Editor’s note: This is a live account of COVID-19 updates from Wednesday, Aug. 11, 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 It is no longer being updated.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.
Snohomish County became one of the first in Washington to bring back a mask mandate for all residents ages 5 and up after COVID-19 cases in the county doubled over the past three weeks.
The decision by Washington State University football coach Nick Rolovich to remain unvaccinated despite WSU’s mandate that all students and staff get the jab is under increased scrutiny now that Gov. Inslee is requiring all state workers get vaccinated.
With the rise of the delta variant, coronavirus misinformation is once again spiking online as people who peddle in falsehoods seize on the surge of cases to spread new and recycled lies worldwide, experts say.
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 and the world.
WHO director predicts 100 million additional COVID cases worldwide
World Health Organization Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus suggested Wednesday that unless things change, the world could see 100 million more cases of COVID-19 by the early months of next year.
“At the current trajectory, we could pass 300 million cases early next year,” he said during a media briefing. “But we can change that. We are all in this together, but the world is not acting like it.”
The number of recorded COVID-19 cases had reached 200 million last week, just six months after the world passed 100 million cases, Tedros noted, “and we know that the real number of cases is much higher.”
At the briefing, WHO officials emphasized that more research was being done on treatment for COVID-19 in an unprecedented multicountry trial called Solidarity Plus, which will look at the effectiveness of three new drugs in 52 countries.
Officials also said the spread of virulent variants such as delta would change assumptions about herd immunity and vaccination targets.
Do the COVID-19 vaccines affect my chances of pregnancy?
Do the COVID-19 vaccines affect my chances of pregnancy?
No, there’s no evidence that any vaccines, including COVID-19 vaccines, influence your chances of getting pregnant despite a myth suggesting otherwise.
Medical experts say there’s no biological reason the shots would affect fertility. And real-world evidence offers more assurance for anyone worried about their chances of conceiving: In Pfizer’s study, a similar number of women became pregnant in the group given the vaccine as in the group given dummy shots.
Researchers are starting to study anecdotal reports of short-term changes to periods after the vaccine, but researchers say there’s no indication so far that the shots put fertility at risk.
Rand Paul discloses 16 months late that his wife bought stock in company behind COVID treatment
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., revealed Wednesday that his wife bought stock in Gilead Sciences — which makes an antiviral drug used to treat COVID-19 — on Feb. 26, 2020, before the threat from the coronavirus was fully understood by the public and before it was classified as a pandemic by the World Health Organization.
The disclosure, in a filing with the Senate, came 16 months after the 45-day reporting deadline set forth in the Stock Act, which is designed to combat insider trading.
The investment, but especially the delayed reporting of it, alarmed experts in corporate and securities law, who said it undermined trust in government and raised questions about whether Paul’s family had profited from nonpublic information about the looming health emergency and plans by the U.S. government to combat it.
Lost your COVID-19 vaccination card? Here’s what to do.
The 4-by-3-inch card stock frustratingly doesn’t fit in most wallets. But it’s an essential document that quickly may become an entry pass in everyday life.
Since the vaccine rollout started in Washington state, showing proof of immunity has been more commonplace. Whether it’s a condition of employment — as it is now for most state employees and health care workers — or an entry requirement for a growing number of bars and restaurants, people may find themselves needing to prove they have received their shots.
But if you’ve lost your vaccination card — don’t panic.
If the physical card has been misplaced, there are other ways to show proof in Washington.
Fueled by delta variant, Washington state surpasses 500,000 coronavirus cases
The number of coronavirus cases in Washington state has surpassed 500,000, with a new surge in cases fueled by the highly transmissible delta variant.
The state Department of Health (DOH) confirmed the grim milestone Wednesday afternoon, more than a year and a half after the first case in the country was confirmed in Washington. State health officials reported 3,095 new confirmed cases Wednesday, bringing the total number of cases in the state to 500,434.
