Editor’s note: This is a live account of COVID-19 updates from Friday, November 5, 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 It is no longer being updated.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.
Two conservative groups filed lawsuits against President Joe Biden’s workplace safety mandate requiring private employers to make sure workers are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration requirements expect companies with 100 employees or more to get vaccinated or be tested weekly and failure to comply can result in a $14,000 violation.
In Arizona, the governor is refusing to stop using federal coronavirus relief money for an education grant program explicitly meant for schools that don’t enforce mask mandates.
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.
Confused about COVID boosters? Here’s a quick, painless user’s guide for you
Struggling to make sense of all the information swirling around coronavirus vaccine boosters? You’re not alone.
In recent weeks, federal and state officials have given the green light for broad swaths of the population to get boosters. But they’ve done so using language that’s not always clear and offers limited guidance on whether certain people should get the shots and which vaccine to get.
Here’s a quick rundown of what you need to know, with some perspective from researchers.
LGBTQ+ people were more likely to lose income during the pandemic
In a first-of-its-kind survey from the U.S. Census Bureau, nearly a quarter of LGBTQ+ people reported losing income during the COVID-19 pandemic, a higher share than non-LGBTQ+ respondents.
U.S. unemployment and income statistics don’t specifically measure the LGBTQ+ experience. This past July, the U.S. Census Bureau for the first time collected information about sexual orientation and gender identity of respondents to its Household Pulse Survey. Across four surveys about emotional and economic well-being, LGBTQ+ respondents reported higher levels of food insecurity, anxiety and depression than non-LGBTQ+ people.
LGBTQ+ respondents were nearly twice as likely to report experiencing food insecurity. The gaps in mental health and anxiety were even larger.
The survey gives some much needed insight into how the LGBTQ+ community has fared economically during the pandemic. Earlier research from the Human Rights Campaign and PSB research found that LGBTQ+ were more likely to be unemployed during the first few months of the crisis. In the May 2020 study of 4,000 people, 17% of respondents had lost their jobs, making them 23% more likely than non-LGBTQ+ participants. People of color surveyed were more likely to have lost their job during that time than white respondents.
Pfizer says its antiviral pill is highly effective in treating COVID-19
Pfizer announced Friday that its pill to treat COVID-19 had been found in a key clinical trial to be highly effective at preventing severe illness among at-risk people who received the drug soon after they exhibited symptoms, making it the second antiviral pill to demonstrate efficacy against the illness caused by the coronavirus.
The drug appears to be more effective than a similar offering from Merck, which is awaiting federal authorization. Pfizer’s pill, which will be sold under the brand name Paxlovid, cut the risk of hospitalization or death by 89% when given within three days after the start of symptoms.
Pfizer said an independent board of experts monitoring its clinical trial recommended that the study be stopped early because the drug’s benefit to patients had proved so convincing. The company said it planned to submit the data as soon as possible to the Food and Drug Administration to seek authorization for the pill to be used in the United States.
“The results are really beyond our wildest dreams,” said Annaliesa Anderson, a Pfizer executive who led the drug’s development. She expressed hope that Paxlovid “can have a big impact on helping all our lives go back to normal again and seeing the end of the pandemic.”
Denver Zoo reports world’s first coronavirus cases in hyenas
Two hyenas at the Denver Zoo have tested positive for the coronavirus, the first confirmed cases among the animals worldwide, a national veterinary lab announced Friday.
Samples from a variety of animals at the zoo, including the spotted hyenas, were tested after several lions at the facility became ill, according to the National Veterinary Services Laboratories. The hyena samples tested presumptive positive at a lab at Colorado State University, and the cases were confirmed by the national lab.
In addition to the two hyenas, 11 lions and two tigers at the zoo tested positive for the virus.
“Hyenas are famously tough, resilient animals that are known to be highly tolerant to anthrax, rabies and distemper. They are otherwise healthy and expected to make a full recovery,” the zoo said in a statement.
COVID infection rates slowing among kids in Washington state, but new reports show they’re still at record highs
COVID-19 infection rates are dropping among children and teens in Washington, though a new report shows rates remain higher now than at any point before the country’s summer surge of delta cases.
