Editor’s note: This is a live account of COVID-19 updates from Saturday, April 24, 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 It is no longer being updated.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.

Washington state health experts echoed federal advisers and regulators on Friday in calling to resume the use of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, after an 11-day pause in response to 15 women developing blood clots out of nearly 8 million people who received the vaccine. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Food and Drug Administration announced the recommended pause was lifted, shortly after an advisory panel to the CDC said the shots should resume. It was unclear when the single dose Johnson & Johnson shots could resume in Washington state.

As COVID-19 cases continue to surge in Oregon, officials warned Friday that one-third of the state’s counties are at risk of increased restrictions — again — including limiting restaurants to outdoor dining only and closing gyms. In early March, the state’s COVID-19 positivity rate was 3.9%. As of Thursday, it was 5.7%. In addition, Oregon’s COVID-19 hospitalizations increased by 39% over the past week and has increased by 109% since the beginning of March.

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.


Navigating the pandemic
(Jennifer Luxton / The Seattle Times)

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Washington is first state to ensure tenants have lawyers during eviction proceedings

Washington is now the first state in the U.S. to ensure that its poorest tenants have access to a lawyer during eviction proceedings. 

That guarantee, known as a “right to counsel” by tenant organizers and civil legal aid advocates, was signed into law by Gov. Jay Inslee on Thursday as part of a larger bill aimed at preventing a flood of eviction cases once local eviction bans expire.  

Washington’s right to counsel law guarantees that tenants who receive public assistance, have been involuntarily committed to a public mental health facility, can’t afford a lawyer or who have incomes at 125% or below the federal poverty level — $16,100 annually for individuals, $33,125 for a household of four — will have access to public attorneys at no cost during evictions. 

Pandemic-related layoffs, furloughs and economic slowdowns have caused more than 160,000 Washington households to be behind on rent as of late March, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey. That’s nearly 11% of households renting in the state.

Read more.

—Sydney Brownstone and Heidi Groover
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State reports 1,784 new coronavirus cases

The state Department of Health reported 1,784 new coronavirus cases Saturday.

The update brings the state's totals to 395,312 cases and 5,434  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. Friday, though the state does not report new death data on weekends or update its data dashboard on Sundays. 

The new cases may include up to 240 duplicates, according to DOH.

In addition, 21,845 people have been hospitalized in the state due to the virus — 73 new hospitalizations. In King County, the state's most populous, state health officials have confirmed a total of 99,551 COVID-19 diagnoses and 1,504 deaths.

Since vaccinations began in mid-December, the state and health care providers have administered 4,919,206 doses and 26.82% 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 61,184  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.

—Evan Bush

Johnson & Johnson vaccinations can resume in Washington

Gov. Jay Inslee said inoculations with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine can begin again after a review involving scientific experts from Western states found the vaccine was safe and effective.

The Western States Scientific Safety Review work group — composed of vaccine experts from Washington, California, Oregon and Nevada — met on Friday to review data about the vaccine’s potential risks after more than a dozen women nationwide developed rare blood clots.

The federal Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday called for the pause on the J&J vaccine to be lifted. The 11-day pause allowed the federal regulators to collect and review data on the rare blood clots.

“We want to keep as many people free from COVID and out of the hospital as possible, and the J&J vaccine will help us get through this pandemic. I encourage people to get whatever vaccine is available to them," Inslee said in a news release.

Read more.

—Evan Bush

Inside a Delhi hospital, oxygen runs fatally short as covid cases mount

The deaths marked a grim new turn in India’s battle with a devastating second wave of coronavirus cases. The country reported more than 346,786 new cases on Saturday, the third consecutive day of record-breaking infections. More than 2,600 people died, although experts say that figure is a vast undercount.

Experts believe that the influence of new variants, changes in people’s behavior and complacency on the part of the government have combined to produce a tidal wave of cases.

The stunning speed of the surge has overwhelmed hospitals and left the nation reeling. Critically ill covid patients are being turned away because of a lack of hospital beds. Crematoriums in some cities are running day and night as deaths increase.

