Live: Coronavirus daily news updates, February 10: What to know today about COVID-19 in the Seattle area, Washington state and the world

0
79
Live: Coronavirus daily news updates, February 10: What to know today about COVID-19 in the Seattle area, Washington state and the world

As Democrats work to speed President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief plan through Congress, the president on Tuesday met with a handful of leading business executives to discuss the economic package.

Meanwhile, scientists continue to work on virus vaccines, including one that could work against all coronaviruses.

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 and the world.

Another film of false coronavirus claims got millions of views before Facebook, YouTube banned it

While thousands of families grieved the loss of loved ones and the United States’ coronavirus death toll surpassed 350,000 in early January and continued to rise, a new film parroting false claims about the pandemic began to spread to millions of social media users.

The video, called “Planet Lockdown,” racked up more than 20 million views and engagements, according to the social media monitoring tool CrowdTangle, in late December and January. It went largely unnoticed by the social media platforms playing host to the misinformation until the liberal media watchdog group Media Matters for America published a detailed accounting of the film’s spread on Monday.

The film was full of false claims about the virus, including that the coronavirus vaccine may cause infertility (it does not) and that the shots contain microchips (they do not), as well as baseless claims of mass voter fraud in the presidential election. Facebook and YouTube had already banned users from posting content promoting the false microchip claim and other misinformation related to the pandemic.

Following the Media Matters report, tech giants including Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and TikTok began scrubbing promotional clips of the film from their platforms for violating rules against misinformation. GoFundMe also removed a fundraising page for postproduction costs associated with the film, which had raised more than $8,000, according to a screenshotof the site captured by the Internet Archive.

Read the story here.

—Katie Shepherd, The Washington Post

1:30 pm

Florida gov takes aim at media for Super Bowl virus coverage

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis answers questions Jan. 4 in Longwood, Fla. DeSantis lashed out at the news media when he suggested Wednesday a bias in coverage of the pandemic, even as concerns swirl over more contagious strains of COVID-19 potentially spreading at gatherings celebrating the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ victory in the Super Bowl. (Joe Burbank/Orlando Sentinel via AP, File)

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis answers questions Jan. 4 in Longwood, Fla. DeSantis lashed out at the news media when he suggested Wednesday a bias in coverage of the pandemic, even as concerns swirl over more contagious strains of COVID-19 potentially spreading at gatherings celebrating the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ victory in the Super Bowl. (Joe Burbank/Orlando Sentinel via AP, File)

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis again lashed out at the news media when he suggested Wednesday a bias in coverage of the pandemic, even as concerns swirl over more contagious strains of COVID-19 potentially spreading at gatherings celebrating the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ victory in the Super Bowl.

“The media is worried about that, obviously,” DeSantis said during a news conference in Venice.

“You don’t care as much when it’s a peaceful protest,” he continued. “You don’t care as much if you’re celebrating a Biden election. You only care about if it’s people you don’t like.”

DeSantis has routinely asserted that there is a bias against conservatives and Republicans, particularly among reporters who have asked tough and sometimes uncomfortable questions about the governor’s handling of the public health crisis.

But when a journalist asked DeSantis about the spread of a more contagious variant of the virus in the context of super-spreader events following the Super Bowl, the governor took it as an unjustified hit against the home team.

“I’m a Bucs fan,” the governor proclaimed. “I’m damned proud of what they did on Sunday night.”

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press

12:56 pm

Government investigating massive counterfeit N95 mask scam

This December 2020 image provided by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) shows a counterfeit N95 surgical mask that was seized by ICE and U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Federal investigators are probing a massive counterfeit N95 mask operation sold in at least five states to hospitals, medical facilities, and government agencies and expect the number to rise significantly in coming weeks. The fake 3M masks are at best a copyright violations and at worst unsafe fakes that put unknowing health care workers at grave risk for coronavirus. And they are becoming increasingly difficult to spot. (ICE via AP)

This December 2020 image provided by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) shows a counterfeit N95 surgical mask that was seized by ICE and U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Federal investigators are probing a massive counterfeit N95 mask operation sold in at least five states to hospitals, medical facilities, and government agencies and expect the number to rise significantly in coming weeks. The fake 3M masks are at best a copyright violations and at worst unsafe fakes that put unknowing health care workers at grave risk for coronavirus. And they are becoming increasingly difficult to spot. (ICE via AP)

Federal authorities are investigating a massive counterfeit N95 mask operation in which fake 3M masks were sold in at least five states to hospitals, medical facilities and government agencies. The foreign-made knockoffs are becoming increasingly difficult to spot and could put health care workers at grave risk for the coronavirus.

