Coronavirus daily news updates, October 6: What to know today about COVID-19 in the Seattle area, Washington state and the world – The Seattle Times

People living in the U.S. will soon have an easier time scoring a quick at-home COVID-19 test following the Food and Drug Administration’s approval of Acon Laboratories to mass-produce testing kits.

Meanwhile, a study from Pfizer and Kaiser Permanente researchers found that the Pfizer vaccine is 90% effective when it comes to preventing coronavirus hospitalizations for up to six months. The vaccine also showed 93% effectiveness in preventing hospitalizations from the delta variant.

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.

1:10 pm

White House to announce $1 billion purchase of rapid, at-home coronavirus tests

The White House on Wednesday is set to expand access to rapid coronavirus tests, a plan hailed by public health experts who called the move long overdue.

The administration said the plan to buy $1 billion worth of rapid, at-home coronavirus tests and other actions should address ongoing shortages and quadruple the number of tests available to Americans by December, according to a White House official and senior administration official with knowledge of the pending announcement. The news follows Monday’s decision by the Food and Drug Administration to allow the sale of an antigen test from U.S.-based Acon Laboratories.

The White House expects the FDA decision and the purchase of the additional tests to increase the number of at-home tests to 200 million per month by December.

The administration is also aiming to increase free testing by doubling President Joe Biden’s earlier commitment to expand the number of pharmacies in the federal government’s free testing program to 20,000, the White House official said. Biden last month announced a coronavirus response plan that envisioned a significant expansion of testing capacity.

Read the story here.

—Yasmeen Abutaleb and Dan Diamond, The Washington Post


12:12 pm

While US summer surge is waning, more mandates in the works

COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. are coming down again, hospitalizations are dropping, and new cases per day are about to dip below 100,000 for the first time in two months — all signs that the summer surge is waning.

Not wanting to lose momentum, government leaders and employers are looking at strengthening and expanding vaccine requirements.

Across the nation, deaths per day have dropped by nearly 15% since mid-September and are now averaging about 1,750. New cases have fallen to just over 103,000 per day on average, a 40% decline over the past three weeks.

The number of Americans now in the hospital with COVID-19 has declined by about one-quarter since its most recent peak of almost 94,000 a month ago.

What’s behind the decline isn’t entirely clear, though health experts point out that the numbers are falling as more are people getting vaccinated and new requirements for the shot are being put in place by government and private employers.

Read the story here.

—John Seewer, The Associated Press

11:11 am

Airlines see COVID-related losses exceeding $200 billion

Airline losses from the coronavirus pandemic are set to surpass $200 billion as travel curbs weigh on corporate and long-haul demand well into 2022, according to the industry’s main lobby.

Carriers are poised to post a collective deficit of $11.6 billion next year, the International Air Transport Association said Monday in Boston at its annual meeting. The trade body also increased its loss estimate for this year, and revised upward the shortfall for 2020.

The combined $201 billion in net losses over the pandemic-blighted period eclipses close to nine years of industry earnings, based on IATA figures. While domestic and regional travel have begun to rebound, there’s been little recovery in the globe-spanning business routes so crucial to many carriers.

The U.S. is poised to open its borders to trans-Atlantic visitors next month, but other long-haul markets remain in the doldrums, especially those connecting Asia with Europe and North America.

Read the story here.

—Christopher Jasper, Bloomberg

10:05 am

The biggest employers are successfully enacting vaccine mandates. Many smaller ones need help

Ginger Miller, Health Promotion Manager at UTZ Quality Foods, in Hanover, Pennsylvania. (Andrew Mangum for The Washington Post)

As health promotion manager for Utz Quality Foods, Ginger Miller has struggled to persuade the 3,300 workers at the potato chip and pretzel-maker to get the coronavirus vaccine. Only about half of the company’s production workers have gotten the shot.

