Editor’s note: This is a live account of COVID-19 updates from Monday, May 31, 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 It is no longer being updated.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.
Today marks the second Memorial Day under the threat of COVID-19, and many commemorations in communities in Washington and the nation are either moved online, put off for next year or transformed to fit a new reality into long cherished traditions. Even parades changed with the times, run in reverse, with parade goers on the move in their cars, driving past dignitaries, musicians, displays of uniforms and more stationed in place, to allow a community celebration while remaining socially-distanced. Reverse parades: that’s Memorial Day, COVID-19 style, 2021.
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.
Vietnam to test all 9M residents in largest city for coronavirus
HANOI, Vietnam (AP) — Vietnam plans to test all 9 million people in its largest city for the coronavirus and imposed more restrictions Monday to deal with a growing COVID-19 outbreak.
People in Ho Chi Minh city are only allowed to leave home for necessary activities and public gatherings of more than 10 people are banned for the next two weeks, the government announced. Prior to the order, the city, also Vietnam’s economic hub, shut down non-essential business last Thursday when cases started to increase.
State newspaper Vietnam News said the city authority is planning to test its entire population with a testing capacity of 100,000 samples a day.
The newspaper also said police had filed a case Sunday against the couple who head a Protestant church mission for “spreading dangerous infectious diseases,” citing poor health protocols applied at the premises.
Thailand reports record virus cases; delays Bangkok easing
BANGKOK (AP) — Thailand is redoubling efforts to stop the spread of the coronavirus in labor camps, factories and markets as the number of new reported cases surged Monday to the highest level so far.
A government spokesman said public health authorities met with labor and industry officials to discuss better ways to curb infections that are concentrated in crowded, high-risk places.
The government reported a record 5,485 new cases on Monday, with nearly 2,000 in prisons. Confirmed deaths increased by 19, bringing the total to 1,031 since the pandemic began.
Indian economy, hit by COVID-19, shrinks by 7.3% in 2020-21
NEW DELHI (AP) — India’s economy, pummeled by the coronavirus pandemic, contracted by 7.3% in the 2020-21 financial year, just before the country was hit by another catastrophic surge in infections.
The economy grew at a 1.6% annual rate in the January-March quarter, according to figures released Monday by the government, but that recovery was stifled by a resurgence of infections in March. Daily new cases set global records, spurring many states to announce widespread restrictions and lockdowns.
New cases and deaths recently have begun to decline, but much of the country is still under some form of a shutdown, with many industries and businesses unable to resume work.
Who benefits? US debates fairest way to share spare vaccine
WASHINGTON (AP) — In April, the Biden administration announced plans to share millions of COVID-19 vaccine doses with the world by the end of June. Five weeks later, nations around the globe are still waiting — with growing impatience — to learn where the vaccines will go and how they will be distributed.
To President Joe Biden, the doses represent a modern-day “arsenal of democracy,” serving as the ultimate carrot for America’s partners abroad, but also as a necessary tool for global health, capable of saving millions of lives and returning a semblance of normalcy to friends and foes alike.
The central question for Biden: What share of doses should be provided to those who need it most, and how many should be reserved for U.S. partners?
The answer, so far at least, appears to be that the administration will provide the bulk of the doses to COVAX, the U.N.-backed global vaccine sharing program meant to meet the needs of lower income countries. While the percentage is not yet finalized, it would mark a substantial — and immediate — boost to the lagging COVAX effort, which to date has shared just 76 million doses with needy countries.
The pandemic in the U.S. has vastly improved. For these families, the worst has just begun.
After more than a year of pandemic restrictions, many Americans are leaving their masks behind, making summer travel plans and joyously reuniting with family and friends. As more are vaccinated and new infections plummet, there is a sense that the worst of the pandemic is over in the United States.
But for people like Michele Preissler, 60, the worst has just begun.
Preissler lost her husband to COVID-19 in May, just as many restrictions were being lifted and life, for many, was starting to look more like normal. Customers were going without masks last week at the Walmart near her home in Pasadena, Maryland, where she was shopping for items for her husband’s funeral.
“Everybody is saying, ‘Oh, it’s fine,’” said Preissler, whose husband, Darryl Preissler, 63, loved to hunt, camp and go crabbing with his grandson. “I’m just thinking to myself, ‘If you only knew what I just went through.’”
With half of Americans protected with at least one dose of a vaccine, the virus outlook in this country is the best it has been at any point in the pandemic. New cases, hospitalizations and deaths are lower than they have been in many months, and even the most cautious health officials are celebrating the country’s progress. Fully vaccinated people, who are at low risk of catching and spreading the virus, have been told they can take off their masks and return to many regular activities, with the support of top scientists.
Even now, though, about 450 deaths are being reported each day, and that has left hundreds of families dealing with a new kind of pandemic grief.
Mobile vaccination units hit tiny US towns to boost immunity
FALLON, Nev. (AP) — Pick-up truck drivers motor up to a white trailer in a parking lot on Fallon Paiute-Shoshone land in Nevada’s high desert and within a few moments they’re handed forms to sign, jabbed with coronavirus vaccine and sent on their way.
