Editor’s note: This is a live account of COVID-19 updates from Thursday, Oct. 29, 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 It is no longer being updated.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 race to approve a coronavirus vaccine continues in the United States, and the federal government has asked Washington state to be ready to distribute doses as soon as Nov. 15. This week, the state Department of Health sent letters to local health care providers with instructions on how to prepare to enroll as vaccine providers.
Throughout Friday, on this page, we’ll post updates on the pandemic and its effects on the Seattle area, the Pacific Northwest and the world. Updates from Thursday are here, and all our coronavirus coverage can be found here.
Navigating the pandemic
- How to get a COVID-19 vaccine or booster in Washington state
- Should you still wear a mask after mandates lift? How to tackle that choice
- How to navigate the COVID pandemic in the Seattle area: resources on masks, tests, vaccines and more
Television special to replace canceled 2021 Rose Parade
PASADENA, Calif. — The 2021 Rose Parade is canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic, but viewers will still get a show with a two-hour television special on New Year’s Day, organizers said.
The Tournament of Roses Association said in a Thursday news release that the TV special will include “live-to-tape musical and marching band performances, heartwarming segments related to the Rose Parade, celebrity guest appearances,” and highlights from past Rose Bowl football games.
And of course there will be “spectacular floats from years past,” as well as a behind-the-scenes look into the making of flower-laden displays that are the trademark of the parade, the release said.
The Pasadena, California, association said in July that it was canceling the 132nd parade because of the risk of spreading COVID-19 infections among its huge audience and participants.
The Rose Bowl college football game that traditionally follows the parade is still scheduled for New Year’s Day.
Oregon COVID-19 daily cases climb to 600 for first time
SALEM, Ore. — For a second day Oregon has climbed to new record highs in cases of the coronavirus.
The Oregon Health Authority on Friday announced 600 additional cases and two more deaths. The previous daily record was set Thursday with 575 new cases.
Friday’s numbers bring the total number of confirmed virus cases in Oregon to nearly 44,400 with at least 675 deaths.
Health officials are urging people to skip trick-or-treating on Saturday because of the risk of virus transmission and find other ways to celebrate Halloween.
Australia to spend on vaccines for wider region
CANBERRA, Australia — Australia has announced it will spend 500 million Australian dollars ($351 million) to secure COVID-19 vaccines for the Pacific and Southeast Asia “as part of a shared recovery for our region from the pandemic.”
The government said it would use a range of advance purchase agreements with manufacturers via the global COVAX Facility plan, which aims to ensure virus vaccines are shared with all nations.
“We are committing an additional AU$500 million over three years towards this effort,” it said. “The funding will further help ensure that the countries of the Pacific and East Timor are able to achieve full immunization coverage, and will make a significant contribution toward meeting the needs of southeast Asia.
“A fast, safe vaccine rollout … will mean we are able to return to more normal travel, tourism and trade with our key partners in the region.”
Meanwhile, officials in Victoria state reported just one new case of COVID-19 on Saturday as Melbourne residents head into a weekend of greater social freedom.
Cruise ships cleared by CDC to plan return to U.S. waters
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Friday that it would lift a ban on cruises in U.S. waters, even as government scientists warned that ships remain vulnerable to deadly COVID-19 outbreaks.
The agency provided detailed requirements that cruise lines must meet to resume U.S. operations — in effect, clearing ships to return to U.S. ports in the next few months.
“This framework provides a pathway to resume safe and responsible sailing,” CDC Director Robert Redfield said in the statement.
Yet with its statement Friday, the CDC said recent outbreaks show cruise travel “facilitates and amplifies” COVID-19 transmission even at reduced passenger capacities and poses a risk of fueling spread without proper oversight.
The decision, which comes as coronavirus cases are surging in several parts of the U.S., ends a ban that had been in place since March 14. The CDC last month had recommended extending the ban to February, but Vice President Mike Pence, who chairs the White House Coronavirus Task Force, overruled that proposal, according to two people familiar with the matter.
State DOH confirms 1,016 new COVID-19 cases and 7 new deaths in Washington
The Washington State Department of Health (DOH) confirmed 1,016 new COVID-19 cases in the state Friday afternoon, as well as seven new deaths -- marking the highest jump in daily cases since mid-July.
The update brings the state’s coronavirus totals to 106,573 cases and 2,366 deaths, meaning 2.2% of people diagnosed in Washington have died, per the DOH data dashboard. The data is as of 11:59 p.m. Thursday.
