Coronavirus daily news updates, July 23: What to know today about COVID-19 in the Seattle area, Washington state and the world – The Seattle Times

Editor’s note: This is a live account of COVID-19 updates from Friday, June 26, as the day unfolded. It is no longer being updated. Click here to see all the most recent news about the pandemic, and click here to find additional resources.
California officials are demanding that tenants and landlords return pandemic emergency rental assistance funds, even if the money has been spent without providing specific reasons at times.
Many conspiracies have circulated since the early days of the pandemic. Most recently, a false claim that a Swedish study shows how COVID-19 vaccines change a person’s DNA is making the rounds on the internet.
A roundup compiled last week about false claims, some related to COVID-19, can be seen here.
We’re updating this page with the latest news about COVID-19 pandemic and its effects on the Seattle area, Washington state and the world. Click here to see the rest of our coronavirus coverage and here to see how we track the daily spread across Washington.
People with coronavirus infections of the omicron variant often have significantly different viral levels in their noses, throats and saliva, and testing just a single type of sample is likely to miss a large share of infections, according to two new papers, which analyzed omicron infections over time in a small number of people.
The papers, which have not yet been published in scientific journals, suggest that coronavirus tests that analyze nasal and throat swabs would pick up more omicron infections than those that rely on just a nasal swab.
“You could get a lot more bang for your buck if you use these mixed specimen types,” said Rustem Ismagilov, a chemist at the California Institute of Technology and senior author of both papers.
Read the full story here.
The California State Fair returned in full force this summer for the first time in three years, but participating farmers are still feeling the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The State Fair offers livestock shows and competitions throughout its 17-day run, showcasing animals that range from guinea pigs to 2,000-pound cattle. The livestock available for view rotate based on the fair’s show schedule, with several groups of animals typically on display in the Livestock Pavilion on any given day.
For returning farmers, the fair typically means reuniting with the same cohort of family farmers year over year. Goat farmer Dylan Howell compared the social scene among farmers to the 2000 mockumentary “Best in Show,” adding that while everyone generally gets along well, “occasionally you get those crazy goat moms.”
Read the full story here.
LONDON — COVID-19 infections are continuing to rise in England and have reached their highest level for three months, but the trend in the rest of the United Kingdom is uncertain, figures show.
Hospital numbers also appear to have stopped climbing, though it is too early to say if the latest wave of the virus is starting to peak, experts have cautioned.
It comes as a new survey suggests public concern about COVID-19 has dropped to its lowest level since the pandemic began.
Read the full story here.
What was supposed to be the Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s 2022 comeback season has again been impacted by the pandemic. As a note on the festival’s performance status page indicates, at this point, several performances and events have been canceled, because of “an unprecedented number” of COVID cases among the casts and crew members of multiple shows.
An online note posted by Nataki Garrett, artistic director, and David Schmitz, executive director, says the decision to cancel shows is based on the high number of positive COVID cases (about 15% of the performing and understudy company) and high level of exposures, which are attributed to the highly transmissible BA.5 omicron variant.
“We want you to know that we take this decision very seriously and understand the impact it has, both within our theatre community, audiences, and our larger community, including the businesses that we rely on to feed and house our community,” the note by Garrett and Schmitz says. “When we cancel, we impact everyone.”
All performances this week of “The Tempest,” “Revenge Song,” “Unseen,” “Dr. G’s Bingo Extravaganza” and “The Green Show” have been canceled. In addition, all campus tours, education events and planned ASL interpretation this week are canceled.
Read the full story here.
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden likely contracted a highly contagious variant of the coronavirus spreading rapidly through the United States, and now has body aches and a sore throat since his positive test, according to an update from his doctor on Saturday.
The variant, known as BA.5, is an offshoot of the omicron strain that emerged late last year, and it’s believed to be responsible for the vast majority of coronavirus cases in the country.
Dr. Kevin O’Connor, the president’s physician, wrote in his latest update on Biden’s condition that Biden’s earlier symptoms, including a runny nose and a cough, have become “less troublesome.” O’Connor’s earlier notes did not mention the sore throat or body aches.
Biden’s vital signs, such as blood pressure and respiratory rate, “remain entirely normal,” and his oxygen saturation levels are “excellent” with “no shortness of breath at all,” the doctor wrote.
Read the full story here.
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Parenting — that long chain of decisions that hopefully leads to a well-rounded adult — was always a little less stressful for Laura Guerra because her husband, Rigo, was “100% in it” for their daughter, Emilia.
But Rigo died from COVID-19 on Christmas Eve in 2020, alone in a hospital room while Guerra watched helplessly from the other side of a window. Since then, left to raise their now 2-year-old daughter mostly by herself, Guerra’s mind hasn’t stopped racing.
“I’m constantly thinking,” she said. “Every decision that I make, if I make the wrong decision, she’s going to suffer for it. And that scares the hell out of me.”
Now, California is using some of its record-setting budget surplus to help ease Guerra’s mind, and those of others like her. Last month, California became the first state to commit to setting up trust funds for children who lost a parent or caregiver to the pandemic.
Read the full story here.
California is demanding that thousands of tenants and landlords who were approved for emergency rental assistance during the pandemic return the money — often months after it has been spent — sometimes for vague or unspecified reasons.
The California Department of Housing and Community Development has sent “recapture” emails to about 5,400 tenants and landlords who received COVID-19 rent relief funds, the agency told The Sacramento Bee.
HCD gives aid recipients 30 to 90 days to send the money back, said Nur Kausar, HCD communications manager. The agency claims overpayment, tenants withholding funds from landlords and fraudulent activity are among the reasons they ask landlords and tenants to return their aid, Kausar said.
Read the full story here.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Two-time All-Star Whit Merrifield of the Kansas City Royals apologized Friday for “poorly articulated” comments about the COVID-19 vaccine after missing the team’s trip to Canada.
Merrifield was among 10 Royals players who didn’t travel to Toronto because of their vaccination status for a four-game series against the Blue Jays before the All-Star break last week.
The 33-year-old outfielder/second baseman has been a fan favorite in Kansas City. But backlash came quickly and harshly after Merrifield said “the vaccine, what it’s supposed to do, it’s not doing. If it was doing what it was supposed to do and stopping the spread of COVID (then) I would have a little more willingness to take it, but it’s not doing that.”
Read the full story here.
The Tri-Cities company that provides occupational medicine services at the Hanford nuclear reservation has been suspended by the Small Business Administration from applying for or receiving federal contracts.
SBA lists HPM Corp. with a status of “active exclusion” on new federal contracts and subcontracts pending an investigation.
Current owner Hollie Phillips Mooers and her husband Grover Cleveland Mooers III, who until recently was the business co-owner, also have been suspended from new government contracts.
The small business based in Kennewick currently holds a DOE Hanford contract for up to seven years valued at about $152 million.
Read full story here.
WASHINGTON (AP) — COVID-19 symptoms left President Joe Biden with a raspy voice and cough as he met Friday via videoconference with his top economic team. But the president tried to strike a reassuring tone, declaring, “I feel much better than I sound.”
Later Friday, White House officials told reporters that Biden was working more than eight hours a day. His appetite hadn’t diminished — with Biden showing off an empty plate with some crumbs when speaking with his advisers — and he signed bills into law and took part in his daily intelligence briefings, albeit via phone.
“He’s still doing the job of the president,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said. “That does not end.”
Read the full story here.

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