Editor’s note: This is a live account of COVID-19 updates from Tuesday, June 1, 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 It is no longer being updated.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.
Half of Americans have received at least one dose of a vaccine, but as the virus outlook in the U.S. begins to look up, many families are grabbling with new loss from this virus.
While nations around the globe are still waiting for vaccines weeks after the Biden administration promised to share millions of doses, in the U.S., mobile vaccine units head to tiny towns, strip clubs and marijuana dispensaries, to entice more people to get a shot.
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.
The tourists have returned to Washington state — but some areas are recovering more quickly than others
Looking for late-stage pandemic deals on hotels? Consider sticking to the cities. Popular rural destinations west of the Cascades — near national parks, along the Pacific coast — are happy to see tourists, and depend on them for income, but aren’t hurting for customers right now.
“Last year was even a little bit busier than 2019, to be honest,” said Tiffany Turner, CEO of Adrift Hospitality, which runs six coastal hotels (in Seaside, Oregon; Astoria, Oregon; Seaview, Washington; and three hotel properties in its home base of Long Beach, Washington) with a seventh currently under construction. “By sheer, dumb luck we’re in a rural beach town and that’s where people feel safest traveling. We’re the anomaly.”
The feat of seeing more business in the pandemic year of 2020 than the year before is even more impressive when you consider that hotels in Pacific County — which includes Seaview and Long Beach — were closed for 12 weeks when COVID-19 first arrived.
The economic recovery for hotels in Washington state is uneven, with rural locales tending to lead the pack. That’s a reversal from pre-pandemic years, said Andi Day, executive director of the Pacific County Tourism Bureau and board member of the nonprofit Washington Tourism Alliance (WTA).
Things are opening up in Seattle this summer. Are we ready? Here’s how people feel
Summer in Seattle usually means people, a lot of people, flocking outdoors the minute the sun peeks out from behind the clouds. They get together at the beach, at parks, on the water and at the flurry of annual outdoor festivals, concerts and other events each summer that we use as excuses to shout and dance shoulder to shoulder with thousands of other people.
After making it through the slog of the winter, many were looking toward summer 2021 as the light at the end of the COVID-19 tunnel.
With vaccinations, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention changing its guidance on wearing masks and Gov. Jay Inslee’s announcement last month that Washington will lift COVID-19 restrictions and reopen completely by June 30, there is hope for a summer that could include, at the very least, the return of seeing the bottom halves of our friends’ faces.
But the epic summer some were looking forward to might be a little less party and a bit more virtual. Despite Inslee’s reopening announcement, many of the big annual summer events remain canceled or have moved online — some for the second year in a row.
With vaccination on the rise, Metro Transit plans for a rider rebound. But not everyone is eager to board the bus.
Transit ridership has plummeted in the past year as more people worked from home, and Metro and Sound Transit encouraged riders to avoid unnecessary travel.
The average number of boardings on a weekday in February on King County Metro fell to about 133,000, a 72% decline compared to the same month last year. Between October and December last year, ridership across Sound Transit’s entire system, which includes light rail, Sounder train service and Express buses, dropped by 8.9 million passengers — or 77.3%, compared to the same quarter in 2019.
Fear of transit has persisted even though studies, including one for the American Public Transportation Association, showed that transmission of the coronavirus is not spread more widely on buses and trains — as long as they are well ventilated and riders wear masks.
Both agencies expect riders to return to transit as COVID vaccination rates rise and service returns to pre-pandemic levels, but those predictions remain as uncertain as the future of remote work — which could permanently reduce commute trips. Even as access to vaccines expands and businesses slowly reopen, some riders say they aren’t sure when they’ll go back.
Mariners will open up more seating starting with June 14 homestand
The cheers will get a little louder. The lines for concessions will get a little longer. And the feel of moving back to life as a sports fans will get a little more normal with more fans being allowed to attend to live sporting events.
The Mariners announced Tuesday that they have received permission from the state of Washington and King County to increase the seating capacity for baseball game at T-Mobile Park, starting with the upcoming homestand that runs June 14-23.
Per the news release, the updated operations plan for expanded seating “allows 26,265 tickets to be sold as vaccine only with no social distancing. The remaining capacity will be sold in socially distanced pods of 1-6 seats for a total of 4,680 seats. Total ballpark capacity under the approved plan is 30,945 (out of 47,000). Private Suites, Diamond Club and All-Star Club are available at full capacity for fully vaccinated guests.”
