Editor’s note: This is a live account of COVID-19 updates from Monday, Nov. 23, 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 It is no longer being updated.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.

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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Clorox is shipping nearly 1 million packs of wipes every day

Clorox is shipping out its disinfecting wipes as fast as the company can make them. It’s not fast enough.

While the bleach maker planned to have inventories replenished at major retailers by this summer, unprecedented demand throughout the pandemic dashed any hope of that. To cope, Clorox has added 10 additional third-party manufacturers and is running its own facilities 24 hours a day.

“Nearly one million packages of Clorox wipes are being shipped to stores every day,” Naomi Greer, a company spokeswoman, said via email. “As soon as they’re on shelf, people scoop them up.”

Throughout a public health crisis that has led consumers to stock up on canned goods, snack foods and other household staples, perhaps no item has been as highly sought after as disinfectants. Clorox competitor Reckitt Benckiser Group PLC expects to churn out 35 million cans of Lysol spray a month in North America by the end of the year — more than triple the amount before the pandemic began.

—Bloomberg
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COVID passports emerge as key to restarting international travel

Global airline lobby IATA is working on a mobile app that will help travelers demonstrate their coronavirus-free status, joining a push to introduce so-called COVID passports as vaccines for the disease near approval.

The Travel Pass will display test results together with proof of inoculation, as well as listing national entry rules and details on the nearest labs, the International Air Transport Association said Monday. The app will also link to an electronic copy of the holder’s passport to prove their identity.

A test program will begin with British Airways parent IAG SA this year before arriving on Apple devices in the first quarter and Android in April, IATA said. Travelers will be able to share their status with border authorities or present a QR code for scanning.

Qantas Airways said Monday a COVID-19 vaccination will be a necessity for its international passengers. Chief Executive Officer Alan Joyce told Channel 9 in Australia he has discussed the idea with other airlines, and it’s likely to become a preboarding requirement around the world.

“It’s going to be a common theme across the board,” Joyce said.

—Associated Press

Conferences join forces on virus testing procedures for refs

Whether it’s assigning officials to specific games or figuring out how a referee can make it from one city to the next to call games on consecutive days, Debbie Williamson has seen a lot — both at the conference level and as the former NCAA’s women’s basketball national coordinator of officiating.

But nothing has prepared her for the test that the coronavirus has presented. And that’s before a game is played.

“In the past it was just a puzzle. Now it’s almost like doing a puzzle on the deck of a boat that’s in the middle of a storm,” said Williamson, who is currently the officiating coordinator for nearly a dozen different conferences. “You hold the puzzle on the table and fix the puzzle.”

The biggest piece of the puzzle is placing her roughly 250 officials into position to referee all the games across the conferences she administers. Williamson said about 15 of them have opted out this season due to COVID-19 concerns.

—Associated Press

Undisclosed Sounders player tests positive for COVID-19, will miss postseason opener

A player within the Sounders’ first-team roster has tested positive for COVID-19, the club announced Monday.

The player immediately self-isolated and underwent the medical protocols required by Major League Soccer, the Sounders said in a statement. The individual will remain in isolation until medically cleared and is being monitored by the club’s medical staff.

All other Sounders players and staff continued their daily virus testing. No other positive cases have been found, and none of those tested has symptoms, the statement said. The organization implemented contact-tracing procedures and determined the player in question was not in close contact with other members of the first team in the past week.

The last round of Sounders testing was completed Monday, clearing the club to host Los Angeles FC in their Western Conference playoff opener Tuesday night at Lumen Field. The next round of testing will be Wednesday.

Read the full story here.

—Jayda Evans
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State health officials report 6,277 new COVID-19 cases over past 3 days

Washington state health officials confirmed on Monday evening an additional 6,277 coronavirus infections and 36 deaths for the past three days.

The latest update brings the state’s totals to 147,537 cases and 2,655 deaths, meaning that 1.8% of people diagnosed in Washington have died, according to the state Department of Health (DOH). The data is as of 11:59 p.m. Sunday, and reflects new cases from "roughly three days" — officials did not release any new data on Sunday citing technical issues, and on Saturday had said that a recent backlog of tens of thousands of test results had led to an undercounting of new cases for a few days prior.

"The message from health officials with the Washington State Department of Health has not changed: disease transmission is widespread throughout Washington state and we are at the highest risk we have been at throughout the entire pandemic," DOH said in a Monday evening statement.

