Live: Coronavirus daily news updates, March 12: 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, March 12: What to know today about COVID-19 in the Seattle area, Washington state and the world

The state is ready for another step toward normalcy — Gov. Jay Inslee announced Thursday that Washington’s 39 counties will soon move to a new third phase in his COVID-19 reopening plan, which will allow restaurants, retailers, fitness centers and other indoor spaces to open with up to 50% capacity.

While the state’s health officials are encouraged by the increasing number of people being vaccinated, they still have concerns about the coronavirus variants. On Thursday, the state’s secretary of health confirmed a case of the variant that first emerged in Brazil has been detected in King County.

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.

Gov. Jay Inslee will hold a press conference today at 11:30 a.m. to give an update on the state response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, including the reopening of K-12 schools. 
Watch here:

For many parents, COVID bill’s $3,600 per child is a ‘total game changer’

President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus bill, signed on Thursday, includes the largest relief package for families in recent U.S. history. After an agonizing year of school and child-care closures, the aid offers many parents and children the help they have been waiting for.

Single parents making less than $75,000 and couples making less than $150,000 will receive a monthly tax credit of $300 per month for every child under 6 and $250 for every child 6 and over — with some level of support extending to families who earn up to $400,000. Experts say the bill could slash child poverty by almost 50%.

Unlike previous welfare programs, parents will receive the child tax credit regardless of their employment status. Especially after a year in which millions of American parents have lost their jobs, or have had to leave the workforce to care for kids who are suddenly at home, the sweeping nature of the tax credit is “revolutionary,” said Katherine Goldstein, journalist and creator of “The Double Shift,” a podcast about women and work. Working parents, and especially working mothers, can use this money to get their careers back on track.

“It’s basically the first time that the federal government is saying to parents, ‘You’re not totally on your own,’ ” Goldstein said. “That is a huge shift in the American mentality.”

—The Washington Post

7:30 pm

Alaska Senate leaders accommodate member over virus rules

JUNEAU, Alaska — Alaska state Sen. Lora Reinbold was allowed to participate in a floor session Friday after special accommodations were made for the Republican who legislative leaders say has refused to comply with protocols meant to guard against the spread of COVID-19 at the Capitol.

Before the session started, the chamber doors were closed, which is unusual, and the sergeant at arms stood in front. When Reinbold approached, holding her phone to record the interaction, she was directed to a visitors’ gallery, where she sat alone. Roll, typically called with lawmakers pressing buttons at their desks, was called orally.

Two days earlier, senators voted to allow leadership to restrict access by Reinbold to the Capitol until she complies with rules aimed at curbing the spread of the coronavirus. Reinbold continued Friday to wear the type of clear face shield she has worn since the session started in mid-January, which leaders say does not comply with the rules.

She also said she was working from her Capitol office and showed up before the start of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which she chairs, before turning the gavel over to her vice chair and participating by video conference.

—Associated Press

7:00 pm

Most of California to reopen as vaccine eligibility expands

SAN FRANCISCO — Most of California’s 40 million residents will be able to enjoy limited indoor activities such as dining inside or watching a movie at a theater by mid-week as coronavirus case rates continue to stay low, state officials said Friday.

Officials said that 13 counties, including Los Angeles, would be able to open restaurants, gyms and museums at limited capacity on Sunday, the result of the state hitting a 2 million equity metric aimed at getting more vaccines into low-income communities. Another 13 counties are expected to reopen Wednesday under a different metric.

Also next week, the state expands eligibility for the still-scarce vaccine.

Read the full story here.

—Associated Press

6:30 pm

A case of bad timing: Eligible, or nearly so, for the vaccine, they got the coronavirus instead

Joyce Smith, who stocks the shelves at a BJ’s Wholesale outlet in Virginia, ignored a Jan. 20 text from management that store employees qualified as essential workers and could register for the coronavirus vaccine.

After working for nearly a year without getting sick, Smith was more afraid of the vaccine’s potential side effects than the virus. Two weeks later, her temperature rose to 103, her head pounded, and she tested positive.

