Editor’s note: This is a live account of COVID-19 updates from Wednesday, June 29, 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 It is no longer being updated.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.

Advisers to the Food and Drug administration recommended the agency update COVID-19 booster shots this fall to better match recent variants.

A recent study from McKinsey consultants found the majority of traditional office workers value the opportunity to work from home for at least one day a week. Though some variations exist among age groups, the gaps are not large or consistent enough to be considered significant.

Meanwhile, Florida recorded 17,000 deaths from preventable health issues since the beginning of the pandemic. A new study suggests that some of the preventable deaths occurred because the pandemic caused people to put off surgeries or preventative health measures.

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.


The pandemic is waning, but Anthony Fauci has a few more lessons to share

“You gotta [expletive] suck it up,” Anthony Fauci tells me from the deck of his home in Washington, D.C., overlooking a small pool that takes up nearly the entire backyard. The secret to his obscene productivity, he says, is to simply never stop working — even when “it’s 9 o’clock at night and you really, really want to have a beer and go to sleep.”

Fauci commits acts of science 12 to 16 hours a day, seven days a week. No wonder the man wants a drink. But this schedule and suck-it-up worldview have allowed the 81-year-old — who serves as director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and chief medical adviser to the president of the United States — to tackle one pandemic after another, from AIDS to Ebola to COVID-19. During the seven hours I’m at his house on a Sunday in June, I am uncomfortably aware that every moment we spend together is a moment when Fauci is not working.

I am also aware that it would be a moral crime to transmit the coronavirus to Fauci. So when I got COVID two weeks before our interview, I obsessively parsed the guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: As long as I waited 10 days after my first positive test, I could still meet Fauci in person, right? No, I was informed by Fauci, via a member of his communications team. I would need to test negative three days in a row and wear a mask, even outdoors.

I manage to follow this guidance, but not to keep myself from extending my hand when I meet Fauci, which he shakes after one horrifying moment of hesitation.

Read the full story here.

—Anna Peele, The Washington Post

Like many others, Fauci suffers COVID symptom rebound after course of Pfizer’s Paxlovid

Anthony Fauci, the chief medical adviser to President Joe Biden, suffered a rebound of COVID-19 symptoms after taking Pfizer Inc.’s antiviral Paxlovid.

Despite being fully vaccinated and twice-boosted, Fauci contracted COVID earlier this month and was prescribed Paxlovid due to his age — 81 — which puts him at high risk of developing complications.

“After I finished the five days of Paxlovid, I reverted to negative on an antigen test for three days in a row,” Fauci said Tuesday during an event at Foreign Policy’s Global Health Forum. “And then on the fourth day, just to be absolutely certain, I tested myself again. I reverted back to positive.”

Scores of patients have reported the phenomenon, often called COVID rebound or Paxlovid rebound, of symptoms returning after a full course of Pfizer’s drug. While Pfizer Chief Executive Officer Albert Bourla said in May that doctors could prescribe a second course of treatment to such patients, U.S. drug regulators have said there’s no evidence that a repeat will help.

However, Fauci said he started taking a second course of Paxlovid after experiencing symptoms “much worse than in the first go-around.” Now near completion of the five-day oral treatment, he said he was still enduring symptoms but felt “reasonably good.”

Researchers at Pfizer and elsewhere continue to study the symptom rebound phenomenon.

Read the story here.

—Riley Griffin, Bloomberg News

Doctor who clashed with anti-mask crowd in Missouri named new King County public health director

King County Executive Dow Constantine selected Dr. Faisal Khan, the former director of public health in St. Louis County, to be the next director of Public Health — Seattle & King County.

Khan, who had two stints leading the health department in suburban St. Louis, Missouri’s largest county, gained national attention last year after he clashed with protesters upset about a mask mandate that he was urging the county to keep in place.

Khan, 46, had been acting director of the St. Louis County Department of Public Health since February 2021.

Khan said he plans no major changes to the department, calling it one of the best in the country.

“Whenever we sit around the table and discuss any complex public health issue, one of the questions we ask ourselves is what would Seattle-King County, New York City Department of Health and L.A. County do,” Khan said. “And then work backwards to scale the possible solutions to our resources and elements.”

