Live: Coronavirus daily news updates, April 2: What to know today about COVID-19 in the Seattle area, Washington state and the world

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Live: Coronavirus daily news updates, April 2: What to know today about COVID-19 in the Seattle area, Washington state and the world

In a three-page memo to teams, Major League Baseball encouraged vaccinations and outlined a relaxation of some of the league’s strict COVID-19 protocols if 85% of a team’s personnel classified as Tier One — players, managers, coaches, bullpen catchers, team medical staff, strength and conditioning coaches and any support staff flying on a team plane — were vaccinated. Once a team reaches the 85% threshold, vaccinated players and staff would be able to eat and drink on flights, play cards and could gather in indoor places like hotels without masks or social distancing provided no non-vaccinated people are present. Players would not have to wear masks in dugouts or the bullpen during games or wear tracking devices to monitor their movements.

As the state’s vaccine rollout picks up momentum, so too has the prevalence of concerning coronavirus variants, with Department of Health officials bracing for a possible fourth wave of infections. The good news: Some 1.3 million Washingtonians are fully vaccinated; everyone 16 and older in Washington state — some 6.3 million people in total — will be eligible for vaccination on April 15; and the state expects to receive some 460,000 doses next week — a record. The not-so-good news: Case counts are on the rise in King, Pierce and Snohomish counties and coronavirus variants of concern — which could spread more easily, cause more harm, or more readily escape treatment or immunity by vaccination — now make up a majority of most recent cases to receive genomic sequencing by Washington laboratories. 

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.

Britain is in the throes of a huge dognapping crime wave

Tilly was snatched from her bed. Moet was nabbed from her home. Angel plucked from her garden.

A former boxer fought off a thief with a knife who tried to boost Rosie the collie. A maltipoo named Nala disappeared, as if from a TV thriller, along with her dog walker’s van. A pair of guileless labs, named Denzel and Welly, were led away from an upscale market. The surveillance camera footage made the evening news. So did their rescue this past week.

Britain is in the throes of a huge dognapping crime wave. This is extremely distressing, in this nation of animal lovers, another emotional lashing in a strange and terrible year.

The humane societies and rescue charities in Britain say they have never seen anything like it. Animal welfare investigators — pet detectives, really — blame the pandemic. The demand for dogs is massive, but there are so few for sale or adoption. So crime bosses are now puppy brokers.

Read the story here.

—William Booth, The Washington Post

10:02 am

Mortgage firms warned to prepare for a ‘tidal wave’ of distress

More than 2 million borrowers as of January had either postponed their payments or failed to make them for at least three months, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau said. Shown are homes in Henderson, Nevada, in September. (Roger Kisby / Bloomberg)

More than 2 million borrowers as of January had either postponed their payments or failed to make them for at least three months, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau said. Shown are homes in Henderson, Nevada, in September. (Roger Kisby / Bloomberg)

Mortgage companies could face penalties if they don’t take steps to prevent a deluge of foreclosures that threatens to hit the housing market later this year, a U.S. regulator said Thursday.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) warning is tied to forbearance relief that’s allowed millions of borrowers to delay their mortgage payments due to the pandemic. To avoid what the bureau called “avoidable foreclosures” when the relief lapses, mortgage servicers should start reaching out to affected homeowners now to advise them on ways they can modify their loans.

“There is a tidal wave of distressed homeowners who will need help,” Dave Uejio, the CFPB’s acting director, said in a statement. “Servicers who put struggling families first have nothing to fear from our oversight, but we will hold accountable those who cause harm to homeowners and families.”

In a separate compliance bulletin released Thursday, the CFPB said that companies “that are unable to adequately manage loss mitigation can expect the bureau to take enforcement or supervisory action.”

More than 2 million borrowers as of January had either postponed their payments or failed to make them for at least three months, the bureau said. Once government-authorized forbearance plans begin to end in September, hundreds of thousands of people may need assistance getting back on track.

Read the story here.

—Shahien Nasiripour, Bloomberg News

9:35 am

China aims to vaccinate entire city in 5 days after outbreak

In this photo released by Xinhua News Agency, residents wearing masks line up for COVID-19 vaccination at the Jingcheng Hospital in Ruili city in southwestern China’s Yunnan Province, April 1, 2021. The Chinese border city hit by a fresh outbreak of COVID-19 this week began a five-day drive Friday to vaccinate its entire population of 300,000 people. (Chen Xinbo/Xinhua via AP)

In this photo released by Xinhua News Agency, residents wearing masks line up for COVID-19 vaccination at the Jingcheng Hospital in Ruili city in southwestern China’s Yunnan Province, April 1, 2021. The Chinese border city hit by a fresh outbreak of COVID-19 this week began a five-day drive Friday to vaccinate its entire population of 300,000 people. (Chen Xinbo/Xinhua via AP)

A Chinese border city hit by a fresh outbreak of COVID-19 began a five-day drive Friday to vaccinate its entire population of 300,000 people.

