Editor’s note: This is a live account of COVID-19 updates from Saturday, August 7, 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 It is no longer being updated.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 continues to spread, federal health officials are racing to ensure that millions of Americans with weakened immune systems can get additional shots of coronavirus vaccines to protect them.

Still, there are people who have recovered from COVID-19 and have been urged to get vaccinated, and a new study shows survivors who ignored that advice were more than twice as likely to get reinfected.

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.

The pandemic has devastated the mental health of public health workers

Even as front-line health workers have been celebrated during the COVID-19 pandemic, many others working to track the virus, stem its spread and help Americans avoid infection have found themselves under siege.

Those public health workers have been vilified by a portion of the public and attacked by some political leaders and media figures. They have been fired or forced from office. They have been subjected to protests — some on their own front lawns — as well as curses, threats and even, on at least one occasion, racist taunts.

All that while working endless hours, sometimes in unfamiliar roles, to save as many people as possible from a virus that so far has killed more than 614,000 Americans.

“A feeling of helplessness settles in when you promote all these practices, but part of the community feels antagonistic at your efforts or feels you have an ulterior motive,” said Alison Krompf, deputy commissioner of the Vermont Department of Mental Health. “It can cause you to question your sense of purpose.”

Now the costs of performing in that crucible have become clear.

Read the full story here.


Norwegian sets sail from Seattle, but first come the coronavirus tests

Baby girl with COVID-19 airlifted 150 miles amid hospital bed shortage in Houston

An 11-month-old girl ill with COVID-19 had to be intubated and airlifted more than 150 miles from Houston to Temple, Texas, for treatment this week because pediatric hospitals in the state’s largest city were full, hospital officials said.

The case is a dramatic example of the steps emergency workers say they’ve been forced to take as surging coronavirus infections threaten to overwhelm medical systems in the Houston area, which is known for having an extensive conglomerate of hospitals and clinics.

The baby, Ava Amira Rivera, was having seizures and struggling to breathe on Thursday when her mother brought her to Lyndon B. Johnson Hospital in northeast Houston, where she tested positive for the virus that causes COVID-19. The hospital doesn’t offer pediatric services, so staff scrambled to find a facility that could accommodate her.

“She needed to be intubated immediately,” said Patricia Darnauer, the hospital’s administrator told local media. “We looked at all five major pediatric hospital groups [in the city] and none [had beds] available.”

Eventually, doctors at Baylor Scott & White McLane Children’s Medical Center in Temple said they could help. Photos released by Harris Health Systems showed workers wheeling the girl in a stretcher across a helipad to a red air ambulance before making the flight to central Texas.

Read the full story here.

—Washington Post

Covid booster shots haven't been approved, but some are getting them anyway

DENVER — When the delta variant started spreading, Gina Welch decided not to take any chances: She got a third, booster dose of the COVID-19 vaccine by going to a clinic and telling them it was her first shot.

The U.S. government has not approved booster shots against the virus, saying it has yet to see evidence they are necessary. But Welch and an untold number of other Americans have managed to get them by taking advantage of the nation’s vaccine surplus and loose tracking of those who have been fully vaccinated.

Welch, a graduate student from Maine who is studying chemical engineering, said she has kept tabs on scientific studies about COVID-19 and follows several virologists and epidemiologists on social media who have advocated for boosters.

“I’m going to follow these experts and I’m going to go protect myself,” said Welch, a 26-year-old with asthma and a liver condition. “I’m not going to wait another six months to a year for them to recommend a third dose.”

While Pfizer has said it plans to seek U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval for booster shots, health authorities say that for now, the fully vaccinated seem well protected.

Yet health care providers in the U.S. have reported more than 900 instances of people getting a third dose of COVID-19 vaccines in a database run by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an Associated Press review of the system’s data found. Because reporting is voluntary, the full extent of people who have received third doses is unknown. It’s also unknown if all of those people were actively trying to get a third dose as a booster.

Read the whole story here.

—Patty Nieberg, The Associated Press

Pandemic school enrollment down more than 1 million, analysis shows

As the pandemic upended life in the United States, more than 1 million children who had been expected to enroll in these schools did not show up, either in person or online. The missing students were concentrated in the younger grades, with the steepest drop in kindergarten — more than 340,000 students, according to government data.

Now, the first analysis of enrollment at 70,000 public schools across 33 states offers a detailed portrait of these kindergartners. It shows that just as the pandemic lay bare vast disparities in health care and income, it also hardened inequities in education, setting back some of the most vulnerable students before they spent even one day in a classroom.

The analysis by The New York Times in conjunction with Stanford University shows that in those 33 states, 10,000 local public schools lost at least 20% of their kindergartners. In 2019 and in 2018, only 4,000 or so schools experienced such steep drops.

Read the whole story here.

—Dana Goldstein and Alicia Parlapiano, The New York Times

'Music, dancing, family' as Jolly Time Dancers reunite in Mount Vernon

MOUNT VERNON — After nearly 16 months of separation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, a group has reunited at the Mount Vernon Senior Center.

For members of the Jolly Time Dancers, the group is their support system. It meets weekly at the center for two hours of ballroom dancing, listening to live music from local bands and catching up with close friends.

