Editor’s note: This is a live account of COVID-19 updates from Wednesday, September 1, 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 It is no longer being updated.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.
Seattle Children’s confirmed its first patient death from COVID-19 on Tuesday — an unidentified child who died sometime last week.
“This hits all of us close to home, and the patient and family are in the thoughts and hearts of the Seattle Children’s community,” Dr. John McGuire, chief of Seattle Children’s division of pediatrics critical care medicine, said in a statement.
While infections in children remain fairly low in Washington compared to elsewhere, state hospital leaders on Monday said the number of younger COVID-19 patients is increasing.
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.
Breakthrough infections are less likely to lead to long COVID-19, a study suggests
People who experience breakthrough infections of the coronavirus after being fully vaccinated are about 50% less likely to experience long COVID-19 than are unvaccinated people who catch the virus, researchers said in a large new report on British adults.
The study, which was published in the journal Lancet Infectious Diseases on Wednesday, also provides more evidence that the two-shot Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and AstraZeneca vaccines offer powerful protection against symptomatic and severe disease.
“This is really, I think, the first study showing that long COVID is reduced by double vaccination, and it’s reduced significantly,” said Dr. Claire Steves, a geriatrician at King’s College London and the study’s lead author.
Joe Rogan, podcasting giant dismissive of vaccination, has COVID
Joe Rogan, the host of the hugely popular podcast “The Joe Rogan Experience,” said Wednesday that he had tested positive for the coronavirus after he returned from a series of shows in Florida, where the virus is rampant.
Rogan, who was rebuked by federal officials last spring for suggesting on the podcast that young healthy people need not get COVID vaccinations, said that he started feeling sick Saturday night after he returned from performing in Orlando, Tampa and Fort Lauderdale. He did not say whether he had been vaccinated.
“Throughout the night, I got fevers, sweats, and I knew what was going on,” he said in a video on Instagram, adding that he moved to a different part of his house away from his family. (In an episode of his podcast in April, he mentioned that his children had experienced mild COVID-19 symptoms earlier in the pandemic.)
He took a coronavirus test the next morning that came back positive, he said.
Another hidden COVID-19 risk: lingering kidney problems
Since the beginning of the pandemic, doctors have found that people who become very ill with COVID-19 often experience kidney problems, not just the lung impairments that are the hallmark of the illness.
Now, a large study suggests that kidney issues can last for months after patients recover from the initial infection caused by the coronavirus and may lead to a serious lifelong reduction of kidney function in some patients.
The study, published Wednesday in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology, found that the sicker COVID-19 patients were initially, the more likely they were to experience lingering kidney damage.
Even people with less severe initial infections could be vulnerable.
Canada’s Ontario province to require vaccine certificates
TORONTO (AP) — Ontario on Wednesday became the fourth Canadian province to announce residents will have to show proof of vaccination against COVID-19 to enter restaurants, theaters, gyms and other indoor public venues.
Premier Doug Ford said the vaccination certificate program will take effect Sept. 22.
“I know this is what we have to do right now in the face of this fourth wave,” Ford told a news conference.
Initially, residents will show a PDF or printout of the vaccination receipt they received when they got their COVID-19 shots, along with a government-issued piece of ID such as a photo health card or driver’s license.
Religious exemptions from coronavirus vaccines are expected to become a legal battleground
As more companies and states require employees to get coronavirus vaccines, some Americans are seeking a way out through religious exemptions to skirt mandates that they believe burden their beliefs.
The rules around religious exemptions for coronavirus vaccines vary widely, state by state, institution by institution. But experts on religious freedom court cases believe lawsuits will become more common as vaccine mandates become more prevalent.
With no nationally consistent way of navigating religious exemptions, some churches have offered parishioners templates to download. Other leaders, however, have said they will not provide exemptions.
Garrett Kell, a pastor at Del Ray Baptist in Alexandria, Va., said he’s been asked a few times to provide religious exemption forms, but he decided to decline since the individuals weren’t members of his church.
State health officials confirm 4,063 new coronavirus cases
The state Department of Health (DOH) reported 4,063 new coronavirus cases and 37 new deaths on Tuesday .
