Editor’s note: This is a live account of COVID-19 updates from Wednesday, July 14, 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 It is no longer being updated.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.
About a week-and-a-half after the July Fourth weekend, the COVID-19 curve in the U.S. has begun to rise again months of decline, with the number of new cases per day doubling over the past three weeks. Health experts say the fast-spreading delta variant and lagging vaccination rates are to blame, as well as recent holiday weekend gatherings.
Meanwhile, millions of 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.
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.
Will COVID-19 vaccines work if I have a weak immune system?
Will COVID-19 vaccines work if I have a weak immune system?
Probably not as well as they do in healthy people, but the shots should offer some protection.
It’s why vaccinations are still recommended for people with immune systems weakened by disease or certain medications. It’s also important that your family, friends and caregivers get vaccinated, which will make it far less likely that they pass on the virus.
About 3% of U.S. adults have weakened immune systems. Among them are people with HIV or AIDS, transplant recipients, some cancer patients and people with autoimmune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease and lupus.
Alaska governor fully vaccinated against COVID-19
JUNEAU, Alaska — Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy has been “fully vaccinated” against COVID-19, the state’s chief medical officer said Wednesday.
Dr. Anne Zink said in an email to The Associated Press that Dunleavy “has been fully vaccinated and is doing very well.” She did not say when he was vaccinated.
This comes after Dunleavy’s office in February announced the governor had tested positive for COVID-19. He later described his experience as an inconvenience and said it underscored his interest in being vaccinated.
Zink said vaccination “is our best way to protect against additional cases, hospitalizations and deaths from COVID-19.” Statistics from the state health department show about 51% of Alaska residents 12 and older have been fully vaccinated.
In response to questions from the AP earlier Wednesday, Dunleavy spokesperson Corey Allen Young said the governor had gotten the vaccine but referred questions about when to Zink.
Beal in protocols, Tokyo Olympics status in doubt
A person with knowledge of the situation says U.S. Olympic guard Bradley Beal of the Washington Wizards has entered the health and safety protocols related to the coronavirus, which raises the possibility that he might miss the Tokyo Games.
Beal will be tested multiple times in the coming days, according to the person who spoke Wednesday to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the player involved for USA Basketball was not revealed publicly. The results of those tests will likely determine if he remains on the roster, the person said.
“A member of the USA Basketball Men’s National Team has been placed under USA Basketball’s health and safety protocols,” the federation announced in a statement Wednesday afternoon, without identifying the player involved.
USA Basketball could still replace Beal before heading to Tokyo. The Americans picked their 12-man team last month but noted that it may change if necessary.
Charities in Myanmar strained by soaring death tolls
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said Wednesday that the country can beat a concerning rise in new coronavirus cases without a nationwide shutdown, but that depends in part on people wearing masks indoors to suppress the spread of the highly contagious delta variant.
Bennett has instructed police to step up enforcement of the mask rule with high fines for people who violate it.
“That’s the fair thing to do, because it’s wrong to have people who are lazy and hurt the rest of the public,” Bennett said. “Stop shaking hands. Stop kissing and hugging except within the family.”
He also urged Israelis not to travel abroad as the delta variant spreads in Europe and elsewhere.
Bennett spoke as new daily infections in Israel climbed to more than 700 on Wednesday. That’s despite one of the world’s fastest inoculation campaigns with more than 5.7 million people of Israel’s population of 9.3 million vaccinated at least once.
Naturopathic physician sold fake COVID-19 vaccine cards, federal charges say
A naturopathic physician in Northern California has been arrested and charged after federal prosecutors said she sold fake COVID-19 immunization treatments and fraudulent vaccination cards that made it seem like customers received Moderna vaccines.
Juli A. Mazi, 41, of Napa, was charged with one count of wire fraud and one count of false statements related to health care matters, the U.S. Department of Justice said in a statement Wednesday. She is accused of selling homeoprophylaxis immunization pellets she fraudulently claimed contained small amounts of the virus would provide “lifelong immunity to COVID-19.”
Plan to vaccinate teens triggers large protests in Greece
Thousands of anti-vaccine demonstrators protested in Greece’s two largest cities Wednesday against plans to make coronavirus vaccines available to children 15 and older.
Greek authorities have blamed a recent increase in confirmed virus cases on crowded entertainment venues. Under new restrictions, leisure facilities will only be open to people who are vaccinated.
In Athens, protesters chanted “Hands off our kids” and held up a banner reading “We say no to vaccine poison.”
State health officials report 730 new coronavirus cases
The state Department of Health (DOH) reported 730 new coronavirus cases and 22 new deaths on Wednesday.
The update brings the state's totals to 458,517 cases and 6,027 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. Tuesday. 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, 25,988 people have been hospitalized in the state due to the virus — 38 new hospitalizations. In King County, the state's most populous, state health officials have confirmed a total of 113,896 COVID-19 diagnoses and 1,676 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 7,981,319 doses and 51.4% 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 10,493 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.
