Editor’s note: This is a live account of COVID-19 updates from Tuesday, Nov. 24, 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 It is no longer being updated.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.

India reports over 44,000 cases, most in Delhi

NEW DELHI — India has registered 44,376 new confirmed coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours.

The latest increase has taken the total number of cases to 9.22 million, the Health Ministry said Wednesday. Deaths rose by 481, driving the total fatalities to 134,699.

India’s confirmed daily toll has remained below 50,000 for a few weeks, after peaking in September. But several cities have witnessed a surge in cases, prompting some state governments to clamp additional restrictions to contain the spread of the virus.

In Mumbai in southern India, travelers from New Delhi, Rajasthan and Gujarat will have to undergo mandatory coronavirus tests before entering the city. The three northern states are witnessing the latest surge in infections.

The situation remains grim in New Delhi, which is recording the highest number of cases in the country. The capital is reporting nearly 100 deaths on average every day for the last two weeks.

—Associated Press

Sanford replaces CEO after controversial email about masks

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — The head of one of the largest regional health systems in the Midwest was replaced Tuesday, less than a week after telling employees that he had recovered from COVID-19 and was not wearing a mask around the office.

Sanford Health said in a release that it has “mutually agreed to part ways” with longtime CEO Kelby Krabbenhoft, who took over in 1996 and helped expand the organization from a community hospital into what is billed as the largest rural nonprofit health system in the country.

Krabbenhoft left the executive position after telling employees in an email that he believes he’s now immune to COVID-19 for “at least seven months and perhaps years to come” and that he isn’t a threat to transmit it to anyone. He said wearing a mask would be merely for show. Other Sanford executives tried to distance themselves from the comments.

Dr. Kathy Anderson, president of the North Dakota Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, said it was “an especially dangerous message to be sending right now in North Dakota.”

—Associated Press

Christmas traditions axed as pandemic sweeps rural Kansas

BELLE PLAINE, Kan. — It’s barely a town anymore, battered by time on the windswept prairie of northwest Kansas. COVID-19 still managed for find Norcatur.

Not much remains of the rural hamlet, save for service station, a grain elevator, a little museum, and a weekend hangout where the locals play pool, eat pizza and drink beer. The roof has collapsed on the crumbling building that once housed its bank and general store. Schools closed decades ago and the former high school building is used for city offices.

But for the 150 or so remaining residents, the cancellation of the beloved Norcatur Christmas Drawing has driven home how the global coronavirus pandemic has reached deep into rural America.

“Due to individuals who have COVID and refuse to stay home and quarantine it has been determined it is not safe for the citizens of Norcatur and the area to proceed,” read the notice tucked in the town’s newsletter and posted on its Facebook page. It blamed “negligent attitudes of lack of concern for others” for the cancellation.

Read the full story here.

—Associated Press

Seattle Zion Church invites members to ‘Bring the Blood’ and donate

In response to a drop in the number of blood donations during the coronavirus pandemic, Seattle’s Zion Church has organized a donation drive for its members from noon to 4 p.m. Wednesday at Bloodworks Northwest’s Tukwila Donor Center.

Called “Bring the Blood,” the church is calling for its members to participate, following socially distancing guidelines. The drive allows church members to donate without having to make individual appointments.

Bloodworks Northwest’s Tukwila Donor Center is located at 130 Andover Park East, Tukwila.

—Nicole Brodeur

Amazon’s $3,000 signing bonuses irk workers who got $10 coupons

Amazon is doling out hiring bonuses as high as $3,000 to make sure it has enough people to squeak through the busy holiday shopping season. That’s stoking resentment among existing workers who recently got coupons for Thanksgiving turkeys as a thank-you for their hard work.

Social-media chat rooms where Amazon workers congregate have lit up. One worker shared a photo of a $15 turkey voucher, prompting others to boast that they received coupons for $20 or $25, while others lamented that they got nothing. When a worker in Alabama said his warehouse got $10 vouchers, colleagues joked that it was barely enough to buy a turkey leg. Others mordantly counseled fellow workers to look on the bright side — at least the turkey vouchers were tax-free, unlike the bonuses.

