Editor’s note: This is a live account of COVID-19 updates from Wednesday, November 10, 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 It is no longer being updated.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.
The White House announced on Tuesday that President Joe Biden extended federal government aid that seeks to reimburse states, tribes and territories for COVID-19 emergency response plans. The aid, extended to April 1, 2022, also covers the deployment of The National Guard to assist local hospitals with coronavirus cases or vaccinations.
Meanwhile, Moderna and the National Institutes of Health are at odds over who merits credit for developing the main component of the COVID-19 vaccine. This dispute over patent rights has broad complications when it comes to the long-term distribution of the vaccine and future profits.
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.
Can at-home COVID-19 tests make holiday gatherings safer?
Can at-home COVID-19 tests make holiday gatherings safer?
Yes, combined with vaccination, home test kits for COVID-19 can add a layer of safety and reassurance by providing on-the-spot results during this second year of pandemic holidays.
“We will be using rapid tests to doublecheck everybody before we gather together,” says Dr. Emily Volk, president of the College of American Pathologists, who is planning a holiday meal with six vaccinated family members. “We’ll be doing it as they come in the door.”
Home kits are not as accurate as the PCR tests done in hospitals and at testing sites, Volk says. But they have the advantage of giving results within minutes instead of days.
Cowboys add former CFL kicker with Zuerlein on COVID-19 list
The Dallas Cowboys are adding kicker Lirim Hajrullahu, who is in line to make his NFL debut if Greg Zuerlein doesn’t clear COVID-19 protocols before Sunday’s game against Atlanta.
Hajrullahu worked out Wednesday along with former Dallas kicker Brett Maher. Hajrullahu kicked for Winnipeg, Toronto and Hamilton in the CFL from 2014-19, making 83% of his field-goal attempts.
The 31-year-old native of Europe was with the Cowboys late in training camp while Zuerlein was recovering from back surgery. When Zuerlein’s health was in question early in the season, Hajrullahu was on the practice squad briefly.
Coach Mike McCarthy said he was hoping Zuerlein would be available against the Falcons, but acknowledged it was a long shot. Zuerlein was placed on the COVID-19 reserve list Tuesday.
Judge orders halt to Texas mask mandate ban in schools
A federal judge on Wednesday ordered a halt to the enforcement of Texas’ ban on mask mandates in the state’s schools.
U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel ruled in Austin that the ban ordered by Republican Gov. Greg Abbott violated a federal law protecting disabled students’ access to public education. The nonprofit advocacy group Disabled Rights Texas argued that Abbott’s ban prohibited accommodations for disabled children particularly vulnerable to COVID-19.
Yeakel prohibited Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton from suing school districts that require students to wear masks as a safety measure. Paxton already had sued 15 school districts to overturn those local mask mandates.
“Governor Abbott’s executive order clearly violates federal law, and Attorney General Paxton’s enforcement of the order against school districts is now stopped,” Kym Davis Johnson of Disability Rights Texas said in a statement. “As the court found, Texas is not above federal law, and state officials cannot prevent school districts from providing accommodations to students who are especially vulnerable to the risks of COVID-19.”
Read the full story here.
Alaska hospital leader hopeful about virus hospitalizations
The leader of Alaska’s hospital association cited a recent decline in hospitalizations related to COVID-19 as a possible turning point following a prolonged period in which resources at health care facilities in the state were stretched thin.
“We’re feeling like the situation (in hospitals) is becoming manageable in a way that it hasn’t been in a long time,” Jared Kosin, president and CEO of the Alaska State Hospital and Nursing Home Association, told the Anchorage Daily News.
Fairbanks Memorial Hospital announced Tuesday it was deactivating crisis standards of care in place since early October. Crisis standards of care provide guidelines for administering care in extraordinary circumstances in which there are insufficient resources to provide levels of care that patients would normally get.
A return to the less pressured “contingency” standard of care reflected lower hospitalization rates at the hospital and statewide that improved capacity and made patient transfers easier when needed, Foundation Health Partners, of which the hospital is a part, said in a statement.
State health officials confirm 2,005 new coronavirus cases
The state Department of Health (DOH) reported 2,005 new coronavirus cases on Wednesday.
