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WA COVID hospitalizations up 7% – local and state update for October 29, 2021

The Delta variant continues to rip through the unvaccinated prolonging the fifth wave.

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[KING COUNTY, Wash.] – (MTN) New Covid-19 cases are stuck on a plateau while hospitalizations increased 7% over the last week. An analysis of available data provides strong evidence the pandemic of the unvaccinated continues.

The FDA has authorized the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine for emergency use in children 5 to 11 today. The Centers for Disease Control Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices is meeting on November 2 and 3. It is widely expected the panel will support the authorization. UW Medicine has announced a waitlist for parents who want to get their children immunized.

Washington Governor Jay Inslee expressed growing concern over the case rates and said the state is at a “fork in a road.” In what is likely the last broad challenge for the state vaccine mandate, a U.S. District Judge denied a last-ditch effort to block the public health rules on the grounds it was a violation of civil rights.

Data from August to September is supportive of following the Centers for Disease Control’s back-to-school guidelines, with Washington schools reporting 189 outbreaks statewide, with only a handful resulting in school closures.

A former naturopathic doctor on the Olympic Peninsula was convicted for misbranding drugs, reselling them, and making false claims of offering a COVID cure. Richard Marschall, 68, has been convicted for the third time since 2011. Washougal Physician Assistant Scott Miller will face the medical board on November 3, for allegedly spreading Covid-19 disinformation. Miller had his license suspended earlier this month after an investigation into his activities that started in August 2021.

Washington State University tried to counter the COVID misinformation former football coach Nick Rolovich believed as early as April 2021 to no avail.

Last week, Snohomish barber Bob Martin had two court hearings after a judge rejected his promissory note to cover $90,000 in fines he accumulated last year. Martin is tight-lipped about the hearings, and the court has yet to release the transcripts.

The Washington Medical Coordinator Center at Harborview, Virginia Mason Franciscan Health, and Swedish Health Services each received the Community Health Leadership Award from the Washington State Hospital Association for their 2021 Covid-19 related efforts.

Proud Boy Tusitala “Tiny” Toese is reported to be hospitalized and in “poor” condition. Toese was shot on September 4 in Olympia after the Proud Boys group he was with left an anti-mandate protest to go “hunting.”

COVID hospitalizations have increased 7% since October 22, reversing weeks of improvement. Unvaccinated people continue to hold up relief for the stressed medical system.

Malcontent News moved the Northshore School District to status red due to Bothell High School, and Lockwood Elementary reporting ten confirmed Covid-19 cases each on Friday.

Twelve states are suing the Biden Administration in an attempt to block a looming vaccination mandate.

The U.S. Supreme Court, in a 6-3 decision, refused to block Maine’s vaccination mandate for healthcare workers. The decision may have further strengthened Jacobson versus Massachusetts.

The Pentagon reported that 96.4% of active-duty U.S. Air Force personnel and 98% of special forces are vaccinated. For the Air Force it still leaves up to 12,000 members facing disciplinary action.

In disinformation, we take a critical look at a September 30 article entitled, Increase in COVID-19 are unrelated to levels of vaccination across 68 countries and 2947 counties in the United States. Daniel Horowitz has held this up as proof that vaccinations don’t work. Is it true?

This update uses the latest data from the Washington State Department of Health (WSDOH), released on October 29, 2021.


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Washington State Update for October 29, 2021

Washington state Covid-19 update

The New case rate was almost unchanged from yesterday. The least vaccinated counties have 228% more new cases per 100,000 residents than the most vaccinated. San Juan County reported a 7 day moving average of 11.5, which is considered “normal.” Three of the five counties with the lowest new case rate have more than 70% of their total population fully vaccinated.

Percent of Total Population Fully VaccinatedTotal Population in GroupAverage 14-Day New Case Rate
70% or above (3 counties)2,343,250214.3
60.00% to 69.99% (4 counties)1,242,200335.9 (down)
50.00% to 59.99% (14 counties)3,172,600389.7
40.00% to 49.99% (10 counties)860,525406.7
30.80% to 39.99% (8 counties)158,300467.8
14-Day New Covid-19 Cases per 100K average by Vaccination Rate for Total Population, Adjusted for Population by County

Through October 28, Washington’s statewide 14-day rolling average is 335.5 Covid-19 cases per 100K – statistically unchanged from yesterday. Although new case rates are dropping in the eastern half of the state, they remain stubbornly high.

One county, Ferry, is between 800.0 and 999.9 with 859.7 new cases per 100K residents.

Four counties, Grant, Klickitat, Lincoln, and Skagit, have a new case rate between 600.0 to 799.9.

New cases by age were unchanged while the hospitalization rate declined for geriatric patients over 79 years old.

