Editor’s note: This is a live account of COVID-19 updates from Monday, August 23, 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 It is no longer being updated.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.
Washington’s statewide mask mandate goes into effect today. After nearly two months when most of the state’s COVID-related restrictions had dropped away, Gov. Jay Inslee reinstituted a mask mandate for almost all indoor public places.
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.
COVID is giving the U.S. a crash course in scientific uncertainty
When the coronavirus surfaced last year, no one was prepared for it to invade every aspect of daily life for so long, so insidiously. The pandemic has forced Americans to wrestle with life-or-death choices every day of the past 18 months — and there is no end in sight.
Scientific understanding of the virus changes by the hour, it seems. The virus spreads only by close contact or on contaminated surfaces, and then turns out to be airborne. The virus mutates slowly, but then emerges in a series of dangerous new forms. Americans do not need to wear masks. Wait, they do.
At no point in this ordeal has the ground beneath our feet seemed so uncertain. Just last week, federal health officials said they would begin offering booster shots to all Americans in the coming months. Days earlier, those officials had assured the public that the vaccines were holding strong against the delta variant of the virus, and that boosters would not be necessary.
Additional pandemic aid programs launch for Alaska Natives
Additional programs have launched aimed at providing pandemic aid to Tlingit and Haida tribal members and to shareholders of an Alaska Native corporation whose shareholder base is of Tlingit and Haida descent.
One of the programs, from the Central Council of Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska, is offering up to $1,000 in aid to tribal members who have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The other, from Goldbelt Inc., is making available up to $2,600 per shareholder. Shareholders must be U.S. citizens and be able to show a financial impact from the pandemic to be eligible, KTOO Public Media reported.
A dollar per doughnut per day: One man’s vaccination quest
Joe Caramagna, a man who searches “doughnuts near me” when he travels, had never lived a short walk from a doughnut shop. This was a problem.
But one morning in April, he took a walk near his home in Paramus, New Jersey, and spotted on a building, written in crisp, red cursive script, a sign he never thought he would see less than a mile away. “Krispy Kreme,” it read.
The chain had recently announced that vaccinated people could get one free glazed doughnut a day until the end of the year. Caramagna had received his second dose of the Pfizer vaccine a few days before.
“It was kismet,” he said.
Realizing the stars had aligned and popped him into the vacant center of his doughnut-obsessed world, he decided to channel his sweet cravings for a bigger purpose. He is among thousands of people across the nation and around the world who have started their own small vaccine campaigns. They hope to persuade even a few people to get the shot, raise money for charities, or, if nothing else, offer their friends and neighbors a little cheer in a dark time.
State health officials confirm 2,101 new coronavirus cases
The state Department of Health (DOH) reported 2,101 new coronavirus cases and 27 new deaths on Monday.
The update brings the state's totals to 536,814 cases and 6,383 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. Sunday. 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, 29,996 people have been hospitalized in the state due to the virus — 505 new hospitalizations. In King County, the state's most populous, state health officials have confirmed a total of 130,870 COVID-19 diagnoses and 1,714 deaths.
Since vaccinations began in mid-December, the state and health care providers have administered 8,447,056 doses and 54.2% 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 12,131 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.
Arizona Senate GOP’s 2020 election report delayed again: Team ‘quite sick’ with COVID-19
The delivery of a report on the 2020 vote count to Arizona state Senate Republicans was delayed yet again Monday after the Donald Trump supporter hired to lead the effort and several others involved contracted COVID-19 “and are quite sick,” the Senate GOP leader said.
Republican Senate President Karen Fann said she still expects to receive a portion of the report Monday. She did not give a date for delivery of the full draft.
It’s the latest delay for the unprecedented partisan review, which has so far taken more than double the 60 days it was originally supposed to take.
The report was commissioned by Senate Republicans and funded mostly by Trump allies promoting his unsupported election fraud narrative. It will not immediately be made public. Rather, two senior Republican senators will review it along with their lawyers and advisers to decide whether the findings are supported by evidence.
Fans will have to wear masks in indoor spaces at T-Mobile Park
Complying with the new state order requiring individuals — vaccinated or not — to wear masks indoors, the Mariners announced Monday that all fans 5 and older at T-Mobile Park will have to wear masks in all indoor areas of the ballpark.
