Editor’s note: This is a live account of COVID-19 updates from Monday, Sept. 6, 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 It is no longer being updated.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.

With new daily coronavirus cases ballooning above 160,901 nationally over the Labor Day weekend, and 3,499 locally, Washington officials reemphasized the importance of vaccinations and continued to reinforce public health measures with new outdoor mask mandates announced last week.

The holiday weekend also marked a less-than celebratory end to summer. After students returned to school last week, many for the first time in a year, the state and its residents are facing new questions about how children and families will fare as the virus continues to surge into fall.

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)

More

Labor Day ferries run smooth despite COVID quarantines, sickout rumors

Labor Day made for smooth sailing aboard the vessels operated by Washington State Ferries.

The ferry system had warned travelers to expect delays because recent COVID-19 quarantines were keeping crew members home. Ahead of the holiday, rumors traveled that some workers were planning to hold a sickout over the holiday in opposition to Gov. Jay Inslee's vaccination mandate.

But no sickout materialized, crew members covered shifts and not a single sailing was canceled after Monday afternoon.

—Mike Lindblom
Advertising

Seattle City Light bracing for sickout by workers upset over COVID-19 vaccine requirement

Some Seattle City Light workers might call out sick on Tuesday because of the city's requirement for municipal workers to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

City officials told The Seattle Times they are preparing for some of its electric utility's workers to call out sick as part of an organized action in protest of the vaccine requirement that will go into place Oct. 18.

The workers are part of International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 77, but city officials do not believe the union's leadership is driving or supporting this activity.

Seattle City Light executive Michelle Vargo recently sent an email to employees about the potential sickout and described it as a violation of the city's collective bargaining agreement with the union.

“All individuals who participate will be recommended for discipline, up to and including termination,” Vargas wrote.

—Daniel Beekman and Joseph O'Sullivan

Mu variant found in 49 states

A new coronavirus variant named mu has been found in every U.S. state except Nebraska.

The World Health Organization on Aug. 30 called this version of the virus a variant of interest because it is believed to be more transmissible than other variants.

The delta variant remains dominant in the U.S. In Washington state, 98.4% of all coronavirus cases that received genetic sequencing in early August were determined to be from the delta variant.

—New York Daily News / Seattle Times staff

Volunteers help poorest survive Thailand’s worst COVID surge

BANGKOK (AP) — For two months, carpenter Tun Nye hasn’t been able to send any money home to his parents in Myanmar to help them care for his 11-year-old son, after authorities in Thailand shut down his construction site over coronavirus concerns.

No work has meant no income for him or his wife, who have been confined to one of more than 600 workers’ camps dotted around Bangkok, living in small room in a ramshackle building with boards and blankets to cover missing windows.

In Thailand’s worst virus surge yet, lockdown measures have reduced what little Bangkok’s have-nots had to zero. Volunteer groups are working to ensure they survive.

For Tun Nye, 31, the bag of rice, canned fish and other staples dropped off by Bangkok Community Help volunteers meant not having to go hungry that week.

Read the full story here.

—The Associated Press
Advertising

Greece begins giving COVID-19 vaccines outside churches

ARCHANES, Greece (AP) — Greece has begun administering vaccinations for COVID-19 outside churches in a pilot program recently announced by the government as a means of encouraging more people to get the shots.

Mobile National Health Organization units began administering shots Monday in a church yard in Archanes, a town near the city of Heraklion on the southern island of Crete.

The single-dose Johnson and Johnson vaccine was being used, with shots being administered from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. Fifty-two appointments were booked for the first day, but some people were turning up without appointments and were being given the vaccines.

The government announced the program last month, with mobile health care units to administer shots in town squares outside churches, initially in Crete and later expanding to the country’s main cities.

Authorities have been seeking to boost Greece’s vaccination drive with a series of incentives, and have sought the support of the country’s powerful Orthodox Church.

Read the full story here.

—The Associated Press

Fauci says COVID boosters likely to start with Pfizer shot only

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser said U.S. booster shots against COVID-19 are likely to start only with the vaccine by Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE, while the Moderna Inc. shot may be delayed.

“The bottom line is very likely at least part of the plan will be implemented, but ultimately the entire plan will be,” Anthony Fauci said Sunday on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”

Fauci’s comments may lead to more clarity on the administration’s stance after Biden ran into resistance by medical experts who advise U.S. regulators over what they view as political interference in the review process.

While Biden has set a Sept. 20 target for kicking off the booster campaign, safety and efficacy data require signoff by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration.

Read the full story here.

