Editor’s note: This is a live account of COVID-19 updates from Wednesday, July 28, 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 It is no longer being updated.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 of the coronavirus continues to fuel infection surges, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention changed course Tuesday on some masking guidelines, recommending that even vaccinated people return to wearing masks indoors in parts of the U.S.
The surge can be seen locally, too — over the weekend, at least nine Seattle bars announced temporary closures either because a worker had tested positive for COVID-19 or came into contact with an infected person.
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 10:30 a.m. to discuss the state’s ongoing response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
More than 94% of recent COVID-19 cases, deaths and hospitalizations in Washington state among those not fully vaccinated, report says
More than 94% of Washington’s recent COVID-19 cases, deaths and hospitalizations were among people not fully vaccinated, according to a new report from the state Department of Health.
The new data, released Wednesday, shows that between February and June, residents 12 and older who weren’t fully vaccinated made up about 97% of COVID-19 cases, 96% of hospitalizations and 94% of deaths in the state.
In a news release, the DOH said the report “underscores once again the need for people to get vaccinated now, if they haven’t already.”
“If they still have questions, we encourage them to speak to their healthcare provider. We all have a role to protect our community, especially those who are most vulnerable,” state Secretary of Health Umair A. Shah said in a statement.
All Seahawks players but one have received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose
RENTON — The Seahawks were the only team in the NFL that didn’t have a positive COVID-19 test last year, a significant point of pride for coach Pete Carroll.
Now the Seahawks enter the 2021 season with a strong opportunity to again stave off a COVID outbreak in their locker room.
Of the 91 players on the roster to open training camp, 90 have received at least one dose of the COVID vaccine, Carroll said after the team’s first practice Wednesday.
“We’re really thrilled about that,” Carroll said. “Our guys made an extraordinary effort to take care of one another.”
Everyone on the Seahawks coaching staff has received the vaccine, he said.
“It’s a statement of a really committed, smart group of guys,” Carroll said, adding: “We were fortunate that we were so successful last year, and our guys took a lot of pride in that. So they’ve listened and they’ve made these choices together, and the leadership has done a really good job of impacting the young guys and their thinking.”
Virus surge upends plans for getting workers back to offices
The resurgent coronavirus and return of mask recommendations are hampering corporate America’s plans to get back to normalcy.
Google on Wednesday said that it will push back its official office return to mid-October and require workers at its campuses to get vaccinated. Lyft Inc. postponed its return date to February, while Twitter Inc. shut its recently reopened offices. Apple Inc. is requiring masks at most U.S. stores, and Walt Disney Co. is mandating them at its Florida and California parks.
A jump in Covid-19 cases and a slowdown in vaccinations has left U.S. companies once again struggling with how to adapt to the virus, just as it seemed like shots would allow workers to return to offices and resume pre-pandemic norms. Even for employees who’ve had jabs, the highly transmissible delta variant is raising concerns of breakthrough infections, spread to unvaccinated children and broader disruptions to economic activity.
“It feels like it’s getting a little crazy again,” said Katrina Burch, an assistant professor in the department of psychological sciences at Western Kentucky University and director of the school’s industrial organizational psychology master’s degree program. “It’s really challenging for any organization to manage and take in this information.”
Vaccine maker BioNTech to use mRNA tech to target malaria
Pharmaceutical company BioNTech said Monday that it wants to use the mRNA technology behind its coronavirus vaccine to target malaria.
The Germany-based company, which developed the first widely approved coronavirus shot together with U.S. partner Pfizer, aims to begin clinical trials for a “safe and highly effective malaria vaccine” by the end of next year.
According to the World Health Organization, there were about 229 million cases of malaria worldwide in 2019. The global body estimates that 409,000 people died from malaria that year, with children under the age of 5 accounting for 67% of deaths.
Africa has by far the highest burden of the mosquito-borne disease worldwide, WHO says.
BioNTech’s chief executive, Ugur Sahin, acknowledged that the effort is at a very early stage and there’s no guarantee of success. But he said the company believes it’s “the perfect time to address this challenge” because of the insights it has gained from developing an mRNA vaccine against the coronavirus and a growing understanding of how malaria works.
In breakthrough, Tanzania kicks off COVID-19 vaccinations
In a major breakthrough for one of the world’s last countries to embrace COVID-19 vaccines, Tanzania’s president kicked off the nation’s vaccination campaign Wednesday by publicly receiving a dose and urging others to do the same.
The East African country’s government under former President John Magufuli had long worried African health officials by denying the pandemic. Magufuli, who insisted the coronavirus could be defeated with prayer, died in March. The presidency went to his deputy, Samia Suluhu Hassan, who has since changed Tanzania’s course on COVID-19.
