Editor’s note: This is a live account of COVID-19 updates from Monday, April 26, as the day unfolded. It is no longer being updated. Click here to see all the most recent news about the pandemic, and click here to find additional resources.

Thousands of COVID-19 vaccination appointments are available in Seattle and can be scheduled online. As of 9:30 p.m. Sunday, more than 18,000 slots were available at City of Seattle vaccination sites at Lumen Field, Rainier Beach and West Seattle.

President Joe Biden has authorized the U.S. to share COVID-19 vaccine supplies with India, where a fresh wave of the virus is having devastating effects.

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.

(Jennifer Luxton / The Seattle Times)

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Astros back at full force defeat Mariners, 5-2

Ten days ago, the Astros limped into T-Mobile Park with a pieced-together team featuring far too many rookies and replacement-level players for a team expected to contend for the American League West title.

Why?

Five players were placed on the COVID-19 injured list on April 14, two days before the series with Seattle, including regulars Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman, Yordan Alvarez and Martin Maldonado. That’s an All-Star second baseman, who was the AL MVP in 2017 and consistent torturer of Mariners pitching, an All-Star third baseman, who finished second in MVP voting in 2019 and also terrorizes the Mariners, a slugging designated, who was the AL rookie of the year in 2019 and a Gold Glove catcher that shuts down running games.

Houston exited Seattle three days later having lost the three-game series, part of a 1-9 stretch of futility.

Had those four players still been on the COVID-19 injured list, the outcome might have changed for the Mariners in what ended up being a 5-2 defeat against the Astros on Monday night.

Read the story here.

—Ryan Divish and Kelly Ward
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Italy’s ‘epochal’ recovery plan targets women, youth, south

ROME (AP) — Italian Premier Mario Draghi presented a 222.1 billion euro ($268.6 billion) coronavirus recovery plan to Parliament on Monday, aiming to not only help Italy bounce back from the pandemic but enact “epochal” reforms to address structural problems that long predated COVID-19.

Italy has the biggest share of the EU’s 750 billion euro ($907 billion) recovery pot, with 191.5 billion euros ($231.6 billion) of its six-year plan financed by EU funds. Draghi, the former European Central Bank chief, was put in the premier’s office specifically to make sure the money isn’t wasted since Italy has long had one of the worst records in the EU of making use of available funds.

Draghi told lawmakers Monday to not view the plan as merely a set of figures and tables, but rather as a recipe of values and priorities for a nation traumatized by the pandemic, loss of life and livelihoods and in need of a credible future for its children.

“I am certain that honesty, intelligence and the taste for the future will prevail over corruption, stupidity and special interests,” he said.

The plan is heavy on investments to modernize and digitize Italy’s economy and bureaucracy and encourage environmentally sustainable development. Both are directed particularly at the all-important tourism industry — think Venice, the Colosseum and Amalfi coast — which accounts for 13% of Italy’s gross domestic product and was devastated by pandemic-related closures.

Greater employment options for women and young people are prioritized, given youth unemployment tops 30% and Italy has long ranked at the bottom of the EU in terms of the percentage of women in the workforce. Women accounted for more than half the 456,000 jobs lost in Italy last year.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press

Virus wave, lack of parts hold back German business optimism

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — A closely watched indicator of German business outlooks barely rose in April as the third wave of coronavirus infections held back optimism about the pace of post-pandemic recovery.

The Ifo index published Monday crept up to 96.8 points from 96.6 points for March as companies viewed current conditions as better but expressed less optimism about the coming six months.

Germany, along with the rest of Europe, is going through a renewed battle with higher levels of infections as a variant that spreads more easily has become the dominant strain. More than 5,000 people are in intensive care with COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press

State reports 1,078 new coronavirus cases and 16 new deaths

The state Department of Health (DOH) reported 1,078 new coronavirus cases and 16 new deaths on Monday.

The update brings the state's totals to 397,417 cases and 5,450 deaths, meaning that 1.4% of people diagnosed in Washington have died, according to the DOH. The data is as of 11:59 a.m. Sunday.

In addition, 21,950 people have been hospitalized in the state due to the virus — 178 new hospitalizations. In King County, the state's most populous, state health officials have confirmed a total of 100,276 COVID-19 diagnoses and 1,505 deaths.

Since vaccinations began in mid-December, the state and health care providers have administered 5,157,791 doses and 28.34% 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 59,856 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.

