Editor’s note: This is a live account of COVID-19 updates from Sunday, May 30, 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 It is no longer being updated.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.

Just in time for Memorial Day weekend, more U.S. cities and states are shrugging off lingering COVID-19 restrictions as vaccination rates rise and the number of infections falls.

Meanwhile, frustrated with the lagging pace of vaccine campaigns at home and seeing a surplus of doses in the United States — where tens of millions of Americans have opted not to get inoculated — wealthy and middle-class Latin Americans with American tourist visas have been flocking to the United States in recent weeks to score a COVID-19 shot.

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.


Navigating the pandemic
(Jennifer Luxton / The Seattle Times)

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China re-imposes travel curbs on province after virus cases

China on Monday re-imposed anti-coronavirus travel controls on its southern province of Guangdong, announcing anyone leaving the populous region must be tested for the virus following a spike in infections that has alarmed authorities.

Guangdong, which borders Hong Kong, recorded 20 new confirmed cases, all contracted locally, in the 24 hours through midnight Sunday. Guangdong’s numbers are low compared with many places in the world, but the rise has rattled Chinese leaders who thought they had the disease under control.

People leaving Guangdong by plane, train, bus or private car after 10 p.m. on Monday must present results of a nucleic acid test within the past 72 hours, the provincial government announced. It said testing stations for truck drivers would be set up on major roads.

The government of the provincial capital, Guangzhou, a business center of 15 million people, ordered mass testing after locally acquired infections were found beginning May 21. The government said 700,000 people had been tested through last Wednesday.

Read the full story from the Associated Press

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Copa America has no host as Argentina dropped due to COVID

Copa America is without a host country only two weeks before kickoff after South American soccer body CONMEBOL ruled out Argentina amid an increase in COVID-19 cases in the country.

The announcement Sunday night casts doubt on a tournament which has faced major hurdles since the start of the pandemic in March of last year.

CONMEBOL said on Twitter — and it was later confirmed by an official — that it was analyzing “the offer of other nations who showed interest in hosting the continental tournament,” without naming them. It also said a new host will be announced “soon.”

Copa America is scheduled to be played between June 13 and July 10. South American teams are already training for the tournament and two rounds of World Cup qualifiers are starting this week.

Like other continental tournaments, Copa America was initially scheduled for 2020, but the COVID-19 pandemic forced its postponement. But difficulties mounted as the virus continued to strike the region hard and vaccine rollout remained slow.

Read the whole story from the Associated Press here.

Sharp decline of COVID-19 in Care Facilities but numbers ticking up

In early April, the number of Washington long-term care facilities reporting at least one active COVID-19 case reached its lowest point in a year, since the start of the pandemic. It was 115 facilities, down fivefold from a peak of nearly 600 this January.

The sharp decline in outbreaks, attributable largely to widespread vaccination, is welcome news to the state’s nursing homes, assisted-living facilities and adult family homes. These sites have borne the brunt of the deadly virus, accounting for more than half the state’s COVID-19 deaths since the first cases in the U.S. were confirmed at a Kirkland nursing home. Residents now can move in and out of buildings, and indoor visits have resumed after a year of social isolation.

Over the past few weeks, however, cases have begun ticking up again, according to data from the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services. As of Wednesday, 154 facilities in Washington reported at least one active COVID-19 case in the past two weeks.

Read the full story in the Seattle Times.

Climbers out of practice after a flatland year due to COVID-19

Rangers who keep an eye on North America’s highest mountain peak say impatient and inexperienced climbers are taking more risks and endangering themselves and other climbers after a year off because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Denali in southern Alaska is 20,310 feet above sea level and requires a level of expertise and acclimation to high altitudes not needed for climbing most peaks in the U.S.

“We have seen a disturbing amount of overconfidence paired with inexperience in the Alaska Range,” the National Park Service wrote in a statement issued Thursday. The remoteness and extreme weather in Alaska pose extra risks, even for climbers who may have a good deal of experience at elevations up to 14,000 feet in the Lower 48.

After reporting no deaths in 2018 and 2019, at least two people have already died on the mountain in 2021. Two others were seriously injured, authorities said.

Read more from the Associated Press.

—The Associated Press
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Concert tickets cost more -- much more -- without vaccination

This spring, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis issued an executive order forbidding businesses from making their patrons prove that they have been vaccinated against the coronavirus. He also signed into law a bill to give the ban more teeth, threatening violators with fines in the thousands of dollars.

One Florida concert promoter thinks he has a workaround: offer $18 tickets to anyone who is vaccinated and charge $999.99 for everyone else.