Age Group7-Day Case Rate7-Day Hospitalization Rate
Ages 0-11150.80.5
Ages 12-19146.40.8
Ages 20-34146.4 (not a typo)3.5
Ages 35-49161.88.9
Ages 50-64129.213.7
Ages 65-7996.419.8
Ages 80+90.235.9 (down)
7-day case rate and 7-day hospitalization rate is per 100K within the age group – the target for 7-day case rate is <25.0, but there are other factors such as vaccination rates within the age groups, how many total tests within the 7-day period, and the positivity rate within each age group

The USA Today COVID Tracker reported 31 Covid-19 related deaths in Washington state on Thursday. The Washington State Department of Health is reporting 8,628 Washingtonians have died since February 29, 2020. That is equal to every man, woman, and child in Hoquiam, Washington dying.

Governor Inslee express concern as Washington reaches a “fork in the road” with Covid-19

During a press briefing yesterday, Governor Jay Inslee (WA-D) expressed growing concern over plateauing cases and the potential for Washington state to move into a “sixth wave.”

“We still have an extremely dangerous pandemic on our hands,” Inslee told reporters, adding that the state is still seeing more than 2,000 new Covid-19 cases a day.

The plateau is concerning to public health officials because case rates and COVID hospitalization rates are still similar to last winter’s wave. Hospitals in Washington have limited capacity to care for a surge in patients over the winter if new case rates and hospitalizations don’t start to decrease again.

Inslee said the state has reached “a fork in the road.” Residents can either accept Covid-19 or continue to fight it, and the only way out is by getting vaccinated.

“Every day, I believe we should fight it,” he said.

New Covid-19 cases were declining from mid-September to mid-October, but are now stubbornly sitting at new normal that is well above what experts consider acceptable. Over the last week, COVID-related hospitalizations have increased 7%.

On October 20, Malcontent News predicted that another wave of Covid-19 will sweep across the United States starting in mid to late December and peak in February 2022.

Federal judge tosses civil rights based lawsuit attempting to block Washington state Covid-19 mandate

A federal judge in Eastern Washington on Monday denied a bid by firefighters, state troopers, and others to halt Washington’s Covid-19 vaccine mandate for state workers and emergency responders. The Associated Press reported U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Rice denied the motion.

Dozens of municipal, county, and state workers sued Governor Jay Inslee, Spokane Fire Chief Brian Schaeffer, Washington State Patrol Chief John Batiste, and others. The case was filed just days before the October 18 mandate deadline. The plaintiffs claimed their civil rights were being violated by the requirement they get vaccinated to continue in their jobs.

In his ruling, Rice wrote: “The Supreme Court has long endorsed state and local government authority to impose compulsory vaccines… Federal courts have routinely analyzed such cases using rational basis and regularly reject cases similar to this one that challenge vaccine mandates based on free exercise of religion.”

Rice was referring to the 1905 U.S. Supreme Court decision of Jacobson versus Massachusetts that decided the Tenth Amendment gave municipalities, counties, and states the power to make public health decisions that aim to protect the larger population. The decision has been challenged dozens of times in the last 116 years.

Judge Rice’s decision ended the last large-scale lawsuit attempting to block or pause the vaccine mandate. As of October 25, 94% of Washington state employees, 99.7% of Washington educators, and an estimated 97% of Washington healthcare workers, including firefighters, were fully vaccinated, completing vaccination, have an exemption review pending, or received an approved exemption with accommodation.

Following back to school guidelines by the CDC has had a positive impact in Washington

From August 1 to September 30, there have been 189 Covid-19 outbreaks in Washington schools involving 1,284 confirmed infections according to the Washington Department of Health.

State Epidemiologist Dr. Scott Lindquist, Deputy Secretary of Covid-19 Response Lacy Fehrenbach, and Acting Assistant Secretary for the DOH Michele Roberts shared the information on Wednesday during a press briefing.

Almost 88% of the confirmed Covid-19 cases involved students. Unlike other states such as in the southeast, where dozens of children were sickened in superspreader events that closed entire school districts, the average number of cases per event was five.

“That relatively small number of cases in each outbreak is an indication that schools are continuing to do a really good job on layered prevention measures and responding when they have cases and outbreaks,” Fehrenbach said.

A few districts were forced to move single schools to remote learning to manage outbreaks including in Medical Lake, Edmonds, and Eatonville.

Former naturopathic doctor convicted of selling fake Covid-19 cures

A former Port Angeles naturopathic physician who falsely claimed that two substances containing garlic extract and larch tree starch could treat and prevent Covid-19 has been found guilty of introducing misbranded drugs into interstate commerce. The conviction of Richard Marschall, 68, was first reported by the Peninsula Daily News.

The federal jury last week found that Richard Marschall, 68, misbranded the drugs and fraudulently marketed them, according to a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Seattle.

This is the third conviction for Marschall since 2011 for making false claims. On his Facebook page, he made claims that two supplements, allicin a garlic extract, and IAG a larch tree starch had antiviral properties that would cure Covid-19.

Both supplements are made in the United States and neither maker makes any claims that their products are antiviral. Marschall was charging $140 for the supplements plus shipping and handling. He added his own labels making false claims about the abilities of the combination.

A 60 count bottle of allicin is $21.95 and a 3.6 ounce bottle of IAG is $39.48 on Amazon with free Prime shipping. A 400 pack of ink jet-ready bottle labels is $9.99.

