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 It is no longer being updated.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

(Jennifer Luxton / The Seattle Times)

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Health experts clash over use of certain drugs for COVID-19

Health officials around the world are clashing over the use of certain drugs for COVID-19, leading to different treatment options for patients depending on where they live.

On Friday, a World Health Organization guidelines panel advised against using the antiviral remdesivir for hospitalized patients, saying there’s no evidence it improves survival or avoids the need for breathing machines.

But in the U.S. and many other countries, the drug has been the standard of care since a major, government-led study found other benefits — it shortened recovery time for hospitalized patients by five days on average, from 15 days to 10.

Within the U.S., a federal guidelines panel and some leading medical groups have not endorsed two other therapies the Food and Drug Administration authorized for emergency use — Eli Lilly’s experimental antibody drug and convalescent plasma, the blood of COVID-19 survivors. The groups say there isn’t enough evidence to recommend for or against them.

Doctors also remain uncertain about when and when not to use the only drugs known to improve survival for the sickest COVID-19 patients: dexamethasone or similar steroids.

And things got murkier with Thursday’s news that the anti-inflammatory drug tocilizumab may help. 

—Associated Press
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Washington State quarterback Jayden de Laura tests positive for COVID-19

Washington State starting quarterback Jayden de Laura has tested positive for COVID-19 and won’t play for the team in Saturday’s game against Stanford, The Spokesman-Review has learned through multiple sources.

It’s unclear if other members of WSU’s football team have tested positive or if any have been placed in contact tracing protocol. The Cougars are scheduled to fly to the Bay Area at some point Friday morning or afternoon for their third game of the 2020 season.

If de Laura is placed in a 14-day quarantine, it means WSU’s quarterback wouldn’t be available for the Nov. 27 Apple Cup. Redshirt sophomore Cammon Cooper and redshirt freshman Gunner Cruz are both listed as potential backups to de Laura on the team’s depth chart.

According to a source, Cruz took the first team reps at practice on Thursday in Pullman. Regardless, one of the two backups will be making his first start – and getting his first collegiate snaps – at 7:30 p.m. at Stanford Stadium.

—The Spokesman-Review

Japan, New Zealand press for open markets to boost recovery

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — Leaders from Japan and New Zealand on Friday warned countries against the temptation of retreating into trade protectionism, saying that keeping markets open is the way to restore a global economy battered by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Speaking by video link from Tokyo to a meeting of Asia-Pacific CEOs, Japan’s Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said a “free and open Indo-Pacific will be the cornerstone for the prosperity of this region.”

Japan and 14 other Asian neighbors on Sunday signed the world’s largest free trade agreement, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership. Suga, who took office in September, said Japan will next push for a wider free trade pact among the 21 members of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation.

“Amidst a risk of inward-looking temptations in the face of the slump of the global economy, making rules for a free and fair global economy is critically important,” he said. “While continuing to promote WTO reform, Japan will aspire for the Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific.”

—Associated Press

India’s total number of coronavirus cases crosses 9 million

NEW DELHI — India’s total number of coronavirus cases since the pandemic began has crossed 9 million.

Nevertheless the country’s new daily cases have seen a steady decline for weeks now.

The Health Ministry reported 45,882 new infections and 584 fatalities in the past 24 hours on Friday. The death toll since the pandemic began is more than 132,000.

Authorities in capital New Delhi are fighting to head off nearly 7,500 new cases a day while ensuring that the flagging economy doesn’t capsize again. The government hiked the fine for not wearing a mask four times to 2,000 rupees ($27) as it considered fresh restrictions.

—Associated Press
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Mexico becomes 4th country to hit 100,000 COVID-19 deaths

MEXICO CITY — Mexico passed the 100,000 mark in COVID-19 deaths Thursday, becoming only the fourth country — behind the United States, Brazil and India — to do so.

José Luis Alomía Zegarra, Mexico’s director of epidemiology, said there were 100,104 confirmed COVID-19 deaths as of Thursday. The milestone comes less than a week after Mexico said it had topped 1 million registered coronavirus cases, though officials agree the number is probably much higher because of low levels of testing.

Mexico’s living are bearing the scars of the pandemic along with their lost friends and loved ones. Many surviving coronavirus victims say the psychosis caused by the pandemic is one of the most lasting effects.

Mexico resembles a divided country, where some people are so unconcerned they won’t wear masks, while others are so scared they descend into abject terror at the first sign of shortness of breath.

