Editor’s note: This is a live account of COVID-19 updates from Tuesday, Oct. 27, 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 It is no longer being updated.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 number of Washington state and Seattle government workers getting their shots continues to inch up, a week after the Oct. 18 deadline, according to updated figures released by the Office of Financial Management. The figures, released Monday, show slightly fewer state workers left or were fired over the mandate than agencies had originally reported: The latest numbers show 1,785 workers left or were fired over the mandate, rather than the 1,887 announced last week. The numbers will continue to fluctuate in the coming weeks.
The number of new COVID-19 cases nationally has been plummeting since the delta surge peaked in mid-September. The U.S. is averaging about 73,000 new cases per day, dramatically lower than the 173,000 recorded on Sept. 13. And the number of Americans in the hospital with COVID-19 has plummeted by about half to around 47,000 since early September. Still, there are some troubling indicators, including the onset of cold weather, which sends people indoors, where the virus can more easily spread. With required mask use reduced in much of the U.S., the University of Washington’s influential COVID-19 forecasting model is predicting increasing infections and hospitalizations in November. COVID-19 deaths per day have begun to creep back up again after a decline that started in late September. Deaths are at about 1,700 per day, up from close to 1,500 two weeks ago.
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.
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene fined for flouting COVID mask rules in Congress
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., just doesn’t want to obey the rules.
The far-right firebrand has been fined a total of $5,500 for three violations of Congressional rules requiring lawmakers to wear masks on the House floor to limit the spread of COVID-19.
The outspoken opponent of masking and vaccination mandates, who had to apologize for comparing mask rules to the Nazi Holocaust, was hit with a third fine Monday.
Greene, a staunch supporter of former President Donald Trump, did not appeal the fine but did sound a defiant note in a statement
“I’m taking a stand on the House floor because I don’t want the people to stand alone,” she said, apparently referring to anti-vaxxer conspiracy theorists who object to being ordered to help keep a lid on the killer pandemic.
The House Ethics Committee, which is tasked with enforcing the mask rules, also announced that Rep. Andrew Clyde, R-Ga., a MAGA ally of Greene, was also fined for breaking the same rule.
UK budget to mark shift away from pandemic firefighting
Britain has experienced a series of shortages these past few months, from a lack of fuel at gas stations to not enough workers picking the fall harvest, but Treasury chief Rishi Sunak is unlikely to dwell on them when he delivers his annual budget statement on Wednesday.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer, as he is formally known, will instead likely use one of the most high-profile, choreographed events in the country’s political calendar to paint a relatively rosy picture of the state of the British economy following the devastating shock of the pandemic.
Sunak’s overall focus on Wednesday is expected to be stabilizing public finances following the battering they took during the pandemic, which saw the Conservative government respond with an arsenal of support measures for workers and businesses. Tax increases on business profits and people’s incomes have already been announced to get borrowing to more sustainable levels over coming years.
In Idaho, 49th in U.S. COVID vaccination, one county stands out as success story
According to health experts and data, Idaho has one of the lowest vaccination rates for COVID-19 in the country. Current Centers for Disease Control and Prevention numbers show that about 43% of the state’s total population is vaccinated, higher than only West Virginia.
But one Idaho county is a major outlier from the state’s low rates. The statewide percentage of eligible Idahoans fully vaccinated is only about 54%, according to the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare, but Blaine County’s vaccination rate for the same group is 86.8%.
Local doctors and health district officials said the high vaccination rate in the county that is home to the Sun Valley ski resort and the town of Ketchum, can be attributed in part to the county’s demographics, such as age and political affiliation, which have been shown nationwide to have ties to vaccine uptake. But experts said they think there’s more at play.
“Really it’s a community effort up there,” said Brianna Bodily, spokesperson for South Central Public Health District. “They felt the pains of the pandemic early on. They learned how to come together to fight.”
Experts say an early COVID surge in the county played a role in vaccine uptake because it scared people and drew the community together.
“Everybody was scared initially because there was such little information (on COVID) and … there was a real dearth of misinformation, actually,” O’Connor said in a video interview. “(People) just turned to trusted community members who happened to be physicians.”
