In anticipation of more people becoming eligible for booster shots, Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan announced Monday that a downtown vaccination site will open Oct. 23 at the Amazon Meeting Center (no appointments are necessary; vaccines available from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays through early 2022). The Seattle Fire Department will also restart mobile vaccinations clinics. Additional community vaccination hubs in South and West Seattle will be announced in the next couple of weeks.

About 83% of King County’s nearly 15,000 employees have reported being vaccinated as of Monday morning, a week ahead of the Oct. 18 deadline mandated by Executive Dow Constantine. Metro Transit, which is by far the biggest county department with 4,000 employees, reported 78% of employees are vaccinated, the lowest vaccination rate of any department of county government. Around 80% of employees in the King County Sheriff’s Office have reported being vaccinated. There is no test-out option for county or state workers who do not get vaccinated.

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 fines key county $3.5 million for mandating vaccines

Florida has issued its first fine to a county it says violated a new state law banning coronavirus vaccine mandates and for firing 14 workers who failed to get the shots.

The Florida Department of Health on Tuesday issued the $3.5 million fine for Leon County, home to the state capital, saying the municipality violated Florida’s “vaccine passport” law, which prohibits businesses and governments from requiring people to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination.

“These are people that, presumably, have been serving throughout this whole time and now all of a sudden they’re basically getting kicked to the curb,” Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said at a news conference in St. Pete Beach.

Later, the governor tweeted, “No one should lose their jobs because of COVID shots.”

The law took effect last month and can result in a $5,000 fine per violation. It is being challenged in court and conflicts with a Biden administration order that companies with more than 100 employees require their workers to be vaccinated or face weekly testing.

In a statement, Leon County Administrator Vincent Long said the county believes its vaccination requirement is legally justifiable and necessary to keep people safe.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press

State health officials confirm 1,814 new coronavirus cases

The state Department of Health (DOH) reported 1,814 new coronavirus cases on Tuesday.

The update brings the state's totals to 686,417 cases, according to the DOH. The data is as of 11:59 p.m. Monday. Tallies may be higher earlier in the week because new state data isn’t reported on weekends.

Hospitalization and death counts on Tuesday were incomplete because of a data processing interruption, according to DOH.

On Monday, DOH had reported 8,064 deaths and 37,958 people hospitalized in the state due to the virus.

In King County, the state's most populous, state health officials have confirmed a total of 156,822 COVID-19 diagnoses.

Since vaccinations began in mid-December, the state and health care providers have administered 9,300,224 doses and 58.9% 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 21,926 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.

Russia hits new record for COVID-19 deaths, resists lockdown

Russia hit another record of daily coronavirus deaths Tuesday as the country struggled with a rapid surge of infections and lagging vaccination rates, but authorities have been adamant that there would be no new national lockdown.

The government coronavirus task force reported 973 coronavirus deaths, the highest daily toll since the start of the pandemic. Russia has repeatedly hit record daily death tolls this month, and daily infections also have been hovering near all-time highs, with 28,190 new cases reported Tuesday.

Despite the rapidly mounting toll, the Kremlin has ruled out a nationwide lockdown, delegating the power to make decisions on toughening coronavirus restrictions to regional authorities.

Overall, Russia’s coronavirus task force has registered over 7.8 million confirmed cases and 218,345 deaths — the highest death toll in Europe. Yet the state statistics agency Rosstat, which also counts deaths where the virus wasn’t considered the main cause, has reported a much higher total — about 418,000 deaths of people with COVID-19.

If that higher number is used, Russia would be the fourth hardest-hit nation in the world during the pandemic, after the United States, Brazil and India. Even the lower mortality figure only shifts Russia down to fifth place, after Mexico.

Read the story here.

—Vladimir Isachenkov, The Associated Press

Some Alaska legislators urge easier ivermectin access

Several Republican state lawmakers are urging easier access for Alaskans to ivermectin amid the pandemic, though ivermectin is not authorized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for preventing or treating COVID-19.

Senate Majority Leader Shelley Hughes of Palmer said she urged Gov. Mike Dunleavy and the state health commissioner to consider supplying Alaskans with vitamins and drugs, including ivermectin, a drug “that some Alaskan physicians are prescribing but pharmacies aren’t filling.”

Three Republican House members testified about ivermectin at a recent state pharmacy board meeting, Alaska Public Media reported.