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The shock and reality of catching COVID-19 after being vaccinated

Robin Hauser, a pediatrician in Tampa, Florida, got COVID-19 in February. What separates her from the vast majority of the tens of millions of other Americans who have come down with the virus is this: She got sick seven weeks after her second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

“I was shocked,” said Hauser. “I thought: ‘What the heck? How did that happen?’ I now tell everyone, including my colleagues, not to let their guard down after the vaccine.”

As more Americans every day are inoculated, a tiny but growing number are contending with the disturbing experience of getting COVID-19 despite having had one shot, or even two.

In data released in mid-April, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that at least 5,800 people had fallen ill or tested positive for the coronavirus two weeks or more after they completed both doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine.

A total of about 78 million Americans are now fully vaccinated.

These so-called breakthrough infections occurred among people of all ages. Just over 40% were in people age 60 or older, and 65% occurred in women. Twenty-nine percent of infected people reported no symptoms, but 7% were hospitalized and just over 1%, 74 people, died, according to the CDC.

Public health officials have said breakthrough infections were expected, since manufacturers have warned loudly and often that the vaccines are not 100% protective. The Pfizer and Moderna versions have consistently been shown to be above 90% effective, most recently for at least six months. Studies have also shown they are nearly 100% effective at ensuring that the small fraction of vaccinated patients who do contract the virus will not get severe cases or require hospitalization.

Still, people are usually shocked and befuddled when they become the rare breakthrough victim. After months of fear and taking precautions to avoid contracting COVID-19, they felt safe once they got their shots.

Read the story here.

—Kaiser Health News

Vaccinated against COVID? Great; here’s why you should still wear a mask in public.

More than 93 million Americans are fully vaccinated against the coronavirus. Despite so many invigorated immune systems, the populace still needs to keep wearing masks, public health specialists say.

The country is not yet so protected it can forgo face coverings. Case counts have spiked in some hot spots. Meanwhile, it’s clearer than ever that masks protect wearers as well as those nearby.

“Masks are one of the best interventions that we have to prevent viral transmission from one person to another,” said Lisa Maragakis, an infectious-disease epidemiologist at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

But the newly vaccinated would be forgiven for giving their masks a second look. In the first wave of vaccinations, after the Food and Drug Administration authorized the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in December, even front line health-care workers had these kinds of questions.

“I was caught off-guard at the beginning,” Maragakis said. “My own colleagues started saying, ‘I’m vaccinated, let’s roll back all of our policies.’ And it’s been very difficult to hold the line and say, ‘Wait, wait, wait, it’s not time yet.’”

Read the story here.

—The Washington Post

Alaska governor shares vaccine with Canada with hopes of easing restrictions

HYDER, Alaska (AP) — Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy has offered COVID-19 vaccines to residents of the small British Columbia town of Stewart, with hopes it could lead the Canadian government to ease restrictions between Stewart and the tiny Alaska border community of Hyder a couple miles away.

“Our neighbors to the east are fantastic. We couldn’t ask for better neighbors than the Canadians. But the virus has really hit them hard and as a result, their mitigating approaches have affected us greatly by slowing down traffic, limiting traffic,” Dunleavy told The Associated Press as he ended a long day of travel across southeast Alaska late last week.

During the trip, the Republican governor met with local leaders and residents in Ketchikan, Hyder and Metlakatla, the only Indian reserve in Alaska, to hear how they have been impacted by the pandemic and about their top priorities and concerns.

Hyder and Stewart are closely linked. Hyder residents get gas and groceries in Stewart, and kids from Hyder go to school there. Hyder even shares an area code with its Canadian neighbor and runs on Pacific time, an hour ahead of most of the rest of Alaska. Stewart has around 400 residents. Hyder, with an estimated population of nearly 70, flies a banner declaring itself “the friendliest ghost town in Alaska.”

Dunleavy referred to Hyder and Stewart as “one community in two countries.”

With COVID-19, travel in Canada has been restricted to essential business. Hyder residents say they can’t visit the homes of friends in Stewart, and Stewart Mayor Gina McKay said her residents are largely restricted from going to Hyder, including for recreational activities they were accustomed to, such as snowmobile riding and using Hyder’s boat launch to fish.