State broadcaster CCTV showed people lining up and getting vaccinated in Ruili, where 16 cases have been confirmed since Tuesday. Twelve of them are Chinese and the other four are nationals of Myanmar, which lies across the border.

China has largely eradicated local transmission of COVID-19 and quickly rolls out strict measures whenever a new cluster emerges, but this is the first time China has tried to vaccinate an entire city in response to new outbreak.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press

8:58 am

Fully vaccinated can travel again, says new CDC guidance

A passenger wears a face mask during an airline flight after taking off from Atlanta. On Friday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its guidance to say fully vaccinated people can travel within the U.S. without getting tested for the coronavirus or going into quarantine afterward. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

A passenger wears a face mask during an airline flight after taking off from Atlanta. On Friday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its guidance to say fully vaccinated people can travel within the U.S. without getting tested for the coronavirus or going into quarantine afterward. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

Add travel to the activities vaccinated Americans can enjoy again, according to new U.S. guidance issued Friday.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its guidance to say fully vaccinated people can travel within the U.S. without getting tested for the coronavirus or going into quarantine afterward. The update reinforces the safety and effectiveness of the vaccines, and is another incentive for people to get vaccinated.

According to the CDC, nearly 100 million people in the U.S. — or about 30% of the population — have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. A person is considered fully vaccinated two weeks after receiving the last required dose of vaccine.

Read the story here.

—Candice Choi, The Associated Press

8:35 am

Vaccine trickle becomes torrent as U.S. eligibility rules widen

Eligibility is opening to millions of people across the U.S. and vaccines are starting to stream into people’s arms.

Vaccination stations at Lumen Field Event Center on March 13. The site can vaccinate up to 22,000 people per day if supplies are available, which could make it the largest civilian-run vaccination site in the country. (Bettina Hansen / The Seattle Times)

Vaccination stations at Lumen Field Event Center on March 13. The site can vaccinate up to 22,000 people per day if supplies are available, which could make it the largest civilian-run vaccination site in the country. (Bettina Hansen / The Seattle Times)

President Joe Biden staked his bid on an effective battle against the coronavirus that would center on mitigation measures and assisting states with the swift dispersal of vaccines. States are offering shots to millions of people who want to return to life as it was before COVID-19, and officials in charge are reporting that the campaign is rounding into form.

The progress offers hope that most adults will be vaccinated this summer before attention shifts to children. Positive data from partners Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE this week could position 12- to 15-year-olds for a shot before the next school year.

Read the story here.

—Angelica LaVito, Bloomberg

8:03 am

Good Friday and virus lockdown empty Manila’s streets

The Manila City Hall stands beside an almost empty road as the government implements a strict lockdown to prevent the spread of the coronavirus on Good Friday, April 2, 2021 in Quezon city, Philippines. Filipinos marked Jesus Christ’s crucifixion Friday in one of the most solemn holidays in Asia’s largest Catholic nation which combined with a weeklong coronavirus lockdown to empty Manila’s streets of crowds and heavy traffic jams. Major highways and roads were eerily quiet on Good Friday and churches were deserted too after religious gatherings were prohibited in metropolitan Manila and four outlying provinces. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)

The Manila City Hall stands beside an almost empty road as the government implements a strict lockdown to prevent the spread of the coronavirus on Good Friday, April 2, 2021 in Quezon city, Philippines. Filipinos marked Jesus Christ’s crucifixion Friday in one of the most solemn holidays in Asia’s largest Catholic nation which combined with a weeklong coronavirus lockdown to empty Manila’s streets of crowds and heavy traffic jams. Major highways and roads were eerily quiet on Good Friday and churches were deserted too after religious gatherings were prohibited in metropolitan Manila and four outlying provinces. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)

Filipinos marked Good Friday, one of the most solemn holidays in Asia’s largest Roman Catholic nation, with deserted streets and churches following a strict lockdown to slow down the spread of the coronavirus.

Major highways and roads were eerily quiet after religious gatherings were prohibited in metropolitan Manila and four outlying provinces. The government placed the bustling region of more than 25 million people back under lockdown this week as it scrambled to contain an alarming surge in COVID-19 cases.

The Philippines has imposed some of the world’s longest police- and military-enforced coronavirus quarantines and lockdowns, which caused the economy last year to contract by 9.5%, the worst economic setback since the Philippines began issuing such economic data just after World War II.

It has started to reopen the battered economy after infections began to taper off and allowed non-essential businesses to resume, including shopping malls, video game arcades and beauty shops, to ease unemployment and hunger. But infections surged back alarmingly last month.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press

7:30 am

Israel’s dilemma: Can the unvaccinated return to workplaces?

After spending much of the past year in lockdown, Tel Aviv makeup artist Artyom Kavnatsky was ready to get back to work. But when he showed up for a recent photo shoot, his employer turned him away. The reason? He had not been vaccinated against the coronavirus.

