Editor’s note: This is a live account of COVID-19 updates from Saturday, Aug. 28, 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 It is no longer being updated.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.

Governments and institutions are trying desperately to find safe ways to remain open and in operation as COVID-19 infections continue to climb to rates not seen since winter.

In New York, a Broadway theater, determined the show must go on, has brought in an expert and hired a COVID safety manager in an attempt to comply with restrictions. And some school districts in Florida are flaunting the governor’s anti-mask position by requiring students to wear them anyway.

Closer to home, an Issaquah School District official grousing about mask and vaccine mandates, opined on social media that perhaps the virus — which has infected more than 550,000 Washington residents and killed more than 6,500 — should be allowed to “run its course.”

We’re updating this page with the latest news about the COVID-19 pandemic and its effects on the Seattle area, the U.S. and the world. 

Click here to see previous days’ live updates and all our other coronavirus coverage, and here to see how we track the daily spread across Washington.


Navigating the pandemic
(Jennifer Luxton / The Seattle Times)

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An elementary school teacher took off her mask for a read-aloud. Within days, half her class was positive for delta

The Marin County, Calif. elementary school had been conscientious about following COVID-19 protocols. Masks were required indoors, desks were spaced six feet apart, and the students kept socially distant. But the delta variant found an opening anyway.

On May 19, one teacher, who was not vaccinated against the coronavirus, began feeling fatigued and had some nasal congestion. She dismissed it as allergies and powered through. While she was usually masked, she made an exception for story time so she could read to the class.

By the time she learned she was positive for the coronavirus two days later, half her class of 24 had been infected — nearly all of them in the two rows closest to her desk — and the outbreak had spread to other classes, siblings and parents, including some who were fully vaccinated.

“The mask was off only momentarily, not an entire day or hours. We want to make the point that this is not the teacher’s fault — everyone lets their guard down — but the thing is delta takes advantage of slippage from any kind of protective measures,” Tracy Lam-Hine, an epidemiologist for the county, said in an interview.

Read the rest of the story here.

—Washington Post
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US Open COVID protocols changed: Fans need vaccination proof

U.S. Open spectators now must show proof of at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine to attend matches, a change made less than 72 hours before the tennis tournament starts.

The U.S. Tennis Association announced Friday that the New York City mayor’s office decided to require proof of vaccination to go into Arthur Ashe Stadium, the main arena at the National Tennis Center.

The USTA then opted to extend that rule to cover all ticket-holders who are 12 and older and enter the grounds during the two-week Grand Slam tournament that begins Monday. The event is returning to 100% capacity after all fans were banned from attending a year ago because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Read the rest of the story here.

—Associated Press

Oregon COVID outbreak began with unvaccinated worker

A COVID-19 outbreak at an Oregon assisted living facility that has infected 64 people and killed five began with an unvaccinated worker, public health officials said.

The outbreak at Gateway Living in Springfield began July 5, The Register-Guard newspaper reported. The facility has 105 employees and 101 residents; only 63% of the staff and 82% of the residents are completely vaccinated.

Lane County Public Health spokesman Jason Davis said the outbreak began with an unvaccinated employee who worked while infectious.

The outbreak arrived as an immense surge of COVID-19 cases hit Oregon, driven by the especially contagious delta variant as well as vaccine obstinacy in some quarters.

COVID-19 hospitalizations have increased 990% in Oregon since July 9, according to health officials. Many hospitals have canceled elective surgeries, and some patients are housed in hallways instead of rooms. More than 90% of the state’s ICU and hospital beds are full, and health officials say the overwhelming majority of people hospitalized are unvaccinated.

Read the rest of the story here.

—Associated Press

Mask debate moves from school boards to courtrooms

The rancorous debate over whether returning students should wear masks in the classroom has moved from school boards to courtrooms.

In at least 14 states, lawsuits have been filed either for or against masks in schools. In some cases, normally rule-enforcing school administrators are finding themselves fighting state leaders.

