Coronavirus daily news updates, June 7: What to know today about COVID-19 in the Seattle area, Washington state and the world – The Seattle Times

Editor’s note: This is a live account of COVID-19 updates from Tuesday, June 7, 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 It is no longer being updated.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.
Most U.S. parents have expressed reluctance to vaccinate their children under 5 against COVID-19 when shots become available.
Only one in five parents said they plan to get their children vaccinated as soon as shots are approved for America’s youngest children, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation survey.
Meanwhile, a wave of COVID-19 infections since mid-March in Washington has resulted in a steady increase of hospitalizations. Health officials have voiced frustration and worries that state residents may not understand the burden the virus still poses to public health.
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 the rest of our coronavirus coverage and here to see how we track the daily spread across Washington.
The National Institutes of Health released early results of a trial showing that two anti-inflammatory drugs reduced the risk of death in patients with severe COVID-19.
The researchers will soon release the findings in a preprint and aim to publish in a peer-reviewed journal this fall, but the NIH released the initial findings last week.
The trial included patients hospitalized with moderate to severe cases. The 518 patients who received the drug infliximab had a mortality rate of 10%, compared with 14.5% in the placebo group. The 509 patients who received the drug abatacept had a mortality rate of 11%, compared with 15% in the placebo group.
COVID-19 can cause severe illness in patients by sparking an abnormally large immune response, and it appears that the immune-modulating drugs can tamp down that reaction. Researchers don’t know the exact mechanism but plan to study that further, said the trial’s protocol chair, Dr. William Powderly, director of the Institute for Clinical and Translational Sciences and co-director of the Division of Infectious Diseases at Washington University School of Medicine.

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SHENZHEN, China — Zhu Yongtao has spent more than a month locked down at his high school here in southern China so he can take the biggest exam of his life.
On Tuesday morning, under a light drizzle, he strode into an exam hall for the “gaokao,” China’s notoriously grueling college entrance exam.
“I’m still a little bit nervous, even though we’ve prepared a lot,” said Zhu, a bespectacled 17-year-old clad in a blue and white uniform. “It’s definitely motivated us, being locked down at school for 40 days. We were able to focus on studying.”
Under China’s strict “zero COVID” policy, even a single positive case at a school could put everyone into quarantine. To ensure an outbreak wouldn’t derail college hopes, Zhu’s school and others across the country sealed themselves off weeks before the gaokao, with students and teachers alike barred from leaving campus.
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JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Alaska’s state health commissioner is ending a public health emergency order that’s been in place in response to the pandemic.
Commissioner Adam Crum said the state health department has been working to ensure that measures needed to respond to COVID-19 are permanent or sustainable. The emergency order ends July 1, KTOO Public Media reported.
“Most folks actually probably don’t even understand that we still have this in place,” Crum said.
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American adults who haven’t yet gotten vaccinated against COVID-19 may soon get another choice, as advisers to the Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday backed a more traditional type of shot.
Next, the FDA must decide whether to authorize the vaccine made by latecomer Novavax, a protein vaccine that’s made with a more conventional technology than today’s U.S. options.
Novavax shots are already used in Australia, Canada, parts of Europe and dozens of other countries. But U.S. clearance is a key hurdle for the Maryland-based company.
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Florida’s COVID-19 data was so inaccurate, incomplete and delayed during the first months of the pandemic that government officials and the public may not have had necessary information to determine the effectiveness of the state’s COVID-19 precautions and the best plan to fight the virus, according to a state report released Monday.
Covering the state’s pandemic response from March to October 2020, the year-long analysis by the State Auditor General found missing case and death data, unreported demographic details, and incomplete contact tracing as the virus spread across the state. In addition, the report concluded that state health officials did not perform routine checks on the data to ensure accuracy and did not follow up on discrepancies.
State auditors reviewed a sample of 2,600 tests taken at three state-run testing facilities and found that state-contracted laboratories failed to return results for nearly 60% of tests.
Missing demographic data wasn’t unique to Florida said Beth Blauer, executive director of the Centers for Civic Impact at Johns Hopkins University, but it is “the most critical piece of information that we lacked.”
Once cases were identified, health officials were to contact all COVID-positive individuals within 48 hours of being diagnosed, according to state guidelines.
However, auditors found that the state never spoke with 23% of infected individuals. Those whom the state did contact were often reached over a week after testing positive, leaving ample time for them to spread the virus to others.

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What could possibly go wrong when you travel? During the summer of 2022, it’s more like: What could possibly not go wrong?
The list of potential pitfalls is long, and the probability of encountering one is all too high. It includes the coronavirushigher prices and gridlock leading to delays and cancellations. Fortunately, there are ways of avoiding — or at least preparing for — all of these.
“There are many worst-case scenarios,” says John Rose, chief risk and security officer at tour operator Altour. “Even simple things can go wrong, like a stolen passport and documents, sickness, security, strikes that can ground travelers for days.”
“My biggest fear when I’m traveling this summer is contracting COVID,” says Sergio Diaz, who runs a talent agency in Los Angeles. “This would not allow me to complete my itinerary.”
“Plan for the worst,” advises Mike Slone, chief travel concierge and consultant at Afore, a platform for travel advisers. He says if you’re afraid of getting stuck in a foreign country, review the latest travel restrictions and make arrangements for any needed tests.

