Editor’s note: This is a live account of COVID-19 updates from Tuesday, July 6, 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 It is no longer being updated.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.
A new Washington Post-ABC News poll showed 74% of people who haven’t been vaccinated say they probably or definitely won’t get vaccinated — and that the divide fell sharply along party lines. According to the survey, 86% of Democrats have received at least one vaccine shot compared with 45% of Republicans. Only 6% of Democrats said they are not likely to get vaccinated, compared with 47% of Republicans, including 38% of Republicans who said they definitely will not get the vaccine.
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.
Virus cases jump 1,200 in South Korea amid slow vaccination
SEOUL, South Korea — South Korea is seeing a steep rise in coronavirus infections unseen since the worst of its outbreak last winter as it slips into another surge while most of its people are still unvaccinated.
The 1,212 new cases confirmed by Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency on Wednesday came close to matching its highest daily increase of the pandemic — 1,240 cases reported on Christmas Day.
Health experts say the government sent the wrong message to the public by pushing for a premature easing of social distancing despite a steadily rising caseload.
Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum during a virus meeting said officials will consider tougher social distancing rules if transmissions continue to grow over the next two or three days.
Silver says NBA may have weathered pandemic well financially
PHOENIX — The NBA may emerge from the pandemic on better financial footing than it first anticipated, though Commissioner Adam Silver warned Tuesday that it’s too early to declare things fully back to normal.
Silver, at his annual pre-NBA Finals news conference, said he believes the league weathered the pandemic and all that came with it — including much less revenue from the lack of fans in arenas for much of the last 15 months — relatively well, noting that even he was surprised to see many teams were able to have full buildings during the playoffs.
“Financially, for the season, without getting into it too specifically, we did somewhat better than we initially projected,” Silver said.
Silver had said that the lack of in-game revenue — ticket sales, concessions, food and drink and the like — may have meant the league would see a 40% dip in that cash stream. But, in part because some arenas had fans later in the regular season and then more than 1 million tickets being sold in playoff games, that dip could be closer to 33%.
Chinese city on Myanmar border locked down in COVID outbreak
BEIJING — Authorities in a Chinese city bordering Myanmar locked down the city Wednesday, shutting most businesses and requiring residents to stay at home, as a fresh outbreak of COVID-19 expanded.
Another 15 cases were found in Ruili in the 24-hour period ending at midnight, on top of six in the first two days, health authorities in southwest China’s Yunnan prefecture said.
The lockdown, effective at midnight, shut down all businesses and public institutions except hospitals, pharmacies and essential shops like grocery stores. It affects the urban area of Ruili.
The latest cases were discovered during mass testing of residents. The positive cases include both Chinese and Myanmar nationals in the city, where there is an active cross-border trade. Authorities said they would step up border controls.
Ruili previously had a COVID outbreak in March and launched a campaign to vaccinate the entire city in April.
Biden makes new push for vaccinations, but experts say more is needed
WASHINGTON — Faced with a steep decline in vaccination rates, President Joe Biden said on Tuesday that his administration would send people door to door, set up clinics at workplaces and urge employers to offer paid time off as part of a renewed push to reach tens of millions of unvaccinated Americans.
But top health experts say that it is simply not enough, and that the president needs to take the potentially unpopular step of encouraging states, employers and colleges and universities to require vaccinations in order to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
Instead, in a speech on Tuesday, Biden doubled down on the idea of coaxing people to get vaccinated — a voluntary approach that appears to have hit its limit for a large number of Americans who say they have no intention of taking the shot.
“Please get vaccinated now. It works. It’s free,” Biden said in brief remarks at the White House. “It’s never been easier, and it’s never been more important. Do it now for yourself and the people you care about, for your neighborhood, for your country. It sounds corny, but it’s a patriotic thing to do.”
Revised immunization campaign aims to weave vaccines into U.S. daily life
WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden on Tuesday announced a summerlong effort to reach Americans still resistant to getting vaccinated, including going door-to-door and visiting places of worship, as he fights what growing evidence suggests is evermore entrenched resistance from vaccine holdouts.
In remarks from the White House, the president pointed to increased concerns over the delta variant of the coronavirus, which is more transmissible and has forced some European countries back into lockdowns, as he reiterated his exhortation that Americans get the vaccine.
