Editor’s note: This is a live account of COVID-19 updates from Tuesday, Sept. 7, 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 It is no longer being updated.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.
As COVID-19 vaccine requirements have roiled workforces and vaccination deadlines loom for city and state employees, some frustrated workers plan to protest.
Seattle City Light is concerned over some workers’ reported plans to call out sick Tuesday as an organized protest of vaccine requirements.
The electrical utility told employees that participating in a sickout over vaccine requirements could result in discipline, including termination.
Last month, at least 1,000 local, county and state government workers rallied at the Capitol to protest the mandates.
Rumors have traveled widely. Washington State Ferries officials were concerned a sickout among frustrated ferry workers would cause Labor Day disruptions, but no such protest materialized.
Unvaccinated people were 49 times more likely to be hospitalized with COVID-19 in King County, data from the county’s dashboard suggests.
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.
Seahawks, Huskies will require proof of vaccination against COVID-19 or negative test
The message is clear to all local sports fans: If you want to attend a game this fall, vax up and mask up.
The Seattle Seahawks joined the UW Huskies and Sounders FC in announcing Tuesday morning that fans will be required to show proof they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or present a negative test within 72 hours of a home game.
All events at Climate Pledge Arena — including Kraken games — will require proof of vaccination for entry and a mask to be worn.
In following state and local guidelines, fans 5 and older will be required to wear masks while attending all outdoor events with crowds larger than 500 people.
Frayed nerves for professors teaching unmasked students
As in-person classes return at almost every university in the country, after almost 1½ years of emergency pivoting to online learning, many professors are finding teaching a nerve-racking experience.
The American College Health Association recommends vaccination requirements for all on-campus higher education students for the fall semester. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends face coverings, regardless of vaccine status, for indoor public spaces in areas where the rate of infection is high.
But this is not how it has worked out on more than a few campuses.
More than 1,000 colleges and universities have adopted vaccination requirements for at least some students and staff, according to The Chronicle of Higher Education. In an indication of how political vaccination has become, the schools tend to be clustered in states that voted for President Joe Biden in the last election.
But at some campuses, particularly in Republican-led states with high rates of contagion — like the state systems in Georgia, Texas and Florida — vaccination is optional and mask wearing, while recommended, cannot be enforced. Professors are told they can tell students that they are “strongly encouraged” or “expected” to put on masks, but cannot force students to do so. And teachers cannot ask students who have COVID-like symptoms to leave the classroom.
U.S. reaches 75% of adults with at least 1 vaccine dose
WASHINGTON — Three-quarters of U.S. adults have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine as of Tuesday, according to the White House, setting a new milestone in the country’s fight against the pandemic.
But with a continued surge of cases, hospitalizations and deaths due to the delta variant of the coronavirus, President Joe Biden plans a speech Thursday to outline a “six-pronged strategy” to “get the pandemic under control,” press secretary Jen Psaki said.
The U.S. hit 70% of adults with at least one dose in early August, four weeks after Biden’s July 4 target for the achievement. Despite wide availability of free shots, hesitancy among many Americans — especially political conservatives — has left the U.S. well behind many other countries in inoculating its population.
A range of factors are now driving vaccinations, including the delta outbreak and more widespread employer mandates, which spiked after the Food and Drug Administration issued full approval for the Pfizer Inc.-BioNTech shot last month.
Oregon officials advocate for masks, vaccinations to keep schools open
As students return to Oregon classrooms for another school year, health officials warn that the threat of having to shut down schools and go back to distance learning is “real if we don’t all do our part” and slow the spread of the coronavirus.
Gov. Kate Brown, alongside state health and education officials, urged Oregonians on Tuesday to wear masks and get vaccinated as the highly transmissible delta variant continues to run rampant.
Schools in Oregon first went remote in March 2020, and many didn’t reopen until a year later.
Dr. Dana Braner, physician-in-chief at Oregon Health & Science University children’s hospital, said he has never seen a mental health crisis among children the likes of which he is seeing daily.
“To return to in-person school is essential, not only for our children’s education, but for their physical and mental health as well,” Braner said.
King County developing vaccine verification system as more venues require inoculation
King County is working to develop a vaccine verification system that could go into effect next month at certain non-essential, high-risk settings, the county said Tuesday.
The system, which is still in early phases of development, would make it easier for places like clubs, theaters and stadiums to check the vaccination status of their patrons.