Case rates among youth under 19 averaged about 425.8 infections per 100,000 people between Oct. 10 and 24, according to state Department of Health data. In September, the state estimated a 14-day average of more than 600 cases per 100,000, according to DOH data.
“Compared to where we were, before our summertime surge with delta, cases today remain three times higher, hospitalizations two times higher and deaths three to six times higher,” county health officer Dr. Jeff Duchin said in a Thursday briefing. “So although we’re coming down from that serious surge, we’re still much higher with respect to cases, hospitalizations and deaths.”
State health officials confirm 1,845 new coronavirus cases
The state Department of Health (DOH) reported 1,845 new coronavirus cases and 31 new deaths on Friday.
The update brings the state's totals to 737,698 cases and 8,798 deaths, meaning that 1.2% of people diagnosed in Washington have died, according to the DOH. The data is as of 11:59 p.m. Thursday.
In addition, 40,831 people have been hospitalized in the state due to the virus — 99 new hospitalizations. In King County, the state's most populous, state health officials have confirmed a total of 166,504 COVID-19 diagnoses and 2,015 deaths.
Since vaccinations began in mid-December, the state and health care providers have administered 9,919,564 doses and 60.5% of Washingtonians have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to vaccination data, which the state updates on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Providers are currently giving an average of about 30,844 vaccine shots per day.
The DOH says its daily case reports may also include duplicate test results, results assigned to the wrong county, results that are reported for today but are actually from a previous day, occasional false positive tests and other data discrepancies. Because of this, the previous day’s total number of cases plus the number of new daily cases does not add up to the new day’s total number of cases. State health officials recommend reviewing the dashboard's epidemiologic curves tab for the most accurate representation of the state's COVID-19 spread.
Aaron Rodgers lashes out against NFL, ‘woke mob’ in defense of vaccination status
Decrying the “woke mob,” “cancel culture” and what he described as a “witch hunt” against him, Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers vigorously defended his decision not to be vaccinated against the coronavirus during an appearance on “The Pat McAfee Show” Friday, lashing out at the NFL’s coronavirus protocols and saying they “were not based on science but on a more shame-based environment.”
Rodgers was revealed to have tested positive for the coronavirus Wednesday, and he will miss Sunday’s game against the Kansas City Chiefs. He cannot rejoin the Packers until the day before their Week 10 game against the Seattle Seahawks. Rodgers said he experienced symptoms of COVID-19 and “didn’t feel great” earlier this week but was feeling better Friday.
In August, Rodgers was told he was considered unvaccinated under protocols developed by the league and the NFL Players Association after he raised an issue regarding his vaccination classification. The Washington Post reported this week that Rodgers may have been interested in a homeopathic medicine alternative to vaccination.
US employers shrugged off virus and stepped up hiring
America’s employers stepped up their hiring last month, adding a solid 531,000 jobs, the most since July and a sign that the recovery from the pandemic recession is overcoming a virus-induced slowdown.
Friday’s report from the Labor Department also showed that the unemployment rate fell to 4.6% last month from 4.8% in September. That is a comparatively low level though still well above the pre-pandemic jobless rate of 3.5%. And the report showed that the job gains in August and September weren’t as weak as initially reported. The government revised its estimate of hiring for those two months by a hefty combined 235,000 jobs.
All told, the figures in the jobs report point to an economy that is steadily recovering from the pandemic recession, with healthy consumer spending causing companies in nearly every industry to step up hiring. Though the effects of COVID-19 are still causing severe supply shortages, heightening inflation and keeping many people out of the workforce, employers are finding gradually more success in filling near record-high job postings.
Western Australia sets 90% vaccination target for reopening
While people are now able to travel freely in Australia’s more populated east, COVID-19-free Western Australia will maintain its tight restrictions into next year, state leaders said Friday.
Western Australia is the largest state, covering a third of Australia’s land area. It also has the nation’s lowest vaccination rates, in part because the state has had few infections and life has been relatively normal throughout the pandemic.
Western Australia is the only Australian state or territory that does not intend to reopen this year. Vaccinated Australians have been free to travel the world through east coast airports in coronavirus-affected Sydney and Melbourne since Monday when a 20-month-old international travel ban was lifted.
Western Australia Premier Mark McGowan on Friday set a vaccination target of 90% of the population aged 12 and older for the border restrictions to be relaxed. The milestone was forecast to be reached in late January or early February.