The administration’s renewed effort will center on getting shots into the hands of local doctors and medical experts, hoping that so-called trusted messengers can succeed in convincing people that the vaccinations are safe and beneficial where larger public messaging efforts have failed.
“Our fight against this virus is not over,” Biden said. “Right now, as I speak to you, millions of Americans are still unvaccinated and unprotected. And because of that, their communities are at risk, their friends are at risk. The people that they care about are at risk.”
Zimbabwe returns to strict lockdown to fight virus surge
Zimbabwe has returned to strict lockdown measures to combat a resurgence of COVID-19 amid vaccine shortages, the country’s information minister announced Tuesday.
Infections have dramatically increased in recent weeks despite a night curfew, reduced business hours, localized lockdowns in hotspot areas, and a ban on inter-city travel. The virus has spread to rural areas which have sparse health facilities.
To try to contain the spread, most people must stay at home, and people will now need letters from employers to justify why they must venture out of their neighborhoods.
Zimbabwe is one of more than 14 African countries where the delta variant is quickly spreading.
Epsilon variant mutations help spur COVID immune evasion, UW researchers find
Three mutations in the epsilon variant make it less vulnerable to antibodies from current vaccines or past COVID-19 infections, according to a new study by University of Washington researchers.
The mutations give this coronavirus variant a means to totally evade specific monoclonal antibodies used in clinics and reduce the effectiveness of antibodies from the plasma of vaccinated people, the study found.
Like the original SARS-CoV-2, the epsilon variant infects target cells through its spike glycoprotein — the structure that crowns the surface of the virus.
Researchers with the international project, led by The Veesler Lab in the UW's department of biochemistry and Vir Biotechnology, found that one of the mutations affected the receptor binding domain on the spike glycoprotein, neutralizing activity in 14 out of 34 antibodies specific to that domain, including clinical stage antibodies.
The other two mutations were responsible for rearranging critical areas of the spike glycoprotein, giving the variant an unprecedented mechanism to totally evade specific antibodies, according to the study published Tuesday in Science.
State health officials report 1,189 new coronavirus cases over holiday weekend
The state Department of Health (DOH) reported 1,189 new coronavirus cases and 21 new deaths over the holiday weekend.
The update brings the state's totals to 453,665 cases and 5,960 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 observed holidays or Sundays, and COVID-related deaths aren’t reported on the weekends or holidays.
In addition, 25,699 people have been hospitalized in the state due to the virus — 161 new hospitalizations. In King County, the state's most populous, state health officials have confirmed a total of 112,963 COVID-19 diagnoses and 1,661 deaths.
Since vaccinations began in mid-December, the state and health care providers have administered 7,894,388 doses and 50.7% 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 12,861 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.
Rural Kentucky health officials press on, one shot at a time
John Rogers waited months after becoming eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine. It was only after talking with friends that the 66-year-old retiree from rural Spencer County, Kentucky, was persuaded to get the shot.
“They said, ‘You know, the vaccine may not be 100%, but if you get COVID, you’re in bad shape,'” Rogers said. “You can die from it.”
With the nation falling just short of President Joe Biden’s goal of dispensing at least one shot to 70% of all American adults by the Fourth of July, public health officials in places like Spencer County have shifted the emphasis away from mass vaccination clinics toward getting more information out in a more targeted way about the benefits of getting inoculated.
Many of those being targeted are under 30, an age group that has an especially low vaccination rate. But they also include people like Rogers, who said many people in his community are hesitant to get shots because “they just don’t trust the government.”
Malaysians suffering amid lockdown fly white flag for help
When Mohamad Nor Abdullah put a white flag outside his window late at night, he didn’t expect the swift outpouring of support. By morning, dozens of strangers knocked on his door, offering food, cash and encouragement.
Malaysia’s nationwide lockdown to curb a coronavirus surge was tightened further on Saturday, banning people in certain areas from leaving their homes except to buy food and necessities.
It lurched Mohamad Nor into desperation. He ekes out a living by selling packed nasi lemak, a popular dish of coconut milk rice with condiments, at a roadside stall every morning, but that income has vanished and government aid was insufficient.
The white flag campaign that emerged on social media last week aims to help people like Mohamad Nor, who is 29 and was born without arms. By chance, he saw the campaign on Facebook and decided to try to seek help.
