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COVID-19 updates: U.S. coronavirus caseload has reached record heights

Seattle firefighter Bill Dennis reaches in to take a sample from a passenger in a car at a free COVID testing site Friday, Oct. 23, 2020, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

The state Department of Health says there have been nearly 103K coronavirus cases in Washington state, and 2,296 people have died from the virus statewide. Check below for more updates.

Confirmed coronavirus cases across Washington state

Sunday, Oct. 25

2:37pm – Health officials say there have been 102,913 cases of coronavirus in Washington state, and 2,296 deaths. The The state doesn’t update death status on the weekend. There have been 2,360,387 tests conducted since the outbreak began.

11:07am – Mary Bacarella, the executive director of Pike Place Market, tells KIRO 7 that the market will look different this holiday season.

“What does that look like?” asked Bacarella. “Are we still outdoors? Can you dine on the cobblestone? There will be more to come on that in the coming weeks.” Read more from KIRO 7.

9:08am – With COVID-19 cases surging in the United States, White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows acknowledged that the Trump administration can’t stop the spread and is focusing instead on getting a vaccine.

When pressed why the U.S. won’t get control of the pandemic, Meadows replied: “Because it is a contagious virus just like the flu.” Read more from the AP. 

Saturday, Oct. 24

8:55pm – A spokesman says Vice President Mike Pence will continue with his aggressive campaign schedule after his chief of staff, Marc Short, tested positive for the coronavirus Saturday. Read more from the AP.

6:34pm – The U.S. coronavirus caseload has reached record heights with more than 83,000 infections reported in a single day.

The U.S. death toll, meanwhile, has grown to 223,995, according to the COVID-19 Dashboard published by Johns Hopkins University. The total U.S. caseload reported on the site Friday was 83,757, topping the 77,362 cases reported on July 16. Read more from the AP.

3:59pm – Health officials say there have been 102,264 cases of coronavirus in Washington state, and 2,296 deaths. The state doesn’t update death status on the weekend. There have been 2,343,022 tests conducted since the outbreak began.

12:41pm – A new study from the University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle shows hydroxychloroquine fails to prevent COVID-19.

“People who have had close contact with people with confirmed COVID-19 infections who took hydroxychloroquine were just as likely to get COVID-19 as were those who received a placebo,” the study says.

Almost 800 people participated in the trial. They all had a close contact or family member who had tested positive for the virus. They were randomly assigned to take a placebo or hydroxychloroquine, and then go through daily tests via nasal swabs.  Additionally, the rate of side effects was similar in both groups.

8:16am – Seattle Public Schools announced on Friday the district will remain remote through January 28. In-person learning is limited to a small number of students receiving special education services.

On the district’s Facebook page: “This was a very difficult decision. We are committed to working with families, students, and community to continue to refine our approach to remote learning and support high-quality instruction no matter the circumstances. A leadership team has been re-convened to inform next steps.”

Friday, Oct. 23

4:11pm – Health officials say there have been 101,435 cases of coronavirus in Washington state, and 2,296 deaths. The state says 2,318,931 tests have been conducted since the outbreak began.

2:53pm – Gov. Inslee shared a graphic on Friday from the Washington Post that illustrated the percentage of people in each state who know someone with COVID-19 symptoms. Washington state sits just under 20% of us know someone with symptoms.

The state with the highest percentages are North and South Dakota, at about 50%. Those locations with the lowest percentages are Hawaii and Washington D.C., close to about 10%.

The governor tied the graph to those states where people are wearing masks.

1:32pm – With COVID-19 cases rising across the United States, more and more hospitals are beginning to once again feel the strain. Read more from the Associated Press here

11:18am – Costco is now selling coronavirus test kits on its website. The kits will cost you about $130.

Rather than the nasal swabs most commonly used at test sites, the kit sold through Costco is a saliva collection method. You then send your specimen to AZOVA, which does the testing and sends you results within 24-72 hours from when they receive your kit.

“Our FDA, Emergency Use Authorized COVID-19 Saliva test needs a simple saliva sample and is highly accurate, with a sensitivity of 98% (meaning 98% of positive tests are correct) and a specificity of 99% (meaning 99% of negative tests are correct).”

Costco says the kits are eligible to be purchased through a Flexible Spending Account.  The Costco website also includes a video on how to take the test.

8:21am – Multi-system inflammatory syndrome in children is a condition that causes inflammation in different parts of the body. Health officials say they still don’t know what causes this illness, but many of the kids who get it also had COVID.

The state is now issuing a monthly report on the prevalence here with the latest tally showing 15 kids total have come down with this illness in the state. Though there have been deaths linked to the disease in other states, so far no children here have died from the disease.

Kids who get it have fever, abdominal pain, vomiting, neck pain, rash, bloodshot eyes, and they get really tired. Symptoms can be mild to severe, and a lot of patients end up in the hospital.

6:15am – The Seahawks announced that there will be no fans allowed at the Nov. 1 home game against San Francisco. At the start of the season, the Seattle Seahawks had said the first three home games would be fan-less. The team says it remains hopeful for future games, and will continue to evaluate the health risks.

