Editor’s note: This is a live account of COVID-19 updates from Tuesday, April 20, 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 It is no longer being updated.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.
Mariners manager Scott Servais announced there would be nurses on site following the Mariners’ homestand finale against the Dodgers on Tuesday afternoon to administer coronavirus vaccines. Players and staff, who are considered Tier 1, can get their first dose of the vaccine after the game. But MLB sources believe that almost half of the Mariners players in Tier 1 will refuse to be vaccinated if immediately offered, even after the league issued a memo saying teams that reach 85% threshold of full vaccination would have standards and guidelines relaxed.
In Western Washington, the Class of 2021 found themselves at an emotional crossroads like no other this spring. Thousands of their peers in Central and Eastern Washington have been attending school in person for months, but students in the Puget Sound region — where school buildings have remained closed for more than a year — weren’t sure whether they would see their classmates and teachers in person before graduation. Monday was either the start of a late-term adventure in pandemic schooling for those who wanted to go back in person — or another “normal” day of Zoom school for those who didn’t. Though the state isn’t keeping count of the number of middle and high school students who headed back this week, at Seattle Public Schools, the state’s largest district, 50% of about 21,000 families of sixth through 12th graders who responded to a district survey opted for in-person instruction.
Brazil's COVID cases continue to soar; death toll second only to U.S.
SAO PAULO (AP) — Brazil’s slowly unfolding vaccination program appears to have slowed the pace of deaths among the nation’s elderly, according to death certificate data, but COVID-19 is still taking a rising toll as unprotected younger people get sick.
Relatively few people beyond the elderly have been protected: Less than 9 million of Brazil’s 210 million residents have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to Our World in Data, an online research site.
Confirmed new infections from the virus among all age groups jumped about 70 percent between December and March and among people aged 20 to 59, the death toll tripled from February to March, hitting 23,366.
Brazil has seen almost 375,000 deaths from the virus, a toll second only to that of the United States. Nearly half that total has come so far in 2021 . The seven-day average death toll surged to above 3,000, though the figure has retreated slightly over the last few days.
State reports 1,725 new coronavirus cases and 13 new deaths
The state Department of Health (DOH) reported 1,725 new coronavirus cases and 13 new deaths on Tuesday.
The update brings the state's totals to 388,718 cases and 5,407 deaths, meaning that 1.4% of people diagnosed in Washington have died, according to the DOH. The data is as of 11:59 p.m. Monday. Tallies may be higher earlier in the week because new state data isn’t reported on Sundays and COVID-related deaths aren’t reported on the weekends.
In addition, 21,596 people have been hospitalized in the state due to the virus — 103 new hospitalizations. In King County, the state's most populous, state health officials have confirmed a total of 97,712 COVID-19 diagnoses and 1,501 deaths.
Since vaccinations began in mid-December, the state and health care providers have administered 4,669,463 doses and 25.43% 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 56,048 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.
Nevada teen suffers seizures, brain clots after J&J vaccine
LAS VEGAS — An 18-year-old woman in Nevada who suffered seizures after receiving the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine has received three brain surgeries related to blood clots, a spokesperson for her family said.
Emma Burkey began feeling sick about a week after receiving the one-dose vaccine early this month, spokesman Bret Johnson said. She was one of six women in the U.S. and the only reported resident in Clark County, which includes Las Vegas, who experienced a serious clotting side effect. One person died.
Burkey was first treated at St. Rose Dominican Hospital in Henderson before being airlifted to Loma Linda University Medical Center in Southern California for specialized care, Johnson said. Burkey was taken out of an induced coma and off a respirator, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported.
“She is improving slowly,” Johnson said. “The word we got from her parents last night was ‘slowly, slowly slowly.’ ”
The U.S. government suspended use of the J&J vaccinations last week, just a week after European regulators declared that such clots are a rare but possible risk with the AstraZeneca vaccine, a shot made in a similar way but not yet approved for use in the U.S.
US military: 32 of 40 Guantanamo prisoners now vaccinated
Most of the prisoners at the Guantanamo Bay detention center have received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine as of Tuesday, the U.S. military said a day after resuming an effort to inoculate them that was halted months earlier after criticism from Congress.
Thirty-two of the 40 prisoners held at the U.S. base in Cuba have received the first dose, Southern Command said in a brief statement. It provided no further details, including why the eight remaining men have not received the vaccine. The prisoners are not required to be vaccinated.
