Editor’s note: This is a live account of COVID-19 updates from Monday, April 5, 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 It is no longer being updated.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.
While Christians marked a second pandemic-muted Easter this past weekend, health officials in the U.S. warned of an apparent fourth wave of COVID-19 infections, centered for now on the East Coast. This news follows reports from Europe of new shutdowns and restrictions as the virus surges even as vaccinations are becoming more widespread.
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.
Sounders awaiting final approval from Gov. Inslee before inviting fans back to Lumen Field
When the Sounders open up their season April 16, fans should be cheering in person for the first time since March 7, 2020. The club received final approval from regional health authorities Monday and will be allowed to have fans at Lumen Field during the 2021 season. Tickets will go on sale April 13.
Gov. Jay Inslee gave initial approval in March to host people at outdoor venues, limiting capacity to 25% of a facility’s seating or 9,000 spectators, whichever is fewer.
The Sounders are waiting until April 13 to actually sell tickets because it coincides with the date Inslee plans to determine whether King County will remain in Phase 3, a Sounders spokesperson said via email. If the county is downgraded to Phase 2, the club is not expected to be able to host fans.
The Sounders’ plan is to sell approximately 7,000 seats for each of the club’s opening five matches at Lumen Field. It begins with the April 16 season-opener against Minnesota United FC and includes the Los Angeles Galaxy (May 2), LAFC (May 16), Atlanta United FC (May 23) and Austin FC (May 29).
State reports 736 new coronavirus cases and seven new deaths
The state Department of Health (DOH) reported 736 new coronavirus cases and seven new deaths on Monday.
The update brings the state's totals to 370,017 cases and 5,285 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. Sunday. 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, 20,782 people have been hospitalized in the state due to the virus — 94 new hospitalizations. In King County, the state's most populous, state health officials have confirmed a total of 92,476 COVID-19 diagnoses and 1,473 deaths.
On Dec. 16, DOH’s case, hospitalization and death counts started including both confirmed cases and probable cases in its total count. According to DOH, probable cases refer to people who received a positive antigen test result but not a positive molecular test result, while confirmed cases refer to those who have received a positive molecular test result.
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.
France investigates secret, no-mask-required restaurants for Paris elite
PARIS — Champagne, lobster and no masks: That’s what a French TV documentary says is on the menu at one of multiple high-end “clandestine restaurants” catering to the Paris elite, in violation of nationwide pandemic restrictions.
What’s even more shocking to the newly confined French public — and exhausted medical staff — is that one organizer claimed government ministers are among those who attend.
French authorities are investigating the accusations, and government members scrambled to insist they’re behaving properly.
Anti-capitalist activists and critics of President Emmanuel Macron aren’t convinced, and plan a protest Tuesday — advertised on social networks under the banner “Let’s Eat the Rich” — at one of the alleged secret venues,
The Paris prosecutor’s office said Monday that an investigation was opened Sunday into possible charges of endangerment and undeclared labor, and to identify the organizers and participants of the alleged gatherings.
DSHS 24/7 facilities to allow indoor visitation
OLYMPIA — The Department of Social and Health Services’ (DSHS) Behavioral Health Administration will immediately allow expanded indoor visitation at Eastern and Western State Hospitals, the Child Study and Treatment Center and the Special Commitment Center on McNeil Island.
Visitation will also be allowed at the Fort Steilacoom, Maple Lane and Yakima Competency Restoration Residential Treatment Centers, according to a press release sent out by the agency on Monday.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services issued guidance on March 10 recommending the return of indoor visitation. Visitation in Washington facilities was prohibited last March, but limited visitation has been allowed since August. While outdoor visits remain preferred, indoor visits will be allowed, effective April 1, if either the resident or visitor are fully vaccinated.
“The past year has been devastating for residents, their families and dedicated staff who risked their own health and safety to care for them,” DSHS Secretary Cheryl Strange said in a statement. “Birthdays, holidays and anniversaries were missed. The diligence and sacrifice of residents and their families will now allow them to mark those occasions in person again. And that’s something to celebrate.”
The agency's 24/7 residents were among the first to receive the vaccine, and more than 693 residents have now been fully vaccinated, the release said. In early January, the daily number of residents with active cases of COVID-19 peaked at 33. That number now ranges between zero and four.