Amazon’s willingness to risk dissension in the ranks reflects a dawning reality: Many Americans are reluctant to re-enter the workforce, despite a national unemployment rate of 6.9%, double the pre-pandemic level. Searches for seasonal work dropped 25% from 2019, according to job site Indeed. Partly that’s because some workers still receive unemployment benefits. Partly it’s because they’re afraid of catching the novel coronavirus, which can cause the disease COVID-19.

To help avoid delivery delays during what’s already shaping up to be a blockbuster holiday season, the world’s largest online retailer has decided to throw people at the problem, even if it ends up with too many workers. So a few weeks ago, Amazon began dangling signing bonuses.


EXPLAINER: China’s claims of coronavirus on frozen foods

BEIJING — China has stirred controversy with claims it has detected the coronavirus on packages of imported frozen food.

Frozen shrimp imported from an Ecuadorian company was banned for one week on Tuesday in a continuing series of such temporary bans.

While experts say the virus can survive for a time on cardboard and plastic containers, it remains unclear how serious a risk that poses. Like so many issues surrounding the pandemic, the matter has swiftly become politicized.

China has rejected complaints from the U.S. and others, saying it is putting people’s lives first. Experts say they generally don’t consider the presence of the virus on packaging to be a significant health risk.

—Associated Press

A Thanksgiving parade, unfazed by snow or wind, takes on a pandemic

NEW YORK — Not snow, not rain, not gusting winds or the Great Depression have caused the cancellation of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in its 96-year history. On Thursday it seems poised to power through a pandemic.

The other parades of New York City have fallen one by one, as city and state officials determined it would be unsafe to proceed with the St. Patrick’s Day Parade, the Pride March and the Puerto Rican Day Parade because they draw such huge crowds. The West Indian American Day Parade on Labor Day was forced to go virtual for similar reasons.

But the Thanksgiving Day Parade is sailing forth, largely because the millions who typically attend have been told to stay home and the event has been scaled down to a television show, albeit one that many view as itself a ritual marker of the holiday.

So the parade route will be one block long, not 2 miles. Those high school bands from around the country will not be marching, and instead of some 2,000 balloon handlers to coordinate, there will only be about 130.

But anyone who thinks staging this year’s parade has been a layup, not a singular feat of logistical legerdemain, has been dipping too deeply into the holiday punch.


Inslee: As coronavirus hospitalizations increase, Washington could face ‘catastrophic loss of medical care’

OLYMPIA — Washington could face a “catastrophic loss of medical care” in the coming weeks if the increase in COVID-19 cases continues, Gov. Jay Inslee said Tuesday.

Tuesday’s remarks came as Washington shattered its previous record for daily cases of the new coronavirus. State health officials reported 3,482 new cases statewide, along with 35 new deaths. King County alone reported 888 new cases.

The previous record was 2,589 cases in one day, reported just a week ago on Nov. 17.

Increasing numbers of hospitalizations for the new virus mean hospitals could have to delay treatment for cancer, and procedures like knee or hip replacements, Inslee said in a news conference.

The question over hospital capacity isn’t just about space or equipment, but about having enough staff on hand to handle caseloads.

Health care workers are fatigued after months of the pandemic and some are falling ill. The increase in cases nationwide may limit the ability of medical workers from outside the area to help, according to Inslee and Nathan Schlicher, Washington State Medical Association president.

Read the full story here.

—Joseph O'Sullivan

Worried about COVID-19, long-term care facilities discourage residents from leaving for Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving at senior facilities will have features that reflect the changes required because of the COVID-19 pandemic: catered dinners brought directly to a residents’ units, heated and ventilated outdoor tents for visits, a “pie on wheels” drive-by event for family members and health care workers to pick up dessert.

The effort to make Thanksgiving special for residents isn’t new, though it’s taken on an added significance this year as facilities remain locked down. But it’s also a way, providers say, to encourage residents to stay where they are, instead of attending Thanksgiving events elsewhere.

