Editor’s note: This is a live account of COVID-19 updates from Monday, Oct. 25, 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 It is no longer being updated.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.

Booster doses for all three coronavirus vaccines authorized in the United States are now available in Washington state, state health officials announced late last week.

Here and across the country, the availability of booster doses — and federal health authorities’ announcement that boosters don’t have to match one’s original vaccine — has some questioning which combination would maximize their immunity. The short answer: no one knows yet, but certain health reactions may make one vaccine preferable to another.

For now, those extra shots are only available to those who have been fully vaccinated for at least six months, and are 65 years and older, have underlying medical conditions, live in a high-risk setting or work in one.

See if you qualify for a COVID booster shot in Washington state

The weekend also brought news of cases in China linked to domestic travel. The country of more than a billion people, which has imposed strict lock downs and vaccinated 75% of residents, reported 26 cases Saturday. The U.S., whose population is less than a quarter of China’s, and where 57% are vaccinated, reported a daily average of more than 72,000 cases on Sunday, according to The New York Times.

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.

Florida surgeon general refuses state senator’s mask request, drawing bipartisan rebuke

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — The president of the Florida Senate called the state’s surgeon general “unprofessional” this weekend for refusing to wear a mask while visiting the office of a state senator who is being treated for breast cancer — and he suggested that visitors in the future who “fail to respect these requests will be asked to leave.”

Senate President Wilton Simpson sent out the statement Saturday after Sen. Tina Polsky, a Boca Raton Democrat, asked Florida Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo to put on a mask when he was visiting in her Capitol office last week. When Ladapo refused, she asked him to leave, Polsky told the Herald/Times on Sunday.

Polsky, 53, announced two days before that she had been diagnosed with Stage 1 breast cancer. She had surgery on Sept. 27 and will begin radiation therapy this week.

After reading about the encounter, which was first reported in Florida Politics on Saturday, Simpson, a Trilby Republican, sent a note to his Senate colleagues suggesting that future behavior from the state’s top health officer will not be condoned.

Read the story here.

—Miami Herald / Tampa Bay Times Tallahassee Bureau

Biden administration takes new steps to boost availability of rapid COVID tests

The Biden administration announced additional steps on Monday to increase the availability of rapid at-home coronavirus tests and bring down their cost.

The biggest change is a $70 million investment by the National Institutes of Health — using funds from the American Rescue Plan passed earlier this year — to help manufacturers navigate the Food and Drug Administration’s regulatory process. The NIH program aims to speed up the authorization process for new tests by helping manufacturers produce the data regulators need. It will also identify rapid tests that have the potential to be produced and distributed on a large scale.

The at-home tests could be particularly useful during what experts predict may be a bad flu season, particularly in settings such as schools, long-term care facilities and nursing homes. The tests, some of which return results within minutes, can help distinguish between flu and coronavirus — for which symptoms can be highly similar — and help ensure those most at risk, including the elderly and immunocompromised, are protected.

Read the story here.

—The Washington Post

State health officials confirm 1,765 new coronavirus cases

The state Department of Health (DOH) reported 1,765 new coronavirus cases and 26 new deaths on Monday.

The update brings the state's totals to 716,315 cases and 8,480 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, 39,619 people have been hospitalized in the state due to the virus — 339 new hospitalizations. In King County, the state's most populous, state health officials have confirmed a total of 162,347 COVID-19 diagnoses and 1,963 deaths.

Since vaccinations began in mid-December, the state and health care providers have administered 9,578,930 doses and 59.9% 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 16,312 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.

—Amanda Zhou

CDC director encourages kids to go outside on Halloween and ‘enjoy your trick-or-treating’

It’s time to prepare your Halloween ensembles. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle Walensky encouraged Americans to get outside and relish the holiday.

“I would say put on those costumes, stay outside and enjoy your trick-or-treating,” Walensky said when asked on “Fox News Sunday” what she would say to children about the holiday coming up this weekend.

Walensky added that she “wouldn’t gather in large settings outside and do screaming like you are seeing in those football games, if you are unvaccinated – those kids that are unvaccinated.”

“But if you are spread out doing your trick-or-treating, that should be very safe for your children,” she said.

