Editor’s note: This is a live account of COVID-19 updates from Tuesday, Nov. 10, 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 It is no longer being updated.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.
As vaccinations ramp up past a pace of 3 million a day in the U.S, the NHL is in a tougher spot than the other three major North American professional sports leagues because seven of its 31 teams are based in Canada, the Associated Press reports.
After a year of pandemic-imposed closures and lost revenue for live performance and arts spaces, a new relief grant program designed to help arts venues opened for applications Thursday. The Shuttered Venue Operators Grant, offered through the U.S. Small Business Administration, is intended to assist live-event venues, many of which lost nearly all revenue in 2020 while still paying overhead costs like rent.
Inslee alters criteria for Washington’s COVID-19 reopening phases
BELLINGHAM — Washington Gov. Jay Inslee on Friday altered the criteria used to determine whether a county moves from one COVID-19 reopening phase to another, making it easier for counties to remain in their current phases.
Counties must now fail both metrics for case counts and hospitalizations in order to move back a phase, Inslee said in a news release. Previously counties could be moved backward by failing to meet one of those metrics.
Inslee made the change in advance of an evaluation of each county’s metrics on Monday.
“Given the incredible progress on vaccinations and our focus protecting people from severe illness, we believe analyzing and requiring both metrics together is the right approach to make sure we’re considering the connection between COVID cases and our medical system and hospitalizations,” Inslee said.
All of Washington’s 39 counties are currently in Phase 3 of the reopening plan, which allows indoor spaces — including indoor dining at restaurants, indoor fitness centers, and retail — to increase capacity from 25% to 50%.
State health officials confirm 1,589 new coronavirus cases
The state Department of Health (DOH) reported 1,589 new coronavirus cases and six new deaths on Friday.
The update brings the state's totals to 374,794 cases and 5,322 deaths, meaning that 1.4% of people diagnosed in Washington have died, according to the DOH. The data is as of 11:59 p.m. Thursday.
The new cases may include up to 200 duplicates, according to DOH. Friday's hospitalization data are also incomplete due to data processing issues, DOH said.
In addition, 20,941 people have been hospitalized in the state due to the virus — eight new hospitalizations. In King County, the state's most populous, state health officials have confirmed a total of 93,760 COVID-19 diagnoses and 1,482 deaths.
Since vaccinations began in mid-December, the state and health care providers have administered 3,943,100 doses and 20.85% of Washingtonians have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to vaccination data, which the state updates on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Providers are currently giving an average of about 58,480 vaccine shots per day.
The DOH says its daily case reports may also include duplicate test results, results assigned to the wrong county, results that are reported for today but are actually from a previous day, occasional false positive tests and other data discrepancies. Because of this, the previous day’s total number of cases plus the number of new daily cases does not add up to the new day’s total number of cases. State health officials recommend reviewing the dashboard's epidemiologic curves tab for the most accurate representation of the state's COVID-19 spread.
Duke University to require COVID vaccinations for fall term
DURHAM, N.C. — Duke University will require all new and returning students to present proof of vaccination to student health officials before they can enroll for the fall semester, the school’s president said Friday.
A statement from Duke President Vincent Price says the policy will cover all undergraduate, graduate, and professional students in all degree programs who intend to be on the Duke campus for any period of time starting with the fall semester.
Price says documented medical and religious exemptions will be accommodated.
The statement says students and employees who have not yet received a vaccination from Duke are urged to schedule an appointment as soon as possible.
The school cannot guarantee that its supply of vaccines will continue at the same rate, and said those who miss the opportunity to get vaccinated will have to obtain a vaccination from another health care provider or a public health agency and provide confirmation to student health officials.
Italy prosecutors: WHO exec lied about spiked virus report
ROME — Italian prosecutors say a top World Health Organization official lied to them about a spiked WHO report into Italy’s coronavirus response, revealing private communications Friday that are likely to embarrass the U.N. health agency.
