Editor’s note: This is a live account of COVID-19 updates from Saturday, Nov. 14, 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 It is no longer being updated.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.
After ambitious campaign promises, Biden faces a governing grind
WASHINGTON — President-elect Joe Biden campaigned on a transformational liberal policy platform, calling for “revolutionary institutional changes” and $7 trillion of new spending to remake the American economy as he styled himself a modern-day FDR.
Yet Biden’s decisive electoral college victory — he won the national popular vote by more than 5 million and flipped five states — came with no coattails down ballot that would help him push through his ambitious plans. Instead, the country appears to have rejected both President Donald Trump and the idea of Democratic control, with the liberal policy overhaul it would have brought — forcing a rapid recalibration by Biden of what remains possible.
Biden’s allies say the platform on which he campaigned should not be counted out, not least because he retains the ability to govern through executive action, as did Trump and President Barack Obama. And depending on what happens in the coming months, they expect at minimum attempts to craft legislation early next year on coronavirus response and infrastructure.
Pearl Harbor commemoration ceremony to be closed to public
HONOLULU — The annual Remembrance Day ceremony to commemorate the attack on Pearl Harbor will be closed to the public this year and streamed online as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
The ceremony will begin at 7:50 a.m. on Dec. 7 at the Pearl Harbor National Memorial’s Contemplation Circle in Hawaii.
A small number of veterans will be in attendance on site, Hawaii News Now reported.
A moment of silence will be observed at 7:55 a.m., the time when the Japanese attack on the American naval base began in 1941.
“America’s obligation to honor its veterans has been a sacrosanct pillar of our society, and we encourage everyone to join us virtually for this important ceremony,” said Scott Burch, acting superintendent of Pearl Harbor National Memorial.
Navajo Nation orders new three-week stay-at-home lockdown
WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. — The Navajo Nation on Monday will reinstate a stay-at-home lockdown for the entire reservation while closing tribal offices and requiring new closures and safety measures for businesses due to rising COVID-19 cases.
The lockdown goes into effect Monday for a three-week period, tribal officials announced Friday night. A previously ordered 56-hour weekend curfew began Friday night.
Much of the Navajo Nation was closed between March and August as the coronavirus swept through the vast reservation that covers parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah in the U.S. Southwest.
The Navajo Nation Department of Health on Wednesday warned residents of new “uncontrolled spread” of the virus in 34 communities on the reservation.
Before the announcement, tribal officials earlier Friday evening reported 97 additional known cases and two more deaths, increasing the total cases to 13,069 with 598 deaths.
Mexico reaches 1 million virus cases, nears 100,000 deaths
MEXICO CITY — Mexico on Saturday reached 1 million total coronavirus cases and nearly 100,000 test-confirmed deaths, though officials agree the number is probably much higher.
Health Director General Ricardo Cortés Alcalá announced that the number of confirmed cases had reached 1,003,253, with at least 98,259 deaths from COVID-19.
How did Mexico get here? By marching resolutely, even defiantly, against many internationally accepted practices in pandemic management, from face mask wearing, to lockdowns, testing and contact tracing.
What is more, officials in Mexico claim science is on their side. Assistant Health Secretary Hugo López-Gatell says any wider testing would be “a waste of time, effort and money.” Face masks, López-Gatell says, “are an auxiliary measure to prevent spreading the virus. They do not protect us, but they are useful for protecting other people.”
President Andres Manuel López Obrador almost never wears a mask, and López-Gatell only occasionally does.
Inslee looking to ban indoor gatherings and dining, plus more COVID-19 restrictions for Washington state, industry sources say
Gov. Jay Inslee will announce Sunday sweeping new restrictions to curb surging COVID-19 cases, including a ban on indoor social gatherings and indoor service at restaurants and bars, and sharp occupancy limits for retailers, according to industry officials briefed by the governor’s staff.
