Editor’s note: This is a live account of COVID-19 updates from Sunday, November 1, 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 It is no longer being updated.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.

With Halloween over and the winter holiday season closing in, many U.S. states and European countries are once again seeing COVID-19 caseloads surge. Medical experts are cautioning the public to stay close to home and avoid gatherings, if possible — though if you need to travel, here are some tips to do it safely.

Meanwhile, climbing case counts do not appear to have dampened Seattle-area voter turnout. With COVID-19 effectively on the ballot for Tuesday’s general election, 72% of registered King County voters had returned their ballots as of Saturday night. Officials are predicting turnout could reach a record high of 90%.

Throughout Sunday, on this page, we’ll post updates on the pandemic and its effects on the Seattle area, the Pacific Northwest and the world. Updates from Saturday are here, and all our coronavirus coverage can be found here.

(Jennifer Luxton / The Seattle Times)

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WH sidestepped FDA to distribute hydroxychloroquine to pharmacies

Over four days in early April, the White House ordered the distribution of 23 million hydroxychloroquine tablets from the Strategic National Stockpile of drugs to a dozen states, sidestepping mandatory safety controls put in place by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) after President Donald Trump had touted the anti-malarial drug as a therapeutic for patients infected with COVID-19, The Washington Post reported.

Hydroxychloroquine, which for decades has been prescribed "off-label" to treat lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, has since been proven ineffective in treating COVID-19 and poses a risk of fatal heart arrhythmia in a small percentage of patients, numerous medical studies have found, according to the Post.

The Post review of documents obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request found that the process to distribute the drug was marked by haphazard planning, little or no communication to local authorities about the flow of pills into their communities, and a lack of public accounting about where they ended up.

The documents also demonstrate the steps the administration took to bypass the FDA’s March 28 authorization for emergency use of the tablets, which limited their use to hospitals and clinical drug trials.

The White House ordered more than a third of the tablets sent to the three major drug distributors in the United States with instructions to deliver them not only to hospitals but also retail pharmacies in five U.S. cities, despite the FDA controls, according to public records.

The FDA withdrew its emergency authorization in June, after it found hundreds of adverse events linked to the drug’s use in COVID-19 patients, including dozens of deaths.

Read the full story here.

—The Washington Post
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COVID deaths in King County account for one-third of state total

There were 814 new cases of COVID-19 in Washington as of Saturday night, raising the state total to 108,315 confirmed cases since the pandemic began in March, according to updated numbers released by the state Department of Health (DOH) on Sunday afternoon.

The DOH no longer releases the number of people who have died from the virus on weekends, so the state's death count currently stands at 2,366 as of Friday evening.

In King County, 815 people have died from COVID-19, accounting for just over a third of all deaths in the state, according to the DOH data. There have been nearly 28,000 confirmed cases in the county, or 2.9% of the 824,430 tests administered, slightly higher than the state's 2.2% of positive tests for almost 2.47 million tests administered, the data shows.

—Sara Jean Green

4-week U.K. lockdown may not be long enough, government official says

A new national lockdown in England may have to last longer than the planned four weeks if coronavirus infection rates don’t fall quickly enough, a senior government minister said Sunday.

The lockdown announced Saturday by Prime Minister Boris Johnson is to run from Thursday until Dec. 2. Johnson says it’s needed to stop hospitals from becoming overwhelmed by COVID-19 patients within weeks.

Cabinet minister Michael Gove said it was the government’s “fervent hope” that the lockdown would end on time, but that could not be guaranteed.

“With a virus this malignant, and with its capacity to move so quickly, it would be foolish to predict with absolute certainty what will happen in four weeks’ time,” he told Sky News. “We’re going to review it on the 2nd of December but we’re always driven by what the data says.”

Under the new restrictions, bars and restaurants can offer only takeout, nonessential shops must close, and people will only be able to leave home for a shortlist of reasons including exercise. Hairdressers, gyms, golf courses, swimming pools and bowling alleys are among venues that must shut, and foreign holidays are barred.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press

Fauci: U.S. 'could not possibly be positioned more poorly' heading in to winter

FILE – In this April 22, 2020, file photo, President Donald Trump listens as Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, speaks about the coronavirus in the James Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)
FILE – In this April 22, 2020, file photo, President Donald Trump listens as Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, speaks about the coronavirus in the James Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)

Anthony Fauci, the leading U.S. infectious disease expert, said the country is on course for a dismal winter of mounting coronavirus infections and deaths.

“We’re in for a whole lot of hurt. It’s not a good situation,” Fauci said in a wide-ranging interview with The Washington Post late Friday. “All the stars are aligned in the wrong place as you go into the fall and winter season, with people congregating at home indoors. You could not possibly be positioned more poorly.”

The warning comes amid record daily case levels and the ongoing dismissal of the pandemic's risk by President Donald Trump at recent campaign rallies. He suggested, without factual basis, that doctors are intentionally inflating coronavirus death counts to get paid more.

