Editor’s note: This is a live account of COVID-19 updates from Saturday, Oct. 9 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 It is no longer being updated.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 U.S. residents getting vaccines continues to steadily increase as seniors and immunocompromised people get boosters and government mandates push workers to get vaccinated. Health officials are giving 1 million vaccines a day across the country, on average.

A poll found that 95% of Americans view misinformation as a problem when they’re looking for important information such as information about the coronavirus pandemic. The survey also found that 61% of Republicans, compared to 38% of Democrats, believe the government is to blame for the spread of misinformation.

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.


Navigating the pandemic
(Jennifer Luxton / The Seattle Times)

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Chicago’s mayor guts city’s vaccine mandate for public workers

Just a day after President Joe Biden visited Chicago to plead for vaccine mandates, saying they were the only way to defeat the coronavirus, Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Friday that public workers could opt out of the city’s mandate until the end of the year by getting regularly tested.

The mayor announced the mandate for Chicago workers in August. But the proposal was met with immediate pushback from employees and labor groups, including the Fraternal Order of Police and the Chicago Federation of Labor.

Now, workers who are not fully vaccinated by Oct. 15, including those who have sought medical or religious exemptions, must get tested twice a week, separated by three to four days, on their own time and at their own expense, the mayor’s office said.

Employees who fail to report their vaccination status by the Oct. 15 deadline will be placed on unpaid leave.

The test-out option will remain in place until Dec. 31, after which employees must be fully vaccinated unless they have received a medical or religious exemption. It was unclear what the consequences will be for those who refuse to comply. More here.

—Alexandra E. Petri, The New York Times
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Allen West, Texas GOP gubernatorial hopeful, has COVID-19

GARLAND, Texas (AP) — Tea party firebrand Allen West, a candidate for the Republican nomination for governor of Texas, said Saturday that he has received monoclonal antibody injections after being diagnosed with COVID-19 pneumonia.

The antibodies are used to treat those in the early stages of a coronavirus infection.

“My chest X-rays do show COVID pneumonia, not serious. I am probably going to be admitted to the hospital,” West wrote. “There’s a concern about my oxygen saturation levels, which are at 89 and they should be at 95.”

He also said his wife, Angela West, also tested positive and has received monoclonal antibodies. According to his Twitter account, Allen West did not get vaccinated against the virus, but his wife did.

Allen West on Thursday said he had attended a “packed house” Mission Generation Annual Gala & Fundraiser in Seabrook, Texas. On Saturday he tweeted that he is “suspending in-person events until receiving an all-clear indication.” More here.

—The Associated Press

Moderna keeps COVID vaccine out of reach of poor nations

Moderna, whose coronavirus vaccine appears to be the world’s best defense against COVID-19, has been supplying its shots almost exclusively to wealthy nations, keeping poorer countries waiting and earning billions in profit.

After developing a breakthrough vaccine with the financial and scientific support of the U.S. government, Moderna has shipped a greater share of its doses to wealthy countries than any other vaccine manufacturer, according to Airfinity, a data firm that tracks vaccine shipments.

About 1 million doses of Moderna’s vaccine have gone to countries that the World Bank classifies as low income. By contrast, 8.4 million Pfizer doses and about 25 million single-shot Johnson & Johnson doses have gone to those countries. More here.

—Rebecca Robbins, The New York Times

GOP doc dispenses sketchy medical advice on virus immunity

Roger Marshall won’t let people forget he’s a doctor, putting “Doc” in the letterhead of his U.S. Senate office’s news releases. But when he talks about COVID-19 vaccines, some doctors and experts say the Kansas Republican sounds far more like a politician than a physician.

He’s made statements about vaccines and immunity that defy both medical consensus and official U.S. government guidance. He’s aggressively fighting President Joe Biden’s vaccine requirements, arguing they’ll infringe on people’s liberties and wreck the economy. He’s acknowledged experimenting on himself with an unproven treatment for warding off the coronavirus.