“As far as gatherings go, we are just really, really trying to discourage that,” said Kevin McFeely, CEO and president of Tacoma Lutheran Retirement Community. “We’re not trying to be the Grinch, but it’s the safest thing to do.”

While long-term care providers such as nursing homes and assisted living facilities can restrict who comes into a building, there’s no rule preventing residents from leaving the site and coming back. That’s left officials worried that, as COVID-19 cases rise throughout Washington, some residents who join their families for Thanksgiving at a loved one’s home could bring the virus back to an environment that’s especially vulnerable.

Read the full story here.

—Paige Cornwell

Are dining tents a safe way to eat out during the pandemic?

Are dining tents a safe way to eat out during the pandemic?

Health experts say outdoor dining tents are generally safer than dining inside, but caution that they’re not all equal.

Many restaurants are erecting individual tents, igloos and other outdoor structures that let people who are dining together avoid being indoors, where the coronavirus spreads more easily.

Experts say the structures should be well-ventilated. A tent with four walls and a roof, for example, might not have better ventilation than an indoor dining room.

“The more airflow through the structure, the better it is,” says Dr. Isaac Weisfuse, a public health expert at Cornell University.

Igloos and individual tents are a creative solution but shouldn’t be shared with people who aren’t in your household, says Craig Hedberg, a professor at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health.

"If it’s keeping you from being in a common airspace with other people, then that’s a good thing,” he says.

Read the full story here.

—The Associated Press

Honestie Hodges, whose mistreatment by police led to changes, dies of COVID. She was 14.

Honestie Hodges, who was handcuffed by the police outside her home in Grand Rapids, Michigan, when she was 11, a frightening incident that drew outrage and national headlines in 2017, died Sunday. She was 14.

Her death, at the Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital in Grand Rapids, was caused by COVID-19, her grandmother Alisa Niemeyer wrote in a post on the website GoFundMe.

The police incident occurred Dec. 6, 2017. Honestie had stepped out the back door of her home with her mother and another family member to go to the store when they were confronted by police officers with their guns drawn.

“Put your hands on top of your—,” an officer ordered them before he was interrupted by Honestie’s mother screaming, “She is 11 years old, sir!”

“Stop yelling!,” the officer responded, as recorded by an officer’s body camera. He ordered Honestie to walk backward toward him with her hands up.

A second officer grabbed her arms, pulled them behind her back and handcuffed her. Honestie shouted, “No, No, No!,” pleading with the officers not to place the cuffs on her. The police, who said they had been searching for a 40-year-old woman in connection with a stabbing, removed the handcuffs after several minutes.

Read the full story here.

—The New York Times

State shatters COVID-19 record with 3,482 new cases -- 888 in King County alone -- and 35 new deaths

Washington state has shattered its previous COVID-19 record with 3,482 new cases, the state Department of Health (DOH) reported Monday, along with 35 new deaths.

King County, the state’s most populous, reported 888 new cases alone, the DOH reported.

The previous record was 2,589 cases in one day, reported just a week ago on NOv. 17.

The update brings the state’s totals to 151,019 cases and 2,690 deaths, meaning that 1.8% of people diagnosed in Washington have died, according to the DOH. The data is as of 11:59 p.m. Monday. 

The DOH also reported that 10,166 people have been hospitalized in the state due to the virus-- 70 new hospitalizations since Sunday.

In King County, state health officials have confirmed a total of 40,522 COVID-19 diagnoses and 864 deaths. 

—Nicole Brodeur

U.S. working on guidance to shorten COVID-19 quarantine period

Federal health officials are working on guidance to shorten the recommended 14-day quarantine period following a potential exposure to COVID-19, the top U.S. virus-testing official said.

Officials are beginning to see a preponderance of evidence that people could spend less time in quarantine if they also test negative for COVID-19, said Admiral Brett Giroir, an assistant secretary at the Department of Health and Human Services,

“We are actively working on that type of guidance right now, reviewing the evidence, but we want to make absolutely sure,” Giroir said on a Tuesday call with reporters.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now recommends people stay home for 14 days after close contact with someone who has COVID-19. That advice stands even when people feel healthy or test negative for the virus, the agency’s website says, because symptoms may develop anywhere from 2 to 14 days after exposure.