The announcement in January that the military intended to offer the vaccine to prisoners sparked intense criticism, particularly among Republicans in Congress, at a time when COVID-19 vaccines were just being rolled out to troops and civilians at Guantanamo and were not widely available in the United States.
Greek Church to allow worshippers at Easter Week services
The powerful Church of Greece said Tuesday it would allow the faithful to take part in Orthodox Easter services next week but limit attendance and hold the services earlier in the day to conform with a government-imposed curfew.
The decision comes despite Greece reporting a high number of COVID-19 cases and deaths, and as the country’s hospitals are struggling to treat unprecedented numbers of intubated patients. Orthodox Easter services were canceled last year, when Greece had much fewer confirmed cases.
At the same time, the center-right government is under pressure to lift travel restrictions ahead of the Easter holidays, while thousands of people in Athens have flouted infection-control restrictions by holding all-night open-air parties in city squares amid warm, spring weather.
The Church’s governing body, the Holy Synod, said after a virtual meeting Tuesday that worshippers “must by no means be deprived of participation in the joy of the Resurrection,” normally celebrated with a midnight service late on Holy Saturday.
Oregon House sessions canceled because of COVID-19 case
The Oregon House of Representatives cancelled all floor sessions for the rest of the week on Tuesday after someone at the Capitol was diagnosed with COVID-19 and may have exposed people in the chamber.
It was the third time a potential COVID-19 exposure has impacted House floor sessions. It is unclear if the infected person is a lawmaker.
Wealthy Latin Americans flock to US in search of vaccines
They travel thousands of miles by plane from Latin America to the U.S., in some places taking a shuttle directly from the airport to COVID-19 vaccine sites. Their ranks include politicians, TV personalities, business executives and a soccer team.
People of means from Latin America are chartering planes, booking commercial flights, buying bus tickets and renting cars to get the vaccine in the United States due to lack of supply at home.
Two crew members on Washington ferry to Alaska test positive for COVID-19
Two members of the engineering crew on the state ferry Matanuska tested positive for COVID-19 on a trip from Washington state to Juneau.
No passengers were identified as close contacts, state officials say.
The ferry was underway from Bellingham to Ketchikan Saturday when one crew member began showing symptoms of the virus, according to a news release from the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities. The captain, following the ship’s COVID-19 protocols, quarantined the crew member in a cabin with the ventilation system turned off.
The crew member tested positive for the virus at Ketchikan Hospital and is isolating at a hotel, the state transportation department said. Testing and contact tracing revealed one other engineering crew member who tested positive, the release said.
UK job figures show young hardest hit by COVID restrictions
The number of workers on U.K. corporate payrolls dropped by 0.2% in March as young people were hardest hit by coronavirus restrictions that closed bars, restaurants and hotels, according to the latest government statistics.
Company payrolls fell by 56,000 last month, pushing the decline since March of last year to 813,000, the Office for National Statistics said Tuesday.
Workers under 25 accounted for more than half the decline, with the number of young people on company payrolls dropping by 436,000 over the past year. Payrolls in the accommodation and food service industries, which employ large numbers of young people, fell by 355,000 workers.
Exasperated Canadians watch Americans getting vaccinated faster
FORT ERIE, Ontario – Here in this border town just across the Niagara River from New York state, the televisions carry stations from Buffalo. In recent weeks, the news from the U.S. side has been somewhat irksome.
In Erie County, N.Y., everyone 16 years of age and older became eligible for a coronavirus vaccine this month. On the Canadian side, meanwhile, inoculations have been mostly limited to people 55 years and older, Indigenous adults, and other priority groups. And they’re getting only the first shot, for now.
After a bumpy start, Canada’s vaccination rollout has picked up pace in recent weeks. Still, the sight of the United States awash in vaccines and racing ahead to inoculate the population is fueling frustration.
Swedish teen Thunberg joins fight against vaccine inequity
Teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg has urged governments, vaccine developers and the world to “step up their game” to fight vaccine inequity after the richest countries snatched up most COVID-19 vaccine doses and those in poorer nations have gone lacking.
Her comments on Monday came as the World Health Organization announced 5.2 million new confirmed virus cases over the latest week, the largest weekly count yet, according to the U.N. health agency.
The Swedish teen who inspired the “Fridays for Future” climate change movement chipped in 100,000 euros ($120,000) from her charitable foundation to the WHO Foundation to help purchase COVID-19 vaccines for countries where they are needed — especially in poor countries.
