Editor’s note: This is a live account of COVID-19 updates from Thursday, April 22, 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 It is no longer being updated.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.
One of the largest reports on COVID-19 vaccination in pregnancy bolsters evidence that it is safe although the authors say more comprehensive research is needed. The preliminary results are based on reports from over 35,000 U.S. women who received either the Moderna or Pfizer shots while pregnant. Their rates of miscarriage, premature births and other complications were comparable to those observed in published reports on pregnant women before the pandemic.
Washington state is doubling down on its COVID-19 vaccine ambitions as case counts rise and concerning coronavirus variants spread. Earlier this winter, the state was striving for 45,000 shots each day but is now aiming to administer 90,000 shots a day, provided the federal government can furnish enough supply. But reaching 90,000 shots a day could be a stiff challenge for vaccine providers. Though everyone 16 and older is now eligible for vaccination, and more than a third of Washingtonians have received at least one dose and demand is softening in some parts of the state.
Pop-up COVID testing sites may not be providing accurate results, public health officials warn
Seattle-area residents should avoid several coronavirus testing operations that have popped up around King County and that may not be holding patient data securely and may not be giving accurate test results, the public health department warned Thursday.
The small number of “unusual” testing sites have been reported in Green Lake Park, Gas Works Park, Ballard and in Capitol Hill, Public Health – Seattle & King County said. The agency has also received a report of a door-to-door operation in Auburn.
The sites in Seattle have been seen as pop-ups, little more than a folding table and signs, the health department said.
Public Health said they’ve observed staff at those sites offering tests without using personal protective equipment and storing patient personal information “insecurely.”
The sites are also promoting their tests as free, Public Health said, but fine print in their paperwork indicates that people could be billed. Testing staff have also claimed, falsely, to be “with public health,” the health department said.
What’s more, the testing lab that the pop-up sites use has not sent any positive test results to either the local or the state health departments, even after several weeks of operation, “raising concerns” they may not be properly testing the specimens they collect, Public Health said.
Federal officials investigate Oregon woman's death after Johnson & Johnson vaccine
Oregon health officials said Thursday that federal officials are investigating the death of a woman in her 50s who developed a rare blood clot and low platelets within two weeks of receiving the Johnson & Johnson vaccine against COVID-19.
The Oregon Health Authority learned of the probe on Tuesday, two days after the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention began the investigation, the agency said. The woman, whose name was not released, received the dose before the CDC ordered a pause on the vaccine amid concerns it could cause dangerous clots.
The woman developed a “rare but serious blood clot in combination with very low platelets,” OHA said in a statement.
State officials report 1,626 new coronavirus cases in Washington
The state Department of Health (DOH) reported 1,626 new coronavirus cases and six new deaths on Wednesday.
The update brings the state's totals to 391,839 cases and 5,428 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. Wednesday.
In addition, 21,743 people have been hospitalized in the state due to the virus — 111 new hospitalizations. In King County, the state's most populous, state health officials have reported a total of 98,627 COVID-19 diagnoses and 1,504 deaths.
Since vaccinations began in mid-December, the state and health care providers have administered 4,765,270 doses and 25.9% 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 58,830 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.
U.S. health officials lean toward resuming Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine — but with a warning
Federal health authorities are leaning toward recommending that use of the Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine resume, possibly as soon as this weekend — a move that would include a new warning about a rare complication involving blood clots but probably not call for age restrictions.
The position would be similar to one taken by Europe’s drug regulator, the European Medicines Agency, which said this week the Johnson & Johnson vaccine should carry a warning but placed no restrictions on its use. The European agency said the shot’s benefits continue to outweigh the risks.
The fate of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is scheduled to be discussed publicly in a pivotal meeting Friday of an influential advisory group to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Inslee: Washington has entered its fourth wave of COVID-19
OLYMPIA — Washington state has entered its fourth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic as cases continue to rise, Gov. Jay Inslee said Thursday.
“We now are seeing the beginnings of a fourth surge in Washington,” said Inslee at a news conference on the state’s response to the virus.
That comes as new variants of the novel coronavirus — some of which are more contagious and deadly — expand in the state.
During the news conference, Inslee shared a chart showing the spread of the B.1.1.7 strain, also known as the UK variant.
That variant was rare in Washington even into early March, according to the data. But it’s now the dominant strain of cases in the state.
The governor’s remarks come as the state is set to reevaluate on May 3 whether more counties will have to tighten restrictions as cases rise.
California’s public universities to require COVID-19 vaccine
Two of the nation’s largest university systems say they intend to require COVID-19 vaccinations for all students, faculty and staff on University of California and California State University campuses this fall.
