Editor’s note: This is a live account of COVID-19 updates from Monday, November 22, 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 It is no longer being updated.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.
Not only are coronavirus vaccines now available for anyone age 5 and older, but booster shots are newly available to all adults. Boosters are recommended for any adult who had their second dose more than six months ago or any adult who had the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine more than two months ago.
Vaccines are free and health insurance is not required. Here are some tips on how to find a vaccine or schedule a booster appointment near you.
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.
Tennessee gov backs signing bill aide said violates US law
Tennessee’s governor on Monday stood by his decision to sign sprawling limits on COVID-19 restrictions into law, even though his own office warned the bill would violate federal disability law and put the state at risk of losing federal funds.
Republican Gov. Bill Lee, in his first public comments since The Associated Press revealed his legislative counsel’s email warning to lawmakers, said he thinks “the bill on balance is good.” He also repeated a promise for a broad review of the new law, which he previously acknowledged includes “some issues we need to work through.” But when asked directly, he would not say whether he thinks the law’s accommodations for people with disabilities — flagged last month by his office as violating federal law — need to be changed.
Instead, he said, “we have to determine first what really needs to be changed” before the next legislative session in January.
Before that, the state has to defend the law in court.
Judge dismisses charges against leaders of veterans’ home
A Massachusetts judge dismissed criminal neglect charges Monday against two former leaders of a veterans’ home where nearly 80 veterans died after contracting the coronavirus, saying there was a lack of evidence that their actions led to the deaths.
Former Holyoke Soldiers’ Home Superintendent Bennett Walsh and former Medical Director Dr. David Clinton were indicted last year.
State Attorney General Maura Healey said at the time that the charges regarding five veterans stemmed from their March 2020 decision to combine two dementia units, placing residents who were positive for the coronavirus into a space with those without symptoms.
“There is insufficient reasonably trustworthy evidence that, had these two dementia units not been merged, the medical condition of any of these five veterans would have been materially different,” Hampden Superior Court Edward McDonough Jr. wrote in his decision. “Therefore, because the evidence does not support a finding of probable cause to believe Mr. Walsh or Mr. Clinton committed any crime, I must dismiss the indictments against both.”
Treatments will change the pandemic, but they can’t end it alone
A year after coronavirus vaccines dangled visions of an end to the pandemic, science has delivered inspiring results again: two antiviral pills that dramatically reduce the risk of hospitalization and death.
The notion that a fearsome infection could soon be treatable with a handful of pills is an exhilarating idea nearly two years into a pandemic that has killed more than 5 million people, at least 770,000 in the United States. But experts – who are thrilled about the prospect of two powerful new medicines – worry that enthusiasm for the idea of treatments may distract from their limitations and the necessity of preventing illness in the first place.
If regulators deem the five-day treatment courses from Pfizer and Merck and its partner Ridgeback Biotherapeutics safe and effective in coming weeks, as most people expect, the drugs could make getting sick far less scary. The United States has already prepurchased millions of treatments. The good news arrives like an echo of last year, when two remarkably effective vaccines were authorized in the middle of the holiday season as a winter surge in new cases loomed.
As Thanksgiving nears, rise in COVID cases ‘throwing 210 mph curveballs at us’
A month ago, new coronavirus cases in the United States were ticking steadily downward and the worst of a miserable summer surge fueled by the delta variant appeared to be over. But as Americans travel this week to meet far-flung relatives for Thanksgiving dinner, new virus cases are rising once more, especially in the Upper Midwest and Northeast.
Federal medical teams have been dispatched to Minnesota to help at overwhelmed hospitals. Michigan is enduring its worst case surge yet, with daily caseloads doubling since the start of November. Even New England, where vaccination rates are high, is struggling: Vermont, Maine and New Hampshire have tried to contain major outbreaks.
Nationally, case levels remain well below those seen in early September, when summer infections peaked, and are below those seen last Thanksgiving. But conditions are worsening rapidly, and this will not be the post-pandemic Thanksgiving that Americans had hoped for. More than 90,000 cases are being reported each day, comparable to early August, and more than 30 states are seeing sustained upticks in infections. In the hardest-hit places, hospitalizations are climbing.
Fauci says he hopes single COVID vaccine booster will do the job
COVID vaccine booster shots hopefully will be strong enough that supplemental shots aren’t needed every six to 12 months, the country’s top infectious disease expert said on Sunday.
Booster shots were authorized by the Food and Drug Administration on Friday for every American 18 and older who has received a Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine. Recipients of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine already had been cleared for boosters.