Hassan, who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, expressed confidence in the safety of vaccines and said the country of more than 58 million people will pursue more. The United States on Saturday announced the delivery of more than 1 million doses via the COVAX global initiative aimed at supplying low- and middle-income countries.
Why masks are again advised for everyone indoors
Wait, we’re supposed to wear masks again? Even if we are vaccinated?
For a large part of the U.S., that’s the latest advice from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC this week revisited and revised its guidance for wearing masks indoors to stop the spread of coronavirus.
The change comes two months after the agency eased its mask advice, declaring that fully vaccinated people no longer had to cover up at indoor public places. Since then, the agency also said vaccinated adults and teens no longer needed to wear them at summer camps and schools.
For a look at what changed and why, read the story here.
State health officials confirm 1,168 new coronavirus cases
The state Department of Health (DOH) reported 1,168 new coronavirus cases and 3 new deaths on Wednesday.
The update brings the state's totals to 471,489 cases and 6,100 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.
In addition, 26,634 people have been hospitalized in the state due to the virus — 68 new hospitalizations. In King County, the state's most populous, state health officials have confirmed a total of 116,569 COVID-19 diagnoses and 1,677 deaths.
Since vaccinations began in mid-December, the state and health care providers have administered 8,119,504 doses and 52.4% 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 9,386 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.
Youth focus of COVID-19 infections in Mexico’s 3rd wave
Hours after Mexico City authorities raised the capital’s COVID-19 alert level in the face of surging infections, especially among young people, residents packed a plaza on a pleasant evening in the charming Coyoacan borough.
“I’m not worried about getting infected because I’m young,” said Mario Estrada Flores, a 21-year-old college student. “I have more defenses than an older person … we have the idea that since we’re young nothing bad is going to happen to us or if we do get it it’s not going to be so strong.”
Specialists say that attitude is common, driving the increase in infections in the country’s third pandemic wave with the number of new infections up more than 40% since mid-June, according to government figures.
Dr. Andreu Comas, a professor at the San Luis Potosi Autonomous University’s Medical School and Center for Health Science Research and Biomedicine, said the country exceeded 16,000 daily infections in the 29th week of Mexico’s pandemic, a figure 2.7 times larger than the same time last year.
Mexico's has recorded 238,000 COVID-19 deaths, which places its death total behind only the United States, Brazil and India.
Lollapalooza to require vaccination card or negative test
The hordes of people expected to descend on Chicago’s Grant Park for the Lollapalooza music festival this week will be required to show proof that they’ve been vaccinated for COVID-19 or tested negative for the disease within the last three days.
The four-day festival starts Thursday and is expected to be back at full capacity, with roughly 100,000 daily attendees. After missing last summer because of the threat of the coronavirus, it will easily be Chicago’s largest gathering since the pandemic started, and one of the country’s.
This year’s festival will look very different than in the past. To gain entry, attendees will have to present their vaccination cards or a printed copy of a negative COVID-19 test that is no more than 72 hours old. That means that anyone with a four-day pass who isn’t vaccinated will have to get tested twice. Furthermore, anyone who isn’t vaccinated will have to wear a mask.
Another coronavirus variant has reached Florida. Here’s what you need to know.
A coronavirus variant discovered in Colombia is showing up among patients in South Florida, increasing infections and putting health officials on alert as calls grow louder for unvaccinated individuals to get inoculated.
Carlos Migoya, CEO of Jackson Health System, told WPLG in Miami earlier this week that the B.1.621 variant has accounted for about 10% of coronavirus patients, trailing behind the delta and gamma variants. B.1.621 has yet to receive a Greek-letter designation as more prominent variants have.
Migoya told the news station that he speculated B.1.621 is likely rising in South Florida because of international travel between Colombia and Miami, which serves as a gateway to Latin America.
In the United States, the variant has yet to be named a variant of interest of concern, accounting for just more than 2.1% of cases as of July 17, noted John Sellick, a professor at the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at the University at Buffalo.
Google delays return to office, mandates vaccines
Google is postponing a return to the office for most workers until mid-October and rolling out a policy that will eventually require everyone to be vaccinated once its sprawling campuses are fully reopened.
The announcement Wednesday came as the more highly contagious delta variant is driving a dramatic spike in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.
In an email sent to Google’s more than 130,000 employees worldwide, CEO Sundar Pichai said the company is now aiming to have most of its workforce back to its offices beginning Oct. 18 instead of its previous target date of Sept. 1.
Pichai said once offices are fully reopened, everyone working there will have to be vaccinated.