Several U.S. colleges and universities also have said they plan to require the vaccination. But Thursday’s joint announcement from the 10-campus University of California and the 23-campus California State University is the largest of its kind in American higher education.
The CSU system in the nation’s biggest four-year college system, with about 485,000 students and tens of thousands of staff, while the UC system has more than 280,000 students.
COVID-19 hospitalizations tumble among US senior citizens
COVID-19 hospitalizations among older Americans have plunged more than 70% since the start of the year, and deaths among them appear to have tumbled as well, dramatic evidence the vaccination campaign is working.
Now the trick is to get more of the nation’s younger people to roll up their sleeves.
The drop-off in severe cases among Americans 65 and older is especially encouraging because senior citizens have accounted for about 8 out of 10 deaths from the virus since it hit the U.S., where the toll stands at about 570,000
COVID-19 deaths among people of all ages in the U.S. have plummeted to about 700 per day on average, compared with a peak of over 3,400 in mid-January.
France to impose entry restrictions on travelers from India
France will impose new entry restrictions on travelers from India to fight a contagious coronavirus variant spreading in that country, an official said Wednesday.
The restrictions come in addition to those previously announced regarding four other countries — Brazil, Argentina, Chile and South Africa — that will be implemented starting from Saturday.
The tight travel restrictions include a mandatory 10-day quarantine with police checks to ensure people arriving in France observe the requirement.
Ontario premier’s apologizes after retracting restrictions
Ontario Premier Doug Ford apologized Thursday for a failed attempt to ban playgrounds and allow police to stop and question people who were not in their homes — measures that created a backlash from police forces, health officials and the public.
The leader of Canada’s most populous province, in his first public appearance since announcing the restrictions, said his government had moved too fast with the measures.
“They left a lot of people angry and upset. I know we got it wrong. I know we made a mistake and for that I’m sorry and sincerely apologize,” said Ford, who appeared to choke back tears at one point.
The pandemic restrictions Ford’s government announced on April 16 immediately ran into opposition. Police departments insisted they wouldn’t use new powers to randomly stop pedestrians or motorists and doctors complained the rules focused on outdoor activities like playgrounds and golf rather than more dangerous indoor settings.
More than 1,000 open appointments for Pfizer vaccine at Arlington Airport Thursday
The Arlington Airport COVID-19 vaccine site at 4226 188th St. N.E. has more than 1,000 Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines on hand for anyone 16 or over seeking a vaccine Thursday.
An appointment has to be made for the Snohomish County site, but they can be made for today here.
People who are 16 and 17 must have a parent or guardian present to sign the waiver.
People who get vaccines should to stay between 15 to 30 minutes after the shot to monitor for adverse reactions; medical staff will be on hand. A mask must be worn at all times during the appointment, and wear clothing with short or loose sleeves, according to the vaccine site's website.
J&J vaccine ‘pause’ latest messaging challenge for officials
Confronted with rare cases of blood clots potentially linked to Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine, U.S. health officials faced a delicate task: how to suspend distribution of the shots without setting off alarm about their safety.
It was the just the latest challenge in crisis messaging for officials since the start of the pandemic more than a year ago. The behavior of the new virus, the benefits of masks and the need for school and business closings have all been marked by public confusion, changing guidance and squabbling.
With the J&J shots, the recommended “pause” announced last week was a precautionary measure as government advisers investigated the unusual clots and alerted doctors about how to treat them. But the news was bound to inflame fears.
“It’s going to be painful either way. It’s less painful if you address it early on,” said Dr. Wilbur Chen, a member of the government’s advisory committee on vaccines, which is expected to meet on Friday and could make a recommendation soon after on whether and how to resume use of the J&J vaccine.
Whether the pause seriously undermines public confidence in the J&J shot — or the other vaccines — remains to be seen.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has noted the difficulty of communicating in a public health crisis, when fear and uncertainty are running high.
Norway lends AstraZeneca vaccine jabs to Sweden, Iceland
Norway will lend all of its 216,000 doses of AstraZeneca to neighboring Sweden and Iceland as long as its own government regulator has paused the use of the vaccine.
On March 11, Norway followed Denmark in deciding to put on hold jabs by the British-Swedish company after reports of very rare blood clots.
Health Minister Bent Hoeie said Sweden will borrow 200,000 doses and Iceland 16,000 doses. The Norwegian doses expire in June and July.
Pregnant women with COVID-19 20 times more likely to die, UW study finds
A worldwide study of 2,100 pregnant women shows that those who contracted COVID-19 during pregnancy were 20 times more likely to die than those who did not contract the virus, according to a new study led by UW Medicine and University of Oxford doctors.
The study, published Thursday in JAMA Pediatrics, looked at pregnant women from 43 maternity hospitals in 18 nations from all economic levels between April and August 2020.
