Editor’s note: This is a live account of COVID-19 updates from Saturday, June 4, 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 It is no longer being updated.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.
Two anti-inflammatory drugs appear to reduce the risk of death among patients with severe cases of COVID-19, according to early results from a National Institutes of Health trial involving Washington University.
Meanwhile, a new research study found that 7 in 10 pregnant women in the U.S. either believed or were unsure about three COVID-19 statements rooted in misinformation: Pregnant women shouldn’t get the vaccine, COVID-19 vaccines cause infertility, it’s unsafe for breastfeeding women to get the COVID-19 vaccine.
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.
Color, energy and commitment mark Volunteer Park, as LGBTQ+ community celebrates Pride, in person
Gray skies and a slight drizzle couldn’t dampen the explosion of color and energy exuding from Volunteer Park on Saturday afternoon, as Seattle celebrated its first in-person Pride Month festivities since the COVID-19 pandemic began.
Balloons, rainbow crowns, tie-dyed T-shirts and queer pride flags brightened a grassy expanse near the park’s conservatory, which was surrounded by a line of local food trucks, a crowded alcohol garden and a number of activity and nonprofit booths. A wide stage stood at the center of it all, offering up performer after performer.
“The word ‘elation’ is pretty accurate,” said Krystal Marx, executive director of Seattle Pride, which hosted the event. “We are just so excited to … be back together after three years of not being able to be with community, not being able to lift each other up and support each other as we fight for our rights.”
Mask rules are suddenly back in California as coronavirus hits danger zone
California officials are moving toward new indoor mask rules as coronavirus cases enter the danger zone in many parts of the state.
The virus has been spreading rapidly across California after a spring of big declines. That is setting up an anxious summer in which officials are now talking about a return to mask wearing to prevent wider spread.
So far, the biggest concerns have been in Northern California. But Los Angeles County officials say mask mandates are possible by the end of the month if conditions continue to deteriorate.
The CDC on Thursday placed 13 California counties in the high COVID-19 community level. It’s the first time since mid-March that any county in the state was in that level.
Got long COVID? Medical expertise is vital, and seniors should prepare to go slow
Older adults who have survived COVID-19 are more likely than younger patients to have persistent symptoms such as fatigue, breathlessness, muscle aches, heart palpitations, headaches, joint pain, and difficulty with memory and concentration — problems linked to long COVID.
But it can be hard to distinguish lingering after effects of COVID from conditions common in older adults such as lung disease, heart disease, and mild cognitive impairment. There are no diagnostic tests or recommended treatments for long COVID, and the biological mechanisms that underlie its effects remain poorly understood.
“Identifying long COVID in older adults with other medical conditions is tricky,” said Dr. Nathan Erdmann, an assistant professor of infectious diseases at the University of Alabama-Birmingham’s school of medicine. Failing to do so means older COVID survivors might not receive appropriate care.
What should older adults do if they don’t feel well weeks after becoming ill with the virus? I asked a dozen experts for advice. Here’s what they suggested.
— Seek medical attention. “If an older person or their caregiver is noticing that it’s been a month or two since COVID and something isn’t right — they’ve lost a lot of weight or they’re extremely weak or forgetful — it’s worth going in for an evaluation,” said Dr. Liron Sinvani, director of the geriatric hospitalist service at Northwell Health, a large health system in New York.
But be forewarned: Many primary care physicians are at a loss as to how to identify and manage long COVID. If you’re not getting much help from your doctor, consider getting a referral to a specialist who sees long COVID patients or a long COVID clinic. Also, be prepared to be patient: Waits for appointments are lengthy. More tips here.
‘Misinformation’ partially driving low COVID-19 vaccination rates for children, Oregon official says
Oregon’s top health official effectively conceded some defeat in the state’s COVID-19 communication war, telling lawmakers Friday that misinformation at least partially explains why only about 41% of eligible children under 12 have been fully or partially vaccinated against the coronavirus.
“I think this is a mix of parental concern, a mix of the understanding that people have of whether kids are at risk — which doesn’t really speak to the risk of transmission,” Oregon Health Authority Director Patrick Allen told lawmakers in a pandemic update. “And, frankly, the misinformation winning to a degree.”
Children 5 to 11 years old in Oregon have the lowest vaccination rates of any age group. More than 70% of children 12 to 17 and 72% of 18- and 19-year-olds are fully or partially vaccinated against COVID-19, state data show.
The director said he doesn’t expect to see “massive and persistent” demand for vaccines when children 6 months to 4 years old are approved for shots, which President Joe Biden’s administration has said could be approved as early as June 21.
