Coronavirus daily news updates, October 5: What to know today about COVID-19 in the Seattle area, Washington state and the world

Linda Rider

Editor’s note: This is a live account of COVID-19 updates from Tuesday, October 5, 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 It is no longer being updated.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.

Washington health officials on Monday urged state residents to stay as healthy as possible as the deadline for state workers to receive the COVID-19 vaccine approaches in a couple of weeks. Officials cited worries that the inability of unvaccinated health employees to work may place additional strains on hospitals already struggling with staffing.

Meanwhile, federal authorities charged a Michigan nurse with stealing coronavirus vaccination cards from the hospital where she worked and selling them to unvaccinated individuals at $150-$200 during a period of over four months.

In a move following Pfizer and Moderna, Johnson & Johnson on Tuesday asked the Food and Drug Administration to authorize a booster shot as evidence continues to highlight that elderly and high-risk groups may need additional safeguards against the virus.

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 and the world.

Full house: Fans flow, home-field edge back for MLB playoffs

Tampa Bay Rays left fielder Randy Arozarena makes a catch on a fly out by New York Yankees’ Aaron Judge during the third inning of a baseball game on Saturday, Oct. 2, 2021, in New York. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)

Kevin Kiermaier and the Tampa Bay Rays fought furiously in 2020 for their first division title in over a decade, assuring themselves home-field advantage throughout the AL playoffs.

In the end, it meant little more than last at-bats and a more comfortable clubhouse in San Diego.

The reigning AL champions are back as the league’s top seed, anticipating a few more travel miles and a lot more adrenaline. Plus, this time the fan noise will be real.

“It’s going to be a lot different from last year,” said Kiermaier, a defensive whiz in the outfield. “And obviously for the better.”

Baseball’s postseason is returning to its pre-pandemic format a year after COVID-19 confined most of last October’s action to empty stadiums in neutral sites. It’s a welcome change for players who pushed through last year’s playoffs supplying their own energy on a stage normally powered by the buzz created by live audiences.

Read the full story here.

—Jake Seiner, The Associated Press

Two Texas university employees asked students if they were vaccinated. They were fired weeks later.

On move-in day in August, students in the Texas Academy of Leadership in the Humanities arrived at their dorm at Lamar University and were handed a blue slip of paper.

The form asked the students – gifted high school juniors and seniors from around the state – if they had been vaccinated against the coronavirus or if they planned to get immunized. With just a few exceptions, almost all of the nearly 30 students said they had already been vaccinated.

Relieved by the outcome, student services coordinator Bruce Hodge emailed the results of the survey to the university dean who oversees the program. Shortly thereafter, he said, the dean responded and asked what he planned to do with the information.

In conversations with the dean, Hodge said he wanted to be prepared for a worst-case scenario. He and his colleagues who run the program essentially act as parents in absentia for the mostly 16- and 17-year-old participants, making sure they are safe in their dorm rooms each night, caring for them in sickness, and even taking them to urgent care or the emergency room if needed.

“I could foresee a situation with an incapacitated student where I couldn’t reach a parent and a doctor is asking me if they’re vaccinated,” Hodge told The Washington Post.

Read the full story here.

—Jessica Lipscomb, The Washington Post

Idaho governor, National Guard boss shun lt. gov. actions

FILE – In this Sept. 15, 2021 file photo Republican Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin addresses a rally on the Statehouse steps in Boise, Idaho. Idaho Gov. Brad Little said he will rescind an executive order involving COVID-19 vaccines by McGeachin, and the commanding general of the Idaho National Guard also on Tuesday, Oct. 5 told McGeachin she can’t activate troops to send to the U.S.-Mexico border. Little and Major General Michael J. Garshak made the decisions as McGeachin attempted to exercise her authority as acting governor with Little out of the state. (AP Photo/Keith Ridler,File)

Idaho Gov. Brad Little said he will rescind an executive order involving COVID-19 vaccines by Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin, and the commanding general of the Idaho National Guard also on Tuesday told McGeachin she can’t activate troops to send to the U.S.-Mexico border.

