Editor’s note: This is a live account of COVID-19 updates from Sunday, June 13, 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 It is no longer being updated.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.

Many states in the country are dropping or relaxing their pandemic restrictions, but the number of unemployed Americans hasn’t yet shifted in the way some had anticipated.

Compared with pre-pandemic employment levels, the economy is still down more than 7.5 million jobs, The Washington Post reported Saturday. Food service and manufacturing businesses say they are struggling to recruit workers to low-wage positions, causing some to up their pay scales. 

Meanwhile, from the U.K. to Russia, politicians are imposing new reopening restrictions or keeping old ones in place as the global struggle to reach herd immunity and distribute vaccines where needed continues.

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.


As COVID-19 cases wane, vaccine-lagging areas still see risk

New COVID-19 cases are declining across most of the country, even in some states with vaccine-hesitant populations. But almost all states bucking that trend have lower-than-average vaccination rates, and experts warn that relief from the pandemic could be fleeting in regions where few people get inoculated.

Case totals nationally have declined in a week from a seven-day average of nearly 21,000 on May 29 to 14,315 on Saturday, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. For weeks, states and cities have been dropping virus restrictions and mask mandates, even indoors.

Experts said some states are seeing increased immunity because there were high rates of natural spread of the disease, which has so far killed nearly 600,000 Americans.

“We certainly are getting some population benefit from our previous cases, but we paid for it,” said Mississippi State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs. “We paid for it with deaths.”

Read the whole story here.

—The Associated Press

Libraries update reopening plans

Another step forward for the return of public libraries: King County Library System said Friday that all of its 50 branches, including those currently closed or offering only curbside service, will be open for in-person visits by July 13.

Currently, 19 of KCLS’ 50 branches are open for patrons to enter; most of the others are offering Curbside to Go services. The branches will soon begin to phase out curbside service as in-building access increases. As more branches reopen, services will be modified at first, gradually adapting over time. At present, masks are required at all locations. More details about what to expect will be provided by the end of June.

A Seattle Public Library representative said Friday that SPL will announce additional reopening branches next week; currently seven out of the library’s 27 locations are open for in-person visits, with nine others offering curbside services.

Read the whole story here.

—Moira Macdonald

Judge tosses Houston hospital workers’ vaccine requirement challenge

A federal judge threw out a lawsuit filed by employees of a Houston hospital system over its requirement that all of its staff be vaccinated against COVID-19.

The Houston Methodist Hospital system suspended 178 employees without pay last week over their refusal to get vaccinated. Of them, 117 sued seeking to overturn the requirement and over their suspension and threatened termination.

In a scathing ruling Saturday, U.S. District Judge Lynn Hughes of Houston deemed lead plaintiff Jennifer Bridges’ contention that the vaccines are “experimental and dangerous” to be false and otherwise irrelevant. He also found that her likening the vaccination requirement to the Nazis’ forced medical experimentation on concentration camp captives during the Holocaust to be “reprehensible.”

Read the whole story here.

—The Associated Press

How we've changed the way we move during the pandemic

More than a year into an era that we will remember as the Great Interrupter — of how we worked, played, learned, socialized, ate, moved — things are changing, yet again. With vaccination levels rising and people getting called back inside to offices, restaurants, gyms, we are all feeling the shift. We get to see the faces of previously masked workout buddies. We can revel in the deep quiet of a yoga studio, the energy of a live trainer, and regaining strength on equipment you don’t have at home. We can return to activities and spaces we once took for granted, and now cherish.

And yet, some changes are here to stay. People turned into hikers. People built home gyms and will never again return to a gym outside their houses. People fell in love with online classes; you might be inclined to forever and ever dance or do yoga in the privacy of your own home. People found a spot for the treadmill, Peloton or other equipment taking up a corner of the living room/bedroom/garage.

The choices you made over the past year around how you moved — or didn’t move — might not have made total sense.

Read all of Nicole Tsong's look at the ways we move have changed during the pandemic and in its aftermath.

—Nicole Tsong

Schools across US brace for surge of kindergartners in fall

School districts across the United States are hiring additional teachers in anticipation of what will be one of the largest kindergarten classes ever as enrollment rebounds following the coronavirus pandemic.

As they await the arrival next fall of students who sat out the current school year, educators are also bracing for many students to be less prepared than usual due to lower preschool attendance rates.