Marshall’s positions are pushing the first-term senator and obstetrician closer to the medical fringe. But he has company in other GOP doctors, dentists and pharmacists in Congress, several of whom have also spread sketchy medical advice when it comes to the pandemic.

Read the rest of the story here.

—The Associated Press
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Russia hits new virus death record as autumn surge persists

Russia has recorded a new record-high daily death toll from COVID-19, continuing a persistent rise that has brought new records almost daily in October.

The national coronavirus task force reported Saturday that 968 people in Russia died of COVID-19 over the past day — about 100 more daily deaths than were recorded in late September. The task force said more than 29,000 new infections also were confirmed in the past day.

Authorities blame the steep rise on the country’s low vaccination rate. Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova said Friday that 47.8 million Russians, or almost 33% of Russia’s nearly 146 million people, had received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine, and 42.4 million, or about 29%, were fully vaccinated.

The coronavirus task force reports has reported a total of about 7.8 million cases and 215,453 deaths in the pandemic.

However, the task force records only deaths directly caused by the virus. Reports by Russia’s state statistical service Rosstat that tally coronavirus-linked deaths reveal significantly higher mortality numbers.

Rosstat on Friday revealed the latest data showed more than 254,000 deaths of people with COVID-19 in the first eight months of this year compared to 163,000 deaths of patients who had the coronavirus for the whole of 2020.

Read the rest of the story here.

—The Associated Press

Thousands march in Rome to protest workplace vaccine rule

ROME (AP) — Thousands of demonstrators marched down Rome’s Via Veneto and other main streets on Saturday, many clashing with police, to protest a government rule requiring COVID-19 vaccines or recent negative tests to access workplaces starting next week.

The certification in Italy, known as a “Green Pass,” takes effect on Oct. 15 and applies to public and private workplaces. The protesters first held a noisy, authorized protest Saturday in Piazza Del Popolo. Then demonstrators left the vast square and clashed with police as they headed through nearby Villa Borghese Park and then down Via Veneto in an unauthorized march...

Rai State TV said demonstrators numbered at least 10,000, while organizers said they numbered 100,000. At least one protester was injured, RAI said.

Read the rest of the story here.

—Associated Press

WSU coach Nick Rolovich tells mentor he is applying for religious exemption from COVID-19 vaccine mandate

Washington State football coach Nick Rolovich is seeking a religious exemption after refusing to receive a COVID-19 vaccination, according to a report published Saturday morning.

June Jones – Rolovich’s coach at Hawaii in the early 2000s – told USA TODAY’s Brent Schrotenboer that he has advised the second-year Cougar coach to receive a vaccine, but Rolovich instead has elected to file for an exemption and is awaiting word on whether he will be granted approval.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee announced in August that the state’s educational employees must be either fully vaccinated, or be approved for a religious or medical exemption by Oct. 18. If Rolovich fails to meet one of the requirements, his job will be on the line.

Read the rest of the story here.

—The Spokesman-Review
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Anchorage Assembly meeting on mask ordinance canceled after members of Bronson administration test positive for COVID-19

The Anchorage Assembly abruptly canceled its Friday meeting on a proposed citywide mask ordinance, saying in a statement that two members of the Bronson administration who were in “really close contact” with Assembly members at the previous day’s meeting tested positive for COVID-19.

Mayor David Bronson’s office confirmed Friday that Municipal Manager Amy Demboski and Municipal Attorney Patrick Bergt tested positive for the virus.

“It’s just those two,” Bronson spokesman Corey Allen Young said in an email. “Both were vaccinated.”

Both Demboski and Bergt are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, according to Young. He said it wasn’t immediately clear where either may have contracted the virus.

Assembly leaders canceled Friday’s meeting to continue public testimony on the mask ordinance, which had been scheduled to begin at 3 p.m.

Read the rest of the story here.

—Anchorage Daily News, Alaska

Gavin Newsom signs law to limit protests at California COVID-19 vaccine clinics

Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a law Friday that makes it a misdemeanor in California for protesters to physically interfere with vaccination efforts or harass and intimidate those attending clinics administering shots, including COVID-19 vaccines.

