Editor’s note: This is a live account of COVID-19 updates from Monday, May 10, 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 It is no longer being updated.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.
In India, cases continue to rise, hitting over 22 million confirmed infections and 240,000 deaths, and the pace of giving out vaccines has dropped off.
Global Citizen announced over the weekend that its May 2 Vax Live concert, which featured Eddie Vedder and Foo Fighters alongside President Joe Biden and Prince Harry, brought in $302 million for vaccine equity.
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.
Vaccination drives at area mosques have been successful in reaching Muslims and non-Muslims alike
On Sunday, Rizwan Jaka walked around the prayer hall of the All Dulles Area Muslim Society (ADAMS) Ashburn, Va. mosque holding a mic talking about possible side effects after being vaccinated against the coronavirus. He was speaking to a room of people who sat in chairs six feet apart on floors covered with plastic sheets, some swinging their arms to prevent soreness from the shot they just got while others checked their phones and watches to count down the 15-minute waiting period. Behind Jaka, chairperson of ADAMS’s board of trustees, volunteers filled out vaccination cards.
This was the second vaccination clinic at the mosque, held jointly with the neighboring synagogue, Beth Chaverim Reform Congregation, for people who had received their first dose at the same location weeks earlier on April 11.
Muslims fast during Ramadan, but Jaka encouraged people to prioritize their health by breaking the fast if they experienced any side effects. “Remember, you can make up a fasting day after Ramadan if you need to,” Jaka said, addressing the Muslims in the room. The first shot had been given the day before the holy month started, but the second shot came just days before the end of the observance.
Now, as Ramadan comes to a close, the coronavirus vaccines are offering Muslims the hope of standing shoulder to shoulder in prayer again.
Seattle-area COVID hospitalizations flatten as prep starts to vaccinate younger kids
Hospitalizations for COVID-19 are flattening across the state after rising to alarming levels as recently as two weeks ago, according to hospital leaders and the most recent data available.
The numbers are still higher than desired, Cassie Sauer, CEO of the Washington State Hospital Association (WSHA), said during a news briefing Monday.
“Still concerned for sure about the level of hospitalizations,” she said. “We don’t like it, it’s higher than we would like, but that acceleration has declined.”
Sauer referenced the numbers displayed on the governor’s COVID-19 Risk Assessment Dashboard showing 173 ICU beds occupied as of May 6, the most recent date with available data. Two weeks ago the number was at 162 and was as high as 203 on April 19.
Maker of latest experimental vaccine not expected to seek authorization until June at the earliest
A 34-year-old Maryland biotechnology company that has never successfully launched a vaccine faces a world impatient for more coronavirus shots to quell a pandemic — but the wait is not over.
Novavax, bolstered by $1.6 billion in federal funding, probably will not seek emergency use authorization for its experimental coronavirus vaccine in the United States until July at the earliest, the company announced on its quarterly earnings call. The Washington Post reported early Monday that the filing was delayed by manufacturing regulatory issues, until June at the earliest, according to four people who had recently been briefed on the company’s plans.
“We know that we are delayed from where we thought we would be at this point,” chief executive Stanley Erck said in announcing the company expected to complete applications for authorization in the United States, the United Kingdom and Europe in the third quarter. “Now, we’re giving guidance that nearly all of the major challenges have been overcome and we can clearly see the light at the end of the tunnel.”
As supplies of three authorized coronavirus vaccines have increased in the United States, the role of the Novavax vaccine domestically remains unclear. But the company’s shots, shown to be about 90 percent effective in a 15,000-person United Kingdom trial, could fill an urgent global need — an easy-to-store vaccine that could help bolster strained supplies as the pandemic rages. But that depends on the company earning regulatory clearance and scaling up manufacturing.
Chipotle will raise its wages as restaurants compete for workers
Hoping to attract more employees, Chipotle said Monday it was increasing its wages to an average of $15 an hour by the end of June.
The fast-food chain, which is looking to hire 20,000 employees for its peak season and to staff the more than 200 restaurants it plans to open this year, said the wage increase would result in hourly workers making between $11 and $18 an hour.
Chipotle is the latest restaurant chain to raise wages or offer incentives as it struggles to staff its restaurants. As coronavirus vaccinations have increased and government restrictions eased, the restaurant industry, which laid off or furloughed millions of employees during the pandemic, suddenly went on a hiring spree, as did several other service-related industries.
That sudden high demand for restaurant workers has been tough to meet. Some potential employees, whether concerned about the safety of serving customers dining indoors or buoyed by government stimulus checks, are wary of returning to work.