Washington physician assistant has November 3 medical board hearing after allegedly peddled Covid-19 disinformation

Washougal Physician Assistant Scott Miller is facing a medical board hearing on November 3 after state officials suspended his license on October 16 for allegedly creating and spreading Covid-19 disinformation.

Accusations against Miller included:

  • Starting a public camaign promoting ivermectin as a Covid-19 cure
  • Prescribing ivermectin to at least one patient without providing an adequate examination
  • Interfering with the care of hospitalized patients
  • Engaging in a hostile and threatening campaign against both hospitals and individual physicians regarding Covid-19 treatment
  • Lying on his licensing application and denying he was already under investigation by the state of California

Miller’s alleged disinformation campaign started in 2020 when he became one of the leading creators claiming Covid-19 was circulating in the United States in 2019 and promoting Vitamin D and C along with melatonin as capable of stopping viral replication in human cells.

Miller spoke at a Camas School Board Meeting in May of 2021 against mask mandates and promoted ivermectin as a “cure.”

“I don’t know anybody that’s died (from COVID-19),” Miller said. “I’ve treated 350 COVID patients. Do you know there’s treatment? … I treat people every day. I had 90 COVID patients come into my clinic last month.” Miller then went on to call the school board “pure evil.”

Miller runs Miller Family Pediatrics in Washougal, Washington. A GoFundMe for Miller was suspended on October 19. Organizers moved to the crowdfunding platform GiveSendGo. On October 29, $11,477 had been raised to support his defense, which is far short of the $50,000 goal set by organizers.

Washington State University infectious disease professor attempted to explain Covid-19 vaccines to Nick Rolovich

In April 2021 when officials at Washington State University learned that former football coach Nick Rolovich was falling down a disinformation hole, they arranged a meeting between Rolovich and Dr. Guy Palmer, a world-renowned WSU regents professor of pathology and infectious diseases.

According to a report by ESPN, Rolovich drove a conversation that focused on topics that were consistent with what Palmer said has been shared by the “anti-vax crowd on social media” over the past several years.

Questions included if Bill Gates was behind the vaccine or if SV40 was in the Covid-19 vaccines.

“I just tried to address those kind of more specific questions that have come up and I think many of those concerns were widely shared on social media, by individuals, and I just addressed them with the best data that I could and tried to give him clear answers,” Palmer said.

Palmer says that Rolovich’s primary concern was around side effects and he never brought up religious beliefs or questioned if fetal cells were used in the testing, development, or manufacturing of the vaccines.

Rolovich, through his lawyer, announced his plans to sue WSU after his religious exemption was declined and he was terminated on October 18. Rolovich served as head coach of the Cougars for less than two seasons with a 5 and 6 record. During his time as head coach of the UH Rainbow Warriors, they achieved a record of 28 and 27. At the time of his termination, Rolovich was the highest-paid public employee in Washington state.

Snohomish barber goes before two judges to answer questions about his anti-lockdown actions

Bob Martin because a cause celebre when he refused to close his Snohomish, Washington barbershop in 2020 when the state was under lockdown. Over the months that followed, the retired Marine Corps veteran racked up over $90,000 in fines for his continued refusal to close.

The barbershop became a rallying point for people against lockdowns and to a lesser extent, people desperate for a haircut.

“I’m not going to let the parasites in Olympia tell me that I cannot work,” Martin told KOMO News. “It’s my right to work.”

Martin insists the $90,000 in fines has been paid to the state of Washington through a promissory note. Last week a Snohomish County judge told Martin that the note does not satisfy his debt. Martin had two court hearings last week but the results of those hearings and transcripts have not been released.

Three Puget Sound area hospitals lauded by the Washington State Hospital Association for Covid-19 related efforts

Three Western Washington hospitals are receiving the Community Health Leadership Award for taking an innovative approach to addressing the pandemic in 2021 according to a report by Patch.

The Washington Medical Coordination Center at Harborview Medical Center was recognized for helping triage and placing Covid-19 patients across the state, and from across the region.

Virginia Mason Franciscan Health was lauded for its vaccination program that spanned across three counties. At its peak, the hospital system was vaccinated 3,100 people a day.

Swedish Health Services was commended for setting up 21 mobile vaccination clinics in under-served areas reaching out to rural, poor, and BIPOC communities. The hospital network partnered with the Ethiopian Community Center, and Pacific Islander Community Association.

Proud Boy shot after providing “security” at Olympia anti-vaccine mandate rally reportedly back in the hospital

Social media reports indicated Tusitala “Tiny” Toese, who was shot in the leg on September 4 shortly after providing “security” at an End the Mandate protest in Olympia, was back in the hospital and in “poor” condition.

On September 4 a group of 50 to 75 heavily armed Proud Boys roamed the streets of Olympia after leaving the End the Mandate protest to go “hunting,” as reported by independent journalists. The group assaulted several people who were not associated with any protest or counterprotest and attacked reporter Alissa Azar. Approximately 20 minutes after leaving the protest, they identified a small group of counterprotesters who were attempting to flee from the group.

