Editor’s note: This is a live account of COVID-19 updates from Tuesday, June 28, 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 It is no longer being updated.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.
U.S. health authorities are still weighing whether or not to offer new COVID-19 booster shots this fall that better match the evolving virus.
Food and Drug Administration advisers will discuss potentially recommending updated Moderna and Pfizer vaccines, paving the way for the U.S. to make a switch.
Meanwhile, a federal appeals court in New Orleans agreed to reconsider its earlier ruling allowing the Biden administration to require federal employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
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 the rest of our coronavirus coverage and here to see how we track the daily spread across Washington.
How’s your office return going? We want to know
With more employers asking — or ordering — remote workers back into the office for a few days a week or even full time, how employees are responding has varied widely.
At some Seattle-area firms, offices are beginning to refill as employees and managers successfully navigate new schedules and new expectations about where and how we work. Others are seeing a slower response or even pushback.
We would like to hear from workers who have been asked to return to the office. What has your employer done to make the process easier? What hasn’t worked, and why?
You can use the form below to share your experience.
In Florida, Publix is a big player in COVID vaccines — but it won’t give them to kids younger than 5
Since COVID-19 vaccines first became available, Publix has played a major role in tackling the public health emergency in Florida by offering vaccines to adults and, later, children as young as 5.
But the Lakeland grocery company says it will not offer the vaccine approved for children ages 4 and under “at this time.”
Spokesperson Hannah Herring said Publix will not release a statement explaining its decision. The company’s website indicates that it is still accepting COVID-19 vaccine appointments for children ages 5 and up.
The company still offers other child vaccinations, including the flu shot for babies as young as 6 months.
The vaccine rollout for the nation’s youngest children has been complicated in Florida, where state leaders have questioned the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines, going against the recommendations of the nation’s top health regulators and medical associations.
Florida Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo recommended against giving vaccines to healthy children, contrary to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines. Florida was the only state in the nation not to preorder doses of the under 5 vaccine, which the White House said could delay delivery to medical providers in the state. Parents of children under 18 months must rely on pediatricians, medical clinics and children’s hospitals to get their kids vaccinated.
Hong Kong confirms Chinese leader Xi’s visit for anniversary
Hong Kong police confirmed Tuesday that Chinese President Xi Jinping will visit the city this week for the 25th anniversary of the former British colony’s return to Chinese rule.
Xi will attend a number of official events including the inauguration of Hong Kong’s next leader on Friday, Assistant Police Commissioner Lui Kam-ho said at a news conference.
Xi’s visit will be his first trip outside of mainland China since the coronavirus pandemic took hold about 2 1/2 years ago. It comes as Hong Kong is facing a new spike in infections following what was by far its worst and deadliest COVID-19 outbreak earlier this year.
The United Kingdom returned Hong Kong to China on July 1, 1997. The anniversary is highly symbolic for Xi, who wants to be seen as propelling a “national rejuvenation” as he prepares to start an expected third 5-year term as head of China’s ruling Communist Party this fall.
FDA advisers recommend updating COVID booster shots for fall
At least some U.S. adults may get updated COVID-19 shots this fall, as government advisers voted Tuesday that it’s time to tweak booster doses to better match the most recent virus variants.
Advisers to the Food and Drug Administration wrestled with how to modify doses now when there’s no way to know how the rapidly mutating virus will evolve by fall — especially since people who get today’s recommended boosters remain strongly protected against COVID-19’s worst outcomes.
Ultimately the FDA panel voted 19-2 that COVID-19 boosters should contain some version of the super-contagious omicron variant, to be ready for an anticipated fall booster campaign.
“We are going to be behind the eight-ball if we wait longer,” said one adviser, Dr. Mark Sawyer of the University of California, San Diego.
COVID: Paris court rules govt failed to stockpile face masks
A Paris court ruled on Tuesday that the French government failed to sufficiently stock up on surgical masks at the outset of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020 and prevent the virus from spreading.
The ruling came as the number of registered infections with coronavirus variants rises sharply. It wasn’t immediately clear if the decision will lead to any specific sanctions for the government.
Officials across France are contemplating new measures, including an indoor mask mandate in some cities, to curb the spread of the virus but keep the economy open amid the summer tourism season.
