Editor’s note: This is a live account of COVID-19 updates from Tuesday, July 13, 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 It is no longer being updated.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.
In another setback for a coronavirus vaccine that has largely been sidelined in the United States because of manufacturing and safety problems, the Food and Drug Administration added a new warning to Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine about links to a rare and potentially dangerous neurological reaction, but said it’s not entirely clear the shot caused the problem.
Meanwhile, the number of Washington residents who have died from COVID-19 has now reached 6,000, state health officials confirmed Monday.
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.
Ex-Tennessee vaccine leader: Firing put politics over health
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee’s former top vaccinations official said Tuesday that she couldn’t stay silent after she was fired this week amid scrutiny from Republican state lawmakers over her department’s outreach efforts to vaccinate teenagers against COVID-19.
Dr. Michelle Fiscus, who was the medical director for vaccine-preventable diseases and immunization programs at the Tennessee Department of Health, said the state’s elected leaders put politics over the health of children by firing her for her efforts to get more Tennesseans vaccinated.
She said the agency presented her with a letter of resignation and a letter of termination Monday, but no reason for why she was being let go.
After choosing the termination letter, Fiscus penned a blistering 1,200-word response in which she said she is ashamed of Tennessee’s leaders, afraid for her state, and “angry for the amazing people of the Tennessee Department of Health who have been mistreated by an uneducated public and leaders who have only their own interests in mind.”
As England and other countries make mask-wearing optional, scientists worry about a surge in coronavirus cases
LONDON – Prime Minister Boris Johnson is calling it the “exit wave,” a final, inevitable rise in coronavirus infections, hospitalizations and deaths that the British government says will follow when it opens up the country next week on “Freedom Day.”
The prime minister says all legally enforceable measures to control the coronavirus will end in England on Monday — when wearing masks and maintaining social distance will become a “personal decision,” even in London subways, hospital lobbies and packed nightclubs filled with unvaccinated young adults.
It’s a big gamble for Johnson’s premiership — and this is a government that has struggled to get it right during the pandemic. Britain today has the highest infection rates in Europe, after Cyprus, and a total of 128,000 deaths.
At his news conference confirming the end of all lockdown measures next week, the prime minister and his scientific advisers used a new term – “exit wave” – to suggest that this could be a last spasm of infection, in the country’s go-for-broke bid to end all legal diktats to control the pandemic and get back to normal.
Mississippi officials block COVID vaccine misinformation
The Mississippi State Department of Health is now blocking comments on its Facebook posts that relate to COVID-19 because of a “rise of misinformation” about the virus and vaccinations, a health official said.
State health department spokesperson Liz Sharlot said allowing the comments that “mislead the public about the safety, importance and effectiveness of vaccination” is “directly contrary” to the state’s public health mission, which includes encouraging members of the public to be vaccinated against the virus.
The virus is making a resurgence in the state where Only about 31% of Mississippians have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, a statistic that ranks near the bottom of U.S. states.
Missouri governor: Health officials play COVID-19 blame game
Missouri Gov. Mike Parson suggested Tuesday that some southwest Missouri health officials who are publicly discussing a marked increase in COVID-19 cases are trying to find someone to blame and want to scare people into getting vaccinated.
Health officials should try to encourage people to get vaccinated but should not be “trying to force people to take a vaccine or literally just scare them into taking a vaccine because we know that doesn’t work,” Parson said during a stop in Kansas City.
Springfield health officials have been warning their hospitals are being overrun by new cases fueled by the delta variant.
State health officials report 1,125 new coronavirus cases
The state Department of Health (DOH) reported 1,125 new coronavirus cases and 22 new deaths on Tuesday.
The update brings the state's totals to 457,814 cases and 6,022 deaths, meaning that 1.3% of people diagnosed in Washington have died, according to the DOH. The data is as of 11:59 p.m. Monday. Tallies may be higher earlier in the week because new state data isn’t reported on Sundays and COVID-related deaths aren’t reported on the weekends.