With little testing being done and a general fear of hospitals, many in Mexico are left to home remedies and relatives’ care. 

—Associated Press

Canceling holiday flights? These are the latest airline policies.

With the coronavirus surging again in the United States, many people are rethinking their holiday travel plans this year. But one thing making that easier is that airlines have adjusted their cancellation policies to be more flexible (and fee-free) than they were pre-pandemic.

That means canceling your flights could cost you nothing if you are okay with receiving a credit for future travel. Deadlines to use credits have changed on a rolling basis this year and could continue to update until air travel returns to more normal levels, so check airline websites for the most up-to-date policies. (If you booked with a third-party site, check with that service for its rules.)

Read more here on six major U.S. airlines’ current policies for canceling travel because of covid-19 uncertainty.

—The Washington Post

Rachel Maddow returns to air, describes partner’s virus bout

LOS ANGELES — Rachel Maddow made an emotional return Thursday to her MSNBC show, saying her partner’s bout with COVID-19 was so serious they thought it might kill her.

Maddow has been off the air for roughly two weeks since disclosing she had been in close contact with someone who tested positive for the coronavirus. Maddow didn’t disclose who it was at the time, but said Thursday evening it was her partner, Susan Mikula.

“At one point, we really thought it was a possibility it might kill her and that’s why I’ve been away,” Maddow said.

“She is the center of my life,” she added.

Maddow said her partner is recovering and will be OK, but that it didn’t seem that way at the outset of her illness. Maddow said she’s tested negative so far for the virus.

—Associated Press
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Second patient dies in COVID-19 outbreak at MultiCare Auburn Medical Center

Five more patients have tested positive for the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 and a second patient has died at MultiCare Auburn Medical Center after an outbreak affected a behavioral health unit on the hospital’s fourth floor, the hospital system said in a statement Thursday. 

A total of 14 patients and 12 staffers have tested positive since the outbreak was discovered Nov. 5 after a patient receiving memory care initially tested positive for the coronavirus. The unit was serving 40 patients at the time the outbreak was identified. One of the patients died Nov. 10. A second died Nov. 16.

The hospital system has already tested 212 employees who had worked in the unit in the two weeks before the initial case was discovered. The hospital system has conducted additional follow-up testing on employees and is awaiting more results. 

MultiCare said in the news release that it had been challenging to control the spread of the virus in this particular unit. 

According to the statement: “ … These COVID-19 cases are confined to this locked unit where visitors are not allowed. The affected patient population, in particular, is unable to be consistently compliant with masking and tends to comingle with fellow patients more than other units in the hospital.”

Read the full story here.

—Evan Bush

Oregon hits three COVID-19 records: Cases, deaths and hospitalizations

SALEM, Ore. – The Oregon Health Authority reported three grim COVID-19 record highs Thursday, the state’s largest daily number of confirmed cases, most daily deaths and people hospitalized for the virus.

There were 1,225 new confirmed COVID-19 cases increasing the state total to 60,873. There were 20 new deaths reported, surpassing the 800 death toll since the start of the pandemic.


The number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 in Oregon is 414, the highest number since the pandemic began and a 142% increase since the beginning of November, according to state health data released Thursday.

—The Associated Press

Anti-inflammatory drug authorized for COVID-19 treatment

WASHINGTON– Federal regulators have authorized emergency use of another COVID-19 treatment, the anti-inflammatory drug baricitinib, to be used in combination with a drug already used to treat severely ill, hospitalized patients.


The Food and Drug Administration on Thursday cleared the new use for Eli Lilly’s pill baricitinib plus remdesivir for hospitalized adults and children two years and older requiring oxygen or ventilation therapy.


Remdesivir is the first and only drug approved by FDA to treat COVID-19. The emergency clearance for baricitinib acts as a preliminary approval until more data is available showing the drug works for COVID-19.


The FDA said the drug combination appeared to reduce recovery time in hospitalized patients, compared to patients who received only remdesivir.
The agency said ongoing research will be needed to confirm the benefit.

Indianapolis-based Lilly already sells baricitinib as Olumiant to treat rheumatoid arthritis, the less common form of arthritis that occurs when the immune system attacks joints, causing inflammation. An overactive immune system also can lead to serious problems in coronavirus patients.


The FDA based its decision on a 1,000-patient study in which patients were randomly assigned to receive the drug combination– baricitinib plus remdesivir– or remdesivir plus a placebo. 