The DOH also reported 17 new deaths and 147 new hospitalizations Wednesday. With the update, accurate as of 11:59 p.m. Tuesday, 6,204 people in Washington have died of COVID-19 and 28,072 people have been hospitalized.
Wednesday’s update was the second highest single-day increase in cases reported in the state since January. More than 5,000 new cases were reported on Aug 2.
School mask fights heating up in conservative states
SALT LAKE CITY — With the highly contagious delta variant fueling a surge in coronavirus cases just as students return to classrooms, major school districts in Arizona, Florida, Texas and beyond are increasingly defying Republican leaders who banned school mask mandates in several states.
The showdowns have drawn in the White House and landed in courtrooms where judges have so far allowed school mask requirements in two states.
Schools across the U.S. have a patchwork of different rules as they try to keep classrooms open during the coronavirus pandemic, but in several states GOP leaders banned districts from requiring all kids to wear masks.
But with infections and hospitalizations on the rise and vaccinations out of reach for young children, districts in blue-leaning urban areas especially are rebelling against the laws and requiring masks in schools — even if it means facing consequences from governors and courts. Districts in Phoenix, Dallas, Houston, Austin, San Antonio and Broward County, Florida, are among those defying the mask laws.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis threatened to withhold the salaries of school leaders who enact mask requirements.
What 6 health experts say about traveling amid the delta variant
So much has changed since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced in April that vaccinated Americans could travel again. As travel returned with a vengeance, so did the highly contagious delta variant of the coronavirus.
On Monday, the CDC reinstated its highest travel advisory tier for popular destinations such as France, Israel and Iceland, joining others like Greece, St. Martin and Ireland. States are bringing back indoor mask mandates and size limits on group gatherings. However, the CDC still says fully vaccinated Americans can travel safely within the United States.
So how should travelers feel about their upcoming travel plans? It can all depend on where you are going, said six health experts, how you are getting there and whom you are going with.
California to require COVID-19 vaccine or test for teachers
SAN FRANCISCO — California will become the first state in the nation to require all teachers and school staff to get vaccinated or undergo weekly COVID-19 testing.
The statewide vaccine mandate for K-12 educators comes as schools return from summer break amid growing concerns of the highly contagious delta variant.
Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom announced the new policy Wednesday as he visited a San Francisco Bay Area school that has already reopened after summer break. Many California schools are back in session, with others starting in the coming weeks.
Several large school districts in the state have issued similar requirements in recent days, including San Francisco, Oakland, San Jose and the Long Beach Unified school districts.
Amtrak to require COVID-19 vaccines for employees
Amtrak will require all employees and contractors to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, according to a company advisory issued by CEO Bill Flynn Wednesday.
Employees must be fully vaccinated by Nov. 1, meaning it has been at least two weeks since they received all required doses. New hires as of Oct. 4 must show proof they are fully vaccinated before their first day of work, according to the memo.
Employees who have not provided documentation of their full vaccination status will be required to submit negative COVID-19 test results weekly. They can request medical or religious exemptions.
“Many employees have shared reasons why they are apprehensive about getting the COVID-19 vaccine,” Flynn said in the memo. “We understand those concerns, and encourage everyone to consult with a medical professional and seek out facts from reputable sources.”
State health officials confirm 3095 new coronavirus cases
The state Department of Health (DOH) reported 3095 new coronavirus cases and 17 new deaths on Wednesday.
The update brings the state's totals to 500,434 cases and 6,204 deaths, meaning that 1.2% of people diagnosed in Washington have died, according to the DOH. The data is as of 11:59 p.m. Tuesday. Tallies may be higher earlier in the week because new state data isn’t reported on Sundays and COVID-related deaths aren’t reported on the weekends.
In addition, 28,072 people have been hospitalized in the state due to the virus — 147 new hospitalizations. In King County, the state's most populous, state health officials have confirmed a total of 123,285 COVID-19 diagnoses and 1,691 deaths.
Since vaccinations began in mid-December, the state and health care providers have administered 8,276,970 doses and 53.3% 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 10,382 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.