The April jobs report released last week showed a significant jump in the number of workers hired in the restaurant and bar sector, but employment levels at full-service restaurants in February remained 20% lower than a year ago, according to the National Restaurant Association.
NHL’s Canadian teams likely to keep COVID-19 protocols
TORONTO — Life is starting to shift back to normal in the National Hockey League — just not for players in Canada.
The NHL eased some of its COVID-19 health and safety protocols over the weekend for clubs that have been fully vaccinated. But because of the decidedly slower rollout to get shots in arms north of the border, Canadian franchises won’t be enjoying the same freedoms as some of their U.S.-based counterparts anytime soon.
“Very jealous,” said Winnipeg Jets winger Andrew Copp, who is from Michigan. “I see my family and my friends living a normal life right now. Very jealous of that. Happy for the guys in the states that are playing hockey to be able to live their lives as much as possible.”
Edmonton Oilers defenseman Tyson Barrie said the league’s move is a good sign, even though teams in Canada are still bound by the same directives they’ve been adhering to since training camp — daily testing, physical distancing and limited contact with teammates outside the rink — that were beefed up further amid a rash of coronavirus outbreaks in February.
Nishikori raises questions about holding the Tokyo Olympics
Japanese tennis player Kei Nishikori has doubts about whether the IOC and local organizers are doing enough to plan for a worst-case scenario of “hundreds” or “thousands” of coronavirus cases at the Tokyo Olympics.
Or whether it’s even still feasible to hold the games when a state of emergency has been extended in Tokyo and other parts of Japan because of the pandemic.
“I don’t know what they are thinking, and I don’t know how much they are thinking about how they are going to make a bubble, because this is not 100 people like these tournaments,” Nishikori said after winning his first-round match at the Italian Open on Monday.
“It’s 10,000 people in the village. So I don’t think it’s easy, especially what’s happening right now in Japan. It’s not doing good. Well, not even (just) Japan. You have to think all over the world right now.”
Nishikori is one of a growing number of tennis players expressing reservations about the games.
Serena Williams suggested she won’t go to Japan if coronavirus protocols mean she can’t bring her 3-year-old daughter with her.
Puyallup uses COVID relief money to grow outdoor seating for downtown businesses
Puyallup footed the bill to grow outdoor dining for downtown businesses as they face Phase 2 restrictions.
Seven restaurants and bars have been given a small patio space the size of a parking space, known as a “parklet.” The parklet are placed in a parking space outside the restaurant or bar with tables and chairs for outside dining.
Puyallup spent $18,000 of the $1.8 million in CARES funding on the parklets.
Washington state health officials confirm 768 new coronavirus cases
The state Department of Health (DOH) reported 768 new coronavirus cases and 22 new deaths on Monday.
The update brings the state's totals to 405,705 cases and 5,586 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. Sunday. Tallies may be higher earlier in the week because new state data isn’t reported on Sundays and COVID-related deaths aren’t reported on the weekends.
In addition, 22,866 people have been hospitalized in the state due to the virus — 68 new hospitalizations. In King County, the state's most populous, state health officials have confirmed a total of 105,423 COVID-19 diagnoses and 1,535 deaths.
Since vaccinations began in mid-December, the state and health care providers have administered 5,960,719 doses and 34.26% 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 44,190 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.
Australian judge upholds temporary ban on Indian travel
An Australian judge on Monday rejected a challenge to a temporary COVID-19 ban on citizens returning from India.
The government imposed the Indian travel ban on April 30 to relieve pressure on quarantine facilities for returned international travelers. The ban will be lifted on Friday when a government-chartered plane is expected to repatriate 150 of the 9,000 Australians in India who want to come home.
Pfizer COVID-19 shot expanded to US children as young as 12
COVID-19 vaccines finally are headed for more kids as U.S. regulators on Monday expanded use of Pfizer's shot to those as young as 12, sparking a race to protect middle and high school students before they head back to class in the fall.
Shots could begin as soon as a federal vaccine advisory committee issues recommendations for using the two-dose vaccine in 12- to 15-year-olds, expected Wednesday.
In India’s northeast there’s fear of a virus surge to come
With experts saying the coronavirus is likely spreading in India’s northeastern state of Assam faster than anywhere else in the country, authorities were preparing Monday for a surge in infections by converting a massive stadium and a university into hospitals.
Cases in Assam started ticking upward a month ago and the official seven-day weekly average in the state on May 9 stood at more than 4,700 cases. But a model run by the University of Michigan — which predicts the current spread of cases before they are actually detected — says infections in Assam are likely occurring as fast as any other place in the country.
