Health officials said Thursday that 108 COVID-19 cases have been linked to the Northwest Washington Fair in Lynden.
Whatcom County Health Department spokesperson Jennifer Moon told The Bellingham Herald in an email Thursday that the number may continue to increase as they continue to investigate cases.
Meanwhile, three schools in Vancouver were placed on lockdown as a safety precaution Friday after anti-mask protesters tried to access school grounds. The lockdowns in Washington came a day after a father of an Arizona student who was ordered to quarantine at home confronted the school’s principal with zip ties.
More on the COVID-19 pandemic
U.S. COVID death toll hits 1,500 a day amid delta scourge
Brian Pierce, a coroner in Baldwin County, Alabama, thought he had seen the last of the coronavirus months ago as the area’s death count held steady at 318 for most of the spring and summer. But then in July and August, the fatalities began mounting and last week, things got so bad the state rolled a trailer into his parking lot as a temporary morgue.
“I think most people were thinking, ‘We’re good,’” he said. “Life was almost back to normal. Now I’m telling my kids again to please stay home.”
Nationally, COVID-19 deaths have climbed steadily in recent weeks, hitting a seven-day average of about 1,500 a day Thursday, after falling to the low 200s in early July – the latest handiwork of a contagious variant that has exploited the return to everyday activities by tens of millions of Americans, many of them unvaccinated. The dead include two Texas teachers at a junior high, who died last week within days of each other; a 13-year-old middle schoolboy from Georgia; and a pregnant nurse, 37, in Southern California who left behind five children.
What is different about this fourth pandemic wave in the United States is that the growing rates of vaccination and natural immunity have broken the relationship between infections and deaths in many areas.
The daily count of new infections is rising in almost every part of the country. But only some places – mostly southern states with lower vaccination rates – are seeing a parallel surge in deaths. The seven-day average of daily deaths is about a third of what it was in January, the pandemic’s most deadly month, but is forecast to continue rising as high numbers of patients are hospitalized.
While most regions with increasing deaths have lower vaccination rates, that isn’t the case for all of them. More here.
Red Sox outbreak serves as reminder of how COVID could affect October
BOSTON – A few hours before the Boston Red Sox played their first game of a crucial September homestand Friday night, with a chilly breeze offering a reminder of the proximity of October, Red Sox Chief Baseball Officer Chaim Bloom stood in the stands a dozen rows above the field, mask on, phone out. A few seats and a safe distance away sat trainer Brad Pearson, also hunched over his phone, as if waiting for news.
Bloom and Pearson have spent hours in impromptu meetings like these over the last week, checking their phones, hoping they wouldn’t bring news of another positive coronavirus test even though most of the last seven days have included at least one.
Red Sox Manager Alex Cora, meanwhile, has spent most of this week hoping neither Bloom or Pearson’s names popped up on his phone, knowing full well that any early morning text message probably meant he would need to shuffle his lineup yet again.
Friday, Bloom and Pearson learned before the game that speedy rookie Jarren Duran was experiencing symptoms. Cora pulled Duran from the lineup and told him to stay away from the team. By the time the Red Sox had beaten the Cleveland Indians, 8-5, Duran had tested positive, the ninth Red Sox player sidelined by a COVID-19 outbreak that simply won’t go away.
Outbreaks like theirs are an unyielding part of Major League Baseball’s reality, even as many around the game hoped vaccine availability and well-honed protocols would allow the season to proceed without too many of them – especially this time of year. More here.
North Central Washington reaches highest all-time COVID-19 case rates
COVID-19 case rates in North Central Washington broke all-time pandemic records in late August as some counties saw rates top 1,000 per 100,000 for the first time.
Chelan County’s 14-day COVID rate climbed to 1,075.8 new cases per 100,000 on Sept. 1, the highest case rate recorded since the beginning of the pandemic, according to Chelan-Douglas Health District data.
In Douglas County, the 14-day case rate for Sept. 1 was 1,090.3, also a new record, according to health district data.
The highest case rate in North Central Washington is in Grant County where the 14-day rate reached 1,117.4 per 100,000, according to the Grant County Health District.
Okanogan reported 87 new COVID-19 cases on Aug. 31, the highest count for a single day, according to Okanogan County Public Health. On Sept. 1, its COVID-19 case rate reached 1,069 per 100,000. More here.
COVID surges in unvaccinated communities are sending more kids to the hospital
At least 452 children in the United States have died of COVID-19 since the pandemic began, a tiny fraction of the 639,000 deaths among the nation’s adults. That lopsided tally has led many to downplay the pandemic’s toll on kids.
But two new studies issued Friday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention make clear that children have hardly received a free pass. And especially since the arrival of COVID-19 vaccines and the Delta variant, kids’ prospects rest largely on the decisions made by the adults that surround them.