Snohomish County opens sixth mass vaccination site
The Snohomish County Vaccine Taskforce has opened a sixth vaccination site.
The site, located at Boom City, 10274 27th Ave. NE in Tulalip, is set up for drive-thru access and is by appointment only for those eligible under the phased approach, according to a service alert from the Snohomish Health District.
The phases are set to open on April 15, when eligibility will be expanded to add all adults, including 16-and-older for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, which is the only vaccine authorized for those younger than 18.
The site is in partnership with the Tulalip Tribes.
The other five mass vaccination sites in the county will continue operating, as well, though exact days vary based on vaccine availability. The locations are listed, along with the type of vaccine provided and registration links for appointments, at http://bit.ly/snocovaccine.
For people who do not have internet access, need language assistance, or have other barriers to online registration, the COVID-19 call center for Snohomish County is available between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday at 425-339-5278.
Epidemiologist warns of COVID-19 variant’s effect on kids
One of the COVID-19 variants can infect children more easily, posing a new risk to kids, a nationally respected epidemiologist warned on Sunday.
The variant called B.1.1.7, first detected in the U.K., represents “a brand-new ballgame” in the fight against COVID-19, Dr. Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
In New York City, the B.1.1.7 variety accounts for about a quarter of all COVID-19 cases, according to the Health Department, but no major spike in variants has been seen among children.
“Right here in Minnesota, we’re now seeing the other aspect of this B.1.1.7 variant that hasn’t been talked much about, and that is the fact that it infects kids very readily,” Osterholm said.
“These kids now are really major challenges in terms of how they transmit,” he added, noting numerous Minnesota schools have seen students test positive for the strain.
New focus for vaccine push: Republican men
ATLANTA — Jerry Kotyuk knows he’s in a vulnerable age group for COVID-19. He knows his doctor hopes he’ll get vaccinated. He’s still leaning against it.
“I’m not going to believe everything I’m told,” Kotyuk said. “I’m going to wait and see.”
Jack Wynn of Johns Creek agrees.
“I’m just trying to figure out for myself who to believe,” he said.
The two men have something in common: Both tend to vote Republican. And recent polls show the demographic group most likely to balk at vaccination are Republican men. A Marist poll in mid-March found 47 percent of Republican men said they would not be vaccinated. That compares with 34 percent of Republican women.
Now, public health experts are focusing on this group, as states are in a life-or-death race to vaccinate more people before more dangerous variants of the virus dominate.
Stores in Greece open amid virus surge to help save economy
Retail stores across most of Greece were allowed to reopen Monday despite an ongoing surge in COVID-19 infections, as the country battles to emerge from deep recession.
Stores in greater Athens opened for pickup services only.
Lockdown measures have been in force since early November. The prolonged closures piled pressure on the economy. Greek economic output shrank by 8.2% in 2020 while the national debt as a percentage of gross domestic product shot over 200%.
Bangladesh enforcing weeklong lockdown amid virus surge
DHAKA, Bangladesh (AP) — Bangladesh is enforcing a lockdown for a week from Monday, shutting shopping malls and transportation, to help curb the spread of coronavirus as the rate of infections and deaths have increased in recent weeks.
Health authorities said they were facing overwhelming pressure for intensive care units in hospitals in recent weeks because of the severe cases of infections.
Domestic flights, river transport and railway operations were suspended Monday while only emergency services will remain operational. Banks will operate for only two and a half hours daily. Industries are allowed to operate but must help their workers commute.
The government has asked people not to go out from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m.
But owners and workers of shopping malls in Dhaka’s Elephant Road area took to the streets, demanding that authorities allow them to run their shops.
Some three-wheelers and cars were seen running on the streets of the capital, Dhaka, which are usually clogged during any busy day. Traffic police intercepted bikers and checked their documents.
Putin calls Argentine leader with COVID despite Sputnik shot
President Vladimir Putin on Monday called his Argentine counterpart, who has tested positive for COVID-19 despite receiving a Russian vaccine.
The Kremlin said Argentine President Alberto Fernández told Putin that he only had minor symptoms thanks to receiving the Sputnik V vaccine and expressed interest in getting additional supplies of the Russian vaccine.
In a tweet Saturday, Fernández said he had a headache and was experiencing a fever of 37.3 Celsius (99.1 Fahrenheit). He said he otherwise had slight symptoms, is isolating and is “physically well.” He received a dose of Sputnik V on Jan. 21 and a second dose a few days later.
