The Perfect Enemy | Coronavirus daily news updates, April 28: What to know today about COVID-19 in the Seattle area, Washington state and the world - The Seattle Times
May 27, 2022

Coronavirus daily news updates, April 28: What to know today about COVID-19 in the Seattle area, Washington state and the world – The Seattle Times

Coronavirus daily news updates, April 28: What to know today about COVID-19 in the Seattle area, Washington state and the world  The Seattle Times

Read Time:6 Minute

While the Justice Department is set to appeal a district judge’s ruling to end mask mandates on mass transit and airplanes, flight attendants shared their elation and anxieties about no longer having to enforce the mandate.

The country’s top infectious-disease expert said the U.S. is “out of the pandemic phase,” noting the decline in reported COVID-19 cases and deaths, but pointed out that on the global scale, the pandemic remains.

Meanwhile, Pfizer officials asked the Food and Drug Administration to authorize its COVID-19 booster shot for children ages 5 to 11 on an emergency basis to provide children with additional protections against COVID-19.

The company submitted data to the agency showing that a booster shot given about 6 months after the second vaccine dose provided a strong immune response.

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 the rest of our coronavirus coverage and here to see how we track the daily spread across Washington.

Navigating the pandemic

10:00 am

Once dead, twice billed: GAO questions COVID funeral awards

The Federal Emergency Management Agency may have been double-billed for the funerals of hundreds of people who died of COVID-19, the Government Accountability Office said in a new report Wednesday.

The GAO identified 374 people who died and were listed on more than one application that received an award from the COVID-19 Funeral Assistance fund. That amounts to about $4.8 million in assistance that could have been improper or potentially fraudulent payments, the report said.

FEMA spokesperson Jaclyn Rothenberg said Wednesday that this was not an example of large-scale fraud and the amount of funeral assistance identified as at-risk was relatively small, with FEMA’s “multi-layered internal quality controls and fraud controls” resulting in improper payments of less than 1%.

“Unfortunately, fraud, particularly identity theft, is common. FEMA has controls in place to detect instances and can and will prosecute anyone who would apply for assistance fraudulently,” Rothenberg said in a statement.

Read the full story here.

— Jwnnifer McDermott, The Associated Press

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9:00 am

Taiwan faces largest COVID-19 outbreak yet

Taiwan, which had been living mostly free of COVID-19, is now facing its worst outbreak since the beginning of the pandemic with over 11,000 new cases reported Thursday.

Cases have been on the upswing since late March. In April, the island’s central authorities announced that they would no longer maintain a “zero-COVID” policy like the Chinese government’s in which they would centrally quarantine positive cases.

Instead, the government is asking people to quarantine at home if they test positive, unless they show moderate to severe symptoms.

Chen Shih-chung, the island’s health minister, announced Thursday they had found 11,353 new cases, along with two deaths. During the daily press briefing held by the Central Epidemic Command Center, he said 99.7% of the cases in the current outbreak either had no symptoms or had mild symptoms.

Read the story here.

—Huizhong Wu, The Associated Press

8:00 am

Mask police no more: Flight attendants relieved to see mandate drop

Sharmy Aldama has spent the majority of her career enforcing mask rules on airplanes. The Miami-based flight attendant, who works for a budget carrier and spoke on the condition that her employer not be named so she could talk freely, started the job in late 2018. After the pandemic began, getting passengers to follow masking rules became an everyday struggle.

“I definitely got to a point where I was showing up to work ready to be argued with and bickered with and having to defend myself,” she said.

But since a federal judge struck down the mask mandate for planes and other transportation settings last week, she has noticed a lighter mood among passengers and crew and has felt a personal sense of relief. “Being able to just show up [to work] and give people what they need and not have to be on guard all the time has been so refreshing,” she said.

Flight attendants are among the public-facing employees who have been tasked with enforcing health and safety requirements during the pandemic, and they have faced hostile and even violent interactions with passengers as a result. Through Tuesday, there have been 1,272 unruly passenger incidents this year, according to the Federal Aviation Administration, with 807 of those related to masks.

Read the story here.

—Nathan Diller, The Washington Post

7:01 am

Moderna seeks to be 1st with COVID shots for littlest kids

Moderna on Thursday asked U.S. regulators to authorize low doses of its COVID-19 vaccine for children younger than 6, a long-awaited move toward potentially opening shots for millions of tots by summer.

Frustrated families are waiting impatiently for a chance to protect the nation’s littlest kids as all around them people shed masks and other public health precautions — even though highly contagious coronavirus mutants continue to spread.

Moderna submitted data to the Food and Drug Administration that it hopes will prove two low-dose shots can protect babies, toddlers and preschoolers — albeit not as effectively during the omicron surge as earlier in the pandemic.

Now, only children ages 5 or older can be vaccinated in the U.S., using rival Pfizer’s vaccine, leaving 18 million younger tots unprotected.

Moderna’s vaccine isn’t the only one in the race. Pfizer is soon expected to announce if three of its even smaller-dose shots work for the littlest kids, months after the disappointing discovery that two doses weren’t quite strong enough.

Read the story here.

—Lauran Neergaard, The Associated Press

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6:00 am

Agonizing lockdown tests the limits of China’s propaganda

Immediately after Beijing said it had detected a new coronavirus outbreak, officials hurried to assure residents there was no reason to panic. Food was plentiful, they said, and any lockdown measures would be smooth. But Evelyn Zheng, a freelance writer in the city, was not taking any chances.

Her relatives, who lived in Shanghai, were urging her to leave or stock up on food. She had spent weeks poring over social media posts from that city, which documented the chaos and anguish of the monthlong lockdown there. And when she went out to buy more food, it was clear many of her neighbors had the same idea: Some shelves were already cleaned out.

“At first, I was worried about Shanghai, because my family is there, and there was no good news from any of my friends,” Zheng said. “Now, Beijing is starting, too, and I don’t know when it will land on my head.”

Anger and anxiety over the Shanghai lockdown, now in its fourth week, has posed a rare challenge for China’s powerful propaganda apparatus, which is central to the Communist Party’s ability to stifle dissent. As the omicron variant continues to spread across the country, officials have defended their use of widespread, heavy-handed lockdowns. They have pushed a triumphalist narrative of their COVID response, which says that only the Chinese government had the will to confront, and hold back, the virus.

Read the full story here.

—Paul Mozur , Vivian Wang and Isabelle Qian, The New York Times