Portland Tribune

Oregon's tracking of hospital safety equipment rife with holes
Author: Nick Budnick
Hospitals claim they have enough personal protective equipment but health care workers disagree.

Citing unsafe conditions, health care workers in Oregon for weeks have been pushing for greater transparency around how much personal protective equipment hospitals have on hand.

But those demands haven't been satisfied, and ...

Oregon's tracking of hospital safety equipment rife with holes
Author: Nick Budnick
Hospitals claim they have enough personal protective equipment but health care workers disagree.

Citing unsafe conditions, health care workers in Oregon for weeks have been pushing for greater transparency around how much personal protective equipment hospitals have on hand.

But those demands haven't been satisfied, and ...

Columbian Newspaper

Powell’s Books will be back — but not soon
Author: Mike Rogoway, The Oregonian

PORTLAND — A million volumes sit alone in Powell’s Books’ enormous flagship store downtown, untouched and unread since the coronavirus outbreak abruptly shuttered the landmark Portland bookstore in March.

Powell’s, which occupies a full city block downtown, ordinarily draws readers from across Portland and around the world. Now, bestsellers and hidden gems sit idle in the enormous, empty shop.

“It’s bizarre. It’s surreal. It’s also in some ways magical,” said Emily Powell, the bookstore’s CEO. “It feels like walking through the aisles with the ghosts of writers and readers.”

Powell’s March closure was among the most shocking developments in the early days of Oregon’s epidemic as a sudden economic catastrophe descended upon state. When Powell’s locked its doors the city lost one of the cultural touchstones that define Portland, and more than 300 workers lost their jobs.

Its closure was a milestone, putting the crisis in stark terms and making it obvious just how profoundly the epidemic would change Oregon.

Now, as businesses across the state slowly begin to emerge from their coronavirus shutdowns, the bookstore isn’t ready to change back. The elements that make Powell’s distinctive – huge stores, enormous selection, customers mingling together to share old favorites and new discoveries – work against it in an age of social distancing.

Yet Powell said the outpouring of customer support that followed the store’s closure giver her confidence the store will find a path forward.

“Powell’s will be here,” she said. “It may look different. It may feel different for a while. But it will be here.”

The bookstore dates to 1971, founded by Emily Powell’s grandfather and later run by her father. She took over in 2011, in the waning days of the Great Recession and amid intense competition from Amazon and other online outlets. Powell stepped aside for a time but returned to the CEO role last year.

The bookstore has endured as one of the businesses central to Portland’s identity. Powell’s is a favorite stop for readers looking to browse and for authors on book tours.

“When people come to visit Portland, visiting Powell’s is at the top of the list,” Oregon poet and Reed College Professor Samiya Bashir told PBS last month. “You know, you go to Paris, you want to see the Eiffel Tower. You go to Portland, you want to go to Powell’s bookstore.”

Emily Powell, 41, has spent most of the shutdown working from home with her husband and 5-year-old son. She has a persistent cough – it’s not the coronavirus, she’s been tested – but she said she feels obliged to stay home under the circumstances.

Questions and crises come on a daily basis. In her quiet moments Powell said she is rereading Italian short stories from the 1920s and ’30s, hoping to give the historic moment she is wrestling with a larger context.

“I’m doing what a lot of people are doing and that’s going back to writing from way before this moment,” she said, “in order to find some perspective.”

Many of the issues facing Powell’s are similar to those facing other Oregon businesses during the coronavirus outbreak. The company owns its downtown store but its four satellite shops around the Portland area all have landlords expecting rent.

Powell said her landlords have been very flexible to this point, but she said she doesn’t know how long those property owners can afford to defer payments.

Powell’s secured a federal loan through the Paycheck Protection Program, loans that turn into grants for businesses that can keep their employees working into summer. Powell said she can’t afford to rehire everyone while the bookstores are closed, and doesn’t want to take on substantial new debt. So the bookstore has tapped only a small portion of the loan (she declined to say just how much.)

Reopening the stores requires ensuring both customers and employees are safe, Powell said. And that presents unique challenges for bookstores. While epidemiologists consider paper products to be low risk for transmission, she said it’s important people are secure in the places they work and shop.

“You have to be able to pull a book off the shelf and feel comfortable touching something that someone else touched,” Powell said. “We have a million volumes in that store. We can’t possibly disinfect every one of them all day long. And they can’t get wet.”

How will Powell’s persevere if it has to limit the number of people in its stores? Who will buy its books until tourists return to Portland?

