Editor’s note: This is a live account of COVID-19 updates from Friday, Nov. 27, 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 It is no longer being updated.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.

So many people in the Seattle area have been waiting so long for testing that several testing sites have switched to appointment-only. How much of the testing surge was driven by people trying to get a clean bill of health ahead of travel and holiday gatherings?

There’s more to the story, particularly in South King County, where positive test rates took a big jump recently. Here’s an area-by-area look at those test results, plus our updating list of where to get tested.

In observance of the Thanksgiving holiday, the state Department of Health did not publish updates on new COVID-19 infections and deaths Thursday.

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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Disney to lay off 4,000 more employees amid pandemic

ORLANDO, Fla. — The Walt Disney Co. announced plans to lay off 4,000 more employees largely due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The announcement by the company was made in a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filing earlier this week, saying 32,000 employees at the parks, experiences and products division will be terminated in the first half of fiscal year 2021, which began last month.

In late September, the company had already announced plans to terminate 28,000 theme park workers. The company did not say how many of the additional 4,000 employees work at the California or Florida theme parks.

In the SEC document filed on the eve of Thanksgiving Day, the company said it also put 37,000 employees not scheduled for termination on furlough as a result of the pandemic.

“Due to the current climate, including COVID-19 impacts, and changing environment in which we are operating, the company has generated efficiencies in its staffing, including limiting hiring to critical business roles, furloughs and reductions-in-force,” the document said.

The company also said they may make more cuts in spending such as reducing film and television content investments and additional furloughs and layoffs.

—Associated Press
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Pushed by pandemic, Amazon goes on a hiring spree without equal

SEATTLE — Amazon has embarked on an extraordinary hiring binge this year, vacuuming up an average of 1,400 new workers a day and solidifying its power as online shopping becomes more entrenched in the coronavirus pandemic.

The hiring has taken place at Amazon’s headquarters in Seattle, at its hundreds of warehouses in rural communities and suburbs, and in countries such as India and Italy. Amazon added 427,300 employees between January and October, pushing its workforce to more than 1.2 million people globally, up more than 50% from a year ago. Its number of workers now approaches the entire population of Dallas.

The spree has accelerated since the onset of the pandemic, which has turbocharged Amazon’s business and made it a winner of the crisis. Starting in July, the company brought on about 350,000 employees, or 2,800 a day. Most have been warehouse workers, but Amazon has also hired software engineers and hardware specialists to power enterprises such as cloud computing, streaming entertainment and devices, which have boomed in the pandemic.

The scale of hiring is even larger than it may seem because the numbers do not account for employee churn nor do they include the 100,000 temporary workers who have been recruited for the holiday shopping season. They also do not include what internal documents show as roughly 500,000 delivery drivers, who are contractors and not direct Amazon employees.

Amazon’s rapid employee growth is unrivaled in the history of corporate America. 

—The New York Times

As COVID-19 spikes in South King County, so do long wait times for testing

As COVID-19 cases have spiked throughout King County, particularly in the south, wait times for coronavirus testing have increased in recent weeks. As a result, sites in Tukwila, Renton and Federal Way have shifted to appointment-only to accommodate the increased demand for testing. Public Health — Seattle & King County also opened a site at Des Moines’ Highline College last Friday, and plans to open a testing location on the Eastside in December.

More staff have been hired and new car lanes have been added to existing sites. Overall, the county’s efforts have helped reduce wait times. But as cases continue to climb, the solutions remain in flux.

Anecdotally, firefighter and Tukwila site manager Jeff Nichols has heard that people were scheduling appointments ahead of travel plans and holiday gatherings. “There’s a lot of people who believe that getting tested gives them a pass to socialize with people they don’t usually socialize with,” said Nichols.

But he didn’t entirely attribute the surge in patients to Thanksgiving. He pointed to a chart on the wall of the site’s break room, which showed blue lines that grew taller throughout the weeks. According to his numbers, nearly 200 people were tested every day a month ago. On Nov. 23, the daily numbers had jumped fourfold.

“Whether or not you put a holiday in there, I guarantee you the numbers will climb,” he said.

Read the full story here.

—Melissa Hellman

Florida congressman-elect tests positive for virus

MIAMI — South Florida Congressman-elect Carlos Gimenez has tested positive for coronavirus, his campaign announced Friday.