Passengers start hitting brakes on air travel as COVID numbers rise
A surge in coronavirus caseloads across the nation is starting to dampen the enthusiasm of leisure travelers. One major U.S. airline is warning the more contagious delta variant could also darken this fall’s travel outlook.
Southwest Airlines, the nation’s fourth-largest domestic carrier, reported Wednesday it is seeing weaker bookings this month amid a jump in coronavirus infections nationwide. The airline said if caseloads remain elevated, that downward demand trend is likely to extend into September.
The report comes after Southwest earlier this summer reported strong leisure passenger numbers and fares that were above July 2019 levels.
“The Company has recently experienced a deceleration in close-in bookings and an increase in close-in trip cancellations in August 2021, which are believed to be driven by the recent rise in COVID-19 cases associated with the Delta variant,” Southwest said in a filing Wednesday.
Taiwanese man gets 6 years in prison in COVID-19 fund fraud
NEW YORK — A Taiwanese man was sentenced Wednesday to six years in prison after admitting to defrauding a program designed to keep small businesses financially afloat during the coronavirus pandemic.
Sheng-Wen Cheng, 25, was sentenced in Manhattan federal court by Judge Alison J. Nathan for multiple fraud schemes, including some frauds that occurred before the coronavirus surfaced.
The Manhattan resident pleaded guilty in April to major fraud against the U.S., along with bank, securities and wire fraud charges.
Authorities say he applied for over $7 million in aid for small businesses, saying he had over 200 workers and $1.5 million in monthly payroll when his companies actually had no more than 14 employees. He received nearly $3 million from the program and sent over $1 million abroad, prosecutors said.
In sentencing papers, lawyers for Cheng, who entered the United States on a student visa before attending Pennsylvania State University, had requested leniency and no more than two years behind bars, citing their client’s abusive childhood and other setbacks.
Study: Extra COVID shot helps protect transplant patients
A third dose of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine substantially improved protection for organ transplant recipients whose weak immune systems don’t always rev up enough with the standard two shots, Canadian researchers reported Wednesday.
The study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, was small but it’s the most rigorous type of third-dose testing so far for this vulnerable group.
Moderna and similar vaccines provide robust protection for most people, even as the highly contagious delta variant is surging. But millions with suppressed immune systems because of transplants, cancer or other disorders don’t always get that benefit. There’s limited evidence that an extra dose helps some of them, something France and Israel already recommend and the U.S. is considering.
Researchers at Toronto’s University Health Network enrolled 120 transplant recipients, and two months after their second Moderna shot, gave half a real third dose and the rest a dummy shot.
CDC says all pregnant women should get COVID vaccine as delta surges
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urged all pregnant women Wednesday to get the COVID-19 vaccine as hospitals in hot spots around the U.S. see disturbing numbers of unvaccinated mothers-to-be seriously ill with the virus.
Expectant women run a higher risk of severe illness and pregnancy complications from the coronavirus, including perhaps miscarriages and stillbirths. But their vaccination rates are low, with only about 23% having received at least one dose, according to CDC data.
“The vaccines are safe and effective, and it has never been more urgent to increase vaccinations as we face the highly transmissible delta variant and see severe outcomes from COVID-19 among unvaccinated pregnant people,’’ CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said in a statement.
The updated guidance comes after a CDC analysis of new safety data on 2,500 women showed no increased risks of miscarriage for those who received at least one dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine before 20 weeks of pregnancy. The analysis found a miscarriage rate of around 13%, within the normal range.
Overwhelmed by COVID-19: A day inside a Louisiana hospital
JEFFERSON, La. — The rapidly escalating surge in COVID-19 infections across the U.S. is once again overwhelming hospitals, especially in hot spots such as Louisiana, which hit a record number of coronavirus hospitalizations last week.
