As experts continue to research lasting protections against the coronavirus, federal health officials are expected to recommend COVID-19 vaccine boosters for all Americans, regardless of age, eight months after they received their second dose of the shot.
However, even as vaccination rates slowly increase, researchers say the world may never reach herd immunity. New variants like delta, which are more transmissible, are moving the bar for herd immunity to near impossibly high levels.
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.
TSA extends to January mask rule for airline passengers
Federal officials are extending into January a requirement that people on airline flights and public transportation wear face masks to limit the spread of COVID-19.
The Transportation Security Administration’s current order was scheduled to expire Sept. 13. An agency spokesman said Tuesday that the mandate will be extended until Jan. 18.
The TSA briefed airline industry representatives on its plan Tuesday.
The mask mandate has been controversial and has led to many encounters between passengers who don’t want to wear a mask and flight attendants asked to enforce the rule. The extension, however, was not surprising after a recent surge in COVID-19 cases linked to the delta variant of the virus.
The rule also applies to travelers on public transportation including trains, subways and buses.
Britain urges halt to Myanmar clashes to allow vaccination
UNITED NATIONS — The United Kingdom called Tuesday for an immediate and sustained pause in clashes and unrest in Myanmar to allow vaccinations as an intense COVID-19 surge is ravaging the country.
Britain’s deputy U.N. ambassador, James Kariuki, told reporters after closed Security Council discussions that the call for a humanitarian pause and a strong international response was joined by Foreign Minister Dato Erywan of Brunei, the new special envoy for Myanmar from the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations who joined the meeting virtually.
Kariuki said U.N. special envoy Christine Schraner Burgener and U.N. deputy humanitarian chief Ramesh Rajasingham told the council that the humanitarian crisis in Myanmar is worsening daily.
“Prior to the coup, Myanmar had a strong vaccination record and was developing a COVID-19 plan,” he said. “Now, Myanmar’s health system is barely functioning, unacceptable attacks on hospitals, doctors and nurses continue, and only 3% of the population are vaccinated.”
DeSantis top donor invests in COVID drug governor promotes
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis — who has been criticized for opposing mask mandates and vaccine passports — is now touting a COVID-19 antibody treatment in which a top donor’s company has invested millions of dollars.
DeSantis has been flying around the state promoting Regeneron, a monoclonal antibody treatment that was used on then-President Donald Trump after he tested positive for COVID-19. The governor first began talking about it as a treatment last year.
Citadel, a Chicago-based hedge fund, has $15.9 million in shares of Regeneron Pharmaceutical, according to filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Citadel CEO Ken Griffin has donated $10.75 million to a political committee that supports DeSantis — $5.75 million in 2018 and $5 million last April.
It’s not unusual for hedge funds to have a wide range of investments. And BlackRock, which has primarily donated to Democratic candidates, though has also donated substantially to Republicans, has a large holding in the company – more so than Citadel.
Arizona governor blocks cash from schools mandating masks
PHOENIX — Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey on Tuesday upped the pressure on the growing number of public school districts defying a state ban on mask mandates as they try to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
The Republican created a $163 million school grant program using federal virus relief funds he controls, but schools that have mask mandates or have to close because of COVID-19 outbreaks won’t be eligible for the additional $1,800 per student.
“Safety recommendations are welcomed and encouraged — mandates that place more stress on students and families aren’t,” Ducey said in a statement. “These grants acknowledge efforts by schools and educators that are following state laws and keeping their classroom doors open for Arizona’s students.”
School districts with current mask mandates will have 10 days to rescind them or lose out on the money, Ducey spokesman C.J. Karamargin said. That’s despite the fact that a law banning schools from enacting those rules does not go into effect for more than a month.
‘Heartbreaking’: Mississippi gets 2nd field hospital in days
JACKSON, Miss. — On normal days, the garage is where people park while visiting Mississippi’s only children’s hospital, a building next door decorated with a logo of a rainbow and sun. Now air-conditioned tents with beds, monitors and oxygen fill the garage’s bottom floor.
By Wednesday, coronavirus patients will begin being treated in Mississippi’s second field hospital opened within days on the University of Mississippi Medical Center campus. It comes as the surging delta variant of COVID-19 has overwhelmed hospitals in a state with one of the nation’s lowest vaccination rates.
