Editor’s note: This is a live account of COVID-19 updates from Thursday, July 8, 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 It is no longer being updated.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 coronavirus crisis increasingly becomes a race between the vaccine and the contagious delta variant, the global death toll from COVID-19 marches on — and on Wednesday eclipsed 4 million. As the coronavirus crisis increasingly becomes a race

Labor officials say the U.S. economy continues to recover. For the second straight month, American employers posted a record-high number of open jobs. In fact, jobs are opening faster than employers can fill them. As customer demand intensifies, teenagers are often coming to the rescue and filling jobs that older workers can’t — or won’t.

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.


(Jennifer Luxton / The Seattle Times)

More

With 4 million COVID dead, many kids left behind

Some won’t ever remember the parents they lost because they were too young when COVID-19 struck. Others are trying to keep the memory alive by doing the things they used to do together: making pancakes or playing guitar. Others still are clutching onto what remains, a pillow or a photo, as they adapt to lives with aunts, uncles and siblings stepping in to fill the void.

The 4 million people who have died so far in the coronavirus pandemic left behind parents, friends and spouses — but also young children who are navigating life now as orphans or with just one parent, who is also mourning the loss. 

It’s a trauma that is playing out in big cities and small villages across the globe, from Assam state in northeast India to New Jersey and points in between.

And even as vaccination rates tick up, the losses and generational impact show no sign of easing in many places where the virus and its variants continue to kill. 

—Associated Press
Advertising

Queen Elizabeth II opens her front lawn to picnics for the first time

LONDON — For the first time in her nearly 70-year reign, Queen Elizabeth II is allowing the people to picnic on her front lawn. It is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, the courtiers say. And the grass? It really is a little greener on the other side.

“The boss,” as the staff openly call the monarch, thinks the people need this bit of fresh air after a wretched year: a scone with jam and cream, a cup of tea in an otherworldly oasis. 

And so for the rest of the summer, starting on Friday, the paying public may sprawl upon the Main Lawn behind the high walls of Buckingham Palace.

—Associated Press

USA Select team loses 3 players over virus-related concerns

LAS VEGAS — The USA Select Team will be without three players for the remainder of Olympic training camp for coronavirus-related reasons, though there are no indications that any cause for concern exists past those players.

The U.S. Olympic team practiced for a third consecutive day Thursday, with the remaining members of the select team taking part in that workout. Players on both the Olympic team and the select team — a group of 17 players that were brought in to scrimmage and practice against the Tokyo-bound club — are tested daily.

“I think we all know (the pandemic) is not over yet,” U.S. coach Gregg Popovich said. “That goes without saying. Everybody has to still be vigilant and careful.”

A person with knowledge of the situation said the three players involved for the virus-related reasons were Immanuel Quickley of the New York Knicks and Charlotte Hornets teammates P.J. Washington and Miles Bridges.

—Associated Press

Pfizer to seek OK for 3rd vaccine dose; shots still protect

Pfizer is about to seek U.S. authorization for a third dose of its COVID-19 vaccine, saying Thursday that another shot within 12 months could dramatically boost immunity and maybe help ward off the latest worrisome coronavirus mutant.

Research from multiple countries shows the Pfizer shot and other widely used COVID-19 vaccines offer strong protection against the highly contagious delta variant, which is spreading rapidly around the world and now accounts for most new U.S. infections. 

Two doses of most vaccines are critical to develop high levels of virus-fighting antibodies against all versions of the coronavirus, not just the delta variant — and most of the world still is desperate to get those initial protective doses as the pandemic continues to rage.

But antibodies naturally wane over time, so studies also are underway to tell if and when boosters might be needed.

—Associated Press
Advertising

New study on delta variant reveals importance of receiving both vaccine shots, highlights challenges posed by mutations

New laboratory research on the swiftly spreading delta variant of the coronavirus is highlighting the threats posed by viral mutations, adding urgency to calls to accelerate vaccination efforts across the planet.

A peer-reviewed report from scientists in France, published Thursday in the journal Nature, found that the delta variant has mutations that allow it to evade some of the neutralizing antibodies produced by vaccines or by a natural infection. A single shot of a two-dose vaccine “barely” offers any protection, researchers reported.

But the experiments found that fully vaccinated people – with the recommended regimen of two shots of the Pfizer-BioNTech or AstraZeneca vaccine – should retain significant protection against the delta variant. That echoes another report written by a collaboration of scientists in the United States and published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine.

The bottom line is that, in a time when the delta variant is rapidly gaining traction – it now accounts for a majority of new infections in the United States, according to the latest estimate from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – full vaccination offers a much better firewall against infection than partial vaccination.

—The Washington Post

State health officials report 586 new coronavirus cases

The Washington state Department of Health reported 586 new coronavirus cases and 13 new deaths on Thursday.

The update brings the state's totals to 454,650 cases and 5,986 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. Wednesday.

In addition, 25,758 people have been hospitalized in the state because of the virus — including 32 new hospitalizations. In King County, the state's most populous, state health officials have confirmed a total of 113,157 COVID-19 diagnoses and 1,665 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.