“The governor’s office is looking at some possible restrictions so we can get the COVID cases down again,” Tammie Hetrick, President & CEO of Washington Food Industry Association told The Seattle Times on Saturday afternoon. Hetrick said that earlier Saturday, the governor’s staff had provided the association with preliminary outlines of the restrictions, which were to be announced Sunday morning.
Inslee is set to announce his plans in a Sunday morning news conference, wrote spokesperson Mike Faulk in an email, “and he’ll detail what he has planned at that time.”
In an email, Inslee spokesperson Tara Lee did not dispute the details circulated by industry associations about the four-week order effective Monday with restrictions on grocers, retailers, restaurants, as well as indoor social gatherings.
But that information does not give a full picture of the governor’s expected announcement, according to Lee.
In an email sent to WFIA members – and obtained by The Seattle Times – Hetrick said the governor’s staff had indicated the governor was considering four main steps.
Washington confirms highest daily total of COVID-19 cases with 2,233 new infections
For the second day in a row, state health officials have reported a record number of daily cases in Washington, with 2,233 new COVID-19 cases as of Saturday afternoon.
The latest update brings the state’s totals to 127,731 cases and 2,519 deaths, according to the state Department of Health (DOH). The data is as of 11:59 p.m. Friday. DOH does not report deaths on weekends.
DOH also reported that 9,281 people have been hospitalized in the state due to the virus, reflecting 15 new hospitalizations since Thursday.
In King County, state health officials have confirmed a total of 33,816 COVID-19 diagnoses and 836 deaths.
Pandemic firings of working parents lead to wave of bias claims
Parents who’ve lost their jobs during the pandemic are driving a surge of litigation, alleging their employers discriminated against them for taking care of their kids when schools closed.
Since March, working parents have filed at least 40 lawsuits accusing employers of illegally denying parental leave or subjecting them to other forms of discrimination, according to tallies by the law firm Barnes & Thornburg and the Center for WorkLife Law at the University of California’s Hastings College of the Law. Most of the suits have been brought by women, who are leaving the workforce in record numbers this year.
Much of the litigation from working parents has focused on a narrow issue: the implementation of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, a federal law passed in March that granted 10 extra weeks of paid parental leave to workers at small businesses.
Some parents are alleging they were denied the leave or punished for taking it. A mother in California was fired after her boss complained that her 1-year-old was making noise during conference calls. An auto-shop employee in Texas was told to “keep your mouth shut” when he asked for time off to look after his three children. And a retail manager in Pennsylvania resigned after she was threatened with demotion if she took parental leave.
‘It’s traumatizing’: U.S. coronavirus deaths are climbing again
By the time that Doug Raysby’s wife was allowed to enter his hospital room, it was too late to be sure whether he even knew she was there. After a feverish fight with the coronavirus, he lay unconscious on the bed. His wife cried through an N95 mask, while a computer tablet flashed a video stream of his children saying goodbye.
For weeks, as coronavirus cases spiked across the United States, deaths rose far more slowly, staying significantly lower than in the early, deadliest weeks of the nation’s outbreak in the spring. New treatments, many hoped, might slow a new wave of funerals.
But now, signs are shifting: More than 1,000 U.S. residents are dying of the coronavirus every day on average, a 50% increase in the past month. Iowa, Minnesota, New Mexico, Tennessee and Wisconsin have recorded more deaths over the past seven days than in any other week of the pandemic. Twice this past week, there have been more than 1,400 deaths reported in a single day.
“It’s getting bad, and it’s potentially going to get a lot worse,” said Jennifer Nuzzo, a public health researcher and senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security. “The months ahead are looking quite horrifying.”
Read the story here.
Virginia, Maryland head toward shutdown after surge
The second surge of the pandemic is well underway in the Washington region, prompting Virginia and Maryland to reinstate some shutdown restrictions this week while Washington D.C. warily monitors its rising numbers.
With the Thanksgiving holiday arriving and colder weather driving people inside at a time when many are growing tired of wearing masks, health experts predict the increases will escalate in coming weeks.