State health officials confirm 1,645 new coronavirus cases
The state Department of Health (DOH) reported 1,645 new coronavirus cases and 31 new deaths on Tuesday.
The update brings the state's totals to 717,924 cases and 8,511 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. Monday. Tallies may be higher earlier in the week because new state data isn’t reported on weekends.
In addition, 39,740 people have been hospitalized in the state due to the virus — 121 new hospitalizations. In King County, the state's most populous, state health officials have confirmed a total of 162,588 COVID-19 diagnoses and 1,965 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.
Meatpacker Tyson: Mandate led 96% of workers to get vaccine
Meatpacking giant Tyson Foods says more than 96% of its workers have been vaccinated ahead of the company’s Nov. 1 deadline for them to do so.
The company based in Springdale, Arkansas, said the number of its 120,000 workers who have been vaccinated has nearly doubled since it announced its mandate on Aug. 3. At that point, only 50% of Tyson workers had been vaccinated.
“This is an incredible result — not only for our company, but for your families and our communities across the country, ” Tyson President and CEO Donnie King said in a note to employees Tuesday.
Tyson, which has long been dealing with worker shortages, said employees who don’t get vaccinated before the company’s deadline will be fired, but that the former employees will be welcomed back if they do get vaccinated later.
“I’d also like to say to those who remain unvaccinated — this is your choice, and we respect that choice,” King said. “If you change your mind and want to rejoin Tyson — let us know. Our doors are open.”
Election ‘distracted’ Trump team from pandemic response, Birx tells Congress
The Trump administration was “distracted” by last year’s election and ignored recommendations to curb the pandemic, the White House’s former coronavirus response coordinator told congressional investigators this month.
“I felt like the White House had gotten somewhat complacent through the campaign season,” said Deborah Birx, who former president Donald Trump chose in March 2020 to steer his government’s virus response, according to interview excerpts released by the House select subcommittee on the pandemic.
Birx, who sat for interviews with the subcommittee on Oct. 12 and 13, also detailed advice that she said the White House ignored late last year, including more aggressively testing younger Americans, expanding access to virus treatments and better distributing vaccines in long-term care facilities.
More than 130,000 American lives could have been saved with swifter action and better coordinated public health messages after the virus’ first wave, Birx told lawmakers.
China giving COVID shots to 3-year-olds as outbreak persists
China started giving COVID-19 vaccines to children as young as 3, as the country grapples with the return of the delta variant and more frequent virus outbreaks.
Multiple places across China are rolling out vaccines to children aged between 3 and 11, according to reports in local media. The shots, developed by homegrown drugmakers Sinovac Biotech and state-owned Sinopharm, have already been administered to those aged 12 and above, with the country green-lighting their use in those aged over three in June.
China has one of the highest vaccination rates among major economies, with 75% of its 1.4 billion people fully inoculated. The country is now rolling out booster shots, with adults who had their first doses six months ago now eligible.
The moves come as China tries to quash its latest outbreak, with flareups of the virus coming more frequently than they did before delta made its way in.
Which COVID-19 vaccine booster shot should I get? Here’s how to choose
People can now mix and match COVID-19 vaccines, but it raises the question: Which booster is the best option?
Federal health officials aren’t giving any specific recommendations, other than to say it’s important to get a booster if you’re eligible. It’s especially crucial for people 65 and over, adults 50 and older with underlying health conditions — which includes being overweight or having high blood pressure, depression or diabetes — and anyone who got the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
All adults with underlying health conditions, are eligible for a booster dose, as are all adults who live or work in settings at higher risk for coronavirus exposure, such as employees of hospitals, schools and grocery stores.
But in the absence of an official recommendation, how do you make an informed decision?
A mix-or-match study found that people who originally got the Johnson & Johnson shot and received a Moderna booster had antibody levels two weeks later at an astonishing 76 times the amount recorded just prior to the booster. A Pfizer shot led to antibody levels being multiplied by 35, while the same Johnson & Johnson booster quadrupled antibody levels.
The mix-or-match study found that people who originally got the Pfizer vaccine and received a Moderna booster had antibody levels increase 32 times the amount recorded just before the booster. Those who received a Pfizer booster saw antibody levels multiplied by 20, and those who got a J&J booster had antibody levels rise 13 times their previous levels.
