Editor’s note: This is a live account of COVID-19 updates from Saturday, July 10, 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 It is no longer being updated.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.
With the COVID-19 vaccination rate plateauing across the country, the White House is starting to return fire at those they see as spreading harmful misinformation or fear about the shots. Nationwide, about 67% of American adults have gotten at least one dose.
Meanwhile, in Washington, students and staff will no longer be required to wear masks outdoors at school — and staff can go maskless indoors if they are vaccinated against the coronavirus and no children are present, state health officials announced this week.
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.
After pandemic hiatus, a more intimate vibe at Cannes
The resumption of the 12-day Cannes Film Festival last week, after a pandemic hiatus in 2020, marks a moment of optimism for an industry battered by closed cinemas and difficult working conditions. For film fans in Cannes and around the world, it also represents a moment of hope that normality – on and off the screen – may be returning, The Washington Post reports.
Unlike this year’s Sundance Film Festival, held online and at satellite venues as vaccines were just being rolled out in the United States, Cannes is fully in-person.
“You can’t really keep the virus out,” one festival participant advised another over dinner. “You just have to follow a few rules and stop being angry about it all the time.”
Read the full article here.
‘We became like one huge family’: Seattle vaccination workers reunite for celebration barbecue
They were thrilled to have administered an astounding 102,000 shots in just three months, helping to drive the city’s vaccination rate to 70%. But they also were sad to part ways after bonding over work that saved lives, said Annalisa Giust, 57, who recorded data and distributed vaccination cards at the city-sponsored clinic, working alongside a nurse.
During a happy-hour meetup that last day, the White Center resident said, some of the crew realized, “We need to get together again.” So they did.
On Saturday, several dozen of the clinic workers met at Judkins Park in Seattle to catch up, joke around and barbecue. Some had trouble recognizing some friends without their masks on, they mentioned, laughing.
Read the full article here.
5 low-vaccinated clusters pose health risks for US, experts say
WASHINGTON — Five low-vaccinated clusters could put the entire country at risk for spreading new variants of COVID-19, according to a new analysis out of Georgetown University.
Georgetown researchers, who have been tracking vaccination rates since December, found that there are about 30 clusters across the U.S. that have lower vaccination rates than the national average of 47.8%. The five they have identified as most vulnerable are scattered across eight states concentrated in the southeastern part of the country, touching Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Texas.
Unvaccinated clusters pose greater threats because each interaction with an unvaccinated individual risks a new transmission of COVID-19, said Dr. Shweta Bansal, an associate professor of biology at Georgetown who headed the project.
With every new case of the virus, there is another chance for a new variant to emerge. Already, the highly contagious delta variant that was first found in India in December has become the dominant strain in all new identified cases of the coronavirus in the U.S.
Read the full article here.
Conventions and conferences are back, with changes for the COVID era. Here’s a look inside
Before walking into a convention of neuroscientists, surgeons and medical technicians at the Los Angeles Convention Center on Friday, Amy Pruszenski had to check in with staff standing behind plexiglass, show proof that she had been vaccinated against COVID-19 and walk past a thermal camera that measured her body temperature.
The gathering was billed as California’s first in-person medical convention since the pandemic struck. Pruszenski, an optometrist from New Hampshire, felt at ease meeting in a large hall — in physically distanced chairs — with hundreds of strangers from across the country.
The precautions taken at the Los Angeles Convention Center — with the possible exception of the robot — may reflect the future of conventions, trade shows and conferences in California, at least until the pandemic is brought under control.
Read the full story here.
Free doughnuts aren’t going to boost vaccination rates
NEW YORK — If you were really scared of something — a fear founded on rumor and history, that you could get sick and possibly die, lose your ability to have children, alter your DNA or be left at the mercy of pernicious government surveillance — would you do it anyway, for the prospect of a membership to the Public Theater? Or a free glazed doughnut at Krispy Kreme?
These are not hypotheticals but in fact examples of the kind of bait that New York City began publicizing last month to increase COVID vaccination rates. With no evidence of whether such a strategy might be effective — and the belief presumably that it is worth trying anything — states and municipalities across the country have been working to incentivize immunization. In Kentucky you can get a free lottery ticket; Alabama has offered the opportunity to drive a truck around the Talladega speedway.