In addition, 25,950 people have been hospitalized in the state due to the virus — 63 new hospitalizations. In King County, the state's most populous, state health officials have confirmed a total of 113,725 COVID-19 diagnoses and 1,675 deaths.
The updated number of cases, deaths and hospitalizations reflect a backlog of data processed on Monday, according to DOH.
Since vaccinations began in mid-December, the state and health care providers have administered 7,964,881 doses and 51.3% 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 10,865 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.
US COVID-19 cases rising again, doubling over three weeks
The COVID-19 curve in the U.S. is rising again after months of decline, with the number of new cases per day doubling over the past three weeks, driven by the fast-spreading delta variant, lagging vaccination rates and Fourth of July gatherings.
Confirmed infections climbed to an average of about 23,600 a day on Monday, up from 11,300 on June 23, according to Johns Hopkins University data. And all but two states — Maine and South Dakota — reported that case numbers have gone up over the past two weeks.
“It is certainly no coincidence that we are looking at exactly the time that we would expect cases to be occurring after the July Fourth weekend,” said Dr. Bill Powderly, co-director of the infectious-disease division at Washington University’s School of Medicine in St. Louis.
At the same time, parts of the country are running up against deep vaccine resistance, while the highly contagious mutant version of the coronavirus that was first detected in India is accounting for an ever-larger share of infections.
Gen Z icon Olivia Rodrigo to help White House promote vaccines for young people
Gen Z icon Olivia Rodrigo will be helping the White House with outreach aimed at convincing young people to get vaccinated against the coronavirus.
The 18-year-old singer and actress known for "good 4 u" and "drivers license" on Wednesday will meet with President Biden and Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, to record videos aimed at getting young people to get their shots, The Washington Post reported.
The news was first released on the president's official Instagram account, which posted a picture of Biden as a young man and the words: “I know this young person would’ve gotten vaccinated, but we’ve got to get other young people protected as well. Who’s willing to help?”
Rodrigo replied, “i’m in! see you tomorrow at the white house!”
What to know about blood clots, anaphylaxis and other COVID-19 vaccine fears
COVID vaccines are designed to prevent a disease that has so far killed nearly 4 million people worldwide. No pharmaceutical, however, is completely benign. The goal is to ensure the benefits outweigh the risks.
So far, the vaccines have been connected to a relatively small number of cases of heart inflammation, blood clots, a rare immune-system disorder and serious, but treatable allergic reactions called anaphylaxis. A concern that vaccinations could be linked to temporary facial paralysis has not proven justified.
Dutch COVID-19 infections soar by 500% in a week
Coronavirus infections in the Netherlands skyrocketed by more than 500% over the last week, the country’s public health institute reported Tuesday. The surge follows the scrapping of almost all remaining lockdown restrictions and the reopening of night clubs in late June.
The weekly update showing that nearly 52,000 people in the Netherlands tested positive for COVID-19 over the past week came a day after caretaker Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte apologized for the June 26 lockdown relaxation and called it “an error of judgment.”
The Netherlands, along with other European nations, is facing a rise in infections fueled by the more contagious delta variant just as governments hoped to ease remaining pandemic restrictions.
Iraqi health officials: 64 dead in fire at coronavirus ward
The death toll from a catastrophic blaze that erupted at a coronavirus hospital ward in southern Iraq the previous day rose to 64 on Tuesday, Iraqi medical officials said.
Two health officials said more than 100 people were also injured in the fire that torched the coronavirus ward of al-Hussein Teaching Hospital in the city of Nasiriyah on Monday. The new ward, opened just three months ago, contained 70 beds.
Some officials said the fire was caused by an electric short circuit; another said the blaze erupted when an oxygen cylinder exploded.
It was the second time a large fire killed coronavirus patients in an Iraqi hospital this year. At least 82 people died at Ibn al-Khateeb hospital in Baghdad in April, when an oxygen tank exploded, sparking the blaze.
France rushes to get vaccinated after president’s warning
More than 1 million people in France made vaccine appointments in less than a day, figures showed on Tuesday, after the president cranked up pressure on everyone to get vaccinated to save summer vacation and the French economy.
