Coronavirus daily news updates, May 6: 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 Friday, May 6, 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 It is no longer being updated.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.
Nearly 15 million people across the globe have died from COVID-19 or by its impact on overwhelmed health systems due to the virus since the pandemic began about two years ago, according to the World Health Organization.
Most of the reported deaths occurred in Southeast Asia, Europe and the Americas, according to a report from the United Nation’s health agency.
The Food and Drug Administration imposed new restrictions this week on the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine citing that the risk of developing a rare but life-threatening blood clot syndrome from the shot outweighed the benefits of the vaccine for people over 18 who have access to other COVID-19 vaccines.
The agency said only people who are unable to receive other COVID-19 vaccines due to inaccessibility or other factors should receive the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
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 Biden administration is warning the United States could see 100 million coronavirus infections and a potentially significant wave of deaths this fall and winter, driven by new omicron subvariants that have shown a remarkable ability to escape immunity.
The projection, made Friday by a senior administration official during a background briefing as the nation approaches a COVID death toll of 1 million, is part of a broader push to boost the nation’s readiness and persuade lawmakers to appropriate billions of dollars to purchase a new tranche of vaccines, tests and therapeutics.
In forecasting 100 million potential infections during a cold-weather wave later this year and early next, the official did not present new data or make a formal projection. Instead, he described the fall and winter wave as a scenario based on a range of outside models of the pandemic. Those projections assume that omicron and its subvariants will continue to dominate community spread, and there will not be a dramatically different strain of the virus, the official said, acknowledging the pandemic’s course could be altered by many factors.
Several experts agreed that a major wave this fall and winter is possible given waning immunity from vaccines and infections, loosened restrictions and the rise of variants better able to escape immune protections all make another major wave possible.
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Less than three months after Beijing hosted the Winter Olympics and Paralympics, the Olympic Council of Asia said Friday that this year’s Asian Games in China are being postponed because of concerns about the spreading omicron variant of COVID-19 in the country.
The OCA said it had not picked new dates but said they would be announced “in the near future” after talks with local organizers and the Chinese Olympic Committee.
The OCA statement said local organizers were “very well prepared to deliver the games on time despite the global challenges. However, the decision was taken by all the stakeholders after carefully considering the pandemic situation and the size of the games.”
The postponement reflects a growing concern among the Chinese leadership about rapidly spreading outbreaks from Shanghai to Beijing in an important political year. The ruling Communist Party is holding a major meeting this fall and doesn’t want any signs of instability, pandemic-related or not.

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Thousands of high school students in China learned Friday that COVID-19 restrictions will prevent them from taking Advanced Placement exams that many prepared for to improve their chances of attending college in the U.S. or Europe.
Many students are unable to sit for the in-person, pen-and-paper tests given once a year in May because of the government’s “zero-COVID” lockdowns meant to curb the spread of the virus. The College Board, which administers the tests, previously offered an online option in response to pandemic school closures but said that was intended as a temporary solution.
“We regret the impact that this decision may have on students who have worked hard all year to prepare for this opportunity,” the College Board said in a written statement.
The decision to not provide an online option frustrated students who worry that missing test scores for the college-level AP courses will weaken their college applications. Students also risk losing out on the college credits that are a reward for high test scores, meaning they will have to enroll in — and pay for — classes they could have otherwise skipped.

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Millions of older Americans stopped working during the pandemic, far more than usual, stoking fears that the workforce had been permanently altered, but the country is close to closing the gap in early retirements, according to new data.
An estimated 1.5 million retirees have reentered the U.S. labor market over the past year, according to an analysis of Labor Department data by Nick Bunker, an economist at Indeed. That means the economy has made up most of the extra losses of retirees since February 2020, a Washington Post analysis shows.
Many retirees are being pulled back to jobs by a combination of diminishing COVID concerns and more flexible work arrangements at a time when employers are desperate for workers. In some cases, workers say rising costs — and the inability to keep up while on a fixed income — are factoring heavily into their decisions as well.
The April jobs report to be released Friday is expected to show more workers, generally, rejoining the labor market, but the strong return of retirees is considered somewhat unexpected and even fortunate considering the record 11.5 million job openings in March.

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It’s technically spring in Seattle, despite all signs suggesting otherwise, which means the official start of boating season is this weekend. That means drivers should avoid Montlake Saturday afternoon as the bridge will be closed for the annual parade of vessels through the Montlake Cut.
The closure will begin at noon and end about 4 p.m. Both eastbound and westbound exits from Highway 520 onto Montlake Boulevard will be closed as well.
It’s the first time since 2019 that the Seattle Yacht Club has hosted a real-life opening to the boating season. The festivity was canceled in 2020 and held virtually in 2021, both because of COVID-19.
Boat-related events will span most of the day Saturday, with several rounds of rowing races through the Cut in the morning, during which the bridge will remain open to traffic.
The bridge will then close around noon for the boat parade, which is scheduled to last until 2:30 p.m. Normal maritime traffic will resume around 3 p.m., before the Montlake Bridge is reopened around 4 p.m.