—The Associated Press
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Heading into holidays, US COVID-19 testing strained again

Motorists wait in long lines to take a coronavirus test in a parking lot at Dodger Stadium, Wednesday, Nov 18, 2020, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)
Motorists wait in long lines to take a coronavirus test in a parking lot at Dodger Stadium, Wednesday, Nov 18, 2020, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)

NEW YORK — With coronavirus cases surging and families hoping to gather safely for Thanksgiving, long lines to get tested have reappeared across the U.S. — a reminder that the nation’s testing system remains unable to keep pace with the virus.

The delays are happening as the country braces for winter weather, flu season and holiday travel, all of which are expected to amplify a U.S. outbreak that has already swelled past 11.5 million cases and 250,000 deaths.

Laboratories warned that continuing shortages of key supplies are likely to create more bottlenecks and delays, especially as cases rise across the nation and people rush to get tested before reuniting with relatives.

“As those cases increase, demand increases and turnaround times may increase,” said Scott Becker, CEO of the Association of Public Health Laboratories. “So it’s like a dog chasing its tail.”

Lines spanned multiple city blocks at testing sites across New York City this week, leaving people waiting three or more hours before they could even enter health clinics. In Los Angeles, thousands lined up outside Dodger Stadium for drive-thru testing.

“This is insane,” said 39-year-old Chaunta Renaud as she entered her fourth hour waiting to enter a so-called rapid testing site in Brooklyn on Tuesday. Renaud and her husband planned to get tested before Thanksgiving, when they will drive to pick up her mother for the holiday. “We got tested before and it wasn’t anything like this,” she said.

Read the full story here.

—The Associated Press

New COVID-19 testing site available Friday at Highline College

A new, free test site for the COVID-19 will be available beginning Friday at Highline College in Des Moines, according to a news release from Public Health - Seattle & King County.

The CHI Fransciscan hospital system will operate the testing site Monday through Saturday from 9:30 am – 5:30 pm. The testing is free.

Public Health - Seattle & King County said the testing location could help “control the spread of COVID-19 in a disproportionately affected region,” the news release said.

Public Health - Seattle & King County is encouraging people to schedule testing, but it is not required. Those seeking testing should bring identification and an insurance card, if they have them. Those documents are not required.

—Evan Bush

State confirms 1,987 new COVID-19 cases -- 574 in King County -- and 11 new deaths

The state Department of Health (DOH) reported 1,987 new COVID-19 cases as of Wednesday, and 11 new deaths.

In King County, the state’s most populous, 574 new cases were reported, along with 1 new death.

The update brings the state’s totals to 137,411 cases and 2,603 deaths, meaning that 1.9% of people diagnosed in Washington have died, according to the DOH. The data is as of 11:59 p.m. Wednesday. 

The DOH also reported that 9,653 people have been hospitalized in the state due to the virus-- 31 new hospitalizations since Wednesday.

Statewide, 2,856,474 COVID-19 tests have been administered as of Wednesday.

In King County, state health officials have confirmed a total of 36,471 COVID-19 diagnoses and 846 deaths. 

—Nicole Brodeur
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250,000 lives lost: How the pandemic compares to other deadly events in U.S. history

World War II veterans gathered to commemorate Pearl Harbor Day at the World War II Memorial in Washington in 2016. MUST CREDIT: Washington Post photo by Michael Robinson Chavez
World War II veterans gathered to commemorate Pearl Harbor Day at the World War II Memorial in Washington in 2016. MUST CREDIT: Washington Post photo by Michael Robinson Chavez

Nearly 250,000 people in the United States have died from COVID-19 since February, and many public health officials warn the pandemic is just entering its deadliest phase. Yet, as the country confronts this horrifying death toll, there is little understanding of what a loss of this size represents.

Here is some historical perspective about losing a quarter of a million people, looking at major events in our past that have cost American lives.

More than 58,000 Americans were killed during the decade-plus of involvement in the Vietnam War. So the pandemic’s fatalities represent four Vietnam Wars since February.

During the Korean War, nearly 37,000 Americans were lost — COVID-19 has claimed nearly seven times more.

During World War II, the country mourned 405,000 members of the “Greatest Generation.” The pandemic has taken nearly two-thirds as many people, a lot of them old enough to remember the fight against the Nazis and the Japanese.

And World War I? 116,000 U.S. dead in two years of fighting. The pandemic has more than doubled that number in a fraction of the time.

Read the full story here.

