Editor’s note: This is a live account of COVID-19 updates from Friday, Sept. 10, 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 It is no longer being updated.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.
President Joe Biden on Thursday introduced expansive rules mandating that all employers with more than 100 workers require them to be vaccinated or test for the coronavirus weekly, affecting about 80 million Americans. Additionally, roughly 17 million workers at health facilities that receive federal Medicare or Medicaid will have to be fully vaccinated. Biden is also requiring vaccination for employees of the executive branch and contractors who do business with the federal government — with no option to test out — covering several million more workers.
Meanwhile, Gov. Jay Inslee on Thursday announced a new statewide requirement for masks to be worn at large outdoor gatherings. Washington is riding the crest of its fifth and largest wave of COVID-19. Fueled by the highly contagious delta variant, hospitals are seeing record-levels of coronavirus patients, and large outbreaks are being traced to outdoor music festivals and county fairs. Starting Monday, the state’s current requirement for indoor facial coverings in public spaces will be expanded to include outdoor events with 500 or more attendees,
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.
Biden uses array of legal tools to mandate vaccines
WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden’s far-reaching assertion of executive authority to require COVID-19 vaccines for 100 million U.S. workers relies on a set of complicated legal tools that will test the power — and the limits — of the federal government to compel personal health care decisions.
To more aggressively confront the coronavirus pandemic, Biden is pulling several levers of presidential power: He is using an emergency provision in the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970; he is threatening to withhold federal funding from hospitals and other health care organizations; and he is embracing his authority as chief executive of the sprawling federal workforce and its contractors.
The right of government to impose vaccines has been established since at least 1904, when the Supreme Court issued a 7-2 ruling that Cambridge, Massachusetts, could require all adults to be vaccinated against smallpox. But more recent cases — including the first Supreme Court ruling on the Affordable Care Act — call into question whether Biden or any president could simply order all Americans to get shots.
That is not what Biden is doing. By requiring that companies maintain safe workplaces through vaccination, legal experts said Friday that the president was relying on the federal government’s well-established constitutional power to regulate commerce and the 51-year-old law establishing the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
Q&A: What is ivermectin and where did people get the idea it can treat COVID?
The idyllic photo of a chestnut horse appeared on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Instagram feed in August, along with a blunt caption: “You are not a horse. Stop it with the #Ivermectin. It’s not authorized for treating #COVID.”
The post was one of several stark warnings issued about ivermectin — an anti-parasitic medication being promoted by prominent conservative media figures and politicians, as well as some physicians, as an effective treatment for COVID-19, despite the lack of scientific evidence showing there are benefits of taking the drug for that purpose.
Interest in ivermectin has surged during this summer’s rapid rise in coronavirus infections fueled by the highly transmissible delta variant. Prescriptions have soared, and some people have resorted to taking forms of the anti-parasitic intended for large animals, leading to spikes in calls to poison control centers around the country.
For many experts, the ivermectin craze is stirring feelings of pandemic déjà vu.
“We’ve already had the sad example of hydroxychloroquine, which is used for malaria, which clearly did not show any positive effects,” said Sunil Parikh, an associate professor of epidemiology and infectious diseases at the Yale School of Public Health, referring to the drug pushed by former President Donald Trump and others during the earlier stages of the pandemic.
“I’m afraid at the moment we’re heading down that way with ivermectin,” Parikh said.
In ‘Fauci,’ a big-screen portrait of a pandemic superstar
John Hoffman and Janet Tobias’ “Fauci” is the first big-screen documentary of the nation’s top infectious disease expert and ubiquitous face of the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s an intimate portrait of a longtime public servant whose notoriety has risen dramatically — and with that, brought heaps of far-right scorn on the veteran of seven White House administrations.
The film opens in a split screen, with Fauci walking to his office at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases 40 years ago on one side, and him making the same trip recently on the other. Audio and video clips, meanwhile, play of Fauci’s contemporary detractors. One television news pundit calls for his head on a pike.
