Coronavirus daily news updates, October 11: What to know today about COVID-19 in the Seattle area, Washington state and the world – The Seattle Times

Moderna has shipped a greater share of its doses to wealthy countries than any other vaccine manufacturer. As for the poorer countries struggling to obtain vaccines, Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel called the situation “sad” but said it was out of his control.

Meanwhile, in Washington state, two public figures are receiving criticism for their recent behavior around COVID precautions: Seattle mayoral candidate Bruce Harrell, who posed maskless and mingled with dozens of people at a large indoor event on Friday, and Washington State University football coach Nick Rolovich, who confirmed he is applying for a religious exemption from the COVID-19 vaccine mandate.

California governor Gavin Newsom has signed a law making it a crime to impede vaccination efforts or harass or intimidate people trying to get their shots.

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.

5:12 pm

New Zealand’s doctors and teachers must soon be vaccinated

A health worker administers vaccinations at a mobile clinic Oct. 7, 2021, in Auckland, New Zealand. New Zealand’s doctors and teachers are among those who must soon be fully vaccinated against the coronavirus to continue working in their professions, the government announced Monday, Oct. 11, 2021. (Sylvie Whinray/New Zealand Herald via AP)

Most of New Zealand’s health care workers and teachers will soon be legally required to get vaccinated against the coronavirus, the government announced Monday.

A new mandate compels doctors, pharmacists, community nurses and many other health care workers to be fully vaccinated by December. Teachers and other education workers must be fully vaccinated by January.

COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said many in those professions had already gotten their jabs but they couldn’t leave anything to chance, especially because those people deal with sick patients and young children who aren’t yet approved for the vaccine themselves.

”It’s not an easy decision, but we need the people who work with vulnerable communities who haven’t yet been vaccinated to take this extra step,” Hipkins said.

New Zealand already requires many people who work at the border to be vaccinated.

The announcement comes as New Zealand battles an outbreak of the highly transmissible delta variant in its largest city, Auckland.

Read the story here.

—Nick Perry, The Associated Press


4:11 pm

Moderna has no plans to share its COVID-19 vaccine recipe

Moderna has no plans to share the recipe for its COVID-19 vaccine because executives have concluded that scaling up the company’s own production is the best way to increase the global supply, the company’s chairman said Monday.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Noubar Afeyan also reiterated a pledge Moderna made a year ago not to enforce patent infringement on anyone else making a coronavirus vaccine during the pandemic.

The United Nations health agency has pressed Moderna to share its vaccine formula. Afeyan said the company analyzed whether it would be better to share the messenger RNA technology and determined that it could expand production and deliver billions of additional doses in 2022.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press

4:07 pm

State health officials confirm 1,633 new coronavirus cases

The state Department of Health (DOH) reported 1,633 new coronavirus cases and 42 new deaths on Monday.

The update brings the state’s totals to 684,532 cases and 8,064 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. Sunday. Tallies may be higher earlier in the week because new state data isn’t reported on weekends.

In addition, 37,958 people have been hospitalized in the state due to the virus — 340 new hospitalizations. In King County, the state’s most populous, state health officials have confirmed a total of 156,611 COVID-19 diagnoses and 1,906 deaths.

Since vaccinations began in mid-December, the state and health care providers have administered 9,300,224 doses and 58.9% 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 21,926 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.

—Amanda Zhou

3:10 pm

California coronavirus death count tops 70,000 as cases fall

California’s coronavirus death toll reached another once-unfathomable milestone — 70,000 people — on Monday as the state emerges from the latest infection surge with the lowest rate of new cases among all states.

Last year at this time, cases in the state started ticking up and by January California was in the throes of the worst spike of the pandemic and was the nation’s epicenter for the virus. Daily deaths approached 700.

The latest surge started in summer and was driven by the delta variant that primarily targeted the unvaccinated. At its worst during this spike, California’s average daily death count was in the low 100s.

Data collected by Johns Hopkins University showed the state with 70,132 deaths by midday Monday. It’s the most in the nation, surpassing Texas by about 3,000 and Florida by 13,000, although California’s per capita fatality rate of 177 per 100,000 people ranks in the bottom third for the U.S.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press


1:59 pm

1 in 5 of England’s sickest COVID patients are unvaccinated pregnant women

Unvaccinated pregnant women make up nearly 20% of the most critically ill COVID-19 patients in England, according to data released by the National Health Service on Monday.

Since July, approximately 1 in 5 coronavirus patients who received an intensive lung-bypass treatment, or extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO), were unvaccinated and pregnant.

The disproportionate number of unvaccinated pregnant women in intensive care demonstrates that there is a significant risk of severe illness from COVID-19 in pregnancy,” Dr. Edward Morris, president of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, said in a statement on the NHS website.

The NHS is now pleading with pregnant women to get vaccinated as soon as possible, pointing to mounting safety data that counters unfounded fears that the vaccine poses severe risks to their health.

