The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine on Monday, upgrading it from an emergency use authorization to full approval.
The move may open the doors to more required COVID-19 vaccinations. The Pentagon said on Monday that service members will be required to receive the COVID-19 vaccine now that the Pfizer vaccine has received full approval.
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.
Franklin County commission meeting devolves into mask-mandate protest
PASCO — The regular meeting of the Franklin, Washington, County commissioners disintegrated into a rally against the state’s mask mandate, with one commissioner walking out in protest.
The mandate reinstated Monday to curb the surging number of COVID-19 cases and deaths requires people to wear masks inside public buildings. The Tri-City Herald reports Franklin County Commissioner Clint Didier, a former NFL player and unsuccessful Republican congressional candidate, along with dozens of audience members, came to the Tuesday meeting without masks and refused to put one on.
Franklin County Prosecutor Shawn Sant explained to Didier and fellow commissioners Brad Peck and Rocky Mullen that the action could result in a lawsuit by the state and would cause the meeting to be considered “illegal.” That means any actions they took at the meeting could be voided.
Didier refused to comply, prompting Peck to walk out of the session at the county courthouse to the applause and jeers of some people in the room.
Read the full story here.
Immunocompromised? Here’s how to get a third COVID vaccine dose in Washington state
People with moderately or severely compromised immune systems qualify for a third dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.
Earlier this month, the state Department of Health officially recommended an additional dose for certain immunocompromised people. The recommendation applies for those who already received an mRNA vaccine, which include Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna.
The third shot is to improve immunocompromised people’s response to their initial vaccine series. It is not the same as a booster dose, which is administered to strengthen protection that wanes over time.
A person receiving a third dose should wait at least 28 days after their second dose and when possible, should receive the same vaccine brand.
Immunocompromised people who have received a Johnson & Johnson vaccine are not being recommended to seek an additional dose at this time. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also does not recommend additional doses or boosters for any other population at this time.
Tech executive gets prison for $1.8 million COVID fraud
SEATTLE (AP) — A Washington state tech executive has been sentenced to two years in prison after fraudulently obtaining nearly $1.8 million in federal COVID-19 disaster relief loans.
Mukund Mohan, of Clyde Hill, previously worked for Microsoft and Amazon and was making more than $200,000 a year as the chief of technology for the Canadian e-commerce company BuildDirect when he was arrested in July 2020.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Seattle said he submitted eight fraudulent Paycheck Protection Program loan applications seeking $5.5 million for companies he purportedly ran, and he actually received almost $1.8 million.
Federal authorities were able to seize the money from Mohan’s accounts. He paid back the amount he had spent and was ordered to pay a $100,000 fine.
Read the whole story here.
Oregon to require masks outdoors starting Friday
PORTLAND — People in Oregon, regardless of vaccination status, will once again be required to wear masks in most public outdoor settings — including large outdoor events where physical distancing is not possible — beginning Friday.
The mandate, announced Tuesday by Gov. Kate Brown, is part of a growing list of statewide requirements implemented in Oregon in an attempt to slow the rapid spread of COVID-19.
Oregon is one of a handful of states with an indoor mask mandate in effect. But it’s the first to reinstitute a statewide mask requirement for outdoor public areas where people are close together, according to the governor’s office.
Over the past month, coronavirus cases, fueled by the highly transmissible delta variant, have overwhelmed hospitals in the Pacific Northwest state. On Tuesday, Brown said 1,000 people with COVID-19 were hospitalized, beating the state’s record set the previous day of 937 people.
Read the full story here.
2 New York judges ordered defendants to get vaccinated. Can they do that?
The defendant was charged with a number of minor crimes, including drug possession and shoplifting. He was prepared to plead guilty, and prosecutors agreed. But a Bronx judge approving the deal added his own unusual condition.
The defendant had to get a COVID-19 vaccine.
A week later, a Manhattan judge made the same order, this time of a woman seeking bail before a trial.
Neither defendant appeared to object. But legal observers said the two judges’ orders — made in different courts and for different reasons — raise important questions about the line between civic responsibility and civil liberties.