Nearly 2,900 virus patients are currently hospitalized — and state health officials say the number of cases may not peak for several more weeks. Louisiana has the country’s fourth-lowest vaccination rate, with just a little more than 37% of residents fully inoculated.
On a recent day at Ochsner Medical Center in the New Orleans suburb of Jefferson, health care providers rushed up and down halls, throwing on and taking off protective clothing every time they entered a new area of the building.
In dozens of ICU rooms, patients lay pallid and motionless, tubes down their throats, as beeping machines pumped drugs into their system and ventilators forced air into their weakened lungs. Health care contractors brought in from other hospitals quickly familiarized themselves with a new environment as they rushed to ease the load of the overtaxed staff.
“We’re trying to provide the most consistent care we can, but to do that we need more hands,” Davis said. “One of the biggest issues for our nurses is, the volume of patients is such that we’re having to create beds that didn’t previously exist. We’re having to find providers that weren’t previously put in place.”
Millions of COVID vaccine doses face expiration, but much of the world still doesn’t have enough shots
For months, a refrigerator at a government facility in the Dutch university town of Leiden has housed 90 or so small white boxes that contain thousands of dollars worth of AstraZeneca vaccine doses. But most of them are emblazoned with six small numbers that will soon render them worthless: 08.2021.
For Dennis Mook-Kanamori, a doctor at Leiden University Medical Center who until recently was administering vaccines there, the upcoming expiration of thousands of doses is tragic. What really incenses him, however, is that the Dutch government is set to let the doses expire rather than send them abroad.
“It’s an elitist, decadent attitude,” Mook-Kanamori said.
The situation is mirrored in countless freezers, refrigerators and backrooms around the world as millions of coronavirus vaccine doses, developed at record-breaking speeds, march quietly toward expiration before they can be used. And as demand slows in wealthy nations like the Netherlands, more dust is gathering — and more doses are expiring.
Last month, Mook-Kanamori and his colleagues threw away 600 doses. By the end of August, the number is set climb by another 8,000. Unless something changes, by October, all 10,000 or so doses in the refrigerators in Leiden will have been thrown out. Doctors estimate there may be 200,000 AstraZeneca doses in the Netherlands facing a similar fate.
Mississippi Book Festival canceled because of COVID concerns
JACKSON, Miss. — This month’s Mississippi Book Festival has been canceled amid concerns of contagion from the latest surge in coronavirus infections.
“Authors were very uncomfortable traveling, and we didn’t want to take any chances,” the festival’s executive director, Holly Lange, said Wednesday. “We did not want to be a super-spreader event and put any more stress on the hospital system.”
The free event was to have been held on Aug. 21 inside and outside the state Capitol and at nearby Galloway United Methodist Church in downtown Jackson, with than 180 authors signed up to speak during 48 panel discussions.
Scheduled speakers included novelists Kiese Laymon and Ellen Gilchrist; historian Lonnie G. Bunch, who is secretary of the Smithsonian Institution; and former Time magazine editor Walter Isaacson, who is now a history professor at Tulane University. Among the topics this year were panels on civil rights, the Gulf South, Afrofuturism, cooking and young adult fiction.
Macron warns virus is ‘not behind us;’ urges vaccination
PARIS — French President Emmanuel Macron warned Wednesday that the virus crisis “is not behind us” after attending a government meeting focused on the COVID-19 pandemic.
Macron urged all French people who are eligible to get a COVID-19 vaccine. For several weeks, France has faced an increase in number of daily infections, driven by the highly contagious delta variant, which now accounts for most new cases. France is reporting over 22,000 new confirmed cases each day on average.
“The health crisis is not behind us, very clearly … We will live for several more months with this virus,” he said.
About 45 million people in France — 67% of the population — have now received at least one virus shot and 56% are fully vaccinated.
France is now requiring people to show a QR code proving they have a special virus pass before they can enter restaurants and cafes or travel by plane, train or bus across the country. The measure is part of a government plan to encourage more people to get a COVID-19 vaccine shot and slow down the spread of the virus.