Read the full story here.

—The Washington Post
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The world isolates. A New Zealand band plays to 50,000 fans

Singer Matiu Walters grinned as he gazed out over 50,000 damp but delirious fans and said those magic words: “So, what’s up Eden Park?”

While much of the world remains hunkered down, the band Six60 has been playing to huge crowds in New Zealand, where social distancing isn’t required after the nation stamped out the coronavirus. The band’s tour finale on Saturday night was billed as the largest concert in the world since the pandemic began.

Equally momentous for a band which met while playing rugby at university was getting to play the first concert ever held at the storied Eden Park rugby stadium. And finding themselves at the apex of world music came as a twist for Six60, which has enjoyed unparalleled success in New Zealand but whose forays abroad have ended without the breakthroughs they sought.

Read the full story here.

—The Associated Press

U.S. court upholds COVID-19 delays in criminal trials, citing half a million lives lost

In a partial rebuke of a lower court jurist, a federal appeals court decided Friday that criminal defendants were not robbed of their right to speedy trials or forced unconstitutionally to remain behind bars because the COVID-19 pandemic delayed their trials.

“Surely a global pandemic that has claimed more than half a million lives in this country, and nearly 60,000 in California alone, falls within such unique circumstances to permit a court to temporarily suspend jury trials in the interest of public health,” said a three-judge panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

The appeals court ruling effectively affirms that COVID-19 was an emergency that forced some courts to take unprecedented steps, including delaying proceedings. It means that criminal defendants are unlikely to prevail in claiming they should escape charges or get out of jail because of pandemic-induced delays.

Read the full story here.

—Los Angeles Times

Those who got COVID-19 between vaccine doses urge caution: ‘We were so close'

Quinn falls into an unlucky group of Americans exposed to the virus before their vaccine doses could offer them full protection. Their stories offer a reminder of the danger of people letting their guard down while highly transmissible virus variants circulate and a spring wave drives up hospitalizations across the country.

“We are all had an collective, ‘Oh man, you were so close,'” Quinn recalled after telling her family about testing positive after her first shot. “I understood I wasn’t fully protected. I did feel some sense of relief not because I felt like I was immune, but just because it felt the end was near. I saw a light at the end of the tunnel.”

There’s no clear data on how many people contracted coronavirus before their vaccinations could take full effect.

Based on a Washington Post analysis of data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, The Post estimates about 21,000 of 470,000 people who tested positive for coronavirus for the week ended Sunday already had their first dose. Michigan, where cases have been rising sharply with the rise of highly transmissible variants, accounts for about a tenth of that estimate.

Read the full story here.

—The Washington Post
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It’s not just you. After a pandemic year, we’re all socially awkward now.

Verbal diarrhea is just one symptom of late-stage pandemic social awkwardness. Others include asking yourself: How far away did I used to stand when talking to someone? Should I stand farther now? How long is a conversation supposed to last anyway? Do my friends still like me?

As vaccinations ramp up and our social lives restart, many of us are rusty, tongue-tied, rambling or insecure – and it shows. “Social interaction is a million things knitted into one,” says Marisa Franco, a psychologist who specializes in friendship. It’s turning thoughts into speech, making eye contact, entering and exiting a conversation, and more. “It’s like you haven’t practiced a language, then you go back to the country and it starts to come back.”

Read the full story here.

—The Washington Post

Struggling to stay afloat during the COVID pandemic, people turn to strangers online for help

It took Josh Mitchell weeks to convince his sister to let him set up a GoFundMe to help her buy a car, a necessity for her to drive to work near her rural home in Upstate New York.

The siblings pride themselves on being independent. He never anticipated needing to ask for such public help – but his sister left her job as a medical administrator due to coronavirus concerns during the pandemic. Then her car broke down, limiting her ability to provide for herself and her preteen daughter.

