Editor’s note: This is a live account of COVID-19 updates from Tuesday, April 6, 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 It is no longer being updated.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.
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 to have fans at Lumen Field during the 2021 season. But tickets will not go on sale until April 13, to coincide with the date Gov. Inslee plans to determine whether King County will remain in Phase 3; 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, beginning with the April 16 season-opener against Minnesota United FC.
The P.1 coronavirus variant, spawned in the Amazon rainforest, has stormed Brazil and driven its health system to the brink of collapse — but the variant, which packs a suite of mutations that makes it more transmissible and potentially more dangerous, is no longer just Brazil’s problem. It’s South America’s problem — and the world’s, The Washington Post reports. Hospital systems across South America are being pushed to their limits while vaccine scarcity is a growing problem, with only 6% of the world’s vaccines administered in one of the world’s hardest-hit regions.
Seattle will administer 30,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses this week
Seattle and its partners will administer 30,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines this week, Mayor Jenny Durkan's office announced Tuesday. That's as many doses as the city was able to offer in the previous two weeks combined.
Last week, Seattle and its partners gave 18,000 shots, and the week before, they gave 12,000, Durkan spokesperson Kelsey Nyland said.
This week's plan calls for 8,000 doses to be administered Wednesday at the Lumen Field Event Center in Sodo. It calls for 15,500 doses to be administered at community hubs in Rainier Beach, West Seattle and North Seattle.
In addition, doses will be administered at clinics run in partnership with Swedish Hospital and by the Fire Department's mobile vaccination teams. The teams will host pop-up clinics with El Centro de la Raza, the Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle and Idris Mosque.
People eligible under Phase 1A and Phase 1B (Tiers 1-4) of Washington state's COVID-19 vaccine rubric can sign up for the city's appointment notification list here to receive emails when appointments become available at the Lumen Field Event Center and at the Rainier Beach, West Seattle and North Seattle sites.
Sign-up assistance is available by phone at 206 684-2489. More information about the vaccination sites and the process is available at seattle.gov/vaccine.
The city's vaccination push has since January connected more than 48,000 residents with 65,000 shots, the mayor's office said.
State reports 653 new coronavirus cases and 14 new deaths
The state Department of Health (DOH) reported 653 new coronavirus cases and 14 new deaths on Tuesday.
The update brings the state's totals to 370,652 cases and 5,299 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 COVID19-related deaths aren’t reported on the weekends.
In addition, 20,819 people have been hospitalized in the state due to the virus — 37 new hospitalizations. In King County, the state's most populous, state health officials have confirmed a total of 92,570 COVID-19 diagnoses and 1,475 deaths.
Since vaccinations began in mid-December, the state and health care providers have administered 3,722,703 doses and 19.49% 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 59,600 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.
Harris: Vaccinated can be ‘role models’ for friends, family
Vice President Kamala Harris on Tuesday urged Chicago union members to share their experience receiving a COVID-19 vaccine and act as “role models” for family and friends who may be reluctant even as Illinois prepares to open access to all adults.
Harris visited a vaccination site in Chicago that opened last week for union workers. Chicago officials also hope the dedicated site will improve vaccination rates among Black and Latinx city residents.
After touring the site, Harris spoke to union members and said the site was “a model for the country.” She told a group of vaccinated union members that their next task is encouraging others to receive a vaccine once eligible.
“We’re all here to make a statement we understand the significance of getting vaccinated, that it’s bigger than us,” she said. “We are doing it because we know this is a room of role models and people look to you to see how things should be done.”
California plans to lift most pandemic restrictions June 15
California plans to lift most coronavirus restrictions on businesses and workplaces June 15, with officials saying enough people should be vaccinated by then to allow for life to almost get back to a pre-pandemic normal.
The mask mandate in the nation’s most populated state will stay in effect, Gov. Gavin Newsom said Tuesday, and he cautioned that California will reopen more widely in mid-June only if vaccine supply is sufficient and hospitalization rates stay stable and low.
Still, the Democratic governor, who has overseen some of the most restrictive pandemic rules in the country, said it was time to forge ahead, with 20 million vaccines administered in California to date. The announcement signals an end date to more than a year of isolation after California resisted reopening too quickly even while other states pushed ahead.
“We can confidently say by June 15 that we can start to open up as business as usual, subject to ongoing mask-wearing and ongoing vigilance,” Newsom said. “So this is a big day.”