King County’s announcement comes as nearly all major spectator sports in the Seattle area said they would require vaccination (or a recent negative COVID test) for admission to their games.
The Seattle Kraken on Tuesday announced that they would require all fans 12 and older to provide proof of vaccination to attend games at Climate Pledge Arena. The Seahawks and Sounders soon followed suit, announcing that vaccination or a negative test within 72 hours of the game would be required for entry to Lumen Field. And the University of Washington said it would do the same at Husky Stadium. The Mariners will require proof of vaccination, but only beginning with any potential postseason games in October.
State health officials confirm 2,156 new coronavirus cases
The state Department of Health (DOH) reported 2,156 new coronavirus cases and 54 new deaths on Tuesday.
The update brings the state's totals to 586,751 cases and 6,745 deaths, meaning that 1.1% of people diagnosed in Washington have died, according to the DOH. The data is as of 11:59 p.m. Sunday. Tallies may be higher earlier in the week because new state data isn’t reported on Sundays and COVID-related deaths aren’t reported on the weekends.
In addition, 32,925 people have been hospitalized in the state due to the virus — 689 new hospitalizations. In King County, the state's most populous, state health officials have confirmed a total of 139,600 COVID-19 diagnoses and 1,768 deaths.
Since vaccinations began in mid-December, the state and health care providers have administered 8,633,272 doses and 55.3% 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 15,391 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.
Sickout at Seattle City Light over COVID-19 vaccine mandate doesn’t materialize
Seattle City Light was braced for the possibility of a sickout by some workers reportedly disgruntled about the city’s COVID-19 vaccination requirement, but the action didn’t materialize Tuesday.
The electric utility learned last week that there might be an “orchestrated action” by crew chiefs in its High Voltage Line Group to protest the mandate for city employees, officials said over the weekend. Line workers conduct essential maintenance on electric distribution and transmission lines.
City Light prepared contingency plans to provide service to customers and carry on with critical infrastructure projects, the officials said.
Those plans ended up not being needed, however. Only two of about 250 high-voltage line workers called out sick Tuesday, according to Kelsey Nyland, a spokesperson for Mayor Jenny Durkan.
French doctors demand protection from death threats at work
PARIS (AP) — French doctors and scientists on Tuesday called on authorities to take action against the insults and threats— including death threats — that they have frequently received during the coronavirus pandemic.
The doctors said they fear that someone from the world of conspiracy theories will take action, not just against them but against other medical professionals, and condemned the silence of authorities.
“It’s months that some of us are receiving, regularly, death threats. Be it via social networks … Twitter, email, by telephone, or by the post. We are targets,” said Jerome Marty, a physician who heads a union for doctors in private practice, UFMLS.
Some doctors like himself receive threats “several times a day,” he said, and some now have bodyguards.
Prayer and politicking: How churches became a center of the California recall campaign
It started as a traditional Sunday service.
The worship rose and fell in emotional chorus. People shook hands with their neighbors in the pews.
But then, in lieu of a sermon, Destiny Christian Church Pastor Greg Fairrington welcomed onstage Republican gubernatorial candidate Larry Elder.
“People of faith, in my opinion, have stood on the sidelines for far too long. We need to get involved. And that is why I’m running,” Elder told the 5,000 people who packed the sprawling Rocklin church campus to watch his 30-minute conversations with the pastor at each of the three Sunday morning services. An additional 25,000 watched online. “I’m doing it because I feel that I have a patriotic, a moral, and a spiritual obligation to fix this state to the extent I can.”
Vaccinations, masks to be required for Kraken games, other events at Climate Pledge Arena
All fans age 12 and over planning to attend Kraken games at Climate Pledge Arena will need to show proof they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, and all will be required to wear a mask.
The team on Tuesday announced the policy for NHL games as well as concerts and other events at the arena, due to reopen in mid-October after a $1 billion overhaul that began more than two years ago. The masking policy is for the short term and could be adapted depending on further COVID-19 guidance from the state and public health officials.
COVID-19 restrictions have recently returned to arenas and stadiums to offset the spread of the delta variant.
Last month, Gov. Jay Inslee brought back a statewide mask requirement, and Public Health — Seattle and King County reinstated mask requirements for outdoor events with more than 500 people regardless of vaccination status for everyone 5 and older.
COVID-19 boosters are coming but who will get them and when?
COVID-19 booster shots may be coming for at least some Americans but already the Biden administration is being forced to scale back expectations — illustrating just how much important science still has to be worked out.