—The Washington Post

D.C. preparing for pandemic Inauguration Day

On the heels of a norm-shattering presidential election and amid a surging pandemic, federal and local officials are laying the groundwork for a presidential inauguration unlike any other.

They are under pressure to stage an event that will kick-start a new chapter in American history and begin to heal a nation bruised by its deep partisan divides.

Construction continues on the presidential inaugural platform at the Capitol on Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2020. Inauguration Day is Jan. 20, 2021. (Washington Post photo by Katherine Frey).
Construction continues on the presidential inaugural platform at the Capitol on Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2020. Inauguration Day is Jan. 20, 2021. (Washington Post photo by Katherine Frey).

But they are also operating within the constraints of a health crisis that has upended traditions dependent on massive gatherings and cross-country travel.

The makeup and scale of the coming inauguration remains in flux, but almost certainly the Jan. 20, 2021 inauguration will look different than any before.

Read the story here.

—The Washington Post

Sweden rejects face masks as COVID cases soar, ICU beds fill up

Commuters get off a tram in Stockholm, Sweden, on Nov. 11, 2020. On Thursday, Sweden rejected face masks even as COVID cases soared. (Bloomberg photo by Mikael Sjoberg)
Commuters get off a tram in Stockholm, Sweden, on Nov. 11, 2020. On Thursday, Sweden rejected face masks even as COVID cases soared. (Bloomberg photo by Mikael Sjoberg)

Sweden’s health authorities reiterated their skepticism toward face masks on Thursday, despite evidence that the coronavirus is spreading rapidly through the country and putting more people into intensive care.

The policy has drawn sharp criticism from the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, which awards Nobel Prizes in Physics, Chemistry and Economics. It published a statement earlier in the day in defense of masks.

Sweden, which has a much higher COVID-19 death rate than other Nordic countries, has so far avoided a lockdown. The country has instead relied on voluntary measures in an effort to get Swedes to stay far enough apart to avoid infecting each other.

But the latest infection rates show the strategy is faltering, and Prime Minister Stefan Lofven has stepped up his rhetoric to urge people to do more, or face a “really dark” winter with the virus.

Read the story here.

—Bloomberg
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Brexit trade talks suspended because of COVID-19 case

As if the Brexit trade negotiations were not tortuous enough, the coronavirus added a twist at a crucial stage on Thursday when top-level talks had to be suspended because an EU negotiator tested positive for COVID-19.

It added uncertainty to the negotiations as a deadline looms ever closer and both sides are still divided on three key issues.

Any long suspension will make it tougher for the negotiators to clinch a deal ahead of Jan. 1, when the existing trade agreements between the EU and Britain expire.

FILE – In this file photo dated  Thursday, Nov. 12, 2020, European Commission’s Head of Task Force for Relations with the United Kingdom Michel Barnier, centre, leaves the Conference Centre in London with unidentified members of his team.  The Brexit trade negotiations have been suspended Thursday Nov. 19, 2020, at a crucial stage because an EU negotiator has tested positive for the coronavirus and EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier said that “we have decided to suspend the negotiations at our level for a short period.”  (AP Photo/Frank Augstein, FILE)
FILE – In this file photo dated Thursday, Nov. 12, 2020, European Commission’s Head of Task Force for Relations with the United Kingdom Michel Barnier, centre, leaves the Conference Centre in London with unidentified members of his team. The Brexit trade negotiations have been suspended Thursday Nov. 19, 2020, at a crucial stage because an EU negotiator has tested positive for the coronavirus and EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier said that “we have decided to suspend the negotiations at our level for a short period.” (AP Photo/Frank Augstein, FILE)

The U.K. left the EU on Jan. 31, but a transition period when EU rules apply to trade and other issues runs until the end of December. Both sides had hoped to get a trade deal by then to protect hundreds of thousands of jobs and businesses that could suffer if Brexit leads to a sharp end to existing trade relations.

If there is no deal, businesses on both sides of the English Channel will face tariffs and other barriers to trade starting on Jan. 1. That would hurt economies on both sides, with the impact falling most heavily on the U.K., whose economy is already reeling under the coronavirus pandemic.

Read the story here.

—Raf Casert, The Associated Press

German parliament investigates harassment during virus vote

German parliamentary officials are investigating how people protesting against government lockdown measures were able to enter the Bundestag building and harangue lawmakers before a crucial vote.

Senior lawmakers met Thursday to examine allegations that deputies from the far-right Alternative for Germany, or AfD, party used their credential to help a small number of protesters get through security.