The bookstore doesn’t have those answers yet, Powell said, and may not for some time to come. But it is taking some tentative steps forward.

Powell has begun offering a pickup option at its downtown store. Powell said that’s still in a trial phase but she hopes to make it a regular option at all its stores in the coming days or weeks.

And she said some customers may get the opportunity to shop in the downtown store all by themselves, through charity auctions.

Powell’s abrupt closure in March produced tension between the bookstore and ILWU Local 5, the union representing Powell’s employees. The union said initially that Powell’s hadn’t committed to supporting workers through the closure.

Two months later, union representative Myka Dubay commended Powell’s for ensuring that workers who have returned have protective attire and adequate spacing and for excusing those concerned about their health. However, Dubay said the union and store haven’t come to terms on wage and benefits levels when the bookstore reopens.

“When Powell’s employees are returned to work, they should be guaranteed their former hourly wage as well as benefits level,” Dubay wrote in an email. “Powell’s workers deserve to hold onto the wage and benefits they have achieved.”

Emily Powell said the bookstore is working through disagreements with the union as it seeks to adapt to the implications of the coronavirus outbreak.

“I’m guessing, Powell said, “most collective bargaining agreements in the country weren’t written for global pandemics.”

Powell’s enjoyed a burst of online orders from patrons demonstrating support the business in the days after the March closure. For the bookstore it was, in some ways, too much of a good thing.

The company recalled some workers but struggled to process the surge in orders while maintaining a safe working environment. Some orders took several weeks to arrive.

“Business was very strong right away and we really struggled to adapt to that,” Powell said. “It’s hard to turn a big elephant on a dime.”

Powell’s has caught up with its orders now, Powell said, but the surge in business early in the pandemic has ebbed. And that leaves the independent Portland bookstore competing online with Amazon, on Amazon’s turf.

“They have all the money and they have all the technology,” Powell said. “Certainly we don’t have that kind of firepower.”

Instead, she said Powell’s and other local businesses bring a personal connection to their customers. She said it is her staff’s devotion to readers, and to reading, that gives the bookstore an edge.

“What we have in spades is the true passion and love for the products,” Powell said. “Our folks are just living and breathing books.”

Pastor sentenced for stealing Oso slide donations
Author: Associated Press

OAK HARBOR — Bodies were still buried beneath the mud of the Oso hillside in May 2014 when pastor Gary Ray funneled $30,000 in cash — donations meant for grieving families of the 43 killed — into a church bank account where only he had access.

“People were still searching for the dead,” said deputy prosecutor Michael Safstrom in court Thursday. “So this is the most glaring contradiction between public words and private deeds. Mr. Ray was the public face of the Oso Community Chapel.”

The Everett Herald reports Island County Superior Court Judge Alan Hancock sentenced Ray to 18 months in prison Thursday, for a series of swindles that went on for years, totaling over $152,000 stolen from Oso families, collection plates and his own church congregations in Snohomish and Island counties.

“The court is appalled by Ray’s shameful fraud and theft, his betrayal and abuse of trust,” Hancock said. “It is almost unprecedented, the level of fraud and abuse that has occurred in the present case. ‘Thou shalt not steal!’ The hypocrisy of a man of the cloth committing these crimes is stunning.”

The Highway 530 landslide swallowed a square mile and an entire neighborhood along the North Fork Stillaguamish River, with no warning, in March 2014. It was the deadliest such slide the United States had ever seen.

In media interviews, the Oso pastor became a voice of a devastated, resilient community of survivors. Cash donations flowed in from around the country. A $30,000 check, later stolen by Ray, arrived from a Kirkland church.

Around the same time, Ray founded Restoration Church Camano, as an offshoot of the Oso chapel, secretly using money from the former church to fund the new one, without permission of the congregation.

He was ousted from Oso. On Camano Island, he had complete control of the finances, wrote the church bylaws and had no oversight, until the members began to question him in 2017. He presented himself as a humble man of God, playing on the sympathies of his church family by telling them he made only $1,500 a month, said Terry Anderson, who still attends the church.

In secret, Ray lined his pockets on Camano for three years.

He used church money to pay his mortgage, to pay off tax debt and to fund the education of his family. A former Restoration Church member who makes a living as a bookkeeper, Dorie Ohlson, helped to expose the fraud. She said Ray used church funds to buy an estimated $10,000 in silver.

In a statement to the judge, Anderson estimated Ray actually stole over $244,000 from his own church just west of Stanwood. By the time he was found out, there was $138 left in the church account — as well as several thousand dollars in debt from an unauthorized loan.