“It is completely unethical that high-income countries are now vaccinating young and healthy people if that happens at the expense of people in risk groups and on the front lines in low- and middle-income countries,” said Thunberg, who was invited as a guest for a regular WHO briefing.
While Thunberg hailed the development of COVID-19 vaccines in “record time,” she cited estimates that 1 in 4 people in high-income countries have received them so far, while only 1 in 500 in middle- and lower-income countries have.
Also roaring back from pandemic: earth-warming emissions
Global warming emissions are expected to spike this year as the world emerges from the coronavirus pandemic and economies begin to recover.
Worldwide energy-related carbon dioxide emissions could surge by 1.5 billion metric tons this year, following last year’s decline due to the pandemic, according to a Tuesday report from the International Energy Agency, an intergovernmental group based in Paris.
That would be the second-largest annual increase in emissions since 2010 following the global financial crisis of 2008-2009, the IEA reported.
Carbon dioxide emissions will increase 5% increase this year, to 33 billion metric tons, the IEA forecast. The group says that the main driver is coal demand, which is on course to grow by 4.5%. That would surpass its 2019 level and approach its 2014 peak, according to the IEA, which says the electricity sector is responsible for about three-quarters of the rise.
China is by far the world’s biggest coal user and carbon emitter, followed in emissions by the United States, the third largest user. The two countries pump out nearly half of the fossil fuel fumes that are warming the planet’s atmosphere.
Osaka seeks virus emergency after ongoing alert steps fail
Japan’s western metropolis of Osaka has decided to ask the government to declare a state of emergency in the region after ongoing alert measures failed to control the spread of a more contagious coronavirus variant.
Osaka Gov. Hirofumi Yoshimura’s decision to request a third state of emergency comes two weeks after a month of alert measures began in the prefecture and just 50 days after an earlier toothless state of emergency ended.
Nationwide, Japan has recorded 537,317 cases including 9,671 deaths as of Monday — results that are good by world standards but worse than in some other Asian countries — without any enforced lockdowns. But people are becoming impatient and less cooperative in response to requests.
Learning to breathe: German clinic helps COVID long haulers
HEILIGENDAMM, Germany (AP) — Simone Ravera rolls up her trousers, slips off her shoes and socks, then gingerly steps into the chilly waters of the Baltic Sea.
The 50-year-old rheumatology nurse is slowly finding her feet again after being struck down with COVID-19 last fall, seemingly recovering and then relapsing with severe fatigue and “brain fog” four months later.
Close to despair, she found a clinic that specializes in treating people with what have been called post-COVID-19, or long-term COVID-19, symptoms.
Located in Heiligendamm, a north German seaside spa popular since the late 18th century, the clinic specializes in helping people with lung diseases such as asthma, chronic bronchitis and cancer.
Over the past year it has become a major rehabilitation center for COVID-19 patients, treating 600 people from across Germany, according to its medical director, Dr. Joerdis Frommhold.
Most are aged between 18 to 50 and had no pre-existing conditions, she said. “They’re the ones that are usually never ill.”
Ted Nugent, who once dismissed COVID-19, sickened by virus
Former rock singer Ted Nugent is revealing he was in agony after testing positive for coronavirus — months after he said the virus was “not a real pandemic.”
“I thought I was dying,” Nugent says in a Facebook live video posted Monday. “I literally could hardly crawl out of bed the last few days,” adding: “So I was officially tested positive for COVID-19 today.”
In the video shot at his Michigan ranch, the “Cat Scratch Fever” singer repeatedly uses racist slurs to refer to COVID-19 and reiterates his previous stance that he wouldn’t be getting the vaccine because he claims wrongly that “nobody knows what’s in it.”
Nugent, a supporter of ex-President Donald Trump, previously called the pandemic a scam and has railed against public health restrictions.
‘No place for you’: Indian hospitals buckle amid virus surge
Seema Gandotra, sick with the coronavirus, gasped for breath in an ambulance for 10 hours, as it tried unsuccessfully at six hospitals in India’s sprawling capital to find an open bed. By the time she was admitted, it was too late, and the 51-year-old died hours later.
Rajiv Tiwari, whose oxygen levels began falling after he tested positive for the virus, has the opposite problem: He identified an open bed, but the 30-something resident of Lucknow in Uttar Pradesh can’t get to it. “There is no ambulance to take me to hospital,” he said.