Several teams in the NFL are not allowing fans yet, while others are allowing a limited number to attend in person.

Thursday, Oct. 22

5:09pm – In a newly-released ranking on preparedness for voting by mail amid the ongoing pandemic, Washington received the only perfect score of any state. Read more.

3:43pm – Health officials say there have been 100,525 cases of coronavirus in Washington state, and 2,289 deaths. The DOH reports 2,296,275 tests conducted across the state since the outbreak began.

3:27pm – The FDA has officially issued its first approval for a drug to treat COVID-19: Remdesivir. The antiviral reportedly cuts COVID recovery times by five days, as seen in a study from the U.S. National Institutes of Health.

1:35pm – Washington state crested a grim milestone this week, officially exceeding 100,000 total COVID-19 cases as of Thursday.

Gov. Jay Inslee noted on Twitter that “each time cases have risen, hospitalizations have followed,” with a similar trend already developing statewide.

“By targeting protections to the most vulnerable, we have been able to keep the number of deaths down,” said Inslee. “But those protections only work if we limit the spread.”

11:59am – Idaho’s hospitals are so full of COVID-19 patients that they may start sending people across state lines, even though cases are surging in Washington too. Cassie Sauer with the Washington State Hospital Association told KIRO 7 TV that local hospitals are at 76% capacity right now.

Kootenai Health in Idaho said in a statement Wednesday that their hospital is at 99% capacity for patients. Read more from the AP.

11:03am – The global hunt for a COVID-19 vaccine for kids is only just beginning — a lagging start that has some U.S. pediatricians worried they may not know if any shots work for young children in time for the next school year. Read more from the AP.

9:27am – The number of laid-off Americans seeking unemployment benefits fell last week to 787,000, a sign that job losses may have eased slightly but are still running at historically high levels. Last’s week’s figure was down from 842,000 the previous week, the Labor Department said Thursday. Read more from the AP.

8:11am – Due dates for books and DVDs from the Seattle Public Library were suspended at the start of the pandemic when libraries shut down, but it’s about time to turn them back in. There are 13 library locations where people can drop off books before due dates are applied again in November, open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. or until the book drop is full. SPL no longer charges daily late fines for overdue items, but if items are kept 31 days past the due date, a patron’s account will be temporarily suspended.

The library is also running curbside pickup at select locations and says it can safely get books and movies back in circulation. Checkout periods will be the same as they were before the pandemic.

6:05am – Health officials in Washington state said Wednesday they had submitted an interim COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan to the federal government. The plan sent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was sent by last week’s deadline, the state Department of Health said.

“We want to emphasize that this is the first version of our plan,” Michele Roberts, Acting Assistant Secretary with executive oversight for COVID-19 vaccines, said in a statement. Read more from the Associated Press here.

Wednesday, Oct. 21

5:46pm – Every couple of weeks, KIRO Radio’s Rachel Belle gets an email about a new restaurant opening in Seattle. And in the words of Carrie Bradshaw on Sex and the City: She can’t help but wonder  why would you ever start a new business in the middle of a pandemic? Read more

4:29pm – Health officials say there have been 99,874 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Washington, and 2,286 deaths. The state says there have been 2,278,453 tests conducted since the outbreak began.

3:10pm – Fears of a fall surge are coming true in Washington State according to Washington Secretary of Health John Wiesman during a Wednesday press conference.

He says it’s not too late to re-flatten the curve, but we need to recommit to safety protocols, including masking and social distancing. He also says you should get your flu shot now if you still haven’t gotten it.

There has been a steady increase in cases since the beginning of September and an increase in testing over that same period — but still the positivity rate has slowly risen during this same period so the increase in cases is likely not a result of more testing.

Hospitalizations are slowly increasing since the beginning of September, while deaths are remaining fairly stable.

1:41pm – Even with a small number of fans allowed in attendance at this year’s MLB World Series, it marks the smallest crowd the Fall Classic has seen in over a century, thanks in large part to the pandemic. Read more from the Associated Press here.

11:42am – Heading into what it’s calling a “fall surge,” the Washington State Department of Health is expressing concern over an “alarming” rise in COVID-19 cases in recent weeks. Read more.

10:01am – The vodka brand Tito’s is teaming up with the Mariners and USO Northwest to give away 18,000 bottles of Tito’s Hand Sanitizer at T-Mobile Park from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday. Drivers will be asked to pop open their trunks or unlock their doors and someone will put the 375ml bottle in their car in a touchless drive-through. Masks are encouraged, but drinking the the hand sanitizer is not.

7:18am – Washington State University is asking football fans to stay home this season. The school says it understands how much fans look forward to home games, but due to COVID-19, it’s asking them to “root responsibly” and cheer from the safety of their homes with members of their own household. Since students returned to campus, the university has been a hot spot for coronavirus.

In Pullman, steps are being taken to enforce restrictions and discourage gatherings during games as well. Campus parking lots will be closed to tailgating on game day weekends and no camping or portable structures, such as canopies, will be allowed on campus, including in parking lots.

