Coronavirus daily news updates, Dec. 25: What to know today about COVID-19 in the Seattle area, Washington state and the world

This holiday season, millions of people have weighed their need to spend time with family and friends against the risk of catching the fast-moving omicron COVID-19 variant, at the same time winter chill moves social gatherings indoors.

People are traveling by air at 80% to 90% of pre-pandemic rates, but shortages of crew are cancelling some flights.

Despite vaccination rates of over 80% in King County the area is due for a challenge when weekend snow falls and temperatures below 20 degrees hit Monday, complicating efforts to operate warming shelters without viral spread.

It’s still unclear to what extent universities may revert to online classes, as the University of Washington plans for Jan. 3-9, or how soon the Seattle Kraken will be playing hockey again.

New Zealanders, however, celebrated Christmas with beach barbecues, taking advantage of a nearly 95% vaccination rate, summer weather and the ability to intercept omicron at island borders.

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.

The Washington State Department of Health did not issue updated COVID-19 statistics on Friday afternoon (which would normally appear here in a chart), because of the Christmas holiday.

Navigating the pandemic

Thousands line up for ‘jingle jabs’ on Christmas in England

Thousands of people across England are spending a few minutes of Christmas Day to line up under leaden winter skies to be vaccinated against COVID-19 as the omicron variant fuels a surge in infections across the country.

The Good Health Pharmacy in north London is one of dozens of vaccination sites that kept their doors open Saturday to administer “jingle jabs” amid a government push to offer booster shots to all adults by the end of the year.

Pharmacist Fenil Lalji said the shop’s owners decided to stay open because they lost a family member to the pandemic and wanted to do what they could to help others stay safe.

Britain has expanded its booster program over the past two weeks, reopening sports stadiums and cathedrals as inoculation hubs, after research showed that two doses of the vaccine weren’t enough to protect against the highly transmissible omicron variant.

Read the full story here.

—The Associated Press

Denmark sees initial signs that dire omicron surge can be avoided

Early benchmarks from Denmark on infections and hospitalizations are providing grounds for guarded optimism that highly vaccinated countries might be able to weather the omicron wave.

The developments, coupled with Denmark’s speedy rollout of booster shots, have raised hopes the country can avoid the dire surge for which it has been bracing.

“It’s too early to relax, but it’s encouraging that we are not following the worst-case scenario,” said Tyra Grove Krause, the chief epidemiologist at Denmark’s State Serum Institute.

Read the full story here.

—The Washington Post

3 members of K-pop sensation BTS diagnosed with COVID-19

Three members of the K-pop superstar group BTS have been infected with the coronavirus after returning from abroad, their management agency said.

RM and Jin were diagnosed with COVID-19 on Saturday evening, the Big Hit Music agency said in a statement. It earlier said another member, Suga, tested positive for the virus on Friday.

All three took their second jabs in August, the agency said.

The BTS is a seven-member boyband.

Read the full story here.

—The Associated Press

At West Virginia vaccine clinic, pandemic fatigue sets in

Chania Batten has as much reason as anybody to feel pandemic fatigue.

As a nurse staffing a drive-thru clinic at the only hospital in rural Roane County, West Virginia, she has spent months patiently answering questions, dispelling misinformation and reassuring the skeptical that COVID-19 shots are the key to beating back the coronavirus.

Batten shudders at the thought of the pandemic entering another calendar year.

“It is frustrating,” said the mother of two young children. “We all want to get back to our lives.”

Soon after the first vaccines were approved for use a year ago, West Virginia briefly led the nation in getting people the shots, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But the state quickly hit a wall of resistance and its ranking began to slip. It’s unclear how far it fell because of discrepancies between state and federal figures, but the struggle in Roane County suggests there is plenty of room for improvement.

Only about 45% of the county’s population is fully vaccinated against the coronavirus. Nearly one-third of the state’s 55 counties are under 50%, according to the CDC.

Read more from this report here.

—The Associated Press

On Christmas, pope prays for pandemic’s end, peace dialogues

Pope Francis prayed Saturday for an end to the coronavirus pandemic, using his Christmas Day address to urge health care for all, vaccines for the poor and for dialogue to prevail in resolving the world’s conflicts.

Amid a record-setting rise in COVID-19 cases in Italy this week, only a few thousand people flocked to a rain-soaked St. Peter’s Square for Francis’ annual “Urbi et Orbi” (“To the city and the world”) Christmas address. Normally, the square would be packed with tens of thousands of holiday well-wishers.

At least they could gather this year. Italy’s 2020 holiday lockdown forced Francis to deliver a televised address from inside the Apostolic Palace to prevent crowds from forming in the square. Although Italy this week counted more than 50,000 cases in a single day for the first time, the government has not ordered another lockdown.

Read the full story here.

—The Associated Press

The first Christmas as a layperson: Burned out by the pandemic, many clergy quit in the past year

It was Christmas Eve and the Rev. Alyssa Aldape was getting ready for work. Over her decade in Baptist youth ministry, Dec. 24 meant prepping sermons at the church, sending out last-minute Christmas emails to her young people, robing up. After church, her Mexican American family would have tamales.

But this Christmas Eve day, Aldape was in her Washington, D.C., apartment, in a green turtleneck and jeans, drinking iced coffee and getting ready for her shift at the retailer Madewell. She’d clock in, then spend the afternoon folding sweaters and greeting last-minute holiday shoppers at the door with her big smile and “Hi! Welcome!”

“At the store they’re like, ‘You’re so good at welcoming people!’” said Aldape, her smile shifting into a chuckle and then into tears. For the first time in a decade, the 34-year-old wouldn’t be pastoring a congregation on Christmas Eve.

Read the full story here.

—The Washington Post

Article Source: The Seattle Times