Editor’s note: This is a live account of COVID-19 updates from Monday, 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 It is no longer being updated.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.
New COVID-19 cases continue to drop in Washington state and the nation, but the coronavirus’ spread is persistent and continues to affect nations around the world. The pandemic appears to be winding down in the United States in a thousand subtle ways, but without any singular milestone, or a cymbal-crashing announcement of freedom from the virus.
The global death toll from COVID-19 topped 5 million on Monday, less than two years into a crisis that has not only devastated poor countries but also humbled wealthy ones with first-rate health care systems.
In the United Kingdom, some are pushing to delay an in-person U.N. climate change conference that had already been postponed a year because of a COVID spike in the country. Russia is experiencing a ‘fourth wave’ as they struggle with a vaccination rate of about 35%.
But while many developing countries don’t have enough vaccines, Western countries are providing booster shots or have too many shots for the parts of their populace who don’t want to be vaccinated. In the U.S., fights continue over how many exemptions from vaccine mandates can be allowed among large employers and the government.
In Oregon, almost two weeks after Gov. Kate Brown mandated vaccines for public employees, data shows some local governments, especially in rural parts of the state, have allowed large chunks of their employees to take advantage of religious or medical exemptions. In the city of Medford, where 44% of the city’s emergency medical technicians asked for and received exceptions, only 56% of the city’s EMTs are fully inoculated against COVID-19. In Spokane, Washington, a few firefighters who opted to leave rather than be vaccinated might return for work, if the firefighters’ union gets their way. They would not return in their original job, but in a different role in the department, city spokesman Brian Coddington said.
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.
CDC: Immunity from vaccines is more consistent than from infection
It’s a question that scientists have been trying to answer since the start of the pandemic, one that is central to the rancorous political debates over coronavirus vaccine policies: How much immunity does someone have after recovering from a coronavirus infection, and how does it compare with immunity provided by vaccination?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has weighed in for the first time in a detailed science report released with little fanfare Friday evening. Reviewing scores of research studies and its own unpublished data, the agency found that both infection-induced and vaccine-induced immunity are durable for at least six months — but that vaccines are more consistent in their protection and offer a huge boost in antibodies for people previously infected.
In comparing the two types of immunity, scientists said research shows vaccination provides a “higher, more robust, and more consistent level of immunity to protect people from COVID-19 than infection alone.”
Coronavirus infections can cause severe disease or no symptoms at all, and the CDC found that antibody levels vary widely from one individual to another after an infection. The report also notes that there is no test authorized by the Food and Drug Administration that would enable doctors and the public to reliably measure an individual’s protection from disease. And although higher levels of neutralizing antibodies generally signal higher protection, scientists don’t know precisely what level of antibodies will protect an individual.
U.S. will make large firms give paid time off for vaccinations
The federal government will require companies with at least 100 workers to provide paid time off for employees to get vaccinated against COVID-19 and paid sick leave to recover from effects of the shots, a Biden administration official said Monday.
Those requirements will be part of a pending federal rule that will spell out how large employers will meet a requirement that workers be vaccinated or tested regularly for the virus.
The White House budget office has completed its review of the rule being written by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which is expected to be released this week.
The rule — issued under emergency standards to respond to the pandemic — will cover firms with 100 or more employees, regardless of how many are located in any particular spot.
German minister calls for vaccine centers to be reactivated
Germany’s outgoing health minister is calling on state governments to reactivate some specialized COVID-19 vaccination centers that were closed in the late summer to help administer booster shots as new coronavirus infections increase rapidly.
Germany’s standing committee on vaccination currently recommends booster shots for over-70s and a few other groups, but the health ministry has said that everyone is in principle entitled to one — drawing criticism from a group representing doctors.
The country’s vaccination campaign has slowed considerably since the summer. According to official figures, about two-thirds of the population of 83 million has been fully vaccinated.
Meanwhile, the number of new infections has risen constantly in recent weeks. On Monday, the number of new cases over the past seven days stood at 154.8 per 100,000 residents — up from 110.1 a week earlier.
Indonesia first to greenlight Novavax COVID-19 vaccine
Biotechnology company Novavax said Monday that Indonesia has given the world’s first emergency use authorization for its COVID-19 vaccine, which uses a different technology than current shots.
The vaccine is easier to store and transport than some other shots, which could allow it to play an important role in boosting supplies in poorer countries around the world.
The two-dose Novavax vaccine is made with lab-grown copies of the spike protein that coats the coronavirus. That’s very different from widely used mRNA vaccines such as Pfizer and Moderna that deliver genetic instructions for the body to make its own spike protein.