The update brings the state's totals to 567,104 cases and 6,611 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. 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, 31,106 people have been hospitalized in the state due to the virus — 175 new hospitalizations. In King County, the state's most populous, state health officials have confirmed a total of 136,242 COVID-19 diagnoses and 1,749 deaths.
Since vaccinations began in mid-December, the state and health care providers have administered 8,581,209 doses and 55% 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 15,141 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.
Ask for COVID vaccine proof, face a $5,000 fine in Florida
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Florida will start issuing $5,000 fines to businesses, schools and government agencies that require people to show proof of a COVID-19 vaccination.
Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill earlier this year that banned vaccine passports. The fines will start Sept. 16 if people are asked to show proof of a vaccine.
“Promises made, promises kept,” DeSantis spokesperson Taryn Fenske said Wednesday.
Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, the state’s only statewide elected Democrat and a candidate hoping to challenge DeSantis for governor next year, was critical of the fines.
Oklahoma school mask mandate ban blocked, exemptions a must
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — An Oklahoma judge on Wednesday said she will temporarily block a state law banning public school mask mandates, but students or their parents can opt out of the requirement if they choose.
Judge Natalie Mai said she will issue a temporary injunction that will go into effect next week when she issues a written order detailing her ruling. Mai said she is blocking the law because it applies only to public, not private, schools and that schools adopting a mask mandate must provide an option for parents or students to opt out of the requirement.
The ruling drew praise from Gov. Kevin Stitt, who signed the law and opposes mask mandates without exemptions, and Dr. Mary Clarke, president of the Oklahoma State Medical Association, which joined the lawsuit brought by four parents who oppose the law.
“This is a victory for parental choice, personal responsibility and the rule of law,” Stitt said in a statement.
Misspelling of Moderna leads to tourist’s arrest in Hawaii
HONOLULU (AP) — A 24-year-old Illinois woman submitted a fake COVID-19 vaccination card to visit Hawaii with a glaring spelling error that led to her arrest: Moderna was spelled “Maderna,” according to court documents.
In order to bypass Hawaii’s 10-day traveler quarantine, she uploaded a vaccination card to the state’s Safe Travels program and arrived in Honolulu Aug. 23 on a Southwest Airlines flight, the documents said.
“Airport screeners found suspicious errors … such as Moderna was spelled wrong and that her home was in Illinois but her shot was taken at Delaware,” Wilson Lau, a special agent with the Hawaii attorney general’s investigation division, wrote in an email to a Delaware official who confirmed there was no record vaccination record for the woman under her name and birth date.
The email is included in documents filed in court. She was charged with two misdemeanor counts of violating Hawaii’s emergency rules to control the spread of COVID-19. She had been in custody on $2,000 bail until a judge released her at a hearing Wednesday and scheduled another hearing in three weeks.
Most employers say vaccine mandates are possible by end of year
Vaccine mandates are set to get more common in the workplace.
A majority of U.S. employers — 52% — are planning or considering requirements for a COVID-19 shot by the end of the year, according to a survey released Wednesday by consultant Willis Towers Watson. That’s more than double the 21% of companies polled that currently have some form of mandate.
The options vary, ranging from a strict order for all employees to limiting access to certain areas to inoculated workers. About 14% of respondents also said they are weighing a health-care surcharge for people who choose not to get the vaccine, while 1% are planning to impose one, according to the survey of 961 employers, conducted Aug. 18-25.
The U.S. regulatory approval of Pfizer Inc.’s shot last month has prompted a growing number of employers to adopt mandates as the highly contagious delta variant spreads. Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Walmart Inc., McDonald’s Corp. and Walt Disney Co. are among companies requiring at least some employees get vaccinated before going to their workplaces.
COVID recession pushed Social Security insolvency up a year
WASHINGTON (AP) — The sharp shock of the coronavirus recession pushed Social Security a year closer to insolvency but left Medicare’s exhaustion date unchanged, the government reported Tuesday in a counterintuitive assessment that deepens the uncertainty around the nation’s bedrock retirement programs.
The new projections in the annual Social Security and Medicare trustees reports indicate that Social Security’s massive trust fund will be unable to pay full benefits in 2034 instead of last year’s estimated exhaustion date of 2035. For the first time in 39 years the cost of delivering benefits will exceed the program’s total income from payroll tax collections and interest during this year. From here on, Social Security will be tapping its savings to pay full benefits.
