Editor’s note: This is a live account of COVID-19 updates from Friday, Nov. 6, 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 It is no longer being updated.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.
The United States on Thursday saw a rapidly rising flood of coronavirus infections, with 20 states reporting records in daily infections. Because of the consistent rise in cases, the Washington Legislature is expected to conduct a largely remote 2021 legislative session, and on Thursday outlined tentative plans for its return in January.
Throughout Friday, on this page, we’ll post updates on the pandemic and its effects on the Seattle area, the U.S. and the world. Updates from Thursday are here, and all our coronavirus coverage can be found here.
Illinois governor isolates after possible COVID-19 exposure
CHICAGO — Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker self-isolated Friday and was awaiting test results after learning that he may have been exposed to the coronavirus at a meeting earlier this week, the third time during the pandemic that the Democratic governor has taken the step.
Pritzker’s press team disclosed that the governor was self-isolating about an hour after he announced that he might have to impose more safety restrictions if the state’s coronavirus cases continue to escalate. Illinois has seen more than 20,000 new cases in the past two days.
Someone who tested positive for COVID-19 attended a meeting with Pritzker Monday in a large conference room at his Chicago office, according to a statement from his press team. The statement did not say what, if any, direct interaction Pritzker had with the individual.
The previous two times Pritzker self-isolated came in response to a staff member getting sick. But in those instances, the announcement included notice that Pritzker had already tested negative. Spokeswoman Jordan Abudayyeh said Friday evening that a routine test Wednesday, two days after the exposure, was negative. She said the result of Pritzker’s latest test would be available Saturday.
Pritzker pleaded with residents to do what they can to slow the spread of the virus.
Australia’s Victoria has no cases for 8th day
MELBOURNE, Australia — The Australian state of Victoria had its eighth day in a row of no new virus cases or deaths, ahead of another move back to normal living including no limits on travel outside of Melbourne and the resumption of flights to New Zealand.
Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews is expected to announce another relaxation of rules on Sunday, including the removal of Melbourne’s so-called “ring of steel.” No longer confined within a 25-kilometer (15-mile) radius, the city’s residents will be allowed to travel throughout the state.
Travel freedom is expected to expand again when the border with New South Wales state reopens to Victorians on Nov. 23.
“They will be big steps, they’ll get us much closer to normal than we’ve been for six or seven months, which is very significant,” Andrews said.
On Monday, the state will see the resumption of direct flights from New Zealand, the first international flights into Melbourne since June 30.
Victoria’s latest virus wave, which resulted in more than 18,000 infections and 800 deaths, has been traced to outbreaks among staff at two hotels that were acting as quarantine locations for arriving overseas passengers.
Trump's chief of staff, Mark Meadows, tests positive for COVID-19
President Donald Trump’s chief of staff, Mark Meadows, has told associates he has coronavirus, according to people familiar with the matter, adding to the outbreaks connected to the White House.
It wasn’t immediately clear when Meadows learned that he had contracted the virus or whether he had developed symptoms of Covid-19, the disease caused by the virus. He informed a close circle of advisers after Tuesday’s election, one of the people said.
Meadows didn’t respond to multiple requests for comment. White House spokespeople didn’t respond to numerous e-mails and phone messages requesting comment.
A Trump campaign aide, Nick Trainer, is also infected, according to two people familiar with the matter. He and campaign spokespeople declined to comment.
Stimulus talks set to resume in Washington, but Pelosi and McConnell are at odds again
WASHINGTON — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., clashed Friday over the contours of a new economic relief bill, with McConnell saying it should be narrow and targeted and Pelosi flatly rejecting that approach.
Their comments came as lawmakers prepare to return to the Capitol next week for Congress’ postelection lame duck session. Washington could be on the verge of a seismic shift in power as final votes are being tallied in the presidential election, but the dynamics around economic relief talks that have sputtered on and off for months do not appear to have changed.
McConnell dug in Friday on his call for a narrow relief bill, pointing to a new jobs report that showed the unemployment rate had fallen to 6.9% in October, down from nearly 15% in April. McConnell said this is evidence that only limited additional federal intervention is needed. McConnell looks likely to maintain his role as majority leader in the new Congress after Democrats failed to take control of the Senate, although that outcome will not be certain until two runoffs in Georgia in early January. Pelosi will continue as speaker but preside over a smaller majority based on Tuesday’s election results.
Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin had been negotiating for months on a bill with a price tag around $2 trillion. Those talks finally broke down for good last week.
U.S. again breaks single-day record for new COVID cases
The nation registered more than 128,000 new coronavirus infections Friday, a third consecutive single-day record, as the runaway pandemic continued its spread across the United States and reached deep into Florida, Texas and other parts of the country.
Illinois set a staggering record for the state of 11,790 confirmed and probable cases for the day, a much greater total than recorded Friday by more populous states such as California and New York. Arkansas, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri and North Dakota also were among the states grappling with unprecedented cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.
“It is community-spread everywhere,” said Jaline Gerardin, an epidemiologist at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago. In part, the greater numbers are the result of the increased availability of testing, she said. But the main problem was allowing the virus to simmer at fairly high levels throughout the summer, particularly among young people who congregated in bars and restaurants against expert advice.
“I think it ended up busting out of their own age group,” she said. “It spread out from there, and what we’re seeing now is it’s in every age group … It’s just everywhere.”
The current case totals are an echo of late March, when according to epidemiologist Ali Mokdad, the first surge probably peaked at more than 283,000 cases per day. But there was no way to know at the time, because the U.S. testing regime was so inadequate, said Mokdad, chief strategy officer of population health for the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington.
With rising COVID-19 cases in Washington state, health officials keep wary eye on hospital capacity
Health officials are becoming increasingly concerned about hospital capacity as COVID-19 cases continue to rise in Washington state.
“If our COVID activity continues on the same path we are on, we’re going to be bumping up against our health-care capacity,” said Dr. Kathy Lofy, the state’s health officer, adding that case counts were “exploding in Western Washington, in particular.”
Washington is testing more people for COVID-19 compared to two months ago. But, the statewide positivity rate is higher now, an indication that the rise in cases is not merely reflective of more testing.
Statewide, about 72% of intensive care unit beds were in use as of Nov. 2, according to data from the Washington State Hospital Association (WSHA). About 62% of the state’s airborne infection isolation rooms were occupied.
“We’re fine today,” said Cassie Sauer, WSHA’s chief executive officer. “We’re worried about two to three weeks from now.”
MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow quarantines after coronavirus exposure
LOS ANGELES — MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow said Friday she was quarantining after being in contact with someone who tested positive for the coronavirus.
Maddow said on social media that she’s tested negative so far for COVID-19 but plans to remain at home until it’s “safe for me to be back at work without putting anyone at risk.”
Maddow, host of MSNBC’s most-watched show, has been a key part of the cable channel’s election coverage. She was off the air Friday night.
“Wishing everyone patience and calm; may these remarkable times bring out the best in all of us,” she wrote in her online message.
MSNBC declined to comment on Maddow’s announcement.
As China’s propaganda push continues, Wuhan emerges as a star
They came out one after another, with flourishes and fanfare. A six-hour documentary series showing the “heroic deeds of party members” and Wuhan’s “warriors in white coats.” A star-studded, 20-part drama fictionalizing Wuhan’s doctors, delivery drivers and construction workers. Another pandemic show, set to swelling choral music, that viewers said left them choked with tears.
Wuhan, once synonymous with the devastation that the coronavirus could wreak, has become the subject of glowing paeans across Chinese media, lauded by officials as a symbol of the country’s resilience in the outbreak’s aftermath.
Propaganda agencies have churned out the television tributes to the city, where the outbreak first emerged, while the national Ministry of Culture and Tourism sponsored a new opera about its doctors. State news outlets have emphasized a rush of tourists to Wuhan, and at least one hospital recently welcomed business executives for a tour.
Wuhan is getting such attention as a city of heroes in part because it has truly made a remarkable recovery. Cases there and nationwide now hover near zero as the United States and other countries still battle surges.
But the spate of acclamation is also part of a concerted campaign by the Chinese government to position Wuhan — and by extension China — as a global emblem of superior governance.