Ray pleaded guilty in November 2019 to three counts of first-degree theft, each with aggravating factors for abusing a position of trust and causing a “major economic crime.”

This week, Ray said, he came up with the last of the funds to pay restitution. He arrived at Island County Superior Court with a $82,872 check — money inherited from his parents — to settle about half of the debt. The other half was covered by refinancing his home in Snohomish County. The Kirkland church would like to see the money go to its original purpose, to help the people of Oso, the prosecutor said.

Washington schools to decide in coming weeks what classrooms will look like in the fall
Author: Jim Allen, The Spokesman-Review

SPOKANE — The experts are trying their best to visualize what K-12 education will look like this fall.

If only their binoculars weren’t so clouded – by COVID-19, fiscal concerns and just plain fear.

Small wonder, then, that the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction announced this week that barring the sudden emergence of a vaccine or other medical breakthrough, it is considering no less than seven options for next year:

1) Traditional on-site, face-to-face instruction inside school buildings;

2) Split or rotating schedules to meet social-distancing requirements;

3) Split or rotating schedules combined with distance learning;

4) A phased-in reopening with distance learning;

5) Phased-in reopening without distance learning;

6) Continuing remote learning as it’s happening now;

7) Continuing learning to meet any new stay-at-home orders issued by the state.

And in what feels like a reinvention of a school system that’s 150 years old, state Superintendent Chris Reykdal has formed a committee that should be big enough for the task: 123 educators will meet during the next two weeks and send findings to Reykdal’s office.

OSPI is expected to issue guidance to districts by June 8.

Reykdal has emphasized that nothing has been decided and that individual districts will be able to chart their own course within state health guidelines.

“Some counties are moving into Phase 2 and other counties hit harder by the virus are in Phase 1, and I don’t think it will be a surprise that we will see different school districts around the state in the fall going into different models,” OSPI spokeswoman Katy Payne said.

However, this week Reykdal seemed to prioritize the need to be prepared for a continuation of some form of distance learning.

“If we can’t come back in our traditional model, a bunch of this is going to happen at a distance again,” Reykdal said. “That’s what we’re trying to model with this larger work group. What does the fall and next year look like?”

Locally, Spokane Public Schools is doing the same thing: creating a task force that will come back with recommendations.

“But we want to do it in parallel with OSPI,” Superintendent Shelley Redinger told school board members Wednesday night.

Redinger also noted that guidance from state and local health officials “will determine a lot” of how the district proceeds.

That’s important, because individual districts will make their own decisions based on how well their counties and communities are recovering from the virus.

It’s possible that come September, students in Spokane County will still be learning remotely while those in smaller neighboring counties will return to their school buildings.

“Absolutely, we have to recognize that things are still very fluid,” said Adam Swinyard, chief academic officer at Spokane Public Schools.

For now, educators face more questions than answers, and every option comes with significant concerns. In many districts, those worries are compounded by the loss of tax revenue that supports public education.

Here is a closer look at the educational models under consideration by OSPI for the 2020-21 academic year.

Traditional on-site, face-to-face schools are “not a viable option without dramatic changes to community transmission, or a vaccine,” OSPI said in a release this week.

Split or rotating schedules have drawn interest around the country as a method to address social-distancing concerns. For example, half of a class would attend on Monday and Wednesday and the other half on Tuesday and Thursday. Students would work largely with paper-and-pencil while at home. The split schedule would boost teacher interaction with students, but might place too many demands on educators as they would be dealing with two groups instead of one.

Split or rotating schedules with distance learning would meet the same social-distancing concerns as the previous option, but would be augmented with off-site lessons delivered online. However, there would be concerns over equity, especially in low-income neighborhoods where access to laptops and connectivity are problematic. However, teachers might be overburdened. Also, given overcrowding in some classes, it’s unclear whether some classrooms would have enough space with only half the students removed. That’s a big problem in Spokane, where budget constraints have forced the district to give up plans to shrink class sizes next year.

Phased-in opening without distance learning (by county or district) would also address social distancing demands. A hybrid solution, it could use split schedules – reopening some school facilities while keeping others (cafeterias and playgrounds, for example) closed. Students who are not attending open schools are in waiting mode or are in the current “continuous learning” mode until facilities are further opened.

Phased-in opening with distance learning, another hybrid model, would also meet social distancing demands while incorporating the above models. Staggering decisions would be based on county or district mandates or priorities. Students who are not attending open schools are participating in distance learning.