“It’s been tough on both sides,” she said.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press
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Colombian nightlife workers demand end to virus lockdowns

A plate reads in Spanish “Submission. Liquidation. Debts. Urgency. Unemployment,” as restaurant and bar workers break plates to protest the nighttime lockdown that forces them to close early during the COVID-19 pandemic in Bogota, Colombia, Monday, April 26, 2021. (AP Photo/Fernando Vergara)
A plate reads in Spanish “Submission. Liquidation. Debts. Urgency. Unemployment,” as restaurant and bar workers break plates to protest the nighttime lockdown that forces them to close early during the COVID-19 pandemic in Bogota, Colombia, Monday, April 26, 2021. (AP Photo/Fernando Vergara)

Hundreds of nightlife workers protested lockdowns in Colombia’s capital on Monday as the country struggles with a steep rise in coronavirus cases that has led to a new set of economic restrictions and forced many businesses to shut down.

Bouncers, DJs, cooks and bar owners gathered at a square near one of the city’s nightlife districts and carried dishes scribbled with messages urging the government to help. Then they smashed their dishes on the ground to express their frustration with Colombia’s coronavirus policies.

Coronavirus cases began to climb in Colombia in the beginning of April, prompting officials to impose curfews and weekend lockdowns in the country’s largest cities. Despite these measures, Colombia is currently experiencing three times as many daily deaths from the virus as in March, with about 400 people succumbing each day to COVID-19. The Brazilian and British variants of the virus have been identified in the capital city of Bogotá.

The nightlife workers in Bogotá said it was unfair for the government to shut them down while daytime industries like shops and restaurants are allowed to operate. They complained that the government’s decision to shut down nightlife has forced people to hold clandestine parties in homes, where there are no regulations.

Read the story here.

—Manuel Rueda, The Associated Press

California man hospitalized with clot after J&J vaccination

A San Francisco Bay Area man in his 30s is recuperating after developing a rare blood clot in his leg within two weeks of receiving the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, University of California, San Francisco officials said.

This is the first male patient with the syndrome in the U.S. since the emergency authorization of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine on Feb. 27, 2021, the university said in a statement.

As of Friday, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had reported the condition in 15 other people, all women, after 8 million doses were administered nationally. It involves unusual clots that occur together with low levels of blood-clotting platelets.

U.S. health officials lifted an 11-day pause on COVID-19 vaccinations using Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose shot on Friday after scientific advisers decided its benefits outweigh the rare risk of blood clot. Three of the women previously identified died, and seven remain hospitalized.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press

Younger people are getting sicker from COVID, Washington state hospital leaders say

Despite warnings from health officials, and urging by the university – including signs at all entrances – visitors flock to the cherry blossoms on the campus of the University of Washington on March 30. (Dean Rutz / The Seattle Times)
Despite warnings from health officials, and urging by the university – including signs at all entrances – visitors flock to the cherry blossoms on the campus of the University of Washington on March 30. (Dean Rutz / The Seattle Times)

Hospital leaders Monday said that a fourth wave of COVID-19 is driving up hospitalizations in Washington, that young patients make up an increasing proportion of their workload and that some are suffering from more severe disease than earlier in the pandemic.

“We are seeing younger patients than what we saw in earlier surges: Patients in their 30s, 40s and 50s are being hospitalized,” said Tom DeBord, the chief operating officer of Overlake Medical Center in Bellevue, during a media briefing hosted by the Washington State Hospital Association.

At Skagit Valley Regional Health, “the age of the individuals … hospitalized are mostly in their 40s and 50s,” according to Dr. Connie Davis, the organization’s chief medical officer, adding that three patients in their 20s were recently transferred away to benefit from extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) — an advanced form of life support.

Davis said younger patients have often been obese, a co-morbidity associated with severe COVID-19.

Meantime, more than 90 patients were hospitalized with COVID-19 throughout hospitals in the Virginia Mason Franciscan Health system late last week, according to Dr. Chris Baliga, an infectious disease physician. 

“40% of our cases were under the age of 40, which is mind-boggling to me. We never saw that earlier in the pandemic,” Baliga said, adding that younger patients appear to be sicker than before. 

Read the story here.

—Evan Bush and Sandi Doughton
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Turkey announces strictest lockdown so far as virus surges

Turkey’s president has announced the country’s strictest pandemic restrictions so far, closing businesses and schools and limiting travel for nearly three weeks starting Thursday to fight a surge in COVID-19 infections and deaths.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that without stricter restrictions and curbing infection rates, there would be a “heavy price” for tourism, trade and education. He said the aim is to lower daily infections to 5,000. Confirmed daily infections Monday stood at 37,312 .