As states expand vaccines, prisoners still lack access
This week, Florida expanded eligibility for COVID-19 vaccines to all residents 16 and older. But across the state, more than 70,000 people still don’t have access to the vaccine. Those men and women are Florida state prisoners.
More than half the country has opened up vaccine eligibility, vastly expanding the ability for most Americans to get the shots, whatever their age or medical conditions. But inside prisons, it’s a different story: Prisoners, not free to seek out vaccines, still lack access on the whole.
Nationwide, less than 20% of state and federal prisoners have been vaccinated, according to data collected by The Marshall Project and The Associated Press. In some states, prisoners and advocates have resorted to lawsuits to get access.
“This is about a public health strategy,” said Jaimie Meyer, an associate professor of medicine and public health at Yale University. “If you want to see an end to the pandemic, you’ve got to vaccinate the people in the places where there are the largest clusters and the most cases.”
‘Trust’ the voice of God: Morgan Freeman encourages people to get COVID-19 vaccine in new PSA
Morgan Freeman is using his signature voice in a powerful new public service announcement promoting the COVID-19 vaccine.
The Academy Award winning actor — who played the role of God in “Bruce Almighty” and “Evan Almighty” films — teamed with the Creative Coalition on Monday in hopes of easing people’s concerns about getting inoculated.
Seated in his library as gentle music swells in the background, Freeman starts off by declaring that he is not a scientist but expresses why he strongly supports getting vaccinated.
“I’m not a doctor, but I trust science. And I’m told that, for some reason, people trust me,” he said. “So here I am to say I trust science and I got the vaccine. If you trust me, you’ll get the vaccine.”
Mexico’s vaccine campaign faces problems, successes
Mexico’s president lashed out Tuesday at criticism of the country’s coronavirus vaccination effort, dismissing a pair of scandals as the work of conservative opponents or grumpy “elderly people who go grumbling because they don’t like to be vaccinated.”
Despite some successes — for example, all shots are free — there have been problems with the country’s uneven vaccine roll-out, which employs vaccination sites of varying quality and vaccines from half a dozen different manufacturers.
Some wealthier neighborhoods offer well-tested vaccines at vaccine centers with short lines, while elderly people in other, poorer or more outlying areas have been forced to stand in line in the baking sun for hours or receive less well-documented vaccines.
That has posed a problem for a president whose slogan is “the poor come first.”
‘Double mutant’ coronavirus variant is found in California
A possibly worrisome variant of the coronavirus first identified in India — so new that it has no official name — has been found in California by scientists at Stanford University.
Nicknamed the “double mutant” variant by the BBC and others, the variant is sparking concern among some scientists because it contains not just one, but two worrisome mutations in its genetic composition that have been identified among other variants of concern being tracked by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“We don’t know how those two mutations behave when they’re paired together,” Dr. Benjamin Pinsky, director of the Clinical Virology Laboratory at Stanford, said in an interview Monday.
“There’s a reasonable amount of information about those [two mutations] individually. But will it be worse if they’re together? We don’t really know how they’re going to interact.”
Nearly half of new US virus infections are in just 5 states
Nearly half of new coronavirus infections nationwide are in just five states — a situation that is putting pressure on the federal government to consider changing how it distributes vaccines by sending more doses to hot spots.
New York, Michigan, Florida, Pennsylvania and New Jersey together reported 44% of the nation’s new COVID-19 infections, or nearly 197,500 new cases, in the latest available seven-day period, according to state health agency data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. Total U.S. infections during the same week numbered more than 452,000.
Surging vaccines to places where the number is going up makes sense, said Dr. Elvin H. Geng, a professor in infectious diseases at Washington University. But it’s also complicated.
“You wouldn’t want to make those folks wait because they were doing better,” Geng said. “On the other hand, it only makes sense to send vaccines to where the cases are rising.”
So far, President Joe Biden’s administration has shown no signs of shifting from its policy of dividing vaccine doses among states based on population.
The spike in cases has been especially pronounced in Michigan, where the seven-day average of daily new infections reached 6,719 cases Sunday — more than double what it was two weeks earlier.
Watchdog: Lebanon’s vaccination of refugees, migrants lags
Lebanon’s vaccination campaign has been slow and risks leaving behind some of the country’s most vulnerable people, including Palestinian and Syrian refugees, as well as migrant workers, a leading rights group said Tuesday.