The DOH reported that 8,522 people have been hospitalized in the state due to the virus, and a total of 2,426,385 COVID-19 tests have been administered as of Thursday night.
In King County, state health officials have confirmed a total of 27,353 COVID-19 diagnoses and 815 deaths. That represents an additional 332 confirmed cases and one death from the coronavirus in King County over the last 24 hours.
After seeing today's numbers, health officials confirmed the fall surge has arrived. Dr. Kathy Lofy, the state's health officer, said in a Friday statement she's concerned about overwhelming our hospital system during this time.
The state reiterated the importance of wearing a mask, keeping gatherings small, holding social events outdoors, washing your hands and staying home if sick.
“Winter weather will challenge us to move gatherings indoors where COVID-19 spreads more easily” Lofy said in the statement, “so we have to stay vigilant and find safer alternatives.”
Leader of Spokane County health district no longer on job
The top health officer of the Spokane Regional Health District is no longer on the job in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.
The Spokesman-Review reported Friday that Dr. Bob Lutz was fired or asked to resign by the board of the health district.
At a news conference, district administrator Amelia Clark refused to say if Lutz was fired or if he resigned. No reason was offered for his departure from the job he has held since 2017.
She also said there is not currently a health officer in charge of the district.
Lutz had sometimes butted heads with members of the board who had pushed to loosen pandemic restrictions.
State leaders facing rising cases resist steps to curb virus
Even as a long-feared new wave of coronavirus strains hospitals, officials in many hard-hit states are resisting taking stronger action to stop the spread, with public fatigue, skepticism and political calculations running up against and contravening pleas from health experts.
Days before a presidential election that has spotlighted President Donald Trump’s scattershot response to the pandemic, new virus infections continued to spiral Friday, eclipsing record caseloads that set off national alarms in the spring and summer.
Over the past two weeks, more than 76,000 new virus cases have been reported daily in the U.S. on average, up from about 54,000 in mid-October, according to Johns Hopkins University. Deaths, which usually lag case numbers and hospitalizations, are also rising, from about 700 to more than 800 a day.
Nevertheless, many officials have resisted calls to enact measures like statewide mask mandates or stricter curbs on the size of gatherings, casting the response to the virus as a matter of individual decision-making.
Trump’s pandemic agenda shoved government scientists aside. They’re attempting an 11th-hour comeback
After months of being sidelined or outright attacked by President Donald Trump, a growing number of government scientists and physicians are pushing back against the president’s political agenda when it comes to the pandemic.
The Food and Drug Administration issued beefed-up safety standards for a vaccine in September, making the president’s push for a vaccine before Election Day all but impossible. After initially acquiescing to the White House, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reversed controversial guidelines that had called for less testing for individuals exposed to the novel coronavirus who showed no symptoms.
And Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator who no longer sees Trump regularly, travels the country urging state and local officials to adopt mask mandates, close down bars and restrict large gatherings — measures antithetical to Trump’s contention that the virus has been defeated and people should return to their lives.
The officials taking these stands have been emboldened by a worsening pandemic, an adrift White House and growing indications that Trump’s first term may be his last.
Partial lockdown imposed in Belgium, EU’s worst-hit country
Belgium has imposed a partial lockdown in a new bid to gain control of the pandemic that has hit the country worse than any other in the European Union.
As COVID-19 infections continued their record rise on Friday, the government moved to restrict travel and shopping. Family contact will also be reduced to an absolute minimum of one outside the closest cluster for the next 6 weeks. Remote work will be mandatory.
Hospitals and experts have long complained that Belgium’s measures were too lax over the summer, when the pandemic eased, and warned recently that unless there was a drastic lockdown the nation’s once-vaunted health system would soon face breaking point.
The European Center for Disease Prevention and Control on Friday ranked Belgium as the worst affected nation in the 27-nation bloc, with 1,600 cases per 100,000 people.
For many Latinos, virus deaths loom over Day of the Dead
Matilde Gomez wants her mother, Gume, to know how much she appreciates her love and sacrifices. So, she’s putting her feelings into a letter.
Only Gume Salazar will never get to read it.
Instead, it’s going on a table in Gomez’s home in Arizona that’s dedicated to her mother, who died of COVID-19. It will sit alongside fresh flowers and Salazar’s blouse on Day of the Dead, a holiday that Salazar actually didn’t care for much.
“I would think she would be OK with it,” Gomez said. “She would see this as a way for me to heal.”