The indoor areas include team stores, bathrooms, indoor clubs and restaurants and indoor concourse areas.
Masks will not be required when fans are outside or actively eating or drinking, but the Mariners are encouraging all fans, ages 5 and up, to wear masks, regardless of vaccine status, in all areas of the ballpark.
“From the beginning of the pandemic, the Mariners have made the health and safety of our fans, staff and players our top priority. Public health and medical experts have advised us that masks are effective against the spread of COVID, including the highly transmissible delta variant. Wearing a mask is a simple thing we can all do to help protect ourselves, our families and our community,” said Trevor Gooby, Mariners senior vice president of ballpark operations, in a statement.
The Mariners also are requiring all employees to wear masks — both indoors and outdoors — regardless of vaccine status.
What does FDA approval of Pfizer COVID vaccine mean for you? Here’s what happens next
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine on Monday for people 16 and older, making it the first of three COVID-19 shots available in the U.S. to be upgraded from an emergency use authorization (EUA) to full approval.
For children aged 12 to 15, the vaccine can still be administered under an EUA, as well as third doses for certain immunocompromised individuals. Both the Johnson & Johnson and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines still await FDA approval but remain available for adults under an EUA.
The upgrade means the Pfizer vaccine will still be available to the public even after the “current public health emergency” the original authorization was based on comes to an end. The approval also means employers, local leaders and other businesses may be more willing or likely to mandate COVID-19 vaccination.
For example, the U.S. military said it will mandate vaccines as soon as they became FDA approved, or once the president approved the request, whichever came first. And several colleges and universities have already mandated them for staff and students who wish to return to campus.
School mask mandate ban challenged in new Utah lawsuit
A ban on school districts requiring masks is forcing parents of vulnerable kids to wrestle with the painful choice of whether to risk coronavirus infections at school or keep them at home yet again, according to a lawsuit filed Monday in Utah.
Parents like Jessica Pyper say a Utah law that blocks districts from passing mandates wrongly prevents children from getting a safe education. She wants her 10-year-old son Ryker to join his fifth grade classmates this year, but his Type 1 diabetes puts him at serious risk.
“It just sort of seems like nobody cares,” she said. “Kids with disabilities often get left behind. They don’t get considered when these types of decisions are being made.”
The case filed by a group of nine parents is the latest U.S. lawsuit of its kind from families and educators concerned about school without masks as the highly contagious delta variant surges. Similar cases have been filed in Arizona, Texas and Florida, where thousands of students have already been sent home in rapidly spreading outbreaks.
Rev Jesse Jackson and wife remain hospitalized for COVID-19
Civil rights leader the Rev. Jesse Jackson and his wife, Jacqueline, remained hospitalized Monday after testing positive for COVID-19, family members said.
Both were admitted to Northwestern Memorial Hospital on Saturday, with their age as a factor, according to their son Jonathan Jackson. Jesse Jackson is 79 and Jacqueline is 77. A day later, their son said both parents were resting comfortably at the hospital and “responding positively to their treatments.”
“The status of my parents has not changed,” Jonathan Jackson said in a Monday statement. “We are ever mindful that COVID-19 is a serious disease and we ask that you continue in prayer for my parents, as we remain prayerful for yours.”
Jesse Jackson has been fully vaccinated, receiving his first shot at a public event in January. Jacqueline Jackson has not been vaccinated, according to longtime family spokesman Frank Watkins. He declined to elaborate.
Florida school mask mandate power struggle goes before judge
Florida’s power struggle over wearing masks in school to guard against coronavirus infections landed Monday before a judge considering a lawsuit that challenges Gov. Ron DeSantis’ order reserving the mask decision for parents.
The three-day hearing before Leon County Circuit Judge John C. Cooper pits pro-mask parents against the Republican governor and state education officials who say parents, not schools, should choose whether their children cover up inside schools.
The hearings come as the highly contagious delta variant causes a surge in cases, hospitalizations and deaths across Florida, where the school year is already being disrupted.