Video posted on social media showed a female protester accusing Economy Minister Peter Altmaier of having “no conscience” and insulting him. Altmaier said Thursday that he had shrugged off the incident, but was sad that other lawmakers had also been harassed.

The incident happened as thousands of people protested parliament’s passing of a bill providing legal underpinning for the government to issue social distancing rules, require masks in public and to close stores and other venues to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Berlin police used water cannons and pepper spray to disperse protesters after they defied orders to wear masks.

Police officers try to push back protesters on a blocked a road between the Brandenburg Gate and the Reichstag building, home of the German federal parliament, as people attend a protest rally in front of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, Germany, Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2020 against the coronavirus restrictions in Germany. Police in Berlin have requested thousands of reinforcements from other parts of Germany to cope with planned protests by people opposed to coronavirus restrictions. (Fabian Sommer/dpa via AP)
Police officers try to push back protesters on a blocked a road between the Brandenburg Gate and the Reichstag building, home of the German federal parliament, as people attend a protest rally in front of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, Germany, Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2020 against the coronavirus restrictions in Germany. Police in Berlin have requested thousands of reinforcements from other parts of Germany to cope with planned protests by people opposed to coronavirus restrictions. (Fabian Sommer/dpa via AP)

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press

Ethiopia’s multiple crises: War, COVID-19, even locusts

 Ethiopia could hardly bear another emergency, even before a deadly conflict exploded in its northern Tigray region this month.

Now, tens of thousands of refugees are fleeing into Sudan, and food and fuel are running desperately low in the sealed-off Tigray region, along with medical supplies and even resources to combat a major locust outbreak.

Ethiopian refugees rest in Qadarif region, easter Sudan, Wednesday, Nov 18, 2020. The U.N. refugee agency says Ethiopia’s growing conflict has resulted in thousands fleeing from the Tigray region into Sudan as fighting spilled beyond Ethiopia’s borders and threatened to inflame the Horn of Africa region. The UN says with additional threats from locusts, hunger and coronavirus, a full-scale humanitarian crisis is looming. (AP  Photo/Marwan Ali)
Ethiopian refugees rest in Qadarif region, easter Sudan, Wednesday, Nov 18, 2020. The U.N. refugee agency says Ethiopia’s growing conflict has resulted in thousands fleeing from the Tigray region into Sudan as fighting spilled beyond Ethiopia’s borders and threatened to inflame the Horn of Africa region. The UN says with additional threats from locusts, hunger and coronavirus, a full-scale humanitarian crisis is looming. (AP Photo/Marwan Ali)

The United Nations warns of a looming “full-scale humanitarian crisis” due to the combined forces of war, locusts, hunger and COVID-19 with more than 100,000 confirmed coronavirus infections this month.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press
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On thin ice: Dutch speedskating race under threat from virus

A near-mythical Dutch speedskating race could fall victim to the coronavirus pandemic — even if the looming winter is cold enough to stage it for the first time in more than 20 years, organizers said Thursday.

The Elfstedentocht, or Eleven Towns Tour, is a roughly 200 kilometer (125-mile) speedskating race along frozen canals and lakes in the northern province of Friesland.

FILE – In this Saturday, Jan. 4, 1997, file image, skaters pass a windmill at the village of Birdaard, northern Netherlands, during the Elfstedentocht, or Eleven Towns Tour. The near-mythical Dutch speedskating race could fall victim to the coronavirus pandemic, even if the looming winter is cold enough to stage it for the first time in more than 20 years, organizers said Thursday Nov. 19, 2020. (AP Photo/Dimitri Georganas, File)
FILE – In this Saturday, Jan. 4, 1997, file image, skaters pass a windmill at the village of Birdaard, northern Netherlands, during the Elfstedentocht, or Eleven Towns Tour. The near-mythical Dutch speedskating race could fall victim to the coronavirus pandemic, even if the looming winter is cold enough to stage it for the first time in more than 20 years, organizers said Thursday Nov. 19, 2020. (AP Photo/Dimitri Georganas, File)

The event can only go ahead when the ice across the region is thick enough to carry thousands of skaters who take part. It has only been held 15 times since the first official race in 1909 and the gap since the last race in 1997 is now the longest ever.

Even if the waters freeze this winter, organizers say they won’t be able to stage the race if coronavirus social distancing measures are in force. The Netherlands is currently in a partial lockdown imposed in mid-October.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press

West Seattle startup helps mask wearers let their smiles shine

A West Seattle company, FriendlyFace,  wants to bring back smiling in public with selfie-based masks and gaiters. (Courtesy of FriendlyFace)
A West Seattle company, FriendlyFace, wants to bring back smiling in public with selfie-based masks and gaiters. (Courtesy of FriendlyFace)

These days when we tell our friends we miss their faces, we really mean it.

