Editor’s note: This is a live account of COVID-19 updates from Friday, Nov. 20, 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 It is no longer being updated.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.

How to have a fully remote family Thanksgiving

Because of the relentless pandemic, many people are staying home for Thanksgiving this year. No technology can ever fully replace an in-person holiday gathering. But it is possible to re-create some family traditions online or even learn new skills — like roasting turkey.

Here are some ideas to digitize the Thanksgiving experience.

—The New York Times

South Korea, Japan mull steps as new cases rise

SEOUL, South Korea — South Korea has reported 386 new cases of the coronavirus in a resurgence that could force authorities to reimpose stronger social distancing restrictions after easing them in October to spur a faltering economy.

The figures released by the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency on Saturday brought the national caseload to 30,403, including 503 deaths.

More than 270 of the new cases came from the densely populated Seoul metropolitan area, where health workers have struggled to track transmissions in schools, private tutoring academies and religious facilities.

Infections were also reported in other major cities including Busan, Daejeon, Gwangju and Asan.

South Korea has so far managed to weather its COVID-19 epidemic without major lockdowns, relying instead on an aggressive test-and-quarantine campaign and mask-wearing.

Officials eased distancing measures to the lowest level in October, which allowed high-risk venues such as nightclubs and karaoke bars to reopen and fans to return to professional sports.

But the Korean Society of Infectious Diseases said Friday that the country could be reporting more than 1,000 new infections a day in a week or two if social distancing measures aren’t effectively strengthened.

—Associated Press

Restaurant Association asks court to halt virus restrictions

PORTLAND, Ore. — The Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association is seeking a court order from a federal judge to block Gov. Kate Brown’s “two-week freeze” that bans dining in restaurants in response to a spike in COVID-19 cases.

The association, which represents 10,000 food service and 2,000 lodging businesses across the state, argues the new restrictions will cause devastating effects for its members and their employees, The Oregonian/OregonLive reported.

The association and the public policy group Restaurant Law Center filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Portland on Friday, two days after the governor’s new executive order took effect.

The order expected to last at least through Dec. 2 limits social get-togethers to no more than six people from no more than two households and limits restaurants to take-out and delivery only.

When issuing the freeze, Brown acknowledged it will be difficult for everyone. “We are trying to stop this ferocious virus from spreading even more quickly and far and wide, and to save lives,” she said. As of Thursday, there have been 60,873 coronavirus cases and 808 deaths from the virus, according to state reporting.

—Associated Press

As border uncertainty grows, Canada’s U.S. ambassador urges patience

These are uncertain times for Washingtonians with family or business ties across the Canadian border.

Pandemic travel restrictions between U.S. and Canada, in place since March, will be extended through Dec. 21, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Friday. Given America’s rising COVID-19 case count, it’s far from clear when those restrictions might end. As Trudeau noted last month, the U.S. “is not in a place where we would feel comfortable reopening those borders.”

Yet despite those mounting uncertainties, a top Canadian diplomat is urging Washingtonians not to despair about the future of the state’s most economically vital border.

Although “we have a little bit of a path to go” before restrictions can be lifted, cross-border tourism and other nonessential travel can bounce back once the pandemic is over, said Kirsten Hillman, Canada’s ambassador to the United States, during an interview this week.

“The [pandemic] measures that were put in place are performing the function that they were designed to perform, which is to continue to support the economy [and] continue to support people on both sides of the border, while minimizing the risk of transmission across the border,” said Hillman.

Read the full story here.

—Paul Roberts

Seattle business group’s 6-point plan urges more strident response from Gov. Jay Inslee on coronavirus

OLYMPIA — More resources for coronavirus testing and contacting tracing. More state aid for struggling businesses and workers. Getting young children back into school in January, if the public health metrics show it is safe.

Washington’s most powerful business and community leaders are urging Gov. Jay Inslee to take such steps, and more, to better navigate the pandemic.

six-point plan from the organization Challenge Seattle declared support for the governor’s latest restrictions intended to curb the spread of the virus. But it also offered a glimpse into what top business leaders think should be done differently, or prioritized now.

