Editor’s note: This is a live account of COVID-19 updates from Monday, November 8, 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 It is no longer being updated.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 federal government lifted its 18-month ban on international tourists today, enacting a new policy that requires visitors to provide proof of vaccination and a negative coronavirus test before entering the country.
Over the weekend, a federal appeals court temporarily blocked the Biden Administration’s COVID-19 vaccination mandate for businesses that employ 100 or more people. The administration is expected to file a response with the New Orleans-based court today.
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.
Biden team defends worker vaccine rule, wants cases combined
Its private employer vaccine mandate on hold, the Biden administration wants the multiple challenges to its workplace rule consolidated in a single federal court and has asked for a decision by early next week.
The U.S. Department of Justice said in court filings Monday that one of the federal circuit courts should be chosen at random on Nov. 16 to hear the cases.
At least 27 states plus several businesses and associations filed legal challenges in at least six federal appeals courts after the Occupational Safety and Health Administration released its rules last week. All the states have a Republican governor or attorney general.
Over the weekend, judges on the New Orleans-based 5th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals paused the rule from taking effect, saying it raises “grave statutory and constitutional issues.” White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre on Monday expressed confidence that the COVID-19 vaccine mandate can withstand any legal challenges.
Colville Tribal Convalescent Center was early adopter of COVID-19 vaccine mandate. It appears to have paid off
Long before Gov. Jay Inslee issued coronavirus vaccine mandates, staff at the Colville Tribal Convalescent Center, a nursing home that takes care of tribal members and others on the reservation, had to be fully vaccinated to work there.
The Colville Business Council took swift action to mandate the vaccine this spring, when it passed a resolution that allowed only for medical exemptions.
Within two weeks of April 14, when the resolution was signed, staff at the 44-bed convalescent center had to begin their vaccination process.
So far, that mandate has appeared to pay off, with no residents testing positive for the virus to date.
Railroads fight with unions in court over vaccine mandates
Another major railroad has gone to court to determine whether it has the authority to require all its employees to get vaccinated against the coronavirus.
BNSF railroad filed a lawsuit Sunday against its major unions over its mandate. It joins Norfolk Southern and Union Pacific, which both filed similar lawsuits against the unions last month. The unions, which have filed some of their own lawsuits in response, argue that the railroads should have negotiated with them before imposing their mandates.
The railroads that have imposed vaccine mandates say they are complying with President Joe Biden’s executive order requiring all federal contractors to have their employees vaccinated. The railroads are not alone in facing resistance to vaccine mandates. Similar rules have generated disputes in a variety of workplaces.
The railroads have said that employees will be disciplined if they fail to comply with the vaccine mandate.
State health officials confirm 1,218 new coronavirus cases
The state Department of Health (DOH) reported 1,218 new coronavirus cases and 29 new deaths on Monday.
The update brings the state's totals to 742,919 cases and 8,827 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. Sunday. Tallies may be higher earlier in the week because new state data isn’t reported on weekends.
In addition, 41,110 people have been hospitalized in the state due to the virus — 279 new hospitalizations. In King County, the state's most populous, state health officials have confirmed a total of 167,511 COVID-19 diagnoses and 2,020 deaths.
Since vaccinations began in mid-December, the state and health care providers have administered 10,035,244 doses and 60.7% 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 31,155 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.
Slovaks expand restrictions, plan more amid record surge
Slovakia on Monday expanded strict coronavirus restrictions including hotel, bar and restaurant closures to almost a half of the country amid a record surge of infections.
The government is expected to discuss additional measures as the country’s health minister joined medical personnel who treat COVID-19 patients in urging Slovaks to get vaccinated.
The measures will affect 36 of the country’s 79 counties. Indicative of how fast infections are spreading, only five counties had imposed the measures three weeks ago, and another five a week later.
Vaccination bookings shoot up as Greece sees new case record
Greece reported a new record high for daily COVID-19 infections on Monday as vaccination appointments shot up after new restrictions on unvaccinated people kicked in over the weekend.
Health authorities recorded more than 7,300 new infections since late Sunday — compared to the previous record of about 6,900 set Friday — amid a constant surge in cases that’s filling hospital intensive care units.
Only about 61% of Greece’s 11 million population has been fully vaccinated so far, but senior health ministry official Marios Themistocleous said Monday that over the past seven days there’s been an 185% increase in first vaccination appointments, and a 200% surge in booster shot appointments.
Under the measures that came into effect Saturday, unvaccinated people in Greece can only enter banks, government departments and most shops if they show a recent negative COVID-19 test. The same applies to outdoor restaurant and café areas.
German COVID infection rate at new high as vaccinations slow
Germany’s coronavirus infection rate climbed to its highest recorded level yet on Monday as what officials have called a “pandemic of the unvaccinated” gathers pace.
