Editor’s note: This is a live account of COVID-19 updates from Friday, June 18, 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 It is no longer being updated.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.
Though Washington’s COVID-19 vaccination numbers are rising, Gov. Jay Inslee continues to push remaining residents to get their shots with incentives. On Thursday, Inslee announced that the state’s military members and veterans are getting a vaccine lottery of their own.
Meanwhile, other parts of the world are being hit hard by the spread of the more contagious delta variant. In the U.K., new confirmed cases rose above 10,000 for the first time in nearly four months.
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.
Canadiens coach Ducharme tests positive for virus, isolating
MONTREAL — Montreal Canadiens interim coach Dominique Ducharme tested positive for the coronavirus and will miss at least Game 3 of his team’s semifinal series against the Vegas Golden Knights on Friday night.
The NHL said Ducharme received a confirmed positive COVID-19 test nine days since receiving his second vaccine dose. No other Canadiens players or members of the Vegas Golden Knights have tested positive.
Ducharme isolated immediately and Game 3 scheduled for Friday night in Montreal is set to be played as scheduled. General manager Marc Bergevin said he doesn’t know how long Ducharme will be out.
“I’ve talked to Dom twice today — he’s doing fine,” Bergevin said. “He’s at home. As far as how long he’s going to be out, we’re dealing with and talking to Health Quebec and also NHL protocols. It’s an ongoing situation, so I can’t tell you how long.”
Airbnb says it plans to prevent landlords from profiting off pandemic evictions
Airbnb is implementing a new policy to prevent landlords from exploiting its service as a federal moratorium on evictions expires this month.
Beginning Tuesday, the company will prohibit landlords from listing properties where they evicted a tenant for failure to pay rent. Airbnb says the policy will be in effect at least until the end of the year to ensure that landlords aren’t forcing out renters to profit off short-term rentals during a public health crisis.
The company said it will work with cities to identify properties where renters were pushed out after being protected under the moratorium.
Cities around the country are bracing for a potential wave of evictions as the federal moratorium expires June 30. An estimated 14 percent of adult renters in the United States are behind on payments amid the economic turmoil brought on by the pandemic and delays in disbursing federal emergency rental aid, according to data from the left-leaning Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
As COVID-19 crisis ebbs, some seeking 9/11-style commission
With more than 600,000 Americans dead of COVID-19 and questions still raging about the origin of the virus and the government’s response, a push is underway on Capitol Hill and beyond for a full-blown investigation of the crisis by a national commission like the one that looked into 9/11.
It is unclear whether such a probe will ever happen, though a privately sponsored team of public health experts is already laying the groundwork for one.
Given that most of the disaster unfolded on President Donald Trump’s watch, many worry that politics will get in the way of any inquiry, as happened when Republicans came out against a commission to investigate the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol by Trump supporters. Others fear that a desire by many to simply move on will thwart a review.
“I think we need to get into the weeds, to look at the details to see what happened,” said Sabila Khan of Jersey City, New Jersey, whose father, Shafqat Rasul Khan, died of COVID-19. “If this happens again, our loved ones died in vain.”
A bill introduced by Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey and Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine would establish such a commission.
Its inquiry could include a look at the origins of the virus; early warnings and other communication with foreign governments; coordination among federal, state and local agencies; the availability of medical supplies; testing and public health surveillance; vaccination development and distribution; the uneven effect on minorities; and government relief policies.
State health officials report 508 new coronavirus cases
The state Department of Health (DOH) reported 508 new coronavirus cases and 10 new deaths on Friday.
The update brings the state's totals to 446,682 cases and 5,820 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, 24,971 people have been hospitalized in the state due to the virus — 41 new hospitalizations. In King County, the state's most populous, state health officials have confirmed a total of 111,474 COVID-19 diagnoses and 1,610 deaths.
Since vaccinations began in mid-December, the state and health care providers have administered 7,586,602 doses and 48.1% 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 29,769 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.
Yakima County proclamation over vaccine ‘segregation’ draws ire of local NAACP
Yakima County commissioners drew the ire of the Yakima County NAACP and some members of the Yakima City Council this week over a county proclamation conflating racial segregation with restrictions on those unvaccinated against COVID-19.
Commissioners Amanda McKinney and LaDon Linde declined to formally recognize Juneteenth at their Tuesday meeting — something the city of Yakima, Washington state and the federal government have done — instead reading a proclamation “standing against segregation” based on COVID vaccination status.
McKinney said the Yakima County NAACP submitted a Juneteenth proclamation to the commissioners two days before this week’s agenda had to be finalized and that didn’t leave time for it to be vetted by commissioners.
Besides, she said, “We already had a proclamation, unrelated but in the same vein."