The letter doesn’t come from your garden-variety community advocacy group. It’s an alliance of the state’s top chief executive officers, including among others the leaders of Microsoft, Boeing, Amazon, Nordstrom, Alaska Airlines, REI, Starbucks, Weyerhaeuser and Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.

Christine Gregoire, chief executive officer of Challenge Seattle — who also happens to be Washington’s previous governor — didn’t criticize Inslee’s approach and praised his work on responding to the virus.

The letter came during the week in which Inslee saw perhaps the biggest pushback against his emergency orders since the original shutdown in March. 

Read the full story here.

—Joseph O'Sullivan

For sale: $6 million Whidbey Island survival bunker, stocked to withstand a pandemic

For $6 million, one wealthy home shopper can buy some pandemic peace of mind in the form of a decked-out survival compound on a Whidbey Island bluff.

The 59-acre property, just north of Lake Hancock on Whidbey’s western coast, spans three densely wooded parcels. The residence has bullet-resistant walls, a safe room and an underground escape tunnel to the woods. A massive concrete tank holds 17,000 gallons of propane. In the 9,000-square-foot shop, three shipping containers are stocked with emergency supplies that can be supplemented by the huge, adjacent working farm.

There’s also plenty of what an anxious prepper may want more than anything: Secrecy. The property listing doesn’t include an address, and Hansen said he plans to “find a buyer for this place and then terminate its existence from the internet.”

The compound, owned by former PetSmart CEO W.R. “Ford” Smith II, was “built to withstand a worst-case scenario,” Hansen said. Construction started in the early 2000s, but Smith only began stockpiling in earnest after 2008’s global financial crisis, he said.

So why sell it now, as COVID-19 cases are spiking? Smith is moving to Idaho to be closer to family, and plans to build a similar facility there, Hansen said.

Read the full story here.

—Katherine K. Long

UW Medicine to reschedule some procedures; hospitals agree to share surge

Responding to a surge in COVID-19 caseloads, UW Medicine has decided to postpone surgeries that are not urgent but would require hospitalization afterward, according to an internal email and confirmed by a spokesperson. 

UW Medicine’s action comes as Washington state’s hospitals earlier this week reached an agreement on how to handle the ongoing rise of COVID-19 patients statewide — committing to one another that “no hospital will go into crisis standards alone.” 

Crisis standards are when hospitals are so overwhelmed they cannot provide the typical standard of care, and they are left to triage resources and decide who will receive treatment and who will be left to die. 

The hospitals’ commitment — which expand on agreements reached before the first surge of COVID-19 in spring — says all of the state’s acute care hospitals will make “concrete plans” to scale back on elective procedures as needed, reserve intensive care units for COVID-19 or emergency cases, and readily accept patient transfers from other parts of the state.

“It’s essentially to try to manage — all across the system — the capacity,” said Cassie Sauer, of the Washington State Hospital Association (WSHA), which convened a videoconference Monday for the state’s hospital leaders. “In the places that have gone to crisis standards, those doctors and nurses, I’m not sure their soul will ever be the same.” 

Read the full story here.

—Evan Bush

Some governors ignore CDC advice on Thanksgiving gatherings

Coronavirus infections are ravaging South Dakota, where more than half of tests have come back positive for weeks. Yet Gov. Kristi Noem won’t require masks or take other measures to curb the spread, including urging families to limit Thanksgiving gatherings.

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt said he’ll attend a college football game over the weekend and spend the holiday with his parents, noting that, “Oklahomans should be with their loved ones over Thanksgiving.”

And in Tennessee, where hospital beds are filling up and some hospitals struggle to find enough nurses, Republican Gov. Bill Lee said he has no plans to impose restrictions, though he would “encourage Tennesseans to think hard” about celebrating together.

As the public health crisis spins out of control and hospitalizations and deaths soar, health experts have agonized for weeks over the potential for explosive virus spread from indoor celebrations. Yet several Republican governors in hard-hit states refuse to echo urgent pleas from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for Americans to stay home next Thursday.