The first emergency field hospital opened last week with federal government backing after hospitalizations began spiking in Mississippi; this one is being spearheaded by a Christian relief charity Samaritan’s Purse. The North Carolina-based relief organization arrived Sunday with more than 50 more medical professionals to erect tents with 32 more beds.
University of Mississippi Medical Center spokesperson Marc Rolph was somber about unfolding events.
Fears over rising illness and death from the delta variant fuel Biden administration push for boosters
Growing fears that the swift-moving delta variant of the coronavirus could ignite a firestorm of serious illness — resulting in a further spike in hospitalizations and deaths — prompted a forthcoming announcement by the Biden administration to recommend booster shots for the millions of Americans who have been vaccinated, officials said.
Data from an array of sources — including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Mayo Clinic and Israel — shows immunity from the vaccines declines over time and suggests that greater protection may be needed to fight off the highly contagious mutated strain, according to several senior officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations.
The administration is expected to outline the plan Wednesday during a White House COVID-19 briefing, in which health officials are poised to tell Americans they should get a booster shot eight months after being inoculated. President Joe Biden is expected to speak on the effort after the briefing, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Tuesday.
Texas requests five mortuary trailers from FEMA, bracing for more COVID-19 deaths
Texas health officials have requested five mortuary trailers from the federal government in anticipation of a possible spike in deaths brought about by surging coronavirus numbers in the state.
The Texas Department of State Health Services made a request Aug. 4 through the Texas Division of Emergency Management to the Federal Emergency Management Agency for five mortuary trailers, agency spokesman Douglas Loveday confirmed to The Washington Post, adding the request was made as a precaution. NBC News previously reported the state’s request for mortuary trailers.
The trailers will be kept in San Antonio in case any nearby areas need the additional resource, though Loveday said no specific requests have been made. Still, officials are anticipating a potential need for these trailers in the state. Loveday said FEMA had also provided trailers for earlier increases in COVID-19-related deaths.
At Midwest state fairs no masks required, vaccines are free
Nestled between corn dog stands, animal barns and booths touting hot tubs and John Deere tractors, a Hy-Vee pharmacist and several nurses have been administering COVID-19 vaccines at the Iowa State Fair to anyone eligible that wants one.
Their booth didn’t have the long lines of more popular attractions, but by Monday more than 150 people had received a shot since the 11-day fair started on Thursday. More than 400,000 people attended the fair in its first four days. Still, in a state where only half of the population is fully vaccinated, pharmacist Tiffany Aljets was encouraged that people were changing their minds.
State fairs in Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota and Wisconsin also are offering COVID-19 vaccinations as the delta variant spreads nationwide and relaxed masking leaves some public health officials concerned about another surge in infections.
Dutch economy rebounds strongly from COVID-19 pandemic
There were more job vacancies in the Netherlands in the second quarter of the year than there were people seeking employment as the economy grew by 3.1% compared with the previous quarter, the country’s statistics office reported Tuesday.
It marked the first time job openings have outstripped unemployment since Statistics Netherlands began measuring what it calls tension in the employment market in 2003. The Dutch economy grew by just under 10% from a year ago, when the coronavirus pandemic slammed the brakes on years of growth.
EXPLAINER: What do we know about booster shots for COVID-19?
U.S. health officials may soon recommend COVID-19 booster shots for fully vaccinated Americans.
Why might we need boosters?
It’s common for protection from vaccines to decrease over time. A tetanus booster, for example, is recommended every 10 years.
Researchers and health officials have been monitoring the real-world performance of the COVID-19 vaccines to see how long protection lasts among vaccinated people. Laboratory blood tests have suggested that antibodies — one of the immune system’s layers of protection — can wane over time.
The delta variant has complicated the question of when to give boosters because it is so much more contagious and much of the data gathered about vaccine performance is from before the delta variant was widely circulating. Delta is also taking off at the same time that vaccine immunity might also be waning for the first people vaccinated.
South African activists slam J&J for exporting vaccines
Health activists in Africa have slammed Johnson & Johnson for exporting vaccines produced in South Africa to countries in Europe, which have already immunized large numbers of their people and have even donated vaccines to more needy countries.
The one-dose J&J vaccines were exported from South Africa, where they had been assembled, despite the pressing need for vaccines across Africa.