Prosecutors in Bergamo placed Dr. Ranieri Guerra, at the time a WHO assistant director general, under investigation for allegedly making false declarations to them when he voluntarily agreed to be questioned in November. Guerra was the WHO’s liaison with the Italian government after Italy became the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak in Europe last year.
They have not charged Guerra with any crime, outlining their allegations in an interim investigative document sent to the Italian foreign and justice ministries that listed him as one of six people under investigation in their probe.
Guerra did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment. The Agi news agency quoted him as saying he was shocked and “deeply embittered” that prosecutors had placed him under investigation, that he expected WHO to respond to them and remained available for further clarification.
Shots for shots: New Orleans bars offer vaccines
NEW ORLEANS — Bars in New Orleans are doing their part to battle the coronavirus pandemic.
Local media reported that two of the city’s bars are holding events where patrons can get the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
The Dragon’s Den, which is located near the beginning of the music club-lined Frenchmen Street, posted on its Facebook page that Friday evening people could come and get the vaccine and then a complimentary shot. The vaccines are being administered on the median in front of the bar by Crescent Care, a federally qualified health center in the city.
Dr. Jason Halperin, an infectious disease expert with the health center, told the Times-Picayune / The New Orleans Advocate that the bar was footing the bill for the booze. He said other businesses have also expressed interest in hosting vaccination events.
“It’s so New Orleans unique — drinks on us for getting a vaccine,” he told the newspaper.
Searching for a second dose? CVS wants to be your choice
CVS Health is trying to become the go-to choice for those struggling to complete their vaccination regimen with a second dose.
A spokesperson for the pharmacy chain said 90% of its second doses go to people who got their first shot at CVS, but that it's working to accommodate people for second doses no matter where they got the first inoculation.
“If you only need to schedule a second dose because you’ve already received the first dose, we can help you complete your vaccine,” reads a page on the CVS website, which links to a scheduling tool.
Second-dose seekers must present a vaccination card for verification.
In some states, vaccine doses go unordered
As outbreaks of the coronavirus spike in some parts of the country, some states aren’t ordering their full allotments of available vaccine, federal officials say.
Last week, 13 states had left more than 100,000 doses unordered, according to a federal official speaking anonymously.
Indiana had left some 306,000 doses unordered and on shelves. Texas had left 673,000 doses without an immediate destination.
Washington state has yet to receive from the federal government as much vaccine as providers request each week.
CDC is monitoring breakthrough cases (infections in fully vaccinated people)
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is monitoring breakthrough cases in which fully vaccinated people test positive for the coronavirus.
The CDC's partial data is not yet public, but states have discovered several thousand of these cases so far. Some 66 million Americans have been fully vaccinated, so these cases represent a tiny proportion.
Scientists have expected breakthrough cases. The vaccines offer robust protection to most people, but are not 100% effective.
“There’s nothing there yet that’s a red flag,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, who is the chief medical adviser on the pandemic for President Joe Biden.
Last month, Washington state reported 102 breakthrough cases, including eight people who were hospitalized and two who died. Both of those who died were in their 80s.
The state, which has ramped up genomic sequencing to identify trends with concerning variants of the coronavirus, is sequencing breakthrough cases to determine if there are trends involving variants or a specific vaccine. That research remains in early stages.
Dr. Scott Lindquist, state epidemiologist, said about half of the 102 cases involved people who did not develop symptoms but tested positive for the virus. He said Washington state has not seen anything concerning in its data.
"It is not unexpected. The vaccine isn't 100%," Lindquist said. "The 102 cases we saw were mostly very mild symptoms, if at all."
More than 1 million COVID-19 vaccine shots have been given in King County
King County passed a crucial milestone in the battle against COVID-19 this week: More than 1 million vaccine doses have now been administered in Washington state's most populous county, according to Public Health — Seattle & King County.
Nearly 800,000 people have received at least one dose, accounting for about 43% of residents age 16 or older, and about 26% of residents are fully vaccinated.
More than 2 million people live in King County, so the work is nowhere close to complete. But 88% of residents age 65 and older have received at least one dose and 92% of residents age 75 and older have, according to Public Health.