Tallies for deaths are also higher early in the week, as DOH no longer reports COVID-related deaths on weekends.

As of Saturday, DOH officials cited a backlog of at least 53,000 results, including positive and negative COVID-19 tests and some for other diseases. The backlog, which DOH said had been cleared as of Monday, was largely due to a spike in COVID-19 testing leading up to the Thanksgiving holiday, officials said.

Because of the backlog and in an attempt to prioritize an update on positive tests, DOH said its negative test results, total tests data or percent positivity won't be available until at least Nov. 30.

On Monday, DOH also reported that 10,096 people have been hospitalized in the state due to the virus.

In King County, state health officials have confirmed a total of 39,634 COVID-19 diagnoses and 859 deaths. 

—Elise Takahama

DC boosts limits on restaurants, gatherings amid virus spike

WASHINGTON — The nation’s capital is tightening its public COVID-19 restrictions in the face of spiraling virus numbers locally and around the country.

Mayor Muriel Bowser said Monday that the District of Columbia will remain in Phase 2 of its reopening plan, but she announced a number of adjustments, “so that we can get the virus under control in our city until we get to the other side where a vaccine will be widely available.”

Starting Wednesday, Nov. 25, the maximum limit for outdoor gatherings will be reduced from 50 to 25 people and indoor gatherings will be limited to 10 people. Restaurants can continue to stay open until midnight but must suspend alcohol sales at 10 p.m. Houses of worship can continue at 50% capacity, although the maximum limit on the number of people will drop from 100 to 50.

A fledgling program that was exploring bringing back indoor live music performances will be suspended and all non-essential, non-retail businesses are encouraged to have their employees telework. Starting Monday, Dec. 14, the indoor capacity limit for restaurants will be reduced from 50% capacity to 25%, with the delay intended to give restaurants time to adjust their operations.

The new restrictions are the first major adjustments to the D.C’s reopening blueprint since the city entered Phase 2 in June.

—Associated Press

California Governor's family in quarantine after COVID-19 exposure

California Gov. Gavin Newsom, First Partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom and their four children are quarantining for two weeks after three of the four children were exposed to a California Highway Patrol officer with COVID-19, the governor’s office announced late Sunday.

All six tested negative Sunday and will continue regular testing, his office said. Newsom will continue to act as governor, working remotely.

One of Newsom’s children had already entered quarantine after potential exposure to a schoolmate.

Read the full story.

— Michael McGough, The Sacramento Bee
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Coronavirus surge has LA on the brink of a stay-home order

 

A woman checks in for her flight at the Los Angeles International Airport in Los Angeles, Monday, Nov. 23, 2020. About 1 million Americans a day packed airports and planes over the weekend even as coronavirus deaths surged across the U.S. and public health experts begged people to stay home and avoid big Thanksgiving gatherings.  (Jae C. Hong / The Associated Press)

The nation’s largest county was on the brink of a stay-home order after a surge of coronavirus cases Monday surpassed a level set by Los Angeles public health officials to trigger such an action.

A swell of new cases put the county over a five-day average of 4,500 cases per day, but Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said no action would be taken until county supervisors meet Tuesday.

If the county orders residents to say home, it would be the first such action since mid-March when Gov. Gavin Newsom followed several counties and issued a statewide order that closed schools and severely restricted movement, except for essential workers or to buy groceries or pick up food.

Cases and hospitalizations have been rapidly rising across California in November. The state recorded its highest day of positive test results Saturday with more than 15,000. It had more than 14,000 cases Sunday. Hospitalizations have increased 77% over the past two weeks.

Read the full story.

—Brian Melley and Christopher Weber, The Associated Press

‘Thanksgiving Grandma’ keeps up tradition despite COVID loss

An Arizona woman who drew widespread attention after opening her Thanksgiving table to a stranger she accidentally texted has kept the tradition going, despite losing her husband to COVID-19.

Jamal Hinton, 21, and Wanda Dench met in 2016 after the grandmother from the Phoenix suburb of Mesa texted her grandson about coming for Thanksgiving to a number that belonged to Hinton. Hinton jokingly replied he would like to come. Dench told him he was welcome.

Hinton tweeted screenshots of their exchange and subsequent meeting. Four years later, their continuing joint celebration has turned into a tradition that social media users have come to expect every Thanksgiving. Dench has been dubbed “Thanksgiving Grandma” on the internet.