“Maybe the pharmacists could be directed — or directeds the wrong word — suggested that they allow the doctors to actually be doctors and do their jobs,” Rep. Kevin McCabe of Big Lake said. “The patient and the doctor should be the ones to decide.”

The board’s chair, Justin Ruffridge, a Kenai Peninsula pharmacist, in a letter to the House members after the meeting noted potential legal liability for pharmacists for drugs they dispense and said pharmacists were free to use their “professional judgment” when deciding whether to fill prescriptions. He said the board has not threatened pharmacists’ licenses around the issue but said reports of misuse of ivermectin to treat COVID-19 “should give most prescribers and pharmacists reason to pause.”

Ivermectin is approved to treat certain infections caused by parasites in people but is more commonly used by veterinarians . Some vaccine skeptics have championed its use around COVID-19.

“Anyone who claims to be creating medical guidance and they don’t have vaccine as their No. 1 recommended tool are pushing misinformation,” said Coleman Cutchins, a state pharmacist. “Vaccine is our No. 1 drug for the prevention of severe disease from this virus.”

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press

Moderna argues FDA should authorize half-dose of vaccine as booster

In documents released Tuesday morning, Moderna argued that the Food and Drug Administration should authorize a half-dose of its coronavirus vaccine as a booster shot for recipients at least six months after the second dose, citing evidence that the vaccine’s potency against infection wanes over time.

Moderna cited the rate of breakthrough infections, “real world evidence of reduced effectiveness against the delta variant,” and falling levels of neutralizing antibodies from its vaccine six to eight months after a second dose. The company said its clinical trial studies showed that a third injection boosted antibody levels — one measure of the immune system’s response — higher than what they had been before the second dose.

The documents were released by the FDA before a two-day meeting of the agency’s outside advisory committee, scheduled for Thursday and Friday.

The committee is expected to vote on whether to recommend emergency authorization of booster shots of both Moderna’s and Johnson & Johnson’s vaccines. While the panel’s votes are not binding, regulators typically follow them.

Moderna did not try to argue that its vaccine is waning now against severe disease or hospitalization, and the existing data does not appear to support that claim. That distinguishes Moderna’s application from the one mounted by Pfizer-BioNTech last month.

Read the story here.

—Sharon LaFraniere, The New York Times

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott bans COVID vaccine mandates, including for private businesses

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, R, on Monday banned any entity in his state — including private businesses — from mandating coronavirus vaccines for workers or customers, expanding prior executive orders from his office that prohibited state government entities from imposing similar requirements.

Abbott’s move puts him at odds with some large corporations and with the Biden administration, which last month announced plans to require all employers with 100 or more workers to adopt vaccine mandates or testing regimens. A number of large private companies in Texas have issued mandates.

Dallas-based Southwest Airlines last week gave until Dec. 8 for all employees to get vaccinated, or face possible termination. (Many U.S. airlines also are government contractors, which must meet a Dec. 8 federal deadline for vaccinations.) Telecom giant AT&T, also based in Dallas, in August ordered most of its management employees to get vaccinated by this Monday. Hewlett-Packard Enterprise, headquartered in Houston, announced a similar move the same month.

Abbott called the Biden administration’s sweeping plan “yet another instance of federal overreach,” saying in his order that the administration is “bullying” private entities into vaccine mandates, hurting the livelihoods of Texans and threatening the state’s economic recovery from the pandemic.

Read the story here.

—Andrew Jeong, The Washington Post

Why impact of ‘long COVID’ could outlast the pandemic

Millions of people who have gotten COVID-19 and survived are finding that a full recovery can be frustratingly elusive. Weeks or even months after seemingly recovering from even a mild case, many patients still confront a wide range of health problems. As researchers try to measure the duration and depth of what’s being called “long COVID,” specialized, post-acute COVID clinics are opening to handle the patients.

The scale of the pandemic and persistence of some of COVID’s disabling effects mean the economic pain and drain on health resources could continue well after the contagion ends.

Most patients who suffer from COVID-19 fully recover, but some long-haulers suffer long-term pulmonary, cardiovascular and nervous-system problems as well as psychological effects. These can occur irrespective of the initial severity of the SARS-CoV-2 infection, but happen more frequently in women, the middle-aged, and in individuals who experienced more COVID symptoms initially.