Conflating the injustice of slavery — the reason for the Juneteenth holiday — and the inconvenience of restrictions on people who choose not to be vaccinated shocked Reesha Cosby, president of the local NAACP chapter. There is no equivalence between virus restrictions and racial segregation, which involved unequal access to housing, education and justice, and could not be undone with a voluntary shot in the arm, she said.
“They’re equating the struggles of inequality, segregation and discrimination with the freedom to choose whether or not to get a vaccine that prevents a deadly disease,” Cosby said. “It filled me with sadness and anger.”
This week's vaccine cash-prize winner didn't even know the lottery was happening
The winner of this week's grand vaccine lottery cash prize didn't even know about the incentive when he received a call from the state with the good news, he said in a statement Friday.
“I’m not really on social media, so I honestly didn’t even know that this COVID lottery was going on here in Washington, but it’s a nice thing that it’s happening and drawing attention to getting vaccinated," Dillon T., a Yakima resident, said in a statement. "For me, getting this prize is a big stress reliever, especially given all that’s been happening in life and the world these past few years.”
As of noon Friday, 151 of the 251 prizes available to Washington adults in Tuesday's "Shot of a Lifetime" drawing had been claimed, Washington's Lottery said in a statement.
They include the $250,000 cash prize, a set of four Seattle Sounders FC tickets and an autographed jersey, a set of two Seattle Storm tickets for the last six games of the season, 49 Microsoft Xboxes, two Nintendo Switches, 11 Amazon Echo Dots, 64 Discover Passes, 11 state Parks camping gift cards and 11 Fish & Wildlife “Wild Bucks.”
Outreach to winners continues, the Lottery said.
India says it hopes to resume vaccine exports
India, the world’s largest manufacturer of vaccines, wants to resume exports of coronavirus doses but can’t do so until its domestic needs are met, the head of the country’s COVID-19 task force said Friday.
Dr. Vinod K. Paul defended the Indian government’s move to restrict vaccine exports in April as it battled a ferocious surge in infections.
India had begun exporting vaccines to more than 90 countries, but those stopped when infections soared in India, leaving some, such as Nepal and Bangladesh, looking toward China to fill their vaccine shortfalls.
Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan extends city’s eviction moratorium through September
Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan is once again extending the city’s COVID-19 moratorium on evictions, this time through Sept. 30, her office said Friday.
Durkan’s office didn’t immediately issue a detailed statement but said more information would be released shortly.
Residential landlords groups criticized the move, while tenant advocates hailed the decision. An estimated 86,500 people, or about 10% of renters, are behind on their rent across the Seattle metro area, which includes Tacoma and Bellevue, according to a recent survey by the U.S. Census Bureau.
Initially established in March 2020, Seattle’s moratorium is an attempt by the city to stave off evictions of people who lost jobs because of the pandemic and fell behind on their rent payments. This is the fifth extension Durkan has ordered.
500,000 deaths and Brazil still debating dubious virus drug
As Brazil hurtles toward an official COVID-19 death toll of 500,000 — second-highest in the world — science is on trial inside the country and the truth is up for grabs.
With the milestone likely to be reached this weekend, Brazil’s Senate is publicly investigating how the toll got so high, focusing on why President Jair Bolsonaro’s far-right government ignored opportunities to buy vaccines for months while it relentlessly pushed hydroxychloroquine, the malaria drug that rigorous studies have shown to be ineffective in treating COVID-19.
Bolsonaro has waged a 15-month campaign to downplay the virus’s seriousness and keep the economy humming. He dismissed the scourge early on as “a little flu” and has scorned masks. He was not chastened by his own bout with COVID-19 and he kept touting hydroxychloroquine long after virtually all others, including President Donald Trump, ceased doing so.
Will your kid need a COVID vaccine for school? What you need to know in Washington state
Washington state officials and medical experts hosted a webinar on Wednesday to answer questions for parents about schools and vaccinations this fall.
All of Washington’s school districts are planning to reopen this fall with full-time, in-person instruction, said state schools Superintendent Chris Reykdal, but because not all students are currently eligible for a vaccine, the safety precautions districts took this year will still be in place. Masks, social distancing, ventilated classrooms and cleaning protocols will still be required, though DOH officials say guidance may change this summer.
Among the issues addressed: When can children younger than 12 get vaccinated? What if I don’t want to send my kids back to the classroom yet? Will vaccines be mandated for children in school?
Palestinians call off 1M dose vaccine exchange with Israel
The Palestinian Authority called off an agreement whereby Israel would transfer 1 million doses of coronavirus vaccines to it in exchange for a similar number later this year, hours after the deal was announced on Friday.
The Palestinians said the doses, which Israel began shipping to the occupied West Bank, are too close to expiring and do not meet their standards. In announcing the agreement, Israel had said the vaccines “will expire soon” without specifying the date.
Palestinian officials had come under heavy criticism on social media after the agreement was announced, with many accusing them of accepting subpar vaccines and suggesting they might not be effective.
