Editor’s note: This is a live account of COVID-19 updates from Saturday, Nov. 7, 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 It is no longer being updated.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 country broke another record for daily coronavirus cases Friday, a third consecutive single-day record. Several states, including Washington, reported a record number of new infections as the pandemic continues to sweep through the U.S. in yet another surge.
Throughout Saturday, 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 Friday are here, and all our coronavirus coverage can be found here.
France’s COVID-19 deaths climb past 40,000
PARIS — France has recorded more than 40,000 COVID-19 deaths since the start of the pandemic, health authorities said late on Saturday.
At least 40,169 deaths have been recorded according to Saturday’s figures, more than 300 of them in the last 24 hours.
Meanwhile the French parliament approved an extension of a state of emergency because of the pandemic. Emergency measures are to remain in place until February 16. The health state of emergency allows the government to enforce restrictions by decree.
The health emergency was declared for the whole country at the end of March. It was extended to July 10th at the beginning of May and then expired. The government then imposed it again by decree in mid-October because of the increasing number of new coronavirus infections — but an extension required the approval of parliament.
A record 604 new COVID-19 cases reported in Alaska on Saturday
ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Alaska on Saturday reported a record 604 new cases of COVID-19 and no new deaths, according to the state Department of Health and Social Services COVID-19 dashboard.
Saturday’s count marked the highest number of cases reported statewide in a single day, followed by 526 cases recorded Oct. 25 and 504 cases reported Friday.
There were 95 people currently hospitalized with the virus in Alaska as of Saturday, slightly down from Friday’s record of 97 hospitalizations. Another 10 hospital patients were suspected of having COVID-19, according to state data.
The state’s hospital capacity is a concern given the rapidly accelerating number of cases, according to health officials. The virus is spreading largely among friends, families and co-workers at gatherings, sporting events and work, public health officials have said.
Affordable Care Act returns to Supreme Court as virus cases spike
WASHINGTON — When the Supreme Court hears a case Tuesday that could abolish the Affordable Care Act, the stakes will be higher than ever, coming amid a historic health and economic crisis that has deprived millions of Americans of insurance and cast a neon light on health care’s importance.
A decision this term to strike down the entire ACA — unlike when justices upheld the law on different grounds in 2012 and 2015 — would upend the health-care system in ways that touch most people in the United States.
If the high court, with a newly strengthened conservative majority, were to overturn the law following this week’s oral arguments, health insurance would collapse for at least 23 million Americans. Nearly 11 million would lose coverage through marketplaces created under the ACA to sell private health plans, usually with federal subsidies, to people who cannot get affordable benefits through a job. And about 12 million, insured because of Medicaid expansions in all but a dozen states, could find that coverage disappear.
According to health policy specialists, the consequences would ripple significantly beyond those losing their insurance outright. Flu shots, cancer screenings and other preventive care — including the cost of administering a coronavirus vaccine once it exists — would no longer be free of charge. Older customers would pay higher insurance rates. Young adults no longer could stay on their parent’s insurance policies through their mid-20s. And most health plans no longer would be required to cover as many types of care.
“Overturning the ACA would affect almost everyone, one way of another,” said Larry Levitt, senior vice president of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health policy group. It would “put the health system into chaos and the political system into chaos as well,” he said.
State confirms 1,770 new COVID-19 cases -- 531 in King County -- but no new deaths
The state Department of Health (DOH) reported 1,770 new COVID-19 cases as Friday, and no new deaths.
In King County, the state’s most populous, 531 new cases were reported.
The update brings the state’s totals to 116,011 cases and 2,439 deaths, meaning that 2.1% of people diagnosed in Washington have died, according to the DOH. The data is as of 11:59 p.m. Friday.
The DOH also reported that 8,795 people have been hospitalized in the state due to the virus-- 4 new hospitalizations since Thursday.
Statewide, 2,592,766 COVID-19 tests have been administered as of Friday night.
In King County, state health officials have confirmed a total of 30,363 COVID-19 diagnoses and 822 deaths.
Pierce County reports record number of COVID-19 cases
The Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department on Saturday reported a record 226 new COVID-19 cases -- but no new deaths.
Pierce County has reported a total of 11,723 COVID-19 cases and 201 deaths.
Along with an increase in cases across the county, the department reported a higher than average increase in the Puyallup region.
The high case counts and rates show “an increase in community transmission and a high number of household transmissions,” the department said in a statement. “We’re seeing more cases in households with a large number of contacts.”
The percentage of people testing positive has increased from 4.1% to 5.2% between Oct. 4 and Oct. 24, the statement said.
Those under 20 make up 12% of the total number of cases, and 14.7% of cases in the past two weeks. The 20-39 age group comprise the highest number of COVID-19 cases in Pierce County, with 38.9% of total cases in the last two weeks.
Six in White House, including Trump’s chief of staff, have the coronavirus
Six White House aides and a Trump campaign adviser — including Mark Meadows, President Donald Trump’s chief of staff — have contracted the coronavirus, officials said, raising fears of another outbreak sweeping through the ranks of the nation’s top officials as cases surge to record levels in the country.
