Live: Coronavirus daily news updates, May 11: What to know today about COVID-19 in the Seattle area, Washington state and the world

Gun-related homicides increased by 35% during the first year of the pandemic, marking the highest number of gun deaths ever recorded in the US, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Meanwhile, a US government watchdog is investigating if Texas Governor Greg Abbott and other top state officials misspent federal COVID-19 aid after about $1 billion in relief funds were used to help offset costs of the state’s campaign to arrest more migrants near the US-Mexico border.

At the same time, a longtime government contractor hired to produce hundreds of millions of COVID-19 vaccines hid quality control issues from Food and Drug Administration inspectors six weeks prior to alerting them that 15 million doses were contaminated, according to a report from House Democrats.

Additionally, almost 400 million doses of the vaccine manufactured by the company, Emergent BioSolutions, had to be destroyed “due to poor quality control.” No contaminated doses reached the public, according to the report.

We’re updating this page with the latest news about the COVID-19 pandemic and its effects on the Seattle area, the US 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.

New Zealand to fully reopen borders, welcome skilled workers

New Zealand will reopen its borders to tourists from all countries by July, allow back cruise ships and make it easier for skilled workers to immigrate as it looks outward to the world again following the COVID-19 pandemic, the government said Wednesday.

New Zealand imposed some of the world’s strictest border controls when COVID-19 first hit more than two years ago. That allowed the nation of 5 million to eliminate several virus outbreaks and get vaccination rates up before the omicron variant swept through this year.

New Zealand’s coronavirus death toll has remained far below that of almost every other developed nation. But as the pandemic has dragged on, New Zealand’s border measures have increasingly appeared outdated as other countries have reopened.

Read the story here.

—Nick

Cruises smash records despite COVID on board

Veteran cruise passengers — as well as some newcomers — are fueling the US cruise recovery after a 15-month shutdown. Nearly a year after sailings from North America restarted, three of the world’s largest cruise lines will have their full fleets in service as of next week. And some cruise giants have reported record-breaking bookings.

But even as the cruise comeback gains momentum, the coronavirus remains a stubborn reality. While far from the highs seen during omicron, the majority of ships sailing in US waters are under investigation by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention because of coronavirus outbreaks.

According to data updated Friday, the CDC’s cruise-ship status report shows that 76 of 92 ships have reported cases of the coronavirus on board. Of those, 11 were below the threshold for a CDC investigation, which is triggered when cases are reported in 0.3 percent or more of total passengers and crew. That means 65 ships meet the requirements to trigger an investigation.

By comparison, in early January, all 92 passenger-carrying ships in US waters had met the threshold for investigation. The CDC warned all passengers to avoid cruise ships in late December amid the omicron spike, but it removed all warnings in late March.

Public health experts have warned that cruise ships are especially vulnerable to the spread of the disease because of the large number of people gathered in tight quarters over a sustained period of time.

“Cruise travel will always pose risk, and vaccination remains the best way to protect yourself against COVID-19, including severe illness, hospitalization, and death,” the CDC’s website says.

Some passengers are experiencing that risk firsthand, news reports show: Some passengers who tested positive during a Panama Canal sailing on a Carnival ship had to isolate in their rooms and in Seattle hotels at the end of the trip.

Read the story here.

—Hannah Sampson, The Washington Post

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