Coronavirus daily news updates, December 4: What to know today about COVID-19 in the Seattle area, Washington state and the world

Health and safety measures aimed at protecting communities against the delta variant should remain as the foundation for fighting the pandemic, World Health Organization officials said Friday. The announcement came as dozens of countries continue to report cases of the mutated omicron variant.

The variant appears to be three times more likely to cause reinfection in a person than the delta and beta variants, an aspect that may shed light on how the variant quickly spread across the globe, according to a preliminary study from South African scientists, which is yet to be peer-reviewed.

Though it’s still not known how much protection current COVID-19 vaccines provide against the new variant, scientists say the vaccines still offer the most protection against severe illness and possible death.

As countries grapple with increased COVID-19 cases and uncertainties over the omicron variant, the outgoing Czech government announced it will issue a vaccine mandate for people 60 and over as well as some professional groups. Though the plan is in motion, it’s still unclear whether the succeeding health minister will enforce the mandate.

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.

Navigating the pandemic

(Jennifer Luxton / The Seattle Times)

Over 129K WA kids ages 5–11 receive first COVID vaccine dose

Andre Mattus, a nurse at the University of Washington Medical Center, gives the first shot of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine to Amar Gunderson, 6 1/2, last month, in Seattle. (Ted S. Warren / AP)

OLYMPIA — More than 129,000 children ages 5 through 11 in Washington state have received their first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech pediatric vaccine since eligibility expanded to include younger kids on Nov. 3, health officials said this week. 

“While COVID-19 is often milder in children than adults, children can still get very sick and spread the disease to family and friends, which is an even bigger concern as people gather this holiday season,” Secretary of Health Dr. Umair A. Shah said Thursday. “As a father, knowing our children are vaccinated helps me breathe a sigh of relief.”

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press


UW men’s basketball game vs. No. 5 UCLA canceled due to COVID-19

The Washington Huskies line up for the playing of the national anthem before, Nov. 9, 2021, in Seattle. (Jennifer Buchanan / The Seattle Times)

The Washington men’s basketball team will suffer its first Pac-12 defeat due to COVID-19 developments within the program.

The Huskies are unable to host No. 5-ranked UCLA on Sunday at Alaska Airlines Arena and will forfeit the game in accordance to Pac-12 guidelines.

Washington has seven players and coaches in COVID-19 protocols, according to a Los Angeles Times report that cited an anonymous source.

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—Percy Allen

So far, Washington workers pushed out over vaccine mandates aren’t losing jobless benefits

Boeing workers protest against the jet-maker’s vaccine requirement in Everett in October. (Dominic Gates / The Seattle Times)

In August, when Gov. Jay Inslee ordered state employees, health care workers and others to get vaccinated against COVID-19 by Oct. 18, officials issued a stern warning: If you quit or get fired for refusing a jab, don’t expect unemployment benefits. 

But nearly two months after the vaccination deadline, it’s unclear just how much vaccine-hesitant workers have to worry about. 

Although thousands of workers in Washington likely have quit or been fired over government and private vaccine mandates — including nearly 2,000 state employees as of Nov. 15, according to state data — just 26 mandate-related claims for jobless benefits had been flagged for review by the state Employment Security Department as of Friday. Although the review process isn’t complete, ESD officials don’t believe that any of those claims have been denied.

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—Paul Roberts

Article Source: The Seattle Times