Editor’s note: This is a live account of COVID-19 updates from Monday, Aug. 9, 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 It is no longer being updated.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 delta variant sends U.S. coronavirus cases soaring, particularly in the less vaccinated Southeast, health officials are considering new efforts to tamp down the virus’ spread.

The Food and Drug Administration is expected to give full approval to Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine soon. That could trigger a wave of new vaccine mandates, according to Dr. Anthony Fauci, the U.S. government’s top infectious disease expert.

Fauci also said that booster shots could soon be available for those with weakened immune systems. Some members of the public are taking matters into their own hands and seeking unapproved booster shots.

Meanwhile, Washington will require masks for everyone in schools, regardless of vaccination status.

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.

Gov. Jay Inslee has set a press conference today at 1 p.m. to to announce new efforts to increase COVID-19 vaccinations in Washington state.
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Navigating the pandemic
(Jennifer Luxton / The Seattle Times)

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GOP speakers put politics ahead of fighting virus, Kentucky Gov. says

Republican leaders had a duty to promote COVID-19 vaccinations at Kentucky’s marquee political event, and their failure to do so showed they put “politics above the very lives of our people,” Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear said Monday.

GOP speakers at the Fancy Farm picnic last Saturday lambasted Beshear for his now-lifted restrictions on businesses and gatherings to combat the virus. Two Republicans who are expected to compete for Beshear’s job in 2023 accused the governor of infringing on individual liberties.

The non-election year speeches came as Kentucky faces a surge in COVID-19 cases, leading to increased hospitalizations and concerns the death toll will spike. Beshear on Monday faulted the Republican speakers for what they didn’t say at Fancy Farm.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press
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Free shots at South Beach nightclub – vaccine shots, that is

FILE – Lights are illuminated at an empty LIV nightclub Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2020, in Miami Beach, Fla. LIV is offering free COVID-19 vaccines outside the Miami club where high rollers spend up to $20,000 just for a table. The start-studded nightclub set up pop-up COVID vaccine sites over the weekend at LIV and club Story to entice the young demographic that is rapidly filling up Florida hospitals as the delta variant rapidly spreads across Florida. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky, file)

Ready to party at one of South Beach’s most glamorous nightclubs? Then roll up your sleeves because these shots won’t get you buzzed. LIV is offering free COVID-19 vaccines outside the Miami club where high rollers spend up to $20,000 just for a table.

The star-studded nightclub, where Super Bowl champs celebrate at parties so legendary they’ve inspired lyrics from Drake and Kanye West, set up pop-up COVID vaccine sites over the weekend at LIV and club Story to entice the young demographic that is rapidly filling up Florida hospitals as the delta variant rapidly spreads across Florida.

The Sunshine State set another record high over the weekend. On Saturday, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 23,903 new COVID-19 cases for Friday. That tops the previous day’s record of 22,783 new cases.

Read the story here.

—Kelli Kennedy, The Associated Press

EXPLAINER: How do border policies affect US infection rates?

As the delta variant fuels an increase of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., some of President Joe Biden’s critics blame the surge on his border policies, which allow some migrants to enter the country to apply for asylum.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis last week accused Biden of “helping to facilitate” the spread of the coronavirus. Fox News host Sean Hannity referred to migrants causing “the biggest super-spreader event” and incorrectly asserted that none was being tested.

But public health experts say arriving migrants are not driving the rising infections in the U.S. The main culprits are people who refuse to get vaccinated. Furthermore, migrants who are allowed to enter are generally tested for COVID-19 and given hotel rooms to quarantine if they test positive, though federal authorities have not made data available about such cases.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press

Arkansas reports new record for COVID-19 hospitalizations

FILE – In this Tuesday, June 22, 2021, file photo, Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson testifies before a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Capitol Hill, in Washington. Facing growing resistance to vaccinations, the governors of Arkansas and Ohio are among several governors asking the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to grant full approval to coronavirus vaccines in the hope that it will persuade more people to get the shot. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta, File)

Arkansas on Monday set a new record for the number of people in the state hospitalized because of COVID-19 as its coronavirus surge continued.

The state reported its COVID-19 hospitalizations rose by 103, its biggest one-day increase, to 1,376. The state’s previous record during the pandemic for COVID-19 hospitalizations was in January when it reported 1,371 virus patients in the hospital. The Department of Health reported that there are only eight intensive care unit beds available in the state.

