Coronavirus daily news updates, June 14: 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 Tuesday, June 14, 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 It is no longer being updated.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.
Health experts continue to warn that exposure to the COVID-19 does not mean one is completely protected from future infections.
Prior to the omicron variant, re-infections were quite rare, according to experts. But the virus has acquired several mutations raising the probability of somebody becoming infected again with a different variant or subvariant after recovering. Read here for health expert’s answers to the most common COVID-19 questions.
Meanwhile, a recent study found that ivermectin is not an effective COVID-19 treatment. The study details the largest clinical trials to date that test the anti-parasitic drug’s effectiveness as a treatment for the virus.
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.
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Saudi Arabia on Monday lifted a mask mandate for indoor spaces even as COVID-19 infection numbers steadily climb past 1,000 new cases a day after reaching double-digit lows just two months ago.
Masks will still be required at Islam’s holiest sites in Mecca and Medina, where pilgrims gather for worship, according to the new rules. Organizers of events and festivals can continue to require masks if they wish. The kingdom additionally dropped a rule requiring proof of vaccination on a mobile app that was required before entry to certain places, events and to board planes.
Meanwhile, in neighboring United Arab Emirates, the government is stressing the importance of wearing masks indoors amid a 100% jump in cases in less than a week. The country of 9 million residents has around 1,300 confirmed new cases daily, despite high rates of vaccination.
Anyone found breaching indoor mask rules in the UAE will be fined 3,000 dirhams, or roughly $815.

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A congressional panel Tuesday will examine payouts under a federal coronavirus pandemic aid program intended to help small businesses weather the COVID-19 outbreak amid revelations that as much as 20% of the money may have been awarded to fraudsters.
The problems in the COVID-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loan program, overseen by the U.S. Small Business Administration, included a finding by congressional investigators that some 1.6 million applications for the loans may have been approved without being evaluated.
Separately, the SBA’s Office of the Inspector General estimated that at least $80 billion distributed from the $400 billion program could have been potentially fraudulent, much of it in scams using stolen identities.
The program is expected to be at the center of a congressional subcommittee hearing that also will tackle broader fraud concerns with the flood of pandemic aid from multiple federal government programs for states, local governments, businesses and the unemployed.

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President Joe Biden’s top health official has again tested positive for COVID-19, less than a month after he came down with virus symptoms while on a trip to Germany.
U.S. Health Secretary Xavier Becerra woke up with symptoms again Monday morning and tested positive afterward, spokeswoman Sarah Lovenheim said.
His symptoms are mild and he is isolating in Sacramento, California. Lovenheim said Becerra had been in California for a “personal commitment.”
A statement from HHS said the secretary was not believed to be a close contact of Biden or Vice President Kamala Harris, who also tested positive earlier this spring.

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The mayor of a northeastern Chinese city on the North Korean border that has been under lockdown for more than 50 days has apologized for failures in his administration’s work amid widespread — but often disguised — dissatisfaction over the government’s heavy-handed approach to handling the pandemic.
Dandong Mayor Hao Jianjun gave no specifics, but said government work and basic services had been “unsatisfactory,” for which he offered his apologies, according to a statement issued by the city government late Monday.
It is highly unusual for a ranking Communist Party official to publicly concede errors, particularly regarding the hardline “zero-COVID” policy that has been repeatedly endorsed by top officials under President and party leader Xi Jinping.

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An increase in coronavirus cases has been detected across California in the past week, confirming the warnings from some officials that the pandemic’s latest wave has yet to top out.
Across California, health officials reported an average of about 16,700 new coronavirus infections a day for the week ending June 9 — a 21% increase over the prior week, according to a Los Angeles Times analysis of state data released Friday.
That’s equivalent to 298 weekly cases for every 100,000 Californians. A rate of at least 100 cases per 100,000 is considered a high rate of transmission under criteria established by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The official case tally is also almost assuredly an undercount, as many people are screening themselves using at-home coronavirus tests, the results of which are not reliably reported to health officials.

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The anti-parasite drug ivermectin does not meaningfully reduce the time needed to recover from COVID-19, according to a large study posted online Sunday. It is the largest of several clinical trials to show that the drug, popular since the early pandemic as an alternative treatment, is not effective against the virus.
The new trial, conducted by researchers at Duke University and Vanderbilt University, tested more than 1,500 people with COVID-19, about half getting the drug and the others a placebo. The study has not yet been published in a scientific journal.
“Given these results, there does not appear to be a role for ivermectin outside of a clinical trial setting, especially considering other available options with proven reduction in hospitalizations and death,” Dr. Adrian Hernandez, executive director of the Duke Clinical Research Institute who led the trial, said in a statement Sunday night.