The vast majority of the world’s COVID-19 vaccine supply has already been bought up by rich countries including the U.S., Canada and the European Union. While many of those countries have pledged to donate millions of vaccines to African countries, most of them won’t be delivered this year. And many are now planning booster shots for their own people.
“In this case, what does global solidarity mean? Vaccines made in South Africa were supposed to boost distribution to countries like ours, but that has not happened,” said Moses Muluba, from the Center for Health, Human Rights and Development in Uganda.
State health officials confirm 2,385 new coronavirus cases
The state Department of Health (DOH) reported 2,385 new coronavirus cases and 21 new deaths on Tuesday.
The update brings the state's totals to 517,214 cases and 6,269 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. Monday. 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, 28,979 people have been hospitalized in the state due to the virus — 175 new hospitalizations. In King County, the state's most populous, state health officials have confirmed a total of 126,887 COVID-19 diagnoses and 1,697 deaths.
Since vaccinations began in mid-December, the state and health care providers have administered 8,344,370 doses and 53.7% 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 11,222 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.
How kids can stay safer at school despite delta variant threat
Children in Los Angeles and around California have streamed into schools after more than a year of distance learning. While many students were excited to return to campus, their parents have been feeling anxious about sending them into classrooms while the highly contagious delta variant continues to spread.
It’s a particular worry for parents of children under age 12, who are too young to be eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine.
Experts say there are ways to enhance kids’ safety at school, among them: ventilation, vaccination and masks.
Florida seniors hospitalized with COVID-19 as much as in January
The COVID-19 wave that has recently struck young people in the U.S. has ensnared the country’s elderly population, with hospitalizations among seniors in some hot-spot states nearing their previous peaks.
In Florida, the rate of new daily COVID-19 hospitalization among the 70-and-over age group is as high as it was in January — a possible signal of more mortality ahead since seniors have been much more susceptible to severe outcomes. Hospital admissions of the elderly also have jumped in Louisiana and Mississippi.
“What this underscores is the degree to which there is so much more transmission with the delta variant,” said University of South Florida epidemiologist Jason Salemi. “When you have spread that is that pronounced, it is going to find those vulnerable people.”
Texas governor tests positive for COVID-19
Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott tested positive for COVID-19 on Tuesday, according to his office, which said he is experiencing no symptoms.
Abbott, who was vaccinated in 2020, was isolating in the governor's mansion in Austin and receiving monoclonal antibody treatment, spokesman Mark Miner said in a statement.
The governor is the latest Texan to test positive as cases of the virus soar and hospitals around the state are stretched thin. More than 11,500 patients were hospitalized with the virus as of Monday, the highest levels since January. The positive tests comes a day after Abbott tweeted a picture of himself not wearing a mask while speaking indoors near Dallas to a group of Republicans, most of whom were unmasked.
National parks require masks ‘regardless of vaccination status’
Add COVID-19 masks to your camping gear when visiting Yellowstone, Yosemite and beyond.
The National Park Service is requiring masks for crowded outdoor spaces and buildings “regardless of vaccination status or community transmission levels.”
Washington has three national parks: North Cascades National Park, Olympic National Park and Mount Rainier National Park.
In a statement issued Monday, Shawn Benge, deputy director of the park service, said: “Visitors to national parks are coming from locations across the country, if not across the world. Because of this, and recognizing that the majority of the United States is currently in substantial or high transmission categories, we are implementing a service-wide mask requirement to ensure our staff and visitors’ safety.”
More than 8,000 Florida students isolate or quarantine because of a school district spike
A Florida school board is set to hold an emergency meeting this week to consider a mask mandate as more than 8,000 students and hundreds of employees in its district are in isolation or quarantine because of a surge in coronavirus cases and possible exposure.
Hillsborough County Public Schools, which includes Tampa, has 8,400 students and 307 staff members either in isolation because of a positive test or in quarantine after coming into close contact with someone who tested positive, district spokesperson Tanya Arja told The Washington Post on Tuesday. The number of students who are either in isolation or quarantine jumped by nearly 3,000 from the total given by the school district on Monday.
The meeting Wednesday comes as the district’s case count, which stands at around 730, is nearly 20 times higher than it was at the same time last year.
