Editor’s note: This is a live account of COVID-19 updates from Tuesday, November 2, 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 It is no longer being updated.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.
COVID-19 related deaths across the globe topped 5 million in a span of fewer than two years on Monday. The United States has the highest COVID-19 death toll of any nation. with 745,000 recorded deaths during the pandemic.
Meanwhile, the Centers for Disease and Control shared a report detailing research that both infection-induced and vaccine-induced immunity lasts at least six months, but that vaccines are more consistent in their protection and offer a huge boost in antibodies for people previously infected.
Despite advice from top health officials, some individuals have opted to not comply with vaccine mandates. About 9,000 municipal workers in NYC were placed on unpaid leave for refusing to abide by the vaccine mandate, which took effect Monday.
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.
US gives final clearance to COVID-19 shots for kids 5 to 11
U.S. health officials on Tuesday gave the final signoff to Pfizer’s kid-size COVID-19 shot, a milestone that opens a major expansion of the nation’s vaccination campaign to children as young as 5.
The Food and Drug Administration already authorized the shots for children ages 5 to 11 — doses just a third of the amount given to teens and adults. But the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention formally recommends who should receive FDA-cleared vaccines.
The announcement by CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky came only hours after an advisory panel unanimously decided Pfizer’s shots should be opened to the 28 million youngsters in that age group.
The decision marks the first opportunity for Americans under 12 to get the powerful protection of any COVID-19 vaccine.
This besieged Syrian province escaped the worst of COVID. Then vaccine skepticism crossed the border
For weeks, Ibrahim Abboud, an administrator at a hospital in Idlib, Syria, had been surviving on little sleep, consumed by worry and guilt, he said. The coronavirus intensive care ward was running out of beds because of an alarming spike in infections.
Among its patients was his 52-year-old mother.
He watched her on a security-camera feed in his office as he sat at his desk every day. “My mistake was, I didn’t force her to take the vaccine,” he said. He had tried pleading with her, but she was swayed by rumors about the vaccine’s potential to cause harm, he said.
Idlib is one of the most vulnerable places in the world for infection: an impoverished rebel-controlled province in northwestern Syria filled with people displaced by war, most of them crowded into tent camps or rickety settlements erected in olive groves or on barren hillsides.
Idlib’s borders are largely sealed, and for much of the pandemic, isolation was a virtue, sparing the province from the worst ravages of the outbreak. Some dangers could not be kept out, though. As large quantities of vaccine doses started arriving in April, conspiracy theories circulated on social media, YouTube and WhatsApp groups, warning that the vaccines, from Britain and China, were either deadly or a tool in nefarious and unspecified foreign plots, residents said. Then in August, infections started to surge after Syrians living in Turkey were allowed to visit Idlib for the Eid al-Adha holiday. The visitors brought the virulent delta variant with them, doctors said.
The nightmare scenario that public health officials had long warned about began to unfold.
As of last month, Idlib and nearby areas have recorded 78,000 infections since the beginning of the pandemic, but 51,000 of them — and half of the more than 1,400 COVID-related deaths — have occurred since just Aug. 1.
Brazil weekly COVID-19 death toll at lowest since April 2020
Brazil’s seven-day total for deaths from COVID-19 has fallen to its lowest level since the start of the pandemic, according to online research website Our World in Data.
In the seven days through Nov. 1 the nation recorded 2,188 deaths — a level unseen since April 2020 — amid increasingly widespread vaccination.
After a sluggish start, Latin America’s largest nation has now fully vaccinated more than half its population. That share is even higher in some large cities, such as Sao Paulo, where virtually 100% of the adult population has had at least one shot and more than 90% are fully vaccinated. And a greater percentage of Brazilians have had at least one dose than Americans, according to the data site.
That has put the nation’s number of virus deaths on a downward trend for the last four months. Experts’ widely expressed concern that Brazil could see a renewed surge from the spread of the delta variant thus far hasn’t materialized.
The nation’s current daily toll is just one-tenth the gruesome peak witnessed in April 2021. That surge coupled with outrage over President Jair Bolsonaro’s handling of the pandemic triggered the formation of a Senate committee to investigate the government’s actions.
After six months of hearings, the committee last week recommended Bolsonaro and dozens of others face criminal charges.
Travel Troubleshooter| More than 18 months into COVID and travel companies are still processing refunds
When TAP Air Portugal cancels Sandra Einhorn’s flights during the pandemic, she waits a while before requesting a refund. But the money appears to be gone. Is there a way to get it back?