McGowan said he would set a date for the state to reopen once 80% of the target population had been vaccinated, which is expected to happen in mid-December.
Once that reopening date was set, it would stand even if the vaccination rate fell short of 90% by then.
The U.S. is reopening. Here’s what travelers need to know about testing, boosters and more.
On Nov. 8, the United States will lift an 18-month ban on international tourists, as long as they show proof of vaccination and a negative coronavirus test. The land borders with Canada and Mexico will also reopen for international visitors who are fully vaccinated and U.S. citizens residing in those countries, as well as U.S. tourists returning home. Currently, passenger traffic in the U.S. is close to reaching 2019 levels, with millions of domestic travelers passing through Transportation Security Administration checkpoints each day.
Millions more are expected to hit the skies and the roads in the coming weeks. But as pandemic regulations ease in some countries, others are tightening entry rules to contain new waves of the virus. The shifting rules, rapidly changing course of the pandemic and lack of international coordination on travel regulations continue to leave consumers — and many travel operators — flustered and confused.
Travelers, both those going abroad and those entering the United States, are likely to have questions about the complicated regulations this holiday season. Though the rules are constantly changing, here's what we know so far.
Federal government cuts ties with troubled vaccine maker
The federal government has canceled its contract with a troubled COVID-19 vaccine manufacturer that ruined millions of doses and had to halt production for months after regulators raised serious quality concerns.
The decision marks a stark reversal of fortune for the politically connected contractor, Maryland-based Emergent BioSolutions, and an abandonment by the government of a deal that was supposed to be a centerpiece of Operation Warp Speed.
In March, testing found that a batch of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine had been contaminated, and Emergent agreed to pause manufacturing after an inspection uncovered a host of problems at its facility in Baltimore’s Bayview area.
The termination of the contract, disclosed Thursday by Emergent executives during a call with investors, was the result of negotiations that began after the government earlier this year stopped making payments under the deal.
The contract cancellation also brings an abrupt end to a nearly decade-old effort by the government that was intended to better prepare for a pandemic. In 2012, the Department of Health and Human Services gave Emergent a $163 million contract to expand the Baltimore site and ready it to rapidly produce vaccines in response to a novel virus.
Why COVID-19 pills are not vaccine replacements
With the pharmaceutical company Merck applying in October for emergency authorization of its antiviral pill treatment against COVID-19, the United States soon may see its first widely accessible treatment against the disease.
And Merck’s drug, known as molnupiravir, is promising. It can cut someone’s chance of hospitalization in half, the company says, just by taking pills from a local pharmacy for a few days.
But health experts say treatments are no replacement for the safe, effective prevention we already have against the coronavirus: the COVID-19 vaccines.
“I’d rather prevent a fire than put out a fire,” said Dr. David Wohl, infectious disease expert at UNC-Chapel Hill.
Croatia plans new restrictions as virus surges
Croatian authorities will limit gatherings and widen the use of COVID-19 passes to curb soaring infections after the numbers of infected people hit new records again on Friday.
Like much of Central and Eastern Europe, Croatia has seen a huge rise in infections and hospitalizations in the past weeks due to low vaccination rates and relaxed virus rules.
Most countries in the region have vaccination rates of about 50% or less, which is lower than the European Union average of about 75%.
Alarmed by the raging virus, some Croats who so far have not gotten vaccinated could be seen lining up Thursday evening to get a jab at a vaccination point in the capital Zagreb.
Drago Coric said he had been “skeptical” about vaccines but changed his mind after daily new cases peaked to several thousand daily.
In Peru, rumors feed vaccine reluctance among Indigenous
Maribel Vilca didn’t even bother to go to the community meeting giving information to her Indigenous community about COVID-19 vaccines.
“What happens if I die with the vaccine? I have small children,“ she said, expressing mistrust of the government health services after bad experiences during two pregnancies.
The fears expressed by 38-year-old woman who lives near the shore of Lake Titicaca, are common among Peru’s Indigenous people, who make up about a quarter of the country’s 33 million people — and they have complicated the national vaccination drive.
While more than 55% of Peruvians have gotten at least one shot of COVID-19 vaccines, only about 25% of people in Indigenous areas have been vaccinated.