It was interesting to see masks highlighting causes, cute fabrics and novel constructions, but we’re over that, aren’t we? Don’t we just wish for an old-fashioned smile?

That, along with the desire to make people want to wear masks, is what motivated the folks at Friendly Face in West Seattle to figure how to create reusable, realistic masks using selfies taken with existing camera depth sensors.

We were frustrated by not being able to see people’s faces in public spaces, the mask creators write. “We wanted to bring levity, empathy and safety to the new reality we live in.”

The masks and gaiters are $29 each and includes a laundry bag, ear saver, cord locks and two charcoal filters.

Read the story here.

—Christine Clarridge

Please don't travel for Thanksgiving, CDC urges

Alarmed by the exponential increase in cases and rising hospitalizations, the CDC issued new guidance Thursday reminding Americans that the safest way to celebrate Thanksgiving is to do so with only your own household and urging people not to travel.

According to the new guidelines, the U.S. has reported over 1 million new COVID-19 cases in the last week.

"As cases continue to increase rapidly across the United States, the safest way to celebrate Thanksgiving is to celebrate at home with the people you live with," the CDC said on its website. "Gatherings with family and friends who do not live with you can increase the chances of getting or spreading COVID-19 or the flu."

The CDC went on to redefine its definition of "household" as those who have been living together in one home for the past 14 days or more.

Read the story here.

Read the guidelines here.

—Christine Clarridge
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Will social distancing weaken my immune system?

Will social distancing weaken my immune system?

In short, no.

Some worry a lack of contact with others will weaken their immune system by reducing its active contact with germs.

But even when we’re staying 6 feet from others or spending most of our time at home, our bodies are continuously responding to plenty of bacteria and other germs that inhabit indoor and outdoor environments.

Will social distancing weaken my immune system? AP Illustration/Peter Hamlin
Will social distancing weaken my immune system? AP Illustration/Peter Hamlin

“We’re constantly exposed to microbes,” said Akiko Iwasaki, an immune system researcher at Yale University. “Our immune system is always being triggered.”

Experts say anyone looking to boost their immune health during the pandemic should practice habits such as stress management, healthy eating, regular exercise and getting enough sleep.

“These are the things that actually affect the immune system,” Iwasaki said.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press

Every toilet flush reveals a clue in fight to stop COVID-19

Plumber Andrey Dzusev assembles a high-efficiency toilet for installation in 2012 at King Plaza on Martin Luther King Jr. Way South in Seattle. Signs of the novel coronavirus show up in sewers about a week before people surge into hospitals with symptoms of the disease. (Seattle Times file)
Plumber Andrey Dzusev assembles a high-efficiency toilet for installation in 2012 at King Plaza on Martin Luther King Jr. Way South in Seattle. Signs of the novel coronavirus show up in sewers about a week before people surge into hospitals with symptoms of the disease. (Seattle Times file)

With COVID-19 infections spiking again at an alarming rate, Chicago is scrambling to catch up to other cities forecasting outbreaks by analyzing human waste flushed down thousands of toilets.

Signs of the novel coronavirus show up in sewers about a week before people surge into hospitals with symptoms of the disease, which during the past nine months has killed more than 1.3 million people worldwide, including 246,000 in the United States.

In an attempt to provide doctors and nurses with more time to prepare for outbreaks, 20 communities in 43 countries are collecting sewage samples and posting charts showing changes over time in the genetic signature of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

Researchers from four universities and Argonne National Laboratory are rushing to add Chicago to the list early next year.

“It’s much more efficient to test wastewater from a neighborhood, where a couple of samples could tell you as much as testing 500 people over and over again, said Sam Dorevitch, a University of Illinois at Chicago scientist involved in the project.

The Chicago research is part of a fast-growing effort to streamline methods used for decades to track disease and pollution. Sewage monitoring helped investigators trace a 2013 polio outbreak in Israel and, more recently, directed social services in a handful of American cities hit hard by the opioid epidemic.

—Michael Hawthorne, Chicago Tribune

Oxford scientists expect COVID-19 vaccine data by Christmas

University of Oxford scientists expect to report results from the late-stage trials of their COVID-19 vaccine by Christmas, a key researcher said Thursday as he discussed the team’s latest findings.