These masks are giving first responders “a false sense of security,” said Steve Francis, assistant director for global trade investigations with the Homeland Security Department’s principal investigative arm. He added, “We’ve seen a lot of fraud and other illegal activity.”

Officials could not name the states or the company involved because of the active investigation.

Nearly a year into the pandemic, fraud remains a major problem as scammers seek to exploit hospitals and desperate and weary Americans. Federal investigators say they have seen an increase in phony websites purporting to sell vaccines as well as fake medicine produced overseas and scams involving personal protective equipment. The schemes deliver phony products, unlike fraud earlier in the pandemic that focused more on fleecing customers.

Read the story here.

—Colleen Long, The Associated Press

12:15 pm

Ford’s next pandemic mission: Clear N95 masks and low-cost air filters

Ford Motor Co. has received patent-pending approval to produce clear face masks with N95-level filtration. The automaker expects to make them available this spring. (Courtesy of Ford)

Ford Motor Co. has received patent-pending approval to produce clear face masks with N95-level filtration. The automaker expects to make them available this spring. (Courtesy of Ford)

Ford Motor Co. is rolling out clear face masks with N95-level filtration, in what could be the largest-scale effort to produce masks designed to improve communication while offering medical-grade protection against the coronavirus.

Masks make it more difficult to hear what the wearer is saying and impossible for those who rely on lip reading. The ability to read facial expressions also is crucial, as most communication is nonverbal, particularly for those in education, travel, sales and other sectors.

The auto giant has been producing face masks, ventilators and face shields since March, through the launch of its Project Apollo, which organized Ford engineers to work with health officials and devise product solutions to deal with the coronavirus pandemic just days after the first wave of lockdowns. Since then, Ford has given away tens of millions of masks and is now turning proceeds from its health-care products toward manufacturing the clear respirators and air filtration kits, Baumbick said.

The new masks, which the company announced last week, will be washable and feature anti-fog technology, Baumbick said. They will be available this spring, pending N95 certification, but spokesman Mike Levine said pricing and distribution details were not yet available.

Read the story here.

—Hannah Denham, The Washington Post

11:14 am

Here’s how to know if you’re breathing other people’s breath

In Washington state, a new policy says that to qualify as “outdoor dining” indoors, restaurants need to bring in so much outside air that concentrations stay below 450 parts of carbon dioxide per million. (Photo for The Washington Post by Jovelle Tamayo)

In Washington state, a new policy says that to qualify as “outdoor dining” indoors, restaurants need to bring in so much outside air that concentrations stay below 450 parts of carbon dioxide per million. (Photo for The Washington Post by Jovelle Tamayo)

With its five wall-length windows, Nick Crandall’s restaurant, Railroad Pub & Pizza, can bring in a lot of outside air. In late December, though, Washington state regulators said the restaurant could not qualify as “outdoor” dining, and would have to close because of heightened coronavirus restrictions.

So Crandall went to Facebook to protest, giving a video tour of the Burlington, Skagit County, pub and its vast, garage-door-style windows. “I’m just kind of curious on what the science is for outdoor dining, how much airflow you need to do,” he said. He took aim at the state’s Democratic governor, Jay Inslee, suggesting he use “common sense.” The video was viewed more than 73,000 times.

It may sound like yet another politicized, Trump-era battle over coronavirus restrictions — yet this one ended in something that looks less like polarization and more like compromise. After Crandall and others complained and took to the media, state regulators introduced a new policy, which appears to be one of the first of its kind, allowing certain restaurants to count as “open air” dining even if they have four walls. In a new pandemic trend, these establishments can open up large windows or doors and actively measure levels of carbon dioxide, the gas we all exhale when breathing, as a key indicator of how much fresh air is circulating.

Now Crandall’s restaurant is open again — with a CO2 monitor whose reading he tries to keep under 450 parts per million, only slightly higher than levels in the outside air, per state policy.

It’s part of a new wave as scientists, citizens and businesses including gyms, restaurants and bars try to quantify the airborne coronavirus risk in hopes of staying open. Sales of handheld carbon dioxide monitors have boomed, so much that one popular model, the $250 Aranet4, sold out rapidly, requiring its Latvia-based manufacturer, SAF Tehnika, to dramatically ramp up production.

Read the story here.