“Music, dancing, family. We’re just a good group of people,” said regular Doris Patterson.

Patterson has been dancing with this group since 1999, when its weekly gatherings filled Hillcrest Lodge in Mount Vernon. She considers the people she’s met over the years family, and they’re the reason she keeps coming back.

The pandemic caused the longest break the group has ever had to take, she said. And that break was especially hard on the group’s members.

For Patterson and her dance partners, the idea of seeing each other again was the thing that kept them going.

Read the whole story here.

—Brandon Stone, Skagit Valley Herald

British scienist who warned of COVID spread thinks future lockdowns unlikely to be needed

LONDON — A British scientist who gained prominence for issuing dire warnings about the spread of COVID-19 said Saturday the U.K. is unlikely to need future lockdowns, although new infections may rise significantly as social interactions increase.

Professor Neil Ferguson, an infectious disease expert at Imperial College London, told The Times of London that Britain is likely to move to a situation where the disease can be managed by vaccinations rather than “crisis measures” such as lockdowns.

“I wouldn’t rule it out altogether, but I think it’s unlikely we will need a new lockdown or even social-distancing measures of the type we’ve had so far,’’ he said. “The caveat to that is, of course, if the virus changes substantially.”

Data released Friday showed the latest virus surge in the U.K. has eased, with the number of people testing positive for COVID-19 falling in most parts of the country. Based on its weekly survey of infection levels, the Office for National Statistics said infection rates appeared to be falling in England, Scotland and Wales, though not in Northern Ireland, with the biggest declines in younger age groups.

Read the whole story here.

—Danica Kirka, The Associated Press

COVID hospitalizations in Oregon skyrocket, on pace to surpass previous highs

The number of Oregonians hospitalized with COVID-19 has skyrocketed over the past month, rising faster than in previous waves and almost entirely among the unvaccinated.

Hospital leaders say COVID-positive patients requiring hospitalization are younger on average than ever before. With a quicker onset of symptoms, patients are more ill when admitted to hospitals and rapidly declining in health compared to previous surges.

On Friday, the number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 reached 496, including a record 135 in intensive care. At the current trajectory, Oregon is on pace to exceed its all-time high of 584 COVID-positive patients as soon as next week.

But hospital leaders and Gov. Kate Brown have not sounded the alarm, as they did during earlier waves. Brown warned in June 2020 – when 108 people were hospitalized with COVID-19 – that hospitals “could be overwhelmed” within weeks based on modeling. Brown renewed restrictions in November – when 285 people were hospitalized – saying that hospitals could withstand a surge but “that needs to be a last resort.” And in April – with 328 people hospitalized – Brown again restored some restraints because rising hospitalizations were “threatening to overwhelm doctors and nurses.”

Read the whole story here.

—Ardeshir Tabrizian, oregonlive.com

U.S. again averaging 100,000 new confirmed COVID cases a day

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — The COVID-19 outbreak in the United States crossed 100,000 new confirmed daily infections Saturday, a milestone last exceeded during the pre-vaccine winter surge and driven by the highly transmissible delta variant and low vaccination rates in the South.

Health officials fear that cases, hospitalizations and deaths will continue to soar if more Americans don’t embrace the vaccine. Nationwide, 50% of residents are fully vaccinated and more than 70% of adults have received at least one dose.

“Our models show that if we don’t (vaccinate people), we could be up to several hundred thousand cases a day, similar to our surge in early January,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director Rochelle Walensky said on CNN this week.

It took the U.S. about nine months to cross 100,000 average daily cases in November before peaking at about 250,000 in early January. Cases bottomed out in June, averaging about 11,000 per day, but six weeks later the number is 107,143.

Hospitalizations and deaths are also increasing, though all are still below peaks seen early this year before vaccines became widely available.

Read the whole story here.

—Kelli Kennedy and Terry Spencer, The Associated Press

Police crack down on Thai demonstrators calling for Prime Minister's resignation over slow vaccination program

BANGKOK — Thai riot police on Saturday fired water cannons, tear gas and rubber bullets to repel a crowd of several hundred young anti-government protesters who marched on an army base where Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha has his residence to demand his resignation.

The demonstrators threw rocks, bottles, fireworks and fired slingshots during the hourslong confrontation in the Din Daeng area of Bangkok, which was obscured by swirling smoke.

The rally was led by the Free Youth, a student protest group that drew tens of thousands to its protests last year. It’s demanding Prayuth’s resignation over his handling of the coronavirus crisis, which has seen the number of cases spiraling and the health care system stretched to the limit. Prayuth has been criticized for a slow vaccination program.

Thailand reported a new high of 21,838 confirmed cases on Saturday, with 212 more deaths. Bangkok and surrounding provinces have been under lockdown, including overnight curfew, for weeks.

Read the whole story here.

—The Associated Press

19% of recent documented California COVID are breakthroughs, but not leading to hospitalizations, deaths

About 19% of recent documented COVID-19 cases in California are breakthroughs, and state data shows that those who have been fully vaccinated account for an increasing portion of positive tests.

