Find an updated count of COVID-19 cases in California and by county on our tracker here.
COVID-19 By The Numbers
Thursday, October 13
11:03 a.m.: Seattle to end COVID-19 emergency proclamation
The city of Seattle will end its COVID-19 emergency proclamation at the end of October, according to the Associated Press.
Mayor Bruce Harrell said in a statement Tuesday that Seattle will lift its remaining COVID emergency order to align with Gov. Jay Inslee’s decision to end Washington’s state of emergency on Oct. 31. Harrell said while the impacts of the pandemic continue to be felt, it is thanks to Seattle’s strong response including its high vaccination rate and strong health care system that the city can continue moving toward recovery and revitalization.
The remaining policies linked to the emergency order including some renter protections and wage protections will end, and others will be phased out.
The White House says eligible Americans should get the updated COVID-19 boosters by Halloween to have maximum protection against the coronavirus by Thanksgiving and the holidays, as it warns of a “challenging” virus season ahead.
White House COVID-19 coordinator Dr. Ashish Jha said Tuesday the U.S. has vaccine and treatment tools to largely eliminate serious illness and death from the virus. But he stressed that’s only if people do their part.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says only about 11.5 million Americans have received the updated shots so far, but if more people get them it could save hundreds of lives each day by winter.
Wednesday, October 12
The U.S. is preparing to offer updated COVID-19 booster shots to kids as young as 5.
The tweaked boosters rolled out last month for Americans 12 and older — shots designed to target the currently spreading omicron variants. On Wednesday, the Food and Drug Administration authorized kid-size versions for 5- to 11-year-olds, the Associated Press reports.
There’s one more step: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also must sign off. Officials hope to expand protection against an expected winter surge. The updated shots contain half the recipe that targeted the original coronavirus strain and half protection against the dominant BA.4 and BA.5 omicron versions.
Eager to admire colorful foliage, eat sushi and go shopping, droves of tourists from abroad have started arriving in Japan.
Beginning Tuesday, the government lifted border restrictions that had been in place for more than two years to curb the coronavirus pandemic. Airlines have added flights and visa-free travel is back for short-term business visits and tourism.
Travelers are expected to deliver a sorely needed $35 billion boost to the world’s third-largest economy. And given the bargains to be had with the yen weakening against the U.S. dollar, the flood of visitors is expected to keep growing.
Tuesday, October 11
Respiratory illnesses are rising in younger patients in the United States, though the spike has largely been due to illnesses other than COVID-19.
According to NPR, some pediatric hospitals across the county have begun running out of beds, with many systems still feeling the strain from the pandemic.
“We’ve been strapped, and hospitals have sort of been functioning at the edge of how they can function. We’re seeing more people requiring help and fewer beds available, largely due to staffing needs,” Dr. Ibukun Kalu, a specialist in pediatric infectious diseases at Duke Children’s Hospital in Durham, North Carolina, told NPR. “This combination is going to create more and more problems.”
The CDC issued a health advisory in September about the increase in pediatric respiratory illnesses, including RSV, enteroviruses and rhinovirus.
During the pandemic, California’s low-income families that are required to pay a fee to receive subsidized child care got a waiver from paying. That waiver is set to expire next year, worrying parents who have struggled to afford it in the past.
Gov. Gavin Newsom vetoed a bill last month that would have made the waiver permanent. Parents say the waiver, which will end in June 2023, allowed them to pay other expenses or get caught up on delinquent bills. Now they will have to stop paying down debt, saving for emergencies and enrolling their children in extra activities like dance lessons to pay the fees instead.
California helps low-income families afford child care through several different programs. For most families the programs are free, but others must pay a share of their subsidized child care costs — what the state refers to as a “family fee.” Families pay the fee directly to their child care provider or to the contractor that manages their subsidized child care.
The pandemic put a spotlight on the child care challenges facing families with the lowest incomes, who got hit hardest by COVID-19. Many worked service jobs that were frozen or eliminated, or worked essential jobs they were required to do in person. Their circumstances drove state officials to waive the fees.
A legislative analysis of the bill that would have permanently waived the fees found that eliminating the fees for some families and decreasing the fees for others would cost $136 million a year. A 2021 study by the California Budget and Policy Center found that the state collects about $68 million annually in child care fees from families with low and moderate incomes.
Thursday, October 6
Homelessness is expected to be up when the federal government releases results from an annual count in the coming months — the first full tally since the coronavirus pandemic began.
Experts say with the end of pandemic relief measures that kept many people housed, the crisis is deepening.