“We would hope, and this is something that we’re looking at very carefully, that that third shot … not only boosts you way up, but increases the durability so that you will not necessarily need it every six months or a year,” Fauci said on ABC’s “This Week.” “We’re hoping it pushes it out more.”
Before Friday’s announcement from the feds, a number of states had begun offering boosters for adults. The governors of Connecticut and New Mexico recently said they wouldn’t consider people fully vaccinated unless they had gotten boosters.
Memo: Disney pauses COVID-19 vaccine mandate in Florida
isney has paused its policy requiring Florida-based employees to take the COVID-19 vaccine following new laws passed by the state’s legislature last week that limit employers’ power to require vaccinations, according to a memo sent to employees.
The company informed employees in a memo sent Friday that it has paused the requirement due to the state legislature’s action during a special session last week, and because of an appeal court’s temporary delay of federal vaccination guidelines from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the Orlando Sentinel reported.
State health officials confirm 1,395 new coronavirus cases
The state Department of Health (DOH) reported 1,395 new coronavirus cases and 29 new deaths on Monday.
The update brings the state's totals to 766,008 cases and 9,139 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. Sunday. Tallies may be higher earlier in the week because new state data isn’t reported on weekends.
In addition, 42,370 people have been hospitalized in the state due to the virus — 283 new hospitalizations. In King County, the state's most populous, state health officials have confirmed a total of 171,563 COVID-19 diagnoses and 2,052 deaths.
Since vaccinations began in mid-December, the state and health care providers have administered 10,544,662 doses and 61.3% 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 35,728 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.
EU wants calm amid virus protests; rioters called ‘idiots’
In the face of demonstrations across much of Europe protesting tough COVID-19 measures over the past days, authorities on Monday pleaded for patience, calm and a willingness to get a vaccine shot in the arm as infections spike upward again.
And for those who abused the protests to foment violence, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte just called them “idiots.”
Protest marches from Zagreb to Rome and from Vienna to Brussels and Rotterdam, bringing tens of thousands out, all had one message from a coronavirus-weary crowd — we’ve had enough!
“Not able to work where you want work, to be where you want to be. That’s not what we stand for, that’s not freedom,” said Eveline Denayer, who was at Sunday’s march in Brussels, which drew a crowd of over 35,000.
Czechs protest restrictions on unvaccinated as cases soar
Protesters marched through the Czech capital of Prague on Monday to decry the government’s restrictions on unvaccinated people as new infections soared in the European Union nation.
The protesters, who numbered in the hundreds, demanded “Freedom!” for the unvaccinated and rejected the government’s push for people to get their vaccine shots.
They carried posters with pictures of politicians — including Prime Minister Andrej Babis, Health Minister Adam Vojtech and leading epidemiologists — calling them traitors. Unlike recent rallies in the Netherlands and Brussels, this protest was peaceful. The crowd was significantly smaller than a similar demonstration last week.
Health minister tells Germans: Get vaccinated or get COVID
Germany’s health minister said Monday that the rapid rise in coronavirus cases means it’s likely everyone in the country who isn’t vaccinated will have caught COVID-19 by the end of the winter — and some of those will die.
Official figures Monday showed more than 30,000 newly confirmed cases in Germany over the past 24 hours — an increase of about 50% compared to one week ago. The country is this week expected to pass 100,000 coronavirus-related deaths since the start of the pandemic.
Hospitals warn that ICU capacities are nearly exhausted, with some patients having to be transferred to clinics in other parts of Germany.
Harris to announce $1.5B investment in health care workforce
Vice President Kamala Harris will announce Monday that the Biden administration is investing $1.5 billion from the coronavirus aid package to address the health care worker shortage in underserved communities.
The funding will go to the National Health Service Corps, Nurse Corps and Substance Use Disorder Treatment and Recovery programs, all federal programs that offer scholarship and loan repayments for health care students and workers if they pledge to work in underserved and high-risk communities.
The money, which includes funds from the American Rescue Plan and other sources, will support more than 22,700 providers, marking the largest number of providers enrolled in these programs in history, according to the White House. It comes in response to recommendations laid out earlier this month by the White House’s COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force, which issued a report outlining how the administration could address systemic inequality in the health care system.
After slow starts, some countries' vaccination rates now soaring
When Cambodia rolled out COVID-19 vaccines, lines stretched down entire streets and people left their shoes out to save their places as they sheltered from the sun. But three months into its campaign, just 11% of the population had received at least one dose. In far wealthier Japan, it took two weeks longer to reach that level.