The number, which contradicts a repeated public portrayal that breakthrough cases are negligible, can be easily misinterpreted. To be clear, this is not an indication of some sort of vaccine failure. Quite the contrary.

Breakthrough cases were expected. State data still suggests that unvaccinated people are nearly five times as likely to be infected as those who are inoculated. And almost all the hospitalizations and deaths are among unvaccinated people. Vaccines remain the most important tool for fighting the pandemic.

Rather, the rising proportion of breakthrough cases suggests that even people who have been vaccinated are potentially significant spreaders of coronavirus, especially the delta variant. It reinforces why vaccinated people should also wear masks in public settings.

Read the whole story here.

—Daniel Borenstein, Mercury News

Spokane delays return to in-person City Council meetings amid COVID case spike

The spike in COVID-19 cases in Spokane County will delay the return of in-person Spokane City Council meetings at least several weeks.

The Spokane City Council had eyed Aug. 16 for a return to in-person meetings.

Council members agreed Thursday to push back the potential in-person reopening until at least Sept. 17, citing the recent surge in COVID-19 cases in Spokane County caused by the delta variant.

“The last two days have kind of shaken me in terms of public health, and the last thing I want to do is be a part of spreading this disease to people,” said City Council President Breean Beggs.

Read the whole story here.

—Adam Shanks, The Spokesman-Review

Protests against French health passes continue for fourth week

PARIS — Thousands of people marched in Paris and other French cities during a fourth consecutive week of protests against COVID-19 entrance requirements and what opponents see as restrictions on personal freedom.

The demonstrations on Saturday come two days after France’s Constitutional Council upheld most provisions of a new law that expands the locations where health passes are needed to enter.

Starting Monday, the pass will be required to access cafes, restaurants, long-distance travel and, in some cases, hospitals. It was already in place for cultural and recreational venues, including cinemas, concert halls and theme parks with capacity for more than 50 people.

Read the whole story here.

—The Associated Press

Japan considers the meaning, lasting impact of its pandemic Olympics

TOKYO — Was it the strangest Olympics ever, staged during a deadly pandemic, with no fans? How about the angriest, awash in protests and fierce opposition from large swaths of the host nation?

The scariest, with fears of new coronavirus variants and surging cases plaguing Japan— though mostly dodging those in the Olympic “bubble” — throughout the two weeks of sports? Or maybe, as athletes banded together under moments of intense stress, the kindest?

As tens of thousands of athletes, journalists and officials get ready to pack up and leave Monday, Japan will be left to pick over the answers to these questions, maybe for years. Amid the lingering glow from the televised pomp and the indisputable athletic drama, whatever you call these Olympics, it’s worth stopping to consider how Japan sees them.

They were sold, well before the pandemic, as the symbol of Japan’s recovery from the destruction of the 2011 tsunami and nuclear meltdown. The rhetoric now tends to focus on their link to the world overcoming coronavirus.

But does that really work in a country where thousands are still getting sick each day, let alone in other, even worse-hit nations that have sent athletes to Tokyo? Many here, while proud that Japan is on the verge of pulling off what many thought impossible or, in some corners, highly inadvisable, still believe these Games were forced on the country and that their real cost, possibly in lives lost, is yet to be paid.

Read the whole story here.

—Foster Klug, The Associated Press

COVID survivors share stories to encourage masking, vaccination

ATLANTA — As her father lay dying last August from the coronavirus at a Georgia hospital, Lindsay Schwarz put her hands on his arms and softly sang him lines from their favorite songs.

Eugene Schwarz had been admitted three weeks earlier, but the hospital had not allowed his daughter to visit him for fear of spreading the virus. The 72-year-old looked nothing like the ebullient, crisply dressed cardiologist who used to kiss her on the forehead before heading off to work.

“I was hugging my father, and it didn’t really feel like my father,” Schwarz said.

Less than an hour after she was allowed to see him, he died.

Schwarz recalled the painful experience in a phone interview on Friday to raise awareness about the devastating impacts of COVID-19. She and other victims of the virus, including people who were infected months ago and are still experiencing severe symptoms, have organized rallies in Atlanta, New York, Washington D.C., Denver and more than a dozen other cities around the country on Saturday to encourage people to get vaccinated and wear a mask.

Read the whole story here.

—Sudhin Thanawala, The Associated Press

Masks, social distancing planned for return to schools

With only about three weeks left before school starts, Washington school districts, including Seattle, are gearing up for another year of masks, social distancing and contact tracing as most children return to the classroom — some, for the first time in 18 months. 

Since a majority of kids eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine haven’t gotten the shot yet, according to state health officials, avoiding the spread of the highly transmissible delta variant is a top priority. 

Every school district will be expected to provide full-time in-person learning to all students who want it, and masks will still be required for students and staff — or districts risk an “immediate” halt to their funding, according to state schools Superintendent Chris Reykdal. Private schools must also adhere to the ongoing state school mask order, a continuation of the mask requirement from last school year.

Washington is one of a handful of states — including Oregon and California — requiring masks for everyone in school, regardless of vaccination status. Students and staff are not required to wear them outdoors.

Read the whole story here.

—Monica Velez and Dahlia Bazzaz