Earlier this month, Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious-disease expert, also encouraged Halloween activities. “Particularly if you’re vaccinated, you can get out there. You’re outdoors for the most part,” he said in an Oct. 10 interview on CNN. “I mean, this is a time that children love.”

Read the story here.

—The Washington Post

U.S. details new international COVID-19 travel requirements

Two weeks before a new vaccination requirement kicks in for most foreign travelers to the U.S., the Biden administration detailed the new international COVID-19 air travel polices, including exemptions for kids, and new federal contact tracing requirements.

Beginning on Nov. 8, foreign, non-immigrant adults traveling to the United States will need to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, with limited exceptions, and all travelers will need to be tested for the virus before boarding an aircraft to the U.S., with tightened restrictions for those who are not fully vaccinated.

The new policy comes as the Biden administration moves away from broader country-based travel restrictions and bans toward what it terms a “vaccinations-based” system focused on the individual risk of the traveler. It almost reflects the White House’s embrace of vaccination requirements in an effort to drive more Americans to get vaccinated by piling on inconveniences to those remaining without a shot.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press

As some police fight vaccine rules, DeSantis says Florida will pay them $5,000 to relocate

Police officers across the country were among the first to become eligible to receive the coronavirus vaccine, but some are still declining the shots, leaving them clashing with city leaders as immunization mandates go into effect.

On Sunday, Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis announced plans to offer unvaccinated officers $5,000 bonuses to relocate to his state and join the police force.

Read the story here.

—The Washington Post

Tokyo eateries return to normal hours as virus cases drop

People in Tokyo can eat and drink in bars and restaurants later in the evening starting Monday as officials ease social distancing rules with the country’s daily coronavirus cases reaching their lowest levels in more than a year.

Crowds have been returning to bars and trains since Japan lifted its moderate state of emergency on Sept. 30. But officials in Tokyo had asked food and beverage businesses to maintain their early closures through Sunday as a precaution against a quick resurgence.

After seeing daily jumps of nearly 6,000 cases in mid-August, Tokyo is now reporting less than 50 new coronavirus infections a day. The 17 new cases reported on Monday was the lowest since June 2020.

Read the story here.

—Mari Yamaguchi, The Associated Press

Africa tries to end vaccine inequity by replicating its own

In a pair of Cape Town warehouses converted into a maze of airlocked sterile rooms, young scientists are assembling and calibrating the equipment needed to reverse engineer a coronavirus vaccine that has yet to reach South Africa and most of the world’s poorest people.

The energy in the gleaming labs matches the urgency of their mission to narrow vaccine disparities. By working to replicate Moderna’s COVID-19 shot, the scientists are effectively making an end run around an industry that has vastly prioritized rich countries over poor in both sales and manufacturing.

And they are doing it with unusual backing from the World Health Organization, which is coordinating a vaccine research, training and production hub in South Africa along with a related supply chain for critical raw materials. It’s a last-resort effort to make doses for people going without, and the intellectual property implications are still murky.

“We are doing this for Africa at this moment, and that drives us,” said Emile Hendricks, a 22-year-old biotechnologist for Afrigen Biologics and Vaccines, the company trying to reproduce the Moderna shot. “We can no longer rely on these big superpowers to come in and save us.”

Some experts see reverse engineering — recreating vaccines from fragments of publicly available information — as one of the few remaining ways to redress the power imbalances of the pandemic. Only 0.7% of vaccines have gone to low-income countries so far, while nearly half have gone to wealthy countries, according to an analysis by the People’s Vaccine Alliance.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press

Holiday shopping will be even messier this year. Here’s what you need to know

The pandemic is haunting the global supply chain and, by extension, shoppers.

Two months out from the peak holiday shopping season, consumers are encountering empty store shelves, rising prices and shipping delays that seem to stretch into oblivion. Container ships are clogging ports, awaiting cargo or unable to get past the gridlock to unload their goods. Some factories have gone dark, lacking raw materials and hands to run machines.

Shoppers are beginning to fret: A third of the more than 5,700 people recently surveyed by Oracle, which provides cloud services for such large retailers as Prada and Office Depot, worry they won’t get everything on their wish lists and paying more when they do. Here’s what you need to know to avoid a holiday shopping nightmare.