Read the full story here.


Germany warns of anti-Semitism among lockdown protests

 German government official warned Tuesday that anti-Semitism is emerging as a common position among people protesting pandemic lockdown measures who otherwise come from widely differing political backgrounds.

Felix Klein, who was appointed in 2018 to head the government’s efforts to combat anti-Semitism, said that hatred against Jews in Germany has increased during the coronavirus pandemic.

He noted that anti-Semitic conspiracy theories have been spread by people who believe in alternative healing and peace campaigners as well as by Germany’s far-right scene, which has used the protests to mobilize supporters.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press

French shop owners pressure Macron to lighten virus lockdown

People in France may be able to go back to their favorite shops and attend religious services again next week, after a month of partial virus lockdown — but they’ll probably have to wait until next year to savor wine and cheese in a local cafe.

Under pressure from merchants who want to recoup some of this year’s losses during the Christmas shopping season, the government may allow non-essential stores to reopen on Dec. 1, according to government spokesman Gabriel Attal. Restaurants, however, aren’t expected to get the green light until January.

A big question is what President Emmanuel Macron will announce about the end-of-year holidays.

Currently everyone in France needs a permission slip to leave their homes and no leisure travel is allowed, although schools and some workplaces remain open. France’s infection rate per 100,000 people is now less than a third of what it was when November began.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press

YouTube suspends One America News Network, a Trump favorite, for peddling COVID-19 misinformation

YouTube said it suspended right-wing channel One America News Network for one week, beginning Tuesday, for violating its policy against misinformation related to the COVID-19 pandemic and temporarily stripped the channel of its ability to make money from other videos.

The action against OAN, which President Donald Trump’s allies have praised in recent weeks while raging against Fox News for supposed disloyalty during and after this month’s election, was the latest sign that Silicon Valley was prepared to enforce policies against false and misleading information — even against those aligned with the president.

YouTube spokeswoman Ivy Choi said OAN, which has 1.2 million subscribers on the video service and sees some of its posts reach hundreds of thousands of viewers, violated the policy against portraying a COVID-19 remedy as a cure for the illness that has killed more than 258,000 Americans and 1.4 million people worldwide.

In addition to losing the ability to post new videos for the coming week, OAN has been suspended from YouTubes’s “Partner Program,” which allows monetization of videos through advertisements, which can be a significant source of revenue to online operations. The reason, said Choi, were “repeated violations” of YouTube’s policies against COVID misinformation.

Read the full story here.

—The Washington Post

Lithuania’s parliament OKs new PM, then closes due to virus

Lithuania’s parliament approved Tuesday conservative Ingrida Simonyte as the Baltic country’s next prime minister before shutting down for a week because of a recent COVID-19 spike in the country.

Simonyte, 46, will head a three-party center-right coalition after winning in a 62-10 vote in the 141-seat legislature, which is called the Seimas. Another 41 lawmakers abstained, and 28 others were absent mostly due to the coronavirus resurgence.

The southernmost Baltic country of nearly 3 million has seen 49,393 COVID-19 cases and 409 deaths — most of these recorded in October and November. The former government had faced strong criticism over soaring virus-related unemployment.

Simonyte's Homeland Union party has already agreed with two liberal parties, the Freedom Party and the Liberal Movement, to form a governing coalition. 

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press

Oregon health officials warn of consequences of Thanksgiving

Health officials in the Portland metro-area issued a final plea to Oregonians Tuesday asking them to celebrate Thanksgiving responsibly — at home and with no more than six people.

Following previous holidays, COVID-19 cases in Oregon have increased. Health officials say they are worried if that pattern continues hospitals will be overburdened and not able to assist everyone in a timely manner.

“The key takeaway today is to cancel or extremely dial back Thanksgiving plans,” said Jennifer Vines, the Multnomah County Health Officer. “An increase (in cases) two or three weeks from now would land us in an extremely difficult position.”

