Editor’s note: This is a live account of COVID-19 updates from Friday, June 11, 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 It is no longer being updated.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 many states implement vaccine incentive programs to encourage those who haven’t yet received shots, Washington state confirmed its first round of lottery winners — including a man who walked away with $250,000.
Meanwhile, world leaders from the Group of Seven industrialized nations are meeting at their summit and are planning to share at least 1 billion coronavirus shots with struggling countries around the world.
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.
A giddy crowd welcomes the reopening of Jazz Alley
The mood was positively giddy Thursday night at Dimitriou’s Jazz Alley as the crowd, starved for live music by the pandemic for 15 months, anticipated diva Lisa Fischer’s dramatic ascent to the stage.
Fischer sang backup vocals for years behind everyone from Roberta Flack to the Rolling Stones, but became world famous in her own right after the 2013 Oscar and Grammy-winning film “20 Steps From Stardom.”
“The energy is just amazing,” said one of the club managers, Ari Dimitriou, whose father, John, owns the club. “I’m so excited. I can’t tell you how wonderful it is to have your life back.”
And how refreshing to see the faces of those humans, too, though most of the 200 or so music-lovers there — about half a house, per COVID regulations — wore masks as they strolled between tables, as did the always-focused, fast-moving servers.
Dimitriou’s is not the first Seattle venue that features jazz to reopen — the Owl N’ Thistle Irish Pub Tuesday night jam sessions started back up several weeks ago and The Triple Door turns on the lights June 18 — but as the city’s major, go-to jazz club, Jazz Alley’s revival is big news.
California governor signs orders to roll back virus rules
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — It’s official: Most of California’s coronavirus rules governing public gatherings will disappear on Tuesday after Gov. Gavin Newsom signed an executive order Friday afternoon that heralds the end of the pandemic’s hold on much of public life for the nation’s most populous state.
Newsom’s action on Friday ensures the state will end the stay-at-home order and its various amendments on Tuesday after more than 15 months on the books as more than 70% of adults in the state have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine. Starting Tuesday, there will be no capacity limits or physical distancing requirements for businesses. People who are fully vaccinated won’t be required to wear a mask — including indoors.
While much of public life will officially return to normal on Tuesday, the state will still be under a statewide declaration of emergency. That means Newsom retains his authority to alter or suspend state laws indefinitely, either until he decides to end the emergency declaration or the state Legislature does it for him. That latter option is not likely because Democrats dominate the Legislature by a wide margin and are allied with the Democratic governor.
Hotel industry emerges from pandemic with new business model, possibly fewer workers
As Americans travel more, they are encountering a hotel industry that has undergone dramatic transformations and might never return to its pre-pandemic business model.
Some properties, particularly in leisure-centric areas like Florida, are scrambling to find enough workers to staff bustling properties. Many others, meanwhile, have still not brought back all their workers amid a continued travel slump.
But one thing that hotels across the board are considering is whether many of their customers are willing to accept fewer services than before, such as daily room cleanings and sizable breakfast spreads, analysts say, and that might mean a smaller hotel workforce in the years following the pandemic.
The leadership of hotel brands like Hilton, Park and Host have increasingly touted savings and increased efficiency from reducing labor costs on services like cleaning in calls and presentations to investors since the economy began to recover last year.
As vaccines turn pandemic’s tide, U.S. and Europe diverge on way forward
Over Memorial Day weekend, 135,000 people jammed the oval at the Indianapolis 500. Restaurants across the United States were thronged with customers as mask mandates were being discarded.
The formula, which gained the Biden administration’s blessing, was succinct: In essence, if you are fully vaccinated, you can do as you please.
But while the United States appears to be trying to close the curtain on the pandemic, across the ocean, in Britain and the European Union, it is quite a different story.
Despite plunging infection levels and a surging vaccine program, parts of Europe are maintaining limits on gatherings, reimposing curbs on travel and weighing local lockdowns.
Thai lawmakers approve $16B in borrowing to fight COVID-19
Thailand’s House of Representatives on Thursday approved a bill that would allow the government to borrow up to $16 billion to deal with the economic fallout and medical costs of the coronavirus.
About $9.6 billion would be used for direct assistance to individuals and businesses, $5.5 billion to create jobs and stimulate the economy, and $962 million for medical equipment, research and medicine.