Legal experts say that while state laws normally trump local control, legal arguments from mask proponents have a good chance of coming out on top. But amid protests and even violence over masks around the United States, the court battle is just beginning.

Mask rules in public schools vary widely. Some states require them; others ban mandates. Many more leave it up to individual districts...

At the heart of the debates are parents, scared or frustrated for their children in an unprecedented time. The early court record is mixed, with victories for mask proponents in Arkansas and Arizona followed by back-to-back decisions in two big states going opposite ways.

Read the rest of the story here.

—Associated Press
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Protests in Berlin for and against coronavirus restrictions

Protesters filled the German capital again on Saturday to demonstrate against the government’s coronavirus measures, despite bans against several gatherings.

Like the last round of protests in early August, thousands ignored the bans and turned out to voice their opposition to government measures. With chants of “We are the people!” the protesters made their way through Berlin’s Prenzlauer Berg and Mitte neighborhoods...

Meanwhile, a counter-protest complete with techno music drew a crowd of several thousand as well. Those demonstrators back government restrictions to slow the spread of virus and oppose the Querdenker movement, stressing Berlin’s diversity and advocating for more social cohesion....

The Saturday protests came amid a debate in Germany about whether to impose restrictions on unvaccinated people, a question taking on more urgency as daily infections rise. Germany reported 10,303 new daily infections on Saturday, up more than 2,000 since last week.

Read the rest of the story here.

—Associated Press

Contact tracing takes a back seat during latest COVID surge

Health investigators across the U.S. are finding it nearly impossible to keep up with the deluge of new COVID-19 infections and carry out contact tracing efforts that were once seen as a pillar of the nation’s pandemic response.

States are hiring new staff and seeking out volunteers to bolster the ranks of contact tracers that have been overwhelmed by surging coronavirus cases.

Some states trimmed their contact tracing teams this spring and summer when virus numbers were dropping and are now scrambling to train new investigators. Others have triaged their teams to focus on the most vulnerable, such as cases involving schools or children too young to be vaccinated.

Texas got out of the business entirely, with the new two-year state budget that takes effect Sept. 1 explicitly prohibiting funds being used for contact tracing. That left it up to local health officials, but they can’t keep up at a time when Texas is averaging more than 16,000 new cases a day.

Mississippi has 150 staff working full time to identify people who have had close contact with an infected person, but they are swamped, too.

Read the rest of the story here.

—Associated Press

‘Let the virus’ run its course, a Seattle-area school district official said on Facebook

A top administrator at the Issaquah School District took to Facebook last week to rant against the state mask and vaccine orders, arguing that the virus should be allowed to “become endemic and run its course.” 

“What’s the end game with all this? Masks, vaccines and limiting freedoms for how long? My family has been in Washington for seven generations and this is the first time in my life that I despise this state.

“It only took 200 years to get rid of small pox. Let the virus become endemic and run its course, it’s here to stay,” the district’s chief financial officer, Jake Kuper, wrote in response to a public service post about masking from the state health department. “So happy for the strictest Covid-19 mandates in the US. I thought liberals loved freedom…and pro choice…oh wait.” 

The comments alarmed a group of Issaquah parents, who said Kuper’s statements made them question how well the district will implement protections against COVID-19. Kuper, who said in another comment on the post that he is fully vaccinated, is involved in labor bargaining on behalf of the school district, including an agreement that covers health and safety conditions for the upcoming school year. Sept. 1 is the first day of school for Issaquah and many other Seattle-area districts. 

Read the rest of the story here.

—Dahlia Bazzaz
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How much impact could Sturgis rally have on COVID caseload?

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — Rumbles from the motorcycles and rock shows of the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally have hardly cleared from the Black Hills of South Dakota, and the reports of COVID-19 infections among rallygoers are already streaming in — 178 cases across five states, according to contact tracers.

In the three weeks since the rally kicked off, coronavirus cases in South Dakota have shot up at a startling pace — sixfold from the early days of August. While it is not clear how much rallygoers spread the virus through secondary infections, state health officials have so far reported 63 cases among South Dakota residents who attended the event.