2 US Navy sailors die of COVID as cases spike nationwide
Two Navy sailors have died due to complications from COVID-19, amid growing concerns about the deadly delta variant.
A Navy reservist based in Idaho died Monday, and a doctor assigned to the Naval Medical Center at Camp Lejeune, N.C., died last Friday, bringing the total number of sailor COVID deaths to 10. The Navy identified the solders Wednesday as Master-at-Arms First Class Allen Hillman, 47, of Boise, and Capt. Corby Ropp, 48, of Camp Lejeune.
Their deaths are the first COVID-related ones in the Navy since April 29. They come as the number of active virus cases among sailors has jumped from fewer than 250 in early June to more than 800 now, according to Lt. Cdr. Patricia Kreuzberger, a spokeswoman for the Navy.
What you need to know about the CDC’s new mask guidance
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revised its guidance Tuesday on wearing masks to help protect against infection from the coronavirus. Under the new recommendations, the agency urges vaccinated Americans to wear masks indoors in certain circumstances.
The revised guidance says fully vaccinated or not, people who live where coronavirus transmission is classified as substantial or high should wear masks when they are indoors in public places.
As of Tuesday, more than 63% of U.S. counties met the CDC's definition of substantial transmission, including swaths of the South and Midwest, up from about 46% of counties one week ago.
The agency also called for universal mask-wearing in K-12 schools, where masks should be worn by teachers, other staff members, students and visitors. The recommendation applies to everyone over the age of 2. While vaccines are authorized for adolescents, studies are ongoing in children under age 12. And according to the CDC, just 30% of youngsters age 12 to 17 are fully vaccinated.
Masks on, masks off: a timeline of guidance and rules about wearing face masks to protect against COVID-19
The story of mask requirements in the United States has had many twists and turns, at least 13, since the early days of the pandemic, when the U.S. surgeon general urged Americans to “STOP BUYING MASKS!”
Since then, government and public health leaders have urged us to wear face masks even when walking around our neighborhoods alone, and told us to keep wearing them even after receiving the protection of highly effective vaccines.
It wasn’t until May that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told fully vaccinated Americans that they could be exempt from nearly all mask requirements. The state of California followed suit with rules that went into effect when the economy reopened on June 15.
Now, as the highly transmissible Delta variant causes coronavirus cases to spike across the nation, indoor mask mandates are back in L.A. County regardless of vaccination status, and the CDC has updated its guidance as well. On Tuesday, the agency advised that vaccinated people return to wearing masks indoors in parts of the U.S. where the virus is surging.
What we learned while working from home, and how it can boost employees’ well-being
Before the coronavirus pandemic, psychiatrist Jessi Gold could count on one hand the number of times she had conducted an appointment over the phone or computer.
“When we switched to being home in March, it was like, ‘OK, it’s a short-term thing. I can do this short term,’ ” said Gold, who sees health-care workers and college students at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. But as weeks stretched into months, Gold, a self-described extrovert, began to feel the strain.
When Gold returned to in-person sessions once a week last month, “it was like night and day for me,” she said. “I was much happier. I left work feeling so much better.”
Lakshman Swamy, on the other hand, is in no rush to return to his traditional office setting.
The medical director at MassHealth and an ICU doctor in Boston said he is more productive at home, largely because he doesn’t have to commute and has a “preserved workspace.” In addition, he said, working remotely has allowed him to spend more time with his family and take better care of himself.
Across the country, office workers and professionals like Gold and Swamy have experienced the pros and cons of working from home, and are considering which elements they would like to incorporate or scrap in their post-pandemic work lives. Mental health experts are hoping that decisions made by employers will prioritize individual well-being as much as possible.
New CDC indoor mask rule may threaten economic momentum and upend return-to-work plans
The federal government’s abrupt about-face on the need for indoor mask-wearing is clouding prospects for Americans to return to the office in large numbers, raising fears that the ultra-infectious delta variant could threaten the economic recovery.
What just weeks ago seemed like a smooth return to pre-pandemic life suddenly felt shaky on Tuesday following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s call for vaccinated individuals to resume indoor mask-wearing in high-risk areas.
The agency’s reversal of its May 13 decision to relax mask requirements was a reminder that — 16 months after the pandemic first torpedoed the U.S. economy — the crisis is not yet vanquished.
Wall Street economists largely brushed off the dollars-and-cents impact of the CDC’s recommendation and insisted the economy is likely to steam ahead. But with the delta variant quadrupling coronavirus infections in July, corporate chief executives are growing worried about bringing workers back into crowded offices, a move that many employers have scheduled for September.