“‘Oh my God, am I going to make it to 60?’ ” Smith, 59, recalled asking herself as she lay in bed, gasping for air. She also feared she had infected her husband, who had just been hospitalized after suffering a heart attack.

From its beginning, the coronavirus has been a terrifying game of chance, requiring moment-to-moment calculations about whether the most mundane decision — entering an elevator, perhaps, or using a public restroom — is worth risking one’s life.

For those infected in recent weeks, as vaccinations were becoming available and experts began talking of an impending return to normalcy, the bad timing is the pandemic’s latest cruel twist.

—The Washington Post

6:00 pm

Amazon ordered to close Canadian facility over fears of increased COVID-19 cases

Amazon.com has been ordered to close a facility outside Toronto for two weeks as public health officials worry about rising COVID-19 cases inside the complex.

While the rate of COVID-19 infection has been falling in the Peel region in the past few weeks, the rate inside the Brampton, Ontario, fulfillment center “has been increasing significantly,” the local health authority said Friday in a statement. Every employee at the site may have experienced “high-risk exposure,” the agency said.

“This Amazon facility is in a vulnerable community and employs thousands of people,” Lawrence C. Loh, medical officer of health for the Peel region, said in the statement. “This was a difficult decision but a necessary one to stop further spread both in the facility and across our community.”

Amazon disagreed with the health authority’s conclusions. “We just completed our most recent round of mandatory testing with less than a 1% positivity rate, and there appears to be little risk of spread within our facility,” a company spokesperson said in an email. “We do not believe the data supports this closure and we will appeal this decision.”

—Bloomberg

5:30 pm

U.S. joins Japan, India and Australia in pledging up to 1 billion vaccine doses to other nations

The United States, India, Japan and Australia pledged Friday to jointly manufacture and distribute up to 1 billion doses of coronavirus vaccine before the end of next year, as the Biden administration comes under increased pressure to provide more vaccine help to poorer nations.

The vaccine would be supplied to Southeast Asian nations and potentially elsewhere as act of charity that represents a workaround for President Joe Biden, who has said he cannot yet divert any U.S. supply despite a projected surplus, given that many Americans are still urgently awaiting their immunizations.

The announcement, which came out of the first summit among leaders of the four democracies informally called “the Quad,” also hints at the Biden administration’s larger aim of linking like-minded governments to counter Chinese expansionism, including using pandemic aid as a springboard.

“At this moment, it’s a purpose that I think we all are concerned about,” Biden said as he welcomed the three leaders via video call. “A free and open Indo-Pacific is essential to each of our futures, our countries.”

They leaders also pledged to meet in person by the end of the year.

—The Washington Post

5:16 pm

State health officials confirm 636 new coronavirus cases in Washington

The state Department of Health (DOH) reported 636 new coronavirus cases and 16 new deaths on Friday.

The update brings the state’s totals to 348,516 cases and 5,123 deaths, meaning that 1.5% of people diagnosed in Washington have died, according to the DOH. The data is as of 11:59 p.m. Thursday.

In addition, 19,788 people have been hospitalized in the state due to the virus — 41 new hospitalizations. In King County, the state’s most populous, state health officials have confirmed a total of 86,002 COVID-19 diagnoses and 1,439 deaths.

Since vaccinations began in mid-December, the state and health care providers have administered 2,267,958 doses and 10.98% of Washingtonians have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to vaccination data, which the state updates on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Providers are currently giving an average of about 44,610 vaccine shots per day.

The DOH says its daily case reports may also include duplicate test results, results assigned to the wrong county, results that are reported for today but are actually from a previous day, occasional false positive tests and other data discrepancies. Because of this, the previous day’s total number of cases plus the number of new daily cases does not add up to the new day’s total number of cases. State health officials recommend reviewing the dashboard’s epidemiologic curves tab for the most accurate representation of the state’s COVID-19 spread.

—Elise Takahama

5:00 pm

EXPLAINER: How will US make more shots available by May 1?

President Joe Biden’s promise that all of the nation’s 255 million adults will be eligible for coronavirus vaccines by May 1 means the U.S. needs to move fast.