As COVID-19 cases increase in Oregon, officials’ concerns about hospitals reaching capacity are also growing.

Currently there are 474 COVID-19 patients in Oregon hospitals — a 176% increase from the start of the month and 25% increase from last week.

Of the COVID-19 patients currently hospitalized, 113 are in intensive care units.

Read the full story here.

—The Associated Press

Unemployment scam using inmates’ names costs California hundreds of millions

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — A rash of fraudulent pandemic unemployment claims filed under the names of jail and prison inmates, including more than 100 on death row, has bilked California out of hundreds of millions of dollars, a law enforcement task force said Tuesday.

In a letter to Gov. Gavin Newsom, the task force, led by district attorneys from San Diego to Fresno County, asked for “significant resources” to combat “what appears to be the most significant fraud on taxpayer funds in California history,” and wrote that claims had been paid under the names of tens of thousands of incarcerated Californians.

In most cases, task force members said, the payments were sent in the form of prepaid debit cards to addresses designated on the applications and later deposited to inmate accounts in jail and prisons, but in some, the benefits were sent directly to the institutions.

Among the named beneficiaries: Cary Stayner, a serial killer who murdered four women near Yosemite National Park in 1999; Wayne Ford, another serial killer, who confessed to at least four murders in 1997 and 1998 in Northern California; and Isauro Aguirre, who, with his girlfriend, tortured and murdered her 8-year-old son, Gabriel Fernandez, in 2013 in Palmdale, California.

“It’s behemoth,” said the Sacramento County district attorney, Anne Marie Schubert, who since last month has been chairing the task force. “And it’s not just happening here.”

Read the full story here.

—The New York Times

$15,000 Fine After Secret Hasidic Wedding Draws Thousands of Guests

Thousands of ultra-Orthodox Jews gathered to celebrate a wedding inside a cavernous hall in Brooklyn’s Williamsburg neighborhood earlier this month, dancing and singing with hardly a mask in sight. The wedding was meticulously planned, and so were efforts to conceal it from the authorities, who said that the organizers would be fined $15,000 for violating public health restrictions.

The wedding, organized Nov. 8 by leaders of the Satmar sect of Hasidic Judaism, is the latest incident in a long battle between city and state officials and members of the ultra-Orthodox community, who prize autonomy, chafe at government restrictions and have frequently flouted guidelines like mask-wearing and social distancing.

In October, state officials announced a series of restrictions in several neighborhoods in Brooklyn and Queens with large Orthodox Jewish populations after the positive test rate for COVID-19 in those areas rose above 4%. Many residents protested the restrictions, which included closing nonessential businesses and limiting capacity at houses of worship.

While positive test rates in several of these areas have decreased since the restrictions were implemented, tensions between city officials and area leaders have continued.

Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the fine Monday night after video of the wedding — and a florid account of the event and extensive efforts to conceal it appeared in a Hasidic newspaper — drew backlash online. He said additional penalties could be imposed on the organizers.

“We know there was a wedding,” the mayor told local news network NY1. “We know it was too big. I don’t have an exact figure, but whatever it was, it was too big. There appeared to be a real effort to conceal it. Which is absolutely unacceptable.”

Read the full story here.

—The New York Times

Trudeau: Canadians won’t be among the first to get vaccine

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Tuesday Canada will have to wait for a vaccine because the very first ones that roll off assembly lines are likely to be given to citizens of the country they are made in.

Trudeau noted Canada does not have vaccine-production facilities. The United States, the United Kingdom and Germany do.

Trudeau said it is understandable that an American pharmaceutical company will distribute first in the U.S. before they distribute internationally.

But Trudeau said Canadians won’t have to wait for everyone in the U.S. to be vaccinated before Canada gets doses and should expect the first doses to arrive in early 2021.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press

Restaurants workers out of work again as virus surges anew

Waiters and bartenders are being thrown out of work – again – as governors and local officials shut down indoor dining and drinking establishments to combat the nationwide surge in coronavirus infections that is overwhelming hospitals and dashing hopes for a quick economic recovery.