Today's updates for new cases, hospitalizations and deaths are incomplete due to a data processing issue, the DOH said. A full update is expected Friday.

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.

Missouri governor doesn’t want door-to-door vaccine help

Federal officials are pushing back after Missouri Gov. Mike Parson said he doesn’t want government employees going door-to-door in his state to urge people to get vaccinated, even as a COVID-19 outbreak overwhelms some hospitals.

Missouri asked for help last week from nearly formed federal “surge response” teams as it combats an influx of cases that public health officials are blaming on fast-spreading delta variant and deep-seated concerns about the vaccine. After one official noted the effort that could include door-to-door promotion of the vaccine, Parson tweeted: “I have directed our health department to let the federal government know that sending government employees or agents door-to-door to compel vaccination would NOT be an effective OR a welcome strategy in Missouri.

Missouri — which leads the nation with the most new COVID-19 cases per capita over the last two weeks — never had a mask mandate, and Parson signed a law last month placing limits on public health restrictions and barring governments from requiring proof of vaccination to use public facilities and transportation.

Over the weekend, the Republican governor tweeted a picture of himself at a fireworks celebration in the tourist town of Branson, a large crowd behind him. Branson is about 40 miles (65 kilometers) south of Springfield, where one hospital was so overwhelmed with patients that it temporarily ran out of ventilators and took to social media to beg for help from respiratory therapists.

Read the story here.

—Heather Hollingsworth, The Associated Press
Advertising

COVID vaccines still work against mutant, researchers find

People who have just been vaccinated with the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine exercise in an observation lounge during a vaccination drive for people ages 30 to 39 in Mexico City, Wednesday, July 7, 2021. (AP Photo/Marco Ugarte)

New research from France adds to evidence that widely used COVID-19 vaccines still offer strong protection against a coronavirus mutant that is spreading rapidly around the world and now is the most prevalent variant in the U.S.

In laboratory tests, blood from several dozen people given their first dose of the Pfizer or AstraZeneca vaccines “barely inhibited” the delta variant, the team reported in the journal Nature. But weeks after getting their second dose, nearly all had what researchers deemed an immune boost strong enough to neutralize the delta variant — even if it was a little less potent than against earlier versions of the virus.

The French researchers also tested unvaccinated people who had survived a bout of the coronavirus, and found their antibodies were four-fold less potent against the new mutant. But a single vaccine dose dramatically boosted their antibody levels — sparking cross-protection against the delta variant and two other mutants, the study found. That supports public health recommendations that COVID-19 survivors get vaccinated rather than relying on natural immunity.

Read the story here.

—Lauran Neergaard, The Associated Press

Fitbits detect lasting changes after COVID-19, researchers find

FILE — Jeff Williams, chief operating officer of Apple, talks about the electrocardiogram features on the Apple Watch Series 4, at the Steve Jobs Theater in Cupertino, Calif., Sept. 12, 2018. One in five Americans uses a Fitbit, Apple Watch or other wearable fitness tracker. And over the past year, several studies have suggested that the devices — which can continually collect data on heart rates, body temperature, physical activity and more — could help detect early signs of COVID-19 symptoms. (Jim Wilson/The New York Times)

Last spring, when the nation’s COVID-19 cases were soaring and tests were in short supply, some scientists wondered whether a new approach to disease surveillance might be on Americans’ wrists.

One in five Americans uses a Fitbit, Apple Watch or other wearable fitness tracker. And over the past year, several studies have suggested that the devices — which can continually collect data on heart rates, body temperature, physical activity and more — could help detect early signs of COVID-19 symptoms.

Now research suggests that these wearables can also help track patients’ recovery from the disease, providing insight into its long-term effects.

In a paper published Wednesday in the journal JAMA Network Open, researchers studying Fitbit data reported that people who tested positive for COVID-19 displayed behavioral and physiological changes, including an elevated heart rate, that could last for weeks or months. These symptoms lasted longer in people with COVID than in those with other respiratory illnesses, the scientists found.

Read the story here.

—Emily Anthes, The New York Times

Cold weather virus in summer baffles docs, worries parents

The recent emergence of a virus that typically sickens children in colder months has baffled U.S. pediatricians and put many infants in the hospital with troublesome coughs and breathing trouble.

RSV, or respiratory syncytial virus, is a common cause of cold-like symptoms but can be serious for infants and the elderly. Cases dropped dramatically last year, with people staying home and social distancing, but began cropping up as pandemic restrictions eased.

“I’ve never seen anything like this before,’’ Dr. Kate Dutkiewicz, medical director at Beacon Children’s Hospital in South Bend, Indiana, said after treating two RSV-infected infants recently. Both needed oxygen treatment to help with breathing. ‘’I’ve never seen cases in July, or close to July.’’

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a health advisory on June 10 about an increase in RSV cases across parts of the South. Cases have appeared in many other states, too.

Read the story here.