The study found that people who originally got the Moderna vaccine and then got a Moderna booster saw 10 times the pre-booster level of antibodies. Those who received a Pfizer booster had antibody levels grow 11 times greater, while those who got a J&J booster saw antibody levels grow six times larger.
FDA advisers back Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for kids
The U.S. moved a step closer to expanding COVID-19 vaccinations for millions more children as a panel of government advisers on Tuesday endorsed kid-size doses of Pfizer’s shots for 5- to 11-year-olds.
A Food and Drug Administration advisory panel voted unanimously, with one abstention, that the vaccine’s benefits in preventing COVID-19 in that age group outweigh any potential risks — including a heart-related side effect that’s been very rare in teens and young adults despite their use of a much higher shot dose.
While children are at lower risk of severe COVID-19 than older people, ultimately many panelists decided it’s important to give parents the choice to protect their youngsters — especially those at high risk of illness or who live in places where other precautions, like masks in schools, aren’t being used.
The virus is “not going away. We have to find a way to live with it and I think the vaccines give us a way to do that,” said FDA adviser Jeannette Lee of the University of Arkansas.
Hong Kong to tighten COVID-19 rules, hopes China reopens
Hong Kong will tighten COVID-19 restrictions despite a lack of local outbreaks to better align with China’s policies and increase chances of quarantine-free travel between the territory and mainland, leader Carrie Lam said Tuesday.
It will step up contact tracing, such as requiring the use of its LeaveHomeSafe app in government premises to record the coming and going of visitors. It will also tighten quarantine rules to exempt only emergency workers or those in essential industries such as logistics. Currently, those exempt from quarantine include airline crew, banking and insurance executives, directors of public companies, as well as crew members on cargo and passenger ships, among others.
Hong Kong has not had a major local outbreak since the beginning of the year, with virtually no local transmission in recent months. But it is largely closed to international travel, and travelers from countries deemed high-risk such as the U.S. must serve a 21-day quarantine.
Currently, Hong Kong residents and non-residents who arrive in the city from the mainland are not required to serve quarantine, provided they fulfill certain conditions, such as testing negative for the coronavirus prior to their arrival.
Brazil senators to vote on urging charges for Bolsonaro
A Brazilian Senate committee will vote Tuesday on a report recommending President Jair Bolsonaro face a series of criminal indictments for actions that allegedly added to the world’s second-highest COVID-19 death toll.
The report is the culmination of the 11-member committee’s six-month investigation of the government’s handling of the pandemic. It calls for Bolsonaro to face charges ranging from charlatanism and inciting crime to misuse of public funds and crimes against humanity, and so hold him responsible for many of Brazil’s more than 600,000 COVID-19 deaths.
If approved, the decision on whether to file charges would be up to Brazil’s prosecutor-general, a Bolsonaro appointee who is widely viewed as protecting the president. The allegation of crimes against humanity would need to be pursued by the International Criminal Court.
Regardless of whether the report leads to charges, it is expected to fuel criticism of the divisive president, whose approval ratings have slumped ahead of his 2022 reelection campaign — in large part because of Brazil’s outsize COVID-19 death toll. The investigation itself has for months provided a drumbeat of damaging allegations.
On Tuesday, Facebook confirmed it had removed from its platforms a live broadcast that Bolsonaro delivered in which he inaccurately said people in the U.K. who have received two coronavirus vaccine doses are developing AIDS faster than expected.
Facebook yanks Bolsonaro video claiming vaccines cause AIDS
Facebook and Instagram have removed from their platforms a live broadcast that Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro delivered in which he said people in the U.K. who have received two coronavirus vaccine doses are developing AIDS faster than expected.
Facebook’s press office confirmed in an emailed statement to The Associated Press that the content was removed Sunday night because it violated Facebook policy regarding COVID-19 vaccines.
“Our policies don’t allow claims that COVID-19 vaccines kill or seriously harm people,” the statement said. The company didn’t respond to AP questions regarding why three days elapsed before the much-criticized content was removed nor whether language barriers played a role, as Bolsonaro was speaking in Portuguese.