“I’m not denying entry to anyone,” said Paul Williams. “I’m just offering a discount.”

The governor’s office says the unorthodox pricing violates Florida’s rules: “Charging higher ticket prices for individuals who do not furnish proof of vaccination unfairly discriminates against people who have enumerated rights under Florida law,” said Christina Pushaw, press secretary for the Republican governor’s office, in an email to The Washington Post.

Williams said he figured his tactics were safe — the executive order carries limited penalties, and the new law does not go into effect until shortly after his small punk rock event planned for June 26 in St. Petersburg. But he said he was unprepared for the vitriol that followed: The anti-vaccination Facebook messages, the sudden spam calls, the misspelled email that warned the band their next show could be their “last” and said: “You’re fans are going to kill you.”

Read more in The Washington Post

—The Washington Post

Nashville hat store apologizes

A Nashville hat store that caused controversy for promoting “Not Vaccinated” badges that resembled the yellow stars used to identify Jewish people in Nazi Germany apologized Saturday for the “insensitivity,” Kate Feldman reported in the New York Daily News

“In NO WAY did I intend to trivialize the Star of David or disrespect what happened to millions of people,” read the Instagram post from hatWRKS.

“My hope was to share my genuine concern & fear and to do all that I can to make sure nothing like that ever happens again.”

The store, owned by Gigi Gaskins, ignited a firestorm with a now-deleted post about the yellow stars. The store’s Instagram is still filled with posts about “the tyranny the world is experiencing” and being forced to “show your papers.”

Read more from the New York Daily News.

—New York Daily News

Find Covid Origin or Face Another Pandemic, U.S. Experts Warn

The world needs the cooperation of the Chinese government to trace the origins of COVID-19 and prevent future pandemic threats, two leading U.S. disease experts said Sunday.

Information to support the theory that the SARS-CoV-2 virus may have escaped from a lab in Wuhan, China, has increased, said Scott Gottlieb, a commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration in the Trump administration who now sits on the board of Pfizer Inc.

“There’s going to be Covid-26 and Covid-32 unless we fully understand the origins of Covid-19,” Peter Hotez, co-director of the Texas Children’s Hospital Center for Vaccine Development, said on NBC’s “Meet the press.”

Read more here.

—John Tozzi, Bloomberg
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As COVID Rampages Across Nepal, Workers Pay the Price

Nepal is considering declaring a health emergency as the virus rampages virtually unchecked across the impoverished nation of 30 million people. Carried by returning migrant workers and others, a vicious second wave has stretched the country’s medical system beyond its meager limits.

Nepal has recorded 500,000 COVID cases and 6,000 deaths, numbers that experts believe deeply undercount the toll. Testing remains limited. One figure could indicate the true severity: For weeks now, about 40% of the tests conducted have been positive.

Read more here.

—Bhadra Sharma and Mujib Mashal, The New York Times

Democrats seek to unseat Florida's governor, a possible 2024 presidential candidate

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, one of the most prominent voices opposing masks and lockdowns, has emerged from political uncertainty as an early Republican presidential front-runner in 2024.

The governor has remained defiant in the face of continued attacks on his approach to the pandemic, which has run counter to guidance from infectious disease experts.

“Hold the line. Don’t back down,” he told a crowd at a party fundraiser in Pittsburgh on May 20. “And in the state of Florida, with me as governor, I have only begun to fight.”

That fight will happen soon. DeSantis is up for reelection next year, and pressure is building on Florida Democrats to regain their footing in a state that has swung toward Republicans for several election cycles. But Democrats worry whether they can field a candidate able to win back the governor’s mansion for the first time since 1994.

Read more here.

—Bobby Caina Calvan

What do know before you mingle outdoors this summer

Health experts are encouraging Americans to embrace the outdoors as they make plans for their second summer of the pandemic. The outdoor transmission rate for the coronavirus is very low, and much lower than the indoor rate, several lines of evidence suggest.

But it’s a bit of an art form to navigate what that means for people who want to attend specific outdoor activities this summer, especially at full-capacity venues and in the context of each individual’s risk for COVID-19. For instance, how should vaccinated parents of an unvaccinated child consider the myriad scenarios and risks associated with, say, a major-league baseball game in San Diego, an outdoor concert at Tanglewood in Massachusetts or the backyard birthday party of a neighborhood friend?

Here's what you need to consider.