The United States has had more than 11 million diagnosed infections and more than 253,000 deaths from the coronavirus since the start of the pandemic. And hospitals in many states are running out of beds and are short on nurses, including in the states where governors are reluctant to act.

—Associated Press

‘You don’t expect to be so vilified’: The strange turn the pandemic took for public health workers

Remember in the spring, the pot-banging? People would come out on their porches in the evening to rally for the health workers — to say, collectively for just a minute or two, that we were thankful for the effort.

That spirit seems years away to Anna Halloran.

“There’s a large segment of the population that hates the health department right now, that thinks we’re lying,” says Halloran, a communicable disease epidemiologist in Spokane.

Versions of this story have been playing out around the state. Yakima’s top health official just quit this week, saying she could “no longer sustain the costs of the position,” the Yakima Herald reported. In the Tri-Cities, there’s a community petition to fire the health officer there, mostly due to hard feelings about school reopenings.

There are now vacancies for the top health position in Yakima, Walla Walla, Spokane, Whatcom, Lewis, Mason, Chelan-Douglas and Okanogan counties.

“I bet you couldn’t find a public health official who hasn’t received death threats or haven’t had people picketing outside their homes,” a hospital association leader told the Yakima Herald.

Read the full column here.

—Danny Westneat

Seattle to provide free child care through December to families in city-subsidized programs

Seattle will provide free child care through the rest of the year for families enrolled in the city’s subsidized child care programs, Mayor Jenny Durkan announced Friday.

The city will cover 100% of costs through December for families in the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP), which provides vouchers to families with incomes between 200% and 350% of the federal poverty level. Normally, the vouchers cover 25% to 70% of families’ costs. For a family of four, 350% of the federal poverty level is $90,000.

Washington state's Working Connections Child Care program covers families with incomes below 200% of the federal poverty level.

Seattle also will cover 100% of costs through December for families with scholarships at Seattle Parks and Recreation child care sites. The scholarships are available to families with incomes up to 400% of the federal poverty level and normally cover up to 90% of families’ costs, on a sliding scale.

Both CCAP and the Parks and Recreation sites have space available. To sign up for CCAP, visit this website or call 206-386-1050. To sign up for Parks and Recreation child care, visit this website.

Durkan and City Council President M. Lorena González said the idea is to help families that are struggling due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Currently, 31% of families served by CCAP include essential workers, according to Durkan's office.

—Daniel Beekman

Durkan announces 2 new mobile coronavirus testing kiosks in Seattle

Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan announced Friday afternoon the city will introduce two new mobile coronavirus testing kiosks in North and Central Seattle in the next few weeks, in an attempt to further ramp up testing availability as the holiday season nears.

While the city is still in the process of nailing down the locations of the sites, which will provide free, self-administered oral testing, Seattle Fire Chief Harold Scoggins said during a virtual news conference that they’re considering the Northgate or Lake City neighborhoods in North Seattle and the Capitol Hill or Central District neighborhoods in Central Seattle.

The sites will likely be ready to go by the first or second week of December, with at least five more popping up throughout the city by mid-December. Durkan expects the new kiosks will add a capacity of 3,500 daily tests, meaning the city should be able to provide at least 9,000 tests per day.

Once the kiosks are up and running, people will be able to register for appointments online. They’ll walk or drive up to the site, receive a swab package from a worker inside the kiosk, swab their own mouth, then place the swab back in a plastic bag and return it to the worker. Results will be returned within 48 hours.

Read the full story here.

—Elise Takahama

Outbreak at Stanwood facility increases to 141 cases

A COVID-19 outbreak at Josephine Caring Community in Stanwood has grown to 141 cases, including nine deaths, the Snohomish Health District said Friday.

At another Snohomish County facility, Regency Care Center in Monroe, 12 people have died and 79 other residents and staff have tested positive for the coronavirus since mid-October.

Health officials have said the cause of the outbreaks is widespread coronavirus activity in the area, where infections are rising. There are 23 long-term care facilities throughout Snohomish County with active cases, the health district said.

