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 It is no longer being updated.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

Though the number of daily COVID-19 cases reported has remained at similar levels for the past few weeks, health experts said the real scope of the virus remains murky.

This is in part due to the decline in public testing and local governments no longer issuing daily reports.

Meanwhile, racial inequities in vaccination among children in Philadelphia are becoming clear, despite community efforts to try to reach communities of color in the city.

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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Tina Kotek, candidate for governor, tests positive for COVID

Democratic candidate for Oregon governor Tina Kotek said Tuesday that she tested positive for COVID-19.

Kotek said on Twitter she was resting and taking it easy for a few days and that she’s grateful to be vaccinated and boosted, KOIN-TV reported.

Kotek posted photos to Twitter over the holiday weekend showing her campaigning, hiking in Silver Falls State Park and enjoying Portland Pickles baseball.

Kotek won the Democratic primary election in May. She previously served as speaker of the Oregon House of Representatives.

Read the full story here.

—The Associated Press
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US allows pharmacists to prescribe Pfizer’s COVID-19 pill

Pharmacists can prescribe the leading COVID-19 pill directly to patients under a new U.S. policy announced Wednesday that’s intended to expand use of Pfizer’s drug Paxlovid.

The Food and Drug Administration said pharmacists can begin screening patients to see if they are eligible for Paxlovid and then prescribe the medication, which has been shown to curb the worst effects of COVID-19. Previously only physicians could prescribe the antiviral drug.

The announcement comes as COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths are rising again, though they remain near their lowest levels since the coronavirus outbreak began in 2020.

Biden administration officials have expressed frustration that several hundred Americans continue to die of COVID-19 daily, despite the availability of vaccines and treatments.

Read the full story here.

—Tom Murphy and Matthew Perrone, The Associated Press

Cyprus brings back indoor mask wearing amid COVID-19 surge

Cyprus is bringing back compulsory mask-wearing in indoor areas for everyone age 12 and over amid a surge of COVID-19 infections.

The government said Wednesday the infection spike is in line with a global trend that’s mainly owed to the BA.4 and BA.5 variants of the coronavirus.

According to Health Ministry figures, 19,503 people tested positive from a total of 147,623 samples between June 25 to July 5 out of a population of approximately 916,000. The numbers don’t include the approximately 250,000 people in the breakaway Turkish Cypriot north of the ethically divided island nation.

The measures take effect on Friday. The government said mask wearing isn’t compulsory at home, for family members inside a vehicle, during meals, athletes, cooks during grilling and for people with ailments and deformities that make it difficult for them to wear a face mask.

The government warned that compliance checks will be in effect and any individual or business violating the order could face a fine of 300 euros ($305).

Health officials have said the high infection rate hasn’t so far resulted in an parallel surge of serious symptoms requiring intensive hospital treatment.

—The Associated Press

California’s COVID-19 positivity nears a record as variants spike infections

California’s COVID-19 positivity rate continues to soar, reaching levels rivaling the January Omicron surge that brought record cases to the state.

The California Department of Public Health on Tuesday evening reported the statewide test positivity rate at 15%, up from 13.2% the previous week. The rate is the largest the state has seen since January, and has increased tenfold since early April as new, more transmissible variants grow.

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—Amelia Davidson, The Sacramento Bee
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How Pfizer won the pandemic, reaping outsize profit and influence

The grinding two-plus years of the pandemic have yielded outsize benefits for one company — Pfizer — making it both highly influential and hugely profitable as COVID-19 continues to infect tens of thousands of people and kill hundreds each day.

Its success in developing COVID-19 medicines has given the drugmaker unusual weight in determining U.S. health policy. Based on internal research, the company’s executives have frequently announced the next stage in the fight against the pandemic before government officials have had time to study the issue, annoying many experts in the medical field and leaving some patients unsure whom to trust.

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—Arthur Allen, Kaiser Health News

Macau shuts first flagship casino since 2020 as COVID flares

Macau shut SJM Holdings’ Grand Lisboa, the first closure of a flagship gaming venue in more than two years, as the city struggles to contain its worst-ever virus outbreak.

The shutdown started Tuesday and is expected to last until July 11, and comes after authorities found 13 infections linked to the gaming resort. Officials have also locked down one floor of the “Shoppes at Four Seasons,” a shopping center at Sands China’s Plaza Macao, after another cluster was found there, though the rest of the resort remains open for now.

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—Shirley Zhao, Bloomberg

Cancer drug greatly reduces deaths in hospitalized COVID patients

An experimental drug initially developed to fight cancer cut the risk of death for people hospitalized with COVID by half, according to a study published Wednesday.

The drug, sabizabulin, seemed to be more effective than others that have been authorized for severely ill COVID patients. Veru, the company in Miami that developed the drug, has applied to the Food and Drug Administration for an emergency authorization of its use. That would potentially add a new weapon to the modest arsenal available to hospitalized patients, experts said.

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—Carl Zimmer, The New York Times