The Russian Gamaleya Institute said the vaccine has a 91.6% rate of effectiveness against infection and 100% against critical cases.
None of the vaccines used against the new coronavirus completely eliminate infections, though they have been shown to sharply reduce the rate of infection and its severity.
Walgreens not following U.S. guidance on Pfizer vaccine spacing
Walgreens has inoculated hundreds of thousands of Americans against COVID-19 this year using the vaccine developed by Pfizer and Germany’s BioNTech. But the pharmacy chain has not been following guidance from federal health officials about the timing of second doses.
People are supposed to get two doses, three weeks apart. Walgreens, however, separated them by four weeks because that made it faster and simpler for the company to schedule appointments.
There is no evidence that separating the doses by an extra week decreases the vaccine’s effectiveness. While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends a three-week gap, the agency says it is acceptable to separate the doses by up to six weeks if necessary.
But Walgreens’ decision, which it didn’t publicly announce, confused some customers and caught the attention of federal health officials. Kate Grusich, a spokeswoman for the CDC, said the agency had asked Walgreens to stop using a longer-than-recommended time period between doses.
The company’s vaccine-scheduling system by default schedules all second doses four weeks after the first. Doses of Moderna’s vaccine, which Walgreens is also administering, are supposed to be spaced four weeks apart. Using the same gap for both vaccines was “the easiest way to stand up the process based on our capabilities at the time,” Dr. Kevin Ban, Walgreens’ chief medical officer, said.
Now Walgreens is changing its system. Starting as soon as the end of the week, the pharmacy will automatically schedule people for Pfizer doses three weeks apart, Ban said.
No address, no ID, and struggling to get their stimulus checks
NEW YORK — For most Americans, the third stimulus payment, like the first two, arrived as if by magic, landing unprompted in the bank or in the mail.
Imagine not having a bank account or a mailing address. Or a phone. Or identification.
Charlie Velez, sitting on a milk crate outside the Grand Street subway station on the Lower East Side last month clinking 65 cents in a paper cup, is 0 for 3 on stimulus checks.
“I didn’t know the process,” he said.
Velez, born in Brooklyn 58 years ago, appears to qualify and could still collect all three payments, totaling $3,200, if he filed a 2020 tax return.
But he has not filed taxes in years. The closest he comes to the banking system is when he sleeps in an ATM vestibule on Delancey Street. Velez said that although outreach workers occasionally approached him to offer help, when it came to the stimulus, “No one has mentioned it to me.”
Just about anyone with a Social Security number who is not someone else’s dependent and who earns less than $75,000 is entitled to the stimulus. But some of the people who would benefit most from the money are having the hardest time getting their hands on it.
COVID mutants multiply as scientists race to decode variations
When Bette Korber, a biologist at Los Alamos National Laboratory, spotted the first significant mutation in the COVID-19 virus last spring, some scientists were skeptical. They didn’t believe it would make the virus more contagious and said its rapid rise might just be coincidence.
Now, 11 months later, the D614G mutation she helped discover is ubiquitous worldwide, featured in the genomes of fast-spreading variants from the U.K., South Africa and Brazil. Meanwhile, new mutations are popping up in increasingly complicated patterns, spurring a drive by top biologists to devise new ways to track a fire hose of incoming genomic data.
The goal: Quickly detect variants that can lessen the effectiveness of vaccines for a pathogen that’s unlikely to be eradicated any time soon. The SARS-CoV-2 virus could settle down and become a mere nuisance like the common cold. Or much like influenza, it could retain its ability to cause severe disease in some segments of the population, a scenario that could require regular booster shots.
“By watching it carefully, we can stay ahead of the virus and that is what everyone is scrambling to do right now,” said Korber, who is working to create new mathematical tools for spotting medically significant variants.
Norwegian Cruises asks CDC to allow trips from US in July
The Norwegian Cruise Line is seeking permission to resume trips from U.S. ports on July 4, requiring passengers and crew members to be vaccinated against COVID-19 at least two weeks before the trip.
The Miami company said its precautions go well beyond steps taken by others in the travel and leisure industry that have already reopened, including airlines, hotel, restaurants and sporting events.
Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd plans to begin U.S. sailings at 60% of capacity and raise that to 80% in August and 100% in September.