Little and Major General Michael J. Garshak made the statements as McGeachin on Tuesday in a flurry of activity attempted to exercise her authority as acting governor with Little out of the state.

Little is in Texas meeting with nine other Republican governors over concerns on how President Joe Biden is handling border issues. McGeachin, a far-right Republican, is running for governor. In Idaho, the governor and lieutenant governor don’t run on the same ticket.

McGeachin’s executive order issued Tuesday afternoon seeks, among other things, to prevent employers from requiring their employees be vaccinated against COVID-19. Most mainstream Republicans prefer to stay out of the employee-employer relationship.

Read the full story here.

—Keith Ridler, The Associated Press

One-third of Seattle cops haven’t submitted proof of COVID vaccination so far

More than 350 Seattle Police Department officers had not submitted proof of coronavirus vaccination by Tuesday. (Alan Berner / The Seattle Times)

With less than two weeks until a city deadline, more than 350 Seattle police officers — a full one-third of all cops available to be called into service in the city — have yet to submit proof showing they’ve been fully vaccinated against the coronavirus, a department spokesperson acknowledged Tuesday.

Sgt. Randy Huserik, a spokesman for the department, confirmed the figures on Tuesday, but said officers who haven’t submitted vaccination records are not yet out of compliance with the city’s COVID-19 vaccination mandate.

The total number of officers who had not submitted vaccination records — 354 — was the latest count presented during a videoconference among Seattle police commanders Tuesday, according to sources familiar with the presentation. The number represents 33% of all officers in service, the sources and city figures say.

“The actual deadline isn’t until Oct. 18,” Huserik said. “So, we will continue to urge people to get their cards in during the next two weeks, and then figure out what our hard numbers will become Oct. 19.”

Read the full story here.

—Lewis Kamb and Daniel Beekman

State health officials confirm 2,392 new coronavirus cases

The state Department of Health (DOH) reported 2,392 new coronavirus cases and 53 new deaths on Tuesday.

The update brings the state’s totals to 670,207 cases and 7,860 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. Monday. Tallies may be higher earlier in the week because new state data isn’t reported on weekends.

In addition, 37,238 people have been hospitalized in the state due to the virus — 109 new hospitalizations. In King County, the state’s most populous, state health officials have confirmed a total of 153,740 COVID-19 diagnoses and 1,889 deaths.

Since vaccinations began in mid-December, the state and health care providers have administered 9,154,939 doses and 58.3% 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 15,583 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.

Rapid At-Home COVID Tests Are About to Become Much More Widely Available, FDA Says

Rapid at-home COVID-19 testing is about to become much more widely available in the United States, the Food and Drug Administration said, following authorization of a mass-produced testing kit.

Competing at-home tests have been on the market for months, but Acon Laboratories’ test, authorized by the agency Monday, “is expected to double rapid at-home testing capacity in the U.S. over the next several weeks,” Dr. Jeffrey E. Shuren, director of the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health, said in a statement.

“By year’s end, the manufacturer plans to produce more than 100 million tests per month, and this number will rise to 200 million per month by February 2022,” he said.

Like tests already available from Abbott, Quidel, Becton Dickinson and other makers, Acon’s test is made to detect antigens, proteins from the coronavirus, on a nasal swab, and produces results in 15 minutes.

Read the full story here.

—Richard Perez-Pena, The New York Times

Lindsey Graham told Republicans they ‘ought to think about’ getting a coronavirus vaccine. They booed him.

South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham was only midway through his sentence when the crowd began shouting over him.

“If you haven’t had the vaccine you ought to think about getting it because if you’re my age — “

“No!” attendees at a Republican event held Saturday responded as others booed. Graham was speaking at a country club in Summerville, S.C., about 25 miles outside of Charleston.

Bowing his head and holding up a hand, the 66-year-old — who got his coronavirus vaccine in December — responded to the crowd, telling them, “I didn’t tell you to get it. You ought to think about it.”

Read the full story here.

