Editor’s note: This is a live account of COVID-19 updates from Wednesday, July 7, 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 It is no longer being updated.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 vaccination rates start to decline, President Joe Biden said Tuesday he’s launching a summer-long effort to reach Americans still resistant to getting vaccinated, including going door-to-door and visiting places of worship.

The announcement comes as Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, says about 99.2% of recent COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. involve unvaccinated people. Meanwhile, experts say there are thousands or more in the country who could be experiencing prolonged grief after losing their loved ones to the virus.

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.


Navigating the pandemic
(Jennifer Luxton / The Seattle Times)

More

Global COVID-19 deaths hit 4 million amid rush to vaccinate

The global death toll from COVID-19 eclipsed 4 million Wednesday as the crisis increasingly becomes a race between the vaccine and the highly contagious delta variant.

The tally of lives lost over the past year and a half, as compiled from official sources by Johns Hopkins University, is about equal to the number of people killed in battle in all of the world’s wars since 1982, according to estimates from the Peace Research Institute Oslo.

The toll is three times the number of people killed in traffic accidents around the globe every year. It is about equal to the population of Los Angeles or the nation of Georgia. It is equivalent to more than half of Hong Kong or close to 50% of New York City.

Even then, it is widely believed to be an undercount because of overlooked cases or deliberate concealment.

With the advent of the vaccine, deaths per day have plummeted to around 7,900, after topping out at over 18,000 a day in January.

—Associated Press
Advertising

A pandemic clothing purge is on as normal life resumes in US

NEW YORK — Alina Clark is about as tired of her pandemic wardrobe as her comfort clothes are stretched and torn.

“I have four sets of jeans, seven shirts and five sweaters that I wear every week,” said Clark, co-founder of a software development company in Los Angeles. “They’re everything I’ve worn in the last two years. Me and my wardrobe are suffering from COVID fatigue.”

A wardrobe purge is on for some as vaccinations have taken hold, restrictions have lifted, and offices reopen or finalize plans to do so. The primary beneficiaries: resale sites online and brick-and-mortar donation spots, continuing a trend that’s been building for the last several years.

At the resale site Poshmark, orders are up for handbags and work-worthy dresses when compared to last year. The same goes for blazers, suit jackets and heels.

Projections show the trend growing stronger. The secondhand clothing business is expected to more than double, from $36 billion to $77 billion in 2025, according to a recent report commissioned by the secondhand marketplace ThredUP and the research firm GlobalData.

—Associated Press

As employers struggle to fill jobs, teens come to the rescue

WASHINGTON — The owners of restaurants, amusement parks and retail shops, many of them desperate for workers, are sounding an unusual note of gratitude this summer:

Thank goodness for teenagers.

As the U.S. economy bounds back with unexpected speed from the pandemic recession and customer demand intensifies, high school-age kids are filling jobs that older workers can’t — or won’t.

The result is that teens who are willing to bus restaurant tables or serve as water-park lifeguards are commanding $15, $17 or more an hour, plus bonuses in some instances or money to help pay for school classes. The trend marks a shift from the period after the 2007-2009 Great Recession, when older workers often took such jobs and teens were sometimes squeezed out.

This time, an acute labor shortage, especially at restaurants, tourism and entertainment businesses, has made teenage workers highly popular again.

—Associated Press

Official dropped from Fiji Olympic team after positive test

WELLINGTON, New Zealand — An official due to travel to Tokyo with the Fiji Olympic team has been withdrawn after testing positive for COVID-19.

The Fiji Association of Sports and National Olympic Committee confirmed the positive test Thursday but did not say what role the official held.

In accordance with guidelines set out in the Tokyo Games Playbook, the Fiji team has been in isolation for 96 hours before its departure for Japan and team members were tested 72 hours before leaving.

The Fiji contingent, including athletes, officials and staff from the Oceania National Olympic Committee, is due to leave for Tokyo just before midnight Thursday.

—Associated Press
Advertising

Thailand will turn Bangkok terminal to hospital as COVID worsens

Thailand plans to convert a terminal at the nation’s main international airport into a field hospital as a surge in coronavirus infections that’s straining the nation’s public health system shows little sign of easing.

Airports of Thailand, operator of the Suvarnabhumi International Airport, has been asked to convert the newly completed terminal into a facility with an intensive-care unit, medical rooms and support for patients with mild to medium symptoms. The hospital will initially provide at least 5,000 patient beds, according to a government statement late Tuesday.