European countries scramble to tamp down latest virus surge
European countries scrambled Monday to tamp down a surge in COVID-19 cases and ramp up vaccinations, hoping to spare hospitals from becoming overwhelmed by the pandemic’s latest deadly wave of infections.
The crush of coronavirus patients has been relentless for hospitals in Poland, where daily new infections hit records of over 35,000 on two recent days and the government ordered new restrictions to prevent large gatherings over the long Easter weekend. France’s health minister warned that the number of intensive care unit patients could match levels from a year ago.
On Sunday, coronavirus patients filled almost all of the 120 beds at the County Hospital of Bochnia, 25 miles east of the southern city of Krakow. One patient, 82-year-old Edward Szumanski, voiced concern that some people still refuse to see the virus that has killed over 2.8 million people worldwide as a threat. About 55,000 of those deaths have occurred in Poland.
Thailand orders bar closings in capital to stop virus spread
Officials in Thailand’s capital on Monday ordered a two-week closure of all entertainment venues in three districts to try to limit the spread of the coronavirus from nightspots there.
Health officials are also trying to cope with a coronavirus outbreak at a prison in the south.
Fauci pushes back on GOP criticisms, calls claims ‘bizarre’
Facing criticism from several high-profile Republicans in recent weeks, the country’s top infectious-disease expert, Anthony Fauci, pushed back on some of the claims, calling the remarks flat-out “bizarre.”
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., urged Fauci to visit the U.S.-Mexico borde and asked him to witness firsthand what he called the nation’s “biggest super spreader event.”
“I have nothing to do with the border,” the White House chief medical adviser said. “... that’s really not what I do,” he said.
Fauci also addressed criticism from other Republicans figures, saying he found the criticisms “a little bizarre” and suggesting that he had become a sort of scapegoat for Republicans.
“I’ve become sort of, for some reason or another, a symbol of anything they don’t like” related to anything “contrary to them or outside of their own realm,” he said.
Mexico’s president now says he won’t get COVID-19 vaccine
Mexico’s president said Monday he won’t get a COVID-19 vaccine because his doctors told him he still has a high level of antibodies from when he was infected in January.
“I have sufficient levels of antibodies and right now it isn’t indispensable for me to get vaccinated for now,” said President Andrés Manuel López Obrador.
López Obrador would have gotten a shot of the AstraZeneca vaccine last week, based on his address in a borough in the city’s center, where he lives in an apartment at the National Palace.
The president had repeatedly said he would wait his turn in line to get vaccinated, and didn’t want it to become a “spectacle.”
In late March, López Obrador had said he would be vaccinated when people over 60 in Mexico City’s central boroughs got their first shots.
But he said a second group of doctors he consulted told him it wasn’t necessary, though he did not rule out getting what for most elders will be their second dose in June.
As climbers return to Everest, COVID adds peril to an already dangerous ascent
Nepal has reopened Mount Everest and its seven other 26,200-foot-plus peaks in the hope of a mountain-climbing rebound after the tiny Himalayan country was forced to close trails last year, dealing its economy a devastating blow.
For this year’s climbing season, from March to May, Nepal has granted more than 300 climbers the licenses needed to ascend Mount Everest. Many of those climbers hope to reach the summit, 5.5 miles above sea level.
The pandemic has made the already deadly climb — traffic on Mount Everest contributed to 11 deaths in 2019 — even more hazardous. Local officials have instituted testing, mask and social distancing requirements, stationed medical personnel at the Mount Everest Base Camp, and made plans to swoop in and pick up infected climbers. Climbers are typically greeted here in Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal, with raucous parties thrown by expedition staffers. But not this year.
“No party. No handshake. No hug. Just, ‘Namaste,’” said Lakpa Sherpa, whose agency is taking 19 climbers to Everest this spring, referring to the South Asian greeting.
Some businesses want masks on, even as states drop mandates
Although Texas no longer requires people to wear masks to protect against COVID-19, customers do need them to enter De J. Lozada’s store.
“We cannot afford to take chances with the lives of my staffers. They’re young people and their parents have entrusted me with their care,” says Lozada, owner of Soul Popped Gourmet Popcorn, a shop located in Austin’s Barton Creek Square Mall.