“It was so unexpected. So many people reached out to help, support and also encouraged me,” Mohamad Nor said, sitting in his dingy room amid boxes of biscuits, rice, cooking oil and water that were swiftly donated to him. He said kind Samaritans offered to help pay his room rental and that the assistance should be enough to tide him through the next few months.
The #benderaputih campaign began as Malaysian society’s response to rising suicides believed linked to economic hardships caused by the pandemic. Police reported 468 suicides in the first five months this year, an average of four a day and up sharply from 631 for the whole of 2020.
Luxembourg PM in ‘serious but stable’ condition with virus
Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel is in a “serious but stable” condition and will remain in the hospital for several more days after he was unable to shake a bout of COVID-19 that developed over a week ago, the government said.
In a statement, it added that the running of state affairs will be taken over by Finance Minister Pierre Gramegna in the meantime, even if Bettel still coordinates some work remotely.
Bettel, 48, was diagnosed with insufficient oxygen saturation, forcing him to remain under medical observation since the weekend. He was also suffering from other coronavirus symptoms including coughing, headaches and a fever.
Since he self-isolated last week, Bettel has continued to work remotely and through video conferences. He was taken in for 24 hours of testing and medical analysis on Sunday and those tests continued Monday afternoon.
‘Don’t sacrifice your life to visit the Taj Mahal’: India reopens but fear pervades
While the Taj Mahal partially reopened in mid-June — with strict limits on the number of visitors — Sumit Chaurasia's life, like much of India, remains in limbo: no longer totally shut down, but far from fully normal or safe.
“The corona is still with us,” said Chaurasia, who has made his living giving tours on his boat to tourists, pointing out the flames licking the riverbank from a crematory next to the monument. This spring, Agra, like India’s capital, New Delhi, ran out of space to cremate its dead, with thousands a day dying from COVID as India experienced one of the world’s most catastrophic encounters with the disease.
The crowds that usually throng the Taj at sunset have been reduced to a handful of mostly local residents, roaming around the 25-acre complex for just over $3 a ticket.
This near-emptiness makes Chaurasia cry, but he prefers it to the alternative despite the hardships it imposes on him and the family he supports: elderly parents, a wife and two young daughters.
“Don’t sacrifice your life to visit the Taj Mahal,” he said as the boat gently bobbed on the holy Yamuna while monarch butterflies fluttered and pelicans soared over the trash-clogged shores.
99% of U.S. COVID deaths are unvaccinated people, Fauci says
WASHINGTON — America’s top infectious disease expert says about 99.2% of recent COVID-19 deaths in the United States involved unvaccinated people. And Dr. Anthony Fauci says “it’s really sad and tragic that most all of these are avoidable and preventable.”
He tells NBC’s “Meet the Press” it’s frustrating “where you have a formidable enemy” in the coronavirus and “yet we do have a countermeasure that’s highly, highly effective. And that’s the reason why it’s all the more sad and all the more tragic why it isn’t being completely implemented in this country.”
Fauci cites the reasons for opposition to the vaccine by some Americans, whether it’s “ideological” or whether some “are just fundamentally anti-vax or anti-science.”
He says the country does “have the tools to counter” the pandemic and he’s asking people to “put aside all of those differences and realize that the common enemy is the virus.”
Fauci notes the United States is “very fortunate” that it has “enough vaccines to vaccinate essentially everybody in the country. And there are people throughout the world who would do anything to get vaccines.”
The United States has registered over 605,000 deaths in the pandemic, the highest national toll in the world.
Unending grief of COVID-19 deaths causing problems for some
With more than 605,000 dead of COVID-19 in the United States and nearly 4 million worldwide, there are thousands or more who could be experiencing prolonged grief, the kind of mourning that experts say can prevent people from moving beyond a death and functioning normally again.
“It’s the most horrible thing to have to go through,” said Kelly Brown who lost bot parents just a week apart last August, sending her into a black tunnel of grief that doesn’t seem to have an end. “I would not wish this upon anyone.”
Natalia Skritskaya, an expert on grieving, said it’s too early to say whether prolonged grieving, also known as complicated grief, will be a major complication from the pandemic — it isn’t yet over, with thousands still dying daily worldwide, including hundreds in the United States. Many mourners have yet to pass the one-year anniversary of a loss, and few studies have been published so far on the psychiatric fallout, she said.