And the timing, just before the holidays, couldn’t be worse.

Restaurant owner Greg Morena in Los Angeles County was trying to figure out his next step after county officials banned in-person dining for at least three weeks, beginning Wednesday. But he was mainly dreading having to notify his employees.

“To tell you, ‘I can’t employ you during the holidays’ to staff that has family and kids, I haven’t figured that part out yet. It’s the heaviest weight that I carry,” said Morena, who had to close one restaurant earlier in the year and has two in operation at the Santa Monica Pier.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press

UK eases restrictions so families can gather over Christmas

British authorities gave the green light Tuesday to holiday reunions, relaxing restrictions on social mixing over Christmas and offering arriving international travelers a way to cut short quarantine if they test negative for COVID-19.

The U.K. government and administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland struck a deal that will ease limits on travel and socializing over the festive period so that friends and families can get together.

Over the five days between Dec. 23 and 27, up to three households can form a “Christmas bubble” and members can move freely between them. Those travelling to and from Northern Ireland will be permitted to travel for an additional day either side.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press

Why coronavirus vaccines face a trust gap in Black and Latino communities

If offered a coronavirus vaccine free of charge, fewer than half of Black people and 66% of Latino people say they would agree to take it, according to a survey-based study that underscores the challenge of getting vaccines to communities hit hard by the pandemic.

The survey released Monday is one of the largest and most rigorous to date. Other recent studies have also pointed to vaccine hesitancy in communities of color, but Monday’s survey delved deeper into the reasons, polling respondents on a spectrum of questions to get at the roots of their distrust.

Perhaps its most sobering findings: Only 14% of Black people trust that a vaccine will be safe, and 18% trust that it will be effective in shielding them from the coronavirus. Among Latinos, 34% trust its safety, and 40% trust its effectiveness.

The study’s authors said trust in vaccine safety is especially critical and was found in subsequent questions to be by far the strongest predictor of whether people are willing to take the vaccine.

Vaccinating a large share of the U.S. population will prove pivotal to establishing national immunity to the novel coronavirus and slowing the spread of the pathogen, infectious-disease specialists say. To reach the threshold necessary to establish herd immunity, a majority of Americans will likely need to be vaccinated in coming years.

Read the story here.

—William Wan, The Washington Post

'Gatherings have grave consequences,' says Gov. Inslee releasing virus warning video

Gatherings can have grave consequences right now, Gov. Jay Inslee said Tuesday on Twitter, releasing a video saying COVID-19 "can find you" at celebrations with closest friends and family get-togethers.

"Wear a mask. Stay six feet apart. Don't host gatherings even in your own home," the video says. "... COVID-19 can find you here."

The message, of course, drew a mixed reaction.

"Do the right thing folks and avoid gatherings THIS year please. The risk to your community is just too great. Stay safe and stay home," said Amanda K L@AmandaLeatherm3 in a reply to the governor's tweet.

Curtis Kingrey@Rainmakers28 tweeted, "Drama much? ... We need family more than ever right now."

—Christine Clarridge

Belgium approves more money for care homes hit by pandemic

Belgium’s northern region of Flanders approved $680 million Tuesday to support staff at nursing home and welfare facilities that has come under intense pressure during the coronavirus crisis.

During the first wave of the pandemic during the spring and again now, care homes have been centers of infections and deaths. Over the past several weeks, staff levels in several homes have dropped to a minimum because infected nurses and others have had to quarantine after contracting the virus. The army has had to reinforce staff in some cases to manage essential care.

The overall neglect has been so bad that Amnesty International said last week that authorities “abandoned” thousands of elderly who died in nursing homes during the first spring surge of the pandemic.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press

Good luck with that; Thanksgiving could make or break US coronavirus response

In Pennsylvania, if you’re having friends over to socialize, you’re supposed to wear a mask — and so are your friends. That’s the rule, but Barb Chestnut has no intention of following it.