More than 1,400 Washington kids have lost a caregiver to COVID-19, report says
More than 140,000 children in the United States have lost a parent or grandparent to COVID-19. In Washington, researchers estimate 1,428 children have suffered such a loss.
The findings are part of a peer-reviewed study set to be published in Pediatrics, the official journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics.
The study analyzed death data from April 1, 2020, through June 30, 2021, missing the devastation of the delta surge this fall.
“COVID is real, and its impact on families is real, and as members of the family pass away because of COVID, be it your grandmother or mother, there’s an impact to the child,” said Dr. Michael Barsotti, president of the Washington Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics.
COVID-19 cases spike in Belgium; govt poised for action
Coronavirus infections and hospitalizations are shooting upward in Belgium, pushing the government on Tuesday to consider reimposing some pandemic restrictions that it only relaxed a few weeks ago.
Daily infections in the European Union nation of 11 million increased 75% to reach 5,299 cases a day last week. Hospitalizations have increased 69% to reach 102 daily cases. Deaths have increased slightly, with an average of 13 a day.
To turn around this trend, the Belgian government and regional officials are deciding later Tuesday whether to increase restrictions again, although stopping well short of going into a lockdown. Indications are that authorities are looking at using mandatory face masks is more places and virus passports.
United Airlines says unvaccinated pilots costing it millions
United Airlines told a federal judge the company is spending millions on paid leave for unvaccinated pilots because their colleagues “refuse to risk their safety” by flying with them.
The leave is costing United about $1.4 million every two weeks — money it’s unlikely to recover even if it wins a lawsuit challenging the airline’s vaccine mandate for all U.S. employees, United argued in a filing on Friday in federal court in Fort Worth, Texas.
U.S. District Judge Mark Pittman was unmoved. On Monday, he extended until Nov. 8 a temporary restraining order he imposed earlier this month barring the airline from placing unvaccinated workers with a religious or medical objection to its mandate on unpaid leave.
Pittman, an appointee of former President Donald Trump, said the TRO will maintain the status quo while he decides whether to block United’s vaccine mandate for the remainder of the litigation, as plaintiffs have requested.
New vaccination clinic in West Seattle
The City of Seattle is opening a new COVID-19 vaccination clinic in West Seattle for people who have not yet gotten the vaccine, children aged 5 to 11 once they become eligible and people who are eligible for boosters.
The clinic will offer Moderna, Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson vaccines.
Over the coming weeks, the clinic at the Neighborhood House, 6400 Sylvan Way SW, will operate on most Fridays from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and on most Saturdays from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Appointments and more information is available at seattle.gov/mayor/covid-19/vaccinations.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is recommending booster shots for people who had their second dose either Pfizer or Moderna at least six months ago and are:
- Residents in long-term care facilities
- 50-64 years old who are at high-risk because of underlying medical conditions
The following people may receive a vaccine booster shot at least six months after already receiving two Pfizer vaccine doses based on their individual benefits and risks:
- 18-49 years old who are at high-risk because of underlying medical conditions
- 18-64 years old in occupational or institutional settings that put them at a higher risk of COVID-19 exposure (health care, schools, child care, homeless shelters, correctional facility)
The city currently has one other vaccination hub in South Lake Union at the Amazon Meeting Center, 2031 7th Ave, Seattle, where the Pfizer and Moderna shots are offered on Saturdays and Sundays between 9:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m.
The city is also planning to open another vaccination hub in South Seattle.
King County also has 11 scheduled vaccine pop up clinics between now and Nov. 6. For more information, see the county's vaccine information page.
FDA advisers review Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for kids
Kid-size doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine may be getting closer as government advisers on Tuesday began deliberating whether there’s enough evidence that the shots are safe and effective for 5- to 11-year-olds.
A study of elementary schoolchildren found the Pfizer shots are nearly 91% effective at preventing symptomatic infection — even though the youngsters received just a third of the dose given to teens and adults.
In a preliminary analysis last week, Food and Drug Administration reviewers said that protection would “clearly outweigh” the risk of a very rare side effect in almost all scenarios of the pandemic. Now FDA’s advisers are combing through that data to see if they agree.
