Editor’s note: This is a live account of COVID-19 updates from Thursday, Nov. 26, 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 It is no longer being updated.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.

As the coronavirus pandemic restricts people throughout the country from gathering for yet another holiday, many Washingtonians are finding ways to be creative with outdoor meals and virtual dinners. But, to health officials’ dismay and despite their pleas, millions of Americans still risked traveling for Thanksgiving to see their loved ones.

In Europe, a top EU official said Wednesday that the first citizens in the 27 nation bloc could be vaccinated against the coronavirus by Christmas.

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.


Navigating the pandemic
(Jennifer Luxton / The Seattle Times)

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Wyoming's Republican governor, who has said wearing a mask is a personal choice, has contracted the coronavirus

After declining to impose a statewide mask mandate urged by medical officials across Wyoming earlier this month to stem the dramatic rise in coronavirus cases, Republican Gov. Mark Gordon has contracted the virus, his office announced Wednesday.

While Gordon, 63, has stressed the importance of wearing masks, he has also argued that it’s an individual choice to do so.

“He only has minor symptoms at this time and plans to continue working on behalf of Wyoming remotely,” Gordon’s office said in a news release.

GOP-led states including Utah, West Virginia and North Dakota all recently tightened mask rules, and Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds, a Republican who had previously called such rules “feel-good” measures, put a limited mandate into effect earlier this month.

Gordon, though, has held firm against any statewide mask rules even as Wyoming, like other states in the West and Midwest, has seen coronavirus cases increase significantly this fall. The state has now topped 30,000 cases and recorded at least 215 deaths, according to The Washington Post’s coronavirus tracker.

Read the full story here.

—The Washington Post
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Vanderbilt considers using female soccer player as a kicker in upcoming men's football gamefootball

A week after she helped the Vanderbilt women’s soccer team win the SEC tournament, Sarah Fuller is an “option” to kick for the men’s football team Saturday, something that would make her the first woman to suit up for a Power Five conference team.

Fuller, a senior goalkeeper from Wylie, Texas, was in uniform as the team practiced for its next-to-last game of the season. Vanderbilt is 0-7 and shorthanded with several special-teams players in coronavirus quarantine ahead of the game against Missouri.

“Right now we’re just looking at all options,” Derek Mason, the school's head football coach, said Wednesday on ESPN’s 102.5 The Game. “… For us it’s like any week in college football, you’re subject to testing and then based on testing you’ve gotta figure out options of where you go.”

The school newspaper reported that Fuller was in full pads and uniform but did not kick Tuesday. She went through walk-throughs with coaches and at least one kicking specialist on the sideline.

Fuller appeared in nine games in goal, making 28 saves for the 8-4 Commodores. She had three saves last weekend in Vanderbilt’s 3-1 upset of top-seeded Arkansas in the SEC title game.

Read the full story here.

—The Washington Post

Many pub doors in England will stay closed, even as second lockdown is lifted

LONDON — Under fire from critics over the economic and social cost of his coronavirus restrictions, Prime Minister Boris Johnson will bring a grueling, second national lockdown in England to an end next week.

But under a new set of rules announced Thursday, which divide England into three tiers of restrictions, the access to bars and restaurants will differ drastically from place to place depending on the government’s assessment of the local threat posed by the virus.

Though opinion polls generally show that Britons support tough measures and prefer to prioritize health over the economy, the political backlash against the new pub rules was swift: Graham Brady, who chairs the influential 1922 committee of Conservative backbench lawmakers, told the BBC that he would vote against the three-tier plan when it goes to Parliament for approval next week.

In Thursday’s closely watched announcement of post-lockdown rules, the government said it plans to allow areas in two of the three tiers, including London and Liverpool, to permit bars to serve alcohol to customers who order food.

But throughout huge swaths of the country, including most of its other big cities like Manchester and Birmingham, the government wants tougher restrictions to be in place, with pub and restaurant doors kept firmly shuttered when the national lockdown ends Dec. 2.

In these highest-risk areas, only takeout service will be permitted.

Read the full story here.

—The New York Times

Trump, Carson tout covid-19 treatments as lifesavers. But regular people find them harder to get.

The day after being discharged from the hospital last month, President Donald Trump enthusiastically endorsed a new antibody cocktail,saying it had been a “cure” for his covid-19. “I want everybody to be given the same treatment as your president,” he said in an Oct. 7 video.

That’s not going to happen anytime soon. Frustrated doctors say they have had to ration the Regeneron medication given to Trump, and a similar one by Eli Lilly – if they can get them at all – because of extremely short supply. The government has distributed just 205,000 doses of the drugs so far, at a time when around 170,000 people are being infected by the coronavirus every day.