Dr. Andrew Pollard, an expert in pediatric infection and immunity at Oxford, said research was slowed by low infection rates over the summer, but the Phase III trials are now accumulating the data needed to report results as a renewed surge of the pandemic hits countries around the world. Oxford is developing its vaccine in conjunction with the drugmaker AstraZeneca.

“I think we’re getting close, and it’s definitely going to be before Christmas based on the progress,” Pollard said in an interview with the BBC.

A laboratory technician supervises filling and packaging tests for the large-scale production and supply of the University of Oxfords COVID-19 vaccine candidate, Photographer: Vincenzo Pinto/AFP/Getty Images (Photographer: Vincenzo Pinto/AFP/Getty Images)
A laboratory technician supervises filling and packaging tests for the large-scale production and supply of the University of Oxfords COVID-19 vaccine candidate, Photographer: Vincenzo Pinto/AFP/Getty Images (Photographer: Vincenzo Pinto/AFP/Getty Images)

Pollard discussed progress in the late-stage trials as Oxford released a study based on earlier research that found the vaccine was well tolerated and produced a strong immune response in people over 70. This is important because vaccines often don’t work as well in older people, Pollard said.

The findings were based on a so-called phase II trial of 560 people, including 240 over the age of 70. The results of the peer-reviewed study were published Thursday in the Lancet, an international medical journal.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press
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Deadly second wave of virus surging across Middle East, WHO warns

As winter nears and coronavirus cases surge across the Middle East, the regional director for the World Health Organization said Thursday that the only way to avoid mass deaths is for countries to quickly tighten restrictions and enforce preventative measures.

In a press briefing from Cairo, Ahmed al-Mandhari, director of WHO’s eastern Mediterranean region, which comprises most of the Middle East, expressed concern that countries in the area were lowering their guard after tough lockdowns imposed earlier this year.

“We cannot — and should not — wait until a safe and effective vaccine becomes readily available for all,” he said. “We simply do not know when this will be.”

FILE – In this Sunday, Oct. 11, 2020 file photo, people wear protective face masks to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus in downtown Tehran, Iran. For the third time in a week, Iran on Wednesday marked its highest single-day record for new deaths and infections from the coronavirus, with 279 people killed and 4,830 new patients. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi, File)
FILE – In this Sunday, Oct. 11, 2020 file photo, people wear protective face masks to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus in downtown Tehran, Iran. For the third time in a week, Iran on Wednesday marked its highest single-day record for new deaths and infections from the coronavirus, with 279 people killed and 4,830 new patients. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi, File)

More than 60% of all new infections in the past week were reported from Iran, Jordan and Morocco, he said. Jordan, Tunisia and Lebanon have reported the biggest single-day death spikes from the region and Iran shattered its single-day death toll six times in the last two weeks.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press

Dublin Zoo pleaded for pandemic help. Supporters gave $1.2 million in hours.

Amid a second pandemic lockdown in Ireland, many businesses are struggling to stay afloat, with funds dwindling and no end of the coronavirus in sight.

Among them is Dublin Zoo, which issued a fundraising appeal this week to prevent it from permanently closing its doors. By Wednesday evening, just hours after making the plea for support, the zoo had received more than 1 million euros (about $1.2 million) in donations from the public, in addition to pledges from the government.

The zoo, which claims to be Ireland’s third-most-visited attraction, has been closed for five months this year.

Read the story here.

—The New York Times

African continent hits 2 million confirmed coronavirus cases

Without practicing social distancing people queue for social grant payments at a post office in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, Friday, Nov. 13, 2020. The African continent has surpassed 2 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 as health officials warn of infections starting to creep up again into a second surge. (AP Photo/Theo Jeptha)
Without practicing social distancing people queue for social grant payments at a post office in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, Friday, Nov. 13, 2020. The African continent has surpassed 2 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 as health officials warn of infections starting to creep up again into a second surge. (AP Photo/Theo Jeptha)

Africa has surpassed 2 million confirmed coronavirus cases as the continent’s top public health official warned Thursday that “we are inevitably edging toward a second wave” of infections.

The Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the 54-nation continent had crossed the milestone.