5:53am – The precautions taken to protect against COVID-19 could have the added benefit of creating a mild flu season in 2020. Columbia University virologist Dr. Angela Rasmussen told KIRO Radio that flu season has been mild in the southern hemisphere, largely because they’ve worn masks, practiced social distancing, and washed their hands to avoid coronavirus. Rasmussen says the same could be true in the northern hemisphere, and potentially worldwide.

On top of other precautions, flu shots will also help reduce the transmission of the virus even more.

Tuesday, Oct. 20

4:55pm – Health officials report there have been 99,150 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Washington state, and 2,282 deaths. The state says there have been 2,252,788 tests conducted since the outbreak began.

3:35pm – Gov. Jay Inslee announced a series of new rules and requirements for colleges and universities amid a rash of outbreaks on campuses across the state. Read more

2:04pm – For many during the COVID-19 pandemic, walks outdoors have become the only chance to get out of the house in any given day — so residents of Frederickson will now have a new option for that daily breath of fresh air at Stan and Joan Cross Park. Read more

12:25pm – Health officials in Snohomish County are sounding the alarm as cases have jumped beyond what was seen in the second wave and are quickly moving toward levels seen at the start of the pandemic. Dr. Spitters says most of the new cases are in people aged 20-49, but hospitalizations and deaths are trending up for the first time in months.

Spitters added in a news conference Tuesday that things could get much worse if everyone does not heed this warning and immediately stop attending gatherings without social distancing and other precautions.

11:01am – Two boat service returns to the Bremerton-Seattle ferry run starting Sunday. The route has been operating with one boat since March due to lower ridership during the pandemic.

8:19am – As our state prepares for flu season in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan is joining public health partners to announce free flu vaccinations at locations across the city. Read more from the Mayor’s Office.

5:58am – After seven months, it may be tempting to relax your efforts to protect against COVID-19, but health care professionals say now is not the time to let your guard down. Cases are surging across the country and in Washington state, and when cooler weather arrives and more people stay inside, the virus is more likely to spread.

King County Public Health’s Dr. Jeff Duchin told KIRO 7 TV that now more than ever we need to wear a mask, avoid large gatherings, wash our hands, and get a flu shot.

Monday, Oct. 19

6:05pm – “People are tired of hearing Fauci and all these idiots,” President Trump said of the government’s top infectious disease expert. “Every time he goes on television, there’s always a bomb. But there’s a bigger bomb if you fire him. But Fauci’s a disaster.”

At a rally in Prescott, Ariz., Trump assailed Biden for pledging to heed the advice of scientific experts, saying dismissively that his rival “wants to listen to Dr. Fauci.” Read more from the AP.

4:40pm – Health officials say there have been 98,661 cases of coronavirus in Washington state, and 2,258 deaths. The state reports there have been 2,244,336 tests conducted since the outbreak began.

3:07pm – The U.S. is quickly approaching a third wave of increasing COVID cases this fall. Fred Hutchinson researcher Trevor Bedford looked at developing trends across different states here.

1:25pm – The COVID surge is here, and many are hoping that they already have some immunity to it. Is this likely? Mercer Island MD Dr. Gordon Cohen joined Seattle’s Morning News to discuss. Read more. 

12:03pm – Health experts are stressing the importance of getting a flu shot this year to help save lives and keep our communities healthy as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.

There’s concern that an increase in flu cases will require hospitalizations, in addition to COVID-19 hospitalizations that already risk burdening the state’s health care system. Read more.

10:55am – A new local organization called Keep Music Live is aiming to raise $10 million for small venues in Washington state with a capacity of less than 1,000. The group says if the music clubs close, they will be repurposed for condos and other businesses, and will be gone forever. Read more.

9:14am – While new COVID-19 hospitalizations in Washington state remain somewhat low, there’s new concern following an outbreak at Harborview Medical Center that saw 14 people infected, including 10 staff and four patients.

Dr. John Lynch, director of Infection Prevention and Control at Harborview, told KIRO Radio that it’s known that health care workers are positive and were positive around the time patients became subsequently became positive.

“We’re basically functioning on the assumption that this was linked to health care worker activity,” he said. “It has been very clear that this virus spreads among patients and staff because of gaps in adherence to the precautions that we know are very effective.”

7:39am – Drive-thrus have become increasingly popular during the pandemic, from COVID-19 testing to flu shots, and even haunted houses. Now, the Washington State Fair is hosting a drive-thru Dinosaur Adventure featuring 80 life-sized dinosaurs. Prior to the pandemic, this was a traveling, indoor exhibit, but the production company had to pivot. Vendors will be offering fair food to-go, including Dino chicken nuggets and the famous Fisher Scones.

Timed tickets are required and all visitors follow a one-way path. The dinosaurs will be here until Nov. 1.

6:11am – A total of 291 students in 10 sororities and seven fraternities at the University of Washington in Seattle have now tested positive for COVID-19 in an outbreak that began more than a month ago. The outbreak on Greek Row accounts for about a third of the total cases at the UW.

Read updates from last week.

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