Human Rights Watch said only 18% of Palestinian refugees and 17% of Syrian refugees eligible for vaccines have gotten their shots, many citing either lack of information about vaccine access or fear of security measures as a reason for not registering to get the vaccine. By comparison, 24% of registered Lebanese have been vaccinated amid vaccines shortages.
Lebanon, with a population of 6 million, has so far registered over 480,000 coronavirus cases and more than 6,000 deaths.
Are youth sports an engine of B.1.1.7 variant outbreaks?
Dan Culhane, 62, took extraordinary precautions when he returned to the ice as a youth hockey referee in January. He triple-masked, wore a plexiglass face shield on his helmet and donned his gear at home to minimize time indoors.
It wasn’t enough.
Culhane, who died on Feb. 28 of COVID-19, is one of more than 189 people confirmed or suspected to be linked to an unusual youth sports outbreak of the coronavirus in Carver County, Minn., driven by the B.1.1.7 variant that was first seen in the United Kingdom. The interlinked cases span all levels of K-12 schools, from elementary to high school, and 18 hockey, four basketball, three lacrosse and one soccer teams.
“Until now we haven’t seen transmission like this in kids in the pandemic,” said Michael Osterholm, an infectious-disease specialist at the University of Minnesota who served as an adviser to President Joe Biden.
After a surge of infections among children peaked in January, a new wave has been building since mid-March, and many worry about the risks to vulnerable, still-unvaccinated adults such as Culhane. Even as coronavirus cases in the United States remain far off their peaks as vaccinations accelerate, 63,862 new COVID-19 cases among children, representing 18% of the total, were reported for week ended April 1, according to data collected by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children’s Hospital Association. A growing number of them are caused by virus variants, which represent a big unknown in what is otherwise a time of national optimism: The question is whether these emerging B.1.1.7 clusters foreshadow the surges seen in parts of Europe, where they upended school openings and a return to normalcy, or are just a blip on the way to the end of the pandemic in the United States, given the pace of vaccinations here.
Texas bans vaccine-passport requirements in full-speed reopening
Texas prohibited state agencies and any entities receiving public money from requiring so-called vaccine passports under an order issued Tuesday by Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican.
The order comes almost four weeks after Abbott lifted a statewide mask mandate and other anti-pandemic restrictions in the second-largest U.S. state. It also follows a similar ban by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, R, on the sort of Excelsior Pass launched in New York that allows residents to verify their vaccinations or negative test results before entering concert venues or stadiums.
In Texas, the seven-day average tally of new COVID-19 cases has fallen to the lowest since June, state health department figures showed. Virus hospitalizations dropped below 2,800 on Monday, also the lowest since June.
Serbia’s leader chooses Chinese-made vaccine for own shot
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic finally rolled up his sleeve for a coronavirus vaccine Tuesday, seeking to encourage his country’s increasingly skeptical citizens to get the shots themselves.
A live TV broadcast showed Vucic, 51, taking a jab of the Chinese-developed Sinopharm vaccine in the remote eastern village of Rudna Glava.
The populist Serbian president, who rarely wears a protective mask, had promised for months to get vaccinated but found different reasons to postpone the event.
The delay prompted speculation on social media that Vucic was afraid of injection needles, that he did not trust the vaccines or that he had been vaccinated secretly months ago.
Viral thoughts: Why COVID-19 conspiracy theories persist
As the world struggles to break the grip of COVID-19, psychologists and misinformation experts are studying why the pandemic spawned so many conspiracy theories, which have led people to eschew masks, social distancing and vaccines.
They’re seeing links between beliefs in COVID-19 falsehoods and the reliance on social media as a source of news and information.
And they’re concluding COVID-19 conspiracy theories persist by providing a false sense of empowerment. By offering hidden or secretive explanations, they give the believer a feeling of control in a situation that otherwise seems random or frightening.
Official: EU agency to confirm AstraZeneca blood clot link
A top official at the European Medicines Agency says there is a causal link between AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine and rare blood clots, but that it’s unclear what the connection is and the benefits of taking the vaccine still outweigh the risks of getting COVID-19.
Marco Cavaleri, head of health threats and vaccine strategy at the Amsterdam-based agency, told Rome’s Il Messaggero newspaper on Tuesday that the EU medicines regulator is preparing to make a more definitive statement on the topic this week.