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A wave of infections since mid-March has meant a steady increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations. But during this surge, fewer people seem to be talking about it.
And that has hospital officials showing some frustration as they fear Washingtonians might not fully understand the burden on public health.
Yes, most people are not getting as sick as they were during past peaks, Cassie Sauer, president of the Washington State Hospital Association, said in a Monday news briefing. And doctors and scientists have a better understanding of the disease now, as well as better access to antiviral drugs. Vaccination rates are also higher and new variants have, so far, been less severe.
That doesn’t mean people aren’t dying from COVID or suffering from long-term symptoms, hospital leaders said.
“It’s all the same stuff we’ve been doing all along. … And yet the community’s not feeling that at this point,” said Dr. David Carlson, chief physician officer at Tacoma-based MultiCare. “I don’t have a magic understanding of why that is other than there is just this enormous amount of fatigue, and COVID is not continually the story on the news today.”
Fortunately, Sauer said, current infection and hospitalization levels are still lower than they were during the state’s last omicron surge. At the end of last week, health care systems counted about 600 COVID patients in hospitals across the state — an increase of about 10% from the previous week, though nowhere near the peak of 1,700 COVID hospitalizations in a given week in early February, she said.
The state is seeing less than one death a day, but several per week. About 20 to 25 COVID patients are on ventilators per day, compared to 100-plus in January.

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Health workers are protesting Tuesday around France to demand more hiring and better salaries in public hospitals, after years of cost cuts that left medics submerged when the COVID-19 pandemic hit and are now forcing emergency rooms to cut services.
Nine unions and collectives organized a day of protest, including a demonstration outside the Health Ministry in Paris and in dozens of other towns and cities, to call the government’s attention to growing concerns about staff shortages.
President Emmanuel Macron has promised a rethink of the public hospital system and commissioned an urgent review by July 1.
His government offered slight salary boosts to some hospital workers last year and authorized new equipment, but medics say the problems are deeper. Years of gradual cost cuts left France’s once-renowned public health care system understaffed and ill-prepared when the pandemic hit. Morale was already low among many medics, and some have quit the profession. Others are still reeling from the challenges of treating successive waves of COVID-19 patients.

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Sometimes Madeleine Wolczko dreams of her runs up the mountainsides of the Sierra Nevada or the weekends diving for abalone off the Mendocino coast. Her only travels these days are in her mind.
Wolczko, a graduate of the California State University Maritime Academy in Vallejo, has been stranded on a cargo ship in Shanghai since early February.
She is the second officer and primary navigator of the President Wilson, a container ship that left Oakland, California, in January and now has become a kind of prison. Chinese authorities have not let her or any of the crew members, all American nationals, disembark, not even dockside, while the ship undergoes maintenance delayed by COVID lockdowns.
She vents her frustration by kickboxing a punching bag in the gym. But it is the mental blows that hurt the most, the false rumors about being airlifted, the many departure dates that have come and gone.
The crew has survived the ordeal with dark humor and Chinese government rations of vegetables: cucumbers, winter squash, carrots, broccoli and daikon.
And Wolczko, figuratively, has made lemonade from lemons. She has filmed, edited and posted minidocumentaries on YouTube, titled “Restricted to the Ship.”
She hopes to raise awareness of mariners across the world during the pandemic who have had the same problems — marooned off the coast of Long Beach, California; banned from disembarking at the world’s biggest ports; homesick and often disconnected to the world.
“The big takeaway is that this needs to be in the public eye so much more than it is,” Wolczko said. “Just because we are so far out of sight, people don’t care, because they don’t know.”

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Almost three quarters of nursing homes say they’re at risk of closing due to staff shortages, with more than half operating at a loss, according to a survey. If things don’t improve, most fear that resources won’t be enough to keep them in business for more than a year.
Expenses are 41% higher than a year ago, and more than half of those polled said finding workers is even more difficult this year, according to a study from the American Health Care Association released Monday. The staff shortfalls are forcing homes to turn away potential residents at a time when occupancy rates are already far lower than before the pandemic.
The survey of 759 facilities last month shows pressures aren’t easing in the beleaguered sector. AHCA, an industry lobbying group, has said more than 400 facilities are at risk of closing this year as homes grapple with lower enrollment and higher labor and supply costs.
“We are at a critical juncture in the senior housing industry,” with more support needed from the federal and state governments, said Suzanne Koenig, a nursing home turnaround expert and head of SAK Management Services.
Read the full story here.


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