Security camera video shows a man stopping, pulling out a handgun, and firing five shots. Toese was shot in the leg and required a short hospital stay in Olympia. A 36-year-old Olympia man was arrested on September 23 for the shooting and charged with first-degree assault.

Toese, who held more of an enforcer role, has been an acting regional leader for the Proud Boys since the January 6 Insurrection. Ethan Nordean of Washington is alleged to be the Proud Boy leader on January 6 after Enrique Tarrio was arrested on January 4. Nordean is currently in federal custody awaiting trial. Alan Swinney was arrested after multiple incidents in Portland, Oregon in August 2020 and was recently convicted on 11 of 12 charges, including one count of first-degree assault. Rufio Panman was also arrested for his involvement in the January 6 Insurrection and remains in federal custody.

Toese was seen at several anti-vaccination, anti-mask, and anti-mandate protests shortly after his shooting including an anti-mask protest on September 10.

No specific information on Toese’s condition was available beyond he is allegedly hospitalized and in “poor condition.” There was no information on if the hospitalization is related to the shooting or a different medical condition.

Travel Advisories

We are very encouraged by the hospital readiness data for the East Hospital Region and believe we can end the travel advisory in the next five to 12 days. For now, we’re maintaining our recreational travel advisory to the East Hospital Region, including Adams, Asotin, Ferry, Garfield, Lincoln, Pend Oreille, Spokane, Stevens, Wahkiakum, and Whitman counties. Acute care and ICU capacity remain limited.

Additionally, we are maintaining the travel advisory for the Northwest Hospital Region. The region includes Clallam, Jefferson, Kitsap, and Mason counties.

We continue to strongly advise against all nonessential travel to Alaska, Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming. Alaska and the Idaho Panhandle are experiencing an extreme number of Covid-19 hospitalizations. Hospital resources in these regions are constrained, and you may receive inadequate care if you experience a serious medical emergency. Data out of Wyoming is encourage and we may drop our travel advisory in the next 14 to 21 days.

Thank you

Thank you to our new subscribers and those of you who have made one-time contributions. On behalf of the entire team, thank you for helping us keep the lights on!

In August, King County Health Officer Dr. Jeff Duchin mentioned the N95 Project as a trusted source for N95 masks. A check on the website showed that a 50 count box of United States manufactured N95 masks are available for $40.00. We recommend wearing N95 masks indoors as they provide the best protection against COVID when properly fitted.

No promotional consideration has been given, or requested from the n95 project or any manufacturer of masks

Vaccination

FDA Authorizes Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine for emergency use in children 5 to 11

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized the emergency use of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine to include children 5 through 11 years of age. The authorization was based on the FDA’s evaluation of the data that included input from independent advisory committee experts who voted 17-0-1 in favor of making the vaccine available to children in this age group.

The immune responses of children 5 through 11 were comparable to adolescents and young adults. In addition, the vaccine was found to be 90.7% effective in preventing COVID-19 in children 5 through 11. The vaccine’s safety was studied in approximately 3,100 children who received the vaccine and no serious side effects.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices will meet next week on November 2 and 3 to discuss further clinical recommendations.

“As a mother and a physician, I know that parents, caregivers, school staff, and children have been waiting for today’s authorization. Vaccinating younger children against COVID-19 will bring us closer to returning to a sense of normalcy,” said Acting FDA Commissioner Janet Woodcock, M.D. “Our comprehensive and rigorous evaluation of the data pertaining to the vaccine’s safety and effectiveness should help assure parents and guardians that this vaccine meets our high standards.”

The Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 Vaccine for children 5 through 11 is administered as a two-dose series, three weeks apart, as a 10 microgram dose. Individuals 12 years of age and older receive a 30 microgram dose. Full efficacy is reached two weeks after the final dose is administered.

Health and Human Services have purchased 28 million doses with regional distribution beginning next week. 

King County, Washington is reporting over 88.1% of age eligible residents are vaccinated with at least one dose. The highest rates of positivity are in areas with low vaccination rates statewide. The FDA has provided full approval of the Pfizer vaccine for anyone 16 and over and EUA approval for the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines.

COVID vaccines are free for anyone over 12 years old, and no appointment is necessary at most locations. Lyft and Hopelink provide free transportation, and KinderCare, the Learning Care Group, and the YMCA offer free childcare during vaccination appointments or recuperation.

For information on getting a vaccination in King County, you can visit the King County Department of Public Health website.

Malcontent News

Hospital Status

According to the DoH COVID Dashboard, 91% of all staffed acute care beds are occupied, and 15.3% of patients have Covid-19. Statewide, hospitals have the staff to support approximately 607 additional acute care patients.

ICUs are at 88.3% of capacity statewide, with 25.0% of ICU patients fighting Covid-19 – an estimated 296 patients with 49.0% on ventilators. The state has the staff to support approximately 140 additional ICU patients.

On Thursday, the 7-day rolling average hospital admission rate for new COVID patients is 102. The Department of Health reported 1,096 Covid-19 patients statewide on October 28, with 144 requiring ventilators.

