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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Apparent fourth wave of COVID-19 is so far centered in the East; experts concerned about containment

What appears to be a fourth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic has struck Michigan, the New York region and New England, and experts are uncertain if it will remain contained.

“The United States has entered a fourth wave of transmission, and there’s no disputing this. Whether it remains as small regional outbreaks, or whether it generalizes nationwide remains to be seen,” Dr. George Rutherford, a UC San Francisco epidemiologist, said Friday at a campus town hall meeting.

Nationally, there has been an 8% week-over-week increase in the average daily number of newly diagnosed coronavirus cases, rising to about 62,000 for the seven-day period that ended Wednesday, federal officials said Friday. The average daily number of new hospital admissions for COVID-19 patients rose 5% over the same period.

California is in a much better situation. Case numbers have dipped to levels not seen since the end last spring; the state is reporting daily averages of 2,500 to 2,700. (During the worst of the surge in the fall and winter, California was reporting 45,000 cases a day.) Additionally, California has had a coronavirus positivity test rate of about 1% over the past week — compared with 16% in Michigan and 9% in New Jersey.

Read more here.

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Alaska tribes to receive more than $1B in COVID-19 relief

BETHEL, Alaska (AP) — Alaska tribes will receive over $1 billion from the most recent $1.9 trillion federal coronavirus relief bill.

The tribes can take as long as three years to spend these funds, unlike a similar bill that was passed in 2020, which had a shorter deadline, KYUK-AM reported Wednesday.

Teresa Jacobsson from the Alaska Tribal Administrators Association said tribes will have more leeway on how to spend the funds compared to previous legislation. But, the government will not just give tribal members checks without a reason.

“You have to show a need, which is show basic living essentials like housing and rent expenses, utilities, internet connectivity, personal cleaning and sanitation products," Jacobsson said. "You have to tie the money to a COVID-related need."

Alaska tribes will be required to document their spending because records will be reviewed by auditors. They can spend part of the federal funds to get professional help to manage the spending, but Jacobsson said beneficiaries will have to be cognizant of consultants and contractors who have taken advantage of tribes who have received virus relief funds in the past.

Hymns through masks: Christians mark another pandemic Easter

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Christianity’s most joyous feast day was celebrated worldwide with the faithful spaced apart in pews and singing choruses of “Hallelujah” through face coverings on a second Easter Sunday marked by pandemic precautions.

From vast Roman Catholic cathedrals to Protestant churches, worshippers followed regulations on the coronavirus. In some European countries, citizens lined up on Easter for their turn to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.

In the Lombardy region of Italy, where the pandemic first erupted in the West, a hospital gave a traditional dove-shaped Easter cake symbolizing peace to each person waiting to get vaccinated. Many who came were in their 80s.

A soccer team in Lyon, France, opened its stadium as a vaccination center for the long holiday weekend. Some 9,000 people were expected to receive their shots there over three days as the French government tries to speed up vaccinations amid a fresh outbreak of infections.

Read the full story here.

—The Associated Press

Greek cafes still shuttered by COVID-19 measures

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Silence has replaced the low hum of conversation and the clink of glasses that pervaded the sidewalk cafes across Athens. Their chairs and tables, once occupied throughout the day and deep into the night, stand stacked in empty piles, some secured by chains.

When coronavirus infections rose again in Greece in the fall, the government imposed a second lockdown. Retail stores, bars, restaurants and cafes found themselves shuttered once more, forced to close their doors in early November to prevent the virus’s insidious spread.

Retail stores opened briefly during the Christmas holidays, with social distancing measures in place, and starting Monday will be allowed to reopen to customers on an appointment basis. But the restaurants, bars and cafes, which by nature gather groups of people closely together, will enter their sixth month of being shut except for take away or delivery service.

Read the full story here.

—The Associated Press
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Wisconsin turned around its lagging vaccination program – and buoyed a Biden health pick

When President Joe Biden announced in January that he would make Wisconsin’s top health official his No. 2 at the Department of Health and Human Services, the state seemed like a poor model for the nation’s most crucial public health priority: fighting the pandemic.

Wisconsin had just come through a surge more intense than New York City’s, and it ranked near the bottom of states in bringing a first dose of vaccine to its residents. Only about a third of doses sent to the state had been administered. The grim numbers galvanized Republicans in Wisconsin to take aim at a familiar target, state health secretary-designate Andrea Palm, whom they had refused to confirm since 2019, denying her symbolic authority even as the coronavirus gripped the state.

Her elevation to Biden’s team provided an opportunity to nationalize their campaign against Democratic-led pandemic policies.

“It is unfortunate that the cabinet official in charge of Governor Tony Evers’ disastrous covid-19 vaccine rollout . . . is exporting her incompetence to the Biden administration,” Duey Stroebel, a Republican state senator, wrote on Facebook.

Two months later, Wisconsin is among the states leading the immunization race. It maintains one of the fastest rates of vaccination, having administered 90 percent of doses delivered as of Saturday. It has found success especially in convincing residents to complete the two-dose series recommended for shots developed by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna. And it has not seen the kind of disparities between urban and rural communities plaguing other states.