Q: In the summer of 2019, I booked seven round-trip tickets from Miami to Budapest, Hungary, via TAP Air Portugal through Expedia. I planned to fly to Europe the following spring with my husband, my two daughters, my mother and my two cousins.
In March of 2020, a week or so before our scheduled departure, TAP Air Portugal canceled our flight because of COVID-19. I waited a few months before doing anything, since I got an automated email about flight credit. And who knew when the world would open up again?
Eventually, time passed, life circumstances changed, and I knew that the seven of us would not be able to take that trip to Budapest in the near future. So I began the process of trying to get a refund.
It’s been a year since I asked for a refund, and there’s still no refund from either Expedia or TAP Air Portugal. When I try to check my refund process, it either doesn’t have anything in the system or still shows a credit.
I am exhausted from having to go back and forth between the two. Anything you can do to help me would be so much appreciated. — Sandra Einhorn, Hollywood, Florida
State health officials confirm 1,867 new coronavirus cases
The state Department of Health (DOH) reported 1,867 new coronavirus cases and 37 new deaths on Tuesday.
The update brings the state's totals to 731,904 cases and 8,696 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. Monday. Tallies may be higher earlier in the week because new state data isn’t reported on weekends.
In addition, 40,514 people have been hospitalized in the state due to the virus — 113 new hospitalizations. In King County, the state's most populous, state health officials have confirmed a total of 165,361 COVID-19 diagnoses and 1,997 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.
S. Carolina governor: Pandemic cash for free 2-year degrees
South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster wants to spend the last $17 million of his COVID-19 education relief money to fully pay for anyone to go to a technical college for two years to train to enter high demand jobs.
McMaster wants to help up to 15,000 people by paying for the tuition, fees, textbooks and materials for associate’s degrees, but to continue the program, he will need the General Assembly to add $124 million, said Melanie Baron, the governor’s senior education advisor.
“This will provide high-demand, high-skilled job training in areas like health care, manufacturing, IT and construction,” South Carolina Technical College System President Tim Hardee said.
The governor is basing his new program on an initiative from right after the pandemic started in early 2020 where he spent $12 million in federal relief money to pay for 12-week programs to certify people for critical need jobs, Barton said.
About 4,000 people have taken advantage of the program to become truck drivers, forklift operators or welders. Nearly 500 of them are now working as nursing assistants, officials said.
Greece toughens restrictions on unvaccinated as cases spike
Greece on Tuesday announced tougher restrictions on most activities for unvaccinated people, as the country registered a record high in new infections for the second day in a row.
Health Minister Thanos Pevris said the measures would take effect Saturday. Greece on Tuesday recorded 6,700 new COVID-19 infections — up from 5,449 Monday — and 59 deaths.
Some 61% of Greece’s population has been fully inoculated. Health authorities are striving to boost vaccine uptake — as well as to encourage adult Greeks to register for booster shots. Infections are currently particularly high in northern Greece, where public hospitals are running out of intensive care unit beds and are sending patients to be treated in private facilities.
“The measures will affect people who choose not to be vaccinated,” Plevris said, adding that the center-right government has ruled out a return to a general lockdown.
Plevris said as of Saturday all unvaccinated people will be obliged to display a recent negative test to enter all indoor public areas, including banks, most shops, government buildings and hair salons. The same will apply to outdoor restaurant areas and cafes. Exceptions will be made for supermarkets, shops selling food, pharmacies and places of worship.
All public and private sector employees will also have to display negative tests twice a week to enter their workplaces, instead of once as is now the case.
US advisers urge COVID shot for kids 5-11, final OK due soon
An influential advisory panel voted Tuesday that all children ages 5 to 11 should get Pfizer’s pediatric COVID-19 shots, putting the U.S. on the brink of a major expansion of vaccinations — and a final decision is expected within hours.
The Food and Drug Administration already has OK’d kid-size doses — just a third of the amount given to teens and adults — as safe and effective for the younger age group.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention formally recommends who should receive FDA-cleared vaccines, and its advisers decided Pfizer’s shots should be opened to all 28 million children ages 5 to 11.
If the CDC’s director, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, signs off, it will mark the first opportunity for Americans under 12 to get the powerful protection of any COVID-19 vaccine.
Shots into little arms could begin this week, as Pfizer already is packing and shipping the first orders, millions of doses, to states and pharmacies to be ready.