The pop-up clinic 60 miles (96 kilometers) east of Reno is one of 28 locations in the state where the Federal Emergency Management Agency has dispatched mobile vaccination units to ensure people in far-flung rural areas and one stop-light towns can get inoculated.
It’s one of the tactics health officials are using across the country to counter waning interest in vaccinations. In tiny towns, churches, ballparks, strip clubs and even marijuana dispensaries, officials are setting up shop and offering incentives to entice people as the nation struggles to reach herd immunity.
In Nevada, health officials acknowledge they’re unlikely to hit their initial goal of vaccinating 75% of the population believed necessary to reach herd immunity. Ironically, their push in northern Nevada is headquartered at the Reno Livestock Events Center, where 65-year-old Dan Lavely and others are showing up for shots.
Lavely said he teared up while thanking the nurses who vaccinated him.
Uruguay battles to contain coronavirus amid recent surge
When Eduardo Rey celebrated his 69th birthday at home with 10 family members in Uruguay’s capital, he didn’t suspect it would start a mortal race to find medical care amid a surging pandemic.
Two days after the party, the farmer came down with a fever, was coughing and felt weak. At first he and his family thought nothing of it, but then a relative who had been at the party tested positive for the coronavirus.
When Rey tested positive his family tried repeatedly to get help from a doctor on the public health care telephone, but they couldn’t get one to visit his home. His family eventually took him to a hospital themselves but they were told his lungs were badly damaged.
On April 21, a month after his birthday, Rey died of respiratory insufficiency in an ICU in Montevideo, joining more than 3,000 people who have died of COVID-19 in Uruguay since March.
While the number may seem small for other countries, it is huge in this South American country of just 3.5 million inhabitants and gives it one of the highest per capita coronavirus death rates in the world, according the Our World in Data.
It is a sharp turnaround for Uruguay, which for most of 2020 seemed to have the virus under control.
New data in Peru puts COVID-19 death toll there above 180,000, far higher than earlier figures
Peru has announced a sharp increase in its COVID-19 death toll, saying there have been more than 180,000 fatalities since the pandemic hit early last year.
Monday's announcement was made in the presidential palace during the presentation of a report by a working group commissioned to analyze and update the death toll.
The results of that study put the new toll at 180,764 in a country of about 32.6 million, compared to recent data indicating that 69,342 people had died from COVID-19.
In post-pandemic Europe, migrants will face digital fortress
Some countries in Europe are trying new methods to keep migrants away as travel begins to return after more than a year of COVID-19.
Greek border police, for example, have been firing bursts of deafening noise from an armored truck over the frontier into Turkey.
It’s part of a vast array of physical and experimental new digital barriers being installed and tested during the quiet months of the coronavirus pandemic at the 200-kilometer (125-mile) Greek border with Turkey to stop people entering the European Union illegally.
Malnutrition in Haiti worsens during pandemic
Childhood malnutrition is expected to double this year in Haiti, affecting more than 86,000 kids, according to a UNICEF report.
The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted health services overall, so vaccination rates have actually declined for immunizations against diptheria or measles; and one southern hospital is down to just a month's supply of lifesaving food paste. Some 4.4 million children and adults in the nation of 11 million lack sufficient food.
Global corps of dogs trained to sniff out COVID-19
Dogs are being trained to detect coronavirus.
"For dogs, the smell is obvious, just like grilled meat for us," said a veterinary scientist in Bangkok.
Dogs have already been deployed in a few stadiums and airports in Finland, Lebanon, United Arab Emirates, and here in the United States of America, reports the New York Times. Besides those countries, research is underway in Thailand, Germany and Australia, to utilize the 300 million olfactory receptors in a typical dog's snout.
Pandemic schools-from-home: what did we learn?
What did we learn from Washington state's experiments in online schooling during 2020-21?
That for certain students and schools, remote and hybrid classes are worth keeping permanently. Yet researchers say many students learn more in person than online. Among other problems, remote students frequently "zone out" of Zoom lectures.
Highline Virtual Academy will open this fall as a remote option for middle and high-school students who also work within or outside the home. Lake Washington, Edmonds, and Richland schools will provide online-only options.
As of April, only 68% of the state's 1.1 million public students returned to class at least part-time.
Reade the full story here, by Seattle Times reporters Hannah Furfaro and Elise Takahama.
Get a shot and a shave at this Maryland barbershop
The Shop Spa, a barbershop that serves a mostly Black and Latino clientele in Hyattsville, Md., is offering the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine, along with a fish sandwich and haircut coupon.
Organizers, including the Black community, the University of Maryland and the White House, hope to reach out with similar vaccination projects through barbers and hairstylists across the country. Barbershops are considered a trusted source, dating back to Civil War times, to spread information by word-of-mouth.
Read the full Washington Post story here.
UK offers mass vaccinations at rugby stadium
British health authorities aim to inject 15,000 people with COVID-19 vaccine Monday at London's Tottenham rugby stadium, to contain a fast-growing viral variant.
The strain, which originated in India, is considered highly transmissible. The U.K. plans to lift social-distancing rules June 21, but some health experts say that's too soon.
Washington state health officials have used the exhibition center of the Lumen Field stadium as a mass vaccination site, serving more than 97,000 people since March. That site will close June 12, because the majority Seattle-area residents are now vaccinated.
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