—Gina Harkins, The Washington Post

A maker of rapid coronavirus tests recalls nearly 200,000 kits over concerns of false positives

Ellume, an Australian company that makes a widely available at-home coronavirus test, has recalled nearly 200,000 test kits because of concerns about a higher-than-expected rate of false positives. That represents about 5.6% of the approximately 3.5 million test kits Ellume has shipped to the United States.

The company, which detected the problem in mid-September, traced the issue to variations in the quality of one of the raw materials used in the test kit, Dr. Sean Parsons, Ellume’s CEO, said. He declined to specify the material in question, citing a desire not to publicly disclose precisely how the test kits work.

Approximately 427,000 test kits, including some provided to the U.S. Department of Defense, were affected by the problem, Parsons said. Roughly half have already been used, he said, yielding about 42,000 positive results. As many as one-quarter of those positives may have been inaccurate, Parsons said, although he stressed that it would be difficult to determine exactly how many.

Read the story here.

—Emily Anthes, The New York Times

King County woman confirmed to have died from rare J&J vaccine complication

A King County woman in her late 30s has become the first person in Washington state to die from a rare blood-clotting syndrome after receiving the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, local health officials confirmed Tuesday morning.

The woman received her shot on Aug. 26. She died less than two weeks later on Sept. 7, according to a statement from Public Health — Seattle & King County.

Public health officials said the syndrome was a “very rare” complication of the vaccine. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has counted three other similar deaths nationally.

“We at Public Health are saddened by this loss and offer condolences to the woman’s family and loved ones,” the Tuesday statement said.

The woman’s cause of death was thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS), a condition researchers have said is a rare but “potentially serious adverse event in people who received the J&J vaccine,” the statement said.

Her diagnosis was confirmed by the CDC’s clinical immunization safety assessment project, according to the public health department.

Read the story here.

—Elise Takahama

Arizona can’t use COVID money for anti-mask grants, feds say

FILE – In this Dec. 2, 2020, file photo, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey speaks at a press conference in Phoenix.  In the summer of 2021 Ducey signed into law several measures that restricted the power of local governments to enact COVID-19 protection measures. On Monday, Sept. 27 a judge struck down Arizona laws prohibiting public school districts from imposing mask requirements, colleges from requiring vaccinations for students and communities from establishing vaccine passports for people to show they were vaccinated. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, Pool, File)

The Biden administration on Tuesday ordered Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey to stop using the state’s federal pandemic funding on a pair of new education grants that can only be directed to schools without mask mandates.

In a letter to Ducey, the Treasury Department said the grant programs are “not a permissible use” of the federal funding. It’s the latest attempt by the Biden administration to push back against Republican governors who have opposed mask mandates and otherwise sought to use federal pandemic funding to advance their own agendas.

Ducey, a Republican, created the grant programs in August to put pressure on school districts that have defied the state’s ban on mask mandates.

Read the story here.

—Collin Binkley, The Associated Press

Thousands of SEIU 775 home-care workers remain exempt from Gov. Inslee’s vaccine mandate

The sweeping vaccination mandate issue d by Gov. Jay Inslee demands that hundreds of thousands of health care and government workers get fully vaccinated by Oct. 18 or face firing.

That includes doctors and nurses, chiropractors and massage therapists, and people working in dental offices, pharmacies and midwifery centers. It also applies to tens of thousands of K-12 and state government employees, including many still working remotely from home.

Inslee has generally played hardball with his order, declining to offer a regular testing alternative like those offered in other states for employees who don’t want to receive COVID-19 vaccines.

But his order included a big carve-out — exempting tens of thousands of unionized home-care workers who care for older adults and people with disabilities, helping them with meals, dressing, bathing and other daily tasks. On Page 9 of Inslee’s Aug. 20 proclamation was a little-noticed clause stating the mandate does not apply to “individual providers” and others who offer personal care in someone’s home.

Washington has about 45,000 such providers, who contract with the state to provide in-home services to clients who are eligible for care through Medicaid. Thousands more not covered by the mandate are home-care workers who are trained, paid and supervised by larger home-care agencies.

Read the story here.