Add to that recent elections in the state — and the huge political rallies that accompanied them — and experts fear a uncontrolled surge is on the horizon.
Worryingly, along with cities in India’s northeastern frontier — which is closer to Myanmar, Bangladesh and Bhutan than it is New Delhi — cases have also started to spike in some remote Himalayan villages in the region.
In wake of COVID, employers step up automation and use of robots
As the U.S. economy rebounds from the COVID-19 pandemic, employers are turning to greater use of automation, including robots, rather than calling back workers or hiring new ones in many cases.
The trend is affecting almost every sector, including manufacturing, distribution, transportation, retail, restaurants and many kinds of personal and government services.
Airports have been using mobile robots to spray disinfecting chemicals on their facilities — work that janitors had initially done wearing moon suits and other personal protective equipment.
Orders for robots in North America, mostly the U.S., surged 20% in the first quarter compared with a year earlier and were up 16% from the same three-month period in 2019, well before the pandemic, according to the Association for Advancing Automation. Nearly 10,000 robots were ordered in last year’s fourth quarter, the second-best quarter ever, statistics show.
DC aims for full reopening, with masks, by June 11
Washington, D.C., is emerging from its pandemic quarantine. With COVID-19 numbers dropping, officials in the nation’s capital have announced a reopening timeline that would see all indoor capacity limits eliminated by early June, but with mask requirements still in place.
Mayor Muriel Bowser unveiled a two-stage plan on Monday, with capacity restrictions on most indoor activities lifting on May 21, with the exception of bars, nightclubs and entertainment venues. Those final categories would see their capacity limits removed by June 11.
In Spain, expert warns that virus surge could follow parties
Spain’s top coronavirus expert on Monday delivered a stern warning to citizens who are acting as if the pandemic has ended now that the government has relaxed measures against the spread of the coronavirus amid an accelerating rollout of vaccines.
Scenes of revelers partying en masse over the past weekend, in many cases without social distancing or masks, have infuriated many, including health workers, and created a new political quarrel. The street celebrations followed the end of a state of emergency, a blanket national rule that allowed authorities to take strict measures against the virus such as travel bans, nighttime curfews and curbs on social gatherings.
Fernando Simón, who heads the Health Ministry's emergency coordination center, said that he was unable to predict how the contagion rate would evolve after the euphoric scenes. “Until two days ago I would had been able to say that the downward trend of the past few days would continue. But right now, neither I nor anybody else in Spain knows what will happen,” Simón said Monday.
Dracula’s castle proves an ideal setting for COVID-19 jabs
At Dracula’s castle in picturesque Transylvania, Romanian doctors are offering a jab in the arm rather than a stake through the heart.
A COVID-19 vaccination center has been set up on the periphery of Romania’s Bran Castle, which is purported to be the inspiration behind Dracula’s home in Bram Stoker’s 19th-century gothic novel “Dracula.”
Those who get the Pfizer vaccine shot receive a “vaccination diploma,” which is aptly illustrated with a fanged medical worker brandishing a syringe.
Since the light-hearted campaign was launched over the weekend — when nearly 400 people were vaccinated — Alexandru Priscu, the marketing manager at Bran Castle, said he has received scores of requests from foreigners wishing to get vaccinated in the spooky setting. Bad news for them: only residents of Romania can officially receive a jab.
Treasury to start paying out $350B in state and local aid
The Treasury Department on Monday launched its $350 billion program to distribute aid to state and local governments, giving the U.S. economy an added boost as President Joe Biden sought to assure the country that stronger growth is coming.
The aid is part of Biden’s larger $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package that became law in March. Administration officials said payments could begin to go out in the coming days to eligible governments, allowing state, local, territorial and tribal officials to offset the economic damage from the coronavirus pandemic. The announcement came after the government reported Friday that just 266,000 jobs were added in April — a miss that the president felt obligated to address from the White House on Monday.
The funding could provide a jolt of growth after the unemployment rate ticked up slightly to 6.1% in April, a sign of how difficult it can be to restart an economy despite an unprecedented degree of federal assistance. Labor Department figures show that state and local governments are still down roughly 1.3 million jobs since the pandemic began more than a year ago.
Portland mass vaccination site to close June 19
Portland, Oregon’s mass vaccination site is expected to close on June 19 after giving hundreds of thousands of COVID-19 inoculations, organizers said Monday.
The All4Oregon site, which was set up by four of the city’s major hospitals in a joint vaccination effort, has been running since Jan. 20 at the Oregon Convention Center.