An unwillingness to get the COVID vaccine, complicated as both a matter of politics and psychology, has become increasingly concerning to public health officials as the Delta variant, more contagious than the standard coronavirus, has begun to spread. In New York, 44% of new COVID cases seen by the city’s health department are attributable to the Delta variant, a doubling over the course of a week.
Read the full article here.
These drama students trained for years. Then theater vanished.
Making a life in the arts was always going to be hard. But not like this.
Over 16 months of pandemic and social unrest, aspiring student actors of the Class of 2020 would watch almost all stage actors lose their jobs and witness widespread layoffs at regional theaters. They would hear the footsteps of another year of young artists coming up right behind and wonder whether there would still be room for them.
David Johnson III, a 23-year-old from suburban Detroit, who grew up playing football and basketball but decided he wanted to be an actor after portraying Richard III in youth theater. He is now driving for Grubhub.
“I call us the Class of COVID-19,” he said.
Read the full article here.
Copa America final guests bring fraudulent COVID tests
RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — A South American governing body for football said that guests at the Copa America final on Saturday brought false COVID-19 tests to Maracana Stadium.
CONMEBOL, the governing body, said in a statement it detected “a considerable amount of fraudulent PCR tests” brought by accredited guests, without saying how many tests were found. It added those people will not enter the stadium.
“All guests will have to present a negative test from a laboratory to be able to attend,” it said. “There will be no exception. It is recommended that the printed test is available at all times so it can be verified and avoid setbacks.”
Rio de Janeiro city hall decided on Friday to allow 10% of the 78,000-seat stadium’s capacity at the final, with no ticket sales.
Brazil is one of the countries hardest hit by COVID-19. It so far counts more than 531,000 knowns deaths, second only to the United States, though the pandemic has waned in the nation this month.
Read the full article here.
Winner of Oregon’s $1 million vaccine jackpot announced
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Oregon’s $1 million COVID-19 vaccine jackpot winner is a fine arts student at Oregon State University, officials announced on Friday.
Chloe Zinda, a McMinnville resident, says she plans to use the money to pay off student loans, pursue her dream as an artist and open her own studio.
“I never imagined that getting my COVID vaccine would lead to me being here today and meeting all these amazing people,” Zinda said at a press conference on Friday, where Gov. Kate Brown handed her a check.
Zinda said as a part-time swim instructor she decided to get the vaccine in the hopes of keeping her students safe.
“I’m really excited for our winner, but I’m also really excited for our state,” said Patrick Allen, the director of the state’s health authority. “Thanks to our winner, and the more than 2.3 million other Oregonians who have received at least one dose of the safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine, COVID no longer holds Oregon so tightly in its grip.”
As the state crawled towards its vaccination target of 70% of adults partially or fully vaccinated in the state, the governor announced a list of incentives in May and June for people who got their shot. Among the prizes were vacation packages and $100 gift cards.
A group of scientists presses case against the lab leak theory of coronavirus origin
In the latest volley of the debate over the origins of the coronavirus, a group of scientists this week presented a review of scientific findings that it argues shows a natural spillover from animal to human is a far more likely cause of the pandemic than a laboratory incident.
Among other things, the scientists point to a recent report showing that markets in Wuhan, China, had sold live animals susceptible to the virus, including palm civets and raccoon dogs, in the two years before the pandemic began. They observed the striking similarity that COVID-19’s emergence had to other viral diseases that arose through natural spillovers and pointed to a variety of newly discovered viruses in animals that are closely related to the one that caused the new pandemic.
The back and forth among scientists is taking place while intelligence agencies are working with an end-of-summer deadline to provide President Joe Biden with an assessment of the origin of the pandemic. There is now a division among intelligence officials as to which scenario for viral origin is more likely.
The new paper, which was posted online Wednesday but has yet to be published in a scientific journal, was written by a team of 21 virus experts. Four of them also collaborated on a 2020 paper in Nature Medicine that largely dismissed the possibility that the virus became a human pathogen through laboratory manipulation.
Gov. Jay Inslee and Bill Nye meet at Johnston Ridge to discuss COVID-19 and more
A governor and a science guy walk in front of a volcano. The rest of the conversation was no joke.
Gov. Jay Inslee and Bill Nye “the Science Guy” held an event Thursday at Johnston Ridge overlooking Mount St. Helens. The two spoke about their shared interests in outdoor education, addressing climate change and increasing the number of COVID-19 vaccinations.
