Editor’s note: This is a live account of COVID-19 updates from Tuesday, August 3, 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 It is no longer being updated.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.
As the highly contagious delta variant is driving a coronavirus surge, the United States on Monday reached a milestone of getting at least one coronavirus vaccine dose to 70% of adults — almost one month after President Joe Biden’s original July 4 goal.
Despite increasing virus cases, a new study has found that less than 1% of fully vaccinated people have experienced a breakthrough COVID-19 infection. Still, health care leaders are again becoming increasingly worried about hospital capacity in Washington, as intensive care units and emergency rooms start to fill up.
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.
Is the delta variant making younger adults ‘sicker, quicker’?
Many of the patients with COVID-19 now arriving at the hospital are not just unvaccinated — they are much younger than 50, a stark departure from the frail, older patients seen when the pandemic first surged last year.
In Baton Rouge, Louisiana, young adults with none of the usual risk factors for severe forms of the disease — such as obesity or diabetes — are also arriving in ERs, desperately ill. It isn’t clear why they are so sick.
Physicians working in COVID hot spots across the nation say that the patients in their hospitals are not like the patients they saw last year. Almost always unvaccinated, the new arrivals tend to be younger, many in their 20s or 30s. And they seem sicker than younger patients were last year, deteriorating more rapidly.
Doctors have coined a new phrase to describe them: “younger, sicker, quicker.” Many physicians treating them suspect that the delta variant of the coronavirus, which now accounts for more than 80% of new infections nationwide, is playing a role.
Germany, France and Britain prepare for coronavirus vaccine boosters starting in September
BRUSSELS — European nations have been among the most successful in the world at getting their residents vaccinated against the coronavirus. Now, some will be among the first to dole out booster shots.
The small but growing group that is planning additional jabs for the fully inoculated includes some of the continent’s richest and most populous countries, potentially setting a precedent and marking a new phase of the vaccination campaign.
But as COVID-19 continues to infect and kill at alarming rates across the Global South, where vaccination levels remain catastrophically low, the decision by wealthy countries to give booster shots to their own people rather than donating those doses to poorer nations is deeply controversial.
Advocates and experts, including at the World Health Organization, have called the move immoral, and the European Union’s foreign policy chief criticized the bloc for its “insufficient” vaccine shipments to countries in Africa and Latin America.
Garth Brooks’ tour halts Lumen Field ticket sales over COVID concerns
After announcing last week a Seattle stop on his Stadium Tour, on Tuesday, Garth Brooks’ tour halted ticket sales for the Lumen Field concert on Sept. 4, citing uncertainties surrounding the resurgence of COVID-19 cases.
The tickets had been set to go on sale to the general public on Friday.
The Garth Brooks Stadium Tour is currently scheduled to play Kansas City, Missouri, on Saturday and Lincoln, Nebraska, on Aug. 14. After these dates, the tour will have a three-week window without a concert scheduled in which the tour will assess the continuation of the remainder of tour dates due to the resurgence of COVID-19, according to a news release.
Biden has blunt words for some GOP governors on vaccines: ‘Get out of the way’
WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden signaled a new level of frustration Tuesday with Republican leaders in states where the highly contagious delta variant is surging, telling governors in Texas and Florida to help fight the pandemic or “get out of the way.”
While he praised leaders in other states for offering cash and other incentives to entice reluctant Americans to get vaccinated, Biden singled out Florida and Texas, where cases have risen sharply, for criticism. As cases rise, Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida has signed an executive order allowing children to attend school without a mask, and Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas has barred mask and vaccination mandates.
“I say to these governors, please help,” Biden said. “If you aren’t going to help, at least get out of the way of the people who are trying to do the right thing. Use your power to save lives.”
CDC issues new eviction ban for most of US through Oct. 3
WASHINGTON — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a new eviction moratorium that would last until October 3, as the Biden administration sought to quell intensifying criticism from progressives that it was allowing vulnerable renters to lose their homes during a pandemic.
The ban announced Tuesday could help keep millions in their homes as the coronavirus’ delta variant has spread and states have been slow to release federal rental aid. It would temporarily halt evictions in counties with “substantial and high levels” of virus transmissions and would cover areas where 90% of the U.S. population lives.
The announcement was a reversal for the Biden administration, which allowed an earlier moratorium to lapse over the weekend after saying a Supreme Court ruling prevented an extension. That ripped open a dramatic split between the White House and progressive Democrats who insisted the administration do more to prevent some 3.6 million Americans from losing their homes during the COVID-19 crisis.