“The job of the kindergarten teacher just got a lot harder,” said Steven Barnett, senior co-director of the National Institute for Early Education Research at Rutgers University. He coauthored a report that found that the number of 4-year-olds participating in preschool fell from 71% before the pandemic to 54% during the pandemic, with poor children much less likely to attend in-person.

Read the whole story here.

—Heather Hollingsworth and Cedar Attanasio, The Associated Press

Report finds COVID-19 regulations did not slow GDP growth in California, Washington other states

Regulations aimed at preventing the spread of COVID-19 did not come at the expense of California’s economy, according to a new report that found states that took a more hands-off approach to the pandemic did not see an economic boost from their limited regulation.

The findings from the UCLA Anderson Forecast are “diametrically opposed” to the narrative common among some COVID-19 regulation opponents that the public health orders undermined economic recovery, said Director Jerry Nickelsburg.

Among large states, those with strict pandemic rules performed as well and in some cases better than their laissez-faire counterparts. California’s GDP shrunk less than that of Texas and Florida in 2020, all of which outperformed the United States as a whole. Washington, which had some of the strictest pandemic restrictions in the country, had the lowest GDP loss among large states.

“In that group, you simply can’t find evidence that the economy — as measured by the shrinkage of GDP — was adversely affected by the intervention,” Nickelsburg said.

Read the whole story here.

—Leonardo Castaneda, Mercury News

10-year sentence for man who attacked, coughed on a man in mask dispute

An Iowa man was sentenced to 10 years in prison for violently attacking and coughing on a man who had asked him to pull his face mask over his nose.

The sentence is among the sternest yet nationwide related to an argument over face coverings since the start of the pandemic.

The sentencing comes amid a continuing flurry of incidents and arrests at places like banks and polling places over masks. Airlines have seen an unprecedented rise in unruly passenger behavior, with the Federal Aviation Administration saying that a large majority of its incident reports this year have involved people who would not comply with the federal mandate to wear a face covering.

Read the whole story here.

—Timothy Bella, The Washington Post

Skagit County restaurants, eager to fully reopen, seek workers

For more than a year, Skagit County restaurants have been waiting for the day when they could have full dining rooms again.

With vaccinations increasing and cases declining, that day may come soon. Gov. Jay Inslee has set June 30 as the official statewide reopening date, which may happen earlier if 70% or more of Washingtonians ages 16 and older initiate vaccination.

For restaurants, full reopening could bring much-needed revenue and the opportunity to rehire employees.

And there is money to be made. The cooped-up public is eager to dine out, and vaccinations are helping people feel more comfortable.

However, even as businesses look forward to reopening, they continue to face staff shortages.

Read the whole story on the Skagit County labor situation here.

—Jacqueline Allison, Skagit Valley Herald

Kent vaccine clinic part of effort to reach diverse communities

“THIS IS GOING to be quick. Just take a deep breath.”

HealthPoint worker Bao-Yen Tran must have repeated those words dozens of times today. She is part of a team of health professionals administering a second dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine to a diverse crowd at Hillside Church in Kent. The five-hour clinic is an effort to bring the vaccine closer to the communities that are lagging behind in vaccination rates.

In the church’s large conference room, simple round tables and folding chairs are set up as vaccination stations. People come and go fast, and I watch as closely as I can to capture that lifesaving instant when shots get into arms.

It’s such a fleeting moment, yet the work that makes it possible is mind-boggling, from the scientific research and the human trials to ensure the safety of the vaccine, to the logistics of distribution and worldwide delivery.

Read the Seattle Sketcher's full reflections and see the sketches here.

—Seattle Sketcher Gabriel Campanario

G-7 leaders pledge 1 billion coronavirus vaccines for poorer nations

Leaders of the Group of Seven wealthy nations on Sunday pledged more than 1 billion coronavirus vaccine doses to poorer nations, vowed to help developing countries grow their economies while fighting climate change and agreed to challenge China’s “non-market economic practices” and call out Beijing for rights abuses in Xinjiang and Hong Kong.

Speaking at the end of a G-7 leaders’ summit in southwest England, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson praised the “fantastic degree of harmony” among the reenergized group, which met in person for the first time in two years.

The leaders wanted to show that international cooperation is back after the upheavals caused by the pandemic and the unpredictability of former U.S. President Donald Trump. And they wanted to convey that the club of wealthy democracies — Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States — is a better friend to poorer nations than authoritarian rivals such as China.

Read the whole story here.

—The Associated Press