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Here’s what we know so far regarding the COVID-19 outbreak for Clallam and Jefferson counties and around the world:
Friday, Oct. 23
• State health officials reported 820 new cases and confirmed 7 new deaths.
This brings the state’s totals to 101,345 cases and 2,296 deaths, meaning that 2.3% of people diagnosed in Washington have died, according to the DOH. The data is as of 11:59 p.m. Thursday.
The DOH also reported that 8,231 people have been hospitalized in the state due to the virus — 48 new hospitalizations since Wednesday.
Statewide, 2,318,931 COVID-19 tests have been administered as of Thursday night.
The state Department of Health removes deaths from the statewide total when the primary cause of death is determined not to have been COVID-19.
Jefferson County reported 1 new case, and Clallam County reported 2 new cases.
• The United States is approaching a record for the number of new daily coronavirus cases in the latest ominous sign about the disease’s grip on the nation, as states from Connecticut to Idaho reel under the surge.
The impact is being felt in every section of the country — a lockdown starting Friday at the Ogala Sioux Tribe’s reservation in South Dakota, a plea by a Florida health official for a halt to children’s birthday parties, and an increasingly desperate situation at a hospital in northern Idaho, which is running out of space for patients and considering airlifts to Seattle or Portland, Oregon.
“We’ve essentially shut down an entire floor of our hospital. We’ve had to double rooms. We’ve bought more hospital beds,” said Dr. Robert Scoggins, a pulmonologist at the Kootenai Health hospital in Coeur d’Alene. “Our hospital is not built for a pandemic.”
• The Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine trial, paused earlier this month due to an unexplained illness in a participant, will resume very soon.
An independent committee investigated the case of a man in the trial who suffered a stroke and concluded it was not related to the vaccine, according to two individuals familiar with the trial who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
The AstraZeneca vaccine trial, on hold in the United States since early September, also got the greenlight to restart from the Food and Drug Administration, according to a company statement.
• With the number of coronavirus patients requiring hospitalization rising at alarming levels, Missouri and perhaps a handful of other states are unable to post accurate data on COVID-19 dashboards because of a flaw in the federal reporting system.
Since Tuesday, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Service’s coronavirus dashboard has posted a message that the total number of patients hospitalized for COVID-19 has been underreported since Oct. 17. The note blamed “challenges entering data” to the portal used by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for collecting daily hospitalizations around the country.
It wasn’t immediately clear on Friday how many states are impacted since some states rely on their own hospitalization counts, not HHS data collection. HHS did not immediately respond to phone and email messages seeking comment.
• Utah hit another ominous record Friday by tallying the highest number of confirmed coronavirus cases in a single day as the state struggles to slow a monthlong surge of COVID-19 that is filling intensive care beds at hospitals.
After the state reported confirmed 1,960 cases, Gov. Gary Herbert warned in a statement that the state is “on the brink,” and once again pleaded with people to adhere to mask mandates in place in 21 of the state’s 29 counties. The Republican governor said people should wear masks anytime they are with people beside their immediate family, even if its extended family or friends.
Capacity at the state’s intensive care units reached 76%, with more people hospitalized this week for COVID-19 than at any other time during the pandemic, state figures show.
• French health authorities say France has recorded over 1 million confirmed coronavirus cases since the start of the pandemic, becoming the second country in Western Europe after Spain to reach that number of known infections.
France has seen its daily case counts rise sharply in recent weeks as the virus rebounds in Europe. COVID-19 patients now occupy more than 42% of ICU beds nationally, and 64% in the Paris region. France has 42,032 new cases reported in the past 24 hours and more than 11,000 new COVID-19 patients hospitalized in the past week.
Speaking earlier Friday after visiting a hospital in Pontoise, a suburb north of Paris, French President Emmanuel Macron said “the epidemic is very strongly accelerating.”
• If Americans would stop complaining about face masks and wear them when they leave their homes, they could save well over 100,000 lives — and perhaps more than half a million — through the end of February, according to a study published Friday in Nature Medicine.
The researchers considered five scenarios for how the COVID-19 pandemic could play out with different levels of mask-wearing and rules about staying home and social distancing. All the scenarios assumed that no vaccine was available, nor any medicines capable of curing the disease.
Consistently, the most effective — not to mention cheapest and easiest — way to reduce deaths was to increase the number of people wearing masks.