Speaking at the White House on Tuesday, Biden said he pushed the CDC to again consider its options. But he still seemed hesitant as to whether the new moratorium could withstand lawsuits about its constitutionality, saying he has sought the opinions of experts as to whether the Supreme Court would approve the measure.
COVID-19 cases in Oregon surge, hospital beds filling fast
PORTLAND, Ore. — As COVID-19 cases continue to climb in Oregon, some counties — most where less than half of the area’s adult population is vaccinated — are experiencing their highest hospitalization numbers during the pandemic.
Statewide coronavirus-related hospitalizations increased to 379 people on Tuesday, 39 more than the previous day. Some hospital officials, including those at Oregon Health & Science University, said they are postponing some surgeries that are not urgent, KOIN-TV reported Monday.
In addition, Oregon health officials reported 1,575 newly confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, the most since early January.
“The vaccines that we currently have available to us in Oregon, and across the United States, are highly effective at preventing hospitalizations and death from COVID-19,” Dr. Dean Sidelinger, the state epidemiologist, said Friday. “But that depends on people being vaccinated.”
Japan tries a new tactic as virus surges: public shaming
As Japan strains to control its galloping coronavirus outbreak, and to keep an Olympic bubble from bursting in the final days of the Games, the government is trying a new tactic: public shaming.
On Monday, Japan’s health ministry released the names of three people who broke COVID-19 rules after returning from overseas. An official statement said that the three people — two Japanese nationals in their 20s who returned from South Korea, and a third who returned from Hawaii — had clearly acted to avoid contact with the authorities.
All tested negative for the virus at the airport but subsequently failed to report their health condition and did not respond to location-monitoring apps or video calls from health authorities, as required under Japan’s COVID-19 protocols.
Houston mask mandate might violate Texas governor’s order
HOUSTON (AP) — Houston city workers are being told they must resume wearing masks while on the job, a requirement that could go against Gov. Greg Abbott’s most recent executive order banning such mandates.
Mayor Sylvester Turner issued the mask mandate on Monday due to a “recent uptick in positive COVID-19 cases in our community and in our workplace linked to the new delta variant.”
“It is so very important that we remain vigilant in doing our part to reduce the spread of COVID-19,” Turner wrote in memo to all city employees. The new order was first reported on by the Houston Chronicle.
The new order requires all employees to wear a mask while on city premises and when they can’t be socially distant from others.
Officials in Dallas and Williamson counties this week put in place new orders requiring people to wear masks inside county courthouses. They cited a Texas Supreme Court order they say lets the judiciary take reasonable actions to protect people from COVID-19.
State health officials confirm 5,494 new coronavirus cases
The state Department of Health (DOH) reported 5,494 new coronavirus cases and 9 new deaths on Tuesday.
The update brings the state's totals to 481,357 cases and 6,136 deaths, meaning that 1.3% of people diagnosed in Washington have died, according to the DOH. The case count includes roughly 4,000 previously backlogged cases reported between July 30 and Aug. 1, DOH said.
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, 27,076 people have been hospitalized in the state due to the virus — 119 new hospitalizations. In King County, the state's most populous, state health officials have confirmed a total of 118,704 COVID-19 diagnoses and 1,681 deaths.
Since vaccinations began in mid-December, the state and health care providers have administered 2,906,897 doses and 52.8% 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 9,629 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.
Health officials concerned with uptick in coronavirus cases, hospitalizations in Washington due to delta variant
Health officials are raising concerns about a rise in coronavirus cases and hospitalizations in Washington due to the spread of the delta variant.
The state Department of Health on Tuesday reported 600 hospitalizations statewide — a 20% increase since last week. An average of 1,500 new daily cases have been reported over the past four days and the percent of positive tests has climbed to 5.5%, up from 2% a month ago.
Hospital occupancy is at the highest levels seen so far in 2021, DOH said in a news release, citing increased COVID-19 transmission, patient demand and hospital staffing challenges.
The extremely transmissible delta variant now makes up roughly 76% of sequenced cases, according to DOH. More than 94% of all cases, deaths and hospitalizations for those 12 and older have been linked to individuals who were not fully vaccinated.
What we know about the delta-plus variant
South Korea’s Disease Control and Prevention Agency said Tuesday that it had recorded at least two cases of the new coronavirus delta-plus variant, which some experts believe to be more transmissible than the original delta variant that was first detected in India and has since thwarted plans for returning to life before the pandemic.
But what exactly do we know about “delta plus,” yet another new variant causing alarm among governments and health officials? First identified in Europe in March, the variant is also known as B. 1.617.2.1 or AY.1.