Merkel tells Germans to get vaccinated for ‘more freedom’
Chancellor Angela Merkel on Tuesday urged Germany’s residents to get vaccinated against COVID-19, saying the more people get shots “the more free we will be again.”
Vaccination rates in Germany have slowed in recent weeks. About 58.7% of the population has received at least one shot and 43% is fully vaccinated, according to official figures.
The country’s disease control agency said last week that the country should aim to vaccinate 85% of people ages 12-59 and 90% of people over 60 to prevent the delta variant from causing a resurgence of coronavirus cases this fall and winter.
Merkel called on people to get vaccinated to protect themselves and others from serious illness as a result of a coronavirus infection. She linked higher immunization rates with the further easing of pandemic restrictions.
“The more people are vaccinated, the more free we will be again, the more freely we will be able to live again,” she told reporters.
France cautiously celebrates Bastille Day, clouded by virus
Bastille Day is back, sort of.
France celebrated its national holiday Wednesday with thousands of troops marching in a Paris parade, warplanes roaring overhead and traditional parties around the country, after last year’s events were scaled back because of virus fears.
Overall the day’s main event looked a lot like Bastille Days of the past. One soldier even used the occasion to propose to his girlfriend on the cobblestoned avenue, kneeling and kissing her hand.
Virus fears are still lurking, but France’s government decided to go ahead with the parade anyway, as part of a broader effort to return to pre-pandemic activity.
The number of onlookers was limited, and they were restricted to a small section of the parade. In addition, each person attending had to show a special pass proving they had been fully vaccinated, had recently recovered from the virus or a had negative virus test. Similar restrictions will be in place for those gathering to watch an elaborate fireworks show at the Eiffel Tower on Wednesday evening.
As COVID rises, a vexing hunt for nursing home vaccine stats
With COVID-19 on the rise again and many nursing home staffers unvaccinated, families still lack easy access to crucial Medicare immunization data that will help them pick the right facility for their loved one.
Medicare has a “Care Compare” website for consumers it has spent years refining. But that’s not where the agency is posting vaccination numbers for residents and staff at individual nursing homes. Instead Medicare is relying on a COVID-19 data page geared to researchers. One way to navigate it involves scouring a map for little red dots that represent nursing homes. There’s also a huge spreadsheet. It’s not seen as particularly user-friendly.
David Grabowski, a Harvard health care policy professor who has researched the impact of the pandemic on nursing homes, said, “Having it buried in a spreadsheet is really frustrating.”
Access to the numbers is critical because there are wide differences among nursing homes, and within nursing homes, when it comes to vaccination.
Grabowski’s analysis of Medicare data indicates that nationwide, about 78% of residents and 56% of staff completed their vaccinations as of the week ending June 20. Statistics posted by Medicare reveal big disparities between states. In Alaska, 91% of residents are vaccinated, but in Florida it’s 69%. In Hawaii, 82% of staffers are vaccinated, but in New York it’s 62% and in Louisiana, 42%. Staff vaccination rates are important because infected staffers can unwittingly bring the virus into a nursing home before they develop symptoms.
Summer setback: COVID deaths and cases rising again globally
COVID-19 deaths and cases are on the rise again globally in a dispiriting setback that is triggering another round of restrictions and dampening hopes for an almost normal summer of fun.
The World Health Organization reported Wednesday that deaths climbed last week after nine straight weeks of decline. It recorded more than 55,000 lives lost, a 3% increase from the week before. Cases rose 10% last week to nearly 3 million, with the highest numbers recorded in Brazil, India, Indonesia and Britain, WHO said.
The reversal has been attributed to low vaccination rates, the relaxation of mask rules and other precautions, and the breakneck spread of the more-contagious delta variant, which WHO said has now been identified in 111 countries and is expected to become globally dominant in the coming months.
The death toll in Argentina approached 100,000, deaths in Russia hit record highs, COVID-19 infections, driven by the delta variant among the young, have almost doubled over the past week in Belgium. Britain recorded a one-day total of more than 40,000 new cases for the first time in six months.
In the U.S., with one of the highest vaccination rates in the world, newly confirmed infections per day have doubled over the past two weeks to an average of about 24,000, though deaths are still on a downward trajectory at around 260 a day.
After pandemic hunkering, the art of reopening your home
When COVID put an abrupt halt to social gatherings, many homes were reconfigured to encompass school study areas and home offices. Now that pandemic restrictions are easing, there is a gentle art to opening your home again to guests who (like hosts) are out of practice and grappling with a somewhat changed social terrain.
Hugs and handshakes? Dining tables or backyards?
Because the pandemic isn’t over and comfort levels vary, etiquette and homes experts agree that communication, flexibility and compassion are key to making sure things go smoothly.
Thailand preparing to limit exports of its COVID-19 vaccine
Health authorities in Thailand said Wednesday they will seek to impose limits on exports of locally produced AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine because the country doesn’t have enough for its own needs.