Medical facilities are already at capacity, and deaths could double by August if the outbreak doesn’t ease, Kumnuan Ungchusak, an expert in epidemiology and adviser to the Health Ministry said at a seminar last week. Most cases have emerged from Bangkok, which continues to report the most infections and deaths each day.

The spread of the delta variant, expected to become the most dominant strain as early as August, has hindered efforts to contain the outbreak. With the mutated strain expected to spread to more provinces, daily case count may surge to 10,000 from next week, Apisamai Srirangsan, spokeswoman for the Center for COVID-19 Situation Administration, said at a briefing Wednesday.

—Bloomberg

How Oregon underwear company Arq became an Instagram hit during pandemic lockdown

It was a big year for underwear.

During the height of the coronavirus pandemic, more than 70% of American workers were doing their jobs from home, which meant, for many of them, a chance to dress down. Way down.

Enter: Arq, a McMinnville-based underwear company, specializing in simple undergarments for adults, babies and children.

Arq is a break-out star of pandemic-era Instagram, the place where many people turned when stores shut down, where fashion advice comes from regular people and “regular people.”

The company went from about $180 thousand in gross sales in 2018 to about $7.5 million in 2020.

Read the story here.

—Lizzy Acker, oregonlive.com

Time is short for students 12 and up to get COVID vaccines before schools reopen

School may still seem blissfully far off for U.S. students in the midst of summer. But for many who are eligible, time may be running out for a back-to-school necessity: getting fully vaccinated against the coronavirus before classes resume.

Many of the country’s more than 13,000 districts, especially in the South and Southwest, plan to start the 2021-22 school year well before Labor Day. Completing a course of Pfizer-BioNTech’s vaccine, the only vaccine now federally authorized for 12- to 17-year-olds, takes at least five weeks for the two shots to be administered and full protection to be reached. In many of those early-starting districts, students would need to get their first dose in the next few days to be fully immune in time.

In some areas, the first day of school is scheduled for Aug. 12. Counting back from then, students would have to get their first shot no later than Thursday to be fully protected by opening day.

Washington kids are behind on routine vaccines, at risk of missing the start of school

Read the story here.

—Daniel E. Slotnik, The New York Times
Advertising

State health officials report 412 new coronavirus cases

The state Department of Health (DOH) reported 412 new coronavirus cases and 13 new deaths on Wednesday.

The update brings the state's totals to 416,832 cases and 5,973 deaths, meaning that 1.3% of people diagnosed in Washington have died, according to the DOH. The data is current as of 11:59 p.m. Tuesday.

In addition, 25,726 people have been hospitalized in the state because of the virus — including 27 new hospitalizations. In King County, the state's most populous, state health officials have confirmed a total of 113,054 COVID-19 diagnoses and 1,664 deaths.

Since vaccinations began in mid-December, the state and health care providers have administered 7,899,697 doses and 50.8% 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 12,661 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.

Teachers, students struggle with online classes in Chile

Marcela García teaches science classes sitting on three cushions placed on a chair in her dining room in Chile’s capital, while many of her students listen to her from their beds because both sides lack sufficient space for the remote teaching brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.

Teachers and students alike had to start online classes without preparation and many without the necessary tools to give or receive remote education, which experts agree has negatively affected learning in Chile and other Latin American countries.

García says one family with two children in her school has a single computer and no cellphone.

An official study on what Chilean high school students learned in 2020 during online reading classes showed that none attained even 60% of the knowledge necessary to pass the subject and this number fell to 47% in mathematics.

“We are facing an educational earthquake and the aftershocks will be felt for years,” said Chilean Education Minister Raúl Figueroa.

Read the story here.

—Eva Vergara, The Associated Press

Australia’s largest city Sydney locks down for third week

A normally busy shopping area in Sydney is nearly empty of people, Wednesday, July 7, 2021. Sydney’s two-week lockdown has been extended for another week due to the vulnerability of an Australia population largely unvaccinated against COVID-19, officials said. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)

Sydney’s two-week lockdown has been extended for another week due to the vulnerability of an Australia population largely unvaccinated against COVID-19, officials said on Wednesday.

The extension of the lockdown, which covers Australia’s largest city and some nearby communities, means most children will not return to school next week following their midyear break.

Of 27 new infections of the delta variant reported in latest 24-hour period on Wednesday, only 13 had been in isolation while infectious, officials said. The delta variant is considered more contagious than the original coronavirus or other variants.

Read the story here.

—Rod McGuirk, The Associated Press
Advertising

Race between vaccines and variants tightens amid worries of Pfizer shot’s effectiveness

The fight against the pandemic in some wealthier nations has now turned into a race between the highly contagious delta variant first identified in India and the rollout of vaccines most scientists say still provide strong protection against infection.