The national disease control center, the Robert Koch Institute, said the country has seen 201.1 new cases per 100,000 residents over the past seven days. That was above the previous record of 197.6 from Dec. 22 last year. While it’s still a lower rate than in several other European countries, it has set alarm bells ringing.
The seven-day infection rate has long ceased to be the only policy yardstick in Germany, with new hospital admissions now an important factor. Those are currently at just under 4 per 100,000 residents over a week — compared with a peak of about 15.5 last Christmas — but officials say hospitals are filling up in badly affected areas.
The disease control center said Monday that 15,513 new COVID-19 cases were reported over the past 24 hours — down from a record 37,120 on Friday, but figures are typically lower after the weekend. Another 33 deaths were recorded, bringing Germany’s total to 96,558.
He nearly died of COVID, then apologized to Harborview staff for not being vaccinated: ‘It all could’ve been avoided’
Richard Soliz developed multiple blood clots on his lungs after catching the coronavirus this summer, and the staff at the Seattle hospital where he was being treated told him they were concerned one might move to his heart or brain.
The 54-year-old was on a heart-rate monitor, oxygen tank and eventually a ventilator. After being admitted to the hospital in late August, he spent 28 days at Harborview Medical Center, including two stints in the intensive care unit. His life, Soliz told The Washington Post, was “literally hanging on a thread.”
Once he was well enough to leave in September, Soliz said he couldn’t stop thinking about the staff.
“My goodness, they saved my life,” Soliz said. “In hindsight, I felt bad. And I knew in my heart, in my mind and my consciousness that it all could’ve been avoided.”
Soliz returned to Harborview Medical Center late last month with a message for his doctor and others who’d treated him during his stay: He was sorry.
“I deeply regret not making the decision to get vaccinated,” he told one of his doctors.
How a vaccine mandate divided a rural Washington hospital’s staff
DAYTON, Wash. – The state’s vaccination deadline for health-care workers was less than a week away when Shane McGuire called his HR department for another daily update. The CEO of tiny Dayton General Hospital listened to the phone ring as he squeezed a stress ball and straightened the sign he’d hung on his office door in the latest effort to unite a fracturing staff: “We Are One.” “How’s it looking for us on the mandate?” he asked, when the head of HR picked up.
“You mean in terms of the emotional fallout, or just numbers?”
“Numbers. I can handle the numbers,” McGuire said, and a few minutes later he opened his email and studied the list that had been dividing this rural hospital in southeast Washington ever since the governor issued one of the country’s first vaccine mandates in August. Dozens of McGuire’s employees were still marked as unvaccinated. At least 15 were in the process of applying for religious or medical exemptions, a few had already quit in protest, and many more were facing termination unless they decided to vaccinate against the coronavirus in the next five days before the mandate went into effect.
McGuire liked to refer to his small staff as a family, and many in fact were family, but it had been splitting in two since the beginning of the year, when exactly 50% of the hospital’s few hundred employees chose to be vaccinated and 50% refused. McGuire had lined up for the first dose he could get, believing it marked an endpoint to the pandemic; his 25-year-old daughter, Jessica, an employee in the hospital clinic, decided she didn’t feel comfortable getting vaccinated for at least a year. His medical director told the staff that mass vaccination was “safe, wildly effective and absolutely necessary.” His director of nursing wrote that it was “government overreach and medical tyranny.” His two respiratory therapists were a husband-and-wife team, married 40 years, and now one was vaccinated and one was not.
N. Ireland official suing Van Morrison over COVID criticism
Northern Ireland’s health minister is suing Van Morrison after the singer called him “very dangerous” for his handling of coronavirus restrictions.
The Belfast-born singer opposes restrictions to curb the spread of the virus, and has released several songs criticizing lockdowns. He denounced Northern Ireland Health Minister Robin Swann during a gathering at Belfast’s Europa Hotel in June after a Morrison concert was canceled at the last minute because of virus restrictions.
The defamation suit relates to three incidents in which Morrison criticized Swann, calling him “a fraud” and “very dangerous.”
Swann responded in an article for Rolling Stone magazine, calling the “Moondance” singer’s claims “bizarre and irresponsible.”
Morrison’s lawyer, Joe Rice, said the singer will argue “that the words used by him related to a matter of public interest and constituted fair comment.”
North Dakota lawmaker catches COVID-19, must miss his anti-vaccine rally
A North Dakota lawmaker and an organizer of a rally Monday to oppose COVID-19 vaccine mandates is infected with the coronavirus and won’t attend the event.
Republican Rep. Jeff Hoverson posted on Facebook on Sunday that he was “quarantining and each day is getting better.” The Minot lawmaker said he is taking the deworming drug ivermectin as a COVID-19 treatment, and has not checked into a hospital.
“Covid is real and like a really bad flu,” Hoverson wrote.
Hoverson, a pastor, told The Associated Press he was "feeling rough... But this ivermectin is keeping me out of the hospital.”
Ivermectin is designed to fight parasitic infections but conservative commentators have promoted it as a treatment for COVID-19, despite a lack of conclusive evidence that it helps.