“I didn’t want to miss Thanksgiving with Jamal,” Wanda Dench told AZFamily.com. This year is definitely different than all the years in the past.”

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press

Indonesia’s confirmed coronavirus cases exceed half million

Indonesia’s confirmed COVID-19 cases breached half a million on Monday as the government of the world’s fourth most populous nation scrambled to procure vaccines to help it win the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.

Indonesia’s Health Ministry announced that new daily infections rose by 4,442 to bring the country’s total to 502,110, the most in Southeast Asia and second in Asia only to India’s 9.1 million confirmed cases. It also reported a total of 16,002 deaths from the coronavirus.

Students wearing face masks sit spaced apart during a trial run of a class with COVID-19 protocol at the  Nurul Amal Islamic school in Tangerang, Indonesia, Monday, Nov. 23, 2020. (AP Photo/Tatan Syuflana)

The government is making all-out efforts to secure vaccines through bilateral and multilateral cooperation but has yet to decide which COVID-19 vaccine to use.

Indonesia’s economy, the largest in Southeast Asia, has fallen into recession for the first time since the Asian financial crisis more than two decades ago.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press
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Rules about police wearing masks vary widely across US

Although authorities have been encouraging people to wear masks to slow the spread of the coronavirus, many police departments leave it up to officers to decide whether to cover their faces while interacting with the public.

Some cities, including Chicago, Los Angeles and New York, require police to wear masks in most situations, but law enforcement officers elsewhere are exempt from such protocols.

Eugene O’Donnell, a former New York City police officer and a professor at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice said it's unreasonable to expect officers to worry about wearing a mask while also carrying weapons and complying with other responsibilities. In addition, he said, the refusal to wear masks may be a symptom of low morale among police officers who have been repeatedly attacked and vilified.

“You can’t ignore that the culture war is central to this,” O’Donnell said. “The government has kicked the stuffing out of police and used the issue as political mechanics … It’s not a real good time to ask police for anything.”

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press

Son, father farm to feed neighbors during lockdown in India

The garden that Sijo Zachariah and his father planted was a desperate measure in response to the pandemic.

But it became so much more: sustenance for a community, and a great inspiration for Zachariah to make a major change in his life.

A 22-year-old aircraft maintenance engineer living in Dubai, Zachariah was visiting the southwest India state of Kerala for a family wedding when a lockdown was declared. “That’s when the whole thing struck me. … What’s going to happen?” he said. “You know, how are we going to feed ourselves?”

Store shelves were emptying and plant nurseries were closed, so Zachariah and his father collected seeds from whatever fruits and vegetables they could find at the grocery store and planted them on their family’s plot of land where coconuts, jackfruit and rambutan were already growing.

In this photo provided by Sijo Zachariah,  Zachariah stands behind an elephant ear plant on Sept. 20, 2020, on a farm that he and his father started during coronavirus lockdown in the southwestern Indian state of Kerala. Guided by a combination of online videos and techniques Zachariah’s grandfather passed down to his father, they began a garden that eventually helped feed 20 neighboring households during the pandemic. (Sijo Zachariah via AP)

Using YouTube videos and techniques Zachariah’s grandfather had passed down to his father as a guide, they began a garden that eventually helped feed 20 neighboring households during the pandemic.

Read the story here.

—Emily Leshner, The Associated Press

Inmate at Walla Walla prison dies of COVID-19

An inmate at the Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla has become the third incarcerated person to die in a state prison from COVID-19.

The Department of Corrections says 62-year-old Michael Cornethan died on Saturday at a Walla Walla medical facility of COVID-19 and other health-related issues.

Two earlier COVID-19 related deaths occurred in June at the Coyote Ridge Corrections Center in Connell.

Cornethan had been in prison since 1983, serving a sentence of life without parole for aggravated murder out of King County. He had been housed in long-term medium custody at the Washington State Penitentiary.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press
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Catholic Church cancels Guadalupe pilgrimage over pandemic

Mexico’s Roman Catholic Church announced the cancellation Monday of what’s considered the world’s largest Catholic pilgrimage, for the Virgin of Guadalupe, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mexico’s Episcopal Conference said in a statement that the basilica will be closed from December 10-13. The Virgin is celebrated on Dec. 12 and for weeks in advance, pilgrims travel from across Mexico to gather by the millions in Mexico City.