Meadows, who routinely shrugged off the need to wear masks and embraced Trump’s strategy of playing down the threat from the coronavirus over the summer, informed a small group of White House advisers that he had tested positive for the virus Wednesday, a senior administration official said Friday.
Five other White House officials also tested positive for the virus in the days before and after Election Day, people familiar with the diagnoses told The New York Times. Bloomberg News also reported on additional cases around the president, who contracted the virus last month and spent three days in the hospital receiving experimental treatments.
Nick Trainer, who worked on the president’s campaign, has also tested positive for the coronavirus, a person briefed on his diagnosis said.
Cough droplet spread could impact children, short adults more, study says
Droplets from coughing can travel more than 6 feet outdoors and have the potential to be a greater transmission risk for shorter adults and children, a new simulation study found.
The study published in the peer-reviewed journal Physics of Fluids used models to simulate cough droplets’ trajectory when someone coughs outdoors with someone else nearby. Researchers from Singapore’s Agency of Science, Technology and Research ran a simulation with varied air temperatures, drop sizes, humidity, wind speed and distances between the person coughing and the person listening.
The researchers found that despite the cough droplets having low inhalation exposure, it could lead to the virus spreading to clothing or skin, which could then result in infection if someone touches their face, mouth or nose. They wrote that it could be a potentially higher risk for children and shorter adults who are less than 3 feet away from someone coughing.
Read the story here.
Doctors fear more death as Dakotas experience virus ‘sorrow’
With coronavirus cases running rampant in the Dakotas and elected leaders refusing to forcefully intervene, the burden of pushing people to take the virus seriously has increasingly been put on the families of those killed.
The ranks of those who know what it means to lose someone they love to COVID-19 are on the rise. North Dakota and South Dakota have the nation’s worst rate of deaths per capita over the last 30 days. Despite advances in treating COVID-19 patients, hundreds more people have died in recent weeks than during any other period — a grim exclamation point on the virus outbreak slamming the northern Plains and Upper Midwest.
“Sometimes I think it’s not true,” said Chris Bjorkman, who lost her husband, John Bjorkman, 66. “Sometimes I think he’s going to walk through the door, but he hasn’t yet, so I just keep waiting.”
In the Dakotas, the virus has shown few signs of slowing down. With winter approaching and hospitals scrambling to make room for COVID-19 patients, medical experts worry that virus deaths will continue to climb in a region where people have been slow to adopt mitigation measures like wearing masks. The Republican governors of both states have derided government orders to help halt the outbreaks, leaning on ideals of limited government.
Read the story here.
Biden has ambitious plans to curb COVID-19. But they could face big hurdles in a divided country and Congress.
President-elect Joe Biden made his election bid a referendum on Donald Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic. But as he inherits the worst crisis since the Great Depression — a raging pandemic on top of a teetering economy — his plans to turn that around are set to collide with new political realities.
The closeness of the results underscore voters’ deep divisions about how they think the virus should be handled. And depending on the outcome of two Senate runoff elections, it is possible Biden will have to navigate a Republican-controlled Senate disinclined to support a greater federal role in testing and contact tracing, among other responsibilities now left mostly to the states.
“It’s going to be very challenging for Biden to implement some of the ambitious pandemic preparedness and response plans he has,” said Angela Rasmussen, a virologist at the Center for Infection and Immunity at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health.
Time is not on his side either, as the country surpassed 128,000 cases on Friday, setting a record for the third straight day, and more than 1,000 people a day are dying — a toll that is expected to grow in coming weeks as the weather turns colder and many Americans retreat indoors. Projections by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington suggest the worst stretch of the pandemic is likely to hit in mid- to late January, just around the time Biden would take office.
Read the story here.
Frustration among Trump staffers after Mark Meadows diagnosis
President Donald Trump’s chief of staff Mark Meadows has been diagnosed with the coronavirus.
Bloomberg reports he tested positive on Wednesday, but that many Trump staffers were frustrated they did not learn of his diagnosis until it was reported publicly on Friday. Meadows revealed his diagnosis to a small circle of people who were told to keep it quiet, Bloomberg reports.
His current condition was not clear.
Several other White House staffers have tested positive, too.
Meadows has been traveling with President Donald Trump in the past week. He appeared without a mask in public on Wednesday, when President Trump falsely declared election victory.
Trump has repeatedly claimed to be turning the corner against the new coronavirus. Data tells the opposite story: COVID-19 cases reached a new high on Friday, with 128,000 new infections.
Catch up on the past 24 hours
Europe is struggling to contain the virus, too, and some countries, including Italy, implemented tighter lockdowns. Hospitals are strained in Russia. In Denmark, authorities ordered the culling of millions of mink. A mutated version of the new coronavirus has developed in mink.
Stateside, Mark Meadows, President Donald Trump's chief of staff, has contracted COVID-19. Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker was quarantining after an exposure. MSNBC's Rachel Maddow was quarantining after an exposure. Both awaited test results.
A poll worker in St. Charles, Mo., died after working election night despite receiving a positive COVID-19 test. Nearly 2,000 ballots were cast at the location, leaving many wondering about potential exposure.
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