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Among the unexpected impacts of the coronavirus pandemic was the spike in demand for vacation homes. Consumers working remotely with steady incomes and savings opted to spend their cash on second homes since they could use them more often. Low mortgage rates and rapidly rising home equity that some homeowners could borrow against for a down payment on a second property fueled vacation property sales.
Now several factors are slowing the vacation home market, according to a recent Redfin report.
Demand for vacation homes dropped sharply for the second consecutive month in March, according to Redfin, and dipped well-below demand for primary homes.
Redfin’s second-home demand index, which is based on mortgage rate locks for second homes, dipped from 70% above pre-pandemic demand in January 2022 to 13% in March 2022. Demand for vacation homes is still elevated above pre-pandemic levels but is far below the peak of 88% more demand in March 2021.
Rising mortgage rates and higher home prices are two of the main reasons for the slowdown, according to Redfin’s deputy chief economist Taylor Marr. Second homes are a discretionary purchase for buyers, who typically want the house to offer a desirable vacation location and a good financial investment. The stock market dip in recent months may also be contributing to the decline since second home buyers often use stock market profits for their down payment or at least have more confidence in their financial strength when their investments are profitable.
Another factor that may be affecting the slowdown is the return to the office for some employees. Even with hybrid schedules, it can be challenging to carve out time to spend in a second home.
In addition, a 1% to 4% fee is now imposed on second home loans purchased by Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. Redfin estimates that the new fee adds about $13,500 to the cost of buying a $400,000 vacation home, which could be another deterrent to prospective buyers.

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When the coronavirus was in retreat across the United States in late February, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued new recommendations that veered away from depending on the number of new cases in a community to determine the need for pandemic safety measures.
The focus shifted more toward the number of hospitalized people with the virus. Far more new cases than before would be required to push a community into the medium or high-risk categories.
The change turned most of the U.S. map green at a stroke. Until then, 95% of U.S. counties were considered high-risk, but afterward, fewer than one-third of Americans were living in places in that category, the agency said. The new guidelines gave millions of people confidence to remove their face masks and recommended that as long as the pressure on hospitals remained manageable, the country could return to some version of normal life.
That strategy will be put to the test in the next few weeks, because hospitalizations are rising again nationally. As of Thursday, an average of more than 18,000 people with the coronavirus are in U.S. hospitals, an increase of 20% from two weeks ago.
The figure includes patients who are in the hospital because they are very ill with COVID-19, as well as those admitted for other reasons who test positive on arrival. More than half of American adults have at least one underlying chronic condition, and for many of them, the winter omicron wave was not as mild as it was for others.
The recent influx has been even steeper in the largest high-risk area now on the national map, the hot spot that has spread across upstate New York and spilled into nearby states. According to New York state, there were 2,119 patients hospitalized in the state with COVID-19 on Tuesday, 47% more than the figure from two weeks before.
The state’s figure is still well below the winter omicron peak of January, when about 13,000 people were hospitalized statewide. But it has been increasing, propelled by rapidly spreading BA.2 subvariants, which have become a growing share of new U.S. cases.

Although hospitalizations generally lag behind the trends in new cases, they remain among the most reliable kinds of data about the pandemic, experts agree — much more so than official reports of positive test results, which experts say significantly understate the true number of infections, especially with the rise of at-home testing. As of Thursday, the average number of new confirmed U.S. cases was almost 68,000 a day, nearly a 60% increase over the last two weeks, according to a New York Times database.
About 11% of people hospitalized with coronavirus infections in the United States were in intensive care, as of Wednesday, according to federal data.

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Doug Lambrecht was among the first of the nearly 1 million Americans to die from COVID-19. His demographic profile — an older white male with chronic health problems — mirrors the faces of many who would be lost over the next two years.
The 71-year-old retired physician was recovering from a fall at a nursing home near Seattle when the new coronavirus swept through in early 2020. He died March 1, an early victim in a devastating outbreak that gave a first glimpse of the price older Americans would pay.
The pandemic has generated gigabytes of data that make clear which U.S. groups have been hit the hardest. More than 700,000 people 65 and older died. Men died at higher rates than women.
White people made up most of the deaths overall, yet an unequal burden fell on Black, Hispanic and Native American people considering the younger average age of minority communities. Racial gaps narrowed between surges then widened again with each new wave.
With 1 million deaths in sight, Doug’s son Nathan Lambrecht reflected on the toll.
“I’m afraid that as the numbers get bigger, people are going to care less and less,” he said. “I just hope people who didn’t know them and didn’t have the same sort of loss in their lives due to COVID, I just hope that they don’t forget and they remember to care.”