—Chris Mooney, The Washington Post

9:30 am

WHO experts recommend use of AstraZeneca vaccine

Independent experts advising the World Health Organization on Wednesday recommended the use of AstraZeneca’s vaccine even in countries that turned up worrying coronavirus variants in their populations.

There had been doubts about the vaccine’s effectiveness against a variant that emerged in South Africa.

The advice is used by health care officials worldwide, but doesn’t amount to a WHO green light for the U.N. and its partners to ship the vaccine.

AstraZeneca is considered an important part of the world’s vaccine arsenal as it needs only regular refrigeration and not the far colder temperatures required of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine that the group has already recommended for use.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press

8:46 am

CDC urges proper mask fit, double masks in some cases to protect against virus variants

Daniel Ryan, 27, wears two masks, following one of the CDC’s recommendations to protect against more transmissible coronavirus variants. (Washington Post photo by Sarah L. Voisin).

Daniel Ryan, 27, wears two masks, following one of the CDC’s recommendations to protect against more transmissible coronavirus variants. (Washington Post photo by Sarah L. Voisin).

Federal health officials on Wednesday urged Americans to consider wearing two masks as one of several strategies to better protect themselves against the threat of more contagious variants of the coronavirus.

“We know that universal masking works,” said John T. Brooks, medical officer for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s COVID-19 response. “And now these variants are circulating … whatever we can do to improve the fit of a mask to make it work better, the faster we can end this pandemic.”

Two methods substantially boost fit and protection, according to a CDC report and guidance released Wednesday. One is wearing a cloth mask over a surgical mask. The second is improving the fit of a single surgical mask by knotting the ear loops and tucking in the sides close to the face to prevent air from leaking out around the edges and to form a closer fit.

Both of those methods reduced exposure to potentially infectious aerosols by more than 95% in a laboratory experiment using dummies, the report said.

Read the story and watch the video on how to properly double mask here.

—The Washington Post

8:32 am

Canada to require negative COVID test at land border

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Tuesday that starting next week any nonessential traveler arriving in Canada by land will need to show a negative PCR-based COVID-19 test or face a fine if they don’t have one.

Trudeau said customs officers can’t send Canadians back to the U.S. if they don’t have a test because they are technically on Canadian soil but said the fine will be up to $3,000 Canadian (US$2,370) and the traveler will be subject to extensive follow up by health officials if they don’t show a negative test.

Passengers arrive at Montreal-Trudeau Airport in Montreal on Tuesday, Dec. 29, 2020.  (Graham Hughes / The Canadian Press via AP)

Passengers arrive at Montreal-Trudeau Airport in Montreal on Tuesday, Dec. 29, 2020. (Graham Hughes / The Canadian Press via AP)

So-called snowbirds who reside in warm U.S. states part-time are included in the COVID-19 test requirement.

Last month, Trudeau announced stricter restrictions on air travelers in response to new, likely more contagious variants of the novel coronavirus.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press

7:26 am

AP-NORC poll: A third of US adults skeptical of COVID shots

About 1 in 3 Americans say they definitely or probably won’t get the COVID-19 vaccine, according to a new poll that some experts say is discouraging news if the U.S. hopes to achieve herd immunity and vanquish the outbreak.

The poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research found that while 67% of Americans plan to get vaccinated or have already done so, 15% are certain they won’t and 17% say probably not. Many expressed doubts about the vaccine’s safety and effectiveness.

The poll suggests that substantial skepticism persists more than a month and a half into a U.S. vaccination drive that has encountered few if any serious side effects. It found that resistance runs higher among younger people, people without college degrees, Black Americans and Republicans.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government’s leading infectious-disease scientist, has estimated that somewhere between 70% and 85% of the U.S. population needs to get inoculated to stop the scourge that has killed close to 470,000 Americans. More recently, he said the spread of more contagious variants of the virus increases the need for more people to get their shots — and quickly.

Nearly 33 million Americans, or about 10% of the population, have received at least one dose, and 9.8 million have been fully vaccinated, according to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention.

Read the story.

—The Associated Press

6:23 am

Catch up on the past 24 hours

—Julie Hanson

12:36 am

How is the pandemic affecting you?

What has changed about your daily life? What kinds of discussions are you having with family members and friends? Are you a health care worker who’s on the front lines of the response? Are you a COVID-19 patient or do you know one? Whoever you are, we want to hear from you so our news coverage is as complete, accurate and useful as possible. If you’re using a mobile device and can’t see the form on this page, click here.


Seattle Times staff & news services