Editor’s note: This is a live account of COVID-19 updates from Friday, October 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 It is no longer being updated.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.
Citing worries of a ‘twindemic,’ health officials are recommending flu shots as well as vaccines against coronavirus. Flu cases last year dropped to historic lows as a result of safety measures taken against COVID-19, but officials worry there’s no guarantee the same will happen this year with the reopening of businesses, schools, and international travel.
The San Francisco Bay Area is gearing up to ease mask requirements in some indoor public settings such as offices, gyms, churches and college classrooms. The Bay Area has one of the highest vaccination rates in the country and boasts one of the lowest case rates, too.
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.
MultiCare looks for Washington state volunteers for COVID booster trial
MultiCare Health System is looking for volunteers to take part in a clinical trial involving Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine boosters.
The trial will give participants one booster dose of the Moderna vaccine along with either a shingles or an influenza vaccine in order to evaluate the immune responses of the COVID-19 booster shots along with other vaccinations.
“As we move to a future where booster shots for our current COVID-19 vaccines are commonplace, it is likely that they will be given alongside other vaccines such as flu shots and the shingles vaccine at the same time,” said Dr. Jonathan Staben, the trial’s Inland Northwest region principal investigator. “We need to continue to do research and study whether giving certain vaccines at the same time affects their performance.”
The MultiCare Institute for Research and Innovation is looking for 200 adults in the Puget Sound and Inland Northwest. To participate, volunteers must:
- Be 18 years and older;
- Have received both doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine at least six months prior;
Celtics guard Jaylen Brown tests positive for COVID-19
Boston Celtics guard Jaylen Brown tested positive for COVID-19 on Friday and will miss the team’s exhibition game against the Toronto Raptors.
The Celtics said he was asymptomatic and entering isolation.
The third overall pick in the 2016 draft, Brown averaged nearly 25 points and six rebounds last season.
Asked about vaccines at media day last month, Brown said: “I have my own thoughts about it. I respect my teammate’s decisions and things like that. I know everybody has their own opinion on it. I think it’s a personal choice.”
Brazil tops 600,000 virus deaths amid doubts about delta
Bars in Brazil’s biggest metropolis, Sao Paulo, are full again for Friday happy hours and lawmakers in the capital have nearly done away with video sessions via Zoom. Rio de Janeiro’s beaches are packed and calls for strict social distancing seem but a memory.
These developments are part of Brazil’s bid to return to pre-pandemic normalcy, even as its death toll tops 600,000, according to official data on Friday from the health ministry. Relief in both COVID-19 cases and deaths have been particularly welcome given experts’ warnings that the delta variant would produce another wave of destruction in the country with the second-most victims. So far, that hasn’t materialized.
The country’s average daily death toll has hovered around 500 for a month, down sharply from more than 3,000 in April. Almost 45% of the population is fully vaccinated, and a booster shot is being administered to the elderly. A greater percentage of Brazilians are at least partially vaccinated compared to Americans or Germans, according to Our World in Data, an online research site.
Improvement has encouraged mayors and governors to admit fans into soccer matches, and let bars and restaurants stay open until the wee hours. Some are even contemplating the end of mask mandates, which people often ignore already. And Rio’s mayor has announced plans to bring back the city’s massive New Year’s Eve party on Copacabana beach.
Vaccine mandate for police? NYC looking at ‘all options’
New York City’s mayor said Friday he’s looking at “all options” when it comes to a possible COVID-19 vaccine mandate for police officers — an idea backed by the city’s police commissioner but opposed by its largest police union.
“We’re looking at all options,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said during his weekly appearance on Brian Lehrer’s WNYC radio show.
“In the coming days I’ll speak about additional steps for different parts of the city, our workforce and beyond, different things we’re going to be looking at, different things we’re going to be doing,” de Blasio said. “But that’s still several days away because we’re doing a very meticulous analysis of what is the next step that makes sense.”
De Blasio has floated a potential vaccine mandate for the NYPD, the nation’s largest police department, for several weeks. The department’s vaccination rate has lagged behind the rest of the city, with some officers flat out refusing to get the shots.
In California, inconsistent school COVID rules are the norm
Now that schools are back in session, parents are mastering this year’s new school vocabulary: Modified quarantine, antigen vs. PCR testing and the so-called Swiss cheese model for keeping classrooms safe, which has become the butt of a few jokes.
But aside from a common pandemic lingo there is little similarity in how California schools are applying COVID-19 rules, leading to a dizzying patchwork of approaches that parents and teachers say can be confusing and frustrating.
While California has a few statewide requirements for all schools, such as requiring all public and private school teachers and students to wear face masks indoors, and a vaccinate-or-test rule for teachers starting in mid-October, many other details are left to local school officials. That includes the who, when, where and how to test for COVID-19, and ever-shifting quarantine rules.
Some large urban districts like Los Angeles, San Francisco and Oakland tell students to mask up for outdoor recess, while many others do not.
State health officials confirm 2,316 new coronavirus cases
The state Department of Health (DOH) reported 2,316 new coronavirus cases and 50 new deaths on Friday.