But prolonged grief is both real and potentially debilitating, said Skritskaya, a research scientist and clinical psychologist with the Center for Complicated Grief at Columbia University in New York.
As Tokyo Olympics approach, virus worries rise in Japan
The pressure of hosting an Olympics during a still-active pandemic is beginning to show in Japan.
The games begin July 23, with organizers determined they will go on, even with a reduced number of spectators or possibly none at all. While Japan has made remarkable progress to vaccinate its population against COVID-19, the drive is losing steam because of supply shortages.
With tens of thousands of visitors coming to a country that is only 13.8% fully vaccinated, gaps in border controls have emerged, highlighted by the discovery of infections among the newly arrived team from Uganda, with positive tests for the highly contagious delta variant.
As cases grow in Tokyo, so have fears that the games will spread the virus.
Israel to ship 700K Pfizer doses to South Korea in swap deal
Israel is sending 700,000 coronavirus vaccine doses to South Korea in exchange for a future shipment of vaccines from South Korea to Israel.
Under the deal, Israel will transfer the Pfizer vaccines to South Korea in an effort to inoculate more of the Asian nation’s citizens this month. South Korea will send the same number of doses to Israel as early as September, the officials added.
“This is a win-win deal,” Israel Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said in his statement. The agreement will “reduce the holes” in the vaccine’s availability.
Jung Eun-kyeong, South Korea’s top infectious disease expert, confirmed the deal. She said the Seoul government will continue to pursue swap deals with other countries.
Japan to ship another 1.1M AstraZeneca doses to Taiwan
Japan is set to send another 1.1 million donated AstraZeneca doses to Taiwan this week to help the self-governing island fight its worst COVID-19 outbreak amid a struggle to get vaccines.
Taiwan, which had only a handful of deaths before the latest outbreak, has seen its death toll spike to more than 700. The number of daily new cases has eased, with authorities reporting 29 on Tuesday and 17 more deaths.
Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi said Tuesday the AstraZeneca vaccine is set for shipment on Thursday — Japan’s second shipment to Taiwan a month after it donated 1.24 million AstraZeneca doses.
Pandemic wave of automation may be bad news for workers
When Kroger customers in Cincinnati shop online these days, their groceries may be selected by a robot in a nearby warehouse.
An increase in automation may prove to be an economic legacy of the pandemic. “Once a job is automated, it’s pretty hard to turn back,” said Casey Warman, an economist at Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia.
A working paper published by the International Monetary Fund this year predicted that pandemic-induced automation would increase inequality in coming years, not just in the United States but around the world.
“Six months ago, all these workers were essential,” said Marc Perrone, president of the United Food and Commercial Workers, a union representing grocery workers. “Everyone was calling them heroes. Now, they’re trying to figure out how to get rid of them.”
They didn’t expect to retire early. The pandemic changed their plans
Millions of Americans have decided to retire since the pandemic began, part of a surge in early exits from the workforce. The trend has broad implications for the labor market and is a sign of how the pandemic has transformed the economic landscape.
For a fortunate few, the decision was made possible by 401(k) accounts bulging from record stock values. That wealth, along with a surge in home values, has offered some the financial security to stop working well before Social Security and private pensions kick in.
But most of the early retirements are occurring among lower-income workers who were displaced by the pandemic and see little route back into the job market
“They might call themselves retired, but basically they are unemployed and in a precarious state,” said Teresa Ghilarducci, a professor of economics and policy analysis at the New School for Social Research in New York City. Economic downturns typically induce more people to leave the workforce, but there has been a faster wave of departures this time than during the 2008-09 recession, she said.
Catch up on the past 24 hours
Not everyone can move on from pandemic despair. In Washington, this is an especially strange time for people who lost loved ones during the pandemic, whether the cause was COVID-19 or not. It is a time of dissonance with an atmosphere of celebration — and also a time when many are finally able to grieve together as restrictions on gatherings ease.
The Tokyo Olympics are shaping up as a TV-only event, with few fans in the seats, as COVID-19 cases surge.
Restrictions on travel between Canada and the U.S. began to loosen Monday, and new steps to completely reopen the border are expected soon.
As cases ease, epidemiologists are recommending that you still keep one useful thing in your cabinet, whether you're vaccinated or not: a home COVID-19 test.
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