“The trends that we’re seeing are alarming,” said Eric Toner, a pandemic preparedness expert at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. “Governments need to be sensitive and responsive to changes like this.”
On Friday, after Virginia’s seven-day average for new cases had steadily climbed for a month to an all-time high of 1,546, Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam tightened restrictions for the first time since June – lowering the number of people allowed to gather indoors or outdoors to 25, while requiring customers in essential and nonessential businesses alike to wear masks and maintain physical distance.
Read the full story here.
Tips for hosting a smaller, safer, successful pandemic Thanksgiving dinner
How many people should I invite? Can I include high-risk folks?
Thanksgiving is coming up, and in normal years, that typically means feasts and large gatherings with friends and family. But due to the pandemic, the holiday is going to look a lot different this year.
Here’s what health officials are suggesting as we approach the holiday season, and how you can adapt your meal preparations for a smaller crowd.
And please let us know how you're changing your holiday plans in this pandemic era.
Austria shuts schools, most stores, to curb spread of virus
Austria announced Saturday that it is tightening its partial lockdown, including by closing non-essential stores and shifting schools to online teaching, amid galloping coronavirus infection rates in the Alpine nation.
Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said the measures had become necessary because Austria has seen 550 new cases of coronavirus per 100,000 inhabitants in the past week, a level 11 times greater than what authorities said would be sustainable.
“If we don’t react massively, then there’s a great risk that the numbers will continue to rise or stay at a high level,” Kurz told reporters in Vienna. Austrian health officials are unable to trace 77% of new cases, he added.
Starting Tuesday, the country of almost 9 million inhabitants will impose a limited curfew, banning people from leaving their homes except to go to work, get essential supplies, to exercise or to help people who need assistance. The partial lockdown is set to last until Dec. 6 .
Read the story here.
Logistics of distributing Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine are delicate and complex
For months, scientists and public-health experts have been saying the most crucial part of defusing the COVID-19 pandemic will be developing a safe and effective vaccine. So it was cause for celebration this week when Pfizer announced that an early analysis showed its vaccine candidate was more than 90% effective.
Now the drugmaker, the government and the public-health community face a new challenge: quickly making millions of doses of the vaccine and getting them to the hospitals, clinics and pharmacies where they will be injected, two separate times, into people’s arms.
If Pfizer receives authorization for its vaccine from the Food and Drug Administration in the coming weeks, as expected, the company, in theory, could vaccinate millions of Americans by the end of the year, taking advantage of months of planning and decades of experience.
But Pfizer — like other manufacturers that may soon be authorized to roll out their vaccines — does not fully control its own destiny. The effort will hinge on collaboration among a network of companies, federal and state agencies, and on-the-ground health workers in the midst of a pandemic that is spreading faster than ever through the United States.
Read the story here.
Feds investigating NW company making virus protection claims
Federal investigators are looking into a company in northwestern Washington for claiming its products, specifically copper water bottles, can protect people from the coronavirus.
The website copperH20.com invites customers to “experience the benefits of a copper water bottle” with claims that for $32.50, copper water bottles will help keep the coronavirus away, KING-TV reported.
The Federal Trade Commission has sent the company a warning letter ordering them to “immediately stop making (those) claims.”
The news outlet made several attempts to reach CopperH2O, including through email, a California phone number, and through their mailing address, which led them to the post office in the Whatcom County town of Blaine, where no post office box was listed.
The FTC said it has received 240,000 complaints about COVID-19-related products since the start of the pandemic.
Long-term care facility in Stanwood records 94 coronavirus infections
Since the first case was reported on Oct. 26, 94 people associated with a long-term care facility in Stanwood have tested positive for the novel coronavirus, according to the Snohomish Health District.
The number of cases at Josephine Caring Community nearly tripled in the last three days, the district reported.
"As we learned early on in this pandemic, COVID-19 infections can spread incredibly fast in congregate living environments like these," Dr. Chris Spitters, the county's health officer, said in a statement. "This is why we have taken such drastic measures in Snohomish County and statewide to protect these vulnerable populations."