Based on the evidence to date, Cavaleri said there’s a clear association between the AstraZeneca vaccine and the dozens of rare blood clots that have been reported worldwide amid the tens of millions of vaccine jabs that have been given out.
“It is becoming more and more difficult to affirm that there isn’t a cause-and-effect relationship between AstraZeneca vaccines and the very rare cases of blood clots associated with a low level of platelets,” Cavaleri was quoted as saying.
40,000 children in US have lost at least one parent to COVID-19, report says
A “staggering” 40,000 children in the U.S. have lost at least one parent to coronavirus, three-quarters of them teenagers, a new model has calculated.
Researchers at Stony Brook University on Long Island estimated the number of children of each adult to have died of COVID-19 and extrapolated to arrive at that conclusion.
The model suggested that each such death left 0.078 children between infancy and age 17 “parentally bereaved,” the researchers said in a letter published in JAMA Pediatrics, 17.5% to 20.2% more than it would have been without COVID-19.
Cowlitz County may revert to Phase 2 of reopening as COVID cases rise
The latest Cowlitz County Department of Health report projects that the county will drop back to Phase 2 of reopening when the counties are re-evaluated, as it reported 70 new COVID-19 cases over the weekend and one death.
The entire state entered Phase 3 on March 22, but to stay there the county must have a new case rate of less than 200 cases per 100,000 people and fewer than five new hospitalizations per 100,000 people over the past seven days.
According to the weekly Cowlitz County Department of Health report, cases are increasing while hospitalizations and deaths are holding steady. The county saw cases “sharply increasing” since mid-March, the report said.
Brazil has become South America’s superspreader event
For weeks, César Salomé, a physician in Lima’s Hospital Mongrut, had followed the chilling reports. A new coronavirus variant, spawned in the Amazon rainforest, had stormed Brazil and driven its health system to the brink of collapse. Now his patients, too, were arriving far sicker, their lungs saturated with disease, and dying within days. Even the young and healthy didn’t appear protected.
The P.1 variant, which packs a suite of mutations that makes it more transmissible and potentially more dangerous, is no longer just Brazil’s problem. It’s South America’s problem — and the world’s.
In recent weeks, it has been carried across rivers and over borders, evading restrictive measures meant to curb its advance to help fuel a coronavirus surge across the continent. There’s now mounting anxiety in parts of South America that P.1 could quickly become the dominant variant, transporting Brazil’s humanitarian disaster — patients languishing without care, a skyrocketing death toll — into their countries.
“It’s spreading,” said Julio Castro, a Venezuelan infectious-disease expert. “It’s impossible to stop.”
Hospital systems across South America are being pushed to their limits. And coronavirus vaccines are South America’s white whale: often discussed, but rarely seen. The continent hasn’t created its own vaccine or negotiated a regional agreement with pharmaceutical companies. It’s one of the world’s hardest-hit regions but has administered only 6 percent of the world’s vaccine doses, according to the site Our World in Data.
Catch up on the past 24 hours
All American adults will be eligible for vaccines sooner than expected. President Joe Biden is moving up the date, but Washington state still has it beat by a few days. Here's a visual look at Washington's eligibility phases, and our guide to getting a vaccine.
Walgreens hasn't been following U.S. vaccine guidance on how to space doses apart, and it's not the only provider that's out of step. Here's what is known about getting the second dose at a different time than what the CDC recommends.
Vaccines are rolling into vulnerable communities in the Seattle area, powered by the Allen Family Foundation. The organization founded by the late Microsoft co-founder and his sister, Jody Allen, is funding mobile vaccination clinics and aiming to get 20,000 shots in arms.
A battle is brewing at Peace Arch Park in Blaine, where Americans and Canadians meet for joyful rendezvous — and risk getting COVID-19.
The demographic group most likely to balk at vaccination: Republican men. Much of their reluctance is rooted in a few common threads, according to polls that illustrate the challenges ahead for public health officials.
One superspreader event at a rural Illinois bar has led to an outbreak of 46 COVID-19 cases, the closure of a school with 650 children, and the hospitalization of a long-term care facility resident.
Will we need a new vaccine every year? Scientists are racing to decode a fire hose of clues as the virus keeps shape-shifting in increasingly complicated ways.
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