Live: Coronavirus daily news updates, September 9: What to know today about COVID-19 in the Seattle area, Washington state and the world

President Joe Biden is expected on Thursday to detail his administration’s plan to put pressure on private businesses, federal agencies and schools to enact stricter vaccination mandates and testing policies. The delta variant continues its spread across the United States, pushing the country’s daily average caseload over 150,000 for the first time since late January and killing roughly 1,500 people a day. Biden is set to deliver a speech at 5 p.m. Eastern time (2 p.m. Pacific time) that will address about six areas where his administration can encourage — or, at this point, push — more eligible Americans to receive vaccines, according to the White House.

Meanwhile, state and local health officials say Washingtonians shouldn’t be overly concerned about the mu variant of the coronavirus, first identified in Colombia in January and first detected in Washington in April. A month later, the first mu variant was detected in King County and since then, the state’s most populous county has counted 39 total mu cases, fewer than four cases per week, county public health officer Dr. Jeff Duchin said Wednesday. In August, 3,442 specimens were genetically sequenced from Washington residents, with mu representing about 0.4% of sequenced cases — compared to 98.2% of cases represented by the delta variant.

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.

Gov. Jay Inslee has set a press conference today at 2:30 p.m. to discuss the state’s ongoing response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Don’t tell students if their classmates get COVID, university warns faculty

The University of Delaware is warning its faculty not to tell students if their classmates get a confirmed case of coronavirus.

The change in protocol, sent in an email on Wednesday reviewed by The Washington Post, comes as rising cases on campus resulted in the university’s special accommodations for those who have COVID-19 filling up.

The email said that “if an instructor is notified by a student that the student has COVID-19, the instructor may not tell the class that someone has tested positive for COVID-19.”

Instead, the university said, professors should tell students that “given the current incidence of COVID-19 on campus, we should assume that we may have contact with individuals who are shedding COVID-19, perhaps unknowingly.” Students deemed to have been in close contact with a COVID-positive person would be notified by the school’s health department, the email said.

The situation at the University of Delaware highlights the complicated process that schools and universities across the country face as they welcome students back to classrooms while the delta variant fuels a surge in cases. The United States is averaging more than 149,000 new coronavirus cases each day, largely among unvaccinated people.

Read the story here.

—Bryan Pietsch, The Washington Post

US jobless claims reach a pandemic low as economy recovers

The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits fell last week to 310,000, a pandemic low and a sign that the surge in COVID-19 cases caused by the delta variant has yet to lead to widespread layoffs.

Thursday’s report from the Labor Department showed that jobless claims dropped from a revised total of 345,000 the week before. And at their current pace, weekly applications for benefits are edging toward their pre-pandemic figure of roughly 225,000.

But the spread of the delta variant this summer has put renewed pressure on the economy and the job market. On Wednesday, the Federal Reserve reported that U.S. economic activity “downshifted” in July and August, in part because of a pullback in dining out, travel and tourism related to concerns about the delta variant.

Still, the ongoing drop in applications for unemployment aid — six declines in the past seven weeks — indicates that most companies are holding onto their workers despite the slowdown.

Read the story here.

—Christopher Rugaber, The Associated Press

Study finds no increase in miscarriage risk with COVID-19 vaccines

Pregnant women who received COVID-19 vaccines did not experience an increased risk of miscarriage, according to new research on data from Bloomington-based HealthPartners and several large medical centers across the country.

Doctors hope the results will prove reassuring to pregnant women who, as a group in the U.S., have been relatively slow to get vaccinated.

“This is really the first large data analysis of risks of COVID-19 vaccination early in pregnancy,” Dr. Elyse Kharbanda, senior investigator at HealthPartners Institute and lead author on the study, said. “The research we’re presenting is contributing to the evidence out there that the vaccines are safe in pregnancy.”

Concerns have been growing throughout the pandemic over the COVID-19 risks for pregnant women due to emerging data as well as tragic case reports. Yet many have been reluctant to undergo immunization since the original clinical trials of the vaccines excluded pregnant women, meaning there’s been a lack of safety data.

Read the story here.

—Christopher Snowbeck, Star Tribune

WHO says Africa’s already thin vaccine supply to drop by 25%

Africa’s already thin supply of COVID-19 vaccines has taken another significant hit, with the World Health Organization’s Africa director saying Thursday that for various reasons, including the rollout of booster shots, “we will get 25% less doses than we were anticipating by the end of the year.”

Matshidiso Moeti’s comments to reporters came as the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said just over 3% of people across the African continent have been fully vaccinated. That coverage drops to around 1.7% in sub-Saharan Africa, according to the WHO.

African health officials were dismayed by Wednesday’s announcement that the global COVAX effort to distribute vaccines to low-and middle-income countries is again cutting its delivery forecast.

Moeti noted that while COVAX has delivered over 5 million vaccine doses to African countries in the past week, “three times as many doses have been thrown away in the United States alone” since March.

Read the story here.

—Cara Anna, The Associated Press

Resort is first in Hawaii to mandate vaccination for guests, workers

A resort in the famed tourist mecca of Waikiki will be the first in Hawaii to require proof of COVID-19 vaccination for all employees and guests.

Starting Oct. 15, ’Alohilani Resort will require its employees, patrons and guests to show proof they’re fully vaccinated. The requirement will also apply to the six other Waikiki properties owned or operated by Highgate, a real estate investment and hospitality management company.

It’s the right thing to do as Hawaii grapples with a surge in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations because of the highly contagious delta variant, said Kelly Sanders, senior vice president of operations at Highgate Hawaii.

There were an average of 706 newly confirmed infection cases per day across Hawaii between Aug. 30 and Sept. 5, according to the state Department of Health. Hawaii’s vaccination rate was nearly 76% for those 12 and older.

Read the story here.

—Jennifer Sinco Kelleher, The Associated Press

Catch up on the past 24 hours

The virus’ mu variant looks “very bad in a test tube,” with the potential to sidle past vaccine-based immunity. But what matters is how it behaves outside that tube, and Washingtonians shouldn’t be too concerned at this point, local and state health officials say. Here’s the breakdown on recent mu cases in Washington, compared with delta cases.

President Joe Biden will amp up pressure on businesses and schools to launch stricter vaccination mandates as he outlines a six-pronged plan today. Check back here for details of his speech at 2 p.m. Seattle time.

How college students can cut COVID risk on campus: As universities and students alike grapple with serious health-related decisions, health experts have advice to make the tough calls easier — from choosing the best mask and partying safely to planning that trip home for Thanksgiving. It’s a tricky new era, with one major university warning its faculty not to tell students if their classmates get COVID-19.

Do school fountains spread COVID-19? As some schools supply students with water bottles, the science indicates it’s a good idea to be cautious.

Three state troopers accused of making fake vaccine cards resigned after their colleagues turned them in. They could wind up in prison.

—Kris Higginson