Editor’s note: This is a live account of COVID-19 updates from Wednesday, 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 It is no longer being updated.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 city of Seattle is opening a new COVID-19 vaccination clinic in West Seattle for people who have not yet gotten the vaccine, people eligible for booster shots and children aged 5 to 11 once they become eligible. Over the coming weeks, the clinic at the Neighborhood House, 6400 Sylvan Way S.W., 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 can be scheduled and more information is available at seattle.gov/mayor/covid-19/vaccinations.
Meatpacking giant Tyson Foods, based in Springdale, Arkansas, says more than 96% of its workers have been vaccinated ahead of the company’s Nov. 1 deadline for them to do so. 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.
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.
Its funding threatened, Miami private school scraps policy to send home vaccinated students
A Miami private school known for its aggressive stance against coronavirus vaccines is abandoning an attendance policy that would have forced students to stay home for 30 days after each dose.
Centner Academy reversed course less than two weeks after announcing the controversial policy, spurred by a letter from the Florida Department of Education warning that the pre-K-8 private school could lose state funding if it pursued the post-vaccination attendance plan.
Florida DOE Chancellor Jacob Olivera in an Oct. 21 letter to the school called the 30-day stay-at-home period an “unreasonable, unnecessary and unduly burdensome amount of time.”
Centner responded the next day, saying the attendance plan was not put into place and confirmed to the state that the school would not pursue it.
“Our decision not to enact the 30-day at-home quarantine was an easy one as no parents expressed interest in getting the coronavirus vaccine following the policy announcement,” said David Centner, who co-founded Centner Academy with his wife, Leila.
In the past year, the school has attracted attention for its position on vaccines, which Centner characterizes as carrying “unknown risks.” In April, he warned teachers against getting the coronavirus vaccine, saying they would be barred from the classroom if they did.
Louisiana lifts mask mandate amid sharp drop in COVID cases
Louisiana is ending its statewide indoor mask mandate after emerging from its latest and worst coronavirus spike of the pandemic and seeing a sharp decline in new COVID-19 infections, Gov. John Bel Edwards announced Tuesday.
The decision marks one of the first mask mandates enacted for the delta variant-fueled outbreak to be scrapped.
“I stand here today optimistic, relieved that the worst of the fourth surge is very clearly behind us now,” Edwards said.
But while the Democratic governor is lifting the mask requirement for grocery stores, restaurants, bars and other sites, he’s keeping some face-covering rules in place for Louisiana’s K-12 schools. Edwards said children have greater exposure risks, with students under 12 unable to yet get vaccinated against the coronavirus.
School districts that maintain tight quarantine regulations for students who come into close contact with someone who tests positive for COVID-19 won’t be required to have a mask mandate. Those districts that don’t require all exposed students to be sent home will have to keep students masked up.
Despite the governor’s decision, Louisiana State University said it will keep its indoor mask mandate through the end of the semester. New Orleans also indicated it won’t necessarily follow Edwards’ lead.
California county closes In-N-Out over vaccine verification
Another California county closed down an In-N-Out restaurant on Tuesday because the popular burger chain refuses to enforce COVID-19 vaccination rules.
Contra Costa County health officials indefinitely shut the Pleasant Hill restaurant after it ignored repeated warnings to verify that customers who wanted to dine indoors had vaccination cards or proof they had tested negative for the virus in the past 72 hours.
The county has issued several warnings and fines for local In-N-Out restaurants, including two in Pinole and San Ramon.
Public health authorities see vaccination enforcement requirements as vital tools in slowing COVID-19 at a time when 1,500 or more Americans are dying each day from the virus.
However, In-N-Out, based in Irvine, Calif., has consistently refused to heed the requirements.
State health officials confirm 1,609 new coronavirus cases
The state Department of Health (DOH) reported 1,609 new coronavirus cases and 43 new deaths on Wednesday.
The update brings the state's totals to 719,500 cases and 8,554 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. Tuesday.
In addition, 39,849 people have been hospitalized in the state due to the virus — 109 new hospitalizations. In King County, the state's most populous, state health officials have confirmed a total of 153,325 COVID-19 diagnoses and 1,971 deaths.
Since vaccinations began in mid-December, the state and health care providers have administered 9,625,530 doses and 60% 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 17,450 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.
Countries are reopening borders. But China isn’t ready to live with the coronavirus
China is leaving nothing to chance to prevent a coronavirus outbreak during the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics this February.