Within the next seven weeks, the federal government must deliver doses to hundreds of new vaccination sites and recruit a new wave of health care workers to administer the shots.

Simply distributing the vaccines will not be enough, though. The government also aims to simplify the often-frustrating sign-up process and bring shots to communities that are having the hardest time getting vaccinated.

Here’s how public health officials intend to meet the president’s deadline and the challenges that lie ahead.

Read the story here.

—John Seewer, The Associated Press

4:00 pm

WHO says AstraZeneca vaccinations should continue as more nations halt usage

As a growing list of countries halts administration of the Oxford University-AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine amid as-yet-unsubstantiated concerns about fatal blood clots, the World Health Organization has offered assurances that the vaccine’s safety is being investigated and that there is no cause for alarm.

“More than 335 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered globally so far, and no deaths have been found to have been caused by COVID-19 vaccines,” WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at a briefing Friday in Geneva.

“We should continue immunization until we have clarified the causal relationship,” said Mariangela Simao, WHO’s assistant director general, adding that regulators are investigating and that the body is expected to release a statement on the matter by the middle of next week.

Read the story here.

—Adam Taylor and Erin Cunningham, The Washington Post

3:00 pm

‘An accelerated cauldron of evolution’: COVID-19 patients with cancer, HIV may play a role in emergence of variants

Deepa Bhojwani recalled feeling lucky her 2-year-old cancer patient with COVID-19 bounced back quickly after being seen for a fever in the emergency department at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. But in the months that followed, an unnerving thing happened.

The toddler’s condition flip-flopped from sick to well to sick again and so on, resulting in six hospitalizations over 196 days — and each time, the boy was positive again for the coronavirus.

Bhojwani, a leukemia specialist, wondered whether the lab results might be a mistake or — terrifyingly — a rare case of reinfection. But when the medical team dived deeper, it found evidence the original virus had been inside the boy all along, evolving into more efficient forms.

The child’s case report, shared online last week, is one of about 15 similar ones involving immunocompromised patients and recently published in medical journals or preprint servers that have become an important puzzle piece for researchers seeking to understand the origins of the coronavirus variants taking over the world. Those reports lend support to an intriguing theory that some individuals with weakened immune systems due to cancer, HIV or other illnesses may act as incubators for new mutations.

Read the story here.

— Ariana Eunjung Cha, The Washington Post

2:35 pm

Global rise in childhood mental health issues amid pandemic

A child lays in his bed at the pediatric unit of the Robert Debre hospital, in Paris, France, Wednesday, March 3, 2021. France’s busiest pediatric hospital has seen a doubling in the number of children and young teenagers requiring treatment after attempted suicides. Doctors elsewhere report similar surges, with children — some as young as 8 — deliberately running into traffic, overdosing on pills and otherwise self-harming. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)

A child lays in his bed at the pediatric unit of the Robert Debre hospital, in Paris, France, Wednesday, March 3, 2021. France’s busiest pediatric hospital has seen a doubling in the number of children and young teenagers requiring treatment after attempted suicides. Doctors elsewhere report similar surges, with children — some as young as 8 — deliberately running into traffic, overdosing on pills and otherwise self-harming. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)

PARIS (AP) — By the time his parents rushed him to the hospital, 11-year-old Pablo was barely eating and had stopped drinking entirely. Weakened by months of self-privation, his heart had slowed to a crawl and his kidneys were faltering. Medics injected him with fluids and fed him through a tube — first steps toward stitching together yet another child coming apart amid the tumult of the coronavirus crisis.

For doctors who treat them, the pandemic’s impact on the mental health of children is increasingly alarming. The Paris pediatric hospital caring for Pablo has seen a doubling in the number of children and young teenagers requiring treatment after attempted suicides since September.

Doctors elsewhere report similar surges, with children — some as young as 8 — deliberately running into traffic, overdosing on pills and otherwise self-harming. In Japan, child and adolescent suicides hit record levels in 2020, according to the Education Ministry.

“The levels of stress among children are truly massive,”Dr. Richard Delorme, who heads the psychiatric unit treating Pablo at the giant Robert Debré pediatric hospital, the busiest in France. “The crisis affects all of us, from age 2 to 99.”