FILE – In this Dec. 12, 2019 file photo, pilgrims arrive at the plaza outside the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Mexican Catholic Church announced on Monday, Nov. 23, 2020 the cancelation of the annual pilgrimage, the largest Catholic pilgrimage worldwide. (AP Photo/Marco Ugarte, File)

The church recommended that “the Guadalupe celebrations be held in churches or at home, avoiding gatherings and with the appropriate health measures.”

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press

Now comes the hardest part: Getting a coronavirus vaccine from loading dock to upper arm

Riverside Health System in Virginia has ordered a specialized freezer for each of its five hospitals to keep precious vials of coronavirus vaccine as cold as a deep Antarctic freeze. Public health officials in Nashville and Baltimore are revamping routine flu clinics to test delivery methods for coronavirus vaccinations.

And in Maine, top health official Nirav Shah spends sleepless nights devising drive-through immunization facilities where vaccinators won’t have to wear winter parkas in addition to their personal protective gear.

Shah’s solution? Fire stations and carwashes which provide heated shelter.

Buoyed by promising results from major clinical trials of two coronavirus vaccines, public health officials are preparing for the daunting task ahead of delivering those shots to tens of millions of Americans.

The vaccines need to be distributed across 50 states, plus U.S. territories, that have different demographics and shifting needs.

Ahmed El Kority, pharmacy director at Riverside Shore Memorial Hospital in Virginia, inspects a new ultracold freezer that will be used to store coronavirus vaccine that must be kept as cold as minus-70 Celsius. (Photo for The Washington Post by Parker Michels-Boyce).

Complicating matters: A final decision on who is eligible to get the early doses must wait for a federal advisory group’s recommendations. That can’t happen until regulators authorize the new vaccines. And once set in motion, the distribution – from loading dock to upper arm – has to be accomplished equitably and with as few handoffs as possible because it’s all being done amid a pandemic.

Read the story here.

—The Washington Post

D.C. boosts limits on restaurants, gatherings amid virus spike

The nation’s capital is tightening its public COVID-19 restrictions in the face of spiraling virus numbers locally and around the country.

Mayor Muriel Bowser said Monday that the District of Columbia will remain in Phase 2 of its reopening plan, but she announced a number of adjustments, “so that we can get the virus under control in our city until we get to the other side where a vaccine will be widely available.”

District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser speaks during a news conference in Washington, Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2020. Bowser announced Monday tightening public COVID-19 restrictions in the face of spiraling virus numbers locally and around the country.
(AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Starting Wednesday, Nov. 25, the maximum limit for outdoor gatherings will be reduced from 50 to 25 people and indoor gatherings will be limited to 10 people. Restaurants can continue to stay open until midnight but must suspend alcohol sales at 10 p.m. Houses of worship can continue at 50% capacity, although the maximum limit on the number of people will drop from 100 to 50.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press
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Shops, gyms to reopen in England under new COVID-19 plan

Haircuts, shopping trips and visits to the pub will be back on the agenda for millions of people when a four-week lockdown in England comes to an end next week, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Monday.

Johnson confirmed to lawmakers that on Dec. 2 the government will lift the stay-at-home instruction introduced early this month to curb a new surge in coronavirus cases.

The words “Let’s Change The Way We Shop” are displayed on the Selfridges department store on Oxford Street, which is temporarily closed for in-store browsing with online collection possible from a collection point, during England’s second coronavirus lockdown, in London, Monday, Nov. 23, 2020. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced plans for strict regional measures to combat COVID-19 after England’s second lockdown ends Dec. 2, sparking a rebellion by members of his own party who say the move may do more harm than good. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

Shops, gyms, personal care businesses and leisure facilities will be allowed to reopen, and collective worship, weddings and outdoor sports can resume. Fans will also be allowed back into sports stadiums for the first time since March.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press

Federal prisons to prioritize staff over inmates for virus vaccine

The federal prison system will be among the first government agencies to receive the coronavirus vaccine, though initial allotments of the vaccine will be given to staff and not to inmates, even though sickened prisoners vastly outnumber sickened staff, according to documents obtained by The Associated Press.

