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COVID-19 updates: Fauci says US may see ‘surge upon surge’

The state Department of Health says there have been 162,700 coronavirus cases in Washington state, and 2,703 people have died from the virus statewide. Check below for more updates.

Confirmed coronavirus cases across Washington state

Sunday, Nov. 29

5:17pm – Health officials say there have been 162,700 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Washington state, and 2703 deaths since the pandemic began. The DOH does not update the number of deaths on weekends. The state says 10,759 people have been hospitalized since the pandemic began.

3:13pm – New York City will reopen its school system to in-person learning and increase the number of days a week many children attend class even as the coronavirus pandemic intensifies in the city.

Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Sunday that some elementary schools and pre-kindergarten programs will resume classes Dec. 7. Others will take longer to reopen their doors. The announcement marks a major policy reversal for the nation’s largest school system. Read more from AP.

11:16am – While states are expecting to start seeing distribution of COVID-19 vaccine in mid- to late-December, children may be some of last to be vaccinated.

“Just because a vaccine is safe for a 20-year-old doesn’t mean it’s going to be safe for a two-month-old or a two-day-old, and so the reason it takes longer for children trials is because we do them stepwise,” Dr. Janet Englund, a professor of pediatric infectious diseases at the UW School of Medicine and a member of the NIH-sponsored Seattle Vaccine Treatment and Evaluation Unit told the UW Daily.

The Daily reports Pfizer is the only vaccine maker to announce it has started testing on children.

8:32am – The nation’s top infectious disease expert said Sunday that the U.S. may see “surge upon a surge” of the coronavirus over the coming weeks, and he does not expect current recommendations around social distancing to be relaxed before Christmas.

“When you have the kind of inflection that we have, it doesn’t all of a sudden turn around like that,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told ABC’s “This Week.” “So clearly in the next few weeks, we’re going to have the same sort of thing. And perhaps even two or three weeks down the line … we may see a surge upon a surge.” Read more from AP.

Saturday, Nov. 28

8:06pm – The city of Seattle says 12 residents have lost their lives to COVID-19 in November. It also reports that it’s at nearly 11K cases with 34% of them occurring in November alone. Hospitalizations have reached almost the same levels as in March and April.

4:45pm – Health officials say there have been 160,634 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Washington state, and 2,703 deaths. The state does not update information on deaths on weekends. Since the outbreak began, the DOH says there have been 10,663 hospitalizations.

2:43pm – Consumers spent an estimated $9 billion on U.S. retail websites on Black Friday, according to Adobe Analytics, which tracks online shopping. That was a 22% increase over the previous record of $7.4 billion set in 2019.

Meanwhile, traffic to physical stores plummeted as retailers tried to prevent crowds by cutting their hours and limiting doorbuster deals. U.S. store visits dropped by 52% on Black Friday, according to Sensormatic Solutions, a retail tracker. Read more from AP.

8:37am – The annual holiday events in Leavenworth are joining the list of festivities that have had to be altered this year due to the pandemic. The lighting ceremonies that would usually spread holiday cheer on Thanksgiving evening, as well as every December weekend until Christmas, have all been postponed to 2021. Read more.

Friday, Nov. 27

4:47pm – As of November 26, the state Department of Health updated numbers indicates that there have been 158,167 coronavirus cases in Washington state, with 10,496 hospitalizations, and 2,703 deaths statewide.

3:00pm – Dr. John Lynch, director of the Infectious Diseases Clinic at Harborview, says medical facilities, hospitals, and clinics in the state are well-staffed and able to provide all the care that is appropriate. However, they are starting to think about what it would look like if the current trends continue.

11:12am – According to the Washington State Department of Health, the overall percentage of Washington state residents with active COVID-19 infection is higher than the peak in late March. If disease transmission continues at the same pace observed early this month, the DOH says by early December, the number of daily hospital admissions could be double current numbers.

“The situation is incredibly urgent and there is still time to turn the tide before our hospitals become overwhelmed,” said Secretary of Health John Wiesman. “… When added up collectively, each action we take to reduce the chance of spreading COVID-19 matters — changing an in-person gathering to a remote one, wearing a mask around people who don’t live with us, washing our hands more often and staying home if we think we might be getting sick.”

