press)
At a King County COVID-19 testing site in Auburn on Wednesday, Cody Tupen, a firefighter with the Puget Sound Regional Fire Authority, performs a deep nasal swab to test for the coronavirus on Nancy Backus, left, the mayor of Auburn. (Ted S. Warren / The Associated Press)

An Auburn road designated as a volcano evacuation route currently leads to a site set up to deal with a more immediate disaster: the coronavirus.

As it keeps spreading through South King County, hitting communities of color especially hard, Federal Way’s mayor is worrying about another shutdown.

Above, firefighter Cody Tupen tests Auburn Mayor Nancy Backus, who urged residents, “You might save the life of a loved one if you take this test.”

Here’s our updating list of where to get tested.

—Ryan Blethen

6:43 am

Catch up on the past 24 hours

A major ransomware assault on the U.S. healthcare system is threatening patient care just as COVID-19 cases are spiking, the FBI warned last night. Independent security experts say the cyberattacks by a Russian-speaking criminal gang have hobbled at least five U.S. hospitals this week and could affect hundreds more.

Many Americans and Europeans are facing a new round of shutdowns as COVID-19 patients pour into hospitals. Globally, 2 million new cases have been reported in just a week, the fastest increase ever. Much of France is closing down again, and Germany is drastically reducing social life. U.S. National Guard troops with medical training are headed to central Europe, where doctors are terrified.

Health care workers transport a COVID-19 patient from an intensive care unit (ICU) at a hospital in Kyjov to a hospital in Brno, Czech Republic, on Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020. With cases surging in central Europe, some countries are calling in soldiers, firefighters, students and retired doctors to help shore up buckling health care systems. Many faced a shortage of medical personnel even before the pandemic, and now the virus has sickened many health workers, compounding the shortfall. (Petr David Josek / The Associated Press)Health care workers transport a COVID-19 patient from an intensive care unit (ICU) at a hospital in Kyjov to a hospital in Brno, Czech Republic, on Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020. With cases surging in central Europe, some countries are calling in soldiers, firefighters, students and retired doctors to help shore up buckling health care systems. Many faced a shortage of medical personnel even before the pandemic, and now the virus has sickened many health workers, compounding the shortfall. (Petr David Josek / The Associated Press)
Health care workers transport a COVID-19 patient from an intensive care unit (ICU) at a hospital in Kyjov to a hospital in Brno, Czech Republic, on Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020. With cases surging in central Europe, some countries are calling in soldiers, firefighters, students and retired doctors to help shore up buckling health care systems. Many faced a shortage of medical personnel even before the pandemic, and now the virus has sickened many health workers, compounding the shortfall. (Petr David Josek / The Associated Press)

In Washington, gatherings are a big reason behind the rise in cases, the state’s health officer said yesterday. Track the trends and know the key things to look for on the charts.

How can you have a safe outdoor Thanksgiving? Some health experts don’t recommend it at all. But if you do it, take steps to reduce the risks as much as possible.

President Donald Trump continues to flood the zone with false and misleading claims about the coronavirus pandemic. “We saved 2 million lives, and we’re rounding the turn,” he says. No, no and more no, fact-checkers counter.

The virus has finally arrived in one of the last unscathed parts of the world.

—Kris Higginson

6:05 am

Do you have questions about the coronavirus that causes COVID-19?

Ask in the form below and we’ll dig for answers. If you’re using a mobile device and can’t see the form on this page, ask your question here. If you have specific medical questions, please contact your doctor.

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