Read the story here.

—John Leicester, The Associated Press

2:05 pm

Brazil reaches deal for 10 million shots of Russian vaccine

Brazil’s federal government said Friday it has reached a deal to purchase 10 million doses of the Russian-made Sputnik V vaccine against COVID-19, though the shot is yet to be approved by the South American nation’s health agency.

Brazil’s government expects to receive 400,000 shots in April, 2 million in May and another 7.6 million by June.

More than 270,000 people have died of the disease in Brazil, with authorities expecting grim weeks ahead. Only 5.5% of Brazilians have been vaccinated, and the country is experiencing a deadly second wave of COVID-19 with more than 2,000 deaths in each of the last two days.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press

2:02 pm

Sound Transit promotes free trips to vaccination sites

Sound Transit will make getting a COVID-19 shot simpler beginning Saturday, by offering free fare to all patients, workers or volunteers traveling to or from vaccination clinics.

The offer is inspired by Saturday’s clinic opening at Lumen Field, where light-rail, commuter trains and bus lines converge. The site is designed to serve 22,000 people per day this spring, when more doses reach Washington state. Besides the free transit, free garage parking is available.

The Rainier Beach vaccination hub at Atlantic City Boat Launch, and some pharmacies, are also within walking distance of light-rail stations or an ST Express bus.

Travelers should be ready to flash an appointment notice if asked, but fare-enforcement officers are instructed to accept a passenger’s word, said transit spokesman John Gallagher. Fare-evasion citations are temporarily suspended anyway, during this phase of the pandemic.

King County Metro Transit, which reinstated fares countywide Oct. 1 without enforcement, isn’t making changes at this time.

Community Transit hasn’t offered free bus rides, but “it’s possible that could change, as more mass-vaccination sites become available that are transit friendly,” said spokesman Martin Munguia. For now, Snohomish County’s largest sites are drive-ups including Arlington Airport and the Evergreen State Fairgrounds in Monroe. However, Community Transit provides free-fare vaccination trips to its dial-a-ride paratransit customers, and a free shuttle from a downtown Everett parking lot on Wall Street to the Angel of the Winds Arena vaccination site nearby, he said.

—Mike Lindblom

1:02 pm

Hunt for vaccine slots often leads through scheduling maze

The road to a COVID-19 shot often leads through a maze of scheduling systems: Some vaccine seekers spend days or weeks trying to book online appointments. Those who get a coveted slot can still be stymied by pages of forms or websites that slow to a crawl and crash.

The technological obstacles are familiar to L. Shapley Bassen, a 74-year-old retired English teacher and editor in East Greenwich, Rhode Island. She lost track of the hours she spent making phone calls and navigating websites to get appointments for herself and her 75-year-old husband, Michael.

“A lot of us don’t sleep at night worrying about whether or not we’ll be able to get in,” Bassen said.

L. Shapley Bassen, left, is photographed with her husband, Michael, in their home in East Greenwich, R.I., Thursday, March 11, 2021. The road to a COVID-19 shot often leads through a maze of scheduling systems: Some vaccine seekers spend days or weeks trying to book online appointments. Those who get a coveted slot can still be stymied by pages of forms or websites that slow to a crawl and crash. The technological obstacles are familiar to Bassen, a 74-year-old retired English teacher and editor. She lost track of the hours she spent making phone calls and navigating websites to get appointments for herself and her 75-year-old husband, Michael. “A lot of us don’t sleep at night worrying about whether or not we’ll be able to get in,” she said. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

L. Shapley Bassen, left, is photographed with her husband, Michael, in their home in East Greenwich, R.I., Thursday, March 11, 2021. The road to a COVID-19 shot often leads through a maze of scheduling systems: Some vaccine seekers spend days or weeks trying to book online appointments. Those who get a coveted slot can still be stymied by pages of forms or websites that slow to a crawl and crash. The technological obstacles are familiar to Bassen, a 74-year-old retired English teacher and editor. She lost track of the hours she spent making phone calls and navigating websites to get appointments for herself and her 75-year-old husband, Michael. “A lot of us don’t sleep at night worrying about whether or not we’ll be able to get in,” she said. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

Technological shortcomings across the nation’s fragmented public health system have frustrated millions of Americans trying to get shots and left officials without a full picture of who has been vaccinated.