As COVID cases rise, vaccinated people should wear masks indoors in certain counties, Inslee says
Washington will follow current federal guidance for the use of facial coverings amid the COVID-19 pandemic uptick, but won’t impose new masking requirements, Gov. Jay Inslee announced Wednesday.
But as virus cases again begin to rise, Inslee in a news conference said fully-vaccinated people should consider wearing a mask in public indoor spaces in counties deemed to have substantial or high transmission of the virus such as Yakima, Douglas and Snohomish.
The announcement follows new guidelines released Tuesday by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). That guidance urged vaccinated Americans to wear facial coverings indoors in certain circumstances, such as in public spaces.
In a news conference Wednesday morning, Inslee also reiterated that all K-12 students and school employees will be required to wear masks around each other inside their buildings.
England ends quarantine for vaccinated visitors from US, EU
Fully vaccinated travelers from the United States and much of Europe will be able to enter England without quarantining starting next week, the U.K. government said Wednesday — a move welcomed by Britain’s ailing travel industry.
The British government said people who have received both doses of a vaccine approved by the FDA in the U.S. or the European Medicines Agency, which regulates drugs for the European Union and several other countries, will be able to take pre- and post-arrival coronavirus tests instead of self-isolating for 10 days.
There is one exception: France, which the U.K. has dubbed a higher risk because of the presence of the beta variant of the coronavirus. Visitors from France will continue to face quarantine when arriving in England.
Currently only people who have been vaccinated in Britain can skip 10 days of quarantine when arriving from most of Europe or North America.
South Africa’s virus cases decline, liquor sales allowed
South Africa’s government has lifted a ban on liquor sales and relaxed other pandemic restrictions, reporting that a recent spike in coronavirus cases has passed its peak, the president said.
President Cyril Ramaphosa said in an address to the nation Sunday night that the average daily number of new confirmed cases over the last week was around 12,000, which was a 20% drop from the previous week.
“The latest figures suggest that we have largely passed the peak of the third wave of infections, although there are areas in the country where we still need to be concerned because the rates of infection have not yet shown signs of decline,” Ramaphosa said.
The government is allowing retail alcohol sales to resume from Monday through Thursday, while bars and restaurants also will be permitted to sell alcoholic beverages. Schools have fully reopened, and social and religious gatherings are again allowed for a maximum of 50 people indoors and 100 people outdoors.
Newsom pulls kids from summer camp with no mask requirement
California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s office said Tuesday he pulled his children out of a summer day camp that did not require kids to wear masks, a violation of state policy that Newsom’s spokeswoman said he and his wife missed when reviewing communication from the camp.
“The Newsoms were concerned to see unvaccinated children unmasked indoors at a camp their children began attending yesterday and after seeing this, removed the kids from the camp,” Erin Mellon said in an email.
Two of Newsom’s four children, ages 10 and 11, attended the day camp, Mellon said. Reopen California Schools, a group that promotes full school reopening without masks, cast it as another example of Newsom saying one thing and doing another, something that could further frustrate his critics and other voters as his Sept. 14 recall election looms.
Signatures in support of the recall spiked last November after he was caught dining maskless at the expensive French Laundry restaurant while telling Californians to avoid gatherings of more than three households. He also took heat from critics for sending his children to private school that adopted a hybrid learning schedule as most public school students remained in distance learning.
The state’s masking rules require everyone, even vaccinated people, to wear masks in youth settings because children under 12 are not eligible to be vaccinated.
Sydney lockdown extended, record cases in South Korea
Australia’s largest city Sydney will remain in lockdown for another month.
The New South Wales state government announced that the lockdown of the city of 5 million would last at least until Aug. 28, after reporting on Wednesday 177 new infections in the latest 24-hour period. It was the largest daily tally since the cluster was discovered in mid-June.
More than 2,500 people have been infected in a cluster that began when a limousine driver tested positive on June 16 to the contagious delta variant. The driver had been infected by a U.S. aircrew he transported from Sydney airport.
In most Washington counties, fewer than a third of eligible kids are vaccinated against COVID-19
A majority of Washington’s eligible schoolchildren still aren’t vaccinated against COVID-19, state data shows, and experts warn that we’ve reached a critical moment: in most corners of the state, school starts in about five weeks.
It takes about five weeks — from the first shot to the end of the waiting period after the second — for vaccine to be most effective.
Pediatricians, researchers and Department of Health officials are now mounting a desperate call. The clock is ticking, they say, so hurry up and get your kids their shots.
“The time to start moving on this? That time is now,” said Dr. Frank Bell, a pediatric infectious-disease physician at Swedish Medical Center and board member of the Washington Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics.
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