As of Sept. 21, only 49% of Americans said they “always” wore a mask in public, according to the study. If U.S. residents do not mask up in increasing numbers, they risk another round of mandatory social distancing measures that could shut businesses and schools around the country, the authors said.
“The potential life-saving benefit of increasing mask use in the coming fall and winter cannot be overstated,” wrote the team from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington.
• Prime Minster Pedro Sánchez appealed Friday for Spaniards to pull together and defeat the new coronavirus, warning: “The situation is serious.”
Sánchez, in a televised address to the nation Friday, acknowledged public fatigue with restrictions to contain the spread of COVID-19.
But he added: “We have to step up the fight,” with more limits on people’s movement that will demand more sacrifices.
Spain this week became the first European country to surpass 1 million officially recorded COVID-19 cases. Sánchez admitted, though, that the true figure could be more than 3 million, due to gaps in testing and other reasons.
• More technical and community college students are now eligible for food benefits.
Effective immediately, more types of students with financial need — those in apprenticeships, pre-apprenticeships, contact training, work-based learning/internships, entrepreneurship preparation and two-year non-vocational degree programs — can partake in Washington’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
As more people faced financial need amid the COVID-19 pandemic, many students were unable to access food assistance because of program restrictions, an August National Institutes of Health report found.
“This change allows us to further our efforts to ensure all students experiencing food insecurity can access SNAP assistance AND pursue a career pathway of their choosing,” Washington State Board for Community and Technical College administrators said in a Thursday statement.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture approved the state’s proposal to allow more students to qualify through the state’s Basic Food Employment and Training Program, which uses state, local and private funding to garner matching federal money. On average, administrators said, 10,000 community and technical college students receive assistance through the program each year.
Six in 10 Washington community or technical college students reported recently facing housing insecurity or hunger, according to a February report from Temple University. The results were based on 13,550 students surveyed at 28 of the state’s 34 community and technical colleges in fall 2019. Nearly half reported having insecure housing in the previous year.
• School district concerns over adequate personal protective equipment and a behavioral health campaign focused on community mental health during the pandemic were discussed during the monthly meeting of the Clallam County Board of Health.
While Clallam County and the North Olympic Peninsula continue to fare better than other communities around the state in keeping community spread low, County Health Officer Dr. Allison Unthank said Tuesday the health department would be spending more time dealing with the mental health implications of the pandemic.
“After any disaster, whether it be COVID-19, a hurricane, an earthquake, you will always enter a period of disillusionment when you will see an increase in poor behavioral outcomes — overdoses, suicides, violence,” she said.
“And that’s really kind of where we are right now. We are in the disillusionment part of the behavioral-health response toward a disaster.”
• State health officials have announced how they plan to distribute the coronavirus vaccine when it becomes available.
The state Department of Health on Wednesday released its draft plan to distribute vaccine doses in several phases, outlining for the first time who will have first access, how vaccines will be administered and how the state plans to promote the vaccine to its residents, The Seattle Times reported.
• President Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden fought over how to tame the raging coronavirus during the campaign’s closing debate, largely shelving the rancor that overshadowed their previous face-off in favor of a more substantive exchange that highlighted their vastly different approaches to the major domestic and foreign challenges facing the nation.
The Republican president declared the virus, which killed more than 1,000 Americans on Thursday alone, will “go away.” Biden countered that the nation was heading toward “a dark winter.”
“Anyone who is responsible for that many deaths should not remain as president of the United States of America,” Biden said.
With less than two weeks until the election, Trump portrayed himself as the same outsider he first pitched to voters four years ago, repeatedly saying he wasn’t a politician. Biden, meanwhile, argued that Trump was an incompetent leader of a country facing multiple crises and tried to connect what he saw as the president’s failures to the everyday lives of Americans, especially when it comes to the pandemic.
• A bright yellow helicopter rose into a blue sky Friday carrying a COVID-19 patient from the Netherlands to a German intensive care unit, the first such international airlift since the global pandemic first threatened to swamp Dutch hospitals in the spring.
The clatter of the helicopter’s rotors as it lifted off from a parking lot behind the Flevohospital in Almere, 30 kilometers (20 miles) east of Amsterdam, was a noisy reminder of how the coronavirus is again gripping Europe and straining countries’ health care systems.
In other cities across the continent, an absence of noise was set to underscore the extent of the resurgence of the virus as major cities from Rome to Paris rein in nightlife as part of the increasingly drastic measures nations are enforcing in an attempt to slow the spread of the pandemic.