Arkansas ranks third in the country for new virus cases per capita, according to numbers compiled by Johns Hopkins University researchers. The state’s cases have been skyrocketing in recent weeks, fueled by the delta variant of the virus and the state’s low vaccination rate. Only about 37% of the state’s population is fully vaccinated against the virus.

Read the story here.

—Andrew DeMillo, The Associated Press
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State health officials confirm 1,852 new coronavirus cases

The state Department of Health (DOH) reported 1,852 new coronavirus cases and nine new deaths on Monday.

The update brings the state's totals to 495,338 cases and 6,177 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.

The new cases may include up to 260 duplicates, according to DOH.

In addition, 27,858 people have been hospitalized in the state due to the virus — 397 new hospitalizations. In King County, the state's most populous, state health officials have confirmed a total of 122,128 COVID-19 diagnoses and 1,687 deaths.

Since vaccinations began in mid-December, the state and health care providers have administered 8,259,381 doses and 53.2% 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 10,131 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.

Eagles’ Hotel California tour coming to Seattle’s Climate Pledge Arena for vaccinated-only concert

The Eagles have announced what will likely be one of the first concerts at the new Climate Pledge Arena. But before checking into this Hotel California tour stop, venue staff will be checking to see if you’ve had your jabs.

Unlike most dates along the tour — which features the soft rock deities, backed by an orchestra and a choir, performing their iconic album in its entirety — a vaccination requirement will be in place for the Nov. 5 Seattle show. Fans will need to provide proof of full vaccination and any children under 12 must have a negative COVID-19 test dated within 48 hours of the show.

When the pandemic-interrupted tour resumes at Madison Square Garden later this month, a vaccination requirement will be in place then, too, at the venue’s behest.

While the Seattle vax policy was imposed by the band — whose manager Irving Azoff is a founding partner with the Oak View Group, the company building Climate Pledge Arena — CPA brass expressed support for the decision. As of now, the Eagles concert is the only CPA show with a vaccination requirement.

Read the full story here.

—Michael Rietmulder

Arkansas reports new record for COVID-19 hospitalizations

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Arkansas on Monday set a new record for the number of people in the state hospitalized because of COVID-19 as its coronavirus surge continued.

The state reported its COVID-19 hospitalizations rose by 103, its biggest one-day increase, to 1,376. The state’s previous record during the pandemic for COVID-19 hospitalizations was in January when it reported 1,371 virus patients in the hospital. 

Arkansas ranks third in the country for new virus cases per capita, according to numbers compiled by Johns Hopkins University researchers. The state’s cases have been skyrocketing in recent weeks, fueled by the delta variant of the virus and state’s low vaccination rate.

Only about 37% of the state’s population is fully vaccinated against the virus.

—Associated Press
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Gov. Jay Inslee announces COVID-19 vaccine mandate for Washington state employees, health-care workers

Tens of thousands of Washington state employees — along with many private-sector healthcare workers — will be required to receive COVID-19 vaccinations or face firing, according to a sweeping mandate announced Monday by Gov. Jay Inslee.

Affected workers will have until Oct. 18 to get fully vaccinated, and show proof, or face “non-disciplinary dismissal” for failure to meet job requirements, according to Inslee’s office. Employees will be allowed to seek exemptions for religious or medical reasons.

Washington has more than 68,000 state government employees, excluding the higher education system. The vaccines will be required regardless of whether employees have returned to in-person worksites to or are still working from home.

King County has about 13,500 executive branch employees who would be subject to the rule, a spokesperson for county Executive Dow Constantine said. The city of Seattle has about 12,000 employees potentially subject to the mandate.

Read the full story here.

—Jim Brunner

Pandemic puppies are great. But some dog owners used the shutdown to say goodbye to aging pets.

In March 2020, as the coronavirus pandemic forced many of us out of our offices, and as the daily commute shortened to the walk from bed to desk, Americans increasingly adopted or purchased dogs. For new pet owners, the extra time at home meant easier house-training. But for others, remote work provided an opportunity to say a long goodbye to an old friend.

“Karma was just going to be turning 13, and I always wanted to be that stay-at-home dog mom,” said Candace Schlittner, a sales manager associate at a Boston-area communications firm. “I finally got that.”

“When she wanted something, she would let everyone know,” Schlittner said. Karma would bark or, more embarrassingly, drag her butt in the background during Zoom calls. “She would do it for attention. And I’m like, all right, I’ve got to cut this short and take her out.”