According to the World Health Organization, people with what it calls “post COVID-19 condition” have symptoms usually three months after an initial bout of COVID that last for at least two months and can’t be explained by an alternative diagnosis. Common ones include fatigue, shortness of breath and cognitive dysfunction — all of which affect everyday functioning.

Read the story here.

—Jason Gale, Bloomberg

How scammers are trapping those who are hunting for jobs

Job seekers, beware. Complaints have been climbing during the pandemic when it comes to phony job offers, missing paychecks and scams that involve paying upfront for equipment and supplies that are supposedly needed to do that new job.

About 32% of those complaining to the Better Business Bureau noted that they did the work but were never paid.

The BBB continues to warn those looking for work to verify employment offers to avoid getting caught up in illegal jobs where you might end up reshipping stolen merchandise, becoming a victim of identity theft and losing big money out of your pocket to fake check scams.

The BBB estimates that 14 million people are exposed to employment scams every year, with $2 billion in direct losses annually. The overall median loss was $1,000.

Read the story here.

—Susan Tompor Detroit Free Press

After family members contracted COVID-19, Ozzy Osbourne says worshiping Satan protected him from virus

What in God’s good name?

Ozzy Osbourne is thanking Lucifer for protecting him from coronavirus.

The Grammy Award-winning heavy metal icon credited Satan for covering him during the pandemic, even as close family members contracted COVID-19.

“My wife had the virus; my daughter had the virus and I never got it,” he told Metal Hammer. “Being a devil worshiper does have its good points!”

In December, the Black Sabbath frontman’s longtime spouse, Sharon Osbourne, tested positive for the deadly disease, which has claimed the lives of over 700,000 Americans. The 69-year-old Emmy Award winner posted on Instagram that she had a “brief hospitalization.”

Read the story here.

—Karu F. Daniels New York Daily News

Fewer in U.S. turn to food banks, but millions still in need

Hunger and food insecurity across the United States have dropped measurably over the past six months, but the need remains far above pre-pandemic levels. And specialists in hunger issues warn that the situation for millions of families remains extremely fragile.

An Associated Press review of bulk distribution numbers from hundreds of food banks across the country revealed a clear downward trend in the amount of food handed out across the country, starting in the spring as the COVID-19 vaccine rollout took hold and closed sectors of the economy began to reopen.

“It’s come down, but it’s still elevated,” said Katie Fitzgerald, CEO of Feeding America, a nonprofit organization that coordinates the efforts of more than 200 food banks across the country and that provided the AP with the national distribution numbers. She warned that despite the recent decreases, the amount of food being distributed by Feeding America’s partner food banks remained more than 55% above pre-pandemic levels. “We’re worried (food insecurity) could increase all over again if too many shoes drop,” she said.

Read the story here.

—Ashraf Khalil, The Associated Press

IMF foresees a slight drop in global growth from pandemic

The International Monetary Fund is slightly downgrading its outlook for the global recovery from the pandemic recession, reflecting the persistence of supply chain disruptions in industrialized countries and deadly disparities in vaccination rates between rich and poor nations.

In its latest World Economic Outlook being released Tuesday, the IMF foresees global growth this year of 5.9%, compared with its projection in July of 6%.

For the United Sates, the world’s largest economy, the IMF predicts growth of 6% for 2021, below its July forecast of 7%. The downward revision reflects a slowdown in economic activity resulting from a rise in COVID-19 cases and delayed production caused by supply shortages and a resulting acceleration of inflation.

The IMF predicts that for the world’s advanced economies as a whole, growth will amount to 5.2% this year, compared with a meager predicted gain of 3% for low-income developing countries.

“The dangerous divergence in economic prospects across countries,” the IMF said, “remains a major concern.”

Read the story here.

—Martin Crutsinger, The Associated Press

FDA review finds Moderna’s booster dose of the coronavirus vaccine strengthens disease-fighting response

A Food and Drug Administration review of data supporting boosters for people who received the Moderna coronavirus vaccine that was released Tuesday found that a third shot restored virus-fighting antibodies.

The document was one of a series posted online in advance of a two-day meeting scheduled for Thursday and Friday at which independent experts will advise the agency on questions related to boosters, including: Are extra shots of coronavirus vaccine developed by Moderna and Johnson & Johnson safe and effective? Do data suggest people can safely take a booster dose made by a company different from their original shot?