In Washington, the number of long-term care facilities with at least one active case of COVID-19 has surpassed 300 — a record number that’s likely to increase as the virus spreads in communities across the state.

Read more about cases at long-term facilities here.

—Paige Cornwell

Inslee announces more relief programs for businesses and individuals affected by Washington’s COVID-19 restrictions

OLYMPIA — Gov. Jay Inslee on Friday announced additional funding for businesses hurt by Washington’s COVID-19 restrictions.

The package announced Friday totals $135 million in aid, Inslee said in a news conference.

That includes — but is substantially more than — the $50 million Inslee said would be available on Sunday, when the governor imposed new restrictions on businesses and social gatherings as cases and hospitalizations rise.

The governor also said he’s looking for ways to ease the expected increase in taxes on businesses that kick in to replenish the state’s strained unemployment-benefits fund.

That would achieve relief “in the hundreds of millions of dollars” in the coming year, said Inslee, who added that details are still being worked on.

The announcement includes increased funding from the relief package passed by Congress known as the CARES Act, which funded the original $50 million in relief.

Read the full story here.

—Joseph O'Sullivan

Spokesman: Trump’s eldest son tests positive for coronavirus

WASHINGTON (AP) — A spokesman says President Donald Trump’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., has been infected with the coronavirus.

The spokesman says the younger Trump learned his diagnosis earlier this week, has no symptoms and has been quarantining.

Trump Jr. is the latest member of the president’s family to become infected with the virus.

The president, the first lady and their son Barron have recovered from the virus.

—The Associated Press

State DOH confirms 2,132 more COVID-19 cases in Washington, 16 new deaths

The state Department of Health (DOH) on Friday afternoon reported 2,132 new COVID-19 cases in Washington, as well as 16 new deaths.

The update brings the state’s totals to 139,543 cases and 2,619 deaths, meaning 1.9% of people diagnosed in Washington have died, according to the DOH data dashboard. The data is as of 11:59 p.m. Wednesday. 

Per the DOH, 9,653 people have been hospitalized in the state due to the virus. Statewide, 2,877,894 COVID-19 tests have been administered.

In King County, state health officials confirmed 642 new coronavirus cases, bringing the county’s total to 37,113 diagnoses and 847 deaths. 

—Trevor Lenzmeier

WSU football game against Stanford canceled due to COVID-19, putting Apple Cup game in question

One day after it was learned starting quarterback Jayden de Laura had come down with COVID-19, Washington State’s game against Stanford was canceled and declared a no-contest due to the Cougars falling below the 53-man scholarship requirement, the Pac-12 Conference confirmed in a statement Friday afternoon. 

Stanford explored other options to play a game this weekend, but determined none were feasible, the school said in a statement. According to Jon Wilner of the San Jose Mercury-News, the Cougars’ Nov. 27 rivalry game against Washington could also be in jeopardy.

In a school statement, WSU Director of Athletics said the Cougars fell below the 53-man threshold for “a number of reasons” and that the school had been in communication with Stanford throughout the week, optimistic Saturday’s game would still be played. A school official confirmed to The Spokesman-Review the team held a normal practice on Thursday in Pullman.

Read the full story here.

—Theo Lawson

New COVID-19 outbreak reported at Yakima long-term care center

Health officials are asking people to do everything they can to stop the spread of COVID-19 after a fresh coronavirus outbreak was reported at a long-term care center in Yakima.

The Summitview Healthcare Center reported 50 cases of COVID-19, with 27 from staff and 23 from residents, according to a news release from the Yakima Health District. Four deaths are tied to the outbreak.

The health district reported 71 new cases Thursday, not including the care center outbreak numbers. Yakima County has had 13,988 cases of COVID-19 and 255 deaths since March.

Health Officer Dr. Teresa Everson said most, if not all, COVID-19 cases in long-term living facilities result from community transmission and there’s time to stop an increase in cases in the Yakima area so it doesn’t reach more vulnerable community members.

Read the story here.