YouTube suspends Sen. Rand Paul for video with false COVID claim
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., has been suspended from YouTube for a week for posting a video that falsely claims masks don’t work to limit the spread of COVID-19.
The conservative Republican called it a “badge of honor” to be bounced from the social media platform, which he accused of censoring him.
“This kind of censorship is very dangerous, incredibly anti-free speech, and truly anti-progress of science,” Paul said.
YouTube initially yanked a video posted by Paul of an interview in which he falsely claimed that masks are ineffective in limiting the spread of the deadly virus.
It suspended him for a week after he posted another video claiming that neither cloth masks nor surgical masks can prevent transmission of COVID-19.
Senegal’s ambulance teams struggle amid a wave of COVID-19
DAKAR, Senegal — The paramedics get the urgent call at 10:30 p.m.: A 25-year-old woman, eight months pregnant and likely suffering from COVID-19, is now having serious trouble breathing.
Yahya Niane grabs two small oxygen cylinders and heads to the ambulance with his team. Upon arrival, they find the young woman’s worried father waving an envelope in front of her mouth, a desperate effort to send more air her way.
Her situation is dire: Niane says Binta Ba needs to undergo a cesarean section right away if they are to save her and the baby. But first they must find a hospital that can take her.
“All the hospitals in Dakar are full so to find a place for someone who is having trouble breathing is very difficult,” he says.
It’s a scenario that has become all too common as Senegal confronts a rapid increase in confirmed coronavirus cases. Instead of motorcycle accidents and heart attacks, the vast majority of ambulance calls in the country’s capital are now COVID-19 cases.
A German nurse injected patients with saline instead of coronavirus vaccines, sparking fury
BERLIN – An outcry is brewing in Germany as thousands are set to be revaccinated after a nurse admitted to injecting patients with saline solution instead of the coronavirus vaccine.
Almost 9,000 people who may have been given bogus shots in the spring will be offered new vaccinations, Friesland District Administrator Sven Ambrosy said in a news conference Tuesday.
The nurse, who has not been publicly identified, had initially admitted to giving shots of saline solution to six patients after suspicions were raised in April. She said she did so to cover up the fact that she had dropped a vial of the Pfizer vaccine, German television channel NDR reported.
However, since antibody testing was carried out, a much wider group of people is suspected to have been impacted. Police have also discovered that the woman, who worked with the Red Cross, had shared vaccine-skeptical posts on social media, NDR said.
A GoFundMe topped $200K after a woman said she and her kids faced eviction. Then their real mom came forward.
Behind nearly two grand on rent and facing eviction, Dasha Kelly started an online fundraiser in July, asking strangers to help her and her three daughters stay in their North Las Vegas home.
“We were maintaining just fine before this pandemic hit. Now we are suffering,” the 32-year-old wrote in the introduction to the GoFundMe donation page, which she titled “Help My Girls & I avoid eviction.”
For weeks, the fundraiser languished without a donation, she said. Then, on Aug. 2, CNN ran a story about the family’s struggle. A day later, the news organization aired another interview with Kelly as she sat on her couch with three girls identified as her daughters.
By the time the broadcast was over, donors had given Kelly nearly $100,000, dwarfing her $2,000 goal. The windfall would allow her to pivot from the specter of eviction to the certainty of having her rent covered for the rest of her lease, she said. On Monday, some 3,700 people had donated about $234,000.
But days after the CNN clip aired, a woman came forward and said that she was the girls’ mother. Kelly then revealed she is not the biological mother of the three girls who sat with her on the couch.
Hawaii returns to limiting gatherings to combat delta variant
After a week in which Hawaii reported more new daily cases than in any other week of the pandemic, Gov. David Ige announced Tuesday that he was reimposing restrictions to try to curb the surge.
“Social gatherings will be limited to no more than 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors,” he said at a news conference. All indoor events will be reduced to 50% physical capacity and includes bars, restaurants, gyms and houses of worship, he said, and masks must be worn at all times except when actively eating or drinking.