In June, U.S.-based Novavax announced the vaccine had proven about 90% effective against symptomatic COVID-19 in a study of nearly 30,000 people in the U.S. and Mexico. It also worked against variants circulating in those countries at the time, it said.
State health officials confirm 1,182 new coronavirus cases
The state Department of Health (DOH) reported 1,182 new coronavirus cases and 31 new deaths on Monday.
The update brings the state's totals to 730,108 cases and 8,659 deaths, meaning that 1.2% 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 weekends.
In addition, 40,401 people have been hospitalized in the state due to the virus — 272 new hospitalizations. In King County, the state's most populous, state health officials have confirmed a total of 165,047 COVID-19 diagnoses and 1,991 deaths.
Since vaccinations began in mid-December, the state and health care providers have administered 9,814,090 doses and 60.3% 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 21,966 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.
Russian region extends off-work order as COVID-19 cases soar
Authorities in Russia’s Novgorod region on Monday ordered most residents to stay off work for one more week starting Nov. 8 as coronavirus infections and deaths remained at all-time highs.
The Novgorod region was the first region to extend the nationwide non-working period between Oct. 30-Nov. 7 that was ordered by President Vladimir Putin.
Russia’s state coronavirus task force on Monday reported more than 40,000 new confirmed COVID-19 cases for the third straight day and more than 1,100 deaths for the seventh day in a row – the highest levels in each category since the start of the pandemic.
Putin has said that governments in regions where the situation is the most dire could start the non-working days earlier and extend them if needed.
In Moscow, the non-working period started on Oct. 28, with city authorities shutting down many non-essential businesses. In the Novgorod region roughly 500 kilometers (310 miles) northwest of the Russian capital, non-working days began on Oct. 25.
On Monday, Novgorod’s regional coronavirus task force reported 284 new infections — double the daily tally from a month ago when just over 140 new confirmed cases were reported each day. Governor Andrei Nikitin said there is no reason to expect the situation improving any time soon.
Why at-home coronavirus tests are easy to use and hard to find
In recent months, it has been difficult to find at-home coronavirus tests, particularly the rapid antigen tests found online and at most drugstores. Some retailers have sold out of the tests or limited the number that people can buy; others have warned customers that even when the tests are available, deliveries may be delayed due to high demand.
The clamor for the tests, which include Abbott’s BinaxNOW, Ellume’s Covid-19 Home Test and Quidel’s QuickVue, has increased as many states experienced a surge in COVID-19 cases at the same time that the number of professional testing sites were dwindling. As more people head back to the office, send their children to school and start to socialize more – even with the threat of the highly contagious delta variant looming – these tests give many people peace of mind.
To match the demand, the Biden administration announced last month that it would buy $1 billion worth of at-home tests, a move that could quadruple the number of tests available to the public by December.
Ugandan kids, others, lose hope, opportunities with long pandemic school closures
Uganda’s schools have been fully or partially shut for more than 77 weeks because of the coronavirus pandemic, the longest disruption anywhere in the world, according to figures from the U.N. cultural agency.
And unlike many parts of the globe, where lessons moved online, most public schools, which serve the vast majority of children in this East African country, were unable to offer virtual schooling.
In the void left, some students got married. Some are dealing with unwanted pregnancies. Others found jobs.
Efforts to control the spread of COVID-19 have resulted in the “biggest global education emergency of our time,” according to the aid group Save the Children, which last month identified 48 countries whose school systems are at extreme or high risk of collapse.
Most are in sub-Saharan Africa, a region long marked by high dropout rates and a shortage of qualified teachers, but other nations were not spared.
In Mexico, where internet connectivity is low in many places, the pandemic has been devastating for children with millions leaving school and increases in child homicides, teen pregnancies and domestic violence.
Judge limits new California law protecting vaccination sites
A federal judge has thrown out California’s new 30-foot buffer zone designed to restrict protests at coronavirus vaccination sites, though his ruling left in place other parts of a new state law despite arguments that it infringes on free speech.
The law that took effect Oct. 8 makes it illegal to come within 30 feet of someone at a vaccination site “for the purpose of obstructing, injuring, harassing, intimidating, or interfering with that person.”
U.S. District Judge Dale Drozd ruled Saturday that the 30-foot limit, which is contained in what he called the law’s “uncommon definition of ‘harassing,’” is too restrictive.
So he issued a temporary restraining order barring the state from enforcing the “harassing” portion of the law, while leaving in place the ban on obstructing, injuring, intimidating or interfering.
COVID vaccine for younger kids already being packed, shipped
Anticipating a green light from vaccine advisers, the Biden administration is assembling and shipping millions of COVID-19 shots for children ages 5-11, the White House said Monday. The first could go into kids’ arms by midweek.