The White House promised improvements, pledging to establish a new website and an 800-number by May 1 to help people find nearby locations with vaccines.

Read the story here.

—Candice Choi and Michelle R. Smith, The Associated Press

12:52 pm

COVID-19 deaths falling but Americans ‘must remain vigilant’

U.S. deaths from COVID-19 are falling again as the nation continues to recover from the devastating winter surge, a trend that experts are cautiously hopeful will accelerate as more vulnerable people are vaccinated.

While new coronavirus infections and hospitalizations have plummeted, the decline in deaths from a January peak of about 4,500 hasn’t been quite as steep. But, now, after weeks of hovering around 2,000 daily deaths, that figure has dropped to about 1,400 U.S. lives lost each day to coronavirus.

Experts worry that a pandemic-weary public, though, will let down its guard too soon. And they’re monitoring the spread of worrisome new versions of the virus.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press

12:26 pm

Washington Gov. Inslee to require K-12 schools to offer some in-person learning as part of COVID-19 recovery

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and special education pre-K teacher Michelle Ling talk at Phantom Lake Elementary School in Bellevue earlier this month. On Friday, Inslee announced schools will be required to offer some form of in-person teaching next month. (Ellen M. Banner / The Seattle Times)

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and special education pre-K teacher Michelle Ling talk at Phantom Lake Elementary School in Bellevue earlier this month. On Friday, Inslee announced schools will be required to offer some form of in-person teaching next month. (Ellen M. Banner / The Seattle Times)

OLYMPIA — In an effort to get students back in classrooms by late April, Gov. Jay Inslee is set to issue an emergency proclamation that essentially requires Washington’s K-12 school districts to offer students at least some opportunity for in-person learning.

Friday’s announcement of a proclamation to be issued next week comes as Inslee has expressed increasing frustration that some of Washington’s schools remain online only. That includes the state’s largest district — Seattle Public Schools— where the local union voted earlier this month to continue teaching most students online only.

Under Inslee’s pending order, K-6 students around the state must be allowed an opportunity for what’s known as hybrid instruction — a mix of remote and in-person teaching — by April 5.

Then, by April 19, all other students must be given an opportunity to have hybrid instruction.

By that day, school districts are required to hold at least 30% of their weekly average instructional hours as in-person, on-campus instruction for all K-12 students.

Read the story here.

—Joseph O’Sullivan and Hannah Furfaro

12:05 pm

Defying rules, anti-vaccine accounts thrive on social media

FILE – In this Jan. 21, 2021 file photo a medical staff member prepares the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at Tudor Ranch in Mecca, Calif. With vaccination against COVID-19 in full swing, social platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter say they’ve stepped up their fight against misinformation that aims to undermine trust in the vaccines. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)

FILE – In this Jan. 21, 2021 file photo a medical staff member prepares the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at Tudor Ranch in Mecca, Calif. With vaccination against COVID-19 in full swing, social platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter say they’ve stepped up their fight against misinformation that aims to undermine trust in the vaccines. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)

With vaccination against COVID-19 in full swing, social platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter say they’ve stepped up their fight against misinformation that aims to undermine trust in the vaccines. But problems abound.

For years, the same platforms have allowed anti-vaccination propaganda to flourish, making it difficult to stamp out such sentiments now. And their efforts to weed out other types of COVID-19 misinformation — often with fact-checks, informational labels and other restrained measures, has been woefully slow.