The NHS reports that “over 100,000 COVID vaccinations in England and Scotland, and a further 160,000 in the U.S., show there has been no subsequent harm to the fetus or infant.”

Read the story here.

—Cora Engelbrecht, The New York Times

1:15 pm

Fauci says he doesn’t expect a vaccine mandate for domestic air travel — at least not right now

Amid a growing push for passengers on domestic flights to show proof of vaccination, top infectious-disease expert Anthony Fauci said he doesn’t see it happening in the near future.

His statement came Sunday during an appearance on CNN’s “State of the Union,” after anchor Dana Bash asked if he would like an air travel vaccine mandate in effect for the holidays. He said such a decision would be made with “input from a number of parts of the government.”

“On the table is the issue of mandates for vaccine,” said Fauci, Biden’s chief medical adviser. “It’s always discussable, we always wind up discussing it, but right now I don’t see that immediately.”

Read the story here.

—Hannah Sampson, The Washington Post

12:10 pm

Man who faked suicide to avoid coronavirus fraud charges is sentenced

Three weeks after he had been charged with trying to fraudulently obtain COVID-19 relief loans, David Staveley escaped by faking his own suicide, prosecutors said.

He cut off his electronic monitoring bracelet and left suicide notes with friends and family members, including his 80-year-old mother, prosecutors said. He also left his wallet and a suicide note in his unlocked car, which he parked by the ocean in Massachusetts, federal prosecutors said.

Many of his family members believed he had died by suicide, although “the ones who knew him best informed law enforcement that they suspected this to be yet another scheme orchestrated by” Staveley, prosecutors wrote in a court filing.

On Thursday, Staveley, 54, of Andover, Massachusetts, was sentenced to 56 months in prison. He had pleaded guilty in May to one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud and one count of failing to appear in court, prosecutors said.

In May 2020, Staveley and an associate became the first people in the country to be charged with fraudulently seeking loans under the Paycheck Protection Program, which was intended to help small businesses crushed by the pandemic, according to the U.S. Justice Department.

Read the story here.

—Michael Levenson, The New York Times


11:15 am

‘Astounding’ new study shows using a pulse oximeter saves COVID patients’ lives

New research from South Africa shows that using a pulse oximeter to check oxygen levels after a COVID diagnosis really does save lives. For the study, 8,115 high-risk patients were given a pulse oximeter to use at home after COVID-19 was diagnosed. The study focused on the highest-risk patients, including older people, those who were pregnant or those with chronic illnesses like heart disease, hypertension or diabetes.

After a COVID diagnosis, the patients were given a pulse oximeter and received a follow-up call to make sure they were using it correctly. They were asked to record their oxygen saturation and heart rate twice a day, and instructed to call a doctor if the reading started to drop below 95%.

If the reading fell below 90%, they were instructed to go to the emergency room.

The risk of dying was about 50% lower among the patients who had been instructed to monitor their oxygen at home, the study showed.

Read the story here.

—Tara Parker-Pope, The New York Times

11:11 am

Fauci says it’s fine to trick-or-treat this year

he government’s top infectious diseases expert says families can feel safe trick-or-treating outdoors this year for Halloween as COVID-19 cases in the U.S. decline, especially for those who are vaccinated.

Dr. Anthony Fauci told CNN’s “State of the Union” Sunday that it’s an important time of year for children, so “go out there” and “enjoy it.”

He added that people wanting to enjoy Halloween on Oct. 31 should consider getting the shots for that “extra degree of protection” if they are not yet vaccinated.

COVID-19 vaccines so far have been approved for people 12 years and older. The Food and Drug Administration plans a meeting in late October to consider Pfizer’s request for emergency use authorization of its vaccine for children ages 5 to 11.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press

10:01 am

Doctors claim Brazil hospitals gave dodgy COVID-19 care

A demonstrator in a Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro mask protests against the Prevent Senior health care company outside its headquarters in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Sept. 30, 2021. (AP Photo/Marcelo Chello)

Irene Castilho, 71, didn’t even have a day to grieve after her husband died of COVID-19. She was sick, too, coughing and struggling to breathe; he was barely gone when she started using his oxygen mask. The same day, on March 22, she was admitted to a hospital in Sao Paulo.

She had followed doctors’ instructions to the letter – dutifully taking her doses of hydroxychloroquine. She also took ivermectin and a battery of anti-inflammatories and vitamins in the so-called “COVID kit” that her health care company, Prevent Senior, mailed to her home.

At the hospital, physicians consulted Castilho’s daughters about giving her flutamide — a drug typically used for prostate cancer – but they declined, worried about possible side effects for their mother, who recently had liver cancer. They later saw a nurse administering flutamide; she told them it had been prescribed despite their objection. Castilho died in late April.

Castilho’s case is one of a series of examples that have led to explosive accusations against Prevent Senior, which operates 10 hospitals in Sao Paulo, that have scandalized Brazil.