The government said the funding cushioned the economic blow from the pandemic, reducing the tourism-dependent economy’s contraction to about 6% from projections that had been as high as 8%.
State health officials confirm 677 new coronavirus cases
The state Department of Health (DOH) reported 677 new coronavirus cases and 12 new deaths on Friday.
The update brings the state's totals to 443,454 cases and 5,815 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. Thursday.
In addition, 24,762 people have been hospitalized in the state due to the virus — 32 new hospitalizations. In King County, the state's most populous, state health officials have confirmed a total of 110,911 COVID-19 diagnoses and 1,614 deaths.
Since vaccinations began in mid-December, the state and health care providers have administered 7,375,424 doses and 45.47% 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 26,891 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.
CDC says masks not required outdoors at airports, train stations for fully vaccinated people
People who are fully vaccinated no longer have to wear masks in outdoor transportation settings, including at airports, train stations, ferry docks and on vehicles with outdoor spaces, according to updated guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“CDC has removed the requirement to wear a mask in outdoor areas of conveyances and transportation hubs because of the lower risk of transmission outdoors,” the agency said in a notice posted Thursday.
The update is part of an effort by federal health officials to more closely align recommendations for those have been fully vaccinated. In dropping the requirement for mask-wearing when outdoors, the CDC cited research showing there is a low risk of virus transmission in those settings.
China’s children may be next in line for COVID-19 vaccines
If China is to meet its tentative goal of vaccinating 80% of its population against the coronavirus by the end of the year, tens of millions of children may have to start rolling up their sleeves.
Regulators took the first step last week by approving the use of the country’s Sinovac vaccine for children aged 3 to 17, and on Friday announced the same for the Sinopharm vaccine.
Experts note that if countries are going to achieve herd immunity through their vaccination campaigns, inoculating children should be part of the plan. Doing so, however, may be easier said than done for reasons ranging from vaccine hesitancy to vaccine availability.
Why some Orthodox Jewish women won’t get vaccinated
In April, rumors began swirling in various New York City neighborhoods with large Orthodox Jewish communities about how the coronavirus vaccine could pose a serious threat to women’s fertility.
On WhatsApp groups, recordings of rabbis warning against what they said were the vaccine’s adverse effects proliferated quickly among the growing networks for the mothers of teenage girls who do not want their daughters vaccinated.
Miriam Tewel, an 18-year-old from the Crown Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn, said the rumors influenced her decision not to go to Israel for a one-year stay at a seminary in Jerusalem because it required a vaccination.
“Anything that could compromise my future as a mother is not worth the risk,” said Tewel, 18, who is the youngest of 11 children.
There is no evidence that any vaccines, including coronavirus vaccines, cause fertility problems, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And many prominent mainstream Orthodox leaders have advised their communities to get the coronavirus vaccine.
But in ultra-Orthodox circles in New York, where women marry at a younger age and birthrates dwarf those of the general population, the spread of unsubstantiated rumors about the vaccine’s potential adverse effects on fertility and pregnancy have been particularly effective in dissuading young women from getting the vaccine, interviews with health officials and community members show.
You’ve earned that time off. What to know about using it, post-vaccine
Even before the coronavirus pandemic fundamentally changed how we live and work, Americans have never been very good at taking days off. The pandemic further tipped the scales of our work-life imbalance.
“The concept of being totally removed from work has become really foreign,” says Andrea Bonior, a clinical psychologist who writes an advice column, Ask Dr. Andrea, for The Washington Post. “We’ve been absorbed in this little work-life murky blob that swirled everything together.”
Because of lockdowns and travel restrictions, the potential for days off was limited. Many felt like vacation time would be wasted if it was not spent traveling. But now with the world’s borders reopening for tourism, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention saying that vaccinated people are able to travel with less risk, taking paid time off (PTO) is looking more appealing than ever.
After a year of not going anywhere, travelers may have forgotten best practices for requesting time off — or have new anxieties due to the pandemic.
Tokyo Olympics still undecided on allowing fans at Games
The question of allowing any fans into Tokyo Olympic venues is still being debated with a decision unlikely to be announced before the end of the month.
This would be just a few weeks before the Olympics are to open on July 23. Fans from abroad have already been banned in what is shaping up as a largely made-for-television Olympics.