Read the full story here.

—The Washington Post

Expats struggle to get vaccines in Kuwait, citizens come 1st

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — In the tiny, oil-rich sheikhdom of Kuwait, the foreigners who power the country’s economy, serve its society and make up 70% of its population are struggling to get coronavirus vaccines.

Unlike other Gulf Arab states that have administered doses to masses of foreign workers in a race to reach herd immunity, Kuwait has come under fire for vaccinating its own people first.

That leaves legions of laborers from Asia, Africa and elsewhere, who clean Kuwaiti nationals’ homes, care for their children, drive their cars and bag their groceries, still waiting for their first doses, despite bearing the brunt of the pandemic.

“The only people I’ve seen at the vaccination center were Kuwaiti,” said a 27-year-old Kuwaiti doctor, who like most people interviewed for this story spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of government reprisals. “Kuwait has a citizens-first policy for everything, including when it comes to public health.”

Read the full story here.

—The Associated Press

In Easter speech, pope calls wars in pandemic ‘scandalous’

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis in his traditional Easter Sunday address denounced as “scandalous” how armed conflicts continue to rage even as the coronavirus pandemic has triggered severe social and economic suffering and swollen the ranks of the poor.

Francis tempered his “Urbi et Orbi″ address (Latin for ”To the city and to the world”) wishes of joy on the Christian feast day along with accounts of pain from the globe’s many armed conflicts in Africa, the Mideast, Latin America, Asia and Eastern Europe.

Describing vaccines as an "essential tool" in the pandemic battle, Francis called for a “spirit of global responsibility” as he encouraged nations to overcome “delays in the distribution of vaccines” and ensure that the shots reach the poorest nations.

“Everyone, especially the most vulnerable among us, requires assistance and has the right to have access to necessary care.” the pontiff said.

Read the full story here.

—The Associated Press
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Second pandemic Easter brings more restrictions, a few bright spots

During Easter season last year, the language of “social distancing” and “flatten the curve” was still novel for many Christian communities and clergy as they tried to adapt to the realities of the coronavirus.

Priests filled empty pews with photos of their congregants. Others held drive-by Easter services for worshipers. Masks and family Zoom sessions found their place alongside long-standing traditions, such as Easter meals and egg hunts.

Little is different as many Christians celebrate Easter this Sunday, but there are some bright spots as vaccination levels rise and some restrictions ease.

Read the full story here.

—The Washington Post

Washington students are facing a mental health crisis. Here’s why schools are on the front lines.

Grace and Porter didn’t struggle with mental health concerns before schools closed, but their new angst and sense of hopelessness reflect what many other students say they’re coping with during the pandemic. It’s a trend that cuts across generational lines but has hit young people particularly hard. 

Among children, serious mental health issues are leading to emergency room visits, a sign that youth aren’t receiving help through usual channels, such as schools. 

In Seattle, a typical night at Seattle Children’s hospital now includes admitting one to two children who have attempted suicide. Each week, the hospital’s emergency department sees about 170 children and adolescents for psychiatric emergencies — up from 50 a week before the pandemicNationally, emergency visits for mental health issues jumped by 31% among 12- to 17-year-olds during the pandemic.

Read the full story here.

—Hannah Furfaro

U.S. Taps Johnson & Johnson to Run Troubled Vaccine Plant

WASHINGTON — The Biden administration on Saturday put Johnson & Johnson in charge of a Baltimore manufacturing plant that ruined 15 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine and moved to stop the plant from making another vaccine by AstraZeneca, senior federal health officials said.

The extraordinary move by the Department of Health and Human Services came just days after officials had learned that Emergent BioSolutions, a contract manufacturer that has been making both the Johnson & Johnson and the AstraZeneca vaccines, mixed up ingredients from the two, which led regulators to delay authorization of the plant’s production lines.

By moving the AstraZeneca vaccine out, two senior federal health officials said, the plant can be solely devoted to the Johnson & Johnson vaccine and avoid future mishaps.

Read the full story here.

—The New York Times
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Europe ramps up vaccinations as virus haunts Easter holidays

PARIS (AP) — The French city of Lyon’s main stadium opened as a mass vaccination center during Easter weekend, and thousands spent the holiday lining up for injections at hippodromes, velodromes or other sites as France tried to speed up shots amid a new rush of coronavirus cases.

But as Europe celebrated its second Easter in a row under the cloud of the pandemic, some cities put vaccinations on hold over during the long holiday weekend — defying French President Emmanuel Macron’s insistence that “there are no weekends or days off during vaccination.”

Medical workers need “a little rest at last,” said an official with the French city of Strasbourg, which shut down vaccination facilities from Good Friday through Easter Monday, a public holiday. To ensure that residents still had access to potentially life-saving vaccines, Strasbourg expanded vaccination hours and administered all of its weekly supply of doses between last Monday and Thursday, the official said.

Spain, Italy and Germany faced a similar holiday vaccination challenge.

Read the full story here.

—The Associated Press