The epicenter of the rally, Meade County, has become red-hot with new cases, reaching a per capita rate that is similar to the hardest-hit Southern states. The county reported the highest rate of cases in the state over the last two weeks, according to Johns Hopkins researchers...

Virus cases were already on the rise when the rally started, and it’s difficult to measure just how much the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally is to blame in a region where local fairs, youth sports leagues and other gatherings have resumed.

However, Meade County could be a harbinger of things to come for the Upper Midwest as infections ripple from those events, said Dr. Michael Osterholm, director of the University of Minnesota’s Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy.

Read the rest of the story here.

—Associated Press

The kids are all right; it’s the adults who have gone bonkers over the pandemic

Recently I’ve been spending a lot of time with kids, mostly the high school and heading-off-to-college variety, and sometimes the contentious subject of wearing masks comes up.

To a person they have shrugged. It’s no big deal, they say. You wear them inside, you take them off outside, done.

“I’m fine with them, Dad, I’m used to it,” my son dismissed me when I said I was sorry he had to wear masks at college, even though everyone there also has to be vaccinated. I got the sense he’d happily strap himself into an iron lung at this point if that’s what it took to finally get out of the house.

Some of you parents, on the other hand, are completely losing your minds over the issue, writes columnist Danny Westneat.

Read the rest of the story here.

—Danny Westneat

How safe are concerts? Swedish’s infection prevention expert answers our questions about live music and COVID

For the past two months, Seattle music venues have been slowly reopening, tepidly emerging from a 15-month hiatus brought on by COVID-19. Just as larger theaters and concert halls start flipping the lights back on this fall with touring picking up in September, the delta variant has led to a surge in COVID-19 cases throughout the region.

As some music fans reassess their comfort levels returning to their favorite venues, we asked Evan Sylvester, Swedish Medical Center’s regional director of infection prevention, about the risk factors, and the health and safety protocol venues have in place.

Read the rest of the story here.

—Michael Rietmulder
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Delta variant looms over Seattle’s live music comeback

The concert industry began to revive after a 15-month shutdown this summer, as Seattle fans began to return to clubs and concert venues in July. Now, as an abbreviated summer concert season winds down, more tours are shifting from outdoor to indoor venues in September.

Local music venues have increasingly full slates as touring picks up and larger venues attract bigger acts, but with the delta variant causing a rise in COVID cases and hospitalizations local concert calendars are again seeing cancellations and postponements, delaying reopening shows at some of Seattle’s signature venues like the Paramount Theatre and the Showbox.

Meanwhile, many venues and artists nationwide have imposed vaccination requirements in efforts to bolster safety as some fans reassess their comfort levels.

Read the rest of the story here.

—Michael Rietmulder

Mexican parents file for court injunctions to get kids vaccinated

MEXICO CITY — Hundreds of parents in Mexico have resorted to filing for court injunctions to get coronavirus vaccines for their children after the government refused to consider vaccinating those under 18.

In the U.S. and other countries, childhood vaccinations are already underway, but Mexican officials have downplayed the risk for minors. That is despite the 613 deaths and 60,928 confirmed COVID-19 cases among people under 18 in Mexico to date.

About 15 parents have won the injunctions and got their children shots as the government presses schools to return to in-person classes Monday.

Read the rest of the story here.

—Associated Press

Parents puzzle over school safety as many Washington state kids return to school for first time in over a year

Thousands of Washington school children are preparing to return to school in-person for the first time in over a year, but the more virulent delta variant is causing a surge in COVID cases and only 40% of Washington 12- to 15-year-olds are vaccinated — and so are 47% of 16- and 17-year-olds.

A vaccine for young children isn’t expected until midwinter. 

As schools prepare to welcome back their students, their caregivers have questions. The Seattle Times is turning to experts to answer readers’ most pressing questions, like "how can caregivers ease their kids back to school this fall?" and "What will schools do if kids refuse to wear a mask?"

Read the rest of the story here.

—Hannah Furfaro