Some districts belatedly began requiring masks, as recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and numerous medical organizations, after classroom exposures forced them to send thousands of students and hundreds of teachers and staff into isolation or quarantine.
Diner leaves $10,000 tip for workers at Florida restaurant
A diner at a north Florida restaurant gathered the staff of 10 together to thank them for their hard work before leaving them a $10,000 tip to share.
It happened last Tuesday night as the man, his wife and son finished their dinner at the Wahoo Seafood Grill, the Gainesville Sun reported.
Shawn Shepherd, who owns Wahoo, told the newspaper he got a call from his employees that night, alerting him to the big tip. His first thought was to be suspicious.
“Check his ID and the name on the back of his credit card,” Shepherd advised the employee who called.
But the restaurant’s point-of-sale system approved the transaction. Shepherd said he checked back the next day to make sure the money was still there.
“Watching these guys get their check was almost as good as Christmas morning,” Shepherd told the Sun.
School mask, vaccine mandates supported in US: AP-NORC poll
As COVID-19 cases surge around the country, a majority of Americans say they support mask mandates for students and teachers in K-12 schools, according to a new poll, but their views are sharply divided along political lines.
About 6 in 10 Americans say students and teachers should be required to wear face masks while in school, according to a poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. Similar shares say teachers and eligible students should also be required to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.
Masks have been a point of contention as U.S. schools reopen amid rising numbers of coronavirus cases. Questions about whether to require them have caused turmoil among parents and politicians, with some Republican governors banning mask mandates even as President Joe Biden threatens legal action against them.
In a reflection of that polarizing debate, the poll finds a wide partisan divide. About 3 in 10 Republicans said they favor mask requirements for students and teachers, compared with about 8 in 10 Democrats. There was a similar split over vaccine mandates in schools.
Pregnant, unvaccinated and intubated: Doctors alarmed by rise in virus cases among expectant mothers
More young and healthy pregnant people are ending up hospitalized on ventilators, delivering babies prematurely and sometimes dying from COVID-19 during the delta-fueled spike in cases.
Doctors across the country are reporting this trend, not seen in previous surges, largely in the South but also in states like California and Washington. As of Aug. 14, 76.2% of pregnant people were unvaccinated.
Pregnant women with COVID-19 are 15 times more likely to die, 14 times more likely to need to be intubated, and 22 times more likely to have preterm birth than those who are uninfected, according to a study published this month in JAMA Network Open.
Though young and healthy, unvaccinated father dies of COVID
Healthy and in their 30s, Christina and Josh Tidmore figured they were low-risk for COVID-19. With conflicting viewpoints about whether to get vaccinated against the virus filling their social media feeds and social circles, they decided to wait.
On July 20, Josh came home from work with a slight cough initially thought to be sinus trouble. On Aug. 11, he died of COVID-19 at a north Alabama hospital as Christina Tidmore witnessed a doctor and her team frantically try to resuscitate her husband.
“She would say, ’I need a pulse. ’I would hear, ‘no pulse,’ “Christina Tidmore said through tears. “They were trying so hard.”
“Nobody should go through this. He was only 36 and I’m 35 and we have three kids.”
She is now imploring young adults not to dismiss the risk and to consider getting vaccinated.
“Josh was completely healthy, active, not a smoker.” He would have turned 37 on Saturday.
Oregon ran a lean healthcare system. The latest COVID surge is taking it to the brink
For decades, Oregon’s health system was envied across the nation.
Managed care organizations enrolled a large share of the population. The Oregon Health Plan, conceived in the 1990s, made care more available to the working poor.
The system ran lean. Reformers emphasized primary and preventive care, allowing the state to operate with the fewest hospital beds per capita in the nation.
Then came the latest coronavirus surge. With the Delta variant sweeping through the state, the scarcity of beds is suddenly a liability.
Hospitals in rural areas with low vaccination rates have run out of space, leaving COVID-19 patients backlogged on beds in emergency-room hallways, waiting for admission to maxed-out intensive care units.
Patients from the southwest corner of Oregon, which has borne the brunt of the surge, were being transported to larger cities. But even urban hospitals were struggling to handle the state’s fifth wave of COVID-19.