Jesse Jackson: Doing ‘fairly well’ in hospital for COVID
The Rev. Jesse Jackson said Tuesday that he’s feeling “fairly well” and receiving great care at a Chicago hospital after a breakthrough COVID-19 infection.
The 79-year-old, who has Parkinson’s disease, has been fully vaccinated.
But his 77-year-old wife, Jacqueline, also a civil rights activist, has not been vaccinated due to pre-existing conditions, Jackson said. She has been receiving some oxygen but is breathing on her own without a respirator, according to family members.
State health officials confirm 3,104 new coronavirus cases
The state Department of Health (DOH) reported 3,104 new coronavirus cases and 34 new deaths on Tuesday.
The update brings the state's totals to 539,887 cases and 6,417 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, 30,144 people have been hospitalized in the state due to the virus — 148 new hospitalizations. In King County, the state's most populous, state health officials have confirmed a total of 131,281 COVID-19 diagnoses and 1,719 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.
ICE ordered to test detainees for COVID before transfers to Tacoma detention center
Immigration and Customs Enforcement must test detainees for COVID-19 before they are transferred to the immigrant detention center in Tacoma, a federal judge ordered Monday.
How high vaccination rates are protecting parts of California
In California, unvaccinated people are more than six times as likely to contract the coronavirus than those who have their shots, according to state data released Monday.
And in Los Angeles County, the state’s most populous, an unvaccinated person is as much as 25 times more likely to be hospitalized with the disease.
“That, in a sense, is our proof that vaccines work,” said Dr. Robert Kim-Farley, an infectious-disease expert at the University of California, Los Angeles’ Fielding School of Public Health.
ACLU sues over South Carolina ban on school mask mandates
The American Civil Liberties Union, representing disability rights groups and parents of children with disabilities, filed a federal lawsuit Tuesday over a South Carolina law that bans school districts from requiring face masks, arguing the ban excludes vulnerable students from public schools.
The plaintiffs allege that the ban on mask mandates disproportionately affects students with underlying health conditions or disabilities, who are at risk of becoming seriously ill if they contract COVID-19.
South Carolina legislators included a provision in the state’s general budget, passed in June, that prevented school districts from using state funding to require masks in schools. But some school districts and cities have disregarded the ban and gone forward with implementing a school mask mandate.
The ban on mask mandates is in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act, the plaintiffs allege in the lawsuit.
Over-the-counter test results can be reported at coronavirus hotline
With the spread of the delta variant, use of convenient over-the-counter and at-home coronavirus tests is increasing. However, the results are not automatically reported to data trackers, leaving a critical information gap in the state's coronavirus statistics, according to the Department of Health.
But now people who use at-home tests can report their results to the state's coronavirus hotline at 800-525-0127.
Hotline personnel will determine next steps based on ZIP code so results can be recorded and reported, and can guide callers through any questions, Department of Health said Tuesday.
The state hotline has language assistance available and is staffed Monday from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Tuesday to Sunday from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Health officials said reporting results helps determine how and where the virus is spreading and how best to allocate resources.
“Testing is a critical tool to understand the current surge and help slow the spread of disease,” said Acting State Health Officer Scott Lindquist.
Arnold Schwarzenegger loses sponsor after criticizing people who won’t wear a mask
Arnold Schwarzenegger lost a sponsor in an upcoming bodybuilding event after the actor ripped people who won’t wear a mask.
Schwarzenegger said someone who refuses to mask up during the COVID-19 pandemic is a “schmuck” — and took issue with people citing their freedom as a reason — in a recent interview with CNN.
“There is a virus here,” Schwarzenegger said this month. “It kills people, and the only way we prevent it is to get vaccinated, to wear masks, to do social distancing, washing your hands all the time, and not just to think about, ‘Well my freedom is being kind of disturbed here.’ No. Screw your freedom! Because with freedom comes obligations and responsibilities.”
In response, the founder of REDCON1 said his brand will no longer sponsor the “Terminator” star’s Arnold Classic.
That email asking for proof of vaccination might be a phishing scam
When people are scared, they’re more likely to make mistakes. Cybercriminals take advantage of that.
As coronavirus cases rise because of the new delta variant, pandemic-related email scams are on the rise, too.