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The United States has lifted the order requiring travelers to show a negative test result or proof of recovery from COVID-19 before entering the country. The change went into effect Sunday.
The news was welcomed by the travel industry, which has been pushing for an end to testing rules that they said discouraged foreign visitors from coming to the country and kept some Americans at home.
But health experts warn coronavirus risks remain. New cases, hospitalizations and deaths rose in the United States over the past week, although they remain far below the omicron variant peak earlier this year, according to Washington Post data.
In a perfect world, Jayne Morgan, a cardiologist and executive director of the COVID-19 task force at Piedmont Healthcare, said testing would be required for all flights — domestic and international. She’d also like to see universal masking in confined, public spaces. Morgan said it’s important to keep up with coronavirus mitigation efforts not only to avoid getting sick, but also to limit the virus’s potential to further evolve.
“The fact remains that the more infections that we have, the greater the risk we may have of a future variant that could be more formidable,” she said.

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A government advisory panel Tuesday endorsed a second brand of COVID-19 vaccine for school-age children and teens.
The Food and Drug Administration’s outside experts voted unanimously that Moderna’s vaccine is safe and effective enough to give kids ages 6 to 17. If the FDA agrees, it would become the second option for those children, joining Pfizer’s vaccine.
The same FDA expert panel will meet Wednesday to consider tot-sized shots from Moderna and Pfizer for the littlest kids, those under 5.
Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine has long been available for adults in the U.S. and elsewhere and more than three dozen countries offer it to older children, too. If the FDA authorizes Moderna’s vaccine for teens and younger children, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will next decide whether to formally recommend the shots.
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Oregon health officials reported 10,606 new coronavirus cases last week, up 8% from the previous week.
The rise in identified coronavirus cases ended two weeks of reported declines, underscoring how little is known about the the true number of infections in Oregon and nationally.
The new cases are an undercount of the virus’s current spread in Oregon, not least because of the ubiquity of at-home tests, which don’t need to be reported to officials. Among publicly reported tests, the positivity rate has consistently stayed above 10% since May 6, with no immediate signs of retreat. Oregon’s initial drop in known cases three weeks ago coincided with a dip in testing over the Memorial Day holiday weekend.
Three Oregon counties are now at federally designated “high” risk of COVID-19 transmission: Lane, Douglas and Jackson counties. People in those areas should wear masks in public indoor settings, according to the Centers for Disease Control, and should get tested if they have symptoms.

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Many U.S. schools were in dire need of upgrades — burdened by leaking pipes, mold and antiquated heating systems — long before the COVID-19 pandemic drew attention to the importance of indoor ventilation in reducing the spread of infectious disease.
The average U.S. school building is 50 years old, and many schools date back more than a century.
So, one might assume school districts across the nation would welcome the opportunity created by billions of dollars in federal COVID-relief money available to upgrade heating and air-conditioning systems and improve air quality and filtration in K-12 schools.
But a report released this month from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found most U.S. public schools have made no major investments in improving indoor ventilation and filtration since the start of the pandemic. Instead, the most frequently reported strategies to improve airflow and reduce COVID risk were notably low-budget, such as relocating classroom activities outdoors and opening windows and doors, if considered safe.

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 A landmark floating restaurant that fed Cantonese cuisine and seafood to Queen Elizabeth II, Tom Cruise and millions of other diners was towed from the Hong Kong harborfront Tuesday after being closed by the pandemic.
The parent company of Jumbo Floating Restaurant couldn’t find a new owner and lacked funds to maintain it after months of COVID-19 restrictions.
The massive floating restaurant designed like a Chinese imperial palace on Aberdeen Harbour was known for its Cantonese cuisine and seafood dishes. It received over 30 million guests since its establishment in 1976.
But Jumbo Floating Restaurant was forced to close in 2020 due to the pandemic, and all staff were laid off. Parent company Aberdeen Restaurant Enterprises said it had become a financial burden to shareholders.

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Have you recently contracted COVID-19 for the first time during the pandemic? Those who have avoided the virus for more than two years may be disappointed to catch it during the current, relatively mild wave. But there are a variety of factors contributing to this unofficial, anecdotal trend.
Dr. Dana Hawkinson, an infectious disease specialist at The University of Kansas Health System, spoke with The Star about these so-called COVID “first-timers” and what we can all do to stay safe.
“I’ve heard more and more anecdotes of people who survived two years without having been infected with SARS-CoV-2 and now they are getting infected,” he said in a news briefing.
Hawkinson said there is likely a combination of factors to blame. Here are a few he listed:
• Many people are relaxing their mask-wearing and social distancing habits.
• Vaccinated or previously infected people may have the virus but be asymptomatic, causing them to spread it to others without knowing.
• Recent subvariants of the omicron strain, including BA.2.12.1, BA.4 and BA.5, may be better at evading the immune system’s antibodies than previous variants.
• The arrival of summer has led to more travel and social gatherings where the virus can be spread.

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