The former Miami-Dade County mayor and his wife, Lourdes, tested positive Thursday for COVID-19 after having mild symptoms, according to a statement. They said they’re self-isolating at home, in accordance with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines and advice from medical professionals.

Gimenez served as Miami-Dade mayor from 2011 until this month. The Republican won his congressional race in the Nov. 3 general election, defeating a single-term Democrat. He is set to assume office Jan. 3.

“I will continue attending New Member Orientation virtually and preparing our office to serve the people of Florida’s 26th Congressional District from Westchester to Key West until I can resume my normal schedule,” Gimenez said in a statement. “I am extremely grateful for all of the incredible health care workers who are tirelessly dedicated to their patients.”

—Associated Press
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Delays in data reporting distort Oregon COVID numbers

PORTLAND, Ore. — Health officials in Oregon said daily coronavirus reports for Friday and Saturday will be distorted because of a delay in reporting data.

KOIN reports that Friday’s total of 826 confirmed/presumptive cases of the coronavirus is relatively low because several of the local public health departments that contribute to reporting the daily numbers were closed.

As a result, the Oregon Health Authority said Saturday’s numbers will be “unusually high.” The agency added that a technical reporting issue also impacted the number of negative tests because of the limited reporting.

Three deaths were reported Friday, which bring the state’s COVID-19 death toll to 885.

Hospitalizations continued to rise with the number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients increasing from 489 to 521, according to OHA. Nearly a quarter of the hospitalized patients are in Intensive Care Unit Beds.

Oregon has logged 70,832 cases of the virus to date.

—Associated Press

24 new pandemic-time restaurant openings around Seattle — many with outdoor dining

Katsu-ya, the Los Angeles sushi chain that has drawn celebrities including Kim Kardashian and Lady Gaga, has opened near the Amazon campus, with plans for two more locations next year, including in Bellevue.  (Courtesy of Katsu-ya)

It’s a strange time to open a restaurant, you say? Well, the reality is that many on this list sealed their deals with landlords in pre-COVID times. As the adage goes, when life gives you lemons …

With Gov. Jay Inslee’s recent ban on indoor dining running at least through mid-December, the newcomers below are doubling down on takeout. Others plopped plastic chairs and picnic tables along the sidewalks with awnings and heat lamps. Wind chill be damned. On with our roll call.

Read the full list here.

—Tan Vinh

Michigan restaurant leaves franchise over virus restrictions

A Big Boy restaurant in Michigan’s Thumb region has lost its name after the owners refused to stop indoor dining as part of statewide restrictions to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Customers were greeted Friday with Sandusky Diner instead of Sandusky Big Boy, the name for 35 years. The company that grants franchises took action. Big Boy restaurants are known by their statue of a boy in checkered overalls holding a burger over his head.

The Sandusky location, about 88 miles (141 kilometers) north of Detroit, was one of four eateries cited this week for violating the state’s order against indoor dining. Three other establishments, including one of the restaurants, also had their liquor licenses suspended.

Big Boy’s corporate office told the owners that they had 24 hours to comply with the state’s order, said Troy Tank, part owner and operations manager for the restaurant.

“We had already decided we weren’t going to do that,” Tank told The Associated Press. “We would be open only for carry-out. We were not in a position to do that again. We had already done it for three months earlier in quarantine.”

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services issued citations to four restaurants Wednesday, while the Liquor Control Commission suspended the liquor licenses.

Tank said his restaurant has been fined up to $1,000 per day for each day customers are allowed to eat inside.

—Associated Press
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Los Angeles orders more restrictions as coronavirus surges

LOS ANGELES — Los Angeles County announced a new stay-home order Friday as coronavirus cases surged out of control in the nation’s most populous county, banning most gatherings but stopping short of a full shutdown on retail stores and other non-essential businesses.

The three-week “safer at home” order takes effect Monday. It came as the county of 10 million residents confirmed 24 new deaths and 4,544 new confirmed cases of COVID-19.

The county had set a threshold for issuing the stay-home order: an average of 4,500 cases a day over a five-day period, but hadn’t expected to reach that level until next month.

However, the five-day average of new cases reported Friday was 4,751.

The order advises residents to stay home “as much as possible” and to wear a face covering when they go out. It bans people from gathering with others who aren’t in their households, whether publicly or privately.