The depletion date for Medicare’s trust fund for inpatient care remained unchanged from last year, estimated in 2026.
Washington State Ferries cruise toward a rocky Labor Day weekend
Canceled sailings at Washington State Ferries could worsen for Labor Day weekend as crew shortages and quarantines continue to rock the schedules, and rumors abound that some workers might skip holiday shifts to protest mandatory vaccinations.
Travelers are advised to prepare for delays, or consider walking aboard, the agency said in a news release late Tuesday.
The ferry system stopped accepting new weekend reservations for the San Juan Islands and Coupeville-Port Townsend routes, as it can’t guarantee a full schedule.
Six routes will run fewer trips than usual from Friday to Monday, especially late nights, the announcement said. Next week the Seattle-Bremerton route will shrink to just one boat so the ferry Kaleetan can undergo dry-dock repairs.
A hospital refused to give ivermectin to a COVID patient. Then a judge ordered doctors to administer it
When her husband had gotten so sick from the coronavirus that he was forced into a medically induced coma this month, Julie Smith turned to ivermectin — a deworming drug that some people are using to treat or prevent COVID-19.
“My husband is on death’s doorstep,” she wrote, according to an affidavit, “he has no other options.”
Yet when Julie Smith got a prescription from an Ohio doctor, a hospital in West Chester Township, Ohio, allegedly refused to administer the drug to Jeffrey Smith while he was seriously ill and on a ventilator, according to a lawsuit she filed on behalf of her husband this month.
Now, the hospital is being forced to administer the unproven treatment to Jeffrey Smith, 51, after a judge ruled in Julie Smith’s favor.
A sound bite reexamined: ‘Pandemic of the unvaccinated’
WASHINGTON (AP) — This summer’s coronavirus resurgence has been labeled a “pandemic of the unvaccinated” by government officials from President Joe Biden on down.
The sound bite captures the glaring reality that unvaccinated people overwhelmingly account for new cases and serious infections, with a recent study of government data showing that hospitalization rates among unvaccinated adults were 17 times higher than among those fully vaccinated.
But the term doesn’t appear to be changing hearts and minds among unvaccinated people. And it doesn’t tell the whole story, with some breakthrough infections occurring among the fully vaccinated. That’s led health officials to recommend a return to masks and a round of booster shots.
“It is true that the unvaccinated are the biggest driver, but we mustn’t forget that the vaccinated are part of it as well, in part because of the delta variant,” said Dr. Eric Topol, professor of molecular medicine at Scripps Research in La Jolla, California. “The pandemic clearly involves all people, not just the unvaccinated.”
Two FDA officials who oversee coronavirus vaccine reviews to depart
WASHINGTON — A pair of senior Food and Drug Administration officials who oversee the agency’s reviews of coronavirus vaccines are retiring, the Food and Drug Administration said Tuesday.
Marion Gruber, who leads the Office of Vaccines Research and Review, will depart the FDA at the end of October. Philip Krause, Gruber’s deputy, will leave the agency in November.
Peter Marks, director of the Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, told staff that he would serve as the acting head of the vaccine office as the agency searches for a permanent replacement, according to an internal memo shared with The Washington Post.
The FDA — and its vaccine office — has been at the center of the government’s effort to speed coronavirus vaccines and other therapies. The agency remains under considerable pressure to approve vaccines for children under age 12, a decision that probably remains months away.
France first big EU nation to start widespread booster jabs
PARIS (AP) — France on Wednesday started administering booster shots of COVID-19 vaccine to people over 65 and those with underlying health conditions as the delta variant spreads in the country.
France is the first big EU country to introduce widespread booster shots, and several other European countries are expected to follow suit.
Many countries are still struggling to administer first doses of COVID-19 vaccines and the World Health Organization had called for a moratorium on boosters and also urged governments to donate vaccines to needy countries.
People in France can get the shot on condition a minimum six-month period has passed since they got fully vaccinated with the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine. Those who received the single-dose Johnson & Johnson jab can get a booster shot of Pfizer or Moderna at least four weeks after they first got vaccinated.