Karma died in June 2020. To help her through her grief, Schlittner contacted Kaleel Sakakeeny, a pet loss counselor and ordained animal chaplain in Boston.

“I had five times more people reaching out to me when their pet passed during the pandemic because it brought to the surface all the other losses they didn’t give themselves permission to grieve,” Sakakeeny said.

More than 614,000 people in the United States have died of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. Although the loss of any pet can’t compare to the loss of a human life, Sakakeeny notes that those he counsels would frequently wonder why they felt so much more sadness now.

—The Washington Post

Mexico seeks at least 3.5 million more COVID-19 jabs from US

MEXICO CITY — Mexico will ask the United States to send at least 3.5 million more doses of COVID-19 vaccine as the country faces a third wave of infections, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said Monday.

The president said he planned to discuss a transfer of vaccine with U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris during a call scheduled for later Monday.

López Obrador said the U.S. government had initially offered the Moderna vaccine, but Mexican health authorities could not get the necessary approvals in time so now they are considering Pfizer or another approved vaccine.

Mexico has vaccinated more than 50 million people with at least one dose, representing about 56% of the adult population. It has received 91.1 million doses of five different vaccines.

In June, the U.S. donated 1.3 million doses of Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

—Associated Press
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Pentagon to require COVID vaccine for all troops by Sept. 15

WASHINGTON — The Pentagon will require members of the U.S. military to get the COVID-19 vaccine by Sept. 15, according to a memo obtained by The Associated Press. That deadline could be pushed up if the vaccine receives final FDA approval or infection rates continue to rise.

“I will seek the president’s approval to make the vaccines mandatory no later than mid-September, or immediately upon” licensure by the Food and Drug Administration “whichever comes first,” Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin says in the memo to troops, warning them to prepare for the requirement. “I will not hesitate to act sooner or recommend a different course to the President if l feel the need to do so.”

The memo is expected to go out Monday.

Austin’s decision comes a bit more than a week after President Joe Biden told defense officials to develop a plan requiring troops to get shots as part of a broader campaign to increase vaccinations in the federal workforce. It reflects similar decisions by governments and companies around the world, as nations struggle with the highly contagious delta variant that has sent new U.S. cases, hospitalizations and deaths surging to heights not see since the peaks last winter.

—Associated Press

DeSantis’s battle against mask, vaccine mandates approaches boiling point in Florida

The battle waged by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, R, against mask and vaccine mandates is facing challenges on multiple fronts.

His ban on vaccine passports was temporarily blocked by a federal judge late Sunday: Norwegian Cruise Line was cleared to require coronavirus vaccines for guests and crew members after U.S. District Judge Kathleen Williams granted the company a preliminary injunction, blocking a Florida law championed by DeSantis that would have fined the cruise company for requiring vaccines.

Coronavirus protocols in schools are also in the spotlight as the head of the country’s second-largest teachers union on Sunday shifted course to signal support for vaccine mandates for teachers to protect students, especially those under 12 who are not old enough to be inoculated.

And a group of parents of disabled children in Florida sued Friday to block the state’s ban on mask mandates in schools. Florida education officials moved the same day to give students access to a state voucher program that helps pay for private tuition if their public schools require masks – an acknowledgment that some schools in the state are moving ahead with mask mandates despite the law.

—The Washington Post

Gov. Jay Inslee expected to announce COVID-19 vaccine mandate for Washington state employees

Gov. Jay Inslee will hold a news conference Monday in Seattle in which he is expected to announce a vaccine mandate for state employees.

The news conference is scheduled for 1 p.m. at Kaiser Permanente’s Capitol Hill campus. Some local government employees are also expected to be impacted, and Inslee will be joined by Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan and King County Executive Dow Constantine at the announcement.

Inslee had signaled a potential mandate at a news conference last week, pointing to the need to tamp down COVID-19 infections, which are rising again largely due to the highly transmissible delta variant.

“We know we have to increase our vaccinations, that’s a certainty,” Inslee said at a news conference last week. “The question is how to do that in a reasonable way.”

Read the full story here.

—Jim Brunner
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COVID-19 killed her husband. Now it’s taking the only home her kids have ever known.

OZARK, Mo. — Lisa Grim braced herself as she turned the key to her family’s new apartment.

It had taken more than a month to find a landlord willing to accept her – a newly widowed 33-year-old raising two kids, barely making $20,000 a year. None of the other 20 apartments had returned her calls and emails. This unit, which she had rented sight unseen, was the only one that approved her application.