However, exceptions are made for church services and protests, “which are constitutionally protected rights,” the county Department of Public Health said in a statement.

—Associated Press

CDC panel meets Tuesday to vote on COVID-19 vaccine priority

ATLANTA — A panel of U.S. advisers will meet Tuesday to vote on how scarce, initial supplies of a COVID-19 vaccine will be given out once one has been approved.

Experts have proposed giving the vaccine to health workers first. High priority also may be given to workers in essential industries, people with certain medical conditions and people age 65 and older.

Tuesday’s meeting is for the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, a group established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The panel of experts recommends who to vaccinate and when — advice that the government almost always follows. The agenda for next week’s emergency meeting was posted Friday.

Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech have asked the Food and Drug Administration to allow emergency use of its COVID-19 vaccine candidate. Moderna Inc. is expected to also seek emergency use of its vaccine soon.

FDA’s scientific advisers are holding a public meeting Dec. 10 to review Pfizer’s request, and send a recommendation to the FDA.

—Associated Press

Speed of viral spread causes concern in South Korea

SEOUL, South Korea — South Korea has reported more than 500 new coronavirus cases for the third straight day, the speed of viral spread unseen since the worst wave of the outbreak in spring.

The 504 cases reported by the Korea Disease Control and Prevention on Saturday brought the national caseload to 33,375, including 522 deaths.

Around 330 of the new cases came from the densely populated Seoul metropolitan area, home to about half of the country’s 51 million population, where health workers are struggling to stem transmissions linked to hospitals, schools, saunas, gyms and army units.

Infections were also reported in other major cities including Daegu, which was the epicenter of the country’s previous major outbreak in late February and March.

The recent spike in infections came after the government eased social distancing restrictions to the lowest levels in October to support a weak economy, allowing high-risk venues like nightclubs and karaoke bars to reopen and spectators to return to sports.

Officials reimposed some of the restrictions this week and could be forced to clamp down on economic activities further if transmissions don’t slow.

—Associated Press
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21 more Seattle-area restaurants and bars close permanently during COVID-19 fall surge

Any list of restaurant and bar closures is incomplete, and this one is likely particularly, woefully so. Even in better times, such an accounting is lacking, reliant on announcements, tips and seeing places dark when they should be aglow. With recent day upon day of record-breaking new cases of COVID-19 locally and a new dining-in shutdown in effect until Dec. 14, many restaurants and bars have closed temporarily, while many others are still making food to go, trying to hang on. (Get takeout to help get them through this!) Meanwhile, there are tense negotiations with landlords and calls for more governmental aid for an industry on the brink.

We can sadly add award-winning, all-organic Tilth and beloved Boeing Field diner Randy’s to this tally, both commemorated in previous stories. And there are certainly more temporary closures that have already become permanent than those listed here. And, doubtless, many more to come.

Yet new restaurants keep cropping up — a lot of them. Some are the product of inexorable plans laid before the pandemic; others are proof of hope springing eternal, with brave souls undertaking new enterprises right now. Best to all struggling out there, condolences to all listed here, and let’s stay safe so that we may get to the other side of this thing with less loss of livelihoods — and lives.

Read the full list here.

—Bethany Jean Clement

As winter arrives, heaters become a survival tool for businesses

NEW YORK — The must-have accessory for many businesses this winter is basic, but lately it has been hard to find: the humble space heater.

As coronavirus cases surge, and as people shun or are even barred from gathering in indoor spaces, restaurants, hotels and office buildings are installing outdoor heaters on sidewalks and terraces in a bid to retain customers and tenants.

The effort can seem like an existential quest. A rise in demand has left some products back-ordered for months, possibly jeopardizing prospects for some of businesses to get through the pandemic intact.

“Surviving this pandemic has become like jungle warfare,” said Mark Barak, chief executive of La Pecora Bianca, a restaurant that has decked out the outside areas of its three New York locations with about 70 heaters.

Distributors say they are having trouble keeping up with demand.

—The New York Times

State health officials confirm 158,167 total coronavirus cases in Washington

State health officials on Friday evening confirmed an updated total of 158,167 coronavirus cases in Washington state — though Department of Health (DOH) officials have noted that the number of cases may be temporarily inflated.