“We have patients that have died in emergency departments waiting for beds,” said Becky Hultberg, president and chief executive of the Oregon Assn. of Hospitals and Health Systems. “In parts of Oregon, we are looking at a system in a state of collapse.”
Pentagon to mandate COVID-19 vaccine, as Pfizer is approved
The Pentagon says it will require service members to receive the COVID-19 vaccine now that the Pfizer vaccine has received full approval.
Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said Monday that Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin is making good on his vow earlier this month to require the shots once the Food and Drug Administration approved the vaccine.
In a memo Aug. 9, Austin said he’d seek the president’s approval to make the vaccine mandatory no later than mid-September, or immediately upon FDA licensure “whichever comes first.”
Tokyo opens oxygen station for COVID patients as cases surge
Japan on Monday opened a temporary facility in Tokyo to provide oxygen for up to 130 coronavirus patients with mild symptoms, as the capital’s health care system grows severely strained.
The so-called “oxygen station” in Tokyo’s Shibuya district is aimed at people who develop a problem while isolating at home or waiting for hospital vacancies, and is staffed by three doctors and 25 nurses.
The idea is to temporarily treat mild cases with supplementary oxygen amid growing concerns that people may get sicker — and possibly start dying at home — in the absence of medical attention.
Texas congressman Nehls says he tested positive for COVID-19
U.S. Rep. Troy Nehls of Texas says that he’s tested positive for COVID-19 and has moderate symptoms.
Nehls, a Republican from the Houston area, said Saturday that he is fully vaccinated and hopes the symptoms pass soon.
“All Americans are free to make their own health decisions, but I strongly encourage getting vaccinated,” he wrote on Twitter Saturday. “It is scientifically proven to drastically reduce the risk of severe illness & death from COVID.”
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced Tuesday that he’d tested positive for the virus. He claims that he has now tested negative.
New Zealand extends virus lockdown; Australia eyes vaccines
New Zealand’s government on Monday said it will extend a strict nationwide lockdown until at least Friday as it tries to extinguish a growing coronavirus outbreak.
The news came as health authorities reported 35 new local infections of the fast-spreading delta variant, the highest number of daily COVID-19 cases in New Zealand since April last year.
First discovered last week, the outbreak has grown to 107 cases. But health authorities say they’ve found links among most of those cases, giving them hope they can quash the outbreak. Authorities said they’ve tested about 3% of the nation’s entire population over the past six days.
US regulators give full approval to Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine
The U.S. gave full approval to Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine on Monday, a milestone that may help lift public confidence in the shots as the nation battles the most contagious coronavirus mutant yet.
The vaccine made by Pfizer and its partner BioNTech now carries the strongest endorsement from the Food and Drug Administration, which has never before had so much evidence to judge a shot’s safety. More than 200 million Pfizer doses already have been administered in the U.S. — and hundreds of millions more worldwide — since emergency use began in December.
The U.S. becomes the first country to fully approve the shot, according to Pfizer, and CEO Albert Bourla said in a statement he hoped the decision “will help increase confidence in our vaccine, as vaccination remains the best tool we have to help protect lives.”
Catch up on the past 24 hours
Mask up whether you're vaccinated or not, because Washington state's new mask mandate goes into effect today for everyone age 5 and up. Here's where masks are required and where they aren't.
If you have unvaccinated kids, act like "nobody in the household" is vaccinated, pediatric experts in Washington state urge. As we head into back-to-school season with the more contagious delta variant changing the landscape, they're outlining the safety measures you can take, what schools are doing — and how to talk with your kids about this.
Full FDA approval of Pfizer's vaccine may come today, another chapter in Americans' bewildering crash course in scientific uncertainty. Researchers are learning about the virus at lightning speed, with their disagreements, debates and "blind alleys" illuminated under an unusually public spotlight. But what they have not done is explain, in ways that the average person can understand, that this is how science has always worked.
Where King County residents aren't getting vaccinated: FYI Guy broke down vaccine hesitancy by ZIP code, finding that it's fading somewhat — but pockets of high resistance remain.
"Every single hallway has beds in it" in a Mississippi hospital as COVID-19 cases overwhelm the Gulf Coast, with unvaccinated patients dying one after another. You can track the spread of the virus on these maps.
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