After declining for weeks Covid-19 hospitalizations increased 7% over the last 7 days. We analyzed the latest Covid-19 Cases, Hospitalizations, and Deaths by Vaccination Status report by the DOH to determine if the growing hospitalization numbers are being driven by breakthrough cases.

From September 15 to October 12, unvaccinated individuals from 12 to 34 were 16 times more likely to be hospitalized, 35 to 64 were 18 times more likely, and 65 and over were 9 times more likely. The total number of vaccinated individuals. Statewide since vaccines have become available, 12.1% of hospitalizations have been breakthrough cases.

According to King County Health over the last 30 days, 3,248 unvaccinated people have been hospitalized with Covid-19, compared to 378 fully vaccinated individuals. The 10% rate aligns closely with the broader state average. No vaccine is 100% effective. Even if we make the bad assumption, statewide hospitalizations would still be close to 1,000. The growing hospitalization numbers continue to be fueled by the unvaccinated.

Hospital readiness gave back some improvements from earlier this week with the East Hospital Region going status red across all four metrics again.

Hospital RegionCountiesICU OccupancyICU COVID PatientsAcute Care OccupancyAcute Care COVID Patients
EastAdams, Asotin, Ferry, Garfield, Lincoln, Pend Oreille, Spokane, Stevens, Wahkiakum, Whitman87.8%33.5%90.6%20.0%
NorthIsland, San Juan, Skagit, Whatcom65.2%30.5%75.8%12.6%
North CentralChelan, Douglas, Grant, Okanogan93.6%53.7%77.9%26.6%
NorthwestClallam, Jefferson, Kitsap, Mason89.4%37.9%94.8%20.9%
Puget SoundKing, Pierce, Snohomish92.0%20.1%95.4%12.6%
South CentralBenton, Columbia, Franklin, Kittitas, Walla Walla, Yakima91.3%23.8%85.0%18.0%
SouthwestClark, Cowlitz, Klickitat, Skamania 72.5%21.9%89.4%15.3%
WestGrays Harbor, Lewis, Pacific, Thurston89.8%30.3%91.4%17.7%
Hospital status by region – ICU Occupancy should be below 80%, ICU COVID Patients should be below 20%, Acute Care Occupancy should be below 80%, and Acute Care COVID Patients should be below 10%

Back to School

School DistrictStatusLess than 10 Active Cases10 or More Active Cases
BellevueYELLOW– Ardmore (2*)
– Cherry Crest (1*)
– Lake Hills (1*)
– Newport Heights (2*)
– Sammamish (2*)
– Spiritridge (2*)
– Stevenson (3*)
– Woodridge (1*)
None
Lake WashingtonYELLOW– Blackwell Elementary (4)
– Carson Elementary (6)
– Clara Barton (4)
– Einstein (3)
– Eastlake High (11)
– Ella Baker (8)
– Finn Hill Middle School (6 + 1 see notes)
– ICS (4)
– Juanita Elementary (3)
– Kamiakin Middle School (20)
– Kirk Elementary (2)
– Lakeview Elementary (3)
– Lake Washington High School (27)
– Muir Elementary (1)
– Redmond Elementary (9)
– Redmond Middle School (64)
– Redmond High School (46)
– Timberline Middle School (45**)
– Twain Elementary (27)
None
NorthshoreRED– Arrowhead Elementary (5)
– Canyon Creek Elementary (5)
– Canyon Park Middle School (2)
– Crystal Springs Elementary (5)
– East Ridge Elementary (7)
– Fernwood Elementary (3)
– Frank Love Elementary (24)
– Hollywood Hills Elementary (2)
– Inglemoor High School (13)
– Kenmore Elementary (6)
– Kenmore Middle School (17)
– Kokanee Elementary (6)
– Leota Middle School (1)
– Maywood Hills Elementary (3)
– Morelands Elementary (2)
– North Creek High School (9**)
– Northshore Middle School (16)
– Ruby Bridge Elementary (68)
– Shelton View Elementary (4)
– Skyview Middle School (9)
– Timbercrest Middle School (9)
– Wellington Elementary (14**)
– Westhill Elementary (11)
– Woodin Elementary (50**)
– Woodinville High School (7)
– Woodmoor Elementary (5)
– Bothell High School (25**)
– Lockwood Elementary (20**)

Local Districts Scorecard – * indicates positive cases only ** indicates 5 or more confirmed positive cases

We redefined the school district statuses. Information for classroom and building closures has been a challenge to obtain, both for closures and reopening. We are adopting moving any school with more than ten active COVID cases reported into the red, and we’ve adjusted the third column to reflect this change.

The Northshore School District moved to red status with two facilities reporting ten confirmed Covid-19 cases each today. Bothell High School and Lockwood Elementary doubled the number of cases this week. There are four additional schools that have five to nine confirmed COVID cases.

We received a parent confirmed report of an additional Covid-19 case at Finn Hill Middle School. The Lake Washington School District only updates data. We rely on confirmed parental reports to provide additional details.

We continued to encourage parents to request daily updates from the Lake Washington School District. We would also encourage parents to request the Bellevue School District include data on close contacts. These two changes would bring the three school districts we track into alignment.