"Due to laboratory report volumes reaching unprecedented levels during the past two weeks, we have not been able to complete deduplication activities for some cases today," DOH said Friday. "As a result, some duplicate lab reports and case information have been included in our dashboards."

DOH estimated about 250 to 300 duplicate new cases in Friday's report, which will be resolved in the coming days.

The Friday data — which reflects additional cases from two days, as the state did not report new cases on Thanksgiving — includes 4,261 additional cases and one fewer death, according to The Seattle Times' calculation. The state occasionally reports fewer total deaths, after re-sorting cases that might have initially been incorrectly labeled as a "COVID-19 death."

DOH is reporting 4,860 new cases for the past two days.

DOH's method of reporting new cases each days differs from The Times', which was today’s total cases minus the previous day’s total cases. The DOH’s report of new cases each day may 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, etc.

As of 11:59 p.m. Thursday, DOH reported that 2,703 people had died of COVID-19 in Washington state, or 1.7% of people diagnosed. About 10,496 people have been hospitalized due to the virus.

In King County, Washington's most populous, DOH reported 42,743 diagnoses and 866 deaths.

DOH has said the “epidemiologic curves” tab of its COVID-19 data dashboard site is the most accurate representation of coronavirus activity in the state, but its “confirmed cases” data is roughly two weeks behind today’s reported numbers.

Because of the backlog and in an attempt to prioritize an update on positive tests, DOH said its negative test results, total tests data and percent positivity won't be available until at least Nov. 30.

—Elise Takahama
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Public disclosure at Washington state agencies slows to a crawl in pandemic

For two months, Ailise Delaney waited for a police report, a simple and routinely accessible document she hoped would help a woman seek a protection order in a domestic violence case. 

But a Seattle police account of what happened one night in June when they responded to a 911 call didn’t arrive in time, forcing Delaney, an attorney with the Eastside Legal Assistance Program, to move forward in court without it. 

“Not even being given the option to present that to the court is really upsetting,” Delaney said. “And trying to explain to a client why we don’t have this information or why we won’t be able to get it is really difficult a lot of times.”

Attorney Ailise Delaney  waited for months to get a Seattle police report to help with a client’s domestic violence case. (Alan Berner / The Seattle Times)

Under Washington state law, public agencies are required to provide an array of documents to anyone who requests them within certain timelines. 

But during the coronavirus pandemic, wait times for public records at the Seattle Police Department and many other state and local agencies have lasted for months, deepening concern about government transparency at a critical time.

Some officials even estimate that records won’t be released well into next year, while several acknowledge the pandemic has contributed to backlogs.

Read the story here.

—Mary Hudetz

Farm Rescue shifts to help farmers sickened by coronavirus

The wet spring offered only a tiny window for planting, so when North Dakota farmer Paul Ivesdal fell ill with the coronavirus he knew the timing couldn’t be worse.

The 63-year-old man knew if he didn’t recover quickly and plant his crop of wheat, barley, canola and flax, it could mean an end to his decades of farming 2,300 acres (930 hectares) just south of the Canadian border. But his condition deteriorated and, due to the bad weather, even his neighbors had no time to help.

That’s when Farm Rescue stepped in. When Ivesdal was rushed to a hospital where he spent eight days on a ventilator, volunteers from the nonprofit planted his crops and made sure his farm would endure.

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)

Over the last 15 years, 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.

Read the story here.

—David Pitt, The Associated Press

North Korea’s Kim vents fury under strain of coronavirus and economy, South Korea says

Under pressure from the coronavirus pandemic and an ailing economy, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is responding with fury, approving at least two executions in the past three months, South Korea’s intelligence agency told a parliamentary briefing on Friday.

“Kim Jong Un is taking irrational actions,” opposition lawmaker Ha Tae-keung told reporters after being briefed by Seoul’s National Intelligence Service. “He is venting his anger excessively and rolling out measures that lack common sense.”

In an undated photo, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un reads a letter from U.S. President Donald Trump. Un reportedly has approved at least two executions in the past three months, South Korea’s intelligence agency told a parliamentary briefing on Friday. (Korean Central News Agency / Korea News Service via AP, file)

Ha said a foreign exchange dealer had been executed in late October, while an official at a customs post on the Chinese border was executed in August for failing to abide by strict rules on imports intended to prevent the coronavirus from entering the country.