The measure is in effect immediately and comes five days after Ige, a Democrat, ordered all state and county employees to show proof of vaccination by Monday or face weekly testing. While that policy affects tens of thousands of residents in Hawaii, Ige said that he believed it was not enough.
Hawaii, which has had the country’s fewest cases per capita over the course of the pandemic, has seen its number of patients hospitalized with COVID soar from only 40 on July 1 to 246 on Tuesday, of whom 235 are unvaccinated.
In Iran, slow vaccinations fuel anger in unending pandemic
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Iranians are suffering through yet another surge in the coronavirus pandemic — their country’s worst yet — and anger is growing at images of vaccinated Westerners without face masks on the internet or on TV while they remain unable to get the shots.
Iran, like much of the world, remains far behind countries like the United States in vaccinating its public, with only 3 million of its more than 80 million people having received both vaccine doses. But while some countries face poverty or other challenges in obtaining vaccines, Iran has brought some of the problems on itself.
After Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei refused to accept vaccine donations from Western countries, the Islamic Republic has sought to make the shots domestically, though that process lags far behind other nations.
The supply of non-Western shots remains low, creating a black market offering Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech shots for as much as $1,350 in a country where the currency, the Iranian rial, is on the verge of collapse. Meanwhile, U.S. sanctions imposed on Iran mean the cash-strapped government has limited funds to purchase vaccines abroad.
Families of high-risk children despair over COVID resurgence
The delta variant has led to a surge in coronavirus cases and hospitalizations across the country, leaving families with high-risk children who cannot be vaccinated especially concerned. A growing number have shared their stories online, accompanied by desperate pleas for people to become inoculated, for the sake of their children.
Many parents say they are angry and exhausted from trying to keep their children safe while balancing the emotional trauma of more than a year of isolation.
Elena Hung, 43, of Silver Spring, Maryland, knows COVID could be deadly for her daughter Xiomara, 7, who has heart issues and chronic lung and kidney disease and breathes through a tracheotomy. Hung is the executive director and co-founder of Little Lobbyists, a national nonprofit advocacy group of families with disabled and medically complex children.
“We’re just pleading, begging people to get vaccinated and wear their mask for the sake of our children,” Hung said.
US to deliver nearly 837,000 Pfizer vaccines to Caribbean
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — The U.S. government said Wednesday that it will deliver nearly 837,000 Pfizer vaccines to Caribbean nations as the region with limited resources struggles with a spike in COVID-19 cases amid violent anti-vaccine protests.
The Bahamas will receive 397,000 doses followed by Trinidad and Tobago with more than 305,000 doses. Barbados will receive 70,200 doses, while 35,100 are slated for St. Vincent and the Grenadines, 17,550 for Antigua and 11,700 for St. Kitts and Nevis.
“The Biden-Harris administration’s highest priority in the Americas today is managing and ending the COVID pandemic and contributing to equitable recovery,” said Juan González, the National Security Council’s senior director for the Western Hemisphere.
Thousands of specialized syringes required for the Pfizer vaccine also were donated, with officials noting that the donations involved “significant legal and logistic complexity.”
In addition, USAID, which has provided more than $28 million to help 14 Caribbean nations fight COVID-19, expects to announce additional funding soon, according to a White House official.
Catch up on the past 24 hours
No, COVID-19 vaccines don't create zombie vampires! "I made that up," a frustrated screenwriter behind a Hollywood thriller felt the need to tweet amid a spike in dangerous misinformation. Serious vaccine side effects are rare and outweighed by the benefits, according to a detailed new breakdown from the CDC. More than 166 million Americans have been fully vaccinated, and the zombie count remains at zero.
WSU coach Nick Rolovich’s decision to not get vaccinated is keeping a dark cloud over the football program, columnist Larry Stone writes, wondering how Rolovich can even do the job.
An Issaquah man is headed to prison in a $1.1 million scam involving COVID-19 relief aid.
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