Dutch government tightens COVID-19 measures again
Faced with sharply rising coronavirus cases, the caretaker prime minister of the Netherlands said Tuesday that the Dutch government is reinstituting an order to wear face masks in public places like stores and libraries and mandating an extension for the use of COVID-19 passes.
COVID-19 cases have increased rapidly in the Netherlands for weeks. The country’s public health institute reported Tuesday that confirmed infections rose 39% compared to the week before and hospital admissions were up 31%. The upward trend began soon after the government ended most remaining lockdown restrictions in late September.
“It won’t surprise anybody that we again have a tough message this evening,” Prime Minister Rutte said during a nationally televised press conference. “Tough because we unfortunately have to ask more of people now that the infection numbers and hospital numbers are rising quickly.”
Rutte also appealed for calm in the polarized debate between supporters and opponents of COVID-19 measures.
Famed Swiss eatery’s closure highlights COVID rule tensions
A move by Swiss police in a resort town to shutter a restaurant because its owners flouted a government requirement to check patrons’ COVID-19 passes has again brought to the forefront tensions with some people who view such measures as infringing on civil rights.
Swiss media reported that police in Zermatt, a resort town at the foot of the famed Matterhorn peak, swept into the 19th century Walliserkanne restaurant and sealed it off after its owners had defied a closure order and kept serving.
The three owners who were taken into custody, had reportedly transformed a stack of cinder blocks that police had used to block off the front entrance into a makeshift bar and let patrons to enter from the back.
The rich Alpine country of about 8.5 million people whose ski slopes and winter sports are a key draw for tourists has reported an average of about 1,300 new cases of COVID-19 in recent days, up from around 870 in mid-October.
The Yelp of COVID: Vigilantes crowdsource pandemic safety tips for consumers
In the absence of COVID safety mandates in some states and regions, people who want to avoid the maskless for safety reasons are creating online groups designed to help people protect themselves from COVID-19 by grading local businesses on their safety measures.
Such COVID vigilantes have cropped up in multiple cities, appearing where safety guidelines are lax despite high numbers of positive cases.
The reviews on “Athens, GA Mask Grades 2.0,” likened to Yelp reviews, include information about a company’s physical distancing provisions, the availability of outdoor services, vaccination requirements, and the percentages of masked employees and customers.
Yet in the absence of COVID safety mandates, groups like these prove useful to consumers such as Travis Henry, helping him make informed decisions.
“I don’t want to know about aggregate trends about every grocery store in America,” Henry said. “I want to know about the half-dozen that I can drive to, and which one has the largest percentage of people who are masked, or which one has put up plexiglass windows.”
The lack of government action in some communities is forcing everyday people to fill the void, said Imran Ahmed, CEO of the Center for Countering Digital Hate, an international nonprofit organization designed to disrupt online misinformation.
“You can see here that people are taking action collectively, essentially replicating what governments should be doing, but in a private fashion out of sheer desperation."
Iran’s top diplomat in quarantine, tests positive for COVID
Iran’s foreign minister is at home in quarantine after testing positive for the coronavirus, the country’s state TV reported on Monday.
According to the official IRNA news agency, Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian’s general condition was described as good. IRNA did not confirm that Abdollahian has COVID-19 as the state TV later did. Many Iranian officials have had the illness caused by the coronavirus.
With nearly 6 million positive cases, Iran has been hit the worst by the pandemic in the Middle East. The country of 84 million people has reported more than 125,000 deaths.
Iranian officials have warned that with less than 45% of the nation fully vaccinated, more surges of the virus are expected.
Hard-hit Russia sets another daily record for COVID deaths
Coronavirus deaths in Russia hit another daily record Tuesday, four days since a nationwide order for many Russians to stay off work took effect.
Russia’s state coronavirus task force reported 39,008 new confirmed cases and 1,178 COVID-19 deaths. The task force has reported record daily infections or deaths almost every day for the last month.
To reduce the spread of the coronavirus, Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a nationwide non-working period for Oct. 30-Nov. 7.
Russia’s weekslong 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 35% of Russia’s nearly 146 million people have been fully vaccinated so far, even though Russia approved a domestically developed vaccine against the coronavirus months before most countries.
Pfizer tops Q3 forecasts as total COVID vaccine sales soar
Pfizer beat third-quarter expectations and raised its 2021 forecast again even as sales of its top product, the COVID-19 vaccine Comirnaty, slipped in the U.S.