Experts say that Kim is likely to be feeling pressure after closing the Chinese border at the start of the year as the coronavirus spread around the world. Trade with China is usually seen as North Korea’s economic lifeline, but that lifeline has effectively been cut.

Read the story here.

—The Washington Post
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Navajo school, students fight to overcome amid COVID-19

 One student runs 85 feet up a hill every morning, just to get a cellphone signal so he can call in his attendance. Another moved to Phoenix by himself, after his only parent died of COVID-19, to work construction while going to school online.

Then there’s the high school senior who spends six hours most days doing homework in a car next to a school bus turned Wi-Fi hotspot – the only way some kids on the Navajo Nation can get assignments to their teachers.

These kids share a dream: to graduate high school, find a way to go to college, get a degree, land a dream job – get out of their small town, succeed and soar.

Even in the best of times, that dream is harder for Native American students to attain. And now COVID-19 has brought one of the greatest challenges yet to these young people.

For them, it’s about so much more than being separated from friends or having to figure out how to use Zoom. All that isolation and upheaval has been accompanied by death and great loss.

Across the Navajo reservation, victims of COVD-19 include parents and grandparents, sole guardians and providers, mentors and teachers. Without them, some students have lost their way or, quite literally, fallen off the map.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press

Greece sets price limit on COVID-19 tests at private clinics

Greece’s government said Friday it is putting limits on how much private medical facilities can charge for coronavirus tests.

Commerce and Consumer Protection Secretary General Panagiotis Stamboulidis said that the price limits would be $48 for PCR tests and $12 for rapid antigen tests.

Private medical clinics and hospitals had been charging about $84-$143 for PCR tests and around $48 for the rapid tests.

A draft bill will be brought to parliament in coming days to allow for the limits, he said.

Stamboulis said that while the Greek government supports “practices of healthy competition,” it has an obligation to intervene at a time when most of the retail sector and large segments of the economy are shut due to a coronavirus-related lockdown.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press

UK asks regulator to assess AZ-Oxford vaccine amid questions

The British government said Friday it has formally asked the country’s medicines regulator to assess whether a coronavirus vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University should be authorized for use.

The step comes amid questions about preliminary results from trials of the jab, after the company and the university acknowledged that the most encouraging part of their findings stemmed from a dosing error.

U.K. Health Secretary Matt Hancock said he had asked the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency to determine whether the vaccine “meets rigorous safety standards.”

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press
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University refers 150 students to conduct office for failing to comply with coronavirus requirements

The University of Maryland in College Park referred about 150 students to its conduct office for failing to comply with coronavirus testing requirements, a school spokeswoman said this week.

Students and employees who visit the campus for classes, on-campus jobs or other activities are required to complete daily symptom checks and confirm they have tested negative for the coronavirus. But officials discovered dozens were noncompliant this fall.

University of Maryland students, faculty and staff members line up to be tested for the coronavirus on the concourse at Capital One Field at Maryland Stadium in September in College Park. (Washington Post photo by Katherine Frey).

Students who did not follow those requirements this semester received two warnings before being referred to the Office of Student Conduct, said Katie Lawson, a spokeswoman for the campus. Upon referral, students are required to attend an information session about the disciplinary process, then officials will determine if sanctions are warranted.

Read the story here.

—The Washington Post

Germany preps vaccine drive as COVID cases hit 1M

Hulking gray boxes are rolling off the production line at a factory in the southern town of Tuttlingen, ready to be shipped to the front in the next phase of Germany’s battle against the coronavirus as it became the latest country to hit the milestone of 1 million confirmed cases Friday.

Man-sized freezers such as those manufactured by family-owned firm Binder GmbH could become a key part of the vast immunization program the German government is preparing to roll out when the first vaccines become available next month.

File — In this Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2020 file photo an employee of Binder, the world’s largest manufacturer of serial-production environmental simulation chambers for scientific or industrial laboratories, checks an ultra low temperature freezer in Tuttlingen, Germany. Germany prepares for the vaccination of the German population during the upcoming month. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader, file)

That’s because one of the front-runners, a vaccine made by German company BioNTech together with U.S. pharmaceutical giant Pfizer, needs to be cooled to minus 70 degrees Celsius (minus 94 degrees Fahrenheit) for shipping and storage.

