Live: Coronavirus daily news updates, March 24: 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 24: What to know today about COVID-19 in the Seattle area, Washington state and the world

The Olympic torch relay, which begins Thursday in northeastern Japan, could be the “canary in the coal mine” to hold the Olympics in four months despite the pandemic, Associated Press reports. At the start of the season a year ago, the Olympic Games – for the first time since the modern Olympic Games began in 1896 – were postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic. If the relay is struggling, when COVID-19 cases emerge and there are delays, it could lead to red flags over the feasibility of hosting the Tokyo Olympics.

A temporary emergency order issued Tuesday prohibits insurers from using credit scores to set rates for personal property insurance during the Washington COVID-19 pandemic. According to the rule, the order applies to the personal insurance of private vehicles as well as to cover by tenants and homeowners and prohibits insurers from determining premiums, tariffs or entitlement to personal insurance based on credit history. The ban applies to any new policy or policy renewal that was edited on June 20 or later.

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.

New virus variant discovered in India; Experts advise caution

Madhura Patil, a health worker, gestures as she receives a COVID-19 vaccine in the presence of Uddhav Thackeray, standing in a white dress, Prime Minister of Maharashtra State in Mumbai, India on Saturday, January 16, 2021.  A new and potentially problematic variant of the coronavirus has been detected in India.  (AP Photo / Rajanish Cockatoo)

Madhura Patil, a health worker, gestures as she receives a COVID-19 vaccine in the presence of Uddhav Thackeray, standing in a white dress, Prime Minister of Maharashtra State in Mumbai, India on Saturday, January 16, 2021. A new and potentially problematic variant of the coronavirus has been detected in India. (AP Photo / Rajanish Cockatoo)

A new and potentially problematic variant of the coronavirus has been discovered in India, as have variants first discovered in the UK, South Africa and Brazil, health officials said on Wednesday.

However, health ministry officials and experts warned against linking the variants to a sustained surge in new infections in India. Cases in India have been falling since September but increased again in the last month, with more than 47,000 new infections in one day and the highest single-day death toll in more than four months.

The new variant found in India has two mutations in the prickly protein that the virus uses to attach to cells, said the director of the Center for Cell and Molecular Biology.

Read the story here.

-The Associated Press

9:35 a.m.

Merkel drops the Easter shutdown plan for Germany, apologizes

Chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday dropped plans for a five-day shutdown over Easter, which had led to confusion and criticism. She called the idea a mistake and apologized to the Germans.

Merkel announced the decision after a hastily arranged video conference with the 16 German governors responsible for imposing and lifting restrictions. The same group that faced increasing coronavirus infections had the unexpected plan for tighter restrictions over Easter early Tuesday.

The plan, which was due to begin next Thursday, raised both legal questions and questions about whether it could be implemented well in a short period of time.

Read the story here.

-The Associated Press

8:27 a.m.

According to the police, National Guard troops were ambushed at gunpoint while transporting coronavirus vaccines

It was before 9 a.m. on Monday on the outskirts of Lubbock, Texas when a man armed with a loaded pistol was allegedly walking down the freeway in pursuit of members of the Texas National Guard.

The soldiers transported coronavirus vaccines to a city 80 miles away, authorities said. But Larry Harris, a 66-year-old man from Arizona, later told police he believed the three unmarked white vans were involved in the kidnapping of a woman and child.

Harris attempted to drive the vans off the road, then turned into oncoming traffic to stop them before pulling eleven soldiers at gunpoint, culminating in a bizarre moment that turned them into a freeway on the edge of a freeway Small town shook, said Idalou police chief Eric C. Williams.

Harris was arrested shortly after the police arrived and charged with several criminal offenses, including aggravated assault with a lethal weapon and an obscure law that makes it a crime to meddle with the Texas armed forces, Williams said. The soldiers were not injured in the incident.

Read the story here.

-The Washington Post

8:15 o’clock

Belgium reverts to strict lockdown in virus cases

Belgium reintroduces strict lockdown measures in response to a worrying rise in new COVID-19 infections. The government said Wednesday that schools would be closing and residents would have limited access to non-essential businesses.

Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo said the virus variant first identified in the UK is seriously affecting the health of the country’s population: confirmed cases increased by 40% in the last week and hospital admissions increased by 28% after a long stable period.

“Most infections occur in the 10 to 19 age group,” said De Croo.

Read the story here.

-The Associated Press

7:53 a.m.

Nursing home alternatives get a $ 12 billion markup in the COVID-19 law

The COVID-19 Relief Act offers states a generous boost in funding for home and community care as an alternative to institutionalizing disabled people, as the memory of the consequences of the pandemic in nursing homes is still high.

Proponents hope the estimated $ 12.7 billion will accelerate the steady shift to support the elderly and disabled and their overwhelmed families in everyday life. However, the money for government Medicaid programs will only be available for four calendar quarters this year and next. This raises concerns that it will have only fleeting effects and calls for permanent legislation.

The coronavirus pandemic has highlighted the vulnerability of nursing home residents. Only about 1% of the US population lives in long-term care facilities, but they were responsible for about a third of COVID-19 deaths in early March, according to the COVID Tracking Project.

Read the story here.

– Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar, The Associated Press

7:15 a.m.

France hit by third virus flood; Minister of Culture in the hospital

France’s high-profile culture minister has been hospitalized for COVID-19, the youngest senior official to fall ill as the nation faces a third surge in coronavirus infections fueled by a highly contagious variant first found in the UK.

Roselyne Bachelot, 74, announced last weekend that she tested positive and her hospital stay was made public on Wednesday. The virus has picked up steam in France and intensive care units in the Paris region, north and south-east France are bursting at the seams.

In the Paris region, the infection rate for 20 to 50-year-olds is 100,000 inhabitants over 700 and in other regions it is even higher, according to Aurelien Rousseau, head of the Paris region’s health system. Doctors report that more and more young people are entering intensive care units with no other health problems, he tweeted.

Read the story here.

-The Associated Press

6:04 a.m.

Find out about the last 24 hours

Spend an afternoon with the COVID-19 “vaccine hunters” in Seattle: People who haven’t yet qualified for a vaccination or can’t get an appointment flock to vaccination centers every day in hopes of receiving a leftover dose. There are rules for how this works, and sometimes your eligibility depends in great detail. Here is our updated guide to getting your vaccine.

Yes, vaccinated people can still get COVID-19. A doctor learned firsthand with a “great shock” when he fell ill. Breakthrough infections are likely very rare, new research shows, but they are a keen reminder that vaccines don’t make everyone invincible.

Almost half of the public schools in the United States are open for full-time face-to-face teaching. However, according to new data released today, there is a strikingly large racial gap in which children attend classes in person.

Say “Vaccine!” Bellevue ninth grader Andy Mereckis wanted to do something positive, so he grabbed his cell phone and started recording the story. He hopes that the result “will show that at the end of this dark period there is a light”.

More COVID-19 relief funds will flow into King County after its council approved a $ 94.3 million financing round yesterday. This is where the money will go.

Washington State was not amused when city councilors went maskless. They were beaten with fine and stern words.

Indiana cancels its mask mandate and business restrictions. “I do not think we are ready for this,” annoy the health officials there.

If you work from home, Feeling like going back to the office, or are you hoping you can keep wearing pajama bottoms and commute downstairs forever? As more and more employers reopen their offices, we would like to hear from you.

– Kris Higginson

Seattle Times staff and news services