Florida, in the midst of a record-breaking stretch of coronavirus cases, accounts for nearly 1 in 5 of the nation’s total hospitalizations, currently averaging more than 21,700 new cases daily.
A mask mandate in the district would violate an order from Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis prohibiting schools from requiring face coverings.
‘Tainted’ blood? COVID vaccine skeptics request transfusions only from unvaccinated donors
The nation’s roiling tensions over vaccination against COVID-19 have spilled into an unexpected arena: lifesaving blood transfusions.
With nearly 60% of the eligible U.S. population fully vaccinated, most of the nation’s blood supply is now coming from donors who have been inoculated, experts said. That’s led some patients who are skeptical of the shots to demand transfusions only from the unvaccinated, an option blood centers insist is neither medically sound nor operationally feasible.
“We are definitely aware of patients who have refused blood products from vaccinated donors,” said Dr. Julie Katz Karp, who directs the blood bank and transfusion medicine program at Thomas Jefferson University Hospitals in Philadelphia.
Emily Osment, an American Red Cross spokesperson, said her organization has fielded questions from clients worried that vaccinated blood would be “tainted,” capable of transmitting components from the COVID-19 vaccines. Red Cross officials said they’ve had to reassure clients that a COVID-19 vaccine, which is injected into muscle or the layer of skin below, doesn’t circulate in the blood.
“While the antibodies that are produced by the stimulated immune system in response to vaccination are found throughout the bloodstream, the actual vaccine components are not,” Jessa Merrill, the Red Cross director of biomedical communications, said in an email.
Schumer calls for federal crackdown on fake vaccine cards
The Senate’s top Democrat says federal law enforcement officials need to crack down on fake COVID-19 vaccination cards being sold online.
Sen. Chuck Schumer’s announcement comes after The Associated Press reported people are cheating the system and buying counterfeit COVID-19 vaccination cards online, worrying officials at colleges and universities across the country that are requiring proof students received the vaccine to attend in-person classes.
Schumer is demanding U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the FBI and the Department of Health and Human Services crackdown on the counterfeit cards. Federal agents have already seized thousands of fake vaccine cards this year.
Among France’s poorest, once-lagging vaccine rates jump
The poorest region in mainland France has managed to dramatically speed up its COVID-19 vaccination campaign in recent weeks, notably by opening walk-in pop-up centers to reach out to people where they live and work.
The multicultural, working-class region of Seine-Saint-Denis, north of Paris, initially struggled in getting the word out about vaccines to a population where many are immigrants who don’t speak French or lack access to regular medical care.
But offering vaccinations at a highly visible location wth easy access seems to be doing the trick.
Canada reopened its borders to Americans this week but the crowds haven’t arrived just yet
The Canadian border is open, but the streets of Vancouver aren’t exactly teeming with U.S. tourists — yet. Canadians in the hospitality and tourism industry are hoping against hope they’ll be here soon.
“We haven’t seen any U.S. cash so far,” said David Rohrer, owner of two coffee shops in Vancouver: Bean Around the World in the Gastown neighborhood and At the Totem Poles in Stanley Park, a popular tourist destination. “But they’re gonna come.”
Canada opened its southern border to fully vaccinated Americans at 12:01 a.m. on Monday, but the bright, clean tennis shoes and baseball caps — which some Canadians say announce the arrival of American tourists — are still seldom seen in the usual hot spots.
According to Destination Vancouver, the pandemic lockdowns cost the metropolitan area $9.8 billion in visitor spending, $2.6 billion in taxes to local government and 72,000 full-time equivalent jobs.
NYC begins requiring proof of vaccination at eateries, gyms
Notices taped to the windows and front door of the Stop Inn, a diner in Queens, made it clear the eatery would comply with the city’s new edict against the coronavirus: All patrons dining indoors at restaurants, browsing works of art at museums or sweating it out at gyms must prove they have been vaccinated against COVID-19.
The signs at the Stop Inn went up Monday evening, said a server, to give customers due notice that on Tuesday it would begin complying with the city’s latest effort to curtail the spread of the virus, particularly the troublesome and more contagious delta variant that has fueled a surge in infections and hospitalizations across the country.
Norbu Lama, 17, said he was surprised when a server politely asked for his vaccination card soon after he slid into a booth with his parents and younger sister.