The update brings the state's totals to 746,354 cases and 8,857 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. Tuesday.
According to DOH, deaths were not updated on Wednesday and one case reported on Tuesday has been removed.
In addition, 41,230 people have been hospitalized in the state due to the virus — 14 new hospitalizations. In King County, the state's most populous, state health officials have confirmed a total of 168,039 COVID-19 diagnoses and 2,022 deaths.
Since vaccinations began in mid-December, the state and health care providers have administered 10,075,081 doses and 60.7% 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 30,510 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.
States challenge Biden’s vaccine mandate for health workers
A coalition of 10 states sued the federal government on Wednesday to try to block a COVID-19 vaccine requirement for health care workers, marking a new front in the resistance by Republican-led states to the pandemic policies of President Joe Biden’s administration.
The lawsuit filed in a federal court in Missouri contends that the vaccine requirement threatens the jobs of millions of health care workers and could “exacerbate an alarming shortage” in health care fields, particularly in rural areas where some health workers have been hesitant to get the shots.
The suit follows similar ones by Republican-led states challenging new Biden administration rules that will require federal contractors to ensure their workers are vaccinated and that businesses with more than 100 employees require their workers to get vaccinated or wear masks and get tested weekly for the coronavirus. All of the mandates are scheduled to take effect Jan. 4.
Biden’s administration contends that the federal rules supersede state policies prohibiting vaccine mandates and are essential to slowing the pandemic, which has killed more than 755,000 people in the U.S. But the New Orleans-based 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals already has temporarily blocked the business vaccine rule, saying it raises “grave statutory and constitutional issues.”
COVID trends plateau in Washington state as other respiratory viruses gain steam
As COVID-19 trends in Washington state continue to plateau at high levels — with some “mild” decreases — state health officials said Wednesday morning there’s growing concern more patients are becoming sick with other respiratory viruses now that colder weather is nearing.
The state recorded a seven-day coronavirus case rate of 174.2 infections per 100,000 Washingtonians as of the last week of October, the most recent complete data. The rate was down from about 200 cases per 100,000 in mid-October.
COVID hospitalizations also continue to decrease slowly. As of late October, there was a seven-day rate of 9.1 hospitalizations per 100,000 people, down from 10.6 per 100,000 the week before. At this time last year, hospitalization rates were about the same, ranging from 9.3 to 10.9 per 100,000 people.
“When it comes to cases, particularly to hospitalizations, we are still seeing numbers higher than any of us want to see,” state Secretary of Health Dr. Umair A. Shah said during the Wednesday news briefing. “… It continues to be a difficult time in our state.”
Coronavirus infections rise in northern states, Mountain West, as holidays near
At the foot of the Rocky Mountains, Tom Gonzales, director of public health in Colorado’s sixth-largest county, made a decision in mid-October that felt like a dismaying retreat in the battle against the coronavirus. He reinstated an indoor mask mandate.
It was not a popular move, but Gonzales felt he had no choice. In Larimer County, which stretches eastward from the Continental Divide to the high plains and encompasses the city of Fort Collins, hospitals were overwhelmed by a surge of COVID-19 patients that began slowly in August, plateaued for a while — and then exploded unexpectedly once the leaves began to turn.
By the end of last week, the number of COVID-19 patients in the county’s hospitals matched the peak in December 2020.
“Everyone was like, ‘No, not again, please,’ ” Gonzales said. “There’ve been lots of twists and turns in this pandemic where we’re really surprised — and this is the biggest surprise for me.”
WHO: Coronavirus cases declining everywhere except Europe
The World Health Organization reported Wednesday that coronavirus deaths rose by 10% in Europe in the past week, making it the only world region where both COVID-19 cases and deaths are steadily increasing. It was the sixth consecutive week that the virus has risen across the continent.
In its weekly report on the pandemic, the U.N. health agency said there were about 3.1 million new cases globally, about a 1% increase from the previous week. Nearly two-thirds of the coronavirus infections – 1.9 million – were in Europe, where cases rose by 7%.
The countries with the highest numbers of new cases worldwide were the United States, Russia, Britain, Turkey and Germany. The number of weekly COVID-19 deaths fell by about 4% worldwide and declined in every region except Europe.