Nonetheless, patients are clamoring for the medications, in part because of Trump’s comments, as well as testimonials from Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson and former New Jersey governor Chris Christie, who also got the drugs before they were approved.

“Frankly, the image of Trump coming out of Walter Reed and being better so quickly, I think it really gave a lot of people a false sense of security regarding what a treatment can do,” said Jeanne Marrazzo, director of the division of infectious diseases at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. “The reality is, people who have extra access to the latest and greatest treatments are not your average person. . . . People don’t realize how inaccessible these drugs are.”

Read the story here.

—The Washington Post
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Trump’s imprint on Supreme Court shows conservative effect in key coronavirus ruling

The Supreme Court’s new conservative majority showed its muscle on Thanksgiving Eve, with Justice Amy Coney Barrett playing a key role in reversing the court’s past deference to local officials when weighing pandemic-related restrictions on religious organizations.

All three of President Donald Trump’s nominees to the court were in the 5-to-4 majority that blocked New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s restrictions on houses of worship in temporary hot spots where the coronavirus is raging.

The court’s most conservative justices distanced themselves from Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. Justice Neil Gorsuch, Trump’s first nominee, went out of his way to say that lower courts should no longer follow Roberts’s guidance of deference, calling it “mistaken from the start.”

“Even if the Constitution has taken a holiday during this pandemic, it cannot become a sabbatical,” Gorsuch wrote. Rather than applying “nonbinding and expired” guidance from Roberts in an earlier case from California, Gorsuch said, “courts must resume applying the Free Exercise Clause.”

“Today, a majority of the court makes this plain.”

The halt of Cuomo’s orders, which had been allowed to remain in place by lower courts, was the first evidence that Roberts may no longer play the pivotal role he has occupied over the past couple of years. He has been at the center of the court, with four members of the court consistently more conservative than him, and four more liberal.

Read the story here.

—The Washington Post

At Western Washington University, COVID-19 map project aims to show what’s happening with case numbers and deaths — and why

While state policies to curb the spread of COVID-19 have created hardships, a data analysis conducted at Western Washington University shows they make a difference.

Patrick Buckley, a professor of environmental studies, has created maps that compare cases and death rates throughout the United States — as well as throughout Washington.

Nationally, Washington has maintained lower case counts and death rates per 100,000 residents than other states on the West Coast, in the Midwest, on the East Coast and in the South. That’s despite being the first state to have a confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19 and being the 13th most populous state, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

“Long term, you can see from these maps that Washington as a state has done the right things, even though I hate — hate, hate, hate being stuck inside all the time,” Buckley said from his home office.

Buckley’s maps, called cartograms, depict the number of COVID-19 cases and related death rates per 100,000 residents by color and size, often leading to images that look quite different than normal maps.

Read the story here.

—Skagit Valley Herald

Dead mink spark new scare amid Denmark’s botched mass burial triggered by COVID-19 concerns

Millions of dead mink thrown into mass graves have resurfaced in Denmark, triggering a new wave of finger pointing over how the country is handling the crisis.

The animals, which were culled earlier this month after Denmark found a mutation of the coronavirus in mink that could spread to humans and hamper vaccine efforts, have since started to rot. The gas in their bodies is now causing the mink to rise to the surface, fanning contamination fears.

The development marks the latest embarrassment for Denmark’s government, which was slammed by parliament for failing to consult the legislature before ordering farmers to cull their mink.

Read the story here.

—Bloomberg
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Alaska Native Medical Center exceeds coronavirus capacity

 The Alaska Native Medical Center based in Anchorage, which specializes in health care for Alaska Native and American Indian people in the state, said it is now over capacity with coronavirus patients and had to open an alternate care site to handle overflow.

The hospital’s Acting Administrator Dr. Robert Onders said during a virtual town hall on Monday that the critical care unit is so flooded that it cannot hold all the Anchorage hospital’s most seriously ill patients.

“So we’re extremely tenuous right now,” Onders said.

The Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta region in southwestern Alaska had the highest coronavirus case rate in the state as of Tuesday with about 273 cases per 100,000 people across the region on Tuesday.

The state reported a record-high 13 deaths in a single day on Tuesday, though only five of the deaths were classified as “recent.” Alaska reported a record-high number of new confirmed cases on a single day on Nov. 14 with 745.

Read the story here:

—The Associated Press

Farmer-support program shifts focus during COVID-19

In this photo provided by Farm Rescue, volunteers plant crops on Paul Ivesdal’s farm June 3, 2020 in Edmore, N.D. The wet spring offered only a tiny window for planting, so when Ivesdal fell ill to a coronavirus infection he knew the timing couldn’t be worse. Thanks to Farm Rescue, Ivesdal got his crop in even as he was rushed to a hospital and spend eight days on a ventilator. The nonprofit organization’s help meant that although Ivesdal spent a summer in rehabilitation to recover his walking ability and even now tires more easily, he’ll be able to keep farming. (Dan Erdmann/Farm Rescue via AP)

A program designed to support farmers, Farm Rescue, is shifting its focus during COVID-19.