The update brings the state's totals to 677,995 cases and 8,022 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. Thursday.
In addition, 37,618 people have been hospitalized in the state due to the virus — 114 new hospitalizations. In King County, the state's most populous, state health officials have confirmed a total of 155,069 COVID-19 diagnoses and 1,903 deaths.
Since vaccinations began in mid-December, the state and health care providers have administered 9,236,164 doses and 58.6% 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 21,460 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.
Judge rejects troopers’ effort to stop vaccination mandate
A judge has rejected a request by 33 Oregon State Police troopers to temporarily halt a mandate that requires them to get fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by Oct. 18.
Retired Oregon Supreme Court Justice Jack Landau said in a written opinion Thursday that based on case law “the police power of the state includes the authority to enact public health laws that may have the effect of curtailing individual rights,” The Oregonian/OregonLive reported.
Landau, who is presiding over the troopers’ lawsuit in Jefferson County Circuit Court, also said Gov. Kate Brown is acting within her legislatively granted authority in issuing the vaccine mandate.
Brown has mandated vaccinations for the state’s executive branch employees, including the troopers, and for hundreds of thousands of health care workers and K-12 educators and volunteers. Religious or medical exemptions can be requested. At least eight lawsuits have been filed. Thursday’s ruling is the second that denies plaintiffs’ request to temporarily stop the mandates.
Anger in U.S. Customs and Border Protection as federal vaccine mandate looms
The coronavirus took an immediate toll on U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and in the first months of the outbreak, the agency’s memorial pages highlighted the sacrifices of those killed through “diligent service to country during a worldwide pandemic.”
Dozens more names have been added to the memorial since then, marking the deadliest span in the agency’s history. But in recent months, CBP has not called attention to the deadly pathogen that killed them, leaving out any mention of the virus.
Police departments across the country are struggling with vaccine hesitancy, but at CBP, the nation’s largest law enforcement agency, the politics are especially fraught. With immigration arrests along the Mexican border soaring to the highest levels in decades, Republican lawmakers blame the Biden administration’s policies for exposing U.S. agents to greater risk, even as they denounce vaccine mandates that would help protect them.
President Joe Biden’s order mandating federal employees to be fully vaccinated next month has generated anger in CBP’s ranks, particularly among conservative-leaning U.S. Border Patrol agents and the union that represents them. In recent weeks, leaders at the National Border Patrol Council (NBPC) have joined Republican lawmakers who allege the Biden administration is allowing migrants to spread the coronavirus in the United States and placing the CBP workforce at greater risk, while also opposing his vaccination order.
At least 47 CBP employees have died of COVID-19 as of Tuesday, according to the agency, including one Border Patrol agent last month who was days from retirement. More than 11,400 have been infected with the deadly pathogen, about 19% of the workforce.
Boosters, employer mandates drive increase in US vaccines
The number of Americans getting COVID-19 vaccines has steadily increased to a three-month high as seniors and people with medical conditions seek boosters, and government and employer mandates push more workers to take their first doses.
Demand is expected to spike in a few weeks when elementary school children can begin getting shots, and some states are reopening mass vaccination clinics in anticipation.
The total number of doses being administered in the U.S. is climbing toward an average of 1 million per day, almost double the level from mid-July — but still far below last spring.
Vaccination rates rise at Washington Department of Corrections, other agencies in response to COVID-19 mandate
OLYMPIA — The Washington Department of Corrections has verified that 89% of its workers have been vaccinated as of noon Thursday, according to a spokesperson.
The agency — which oversees 12 prisons — had previously lagged behind many other agencies in the percentage of workers getting their COVID-19 shots.
Gov. Jay Inslee’s emergency orders that state and school workers and hundreds of thousands of health care employees get their shots or lose their jobs on Oct. 18 has spurred union reaction and lawsuits, along with more workers getting vaccinated.
DOC is among the large Washington agencies currently seeing a rise in vaccination rates as part of the mandate, which is considered one of the strictest in the nation.
Rep. McMorris Rodgers has tested positive for COVID-19
U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers said Friday she has tested positive for COVID-19, despite being fully vaccinated.
In a statement, the eastern Washington Republican said her symptoms were mild.
“I am quarantining at home and following CDC and local health guidelines,” the statement said. “I encourage everyone in Eastern Washington to talk to your doctor about getting the vaccine if you haven’t already.”
Slovenia denies excessive police force against protesters
Slovenia’s interior minister on Friday rejected accusations that police used excessive force to curb anti-government and vaccine protests with water cannons and tear gas on the eve of a major European Union summit in the country earlier this week.
The demonstrations were the third in a month, organized against virus measures and the use of COVID-19 passes.
Interior Minister Ales Hojs said in Brussels that “police did their job very well during Tuesday’s intervention” and were “within their jurisdiction.” An investigation still has opened into police actions, he added. About 25 protesters were detained and several were injured or hospitalized — mostly for inhaling tear gas.
Finland joins other Nordic nations in curbing Moderna shots
Finland has joined other Nordic countries in suspending or discouraging the use of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine in certain age groups because of an increased risk of heart inflammation, a rare side effect associated with the shot.
The Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare said Thursday that authorities won’t give the shot to males under age 30. They will be offered the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine instead. The government agency said it found that young men and boys were at a slightly higher risk of developing myocarditis.
The move by Finland followed similar decisions by three neighboring countries on Wednesday: Sweden, Denmark and Norway.
All four countries based their decision on an unpublished study with Sweden’s Public Health Agency saying that it signals “an increased risk of side effects such as inflammation of the heart muscle or the pericardium” — the double-walled sac containing the heart and the roots of the main vessels. It added: “The risk of being affected is very small.”
Americans agree misinformation is a problem, poll shows
Nearly all Americans agree that the rampant spread of misinformation is a problem.
Most also think social media companies, and the people that use them, bear a good deal of blame for the situation. But few are very concerned that they themselves might be responsible, according to a new poll from The Pearson Institute and The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.
Ninety-five percent of Americans identified misinformation as a problem when they’re trying to access important information. About half put a great deal of blame on the U.S. government, and about three-quarters point to social media users and tech companies. Yet only 2 in 10 Americans say they’re very concerned that they have personally spread misinformation.
More, about 6 in 10, are at least somewhat concerned that their friends or family members have been part of the problem.
Jobless claims in Washington state fall as COVID numbers improve
New unemployment claims in Washington dropped last week amid continued progress in the state’s COVID-19 measures and a broader recovery in the national job market.
Washingtonians filed 4,814 new, or “initial,” claims for unemployment benefits last week, a 2% decline from the prior week, the state Employment Security Department (ESD) reported Thursday.
New claims in Washington are well below the levels the state saw the same week in pre-pandemic 2019.
Coronavirus deaths in Russia hit new record
Russia’s daily coronavirus death toll hit a new record on Friday amid the country’s sluggish vaccination rate and the government’s reluctance to tighten restrictions.
Russia’s state coronavirus task force reported 936 new deaths on Friday, the highest daily number since the start of the pandemic. It was a third straight day when daily COVID-19 deaths topped 900.
Russia already has Europe’s highest death toll in the pandemic at more than 214,000. On Friday, the government’s task force reported 27,246 new confirmed cases, just slightly less than Thursday’s number of 27,550, which was the highest so far this year.
UK to offer new vaccine shots to Novavax trial volunteers
Britain announced Friday that it will offer new vaccinations to thousands of people who volunteered for trials of the Novavax coronavirus vaccine, which hasn’t yet been approved for use in any country.
Around 15,000 people in the U.K. got Novavax shots as part of a clinical trial. While the U.K. recognizes them as vaccinated, most countries don’t, meaning they can’t travel.
Britain’s health department said more than 15,000 participants will be given two doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine. The government says it plans to expand the offer to about 6,000 U.K. participants in trials of other vaccines that also haven’t been approved for use.
Britain has appealed to other members of the Group of 20 nations to classify clinical trial volunteers as vaccinated, but most haven’t done so.
In June, Novavax announced that its vaccine had proved about 90% effective against symptomatic COVID-19 in a study of nearly 30,000 people in the U.S. and Mexico.
Anti-vaccine chiropractors rising force of misinformation
The flashy postcard, covered with images of syringes, beckoned people to attend Vax-Con ’21 to learn “the uncensored truth” about COVID-19 vaccines.
Participants traveled from around the country to a Wisconsin Dells resort for a sold-out convention that was, in fact, a sea of misinformation and conspiracy theories about vaccines and the pandemic. The featured speaker was the anti-vaccine activist who appeared in the 2020 movie “Plandemic,” which pushed false COVID-19 stories into the mainstream. One session after another discussed bogus claims about the health dangers of mask wearing and vaccines.
The convention was organized by a profession that has become a major purveyor of vaccine misinformation during the pandemic: chiropractors.
At a time when the surgeon general says misinformation has become an urgent threat to public health, an investigation by The Associated Press found a vocal and influential group of chiropractors has been capitalizing on the pandemic by sowing fear and mistrust of vaccines.
They have touted their supplements as alternatives to vaccines, written doctor’s notes to allow patients to get out of mask and immunization mandates, donated large sums of money to anti-vaccine organizations and sold anti-vaccine ads on Facebook and Instagram, the AP discovered.
Catch up on the past 24 hours
Is Pfizer's kid-sized vaccine safe? The company has asked the FDA to approve smaller doses than the version used in adults, so how will mix-ups be avoided? Here's what we know about the vaccine and the precautions.
The first Idaho hospital to ration health care says its crush of COVID-19 patients is getting much worse.
A hospital wouldn't approve a Colorado woman for a kidney transplant unless she got vaccinated against the coronavirus, pitting her health needs against her religious beliefs. Leilani Lutali, 56, chose to risk death from kidney disease.
The vaccines were supposed to be the ticket out of the pandemic for Singapore, which was widely considered a success story for its initial handling of the coronavirus. Residents reached the vaccination goal, but then Singapore got cold feet: Instead of opening up, it's doing the opposite, in a sobering example for other nations.
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