In this Aug. 26, 2020, file photo, the federal prison complex in Terre Haute, Ind.  The federal prison system will be among the first government agencies to receive the coronavirus vaccine, though initial allotments of the vaccine will be given to staff and not to inmates, even though sickened prisoners vastly outnumber sickened staff, according to documents obtained by The Associated Press. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy, File)

Officials at the federal Bureau of Prisons have been instructing wardens and other staff members to prepare to receive the vaccine within weeks, according to people who spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity.

The internal Bureau of Prisons documents, obtained by the AP, say initial allotments of the vaccine “will be reserved for staff.”

As of Monday, there were 3,624 federal inmates and 1,225 Bureau of Prisons staff members who have tested positive for COVID-19. Prisons are a particular concern because social distancing is virtually nonexistent behind bars, inmates sleep in close quarters and share bathrooms with strangers.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press

Health providers strike at 20 MultiCare urgent clinics in Puget Sound area

About 120 doctors, physician assistants and nurse practitioners who work at urgent care facilities within the MultiCare health system went on strike Monday, as the COVID-19 pandemic worsens, to protest working conditions and safety concerns. 

Dozens of health care providers picketed Monday at Tacoma General Hospital. They are represented by the Union of American Physicians and Dentists (UAPD) and work at 20 MultiCare Indigo Urgent Care clinics in the Puget Sound area, which provide COVID-19 testing.   

Among other things, providers want access to N95 respirators, for MultiCare to build plexiglass barriers in the lobbies, and for the company to discourage patients from using waiting rooms, Atabeygi said. 

Striking workers, including doctors, physician assistants and nurse practitioners, picket MultiCare Tacoma General hospital on Monday. The strikers work at Indigo Urgent Care facilities within the MultiCare health system. (Steve Ringman / The Seattle Times)

MultiCare said in a statement Monday morning that it anticipated “minor interruptions” at some clinics.

Read the story here.

—Evan Bush
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Virus cases rise, but hazard pay for retail workers doesn’t

With coronavirus cases rising across the country, retailers are preparing for another rush from shoppers worried about new lockdowns and pandemic shortages.

But many retail workers, heralded as heroes during the first wave of the pandemic, are not being provided with the same level of bonuses and raises this time, even as the health risks for them increase.

Amazon, which said last month that its quarterly profit had increased nearly 200%, ended its $2-an-hour pay raise for workers earlier this year and then provided a pandemic-related bonus in June, but a spokeswoman said no new hazard pay was planned.

An employee wears a face mask while working at the Amazon Fulfillment Center in Kent, Wash., on Friday, May 29, 2020. Amazon said last month that its quarterly profit had nearly tripled, but it ended its $2-an-hour pay raise for workers this spring. (Ruth Fremson/The New York Times)

The issue of hazard pay for retail workers reflects the harsh reality of the pandemic economy — a case of shifting supply and demand. In March and April, when retailers were overrun with customers and workers were calling in sick or quitting, the companies needed to give incentives to employees to stay on the job.

But when the additional unemployment benefits, totaling $600 a week, expired at the end of July, many more Americans needed jobs, making it easier for retailers to attract and retain workers.The public attention has also waned but the risks to retail workers have not.

Read the story here.

—The New York Times

Millions stick to Thanksgiving travel plans despite warnings

More than 1 million Americans a day packed airports and planes over the weekend even as coronavirus deaths surged across the U.S. and public health experts begged people to stay home and avoid big Thanksgiving gatherings.

And the crowds are only expected to grow. Next Sunday is likely to be the busiest day of the holiday period with 3 million travelling through U.S. airport checkpoints from Friday through Sunday, the biggest crowds since mid-March.

Many are unwilling to miss out on seeing family and are convinced they can do it safely even though the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last week urged Americans not to travel or spend the holiday with people outside their household.

“There is so much community transmission all over the United States that the chances of you encountering somebody that has COVID-19 is actually very, very high, whether it’s on an airplane, at the airport or at a rest area,” said Dr. Syra Madad, an infectious-disease epidemiologist for New York City hospitals.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, is spoke with The Washington Post Nov. 23 as millions of Americans set out on Thanksgiving holiday travels. (Stefani Reynolds/The New York Times)

The nation’s top infectious-diseases expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, told CBS’ “Face the Nation” that people at airports “are going to get us into even more trouble than we’re in right now.”

Read the story.