Back-to-school news updates, September 1: What to know about in-person and online learning in the Seattle area and Washington state
For the first time in more than a year, tens of thousands of students and educators in the Seattle area will be going back to school full time and in person.
Wednesday marks the return of in-person learning for several school districts, including Seattle Public Schools, the largest district in the state.
However, with the new academic year comes complications particularly related to keeping kids and teachers safe during the coronavirus pandemic as the delta variant continues to spread among children. Those 12 and under are not yet eligible for a vaccine.
Throughout Wednesday, on this page, we’ll be sharing news and updates from the first day of school around Puget Sound and in Washington state.
Massive randomized study is proof that surgical masks limit coronavirus spread, authors say
The authors of a study based on an enormous randomized research project in Bangladesh say their results offer the best evidence yet that widespread wearing of surgical masks can limit the spread of the coronavirus in communities.
The preprint paper, which tracked more than 340,000 adults across 600 villages in rural Bangladesh, is by far the largest randomized study on the effectiveness of masks at limiting the spread of coronavirus infections.
Its authors say this provides conclusive, real-world evidence for what laboratory work and other research already strongly suggest: mask-wearing can have a significant impact on limiting the spread of symptomatic COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus.
“I think this should basically end any scientific debate about whether masks can be effective in combating COVID at the population level,” Jason Abuluck, an economist at Yale who helped lead the study, said in an interview, calling it “a nail in the coffin” of the arguments against masks.
After a COVID skeptic falls to the disease, people ask an awkward question: Should we care?
A reader wrote in with a blunt and honest comment that I want to share, because it alludes to a shift that’s taking place in society as we struggle to deal with this latest surge of the pandemic.
“I realized this pandemic is changing me, and not for the better,” the reader wrote. “It’s making me a colder and more callous person.”
She went on to describe a growing phenomenon. Which is that when people die of COVID-19 now, and inevitably it turns out they were unvaccinated or even had views that were hostile to the public health effort, “what pops into my mind first thing is ‘oh well, too bad.’”
“It’s a horrible reaction for any fellow human to have. I feel awful about it. But it’s there.”
Seattle Children’s confirms its first patient death from COVID
Seattle Children’s on Tuesday confirmed its first patient death from COVID-19, an announcement that comes as hospital leaders throughout the state warn of growing numbers of infections in children.
Dr. John McGuire, chief of Seattle Children’s division of pediatrics critical care medicine, said in a statement that the patient died last week, “despite the extraordinary efforts of the care team.”
“This hits all of us close to home, and the patient and family are in the thoughts and hearts of the Seattle Children’s community,” McGuire said in the statement.
He did not provide other details — including the child’s age or date of death — citing patient privacy.
What should vaccinated and unvaccinated people do when exposed to COVID? Here’s what the CDC says
Since early 2020, the world has battled the COVID-19 pandemic. For a moment it appeared the pandemic was in its waning days as multiple vaccines were developed, cases dropped and COVID-19 hospitalizations also decreased.
But now variants, like delta, are here and cases are spiking across the country, including Ohio. And some part of the population is still resisting vaccinations, which are free and have been proven safe.
You can still get sick even after being vaccinated and you still need to take precautions when you come in contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends quarantine after close contact — within 6 feet of someone for at least 15 minutes or more in a 24 hour period.
Catch up on the past 24 hours
Ferry travelers, brace for cancellations and worsening waits this Labor Day weekend. Six routes will run fewer trips than usual, and the ferry system has stopped taking new reservations on two routes because it can't guarantee a full schedule. In part, that's because of the COVID-19 surge and a possible sickout by employees who object to the vaccine mandate. Here’s what to expect.
Seattle Children’s has confirmed its first patient death from COVID-19 as hospital leaders throughout Washington state warn of growing numbers of infections in children.
After a COVID-19 skeptic falls to the disease, people ask an awkward question: Should we care? A hardness is seeping in, columnist Danny Westneat writes.
What to do if you're exposed, whether vaccinated or not: Everyone is advised to take a few steps if that happens, according to CDC guidance that's worth bookmarking.
Washington state government workers, we'd like to hear from you about the COVID-19 vaccine mandates.
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