The current model for continuous learning is “not a viable approach for the 2020-21 school year,” the OSPI release states.

Continuous learning could be offered in an improved form, but OSPI has offered no details on what that might look like.

Among the biggest will be a streamlining of distance-learning platforms – an issue raised by many parents in the recently completed Thought Exchange.

“We’ll be taking a look at which tools we want to focus on,” Swinyard said.

Swinyard added that the district will allow students to keep their checked-out laptops through the summer. It also plans to maintain Clever and other online portals for summer learning enrichment.

States give few details on billions spent on virus supplies
Author: DAVID A. LIEB, Associated Press

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — States are spending billions of dollars stocking up on medical supplies such as masks and breathing machines during the coronavirus pandemic. But more than two months into the buying binge, many aren’t sharing details about how much they’re spending, what they’re getting for their money or which companies they’re paying.

An Associated Press survey of all 50 states found a hodgepodge of public information about the purchase of masks, gloves, gowns and other hard-to-get equipment for medical and emergency workers.

Illinois has one of the most detailed tracking websites, showing the date, vendor, purpose, quantity and price of each purchase. In most states, it’s not that easy. Some provided similar information only after the AP pointed to laws requiring the release of government documents.

The public can see only a piece of the procurement puzzle in many states — maybe an estimate of the total spent on supplies, but not the names of the providers or the price of each item, which could show whether the state got a good deal or was ripped off.

Those details are important because many states set aside purchasing safeguards amid a scramble for supplies among health care providers, states, the U.S. government and other countries. Instead of seeking competitive bids and vetting them for months, states have closed emergency deals in days with businesses claiming to have access to supplies. In some cases, states have prepaid to ensure orders aren’t diverted elsewhere.

Some states say technological barriers prevent them from posting more information. Others provided no explanation for why they aren’t doing so.

Transparency advocates say they’re troubled by the difficulty in getting details about government spending, especially during a crisis that’s shaken the economy and sickened about 1.6 million in the U.S.

“There’s no reason that this information should be hard to come by, and there’s no reason that the states should be keeping it under wraps. That just makes people suspicious,” said Lisa Rosenberg, executive director of Open the Government, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit that advocates for government transparency.

After an AP request in late April and early May, 44 states provided figures showing they had ordered or spent more than $6 billion collectively on protective equipment and ventilators. The actual costs likely are higher, because some numbers were several weeks old and some reported only what they had spent so far, not what was in orders still to be delivered.

The AP hasn’t received figures from Florida, Indiana, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Jersey and Texas. Some provided no specific timeline for releasing the information.

States should prioritize requests for public records that relate to the coronavirus, said Anna Diakun, an attorney at the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University.

“As this crisis is unfolding, the value of that information is less after the government response has concluded,” Diakun said. “There is still time to make course corrections, but only if the public knows they need to be taken.”

Several states have made changes already. Missouri canceled orders worth $34 million for over 9 million masks made in China after tests showed they didn’t fit properly. A Chinese company refunded California $247 million after missing a deadline for the U.S. to certify its N95 masks were safe and effective.

The AP’s survey shows other states have yet to get their supplies. North Carolina placed orders for $253 million in protective equipment but had received just $21 million of it as of early May. Emergency managers say they’re starting to cancel orders that probably won’t be delivered.

Colorado said it ordered over $58 million in protective equipment but has paid just $44,000 so far because it hasn’t received most of the supplies. The state has declined to identify its vendors in case they “fall victim to fraud or customs delays” and can’t deliver the goods, the health department said.

By contrast, Illinois Comptroller Susana Mendoza has created a website tracking coronavirus-related spending. It shows what was purchased, from what business, on what date, in what amount and at what cost.

“Transparency, to me, is like a pathway to rebuilding trust in government,” Mendoza said.

The website, for example, shows that the state paid nearly $11.8 million to Steven MacGeachy on May 6 for 2.4 million N95 masks.

MacGeachy, who does business as The Rare Group LLC in suburban Chicago, declined to tell the AP where he got the masks. He said he specializes in accessing global government institutions and wealthy people.

“I got involved in this particular instance in an effort to make sure that the state of which I live in was able to procure good product at fair pricing,” MacGeachy said.

State purchasing records show MacGeachy and numerous other businesses required full prepayment.

“Normally, we wouldn’t be able to do that, nor would we ever even entertain the thought,” Mendoza said. But “we kind of had a gun to our head — we didn’t have the leverage to negotiate the best deals.”