—The Washington Post

Retail trade group sees solid holiday sales despite pandemic

The National Retail Federation, the nation’s largest retail trade group, expects that holiday sales could actually exceed growth seen in prior seasons, despite all the uncertainty surrounding the pandemic.

The reason? Shoppers are looking for opportunities to spend and celebrate the holidays during tough times.

FILE – In this Nov. 29, 2019 file photo, a shopper carries a crockpot during Target’s Black Friday sale, in the Borough of New York. The National Retail Federation, the nation’s largest retail group,  expects that holiday sales could actually exceed growth seen in prior seasons despite the uncertainty surrounding the pandemic. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews, File) NYCD106 NYCD106

The trade group said Monday that it predicts that sales for the November and December period will increase between 3.6% and 5.2% over 2019 to a total ranging between $755.3 billion and $766.7 billion. Holiday sales have averaged gains of 3.5% over the past five years.

“After all they’ve been through, we think there’s going to be a psychological factor that they owe it to themselves and their families to have a better-than-normal holiday,” said NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz in a statement.

Read the story here.

—Anne D'Innocenzio, The Associated Press
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Pandemic crowds bring ‘Rivergeddon’ to Montana’s famed fishing streams

The fishing season on Madison River atop the Yellowstone plateau is nearly finished, but a season of discontent continues. Throughout the summer and fall, there have been traffic jams on the river, and the number of large fish has declined.

Some say floating the jammed river feels like the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Disneyland; a writer in a Montana wilderness journal recently coined another name for it: “Rivergeddon.”

Robert Funderburk, business manager for Bangtail Bike and Ski, a mountain bike and Nordic skiing store in Bozeman, Mont., on Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2020. Sales at the store have increased since the start of the pandemic. (Janie Osborne / The New York Times)

Last week, the Montana Department of Fish Wildlife and Parks approved a series of measure to ease the effects of crowds on the Madison River, including a cap on the number of guided fishing and rafting trips, though critics say the changes will not do much.

The phenomenon of gridlock in a natural paradise has been seen across the West for years.

But in Montana it has accelerated markedly this year, fueled by urbanites fleeing the pandemic. Now, many residents are concerned that the state that calls itself the Last Best Place has bragged a little too loudly and too often.

Read the story here.

—Jim Robbins, The New York Times

Virus deaths of senior Serb religious leaders triggers alarm

After the two most senior Serbian Orthodox Church leaders died within a month after testing positive with the coronavirus, health experts and even hardcore believers are starting to worry. The spread of the virus within the largest religious group in the Balkans is getting more alarming by the day.

A senior Orthodox Church priest, who took part in the prayers at the funeral of Serbian Patriarch Irinej on Sunday, where most virus prevention measures were ignored, has tested positive for COVID-19.

In this photo taken Saturday, Nov. 21, 2020, a priest kisses the coffin of Patriarch Irinej as he lies in repose at the St. Sava Temple in Belgrade, Serbia. After the two most senior Serbian Orthodox Church leaders died within a month after testing positive with the coronavirus, health experts and even hardcore believers are starting to worry. The spread of the virus within the largest religious group in the Balkans is getting more alarming by the day. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)

The two most senior Serb religious leaders died after COVID-19 complications. They both downplayed the dangers of the pandemic and avoided wearing masks in public, raising concerns that the Orthodox Church could be helping spread the virus with its doctrine that true believers can’t get infected during Holy Communion and other church services.

A spate of coronavirus infections have also dogged the Greek Orthodox Church, with several senior church figures catching the disease.

The death of a bishop in northern Greece earlier this month revived controversy surrounding Holy Communion, which in the Orthodox Church is given using one spoon shared among the entire congregation. In Greece, the powerful Orthodox Church has insisted this practice can’t transmit the disease as it is the body and blood of Christ.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press

Homicides skyrocket across U.S. during pandemic, while robberies and rapes plummet

Homicides across America rose more than 28% in the first nine months of this year, and aggravated assaults increased nine percent, while rapes and robberies saw significant drops compared to the same period last year, according to statistics compiled this month from 223 police agencies by the Major Cities Chiefs Association and the Police Executive Research Forum.

Some police commanders say the twin impacts of the coronavirus and civil uprisings against police violence caused them to redirect their officers away from proactive anti-crime programs, whether due to virus-related budget cuts or strategic redeployment of forces to handle the unrest.