But, according to the Associated Press, the story is not uniform across the U.S. In two high-rent state capitals, the numbers have been moving in opposite directions.
In Boston, where there’s been improvement, officials credit a strategy of targeting housing to people who have long been on the streets.
While in Sacramento, people are becoming homeless faster than they can be housed.
Fueled by a long-running housing shortage, rising rent prices and the economic hangover from the pandemic, the overall number of homeless in a federal government report to soon be released is expected to be bigger than the 580,000 unhoused before the coronavirus outbreak, the National Alliance to End Homelessness.
In West Coast cities such as Sacramento and Portland, Oregon, growing homelessness has become a humanitarian crisis and political football over the past decade.
Research has shown that in places seeing spikes in homelessness often follow a lack of affordable housing. To make matters worse, pandemic government relief programs — including anti-eviction measures, emergency rental assistance and a child tax credit that kept people housed who may have been on the streets otherwise — are ending.
Wednesday, October 5
Do you feel like a different person than you were at the start of the pandemic? A new study has found that many Americans have experienced a personality shift during the past three years.
According to NPR, the research saw that early in the pandemic many people saw a drop in traits associated with neuroticism. But as the pandemic wore on, researchers were more likely to see declines in traits such as trust and creative thinking.
“The first year [of the pandemic] there was this real coming together,” Sutin says. “But in the second year, with all of that support falling away and then the open hostility and social upheaval around restrictions … all the collective goodwill that we had, we lost, and that might have been very significant for personality.”
1:36 p.m.: Tax cut trend reaches two-thirds of states
About two-thirds of U.S. states have adopted some sort of tax relief this year. The tax-cut trend has been fueled by record state budget surpluses and large growth in state revenues after an initial downturn during the coronavirus pandemic.
Missouri became the latest state to act, when Republican Gov. Mike Parson signed an income tax cut into law Wednesday, the Associated Press reports. Republican-led states have been more apt to approve permanent tax rate reductions. Many Democratic states, meanwhile, have opted for one-time tax rebates, including California.
A bipartisan collection of states also have suspended gas taxes or cut sales taxes on groceries.
Tuesday, October 4
If you’ve recently taken a COVID-19 booster shot and started feeling ill, you turn to an at-home COVID-19 test to suss out your symptoms.
But then you look down, you see a positive result. Is it possible that the vaccine booster messed with the results?
“It would be absolutely impossible” to test positive because you got the vaccine, Jeremy Kamil, a virologist at Louisiana State University Health Shreveport, said to NPR.
This is because the tests are not calibrated to test the same things in boosters since they’re all based upon different parts of the COVID virus.
Germany’s health minister, Karl Lauterbach, warned that the country is seeing a steady rise in COVID-19 cases as it goes into the fall and urged older people to get a second booster shot tweaked to protect against new variants.
According to the Associated Press, other European countries such as France, Denmark, and the Netherlands are also recording an increase in cases. Lauterbach said that Germany is “clearly at the start of a winter wave.”
German officials recorded 96,367 new cases in the past 24 hours, about twice as many as a week ago.
Starting Saturday, Germany’s 16 states can again impose pandemic restrictions such as a requirement to wear masks indoors.
Monday, October 3
After virtually disappearing for two years in the U.S. as the COVID-19 pandemic shut down society, there are hints the flu could reemerge this fall, potentially causing an unusually early and possibly severe flu season.
As a result, many experts urge people to get their flu shots right away to ensure they’re protected — but what’s the best timing?
The usual flu season starts in November in the U.S. and peaks in January or February. In general, some doctors may wait until mid-October to get the flu shot, but cases are already rising.
According to NPR, the precise timing of when you get a flu shot over the next month or so doesn’t matter as much, as long as you get one — especially this year.
The National Foundation for Infectious Diseases said that in a worst-case scenario, the flu could hospitalize as many as 560,000 people in the U.S. this year and kill as many as 63,000.
Doctors have a message for vaccine-weary Americans: Don’t skip your flu shot this fall.
And for the first time, seniors are urged to get a special extra-strength kind. There’s no way to predict how bad this flu season will be, according to the Associated Press.
Australia just emerged from a nasty one. In the U.S., annual flu vaccinations are recommended starting with 6-month-olds. Because older adults don’t respond as well, the U.S. now recommends they get one of three types made with higher doses or an immune-boosting ingredient.
Meanwhile, the companies that make the two most widely used COVID-19 vaccines are now testing flu shots made with the same technology.
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