When adults and eligible adolescents get vaccinated in large numbers, younger children are at greatly reduced risk of becoming seriously ill with COVID-19, the new reports show. Conversely, when few are willing to get the jab, the pediatric wings of hospitals will fill — as they did in COVID-19 hotspots across the country in mid-August.
A study that examined hospitalization rates in 99 counties across 14 U.S. states found that the rate at which children were being hospitalized for COVID-19 had jumped five-fold in the span of about seven weeks this summer. For the youngest patients — those under 4 — hospitalization rates jumped by a factor of 10. More here.
August was Oregon’s third-deadliest month for COVID-19; might September be worse?
Virus pummels French Polynesia, straining ties with Paris
PAPEETE, Tahiti (AP) — France’s worst coronavirus outbreak is unfolding 12 time zones away from Paris, devastating Tahiti and other idyllic islands of French Polynesia.
The South Pacific archipelagos lack enough oxygen, ICU beds and morgue space – and their vaccination rate is barely half the national average. Simultaneous outbreaks on remote islands and atolls are straining the ability of local authorities to evacuate patients to the territory’s few hospitals.
“The problem is, there are a lot of deaths before we get there,” lamented Vincent Simon, the head of the regional emergency service.
French Polynesia is France’s latest challenge in juggling resources to battle the pandemic in former colonies that stretch around the world. With more than 2,800 COVID-19 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, it holds France’s record for the highest infection rate.
And that’s only an estimate: Things are so bad that the multi-ethnic territory of about 300,000 has stopped counting new infections as local health authorities redeployed medical staff to focus on patient care and vaccinations instead of testing. More here.
Germany urges vaccine shots; warns of fall COVID-19 surge
BERLIN (AP) — Germany’s top health official is urging more citizens to get vaccinated, warning Saturday that if the vaccination numbers don’t go up the country’s hospitals may get overwhelmed by COVID-19 patients toward the end of the year.
“We need at least 5 million vaccinations for a safe autumn and winter,” Health Minister Jens Spahn tweeted.
More than 61% of the German population, or 50.9 million people, are fully vaccinated, but that’s less than in other European countries. The daily vaccination rate has been dropping for weeks, while new infection cases have been going up again.
On Saturday, Germany’s disease control agency reported 10,835 new COVID-19 cases, up from 10,303 a week ago.
“The number of people who have been vaccinated is too low to prevent an overburdening of the health system,” the health minister told daily Hannoversche Zeitung. He said currently 90% of COVID-19 patients in intensive care are unvaccinated, the German news agency dpa reported. More here.
Concerns rise over UK flu outbreak amid vaccine delays
LONDON (AP) — One of the U.K.’s largest suppliers of seasonal influenza vaccines warned Saturday that there could be delivery delays of up to two weeks as a result of a shortage of truck drivers.
In a statement that has accentuated concerns about the potential scale of this winter’s flu outbreak, vaccine company Seqirus blamed “unforeseen challenges linked with road freight delays” for the disruption to deliveries in England and Wales.
The company said it “is working hard to resolve the delay to allow customers to reschedule their influenza vaccination clinics.”
Though the severity of flu outbreaks vary each year, there are concerns that past lockdowns put in place to combat the coronavirus pandemic might make U.K. residents more susceptible to the flu in the coming months. More here.
Health officials advise White House to scale back booster plan for now
WASHINGTON — Top federal health officials have told the White House to scale back a plan to offer coronavirus booster shots to the general public later this month, saying that regulators need more time to collect and review all the necessary data, according to people familiar with the discussion.
Dr. Janet Woodcock, acting commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, and Dr. Rochelle Walensky, who heads the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, warned the White House on Thursday that their agencies may be able to determine in the coming weeks whether to recommend boosters only for recipients of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine — and possibly just some of them to start.
The two health leaders made their argument in a meeting with Jeffrey Zients, the White House pandemic coordinator. Several people who heard about the session said it was unclear how Zients responded. But he has insisted for months that the White House will always follow the advice of government scientists, wherever it leads. More here.
Florida grapples with COVID-19’s deadliest phase yet
MIAMI (AP) — Funeral director Wayne Bright has seen grief piled upon grief during the latest COVID-19 surge.
A woman died of the virus, and as her family was planning the funeral, her mother was also struck down. An aunt took over arrangements for the double funeral, only to die of COVID-19 herself two weeks afterward.
“That was one of the most devastating things ever,” said Bright, who also arranged the funeral last week of one of his closest friends.
Florida is in the grip of its deadliest wave of COVID-19 since the pandemic began, a disaster driven by the highly contagious delta variant.
While Florida’s vaccination rate is slightly higher than the national average, the Sunshine State has an outsize population of elderly people, who are especially vulnerable to the virus; a vibrant party scene; and a Republican governor who has taken a hard line against mask requirements, vaccine passports and business shutdowns. More here.