Kirkland-Bellevue-Woodinville

UW Medicine opens up Covid-19 vaccine waitlist for children 5 to 11 years old

With the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granting emergency use authorization to the Pfizer vaccine for children 5 to 11 years old, UW Medicine has opened up a waitlist. Although the use of the vaccine has been authorized, federal supply rules require the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to formally recommend the protocol.

To join the vaccine waitlist, parents or guardians can call 844-520-8700. Individuals who register will receive a text or phone call when it is time to schedule an appointment. Scheduling is done online through a single-use registration link. UW Medicine is not accepting walk-in appointments for vaccination.

A CDC panel is meeting on November 2 and 3. A formal recommendation to vaccinate children from 5 to 11 is widely expected next week and the Seattle Times reported Central Puget Sound is receiving an initial shipment of 316,000 doses.

Kirkland Health Fair and Community Vaccination Event on November 6

The Kirkland Health Fair and Community Vaccination Event will be held on Saturday, November 6, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m at Juanita High School. Hosted by the City of Kirkland in partnership with Public Health – Seattle and King County, the event will provide Covid-19 vaccination, information, education, and more.

At this time we do not know if vaccination for 5 to 11-year-olds will be available.

National Round-Up

Johns Hopkins University Cumulative Case Tracker reports 76,957 new cases and 2,141 deaths nationwide on Thursday.

12 states sue Biden administration over Covid-19 vaccine rule

Eleven states filed lawsuits Friday to stop President Joe Biden’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate for federal contractors, arguing that the requirement violates federal law.

Attorneys general from Alaska, Arkansas, Iowa, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming signed on to the lawsuit, which was filed in a federal district court in Missouri.

The states asked a federal judge to block Biden’s requirement that all employees of federal contractors be vaccinated against the coronavirus, arguing that the mandate violates federal procurement law and is an overreach of federal power.

“If the federal government attempts to unconstitutionally exert its will and force federal contractors to mandate vaccinations, the workforce and businesses could be decimated, further exacerbating the supply chain and workforce crises,” Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt, a Republican, said in a statement. “The federal government should not be mandating vaccinations, and that’s why we filed suit today – to halt this illegal, unconstitutional action.”

That lawsuit, along with one filed Friday by Texas and Thursday by Florida, brings to 12 the number of states challenging the Biden administration mandate in three federal courts.

Alaska, Montana, and Wyoming currently have hospitals operating at crisis standards of care due to a surge in COVID cases.

Supreme Court refuses to block Maine’s Covid-19 vaccine mandate

The U.S. Supreme Court has rejected an emergency appeal from Maine health care workers to halt a COVID-19 vaccine mandate that took effect Friday.

Health care workers at hospitals and nursing homes throughout the state risk losing their jobs if they are not vaccinated and religious exemptions are not being offered.

According to Fox News, three justices  – Neil Gorsuch, Clarence Thomas, and Samuel Alito – signed on to a dissent written by Gorsuch, who suggested they would have adhered to the request from Maine health care workers.

“This case presents an important constitutional question, a serious error, and an irreparable injury,” Gorsuch wrote. “Where many other States have adopted religious exemptions, Maine has charted a different course. There, healthcare workers who have served on the front line of a pandemic for the last 18 months are now being fired and their practices shuttered. All for adhering to their constitutionally protected religious beliefs.”

The case could be significant for future challenges to municipal, county, state, and private employer public health-related mandate challenges. In 2021, no case brought before the Supreme Court has given relief to plaintiffs looking to modify or block vaccine mandates. The 6 to 3 decision could have closed the door for those seeking public health exemptions based on religious grounds.

96.4% of active duty US Air Force personnel are vaccinated

The U.S. Air Force is reporting up to 12,000 personnel could be facing disciplinary action for refusing to get vaccinated for Covid-19. The Air Force is the first military branch to approach a vaccine mandate deadline.

Air Force officials would not provide any information on the status of the estimated 12,000 hold-outs. When compared to other mandates across the United States, a 96.4% vaccination rate is high before factoring in medical or religious exemption requests and previously planned retirements.

According to the Pentagon, only one active-duty service member has received an exemption.

Stars and Stripes reported that servicemembers already planning to separate by April 1 did not have to comply with the mandate and would not face repercussions.

Different military branches have different vaccination deadlines ranging from the U.S. Air Force November 1 deadline to a June 30, 2022 deadline for the National Guard.

So far In 2021, 71 military personnel have died from Covid-19 – none were fully vaccinated.

98% of U.S. Special Forces are vaccinated

Roughly 98 percent of U.S. Special Operations Command troops have received the COVID vaccine, the head of SOCOM said Friday, according to a report in the Military Times.

SOCOM’s commander, Army Gen. Richard D. Clarke, shared the statistic during the annual Military Reporters and Editors Conference here and said that percentage includes special operators like SEALS and Green Berets, but also administrative and other troops that make up the joint force of roughly 70,000.