By vaccinating children, the U.S. hopes to head off another coronavirus wave during the cold-weather months when people spend more time indoors and respiratory illnesses can spread more easily.
Cases have been declining for weeks, but the virus has repeatedly shown its ability to stage a comeback and more easily transmissible mutations are a persistent threat.
On Tuesday, a special advisory panel to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will meet to consider detailed recommendations for administering the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to younger children. The Food and Drug Administration already cleared the shots, which deliver about one-third of the vaccine given to adults. After CDC advisers make their recommendations, agency director Dr. Rochelle Walensky will give the final order.
Jon Bon Jovi tests positive for COVID-19, cancels concert
Jon Bon Jovi tested positive for COVID-19 during a rapid test just before he was set to perform a concert in Miami Beach.
An announcer took to the stage to give the crowd the bad news just before Saturday night’s concert at Loews South Beach was set to begin, WSVN in Miami reported.
Bon Jovi, 59, and his bandmates took rapid tests just before the concert and Bon Jovi tested positive. He is fully vaccinated. Ticket holders were required to show proof of vaccination or negative test results to get into the concert, the highlight of a three-day hotel package costing up to thousands of dollars a person.
“Jon feels great,” the announcer told the crowd, adding that the “Livin’ On a Prayer” singer was going to bed.
He also had been scheduled to participate in a Q & A session and a photo op on Saturday night.
There was no word on whether the concert would be rescheduled.
Judge freezes deadline for Chicago cops to get vaccinated
A judge on Monday suspended a Dec. 31 deadline for Chicago police officers to be vaccinated against COVID-19 but didn’t interfere with a requirement that they be regularly tested.
Disputes over vaccinations should be submitted to an arbitrator as a labor grievance, Cook County Judge Raymond Mitchell said.
“The effect of this order is to send these parties back to the bargaining table and to promote labor peace by allowing them to pursue” remedies under Illinois law, Mitchell said.
Officers who haven’t been vaccinated still must be tested twice a week under city policy. Officers also can lose work and pay if they don’t disclose their vaccine status.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s administration announced the vaccine policy weeks ago, drawing sharp objections from police union leaders.
COVID-19’s global death toll tops 5 million in under 2 years
The global death toll from COVID-19 topped 5 million on Monday, less than two years into a crisis that has not only devastated poor countries but also humbled wealthy ones with first-rate health care systems.
Together, the United States, the European Union, Britain and Brazil — all upper-middle- or high-income countries — account for one-eighth of the world’s population but nearly half of all reported deaths. The U.S. alone has recorded over 745,000 lives lost, more than any other nation.
“This is a defining moment in our lifetime,” said Dr. Albert Ko, an infectious disease specialist at the Yale School of Public Health. “What do we have to do to protect ourselves so we don’t get to another 5 million?”
The death toll, as tallied by Johns Hopkins University, is about equal to the populations of Los Angeles and San Francisco combined. It rivals the number of people killed in battles among nations since 1950, according to estimates from the Peace Research Institute Oslo. Globally, COVID-19 is now the third leading cause of death, after heart disease and stroke.
The staggering figure is almost certainly an undercount because of limited testing and people dying at home without medical attention, especially in poor parts of the world, such as India.
Hot spots have shifted over the 22 months since the outbreak began, turning different places on the world map red. Now, the virus is pummeling Russia, Ukraine and other parts of Eastern Europe, especially where rumors, misinformation and distrust in government have hobbled vaccination efforts. In Ukraine, only 17% of the adult population is fully vaccinated; in Armenia, only 7%.
US prisons face staff shortages as officers quit amid COVID
At a Georgia state House of Representatives hearing on prison conditions in September, a corrections officer called in to testify, interrupting his shift to tell lawmakers how dire conditions had become.
On a “good day,” he told lawmakers, he had maybe six or seven officers to supervise roughly 1,200 people. He said he had recently been assigned to look after 400 prisoners by himself. There weren’t enough nurses to provide medical care.
“All the officers … absolutely despise working there,” said the officer, who didn’t give his name for fear of retaliation.
In Texas, Lance Lowry quit after 20 years as a corrections officer to become a long-haul trucker because he couldn’t bear the job any longer. Watching friends and coworkers die from COVID-19, along with dwindling support from his superiors, wore on him.
“I would have liked to stay till I was 50,” said Lowry, 48. “but the pandemic changed that.”
Staff shortages have long been a challenge for prison agencies, given the low pay and grueling nature of the work. But the coronavirus pandemic — and its impact on the labor market — has pushed many corrections systems into crisis. Officers are retiring and quitting in droves, while officials struggle to recruit new employees. And some prisons whose prisioner populations dropped during the pandemic have seen their numbers rise again, exacerbating the problem.