“We didn’t know we had to bring it,” he said. The server appeared relieved when Lama and his family presented copies of their vaccination cards on their phone.
The vaccination mandate, first announced two weeks ago by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, is meant to persuade more people to get vaccinated — or miss out on partaking of much of the city’s amenities, including restaurants, bars, gyms, public performances, museums and other cultural venues.
Japan expands virus emergency, weighs legal penalties
Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga officially expanded and extended the nation’s coronavirus state of emergency on Tuesday, as government advisers recommended legal changes that would allow penalties for violations.
The measures, approved by a government task force, add seven prefectures to the six areas already under a state of emergency and extend it to Sept. 12.
Ten other prefectures were put under a “quasi-emergency,” which had previously encompassed six prefectures, bringing about two-thirds of the nation under some form of emergency as COVID-19 infections “explode” across the nation, in Suga’s words.
Why a fast-spreading coronavirus and a half-vaccinated public can be a recipe for disaster
If you were responsible for tracking the pandemic, divining what the coronavirus’ next trick will be, and keeping illness and death to a minimum, you’d be really worried right now.
The COVID-19 vaccines are making a difference, and they’ve prevented nearly all recipients from becoming very sick or dying. But with infections surging among the unvaccinated, hospitalizations reaching a height not seen since February, and just half the population fully inoculated, the coronavirus is not done with us yet.
And new perils lie in wait that could escalate or prolong the outbreak. Each has the potential to cause more illness and death. And if they happen in combination with each other, the misery could be compounded as conditions are ideal for the emergence of vaccine-resistant variants.
With only some of the population vaccinated, the evolutionary pressure on a virus increases. Faced with a wall that’s only half built, the virus that finds a way to jump is rewarded and that's how new viral strains are born. Scientists have documented that immune-compromised patients who can’t quickly clear a SARS-CoV-2 infection are prolific generators of new viral mutations.
Nevada governor: Events that require vaccines need not require masks
Large events held in Nevada can add themselves to the growing number of places in the U.S. where people in crowds can be asked to prove they have been inoculated against COVID-19, the governor said Monday.
Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak said that large indoor venues in cities like Las Vegas and Reno will be allowed to opt out of the state’s mask requirements if they verify their guests are vaccinated.
Hours after the announcement, the Las Vegas Raiders went public with a plan made possible by the new directive to require vaccines — and not masks. Starting at the Raiders’ September 13 game against the Baltimore Ravens, fully vaccinated fans will not have to wear masks — a first-in-the-NFL policy.
Amid new virus surge, Florida skeptics reconsider vaccines
n a rural stretch of northeastern Florida where barely half the people have gotten a coronavirus shot, Roger West had no problem telling others he was “adamantly anti-vaccination.”
The co-owner of the Westside Journal weekly newspaper used his voice as a columnist to widely share his doubts about the vaccine and his mistrust of the health experts in the U.S. who have been urging everyone to get it.
“I do not trust the Federal Government,” West wrote recently. “I do not trust Dr. Fauci, I do not trust the medical profession, nor the pharmaceutical giants.”
But something happened to change his mind: Two of West’s close friends became ill with the virus, and a third died. Rattled and stressed, he prayed for guidance. Then, when his mother and another relative both urged him to get vaccinated, he took it as a sign from God. West drove to the Winn Dixie supermarket and rolled up his sleeve for the first of two injections of the Moderna vaccine.
“All of a sudden, it hit real close to home,” he said.
West is not alone. In this inland area of Nassau County, sandwiched between Jacksonville and the Okefenokee Swamp at the Georgia-Florida line, a devastating resurgence of the coronavirus is making even some die-hard vaccine skeptics reconsider the shots.
Catch up on the past 24 hours
U.S. experts will likely recommend vaccine boosters for all Americans, regardless of age, eight months after they received their last dose of the shot. Here's what to expect.
Superspreader at the Gorge: COVID-19 cases linked to the outdoor Watershed Festival have surpassed 200, and officials say everyone who attended should quarantine and get tested. Several major events are still planned there in coming weeks.
An entire nation has slammed itself back into lockdown after a single COVID-19 case popped up.
“Delta is not something we will be able to eradicate” … ever, experts say. With hope vanishing for global herd immunity, they're describing a different reality that we may achieve "if we're lucky."
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