8:57am – Dr. Daniel Pastula, a neuroinfectious disease physician at UC Health University of Colorado Hospital, said the outdoor element of ski trips is generally safe during a pandemic, but the virus could spread if people congregate in places such as lift lines, lodges, restaurants and bathrooms.

Ski resorts in Washington are starting to open this weekend, with COVID restrictions in place, and many requiring advance reservations. Read more.

6:05am – Eager shoppers lined up outside a Tacoma Best Buy for Black Friday this morning, but KIRO 7 TV reports that workers had to come outside to turn them away. Stores are enforcing COVID-19 safety limits on how many customers can be inside at any time.

5:42am – A COVID-19 vaccine is set to be approved for adults soon, but children will have to wait a bit longer. In the meantime, pediatricians say it’s time to make sure kids’ other vaccinations are up to date. In Washington state, the vaccination rates for children have plummeted during the pandemic.

Thursday, Nov. 26

8:17pm – Data shows the seven-day rolling average for daily new cases in the United States rose over the past two weeks from 127,487 on Nov. 11 to 175,809 on Thursday. The seven-day rolling average for daily new deaths rose from 1,044 to 1,658 over that time. Read more from the AP.

4:39pm – The Washington State Department of Health says it’s closed to observe the Thanksgiving holiday on Thursday, and will not publish COVID-19 data dashboard updates. Regular reporting is expected to return Friday.

1:58pm – The balloons were in the sky and some marching bands took to the streets for the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on Thursday, but coronavirus restrictions meant it was without the throngs of people usually scrambling for a view.

Instead of its typical path through Manhattan, this year’s parade was kept to the area in front of Macy’s flagship store and aimed at a television audience instead of live crowds. Read more from the AP.

8:23am – National reading and math tests long used to track what U.S. students know in those subjects are being postponed from next year to 2022 over concerns about whether testing would be feasible or produce valid results during the coronavirus pandemic, the National Center for Education Statistics announced Wednesday. Read more from the AP.

Wednesday, Nov. 25

4:42pm – Health officials say there have been 153,906 confirmed cases of coronavirus cases in Washington state, and 2,704 deaths since the start of the pandemic. The DOH reports 10,242 people have been hospitalized.

4:22pm – The Renton School District wants to send small groups of kids with the greatest needs back to classrooms on Monday, Nov. 30, but teachers say the district is failing to address health and safety guidelines. In the latest complaint filed by teachers, they say the district has not yet created a joint safety committee at each building. It also hasn’t addressed: access to personal protective equipment; training in proper protocols and use of PPE, hygiene, and cleaning; reporting procedures; and indoor air quality issues and ventilation.

2:50pm – In an update on Wednesday, Scott Lindquist, State Epidemiologist for Communicable Diseases, said Washington state is increasing contact tracers by 350 in the next few weeks. Those new contact tracers will focus on cluster or super-spreader events — such as large church events, gatherings, or meetings. They’re asking the public to help develop their own isolation plans and to be honest with the contact tracers.

The DOH also reported that the number of new cases is rapidly increasing on both sides of the state, and the number of hospitalizations reflect that trend. The number of hospital beds occupied by coronavirus patients has doubled in month of November, from about 450 to 900.

Case counts are increasing in almost every county in Washington, most noticeably among young adults, according to the DOH.

12:27pm – In a new report from Public Health — Seattle & King County, a variety of community based and social activities, household transmission, and workplaces have been the most commonly reported sources of potential exposure settings for COVID-19 in King County.

Speaking about the report Wednesday, Dr. Jeff Duchin clarified that it’s not always possible to determine with certainty where someone was exposed to COVID-19, in part because many people have been to multiple places where they could have been infected, don’t remember all their activities in the past two weeks, or don’t want to share. Read more about the report from Public Health Insider.

As cases are doubling approximately every two weeks, Dr. Duchin said, and hospitals systems are “already stretched,” he again urged people to avoid gathering with anyone outside of your household for Thanksgiving and to take all the prevention steps possible to limit the spread of COVID-19 at home, at work, and anywhere you go in public spaces, including wearing masks and practicing social distancing.