“He didn’t take me because I didn’t get vaccinated,” Kavnatsky said. “It’s discrimination, and it’s not all right.”

The breakneck pace of Israel’s vaccination drive has made it one of the few countries able to return to much of its pre-pandemic routine. Bars and businesses, hotels and health clubs have all sprung back to life in Israel, where some 80% of the adult population is fully vaccinated and new infections and COVID-19 deaths have plummeted.

While Israel provides a glimpse of what may be possible with high immunization rates, it also offers insight into the problems that lie ahead: Workplaces and schools are now grappling with what to do with those who refuse to get vaccinated as the next phase in the pandemic again pits public health concerns against individual rights and possibly new questions of equity. One case has already ended up in court, and others are expected to.

Read the story here.

—Ilan Ben Zion, The Associated Press

7:08 am

Italy may be in Easter lockdown, but the party’s on at sea

Passengers enjoy the sun by a swimming pool on board the MSC Grandiosa cruise ship in Civitavecchia, near Rome, Wednesday, March 31, 2021. MSC Grandiosa, the world’s only cruise ship to be operating at the moment, left from Genoa on March 30 and stopped in Civitavecchia near Rome to pick up more passengers and then sail toward Naples, Cagliari, and Malta to be back in Genoa on April 6. For most of the winter, the MSC Grandiosa has been a lonely flag-bearer of the global cruise industry stalled by the pandemic, plying the Mediterranean Sea with seven-night cruises along Italy’s western coast, its major islands and a stop in Malta. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)

Passengers enjoy the sun by a swimming pool on board the MSC Grandiosa cruise ship in Civitavecchia, near Rome, Wednesday, March 31, 2021. MSC Grandiosa, the world’s only cruise ship to be operating at the moment, left from Genoa on March 30 and stopped in Civitavecchia near Rome to pick up more passengers and then sail toward Naples, Cagliari, and Malta to be back in Genoa on April 6. For most of the winter, the MSC Grandiosa has been a lonely flag-bearer of the global cruise industry stalled by the pandemic, plying the Mediterranean Sea with seven-night cruises along Italy’s western coast, its major islands and a stop in Malta. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)

Italy may be in a strict coronavirus lockdown this Easter with travel restricted between regions and new quarantines imposed. But a few miles offshore, guests aboard the MSC Grandiosa cruise ship are shimmying to Latin music on deck and sipping cocktails by the pool.

In one of the anomalies of lockdowns that have shuttered hotels and resorts around the world, the Grandiosa has been plying the Mediterranean Sea this winter with seven-night cruises, a lonely flag-bearer of the global cruise industry.

Grandiosa has tried to chart a course through the pandemic with strict anti-virus protocols approved by Italian authorities that seek to create a “health bubble” on board.

Passengers and crew are tested before and during cruises. Mask mandates, temperature checks, contact-tracing wristbands and frequent cleaning of the ship are all designed to prevent outbreaks.

Read the story here.

—Maria Grazia Murru, The Associated Press

6:59 am

UK bans travel from 4 more nations over virus; 39 in all

FILE – In this Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021 file photo, arriving passengers walk past a sign in the arrivals area at Heathrow Airport in London, during England’s third national lockdown since the coronavirus outbreak began. The British government is gearing up to ban international arrivals from four more countries — Bangladesh, Kenya, Pakistan and the Philippines — amid concerns over new virus variants but opted against including France and other European nations facing a resurgence of the virus. The Department for Transport said Friday April 2, 2021 that the number of countries on its “red list” will reach 39 when the latest restrictions take effect in England beginning April 9. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham, File)

FILE – In this Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021 file photo, arriving passengers walk past a sign in the arrivals area at Heathrow Airport in London, during England’s third national lockdown since the coronavirus outbreak began. The British government is gearing up to ban international arrivals from four more countries — Bangladesh, Kenya, Pakistan and the Philippines — amid concerns over new virus variants but opted against including France and other European nations facing a resurgence of the virus. The Department for Transport said Friday April 2, 2021 that the number of countries on its “red list” will reach 39 when the latest restrictions take effect in England beginning April 9. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham, File)

The British government is gearing up to ban international arrivals from four more countries — Bangladesh, Kenya, Pakistan and the Philippines — amid concerns over new virus variants but opted against including France and other European nations that are facing a resurgence of the virus.

The Department for Transport said Friday that the number of countries on its “red list” will reach 39 when the latest restrictions take effect in England beginning April 9. The other nations of the U.K. — Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland — have similar lists to those that apply in England.

Under the terms of the travel bans, international visitors who have departed from or traveled through countries on the list in the preceding 10 days are refused entry into England. Countries on the list include Brazil and South Africa, where two of the most concerning virus variants have been identified.

Read the story here.

—Pan Pylas, The Associated Press

6:18 am

Catch up on the past 24 hours

—Kris Higginson


Seattle Times staff & news services