On Thursday, advisers are expected to consider data supporting a third shot of Moderna, which would be the equivalent of a half dose of the original shot. The booster would be administered at least six months after initial vaccination.

On Friday, they are scheduled to review evidence for a second shot of Johnson & Johnson vaccine six months after vaccination.

The advisers are also slated to consider data from a National Institutes of Health trial that tested mixing and matching boosters, which could simplify boosting.

Read the story here.

—Carolyn Y. Johnson, The Washington Post

Thailand eases rules for vaccinated visitors to save tourism

Thailand unveiled a roadmap to revive its tourism-reliant economy by gradually scrapping a mandatory quarantine for vaccinated visitors, joining a growing list of nations in making cross-border travel easier ahead of the year-end holiday season. The baht surged the most in more than two weeks.

Visitors from 10 low-risk countries including the U.S., China, Singapore, Germany and the U.K. will not be required to undergo isolation on arrival from Nov. 1, Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-Ocha said in an address to the nation on Monday. The list of travelers eligible for quarantine waiver will be further expanded from December, he said, adding the government will also consider allowing restaurants to resume the sale of alcohol from Dec. 1.

With countries such as Singapore, Australia and the U.K. moving to ease travel curbs on international travelers in recent weeks, Thailand could no longer delay its reopening, Prayuth said.

Read the story here.

—Suttinee Yuvejwattana and Randy Thanthong-Knight, Bloomberg

Report says UK’s slow virus lockdown cost 1000s of lives

Britain’s failure to impose a lockdown in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic cost thousands of unnecessary deaths and ranks among the country’s worst public health blunders, lawmakers concluded Tuesday in the nation’s first comprehensive report on the pandemic.

The deadly delay derived from the failure of British government ministers to question the recommendations of scientific advisers, resulting in a dangerous level of “groupthink” that caused them to dismiss the more aggressive strategies adopted in East and Southeast Asia to limit infections, the report said.

It was only when Britain’s National Health Service risked being overwhelmed by rapidly rising infections that Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Conservative government finally ordered a lockdown. in late March 2020.

“Decisions on lockdowns and social distancing during the early weeks of the pandemic – and the advice that led to them – rank as one of the most important public health failures the United Kingdom has ever experienced,” states the joint report from the House of Commons’ science and health committees. “Painful though it is, the U.K. must learn what lessons it can of why this happened if we are to ensure it is not repeated.”

Read the story here.

—Danica Kirka, The Associated Press

If you’ve already had COVID, do you need a vaccine?

Two doses of an mRNA vaccine produce more antibodies, and more reliably, than an infection with the coronavirus does. But the antibodies from prior infection are more diverse, capable of fending off a wider range of variants, than those produced by vaccines.

Those are some of the conclusions common to a number of studies about the virus, reinfection and the vaccine.

While many people who have recovered from COVID-19 may emerge relatively unscathed from a second encounter with the virus, the strength and durability of their immunity depends on their age, health status and severity of initial infection.

“That’s the thing with natural infection — you can be on the very low end of that or very high end, depending on what kind of disease you developed,” said Akiko Iwasaki, an immunologist at Yale University.

Read the story here.

—Apoorva Mandavilli, The New York Times

Catch up on the past 24 hours

Seattle is opening a new COVID-19 vaccine hub downtown. It's the first of several community hubs planned as more people become eligible for boosters, and the city is also restarting mobile vaccine clinics.

Vaccination rates have soared among King County workers, but with the deadline to get their last shot past, thousands remain unvaccinated or haven't reported their status. You can start to see the possible fallout if you look at the least- and most-vaccinated departments.

The questionnaire that will decide WSU coach Nick Rolovich's fate has these six questions. It's far from certain that Rolovich, our state's top-paid worker, will keep his job after requesting a vaccine exemption. Only a tiny percentage of state workers' requests have been granted.

An "astounding" new study indicates COVID-19 patients' lives were saved with the use of a pulse oximeter, a small device that clips on your finger. The magnitude of the benefit surprised even the device's strongest supporters. Know how it works and when to seek medical help.

Texas' governor has banned vaccine mandates, including for private businesses. This sharply clashes with President Joe Biden's mandate and the actions of several giant private companies in Texas.

—Kris Higginson