Pandemic-related phishing attempts in June increased 33%, compared to a lull this spring and early summer as concerns about the virus temporarily waned, researchers at security firm Proofpoint found. The spike occurred right when Google searches for “delta variant” were peaking. And as confusion about proof of vaccination and booster shots abounds, this type of attack will evolve to reflect new coronavirus concerns.
Libraries host vaccine clinics this week in Kent, Renton, White Center and Enumclaw
Four King County libraries will be hosting COVID-19 vaccine clinics this week.
On Tuesday, vaccines will be available at the Kent Library, 212 Second Ave. N., from 1 to 6 p.m., and at the Renton Library, 100 Mill Ave. S., from 5 to 8 p.m.
On Wednesday, the White Center Library, 1409 S.W. 107th St., will host a clinic from 1 to 6 p.m.
On Thursday, the free vaccines will be available at the Enumclaw Library, 1700 First St., between 1 and 6 p.m.
Disney Cruise Line to require COVID-19 vaccination for passengers despite Florida law
Disney Cruise Line is the latest to shift policy to require passengers 12 and older to be vaccinated against COVID-19 for sailings from Florida, even though a law pushed by Gov. Ron DeSantis threatens to fine cruise lines for demanding proof of vaccination.
The move comes nearly a week after the Bahamas updated an emergency COVID-19 declaration that prohibits cruises ships from entering a Bahamas port, including the many cruise lines’ private islands, unless eligible passengers are fully vaccinated.
Cruise lines have opted to require vaccines from its eligible passengers from every U.S. state except Florida because of the law that went into effect July 1, which threatens to fine companies $5,000 each time a business demands proof of vaccination.
It’s ‘back to that isolation bubble’ for workers pining for the office
Before the pandemic, Roya Joseph’s days at the office were defined by interaction. She looked forward to casual conversations with co-workers, mentorship sessions with managers and periodic, freewheeling chats — known as “tea time” — in the office kitchen.
All that was swept away when Joseph, a water engineer for Black & Veatch, an engineering firm, was sent home from her Walnut Creek, California, office along with the rest of her colleagues as the coronavirus began spreading through the United States last year. She jumped at the opportunity to return when her office reopened to some employees in June.
But two weeks ago, the rug was pulled out from under her again. Black & Veatch shut its offices as virus cases rose nationwide, driven by the contagious delta variant.
“It’s depressing,” Joseph, 32, said. “I feel like we’re being pushed back to that isolation bubble. I feel like, mentally, I’m not ready to face that again.”
While workers who want to stay at home forever have been especially vocal about their demands, a silent majority of Americans do want to get back to the office, at least for a few days a week. But as the latest coronavirus surge has led employers to delay return-to-office plans, that larger group is growing increasingly glum.
US outbreaks force early reversals on in-person learning
A few weeks into the new school year, growing numbers of U.S. districts have halted in-person learning or switched to hybrid models because of rapidly mounting coronavirus infections.
More than 80 school districts or charter networks have closed or delayed in-person classes for at least one entire school in more than a dozen states. Others have sent home whole grade levels or asked half their students to stay home on hybrid schedules.
The setbacks in mostly small, rural districts that were among the first to return dampen hopes for a sustained, widespread return to classrooms after two years of schooling disrupted by the pandemic.
In Georgia, where in-person classes are on hold in more than 20 districts that started the school year without mask requirements, some superintendents say the virus appeared to be spreading in schools before they sent students home.
Vaccine passports keep Europe flying while China and the U.S. slow
The delta variant of Covid-19 is cutting down aviation just as key markets were getting back on their feet.
In the U.S., Southwest Airlines Co. is blaming the delta strain for a rash of canceled bookings and a slowdown in demand. In China, airlines are offering the fewest seats in six months. Australia’s carriers are also in reverse with more than half of the country in lockdown.
A rare bright spot is Europe, the only place where so-called vaccine passports are widely used.
Oklahoma passenger who tested positive for coronavirus on cruise dies
A passenger aboard a Carnival Cruise Line ship that left from Galveston, Texas, in late July has died.
