Live: Coronavirus daily news updates, September 10: What to know today about COVID-19 in the Seattle area, Washington state and the world

President Joe Biden on Thursday introduced expansive rules mandating that all employers with more than 100 workers require them to be vaccinated or test for the coronavirus weekly, affecting about 80 million Americans. Additionally, roughly 17 million workers at health facilities that receive federal Medicare or Medicaid will have to be fully vaccinated. Biden is also requiring vaccination for employees of the executive branch and contractors who do business with the federal government — with no option to test out — covering several million more workers.

Meanwhile, Gov. Jay Inslee on Thursday announced a new statewide requirement for masks to be worn at large outdoor gatherings. Washington is riding the crest of its fifth and largest wave of COVID-19. Fueled by the highly contagious delta variant, hospitals are seeing record-levels of coronavirus patients, and large outbreaks are being traced to outdoor music festivals and county fairs. Starting Monday, the state’s current requirement for indoor facial coverings in public spaces will be expanded to include outdoor events with 500 or more attendees,

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.

Federal mandate takes vaccine decision off employers’ hands

Larger U.S. businesses now won’t have to decide whether to require their employees to get vaccinated against COVID-19. Doing so is now federal policy.

President Joe Biden announced sweeping new orders Thursday that will require employers with more than 100 workers to mandate immunizations or offer weekly testing. The new rules could affect as many as 100 million Americans, although it’s not clear how many of those people are currently unvaccinated.

Large swaths of the private sector have already stepped in to mandate shots for at least some of their employees. But Biden said Thursday that “many of us are frustrated with the nearly 80 million Americans who are not fully vaccinated.”

The U.S. is still struggling to curb the surging delta variant of the coronavirus, which is killing thousands each week and jeopardizing the nation’s economic recovery.

Read the story here.

—Barbara Ortutay, The Associated Press

COVID vaccine creator says mass boosters may be unnecessary

Booster shots to extend the protection of COVID-19 vaccines may be unnecessary for many people, a leading scientist behind the AstraZeneca vaccine said on Friday.

Oxford University Professor Sarah Gilbert told The Telegraph newspaper that immunity from the vaccine was holding up well — even against the delta variant. While the elderly and those who are immune-compromised may need boosters, the standard two-dose regimen is providing lasting protection for most people, she said.

“We will look at each situation; the immuno-compromised and elderly will receive boosters,” she said. “But I don’t think we need to boost everybody. Immunity is lasting well in the majority of people.”

Read the story here.

—Danica Kirka, The Associated Press

Least-vaccinated states lead spike in children’s COVID cases, leaving some hospitals stretched

Just as millions of families around the United States navigate sending their children back to school at an uncertain moment in the pandemic, the number of children admitted to the hospital with COVID-19 has risen to the highest levels reported to date. Nearly 30,000 of them entered hospitals in August.

Pediatric hospitalizations, driven by a record rise in COVID-19 infections among children, have swelled across the country, overwhelming children’s hospitals and intensive care units in states like Louisiana and Texas.

Children remain markedly less likely than adults, especially older adults, to be hospitalized or die from COVID-19. But the growing number of children entering the hospital, however small compared with adults, should not be an afterthought, experts say, and should instead encourage communities to increase their efforts to protect their youngest residents.

Read the story here.

—Amy Schoenfeld Walker and Lauren Leatherby, The New York Times

Citing high shot rates, Danes end COVID-19 restriction

After 548 days with restrictions to limit the spread of COVID-19, Denmark’s high vaccination rate has enabled the Scandinavian country to become one of the first European Union nations to lift all domestic restrictions.

The return to normality has been gradual, but as of Friday, the digital pass — a proof of having been vaccinated — is no longer required when entering night clubs, making it the last virus safeguard to fall.

More than 80% of people above the age of 12 have had the two shots.

Read the story here.

—Jan M. Olsen, The Associated Press

Alaska state senator says she can’t work at Capitol after Alaska Airlines ban

Republican Sen. Lora Reinbold of Alaska has asked to be excused from legislative business in the state Capitol, telling fellow lawmakers she can’t reach Juneau because she was banned from Alaska Airlines after she wouldn’t mask up.

In a procedural request Thursday morning, she asked to be excused from votes in the Capitol starting Sept. 11. The excusal ends Jan. 15, three days before the start of the next regular session.

Reinbold was banned from Alaska Airlines earlier this year for failing to follow the company’s COVID-19 rules on mask wearing, which she claims is unconstitutional.

Delta Air Lines is the only other large carrier that flies into Juneau, but its service to Juneau is seasonal and ends in September.

Alaska is experiencing a major surge in coronavirus cases, and the number of ill Alaskans has strained hospital capacity.

Read the story here.

—James Brooks, Anchorage Daily News, Alaska

Catch up on the past 24 hours

What the president’s new COVID-19 orders mean in Washington state: Employers with more than 100 workers must require vaccination or offer weekly testing under a sweeping mandate that will affect 100 million Americans. While leaders of already short-staffed businesses in Washington are fearing a mass exodus, legal experts say the mandate could come as a relief in some ways. President Joe Biden’s plan will shape everyday life in ways that go far beyond than vaccination: Here’s a quick look at the key changes ahead.

The future of office work got even murkier in the Seattle area as Microsoft yesterday pulled the plug on its back-to-office plans. The company isn’t even trying to predict a reopening date, joining a growing list of local tech firms whose workers will stay hunkered down at home for quite a while.

Five outdoor “superspreader events” in Washington have sparked a new mask rule that will take effect Monday at gatherings outside. 

The trouble started before the flight from Seattle took off, with Alaska Airlines removing several “disruptive” passengers. Then, after the plane was in the air, a ruckus over masks erupted and the pilots had to change their plans. As Biden yesterday doubled the fine for mask violations on planes, one U.S. lawmaker threw fuel on the travel fires with his plan for an airplane vaccine mandate.

A single-dose vaccine for both COVID-19 and flu is on the way. But it won’t be ready in time for this flu season, which is expected to hit especially hard.

—Kris Higginson

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