—Joanna Markell, Yakima Herald-Republic, Wash.

Citizens line up in Italy's Alpine province for mass rapid testing to help slow virus and ease restrictions

Citizens in Italy’s small Germany-speaking province of South Tyrol lined up Friday at schools, gymnasiums and pharmacies for rapid coronavirus tests, the largest testing initiative in the country to date and one that officials hope will speed the lifting of a partial locally imposed lockdown.

The Alpine province bordering Austria is following the example of Slovakia, which moved to slow infections and avoid a second lockdown by testing nearly two-thirds of its 5.5 million people in one weekend this month.

In South Tyrol, citizens in the province are being urged to get the voluntary screening. The goal is to test 350,000 people, or 80% of the population over age 5, by Sunday. Mass testing is seen as a way to isolate asymptomatic carriers of the new coronavirus, who are major spreaders in the resurgence that has seen confirmed cases spike throughout Europe.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press

Daily COVID-19 deaths in US reach highest level since May

The surging coronavirus is taking an increasingly dire toll across the U.S. just as a vaccine appears at hand, with the country now averaging over 1,300 COVID-19 deaths per day — the highest since the calamitous spring in and around New York City.

The overall death toll has reached about 253,000, the highest in the world, with more than 11.7 million total confirmed infections and the largest one-day gain of almost 188,000 reported Thursday.

COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. are at their highest level since late May, when the Northeast was emerging from the first wave of the crisis. They peaked at about 2,200 a day in late April, when New York City was the epicenter and bodies were being loaded onto refrigerated trucks by forklift.

Amid the bleak new statistics, Pfizer said Friday it is asking U.S. regulators to allow emergency use of its COVID-19 vaccine. Even if the request is approved it could take months before the vaccine is widely available.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press

Idaho’s COVID-19 rate rises for 9th straight week; will hospitals have to ration care?

With Idaho’s COVID-19 test positivity rate reaching a new high for the ninth consecutive week Thursday, the state's largest health-care system is projecting a crisis by next month if the spread of COVID-19 continues.

Dr. Jim Souza of St. Luke’s Health System said Idaho hospitals are approaching capacity and health-care systems may soon be forced to begin choosing which patients receive life-saving medical care.

“We would be in the unimaginably bad situation of needing to make decisions about who gets (care) and who doesn’t,” Souza told CBS News. “… Our modeling is suggesting we may be facing that scenario in December.”

The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare reported 23 new coronavirus-related deaths on Thursday and a positive test rate of 17.8% statewide on 37,507 tests for the week of Nov. 8-14, up from a previous high of 16.7% the previous week.

Idaho’s seven-day moving average also established a new all-time high Thursday at 1,398.6 cases per day. The average has increased by 69.7% since Nov. 1, when it sat at 824.1 cases per day.

Read the story here.

— The Idaho Statesman

What does emergency use for a COVID-19 vaccine mean?

What does emergency use of a COVID-19 vaccine mean?

It’s when regulators allow shots to be given to certain people while studies of safety and effectiveness are ongoing.

Before any vaccine is permitted in the U.S., it must be reviewed by the Food and Drug Administration, which requires study in thousands of people. Normally, the process to approve a new vaccine can take about a decade. Byt during a health crisis, the FDA can loosen its normal scientific standards to allow emergency use of experimental drugs, devices, vaccines and other medical products.

Full approval of a vaccine will likely require six months of safety follow-up as well as extensive inspections of company manufacturing sites. The leading vaccine makers are not expected to complete that process until next spring or summer. Only then is the FDA expected to grant full approval, which would allow vaccinations of the general population.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press

‘Explosion of COVID’: sharp upward trend in Tri-Cities

COVID-19 is surging in the Tri-Cities area, mostly among young adults 20 to 39, but experience shows that where cases rise in younger people, deaths follow in older ones, a health district spokesperson said Wednesday.

“Young adults, healthy people can do just fine with COVID,” said Heather Hill, communicable disease supervisor for the Benton Franklin Health District. “But it is those higher risk people that it oftentimes does not end well for.”