Marilyn Tackett, a 77-year-old woman from Oklahoma, died this month after contracting the coronavirus. She was among the 27 reported positive cases aboard the Carnival Vista, one of the highest number of publicly recorded cases on a ship sailing from the United States since cruises restarted this summer, The Washington Post reported.
All 27 people who tested positive were vaccinated, according to health authorities in Belize, one of the ship’s destinations.
Passengers and crew on multiple ships leaving the U.S. or Caribbean have tested positive for the virus since June, but most cases have been mild or asymptomatic. Cruise lines are sailing with the vast majority of passengers vaccinated in an effort to avoid the outbreaks and deaths that grounded the industry early last year.
Wisconsin lawmaker asks for prayers for colleague with COVID
The office of a Wisconsin lawmaker who has been an outspoken critic of vaccine and mask mandates declined to update his condition on Tuesday, even as a fellow legislator asked for prayers, saying the state senator was hospitalized with COVID-19-induced pneumonia.
Wisconsin state Sen. Andre Jacque was hospitalized on Aug. 16 after he tested positive for COVID-19. Jacque, a Republican from De Pere, is one of the Legislature’s most conservative members and a vocal opponent of mask and vaccine mandates.
His spokesman, Matt Tompach, stopped providing updates on his condition last Wednesday. On Friday night, state Rep. Shae Sortwell asked his Facebook followers to pray for Jacque.
Jacque’s office has not answered questions about whether he was vaccinated.
Jacque has been outspoken against COVID-19 vaccine mandates, including sponsoring vetoed bills that would have prevented government officials or business owners from requiring proof of vaccination. He, like other Republicans, opposed the statewide mask mandate that the Wisconsin Supreme Court struck down in March.
Greece announces new restrictions for those not vaccinated
Greece’s health minister announced plans on Tuesday to impose new testing requirements and attendance restrictions on people who aren’t vaccinated against COVID-19.
The measures include requiring weekly or twice-weekly testing for unvaccinated workers, and allowing access to certain indoor venues only to those who are vaccinated or have a certificate verifying they have recovered from COVID-19 in the last six months.
Health Minister Vassilis Kikilias said the new measures weren’t punitive, but “what we must do as a responsible state.”
“It is our obligation toward all those who lost the battle” before vaccines became available, Kikilias said.
WSU strengthens COVID-19 vaccine mandate for students
COVID-19 protocols at Washington State University are being tweaked once again, after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration gave full approval to the Pfizer vaccine Monday.
The move means students will no longer be eligible for personal or philosophical exemptions to the school’s vaccine mandate. Those who previously received such exemptions will have 45 days to get vaccinated, or apply for a medical or religious exemption.
WSU officials announced the new vaccine protocols earlier this month. The 45-day clock started ticking Monday, after the Pfizer vaccine received full approval.
WSU's most famous vaccine holdout, head football coach Nick Rolovich has said he would follow the state's mandates but refused to clarify whether he would get the COVID shot.
Pierce County's COVID cases are the highest they've ever been
Pierce County's COVID-19 case rate is the highest it's been during the pandemic, with 668 confirmed cases from over the weekend, according to the county's health department.
The Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department reported 273 COVID-19 cases on Monday and four new deaths.
“Our case rate is now the highest it’s been during the pandemic and we passed 60,000 total cases,” the department said. “We’re also seeing high rates of serious illness. Our hospitalization rate is close to its peak, and four deaths is four too many. Please get vaccinated if you haven’t, mask up, and take every step you can to protect your family and community.”
Catch up on the past 24 hours
Immunocompromised? Here’s how to get a third vaccine dose (which isn't the same as a booster shot) in Washington state.
Pregnant, unvaccinated and intubated: Doctors in Washington and other states are alarmed by a rise in severe COVID-19 cases among expectant mothers. The CDC has pointed to recent safety data in strongly recommending vaccines for pregnant women.
What happens now that the FDA has approved Pfizer's vaccine: The shot is getting a new name, for starters. This Q&A explains, and also tackles the status of booster shots, vaccines for kids and more.
A group of moms on Facebook has built an island of good-faith vaccine debate in a sea of misinformation — showing that it is possible to change people’s minds, one nuanced post at a time.
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