Editor’s note: This is a live account of COVID-19 updates from Sunday, Nov. 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 It is no longer being updated.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.
In his first speech to the nation Saturday, President-elect Joe Biden pledged to curve COVID-19, but his ambitious plans could face big hurdles in the country, and in Congress.
Meanwhile, at The White House, six people — including President Trump’s chief of staff, Mark Meadows — were diagnosed with COVID-19.
In Washington state, new cases continued to exceed 1,000 cases daily, with 1,770 new cases and 15 deaths. Pierce County reported a new record of 226 cases in one day; as did Alaska, with 604 cases.
And in France, COVID-19 deaths climbed past 40,000 people.
Throughout Sunday, 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 Saturday are here, and all our coronavirus coverage can be found here.
Trump’s election night party adds to virus scrutiny
WASHINGTON (AP) — It was supposed to be a scene of celebration.
Instead, the Trump campaign’s election night watch party in the White House East Room has become another symbol of President Donald Trump’s cavalier attitude toward a virus that is ripping across the nation and infecting more than 100,000 people a day.
Polls suggest that attitude was a serious drag on the president’s reelection bid as voters chose to deny Trump a second term in favor of his Democratic rival, now President-Elect Joe Biden. And the party — with few masks and no social distancing — is now under additional scrutiny after the president’s chief of staff, Mark Meadows, became the latest top White House official to contract the virus, which has now killed more than 237,000 people in the U.S. alone.
The White House has repeatedly refused to say who else has tested positive, even as the virus continues to spread.
Read more here.
State confirms 1,320 new COVID-19 cases -- 491 in King County
The state Department of Health (DOH) reported 1,320 new COVID-19 cases on Friday, but no new deaths, as DOH no longer reports coronavirus deaths on weekends.
In King County, the state’s most populous, 491 new cases were reported.
The update brings the state’s totals to 117,331 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. Saturday.
The DOH also reported that 8,803 people have been hospitalized in the state due to the virus — 8 new hospitalizations since Friday.
Statewide, 2,612,198 COVID-19 tests have been administered as of Saturday night.
In King County, state health officials have confirmed a total of 30,854 COVID-19 diagnoses and 822 deaths.
VA joins Pentagon in recruiting volunteers for COVID-19 vaccine trials
The Department of Veterans Affairs is recruiting 8,000 volunteers for the Phase 3 clinical trials of at least four COVID-19 vaccine candidates at 20 federal medical facilities across the U.S., according to officials with the VA and Operation Warp Speed, the Trump administration’s initiative to fast-track a coronavirus vaccine.
The largely unpublicized effort follows a Department of Defense announcement in September that it has partnered with AstraZeneca to recruit volunteers at five of its medical facilities, which are separate from the VA system.
DOD is also is in talks with developers of other vaccine candidates, although officials won’t say which ones.
Both federal departments have long experience in medical research and diverse populations — a crucial component of effective clinical trials, said J. Stephen Morrison, senior vice president and director of global health policy at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a bipartisan think tank in Washington, D.C.
Since active troops are essential to national security, and veterans are extremely vulnerable to COVID-19, both departments have a vested interest in supporting the development of safe, effective vaccines, Morrison said.
Without Ginsburg, high court support for health law in doubt
WASHINGTON — Until six weeks ago, defenders of the Affordable Care Act could take comfort in some simple math. Five Supreme Court justices who had twice preserved the Obama-era health care law remained on the bench and seemed unlikely votes to dismantle it.
But Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death in mid-September and her replacement by Amy Coney Barrett barely a month later have altered the equation as the court prepares to hear arguments Tuesday in the third major legal challenge in the law’s 10-year existence.
Republican attorneys general in 18 states, backed by the Trump administratio n, are arguing that the whole law should be struck down because of a change made by the Republican-controlled Congress in 2017 that reduced the penalty for not having health insurance to zero.
A court ruling invalidating the entire law would threaten coverage for more than 23 million people. It would wipe away protections for people with preexisting medical conditions, subsidized insurance premiums that make coverage affordable for millions of Americans and an expansion of the Medicaid program that is available to low-income people in most states.
A record 604 new COVID-19 cases reported in Alaska
ANCHORAGE — 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.
In total, 84 Alaskans with the virus have died since the start of the pandemic, and Alaska’s overall death rate per capita remains among the lowest in the country.
Oregon reports nearly 1,000 virus cases, another record
PORTLAND — The Oregon Health Authority on Saturday reported 988 new, confirmed coronavirus cases in the state, a new daily record by nearly 200 cases.
Thirteen additional deaths were reported. The state’s COVID-19 death toll is now 729 and the total number of confirmed infections is more than 49,500.
On Friday state officials announced new restrictions that will be implemented in at least five of the state’s counties as part of a two-week pause on social activities.
The updated safety measures, which begin Nov. 11, include halting visitations to long-term care facilities, reducing the capacity of indoor dining at restaurants to 50 people, encouraging all business to mandate work from home and urging Oregonians not to gather with people who do not live in their household, but if they do to limit it to six people.
These pause measures will be in effect for Malheur, Marion, Multnomah, Jackson and Umatilla counties.
Nursing home COVID-19 cases rise four-fold in surge states
WASHINGTON (AP) — Despite Trump administration efforts to erect a protective shield around nursing homes, coronavirus cases are surging within facilities in states hard hit by the latest onslaught of COVID-19.
An analysis of federal data from 20 states for The Associated Press finds that new weekly cases among residents rose nearly four-fold from the end of May to late October, from 1,083 to 4,274. Resident deaths more than doubled, from 318 a week to 699, according to the study by University of Chicago health researchers Rebecca Gorges and Tamara Konetzka.
Equally concerning, weekly cases among nursing home staff in surge states more than quadrupled, from 855 the week ending May 31, to 4,050 the week ending Oct. 25. That rings alarms because infected staffers not yet showing symptoms are seen as the most likely way the virus gets into facilities. When those unwitting staffers test positive, they are sidelined from caring for residents, raising pressures on remaining staff.
The administration has allocated $5 billion to nursing homes, shipped nearly 14,000 fast-test machines with a goal of supplying every facility and tried to shore up stocks of protective equipment. But the data call into question the broader White House game plan, one that pushes states to reopen while maintaining that vulnerable people can be cocooned, even if the virus rebounds around them.
“Trying to protect nursing home residents without controlling community spread is a losing battle,” said Konetzka, a nationally recognized expert on long-term care. “Someone has to care for vulnerable nursing home residents, and those caregivers move in and out of the nursing home daily, providing an easy pathway for the virus to enter.”
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