Live: Coronavirus daily news updates, March 1: What to know today about COVID-19 in the Seattle area, Washington state and the world

0
68
Live: Coronavirus daily news updates, February 28: What to know today about COVID-19 in the Seattle area, Washington state and the world

Washington state is expected to surpass 5,000 COVID-19 deaths this week — almost exactly a year after the first was announced in the U.S. The trend now is encouraging, but big challenges remain. 

As the pandemic marched across Washington it exposed a public health system gradually starved of money, staff and attention over the past two decades.

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.

States easing virus restrictions despite experts’ warnings

With the U.S. vaccination drive picking up speed and a third formula on the way, states eager to reopen for business are easing coronavirus restrictions despite warnings from health experts that the outbreak is far from over and that moving too quickly could prolong the misery.

Massachusetts on Monday made it much easier to grab dinner and a show. In Missouri, St. Louis and Kansas City are relaxing some measures. Iowa’s governor recently lifted mask requirements and limits on the number of people allowed in bars and restaurants.

The push to reopen comes as nearly 20% of the nation’s adults — or over 50 million people — have received at least one dose of vaccine, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

But the efforts come with strong warnings from health officials against reopening too quickly, as worrisome coronavirus variants spread.

On Monday, the head of the CDC, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, urgently warned state officials and ordinary Americans not to let down their guard. “We stand to completely lose the hard-earned ground that we have gained.”

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press

11:58 am

Pandemic won’t be over soon

A senior World Health Organization official said Monday it was “premature” and “unrealistic” to think the pandemic might be stopped by the end of the year, but that the recent arrival of effective vaccines could at least help dramatically reduce hospitalizations and death.

The world’s singular focus right now should be to keep transmission of COVID-19 as low as possible, said Dr. Michael Ryan, director of WHO’s emergencies program.

“Right now the virus is very much in control,” he said.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press

11:01 am

65 and over can get shots now in Kent and Auburn

Eligibility has been expanded to include adults 65 and older at vaccination sites in Kent and Auburn starting Monday, according to Public Health — Seattle & King County.

The Kent and Auburn COVID-19 vaccine sites are open Monday through Saturday, 8:30 AM – 5:30 PM. Vaccinations are by appointment only and are aimed at South King County residents.

Additional appointments are available this week because more vaccine was received from the Washington State Department of Health, the local public health agency said on its website.

Check eligibility and sign up for a slot here.

—Christine Clarridge

10:33 am

All Oregonians eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine by July 1

All Oregonians who are 16 and older will be eligible to receive COVID-19 vaccinations no later than July 1, Gov. Kate Brown announced Friday.

The governor presented her new vaccine eligibility timeline for the state during a news conference Friday — outlining when people with underlying health conditions, people in low-income housing, homeless people, essential workers and the general public will receive shots.

“Yes, you are hearing me correctly,” Gov. Brown said. “Come summer – provided supplies from the federal government continue as planned — any Oregonian who wants the vaccine will be eligible to receive it.”

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press

10:31 am

UK: Poorer nations should get ‘gold-standard’ COVAX vaccines

British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said Monday that he understood the “conundrum” faced by developing countries as they wait for vital supplies of coronavirus vaccine.

But Raab urged poorer nations to wait for the “gold standard” vaccines delivered by a U.N.-backed program rather than opt for shots from China and Russia.

The COVAX initiative, formed to ensure fair access to vaccines by low- and middle-income countries, has been hampered by the severely limited global supply of doses and logistical problems.

The chief of the World Health Organization said Monday it was “regrettable” that younger and healthier adults in some rich countries are being vaccinated against the coronavirus ahead of at-risk health workers in developing countries.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press

9:47 am

Nepal worried about supply of COVID-19 vaccine

Nepal authorities are worried about future supplies as the country competes with dozens of other nations for much-sought vaccines produced by a handful of manufacturers.

The government is negotiating with India’s Serum Institute to obtain 5 million doses for the second stage of the campaign, Health Minister Hridayesh Tripathi said in an interview with The Associated Press on Monday.

Nepal received a gift from the Indian government in January of 1 million doses of the AstraZeneca-Oxford University vaccine manufactured under license by India’s Serum Institute. Nepal also purchased another 2 million doses from the company at a subsidized rate with the help of the Indian government.

Tripathi said he is hopeful that Indian authorities will again help their small northern neighbor.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press

8:54 am

Tensions over vaccine equity pit rural against urban America

Rita Fentress was worried she might get lost as she traveled down the unfamiliar forested, one-lane road in rural Tennessee in search of a coronavirus vaccine.

FILE – In this Jan. 22, 2021, file photo, vehicles snake through a line beside a farm field in Poplar Bluff, Mo., for the state’s first mass COVID-19 vaccination event.  As the unprecedented campaign to inoculate the most vulnerable Americans continues, those in some rural areas say they are getting slighted in favor of urban centers. (Robert Cohen/St. Louis Post-Dispatch via AP, File)

FILE – In this Jan. 22, 2021, file photo, vehicles snake through a line beside a farm field in Poplar Bluff, Mo., for the state’s first mass COVID-19 vaccination event. As the unprecedented campaign to inoculate the most vulnerable Americans continues, those in some rural areas say they are getting slighted in favor of urban centers. (Robert Cohen/St. Louis Post-Dispatch via AP, File)

The 74-year-old woman wasn’t eligible to be vaccinated in Nashville, where she lives, because there were so many health care workers to vaccinate there. But a neighbor told her the state’s rural counties had already moved to younger age groups and she found an appointment 60 miles away.