Now both countries boast vaccination rates that rank among the world’s best. They are two of several nations in the Asia-Pacific region that got slow starts to their immunization campaigns but have since zoomed past the United States and many nations in Europe.
The countries with high rates include both richer and poorer ones, some with larger populations and some with smaller. But all have experience with infectious diseases, like SARS, and strong vaccine-procurement programs, many of which knew to spread their risk by ordering from multiple manufacturers.
EU considers booster doses of J&J’s COVID-19 vaccine
The European Medicines Agency says it is evaluating whether to authorize booster doses of Johnson & Johnson’s single-shot COVID-19 vaccine.
In a statement Monday, the EU drug regulator said it was considering an application from J&J to recommend booster doses of the J&J vaccine for adults 18 and over, at least two months after they were first immunized. Amid an explosive surge of new coronavirus infections across Europe, the EMA said it expected to make a decision on this within weeks.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration gave the green light to J&J booster doses in October, both for people who initially received the J&J and vaccine and for people who got immunized with other vaccines.
How COVID shots for kids help prevent dangerous new variants
Cadell Walker rushed to get her 9-year-old daughter Solome vaccinated against COVID-19 — not just to protect her but to help stop the coronavirus from spreading and spawning even more dangerous variants.
“Love thy neighbor is something that we really do believe, and we want to be good community members and want to model that thinking for our daughter,” said the 40-year-old Louisville mom, who recently took Solome to a local middle school for her shot. “The only way to really beat COVID is for all of us collectively to work together for the greater good.”
Scientists agree. Each infection — whether in an adult in Yemen or a kid in Kentucky — gives the virus another opportunity to mutate. Protecting a new, large chunk of the population anywhere in the world limits those opportunities.
How delta is bolstering the case for COVID boosters
COVID-19 booster shots are being rolled out in the U.S. and other countries in response to waning antibody levels in already vaccinated individuals, and the increased threat posed by the hyper-infectious delta variant of the coronavirus that causes the disease. Giving a third shot to healthy people is a contentious strategy, since many low- and middle-income countries have yet to immunize even a tenth of their population. From a scientific standpoint, though, there’s mounting evidence that it could help stem transmission and avert hospitalizations and deaths.
Island anger: Guadeloupe closes schools after COVID rioting
Schools closed across the French Caribbean island of Guadeloupe on Monday and France’s president warned of a “very explosive” situation in the territory, after protests against COVID-19 rules and vaccinations descended into days of rioting and looting.
France’s central government sent in police special forces to try to restore order to the former colony, as emergency workers said they were unable to reach neighborhoods barricaded by angry crowds.
“We have several patients” in the blockaded area of La Boucan, tweeted Patrick Portecop, head of the regional emergency service. “We are powerless.”
Official: More than 90% of fed workers got shots by deadline
More than 90% of federal workers received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by Monday’s deadline set by President Joe Biden.
Biden announced in September that more than 3.5 million federal workers were required to undergo vaccination, with no with option to get regularly tested instead, unless they secured an approved medical or religious exemption. A U.S. official said the vast majority of federal workers are fully vaccinated, and that a smaller number have pending or approved exceptions to the mandate.
In all, more than 95% of federal workers are in compliance with the Biden mandate, the official said, either by being vaccinated or having requested an exemption. Workers who are not in compliance are set to begin a “counseling” process that could ultimately result in their termination if they don’t get a shot or secure an approved exception to vaccination.
Catch up on the past 24 hours
Happy Vaxgiving! For some, anyway. The holiday arrives as COVID-19 cases rise nationally and the virus defies predictions yet again, "throwing 210-mile-an-hour curveballs at us." While there's no one-size-fits-all answer for lowering risk this Thanksgiving, answering a few simple questions can help you navigate safer holiday gatherings.
When can the masks finally come off? Some public officials are mapping out an endgame, but the right moment hasn't arrived yet, health experts said as they laid out what will need to happen first. In the meantime, here's the latest advice on which masks offer the best protection.
How often will you need a booster shot? Dr. Anthony Fauci explained the hopes and urged Americans to get a shot that "boosts you way up." Now that all adults are eligible for boosters, here's how to find one in Washington state.
"I’m sorry to take this drastic step," Austria's leader told vaccinated people as he sent the whole nation into a strict lockdown that starts today, with fines ahead for people who refuse vaccines.
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