“We’ve helped several farmers that have had COVID, including some who have been on a ventilator for three or four weeks and have survived and are back farming now,” said Bill Gross, founder of Farm Rescue.

The group has given assistance to about 700 farm families in the last 15 years in North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska and Kansas. The group usually helps farmers beset by injuries, illness or natural disasters, but volunteers have this year been helping those taken out of commission by COVID-19.

The pandemic has rippled through the farm economy, leading to yet more bankruptcies.

“It’s affected farmers drastically. They were already at what I feel was the breaking point,” Gross said. “There’s been persistently low commodity prices, natural disasters and now COVID, and then when you add a major injury or illness to the challenges they already faced, it just can be overwhelming to them … financially and emotionally.”

Read the story here.

—Associated Press

Washington liquor agents followed and confronted after notifying bar of COVID violation

State liquor control officers were followed and confronted after they served a notice of violation at Koko’s Bartini in Kennewick this week.

Officers for the Washington state Liquor and Cannabis Board stopped at the bar Tuesday afternoon to deliver the notice, which said the bar was serving liquor indoors in violation of a state ban on indoor service during the COVID pandemic.

It was the fourth time liquor control officers have visited the bar since it refused to end indoor service as required by Gov. Jay Inslee’s pandemic-safety mandate starting Nov. 18.

When Gov. Inslee reinstated the ban on indoor restaurant and bar service last week, Koko’s remained open for indoor service in what it has called a “peaceful protest” against state mandates that limit businesses.

On the bar’s regular business days over the last week it has invited people to come to the bar to drink and eat, telling them to bring protest signs.

Read the story here.

—Tri-City Herald
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Their teeth fell out. Was it another COVID-19 consequence?

One survivor of COVID-19, Farah Khemili of New York, experienced a unique sensation months after her bout with the disease — a loose, wiggling tooth.

The next day, the tooth flew out of her mouth and into her hand. There was neither blood nor pain. After suffering from COVID-19 this spring, Khemili has joined an online support group as she has endured a slew of symptoms experienced by many other “long haulers”: brain fog, muscle aches and nerve pain.

There’s no rigorous evidence yet that the infection can lead to tooth loss or related problems. But among members of her support group, she found others who also described teeth falling out, as well as sensitive gums and teeth turning gray or chipping.

She and other survivors unnerved by COVID’s well-documented effects on the circulatory system, as well as symptoms such as swollen toes and hair loss, suspect a connection to tooth loss as well. But some dentists, citing a lack of data, are skeptical that COVID-19 alone could cause dental symptoms.

“We are now beginning to examine some of the bewildering and sometimes disabling symptoms that patients are suffering months after they’ve recovered from COVID,” including these accounts of dental issues and teeth loss, said Dr. William W. Li, president and medical director of the Angiogenesis Foundation, a nonprofit that studies the health and disease of blood vessels.

Read the story here.

—The New York Times

Catch up on the past 24 hours

Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade continues today despite COVID-19. The pandemic, which shut down theaters in March, may have upended most traditions this holiday season, but the annual New York City parade will march on with balloons, dancers, floats, Broadway shows and Santa — albeit heavily edited for safety.

COVID-19 in King County is spreading mostly in households, at workplaces and at social gatherings, new report says. More than a third of people who have been infected with COVID-19 in the last 60 days likely became infected because of transmission within their household, according to a new review of COVID-19 exposures by Public Health — Seattle & King County.

Inslee prohibits non-urgent health care and dental services. Washington Gov. Jay Inslee announced new list of restrictions Wednesday, prohibiting all medical and dental facilities from providing non-urgent health care, dental services and surgeries "unless specific procedures and criteria are met," in an attempt to conserve PPE for health care workers.

Congress braces for Biden’s national coronavirus strategy. Congress is waiting for President-elect Joe Biden to move beyond the Trump administration’s state-by-state approach to the COVID-19 crisis and build out a national strategy to fight the pandemic and distribute the eventual vaccine.

Millions still traveled for Thanksgiving today at the risk of pouring gasoline on the coronavirus fire, disregarding increasingly dire warnings that they stay home and limit their holiday gatherings to members of their own household.

Vaccines could be released as soon as mid-December. The federal government plans to send 6.4 million doses of pharmaceutical giant Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine to communities across the United States within 24 hours of regulatory clearance, which could happen as early as mid-December.

—-Seattle Times staff

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