Day of the Dead, or Dia de los Muertos, the annual Mexican tradition of reminiscing about departed loved ones with colorful altars, or ofrendas, is typically celebrated Nov. 1-2. It will undoubtedly be harder for Latino families in the U.S. torn apart by the coronavirus. Some are mourning more than one relative, underscoring the pandemic’s disproportionate impact on communities of color.
Georgia governor quarantining; exposed to infected person
Republican Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp and his wife have gone into quarantine after being exposed to someone who tested positive for COVID-19, his spokesman announced Friday.
The spokesman, Cody Hall, said in a statement that Kemp and first lady Marty Kemp “were recently exposed to an individual who received a positive test result for COVID-19.”
Hall said both have received a coronavirus test, though he did not say if they’d received the results yet.
Georgia has had more than 350,000 confirmed cases of the virus. More than 7,900 people in the state have died after contracting the virus, according to data from the state Department of Public Health.
U.S. says virus can’t be controlled, but China aims to prove it wrong
The United States is hitting records in daily coronavirus cases. But China, the country first afflicted with the scourge, is having a different experience.
Unlike the Trump administration, which has said it is prioritizing opening the economy over controlling the pandemic, China moved aggressively to stop the virus. The result: China’s economy is growing, hitting 4.9% in the latest quarter, and consumer spending has slowly started to recover. The United States, meanwhile, is struggling with a third wave of infections and the prospect of new restrictions.
China represents a highly managed, scientifically backed approach that has worked in South Korea, Japan, New Zealand, Taiwan and other democracies. To varying degrees, they are emphasizing the collective good over personal freedoms, a formula that has allowed them to keep cases relatively low.
But China’s authoritarian government can act in a way that democracies accountable to the public cannot and has effectively sealed off its borders from the outside world.
Parisians flee, sidewalks empty as France enters lockdown
Parisians fleeing for the countryside jammed the roads ahead of France’s lockdown to slow the spread of resurgent coronavirus infections, and there was only a sprinkling of people hurrying along city sidewalks Friday as the nationwide restrictions went into effect.
With infections hitting record levels in many European countries, many are now resorting to the same severe restrictions imposed in spring.
French President Emmanuel Macron implemented the lockdown Friday as a last resort to curb the steep spike in infections across the country, where new daily cases are currently averaging around 50,000. That means that, on a per capita basis, France is seeing about two and a half times the number of new cases each day that the United States is.
Over 3 million cases of coronavirus reported in Mideast
The number of reported coronavirus cases has gone over 3 million in the Middle East, an Associated Press count showed Friday, with the true number likely even higher.
Across the Mideast, there have been over 75,000 deaths attributed to the virus by health authorities, the AP count relying on reported figures by individual countries shows.
In the Mideast, the hardest-hit nation remains Iran, which served as the initial epicenter of the virus in the region. In Iran alone, authorities say there have been over 600,000 confirmed coronavirus cases, with some 477,000 recoveries and 34,000 deaths. Yet even those numbers are believed to be low, Iranian officials say.
2nd study testing a COVID-19 antibody drug has a setback
For the second time, a study testing an experimental antibody drug for COVID-19 has been paused to investigate a possible safety issue in hospitalized patients.
Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc. said Friday that independent monitors had recommended placing on hold enrollment of the most severely ill patients — those who need intense oxygen treatment or breathing machines — because of a potential safety problem and unfavorable balance of risks and benefits.
The study can continue to test the two-antibody drug combo in hospitalized patients who need little or no extra oxygen, the monitors said. Other studies in mild or moderately ill people also are continuing.
Global travel and tourism projected to shed 174 million jobs
The global travel and tourism industry is on course to lose 174 million jobs this year if current restrictions to curb the spread of the coronavirus remain in place, a leading industry group warned Friday.
While alarming, the projection from the World Travel & Tourism Council was lower than previously expected, largely because of a strong recovery in domestic travel in China and rebounds in other countries. In June, the council warned that there could be 197 million job losses worldwide in a sector that many nations are hugely reliant on economically.
Restrictions on travel imposed when the pandemic erupted this year effectively banned flights from abroad and closed down the hospitality sectors in many countries.
WHO should have more power to investigate outbreaks, EU suggests
European countries are calling for the World Health Organization to be given greater powers to independently investigate outbreaks and compel countries to provide more data despite the agency’s numerous shortcomings highlighted by the coronavirus pandemic.
Most notably, the European Union raised “the possibility of an independent epidemiological assessment on-site in high risk zones,” although this would still be done in collaboration with the country involved.