“No one is going to tell me what I can or not do in my own home,” said Chestnut, 60, of Shippensburg. “They do not pay my bills and they are not going to tell me what to do.”

As governors and mayors grapple with an out-of-control pandemic, they are ratcheting up mask mandates and imposing restrictions on small indoor gatherings, which have been blamed for accelerating the spread of the coronavirus. But while such measures carry the weight of law, they are, in practical terms, unenforceable, and officials are banking on voluntary compliance instead.

Good luck with that.

While many are undoubtedly heeding public health advice — downsizing Thanksgiving plans, avoiding get-togethers, wearing masks when they’re around people who don’t live with them — it’s inevitable that a segment of the population will blow off new state and local restrictions and socialize anyway. Experts say that could put greater stress on overburdened hospitals and lead to an even bigger spike in sickness and death over the holidays.

Read the story here.

—Michael Rubinkam, The Associated Press

Evidence builds that an early mutation made the pandemic harder to stop

As the coronavirus swept across the world, it picked up random alterations to its genetic sequence. Like meaningless typos in a script, most of those mutations made no difference in how the virus behaved.

But one mutation near the beginning of the pandemic did make a difference, multiple new findings suggest, helping the virus spread more easily from person to person and making the pandemic harder to stop.

The mutation, known as 614G, was first spotted in eastern China in January and then spread quickly throughout Europe and New York City. Within months, the variant took over much of the world, displacing other variants.

There is no evidence that a coronavirus with the 614G mutation causes more severe symptoms, kills more people or complicates the development of vaccines. Nor do the findings change the reality that places that quickly and aggressively enacted lockdowns and encouraged measures like social distancing and masks have fared far better than the those that did not.

But the subtle change in the virus’s genome appears to have had a big ripple effect, said David Engelthaler, a geneticist at the Translational Genomics Research Institute in Arizona.

“When all is said and done, it could be that this mutation is what made the pandemic,” he said.

Read the story here.

—Benedict Carey, James Glanz and Hannah Beech, The New York Times

Can you repeat that? Hearing trouble more obvious with masks

As nurse Teri Wheat made her rounds at a Texas maternity ward, she began to realize she was having a hard time understanding the new mothers who were wearing masks due to the coronavirus pandemic.

So she got her hearing tested and now wears hearing aids.

Her hearing loss “became more noticeable the more barriers that we had to have,” said Wheat, 52, who wears a mask and a face shield at work to protect herself and others against the virus.

Hearing specialists across the U.S. say they have seen an uptick in visits from people like Wheat, who only realized how much they relied on lip reading and facial expressions when people started wearing masks that cover the nose and mouth.

Most of the time, hearing loss happens gradually and people wait around seven years to get their hearing tested, according to audiologists.

Read the story here.

—Jamie Stengle, The Associated Press

Russian virus vaccine to cost less than $10 per dose abroad

Russia released new results Tuesday claiming its experimental COVID-19 vaccine was highly effective, and promised it would cost less on international markets than vaccines by some of its Western competitors.

According to the Russian Direct Investment Fund, which bankrolled the development of the jab, Sputnik V will cost less than 10$ per dose — or less than $20 for the two doses needed to vaccinate one person — on international markets. The vaccination will be free for Russians, the Fund said.

The two-shot jab, the fund promised in a statement, will be “two or more times cheaper” than those by Pfizer or Moderna, which cost about $20 and $15-25 per dose respectively, based on agreements the companies have struck to supply their vaccines to the U.S. government.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press

Keep the mask: A vaccine won’t end the US crisis right away

Don’t even think of putting the mask away anytime soon.

Despite the expected arrival of COVID-19 vaccines in just a few weeks, it could take several months — probably well into 2021 — before things get back to something close to normal in the U.S. and Americans can once again go to the movies, cheer at an NBA game or give Grandma a hug.

The first, limited shipments of the vaccine would mark just the beginning of what could be a long and messy road toward the end of the pandemic that has upended life and killed more than a quarter-million people in the U.S. In the meantime, Americans are being warned not to let their guard down.