As rules ease, travelers head to US for emotional reunions
CHARLES DE GAULLE AIRPORT, France (AP) — The U.S. lifted restrictions Monday on travel from a long list of countries including Mexico, Canada and most of Europe, setting the stage for emotional reunions nearly two years in the making and providing a boost for the airline and tourism industries decimated by the pandemic.
Wives will hug husbands for the first time in months. Grandmas will coo over grandsons who have doubled in age since they last saw them. Aunts and uncles and cousins will snuggle babies they haven’t met yet.
“I’m going to jump into his arms, kiss him, touch him,” Gaye Camara said of the husband in New York she has not seen since before COVID-19 brought the fly-here-there-and-everywhere world to a halt.
“Just talking about it makes me emotional,” Camara, 40, said as she wheeled her luggage through Paris’ Charles de Gaulle airport, which could almost be mistaken for its pre-pandemic self, busy with humming crowds, albeit in face masks.
The rules that go into effect Monday allow air travel from a series of countries from which it has been restricted since the early days of the pandemic — as long as the traveler has proof of vaccination and a negative COVID-19 test. Those crossing land borders from Mexico or Canada will require proof of vaccination but no test.
Japan had no COVID-19 deaths 1st time in 15 months
Japan reported no daily deaths from COVID-19 on Sunday for the first time in 15 months, as infections decline rapidly in the country.
Health officials on Monday said there were no deaths the previous day, giving Japan a total of 18,310 fatalities since the pandemic began.
Japan on Monday also eased entry restrictions for foreign students, workers and short-term business travelers who are fully vaccinated, have their activity plans guaranteed by sponsors and observe 10 days of self-isolation.
Self-quarantine for Japanese citizens and foreign residents was also shortened to three days from the previous 10 days.
Proof of vax required as strict mandate takes effect in LA
Los Angeles is among a growing number of cities across the U.S., including San Francisco and New York City, requiring people show proof of vaccination to enter various types of businesses and venues.
They are being implemented as new cases have started inching up following a sharp decline from an August peak driven by the delta variant and at the same time of year that last year saw the pandemic's worst spike in California.
To guard against anything resembling the January carnage, the LA City Council voted 11-2 last month for the ordinance that requires people 12 and older to be fully vaccinated to enter indoor public spaces including sports arenas, museums, spas, indoor city facilities and other locations.
While the order took effect Monday, city officials say they won’t start enforcing it until Nov. 29 to give businesses time to adjust. A first offense will bring a warning but subsequent ones could produce fines running from $1,000 to $5,000.
Among LA county’s roughly 10 million people, 80% of eligible residents now have received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose and 71% of those eligible are fully vaccinated, according to public health officials.
Negative coronavirus tests within 72 hours of entry to those establishments would be required for people with religious or medical exemptions for vaccinations. Customers without proof can still use outdoor facilities and can briefly enter a business to use a restroom or pick up a food order.
Russians go back to work but virus cases, deaths stay high
Russians went back to work on Monday after a mandated, nine-day break with authorities expressing uncertainly whether the measure helped tame a record-breaking surge of coronavirus infections and deaths.
Daily tallies of new cases and COVID-19 deaths remained high throughout the non-working period. Officials in the Kremlin said that it was too early to tell whether the measure had the desired effect.
“Too early to draw a conclusion. It will be clear in about a week,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.
Russia’s coronavirus task force reported 39,400 new infections and 1,190 deaths on Monday — slightly lower than the record 41,335 new cases registered on Saturday and the record 1,195 deaths reported on Thursday. Russia has the worst death toll in Europe by far, and is one of the top five hardest-hit nations in the world.
The task force has been reporting around 40,000 new cases and over 1,100 new deaths each day since late October.
Last month, Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered many Russians to stay off work between Oct. 30 and Nov. 7. He authorized regional governments to extend the number of non-working days if necessary, but only five Russian regions have done so.
Catch up on the past 24 hours
U.S.-bound travelers are jubilantly boarding flights from around the world today, headed toward emotional reunions with loved ones after the U.S. lifted restrictions on travel from a long list of countries. The new rules affect Americans who travel abroad, too; here's what to know about testing, proof of vaccination and more.
Aaron Rodgers feared a vaccine could make him infertile, the Green Bay Packers' quarterback says. But that idea has been flagged as misinformation.
Want to make sure your child is vaccinated for the holidays? Full vaccination can't happen by Thanksgiving or Hanukkah for kids ages 5-11, but partial protection is better than none. Here's what to know about this particular "continuum" of vaccination as holiday gatherings and travel beckon — and how to look for kids' vaccine appointments in Washington state.
The school that pioneered polio shots will give kids the COVID vaccine today, in a far different landscape. Travel back in time with a woman who got one of the first polio shots as a gaptoothed second-grader.
Big Bird got his COVID vaccine, and it's causing quite a flap.
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