Of the 94 infections, 53 are among residents and 41 are staff members.
Heather Thomas, spokesperson for the health district, said in an email Saturday that at least "a few" of the infected people have been hospitalized. She was unsure whether any have died.
Health district staff are supporting the facility's staff as they investigate and work to bring the outbreak under control, the statement says.
The (Everett) Herald reports that this is the second outbreak to hit the Stanwood facility, which went into lockdown in March after a handful of cases were discovered. By mid-April, 33 cases and at least six deaths were linked to the facility.
"I implore everyone to double-down their efforts so we can prevent more scenarios like this from happening," Spitters said.
Amid virus surge, Paris hospitals begin to see signs of hope for better treatments
Dry-coughing as he pedals — a hack, hack, hack after-effect of his own personal battle with COVID-19 — the doctor cycles through the dark of pre-dawn Paris, speeding to a crisis meeting at his hospital where, way back in February, the disease carried away the first of what has now become more than a quarter-million dead in Europe.
In the nine months since then, critical care chief Philippe Montravers and the 150 doctors and nurses he leads at the towering Bichat Hospital in Paris have become experts about their enemy. That knowledge is proving invaluable against the second deadly surge of the virus that is again threatening to overwhelm European health systems.
Now, there are steroid treatments that weren’t available to Bichat’s doctors in the first surge. They have also learned not to put patients on ventilators if at all possible and to instead keep them awake and bathed in oxygen, dispensed through face masks instead of invasive tubes. The sick are also savvier, and are seeking help earlier for their symptoms, making them easier to treat.
Added together, these and other advances mean that patients more often are spending days instead of weeks in critical care and surviving in greater numbers.
Read the story here.
Asia Today: India virus surge continues in New Delhi
India’s overall tally of new coronavirus cases remained steady on Saturday, but officials were watching a surge of cases in the capital that comes as people socialize during the festival season.
India’s Health Ministry reported 44,684 new positive cases in the past 24 hours and 520 deaths. Of those, 7,802 new cases were reported in New Delhi, with 91 deaths.
India’s has seen 8.7 million infections since the pandemic began — the second-most in the world — but daily new infections have been on the decline from the middle of September. The county has also seen more than 129,000 virus deaths.
New Delhi has seen a spike in recent weeks, recording more new cases than any other Indian state. The rising numbers coincide with a busy festival season nationwide, with millions celebrating Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights, on Saturday.
Read the full story here.
Surging virus cases get a shrug in many Midwestern towns
Danny Rice has a good sense of how dangerous the coronavirus can be.
What puzzles him are the people who have curtailed so much of their lives to avoid being infected by the virus.
“I’m not going out and looking to catch it,” he said, sitting at a cluttered desk in his auto repair shop in the tiny eastern Nebraska community of Elmwood. “I don’t want to catch it. But if I get it, I get it. That’s just how I feel.”
Plenty of people agree with Rice, and health experts acknowledge those views are powering soaring COVID-19 infection rates, especially in parts of the rural Midwest where the disease is spreading unabated and threatening to overwhelm hospitals.
It’s not that people in Nebraska, South Dakota, North Dakota, Iowa and elsewhere don’t realize their states are leading the nation in new cases per capita. It’s that many of them aren’t especially concerned.
Read the story here.
Catching up on the last 24 hours
Infections continue to soar across the country, with Washington reporting 2,142 new cases Friday and a dozen deaths. Many states are imposing new restrictions. West Coast governors, including Jay Inslee, asked residents to self-quarantine for two weeks after traveling out of state.
Businesses in Seattle are bracing for possible new restrictions.
North Dakota's governor imposed a mask mandate, after resisting for months. He also suspended all high school winter sports and extracurricular activities until Dec. 14.
Despite months of coronavirus fatigue, many families are rethinking Thanksgiving plans and envisioning a smaller, safer holiday.
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