Twitter, for instance, announced this month that it will remove dangerous falsehoods about vaccines, much the same way it’s done for other COVID-related conspiracy theories and misinformation. But since April 2020, it has removed a grand total of 8,400 tweets spreading COVID-related misinformation — a tiny fraction of the avalanche of pandemic-related falsehoods tweeted out daily by popular users with millions of followers, critics say.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press

11:31 am

Virus resurges as India slowly vaccinates more

Elderly Indians leave after receiving COVID-19 vaccines in Mumbai, India, Monday, March 8, 2021. Pandemic-weary and sequestered mostly in their homes for a year, India’s elderly are now standing in long lines at vaccination sites, then rolling up their sleeves to get shots protecting them against the coronavirus. (AP Photo/Rafiq Maqbool)

Elderly Indians leave after receiving COVID-19 vaccines in Mumbai, India, Monday, March 8, 2021. Pandemic-weary and sequestered mostly in their homes for a year, India’s elderly are now standing in long lines at vaccination sites, then rolling up their sleeves to get shots protecting them against the coronavirus. (AP Photo/Rafiq Maqbool)

India registered its worst single-day increase in coronavirus cases since late December as the western state of Maharashtra battles a resurgence.

India’s health ministry on Friday reported 23,285 new cases of COVID-19 in the past 24 hours. It’s the highest daily rise since Dec. 24, according to government data.

India has so far reported more than 11.3 million cases of coronavirus infection, the world’s second-highest total after the United States. The cases had been falling steadily since a peak in late September, but experts say increased public gatherings and laxity toward public health guidance is leading to the latest surge.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press

11:08 am

WHO grants emergency authorization for J&J COVID vaccine

The Johnson & Johnson logo is shown on a package of Band-Aids. The World Health Organization on Friday, March 12, 2021, granted an emergency use listing for the coronavirus vaccine made by Johnson & Johnson, meaning the one-dose shot can now theoretically be used as part of the international COVAX effort to distribute vaccines globally, including to poor countries without any supplies. (AP Photo/Chris O’Meara, File)

The Johnson & Johnson logo is shown on a package of Band-Aids. The World Health Organization on Friday, March 12, 2021, granted an emergency use listing for the coronavirus vaccine made by Johnson & Johnson, meaning the one-dose shot can now theoretically be used as part of the international COVAX effort to distribute vaccines globally, including to poor countries without any supplies. (AP Photo/Chris O’Meara, File)

The World Health Organization granted an emergency use listing Friday for the coronavirus vaccine made by Johnson & Johnson, meaning the one-dose shot can now theoretically be used as part of the international COVAX effort to distribute vaccines globally, including to poor countries without any supplies.

In a statement, the U.N. health agency said “the ample data from large clinical trials” shows the J&J vaccine is effective in adult populations. The emergency use listing comes a day after the European Medicines Agency recommended the shot be given the green light across the 27-country European Union.

A massive study that spanned three continents found the J&J vaccine was 85% effective in protecting against severe illness, hospitalizations and death. That protection remained strong even in countries like South Africa where variants have been identified that appear to be less susceptible to other licensed vaccines.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press

10:38 am

‘It’s exhausting.’ A year of distance learning wears thin

Javin Lujan Lopez, 17, a senior at at Pojoaque High School logs into a remote learning site on his laptop, at his home in Espanola, N.M., Feb. 22, 2021. Javin isn’t sure what will happen after graduation. He’s considering a welding certificate program at the local community college. He applied to universities in New Mexico and Colorado but feels like the pandemic year didn’t allow him to put his best foot forward. (AP Photo/Cedar Attanasio)

Javin Lujan Lopez, 17, a senior at at Pojoaque High School logs into a remote learning site on his laptop, at his home in Espanola, N.M., Feb. 22, 2021. Javin isn’t sure what will happen after graduation. He’s considering a welding certificate program at the local community college. He applied to universities in New Mexico and Colorado but feels like the pandemic year didn’t allow him to put his best foot forward. (AP Photo/Cedar Attanasio)

At first, many schools announced it would last only a couple weeks. A year later, the unplanned experiment with distance learning continues for thousands of students who have yet to set foot back in classrooms.

Comfortable homes and private tutors have made it easier for those with access. Expectations are higher at some schools than others. And growing numbers of students are being offered in-person instruction at least part time.