The Mariners have been operating under the previous state guidelines. They had approximately 9,000 socially-distanced seats available and then added roughly 5,000 seats for fully vaccinated fans.
Who really needs coronavirus herd immunity? People with weakened immune systems
There are among an estimated 10 million Americans whose weakened immune systems might leave them vulnerable to the novel coronavirus even if they get a vaccine. They include cancer patients undergoing treatments that debilitate their disease-fighting machinery and transplant recipients dependent on immune-suppressing drugs to prevent rejection. People with rheumatoid arthritis, lupus and other autoimmune disorders keep their symptoms in check with medications that can also impair antibody production.
Since they don’t know whether vaccines will protect them, many immune-compromised people can’t share in the joy as everyone else resumes some of life’s small delights, like laughing with friends over a restaurant meal, sharing fellowship in church, or playing indoors with other kids on a rainy day.
“A lot of people are moving on, talking about the pandemic in the past tense,” said Portland teacher Heather Braaten, 44, who was diagnosed with ovarian cancer last fall. “That makes me pretty emotional, because it’s not close to over for a lot of people.”
Braaten got vaccinated but doesn’t know whether chemotherapy undermined the shots’ effectiveness. So at a time when she and her wife would like to start traveling again and reconnect with family, they’re stuck in the same isolating routines.
London school fights COVID fallout with laptops, bean bags
Schools across Britain are racing to offset the disruptions caused by COVID-19, which has hit kids from low-income and ethnic minority families the hardest. At Holy Family, an after-school math club, a new reading area and a focus on exercise and fresh air are some of the ways the staff is making up for lost time.
Students across England lost an average of 115 days of in-school instruction to the pandemic, curtailing academic progress and hampering the social and emotional development of students from all backgrounds. But children stuck inside cramped apartments without easy access to computers suffered the most, fueling concerns about rising inequality in a country where 800,000 people have lost their jobs and food bank use is soaring.
This may be one of the longest-lasting impacts of the pandemic, said Arun Advani, an assistant professor of economics at the University of Warwick whose research focuses on inequality.
“It is going to create a kind of set of knock-on effects that will continue in the years to come, because it will be these kids who had very different experiences and different amounts of learning,” Advani said. “There will be kids who just are further behind.’’
State health officials confirm 353 new coronavirus cases
The state Department of Health (DOH) reported 353 new coronavirus cases and 24 new deaths on Tuesday.
The update brings the state's totals to 436,984 cases and 5,789 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 Sundays and COVID-related deaths aren’t reported on the weekends.
In addition, 24,254 people have been hospitalized in the state due to the virus — 123 new hospitalizations. In King County, the state's most populous, state health officials have confirmed a total of 109,757 COVID-19 diagnoses and 1,585 deaths.
Since vaccinations began in mid-December, the state and health care providers have administered 7,061,165 doses and 43.25% 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 33,160 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
Despite vaccines, nursing homes struggle with outbreaks
COVID-19 vaccines have allowed nursing homes in the U.S. to make dramatic progress since the dark days of the pandemic, but senior care facilities are still experiencing scattered outbreaks that are largely blamed on unvaccinated staff members.
The outbreaks and ensuing shutdowns have jolted family members who were just starting to enjoy in-person visits with loved ones for the first time in a year.
While the outbreaks inside nursing homes now are much smaller, less frequent and less severe than during the height of the pandemic, there continue to be hundreds of deaths each week attributed to the coronavirus.
New Mexico offers largest single vaccination prize in US
New Mexico bet big Tuesday that cash can persuade people to get vaccinated against the coronavirus, offering the largest single cash prize among the growing number of states staging lotteries to promote inoculations.
Vaccinated residents who register on New Mexico’s “Vax 2 the Max” portal can win prizes from a pool totaling $10 million that includes a $5 million grand prize, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced.
At least 55% of eligible residents in the state are fully vaccinated, but the Department of Health wants to reach 70% and close in on possible herd immunity.
Ohio, California and New York are also offering lotteries that have shown some success in boosting vaccination rates. California previously offered the largest single prize of $ 1.5 million from a total lottery pool of $116 million.
Read the story here.
Sinovac vaccine restores a Brazilian city to near normal
Just one COVID-19 patient is in critical condition at the Dr. Geraldo Cesar Reis clinic in Serrana, a city of almost 46,000 in Sao Paulo state’s countryside. The 63-year-old woman rejected the vaccine that was offered to every adult resident of Serrana as part of a trial.