A handbook released Monday describes how athletes will be confined to a “closed loop” of hotels, venues and designated buses, shut off from the rest of the country to a degree far beyond measures adopted during the Tokyo Summer Games.
To enter the bubble, participants need to either be vaccinated or do 21 days of quarantine. Once inside, swab tests are conducted daily. There is an app to ensure “responsibility from start to finish,” where anyone involved in the Games must report their temperature and test results from 14 days before arrival to two weeks after leaving China.
As the second anniversary of the coronavirus’s discovery in Wuhan approaches, China has shown no sign of abandoning its efforts to eliminate infections, even as nations like Singapore and Australia that once shared a similar approach begin to open borders and shift toward mitigation of outbreaks now that they have achieved high vaccination rates.
For Beijing, the experience of other nations may prove more of a cautionary tale than an example to follow. “The Chinese government is keeping a close eye on what is happening overseas to work out whether giving up a ‘zero COVID’ policy requires accepting a spike in cases,” said Huang Yanzhong, a senior fellow for global public health at the Council on Foreign Relations. “That prospect is not acceptable for China.”
More than 300,000 kid-sized Pfizer COVID vaccine doses expected in Washington state next week
Washington expects about 316,000 doses of kid-sized Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines to arrive in the state by the end of next week for children between 5 and 11, pending federal authorization, state health officials said Wednesday.
The kid-sized dose, which is equal to one-third of the adult Pfizer vaccine dose, still needs the emergency authorization of the Food and Drug Administration and guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices. The CDC’s committee meets next Tuesday and Wednesday.
The shipments will likely offer families relief and another layer of safety for youngsters who have returned to in-person schools, which tallied more than 180 K-12 outbreaks during August and September.
About 1,284 infections have been associated with the 189 outbreaks in Washington’s schools — 42 in August and 147 in September, the highest number of school outbreaks to occur in a month since the state started tracking them last fall, said Lacy Fehrenbach, the state Department of Health’s deputy secretary for COVID-19 response, in a news briefing.
About 88% of those cases occurred in students 19 and younger, she added.
COVID-19 vaccine opponents shut down school board meeting in Portland
The Portland, Oregon, school board ended an in-person meeting amid controversy over a proposed COVID-19 vaccine mandate for children 12 and older after unmasked protesters showed up and refused to don a face covering.
The board that oversees Oregon’s largest school district resumed its meeting with online streaming Tuesday after protesters refused to comply with requests from security guards to put on masks, according to a statement from Portland Public Schools.
Some of the protesters were not from Portland but traveled from elsewhere in Oregon and Washington state, The Oregonian/OregonLive reported Wednesday. Earlier in the day, about 500 students walked out of class in favor of the proposed vaccine mandate.
Rules to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in schools, such as a statewide school mask mandate for all children, have generated protests in other school districts and school boards and superintendents are often the focus of such actions.
How to prepare your kid for a coronavirus exposure at school
Find out what your children know about the coronavirus, devise a back-up plan, validate their feelings if they are exposed and model good coping skills.
Those are a few of the suggestions for handling possible exposure now that kids are back in the classroom.
There’s a very real possibility that they may be exposed to the coronavirus, and may need to be tested — or to isolate. This can be alarming for parents, and frightening for some children. Kids may also be disappointed if they have to miss out on certain activities.
One of the best things you can do to prepare your child for this risk, no matter their age, is to explain that there are plans in place should someone be exposed.
Report: At least 59,000 meat workers caught COVID, 269 died
At least 59,000 meatpacking workers caught COVID-19 and 269 workers died when the virus tore through the industry last year, which is significantly more than previously thought, according to a new U.S. House report released Wednesday.
The meatpacking industry was one of the early epicenters of the coronavirus pandemic, with workers standing shoulder-to-shoulder along production lines. The U.S. House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis, which used internal documents from five of the biggest meatpacking companies for its report, said companies could have done more to protect their workers.
The new estimate of infections in the industry is nearly three times higher than the 22,400 that the United Food and Commercial Workers Union has said were infected. And the true number could be even higher because the companies’ data didn’t generally include coronavirus cases confirmed by outside testing or self-reported by employees.
At the height of the outbreaks in spring last year, U.S. meatpacking production fell to about 60% of normal levels as several major plants were forced to temporarily close for deep cleaning and safety upgrades or operated at slower speeds because of worker shortages. The report said companies were slow to take protective steps such as checking employee temperatures, distributing protective equipment and installing barriers between work stations.