Lozada is also concerned about her 85-year-old father, who will return to his part-time job in the store this month. She has a staffer stationed at the door to her shop who will tell anyone without a mask that they cannot enter.
Eighteen states currently have no mask requirements, including some that have never made face coverings mandatory. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott lifted his state’s mask mandate on March 2, and Indiana expects to end its mandate on Tuesday.
But many business owners like Lozada are keeping their own rules in place, requiring staffers and customers alike to wear masks for the sake of protecting everybody, particularly their employees.
And the law is on an owner’s side. A company’s premises are private property, so owners can insist that customers wear masks, just as restaurants can require that diners wear shoes and shirts in order to be served, says Michael Jones, an attorney with the law firm Eckert Seamans in Philadelphia.
India’s daily virus cases soar past 100,000 for first time
India reported its biggest single-day spike in confirmed coronavirus cases since the pandemic began Monday, and officials in the hard-hit state home to Mumbai are resuming the closure of some businesses and places of worship in a bid to slow the spread.
The Health Ministry reported 103,558 new COVID-19 infections in the last 24 hours, topping the previous peak of 97,894 daily cases recorded in late September. Fatalities rose by 478, raising the country’s death toll to 165,101.
India now has a seven-day rolling average of more than 73,000 cases per day and infections in the country are being reported faster than anywhere else in the world.
A year after pandemic hit, Haiti awaits vaccines amid apathy
Haiti does not have a single vaccine to offer its more than 11 million people over a year after the pandemic began, raising concerns among health experts that the well-being of Haitians is being pushed aside as violence and political instability across the country deepen.
So far, Haiti is slated to receive only 756,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine through a United Nations program aimed at ensuring the neediest countries get COVID-19 shots. The free doses were scheduled to arrive in May at the latest, but delays are expected because Haiti missed a deadline.
The country also didn’t apply for a pilot program in which it would have received some of its allotted doses early, according to the Pan American Health Organization.
Meanwhile, a human rights research center cited in a new U.S. State Department report found Haiti’s government misappropriated more than $1 million worth of coronavirus aid. The report also accused government officials of spending $34 million in the “greatest opacity,” bypassing an agency charged with approving state contracts.
How white evangelicals’ vaccine refusal could prolong the pandemic
Stephanie Nana, an evangelical Christian in Edmond, Oklahoma, refused to get a COVID-19 vaccine because she believed it contained “aborted cell tissue.”
Nathan French, who leads a nondenominational ministry in Tacoma, Washington, said he received a divine message that God was the ultimate healer and deliverer: “The vaccine is not the savior.”
Lauri Armstrong, a Bible-believing nutritionist outside of Dallas, said she did not need the vaccine because God designed the body to heal itself, if given the right nutrients. More than that, she said, “It would be God’s will if I am here or if I am not here.”
The deeply held spiritual convictions or counterfactual arguments may vary. But across white evangelical America, reasons not to get vaccinated have spread as quickly as the virus that public health officials are hoping to overcome through herd immunity.
The opposition is rooted in a mix of religious faith and a long-standing wariness of mainstream science, and it is fueled by broader cultural distrust of institutions and gravitation to online conspiracy theories. And evangelical ideas and instincts have a way of spreading, even internationally.
UK eyes mass testing as it takes next steps out of lockdown
All adults and children in England will be able to have routine coronavirus tests twice a week as a way to stamp out new outbreaks, the British government said Monday as it prepared to announce the next steps in lifting the nation’s months-long lockdown.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said regularly testing people who don’t have COVID-19 symptoms would help “stop outbreaks in their tracks, so we can get back to seeing the people we love and doing the things we enjoy.”
The government said free lateral flow tests will be available free starting Friday by mail, from pharmacies and in workplaces. Lateral flow tests give results in minutes but are less accurate than the PCR swab tests used to officially confirm cases of COVID-19.
Catch up on the past 24 hours
A fourth wave of the pandemic is apparently hitting several U.S. states, epidemiologists said over the weekend. "How large and deadly? That depends on us," a former CDC director warned.
One of the COVID-19 variants can infect children more easily, posing a new risk, a nationally respected scientist warned yesterday.
More cruise lines are requiring proof of vaccination before you can step aboard. The latest: Seattle-based Windstar Cruises.
Vaccine passport apps are arriving, but this might get messy as tech companies try differing tactics with your personal data. Here's how the apps work.
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