“I often use the analog of the Roman forum. There were people throwing roses at him and then throwing garbage,” says Tobias in an interview alongside Hoffman. “We really wanted people to get a sense of what that was like nationally but also what it was like for a human being. It’s very sobering to his wife and daughters (to have to) deal with the level of threats to him and to themselves.”
US producer prices jump an unprecedented 8.3% in August
Inflation at the wholesale level climbed 8.3% last month from August 2020, the biggest annual gain since the Labor Department started calculating the 12-month number in 2010.
The Labor Department reported Friday that its producer price index — which measures inflationary pressures before they reach consumers — rose 0.7% last month from July after increasing 1% in both June and July.
Inflation has been stirring as the economy recovers from last year’s brief but intense coronavirus recession. Supply chain bottlenecks and a shortage of workers have pushed prices higher.
“Since the pandemic, supply chains have never been the same and likely won’t normalize for at least six months,” said a report by Contingent Macro Advisors.
State heath officials confirm 4,331 new coronavirus cases
The state Department of Health (DOH) reported 4,331 new coronavirus cases and 67 new deaths on Friday.
The update brings the state’s totals to 597,732 cases and 6,917 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. Thursday.
In addition, 33,521 people have been hospitalized in the state due to the virus — 81 new hospitalizations. In King County, the state’s most populous, state health officials have confirmed a total of 141,455 COVID-19 diagnoses and 1,792 deaths.
Since vaccinations began in mid-December, the state and health care providers have administered 8,714,911 doses and 55.7% 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 15,153 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.
Vaccine for both COVID-19 and flu? Moderna making all-encompassing booster. What to know
Flu season is on the horizon, while the coronavirus continues to spread with alarming speed. But what happens when the two germs collide?
It’s difficult to predict what this year’s flu season will look like, but Moderna, the company behind one of the nation’s three COVID-19 vaccines, is attempting to make the what-ifs a bit more predictable.
Moderna announced Thursday it is planning to create a single dose vaccine that serves as a booster against both COVID-19 and the influenza virus as part of it’s “novel respiratory vaccine program.”
The vaccine will not be ready for this year’s flu season, which some experts predict could be worse than last year’s. The 2020 influenza season was virtually nonexistent due to coronavirus restrictions.
Biden’s vaccine rules ignite instant, hot GOP opposition
President Joe Biden’s aggressive push to require millions of U.S. workers to vaccinate against the coronavirus is running into a wall of resistance from Republicans threatening everything from lawsuits to civil disobedience, plunging the country deeper into culture wars that have festered since the onset of the pandemic.
In South Carolina, Gov. Henry McMaster says he will fight “to the gates of hell to protect the liberty and livelihood of every South Carolinian.” South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, a potential 2024 presidential candidate, says she is preparing a lawsuit. And J.D. Vance, a conservative running for a U.S. Senate seat in Ohio, describes Biden’s move as Washington’s “attempt to bully and coerce citizens.”
“Do not comply with the mandates,” Vance says.
Biden is hardly backing down. In a visit to a school on Friday, he accused the governors of being “cavalier” with the health of American youngsters, and when asked about foes who would file legal challenges, he retorted, “Have at it.”
FDA official hopeful younger kids can get shots this year
The Food and Drug Administration’s vaccine chief said Friday the agency will rapidly evaluate COVID-19 vaccinations for younger children as soon as it gets the needed data — and won’t cut corners.
Dr. Peter Marks told The Associated Press he is “very, very hopeful” that vaccinations for 5- to 11-year-olds will be underway by year’s end. Maybe sooner: One company, Pfizer, is expected to turn over its study results by the end of September, and Marks say the agency hopefully could analyze them “in a matter of weeks.”
In the U.S., anyone 12 and older is eligible for COVID-19 vaccines. But with schools reopening and the delta variant causing more infections among kids, many parents are anxiously wondering when younger children can get the shots.