The coronavirus pandemic has been wreaking havoc on global supply chains since it began nearly two years ago, with suppliers and retailers wading through a sea of challenges — keeping the virus out of offices and factories, navigating shutdowns and business restrictions. Then there’s the steady rise of raw materials prices and skyrocketing shipping costs. The nation also is short on truck drivers and warehouse workers.

The tangle of pressures has driven inflation to a 13-year high of 5.4%, forcing many companies to pass costs along to consumers.

Problems have been compounded by a labor shortage that has intensified in recent months, as more warehouse and retail workers become part of “The Great Resignation” — a phenomenon driven by pandemic burnout and an existential reassessment of life and work. A record 4.3 million Americans quit their jobs in August, Labor Department data shows, and big box stores and local retailers alike are struggling to fill positions and store shelves.

Read the story here.

—Taylor Telford, The Washington Post

‘Crises reveal’: The pandemic changed how these women choose to spend their money

Caroline Chang realized something during the pandemic: Before the spread of COVID-19 changed her lifestyle, she had spent a lot of money paying for ride-hailing services, visiting new bars with friends and buying drinks. But in the past 18 months, Chang, a 29-year-old user experience designer in Los Angeles, discovered she and her friends and her boyfriend didn’t really need to go to a bar or club every weekend to make themselves happy.

“Living in L.A., there’s a bunch of stuff you can go and spend money on that’s all alcohol-related. So I would say spending on drinking and alcohol has like very, very much declined because of the pandemic,” she said.

Chang found her friends had just as much fun hanging out at each other’s houses, cooking, chatting and playing board games. Every day during the height of the pandemic, Chang and her boyfriend, Nick Colt, went on a 30- to 60-minute walk, she said. Even as more venues have reopened and as coronavirus case numbers ebb and flow, they’ve continued their walks.

“For my immediate friend circle, there has been a shift in what we see value in doing and what it means to have a good time,” she said. “It feels like we left behind a lot of the types of things we placed value on before the pandemic.”

Living through a pandemic has made many women like Chang reevaluate the way they spend and save their money. They’re finding that even as they can now access just about everything they could before March 2020, when many stay-at-home orders took effect, they can forgo — and even prefer skipping — things and experiences they once bought.

Read the story here.

—Erin Chan Ding, The Washington Post

Merck asks EU regulator to authorize pill that treats COVID

The pharmaceutical company Merck says it has asked the European Medicines Agency to authorize its COVID-19 antiviral treatment, the first pill that has been shown to treat the disease.

In a statement on Monday, Merck said the EU drug regulator had started an expedited licensing process for molnupiravir. If given the green light, it would be the first treatment for COVID-19 that does not need to be administered through needles or intravenous infusions.

Earlier this month, Merck asked the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to OK molnupiravir, and a decision is expected within weeks.

The company reported this month that the pill cut hospitalizations and deaths by half among patients with early symptoms of COVID-19. The results were so strong that independent medical experts monitoring the trial recommended stopping it early.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press

Estonia tightens virus certificate criteria as cases rise

People in Estonia no longer can use negative test results to obtain the coronavirus certificates needed to attend sporting events, movie showings, indoor public meetings and other events.

As of Monday, only proof of vaccination or having recovered from COVID-19 are accepted as the basis for obtaining a certificate. Authorities said the rule, along with another requiring masks in indoor public places, will remain in place until Jan. 10. It wasn’t immediately clear why the government disqualified negative test results from the certificate process, although concerns about the reliability of some tests could be a factor.

Estonia on Monday reported 1,787 new daily cases, a number equivalent to its March pandemic peak.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press

Dutch government looking at reintroducing COVID-19 measures

The Dutch government is seeking advice from a panel of experts on whether it needs to reintroduce COVID-19 restrictions amid sharply rising infection rates, the health minister said Monday.

The Netherlands has one of the fastest-rising infection rates in Europe. The 7-day rolling average of daily new cases increased over the past two weeks from 13.43 new cases per 100,000 people to 29.27 new cases per 100,000 people on Oct. 24.

The Netherlands ended almost all COVID-19 restrictions on Sept. 25, including an end to social distancing. At the same time, the government mandated use of coronavirus health passes to get into bars, restaurants, cinemas and other public venues.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press

Russia marks another record number of daily COVID-19 cases

Russia reported another daily record of confirmed coronavirus cases Monday as a surge in infections has prompted the Kremlin to tell most people to stay away from work starting later this week.