—Jim Brunner and Paige Cornwell

Everything you need to know about Merck’s game-changing COVID pill

Molnupiravir, an antiviral pill being developed by Merck & Co., has been touted as a potential game changer in the fight against COVID-19.

The experimental medication was shown to reduce the risk of hospitalization or death by about half in a late-stage study of adults with mild-to-moderate cases.

The promise of a drug that patients can easily get and take at home has prompted some governments to order supplies even before regulators have decided whether to approve its use.

Read the story here to learn more about molnupiravir.

—Jason Gale, Bloomberg

Vaccines are here. School’s open. Some parents still agonize

This photo provided by Amber Cessac shows Amber Cessac taking a selfie as her daughters do their homework at their home in Georgetown, Texas on Sept. 9, 2021. A year and a half in, the pandemic is still agonizing families. There is still the exhaustion of worrying about exposure to COVID-19 itself, and the policies at schools and day cares where children spend their time. The spread of the more infectious delta variant, particularly among people who refuse vaccinations, has caused a big increase in infections in children. But there’s also COVID exposures and illnesses — and even minor colds — at schools and day cares that mean children get sent home, forcing parents to scramble for child care. (Amber Cessac via AP)

 Eight days into the school year, all five of Amber Cessac’s daughters, ages 4 to 10, had tested positive for COVID-19.

Having them all sick at once and worrying about long-term repercussions as other parents at their school, and even her own mother, downplayed the virus, “broke something inside of me,” Cessac said.

“The anxiety and the stress has sort of been bottled up,” she said. “It just felt so, I don’t know, defeating and made me feel so helpless.”

Like parents everywhere, Cessac has been dealing with pandemic stress for over 18 months now.

There’s the exhaustion of worrying about the disease itself— made worse by the spread of the more infectious delta variant, particularly among people who refuse vaccinations, which has caused a big increase in infections in children.

Online school disrupted kids’ educations and parents’ work. Then the return of in-person school this year brought rising exposures and community tension as parents fought over proper protocols. The politicization of masks, vaccines and shutdowns have worn many parents out. Deciding what’s OK for children to do and what isn’t can feel fraught.

Read the story here.

—Tali Arbel, The Associated Press

Pfizer’s COVID vaccine provides 90% protection against hospitalization for 6 months, study finds

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is 90 percent effective at preventing hospitalization for up to six months, with no signs of waning during that time period, according to a large new U.S. study conducted by researchers at Pfizer and Kaiser Permanente. (Emily Elconin/The New York Times)

The Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine is 90% effective at preventing hospitalization for up to six months, with no signs of waning during that time period, according to a large new U.S. study conducted by researchers at Pfizer and Kaiser Permanente.

The vaccine also provides powerful protection against the highly contagious delta variant, the scientists found. In a subset of people who had samples of their virus sequenced, the vaccine was 93% effective against hospitalization from delta, compared with 95% against hospitalization from other variants.

“Protection against hospitalization remains high over time, even when delta predominates,” said Sara Tartof, an public health researcher at Kaiser Permanente Southern California and the first author of the study.

The vaccine’s effectiveness against infection did decline over time, however, falling from 88% during the first month after vaccination to 47% after five months.

Read the story here.

—Emily Anthes, The New York Times

Venice, overwhelmed by tourists, tries tracking them

A view of the Grand Canal in Venice, Italy, Sept. 13, 2021. The city’s leaders are acquiring the cellphone data of unwitting tourists and using hundreds of surveillance cameras to monitor visitors and prevent crowding. (Alessandro Grassani / The New York Times)

As the pandemic chased away visitors, some Venetians allowed themselves to dream of a different city — one that belonged as much to them as to the tourists who crowd them out of their stone piazzas, cobblestone alleyways and even their apartments.

In a quieted city, the chiming of its 100 bell towers, the lapping of canal waters and the Venetian dialect suddenly became the dominant soundtrack. The cruise ships that disgorged thousands of day-trippers and caused damaging waves in the sinking city were gone, and then banned.

But now, the city’s mayor is taking crowd control to a new level, pushing high-tech solutions that alarm even many of those who have long campaigned for a Venice for Venetians.