—Robin Lloyd, The New York Times
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117 staffers sue over Houston hospital’s vaccine mandate

A group of 117 unvaccinated staffers from Houston Methodist Hospital filed a lawsuit Friday seeking to avoid the hospital’s coronavirus vaccine mandate, saying it’s unlawful for bosses to require the shots.

The staffers join a growing list of employees challenging compulsory immunizations at businesses, colleges and other workplaces essential to the country’s reopening. Vaccine mandates have faced mounting resistance from anti-vaccination groups and some Republican politicians, even as health officials promote the proven safety of the vaccines and millions of Americans line up to get the shots every week.

Read more here.

—Derek Hawkins, The Washington Post

‘Drastic increase’ in COVID closes some Washington schools for the rest of the year

What one elementary school referred to as a "drastic increase" in COVID cases has caused some Washington schools to backtrack on school reopening plans, sending young learners back home for the rest of the school year.

An outbreak of COVID-19 has forced Waitsburg Elementary School, in Walla Walla County, to close for the rest of the school year, the Tri-City Herald reports. All students in preschool through 5th grade will switch to remote learning at home starting Tuesday after the Memorial Day weekend, said a news release from the district.

“This closure comes after a drastic increase in COVID cases in Waitsburg elementary students and staff, resulting in multiple exposures and close contacts,” said the release.

In Lewis County, Adna School District has decided to return to remote learning, and another district sent some grades home after infected students came to campus, Centralia's Daily Chronicle reported.

Read more here.

—Katherine A. Long

Nashville Hat Store Sold ‘Not Vaccinated’ Star of David Patches

Protesters gathered on Saturday outside a hat store in Nashville, Tennessee, that sold “not vaccinated” Star of David patches and compared vaccine passports to the Nazi practice of requesting “your papers.”

The store, Hatwrks, said on Instagram in a post that was later deleted that it was selling the patches for $5. Amid an outbreak of anti-Semitic attacks across the country, the post sparked criticism on social media and outside the store, where protesters held signs saying “no Nazis in Nashville” and “sell hats not hate.”

A separate post to the store’s Instagram account — which also touted “mask free shopping” and promoted the conspiracy theory that vaccines have microchips in them — said that “all unvaccinated people will be segregated from society, marked and must wear a mask. What comes next?”

Hatwrks' "offensive content and opinion" led one major American brand to announce it would stop selling its products through the store.

Read more here.

—Bryan Pietsch, The New York Times
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Airlines suspend alcohol service amid surge of in-flight violence

Two major airlines, American and Southwest, have postponed plans to resume serving alcohol on flights in an effort to stop a surge of unruly and sometimes violent behavior by passengers who have shoved, struck and yelled at flight attendants. Much of the recent uptick in bad behavior has been due to passengers who refuse to comply with a federal mandate that they wear masks on planes, according to Federal Aviation Administration data.

Both airlines announced the policies this past week after the latest assault was captured on a widely watched video that showed a woman punching a flight attendant in the face on a Southwest Airlines flight from Sacramento, California, to San Diego on Sunday.

The FAA said Monday that it had proposed fines of $9,000 to $15,000 for five other passengers who had exhibited disruptive behavior on flights.

Read more here.

—Michael Levenson and Maria Cramer, The New York Times

Don’t wipe away memories of this pandemic year

Americans are hoping to leapfrog into the future, relegating the pandemic to a good-riddance past: A recent Ipsos poll found that the “most anticipated event” for 74 percent of Americans is simply no longer thinking about the coronavirus, social distancing or masking.

But looking back on the past year of pandemic, Washington Post columnist Steven Petrow writes, unearthed surprising revelations. Rather than locking the door on memories of the pandemic now that some degree of normal life has resumed, try taking stock of what's happened during the last, painful year, he advises.

For Petrow, that process of introspection led to discoveries about how he wants to live in the years to come.

Read more here.

—Steven Petrow, The Washington Post

COVID cases tick up in Washington's long-term care facilities

Coronavirus outbreaks at Washington's long-term care facilities have plummeted since the start of the pandemic, thanks to widespread vaccination. In early April, the number of long-term care facilities in the state reporting at least one active COVID-19 case reached its lowest point since the start of the pandemic — 115 facilities, down fivefold from a peak of nearly 600 this January.

Over the past few weeks, however, cases have begun ticking up again, according to data from the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services. As of Wednesday, 154 facilities in Washington reported at least one active COVID-19 case in the past two weeks.

Overall case numbers, as well as updates from facilities on the list, show that many outbreaks are smaller and the cases of illness are less severe than those reported before widespread vaccinations.

Read more here.

—Paige Cornwell