Fauci said the White House coronavirus task force meets less frequently and has far less influence as the president and his top advisers have focused on reopening the country. “Right now, the public health aspect of the task force has diminished greatly,” he said.

Fauci said he and Deborah Birx, coronavirus task force coordinator, no longer have regular access to the president and he has not spoken to Trump since early October.

Read the whole story here.

—The Washington Post
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Coronavirus surge in Iowa, Wisconsin a concern for polling places

In this file photo from Oct. 20, 2020, Evelio Mancera and his daughter, Jennifer Mancera, both residents of Madison, fill out their ballots on the first day of the state’s in-person absentee voting window for the Nov. 3 election outside the city’s City-County Building Tuesday in Madison, Wis. The coronavirus is getting worse in states that President Donald Trump needs the most.  (John Hart / Wisconsin State Journal via AP)
In this file photo from Oct. 20, 2020, Evelio Mancera and his daughter, Jennifer Mancera, both residents of Madison, fill out their ballots on the first day of the state’s in-person absentee voting window for the Nov. 3 election outside the city’s City-County Building Tuesday in Madison, Wis. The coronavirus is getting worse in states that President Donald Trump needs the most. (John Hart / Wisconsin State Journal via AP)

A surge in coronavirus cases across the country, including in key presidential battleground states, is creating mounting health and logistical concerns for voters, poll workers and political parties ahead of Election Day.

In Iowa, where both presidential campaigns are competing feverishly, county officials said they were preparing for scores of confirmed or potentially infected people to vote curbside. It’s an option typically used by disabled people that must be available outside every polling place.

Iowa this week reported its highest number of average daily new cases and hospitalizations to date.

In Wisconsin, Gov. Tony Evers sought to assure voters in the critical swing state that going to the polls would not be risky, even as officials announced more than 5,000 new confirmed coronavirus cases on Friday.

Read the whole story here.

—The Associated Press

Stanford releases controversial research suggesting a link between Trump rallies and COVID infections, deaths

Stanford University economists used a statistical model to estimate that 18 campaign rallies held by President Donald Trump between June and September may have resulted in more than 30,000 coronavirus infections and 700 deaths.

Face masks have been scarce at Trump rallies, but some public health officials questioned whether it was possible to link infections definitively to specific gatherings, particularly amid a broader surge in cases.

The researchers performed a regression analysis, comparing counties where the rallies were held with up to 200 similar counties that had similar COVID-19 case trajectories before the rally was held. The analysis did not involve tracing individual cases directly to specific campaign events.

And public health officials from the rally sites told The New York Times in interviews particular infections or outbreaks could not be tied directly to the rallies, due to several confounding factors. These include rising caseloads overall, attendees who traveled from other counties and incomplete contract tracing.

In other areas, such as Tulsa, Okla., where Trump held a rally in June, public health officials have said that a rise in cases appeared to be linked to the event. Herman Cain, a former Republican presidential candidate, who attended the rally, later died of COVID-19, though it is unknown where he was infected.

A White House spokesperson called the study — a working paper that has not been peer-reviewed — “a politically driven model based on flawed assumptions and meant to shame Trump supporters.”

Read the whole story about the study here.

—The New York Times

Around the world

Customers outside of a bar in the Fitzroy district of Melbourne, Australia, on Wednesday, Oct. 28. (Bloomberg)
Customers outside of a bar in the Fitzroy district of Melbourne, Australia, on Wednesday, Oct. 28. (Bloomberg)

Australia has recorded no new locally transmitted coronavirus infection for the first time in five months.

That report comes from The Associated Press, in an Asia roundup that also notes a downward trend in cases in India and an outbreak in the remote Xinjiang region of China.

AP also reports a new national lockdown in England may have to last longer than the planned four weeks if coronavirus infection rates don’t fall quickly enough, a senior government minister said Sunday.

The lockdown announced Saturday by Prime Minister Boris Johnson is to run from Thursday until Dec. 2. Johnson says it’s needed to stop hospitals from becoming overwhelmed by COVID-19 patients within weeks.

Meanwhile, according to the AP, a Turkish politician from President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling party has died from the coronavirus.

Burhan Kuzu, 65, had been receiving treatment for COVID-19 since Oct. 17, the country’s health minister tweeted. He passed away Sunday.

—Seattle Times staff
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How are Americans catching the coronavirus? Increasingly, ‘They have no idea’

As the coronavirus soars across the country, charting a single-day record of 99,155 new cases on Friday and surpassing 9 million cases nationwide, tracing the path of the pandemic in the United States is no longer simply challenging. It has become nearly impossible.

Gone are the days when Americans could easily understand the virus by tracking rising case numbers back to discrete sources — the crowded factory, the troubled nursing home, the rowdy bar. Now, there are so many cases, in so many places, that many people are coming to a frightening conclusion: They have no idea where the virus is spreading.

Find out why tracing coronavirus cases has become so difficult, in this New York Times story.

—The New York Times