The city’s leaders are acquiring the cellphone data of unwitting tourists and using hundreds of surveillance cameras to monitor visitors and prevent crowding. Next summer, they plan to install long-debated gates at key entry points; visitors coming only for the day will have to book ahead and pay a fee to enter. If too many people want to come, some will be turned away.

The conservative and business-friendly mayor, Luigi Brugnaro, and his allies say their aim is to create a more livable city for beleaguered Venetians.

“Either we are pragmatic, or we live in the world of fairy tales,” said Paolo Bettio, who heads Venis, the company that handles the city’s information technology.

Read the story here.

—Emma Bubola, The New York Times

Virus deaths in Russia hit record for third time this month

Coronavirus deaths in Russia hit a record for the third time this month on Tuesday, and daily new infections once again exceeded 25,000 — a surge that comes as vaccination rates in the country remain stagnantly low and the government shuns imposing tough restrictions to stem the spread.

Russia’s state coronavirus task force reported 25,110 new confirmed cases on Tuesday and 895 new deaths — the country’s highest daily death toll in the pandemic. The previous record, of 890 deaths, was registered on Sunday, and the one before that, of 887 deaths, occurred on Friday.

The Kremlin has said that the situation elicits concern, but still it is not considering a countrywide lockdown or any other nationwide measures.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press

AstraZeneca asks FDA to authorize COVID antibody treatment

AstraZeneca, the drugmaker that developed one of the first COVID-19 vaccines, has asked the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to authorize the emergency use of a first-of-a-kind antibody treatment to prevent the disease.

The Anglo-Swedish company said Tuesday that the treatment, known as AZD7442, would be the first long-acting antibody combination to receive an emergency authorization for COVID-19 prevention. If authorized, the drug would likely be limited to people with compromised immune systems who don’t get sufficient protection from vaccination.

The FDA has authorized three other antibody drugs already, including two that can be given after a possible COVID-19 exposure to head off symptoms. AstraZeneca’s drug would instead be given as a preventive measure in people who have increased vulnerability to the virus.

The FDA has stressed that antibody drugs are not a substitute for vaccination, which is the most effective, long-lasting form of virus protection. Antibody drugs also are expensive to produce and require an IV or injection and health care workers to administer.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press

WHO still reviewing Sputnik V vaccine, as Russia presses bid

The World Health Organization is still reviewing data about Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine as part of hopes that it can be approved by the U.N. health agency for emergency use against coronavirus, but said Tuesday that no decision is imminent.

The clarification comes after Russian Health Minister Mikhail Murashko in recent days said that administrative issues were among the main holdups in WHO’s decision-making process about whether to grant an emergency use listing to Sputnik V, as it has for a half-dozen other vaccines.

Such approval would be a show of international confidence in the vaccine after a rigorous review process, and could pave the way for its inclusion into the COVAX program organized by WHO and key partners that is shipping COVID-19 vaccines to scores of countries around the world based on need.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press

Catch up on the past 24 hours

Will Washington’s highest-paid employee lose his job? There’s no reason to believe WSU football coach Nick Rolovich got a vaccine in time to comply with the state’s mandate. That leaves one path: an exemption. A look at how that works shows the end of this saga could get really messy.

Everyone, please stay as healthy as possible because this is really not the time to need care, Seattle-area hospitals are warning. They’re worried about an exodus of unvaccinated health care workers who didn’t get their shots in time to meet the mandate. Some state workers will get extra time to comply, Gov. Jay Inslee’s administration said yesterday.

People who got the Johnson & Johnson and Moderna vaccines could get booster shots as soon as this month. J&J today sought U.S. approval, touting how a second dose revs up immunity. Meanwhile, a new study details how Pfizer’s vaccine holds up against the delta variant.

Alaska villagers tried to keep out COVID-19 by putting a gate on the only road in and taking turns guarding it around the clock. For remote places like Tanacross, hours away from the closest hospital, the dangers are high as Alaska sees one of the nation’s sharpest COVID-19 surges.

—Kris Higginson

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