He said he wants to focus on helping the department recover from the pandemic, particularly on retaining public health employees in a field where people “are leaving in droves because of all the burnout.”

He said the pandemic is still with us, but we’re “in an infinitely better stage” than we were six months ago. He hopes we won’t have to see any more pandemic-related mandates or closures, but “everyone who has tried to make a prediction about pandemic has ended up with egg on their face.”

Read the story here.

—David Gutman

Norway joins neighbors, offers extra booster shot to elderly

Norway on Wednesday joined fellow Scandinavian countries in offering a second booster shot of COVID-19 vaccine to some of its population, to be available from July 1 to people aged 75 and over, because of a rise in infections.

Nursing home residents and people over 80 should be first in line, authorities said.

Denmark has offered a second booster shot to nursing home residents and people aged 50 and over, while Sweden recommended a third booster shot for people with an increased risk of becoming seriously ill and anyone aged 65 and over.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press

Gen Z, millennials and Gen X all basically agree on WFH

During the early days of the pandemic, the narrative was that remote work was a grind for younger workers stuck in cramped apartments, and bliss for their seniors living it up in airy home offices.

The juniors were missing out on in-person learning, while their superiors were more focused on how to spend the savings from their vaporized commute.

In fact, attitudes about remote work are far less polarized.

The majority of traditional office workers appear to value the chance to work from home at least one day a week. There is some variation according to age, but it’s not large or consistent enough to be significant.

A recent study by consultants at McKinsey found that workers aged 18 to 34 were 59% more likely to leave a job than 55-to-64-year-olds if their employer didn’t offer a hybrid work arrangement.

The larger Survey of Working Arrangements and Attitudes (a collaboration between Chicago, ITAM, MIT and Stanford universities) presents more nuanced findings. Workers in their 20s were most likely to start looking for a new job if their employer denied them a hybrid schedule. But over-50s were most likely to quit there and then. (Of course, younger workers may have itchier feet generally, and older workers may have an eye on retirement.)

A lot depends on how you ask the question. Invite workers to think of the option of WFH for two or three days in terms of a pay rise, and those in their 30s will give it the highest value. Ask what pay rise would be needed to work in their employer’s premises five days a week and it’s the over-50s who want the biggest bump.

The important point is that support for a hybrid arrangement is high across the board. The appeal of reduced commuting time — often the most cited benefit of remote work — clearly goes beyond older workers. Younger workers may feel the hit of transport costs on their disposable income more acutely. Meanwhile, millennials have had a couple years to get used to co-working and negotiating communal space with housemates.

Read the story here.

—Chris Hughes, Bloomberg

Flight cancellations stressing weary travelers as July 4 approaches

After a recent trip to St. Louis, Ruth Peebles finally made it back home in Los Angeles. But by the time her plane touched down in Burbank, she had spent $800 on a one-way ticket after her original flight was canceled. She slept on the floor at Salt Lake City International Airport after her rebooked flight also was canceled. Three days after arriving home, her luggage showed up. It was her worst flight experience since weather left her stranded in Russia in 1979, the film producer and actress said.

Travelers have long been encouraged to “pack patience” and be flexible when flying, but thousands of delays and cancellations this year are testing their mettle. Pandemic-era problems that hobbled the national air system as it struggled to regain footing last summer have not abated, despite pledges from airline executives of a renewed focus on reliability.

The problems persist despite billions in pandemic relief funds that U.S. airlines received to keep workers on the job. When Americans were ready to fly again, the expectation was that airlines would be ready for them. But with another surge in air travel expected for the July 4 holiday and airlines scrambling to find pilots and other workers, passengers and analysts alike are worried the system is poised for more summer meltdowns.

Read the story here.

—Lori Aratani, The Washington Post

A viral reprise: When COVID-19 strikes again and again

For New York musician Erica Mancini, COVID-19 made repeat performances.

March 2020. Last December. And again this May.

“I’m bummed to know that I might forever just get infected,” said the 31-year-old singer, who is vaccinated and boosted. “I don’t want to be getting sick every month or every two months.”