There was no immediate comment from Israel, which had largely shut down for the weekly Sabbath.
Israel said Friday it would transfer around 1 million doses of soon-to-expire coronavirus vaccines to the Palestinian Authority in exchange for a similar number of doses the Palestinians expect to receive later this year.
US-Canada border restrictions extended until July 21
Border restrictions on nonessential travel with the United States will be extended until July 21, officials said Friday, as Canada works to get a higher percentage of Canadians fully vaccinated.
There have been growing calls in the U.S. to open the Canada-U.S. border for nonessential travel like tourism, but less than 20% of Canadians are fully vaccinated.
“We’re still seeing cases across the country and we want to get them down,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said.
The border between Canada and the U.S. remains closed to all nonessential travel. The restrictions were announced in March, 2020 in the early months of the pandemic and have been extended every month since.
Double-lung transplants rise after COVID ‘honeycombs’ organs
Hospitals across the U.S. have reported a rise in lung transplants for severe coronavirus cases, the Cleveland Clinic, one of the country’s top-ranked medical centers, said last week. The grueling surgery may be the only solution for patients who experience a life-threatening constellation of lung damage inflicted by the virus, a hyper-inflammatory immune response to it, and the body’s failure to properly repair the injury.
All of that can cause the deposition of yellow fibrotic scar tissue, creating a “honeycomb change” that makes the lungs completely solid, said David Kleiner, who heads autopsy pathology in the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center in Bethesda, Maryland.
The process irreversibly destroys the tiny grape-like air sacs through which gas is exchanged in the lungs, Kleiner said in a lecture on COVID autopsies in July.
Germany hits vaccination milestone but wary of delta variant
Germany has now given at least one coronavirus vaccine shot to more than half its population but officials urged people Friday to remain cautious and slow the spread of the more contagious delta variant.
COVID-19 infections have declined sharply in Germany over the past few weeks, on some days dropping below 1,000 per day for the first time since September and the country is administering more than 800,000 shots per day.
But officials urged Germans to keep up their guard, pointing to Britain’s experience with the delta variant. That variant, first discovered in India, has powered another surge of infections in the U.K., forcing the government to delay plans to lift all remaining restrictions on social contact in England until July 19.
The delta variant accounts only for a bit over 6% of new cases in Germany but over 90% of new infections in Britain.
Read the story here.
AP-NORC poll: Many Americans resuming pre-virus activities
Many Americans are relaxing precautions taken during the COVID-19 pandemic and resuming everyday activities, even as some worry that coronavirus-related restrictions were hastily lifted, a new poll shows.
The poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research finds that majorities of Americans who were regularly doing so before the pandemic say they are returning to bars or restaurants, traveling and attending events such as movies or sports.
Just 21% are very or extremely worried about a COVID-19 infection in their inner circle — the lowest level since the pandemic began — and only 25% are highly concerned that the lifted restrictions will lead to additional people being infected in their community.
Millions fear eviction as US housing crisis worsens
More than 4 million people say they fear being evicted or foreclosed upon in the coming months, just as two studies released Wednesday found that the nation’s housing availability and affordability crisis is expected to worsen significantly following the pandemic.
The studies come as a federal eviction moratorium is set to expire at the end of the month. The moratorium has kept many tenants owing back rent housed. Making matters worse, the tens of billions of dollars in federal emergency rental assistance that was supposed to solve the problem has not reached most tenants.
The housing crisis, the studies found, risks widening the gap between Black, Latino and white households, as well as putting homeownership out of the reach of lower-income Americans.
The reports were released on the same day as Census Bureau’s biweekly Household Pulse Survey came out. It showed that nearly 4.2 million people nationwide report that it is likely or somewhat likely that they will be evicted or foreclosed upon in the next two months.
Catch up on the past 24 hours
A "near return to normal" is coming soon as Washington state climbs tantalizingly close to Gov. Jay Inslee's 70% vaccination threshold for reopening. But that doesn’t mean we’re done with the pandemic, and some parts of the state still face far more COVID-19 risk than others.
A big winner has come forward in Washington’s second vaccine lottery, and officials are distributing a slew of other prizes. Some of Washington's military members and veterans have been left out of the drawings, but soon they'll get a lottery of their own.
The Mariners are opening up all seating at full capacity starting July 2, and other Seattle pro sports teams are following suit. Here's how the M's are handling masks, vaccination status and more.
Will pandemic-era patio dining stick around? What about cocktails to-go? We look at the staying power of eight creative strategies in the Seattle-area food scene.
In the department of bad actors, a wealthy Vancouver, B.C., couple who flew to a remote Indigenous community and cut in line for vaccines will have to pay up. And another man promised 6 million N95 masks he couldn’t deliver. Now he's going to prison.
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