Out of the 61 countries WHO includes in its European region, which includes Russia and stretches to Central Asia, 42% reported a jump in cases of at least 10% in the last week.
As many try living with virus, China keeps up zero tolerance
Wang Lijie planned to spend three days in the Gobi Desert last month to take in the area’s famous poplar forest as its trees turned a golden yellow.
Instead, the Beijing resident has been stuck for more than three weeks, much of it in quarantine, after authorities discovered a cluster of COVID-19 cases in a nearby city. He was among more than 9,000 tourists who became trapped in Ejin Banner, a remote part of China’s Inner Mongolia region that is in the Gobi.
As vaccination rates rise in many parts of the world and even countries that previously had strict COVID-containment strategies gingerly ease restrictions, China is doubling down on its zero-tolerance policy.
China pioneered that approach — of strict lockdowns, multiple rounds of mass testing and centralized quarantine — during the world’s first major outbreak of the coronavirus in Wuhan. And it continues now, even as it says it has fully vaccinated 77% of its 1.4 billion people and started giving booster shots
For authorities in Beijing, control over the virus has become a point of pride, a potent tool of propaganda — and proof, they say, of a superior form of governance. They often trumpet their success at keeping deaths relatively low, especially in contrast to the United States, whose COVID-19 response the Foreign Ministry spokesman has called a “total failure.”
China has reported about 4,600 deaths — compared to more than 755,000 in the U.S., a country with less than a quarter the population.
Reading scores were dropping before the pandemic. Remote classes made things worse
Andrea Yon is used to helping students in need. At the Williston-Elko Middle School in rural South Carolina, where she has taught for seven years, more than three out of every four students are poor enough to qualify for free or reduced-priced lunch. Before the pandemic, some of her struggling seventh and eighth graders read at a fifth or sixth grade level.
“They’re now reading at a third and fourth grade level,” Yon said.
Yon used to hold silent reading time in her classroom; students could read whatever they wanted for 20 minutes. “Now,” she said, “they’re looking up after three to five minutes.”
The pandemic made a bad situation worse.
Teachers across the country are seeing more and more students struggle with reading this school year. Pandemic school closures and remote instruction made learning to read much harder, especially for young, low-income students who didn’t have adequate technology at home or an adult who could assist them during the day. Many older students lost the daily habit of reading. Even before the pandemic, nearly two-thirds of U.S. students were unable to read at grade level. Scores had been getting worse for several years.
More than a dozen studies have documented that students, on average, made sluggish progress in reading during the pandemic. Estimates of just how sluggish vary. Consulting firm McKinsey & Company calculated that U.S. students had lost the equivalent of almost half a school year of reading instruction. An analysis of test scores in California and South Carolina found that students had lost almost a third of a year in reading. A national analysis of the test scores of 5.5 million students calculated that in the spring of 2021 students in each grade scored three to six percentile points lower on a widely used test, the Measures of Academic Progress or MAP, than they did in 2019.
Mandates drive up vaccinations at colleges, despite leniency
Universities that adopted COVID-19 vaccine mandates this fall have seen widespread compliance even though many schools made it easy to get out of the shots by granting exemptions to nearly any student who requested one.
Facing pockets of resistance and scattered lawsuits, colleges have tread carefully because forcing students to get the vaccine when they have a religious or medical objection could put schools into tricky legal territory. For some, there are added concerns that taking a hard line could lead to a drop in enrollment.
Still, universities with mandates report much higher vaccination rates than communities around them, even in places with high vaccine hesitancy. Some universities have seen nearly complete compliance, including at state flagship schools in Maryland, Illinois and Washington, helping them avoid large outbreaks like those that disrupted classes a year ago.
In Russia, 83% of COVID hospital beds are filled amid surge
Nearly 83% of hospital beds designated for COVID-19 patients are filled, Russian authorities said Wednesday, as daily tallies of new infections and deaths remain at all-time highs.
Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova told a government meeting Wednesday that 82.8% of 301,500 hospital beds reserved for coronavirus patients were filled as of Tuesday morning.