Though some bristled at President Emmanuel Macron’s admonitions to “get vaccinated!” immediately, many people signed up anyway for a jab, accepting the idea that it’s the only way to return to some semblance of pre-pandemic life.
With infections rising around France, Macron also mandated special COVID passes to go to restaurants, shopping malls, or get on trains or planes – which raised questions and worries among visiting tourists as well French vacationers.
On Tuesday, 1.3 million people signed up for injections after Macron gave a televised address Monday night urging more vaccination. It was a daily record since France rolled out coronavirus vaccines in December. People under age 35 made up most of the new appointments. Around 41% of the French population has been fully vaccinated.
Malaysia shuts vaccination center after 204 staff infected
Malaysia shut down a mass vaccination center in its worst-hit state Tuesday after more than 200 medical staff and volunteers tested positive for the coronavirus.
The closure was the first of a vaccination center and came as the country’s new confirmed infections breached five figures Tuesday, hitting a record 11,079.
Science Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said he ordered the testing of all 453 workers at the center after two volunteers were confirmed to have the virus.
Immunized but banned: EU says not all COVID vaccines equal
After Dr. Ifeanyi Nsofor and his wife received two doses of AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine in Nigeria, they assumed they would be free to travel this summer to a European destination of their choice. They were wrong.
The couple — and millions of other people vaccinated through a U.N.-backed effort — could find themselves barred from entering many European and other countries because those nations don’t recognize the Indian-made version of the vaccine for travel.
Although AstraZeneca vaccine produced in Europe has been authorized by the continent’s drug regulatory agency, the same shot manufactured in India hasn’t been given the green light.
Some experts describe the EU move as discriminatory and unscientific, pointing out that the World Health Organization has inspected and approved the factory. Health officials say the situation will not only complicate travel and frustrate fragile economies but also undermine vaccine confidence by appearing to label some shots substandard.
Missouri hospital opens 6th virus ward as variant rages
A Springfield, Missouri, hospital has opened its sixth COVID-19 ward as the delta virus variant rages in the state’s southwest region, and St. Louis County and Kansas City health officials also are warning about a sharp increase in cases.
Mercy Hospital in Springfield announced Sunday that it had opened its sixth COVID-19 ward, after the hospital needed only five wards during the height of the pandemic last year, Kansas City Star reported.
Chief Administrative Officer Erik Frederick said the hospital was treating 133 virus patients as of Sunday.
“Many local rural communities don’t have high vaccination rates,” Frederick wrote. “They also don’t have a hospital. Get sick, come to Springfield. I think that’s getting left out of the narrative.”
On Monday, the St. Louis County Health Department issued a public health advisory after a 63% increase — 1,461 cases — in new COVID-19 cases in the last two weeks. The county is currently averaging 100 newly diagnosed cases per day, St. Louis Public Radio reported.
County Executive Sam Page attributed the rise in cases to the delta variant, which is more contagious than previous variants. He predicted an increase in hospitalizations and deaths in coming weeks and urged residents to be vaccinated.
Rich countries should donate vaccines, not use boosters, says WHO
Top officials at the World Health Organization say there’s not enough evidence to show that third doses of coronavirus vaccines are needed and appealed Monday for the scarce shots to be shared with poor countries which have yet to immunize their people instead of being used by rich countries as boosters.
At a press briefing, WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the world’s grotesque vaccine disparity was driven by “greed,” as he called on drugmakers to prioritize supplying their COVID-19 vaccines to poor countries instead of lobbying rich countries to use even more doses. His plea comes just as pharmaceutical companies are seeking authorization for third doses to be used as boosters in some Western countries, including the U.S.
“We are making conscious choices right now not to protect those in need,” Tedros said, adding the immediate priority must be to vaccinate people who have yet to receive a single dose.
After a 10-week drop in global coronavirus deaths, Tedros said the number of COVID-19 patients dying daily is again beginning to climb and that the extremely infectious delta variant is “driving catastrophic waves of cases.”
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