State Updates

Alaska

Multiple hospitals operate under crisis standards of care across Alaska with 232 Covid-19 patients hospitalized and a sky-high new case rate. Health officials are reporting 629 new COVID cases per 100,000 residents and a test positivity rate of 9.2%. Over 60% of new cases are among people under 40 years old. Although the transmission rate has plateaued, it has remained unchanged for more than six weeks as COVID rages through unvaccinated communities.

Earlier in the month, a series of contentious meetings at Anchorage City Hall debating a mask mandate for Alaska’s large city turned into a super spreader event. Several members of Mayor Dave Bronson’s administration became sick with Covid-19, including some breakthrough cases. William Topel, a well-known anti-vaccination activist was among the hundreds of mostly unmasked people in the packed room.

Topel, 68, had multiple health issues became ill with Covid-19 shortly after the meeting, and quickly declined in health. He was hospitalized in Anchorage and died of COVID-related illness on October 13. His supporters remained defiant at his funeral on October 25, according to Alaska Public Media.

“God’s going to use this as a fulcrum to propel us into victory,” friend and fellow activist Dustin Darden told the crowd after Topel’s burial. “We’re going to take every square inch of Anchorage, everything that Bill stood for every time he was out there, it’s just been amplified 1,000 times.”

After more than a week of theatrics that included Mayor Bronson supporting the use of Nazi symbols, and seven meetings that frequently devolved into screaming matches, the Anchorage Assembly voted to issue an emergency mask mandate. On October 13, the same day Topel died, Bronson vetoed the decision. A day later, the Assembly overrode the veto by vote, requiring masks on October 14.

On October 27, the Anchorage Assembly meeting scheduled to discuss routine city business devolved into an anti-mask debate again.

On Saturday, anti-vaccination activists are holding the “Alaska Early Treatment Summit” that includes Robert W. Malone, Ophthalmologist Richard Urso MD, and Ryan Cole, MD, head of Ada County Health in Idaho and currently under investigation by the state medical board.

Malone is known for his claims that he invented mRNA vaccines. Malone was involved in early research in the 1980s according to multiple reports but is not considered “the” inventor or to have provided significant contributions to the development of mRNA. He became infamous for his claim that he graduated from Oxford University, omitting that the Oxford University he graduated from is located in Ohio.

Malone claims he had Covid-19 in February 2020 and suffers from long hauler syndrome. He states he got the Moderna vaccine in hopes it would “cure” his symptoms, but believes the vaccination made it worse.

Malone is also the originator of the disinformation claim that people who receive the Covid-19 vaccine will die within six months to three years. The first Phase 1 trials started in April 2020 and in the United States, four vaccine-related deaths have been reported due to an extremely rare but dangerous condition called VITT.

Idaho

Idaho is facing good news, bad news situations as new case rates and hospitalizations plateau and fall respectively, while Covid-19 continues to rage in Northern Idaho and the Panhandle. The apocalyptic forecasts of 30,000 new cases a week (that Malcontent News reported was likely too grim) have not materialized, however, new cases are still running between 8,000 and 10,000 a week. Test positivity dropped to 11.5% but remains well above the optimal rate of 3% to 5% which would indicate adequate testing.

The Panhandle District accounts for 22% of Idaho’s new cases and Kootenai Health in Coeur d’Alene has been operating in crisis standards of care for almost two months. State officials don’t see the hospital situation improving much with concerns over the approaching flu season and continued spread in the unvaccinated population.

Since Covid-19 first arrived in the Gem State, there have been 290,872 confirmed cases – 4.5% vaccination breakthroughs. The state has recorded 3,543 Covid-19 related deaths.

Many North Idaho residents are skeptical about the effectiveness of masks in preventing the spread of the coronavirus and don’t wear them, health officials said.

Dr. Kathryn Turner, the deputy state epidemiologist, said North Idahoans are also not very helpful when it comes to contact tracing for the coronavirus.

“People are not as cooperative as in other parts of the state,” Turner said.

Idaho does not provide daily hospitalization data. The most recent report stated 570 were hospitalized with Covid-19, 163 in the ICU, with more than half on ventilators. Under normal conditions, Idaho has 170 staffed ICU beds.

Montana

State officials in Montana continue to update data just once a week despite the ongoing Covid-19 surge. On Monday, the Hospital Capacity Status Report indicated 458 people were hospitalized for COVID with 121 in the ICU, and 76 on ventilators. Hospitals have been operating at an unsustainable level since September 16 with no end in sight.

Only two “large” hospitals, Community Medical Center and Northern Montana Hospital had normal occupancy rates. The largest hospital, Billings Clinic, was caring for 277 patients, including 76 people infected with Covid-19.

To date, 5% of confirmed COVID cases require hospitalization. Currently, 1% of the entire Montana population is infected with Covid-19 every 14 days.

“It has been an exceptionally challenging week for us here, with record numbers of hospitalizations and very, very sick and very, very acutely ill patients hospitalized due to COVID,” said Katie Gallagher, Covid-19 public information officer for St. Peter’s Hospital.

St. Peter’s reports that, in October, 26 patients died due to complications from COVID – including five on a single day, the highest one-day total they’ve recorded. Gallagher said that was compared to nine COVID-related deaths in September.

