Coronavirus daily news updates, October 9: What to know today about COVID-19 in the Seattle area, Washington state and the world – The Seattle Times

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.

1:01 pm

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


12:08 pm

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

11:22 am

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

10:38 am

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


9:46 am

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

9:02 am

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

8:08 am

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


8:04 am

‘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