Exacerbated by pandemic, child care crisis hampers economy
After Bryan Kang’s son was born in July, the occupational therapist and his wife, a teacher, started looking for child care in the Los Angeles area. The couple called eight day care centers: Some didn’t have spots for months; others stopped taking their calls and some never answered at all.
So with no viable options, Kang scrambled to find a new job that would allow him to work remotely.
“I told my manager, ‘Hey, by the end of the month, I have to transition out,’” Kang said. “They were very supportive and very understanding because they’re all mothers. But now there’s one less body to see patients.”
Kang said he’s fortunate he found a job teaching online classes, but the unexpected career pivot forced him to take an 11% pay cut.
The truth is, even if he could find a day care spot for his now 3-month-old son, the $2,500 monthly cost of infant care is so high that taking a lower-paying job so he can work from home and care for the baby is the most financially sensible thing to do.
The child care business has for years operated in a broken, paradoxical market: low wages for workers and high costs for consumers. Yet the critical service somehow managed to limp along.
Now, the pandemic has made clear what many experts had long warned: The absence of reliable and affordable child care limits which jobs people can accept, makes it harder to climb the corporate ladder and ultimately restricts the ability of the broader economy to grow.
Merck agrees to let other drug makers make its COVID pill
Pharmaceutical company Merck agreed to allow other drug makers to produce its COVID-19 pill, in a move aimed at helping millions of people in poorer countries get access to the potentially life-saving drug, a United Nations-backed public health organization said on Wednesday.
The Medicines Patent Pool said in a statement that it had signed a voluntary licensing agreement for molnupiravir with Merck and its partner Ridgeback Biotherapeutics.
The agreement will allow the Medicines Patent Pool to grant further licenses to qualified companies who are approved to make the drug. Neither drug maker will receive royalties under the agreement for as long as the World Health Organization deems COVID-19 to be global emergency. Molnupiravir is the first pill that has been shown to treat the disease.
Slovenia eyes possible lockdown as COVID-19 infections surge
Slovenia’s health minister on Wednesday warned that the country could face a nightmare scenario if it does not contain the virus outbreak raging in the small Alpine nation and other low-vaccination countries of Central and Eastern Europe.
Health Minister Janez Poklukar said hospital beds have been filling up as the country logged the highest number of daily cases since January. With more than 3,000 confirmed infections in the past 24 hours, Poklukar said a lockdown is looming.
Officials say Slovenia has fully vaccinated around 53% of its 2 million people. Authorities plan to open more COVID-19 wards in the European Union nation as intensive care units are 92% full, Poklukar said.
Other nations in Central and Eastern Europe that also have low vaccination numbers have seen infections surge to record levels. Reluctantly, countries have been reimposing some restrictions to get a grip on the situation.
Russia marks another daily coronavirus death high
Russia hit another record for daily COVID-19 deaths on Wednesday as authorities across the country moved to keep most people off work in line with a Kremlin order aimed at stemming the spread.
The government coronavirus task force registered 1,123 deaths in 24 hours, the largest daily toll since the pandemic’s start. The number brought the country’s official coronavirus death toll to 233,898, by far the highest in Europe.
The pace of infection remained high at 36,582, just slightly less than an all-time peak reported over the weekend.
Vietnam starts vaccinating kids in effort to reopen schools
Vietnam on Wednesday started to vaccinate children as part of an effort to reopen schools after more than half a year of closures due to COVID-19.
About 1,500 teenagers between 16 and 17 years old in Ho Chi Minh City in southern Vietnam were among the first to receive jabs before the inoculation program is rolled out nationwide in November, the health ministry said on its website.
During the first phase, Vietnam has only approved the Pfizer vaccine for children. Parents or guardians must sign a consent form for their children to be vaccinated, the report said.
Last week, the ministry approved vaccinations for children between 12 and 17 years old, with older teens in more populated cities receiving priority for the first doses. There are about 14 million Vietnamese children in that age range.
According to the report, children will be vaccinated at their schools and those who do not attend school will be vaccinated at pediatric hospitals.
Tokyo governor hospitalized for fatigue — 2nd time this year
Tokyo’s governor has been hospitalized with severe fatigue for the second time in four months and will take about a week off, the metropolitan government said Wednesday.
Gov. Yuriko Koike’s hospitalization comes days after she announced an end to 11 months of restrictions on eateries in which they were told to close early and not serve alcohol, after new daily COVID-19 cases in the nation’s capital fell to the lowest levels in more than a year.