“If you’re fighting a battle and the cavalry is on the way, you don’t stop shooting; you keep going until the cavalry gets here, and then you might even want to continue fighting,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious-disease expert, said last week.

This week, AstraZeneca became the third vaccine maker to say early data indicates its shots are highly effective. Pfizer last week asked the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for emergency authorization to begin distributing its vaccine, and Moderna is expected to do the same any day. Federal officials say the first doses will ship within a day of authorization.

But most people will probably have to wait months for shots to become widely available. The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines also each require two doses, meaning people will have to go back for a second shot after three and four weeks, respectively, to get the full protection.

Read the story here.

—Candace Choi, The Associated Press

Drones to the rescue: Berlin lab seeks quicker virus tests

A German lab is hoping to cut the time it takes to send coronavirus tests across Berlin by using drones, thereby avoiding the capital’s clogged roads.

California-based company Matternet is currently testing drone deliveries between a hospital and Labor Berlin, one of the largest laboratories in Europe.

The route from drone to lab is about 7 miles as the drone flies, and officials expect to cut standard delivery times from about an hour to around 10 minutes when service on the route begins in January.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press

EU seals 6th vaccine deal, secures 160 million Moderna shots

The European Union’s executive said Tuesday it will sign a contract for up to 160 million doses of the experimental coronavirus vaccine developed by Moderna.

Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the EU Commission, said the deal will be approved on Wednesday as the EU tries to build “one of the most comprehensive COVID-19 vaccine portfolio in the world.”

The deal with Moderna is the sixth secured by the EU Commission with pharmaceutical companies, allowing its 27 member countries to buy more than one billion doses once the shots are ready.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press

Virus outbreak delays production at world’s top glove maker

Malaysia’s Top Glove Corp., the world’s largest maker of rubber gloves, said Tuesday it expects a two-to-four-week delay in deliveries after more than 2,000 workers at its factories were infected by the coronavirus, raising the possibility of supply disruptions during the pandemic.

Top Glove said it has temporarily stopped production at 16 factories in Klang, a town outside Kuala Lumpur, since Nov. 17 to screen workers, with its remaining 12 facilities in the area operating at much reduced capacities.

The government on Monday ordered 28 Top Glove factories in Klang to shut down in stages to allow workers to undergo screening and mandatory quarantine after 2,453 factory workers tested positive for COVID-19.

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Catch up on the past 24 hours

"Our concerns are being ignored and dismissed" as COVID-19 patients increase, said one of the more than 100 doctors, physician assistants and nurse practitioners who went on strike yesterday from their jobs at urgent-care facilities in the MultiCare health system. MultiCare said a majority of clinics remained open yesterday, and that it was disappointed the union was striking during a pandemic, "when our patients need our care more than ever."

Washington state has confirmed an additional 6,277 new COVID-19 cases for the past three days, after clearing a backlog created during a spike in testing. It helps to see a fuller picture in these graphics, and know the trends to look for

A million Americans per day packed airports and planes over the weekend. The numbers are only expected to grow, despite a warning from Dr. Anthony Fauci that travelers “are going to get us into even more trouble than we’re in right now.”

Now comes the hardest part of vaccinations: getting the shots from loading docks to upper arms. Health officials are thinking unconventionally about the massive complications; perhaps you could get yours at the carwash. And then there's the fact that in a new survey, fewer than half of Black people and only 66% of Latino people said they would agree to take a free vaccine. The survey delved deeply into why.

You should probably replace some of your fabric face masks, because the material and fit can deteriorate. Here's how to know if it's time, which masks are most effective, and how to wash yours the right way.

After "an impressive and alarming surge" in cases, Los Angeles County may impose a new stay-home order that severely restricts residents' movements just days before Thanksgiving. Meanwhile, the White House is still planning indoor holiday parties.

"COVID passports" are emerging as a key to restarting international travel.

The "Thanksgiving Grandma" gained fame by opening her home to a stranger she'd accidentally texted, back in 2016. They've shared every Thanksgiving since. This one is no exception, even after Dench lost her husband to COVID-19.