Thursday, Oct. 22
• While the state has submitted its preliminary plan for COVID-19 vaccine distribution to the Centers for Disease Control and prevention, local health officials say residents shouldn’t expect a vaccine until January at the earliest.
Once a vaccine is approved and licensed for U.S. residents, initial distribution will start with first responders and frontline health care workers in the state, and the vaccines will be limited in quantity at the start, said Dr. Tom Locke, Jefferson County health officer.
“Really the timeline will be determined by the availability of vaccine and then the amount of vaccine that is available,” Locke said.
• The number of COVID-19 cases in Washington state surpassed 100,000 Wednesday, when state health officials reported 651 new cases and confirmed 3 new deaths.
The update brings the state’s totals to 100,525 cases and 2,289 deaths, meaning that 2.3% of people diagnosed in Washington have died, according to the DOH. The data is as of 11:59 p.m. Wednesday.
The DOH also reported that 8,183 people have been hospitalized in the state due to the virus— 34 new hospitalizations since Tuesday.
Statewide, 2,296,275 COVID-19 tests have been administered as of Wednesday night.
The state Department of Health removes deaths from the statewide total when the primary cause of death is determined not to have been COVID-19.
• The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved the first drug to treat COVID-19: remdesivir, an antiviral medicine given through an IV for patients needing hospitalization.
The drug, which California-based Gilead Sciences Inc. is calling Veklury, cut the time to recovery by five days — from 15 days to 10 on average — in a large study led by the U.S. National Institutes of Health.
It had been authorized for use on an emergency basis since spring, and now has become the first drug to win full U.S. approval for treating COVID-19.
Gilead says Veklury is approved for people at least 12 years old and weighing at least 88 pounds (40 kilograms) who need hospitalization for their coronavirus infection. It works by inhibiting a substance the virus uses to make copies of itself.
• As part of efforts to stop the spread of false information about the coronavirus pandemic, Wikipedia and the World Health Organization announced a collaboration Thursday: The health agency will grant the online encyclopedia free use of its published information, graphics and videos.
The collaboration is the first between Wikipedia and a health agency.
“We all consult just a few apps in our daily life, and this puts WHO content right there in your language, in your town, in a way that relates to your geography,” said Andrew Pattison, a digital content manager for the health agency who helped negotiate the contract. “Getting good content out quickly disarms the misinformation.”
• Melania Trump’s return to the campaign trail will have to wait.
The first lady has decided against accompanying President Donald Trump to a campaign rally Tuesday in Erie, Pennsylvania, because of a lingering cough after her bout with COVID-19, said Stephanie Grisham, her chief of staff.
It was to be Mrs. Trump’s first public appearance since recovering from the coronavirus, as well as her first time out on the campaign trail in more than a year.
The first lady’s announcement served as yet another reminder for the president that, as much as he wishes the virus would “just disappear” — as he has said — it remains a powerful presence in everyday life, including his.
Trump said Monday that people are tired of hearing about COVID-19. More than 58,000 Americans a day are testing positive for the virus, and more than 700 a day are dying from the disease.
Mrs. Trump continues to feel better every day “but with a lingering cough, and out of an abundance of caution, she will not be traveling today,” Grisham said.
• Santa Claus won’t be greeting kids at Macy’s flagship store in New York City this year due to the coronavirus, interrupting a holiday tradition started nearly 160 years ago.
More than a quarter of a million people come to see Santa each year, the company said, making it hard to create a safe environment during a pandemic. Before taking a picture with the jolly old man, crowds walk in tight quarters through a maze-like Santaland with Christmas trees, running toy trains and elves in green costumes.
Macy’s has been using Santa Claus to draw crowds since the early 1860s and had a starring role in the 1947 film classic “Miracle on 34th Street.”
• Health officials in Africa say the rollout of rapid diagnostic tests for COVID-19 could be a “game changer” in their fight against the coronavirus but also said increased testing could drive up numbers on a continent that has seen them decline or plateau.
Early in the pandemic, officials at WHO headquarters in Geneva, including the U.N. health agency’s Ethiopian director-general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, have expressed concerns that COVID-19 could have a big impact on weaker health systems like those in Africa.
However, developed countries with world-class health systems so far have been among the ones hardest hit by virus outbreaks. WHO’s 54-nation European region tallied 927,000 cases in its latest weekly count, a new record high.