The governor also gave Nye a pin and named him the honorary Washingtonian of the Day for his work as an inspirational local science figure.
Nye’s status as a famous “science guy” and Washingtonian helped drive home the message. Nye has lived in Washington for more than 40 years, after first being hired as an engineer for Boeing.
“The Delta variant, climate change, taking care of each other and redistributing wealth so that everybody has a high quality of life. We’re all in this together, so let’s get out there and save the world!” Nye said.
U.S. donates 500,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses to Moldova
BUCHAREST (AP) — Moldova is set to receive half a million doses of Johnson & Johnson vaccine from the United States to help the small nation combat the coronavirus pandemic.
The first 150,000 doses of J&J are to arrive in Moldova — a country of 3.5 million, Europe’s poorest sandwiched between Romania and Ukraine — on July 12, the U.S. Embassy officials in Moldova said..
The announcement came days ahead of an early) parliamentary election in Moldova that pits pro-Western reformists against a Russia-friendly bloc of Socialists and Communists, with recent polls giving a lead to the former.
“This donation could not come at a more important time,” the U.S. Embassy in Moldova said in a statement.
Only 305,000 people in Moldova have been fully inoculated against COVID-19, around just 11% of the population.
New virus surge sends younger patients to Spain’s hospitals
BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Julio Miranda had never felt the threat of the coronavirus too close. With an appointment for his first COVID-19 jab scheduled for mid-July, the 48-year-old house painter was, like many in the vaccine-abundant developed world, eagerly awaiting the end of his personal pandemic worries.
Then a colleague fell ill last month, followed by his boss’ wife. Gradually, all but one of his five coworkers found themselves in bed. Miranda, who is from Chile, also started feeling stomach cramps. Soon, he was lying on the sofa, struggling to draw every breath.
“It’s only when the virus hits you that you take it much more seriously,” Miranda said this week from a hospital room overlooking Barcelona’s beachfront where he recovered after a week in intensive care.
After a brief respite that brought medical activity back to pre-pandemic routines, managers at the Hospital del Mar in this northeastern city are facing a sharp surge in infections by, once again.
The increase comes amid the advance of the delta variant of the coronavirus that spreads more easily. And it’s being driven mostly by younger, unvaccinated patients who require less ICU care but are turning in droves to health centers and emergency wards.
Malta in Europe to require visitor prove COVID-19 vaccinations
VALLETTA, Malta (AP) — The Mediterranean island nation of Malta is requiring proof of vaccination for visitors 13 and up, the first European Union nation to do so.
Starting Wednesday, visitors to Malta must present a COVID-19 vaccination certificate that is recognized by Maltese health authorities, meaning certificates issued by Malta, the European Union or the United Kingdom.
The EU’s green passport program certifies people who are fully vaccinated, but also those who receive a negative PCR test result or have recovered from COVID-19. But Malta has decided to only recognize those who are fully vaccinated in hopes of stemming a recent rise in confirmed coronavirus cases.
“Malta will be the first EU country taking this step,” Health Minister Chris Fearne said.
Malta, which has a population of just over half a million, had 46 active cases on July 1 and 252 active cases as of Friday. The country has reported nearly 31,000 cases and 420 deaths in the pandemic.
The Maltese government says 90% of the new COVID-19 cases are among unvaccinated people. Currently, 79% of Maltese adults have been fully vaccinated. Fearne said that most of the new cases were linked to travel.
Tokyo Olympics: Spectators also barred from outlying venues
TOKYO (AP) — Two more prefectures outside the immediate Tokyo area have decided to bar fans from attending Olympic events because of rising coronavirus infections, Tokyo Olympic organizers confirmed on Saturday with the pandemic-delayed games opening in just under two weeks.
Tokyo organizers and the IOC earlier in the week barred all fans from venues in Tokyo and three neighboring prefectures. They make up the overwhelming majority of Olympic venues, although a smattering of outlying areas were allowed initially to have limited attendance.
All fans from abroad were banned months ago.
Now, two prefectures that were permitted to have fans have backed out of those plans.
Fukushima prefecture in northeastern Japan has decided to hold its baseball and softball events without spectators. It has been joined by the northern prefecture of Hokkaido, which will hold soccer games without fans at the Sapporo Dome.