Unvaccinated people were 11 times more likely to die of COVID-19, new CDC report finds
People who were not fully vaccinated this spring and summer were more than 10 times more likely to be hospitalized, and 11 times more likely to die of COVID-19 than those who were fully vaccinated, according to one of three major studies published Friday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that highlight the continued efficacy of all three vaccines amid the spread of the highly contagious delta variant.
A second study showed the Moderna coronavirus vaccine was moderately more effective in preventing hospitalizations than its counterparts from Pfizer-BioNTech and Johnson & Johnson. That assessment was based on the largest U.S. study to date of the real-world effectiveness of all three vaccines, involving about 32,000 patients seen in hospitals, emergency departments and urgent care clinics across nine states from June through early August.
While the three vaccines were collectively 86% effective in preventing hospitalization, protection was significantly higher among Moderna vaccine recipients (95%) than among those who got Pfizer-BioNTech (80%) or Johnson & Johnson (60%). That finding echoes a smaller study by the Mayo Clinic Health System in August, not yet peer-reviewed, which also showed the Moderna vaccine with higher effectiveness than Pfizer-BioNTech at preventing infections during the delta wave.
Court: DeSantis ban on school mask mandates back in force
The on-again, off-again ban imposed by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis to prevent mandating masks for Florida school students amid the ongoing coronavirus outbreak is back in force.
The 1st District Court of Appeal ruled Friday that a Tallahassee judge should not have lifted an automatic stay two days ago that halted enforcement of the mask mandate ban.
The upshot is that the state could resume its efforts to impose financial penalties on the 13 school boards currently defying the mask mandate ban. Those have included docking salaries of local school board members who voted to impose student mask mandates.
DeSantis spokesperson Christina Pushaw said in a tweet that the appeals court decision means “the rule requiring ALL Florida school districts to protect parents’ rights to make choices about masking kids is BACK in effect!”
The U.S. Department of Education announced Thursday it has begun a new grant program to provide funding for school districts in Florida and elsewhere that lose money for implementing anti-coronavirus practices such as mandatory masks.
Analysis: Biden takes fight to unvaccinated in virus battle
They’re a source of frustration. A risk to their fellow citizens. A threat to the nation’s economic recovery.
President Joe Biden is trying to concentrate the anger of the nation’s inoculated majority against the refusal of 25% of eligible Americans to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
Nearly 8 months after declaring “war” on the coronavirus as he took office, Biden announced far-reaching new federal requirements Thursday that could force millions to get shots. In doing so, he embraced those who haven’t rolled up their sleeves as a new obstacle amid a devastating surge in cases that is straining the nation’s health system and constricting its economy.
‘Paradise’: Australian states free of COVID resist opening
It can seem like Australia’s west coast has almost entirely avoided COVID-19.
A mask-free nightlife is thriving and huge crowds are turning out for sporting events, including 53,000 rugby fans who crammed into a Perth stadium to watch New Zealand’s All Blacks defeat Australia’s Wallabies on a recent sunny Sunday.
“We are in paradise,” said one of those fans, Andrea Williams, who is all for the region continuing to defy the federal government and maintain strict border restrictions that keep it separated from the pandemic raging in large parts of the rest of Australia.
The Western Australia state capital of Perth has largely remained open for business — behind its shut borders.
But their COVID-free lifestyle could be coming to an end. States that remain virtually COVID-free face growing pressure to open their borders, with the national government arguing that internal border restrictions are a drag on the national economy.
Federal mandate takes vaccine decision off employers’ hands
Larger U.S. businesses now won’t have to decide whether to require their employees to get vaccinated against COVID-19. Doing so is now federal policy.
President Joe Biden announced sweeping new orders Thursday that will require employers with more than 100 workers to mandate immunizations or offer weekly testing. The new rules could affect as many as 100 million Americans, although it’s not clear how many of those people are currently unvaccinated.
Large swaths of the private sector have already stepped in to mandate shots for at least some of their employees. But Biden said Thursday that “many of us are frustrated with the nearly 80 million Americans who are not fully vaccinated.”
The U.S. is still struggling to curb the surging delta variant of the coronavirus, which is killing thousands each week and jeopardizing the nation’s economic recovery.