The site began offering self-scheduling and walk-in appointments for the first time last week, but organizers said a drop in volume made it clear that demand for a mass vaccination site is waning as shots become more widely available elsewhere. As of Friday, the site had administered 465,000 shots.
2 face trial as China enforces online control amid pandemic
More than a year after two amateur computer coders were taken by police from their Beijing homes, they are set to be tried Tuesday in a case that illustrates the Chinese government’s growing online censorship and heightened sensitivity to any deviation from the official narrative on its COVID-19 response.
Authorities have not said specifically why Chen Mei, 28, and Cai Wei, 27, were arrested in April last year, so friends and relatives can only guess. They believe it was because the two men had set up an online archive to store articles deleted by censors and a related forum where users could skirt real-name registration requirements to chat anonymously.
Started in 2018, the archive kept hundreds of censored articles and the forum saw discussions on sensitive issues. But what got them in trouble with authorities appears to be archiving articles showing an alternative to China’s official narrative about its pandemic response just as the country started facing questions over its handling of the initial outbreak.
EU pandemic measures to total about $5.85 trillion
The European Union’s top economy official said Monday that the recovery measures the EU and its 27 member states have in the works to emerge from the pandemic total around $5.85 trillion.
EU Economy Commissioner Paolo Gentiloni told a European Parliament committee said that if comparisons are made with U.S. President Joe Biden’s pandemic stimulus relief package, the EU can confidently stand next to to Washington when all efforts are counted together.
The EU has agreed to a common recovery fund package of 750 billion euros ($910 billion), plus a 1.1 trillion euro ($1.3 trillion) seven-year budget that will be strongly geared toward dealing with the unprecedented economic recession caused by COVID-19 that the bloc’s 450 million citizens will have to overcome.
Hindu temple in UAE ships oxygen aid to crisis-hit India
As India’s government scrambles for supplies of oxygen and other emergency aid to control the raging coronavirus outbreak, donors around the world have come to the rescue — including a Hindu temple in the United Arab Emirates.
On Monday, volunteers from the country’s Hindu community gathered at the Jebel Ali Port at the northern end of Dubai, to haul hundreds of cylinders of liquid oxygen and massive containers of compressed oxygen onto a ship, where it will head to crisis-wracked India. The organizers, Indian owners of a Dubai helium factory, shifted production to oxygen when the latest surge in virus cases hit India.
As calls for help back home grew, the factory enlisted the help of the main Hindu temple based in the UAE’s capital of Abu Dhabi, BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, to send oxygen supplies. COVID-19 patients are suffocating in India’s capital, New Delhi, and other cities because of the shortage. Hindu spiritual leaders, dressed in saffron robes, came to bless the oxygen before sending it out, showering rose petals on the shipment and marking the cylinders with traditional orange dye.
Czechs massively relax restrictions, honor COVID-19 victims
The Czech Republic was massively relaxing its coronavirus restrictions on Monday as the hard-hit nation paid respect to nearly 30,000 dead.
The latest wave of easing came after new infections fell to the levels last seen in August. In a visible change, Czechs were allowed to remove face coverings in all outdoor spaces if they stay at least two meters from other people.
Bavaria reopens some of its famous beer gardens
Bavarians were able to enjoy a tall beer in the spring sun Monday in several areas, as some outdoor beer gardens reopened in the southern German state.
Bavaria had an overall seven-day average rate of increase of 119.5 new cases of COVID-19 per 100,000 people, but areas below 100 cases per 100,000 were allowed to reopen their iconic beer gardens.
Beer gardens in Munich are not yet open, but preparations were being made for them to again start serving customers on Wednesday.
Under the new guidelines in Bavaria, it takes about a week for a region to be able to reopen outdoor dining and drinking areas. More than a dozen areas have already gotten the go-ahead.
Malaysian prime minister announces one-month virus lockdown
ll of Malaysia will be placed under a near lockdown for about a month to fight the coronavirus, but businesses will be allowed to continue to operate at reduced capacity, Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin announced Monday.
The lockdown, starting Wednesday until June 7, took the nation by surprise because restrictions on movement are already in place in many parts of the country, including Kuala Lumpur and the richest state of Selangor.
Muhyiddin said drastic action was needed to battle a new aggressive outbreak before it turns into a national catastrophe. New coronavirus cases have exceeded 3,500 a day in recent weeks, pushing Malaysia’s total tally up three-fold since January to over 444,000. Deaths have also surged to 1,700.
