After spending most of the pandemic

The Food and Drug Administration authorized the first COVID-19 vaccines for infants and preschoolers Friday, clearing the path for health officials to begin administering the vaccines next week. One step left and it is expected Saturday: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends how to use vaccines; its independent advisers are to make a recommendation.

Government labs are only using 2% of their total capacity in testing monkeypox samples, a sluggish response pointing to how little the U.S. learned from the COVID-19 pandemic, according to experts.

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.

A party scene while making Amazon’s ‘Expats’ was followed by a COVID outbreak. Then things got complicated
On a Thursday morning in Long Beach last month, the crew of the Amazon Studios series “Expats” crowded onto a yacht. They were filming a party scene that had shots of a child pushing his way through a forest of adults, followed by star Nicole Kidman’s character, Margaret.

A few days later, the production alerted those who had worked at the location that three people on the set tested positive for COVID-19 and offered additional testing.

But some crew members were unhappy about the way the cases were communicated and raised concerns about whether quarantining protocols were being followed, according to interviews and emails reviewed by The Times.

“There was a general feeling of panic on set,” said a crew member with knowledge of the matter who was not authorized to speak publicly. “This was a very, very close-quarters set.”

COVID-19 vaccine and fisheries deals close a ‘roller coaster’ WTO meeting
WASHINGTON — Members of the World Trade Organization announced several agreements Friday at the close of their first in-person ministerial conference in four years, pledging to rein in harmful government policies that have encouraged overfishing and relax some controls on intellectual property in an effort to make coronavirus vaccines more widely available.

The agreements were hard fought, coming after several long nights of talks and extended periods when it appeared that the meeting would yield no major deals at all. Indeed, although the parties were able to reach a compromise on vaccine technology, the divide remained so deep that both sides criticized the outcome.

“It was like a roller coaster, but in the end we got there,” Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, director-general of the World Trade Organization, said at an early-morning news conference in Geneva after the group’s members approved the final package of agreements.

COVID-19 infection levels rising in all four UK nations
LONDON — COVID-19 infections have risen in all four nations of the United Kingdom, with the increase likely to be driven by the omicron variants BA.4 and BA.5, figures show.

The number of people in hospital with COVID is also showing signs of an upward trend, suggesting the virus is once again becoming more prevalent across the country.

A total of 1.4 million people in private households are estimated to have had the virus last week, up 43% from 989,800 the previous week, according to the Office for National Statistics.

Total infections are now back at levels last seen at the start of May, but remain well below the record 4.9 million at the peak of the omicron BA.2 wave at the end of March.

The ONS said the latest increase was “likely caused by infections compatible with omicron variants BA.4 and BA.5,” which are now thought to be the most dominant variants in much of the UK.

BA.4 and BA.5 are newer strains of coronavirus that were recently classified as “variants of concern,” after analysis found both were likely to have a “growth advantage” over BA.2.

‘Everybody you know is getting infected’: Why Oregon is awash in unreported COVID-19 infections
Todd Ouzts let his guard down this week for perhaps the first time in two years and quickly regretted it.

After spending most of the pandemic isolated at home with his wife, Ouzts went to a Home Depot on Monday, maskless, to buy a garage door opener. The 60-year-old semi-retired stop-motion animator had already received four doses of the COVID-19 vaccine and figured he was as prepared as he could be to transition back to a more normal life.

But in a variation of what is now a familiar story, Ouzts had a sore throat and was coughing and sneezing the next day. He originally thought the cause was dust he breathed in his garage while installing the opener. But by the following day, his body hurt and he had a headache. He took an at-home COVID-19 test and found out he was positive for the coronavirus.

While he made the choice to go to the store maskless, Ouzts is now frustrated about what he sees as mixed messages coming from the government about what precautions to take.

“I’m angry that we haven’t solved this yet as a society,” Ouzts said. “No one wants to be inconvenienced with rules anymore.”

The Washington County man’s experience is becoming increasingly common, as thousands of Oregonians continue to get infected with the virus daily, even as the state and nation appear to be moving on.

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