But medical experts warn that repeat infections are getting more likely as the pandemic drags on and the virus evolves – and some people are bound to get hit more than twice. Emerging research suggests that could put them at higher risk for health problems.

There’s no comprehensive data on people getting COVID-19 more than twice, although some states collect information on reinfections in general. New York, for example, reports around 277,000 reinfections out of 5.8 million total infections during the pandemic. Experts say actual numbers are much higher because so many home COVID-19 tests go unreported.

Several public figures have recently been reinfected. U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said they got COVID-19 for the second time, and U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker of Mississippi said he tested positive a third time. All reported being fully vaccinated, and Trudeau and Becerra said they’d gotten booster shots.

“Until recently, it was almost unheard of, but now it’s becoming more commonplace” to have COVID-19 two, three or even four times, said Dr. Eric Topol, head of Scripps Research Translational Institute. “If we don’t come up with better defenses, we’ll see much more of this.”

Why? Immunity from past infections and vaccination wanes over time, experts say, leaving people vulnerable.

Read the story here.

—Laura Ungar, The Associated Press

Florida’s preventable deaths rose during the pandemic. It wasn’t just COVID

Florida has recorded 17,000 unexpected or excess deaths from preventable health issues other than COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic.

Some were likely because the pandemic led people to put off checkups, surgeries and other preventive health measures, according to a new study. Excess deaths are defined as those that exceed the number of expected deaths based on historical averages.

The number reflects a trend that began in 2020 when premature deaths from preventable causes in the state rose from 174 per 100,000 people in 2019 to 180 in 2020, according to an analysis released this month by the Commonwealth Fund, a New York foundation that supports independent research on health.

In a state the size of Florida, with 21 million residents, that’s a large increase in a measure that historically barely changes, said David Radley, a senior scientist with the group.

The analysis of preventable deaths is based on data sent by the state to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Preventable health issues include drug overdoses, diabetes, measles, liver cancer, some heart diseases and infections. The number reported by the Commonwealth excludes those whose death was attributed to COVID-19.

Read the story here.

—Christopher O'Donnell, Tampa Bay Times

COVID-sniffing dogs can also smell long-term virus symptoms in patients, study says

While researchers already discovered a trained dog’s nose can identify COVID-19 with its scent-detecting capabilities, dogs have now demonstrated they can also sniff out long-term virus symptoms — often called “long COVID” — in patients, researchers in Germany found.

Dogs are “superior smellers” and are already used to detect what the human nose typically cannot from diseases, such as Parkinson’s, cancer and diabetes, to drugs and explosives in public places, according to the American Lung Association.

In a pilot study, scientists discovered the dogs that had been trained to detect COVID-19 in their prior research could identify long COVID patient samples with a “high sensitivity,” according to the work published June 16 in Frontiers in Medicine.

“These results suggest that the disease-specific odor of acute COVID-19 is still present in the majority of Long COVID samples,” study authors from the University of Veterinary Medicine in Hanover, Germany, wrote.

Read the full story here.

South Korea approves first homemade COVID-19 vaccine

Health officials in South Korea on Wednesday approved the country’s first domestically developed COVID-19 vaccine for people 18 years or older, adding another public health tool in the fight against a prolonged pandemic.

In clinical trials involving some 4,000 participants in South Korea and five other countries, SK Bioscience’s two-dose SKYCovione vaccine appeared to be more effective than the broadly used AstraZeneca shots in building immunity against infections, officials at South Korea’s Food and Drug Safety Ministry said.

It isn’t immediately clear how officials will administer the newly developed vaccine or how big of a role the shots will have in the next phase of the pandemic. The shots were designed for the original version of the coronavirus, not the more transmissible omicron variant that wreaked havoc in the country earlier this year. U.S. vaccine giants Pfizer and Moderna have been speeding up their development of booster shots targeting omicron and experts say it’s possible the virus could evolve again in the coming months.

South Korea’s mass immunization campaign has been mainly dependent on Pfizer and Moderna’s mRNA shots. But officials say protein vaccines like SKYCovione, which are similar to shots used for years against the common flu and hepatitis B, could appeal to people who are hesitant to use vaccines developed with newer technologies.

Read the story here.

—Kim Tong-Hyung, The Associated Press