Miller has found the vaccine is a tough sell, and nothing like the workplace flu shot campaigns she’s run in the past. The COVID-19 vaccine drives a politicized wedge between those eager to take it and those who proclaim they never will, and she is forced to try to knock down insidious misinformation and assuage genuine fears without appearing too heavy-handed at the snack company based in Hanover, Penn.

“It’s chaotic and unnerving to figure out the logistics of all this while you’re trying to run a business,” she said.

Read the story here.

—Todd C. Frankel, The Washington Post


9:01 am

Coronavirus deaths in Russia surpass 900 a day for 1st time

FILE – In this Saturday, July 24, 2021 file photo, a demonstrator holds a poster reading “No political repressions” during an anti-vaccination protest in the center of in Moscow, Russia. Russia’s daily coronavirus death toll has surpassed 900 for the first time in the pandemic. The record reported Wednesday, Oct. 6 comes amid a low vaccination rate and the government’s reluctance to impose tough restrictions to control new cases. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

Russia’s daily coronavirus death toll surpassed 900 on Wednesday for the first time in the pandemic, a record that comes amid the country’s low vaccination rate and the government’s reluctance to impose tough restrictions to control new cases.

Russia’s state coronavirus task force reported 929 new deaths on Wednesday, the fourth time this month that daily COVID-19 deaths have reached record highs. The previous record, of 895 deaths, was registered Tuesday. Russia already has Europe’s highest death toll in the pandemic at over 212,000 people, but some official data suggests that is an undercount.

The task force also reported 25,133 new confirmed cases Wednesday.

The rise in infections and deaths began in late September. The Kremlin has blamed it on too few Russians getting vaccinated. As of Tuesday, almost 33% of Russia’s 146 million people had received at least one shot of a coronavirus vaccine, and 29% were fully vaccinated.

Despite the surge, government officials rejected the idea of imposing a lockdown and said regional authorities would take steps to stem the spread of the virus.

Read the story here.

—Daria Litvinova, The Associated Press

8:01 am

Hospital system in Colorado says it will deny transplants to unvaccinated in ‘almost all situations’

A Colorado-based health system says it is denying organ transplants to patients not vaccinated against the coronavirus in “almost all situations,” citing studies that show these patients are much more likely to die if they get COVID-19.

The policy illustrates the growing costs of being unvaccinated and wades into deeply controversial territory — the use of immunization status to decide who gets limited medical care. The mere idea of prioritizing the vaccinated for rationed health resources has drawn intense backlash, as overwhelmingly unvaccinated COVID-19 patients push some hospitals to adopt “crisis standards of care,” in which health systems can prioritize patients for scarce resources based largely on their likelihood of survival.

UCHealth’s rules for transplants entered the spotlight Tuesday when Colorado state Rep. Tim Geitner, a Republican, said it denied a kidney transplant to a Colorado Springs woman because she was not vaccinated against the coronavirus. Calling the decision “disgusting” and discriminatory, Geitner shared a letter that he said the patient got last week from UCHealth’s transplant center at the University of Colorado’s Anschutz Medical Campus in the city of Aurora.

The letter said the woman would be “inactivated” on a kidney transplant waiting list and had 30 days to start coronavirus vaccination. If she refused the shots, it said, she would be removed.

Conditions on organ transplants are not new. Transplant centers around the country may require patients to get other vaccinations, stop smoking, avoid alcohol or demonstrate that they will take crucial medications, in an effort to ensure that people do well post-surgery and do not “reject” organs for which there is fierce competition.

Read the story here.

—Hannah Knowles, The Washington Post

7:26 am

Los Angeles poised to enact strict vaccination mandate

FILE – In this Dec. 24, 2020, file photo, a COVID-19 vaccination record card is shown at Seton Medical Center in Daly City, Calif. Los Angeles leaders are poised to enact one of the nation’s strictest vaccine mandates, a sweeping measure that would require the shots for everyone entering a bar, restaurant, nail salon, gym or even a Lakers game. The City Council on Wednesday, Oct. 6, 2021, is scheduled to consider the proposal and most members have said they support it as a way of preventing further COVID-019 surges. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File)

Los Angeles leaders on Wednesday were poised to enact one of the nation’s strictest vaccine mandates — a sweeping measure that would require the shots for everyone entering a bar, restaurant, nail salon, gym or even a Lakers game.