“I’m not expecting anything fancy. As long as it’s clean and doesn’t smell,” she said as she opened the door on the first day of July, trailed by her 10-year-old son, Ralphie.

Nine months had passed since her husband Alan, 37, died of COVID-19 in a rural Missouri ICU once again filling with coronavirus patients. Nine months since Lisa realized that without Alan’s salary, they could no longer afford their mortgage, forcing her to put the family’s house on the market and move to this apartment an hour away from everything her boys had known.

Alan’s death had not only devastated their family emotionally, it had broken them financially. Even as they grieved, the Grims – like tens of thousands of other families shattered by the pandemic – were now facing a cascade of secondary losses: income, home, school friends, long-held plans for the future.

—The Washington Post

More minority patients getting vaccinated at community health centers, say federal officials

Federally funded community health centers have administered nearly 14 million doses of coronavirus vaccines, including about 9 million doses to minority patients, the Biden administration is set to announce Monday.

Nearly half of the doses have been administered been through the Health Center COVID-19 Vaccine Program, an initiative overseen by the Department of Health and Human Services, according to federal data shared with The Washington Post.

“I’ve seen firsthand the critical role health centers play in serving communities, particularly to help fight the pandemic. After quickly transitioning from providing in-person primary care to offering telehealth services, they continue to test, vaccinate, and act as lifelines to communities disproportionately hit by covid-19,” HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra said in a statement.

The federal government funds about 1,400 community health centers, which provided care to about 1 in 11 people across the nation last year. The Biden administration has viewed the centers, which are disproportionately located in rural and underserved communities, as a key hub to reach Americans who have been slow to get vaccinated, and announced more than $7 billion in health center funding through the American Rescue Plan.

—The Washington Post

Will gyms go the way of arcades and movie rental stores?

Cindy Cicchinelli uses her Peloton exercise machine in the workout room of her Pittsburgh townhouse, Aug. 8, 2021. Cicchinelli says she has become a dedicated Peloton user after going to her gym in Pittsburgh for years, she said the convenience is what has sold her. (Keith Srakocic / AP)

The pandemic has reshaped how Americans exercise and upended the fitness industry, accelerating the growth of a new era of high-tech home workout equipment and virtual classes.

Thousands of small fitness centers and studios that were forced to close a year ago now are gone for good. Others are struggling to stay afloat and have redesigned their spaces, turned toward more personal workouts and added online training.

The question is can the they survive the onslaught from the apps and pricey bikes and treadmills or will they go the way of arcades, video rental shops and bookstores.

Interactive fitness equipment maker Peloton is betting the workout-from-home trend is here to stay. It’s breaking ground Monday on its first U.S. factory just outside Toledo, Ohio, where it plans to begin production in 2023 and employ 2,000 workers.

—Associated Press
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Canada begins allowing vaccinated US citizens to visit again

Canada on Monday is lifting its prohibition on Americans crossing the border to shop, vacation or visit, but the United States is keeping similar restrictions in place for Canadians, part of a bumpy return to normalcy from COVID-19 travel bans.

U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents must be both fully vaccinated and test negative for COVID-19 within three days to get across one of the world’s longest and busiest land borders. Travelers also must fill out a detailed on application on the arriveCAN app before crossing.

Even though travelers have to register, the Canada Border Services Agency won’t say how many people they are expecting to enter Canada for the reopening. But travelers should plan for the possibility of additional processing time at the border.

—Associated Press

Japan’s PM thanks people for safe Olympics during pandemic

TOKYO — Japan’s prime minister thanked people for helping the country safely hold the Olympics despite the difficulties of the coronavirus pandemic.

He noted the Games were delayed by a year and held under tight restrictions, but “I believe we were able to fulfill our responsibility as the host nation,” Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said, thanking the people for their understanding and cooperation.

The 17-day Summer Olympics were played mostly without spectators. Athletes stayed in an isolation bubble, quickly donned masks off their field of play and had to leave Japan soon after their competitions ended.

But the Games were a testament to perseverance, and as Suga noted in praising Japanese athletes for the nation’s record 58 medals, “Some won medals and others didn’t, but all their performances were moving.”

—Associated Press

Worker shortages complicate Seattle-Tacoma Airport’s bounce back to pre-pandemic travel numbers

Reported travelers at Sea-Tac soared from 1,402,545 in February 2021 to 3,807,357 in June 2021, creating a dramatically different environment for all airport workers.  