11:42am – As you do your Thanksgiving shopping this week, grocery store workers want to remind you and store management that they are frontline workers, too. Read more.

10:35am – Local long-term care facilities are discouraging people from leaving for Thanksgiving, with many offering catered dinners or providing outdoor tents for families to drive-by for a visit or dessert.

Senior homes have been locked down since the start of the pandemic, which means no visitors, but that doesn’t prevent residents from leaving and coming back.

8:46am – After the Apple Cup was canceled because too many football players from Washington State University tested positive for COVID-19, the University of Washington found another opponent for the weekend. Utah will play the UW at Husky Stadium on Saturday at 7:30 p.m.

Utah had been scheduled to play Arizona State, but the game was canceled due to positive cases at ASU.

5:51am – The Washington State Department of Labor & Industries says complaints about possible violations are up substantially this week following the new restrictions from Gov. Inslee that, in part, ban indoor dining and limits capacity for retail and other sectors. In October alone, L&I received more than 1,300 complaints about businesses not enforcing mask rules with employees and customers. In the last week, L&I says the number of new complaints has tripled.

The L&I is one state agency charged with helping make sure employers follow state requirements to protect employees and the community during the pandemic, and says it looks into public complaints “with a goal of informing employers.” Businesses that refuse to enforce mask requirements or do not follow the proclamations from the governor can face citations and fines.

Tuesday, Nov. 24

4:44pm – Health officials say there have been 151,019 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Washington state, and 2,690 deaths since the pandemic started. The state says 10,166 people have been hospitalized since the start of the pandemic. The DOH is not reporting new negative COVID test results through November 30 in order to catch up on a backlog.

2:33pm – Gov. Inslee says hospitalizations are nearing an all-time high across Washington state.

Inslee said the first step would be to add bed capacity to existing hospitals, before the state would seek to build pop-up hospitals like we saw in March and April. Read more.

2:09pm – Dr. Chris Spitters with Snohomish County Health District said on Tuesday that the county health district, and office of emergency management are preparing for the arrival of a vaccine against COVID. Read more.

12:54pm – Many COVID testing sites in King County are experiencing wait times of an hour or more, and some will be closed for the Thanksgiving holiday, so be sure the check the schedule if you’re planning to get tested this week. Find updated information on site hours and closures here.

11:41am – Two more local courts are suspending jury trials temporarily to reduce the spread of COVID-19, following similar announcements from King County Municipal Court and Snohomish County Superior Court last week.

The Pierce County District Court will be suspending all criminal and civil jury trials starting Nov. 30, 2020, through at least Jan. 11, 2021. Court facilities at the County-City Building will remain open, but there are modifications to the operations.

The Seattle Municipal Court is suspending jury trials through March 3, 2021. Out of custody arraignment hearings, except for DUI and domestic violence cases, are suspended until Feb. 3, 2021. The court will remain open to the public, though “in-person operations are significantly limited” to reduce the number of people in the courthouse.

9:03am – How are your kids and teens faring during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic? And what can we do to help children and parents who may be struggling? Alex Molleston Luke, who owns a family therapy practice in University Place, joined the Gee & Ursula Show to discuss. Read more.

7:22am – Governor Inslee issued a travel advisory on Nov. 13, advising a 14-day quarantine for travelers moving through the state. State and local health officials, and the governor, have also been encouraging Washingtonians to rethink their holiday plans and avoid gathering indoors with anyone outside of your own household. That said, there is some travel that’s truly essential. If you must venture out, be aware that conditions might have changed since the last time you traveled whether by plane, ferry, or automobile. Read more.

6:47am – Health care employees at 20 MultiCare facilities in the region went on strike Monday, seeking to bring attention to safety concerns they have during the pandemic, including a lack of PPE. MultiCare says it worked over the weekend to try to negotiate and avoid the strike, but no deal could be reached. Doctors and nurses they will strike again Tuesday before going back to work Wednesday.

5:54am – The Spokane Regional Health District reported the death of a child, aged 10-19, due to COVID-19 on Monday. While children and teens tends to have fewer and milder symptoms than adults, they can still be infected and have varying levels of complications.