Soaring international sales of the preventive shots helped pushed total Comirnaty revenue close to $13 billion in the quarter, and the drugmaker said Tuesday that it now expects to book about $36 billion in sales from the vaccine this year.
That’s up from a second-quarter forecast for $33.5 billion and more than twice what Pfizer expected at the start of the year, shortly after distribution of the shots began.
In the U.S., third-quarter sales of the vaccine fell to $1.59 billion from a little over $2 billion the previous quarter but demand appears to be picking up again and will be helped by booster shots and an expansion of the vaccine for use in children.
Romania hits pandemic death record as vaccines lag
Romania reported a record daily number of 591 COVID-19 deaths Tuesday amid a persistently low vaccination rate and a wave of coronavirus infections that has overwhelmed the country’s ailing health care system.
Only 37% of adults in Romania, a European Union member with around 19 million people, have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 compared to an EU average of 75%. Within the 27-nation EU, only Bulgaria has a smaller share of its population vaccinated.
Romanian authorities said Tuesday that 541 of the 591 people who had died of COVID-19 since the day before were unvaccinated.
The unfolding disaster prompted authorities to impose tighter restrictions starting last week. Vaccination certificates are required for many day-to-day activities, such as going to the gym, the cinema or a shopping mall. For everyone, there is a 10 p.m. curfew.
Since the pandemic started, Romania has registered more than 1.6 million confirmed cases and 48,664 deaths. The country’s previous daily death toll record of 574 was set Oct. 19.
Hawaii holds on to virus restrictions even as cases plummet
Hawaii remains among the most restrictive states for COVID-19 mandates, despite having one of the highest vaccination rates in the country.
Various state and county rules have changed often, leaving some businesses, travelers and residents confused and frustrated.
Hawaii Gov. David Ige said earlier this year that all restrictions would end once 70% of the population was fully vaccinated. But a surge of delta variant cases filled hospitals and extended rules to guard against COVID-19. Now, case counts have dropped and about 83% of eligible Hawaii residents are fully vaccinated. But many rules remain in place.
Germaine Malabanan plans to get married on Oahu this month after her wedding was delayed twice because of the pandemic, but security guards will be required for weddings will be there to make sure her guests are wearing masks even while outdoors.
WATCH: CDC panel debates if all school kids should get COVID vaccine?
Should all school-age kids get Pfizer’s pediatric COVID-19 vaccine? That’s the question before an influential government advisory panel Tuesday.
The Food and Drug Administration has authorized emergency use of kid-size doses for children ages 5 to 11. But the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also must sign off before widespread vaccinations begin in that age group.
CDC’s advisers are weighing who will get the most benefit as they deliberate whether to recommend the shots for up to 28 million more children, or perhaps only for those most vulnerable to serious illness. Their recommendation goes to the CDC director for the final say.
Shots into little arms could begin this week, as Pfizer already is packing and shipping the first orders, millions of doses, to states and pharmacies to be ready.
Canadian snowbirds head south as US land borders reopen
Canadians Ian and Heather Stewart are savoring the idea of leaving behind this winter’s subzero temperatures when the U.S. reopens its borders to nonessential land travel next week and they launch a long-delayed drive to their seasonal home in Fort Myers, Florida.
Restrictions imposed by both countries during the coronavirus pandemic and their own concerns kept the retired couple and millions of other Canadians from driving south to warmer climes like Florida, Arizona and Mexico during last year’s freezing winter months.
Now, the Biden administration’s decision to allow vaccinated people to enter the U.S. by land for any reason starting Nov. 8 has many Canadians packing up their campers and making reservations at their favorite vacation condos and mobile home parks. Some are already in the U.S., arriving on flights that never stopped and have required just a negative COVID-19 test.
But many have waited to drive, preferring the convenience of having a vehicle to get around in with rental cars scarce and expensive.
Catch up on the past 24 hours
Today is a big day for kids and parents as the CDC weighs final approval of vaccines for children ages 5 through 11. Washington state pediatricians are telling parents to get kids vaccinated as soon as possible. That comes as the state's COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations start to plateau at a worrisome level. Kid-sized vaccine doses are already being shipped.
Should you mix or match your booster shot? Navigating this can feel like reading a choose-your-own-adventure book — you have options but not many clues about the best path. A look at the science can help. Plus, read a booster-shot Q&A with experts and see if you qualify for one.
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene has racked up so many fines for refusing to wear a mask on the U.S. House floor, she could have bought a brand-new car. The House Ethics committee slapped her with four more fines yesterday.
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