Infections and deaths soared after Turkey lifted partial restrictions in March. The country of 83 million has recorded more than 4.6 million infections and a total 38,711 deaths.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press

EU launches legal action against vaccine-maker AstraZeneca

he European Union’s executive branch said Monday that it has launched legal action against coronavirus vaccine-maker AstraZeneca for failing to respect the terms of its contract with the 27-nation bloc.

The AstraZeneca vaccine has been central to Europe’s immunization campaign, and a linchpin in the global strategy to get vaccines to poorer countries. But the slow pace of deliveries has frustrated the Europeans and they have held the company responsible for partly delaying their vaccine rollout.

The British-Swedish drugmaker had hoped to deliver 80 million doses in the first quarter of 2021, but only 30 million were sent. According to the Commission, the company is now set to provide 70 million doses in the second quarter, rather than the 180 million it had promised.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press

Thailand’s prime minister fined for breaking face mask rule

A tuk tuk driver wearing a face mask to help curb the spread of the coronavirus waits for customers in Khao San road, a popular hangout for Thais and tourists in Bangkok, Thailand, Monday, April 26, 2021. Cinemas, parks and gyms were among venues closed in Bangkok as Thailand sees its worst surge of the pandemic. A shortage of hospital beds, along with a failure to secure adequate coronavirus vaccine supplies, have pushed the government into imposing the new restrictions.  (AP Photo/Anuthep Cheysakron)
A tuk tuk driver wearing a face mask to help curb the spread of the coronavirus waits for customers in Khao San road, a popular hangout for Thais and tourists in Bangkok, Thailand, Monday, April 26, 2021. Cinemas, parks and gyms were among venues closed in Bangkok as Thailand sees its worst surge of the pandemic. A shortage of hospital beds, along with a failure to secure adequate coronavirus vaccine supplies, have pushed the government into imposing the new restrictions. (AP Photo/Anuthep Cheysakron)

Authorities in Thailand are imposing fines of up to 20,000 baht ($640) for people who fail to wear face masks in public in 48 provinces, as the government struggles to cope with a new wave of coronavirus cases that is straining the medical system.

The capital, Bangkok, which has the largest number of cases, is also closing more than 30 types of businesses and services, including cinemas, parks, zoos, bars, pools and massage parlors. Gatherings of more than 20 people are banned.

Despite rapidly rising numbers, there currently are no nationwide lockdowns though forty-eight of the 76 provinces have imposed fines for not wearing face masks.

Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha was among the first to be fined for the offense on Monday, when the rule took effect in Bangkok. A photo on his official Facebook page showed him maskless as he chaired a meeting about COVID-19 vaccinations, drawing criticism online. The city’s governor, Aswin Kwanmuang, said he, the city police chief and another officer went to collect a 6,000 baht ($190) fine from Prayuth, since it was his his first offense under rule. The incriminating photo was deleted from the prime minister’s account.

Health authorities on Monday announced 2.048 new infections and eight new deaths, the fourth day in a row with more than 2,000 new cases. That brought the country’s totals to 57,508 cases.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press
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Virus surge in crowded Gaza threatens to overwhelm hospitals

People, some wearing masks to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus, shop for the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, at the main market in Gaza City, Sunday, April 11, 2021. More than a year into the coronavirus pandemic, the worst fears are now coming true in the crowded, blockaded Gaza Strip: A sudden surge in infections and deaths is threatening to overwhelm hospitals weakened by years of conflict and Israeli border closures. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)
People, some wearing masks to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus, shop for the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, at the main market in Gaza City, Sunday, April 11, 2021. More than a year into the coronavirus pandemic, the worst fears are now coming true in the crowded, blockaded Gaza Strip: A sudden surge in infections and deaths is threatening to overwhelm hospitals weakened by years of conflict and Israeli border closures. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)

More than a year into the coronavirus pandemic, some of the worst fears are coming true in the crowded Gaza Strip: A sudden surge in infections and deaths is threatening to overwhelm hospitals weakened by years of conflict and border closures.

Gaza’s main treatment center for COVID-19 patients warns that oxygen supplies are dwindling fast. In another hospital, coronavirus patients are packed three to a room.

For months, Gaza’s Hamas rulers seemed to have a handle on containing the pandemic. But their decision to lift most movement restrictions in February — coupled with the spread of a more aggressive virus variant and lack of vaccines — has led to a fierce second surge.