Rio opens 10% of Maracana Stadium for Copa America soccer final
RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Rio de Janeiro officials are allowing Copa America organizers to invite thousands of COVID-19-tested soccer fans into the final at Maracana Stadium between Brazil and Argentina on Saturday.
Rio city health secretary Daniel Soranz issued guidelines on Friday permitting crowds of up to 10% in each section of the 78,000-seat stadium. No tickets will be sold for the encounter.
CONMEBOL said on Friday each team can bring 2,200 guests to the final. Guests will be required to wear masks in the stadium and keep a distance of two meters among each other. No food and drinks will be allowed.
The Maracana hosted about 60,000 fans in the previous Copa America final in 2019, when Brazil beat Peru 3-1.
In January at Maracana, the delayed 2020 Copa Libertadores final between Palmeiras and Santos was attended by about 5,000 spectators, but they were all concentrated with little regard for social distancing guidelines.
Pandemic garbage boom ignites debate over waste as energy
PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — America remains awash in refuse as new cases of the coronavirus decline — and that has reignited a debate about the sustainability of burning more trash to create energy.
Waste-to-energy plants, which produce most of their power by incinerating trash, make up only about half a percent of the electricity generation in the U.S. But the plants have long aroused considerable opposition from environmentalists and local residents who decry the facilities as polluters, eyesores and generators of foul odor.
The industry has been in retreat mode in the U.S., with dozens of plants closing since 2000 amid local opposition and emissions concerns. But members of the industry said they see the increase in garbage production in the U.S. in recent months as a chance to play a bigger role in creating energy and fighting climate change by keeping waste out of methane-creating landfills.
One estimate from the Solid Waste Association of North America placed the amount of residential waste up as much as 8% this spring compared to the previous spring. And more trash is on the way.
How the pandemic has changed our mindset toward travel
After 14 years in the NFL, All-Pro wide receiver Anquan Boldin went into 2017 undecided about whether to play one last season. He wanted to take some time before the season to clear his head, so he and his wife Dionne booked a vacation to South Africa with Explorer X, a Seattle-based travel company that focuses on the concept of “transformational travel.”
The family spent time in Cape Town, South Africa, and on safari during that trip, logging huge distances in both miles and belief.
“I don’t know too many people that can say they were 5 feet away from a lion in its own habitat and walked away,” Boldin said. “Also, we were able to go the prison where Nelson Mandela had been locked up and actually take a tour from one of the guards that was actually a guard at the facility while Mandela was detained there. So the entire trip was refreshing and it was also an eye-opener for us.”
Travel — as practiced by most Americans in the 21st century — has increasingly come to be seen as wasteful and aristocratic, a driver of environmental damage and cultural insensitivity, and the pandemic has only increased the pace of the discussion about the future of travel.
As the Boldins discovered, there are a lot of alternatives to the model we currently practice, enabled by jumbo jets, giant cruise ships and interstate highways.
Catch up on the past 24 hours
Gov. Jay Inslee and U.S. Rep. Suzan DelBene visited Point Roberts in Whatcom County on Friday for a meeting with residents and stops at some businesses. The community, which is connected by land to British Columbia, rather than Washington state, has been left mostly isolated since spring 2020, when the U.S. and Canada closed their land borders to curb the spread of COVID-19.
The Washington state Department of Health reported 496 new coronavirus cases and 11 new deaths on Friday. The update brought the state's totals to 455,103 cases adn 5,997 deaths, meaning that 1.3% of people diagnosed have died, according to the department.
The White House is calling out critics of a door-to-door COVID-19 vaccination push, returning fire at those seen by the Biden administration to be spread harmful misinformation and fear. When South Carolina's governor tried this week to block door-to-door efforts, White House press secretary said "the failure to provide accurate public health information ... is literally killing people."
California will require that masks be worn at schools when classrooms open this fall, despite new guidance issued Friday from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that says vaccinated teachers and students don’t need to wear face coverings inside school buildings.
There is no sign that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has been inoculated against the coronavirus and his country hasn’t received any foreign vaccines, South Korea’s spy agency said Thursday.
Hugs and hand shakes are "an important part of our culture, and I think it’s fine if you keep precautions,” said Dr. Ferric Fang, professor laboratory medicine and microbiology. So, what are those precautions? And are hugs or hand shakes safer?
As the U.S. economy bounds back with unexpected speed from the pandemic recession and customer demand intensifies, high school-age kids are filling jobs that older workers can’t — or won’t.
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