Some studies, however, hint at the nightmare scenario that the seemingly miraculous shots developed last year may not be quite as effective as they were against the original virus strain.

Israel’s Health Ministry this week announced that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine — one of the world’s most effective shots — was offering only 64% protection against infection and symptomatic illness caused by the delta variant. Such a substantial drop in the vaccine’s protection level could have serious implications for countries betting almost entirely on mass immunization campaigns — as well as poorer nations that have barely started their own vaccine drives.

Read the story here.

—Paul Schemm and Erin Cunningham, The Washington Post

As New York salutes health workers, Missouri fights a surge

Spectators cheer as participants march up the Canyon of Heroes during a parade honoring essential workers for their efforts in getting New York City through the COVID-19 pandemic, Wednesday, July 7, 2021, in New York. The parade kicked off at Battery Park and travel up Broadway in lower Manhattan, the iconic stretch known as the Canyon of Heroes, which has hosted parades honoring world leaders, celebrities and winning sports teams. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

New York threw a ticker-tape parade Wednesday for the health care workers and others who helped the city pull through the darkest days of COVID-19, while authorities in Missouri struggled to beat back a surge blamed on the fast-spreading delta variant and deep resistance to getting vaccinated.

The split-screen images could be a glimpse of what public health experts say may lie ahead for the U.S. even as the economy opens up again and life gets back to something close to normal: outbreaks in corners of the country with low vaccination rates.

In Missouri, the Springfield area has been hit so hard that one hospital had to borrow ventilators over the Fourth of July weekend and begged on social media for help from respiratory therapists, several of whom volunteered from other states. Members of a new federal “surge response team” also began arriving to help suppress the outbreak.

Missouri not only leads the nation in new cases relative to the population, it is also averaging 1,000 cases per day — about the same number as the entire Northeast, including the big cities in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press

US job openings rise to record high, layoffs hit record low

A hiring sign is posted on a door at a business June 2 in Richmond, Virginia. April openings soared as the U.S. economy reopened. Openings were up 12% from 8.3 million in March. (Steve Helber / The Associated Press)

U.S. employers posted a record-high number of open jobs for the second straight month as a rapidly rebounding economy generates intense demand for workers.

The number of available jobs on the last day of May rose slightly to 9.21 million, from 9.19 million in April, the Labor Department said Wednesday. That is the highest since records began in December 2000. The previously-reported figure for April of 9.3 million was revised lower.

The number of people quitting their jobs slipped in May from a record high in April, but remains elevated. And the percentage of workers getting laid off hit a record low in May, the report said.

In May, there was essentially one open job for every unemployed American, a situation that is far more typical of an economy with a much lower unemployment rate.

But the lingering effects of COVID-19 are keeping many potential workers on the sidelines. Some of those out of work are worried about the risk of getting the disease from large crowds, while many older Americans have retired early. And an extra $300 in weekly unemployment aid has allowed Americans to seek out higher-paying jobs rather than return to previous positions that may have paid little.

Read the story here.

—Christopher Rugaber, The Associated Press
Advertising

EU upbeat over economic growth, concerned about inflation

European Union economies are set to rebound by their highest rates in decades as coronavirus restrictions ease, but still face risks posed by COVID-19 variants and concerns over inflation, the EU’s executive branch said Wednesday.

The European Commission’s 2021 summer forecasts predict that the economies in the 27-nation EU, and among the 19 countries using the euro single currency, are expected to expand by 4.8% this year, around half a percentage point higher than foreseen under the previous forecast.

Real gross domestic product is expected to return to its pre-coronavirus crisis level in the last quarter of this year. Growth in 2022 is predicted to hit 4.5%.

The commission puts its increasing optimism down to the fact that economic activity early this year has exceeded expectations, and due to the impact of coronavirus vaccine strategy, which has led to falling numbers of new infections and hospital admissions.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press

Desperate Indonesians search for oxygen as virus cases soar

A woman weeps as she visits the grave of a relative at the Rorotan Cemetery which is reserved for those who died of COVID-19, in Jakarta, Indonesia, Wednesday, July 7, 2021. Across the country, the coronavirus pandemic is again spreading rapidly with bursting beyond capacity and oxygen supplies are running out, leaving people do what they can to cope with caring for sick friends and relatives at home. (AP Photo/Tatan Syuflana)

With his aunt gasping for breath at home from her COVID-19 infection, 17-year-old Ridho Milhasan took matters into his own hands Wednesday and went to find her some oxygen.