Demand for doses is still outpacing the supply here, Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan during a Friday news conference with Public Health at El Centro de la Raza, a community organization on Beacon Hill where the city was holding a pop-up vaccine clinic.
Seattle received 30,000 doses this week but has 150,000 people on an appointment wait list. The city has focused on shots for people of color; 55% of those vaccinated at city sites have identified as people of color, Durkan's office said.
J&J COVID vaccine reviewed by EU regulator after blood clots
The European Union’s drug regulator said it has started a review to assess blood clots in people who received Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine.
Four serious cases of unusual clots accompanied by low blood platelets, one of which was fatal, have emerged after vaccination with the J&J shot, the European Medicines Agency said Friday. The move turns the regulator’s safety scrutiny on a second COVID shot, after AstraZeneca Plc’s vaccine was possibly linked to a rare blood-clotting disorder.
One of the cases following J&J vaccinations happened during a clinical trial. At the time, the company said it had found no evidence the vaccine was at fault. Three others occurred in the U.S., where the shot has been given to almost 5 million people.
Though J&J’s vaccine is approved in the EU, its rollout in the bloc isn’t expected to start until later this month. Still, the EU is relying on the one-shot vaccine to boost its immunization drive amid restrictions in some countries on use of the AstraZeneca shot, which is delivered in two doses.
The numbers of clot cases in people who took the J&J shot have been small so far compared to the total number of people getting the vaccine worldwide, Peter Arlett, EMA’s head of analytics, said on April 7. At that point, Arlett said three clotting cases had been found, while some 4.5 million people had gotten the J&J shot.
Visitors tiptoe through the tulips in Dutch virus test
LISSE, Netherlands — Finally, after bleak winter months of a coronavirus lockdown, springtime shoots of hope emerged Friday as restrictions were relaxed at a Dutch flower garden and other public venues.
Under a government-approved pilot scheme, the world-famous Keukenhof garden opened its gates to let a few thousand people tiptoe through the 7 million tulips, hyacinths, daffodils and myriad other flowers meticulously hand-planted throughout its manicured lawns by a small army of gardeners.
A maximum of 5,000 visitors were allowed into the garden, nestled amid the pancake flat bulb fields between Amsterdam and The Hague, if they could show proof that they had just tested negative for COVID-19.
Minke Kleinen, who visited the central city of Arnhem with her friend Ilse van Egten, said it felt like their “first legal day out.” The friends took rapid tests before setting off and got their negative results by email as they drove.
“It feels strange that we can stand next to one another,” said Van Egten, giving Kleinen a quick hug. “It’s nice!”
Washingtonians seeking open appointments make long treks to COVID vaccine sites, but health officials discourage it
On a bright and early weekend morning, Annie Lai got into a car in Seattle with her friends and headed east. Their destination, 142 miles away: Yakima. More specifically: a COVID-19 vaccine dose in Yakima.
Lai and her friends, all in their mid-20s who work from home, had learned about available vaccine appointments when one of them received a mass Slack message through her employer on April 2.
“The message said, ‘There’s a mass vaccination site in Yakima, here’s the link,’ ” Lai said. She clicked it, answered the eligibility questions truthfully — “no” to all of them — and was able to book an appointment anyway.
The group arrived in Yakima at noon the next day and waited for hours at the site as cars snaked around the block. Many of the people in line likely had the same idea: Travel several hours to a vaccine site in another area of Washington than where they live or work to secure a shot ahead of April 15, the day all Washingtonians 16 and older become eligible for a vaccine.
The Yakima vaccination site, administering 1,200 doses each day, in particular has been a popular destination for eligible and not-yet-eligible residents west of the Cascades. But people across the state — and beyond — told The Seattle Times of their long trips taken in hopes of getting vaccinated, despite eligibility requirements.
A family drove from Spokane to Grand Coulee after finding an appointment for their teenage son. A college student in Bellingham got a ride from a friend and then hopped a bus to a site in Monroe. And an extreme version: A couple living in Arizona boarded a plane to Washington when they heard the husband’s mother’s assisted-living facility had excess doses.