She said the majority of new cases are being reported in adults ages 20 to 39, but there's also been an increase in positive tests among 10- to 19-year-olds.

The health district reported 113 confirmed cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, bringing the average number of daily cases so far this week to 165 per day. That compares to an average of 122 cases per day last week, 82 per day the previous week and 42 per day the week before that.

Read the story here.

—Tri-City Herald (Kennewick, Wash.)

Greece: 2 private clinics appropriated to treat COVID-19

Greek authorities are taking over two private health clinics in the northern city of Thessaloniki as the region’s public hospitals struggle to cope with a surge in coronavirus cases, the country’s Health Ministry said Friday.

The ministry said its request for private hospital beds to be made available voluntarily for the treatment of COVID-19 patients in northern Greece, where the outbreak is the most severe, had been rejected.

One of the clinics has 110 beds and the other 140. The state will pay for use of the clinics and the staff’s salaries during the appropriation.

Of 1,220 intensive care beds now available nationwide, 651 have been made available exclusively for COVID-19 patients, according to figures released Friday. Of those, 555 are already occupied, leaving an availability of just 15%. Thessaloniki has 218 ICU beds available for COVID-19, of which 210 are occupied and just eight are still available.

Nationwide, Greece currently has a total of 6,362 hospital beds dedicated to coronavirus patients, of which 4,079 were occupied on Friday.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press

“'The epidemic is terrible ... you don’t have to add drama to it,' says Mexican official as country reaches death milestone

Mexico passed the 100,000 mark in COVID-19 deaths, becoming only the fourth country to do so amid concerns about the lingering physical and psychological scars on survivors.

José Luis Alomía Zegarra, Mexico’s director of epidemiology, announced late Thursday that Mexico had 100,104 confirmed COVID-19 deaths, behind only the United States, Brazil and India.

The milestone comes less than a week after Mexico topped 1 million registered coronavirus cases, though officials agree the number is probably much higher because of low levels of testing.

Mexico’s pointman on the pandemic, Assistant Health Secretary Hugo López-Gatell, bristled when asked about Mexico reaching the 100,000 deaths point, criticizing the media for “being alarmist.”

“The epidemic is terrible in itself, you don’t have to add drama to it,” said López-Gatell.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press

India virus cases pass 9M; capital’s hospitals under strain

Intensive care wards in New Delhi’s hospitals are nearly at capacity, and the city’s main crematorium is packed, as the coronavirus has surged in the Indian capital and the country hit a grim milestone Friday, recording 9 million infections.

While the pace of recorded new cases overall in the country of 1.3 billion appears to be slowing, In New Delhi the disease is on the rise. Health officials found this week that the prevalence of infections in the city's markets, full of people during the holiday season, was much higher than expected. The city has added an average of 6,700 new cases each day in recent weeks.

The capital’s health system is under tremendous strain: Government figures showed 90% of the critical care beds with ventilators designated for virus patients and 86% of critical care beds without ventilators were full as of Thursday.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press

Florida’s Sen. Scott has coronavirus, ‘very mild symptoms’

Sen. Rick Scott of Florida said Friday he had tested positive for the coronavirus and was isolating at home with “very mild symptoms.”

He’s the second senator, along with Iowa’s Chuck Grassley, and at least the eighth member of Congress to announce a positive test this week.

Scott, 67, has been quarantining at home all week after coming into contact in Florida on Nov. 13 with someone who subsequently tested positive. His office said he had “multiple negative rapid tests earlier in the week” but a test he took Tuesday came back positive Friday morning.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press

Australia suffers its own 'Pizzagate' - with a side of coronavirus

It began with a lie about a pizza bar. And it led to the lockdown of an entire state.

Fearing a super strain of the coronavirus, officials in Australia’s fifth-largest city earlier this week ordered an extreme six-day shutdown of South Australia state – they even banned outdoor exercise and dog-walking – after detecting a cluster of cases apparently linked to a pizza shop in an Adelaide suburb.