The City Council was scheduled to consider the proposal after postponing a vote last week to deal with concerns ranging from who could be fined for violations to whether employees could end up in fist-fights when they have to serve as vaccine door monitors.

The nation’s second-most populous city faced a huge rise in infections and hospitalizations last winter and a smaller surge this summer linked to the spread of the highly contagious delta variant.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press


6:52 am

Sweden suspends Moderna vaccine for those 30 and under

Swedish health authorities on Wednesday suspended the use of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine for those ages 30 and under, saying the move was done out of precaution.

The reason for the pausing is “signals of an increased risk of side effects such as inflammation of the heart muscle or the pericardium” — the double-walled sac containing the heart and the roots of the main vessels, Sweden’s Public Health Agency said in a statement. “The risk of being affected is very small.”

U.S. and European regulators caution that both the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines appear linked to a rare reaction in teenagers and young adults — chest pain and heart inflammation. The Swedish health authorities said that the heart symptoms “usually go away on their own,” but they must be assessed by a doctor.

New preliminary Nordic analyzes indicate that the connection is especially clear when it comes to Moderna’s vaccine, especially after the second dose, the agency said.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press

6:45 am

Idaho’s governor left the state. His lieutenant governor took power and banned state vaccine mandates.

Republican Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin speaks at a rally on the statehouse steps last month in Boise, Idaho. McGeachin, who is running for governor next year, seized the opportunity of the governor’s absence on Tuesday, Oct., 5, to issue an executive order that he vowed to rescind when he returned. (AP Photo/Keith Ridler, file)

Idaho Republican Gov. Brad Little left the state Tuesday. His second-in-command — empowered with executive authority in his absence — used that power to pick an old fight.

As acting governor, Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin, a Republican, issued an executive order Tuesday afternoon banning state officials from requiring COVID-19 “vaccine passports” from new or current employees. Little quickly promised to undo McGeachin’s order as soon as he returned from touring the U.S.-Mexico border with a group of fellow Republican governors.

This is the second time the state’s top two officials have battled after Little left the state and McGeachin seized the opportunity to issue an executive order in his absence. While Little attended a Republican governors’ conference in Nashville in May, McGeachin banned local governments from issuing mask mandates. Little, saying he wanted those local governments to have control over their communities, rescinded her order when he returned the next day.

Idaho’s constitution requires the lieutenant governor to take over when the governor is out of state. The top two elected leaders run for office separately, not on a joint ticket.

Read the story here.

—Jonathan Edwards, The Washington Post

6:24 am

Catch up on the past 24 hours

One-third of Seattle cops haven’t submitted proof of vaccination as their deadline approaches. “We have to assume we have hundreds of unvaccinated individuals,” the interim chief wrote as top brass planned for possible staffing problems.

A King County woman has become the first person in Washington state to die from a rare blood-clotting syndrome after receiving the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, local health officials say. It’s important to understand the context as health officials emphasize how rare this is.

One hospital system is denying transplants to unvaccinated people in “almost all situations,” including a woman with 12 percent of her kidney function left.

Kaiser Permanente has suspended more than 2,000 workers who didn’t get vaccines. Another health system is amping up pressure in a different way: Workers with unvaccinated spouses will pay more for insurance.

Eight days into the school year, all five of Amber Cessac’s daughters had COVID-19. “Parents are exhausted on a level we’ve not seen before,” a psychologist says as schools become a constant worry for many. But in one state where skyrocketing infections keep shutting down schools, most kids are still unmasked and unvaccinated.

—Kris Higginson