Though not posted online, officials in Georgia, Iowa, Kansas and Louisiana provided the AP with detailed lists showing how much they paid each vendor and how many supplies they got.

Other states are posting only certain information.

Minnesota publishes a biweekly online COVID-19 report detailing the prices and quantities purchased, but not the vendors. Washington state posts a list of vendors it uses to buy protective equipment, but not the amounts paid or ordered from each.

Missouri Treasurer Scott Fitzpatrick launched a website showing how the state is using federal coronavirus aid. Because that money can reimburse state purchases, the site is gradually including some of the $42 million spent on protective equipment. It shows the amount paid to each vendor but only for general categories like “medical and dental supplies.”

Fitzpatrick said he’s limited by a more than 20-year-old computer accounting system.

“In a perfect world, I’d love to be able to put a check and a copy of every invoice up so people could see what it was,” he said. “But that’s not a realistic thing for us right now. That would be a massive amount of document scanning and uploading and cataloging.”

Ohio also said computer programming complications kept it from releasing more information. Three agencies have committed more than $109 million for personal protective equipment, but “a comprehensive number would be very difficult to ascertain because there is no single code in the State accounting system to identify PPE,” Bill Teets, a spokesman for the Department of Administrative Services, said in an email.

Missouri lawyer Dave Roland, who represents residents in public records lawsuits, said details of government coronavirus purchases should be easily available.

“It’s 2020,” he said. “There should be no difficulty in making this information available online.”

UK leader Johnson stands by aide over 250-mile lockdown trip
Author: JILL LAWLESS, Associated Press

LONDON — Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Sunday he wouldn’t fire his chief aide for allegedly violating the national lockdown rules that he helped to create by driving the length of England to his parents’ house while he was infected with the coronavirus.

Defying a growing clamor from public and politicians, Johnson said Dominic Cummings had acted “responsibly, legally and with integrity” when he drove 250 miles (400 kilometers) from London to Durham, in northeast England, with his wife and son at the end of March.

Britain’s lockdown, which began March 23, stipulated that people should remain at their primary residence, leaving only for essential local errands and exercise. Anyone with coronavirus symptoms was told to completely isolate themselves.

Cummings says he traveled to be near extended family because his wife was showing COVID-19 symptoms, he correctly thought he was also infected and he wanted to ensure that his 4-year-old son was looked after.

Johnson told a news conference that Cummings had “followed the instincts of every father and every parent.” He said Cummings, his wife and son followed the rules by self-isolating for 14 days once they reached Durham.

But critics of the government expressed outrage that Cummings had broken strict rules that for two months have prevented Britons from visiting elderly relatives, comforting dying friends or even attending the funerals of loved ones. The opposition Labour Party has called for an official investigation.

Labour leader Keir Starmer said Johnson’s defense of Cummings was “an insult to sacrifices made by the British people.”

“The prime minister’s actions have undermined confidence in his own public health message at this crucial time,” he said .

Former Labour lawmaker Helen Goodman, whose father died in a nursing home during the outbreak, said Cummings’ behavior was “repellent.”

“What was the point of the sacrifice that we all made? What was the point of the miserable, lonely death that my father had?” she told the BBC.

Speaking inside the prime minister’s 10 Downing St. residence, Johnson said “I can totally get why people might feel so confused and … so offended by the idea that it was one thing for the people here and one thing for others.”

But he said Cumming’s “particular childcare needs” left him “no alternative” but to make the 250-mile trip.

Government ministers have denied a claim that Cummings was spotted again in Durham on April 19, after he had recovered and returned to work in London. But they have not confirmed or denied report that Cummings visited a scenic area 30 miles (50 kilometers) from Durham on April 12.

Cummings is a key but contentious figure in Johnson’s administration. A self-styled political disrupter who disdains the media and civil service, he was one of the architects of the successful campaign to take Britain out of the European Union, and orchestrated the Conservatives’ decisive election victory in December.

The coronavirus cut a swath through the top ranks of Britain’s government in March and April, infecting people including Cummings, Health Secretary Matt Hancock and Johnson himself, who has said that the medical staff at a London hospital saved his life.

Despite the government’s support for Cummings, several lawmakers from Johnson’s Conservative Party joined the opposition in calling for the aide to be sacked.

“Dominic Cummings has a track record of believing that the rules don’t apply to him and treating the scrutiny that should come to anyone in a position of authority with contempt,” tweeted Conservative lawmaker Damian Collins. “The government would be better without him.”