But students of all backgrounds have faced struggles with technology, the distractions of home life, and social isolation. The Associated Press followed four students on a typical day to find out how they’re coping a year into the coronavirus pandemic.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press

9:43 am

Tussle between US, allies over vaccine supply escalates

A healthcare worker administers a dose of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine to a Brussels police chief inspector Didier Bruer at the Brussels Expo center in Brussels, Thursday, March 4, 2021. The Expo is one of the largest vaccination centers in Belgium. (AP Photo/Olivier Matthys)

A healthcare worker administers a dose of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine to a Brussels police chief inspector Didier Bruer at the Brussels Expo center in Brussels, Thursday, March 4, 2021. The Expo is one of the largest vaccination centers in Belgium. (AP Photo/Olivier Matthys)

Millions of coronavirus vaccine doses are in cold storage in the U.S. that can’t be injected in the states because they are not yet approved by the Food and Drug Administration, but the Biden administration is not yet allowing them to be sent overseas, where American allies are struggling to get enough doses for vulnerable populations.

The two-dose vaccine from AstraZeneca has received emergency approval from the European Union and World Health Organization, but not in the U.S.

Now U.S. partners are prodding President Joe Biden to release the supply, noting that the administration has lined up enough doses of the three already-approved vaccines to cover every American adult by the end of May and the entire U.S. population by the end of July.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press

8:57 am

Olympic host Japan will not take part in China vaccine offer

A man and a woman stand with the backdrop of the Olympic rings floating in the water in the Odaiba section in Tokyo, Wednesday, March 3, 2021. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)

A man and a woman stand with the backdrop of the Olympic rings floating in the water in the Odaiba section in Tokyo, Wednesday, March 3, 2021. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)

Japan will not take part in China’s offer — accepted by the International Olympic Committee — to provide vaccines for “participants” in the postponed Tokyo Games and next year’s Beijing Winter Games.

Olympic Minister Tamayo Marukawa said Friday that Japan had not been consulted by the IOC about the Chinese vaccines, and that Japanese athletes would not take them. She said the vaccines have not been approved for use in Japan.

“We have been taking comprehensive anti-infectious disease measures for the Tokyo Games in order to allow participation without vaccinations,” Marukawa said. “There is no change to our principle of not making vaccinations a prerequisite.”

The IOC initially said it would not require athletes to get vaccines, but only encourage it. The deal with China puts more emphasis on getting vaccines to young, healthy athletes and others.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press

8:40 am

A year later, remembering the day COVID-19 forced the Seattle sports world to shut down

(Illustration by Jen Luxton / The Seattle Times)

(Illustration by Jen Luxton / The Seattle Times)

At 5:37 p.m. on March 11, 2020, a game between the Oklahoma City Thunder and Utah Jazz was postponed after Jazz center Rudy Gobert became the first NBA player to test positive for COVID-19.

Nearly three hours later, and 1,100 miles away, Washington State defeated Colorado 82-68 in the opening round of the Pac-12 men’s basketball tournament at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

It was the final college basketball game of the 2019-20 season — though WSU coach Kyle Smith didn’t know it at the time.

Read the story here.

—Mike Vorel

7:45 am

Germany, others stick with AstraZeneca vaccine as some pause

Officials in several European countries pushed back Friday against decisions by others to pause use of AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine following sporadic reports of blood clots, despite a lack of evidence the shot was responsible.

German Health Minister Jens Spahn said that while the country takes reports of possible harmful effects from vaccines “very, very seriously,” both the European Medicines Agency and Germany’s own vaccine oversight body have said they have no evidence of an increase in dangerous blood clots in connection with the shots.

Denmark was the first of several to temporarily halt use of the AstraZeneca vaccine Thursday after reports of blood clots in some people. The Nordic nation’s health authority said the decision was “based on a precautionary principle” and that one person who developed a blood clot after vaccination had died.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press

7:21 am

Hungary emerges as an EU vaccination star amid surging cases

Hungary has emerged as a European Union leader in COVID-19 vaccinations thanks to a strategy that sought shots from Russia and China as well as from inside the bloc, spurring increasing trust in jabs from eastern nations.