The Russian government’s coronavirus task force tallied 37,930 new confirmed cases in 24 hours, the highest number since the start of the pandemic. The task force also reported 1,069 more COVID-19 deaths in the same period, slightly fewer than a record of 1,075 reached over the weekend.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered Russians not to go to work between Oct. 30 and Nov. 7, when the country will observe an extended holiday. During that time, most state organizations and private businesses, except for those operating key infrastructure and a few others, are to halt work.

In some of Russia’s 85 regions where the situation is particularly grave, Putin said the nonworking period could begin earlier and be extended beyond Nov. 7. Six of them — Kursk, Nizhny Novgorod, Novgorod, Perm, Samara and Voronezh — started the off-work period Monday.

Read the story here.

—Vladimir Isachenkov, The Associated Press

Holiday travel is even more uncertain than a year ago after a summer of airline turbulence

Travel agent Alex Ramsey is getting questions daily from customers uncertain about booking holiday trips.

“Are Americans allowed to travel to Europe?”

“Will hotels and restaurants have enough employees?”

And the newest query brought on by recent turbulence: “Will my flight be delayed or canceled?”

“I’m telling people that the first thing they need to pack is their patience,” said Ramsey, president of All Aboard Travel in Dallas. “If you are a type-A personality that needs everything to go perfectly, you will run into trouble.”

Even after a summer of packed airplanes, flight cancellations and face mask battles, airlines are preparing their biggest flight schedules in nearly two years while also scrambling to replenish staffing levels and amid employee pushback over government-required vaccine mandates.

And gone are the perks of flying during a pandemic. Prices will be higher and planes will be more packed than they were a year ago.

It’s a backdrop that’s giving travelers pause, especially with the chaos of Columbus Day weekend fresh in their memories. That’s when Dallas-based Southwest Airlines canceled thousands of flights, citing weather and staffing issues while stranding travelers at airports around the country. It cost the airline $75 million in lost revenue.

Read the story here.

—Kyle Arnold, The Dallas Morning News

‘People are hoarding’: Food shortages are the next supply chain crunch

In Denver, public-school children are facing shortages of milk. In Chicago, a local market is running short of canned goods and boxed items.

But there’s plenty of food. There just isn’t always enough processing and transportation capacity to meet rising demand as the economy revs up.

More than a year and a half after the coronavirus pandemic upended daily life, the supply of basic goods at U.S. grocery stores and restaurants is once again falling victim to intermittent shortages and delays.

“I never imagined that we’d be here in October 2021 talking about supply-chain problems, but it’s a reality,” said Vivek Sankaran, chief executive officer of Albertsons Companies, who echoed the laments of other retailers. “Any given day, you’re going to have something missing in our stores, and it’s across categories.”

“People are hoarding,” said Adnan Durrani, the CEO and founder of Saffron Road, a producer of frozen and shelf-stable meals. “What I think you’ll see over the next six months, all prices will go higher.”

Read the story here.


Catch up on the past 24 hours

Federal Way pastor Hector Garcia was so sick with COVID-19 that his wife wrote out a funeral service. “Everything that could go wrong, did go wrong,” one of his doctors says. Now, after almost a year on a ventilator, Garcia has emerged to begin a new chapter. But the twists and turns keep coming for his family.

Starting today, proof of vaccination or a negative test is required to enter any restaurant, bar, gym, theater or entertainment venue in King County. Know what counts as proof, and what to do if you've lost your card.

Are vaccine booster shots widely needed? Tens of millions of Americans are newly eligible (here's where to see if that includes you), but the recommendations mask significant dissent among the federal advisers who voted for them. Those experts are explaining what drove their decisions amid a sense that, for many Americans, "we don’t know if boosters are necessary."

The time is nearing for kids to get COVID-19 vaccinations, with advisers to the FDA considering evidence tomorrow that points toward the Pfizer shot's benefits outweighing any potential downsides. Plan ahead with 12 tips for minimizing kids' pain and anxiety, including how to prepare for side effects. 

COVID etiquette keeps getting trickier as we all navigate different comfort levels and precautions. Two etiquette specialists walk through how to balance firmness and kindness in awkward vaccine, wedding and family situations.

—Kris Higginson