Such tragedies are familiar from surges in other parts of the world — but were largely unknown in India, which was able to prevent a collapse in its health system last year through a harsh lockdown. But now they are everyday occurrences in the vast country, which is seeing its largest surge of the pandemic so far and watching its chronically underfunded health system crumble.
Alaska pinata maker now makes coronavirus-shaped models
When the coronavirus pandemic began last year, Carolina Tolladay Vidal’s pinata business in Alaska grounded almost to a halt.
“Many of the projects I had were moved to other dates,” she told Alaska Public Media last Friday. “Many were canceled.”
Tolladay Vidal had to find fresh ideas to rejuvenate her business and settled on making large, coronavirus shaped pinatas.
After Tolladay Vidal posted a photograph of a homemade coronavirus pinata on social media, the orders started piling up, she said.
“I think you really smash them and break them and hit them with meaning,” she said. “Because it has been tough for everybody.”
EU regulator finds link between J&J shot and blood clots
Experts at the agency that regulates drugs for the European Union said Tuesday that they found a “possible link” between the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine and very rare blood clots after a small number of cases were reported in the United States, but they confirmed the vaccine’s benefits still outweighed the very small risks of recipients developing the unusual clots.
The European Medicines Agency said a warning about the rare blood clots should be added to labels for Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine. The agency said these rare blood disorders should be considered as “very rare side effects of the vaccine.”
“Suspicion is rising that these rare cases may be triggered by the adenovirus component of the AstraZeneca and J&J vaccines,” said Eleanor Riley, a professor of immunology and infectious diseases at the University of Edinburgh. She said that while more data was needed, “it remains the case that for the vast majority of adults in Europe and the USA, the risks associated with contracting COVID-19 far, far outweigh any risk of being vaccinated.”
Last week, Johnson & Johnson halted its European roll-out of the vaccine after U.S. officials recommended a pause in the vaccine, when they detected six very rare blood clot cases among nearly 7 million people who had been vaccinated.
Thailand gov’t negotiating to buy Pfizer coronavirus vaccine
Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, under intense criticism for failing to secure adequate supplies of coronavirus vaccines, said Tuesday his government is negotiating to buy 5 million to 10 million doses from U.S. pharmaceutical company Pfizer.
Thailand is experiencing a new wave of the coronavirus, with the number of daily new cases surpassing 1,000 this month for the first time. The surge of cases has strained the ability of hospitals to supply rooms for COVID-19 patients.
Concern has been heightened because many of the new cases, traced to nightspots in and around Bangkok, are from the more contagious B.1.1.7 variant first identified in Britain.
Pandemic causes decline in Czech beer consumption
Beer consumption in the Czech republic — the world’s largest per-capita consumer of the drink — was badly affected by the coronavirus last year, the country’s brewing body said Tuesday.
The amount consumed annually on average by each person in the country dropped by 7 liters (14.8 pints) to 135 liters (285 pints), the Czech union of brewers said.
It’s the lowest figure since the 1960s, according to the union.
U.S. warns against travel to 80% of world due to coronavirus
The State Department on Monday urged Americans reconsider any international travel they may have planned and said it would issue specific warnings not to visit roughly 80% of the world’s countries due to risks from the coronavirus pandemic.
The department did not reveal which countries will fall under which category. That will become known as guidance is issued individually for each country in the coming week.
The advice issued by the department isn’t a formal global advisory but is based on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention standards under which about 80% of countries will be classified as “Level 4” or “do not travel.”
Travel is also discouraged for the remaining 20%, though not as emphatically. It says people with plans to visit those countries should reconsider before proceeding.
Catch up on the past 24 hours
How one pharmacy is vaccinating thousands in a diverse community: Dr. Ahmed Ali, a Somali refugee, was told by educators that a career in pharmacy was "not for your kind." Undeterred, he helped establish Othello Station Pharmacy in South Seattle. Now it's taken on an outsized role in the pandemic: bringing COVID-19 vaccines to people who need them the most. This story and video explain how they're doing it sensitively and successfully.
Socially distanced kids were beaming behind their masks as in-person classes resumed at middle and high schools across the region yesterday, the reopening deadline set by Gov. Jay Inslee. It was either the start of a late-term adventure in pandemic schooling — or another day of Zoom school, depending on a few factors. Here's how the day went.
Shoppers weren't wearing masks, and five people got sick. Now Oregon has hit two Lowe's stores with fines of $17,500 each.
The pandemic gave parents the chance to work from home. Now some don’t want to give it up, creating a crossroads for employers.
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