“While we feel every death we report is tragic, we do want to recognize that the loss of a child’s life is something that hits a community particularly hard,” said Dr. Francisco Velazquez, SRHD interim health officer. “The level of risk still remains relatively low in children and teens, but we acknowledge that these lives aren’t just numbers on a report, and statistics will never ease the pain of loss.”

“We send our heartfelt condolences out to the child’s family and all other members of our community who have lost a loved one during this terrible pandemic,” Velazquez continued. “It is our hope that we, as a community, take this time to remember those who have lost their lives, reach out to those who are grieving their loss, and come together to keep our community safe.”

Monday, Nov. 23

5:57pm – Health officials say there have been 147,537 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Washington state, and 2,655 people have died from the virus since the start of the pandemic. The state is not reporting the total number of tests as it has asked labs to stop sending negative tests results for one week. The stoppage will allow the DOH to catch u on a backlog. It reports 10,095 hospitalizations in the past eight months.

2:43pm – At least 30% of households in Washington state have experienced food insecurity since the start of the Stay Home, Stay Health order in March, according to the first Washington State Food Security Survey. The results showed 59% of the homes included children.

The team, made up of professors and researchers at WSU, the University of Washington, and Tacoma Community College, said that prior to the coronavirus pandemic, that number was in the 10-15% range.

The survey was deployed to over 2,200 residents in 38 counties from June to July of 2020.

12:58pm – The Associated Press reports that about 1 million Americans a day packed airports and planes over the weekend even as coronavirus deaths surged across the U.S. and public health experts begged people to stay home and avoid big Thanksgiving gatherings. Read more from the AP.

Locally, the governor’s latest round of COVID-19 restrictions does seem to be impacting air travel for Thanksgiving week. At Sea-Tac Airport, spokesperson Perry Cooper told KIRO Radio that the busiest days should see about 60,000 people passing through, compared to nearly 170,000 before the pandemic, adding that the TSA’s projection dropped 20% since last week.

11:09am – A free COVID testing site in Edmonds is causing traffic issues at 76th Avenue W and 212th Street SW. Edmonds police say it might be at capacity for the day.

In Seattle and across the state, testing sites have been struggling to keep up with the added demand as cases rise and more people are trying to get a test before the Thanksgiving holiday. Hopefully, two new self-administered testing kiosks coming to Seattle in December can help increase capacity. Read more.

10:49am – The Seattle Symphony has suspended all on-site rehearsals and performances for the weeks of Nov. 23, Nov. 30, and Dec. 7. The symphony is working to reschedule the show originally set for Dec. 4, but has canceled Holiday Pops, which was originally scheduled for Dec. 11.

Find the most up-to-date concert schedule online here.

9:01am – More than 100 local doctors and nurses are planning a two-day strike affecting up to 20 clinics — with the first strike happening Monday morning — saying their employer is putting them at risk during the pandemic. Union members say Tacoma-based Multicare Indigo Urgent Care will not allow health care workers to wear N95 masks, even if they buy their own. Other issues, according to the union, include wages and long hours without adequate breaks.

7:57am – King County public health officials say people across the state must rethink their holiday plans now if they haven’t already been adjusted. Cases of COVID-19 are rising statewide, spreading most frequently within small groups and households between friends and family members. Read more on the Public Health Insider blog here.

6:36am – The University of Washington’s Husky Coronavirus Testing program — offering tests for UW students, faculty, and staff — is not offering “travel-related tests” at this time due to an increased demand for testing from individuals who are symptomatic or have been exposed to someone confirmed to have COVID-19.

5:19am – AstraZeneca said Monday that late-stage trials showed its coronavirus vaccine was up to 90% effective. The results are based on interim analysis of trials in the UK and Brazil of a vaccine developed by Oxford University and manufactured by AstraZeneca. No hospitalizations or severe cases of COVID-19 were reported in those receiving the vaccine.

AstraZeneca is the third major drug company to report late-stage results for a potential COVID-19 vaccine. Pfizer and Moderna last week reported preliminary results from late-stage trials showing their vaccines were almost 95% effective. Read more from the Associated Press.

Find last week’s updates here.

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