—Lindsey Tanner, The Associated Press
Advertising

Taiwan receives another 1.1M doses of vaccine from Japan

People wear face masks to protect against the spread of the coronavirus after the COVID-19 alert raise to level 3 in Taipei, Taiwan, Thursday, July 8, 2021. (AP Photo/Chiang Ying-ying)

Taiwan on Thursday received 1.13 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine from Japan in the second such donation this year.

Once desperately lacking jabs, Taiwan has benefited from vaccine diplomacy, receiving near 5 million doses from the United States and Japan following its worst outbreak starting in May that was being driven by a more contagious delta variant of the coronavirus.

Taiwan had signed commitments to purchase more than 29 million doses of vaccines, but given global supply constraints and manufacturing delays, it was left with only about 700,000 doses when the number of cases rose sharply in May.

Taiwan’s allies, including the U.S. and Japan, have stepped in, enabling the island to start distributing the shots quickly. Now, 11.45% of the population have received at least one shot.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press

Fans banned at Olympics; Tokyo under state of emergency

Fans were banned from the pandemic-postponed Tokyo Olympics which will open in two weeks, Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike said after meeting with IOC and Japanese organizers on Thursday.

The ban came hours after a state of emergency in the capital starting from Monday, declared by Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga to contain rising COVID-19 cases.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press

US jobless claims tick up to 373,000 from a pandemic low but state's numbers fell

The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits rose slightly last week even while the economy and the job market appear to be rebounding from the coronavirus recession with sustained energy.

In Washington state, however, initial unemployment claims filed during the week ended July 3 fell to 5,747, a 26% drop from the prior week, according to federal figures.

Thursday’s report from the Labor Department showed that jobless claims increased by 2,000 from the previous week to 373,000. Weekly applications, which generally track the pace of layoffs, have fallen steadily this year from more than 900,000 at the start of the year. The four-week average of applications, which smooths out week-to-week volatility, is now 394,500 — the lowest such level since the pandemic erupted in March of last year.

The rollout of vaccinations is driving a potent economic recovery as businesses reopen, employers struggle to fill jobs and consumers emerge from months of lockdown to travel, shop and spend at restaurants, bars, retailers and entertainment venues.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press
Advertising

Should you cancel your summer vacation? COVID variants, high prices have some travelers reconsidering

Mike Gnitecki had an ambitious trip to Italy planned for this summer — a two-week tour of Rome, Milan and Florence. But halfway through booking his first getaway in more than a year, he decided to cancel it.

“Airline ticket prices are abnormally high,” says Gnitecki, who works for a fire department in Tyler, Texas.

Gnitecki isn’t alone. Andy Smith, a retired IT specialist from Charlottesville, Va., had mapped out an ambitious road trip for this summer to visit friends and relatives in Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona and California. But high hotel prices and predictions of once-in-a-generation summer crowds gave him second thoughts. He decided to hold off for a few months.

“I’m waiting until after Labor Day, hoping things will have calmed down by then, as children return to school,” Smith says.

“If there’s a spike in cases, or a new variant emerges that may make the vaccine less effective, that would be a reason to cancel,” said Cathy Udovch, a travel counselor with TravelStore in Irvine, Calif.

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to the question, “Should I cancel my summer vacation?,” says John Lovell, president of Travel Leaders Group. “Each consumer makes their own decision.”

Read the story here.

—Christopher Elliott, The Washington Post

Japan to declare virus emergency lasting through Olympics

People pose for photo with the Olympics Rings display at Haneda International Airport in Tokyo, Thursday, July 8, 2021. (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)

Japan is set to place Tokyo under a state of emergency that would last through the Olympics, fearing an ongoing COVID-19 surge will multiply during the Games.

At a meeting with experts Thursday morning, government officials proposed a plan to issue a state of emergency in Tokyo from next Monday to Aug. 22. The Summer Olympics, already delayed a year by the pandemic, begin July 23 and close Aug. 8.

The Games already will take place without foreign spectators, but the planned six-week state of emergency likely ends chances of a local audience.

Read the story here.

—Mari Yamaguchi, The Associated Press

World’s Reported COVID Death Toll Passes 4 Million

The world’s known coronavirus death toll passed 4 million Thursday, a loss roughly equivalent to the population of Los Angeles, according to the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University.

It took nine months for the virus to claim 1 million lives, and the pace has quickened since then. The second million were lost in 3 1/2 months, the third in three months, and the fourth in about 2 1/2 months.

Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the World Health Organization, called 4 million dead a tragic milestone on Wednesday, and said the toll was continuing to mount largely because of dangerous versions of the virus and inequities in the distribution of vaccines.

As of Tuesday, seven of the 10 countries with the highest death rates relative to their populations over the past week were in South America, according to data from Johns Hopkins, and the virus has been a destabilizing force in many countries in the region.

Read the story here.

—Daniel E. Slotnik, The New York Times
Advertising

Catch up on the past 24 hours

Do you need to take precautions at hotels if you're vaccinated? Most people don't, but it depends on your situation, doctors and the CDC say.

Time may be running out for students 12 and up to get vaccinated before schools reopen.

Americans are leaping into a big purge of their pandemic clothing, although some people "don't really want to wear real pants again." 

—Kris Higginson