“The government is at fault for failing to ensure a sufficient stock of masks to fight against a pandemic linked to a highly pathogenic respiratory agent,” the court’s ruling said.
Sticker shock? Here’s how to find a cheap(er) flight this summer
COVID-weary travelers are itching to get away after over two years of hunkering down. Industry analysts say airlines are deliberately cutting seats to keep those prices up. That, coupled with expensive jet fuel and pilot shortages, has pushed airfares sky-high.
“Airfare from Seattle right now for a domestic trip this summer is about $580, and that’s almost double what you would have paid in 2019,” said Hayley Berg, an economist from the travel app Hopper. “It’s up about 80%.”
Industry experts like Berg encourage travelers to pay attention to timing when booking trips. When possible, having some flexibility with dates and destinations will often bring down the cost. Traveling during “shoulder season,” in late August, September and October, can save travelers hundreds of dollars. Flying early in the week is also usually cheaper than flying on a weekend.
August is the cheapest month to travel this summer, according to an internal analysis of flight data by Seattle-based Expedia Group. Travelers can save about 10% on average for an August flight compared with flying in July, said Christie Hudson, a travel expert at Seattle-based Expedia. The same analysis showed that Tuesday flights this summer are consistently 15% cheaper than Friday flights.
2021 Wimbledon runner-up Matteo Berrettini out with COVID-19
Matteo Berrettini, last year’s runner-up at Wimbledon, dropped out of the grass-court Grand Slam tournament hours before he was scheduled to play his first-round match Tuesday, saying that he tested positive for COVID-19.
The All England Club announced Berrettini’s withdrawal, and he posted about it on Instagram, saying that he was “heartbroken” and has been isolating “the last few days” after experiencing flu-like symptoms.
He’s the second high-profile player to pull out of the draw within the first two days because of the illness caused by the coronavirus, joining 2014 U.S. Open champion and 2017 Wimbledon finalist Marin Cilic, who was seeded 14th. The bracket already is without five of the top 11 in the ATP rankings: No. 1 Daniil Medvedev ( ban on Russians ), No. 2 Alexander Zverev (ankle surgery), No. 8 Andrey Rublev (ban on Russians), No. 10 Hubert Hurkacz (lost Monday) and No. 11 Berrettini.
An All England Club spokesperson did not respond to a question about what the level of concern is about COVID-19 at the event, but did say in an email that organizers have been working with the British public health agency and local authorities.
North Korea works to prevent flood damages amid COVID crisis
North Koreans were working intensively to protect crops, factory equipment and other assets from potential damage from days of heavy rainfall, state media said Tuesday, as outside observers worry any flooding could aggravate the country’s economic hardships amid its COVID-19 outbreak.
Summer floods in North Korea, one of the poorest countries in Asia, often cause serious damage to its agricultural and other sectors because of its troubled drainage and deforestation.
Typhoons and torrential rains in 2020 were among the difficulties leader Kim Jong Un said had created “multiple crises” at home, along with strict pandemic-related restrictions and U.N. sanctions over his nuclear weapons program.
Concerns about the heavy rains come after North Korea admitted last month to a domestic coronavirus outbreak. It has said about 4.7 million out of the country’s 26 million people became ill and only 73 died, but experts question whether North Korea’s propaganda has given a true picture of the outbreak.
China reduces quarantine for people arriving from abroad
China on Tuesday announced an easing of its quarantine requirement for people arriving from abroad but stopped short of lifting what remains a stringent COVID-19 policy compared to most other countries.
Anyone coming from outside the country will be required to stay in a quarantine hotel for seven days, followed by three days of home quarantine, the National Health Commission said in its latest pandemic response plan.
The previous plan called for 14 days in a hotel plus seven days of home quarantine. Some cities, including Beijing, have already reduced the hotel requirement to seven or 10 days in recent weeks, according to Chinese media reports.
China has kept tight restrictions on international travel under a “zero-COVID” strategy that seeks to keep the virus out and stop any infections from spreading through lockdowns and mass testing.
Other countries including the United States and Japan have opened their borders at least somewhat as vaccination has reduced the risk of serious cases and death. In Europe, passengers are facing long lines and delays as a surge in summer travel has overwhelmed airlines and airports.
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