One concern has been that the continent’s case counts may not be accurate due to Africa’s previous lack of tests.
• Italy’s three largest cities face new curfews as regional authorities try to slow the spread of COVID-19 where it first struck hard in Europe, most of whose countries are now imposing, or mulling, new restrictions to cope with rapidly rising caseloads.
A midnight-to-5 a.m. curfew in Lazio, which includes Rome, begins on Friday and lasts for 30 days, under an order signed by regional governor Nicola Zingaretti — who himself was seriously sickened with COVID-19 in the first weeks of the pandemic.
The governor of Campania, the southern region which includes densely populated Naples, on Thursday ordered residents to stay at home from 11 p.m. to shortly before dawn starting the next day. A similar curfew in Lombardy, where infections are particularly surging in its main city, Milan, will go into effect Thursday night.
Italy was Europe’s first country to be put under a national lockdown in March. But so far Premier Giuseppe Conte, wary of crippling the country’s long-lame economy, hasn’t repeated the drastic move — even as daily new confirmed infections hit a record of more than 15,000 on Wednesday. Instead, Conte urged Italians to avoid “unnecessary” movements.
• A California appeals court has ordered state corrections officials to cut the population of one of the world’s most famous prisons to less than half of its designed capacity, citing officials’ “deliberate indifference” to the plight of inmates during the coronavirus pandemic.
State prison officials said Wednesday that they are deciding whether to appeal the order, which otherwise will force them to parole or transfer about 1,100 inmates serving time in San Quentin State Prison north of San Francisco.
California’s oldest prison, home to its death row, was the site of one of the nation’s worst coronavirus outbreaks, with 28 inmate deaths and 2,200 infections at its peak — about 75% of the inmate population. Nearly 300 employees were sickened and one died, though all but nine employees are now back to work.
It was “the worst epidemiological disaster in California correctional history,” the First District Court of Appeal in San Francisco said in Tuesday’s ruling.
The three-justice court said officials’ decision not to cut the inmate population by half, as recommended by prison officials’ outside advisors in June, was “morally indefensible and constitutionally untenable.”
Assemblyman Marc Levine, a Democrat who represents the area, on Wednesday said that without a further significant reduction, “it is not a question of if another COVID-19 spike will happen at San Quentin, it is a question of when.”
• Alabama’s lieutenant governor, who has called the state’s mask order a government overstep, announced Wednesday that he has tested positive for COVID-19.
Ainsworth has been critical of the state’s COVID-19 response under Republican Gov. Kay Ivey. In March, he criticized what he said at the time was the state’s slow response to prepare for a possible “tsunami of hospital patients.” He has also been critical of the state’s mandatory mask order. He said last month that “masks should be voluntary, not mandatory.”
• Amid a record surge of coronavirus infections that’s threatening the entire health system with collapse, the Czech Republic is adopting on Thursday exactly the same massive restrictions it slapped on citizens in the spring. Prime Minister Andrej Babis had repeatedly said these measures would never return.
“We have no time to wait,” Babis explained Wednesday. “The surge is enormous.”
The Czech Republic had initially set an example with its effective and fast response when the pandemic first struck, but failed to learn from other countries’ subsequent experiences and now faces the consequences.
In April, the country was the first, with Austria, to start to ease restrictions and — again unlike most other European countries — almost completely abandoned them in the summer.
In June, thousands declared victory over the coronavirus at a big party on Prague’s medieval Charles Bridge. Babis, considered a populist leader, was jubilant and told an international conference in August that his country was the “best in COVID,” despite already growing numbers of infected people.
• President Donald Trump and his Democratic challenger, Joe Biden, are set to square off in their final debate Thursday, one of the last high-profile opportunities for the trailing incumbent to change the trajectory of an increasingly contentious campaign.
Worried about losing the White House, some advisers are urging Trump to trade his aggressive demeanor from the first debate for a lower-key style that puts Biden more squarely in the spotlight. But it’s unclear whether the president will listen.
• The U.S. regulators who will decide the fate of COVID-19 vaccines are taking an unusual step: Asking outside scientists if their standards are high enough.
The Food and Drug Administration may have to decide by year’s end whether to allow use of the first vaccines against the virus. Thursday, a federal advisory committee pulls back the curtain on that decision process, debating whether the guidelines FDA has set for vaccine developers are rigorous enough.