Other officials point to job loss and other stresses of the pandemic as fueling tension and leading to violence. And with many schools shuttered, police say, many areas have seen a rise in violence involving juveniles.

Read the story here.

—The Washington Post
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Doctors and nurses want more data before championing coronavirus vaccines

Doctors and nurses, coping with the daily risk of coronavirus exposure, are expected to get top priority to receive vaccines that could become available as soon as next month. But it’s an open question how many will seize their place at the front of the line.

Winning buy-in from doctors and nurses is crucial to gaining broader public support for the vaccines, based on the high degree of trust placed in them by patients. But significant numbers of providers want more data about the vaccine before it is deployed.

A report released Thursday by University of California Los Angeles researchers said that 66% of Los Angeles health care workers who responded to an online questionnaire (not a randomized sample) said they would delay taking a vaccine. The American Nurses Association, a national union, said one-third of its members do not intend to take the vaccine and another third are undecided.

New Jersey said last week that its data showed that 66% of the state’s doctors planned to receive the vaccine. Among professionals contacted by the state, “some did not want to be in the first round, so they could wait and see if there are potential side effects,” New Jersey Health Commissioner Judith M. Persichilli said at a Nov. 9 news briefing.

Jeffre Hirschfield, a pediatrician in St. Petersburg, Florida, has shared his reservations about a coronavirus vaccine on Twitter. “It typically takes five to 10 years to successfully develop and vet vaccine candidates, especially those relying on new technologies,” he said. (Photo for The Washington Post by Octavio Jones)

Read the story here.

—Christopher Rowland, The Washington Post

Ohio governor sees growing criticism from fellow Republicans

For months, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine steered cleared of second-guessing President Donald Trump, a fellow Republican, despite their polar-opposite responses to the pandemic.

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine, middle, walks away from a plane before the start of a press conference Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2020 at Toledo Express Airport in Swanton, Ohio. On Tuesday DeWine announced a three-week 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. general curfew, with multiple exceptions, meant to slow the spread of the coronavirus as cases stay at near-record high levels. (J.D. Pooley/Sentinel-Tribune via AP)

The governor’s reward? A suggestion by the president that another Republican should challenge him in Ohio’s 2022 election after DeWine said it was time to realize Joe Biden had won the presidential race.

DeWine had won praise for his aggressive steps to slow the spread early in the pandemic, but since then he has encountered backlash from those who think he went too far with business shutdowns and believe he backed down from protecting the public.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press

Greek military setting up field hospital for COVID-19 cases

Greece’s armed forces are setting up a field hospital with more than 50 beds in the northern city of Thessaloniki as part of plans to tackle a surge in the number of coronavirus infections and hospitalizations, a senior defense ministry official said on Monday.

Deputy Defense Minister Alkiviadis Stefanis, who visited the site outside the city’s military hospital, said the field hospital would be ready by the end of the week. The field hospital is to have 50 normal beds for coronavirus patients and two intensive care unit beds.

Thessaloniki has been at the center of a spike in coronavirus cases in Greece, with its hospitals and medical staff coming under severe pressure. On Friday, health authorities appropriated two private clinics in the city and their staff to be used to treat COVID-19 patients.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press
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In Italy, theater reopens in town devastated by COVID

Opera singers perform during rehearsals for Gaetano Donizetti’s opera, Marino Faliero, at the Donizetti theater in Bergamo, Italy, Thursday, Nov. 18, 2020. In a signal of rebirth, the Donizetti theater in the northern Italian city of Bergamo  devastated by coronavirus reopened this weekend after three years of renovations.   (Gianfranco Rota/Teatro Donizetti via AP)

In a signal of rebirth, the Donizetti theater in the northern Italian city of Bergamo, devastated by the coronavirus pandemic, reopened this weekend after three years of renovations.

But the planned gala celebration had to be postponed, and new productions for an annual festival dedicated to the city’s native composer Gaetano Donizetti had to be streamed online from an empty theater.

Plans for an audience had to be scrapped after the virus started to resurge in October, even if Bergamo itself is experiencing lighter contagion than the spring, when images of army trucks transporting the dead to other regions for cremation laid bare the pandemic’s toll. The calendar was cut to three productions.

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—The Associated Press

Wisconsin congressman tests positive for COVID-19

U.S. Rep. Bryan Steil tested positive for COVID-19 on Sunday, according to a statement from the Republican lawmaker, who represents Wisconsin’s 1st congressional district.