As COVID-19 cases continue to go up, Snohomish County works to improve speed of testing
Citing two record-setting days of new COVID-19 cases, the Snohomish Health District announced that diagnoses are continuing to go up. In a news release, the Health District reported 182 new cases had been documented in the county on Wednesday; it expects an increase in the county's rolling two-week case rate through Nov. 7.
The Health District is currently working to improve the speed of lab results and notifications for coronavirus testing, with the goal of decreasing average turnaround time from 3-4 business days to 2-3 calendar days. Beginning Thursday, the county will move test processing to UW Labs.
Registration information for testing is available at snohd.org/testing. Drive-thru testing continues from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday thru Friday at 3900 Broadway in Everett. The Health District will also provide testing at the Lynnwood Food Bank (5320 176th St. S.W., Lynwood) from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 10.
Testing is available to anyone, but the Health District is especially encouraging it for anyone experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, anyone who has had close contact with someone who has COVID-19, people living in group settings, people who work in health care or other roles putting them at increased risk of exposure, and anyone whose family or social network has included someone with COVID-19.
The Health District has also opened a new call center to answer questions regarding testing, direct calls for businesses reporting positive test results among employees, and provide assistance for callers without internet access or who need language interpretation services.
The call center can be reached at 425-339-5278, and will be staffed Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Callers can also leave messages, which will be returned the following business day.
State confirms 1,691 new COVID-19 cases and 8 new deaths
Health officials confirmed 1,691 new coronavirus cases and eight new deaths in Washington on Friday afternoon.
The update brings the state's totals to 114,241 cases and 2,439 deaths, meaning that 2.1% of people diagnosed in Washington have died, according to the state Department of Health (DOH). The data is as of 11:59 p.m. Thursday.
The DOH also reported that 8,791 people have been hospitalized in the state due to the virus.
Statewide, 2,568,257 COVID-19 tests have been administered as of Thursday night.
In King County, the state's most populous, health officials have confirmed 29,832 cases and 822 deaths.
Indonesians collect old cellphones to help students get online
When a garbage collector came to Ghina Ghaliya’s house in the Indonesian capital and asked if she had an old mobile phone his children could use to access the internet, it sparked an idea for a broader campaign to help students stuck at home by the coronavirus.
Shortly after the pandemic hit Indonesia, Ghaliya and 11 other journalists in Jakarta organized a group to provide food and money to people in need. They started hearing from parents who wanted their children to be able to study online but lacked a way to access the internet.
Ghaliya was reminded of her conversation with the garbage collector and she and the other journalists decided to shift their focus to providing mobile phones for underprivileged students, many of whom were still not allowed to do face-to-face learning when the new school year started in July.
As of November, they had collected more than 200 mobile phones. Cash donations amounted to more than 530 million rupiah (more than $35,000), allowing them to buy more phones and also purchase prepaid internet for the recipients.
Russia breaks 20,000 new COVID-19 cases as hospitals strain
Russia for the first time reported more than 20,000 COVID-19 cases in the last day as a surge in some regions is overwhelming local hospitals’ ability to care for patients.
There were 20,582 new coronavirus infections in the last day, with two-thirds of them outside of Moscow, the government’s virus response center said Friday. Russia has reported 1,733,440 total cases, the fourth-most globally.
The disease’s spread in regions beyond Moscow and St. Petersburg has highlighted the problems plaguing Russia’s underfunded health-care system, with many areas struggling to handle the influx of sick people. The surge comes as federal authorities resist wider lockdowns, even as European countries from the U.K. to Greece have tightened restrictions this week.
A poll worker knew she had COVID-19 and worked Election Day anyway. She died soon after.
Less than a week before Election Day, an election judge supervisor in Missouri who was scheduled to work the polls got her coronavirus test back. She was positive, a private lab told her on Oct. 30, which meant she had to quarantine for two weeks.
Instead, the unidentified St. Charles, Mo., resident showed up and worked the polls on Tuesday. She died soon afterward, the St. Charles County Department of Public Health revealed on Thursday.
As of late Thursday evening, the woman’s exact time and cause of death was not known, Mary Enger, a spokeswoman for St. Charles County, told The Washington Post. Authorities have not made the woman’s identity public.
Nearly 2,000 voters cast ballots on Election Day at the Blanchette Park Memorial Hall polling site where the woman worked, but it’s unclear whether anyone might have had direct contact with her.