The proposal comes as new cases and deaths are rapidly increasing along with the spread of the more contagious delta variant of the virus, straining hospital facilities and threatening to set back a recovery of the country’s battered economy.
Limiting exports will pose a problem for Southeast Asian countries that have signed contracts to buy Thai-produced vaccines, though some may be able to obtain supplies elsewhere.
Washington reaches 70% vaccine goal
Washington reached its goal of a 70% vaccination rate for people 16 and older on Wednesday.
That's almost eight million doses and 4.3 million fully vaccinated people, officials with the state Department of Health said at a Wednesday news briefing.
A vaccination rate of 70% had been set as a goal nationally by President Joe Biden and in Washington by Gov. Jay Inslee, who had promised an early reopening of the state if the goal was reached prior to the planned June 30 reopening, which did not happen.
Spain’s top court rules pandemic lockdown unconstitutional
Spain’s Constitutional Court has ruled that last year’s stay-at-home lockdown order by the government under a state of emergency was unconstitutional.
The court ruling on Wednesday was in response to a suit brought by the far-right Vox party. State broadcasters said the magistrates determined the limitations on movement violated citizens’ basic rights and therefore the state of emergency was insufficient to give them constitutional backing.
With the pandemic raging, Spain’s government declared the state of emergency on March 14, 2020, ordering people off the streets except for basic shopping for several weeks.
Norwegian cruises sues Florida over virus vaccination law
Norwegian Cruise Line is challenging a new Florida law that prevents cruise companies from requiring passengers to show proof of vaccination against the COVID-19 virus.
The lawsuit, filed Tuesday in Miami federal court, contends that the law jeopardizes safe operation of cruise ships by increasing risk of contracting the virus. Norwegian intends to restart cruises from Florida ports Aug. 15 with vaccinations required for all passengers.
Norwegian wants a judge to lift the ban by Aug. 6. The law imposes a fine of $5,000 each time a cruise line mandates that a passenger provide vaccination proof. Norwegian claims it violates federal law and several constitutional rights.
US overdose deaths hit record 93,000 in pandemic last year
Overdose deaths soared to a record 93,000 last year in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. government reported Wednesday.
That estimate far eclipses the high of about 72,000 drug overdose deaths reached the previous year and amounts to a 29% increase.
Brandon Marshall, a Brown University public health researcher who tracks overdose trends, said the nation was already struggling with its worst overdose epidemic but clearly “COVID has greatly exacerbated the crisis.”
Lockdowns and other pandemic restrictions isolated those with drug addictions and made treatment harder to get, experts said.
Parents are returning to work, but Seattle’s child care industry continues to struggle with COVID-19 impact
As Seattle begins to emerge from the pandemic, the city’s child care providers say they are short-staffed and underfunded. The industry, already in a precarious situation before COVID-19, was devastated by the pandemic. Enrollment plummeted, forcing some providers to downsize and furlough staff. Those that stayed open dealt with the burden of protecting their staff and children.
In July 2020, about 17% of licensed child care providers in King County were closed, according to the Washington State Department of Children, Youth and Families. The closure of 359 providers accounted for 18,878 unavailable slots for preschool and school-age children. The agency doesn’t track enrollment figures.
A year later, many have not reopened.
With Washington formally reopened, more parents are returning to work and a new in-person school year looms. They’re depending on strained providers and short-handed teachers like Walters. But options are limited. As child care providers struggle to get back on track, so will Washington’s families.
El Salvador bans mass gatherings amid coronavirus surge
El Salvador’s congress voted overwhelmingly Tuesday to impose a 90-day ban on sporting events, concerts, festivals and other mass gatherings because of a surge in coronavirus cases.
Face masks will be mandatory at any public event still allowed. Fines and closures will be assessed against any venue or organizer that violates the ban.
Officials reported 2,284 news cases in the first 10 days of July, 35% more than in the same period of June.
Indonesia reports 54,000 virus cases, becomes Asian hotspot
Indonesia reported more than 54,000 new coronavirus cases for the first time Wednesday, surpassing recent daily infections in India, whose disastrous outbreak is declining, and becoming Asia’s new virus hotspot.
Officials fear that the more highly transmissible delta variant is now spreading from the islands of Java and Bali, where outbreaks prompted a partial lockdown that closed places of worship, malls, parks and restaurants.
“I predict the outbreak will increase continuously in July as we are not able yet to prevent the spread of infections,” epidemiology expert Pandu Riono at the University of Indonesia said Wednesday. “Emergency social restrictions are still inadequate. They should be twice as stringent since we are facing the delta variant, which is two times more contagious.”
The Health Ministry reported 54,517 new cases and 991 deaths on Wednesday, bringing the number of confirmed cases since the pandemic began above 2.6 million and the number of confirmed fatalities to more than 69,000.
A month ago, daily cases were running at about 8,000.
Reported daily cases in Indonesia are now higher than in India, despite Indonesia having far less testing by population.
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