“I felt kind of guilty about it,” she said. “I thought maybe I was taking it from someone else.” But late that February day, she said there were still five openings for the next morning.

The U.S. vaccine campaign has heightened tensions between rural and urban America and in some cases, recriminations over how scarce vaccines are distributed have taken on partisan tones.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press

8:43 am

Deal reached to get California children back in classrooms

California’s public schools could get $6.6 billion from the state Legislature if they return to in-person instruction by the end of March, according to a new agreement announced Monday between Gov. Gavin Newsom and the state’s legislative leaders.

Most of California’s public schools have not met in-person since March because of the coronavirus. Many districts have struggled to reach agreements with teachers’ unions on the best way to return students and staff to the classroom.

California can’t order schools to return to in-person instruction, but state officials can offer a lot of money to those that do.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press

8:26 am

Czechs send 30,000 police, soldiers to enforce travel limits

Police officers check cars on a road between the towns, Ceske Budejovice and Cesky Krumlov, near Kosov, Czech Republic, Monday, March 1, 2021. Limits for free movement of people are set in place in the Czech Republic. Travelling to other counties unless they go to work or have to take care about relatives is prohibited.(Vaclav Pancer/CTK via AP)

Police officers check cars on a road between the towns, Ceske Budejovice and Cesky Krumlov, near Kosov, Czech Republic, Monday, March 1, 2021. Limits for free movement of people are set in place in the Czech Republic. Travelling to other counties unless they go to work or have to take care about relatives is prohibited.(Vaclav Pancer/CTK via AP)

Police and military forces in the Czech Republic set up 500 checkpoints across the country as one of the European Union’s hardest-hit nations marked the first anniversary of its coronavirus outbreak on Monday by significantly limiting free movement.

Some 30,000 officers were involved in an unprecedented operation to enforce a tight new restriction that bans people from traveling to other counties unless they go to work or have to take care of relatives.

It’s part of a series of measures that took effect Monday as the Central European nation seeks to slow down the spread of a highly contagious virus variant first found in Britain.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press

7:51 am

Locks down: German hairdressers reopen despite virus fears

A customer gets her hair colored by a hairdresser at a barber shop in Gelsenkirchen, Germany, Monday, March 1, 2021. Hairdressers across Germany have reopened for business this morning after a more than 2-month closure, another cautious step as the country balances a desire to loosen restrictions with concern about the impact of more contagious coronavirus variants. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)

A customer gets her hair colored by a hairdresser at a barber shop in Gelsenkirchen, Germany, Monday, March 1, 2021. Hairdressers across Germany have reopened for business this morning after a more than 2-month closure, another cautious step as the country balances a desire to loosen restrictions with concern about the impact of more contagious coronavirus variants. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)

Germans flocked to the salons Monday as hairdressers across the country reopened after a 2½-month closure, another cautious step toward normality as Germany balances a desire to loosen restrictions with concerns about more contagious virus variants.

The move came after many German elementary students returned to school a week ago, following a decision by Chancellor Angela Merkel and Germany’s 16 state governors.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press

7:41 am

Alaska records 10 cases of California coronavirus variant

Scientists in Alaska have discovered 10 cases of a new coronavirus strain that researchers have said is more contagious and potentially more effective at evading vaccines.

The B.1.429 variant, first discovered in California, was identified in Alaska in early January and has since been detected nine more times, according to a report released on Wednesday by scientists assembled by the state to investigate new strains.

At least six groups of B.1.429 cases have been detected statewide this year, the report said.

Scientists and public health officials have expressed concerns about multiple new strains of the coronavirus, which they say could prolong the pandemic even as governments scale up their vaccination efforts, KTOO-FM reported.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press

5:50 am

Catch up on the past 24 hours

Seattle is opening three new vaccination sites, including one designed to give as many as 150,000 shots a week. But you can’t just walk in. Here’s how they will work, and our guide to getting your vaccine.

Our state is expecting its first shipment of the Johnson & Johnson one-dose vaccine within days, after it gained federal approval this weekend. Next, J&J will test it in infants, pregnant women and people with compromised immune systems. The single dose isn’t the only way J&J’s shot differs from the other vaccines.

As Washington kids learned from home, they generally lost ground in math but held steady in reading. Should the differences in the ways students acquire skills — and forget them — change how schools approach academics when they reopen classrooms? It depends who you ask, and some educators are proposing a fundamental shift. Meanwhile, a Republican senator has a great idea to save the school year in Washington state, columnist Danny Westneat writes.

Track the spread of COVID-19, or fix a broken septic system? That’s the kind of choice some Washington counties face as the virus strains a public health system that’s been starved of money, staff and attention over decades. Now, as Democrats draft a new budget, they’re vowing to make amends and wielding hundreds of millions of dollars.

King County’s COVID-19 infection rate has dropped so much that only one other major U.S. county is faring better, according to a new analysis. Snohomish and Pierce counties look nearly as good.

If you think you might have had COVID-19 but you’re not sure, there may be a new way to tell. A Seattle company’s new screening uses machine-learning technology from Microsoft to fill a gap left by standard antibody screening.

—Kris Higginson