It has been detected in several countries, including the United Kingdom, the United States and India.
White house calls on states to prevent evictions
WASHINGTON — The Biden administration will announce a new 60-day eviction moratorium that would protect areas where 90% of the U.S. population lives, according to three people familiar with the plans who insisted on anonymity to discuss the forthcoming announcement.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has identified a legal authority for a new and different moratorium that would be for areas with high and substantial increases in COVID-19 infections.
The extension helps to heal a rift with liberal Democratic lawmakers who were calling on executive action to keep renters in their homes as the delta variant of the coronavirus spread and a prior moratorium lapsed at the end of July. Administration officials had previously said a Supreme Court ruling stopped them from setting up a new moratorium without congressional backing, saying that states and cities must be more aggressive in releasing nearly $47 billion in relief for renters on the verge of eviction.
The new policy came amid a scramble of actions by the Biden team to reassure Democrats and the country that it could find a way to halt potential evictions.
Who are the unvaccinated in America? There’s no one answer
As coronavirus cases rise across the United States, the fight against the pandemic is focused on an estimated 93 million people who are eligible for shots but have chosen not to get them. These are the Americans who are most vulnerable to serious illness from the highly contagious delta variant and most likely to carry the virus, spreading it further.
It turns out, though, that this is not a single set of Americans, but in many ways two.
In one group are those who say they are adamant in their refusal of the coronavirus vaccines; they include a mix of people but tend to be disproportionately white, rural, evangelical Christian and politically conservative, surveys show.
In the other are those who say they are open to getting a shot but have been putting it off or want to wait and see before making a decision; they are a broad range of people but tend to be a more diverse and urban group, including many younger people, Black and Latino Americans, and Democrats.
With cases surging and hospitalizations rising, health officials are making progress in inoculating this second group, but the first group is unlikely to be swayed.
DeSantis doubles down against mask mandates as Florida again breaks COVID record
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis doubled down Tuesday as the state again broke its record for COVID-19 hospitalizations, insisting that the spike will soon abate and that he will not impose any business restrictions or mask mandates.
With the much more contagious delta variant now spreading exponentially, Florida hit 11,515 hospitalized patients Tuesday, breaking last year’s record for the third straight day. Hospitalizations have increased 11 times over the 1,000 COVID patients hospitalized in mid-June. About 2,400 patients are now in intensive care.
Broward County’s school board voted last week to require facial coverings when in-person learning resumes this month, but the board reversed itself after DeSantis barred mandates and threatened to cut funding from districts that don’t comply.
Clean, repeat: At Tokyo Games, virus is Olympians’ chief foe
Holding each other tighter than lovers, the wrestlers smear each other with sweat, spittle and — when they inadvertently cut each other — sometimes blood. Lungs heaving, mouths agape, they huff and puff into each others’ flushed faces. On their glistening bodies, it’s impossible to tell their opponents’ fluids and theirs apart.
Underscoring the health risks of such proximity: They are the only people in the cavernous hall not wearing face masks.
Watching Olympic wrestling in the midst of the pandemic of a deadly airborne disease feels like being part of a virological experiment, a real-life study of droplets, aerosols and fluid dispersion. Because wrestling is the most close-contact sport of the Olympics, wrestlers are the Games’ equivalent of the canaries that alerted coal miners to noxious gases in the air of closed-in mines.
More than 110M COVID vaccines sent to 60 countries, US says
The U.S. has donated and shipped more than 110 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines to more than 60 countries, ranging from Afghanistan to Zambia, the White House announced Tuesday.
The announcement comes amid a rise in infections in the U.S., fueled by the highly contagious delta strain of the virus, which led U.S. public health officials last week to recommend that people who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 resume wearing face coverings in some public indoor settings.
Biden has promised that the U.S. will be the “arsenal of vaccines” for the world, and it has shipped the most vaccines abroad of any donor nation.
Pushback challenges vaccination requirements at US colleges
The quickly approaching fall semester has America’s colleges under pressure to decide how far they should go to guard their campuses against COVID-19 while navigating legal and political questions and rising infection rates.
Hundreds of colleges nationwide have told students in recent months they must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 before classes begin. Yet many more colleges have held off on vaccine mandates in a reflection of the limits school leaders face in adopting safety requirements for in-person classes.
In many Republican-led states, governments have banned vaccine mandates, or school leaders face political pressure to limit their anti-virus actions even among students who live in packed residence halls.
Microsoft will require vaccination, delay office opening until October
Microsoft will require vaccinations for employees and others in its U.S. buildings beginning next month, it said Tuesday.