What’s more, this surge in travel comes as the country faces a historic labor shortage. Last month, Seattle-based Alaska Airline executives left their desks to help baggage handlers amid a serious labor shortage, and American Airlines trimmed its overall schedule by 1% to address staffing shortages, maintenance and other issues.

Sea-Tac Airport’s July 2021 traffic reached almost 70% to 80% of its pre-pandemic traveler load, TSA Federal Security Director Jeff Holmgren said. 

“Once the vaccine started to become more widely available, all those numbers started to increase, and by April of this year, we were screening more than a million people per day (nationally), and it only took about six weeks for that number to reach 2 million people,” said TSA Pacific spokesperson Lorie Dankers. “So it was a very, very rapid recovery.”

Read the full story here.

—Hannah Kanik
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France’s virus pass now required in restaurants, trains

PARIS — France took a big step Monday into a post-pandemic future by requiring people to show a QR code proving they have a special virus pass before they can enjoy restaurants and cafes or travel across the country. 

The measure is part of a government plan to encourage more people to get a COVID-19 vaccine shot and slow down a surge in infections, as the highly contagious delta variant now accounts for most cases in France. Over 36 million people in France, or more than 54% of the population, are fully vaccinated.

The special pass is issued to people who are vaccinated against COVID-19, or have proof of a recent recovery from the virus or who have a recent negative test. The measure also applies to tourists visiting the country.

The pass is now required on high-speed, intercity and night trains, which carry over 400,000 passengers per day in France, Transport Ministry chief Jean-Baptiste Djebbari said Monday. It is also required on long-distance travels by plane or bus.

—Associated Press

Fake COVID-19 vaccination cards worry college officials

SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. — As the delta variant of the coronavirus sweeps across the United States, a growing number of colleges and universities are requiring proof of COVID-19 vaccination for students to attend in-person classes. But the mandatory requirement has opened the door for those opposed to getting the vaccine to cheat the system, according to interviews with students, education and law enforcement officials.

Both faculty and students at dozens of schools interviewed by The Associated Press say they are concerned about how easy it is to get fake vaccine cards. 

Across the internet, a cottage industry has sprung up to accommodate people who say they won’t get vaccinated for either personal or religious reasons. 

An Instagram account with the username “vaccinationcards” sells laminated COVID-19 vaccination cards for $25 each. A user on the encrypted messaging app, Telegram, offers “COVID-19 Vaccine Cards Certificates,” for as much as $200 apiece.

An increasing number of inquiries to these sites and similar ones appear to be from those who are trying to get fake vaccination cards for college

—Associated Press

Downtown Seattle population rebounds, hits new high in 2021

Waves of pedestrians walk along Pine Street near Fifth Avenue in downtown Seattle on Thursday. According to ESRI estimates, the greater downtown Seattle area recently hit a record population just shy of 99,000. (Greg Gilbert / The Seattle Times)

It wasn’t long after the pandemic took hold that some folks were prophesying the end of American cities. COVID-19 was supposed to be a game changer — who would ever want to live in a densely packed urban neighborhood anymore?

And for a while, people who had the means to leave were fleeing these neighborhoods, often heading to more tranquil, rural places. But as it turns out, the appeal of city living isn’t so easily snuffed out.

The population of downtown Seattle hit a new high in 2021, as did downtown apartment occupancy, according to data featured in a new report from the Downtown Seattle Association.

Now, I imagine a number of readers are immediately skeptical. Cheerleading downtown Seattle is the DSA’s job, after all. But the data upon which their report is based comes from two independent sources with no stake in the game of bolstering downtown.

Read the full column here.

—Gene Balk
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Catch up on the past 24 hours

"People are flying down the roads" in a pandemic speed surge that hasn't eased. With highway deaths rising fast, police are worried about the final stretch of summer travel.

To shake hands or not? As life creaks back open and friends reunite, this dilemma keeps coming up. Even disease specialists are divided. But whatever choice you make, a few careful words and actions can make it smoother in this awkward era, etiquette experts say.

A wave of vaccine mandates could follow the full federal approval of a COVID-19 vaccine, Dr. Anthony Fauci said. And that approval is expected soon for Pfizer's shot.

The variant battle in the United States is over. Delta won, and the speed with which it wiped out its rivals has left scientists nervous about what the virus will do next. In a few short weeks, delta has changed the calculations for what it will take to end the pandemic.

At least 900 Americans have gotten COVID-19 boosters without the FDA's approval. The verdict is still out on whether the general population needs this.

—Kris Higginson