Editor’s note: This is a live account of COVID-19 updates from Tuesday, July 5, 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 It is no longer being updated.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.

Information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last week showed that six Washington counties have COVID-19 community levels rated “high,” meaning they have had 200 or more new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people in the past seven days, or they’ve had more than 20 new COVID-19 hospital admissions per 100,000 people within a seven-day period. The CDC recommends people in Lewis, Pacific, Thurston, Grays Harbor, Garfield and Spokane Counties should begin wearing masks indoors in public and on public transportation again.

Meanwhile, the growing dominance of two new ultra-contagious omicron subvariants is prolonging a wave of coronavirus cases in California and sparking growing concerns from health officials that coming weeks could see significant spread and increased hospitalizations.

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 the rest of our coronavirus coverage and here to see how we track the daily spread across Washington.

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Study: COVID endemic stage could be 2 years away

A new Yale study has found that COVID-19 will eventually transition to endemic status possibly within two years, according to the university.

The researchers used rats, which, like humans, “are also susceptible to coronaviruses,” to help study when and how COVID-19 might become endemic, according to the university.

“By collecting data on coronaviral reinfection rates among rats, (researchers) were able to model the potential trajectory of COVID-19,” the university said.

The study was published Tuesday in the journal PNAS Nexus.

Read the full story here.

—Hartford Courant
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Republican states are trying to use federal COVID aid to cut taxes

As gas prices climbed toward record highs this May, Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis secured a pause on the state’s fuel taxes — a $200 million plan he helped pay for with a pot of federal funds awarded earlier in the pandemic.

The policy was intended to save money for local drivers and state coffers alike. But it also appeared to mark a potential violation of federal law — and the latest skirmish in an escalating clash between GOP officials and the White House over how states can use generous federal stimulus dollars.

More than a year after Congress approved a $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package, Republicans in nearly two dozen states have ratcheted up efforts to tap some of those funds for an unrelated purpose: paying for tax cuts. The moves have threatened to siphon off aid that might otherwise help states fight the pandemic, shore up their local economies or prepare for a potential recession.

The intensifying Republican campaign targets one of the signature programs Democrats approved as part of President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan last year. At the urging of the nation’s mayors and governors, Congress delivered what largely amounted to a blank check for every city and state to bolster their budgets.

Read the full story here.

— Tony Romm, The Washington Post

China’s COVID outbreak flares, fueling fears of wider spread

China reported more COVID-19 infections in its current epicenter, putting pressure on authorities to tame the outbreak before it spills over into some of the country’s most economically important areas.

The eastern province of Anhui reported 231 COVID cases for Monday, with the tally since late June topping 1,000 infections. Authorities locked down Si county and one neighboring county late last week to carry out mass testing and to try to stop the virus from spreading, and pledged on Monday to stop community spread in the next three days.

Still, the virus is already spreading through the Yangtze Delta region that accounts for a quarter of China’s economy and is home to key hubs for medicine to semiconductor chips and e-commerce.

Jiangsu province, the second-biggest contributor to China’s economic output and a globally significant manufacturing hub for the solar sector, reported 66 local cases for Monday. That includes 34 in the biotech hub of Wuxi city, which has already suspended dine-in services at restaurants and closed entertainment venues. Shanghai, which neighbors Jiangsu, reported eight local cases Monday, with one infection found outside government quarantine.

Read the full story here.

—Bloomberg News

Racial inequities in vaccination emerging among Philadelphia’s children

More than a year and a half since COVID vaccines became available, ensuring equitable access to all Philadelphians, regardless of race or income, remains a challenge. The demographics for vaccinations among children under 5 have not yet been collected, but among 5- to 11-year-olds, who have been eligible since last fall, about 37% of Philadelphia’s white children are fully vaccinated, compared with 25% of Hispanic children and 22% of Black children. Vaccination rates among Asian children are much higher than the rest in that age group: 57%.

Read the full story here.

—Jason Laughlin, The Philadelphia Inquirer
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Reduced U.S. testing is blurring view of the pandemic

At a glance, the pandemic picture in the United States may seem remarkably stable. The average number of new confirmed coronavirus cases per day has hardly budged for weeks, hovering between 95,000 and 115,000 a day each day in June.

A closer look shows that as public testing sites run by state and local governments have dwindled, more states have also stopped giving daily data updates, creating a foggier look at the state of virus across the country.

That comes as new federal estimates Tuesday showed that the rapidly spreading omicron subvariant known as BA.5 has become dominant among new coronavirus cases. As of the week ending Saturday, BA.5 made up about 54% of new cases in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Just a week ago, the agency’s estimates had put BA.5 and BA.4, another omicron subvariant, together as dominant, a trend experts had predicted. The new statistics, released Tuesday morning, are based on modeling and can be revised as more data comes in.

Read the full story here.

—Adeel Hassan and Sarah Cahalan, The New York Times

Many won’t rely on virtual options after COVID: AP-NORC poll

WASHINGTON (AP) — Many Americans don’t expect to rely on the digital services that became commonplace during the pandemic after COVID-19 subsides, according to a new poll, even as many think it’s a good thing if those options remain available in the future.

Close to half or more of U.S. adults say they are not likely to attend virtual activities, receive virtual health care, have groceries delivered or use curbside pickup after the coronavirus pandemic is over, according to a poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. Less than 3 in 10 say they’re very likely to use any of those options at least some of the time.

Read the full story here.

—R.J. Rico and Hannah Fingerhut, The Associated Press

World half-marathon championships canceled over COVID-19

MONACO (AP) — The world half-marathon championships have been canceled because China wasn’t able to host the races due to the coronavirus pandemic, World Athletics said on Tuesday.

The president of the governing body, Sebastian Coe, said it was “no fault” of local organizers in China that the event can’t be held in Yangzhou in November. The city will, instead, be given the rebranded world road running championships in 2027.

Read the full story here.

—The Associated Press