WHO currently has no powers to independently investigate epidemics and must instead rely on countries to approve its list of proposed experts for any visit and is largely subject to an agenda set by the countries.
U.S. coronavirus cases surpass 9 million with no end in sight
The United States, which reported its first known coronavirus case in Washington state 282 days ago, surpassed 9 million total infections Thursday, including more than half a million in the past week, as COVID-19 spiraled out of control in the lead-up to Election Day.
Across the country, alarming signs suggested the worst was yet to come: The nation reported more cases Thursday — at least 86,600 — than on any other single day. More than 20 states reported more cases over the past week than at any time during the pandemic. Patients were sent to field hospitals in El Paso, Texas, and the Milwaukee suburbs. Growing outbreaks led to new restrictions on businesses in Chicago. Zero states reported sustained declines in cases.
“There is no way to sugarcoat it — we are facing an urgent crisis, and there is an imminent risk to you, your family members, your friends, your neighbors,” said Gov. Tony Evers of Wisconsin, where hospitals have been strained, case numbers have exploded and more than 200 coronavirus deaths have been announced in the past week.
With the presidential election days away, the country is now averaging more than 75,000 new cases daily, the worst stretch of the pandemic by that measure. Deaths, which lag behind cases, remain far below their spring levels but have ticked upward to about 780 each day. More cases have been identified in the United States than in any other country, though some nations have higher per capita infection rates.
“This surge is larger than any other wave or surges that we’ve seen yet,” said Amanda Simanek, an epidemiologist at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee School of Public Health, who said she was especially worried to see case numbers spiking just as colder weather forces more people indoors, where the virus can spread easily. “This is the pattern that may continue to happen if we don’t suppress the infection down to levels that are manageable.”
Recent data is almost uniformly grim.
Quarantine corner, Halloweekend edition
Seattle Aquarium’s creatures have seen a neat trick lately: divers carving pumpkins underwater. The aquarium will host a virtual event today presenting all its pumpkins and asking viewers to vote for the best.
Attention, maze masters: You can test your skill with our frightfully good, printable Halloween maze.
Here's what else you can do over this Halloweekend in the Seattle area.
These Seattle-area businesses got called out the most in COVID-19 complaints
At the Gold Bar Family Grocer in Snohomish County, a cashier wouldn’t wear a mask. At a tea and apothecary shop in Fremont, a sign on the door told customers to take them off. Fred Meyer made the list, too, of more than 64,000 coronavirus-related complaints that have flooded in about businesses across the state. We looked at the weirdly wide variety of Seattle-area businesses that racked up the most complaints.
‘Very confident’: NYC hospitals, nursing homes prepare for virus resurgence
Like battle-hardened veterans, New York City hospitals and nursing homes are bracing for a potential resurgence of coronavirus patients, drawing on lessons learned in the spring when the outbreak brought the nation’s largest city to its knees.
The new playbook derives from the apocalyptic days of March and April, when testing and resources were scarce, nursing homes were hard hit, emergency rooms overflowed, and funeral homes stacked corpses in refrigerated trailers.
Those insights, however hard won, make it far less likely that the city’s hospitals would collapse under a second wave of COVID-19, health care leaders said.
Halloween and COVID-19
Should kids be going door to door, trick-or-treating? Nooooo, public health officials say. Our FAQ Friday looks at how to have safe Halloween fun and mask-friendly costumes.
Need more ideas? These unique and very 2020 costumes are flying off the shelves.
And, looking ahead, we're liking these ideas for creating a meaningful yet virtual Thanksgiving with loved ones.
Catch up on the past 24 hours
"We have pandemic fatigue ... the virus doesn't care." The U.S. is in the worst stretch of the pandemic so far if you look at new COVID-19 cases, which topped half a million in the past week. Across the country, alarming signs point to a deepening crisis. One set of numbers is giving doctors hope, though: better survival rates.
"Hopeful signs" suggest some schools can safely reopen, Washington state health officials say, but there are significant gaps in the data. In Seattle, only one public-school student is receiving special-education services in person right now.
Joe Biden's call for a national mask mandate is gaining traction among public health experts, although it would be far from simple. President Donald Trump, meanwhile, is widening his split with top U.S. health officials as he talks about Californians' spaghetti, meat sauce and masks.
Federal inspectors cleared most U.S. nursing homes of any infection-control violations even as COVID-19 sickened and killed thousands. Those cleared included homes where infections were mounting during the inspections, as well as those that saw cases and deaths soar after inspectors left.
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