9,000 NYC workers on leave as vaccine mandate takes effect
About 9,000 New York City municipal workers were put on unpaid leave for refusing to comply with a COVID-19 vaccine mandate that took effect Monday and thousands of city firefighters have called out sick in an apparent protest over the requirement, Mayor Bill de Blasio said.
About 9 in 10 city workers covered by the mandate have gotten vaccinated and there have been no disruptions to city services as a result of staffing shortages, de Blasio told reporters at his daily news briefing. New York has more than 300,000 city employees.
Firehouses remained open but 18 of the department’s 350 units were out of service, Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro said. Sanitation workers made an extra pickup on Sunday to ensure trash wouldn’t pile up, the mayor said.
City officials have been battling fierce resistance among a minority of workers in some critical public safety jobs, including police officers and firefighters, as well as a pending legal challenge to the mandate by the city’s largest police union.
Russia hits new high daily coronavirus cases
Russia has once again recorded a new daily high number of coronavirus cases as much of the country’s businesses remain closed in an effort to counter a weekslong surge in infections.
The national coronavirus task force on Sunday reported 40,993 new infections over the previous day, up more than 700 on the previous record of a day earlier. Russia has tallied new record of infections or deaths almost daily during October.
The death toll reported Sunday was 1,158, just slightly down from Friday’s record 1,163.
That brought Russia’s official COVID-19 death count to 238,538, by far the largest in Europe. More than 8.51 million infections have been recorded in the country of 146 million during the pandemic.
The task force counts only deaths directly caused by the virus. The state statistics service Rosstat, which counts COVID-19 deaths by wider criteria, counted 44,265 deaths in September caused directly by the virus.That would bring Russia’s pandemic-long death toll to about 461,000 as of the end of September, nearly twice the task force’s count.
Children drive Britain’s longest-running COVID surge
Britain is once again at the peak of a coronavirus surge, just over three months after all coronavirus restrictions were lifted on what Prime Minister Boris Johnson hailed as “Freedom Day.”
Cases have stayed at high levels since then, with more than 20,000 new cases recorded each day. There are almost 9,000 Britons hospitalized with COVID-19 — the highest level since March, when the United Kingdom was in the midst of a long national lockdown.
The current surge is being primarily driven by high levels of infection in school-age children, with more than one-third of all recent cases being reported in those younger than 15.
Unlike most of Europe, the U.K. was slow to approve vaccines for adolescents. The recommendation of a single dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for 12- to 15-year-olds was not announced until mid-September — weeks after many students had returned to school from summer vacation. So far, just 21% of 12- to 15-year-olds are vaccinated in England, compared with 80% of adults.
Should you travel with kids during the pandemic? Consider these 6 trip scenarios.
Sacharitha Bowers was looking forward to a beach vacation with her husband and two kids, ages 5 and 9, in Florida in August after canceling last year’s Disney World trip because of the pandemic. But as the highly transmissible delta variant sent cases soaring, the family called it off.
“We just didn’t feel like it was a necessary thing that we would want to put my kids at risk for,” said Bowers, an academic dermatologist in Springfield, Ill. She added: “It was almost a no-brainer to cancel.”
In late spring and early summer, with vaccines widely available and COVID-19 infections plummeting, parents might have understood the risks of traveling with unvaccinated kids. It’s more complicated now, but relief for parents is coming. With the Food and Drug Administration’s authorization of the Pfizer-BioNTech shot for kids 5 to 11 on Oct. 29, it will be many weeks still before children are fully vaccinated.
“The delta variant has upended everything. It is very important for people to recalibrate their risk,” said Leana Wen, an emergency physician and public health professor at George Washington University. “Some people may decide that nothing has changed for them, and that’s reasonable. But for families with young children in particular who are not yet vaccinated, they should consider using much more caution than before.”
Catch up on the past 24 hours
The 10-month-old story of vaccines in Washington is taking a new turn this week, with local vaccine clinics preparing to give a first batch of 300,000 doses to kids ages 5 to 11. Here's what you should know about kids' vaccines, side effects and the delta variant.
The world hit a grim milestone today: 5 million deaths from COVID-19, with the U.S. recording more lives lost than any other nation. The global toll is about equal to the populations of Los Angeles and San Francisco combined. Some experts see signs that the pandemic is starting to wind down, but they want the public to stay on task: “Don’t you think people in 1943 were tired of World War II?”
A 15-second breath test for COVID appears to be highly accurate, according to a new study.
The happiest place on Earth suddenly became one of the most unnerving ones last night as Shanghai Disneyland locked 33,000 people inside and kept them for hours of virus testing, apparently because a single case had emerged. Photos show the jarring scene.
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