At the same time, many of Gaza’s more than 2 million people ignore safety precautions, especially during the current fasting month of Ramadan. In the daytime, markets teem with shoppers buying goods for iftar, the meal breaking the fast after sundown. Few wear masks properly, if at all.

Read the story here.

—Fares Akram, The Associated Press

Washington state judge blocks some virus rules on farms

A Washington state judge has blocked some coronavirus-related restrictions on farms and orchards meant to protect farmworkers.

Yakima County Superior Court Judge Blaine Gibson issued an injunction last week that stops the state from enforcing a series of regulations to protect workers from the virus, the Bellingham Herald reported Sunday.

Franklin County Farm Bureau President James Alford had said the state restrictions seemed to have been made by someone who did not understand the industry.

The now-blocked rules had required twice-daily visits from medical staff to isolated workers; required workers to be within 20 minutes of an emergency room and an hour from a ventilator; and provided workers open access to people in the community.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press

Continental Europe could allow US tourists back this summer

American tourists could soon be visiting continental Europe again, more than a year after the European Union restricted travel to the 27-nation bloc to a bare minimum to contain the coronavirus.

EU officials said Monday they are completing plans to allow Americans back this summer, depending on the course of the outbreak on both sides of the Atlantic.

The EU Commission, the EU’s executive arm, will make a proposal soon to its member states but didn’t say when exactly leisure travel could resume or whether a reciprocal approach will apply to Europeans wanting to visit the U.S., which has closed its doors to tourists from the continent.

Also, it was not immediately clear whether all U.S. tourists would have to produce proof of vaccination for entry, or whether a negative test for the coronavirus or proof of recent recovery from COVID-19 would be acceptable instead.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press
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U.S. to share AstraZeneca shots with world after safety check

The U.S. will begin sharing its entire stock of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines with the world once it clears federal safety reviews, the White House said Monday, with as many as 60 million doses expected to be available for export in the coming months.

The move greatly expands on the Biden administration’s action last month to share about 4 million doses of the vaccine with Mexico and Canada. The AstraZeneca vaccine is widely in use around the world but has not yet been authorized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The White House is increasingly feeling assured about the supply of the three vaccines being administered in the U.S., particularly following the restart of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson shot over the weekend. The U.S. has also been under mounting pressure in recent weeks to share more of its vaccine supply with the world, as countries like India experience devastating surges of the virus and others struggle to access doses needed to protect their most vulnerable populations.

Read the story here.

—Zeke Miller, The Associated Press

Apps help theme parks boost their COVID safety — and collect data on you

Theme parks have for years been relying on technology to better manage crowds, speed up the purchase of food and drinks, and eliminate gridlock around the most popular rides. Digital tickets have factored into that. So has the practice of tracking guests’ locations within a park via a phone app.

Now, after a yearlong closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Southern California’s theme parks are reopening with new safety protocols — many of which lean heavily on such technology. That’s helping the parks lower the risk of spreading the coronavirus and, at the same time, collect more information about their visitors.

Privacy advocates say the trend also gives theme parks greater opportunity to use the visitors’ information to upsell them on merchandise, food and drinks, among other purchases. They also worry that the personal and financial information collected from parkgoers can be leaked or shared in unexpected ways.

Read the story here.

—Hugo Martin, Los Angeles Times

Italy opens again amid hopes for real economic relaunch

Lunch-time diners filled tables on Milan’s landmark Piazza Duomo even on a cloudy, wind-swept Monday, proof of the pent-up demand for eating out as Italy begins its second, and many hope last, reopening of the COVID-19 pandemic.

After six months of rotating on-again, off-again closures, restaurants and bars, museums and cinemas, opened to the public in most of the country under a gradual reopening plan that is seen as too cautious for some, too hasty for others.

The nation’s weary virologist and health care workers fear that even the tentative reopening laid out by Premier Mario Draghi’s government will invite a free-or-all, signs of which were seen over the weekend with parks and squares filling up in cities from Rome to Turin, Milan to Naples.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press
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France reopens schools as virus patients numbers peak

 Nursery and primary schools reopened on Monday across France after a three-week closure in the first step out of the country’s partial lockdown, despite numbers of COVID-19 patients in intensive care units reaching their highest level since last spring.

Authorities said daily numbers of new infections have started decreasing in the country, providing encouraging signs about the impact of restrictions that were imposed at the beginning of the month.