State Sen. Richard Pan, D-Sacramento, wrote Senate Bill 742 in response to protesters briefly shutting down Dodger Stadium in January while it was serving as a mass COVID-19 vaccination site.

Pan, a pediatrician and the author of California’s tough vaccine laws that limit who can skip immunizations in schools, said SB 742 was a necessary bill to shield those who wanted to be inoculated against the deadly virus from anti-vaccine activists.

The new law applies to all vaccine clinics, not just those administering COVID-19 shots. Because the bill carried an “urgency clause,” it takes effect immediately.

Read the rest of the story here.

—The Sacramento Bee

They had the vaccines and a plan to reopen. Instead they got cold feet.

SINGAPORE — The vaccines were supposed to be the ticket out of the pandemic. But in Singapore, things did not go according to plan.

The Southeast Asian city-state was widely considered a success story in its initial handling of the coronavirus. It closed its borders, tested and traced aggressively and was one of the first countries in Asia to order vaccines.

A top politician told the public that an 80% vaccination rate was the criterion for a phased reopening. Singapore has now fully inoculated 83% of its population, but instead of opening up, it is doing the opposite.

In September, with cases doubling every eight to 10 days, the government reinstated restrictions on gatherings. The United States said its citizens should reconsider travel to the country. Long lines started forming at the emergency departments in several hospitals. People were told once again they should work from home.

The country’s experience has become a sobering case study for other nations pursuing reopening strategies without having had to deal with large outbreaks in the pandemic. For the Singapore residents who believed the city-state would reopen once the vaccination rate reached a certain level, there was a feeling of whiplash and nagging questions about what it would take to reopen if vaccines were not enough.

Read the rest of the story here.

—The New York Times
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Experts worry summer’s robust restaurant industry rebound was ‘an artificial sugar rush’

Over the summer it looked like the worst was over for restaurants, as diners flooded back, with reservations and sales hitting new highs. Then covid surged, again, and the rebound slowed down.

New jobs numbers out Friday reinforce that idea. In September, food services and drinking establishments added just 29,000 jobs, after shedding 24,700 jobs in August, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That’s far lower compared with the average monthly gain of 197,000 jobs from January through July.

Employment overall in the food service sector is down nearly a million jobs from pre-pandemic levels, and restaurants continue to close.

Restaurant sales were flat in August compared with July, but they were still a lot higher than the same period in 2020, according to Census Bureau data. Meanwhile, overall numbers of restaurants are down by 13 percent in September, compared with the spring of 2020, according to market research firm NPD Group’s restaurant census.

And the recent surge in covid cases, which is slowly abating, spooked many diners who earlier this summer had embraced going to restaurants in record levels. Restaurant attendance has been inching down in August and September, according to the reservation app Open Table.

Even with this summer’s surge in restaurant patronage, more than half of 4,000 restaurant operators surveyed in September by the National Restaurant Association say that business conditions are worse now than three months ago. They cite higher food and utility costs and supply-chain problems, but the biggest issue, restaurateurs say, is lack of staff.

Read the rest of the story here.

—The Washington Post

Ballard High’s marching band brings back the beat after a year of ‘playing into the void’

School music programs took a powerful hit during the coronavirus pandemic, as online practices and prerecorded, clipped-together performances took much of the fun out of playing in a group. Participation in school music plummeted. Now, with most area schools back in person, students and band leaders are returning to live performances and learning how to work together again.

For Patterson-Footen, not only is this his first time playing with a large group, it’s his first time being in a school building full time since he was in seventh grade. 

“It’s a big jump from middle school to high school,” he said. “I feel like music, not just the bass drum but piano, and hearing other people play has kind of calmed me through COVID. I’m not just thinking of my family members getting COVID, I’m just relaxing.”