The initial plan was to offer Pfizer or Moderna boosters starting Sept. 20, contingent on authorization from U.S. regulators. But now administration officials acknowledge Moderna boosters probably won’t be ready by then — the Food and Drug Administration needs more evidence to judge them. Adding to the complexity, Moderna wants its booster to be half the dose of the original shots.
As for Pfizer’s booster, who really needs another dose right away isn’t a simple decision either. What’s ultimately recommended for an 80-year-old vaccinated back in December may be different than for a 35-year-old immunized in the spring — who likely would get a stronger immunity boost by waiting longer for another shot.
FDA’s scientific advisers will publicly debate Pfizer’s evidence on Sept. 17, just three days before the administration’s target. If the FDA approves another dose, then advisers to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will recommend who should get one.
Idaho enacts crisis hospital care standards amid COVID surge
BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Idaho public health leaders on Tuesday activated “crisis standards of care” for the state’s northern hospitals because there are more coronavirus patients than the institutions can handle.
The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare made the announcement, warning residents that they may not be able to get the care they normally expect if they need to be hospitalized.
The agency cited “a severe shortage of staffing and available beds in the northern area of the state caused by a massive increase in patients with COVID-19 who require hospitalization.”
The designation includes 10 hospitals and healthcare systems in the Idaho panhandle and in north-central Idaho.
The move allows hospitals to allot scarce resources like intensive care unit rooms to patients most likely to survive.
Other patients will still receive care, but they may be placed in classrooms or conference rooms rather than traditional hospital rooms or go without some life-saving medical equipment.
Once all the rage, the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine has all but disappeared
ORLANDO, Fla. — Lou Fischler thought he’d finally nailed down a deal with his 25-year-old son on the coronavirus vaccine. The dad would co-sign a loan — if the son would get the shot.
“I told him, ‘Look, you can get this Johnson & Johnson vaccine,” Fischler said. “It’s one shot and you’re done.’ I just really wanted to protect him.”
But when Fischler started searching Orlando clinics and pharmacies for the single-dose vaccine, it seemed almost no one had it.
In fact, what was once seen as the conquering hero of the COVID-19 battle — a one-and-done wonder that needed only standard refrigeration — has become increasingly scarce throughout the state.
Ivermectin poison control calls triple in Washington, despite multiple warnings against use for COVID treatment
Demand for ivermectin has increased nationwide, despite warnings from multiple health agencies about the dangers of consuming it for non-FDA-approved purposes — which includes using it for COVID-19 treatment and prevention.
Over 88,000 ivermectin prescriptions were reported nationwide in the second week of August, an amount 24-times higher than the pre-pandemic figure, the Washington State Department of Health said in a news release.
Since last year, the Washington Poison Center has received a threefold increase in calls regarding ivermectin, said Dr. Scott Phillips, the medical director for the center. He attributed the rise in calls to misinformation.
Most calls were from people asking about ivermectin safety, though some calls were made from people who were recently hospitalized or were experiencing mild to moderate symptoms of poisoning, he said.
4 vaccinated front-line workers cope with pandemic’s toll
NEW YORK (AP) — The early months of the coronavirus pandemic shined a spotlight on essential workers.
As cities shutdown, thank you signs went up on windows and applause rang out each evening for the workers still out there. At the time, there was hope the pandemic would be short-lived.
Instead, the virus spread, evolved and unleashed new challenges.
More than 60% of U.S. workers had jobs that couldn’t be done from home during the pandemic, according to a Pew Research Center survey. Front-line workers struggled with inconsistent masking policies, fought for hazard pay and campaigned for lasting changes, including a $15 minimum wage and adequate paid sick leave.
Catch up on the past 24 hours
Calls about ivermectin have tripled at the Washington Poison Center since last year despite multiple warnings against treating COVID-19 with the drug, commonly used in livestock. State officials are going into alarming detail about the side effects that make its unprescribed use so risky, and the FDA isn't mincing words either: "You are not a horse. You are not a cow. Seriously, y’all. Stop it.”
King County's new mask order goes into effect today. Masks are required at all outdoor events with 500 or more people, regardless of their vaccination status — and they're recommended in some other outdoor situations. Here's the breakdown.
The new "mu" COVID-19 variant is now found in 49 U.S. states, with California looking like a hot spot. Health officials believe it's even more transmissible than the delta variant and has the potential to resist vaccines. Delta is still the dominant variant in Washington, though, accounting for nearly all of the cases that received genetic sequencing in early August.
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