Starting from next week, the ban on domestic travel will be lifted.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press

UK leader denies saying 1000s of bodies better than lockdown

Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson visits a farm as he campaigns on behalf of the Conservative Party for local elections near Wrexham in Wales  on Monday. (Paul Ellis/Pool Photo via AP)
Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson visits a farm as he campaigns on behalf of the Conservative Party for local elections near Wrexham in Wales on Monday. (Paul Ellis/Pool Photo via AP)

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson dismissed as “total rubbish” a press report which quoted him as allegedly saying he would rather see “bodies pile high in their thousands” than impose a third national lockdown on the country.

The Daily Mail claimed that Johnson made the comment during a heated discussion in late October, when his government imposed a second lockdown to combat a surge in coronavirus cases. A third lockdown was ordered in January as infections shot up again, driven by a new, more contagious variant of the virus.

The Daily Mail didn’t cite a source for the claim, but there has been a spate of leaks from Johnson’s 10 Downing St. office, which are being investigated by government officials. Broadcasters BBC and ITV said they had also been told of the “bodies” remark.

Johnson said Monday that the allegation was “total, total rubbish.”

Britain has spent much of the last year under restrictions on business and daily life as it tried to contain a COVID-19 outbreak that has left more than 127,000 people dead, the highest toll in Europe. Restrictions are gradually being eased alongside a mass-vaccination campaign that has given at least one dose of vaccine to half the U.K. population.

Cabinet Minister Michael Gove said Johnson had treated decisions about lockdowns extremely seriously.

“This is a prime minister who was in hospital himself in intensive care” with the virus last year, Gove said. “The idea that he would say any such thing I find incredible.”

Read the story here.

—Jill Lawless, The Associated Press

Germany debates privileges for those who’ve been vaccinated

Chancellor Angela Merkel and the governors of Germany’s 16 states on Monday discussed whether people who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 should be exempt from certain restrictions put in place to curb the spread of the virus.

The issue of special privileges for vaccinated people has been hotly debated in Germany, as in other countries.

Some have argued it’s unfair on those who haven’t been able to get the shot yet. Others say restrictions on civil liberties are justified while people pose a risk to others.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press
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COVID treatment has improved, but many wish for an easy pill

Priscilla Medina stands with her husband, Jason Sanchez, and her son in the Rego Park neighborhood of Queens in New York on Wednesday, April 7, 2021. If Medina had gotten COVID-19 a year earlier, she would have had no treatments proven safe and effective to try. But when the 30-year-old nurse arrived at a Long Island hospital in March 2021, so short of breath she could barely talk, doctors knew just what to do. They quickly arranged for her to get a novel drug that supplies virus-blocking antibodies, and “by the next day I was able to get up and move around,” she said. After two days, “I really started turning the corner. I was showering, eating, playing with my son.” (AP Photo/Marshall Ritzel)
Priscilla Medina stands with her husband, Jason Sanchez, and her son in the Rego Park neighborhood of Queens in New York on Wednesday, April 7, 2021. If Medina had gotten COVID-19 a year earlier, she would have had no treatments proven safe and effective to try. But when the 30-year-old nurse arrived at a Long Island hospital in March 2021, so short of breath she could barely talk, doctors knew just what to do. They quickly arranged for her to get a novel drug that supplies virus-blocking antibodies, and “by the next day I was able to get up and move around,” she said. After two days, “I really started turning the corner. I was showering, eating, playing with my son.” (AP Photo/Marshall Ritzel)

If Priscila Medina had gotten COVID-19 a year ago, she would have had no treatments proven safe and effective to try. But when the 30-year-old nurse arrived at a Long Island hospital last month, so short of breath she could barely talk, doctors knew just what to do.

They quickly arranged for her to get a novel drug that supplies virus-blocking antibodies, and “by the next day I was able to get up and move around,” she said. After two days, “I really started turning the corner. I was showering, eating, playing with my son.”

Treatments like these can help newly diagnosed patients avoid hospitalization, but they are grossly underused because they require an IV. Other medicines for sicker patients can speed recovery, but only a few improve survival.

While vaccines are helping to curb the pandemic, easier and better treatments are needed, especially as virus variants spread.

“We’re seeing more and more young people get into serious trouble … serious disease requiring hospitalization, and occasionally even tragic deaths,” the U.S. government’s top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, recently told the National Press Club.

The biggest need is for a convenient medicine such as a pill “that can prevent people with symptoms from getting worse and needing hospitalization,” he said.

Read the story here.