Ensuring such temperatures, colder even than an Antarctic winter, is just one of the many challenges that countries face in trying to get their populations immunized.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press

COVID-19 in custody: Alabama ranks 9th for inmate deaths

At the Bibb Correctional Facility in Montgomery, Alabama, the old prison chapel has been turned into a quarantine zone. The sound of coughing is constant. And some people appear afraid to enter the room.

An inmate described life in the quarantine to The Associated Press, speaking anonymously for fear of retaliation. The prison system has enforced the wearing of masks among inmates, but he said crowded dormitories like his offer nowhere to hide from the virus.

As coronavirus cases skyrocket nationwide, they are also rising again in prisons, which are plagued by close contact and lack of good hygiene. In Alabama prisons alone, 34 people — 32 inmates and two staff members — have died from COVID-19 since the pandemic began. That ranks ninth in the country for the number of COVID-19 deaths per 10,000 inmates, according to figures compiled by The Associated Press and the Marshall Project.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press
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Ravens QB Lamar Jackson tests positive for COVID-19

Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson has tested positive for COVID-19, according to multiple media outlets.

Last year’s NFL MVP is the biggest star to become infected by the virus.

Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson (8) in action during the second half of an NFL football game against the Tennessee Titans, Sunday, Nov. 22, 2020, in Baltimore. He has since been diagnosed with COVID-19, the Associated Press reported Friday. (AP Photo/Nick Wass) BAF13

The Baltimore Sun and ESPN, both citing unidentified sources, reported that Jackson was among four more Ravens players to test positive Thursday.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press

Merkel urges patience as German virus restrictions extended

Chancellor Angela Merkel urged Germans to remain patient with restrictions meant to slow the spread of the coronavirus, saying Thursday that with promising vaccines on the way, “there is light at the end of the tunnel.”

German Chancellor Angela Merkel adjusts her face mask as she arrives for a parliament session about German government’s policies to combat the spread of the coronavirus and COVID-19 disease at the parliament Bundestag, in Berlin, Germany, Thursday, Nov. 26, 2020. Merkel and the country’s 16 state governors have agreed to extend a partial shutdown well into December in an effort to further reduce the rate of coronavirus infections ahead of the Christmas period. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)

Germany embarked on a so-called wave-breaker shutdown on Nov. 2, closing restaurants, bars, sports and leisure facilities but leaving schools, shops and hair salons open.

It was initially slated to last four weeks but Merkel and the country’s 16 state governors agreed late Wednesday to extend it through Dec. 20 with a goal of pushing the number of new coronavirus cases in each region below 50 per 100,000 inhabitants per week. It’s currently at 140 per 100,000, with some regions far higher.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press

A short guide to quarantining after holiday travel

If you traveled over the Thanksgiving holiday, it’s time to go into quarantine.

Specifically, if you went out of state, Washington, Oregon and California issued travel advisories recommending that you quarantine for 14 days. If you had prolonged exposure to anyone outside of your household or existing pandemic pod, it’s a good idea to self-quarantine as well.

But what does it mean to self-quarantine? Stay at home, in your home, without going anywhere else or seeing anyone from outside your household, for 14 days. If you need something, have it delivered.

Read the FAQ here.

Vickie Lechuk, right, waits in line to check baggage at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport, Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2020, in Cleveland. Lecuk is traveling to Tampa, Florida. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

—Jessica Roy, Los Angeles Times
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Thailand, Philippines sign for AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine

Thailand on Friday signed a $200 million deal to procure 26 million doses of a trial coronavirus vaccine developed by pharmaceutical firm AstraZeneca in collaboration with Oxford University. It is expected to be delivered in mid-2021.

The doses would cover 13 million people in a population of about 69 million.

Thailand’s National Vaccine Institute signed a non-refundable advance market commitment contract worth $79 million with AstraZeneca to reserve the supply of the vaccine candidate.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press

As thousands of athletes get coronavirus tests, nurses wonder: What about us?

On her day off not long ago, emergency room nurse Jane Sandoval sat with her husband and watched her favorite NFL team, the San Francisco 49ers. She’s off every other Sunday, and even during the coronavirus pandemic, this is something of a ritual. Jane and Carlos watch, cheer, yell — just one couple’s method of escape.

For Sandoval, though, it has become more and more difficult to enjoy as the season — and the pandemic — wears on and it became obvious to her that when it comes to coronavirus testing, this is a nation of haves and have-nots.

