Live: Coronavirus daily news updates, March 22: What to know today about COVID-19 in the Seattle area, Washington state and the world

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Coronavirus daily news updates, March 21: What to know today about COVID-19 in the Seattle area, Washington state and the world

As COVID-19 vaccine efforts continue to gain momentum, Washington’s 39 counties will enter the third phase of Governor Jay Inslee’s reopening plan today. That means the state allows restaurants, retailers, fitness centers, and other indoor spaces to open at up to 50% capacity. The move is met with cautious optimism.

People are “just tired of being locked in,” said Sean Brewer, 34, a sales rep at the Moon Valley Organics booth in Pike Place Market, which was crowded with visitors on Saturday. “People see that light at the end of the tunnel – and they run towards it.”

We update this page with the latest news about the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on the Seattle area, the US and the world.

Click here to see the past few days’ live updates and all of our coronavirus coverage, and here to see how we are following the daily spread in Washington and the world.

Teachers complain about “chaotic” virus rules in German schools

FILE - In this October 21, 2020 file, fifth grade high school photography students wear face masks when attending an electronic learning session in Frankfurt.  Under pressure to ease the lockdown, Germany agreed last month to gradually reopen schools.  Then coronavirus cases began to rise again, causing authorities in some regions to postpone these plans while others press for it and insist that classroom teaching must be the norm.  (AP Photo / Michael Probst, file)

FILE – In this October 21, 2020 file, fifth grade high school photography students wear face masks when attending an electronic learning session in Frankfurt. Under pressure to ease the lockdown, Germany agreed last month to gradually reopen schools. Then coronavirus cases began to rise again, causing authorities in some regions to postpone these plans while others press for it and insist that classroom teaching must be the norm. (AP Photo / Michael Probst, file)

Under pressure to relax virus restrictions in Germany, officials agreed last month to gradually reopen schools. Confirmed COVID-19 cases began to climb again, causing some states to pull back while others kept going, insisting that classroom instruction must be the norm.

Trapped in the middle are students, parents and teachers like Michael Gromotka, whose plans to teach his students in grades 7 to 9 art were turned upside down last week when the state of Berlin prevented them from returning to school after months of long-distance learning.

“It was all very chaotic,” said Gromotka. “We know less than a week in advance.”

Read the story here.

-The Associated Press

6:45 a.m.

At a long-term care facility in South Seattle, a lobby fills with reunions as COVID-19 restrictions are lifted

Rysic Terada, 2, hugs his great-grandfather George Kozu, 94, at the Lakeshore on Sunday.  It was the first time they'd seen each other indoors since the coronavirus pandemic began.  Governor Jay Inslee announced last week that long-term care facilities could reopen after a year of lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  (Bettina Hansen / The Seattle Times)

Rysic Terada, 2, hugs his great-grandfather George Kozu, 94, at the Lakeshore on Sunday. It was the first time they’d seen each other indoors since the coronavirus pandemic began. Governor Jay Inslee announced last week that long-term care facilities could reopen after a year of lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Bettina Hansen / The Seattle Times)

Two young boys entered The Lakeshore, smiling from under their Pokémon masks, and looking at the balloons floating in the lobby of the senior residence in South Seattle.

Her great-grandparents, George and Mary Kozu, waited while family members took their temperatures and signed forms stating they had no COVID-19 symptoms. Eventually, Mary Kozu approached her two great-grandchildren, 6-year-old Jyler and 2-year-old Rysic.

The boys hesitated and suddenly shy away from the great-grandparents, whom Rysic only knew from afar when they were back on the terrace, and Jyler had vague memories of how he was inside. But Mary Kozu, 89, asked Jyler if he remembered playing with the toys in her apartment, and a sign of appreciation came over his face.

The lobby of the Lakeshore on Sunday afternoon was full of reunions when visitors returned for the first time in a year. A grandmother and granddaughter hugged for a full minute and both wept happy tears. “That felt good after a year,” said the granddaughter. One son brought his father something to take away and was amazed at how quiet it was inside when he was here in March 2020.

Visits to some long-term care facilities in Washington resumed this weekend after Governor Jay Inslee announced last week that residents of nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and other care facilities could make indoor visits while the resident or visitor is vaccinated.

Read the story here.

– Paige Cornwell

5:41 am

Find out about the last 24 hours

The rules for restaurants, retailers, and fitness centers are changing today and other interiors as Washington enters the third phase of reopening. (Here is what you can and can’t do now.) It is a key moment for the state economy, but mixed with hope is a lot of concern for business owners and residents alike. Many restaurants are not yet reopening as their owners say more changes need to be made first.

AstraZeneca’s vaccine offered strong protection in a US study. The company announced today. AstraZeneca said its experts had not found any safety concerns despite rare blood clots in Europe. Here are the next steps.

“A spring break like no other” has gone terribly wrong in Miami Beach, which declared a state of emergency and extended its curfew to 8 p.m. to clear crowds and chaos from its streets. City officials blame the pent-up demand for travel as people flock to Florida, where coronavirus restrictions are stricter than many other states.

Fully vaccinated and time to celebrate … when you’re 70: The world is suddenly upside down and many older Americans are celebrating more than millennials these days. “That is my just fault,” says one. “Seniors gave up more than anyone.”

– Kris Higginson

Seattle Times staff and news services