Children are generally at lower risk of severe disease or death than adults, but can still have severe illness and can contribute to the spread of disease.
Vaccine hesitancy does not stop at parents of small children, Allen indicated in his virtual presentation to the House Interim Committee on COVID-19 Response. Almost 18 months since vaccines first became available, few if any Oregonians remain who are unsure about whether they want to get a shot, Allen said. More here.
Pandemic disrupted learning for U.S. teens, but not evenly, poll shows
In many ways, the switch to virtual learning was an unexpected, unplanned experiment that was conducted on millions of school-age children. When the coronavirus pandemic struck the United States in early 2020, schools across the country closed their classrooms, handed out laptops and tablets, and gave educators a crash course in holding squirming kids’ attention over apps like Zoom.
More than two years later, there’s new information about the impact that switch has had on teens between 13 and 17 years old and their parents. In a survey released Thursday by the Pew Research Center, there are signs that some things are returning to the way they were before the pandemic, but some teenagers feel left behind. The survey found that most kids have kept close relationships with friends and families over the pandemic and that they prefer going to school in person more than remotely. However, there are notable differences in how the pandemic, specifically remote learning, has affected Black and Hispanic teenagers and lower-income families.
“One thing that stands out is we tend to see a difference in teens’ experiences by their household income,” said Colleen McClain, a Pew research associate who focuses on Internet and technology research.
Some of the starkest differences are around completing homework, known as the “homework gap.” Some teens are falling behind in school work, often due to a lack of adequate technology to complete assignments at home. Twenty-two percent of teenagers said they have had to finish homework on their phones, and 12% said they sometimes can’t complete their homework because they don’t have the technology to do it. A lack of computers, smartphones and reliable home Internet are all contributing factors. Twenty percent of low-income students who live in a household with an annual income of $30,000 or less said they don’t have a computer at home.
Childhood experts had worried about the impact of isolation on teen relationships during the early part of the pandemic. About half of teens reported feeling as close or closer to their parents than before the coronavirus crisis, and 49% said they had managed to maintain their close relationships with friends. However, a third of teenagers said they were less connected with people outside that inner circle, such as classmates. These relationships were another area where Hispanic and Black teens reported some less-positive experiences. They were more likely than White teenagers to feel less close to their friends. More here.
Making sense of North Korea’s COVID mystery – and its menace
TOKYO – It’s always been difficult to get an accurate picture of what’s going on inside North Korea, one of the most closed-off countries in the world. But its handling of the COVID crisis has been particularly enigmatic, with potentially long-lasting ramifications for the welfare of its people – and neighboring countries – amid a worsening humanitarian crisis.
North Korea’s self-proclaimed “public health crisis” appears to have mysteriously subsided as quickly as it spread, according to state media. Less than three weeks after announcing its first official positive COVID case that led to an “explosive” spread of fever symptoms afflicting more than 3.7 million (out of population of 25 million), North Korea is heralding a rapid fall in new cases and a “favorable turn” in epidemic response.
But international public health officials warn that there is no way to corroborate those claims. This week, a top official at the World Health Organization raised concerns that things may actually be getting worse inside the impoverished country, which has a fragile health care system, limited supplies and no coronavirus vaccines.
“This is not good for the people of [North Korea]. It is not good for the region. This is not good for the world,” said Michael Ryan, WHO emergencies chief. “We assume the situation is getting worse, not better.” More here.
There’s still no HIV vaccine. The science behind coronavirus shots may help
Kathryn Stephenson was crushed last summer when she learned that an experimental HIV vaccine she had worked on for years failed to protect young women in sub-Saharan Africa from infection.
“I’m not afraid to say that I cried,” recalled Stephenson, a researcher at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston.
The failure wasn’t personal. Over decades, nearly every idea in science has been tried in the quest for an HIV vaccine — and faltered.
But the new technology that helped coronavirus shots break every speed record in medicine is opening a promising new avenue of research that could accelerate the pursuit of an HIV vaccine. Messenger RNA vaccines can be created and tested in months, not the year or more it can take for more traditional technologies.
Speed alone won’t solve the most difficult parts of the HIV problem. It will give scientists the ability to make and test vaccines quickly and establish a faster research rhythm: try ideas, tinker with them in real time and discard duds.
That agility is going to be crucial, because an HIV vaccine isn’t likely to be a shot, but a series of different shots, each tailored to nudge the immune system in the right direction, step by step. More here.
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