After his uncle scrounged an empty tank from a friend, Milhasan found an oxygen filling station in southern Jakarta, waited in the long line of others also in desperate need, and emerged triumphantly after three hours with the supply he needed.

“My aunt badly needed this oxygen,” he said before strapping the oxygen container to his small scooter. “This pandemic is getting dire.”

Across Indonesia the coronavirus is again spreading rapidly, and Wednesday was the country’s deadliest day since the start of the pandemic with 1,040 reported deaths. Hospitals are bursting beyond capacity and oxygen supplies are running out.

Read the story here.

—Niniek Karmini, The Associated Press

Some evictions can resume in Washington under new state guidance

After a yearlong moratorium that limited evictions on an unprecedented scale, more evictions are set to resume across Washington in coming weeks.

Gov. Jay Inslee this week released details of what he calls a “bridge” eviction policy as the state emerges from the height of the pandemic. The governor’s proclamation will still limit evictions for unpaid rent, but will allow some evictions for other reasons.

That opens the door for landlords to seek to remove tenants for lease violations, nuisances and other issues.

The new policy marks a significant shift from the moratorium, which banned evictions statewide except in cases of immediate safety risk or when landlords wanted to sell or move into the property. That moratorium expired Wednesday.

Attorneys on both sides of the eviction process are expecting an uptick. 

Read the story here.

—Heidi Groover
Advertising

Olympics likely to open during COVID ‘state of emergency’

In this July 1, 2021, file photo, men cycle along the wall installed to close off a park being prepared for the Olympics and Paralympics Games in Tokyo. The pandemic-delayed Tokyo Olympics are shaping up as a TV-only event with few fans, if any, being allowed when they open in just over two weeks. Japan’s Asahi newspaper, citing multiple unidentified government sources, says the opening ceremony will be limited only to VIP guests. (AP Photo/Hiro Komae, File)

Surging COVID-19 cases in Tokyo have hit a two-month high that almost guarantees the Japanese government will declare a new state of emergency to start next week and continue for the duration of the Tokyo Olympics.

The pandemic-delayed Olympics open in just over two weeks on July 23.

IOC President Thomas Bach is scheduled to arrive in Tokyo on Thursday, when he will be greeted by the rising cases as he self-isolates for three days in the International Olympic Committee’s five-star hotel in the capital.

A new state of emergency could lead to a ban even on local fans. That decision on fans is expected Friday when local organizers meet with the IOC and others.

The present quasi-state of emergency ends Sunday. Tokyo reported 920 new cases on Wednesday, up from 714 last Wednesday. It is the highest total since 1,010 were reported on May 13.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press

A pandemic clothing purge is on as normal life resumes in US

FILE – Thousands of garments are stored on a three-tiered conveyor system at the ThredUp sorting facility in Phoenix on March 12, 2019. A wardrobe purge is on for some as vaccinations have taken hold, restrictions have lifted and offices reopen or finalize plans to do so. The primary beneficiaries are secondhand clothing marketplaces, and brick-and-mortar donation spots. (AP Photo/Matt York, File)

A wardrobe purge is on for some as vaccinations have taken hold, restrictions have lifted, and offices reopen or finalize plans to do so. The primary beneficiaries: resale sites online and brick-and-mortar donation spots, continuing a trend that’s been building for the last several years.

At the resale site Poshmark, orders are up for handbags and work-worthy dresses when compared to last year. The same goes for blazers, suit jackets and heels.

Some are taking the opportunity to reinvent their personal style, said Jessica Richards, a trend forecaster and fashion director for the Accessories Council, a nonprofit trade group.

“We saw a lot of consumers abandon their mindless shopping habits and instead focus on investment dressing. Less of being ‘sick’ of their pandemic wardrobes but more wondering why they might own as much or what is the breadth of their closet,” she said. “It’s now about streamlining and zeroing in on what their desired personal style image should be.”

Read the story here.

—Leanne Italie, The Associated Press

Catch up on the past 24 hours

Who's that at the door? Possibly someone sent by President Joe Biden, who says workers will hit the streets to nudge tens of millions of unvaccinated Americans to get COVID-19 shots. Top health experts are pushing to make vaccinations less voluntary, but there are limits to what Biden can do.

A superspreader at a Texas church camp left more than 125 children and adults with the virus, and exposed hundreds more. Masks were optional. 

A Missouri city's mask mandate expired long ago, but residents will soon vote on whether to kick their mayor out of office because of it.

—Kris Higginson