“Before I started the GoFundMe for my sister, I ordinarily wouldn’t have thought to do one unless it was kind of a once-in-a-lifetime case, like cancer or legal expenses,” Mitchell said. “This is a crisis and that’s why I’m doing it.”

The pandemic has been disastrous for millions of families across the United States. Roughly 8.5 million jobs have not returned since February 2020. Meanwhile, more than 564,000 people have died of the coronavirus, and 100,000 small businesses closed permanently in just the first three months of the crisis. The government has provided help, including through multiple relief packages that sent out three rounds of stimulus checks and extended unemployment benefits. But for many people it hasn’t been enough – or come quickly enough – to avoid eviction, put food on the table and cover a growing pile of monthly bills.

Read the full story here.

—The Washington Post

Your stories of sleep in the coronavirus era: Spider and corpse dreams, fitful nights, Netflix at 3 a.m.

Pandemic sleep story No. 1:

A comprehensive study of sleep during the pandemic reviewed 44 research papers involving 54,231 participants in 13 countries, including the U.S., China, Mexico, India and a number of European countries. The increase in sleep problems was dramatic:

Around 40% of participants had trouble sleeping, said the February 2021 study in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine. That broke down into 75% of COVID-19 patients, 36% of health care workers — and 32% of the general population.

Professor Michael V. Vitiello, of the University of Washington Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, is one the study’s authors.

“This increase was particularly striking in young adults and females,” he says, “an intersection where the risks of anxiety symptoms, depressive symptoms and sleep problems are high.”

Read the full story here.

— Erik Lacitis
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Can’t leave home for a COVID-19 vaccine? Mobile teams make house calls in Seattle region for those who truly need them

To get a COVID-19 shot the standard way, here’s what Abel Córdova and his caregiver would have had to do:

  • Arrange transportation to accommodate his wheelchair.
  • Wait up to 30 minutes for the ride to arrive.
  • Travel to the vaccination site and wait for the shot.
  • Catch a ride home.

“By then, he’s been in the chair for at least an hour and a half, maybe longer, and he’s in pain,” said Heather Morrill, who provides in-home care for Córdova.

Instead of making the stressful trek, Córdova — whose right side was paralyzed by a stroke several years ago — got a house call this week.

A two-man team from South County Fire Station 10 administered the first dose of Pfizer vaccine to the 63-year-old Lynnwood man in his own bed.

“There you go,” said Kim Sharpe, the emergency medical technician who slipped needle into arm. “It’s that quick, and you’re done.”

From a public health perspective, COVID-19 vaccination is a numbers game aimed at getting the most people vaccinated as quickly as possible. That’s especially important now, as more infectious variants are propelling a fourth wave of infections across Washington.

Read the full story here.

—Sandi Doughton

From scarcity to abundance: US faces calls to share vaccines

Victor Guevara knows people his age have been vaccinated against COVID-19 in many countries. His own relatives in Houston have been inoculated.

But the 72-year-old Honduran lawyer, like so many others in his country, is still waiting. And increasingly, he is wondering why the United States is not doing more to help, particularly as the American vaccine supply begins to outpace demand and doses that have been approved for use elsewhere in the world, but not in the U.S., sit idle.

“We live in a state of defenselessness on every level,” Guevara said of the situation in his Central American homeland.

Honduras has obtained a paltry 59,000 vaccine doses for its 10 million people. Similar gaps in vaccine access are found across Africa, where just 36 million doses have been acquired for the continent’s 1.3 billion people, as well as in parts of Asia.

In the United States, more than one-fourth of the population — nearly 90 million people — has been fully vaccinated and supplies are so robust that some states are turning down planned shipments from the federal government.

This stark access gap is prompting increased calls across the world for the U.S. to start shipping vaccine supplies to poorer countries. That’s creating an early test for President Joe Biden, who has pledged to restore American leadership on the world stage and prove to wary nations that the U.S. is a reliable partner after years of retrenchment during the Trump administration.

Read the full story here.

—The Associated Press