Another Tory legislator, Steve Baker, said Cummings must resign for not “abiding by the spirit, at least, of the slogans which he has enforced on the rest of the country.”

Johnson’s government is already facing criticism for its response to a pandemic that has hit Britain harder than any other European country. Britain’s official coronavirus death toll stands at 36,793, the second-highest confirmed total in the world after the United States. Statistics that include suspected as well as confirmed virus cases put the toll well over 40,000.

The U.K. is gradually easing its lockdown, allowing more outdoor recreation and letting some shops and businesses reopen.

Johnson confirmed Sunday that primary schools can start reopening in June, though many parents and teachers worry that it isn’t yet safe to do so.

Johnson said the government was still aiming to have pupils in the first and final years of primary school back in classrooms on June 1, though he acknowledged that “may not be possible for all schools.”

Cummings is one of several senior U.K. officials to be accused of flouting the lockdown rules.

Epidemiologist Neil Ferguson stepped down as government scientific adviser earlier this month after a newspaper disclosed that his girlfriend had crossed London to stay with him during the lockdown. In April, Catherine Calderwood resigned as Scotland’s chief medical officer after twice traveling from Edinburgh to her second home.

Follow AP pandemic coverage at and

In race for tourism, Greece reopens cafes, island ferries
Author: DEREK GATOPOULOS, Associated Press

ATHENS, Greece — Greece restarted regular ferry services to its islands Monday, and cafes and restaurants were also back open for business as the country accelerated efforts to salvage its tourism season.

Travel to the islands had been generally off-limits since a lockdown was imposed in late March to halt the spread of the coronavirus, with only goods suppliers and permanent residents allowed access.

But the country’s low infection rate in the COVID-19 pandemic prompted the government to start the holiday season three weeks earlier than the expected June 15 date, as other Mediterranean countries — including Italy, Spain and Turkey — are grappling with deadlier outbreaks.

At Bairaktaris restaurant on central Monastiraki Square in Athens, waiters and staff wearing purple face masks and some with plastic visors, sliced meat from the revolving gyros grill, arranged flowers on widely spaced tables and waited for customers, who remained cautious Monday.

Spiros Bairaktaris, the exuberant owner, is carrying on a family business running for 140 years and has framed pictures on the wall of himself sitting next to supermodel Naomi Campbell, singer Cesaria Evora, and other past celebrity customers. He says he’s optimistic about the season despite the slow start.

“This has never happened before,” he told the AP. “We normally sit 100 in the inside area, now it’ll be just 30. … There won’t be any bouzouki music or dancing until we get the all-clear from the doctors.

“But I think people from all over Europe will come here because we have a low death toll, thank God.”

Greece has had nearly 2,900 infections and 171 deaths from the virus. Italy has seen nearly 33,000 coronavirus patients die, Spain has had nearly 29,000 dead and Turkey has had 4,340 deaths, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.

Social distancing regulations and passenger limits have been imposed on ferries and at restaurants to ward off new infections.

State-run health services to combat the coronavirus are being expanded to the islands, with intensive care units being placed on five islands: Lesbos, Samos, Rhodes, Zakynthos, and Corfu, along with existing ICU facilities on the island of Crete.

Tourism is a vital part of the Greek economy, directly contributing more than 10% of the country’s GDP as Greece struggles to emerge from years of financial crisis. More than 34 million visitors traveled to Greece last year, spending 18.2 billion euros ($19.5 billion), according to government data.

With a view of the Acropolis and padded lounge seating, it’s usually hard for cafe goers to find a spot at Kayak, but midday Monday it was still largely empty.

“Eighty percent of our business is from tourism, and people in Greece are cautious, they fear they will lose their job,” owner Liza Meneretzi said. “I’ve been running the cafe for 30 years, and I’ve never seen anything like this. But I was born an optimist, so we’ll see how things go.”

Petros Giannakouris and Iliana Mier contributed.

Follow Gatopoulos at

Follow AP pandemic coverage at and

NYT Politics

Joe Biden, Wearing Mask, Appears in Public at a Veterans Memorial
Author: Katie Glueck
The presumptive Democratic nominee made a public appearance for the first time since mid-March, after campaigning from home for more than two months.
ISIS Prisoners Threaten U.S. Mission in Northeastern Syria
Author: Eric Schmitt
Overcrowded, makeshift prisons and camps and fears of Covid-19 have led to two riots by hardened fighters.