Koike was previously hospitalized in late June, also due to fatigue, a month before Tokyo hosted the Olympics.
She has often worked on weekends and late at night to meet with senior officials about the pandemic.
In recent meetings and news conferences, Koike was seen occasionally coughing behind her mask. She sounded somewhat weak during a news conference last Thursday.
Japan has seen daily new cases plummet since September. Tokyo reported 28 new cases on Wednesday and has recorded less than 50 a day for more than 10 days, a sharp decline from a mid-August peak of nearly 6,000 per day.
Sweden offers 3rd COVID shot to elderly, health care staff
Sweden, which has stood out among European nations for its comparatively hands-off response to the pandemic, announced Wednesday it will be offering a third vaccine shot to people 65 and over as well as to health care workers and nursing home staff.
Social Affairs Minister Lena Hallengren said 1.5 million Swedes will receive a booster dose six months after their second vaccine shot. Johan Carlson, head of the Public Health Agency of Sweden, added that everyone down to age 16 will eventually be offered a third jab.
Sweden has not gone into a lockdown or closed businesses, relying instead on citizens’ sense of civic duty to control infections. On Tuesday the country surpassed 15,000 virus-related deaths.
In neighboring Denmark, a third coronavirus vaccine shot has been offered to the elderly, heath care and nursing home staff and people who are particularly at increased risk.
Norway is recommending residents 65 and over get a booster dose at least six months after the second vaccine shot.
Norway has seen new infections rising. In the last 24 hours, it reported 1,144 new COVID-19 cases, which is close to double the amount from a week ago.
Beijing confirms strict ‘closed loop’ for Winter Olympics
Chinese organizers have confirmed participants in next year’s Winter Olympics will be strictly isolated from the general population and could face expulsion for violating COVID-19 restrictions.
Vice mayor and Beijing 2022 organizing committee official Zhang Jiandong told reporters Wednesday that those taking part in the games beginning Feb. 4 must remain in a “closed loop” for training, competing, transport, dining and accommodation.
A strict Olympic bubble has long been on the books, but Beijing has now made it official in keeping with its zero tolerance approach to the pandemic. Athletes and other participants will also be tested regularly for the coronavirus before and during the Games. Family, spectators and sponsors from outside the country will not be allowed to attend.
“All participants of the Games and our Chinese staff and volunteers will implement the same policy,” Zhang said. “They will be strictly separated from the external society.
U.S. adds mental health conditions as COVID risk factor, expanding booster shot eligibility
When the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention added mood disorders to the list of conditions that put people at high risk for severe COVID-19 recently, clinicians were not surprised. The mind-body connection, they say, is long-settled research.
But the scientific seal of approval is still critical: It makes millions of people eligible for booster shots based on their mental health diagnosis alone and gives vulnerable groups more reason to protect themselves.
“This is a population that is really, really at risk due to the way that COVID-19 interacts with the diagnoses,” said Lisa Dailey, executive director of the Treatment Advocacy Center. “Until the CDC put this group of disorders on their list, they would not have known that.”
The CDC on Oct. 14 added “mental health conditions” to a long list of mostly physical conditions that make someone likely to be hospitalized, need a ventilator or die of the coronavirus, including cancer, diabetes and obesity.
The change means it is important for people with “mood disorders, including depression, and schizophrenia spectrum disorders” to get vaccinated — with initial doses and boosters — and take preventive measures, such as masking, social distancing and hand-washing, according to the CDC.
Catch up on the past 24 hours
How to choose a booster shot: Options abound now that federal officials have decided it's OK to "mix and match" vaccines. They didn't give specific recommendations on which ones, but the research provides helpful clues. See if you qualify for a booster as new vaccination clinics pop up around King County.
Vaccines for kids ages 5-11 are expected to gain FDA authorization within days, after expert advisers yesterday voted that the benefits outweigh the risks. Here's what happens next. In the meantime, pediatric experts recommend six ways to prepare your child for a coronavirus exposure at school.
More than 1,400 Washington kids have lost a parent or grandparent to COVID-19, a new report says. We’re just seeing the beginning of the effects of these “new heights of loss,” say hospital workers who focus on children.
Idaho's vaccination rate is famously low, putting it above only one other U.S. state. But one Idaho county is a major outlier — in fact, it's more vaccinated than King County, Washington.
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