Since school resumed in-person Sept. 1, Ballard’s marching band rehearsed for something many students in Seattle Public Schools won’t experience this year — a Friday night halftime performance on the field during a football homecoming game. Some schools have opted out of halftime performances, which require practicing in formations, and will only play from the stands, said Jay Gillespie, director of bands at Ballard High. 

Read the rest of the story here.

—Monica Velez

Brandi Carlile and Ben Gibbard on the trials of touring amid COVID-19, extreme weather

Live music is back, in all its unpredictable glory. Once again, artists and their crews are loading up their vans and tour buses, trekking across American highways selling an evening of entertainment and communion (and hopefully a few T-shirts).

But it’s a different world than the pre-pandemic version musicians last traversed and their road back to work has been laden with speed bumps and potholes, not to mention a new set of rules. While on the road, they’ve confronted firsthand the effects of COVID-19 and increased extreme weather incidents accompanying climate change, two issues defining the times. It hasn’t always been easy.

2021 has thrown just about every curveball it has at Brandi Carlile, who unleashed her stunning new album, “In These Silent Days,” earlier this month. Heat domes, hurricanes, wildfire smoke, the pandemic: Since returning to the stage this summer, Carlile has seen at all.

“Dude, it’s like trying to tour in a Cormac McCarthy novel,” Carlile said last month. “You literally feel like you’re touring the apocalypse. I mean, every weekend I have a catastrophe. Like, every show.”

Read the rest of the story here.

—Michael Rietmulder
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Less ‘ghosting,’ more hiring. Did the end of federal pandemic jobless benefits ‘solve’ the region’s labor crunch?

After months of short-staffing, unanswered job listings and ghosted interviews, some Seattle-area employers say they’re seeing more job seekers since the extra $300-a-week in federal pandemic jobless benefits ended Sept. 4.

“My carpentry staff doubled this week,” says Carl Haglund, a Seattle developer who struggled to find carpenters for much of the pandemic, but was able to rehire three of his best workers in mid-September.

It’s a similar story at Taco Time Northwest, which owns 56 locations, mostly in Western Washington: Hiring jumped from around 70 positions filled in August to 105 in September, says hiring manager Alisha Ramirez. 

“We’re hiring, like, daily now,” adds Lynette Ladenburg, CEO of Martha and Mary, a senior living and child care nonprofit in Poulsbo that was able to fill only five positions in June, but 22 in September.

Did the end of the federal pandemic benefits “solve” the region’s labor crunch? Many economists, business leaders and employers — including Haglund, Ramirez and Ladenburg — say it’s not that simple.

While some employers have argued that the extra benefits discouraged jobless workers from going back to work, COVID-related challenges like remote schooling, child care closures and fear of workplace infection also “kept workers on the sidelines,” says Paul Turek, state economist with the Employment Security Department.

Read the rest of the story here.

—Paul Roberts

‘A safe space’: Black pastors promote vaccinations from the pulpit

NEW YORK — Dozens of people gathered at the Word of Life International Church in the South Bronx on a recent Saturday for its weekly food bank, but the pastor wanted to ask the crowd a question before the groceries were handed out: Did anyone know where to find the closest vaccination site?

“Yankee Stadium is always open!” shouted one woman, seated on one of the many folding chairs in the windowless, fluorescently lit room. “Take the six bus, straight up.”

“174th Street and 3rd Avenue is 24 hours,” said another woman, standing up in the crowd. “You go there at 2 o’clock in the morning, it’ll still be open.”

The pastor, the Rev. John S. Udo-Okon, said he wanted everyone there — mostly Black residents, including seniors and mothers with small children — to know that the coronavirus vaccines were easy to find and, more important, that they would not harm them. More than 80% of adults in New York City have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine, but there are significant racial disparities in the vaccination rate...

To address the gap, health officials and some Black churches have sought to use the power of the pulpit to vouch for the safety of vaccines and to push back against misinformation. They have also hosted vaccination events in church halls or from mobile vans parked outside churches after Sunday services.

Read the rest of the story here.

—The New York Times