Steil said he spent all of last week working in Washington, D.C. but will now quarantine at his Janesville, Wisconsin.

FILE – In this Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020, file photo, Rep. Bryan Steil, R-Wisconsin, speaks before President Donald Trump arrives at a campaign rally at the Waukesha County Airport in Waukesha, Wis. Steil said in a statement Sunday, Nov. 22, 2020, that he has tested positive for COVID-19. (AP Photo/Morry Gash, File)

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—The Associated Press

South Korea capital announces new virus controls

Authorities in the South Korean capital on Monday announced a tightening of social distancing regulations, including shutting nightclubs, limiting service hours at restaurants and reducing public transportation.

A man wearing a face mask walks by a banner showing precautions against the coronavirus in Seoul, South Korea, Monday, Nov. 23, 2020. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)

The measures going into effect on Tuesday also include a ban on public rallies or demonstrations of more than 10 people. Restaurants can provide only take out and delivery after 9 p.m., and public transportation will be limited after 10 p.m.

South Korea has saw the virus spread faster after authorities eased social distancing restrictions to the lowest level in October amid concerns about a weak economy. Earlier on Monday, the country reported 271 new cases of the coronavirus.

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—The Associated Press
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COVID-19 lockdowns slashed pollutants, but not CO2 levels

A slowdown in industrial activity linked to the coronavirus pandemic has cut emissions of pollutants and heat-trapping greenhouse gases, but hasn’t reduced their record levels in the atmosphere, the United Nations weather agency said on Monday.

The World Meteorological Organization pointed to a record-setting surge of carbon dioxide emissions in recent years, but warned that any reduction in levels as a result of a pandemic-related industrial slowdown will take years to materialize.

WMO cited estimates from the Global Carbon Project indicating that daily carbon dioxide emissions could have fallen by as much as 17% worldwide during the peak of the lockdown period when people in many countries were forced to stay home.

WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas said Monday after releasing the latest edition of the organization’s annual Greenhouse Gas Bulletin, “The COVID-19 pandemic is not a solution for climate change.”

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—The Associated Press

Catch up on the past 24 hours

A NEST design+build construction worker with protective mask installs siding last week at a site in South Seattle.  Residential construction has been allowed to proceed under the new COVID restrictions. 
(Steve Ringman / The Seattle Times)

Businesses, workers and consumers across Washington are plunging into the second round of restrictions better prepared in some ways than they were the first time (despite the occasional toilet paper frenzy). From homebuilders to mom-and-pop shops to Amazon, here's how businesses have learned to give themselves a fighting chance against the likely wave of closures and layoffs that threatens to swamp many.

Health experts are warning of an alarming new stage in the pandemic’s spread as Americans flood into airports for holiday travel that could seed more outbreaks this week. Sea-Tac Airport, though, says passenger estimates are down as people cancel their plans. Is it safe to fly right now? Here's what you should know.

A third major vaccine is up to 90% effective, AstraZeneca said today, and it's significantly cheaper and easier to distribute than some of its rivals. If all goes well, the first Americans could get vaccines next month

Apple Cup gone bad: It doesn't matter if you're a Husky or a Coug, the COVID-19 cancellation of "one of the most sacred rivalries in all of sports" stings awfully. Will it be rescheduled? Columnist Matt Calkins sees reason for "guarded optimism."

Bill Gates' quest to vaccinate the world: The world's second-richest man is neither a scientist nor a doctor, but he sees himself as uniquely positioned to help defeat the coronavirus everywhere by teaming with the World Health Organization, drugmakers and nonprofits. Can they do it? The success of his effort is not at all certain.

A strict stay-home order could come soon in Los Angeles County, where even outdoor dining must close this week.

A man who exhaled on two women outside President Donald Trump's Virginia golf course has been charged with assault. He didn't have a mask, but he was wearing a Trump shirt and a Trump blow-up pool tube.

King County Superior Court has suspended all in-person jury trials. Nationwide, trials are getting derailed because almost nobody wants to be a juror these days

Screaming, fighting and panic gripped Shanghai's airport when 17,000 workers were sealed in for coronavirus testing yesterday after new cases popped up. Chinese authorities are cracking down hard after a small number of cases elsewhere by testing millions of people, imposing lockdowns and shutting down schools.