“We don’t have any idea how many people would have had contact with this person,” Enger told The Post.
Some St. Charles residents who voted at the polling place told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that they are angry and concerned about the potential exposure.
UK’s first mass COVID testing program underway in Liverpool
Hundreds of people were tested for the coronavirus in the English city of Liverpool as Britain’s first mass coronavirus testing program got underway Friday, a long-awaited development that has been touted as a potential game-changer in the U.K.’s battle against the virus.
Long lines of residents formed outside the city’s six new test centers, which opened at midday and are set to stay in place for a couple of weeks.
The British government earlier this week picked Liverpool to host the pilot testing program because the city is one of the worst-affected parts of the country during the pandemic’s current second wave in Europe. With new confirmed cases and deaths on the rise, England on Thursday entered a four-week lockdown until at least Dec. 2.
Malaysia to raise 2021 spending to counter virus impact
Malaysia’s government proposed a larger national budget in 2021 on Friday to help the coronavirus-hit economy rebound by up to 7.5% and provide increased handouts for the poor.
The budget is the first by the unelected government of Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, who took power in March after initiating the collapse of the former reformist government.
It is a key test of support for Muhyiddin, who has a slim two-seat majority in Parliament and faces challenges from allies in his coalition and opposition parties.
North Denmark in lockdown over mutated virus in mink farms
More than a quarter million Danes went into lockdown Friday in a northern region of the country where a mutated variation of the coronavirus has infected minks being farmed for their fur, leading to an order to kill millions of the animals.
Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said the move was meant to contain the virus, and it came two days after the government ordered the cull of all 15 million minks bred at Denmark’s 1,139 mink farms.
The coronavirus evolves constantly and, to date, there is no evidence that any of the mutations pose an increased danger to people. But the mutated virus had been found in 12 people and Danish authorities were not taking any chances.
Last month, Denmark started culling millions of minks in the north of the country after COVID-19 infections were reported among the stock there. Nationwide, at least 216 out of the 1,139 fur farms in Denmark have now been infected.
7 charged with selling virus test documents at Paris airport
Officials in France said Friday that seven people have been arrested for selling false certificates of negative coronavirus tests to travelers at Paris’s largest airport, Charles de Gaulle.
The six men and one woman ages 29 to 52 were charged with forgery, use of forgery and complicity in fraud.
The Bobigny prosecutor’s office said the faked certificates were being sold to travelers for 150 to 300 euros ($180 to $360).
The arrests came as part of an investigation that started with the discovery of a passenger who checked in for a September flight to Addis Ababa with a phony document that certified receiving negative test results.
The seven suspects face up to five years in prison and a maximum fine of 375,000 euros ($445,000), if they are convicted.
‘I cry every day’: Virus hits French nursing homes anew
Virus pressure is mounting at French nursing homes, where more than 400 people with COVID-19 have died in the past week and some residents are again being confined to their rooms and cut off from their families.
“I cry every day,” said Patricia Deliry, 81, whose daughter usually provides daily assistance at her Paris care home but has been kept away for the past two weeks as part of the home’s virus protection efforts. Deliry hasn’t been able to see fellow residents either. “We’re confined, closed in from morning to night.”
French Health Minister Olivier Veran said Friday that the government is sending 1.6 million rapid virus tests to care homes across the country to allow them to test personnel. It’s part of efforts to avoid mass new confinement of nursing home residents after the anguish caused during a nationwide lockdown in the spring. Germany launched a similar antigen test effort at nursing homes this week.
More people have died with the virus in French nursing homes in the last two weeks than in the previous five months combined, according to public health agency figures. The health minister said Friday that 15% of homes currently have active virus cases, and “mortality is growing every day, like we saw in the first wave.”
In India, polluted air spells trouble for virus patients
A thick quilt of smog lingered over the Indian capital and its suburbs on Friday, fed by smoke from raging agricultural fires that health experts worry could worsen the city’s fight against the coronavirus.
Air pollution in parts of New Delhi have climbed to levels around nine times what the World Health Organization considers safe, turning grey winter skies into a putrid yellow and shrouding national monuments. Levels of the most dangerous particles, called PM 2.5, climbed to around 250 micrograms per cubic meter, which is considered hazardous to breathe, according to the state-run System of Air Quality Weather Forecasting and Research.