Doctors say the woman was awaiting one of Pfizer’s shots, which remain scarce in Brazil. But she is an outlier here. Most adults rolled up their sleeves when offered the vaccine made by the Chinese pharmaceutical company Sinovac, and the experiment has transformed the community into an oasis of near normalcy in a country where many communities continue to suffer.
The success story emerged from the experiment known that tested Sinovac’s shot in real-world conditions. The preliminary results made public Monday suggest the pandemic can be controlled if three-quarters of the population is fully vaccinated with Sinovac, said Ricardo Palacios, a director at Sao Paulo state’s Butantan Institute and coordinator of the study, which was not peer-reviewed.
Businesses shut as Malaysia enters second virus lockdown
Malls and many businesses in Malaysia shuttered Tuesday as the country began its second nationwide lockdown to tackle a worsening surge of the coronavirus that has put its health care system on the verge of collapse.
The Southeast Asian nation imposed a partial lockdown on May 12, banning all social activities but allowing the economic sector to operate. Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin caved in to growing calls for large-scale lockdown after daily infections breached 8,000 on Friday and soared to a record 9,020 on Saturday.
This will be the country’s second nationwide lockdown since the start of the pandemic and it risks derailing its economic recovery. To help cushion the fallout from the new lockdown, Muhyiddin announced a new 40 billion ringgit ($9.7 billion) stimulus package.
Greece, Germany kick off EU vaccination travel certificates
Greece, Germany and five other European Union nations introduced a vaccination certificate system for travelers on Tuesday, weeks ahead of the July 1 rollout of the program across the 27-nation bloc.
The other countries starting early were Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Croatia and Poland, according to the European Commission.
Greece, which depends heavily on tourism, has been pressing for the commonly-recognized certificate that uses a QR code with advanced security features. The certificates are being issued to people who are fully vaccinated as well as those have already contracted the virus and developed antibodies and others who have had a PCR test within the last 72 hours.
The documents will have both digital and paper forms. They’ll be free of charge, distributed in the national language plus English and be valid in all the bloc’s countries.
“EU citizens are looking forward to travelling again, and they want to do so safely. Having an EU certificate is a crucial step on the way,” EU Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides said.
CEO says Airbnb’s future is about ‘living,’ not just travel
COVID-19 has precipitated “the most profound change in travel since the airplane,” says Brian Chesky, chief executive officer and co-founder of Airbnb.
The crux of the change, he says, is that the lines between travel, work, and living are blurring. Reshaping Airbnb’s business are the trends toward remote work, long term stays and the digital nomad lifestyle: winter months in Miami and Aspen, summer stints in New York, San Francisco, or the Hamptons in Long Island.
The company, which rebounded for a strong summer in 2020 after the initial shock of COVID-19 wiped away 80% of its business, has come out of the past 16 months in better shape than most travel businesses. Its valuation passed the $100 billion threshold and shattered expectations immediately after its long-awaited initial public offering in December, and although it peaked at $219 per share in February, the current $134 stock price reflects a $10 dip from that initial spike.
Washington state relaxes COVID-19 rules for farmworkers
The state has relaxed some emergency rules so fully vaccinated farmworkers living in temporary housing no longer need to wear masks.
The state Department of Labor & Industries and the state Department of Health issued updated rules on Friday. That was after Washington Farm Labor Association Executive Director Dan Fazio and Washington Farm Bureau Chief Executive John Stuhlmiller last week raised concerns that farmworkers weren’t covered when the state decided fully vaccinated workers didn’t need to wear masks.
They complained the rules, implemented for the COVID-19 pandemic, increased costs while failing to protect workers.
WHO grants emergency approval to 2nd Chinese COVID vaccine
The World Health Organization has issued an emergency use listing for the COVID-19 vaccine made by Sinovac for adults 18 and over, the second such authorization it has granted to a Chinese company.
In a statement Tuesday, the U.N. health agency said data submitted to its experts showed that two doses of the vaccine prevented people from getting symptoms of COVID-19 in about half of those who got the vaccine. In April, a study published in Brazil confirmed a previously reported efficacy rate of over 50% for Sinovac. A real-world study in Chile in April found an efficacy rate of 67%.
Last month, WHO gave the green light to the COVID-19 vaccine made by Sinopharm. It has also licensed vaccines developed by Pfizer-BioNTech, AstraZeneca, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson.
WHO’s authorization means the vaccine can be bought by donors and other U.N. agencies for use in poorer countries, including in the U.N.-backed initiative to distribute COVID-19 vaccines globally known as COVAX.