“Thinking in a different way, I think it’s an option to suggest to people to enjoy the games on TV — like teleworking,” said Dr. Nobuhiko Okabe, director general of the Kawasaki City Institute for Public Health. “We could suggest a different way of enjoying the games.”
U.S. vaccine surplus grows by the day as expiration dates loom
The U.S. is confronted with an ever-growing surplus of coronavirus vaccine, looming expiration dates and stubbornly lagging demand at a time when the developing world is clamoring for doses to stem a rise in infections.
Million-dollar prizes, free beer and marijuana, raffled-off hunting rifles and countless other giveaways around the country have failed to significantly move the needle on vaccine hesitancy, raising the specter of new outbreaks.
The stockpiles are becoming more daunting each week. Oklahoma has 800,000 doses on shelves but is administering only 4,500 a day and has 27,000 Pfizer and Moderna doses that are set to expire at the end of the month.
FDA tells Johnson & Johnson to throw out 60 million doses from troubled plant
After weeks of review of a troubled Baltimore factory, federal regulators have decided that about 60 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine produced there must be discarded because of possible contamination, according to people familiar with the situation.
The Food and Drug Administration plans to allow about 10 million doses to be distributed in the United States or sent to other countries, but with a warning that regulators cannot guarantee that Emergent BioSolutions, the company that operates the plant, followed good manufacturing practices.
For weeks the FDA has been trying to figure out what to do about at least 170 million doses of vaccine that were left in limbo after the discovery of a major production mishap involving two vaccines manufactured at the site.
More than 100 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine and at least 70 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine were put on hold after Emergent discovered in March that its workers had contaminated a batch of Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine with a key ingredient used to produce AstraZeneca’s.
UK economy edges to pre-pandemic levels as lockdown eased
The easing of lockdown restrictions in April helped the British economy grow at its fastest rate since July 2020 and recoup further ground lost during the coronavirus pandemic, official figures showed Friday.
The Office for National Statistics said the economy grew by 2.3% during April, which saw the reopening of shops selling non-essential items and a number of other service providers, such as hairdressers, resuming work. Schools were fully open for in-class learning, while pubs and restaurants were able to serve customers outdoors for the whole month.
The four nations of the U.K. — England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland — have been lifting lockdown restrictions in stages after new coronavirus infections fell sharply and vaccines were rolled out rapidly.
VP Harris making Southern stops to promote vaccination
Vice President Kamala Harris and the Biden administration’s top environmental official are making stops in several Southern states to promote an intensive White House coronavirus vaccination effort.
On Friday, the White House announced that Harris will visit Greenville, South Carolina, on Monday, to be followed by a June 18 visit to Atlanta. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael Regan plans to make Tuesday stops in Raleigh and Charlotte, North Carolina.
The visits mark the launch of a national tour that’s part of of the White House’s “month of action,” announced by President Joe Biden last week to urge more Americans to get vaccinated before the July 4 holiday.
Who's still dying of COVID in the U.S.?
Deaths from COVID-19 have dropped 90% in the United States since their peak in January, according to provisional data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
As the nation reopens and restrictions are lifted, however, the virus continues to kill hundreds of people daily.
After the first vaccines were authorized for emergency use in December, with priority given to senior populations before younger groups, the share of those dying who were 75 or older started dropping immediately.
Now, about half of COVID-19 deaths are people aged 50 to 74, compared with only a third in December.
Catch up on the past 24 hours
How COVID-19 is hitting Washington's youngest residents: The CDC's director is "deeply concerned" by rising hospitalization rates in teens nationwide, so we took a look at how Washington's numbers stack up when it comes to serious COVID-19 cases and vaccinations in youth. Our FAQ also explains when kids under 12 will be able to get vaccines.
Washington's first vaccine lottery winner got lucky twice, he explained as he claimed a $250,000 jackpot yesterday. Time is ticking as the lottery tries to reach the winners of smaller prizes, so check your voicemail.
The Washington State Fair in Puyallup will make a comeback in September after its first cancellation in nearly 80 years, and tickets for concerts with big-name headliners go on sale today. Organizers are providing a few other clues about what to expect.
Two passengers have tested positive for COVID-19 on the first North American cruise since the pandemic started.
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