Nurses at Stormont Vail Health System position themselves in a hallway that was made into hospital room earlier this month in Topeka,  Kansas.  (Evert Nelson / The Topeka Capital-Journal via AP)

Among the haves are professional and college athletes, in particular those who play football. From Nov. 8 to 14, the NFL administered 43,148 tests to 7,856 players, coaches and employees. Major League Soccer administered nearly 5,000 tests last week, and Major League Baseball conducted some 170,000 tests during its truncated season.

Sandoval, meanwhile, is a 58-year-old front-line worker who regularly treats patients infected by the coronavirus. In eight months, she has never been tested. She says her employer, California Pacific Medical Center, refuses to provide testing for its medical staff even after possible exposure.

Watching sports, then, no longer represents an escape from reality for Sandoval. Instead, she says, it’s a signal of what the nation prioritizes.

Read the story here.

—Kent Babb, The Washington Post

US colleges mull new virus protocols for students’ return

St. Michael’s College managed to keep coronavirus cases at bay for almost two months this fall with students tested upon arrival and once every three weeks.

But in mid-October, cases at the small Vermont school started to climb. The outbreak was linked to an ice rink more than 40 miles away. The liberal arts college shifted to all-remote learning and closed the campus to visitors.

When students come back for the spring semester, St. Michael’s will begin testing them weekly. The college may also require students to move to a separate residence hall when they are told to quarantine.

In this Nov. 12, 2020, photo, University of Vermont students walk through a tent leading to a COVID-testing site on campus in Burlington, Vt. As coronavirus cases are surging around the U.S., some colleges and universities are rethinking some of their plans for next semester. (AP Photo/Lisa Rathke)

The coronavirus presented huge challenges for the fall semester for U.S. colleges that opened the academic year with in-person learning, including some that took a battering from outbreaks. Those not joining the growing number that will offer only virtual learning are assessing how they would bring students back after the winter holidays while the country faces crushing rates of virus infections.

Read the story here.

—Lisa Rathke, The Associated Press
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South Korea cases stay above 500 for 2nd day

People wearing face masks as a precaution against the coronavirus cross a road in Seoul, South Korea, Friday, Nov. 27, 2020. South Korea’s daily virus tally hovered above 500 for the second straight day, as the country’s prime minister urged the public to stay home this weekend to contain a viral resurgence. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

 South Korea’s daily virus tally hovered above 500 for the second straight day, as the country’s prime minister urged the public to stay home this weekend to contain a viral resurgence.

South Korea on Thursday registered 583 new cases, the first time its daily tally exceeded 500 since March. South Korea has seen a spike in fresh infections since it eased tough social distancing rules last month.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press

Thanksgiving travelers try to reach destinations, miss virus

Americans, millions of whom traveled against the advice of public health officials, tried to stay safe before they hunkered down with their families for Thanksgiving, a holiday remade by the pandemic as case numbers and death tolls rise.

“You know, the main fear people have usually going on planes is: ‘Are we going to crash?’” Lexi Cusano, 23, said Wednesday on her way from Miami to Hartford, Connecticut.

“But today, it was more like, ‘I’m breathing in the same air that’s been circulating in here and people are just being very irresponsible.’ So that was the main horror.”

Read the story here.

—Daniella Peters, The Associated Press

Quarantine Corner

Snap out of that food coma. Here are ideas for weekend fun to get you moving again.

The Westlake Center tree and Seattle Star lighting take place tonight, and you can watch from your couch.

Seattle-area artists are getting ready for Artists Sunday, their answer to Black Friday shopping sprees. See some of their work.

—Kris Higginson
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Catch up on the past 24 hours

Should you wear a mask outside at all times, now that the risk of getting COVID-19 is greater than it’s ever been? Which masks work best? Our FAQ digs into the recommendations and the latest research. 

President Donald Trump got an antibody treatment. Can you? Probably not; and the fuss over it is creating a false sense of security, health experts worry. 

What happens if you test the entire population: Britain's effort to swab all of Liverpool is showing early results — and raising big concerns.

"Dear Santa, don't forget your mask, so you aren't fined." As soon as workers at Santa's sorting office in France opened this season's first letters, they realized they needed to turn into "elf therapists" as children confided worries that they may not be sharing with their parents. Here are excerpts.

—Kris Higginson