“We cannot relent. If we relent, then all the sacrifices we put into efforts over the past 10 months will be wiped away,” Africa CDC director John Nkengasong told reporters. While the world takes hope from promising COVID-19 vaccines, African health officials also worry the continent will suffer as richer countries buy up supplies.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press
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Someone in Europe is dying every 17 seconds from COVID-19, WHO says

A worker in full  protective gear disinfects the casket of someone who died of COVID-19 at a funeral home in Charleroi, Belgium. Belgium is one of the hardest-hit countries in Europe with more than 14,400 deaths linked to the coronavirus. (Francisco Seco / The Associated Press)
A worker in full protective gear disinfects the casket of someone who died of COVID-19 at a funeral home in Charleroi, Belgium. Belgium is one of the hardest-hit countries in Europe with more than 14,400 deaths linked to the coronavirus. (Francisco Seco / The Associated Press)

Europe’s painful second coronavirus wave may be starting to ease, a top World Health Organization official said Thursday, as cases drop slightly even though over the past week someone on the continent died every 17 seconds from the virus.

The cautious prognosis came after new diagnoses of the novel coronavirus slowed last week across Europe to 1.8 million cases, compared with 2 million the week before last. Hospitals across the continent remain packed, a situation that sharply increases the chance that patients will die of the disease.

European countries have been hit hard since October, with cases skyrocketing in the past month and a half.

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—The Washington Post

Advice to Dutch government: Vaccinate elderly and ill first

An advisory panel said Thursday that the Dutch government should prioritize coronavirus vaccinations for people over age 60, those with underlying health problems and frontline health care workers when the first shots become available.

The advice from the Health Council of the Netherlands tackles the question of who should get first access to the vaccines — a potentially thorny issue that governments around the world are starting to confront with vaccines against the virus likely becoming available in the coming months.

FILE – In this file photo dated Friday, April 24, 2020, a police officer is silhouetted as he passes a mural by artist Casper Cruse, showing a woman with a face mask holding a heart in the colors of the dutch flag in support for those suffering from the effects of the coronavirus, in The Hague, Netherlands. A Dutch advisory panel said Thursday Nov. 19, 2020, that the country’s government should prioritize coronavirus vaccinations for people over age 60, those with underlying health problems and frontline health care workers when the first shots become available. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong, FILE)
FILE – In this file photo dated Friday, April 24, 2020, a police officer is silhouetted as he passes a mural by artist Casper Cruse, showing a woman with a face mask holding a heart in the colors of the dutch flag in support for those suffering from the effects of the coronavirus, in The Hague, Netherlands. A Dutch advisory panel said Thursday Nov. 19, 2020, that the country’s government should prioritize coronavirus vaccinations for people over age 60, those with underlying health problems and frontline health care workers when the first shots become available. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong, FILE)

Dutch Health Minister Hugo de Jonge tweeted that the council’s recommendation was clear: “Give priority in vaccinations to the elderly, the ill and health care workers.”

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press

Catch up on the past 24 hours

If you're feeling fine and just want to make sure you don't have COVID-19 so you can celebrate Thanksgiving with family, please stay away, Seattle's testing leader says. Health officials and medical experts are imploring everyone to steer clear of Turkey Day gatherings as the virus spreads faster than it has in months, and leave the test sites accessible to those who have symptoms. In case that's you or someone you love, here's our updating list of where to get tested. And a free online tool allows you to calculate your risk of encountering someone who has the virus at a Thanksgiving gathering.

A quarter-million Americans are dead from COVID-19. Experts think we'll soon see 2,000 U.S. deaths per day: "It all depends on what we do." But nurses and doctors feel like they're "yelling into the abyss" as cases explode and conditions inside U.S. hospitals rapidly deteriorate. Some are housing patients in parking garages and cafeterias, while others think they'll soon need to ration care.

Should college students get a COVID-19 test before heading home for the holidays? Some schools are urging or even requiring it, but it doesn’t give you a free pass, one health official explains. Meanwhile, a flare-up has Western Washington University locking down harder

Where you sit on a plane or bus matters. If you must travel over Thanksgiving — again, not the safest idea — know how to minimize your risk.

Restaurants are pushing back against our state's ban on indoor dining, with the Washington Hospitality Association urging Gov. Jay Inslee to reconsider and not throw thousands of people out of work. Here's what the research says about exposure at restaurants.

Tyson Foods managers had a "winner-take-all" bet on how many workers would get COVID-19 as the virus tore through an Iowa meat plant, a wrongful-death lawsuit alleges. The number ended up topping 1,000.

U.S. Rep. Dan Newhouse has become the first member of Washington’s congressional delegation to disclose a positive test. WSU men's basketball coach Kyle Smith also tested positive and will miss the first game.