“We will not cut corners, and we will only use science and data to make that determination,” FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn pledged at a meeting of the Milken Institute Wednesday.
• Coronavirus cases among American Indians in Wisconsin have tripled since Sept. 1, far surpassing the growth rate among other races.
Data from the state Department of Health Services as of Wednesday showed 59 new cases and one additional death among American Indians in Wisconsin. That raised the total to 2,333 Native Americans testing positive, up from 775 cases as of Sept. 1. Twenty-three American Indians have died due in Wisconsin to COVID-19 this year, the agency said.
• Via The Associated Press: What you need to know today about the virus outbreak.
For more local coronavirus stories, click here.
The count of cases and deaths is a moving target, with jurisdictions reporting sometimes-contradictory numbers. Ours might not match what other media are reporting.
• As of 3:30 p.m. Oct. 23, Washington state has 101,345 confirmed cases (meaning the person has the virus) and 2,296 deaths, according to the state Department of Health.
• 1,475 cases in Kitsap County. 21 deaths.
• 85 cases in Jefferson County. 0 deaths.
• 274 cases in Clallam County. 1 death.
For other county numbers, visit www.doh.wa.gov/Emergencies/Coronavirus.
Washington 211 COVID-19 Call Center. Do you need information or answers to your questions and concerns about the novel coronavirus (COVID-19)? You can call 1-800-525-0127 or text 211-211 for help. You can also text the word “Coronavirus” to 211-211 to receive information and updates on your phone wherever you are. You will receive links to the latest information on COVID-19, including county-level updates, and resources for families, businesses, students and more.
Do you need support due to stress from COVID-19? Call Washington Listens, a line that provides nonclinical support to people experiencing elevated stress due to COVID-19. People who call Washington Listens will speak to a support specialist and receive information and connection to community resources in their area. The program is anonymous and no identifying information is maintained. People who staff Washington Listens will receive basic training needed to provide support to individuals during the COVID-19 pandemic. To reach Washington Listens, call 1-833-681-0211 between the hours of 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. weekdays and from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. Read the Washington Listens fact sheet.
COVID-19 information & best practices
What is the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)?
Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2, known as SARS-CoV-2, is the virus strain identified in January that causes COVID-19, coronavirus disease, and is spreading from person to person.
While the virus has the potential to cause severe illness and pneumonia in some people, about 80 percent of cases are relatively mild.
• Key symptoms of COVID-19: shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fever, cough, chills, repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, new loss of taste or smell.
• In mid-May, the CDC quietly added congestion, runny nose, nausea or vomiting and diarrhea as sign of COVID-19.
• Symptoms may appear two to 14 days after exposure.
• Here are the symptoms of the virus compared with the common flu.
• COVID-19 is thought to spread mainly through close contact from person-to-person. Some people without symptoms may be able to spread the virus. We are still learning about how the virus spreads and the severity of illness it causes.
The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person.
- Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet).
- Through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks.
- These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.
- COVID-19 may be spread by people who are not showing symptoms.
It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes. This is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads, but we are still learning more about how this virus spreads.
What to do if you’re sick
• If you suspect you have COVID-19, isolate at home during illness. Restrict activities outside of the home except for getting medical care. Call ahead unless you are in crisis.
• Call 360-417-2430, a hotline that provides local information on the infection.
There is currently no vaccine to prevent COVID-19. The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus.
As a reminder, according to the CDC, here are recommended everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory diseases:
• Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
• Stay home when you are sick.
• Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
• Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
• The CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies), especially in areas of significant community-based transmission.
CDC also advises the use of simple cloth face coverings to slow the spread of the virus and help people who may have the virus and do not know it from transmitting it to others. Cloth face coverings fashioned from household items or made at home from common materials at low cost can be used as an additional, voluntary public health measure.
For more information on using cloth face coverings and how to make your own, click here.
• Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
• If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.
• Once home from work, school, running errands, etc., immediately wash your hands.
• Consider purchasing the following supplies: extra fluids and hydrating drinks (Gatorade and Pedialyte); food for when you’re sick (soups, broths, crackers, honey, nonperishable items); pain and fever medications (acetaminophen or ibuprofen); cough drops and cough medications; prescription medications; tissues; household cleaners (bleach, alcohol, soap, disinfecting wipes).
• You should wash your phone, too. Here’s how.