More patients are also being hospitalized with COVID-related illnesses according to a report by KTVH. Gallagher says they have been averaging more than 30 over recent weeks, with the highest number being 44 – almost half of the available inpatient beds.

On Friday the Montana Nurses Association filed a motion to join a lawsuit by a coalition of medical providers and patients that seeks to invalidate Montana law that bars medical organizations from requiring employees to be vaccinated, saying it violates federal law and the U.S. and Montana constitution.

According to KTVQ, the original suit was filed in September in U.S. District Court in Missoula with the Montana Medical Association as the lead plaintiff. It challenges parts of HB 702 – passed by Republican majorities at the 2021 Legislature – saying it illegally prevents physicians, their offices, and hospitals from providing a safe environment for patients.

The nurses’ suit comes as Montana faces the worst rates for hospitalizations and death from COVID-19 in the United States, according to data from the Mayo Clinic.

New York

Six FDNY members of Ladder 113 have been suspended for allegedly driving their truck to a state senator’s New York City office and threatening his staff over the vaccine mandate for city workers according to a report by New York NBC 4.

The on-duty firefighters drove an in-service ladder truck to state Senator Zellnor Myrie’s office in Brooklyn on Friday and questioned staff as to where the politician lives, a department spokesperson confirmed. The crew is accused of telling his staffers they would have “blood on their hands” Monday when unvaccinated workers must go on unpaid leave.

The group of firefighters also allegedly told the staff that if a fire was reported at Myrie’s home they would not respond.

New York City’s vaccine mandate deadline for municipal workers which includes fire, police, is November 1. Compared to other cities such as Seattle and San Francisco as well as the state of Hawaii, vaccination rates are alarming low.

The Associated Press reported nearly one-fifth of city employees covered by the impending city mandate had yet to receive at least one vaccine dose as of Thursday, including 21% of police personnel, 29% of firefighters and EMS workers and 33% of sanitation workers, according to city data. City jail guards have another month to comply.

As of 8 p.m. Thursday, 33,400 city workers remained unvaccinated. The city said it would provide updated vaccine rates on Saturday.

The fire department said it was prepared to close up to 20% of its fire companies and have 20% fewer ambulances in service while changing schedules, canceling vacations, and turning to outside EMS providers to make up for expected staffing shortages.

Wyoming

Data from Wyoming is more encouraging as new cases continue to drop while hospitalizations remain very high. Officials reported 193 hospitalized statewide while the number of new cases is averaging 557 per day. Wyoming has lost 178 residents to Covid-19 in October and crossed the 1,000 death threshold this month. Over 15% of COVID-related deaths occurred in the last 28 days. On October 21, Wyoming set a new hospitalization record peaking at 249 patients.

Test positivity, which peaked at 24.42% in September, has dropped to 16.04% – which is still exceptionally high.

Elective surgeries have been delayed for weeks, creating additional health problems, according to a story by Wyoming Public Media. Jeffrey Chapman is the chief medical officer at Cheyenne Regional Medical Center – one of the many Wyoming hospitals that have had to limit what procedures they can perform.

“For almost five weeks we’ve only been doing urgent and emergent cases,” he said.

From Sheridan to Casper to Rock Springs, hospitals are monitoring their capacity on a day-to-day basis. In Campbell County, the hospital system canceled all elective surgeries earlier this week. And at Cheyenne Regional, Chapman said they have to make decisions about which surgeries can wait and which cannot.

Disinformation

On September 30, the National Institute of Health published an article titled Increased in COVID-19 are unrelated to levels of vaccination across 68 countries and 2947 counties in the United States. Is the paper based on accurate data and sound research done by university researchers and respected analysts?

The anti-vaccination community has seized upon the Harvard study as proof that vaccines are ineffective, and the momentum has been further fueled by Daniel Horowitz of The Blaze. So who is right?

First, we should look to the main author of the paper S.V. Subramanian, a Harvard professor of population health and geography who is saying the anti-vaccination community has it all wrong.

“That conclusion is misleading and inaccurate,” Subramanian wrote in an email to Ali Breland, a journalist. “This paper supports vaccination as an important strategy for reducing infection and transmission, along with hand-washing, mask-wearing, and physical distancing.”

Second and more important, there are serious data issues, inaccuracies, assumptions, and questions about the co-author of the paper.

Examples of serious errors include:

  • Mulitple U.S. counties attributed with innacurate vaccination data. As one example Chattahoochee County in Georgia was cited as over 90% vaccinated. As of October 29, according to data from the state of Georgia, the county is 15.52% vaccinated.
  • The data analysis starts at January 1, before anyone was fully vaccinated. Additionally vaccination programs targeted the elderly and those most likely to get severe Covid-19, and the analysis did not take into account the base rate. The data only considered hospitalization data through May 2021, just weeks after multiple states permitted vaccination to all age groups over 16.
  • The second author of the study is a high school student in Canada

Errors within the paper aside, Subramanian has stated the paper is supportive of vaccination as part of a holistic approach to defeating the pandemic.

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