The throat-burning smoke regularly turns the city of 20 million people into the world’s most polluted at this time of the year.
This year’s haze, however, comes as New Delhi battles a new surge in coronavirus infections, and health experts fear that if the air quality continues to worsen, then people with chronic medical conditions could become more vulnerable.
“We are already registering more infections after the air quality started to deteriorate. I fear things will only get worse from here on,” said Arvind Kumar, a chest surgeon in New Delhi.
India has reported the second most coronavirus infections in the world after the United States, with more than 8.4 million confirmed cases and nearly 125,000 deaths. The number of new daily infections reported across the country has slowed since mid-September, but New Delhi has recently seen a new surge.
Pandemic heaps new fears and trauma on war-scarred Bosnians
Memories of the Bosnian War are shaping Zdenka Sutalo’s perception of the coronavirus.
The 58-year-old unemployed woman attends group therapy sessions to work through the trauma of the 1992-95 conflict. As a young woman in Sarajevo, she endured bombardment, hunger, electricity shortages and was forced to break off her university studies for good. Today she sometimes has to be reminded to see the novel virus as a serious risk.
“The war was my most difficult experience in life,” she said after a recent therapy session that included painting pinecones and exercising in a Sarajevo park with others.
“As for the pandemic, the world survived plague and cholera and those are now just water under the bridge.”
As coronavirus cases surge in Bosnia, the pandemic is heaping more trouble on an impoverished nation that has never recovered economically or psychologically from a war that killed 100,000 people and forced 2.2 million from their homes.
Bosnian health authorities estimate that about half of the the Balkan nation’s nearly 3.5 million people have suffered some degree of trauma resulting from the war.
Italy shuts down 4 regions as Europe tries lighter lockdowns
Luxury fashion boutiques, jewelry shops and most of Milan’s flagship department were shuttered Friday, as the center of Italy’s vibrant financial capital fell into a gray quiet on the first day of a partial lockdown in four regions aimed at stopping the virus’s resurgence.
The new restrictions — which led to closures of a patchwork of nonessential businesses — allow a great deal more freedom than Italy’s near-total 10-week lockdown that started in March, but nonetheless brought recriminations from regional governments that feel unfairly targeted. The south, in particular, which was largely spared the pandemic in the first surge, chafed the most, despite concerns that its weaker health care system was especially vulnerable.
Italy’s move echoes those in many parts of Europe, where infections are surging again, but governments have been reluctant to impose the kind of nationwide shutdowns they did in the spring because of the terrible economic damage they did. For instance, many European countries have opted to keep schools open, while shutting bars and restaurants and many shops.
Even the lighter restrictions this time around, however, are drawing stiff criticism — especially in countries like Britain and Italy where they have exacerbated regional tensions.
Catch up on the past 24 hours
"This pandemic is a runaway train" across much of the U.S., setting a second straight daily record for new cases yesterday. In parts of the country, hospitalizations are doubling every two to three weeks. The biggest hurdle, a former CDC director says, is getting Americans to realize "we're all in this together."
With Thanksgiving just a few weeks away, could testing and quarantining make a celebration safe? Our FAQ Friday explains public health guidance and recommends working your way through a safety checklist from the state. If you arrive at the answer "no," try these sweet ideas for a virtual Thanksgiving instead.
There's good news for schools in communities with low coronavirus levels. A Seattle-based group's new study hints that a lack of COVID-19 tests in schools shouldn’t be a barrier to bringing students back to buildings.
You might see a new item on your medical bills: the COVID fee.
The Huskies' canceled football season opener — because of a COVID-19 case at Cal — shows just how dicey this season will be, no matter how much preparation is involved, columnist Larry Stone writes.
The state Capitol building will be awfully quiet during the legislative session that starts in January, as lawmakers debate and vote from their offices or even their kitchen tables. Questions and concerns surround the pandemic plan.
Suddenly, coffee smells and tastes like gasoline: COVID-19, in addition to stealing your sense of smell, may also warp it.
Denmark is killing all 15 million of its minks because of the virus.
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