—Marilynn Marchione, The Associated Press

Bodies pile up as vaccine campaigns sputter and COVID-19 variants spread

In India, bodies of COVID-19 victims are piling up so fast that family members have to cremate them in parking lots.

In Brazil, gravediggers work through the night.

And in Germany, once a poster child for its pandemic response, the death toll has tripled in recent months and the federal government has just imposed its toughest lockdown yet.

Even as optimism abounds in the United States, where cases are in steep decline and the vaccine supply has begun to exceed the demand, the COVID-19 pandemic has reached one of its bleakest points as global vaccination campaigns sputter and new, faster-spreading variants take hold.

A record 5.7 million new cases were reported worldwide over the last week, nearly double the seven-day average in late February. The death toll — now approaching 3.1 million — grew by more than 87,000.

Those figures have increased pressure on the United States, which, along with other wealthy countries, has gobbled up most of the supply, to speed up vaccine production and distribution around the world.

The global surge has also raised fears that the worst of the pandemic may still be yet to come.

Read the story here.

—Kate Linthicum, Los Angeles Times

CEO of vaccine maker sold $10 million in stock before company ruined Johnson & Johnson doses

The stock price of government contractor Emergent BioSolutions has fallen sharply since the disclosure at the end of March that production problems at the firm’s plant in Baltimore had ruined 15 million doses of Johnson & Johnson’s coronavirus vaccine. Since then, AstraZeneca moved production of its own vaccine out of the facility, and Emergent temporarily halted work there altogether.

Those developments came after Emergent’s stock price had tumbled on Feb. 19, following the company’s published financial results. Emergent stock has fallen since mid-February to about $62 a share from $125 a share, or 51%.

But the decline has had less of an impact than it might have on the personal finances of Emergent’s chief executive, Robert Kramer, who sold more than $10 million worth of his stock in the company in January and early February, securities filings show. Based on the market price, the stocks that Kramer sold would now fetch about $5.5 million.

The transactions were Kramer’s first substantive sales of Emergent stock since April 2016, according to a review of securities filings by The Washington Post.

Read the story here.

—Jon Swaine, The Washington Post
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Harris to tell UN body it’s time to prep for next pandemic

FILE – In this Friday, April 23, 2021, file photo, Vice President Kamala Harris speaks at the IBEW Training Center in Concord, N.H. Harris will make the case before United Nations members on Monday, April 26, 2021, that now is the time for global leaders to begin putting the serious work into how they will respond to the next global pandemic. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)
FILE – In this Friday, April 23, 2021, file photo, Vice President Kamala Harris speaks at the IBEW Training Center in Concord, N.H. Harris will make the case before United Nations members on Monday, April 26, 2021, that now is the time for global leaders to begin putting the serious work into how they will respond to the next global pandemic. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)

 Vice President Kamala Harris will make the case before United Nations members on Monday that now is the time for global leaders to begin putting the serious work into how they will respond to the next global pandemic.

The virtual address, Harris’ second to a U.N. body since her inauguration, will come as the United States makes progress on vaccinating the public and much of the world struggles to acquire vaccines.

“At the same time that the world works to get through this pandemic, we also know that we must prepare for the next,” Harris will say, according to excerpts of the speech obtained by The Associated Press. The speech will be co-hosted by U.N. permanent representatives of Argentina, Japan, Norway and South Africa.

Read the story here.

—Aamer Madhani, The Associated Press

SOS messages, panic as virus breaks India’s health system

A notice on a gate indicates that there is no oxygen at the Covid-19 Care Center set up at the Commonwealth Games (CWG) Village Sports Complex in New Delhi, India, on Sunday, April 25, 2021. Noting that at least six high courts are hearing disputes about Covid-19 management including oxygen shortages, the Supreme Court on Thursday asked India’s federal government to come up with a national plan for the distribution of essential supplies and services. Photographer: T. Narayan/Bloomberg (Bloomberg)
A notice on a gate indicates that there is no oxygen at the Covid-19 Care Center set up at the Commonwealth Games (CWG) Village Sports Complex in New Delhi, India, on Sunday, April 25, 2021. Noting that at least six high courts are hearing disputes about Covid-19 management including oxygen shortages, the Supreme Court on Thursday asked India’s federal government to come up with a national plan for the distribution of essential supplies and services. Photographer: T. Narayan/Bloomberg (Bloomberg)

Dr. Gautam Singh dreads the daily advent of the ventilator beeps, signaling that oxygen levels are critically low, and hearing his critically ill patients start gasping for air in the New Delhi emergency ward where he works.