“The No. 1 take-away from the research is that pregnant women are no more likely to get COVID-19, but if they get it, they are more likely to become very ill and more likely to require ICU care, ventilation, or experience preterm birth and preeclampsia,” said Dr. Michael Gravett, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Washington School of Medicine and one of study’s lead authors.
Gravett says he "highly" recommends pregnant women get a COVID-19 vaccine.
Sanctions-battered Iran, weary of pandemic, faces worst wave
As Iran faces what looks like its worst wave of the coronavirus pandemic yet, Tehran commuters still pour into its subway system and buses each working day, even as images of the gasping ill are repeatedly shown on state television every night.
After facing criticism for downplaying the virus last year, Iranian authorities have put partial lockdowns and other measures back in place to try and slow the virus’ spread. But in this nation of 84 million people, which faces crushing U.S. sanctions, many struggle to earn enough to feed their families. Economic pressure, coupled with the growing uncertainty over when vaccines will be widely available in the Islamic Republic, have many simply giving up on social distancing.
Iran, among the hardest-hit countries in the world and the worst-hit in the Middle East, is now reporting its highest-ever new coronavirus case numbers — more than 25,000 a day.
Ages 16 and over can get Pfizer shot at Tacoma Dome's mass-vaccination site
Pierce County’s Department of Emergency Management is opening a mass-vaccination site at the Tacoma Dome for six weeks starting Tuesday, April 27, with the goal of getting at least 1,170 shots of the Pfizer vaccine into people's arms each day.
The site, which will have both drive-thru and walk-up access, will operate from noon to 8 p.m. each day, seven days a week except holidays, the county's emergency management department said.
Sixteen and 17-year-olds are eligible for the shots, but must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.
To register for these events, go to FindYourCovidShot.com and pick the day to be vaccinated. For assistance signing up, call 253-798-8900.
Laos locks down capital over virus outbreak tied to Thailand
Laos locked down its capital and closed its international borders to most traffic Thursday after identifying a COVID-19 cluster connected to its bigger neighbor Thailand.
Residents of the capital Vientiane are barred from leaving the city and outsiders must get permission to enter. Its international borders were closed except to trucks carrying goods and in cases allowed by the nation’s COVID-19 taskforce, state news agency KPL reported.
The restrictions were reportedly ordered after 28 new COVID-19 cases were confirmed Wednesday. All of the cases were connected to Thailand, which is battling its worst wave of the disease, the Laos government said.
U.S. sees unprecedented drop in COVID vaccinations
Daily coronavirus vaccinations have slowed significantly for the first time since February, a sign that demand is slipping even though every American adult is now eligible for the shots.
About 3 million Americans are getting vaccinated daily, an 11% decrease in the seven-day average of daily shots administered over the past week. The unprecedented drop is rivaled only by a brief falloff that occurred in February, when winter storms forced the closure of vaccination sites and delayed shipments nationwide.
Officials say they need to ramp up efforts to vaccinate hard-to-reach groups such as rural residents and homebound seniors, answer pointed questions from people leery of side effects and convince young people who don’t fear the virus that they, too, benefit from getting vaccinated.
Burning Man mulling mandatory COVID-19 vaccines for August
Burning Man festival organizers have said that they are considering requiring attendees to prove they have been vaccinated for COVID-19 if the organizers move forward with plans to hold this year’s counter-culture festival in the Nevada desert.
The organizers backed off an earlier statement from Burning Man CEO Marian Goodell who said in a video message posted on the group’s web site on April 8 that “vaccines will be required to come to Burning Man.”
They say they won’t decide for sure until the end of the month whether the event that was canceled last year because of the pandemic will take place this summer.
Catch up on the past 24 hours
Many vaccine appointments are going unfilled in Washington. This comes even though cases are rising — particularly in young people — and worrisome variants are spreading. Statistics show who is and isn't getting vaccines as the state doubles its goal for daily shots.
Walk-in vaccinations are now available at two Seattle locations for people 60 years and older. And anyone of any age can get a vaccine there by bringing another person who's 60 or older. Here's our full guide to getting vaccinated.
The White House is offering a new tax credit to spur vaccinations. Here’s how it will work. This foreshadows the "hand-to-hand combat" ahead to keep the prospect of herd immunity from slipping away, now that a sharp drop in vaccinations has some parts of the country rejecting vaccine shipments.
New data on COVID-19 vaccination in pregnancy is reassuring, according to a CDC study published yesterday.
Ambulances are rushing from one hospital to another, trying to find an empty bed. India reported a global record of more than 314,000 new infections yesterday as hospitals also ran critically low on oxygen. Here's how things got this bad and what may lie ahead.
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