COVID vaccine creator says mass boosters may be unnecessary
Booster shots to extend the protection of COVID-19 vaccines may be unnecessary for many people, a leading scientist behind the AstraZeneca vaccine said on Friday.
Oxford University Professor Sarah Gilbert told The Telegraph newspaper that immunity from the vaccine was holding up well — even against the delta variant. While the elderly and those who are immune-compromised may need boosters, the standard two-dose regimen is providing lasting protection for most people, she said.
“We will look at each situation; the immuno-compromised and elderly will receive boosters,” she said. “But I don’t think we need to boost everybody. Immunity is lasting well in the majority of people.”
Least-vaccinated states lead spike in children’s COVID cases, leaving some hospitals stretched
Just as millions of families around the United States navigate sending their children back to school at an uncertain moment in the pandemic, the number of children admitted to the hospital with COVID-19 has risen to the highest levels reported to date. Nearly 30,000 of them entered hospitals in August.
Pediatric hospitalizations, driven by a record rise in COVID-19 infections among children, have swelled across the country, overwhelming children’s hospitals and intensive care units in states like Louisiana and Texas.
Children remain markedly less likely than adults, especially older adults, to be hospitalized or die from COVID-19. But the growing number of children entering the hospital, however small compared with adults, should not be an afterthought, experts say, and should instead encourage communities to increase their efforts to protect their youngest residents.
Citing high shot rates, Danes end COVID-19 restriction
After 548 days with restrictions to limit the spread of COVID-19, Denmark’s high vaccination rate has enabled the Scandinavian country to become one of the first European Union nations to lift all domestic restrictions.
The return to normality has been gradual, but as of Friday, the digital pass — a proof of having been vaccinated — is no longer required when entering night clubs, making it the last virus safeguard to fall.
More than 80% of people above the age of 12 have had the two shots.
Alaska state senator says she can’t work at Capitol after Alaska Airlines ban
Republican Sen. Lora Reinbold of Alaska has asked to be excused from legislative business in the state Capitol, telling fellow lawmakers she can’t reach Juneau because she was banned from Alaska Airlines after she wouldn’t mask up.
In a procedural request Thursday morning, she asked to be excused from votes in the Capitol starting Sept. 11. The excusal ends Jan. 15, three days before the start of the next regular session.
Reinbold was banned from Alaska Airlines earlier this year for failing to follow the company’s COVID-19 rules on mask wearing, which she claims is unconstitutional.
Delta Air Lines is the only other large carrier that flies into Juneau, but its service to Juneau is seasonal and ends in September.
Alaska is experiencing a major surge in coronavirus cases, and the number of ill Alaskans has strained hospital capacity.
Catch up on the past 24 hours
What the president’s new COVID-19 orders mean in Washington state: Employers with more than 100 workers must require vaccination or offer weekly testing under a sweeping mandate that will affect 100 million Americans. While leaders of already short-staffed businesses in Washington are fearing a mass exodus, legal experts say the mandate could come as a relief in some ways. President Joe Biden’s plan will shape everyday life in ways that go far beyond than vaccination: Here’s a quick look at the key changes ahead.
The future of office work got even murkier in the Seattle area as Microsoft yesterday pulled the plug on its back-to-office plans. The company isn’t even trying to predict a reopening date, joining a growing list of local tech firms whose workers will stay hunkered down at home for quite a while.
Five outdoor “superspreader events” in Washington have sparked a new mask rule that will take effect Monday at gatherings outside.
The trouble started before the flight from Seattle took off, with Alaska Airlines removing several “disruptive” passengers. Then, after the plane was in the air, a ruckus over masks erupted and the pilots had to change their plans. As Biden yesterday doubled the fine for mask violations on planes, one U.S. lawmaker threw fuel on the travel fires with his plan for an airplane vaccine mandate.
A single-dose vaccine for both COVID-19 and flu is on the way. But it won’t be ready in time for this flu season, which is expected to hit especially hard.