Like other doctors across the country, which on Monday set another record for new coronavirus infections for a fifth day in a row at more than 350,000, the cardiologist has taken to begging and borrowing cylinders of oxygen just to keep his most critical patients alive for one more day.

On Sunday evening, when the oxygen supplies of other nearby hospitals were also near empty, the desperate 43-year-old took to social media, posting an impassioned video plea on Twitter.

“Please send oxygen to us,” he said with folded hands and a choked voice. “My patients are dying.”

India was initially seen as a success story in weathering the pandemic, but the virus is now racing through its massive population of nearly 1.4 billion, and systems are beginning to collapse.

Read the story here.

—Sheikh Saaliq, The Associated Press

COVID-19 infections surge past 1 million in the Philippines

A man rides his pedicab with a slogan to remind people to wear masks to prevent the spread of the coronavirus in Manila, Philippines on Monday, April 26, 2021. COVID-19 infections in the Philippines surged past 1 million Monday in the latest grim milestone as officials assessed whether to extend a monthlong lockdown in Manila and outlying provinces amid a deadly spike or relax it to fight recession, joblessness and hunger. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)
A man rides his pedicab with a slogan to remind people to wear masks to prevent the spread of the coronavirus in Manila, Philippines on Monday, April 26, 2021. COVID-19 infections in the Philippines surged past 1 million Monday in the latest grim milestone as officials assessed whether to extend a monthlong lockdown in Manila and outlying provinces amid a deadly spike or relax it to fight recession, joblessness and hunger. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)

Confirmed coronavirus infections in the Philippines surged past 1 million on Monday in the country’s latest grim milestone, as officials assess whether to extend a monthlong lockdown in the Manila region amid a deadly spike or relax it to fight an economic recession, joblessness and hunger.

The Department of Health reported 8,929 new infections on Monday, bringing the country’s total to 1,006,428, including 16,853 deaths. The totals are the second highest in Southeast Asia after Indonesia.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press
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Lawmaker blasted Alaska Airlines for ‘mask tyranny.’ Now she’s banned from the only flights to the capital

 Alaska state Sen. Lora Reinbold, an Eagle River Republican, has been banned by Alaska Airlines for refusing to follow mask requirements. (Becky Bohrer / The Associated Press, file)
Alaska state Sen. Lora Reinbold, an Eagle River Republican, has been banned by Alaska Airlines for refusing to follow mask requirements. (Becky Bohrer / The Associated Press, file)

Last week, a police officer responded to an Alaska Airlines terminal in Juneau as state Sen. Lora Reinbold clashed with staffers over mask rules. It was a familiar battle for the Republican lawmaker, a vaccine skeptic who has blasted flight attendants as “mask bullies” and accused the airline of “mask tyranny.”

Now, she isn’t welcome on their flights at all. Alaska Airlines this weekend banned Reinbold “for her continued refusal to comply with employee instruction regarding the current mask policy,” the airline said in a statement to The Washington Post.

That’s a serious problem for the lawmaker, because Alaska Airlines operates the only regular flights to the state capital from her home in the Anchorage area, the Alaska Daily News reported.

Read the story here.

—The Washington Post

Catch up on the past 24 hours

What should summer camp look like this year? The CDC has updated its guidance with an emphasis on the outdoors and plenty of specific recommendations.

International travel from Seattle is opening back up, although the U.S. government warns against heading to 80% of the world's countries. If you go, nonstop flights might be most appealing. We're tracking the 15 international destinations you can get to on direct flights from Seattle, along with the newest U.S. travel advisory level for each country. This comes as the European Union plans to allow vaccinated Americans in. Plus, experts are sharing their advice on how to travel after vaccination in the safest ways.

"Maybe there’s been too much finger wagging" about vaccines, a top U.S. health official said yesterday as new numbers threw the political divide on vaccination into sharp relief. There's a new push, though, to reach millions of Americans who are skipping their second doses.

Seattle had more than 18,000 vaccination appointments open for booking in the coming days, as of last night. Here's our guide to getting a vaccine.

The U.S. is promising to send vaccine-making materials and other aid to India, where families are making wrenching choices as people waiting for medical care die outside hospitals.

“I’m going to infect you with the coronavirus,” the man said as he walked around his workplace, lowering his mask and coughing on people. He did, and now COVID isn't his only problem.

—Kris Higginson