But that strategy is up against a skyrocketing rise in new COVID-19 cases and deaths blamed on a more infectious virus variant first found in Britain that is putting an unprecedented strain on Hungary’s health care system. A new round of lockdown measures took effect Monday to curb the surge, which saw deaths averaging around 150 per day and hospitalizations and new cases breaking records set during the previous peak in December.

As of Friday, 11.9% of Hungary’s adult population had received at least one dose of a vaccine. That is the second-highest rate of vaccination in the 27-member EU after the small island nation of Malta and substantially above the EU average of 7%. With five vaccines approved for use in Hungary, more than in any other EU nation, more than 1.2 million Hungarians have received a jab in the country of fewer than 10 million, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Read the story here.

—Justin Spike, The Associated Press

7:19 am

AP-NORC poll: People of color bear COVID-19’s economic brunt

FILE – In this Dec. 12, 2020 file photo, Mexican migrants carry a statue of the Virgin of Guadalupe in Brooklyn, New York. The Hispanic community in the U.S. has been one of the groups most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. A new poll from the The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research finds that Black and Hispanic Americans are more likely than white Americans to have experienced job and other income losses due to the coronavirus pandemic.  (AP Photo/Eduardo Munoz Alvarez)

FILE – In this Dec. 12, 2020 file photo, Mexican migrants carry a statue of the Virgin of Guadalupe in Brooklyn, New York. The Hispanic community in the U.S. has been one of the groups most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. A new poll from the The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research finds that Black and Hispanic Americans are more likely than white Americans to have experienced job and other income losses due to the coronavirus pandemic. (AP Photo/Eduardo Munoz Alvarez)

A year ago, Elvia Banuelos’ life was looking up. The 39-year-old mother of two young children said she felt confident about a new management-level job with the U.S. Census Bureau — she would earn money to supplement the child support she receives to keep her children healthy, happy and in day care.

But when the coronavirus was declared a global pandemic last March, forcing hundreds of millions of people into strict lockdown, Banuelos’ outlook changed. The new job fell through, the child support payments stopped because of a job loss and she became a stay-at-home mom when day cares shuttered.

Millions of Americans have experienced a devastating toll during the yearlong coronavirus pandemic, from lost loved ones to lost jobs. Those losses haven’t hit all Americans equally, with communities of color hit especially hard by both the virus and the economic fallout.

A new poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research shows that compared with white Americans, Black and Hispanic Americans are more likely to have experienced job and other income losses during the pandemic, and those who have lost income are more likely to have found themselves in deep financial holes.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press

6:08 am

Catch up on the past 24 hours

All American adults will be eligible for vaccines by May 1, putting us on track to return to a semblance of normal life by July 4, President Joe Biden said yesterday. He laid out concrete steps to make that happen after “a year filled with the loss of life, and the loss of living.” Here are three key take-aways from his speech, and the exaggerations that sent fact-checkers scurrying.

Restaurants will be able to serve more customers, fans can go to the Mariners’ opener, and beloved spaces at state parks will reopen as COVID-19 restrictions loosen, Gov. Jay Inslee announced yesterday. Here’s what else you can and can’t do when the third phase of reopening begins soon.

Fans’ return to Seattle sports arenas is a cause for joy and great solace, columnist Larry Stone writes exactly a year after the sports world slammed to a halt. Members of five local teams are remembering that jarring time, with seasons lost and a few new perspectives gained. 

Another worrisome coronavirus variant has arrived in King County, the state’s secretary of health says. It’s more contagious and could evade antibodies generated by vaccines.

As vaccinations rise, we’re answering questions about how daily life is transforming for vaccinated people and what they can do under new guidelines.

Side effects are flattening some vaccine recipients, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Here’s what to expect, why, and whether you should take anything to ease the effects.

The U.S. is sitting on tens of millions of vaccines made by AstraZeneca while other countries beg for access. Our nation may never need the doses.

What questions do you have about coronavirus vaccines? Join Seattle Times journalists and Dr. Helen Chu, a UW infectious disease expert, for a free online event Monday. They’ll discuss the latest on vaccine distribution and take your questions. Register here.

—Kris Higginson

9:36 pm, Mar. 11, 2021

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Seattle Times staff & news services