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As coronavirus travel restrictions ease across many parts of the world and countries report cases of less-severe illness, international trips are top of mind for U.S. travelers, many of whom have started to book overseas journeys for the spring and summer.
But the requirement for air travelers — vaccinated or not — to present a negative coronavirus test for entry into the United States has many people concerned about the prospect of testing positive and finding themselves stuck in a foreign country, unable to return home.
Deborah Haines, 47, a chiropractor from Seattle, was forced to extend her vacation in the Netherlands by 22 days last month because she kept testing positive even after her coronavirus symptoms had subsided. The stress of determining the appropriate documentation for reentry, and having to cancel work appointments back home, made her feel sicker than the coronavirus, she said.
“When I thought about the possibility of getting stuck with COVID in Amsterdam, I thought it would mean a few extra days and then I could get a negative test and go home,” she said. “Boy, was that a miscalculation. I kept testing positive, and it was so hard to get any clear guidance for what I should do.”
For months, the travel industry has been lobbying Washington to drop pandemic measures like mask mandates and testing requirements for travelers. A federal judge in Florida struck down the mask mandate on public transportation in April, allowing airlines and other transit authorities to set their own mask policies. The Biden administration has appealed. But it has not commented recently on the status of pre-departure testing, with the White House coronavirus response coordinator, Jeff Zients, announcing on April 5 that there were “no plans to change international travel requirements at this point.”
Uncertainty over the travel rules is making it difficult for travelers to book international trips with confidence.

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For a respiratory disease, COVID-19 causes some peculiar symptoms. It can diminish the senses of smell and taste, leave patients with discolored “COVID toes” or even cause a swollen, bumpy “COVID tongue.”
Now scientists are examining a possible link to an altogether unexpected consequence of COVID-19: erectile dysfunction. A connection has been reported in hundreds of papers by scientists in Europe and North America, as well as in Egypt, Turkey, Iran and Thailand.
Estimates of the magnitude of the problem vary wildly. A paper by Dr. Ranjith Ramasamy, director of reproductive urology at the University of Miami’s Desai Sethi Urology Institute, and his colleagues found that the risk of erectile dysfunction increased by 20% after a bout with COVID-19. Other investigators have reported substantially higher increases in that risk.
When patients first started coming to Ramasamy’s clinic complaining of erection problems, “we dismissed it, thinking it was all psychological or stress-induced,” he said.
But over time, he and other physicians began to see a pattern, he said. “Six months after the initial infection, patients had gotten better overall, but they continued to complain of these problems,” including erectile dysfunction and low sperm counts, said Ramasamy, who has written several papers on the topic.
At the outset of the pandemic, Dr. Emmanuele Jannini, a professor of endocrinology and medical sexology at the University of Rome Tor Vergata, reported a strong link between erectile dysfunction and COVID-19. When he compared men who had been ill with COVID-19 with those who had not, he found that those who had been infected were nearly six times as likely to report impotence as those who had avoided the coronavirus.
“Communicating that the disease can affect your sexual life is a tremendously powerful message,” especially for men who still resist vaccination, Jannini said. “The evidence is very strong.”
Read the story here.
One unintended COVID-19 side effect has been a boost to the prestige of the IIHF Under-18 World Hockey Championship tournament playing out in the greater Dallas area.
This newer event of roughly two decades typically lacks the stature of its older U-20 counterpart — also known as the World Junior Championship — because many top players ordinarily would be in their major junior league playoffs and unable to participate. This year, though, the cancellation of the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) and abbreviated Western Hockey League (WHL) schedule with no postseason means their players were available.
And that’s great for the Kraken and NHL teams desperate to see prospects eligible for this year’s draft and future ones playing against serious competition after pandemic-related shutdowns.
“Talking to everybody there, they’re just excited to see live games,” said Kraken general manager Ron Francis, part of his team’s seven-member scouting contingent on-hand in Texas last week for preliminary round-robin play. “You do a lot of this work via video and stuff, and to be able to see it live — you can confirm things, or you can look in a different direction on things. So I think it’s valuable from that aspect to be able to see things live.”
Read the full story here.
The military and police in the Pacific nation of Fiji have surrounded and locked down a major hospital amid concerns of a growing virus outbreak.
Health authorities say they’re quarantining 400 patients, doctors, nurses and staff within the compound until they can determine who had contact with a coronavirus patient who died.
The 53-year-old patient at Lautoka Hospital was just the third person in Fiji to die from the virus but the nation’s leaders are deeply worried that the latest outbreak is spreading, especially after two doctors at the hospital tested positive for the virus.
Dr. James Fong, the permanent secretary for health, said the country was in a war against COVID-19 that posed the greatest-ever test of its health care system. He said the hospital is closed and all medical services are being diverted to other facilities.
Fong said those sequestered in the hospital would be provided with food, bedding and whatever other supplies they needed.


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