The severe response was based on the account of a kitchenhand at a quarantine hotel, who told health workers he became infected after collecting a takeout meal from the restaurant, Woodville Pizza Bar, which was being investigated as a possible virus hotspot.

But on Friday, authorities dramatically reversed course after determining in a follow-up interview that the man had lied to contact tracers. The man was, in fact, not a patron but a pizza chef employed at the restaurant, alongside a security guard who had contracted the virus while working at a second quarantine hotel. Suddenly, the outbreak’s transmission chain was clearer.

Read the full story here.

—The Washington Post

The U.S. coronavirus task force returns with a plea for vigilance

The Trump administration’s coronavirus response coordinator, appearing at the White House with other top federal health officials for the first time in months, issued a dire assessment of the pandemic Thursday, along with an urgent warning for Americans to “increase their vigilance” as they await the approval of a vaccine.

Dr. Deborah L. Birx made the remarks after the White House coronavirus task force met with Vice President Mike Pence — who offered a far rosier assessment as he defended the administration’s handling of a pandemic that has now claimed more than 250,000 lives in the United States, and killed nearly 2,000 Americans on Wednesday alone.

“America has never been more prepared to combat this virus than we are today,” Pence declared, adding: “We approach this moment with the confidence of experience. We know the American people know what to do.”

Read the full story here.

—The New York Times

France looks to postpone 'Black Friday' to help small shops

France’s government was working Friday to get supermarket chains and e-commerce platforms like Amazon to agree to postpone “Black Friday” promotions, responding to concerns that shops shuttered by the nation’s coronavirus lockdown are hemorrhaging business and could be hurt further if they miss out on the consumer splurge.

With the lockdown starting to bring France’s latest virus surge back under control, the government is facing pressure to allow businesses closed as “non-essential” to reopen. But it is also mindful of the risk of infections speeding up again if restrictions are lifted too soon, too quickly. The approach of “Black Friday,” on Nov. 27 in France, has brought the dilemma to a head.

Postponing “Black Friday” by a week until real-world stores have reopened would allow them to also profit from consumer spending on cut-price goods ahead of Christmas.

France’s economy minister, Bruno Le Maire, said he was hopeful that a deal would be struck in talks Friday afternoon with e-commerce sites, supermarket operators and others involved to push back “Black Friday” to Dec. 4. Real-world stores are hoping they’ll have emerged from lockdown by then.

Read the full story here.

—The Associated Press

Rachel Maddow returns, describes partner's coronavirus bout

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.

Read the full story here.

—The Associated Press

Catching up on the past 24 hours

Positive coronavirus tests are nearing 20% in parts of South King County as they spike across the Seattle area. See what's happening where you live, as FYI Guy looks at how the virus is tearing through some areas that had low numbers for months. And cases have reached a record number in Washington's long-term care facilities, where the virus has proven especially deadly. 

Pfizer today is asking the FDA to allow emergency use of its vaccine, starting the clock on a process that could bring limited first shots as early as next month and eventually an end to the pandemic — but not until after a long, hard winter. How long will the two-shot vaccine protect people? Our FAQ Friday outlines what's known about that and how the vaccine's mRNA technology works.

Even though the CDC is pleading with Americans to skip holiday travel, Sea-Tac Airport expects tens of thousands of passengers every day next week. Here's what to know and how to minimize the risks if you do travel. It's not too late for second thoughts: Canceling flights might cost you nothing, under several airlines' latest policies.

California is imposing a COVID-19 curfew starting tomorrow, but sheriffs in several big counties are refusing to enforce it.

Imagine returning from nearly nine months on a remote island, where information about the world trickles in slowly or not at all, and finding yourself in what feels like an apocalyptic movie. Our pandemic realities are delivering a big jolt to four Hawaiian workers.

WSU's starting quarterback has tested positive. Jayden de Laura won't play tomorrow and might not be cleared by Apple Cup time.

A lie about a pizza joint led to a lockdown of an entire Australian state this week.

—Kris Higginson

Do you have questions about the coronavirus that causes COVID-19?

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