CDC limits review of vaccinated but infected
Federal health officials this month decided to limit how they monitor vaccinated people who have been infected with COVID-19, drawing concern from some scientists who say that may mean missing needed data showing why and how it happens.
At the end of April, more than 9,000 Americans were reported to be infected after being vaccinated, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. While that’s a tiny percentage of the 95 million people fully inoculated at the time, researchers still want to find out what specific mechanisms may be spurring the infections.
Rare breakthrough cases are expected since no vaccines are 100% effective. But tracking and sequencing the cases helps in figuring out who may be more at risk, whether new variants evade the vaccines and when protection from the shots begins to wane. At the same time, those infected — some of whom are suffering widespread medical issues, even if they’re not hospitalized — say they feel lost as a result of the lack of information.
Hundreds of bodies of COVID victims lie in refrigerated trucks more than a year into the pandemic
When New York emerged as the center of the coronavirus pandemic last spring, the overwhelmed city began storing the bodies of victims in refrigerated trucks along the Brooklyn waterfront.
More than a year later, hundreds remain in the makeshift morgues on the 39th Street Pier in Sunset Park.
In a report to a City Council health committee last week, officials with the New York City Office of Chief Medical Examiner acknowledged that the remains of about 750 COVID-19 victims are still being stored inside the trucks, the nonprofit news website The City reported. Officials said during a Wednesday committee meeting that they will try to lower the number soon and that most of the bodies could end up on Hart Island, off the Bronx, where the has city buried its poor and unclaimed for more than a century.
AP-NORC poll: Biden approval buoyed by his pandemic response
President Joe Biden is plunging into the next phase of his administration with the steady approval of a majority of Americans, according to a new poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. The survey shows Biden is buoyed in particular by the public’s broad backing for his handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
In the fourth month of his presidency, Biden’s overall approval rating sits at 63%. When it comes to the new Democratic president’s handling of the pandemic, 71% of Americans approve, including 47% of Republicans.
The AP-NORC poll also shows an uptick in Americans’ overall optimism about the state of the country. Fifty-four percent say the country is on the right track, higher than at any point in AP-NORC polls conducted since 2017; 44% think the nation is on the wrong track.
The AP-NORC poll shows the public’s worries about the pandemic are at their lowest level since February 2020, when the virus was first reaching the U.S.
Cautious cuddling? England to OK hugs as lockdown eases
In England, it’s going to be time to hug again.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to give the go-ahead for that much-missed human contact when he announces the next round of lockdown easing later Monday in the wake of a sharp fall in new coronavirus infections.
The U.K. is now recording around 2,000 new coronavirus cases a day, compared with a daily peak of nearly 70,000 in January. Daily deaths have also plummeted with only two recorded on Sunday.
While hugs between households will be allowed again beginning May 17, Johnson is expected to stress that they should be done with care, given concerns about new virus variants that could bypass some of the immunity provided by Britain’s successful vaccination campaign.
Indian virus variant found in Thai travelers from Pakistan
Health authorities in Thailand said Monday they have confirmed the country’s first cases of the Indian variant of the coronavirus, in a Thai woman and her 4-year-old son who have been in state quarantine since arriving from Pakistan.
The finding comes as Thailand battles a new wave of the coronavirus that began at the beginning of April, originating in upmarket entertainment venues in Bangkok and spawning clusters in several crowded slum communities. Many of the recent cases involve the British variant of the virus, which is more infectious than the original form found last year.
Thailand banned travelers from India, other than Thai citizens, starting on May 1 in response to a massive outbreak of COVID-19 cases in the South Asian nation that began in early April. India has reported more than 22.6 million infections, second only to the United States, and more than 246,000 deaths. Both figures are widely believed to be undercounts.
Catch up on the past 24 hours
Are your neighbors getting vaccinated against COVID-19? Nearly 70% of King County residents have had at least one jab, and in some local ZIP codes that percentage is in the 80s. But some parts of our region lag notably far behind, FYI Guy writes. And is Vashon Island's reputation as an anti-vax hotbed a thing of the past? Take an area-by-area look.
Indoor masking rules "can start being more liberal" as more Americans get vaccinated, Dr. Anthony Fauci said yesterday, predicting more updates to CDC recommendations. The mask-faithful are finding themselves in a weird, confusing gray area these days.
The pandemic upended Washingtonians' lives so badly that more residents died of drug overdoses in 2020 than in any other year in at least a decade. And many more people reached out for help with addiction problems. (Here's where to get help for yourself or a loved one.)
China is drawing a line atop Mount Everest to prevent the coronavirus from being spread by climbers coming up from Nepal, where cases are surging.
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