The task force registered yet another record for coronavirus deaths Wednesday — 1,239, up from Tuesday’s record of 1,211. Officials also reported 38,058 new infections. Around 40,000 cases and over 1,100 deaths have been registered every day since late October.
Russia’s autumn surge in infections and deaths comes amid low vaccination rates, lax public attitudes toward taking precautions and the government’s reluctance to toughen restrictions.
Less than 40% of Russia’s nearly 146 million people have been fully vaccinated, even though Russia approved a domestically developed COVID-19 vaccine months before most countries.
US consumer prices soared 6.2% in past year, most since 1990
Prices for U.S. consumers jumped 6.2% in October compared with a year earlier as surging costs for food, gas and housing left Americans grappling with the highest inflation rate since 1990.
The year-over-year increase in the consumer price index exceeded the 5.4% rise in September, the Labor Department reported Wednesday. From September to October, prices jumped 0.9%, the highest month-over-month increase since June.
Inflation is eroding the strong gains in wages and salaries that have flowed to America’s workers in recent months, intensifying pressure on the Federal Reserve as it considers how fast to withdraw its efforts to boost the economy.
Driving the price spikes are persistent supply shortages resulting from robust consumer demand and COVID-related factory shutdowns coming out of the pandemic recession. Ports across the world have become bottlenecked. America’s employers, facing labor shortages, have also been handing out sizable pay increases, and many of them have raised prices to offset their higher labor costs, thereby contributing to inflation.
Job gains and pay raises have been much healthier during the pandemic recovery than they were after the Great Recession roughly a decade ago. But in contrast to the years that followed that downturn, when inflation was low, rising prices are diminishing Americans’ confidence in the economy, surveys have found.
White House: About 900,000 kids got virus shots in 1st week
About 900,000 kids aged 5-11 will have received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine in their first week of eligibility, the White House said Wednesday, providing the first glimpse at the pace of the school-aged vaccination campaign.
Final clearance for the shots was granted by federal regulators on Nov. 2, with the first doses to kids beginning in some locations the following day. Now nearly 20,000 pharmacies, clinics and physicians’ offices are administering the doses and the Biden administration estimates that by the end of Wednesday more than 900,000 of the kid doses will have been administered. Additionally about 700,000 first-shot appointments are also scheduled for the coming days.
About 28 million 5-11 year-olds are now eligible for the Pfizer vaccine at a dose that’s a third of the amount given to teens and adults.
Kids who begin the two-dose regimen by the end of next week will have full protection from the vaccines by Christmas.
Florida’s largest school district drops all mask mandates
Florida’s largest school district is dropping all mask mandates, allowing parents in all grades to decide whether their children should wear a face covering, the superintendent announced Tuesday.
Miami-Dade County School Superintendent Alberto Carvalho made the announcement after a judge ruled last week that Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis was within his authority to allow parents to opt out of strict mandates. But rather than cite the decision, Carvalho said coronavirus cases are dropping, adding that protocols could change if cases spike again.
“On the basis of current health conditions, which are dramatically improved, effective tomorrow parents can access the parent opt-out form from any elementary or K-8 school in Miami-Dade,” Carvalho said at a news conference, adding that those children can stop wearing masks to school by Friday.
Earlier this month, Carvalho had relaxed mask requirements for middle schoolers and high schoolers, and said he would also allow elementary school students to opt out soon if cases continued to decline.
Catch up on the past 24 hours
King County has received complaints about 150 businesses that reportedly haven’t been complying with a new countywide policy requiring patrons to show proof of vaccination or a negative test. One chef said: "We’re in the hospitality business, not the police business.”
Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers have been hit with fines for violating protocols in the wake of the team’s quarterback flaunting rules on the vaccine. The Packers play the Seahawks on Sunday.
COVID-19 has had a staggering impact on a Florida sheriff’s department, where Sheriff Gregory Tony told a memorial service for nine employees that 32% of the department's employees had contracted the disease so far. "We didn’t lose one, two, three — we lost nine,” he said. Florida's governor has prohibited vaccine mandates.
People who trust Fox News Channel and other media outlets that appeal to conservatives are more likely to believe falsehoods about COVID-19 and vaccines than those who primarily go elsewhere for news, a study has found.
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