Live: Coronavirus daily news updates, August 23: What to know today about COVID-19 in the Seattle area, Washington state and the world

Table of Contents Though young and healthy, unvaccinated father dies of COVIDOregon ran a lean

Washington’s statewide mask mandate goes into effect today. After nearly two months when most of the state’s COVID-related restrictions had dropped away, Gov. Jay Inslee reinstituted a mask mandate for almost all indoor public places.

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.

Though young and healthy, unvaccinated father dies of COVID

Healthy and in their 30s, Christina and Josh Tidmore figured they were low-risk for COVID-19. With conflicting viewpoints about whether to get vaccinated against the virus filling their social media feeds and social circles, they decided to wait.

This photo provided by Christina Tidmore shows Josh Tidmore Wednesday, Aug. 11, 2021 at Marshall Medical Center South in Boaz, Ala. Healthy and in their 30s, The couple figured they were low-risk for COVID-19, and with conflicting viewpoints filling their social media feeds and social circles, they decided to wait to get vaccinated. On Aug. 11, he died of COVID-19 at a north Alabama hospital. (Christina Tidmore via AP)

On July 20, Josh came home from work with a slight cough initially thought to be sinus trouble. On Aug. 11, he died of COVID-19 at a north Alabama hospital as Christina Tidmore witnessed a doctor and her team frantically try to resuscitate her husband.

“She would say, ’I need a pulse. ’I would hear, ‘no pulse,’ “Christina Tidmore said through tears. “They were trying so hard.”

“Nobody should go through this. He was only 36 and I’m 35 and we have three kids.”

She is now imploring young adults not to dismiss the risk and to consider getting vaccinated.

“Josh was completely healthy, active, not a smoker.” He would have turned 37 on Saturday.

Read the story here.

—Kim Chandler, The Associated Press

Oregon ran a lean healthcare system. The latest COVID surge is taking it to the brink

For decades, Oregon’s health system was envied across the nation.

Managed care organizations enrolled a large share of the population. The Oregon Health Plan, conceived in the 1990s, made care more available to the working poor.

The system ran lean. Reformers emphasized primary and preventive care, allowing the state to operate with the fewest hospital beds per capita in the nation.

Then came the latest coronavirus surge. With the Delta variant sweeping through the state, the scarcity of beds is suddenly a liability.

Hospitals in rural areas with low vaccination rates have run out of space, leaving COVID-19 patients backlogged on beds in emergency-room hallways, waiting for admission to maxed-out intensive care units.

Patients from the southwest corner of Oregon, which has borne the brunt of the surge, were being transported to larger cities. But even urban hospitals were struggling to handle the state’s fifth wave of COVID-19.

“We have patients that have died in emergency departments waiting for beds,” said Becky Hultberg, president and chief executive of the Oregon Assn. of Hospitals and Health Systems. “In parts of Oregon, we are looking at a system in a state of collapse.”

Read the story here.

—Richard Read, Los Angeles Times

Pentagon to mandate COVID-19 vaccine, as Pfizer is approved

The Pentagon says it will require service members to receive the COVID-19 vaccine now that the Pfizer vaccine has received full approval.

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said Monday that Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin is making good on his vow earlier this month to require the shots once the Food and Drug Administration approved the vaccine.

In a memo Aug. 9, Austin said he’d seek the president’s approval to make the vaccine mandatory no later than mid-September, or immediately upon FDA licensure “whichever comes first.”

Read the story here.

—Lolita C. Baldor, The Associated Press

Tokyo opens oxygen station for COVID patients as cases surge

People wearing face masks to help protect against the spread of the coronavirus walk on a street in Tokyo Monday, Aug. 23, 2021. (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)

Japan on Monday opened a temporary facility in Tokyo to provide oxygen for up to 130 coronavirus patients with mild symptoms, as the capital’s health care system grows severely strained.

The so-called “oxygen station” in Tokyo’s Shibuya district is aimed at people who develop a problem while isolating at home or waiting for hospital vacancies, and is staffed by three doctors and 25 nurses.

The idea is to temporarily treat mild cases with supplementary oxygen amid growing concerns that people may get sicker — and possibly start dying at home — in the absence of medical attention.

Read the story here.

—Mari Yamaguchi, The Associated Press

Texas congressman Nehls says he tested positive for COVID-19

U.S. Rep. Troy Nehls of Texas says that he’s tested positive for COVID-19 and has moderate symptoms.

Nehls, a Republican from the Houston area, said Saturday that he is fully vaccinated and hopes the symptoms pass soon.

“All Americans are free to make their own health decisions, but I strongly encourage getting vaccinated,” he wrote on Twitter Saturday. “It is scientifically proven to drastically reduce the risk of severe illness & death from COVID.”

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced Tuesday that he’d tested positive for the virus. He claims that he has now tested negative.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press

New Zealand extends virus lockdown; Australia eyes vaccines

New Zealand’s government on Monday said it will extend a strict nationwide lockdown until at least Friday as it tries to extinguish a growing coronavirus outbreak.

The news came as health authorities reported 35 new local infections of the fast-spreading delta variant, the highest number of daily COVID-19 cases in New Zealand since April last year.

First discovered last week, the outbreak has grown to 107 cases. But health authorities say they’ve found links among most of those cases, giving them hope they can quash the outbreak. Authorities said they’ve tested about 3% of the nation’s entire population over the past six days.

Read the story here.

—Rod McGuirk and Nick Perry, The Associated Press

US regulators give full approval to Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine

FILE – In this March 2, 2021, file photo, pharmacy technician Hollie Maloney loads a syringe with Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine at the Portland Expo in Portland, Maine. The U.S. gave full approval to Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine on Monday, Aug. 23, 2021. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty, File)

The U.S. gave full approval to Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine on Monday, a milestone that may help lift public confidence in the shots as the nation battles the most contagious coronavirus mutant yet.

The vaccine made by Pfizer and its partner BioNTech now carries the strongest endorsement from the Food and Drug Administration, which has never before had so much evidence to judge a shot’s safety. More than 200 million Pfizer doses already have been administered in the U.S. — and hundreds of millions more worldwide — since emergency use began in December.

The U.S. becomes the first country to fully approve the shot, according to Pfizer, and CEO Albert Bourla said in a statement he hoped the decision “will help increase confidence in our vaccine, as vaccination remains the best tool we have to help protect lives.”

Read the story here.

—Lauran Neergaard and Matthew Perrone, The Associated Press

Catch up on the past 24 hours

Mask up whether you’re vaccinated or not, because Washington state’s new mask mandate goes into effect today for everyone age 5 and up. Here’s where masks are required and where they aren’t.

If you have unvaccinated kids, act like “nobody in the household” is vaccinated, pediatric experts in Washington state urge. As we head into back-to-school season with the more contagious delta variant changing the landscape, they’re outlining the safety measures you can take, what schools are doing — and how to talk with your kids about this. 

Full FDA approval of Pfizer’s vaccine may come today, another chapter in Americans’ bewildering crash course in scientific uncertainty. Researchers are learning about the virus at lightning speed, with their disagreements, debates and “blind alleys” illuminated under an unusually public spotlight. But what they have not done is explain, in ways that the average person can understand, that this is how science has always worked.

Where King County residents aren’t getting vaccinated: FYI Guy broke down vaccine hesitancy by ZIP code, finding that it’s fading somewhat — but pockets of high resistance remain.

“Every single hallway has beds in it” in a Mississippi hospital as COVID-19 cases overwhelm the Gulf Coast, with unvaccinated patients dying one after another. You can track the spread of the virus on these maps.

—Kris Higginson