The Redmond-based company also moved its planned opening date for U.S. offices to October 4, from the previous target date of Sept. 7. Many large U.S. employers have moved in recent days to requiring rather than merely encouraging vaccination against COVID-19, as the more virulent delta strain of the coronavirus spreads rapidly across the nation.
The company also said that caregivers of people who are immunosuppressed or parents of children who are too young to receive a vaccine can continue to work from home until January, and take advantage of Microsoft’s flexible work policies.
NYC will require vaccination proof for indoor dining, gyms
New York City will soon require proof of COVID-19 vaccinations for indoor activities, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Tuesday, making it the first big city in the U.S. to impose such restrictions.
The new requirement, which will go into effect Aug. 16, applies to indoor dining, gyms and indoor entertainment venues.
De Blasio has focused on getting as many New Yorkers vaccinated as possible while resisting calls to mandate masks indoors, as several cities and counties in California have done.
The mayor announced last week that city employees would be required to get vaccinated by mid-September or to face weekly testing, and he has offered a $100 incentive for city residents who get inoculated.
About 66% of adults in New York City are fully vaccinated, according to official data.
Landlords, tenants fill courts as eviction moratorium ends
Gabe Imondi, a 74-year-old landlord from Rhode Island, had come to court hoping to get his apartment back. He was tired of waiting for federal rental assistance and wondered aloud “what they’re doing with that money?”
Hours later, Luis Vertentes, in a different case, was told by a judge he had three weeks to clear out of his one-bedroom apartment in nearby East Providence. The 43-year-old landscaper said he was four months behind on rent after being hospitalized for a time.
“I’m going to be homeless, all because of this pandemic,” Vertentes said. “I feel helpless, like I can’t do anything even though I work and I got a full-time job.”
Scenes like this played out from North Carolina to Virginia to Ohio and beyond Monday as the eviction system, which saw a dramatic drop in cases before a federal moratorium expired over the weekend, rumbled back into action. Activists fear millions will be tossed onto the streets as the delta variant of the coronavirus surges.
Rapid virus spread through Indonesia strains health workers
With infections in Indonesia skyrocketing, deaths steadily climbing and health care workers depleted by the virus, Irman Pahlepi, 30, felt he had no option but to jump right back into work after recovering from an infection himself — for the second time .
“We have so many extra patients to treat compared to last year,” he said. “The number of COVID-19 patients is four times higher now than during the previous highest spike in January.”
Indonesia, the world’s fourth most populous country, had its deadliest day with 2,069 deaths from COVID-19 last Tuesday and fatalities remain high. As of Sunday, total official cases stood at more than 3.4 million with 97,291 deaths and Indonesia’s death rate hit a 7-day rolling average of 6.5 per million on Aug. 1, second only to Myanmar and far higher than India’s peak rate of 3.04.
The delta variant in schools: what to know
Last week, in what was intended to be an internal document, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention made a stark admission: The highly contagious delta variant had redrawn the battle lines of the coronavirus pandemic, necessitating new public health measures like universal mask mandates. Or, as the agency put it in the document, which was obtained by The New York Times, “the war has changed.”
The news came just as the first school districts were preparing to reopen; children in Atlanta and some of its suburbs head back to the classroom this week.
Delta has thrown that into question. Much remains unknown about the variant, including whether it affects children more seriously than earlier forms of the virus. And with vaccination rates highly uneven, and most decision-making left up to local officials, the variant adds new uncertainty to the coming school year — and makes it even more critical for schools to take safety precautions as they reopen, scientists said.
“Delta, because it’s so contagious, has raised the ante,” said Dr. William Schaffner, medical director of the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases and a vaccine expert at Vanderbilt University.
China orders mass testing in Wuhan as COVID outbreak spreads
China suspended flights and trains, canceled professional basketball league games and announced mass coronavirus testing in Wuhan on Tuesday as widening outbreaks of the delta variant reached the city where the disease was first detected in late 2019.
While the total number of cases is still in the hundreds, they are far more widespread than anything China has dealt with since the initial outbreak that devastated Wuhan in early 2020 and over time spread to the rest of the country and the world.
China has not eliminated but largely curbed COVID-19 at home with quick lockdowns and mass testing to isolate infected people whenever new cases pop up. Most previous outbreaks didn’t spread far beyond a city or province. This time, cases have been confirmed in more than 35 cities in 17 of China’s 33 provinces and regions.
The cities of Nanjing and Yangzhou have canceled all domestic flights, and Beijing has halted long-distance trains from 23 stations. The Chinese Basketball Association said that matches of its men’s professional league would be suspended because of the pandemic.
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