Whistleblowing doctors, through their lawyer, testified at the Senate last week that Prevent Senior tested drugs without proper consent and forced doctors to prescribe unproven drugs touted by President Jair Bolsonaro.

Read the story here.

—Debora Alvarez, The Associated Press


8:55 am

Sydney opens to vaccinated after 100-plus days of lockdown

Sydney hairdressers, gyms, cafés and bars reopened to fully vaccinated customers on Monday for the first time in more than 100 days after Australia’s largest city achieved a vaccination benchmark.

Sydney planned to reopen on the Monday after 73.5% of the New South Wales state population aged 16 and older were fully vaccinated and more than 90% have received at least one dose.

More pandemic restrictions will be removed when 80% of the population is fully vaccinated and New South Wales residents will be free to travel overseas for the first time since March last year.

Read the story here.

—Rod McGuirk, The Associated Press

7:55 am

Russia’s new COVID-19 infections, deaths near all-time highs

Russia’s daily coronavirus infections and deaths hovered near all-time highs Monday amid sluggish vaccination rates and the Kremlin’s reluctance to toughen restrictions.

Russia’s state coronavirus task force reported 29,409 new confirmed cases — the highest number since the year’s start and just slightly lower than the pandemic record reached in December.

After registering the highest daily death toll since the start of the pandemic at 968 over the weekend, it reported 957 new deaths on Monday. The sharp rise in infections and deaths began last month with the government attributing it to a slow vaccination rate.

Read the story here.

—Vladimir Isachenkov, The Associated Press

7:16 am

Hundreds of thousands of U.S. troops have not yet complied with vaccine mandate as deadlines near

Hundreds of thousands of U.S. service members remain unvaccinated or only partially vaccinated against the coronavirus as the Pentagon’s first compliance deadlines near, with lopsided rates across the individual services and a spike in deaths among military reservists illustrating how political division over the shots has seeped into a nonpartisan force with unambiguous orders.

Overall, the military’s vaccination rate has climbed since August, when Defense Department leaders, acting on a directive from President Joe Biden, informed the nation’s 2.1 million troops that immunization would become mandatory, exemptions would be rare and those who refuse would be punished. Yet troops’ response has been scattershot, according to data assessed by The Washington Post.

For instance, 90 percent of the active-duty Navy is fully vaccinated, whereas just 72 percent of the Marine Corps is, the data show, even though both services share a Nov. 28 deadline. In the Air Force, more than 60,000 personnel have just three weeks to meet the Defense Department’s most ambitious deadline.

Deaths attributed to covid-19 have soared in parts of the force as some services struggle to inoculate their troops. In September, more military personnel died of coronavirus infections than in all of 2020. None of those who died were fully vaccinated, Pentagon spokesman Maj. Charlie Dietz said.

Read the story here.

—Alex Horton, The Washington Post


7:13 am

Millions of kids’ COVID vaccines ‘ready’ to go; initial doses to be shared on a population basis

Socially distanced kindergarten students wait for their parents to pick them up from a Los Angeles elementary school in April 2021. (Jae C. Hong / The Associated Press)

Within days of regulators clearing the nation’s first vaccine for younger children, federal officials say they will begin pushing out as many as 20 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech pediatric vaccine to inoculate school-age kids across America in a bid to control the coronavirus pandemic.

The kickoff of the long-awaited children’s vaccination campaign is expected as soon as early November. And this time round, the government has purchased enough doses to give two shots to all 28 million eligible children, ages 5 to 11.

Still, federal and state officials and health providers say that vaccinating children is likely to be a more challenging process than it was for adults and teens. The federal government plans to allocate the initial shots according to a formula to ensure equitable distribution, likely based on a state’s population of eligible children, according to a federal health official who spoke on the condition of anonymity to share planning. Enlisting besieged health providers and persuading reluctant parents will complicate the process.

Read the story here.

—Lena H. Sun, The Washington Post

6:23 am

Catch up on the past 24 hours

Merck today asked the FDA to approve its COVID-19 pill. An antiviral pill that people could take at home to speed recovery could prove groundbreaking. Here’s what you should know about molnupiravir.

Should kids trick-or-treat this year? “Go out there and enjoy Halloween,” Dr. Anthony Fauci says … but he adds that we should brace for a possible winter rebound of the virus.

High numbers of long-term care facilities in Washington are seeing COVID-19 outbreaks and closing the doors to visitors again. In one home, 41 residents and 13 staff members tested positive in just a month.

Seattle mayoral candidate Bruce Harrell posed maskless for photos at an event that drew more than 200 people on Friday, including former Gov. Gary Locke. The images ricocheted around social media. Here’s the context.

UW Medicine patients who want a transplant will need a vaccine first. It’s among a growing number of transplant programs that are essentially requiring COVID-19 shots, and in some places, this is creating an uproar.

—Kris Higginson