Moderna to supply Africa with up to 110 million COVID doses
Moderna on Tuesday said it will make up to 110 million doses of its COVID-19 vaccine available to African countries, which local officials called a breakthrough on the world’s least vaccinated continent.
The announcement said Moderna is prepared to deliver the first 15 million doses by the end of this year, with 35 million in the first quarter of 2022 and up to 60 million in the second quarter. It says “all doses are offered at Moderna’s lowest tiered price.”
“It is a great day for us,” the African Union special envoy on COVID-19, Strive Masiyiwa, told reporters, after African nations faced months of frustration over rich countries’ vaccine hoarding and delayed deliveries of doses.
The announcement comes just days after stories published about Africa's desperate effort to replicate or reverse engineer Moderna’s COVID-19 shot in an attempt to make an end run around an industry that has vastly prioritized rich countries over poor in both sales and manufacturing.
Read the story here.
Facebook froze as anti-vaccine comments swarmed users
In March, as claims about the dangers and ineffectiveness of coronavirus vaccines spun across social media and undermined attempts to stop the spread of the virus, some Facebook employees thought they had found a way to help.
By altering how posts about vaccines are ranked in people’s newsfeeds, researchers at the company realized they could curtail the misleading information individuals saw about COVID-19 vaccines and offer users posts from legitimate sources like the World Health Organization.
“Given these results, I’m assuming we’re hoping to launch ASAP,” one Facebook employee wrote, responding to the internal memo about the study.
Instead, Facebook shelved some suggestions from the study. Other changes weren’t made until April.
When another Facebook researcher suggested disabling comments on vaccine posts in March until the platform could do a better job of tackling anti-vaccine messages lurking in them, that proposal was ignored.
Critics say the reason Facebook was slow to take action on the ideas is simple: The tech giant worried it might impact the company’s profits.
“These people are selling fear and outrage,” said Roger McNamee, a Silicon Valley venture capitalist and early investor in Facebook who is now a vocal critic. “It is not a fluke. It is a business model.”
Virus outlier Sweden passes grim COVID-19 milestone
Sweden which has stood out among European nations for its comparatively hands-off response to the pandemic, has passed the threshold of 15,000 deaths with COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic, according to official figures released Tuesday.
In comparison, Denmark has recorded 2,703 deaths, Norway 895 and Finland nearly 1,150. Each of those countries has slightly over half as many people as Sweden.
Sweden had opted for keeping large sections of society open. It has not gone into lockdowns or closed businesses, relying instead on citizens’ sense of civic duty to control infections.
Paying Americans to get a vaccine doesn’t work, new study shows
Financial incentives and other nudges by local governments and employers have failed to increase COVID-19 vaccinations among Americans who are hesitant about getting the shot, a new study shows.
Financial incentives and “negative messages” actually decreased vaccination rates among some groups, underscoring fears about a public backlash, according to the paper circulated by the National Bureau of Economic Research.
The pace of COVID-19 vaccinations climbed rapidly earlier this year as availability increased, with millions of adults getting the jab each day. However, that pace has slowed sharply. In the last week in the U.S., an average of about 800,000 doses per day were administered.
Catch up on the past 24 hours
King County businesses began enforcing the new vaccine-or-test rule with mixed feelings yesterday. Some business owners believe visitors will feel safer (one restaurateur is even turning his dining room into a vaccine clinic tomorrow). But other businesses say they're already taking a hit. Here's how this looks around the region.
Today brings a big moment for kids and vaccines, as advisers to the FDA make recommendations on whether to approve Pfizer's shot for ages 5 to 11. The agency's scientists have been liking the evidence they've seen so far. The advisers are expected to vote between noon and 2 p.m. Pacific time, and we'll cover the latest news here.
Cruises will no longer have to follow federal COVID-19 rules. A new, voluntary program will start in January. Another travel change coming soon: All U.S. citizens entering the country will need to show a negative test result, but the specific rules depend on whether you're vaccinated.
The spookiest threat this Halloween: a "twindemic" of flu and COVID-19. Doctors explain how to make trick-or-treating safer and what to consider with other Halloween fun, like haunted houses. Seattleites have been sharing their own creative tips for a cautious holiday.
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