Despite overwhelming evidence, based on more than 7 billion vaccine doses delivered worldwide, that serious side effects are very rare, Vilca said she fears a shot might kill or harm her.
Rumors about vaccines, sometimes spread on local Quechua-language community radio, often mimic Q-Anon type misinformation spread across social media the U.S. and Europe about tracking microchips or terrible side effects and play to an engrained distrust of government authorities.
Russia’s virus wave strong; some regions plan to resume work
Russia on Friday reported nearly 1,200 deaths from COVID-19 over the past day, just short of its record in a persistent wave of coronavirus infections that closed most businesses in the country this week.
The national coronavirus task force said 1,192 people died in the past 24 hours and 40,735 new infection cases were tallied. The daily records of 1,195 deaths and 40,993 infections came earlier in the week.
Russia is six days into a nationwide nonworking period that the government introduced to curb the spread of the virus.
Several regions including Novgorod in the northwest, Tomsk in Siberia, the Chelyabinsk region in the Ural Mountains and Kursk and Bryansk regions southwest of Moscow have extended the non-working period through the end of next week. But Moscow and the Russia-annexed Crimea region will resume working next week.
Traveler with Biden tested positive for virus in Scotland
A person traveling with President Joe Biden to Europe this past week received a positive test result for the coronavirus, the administration confirmed Thursday, saying the individual did not have close contact with the president.
The fully-vaccinated person is asymptomatic and is remaining in Scotland to quarantine while undergoing additional tests after testing positive on a lateral flow rapid test issued by the UK government required for all attendees at the UN climate summit underway in Scotland. Biden tested negative for the virus on Tuesday, the White House said.
Breakthrough infections among fully vaccinated people are rare, but have occurred somewhat more frequently as the more transmissible delta variant of the virus has become the dominant strain in most of the world. The vaccines still dramatically reduce instances of serious illness and death.
The White House says out of an abundance of caution — and in a move above and beyond Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance — a few staff members who were in close contact with the individual did not return to the U.S. aboard Air Force One, and instead flew home on a different government plane.
Thousands of intel officers refusing vaccine risk dismissal
Thousands of intelligence officers could soon face dismissal for failing to comply with the U.S. government’s vaccine mandate, leading some Republican lawmakers to raise concerns about removing employees from agencies critical to national security.
Several intelligence agencies had at least 20% of their workforce unvaccinated as of late October, said U.S. Rep. Chris Stewart, a Utah Republican who is a member of the House Intelligence Committee. Some agencies in the 18-member intelligence community had as much as 40% of their workforce unvaccinated, Stewart said, citing information the administration has provided to the committee but not released publicly. He declined to identify the agencies because full information on vaccination rates was classified.
While many people will likely still get vaccinated before the administration’s Nov. 22 deadline for civilian workers, resistance to the mandate could leave major agencies responsible for national security without some personnel.
Catch up on the past 24 hours
As COVID-19 vaccines arrive for kids ages 5-11, Washington school districts are planning shot clinics, amping up testing — and, at least in Seattle, wrestling over the idea of a vaccine mandate. With those new pediatric vaccines come all kinds of questions … like what to do if your child is turning 12 soon, and how to find an appointment in Washington state. Our Q&A has helpful answers.
The good news: Infection rates are dropping among Washington's kids. The bad: They're still triple the level of last summer's delta surge. See how kids in your part of the state are faring.
Pfizer's COVID-19 pill steeply cuts the rates of hospitalization and death by 90% in high-risk adults, the company reported today. It joins Merck in the race to bring a game-changing pill to market (here's what you should know about Merck's molnupiravir). But COVID-19 pills shouldn't be seen as vaccine replacements, health experts explain.
U.S. borders officially reopen Monday, just in time for millions of holiday travelers to hit the skies and roads. Here's what you need to know about new testing and vaccine requirements and more.
Fired WSU football coach Nick Rolovich is appealing his dismissal. His lawyer has submitted a 34-page letter to the university, laying out Rolovich's reasoning for his vaccine objections and threatening "a federal court civil rights action" if WSU doesn't change its tune.
The effectiveness of all three COVID-19 vaccines fell dramatically over time as the delta variant surged, according to researchers who scoured the records of nearly 800,000 U.S. veterans. Booster shots can help; see if you qualify.
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