—Bloomberg News

Hospitals in crisis in least vaccinated state: Mississippi

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — As patients stream into Mississippi hospitals one after another, doctors and nurses have become all too accustomed to the rampant denial and misinformation about COVID-19 in the nation’s least vaccinated state.

People in denial about the severity of their own illness or the virus itself, with visitors frequently trying to enter hospitals without masks. The painful look of recognition on patients’ faces when they realize they made a mistake not getting vaccinated. The constant misinformation about the coronavirus that they discuss with medical staff.

“There’s no point in being judgmental in that situation. There’s no point in telling them, ‘You should have gotten the vaccine or you wouldn’t be here,’” said Dr. Risa Moriarity, executive vice chair of the University of Mississippi Medical Center’s emergency department. “We don’t do that. We try not to preach and lecture them. Some of them are so sick they can barely even speak to us.”

Mississippi’s low vaccinated rate, with about 38% of the state’s 3 million people fully inoculated against COVID-19, is driving a surge in cases and hospitalizations that is overwhelming medical workers. The workers are angry and exhausted over both the workload and refusal by residents to embrace the vaccine.

Read the full story here.

—The Associated Press
Advertising

Two anchors of COVID safety net ending, affecting millions

WASHINGTON (AP) — Mary Taboniar went 15 months without a paycheck, thanks to the COVID pandemic. A housekeeper at the Hilton Hawaiian Village resort in Honolulu, the single mother of two saw her income completely vanish as the virus devastated the hospitality industry.

For more than a year, Taboniar depended entirely on boosted unemployment benefits and a network of local foodbanks to feed her family. Even this summer as the vaccine rollout took hold and tourists began to travel again, her work was slow to return, peaking at 11 days in August — about half her pre-pandemic workload.

Taboniar is one of millions of Americans for whom Labor Day 2021 represents a perilous crossroads. Two primary anchors of the government’s COVID protection package are ending or have recently ended. Starting Monday, an estimated 8.9 million people will lose all unemployment benefits. A federal eviction moratorium already has expired.

While other aspects of pandemic assistance including rental aid and the expanded Child Tax Credit are still widely available, untold millions of Americans will face Labor Day with a suddenly shrunken social safety net.

Read the full story here.

—The Associated Press

Unvaccinated 49 times more likely to be hospitalized for COVID-19, King County data shows

Amid the ongoing debate over vaccine mandates, legal challenges and booster shots, a new dashboard maintained by King County confirms vaccinated residents are significantly better protected from illness, hospitalization and death compared with their unvaccinated counterparts, even as the delta variant surges through the state.

Over the past 30 days, unvaccinated people were seven times more likely to test positive for COVID-19 than vaccinated individuals, making up 69% of cases.

Roughly 87% of hospitalizations comprised unvaccinated residents, a rate 49 times higher than the fully vaccinated population.

And 72% of people who died from the coronavirus in the past 30 days were not fully vaccinated, making the likelihood of death 32 times higher if an individual has not been vaccinated.

King County says this data is a strong indicator of the vaccines’ success because it measures risk, or the rate of disease in the community. It updates daily and provides an analysis over the past 30 days or for 2021, as well as providing more granular population information.

Read the full story here.

—Rebecca Moss

EU regulator evaluating if COVID vaccine booster is needed

AMSTERDAM (AP) — The European Medicines Agency says it has started an expedited evaluation on whether to recommend a booster dose of the coronavirus vaccine made by Pfizer-BioNTech.

In a statement Monday, the EU drug regulator says it is considering whether a third dose of the vaccine should be given six months after people 16 and older have received two doses, “to restore protection after it has waned.”

EMA’s experts are carrying out an “accelerated assessment” of data submitted by Pfizer and BioNTech, including results from an ongoing trial in which about 300 healthy adults received a booster shot about six months after their second dose.

Pfizer has already submitted an application to the U.S. Food and Drug Administer for authorization of a third dose and the U.S. government said last month boosters would likely be available in late September. Israel has already started administering booster doses and the plan is under consideration in other countries for vulnerable populations, including France and Germany.

Read the full story here.

—The Associated Press
Advertising

COVID Ravaged South America. Then Came a Sharp Drop in Infections.

RIO DE JANEIRO — Just a few weeks ago, COVID-19 was spreading across a cluster of nations in South America, overwhelming hospital systems and killing thousands of people per day.

Suddenly, the region that had been the at the enter of the pandemic is breathing a sigh of relief.

New infections have fallen sharply in nearly every nation in South America as vaccination rates have ramped up. The reprieve has been so sharp and fast, even as the delta variant wreaks havoc elsewhere in the world, that experts cannot quite explain it.

Read the New York Times story here.