Reports of trips like these, consistent since the start of the vaccine rollout, have prompted local and state health officials to discourage traveling far for a vaccine, for several reasons. Doses are allocated to counties based on population and equity, and making an appointment could potentially take one away from a someone who lives or works in that area, they say. It’s also better to be closer to home, in case of side effects, said Dr. Umair Shah, Washington’s health secretary, in a Department of Health briefing this week.
Yosemite and other national parks to limit summer visitors due to COVID-19
YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK, Calif. — Yosemite National Park will require advanced reservations for day visitors during the peak summer season to limit the number of visitors and allow social distancing amid the pandemic.
Under the new rules, advance reservations will be required for day use visitors who enter Yosemite from May 21 to Sept. 30, the San Jose Mercury News reported.
The park’s superintendent, Cicely Muldoon, said large crowds already have been coming to the park in recent weeks, and there are still cases of COVID-19 spreading in California, and other states and countries where visitors are coming from.
“The basic plan is to protect human health and safety and provide as much access as we can,” Muldoon said Thursday during a meeting with government and business leaders of the communities surrounding the park.
Rocky Mountain National Park and Glacier National Park are putting in place similar rules, which have been encouraged for decades by environmental groups but resisted by gateway communities whose economies depend heavily on tourism.
Inslee to announce possible new COVID restrictions Monday
OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — Gov. Jay Inslee will announce Monday whether some counties in Washington state will have to roll back to Phase 2 of the state’s COVID-19 reopening plan because of rising cases.
At a news conference Thursday Inslee said “we’ve let our guard down to some degree.”
All of Washington’s 39 counties are currently in Phase 3 of Inslee’s reopening plan, meaning all indoor spaces — including indoor dining at restaurants, indoor fitness centers, and retail — have been able to increase capacity from 25% to 50%. Larger events like concerts and graduation ceremonies are OK since up to 400 people will be allowed to gather for indoor and outdoor activities as long as physical distancing and masking are enforced.
To stay in Phase 3, counties must meet two metrics, and the metrics are different for counties that have fewer than 50,000 people.
Larger counties must have less than 200 new cases per 100,000 people over a two-week period and have fewer than five new COVID hospitalizations per 100,000 people over a one-week period.
The era of overzealous coronavirus cleaning can finally end
When the coronavirus began to spread in the United States last spring, many experts warned of the danger posed by surfaces. Researchers reported that the virus could survive for days on plastic or stainless steel, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advised that if someone touched one of these contaminated surfaces — and then touched their eyes, nose or mouth — they could become infected.
Americans responded in kind, wiping down groceries, quarantining mail and clearing drugstore shelves of Clorox wipes. Facebook closed two of its offices for a “deep cleaning.” New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority began disinfecting subway cars every night.
But the era of “hygiene theater” may have come to an unofficial end this week, when the CDC updated its surface cleaning guidelines and noted that the risk of contracting the virus from touching a contaminated surface was less than 1 in 10,000.
“People can be affected with the virus that causes COVID-19 through contact with contaminated surfaces and objects,” Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the director of the CDC, said at a White House briefing on Monday. “However, evidence has demonstrated that the risk by this route of infection of transmission is actually low.”
The admission is long overdue, scientists say.
Catch up on the past 24 hours
What can vaccinated people safely do, and what does that mean for everyone else? New freedoms are arriving, but that doesn't mean anything goes, our FAQ Friday explains.
The era of overzealous coronavirus cleaning can finally end, now that the CDC has updated its guidelines for surface cleaning. But disinfection does still have its place and time.
Seattle homeless shelters now have vaccines — but not many takers, a sign of the daunting task ahead.
Mount Vernon's infamous superspreader choir practice killed Carole Rae Woodmansee on her 81st birthday. "You’re trying to say goodbye to your mom, and they’re telling you to get back," one of her four children remembers. Now, a year later, they're finally getting a farewell.
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