New York’s ‘Excelsior Pass’ is the country’s first vaccine passport; here’s how it works
On the Upper East Side in Manhattan, a well-heeled crowd flashed it to get into a socially distanced dance performance at the Park Avenue Armory. In Chelsea, people showed it to attend a John Mulaney stand-up set at City Winery. And in Troy, New York, patrons are using it to enter an intimate, speakeasy-style bar that admits only vaccinated guests.
This magic ticket is New York state’s Excelsior Pass, which was introduced in March as the first and only government-issued vaccine passport in the country, accessible, for now, only to people who have been vaccinated in the state.
Officials are hoping that it can help New Yorkers feel confident about the safety of businesses and jump-start a statewide economy that is still reeling from losses experienced during the pandemic. But for that to happen, they will need more people and businesses to start using it and vaccine passports to become more universally accepted.
Though it is basically just a QR code on your phone that indicates your vaccine status, the pass, and vaccine passports more generally, have become a political flashpoint among conservatives who say the passports violate privacy concerns.
China reports human case of H10N3 bird flu, a possible first
A man in eastern China has contracted what might be the world’s first human case of the H10N3 strain of bird flu, but the risk of large-scale spread is low, the government said Tuesday.
The 41-year-old man in Jiangsu province, northwest of Shanghai, was hospitalized April 28 and is in stable condition, the National Health Commission said on its website. No human case of H10N3 has been reported elsewhere, the commission said.
Californians hit beaches, travel ahead of virus rules easing
Southern California beaches were busy with families barbecuing and children playing in the sand and surf over the long holiday weekend and business owners said they were scrambling to hire workers to keep up with the stream of customers eager to get out since virus cases have fallen and vaccinations have risen.
The surge in travel and recreation comes as California prepares to relax social distancing and masking rules in two weeks as long as coronavirus cases remain low.
California was the first U.S. state to impose a statewide shutdown when the virus emerged in March 2020 and the nation’s epicenter for the disease in early 2021. But the state has reported a significant turnaround. In recent weeks, newly reported infections in California have fallen below 1,000 on some days and the state’s positivity rate has been 1%.
Japan’s vaccine push ahead of Olympics looks to be too late
It may be too little, too late. That’s the realization sinking in as Japan scrambles to catch up on a frustratingly slow vaccination drive less than two months before the Summer Olympics are scheduled to start.
The Olympics risk becoming an incubator for “a Tokyo variant,” as 15,000 foreign athletes and tens of thousands officials, sponsors and journalists from about 200 countries descend on — and potentially mix with — a largely unvaccinated Japanese population, said Dr. Naoto Ueyama, a physician, head of the Japan Doctors Union.
Even if the country succeeds in meeting its goal of fully vaccinating all 36 million elderly by the end of July — already a week into the Games — about 70% of the population would not be inoculated.
Catch up on the past 24 hours
The masks aren't coming off for Michelle Geri Farris of Seattle and her children, Owen, 12, and Luke, 10. The boys, born with an immune disorder, are among an estimated 10 million Americans who may be vulnerable to the coronavirus even if they get a vaccine. One of the best ways to safeguard immunologically defenseless people like the Farris boys is for everyone else to get vaccinated, a top Seattle Cancer Care Alliance doctor explains. Until then, this is what life will look like.
Tourists have returned to Washington state, but some areas are recovering far more quickly than others. Destinations near Olympic National Park, for example, are seeing a 40% increase in demand from the summer before the pandemic. The upside for travelers: better deals in the places where hotels are strikingly empty.
Seattle is opening up this summer. Are you ready? Mixed feelings are arriving along with the mixed messaging on masks and social distancing. The epic summer some were looking forward to might be less party and more virtual, with many annual Seattle-area events again on hold or online.
One of those celebrations is Seattle Pride, which will be virtual again in 2021. But “it’s not going to be boring,” the executive director says. "This is going to be something you have to strap in for."
What Washington's schools could look like after the pandemic: "Kids need a whole lot more than academic content," state schools chief Chris Reykdal says. He's talking about how the past year's biggest take-aways will change the way educators move forward, from better supporting students' mental health to reframing how kids learn about racial justice.
The luckiest workers in America? Teenagers. This may be their most lucrative summer in years as companies try to go from hardly staffed to fully staffed in a giant hurry. And they're earning more than just fatter paychecks as employers try to lure applicants with signing bonuses and other special perks.
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