Editor’s note: This is a live account of COVID-19 updates from Feb. 13, 2021, 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 It is no longer being updated.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.
In an encouraging coronavirus milestone, Washington state announced Friday that 1 million COVID-19 vaccines have been administered. But while a drop in confirmed infections around the world is a relief, the head of the World Health Organization is cautioning against relaxing restrictions.
Meanwhile, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday that in-person schooling can resume safely with masks, social distancing and other strategies — and vaccination of teachers, while important, is not a prerequisite for reopening.
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.
Heath Department reports 896 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the state's total infections to 328,047; more than 4,675 people have died
The state Department of Health (DOH) reported 896 new coronavirus cases on Saturday.
The update brings the state's totals to 328,047 cases and 4,675 deaths: the death count is incomplete since the state does not report news deaths on weekends. 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 weekends.
In addition, 18,643 people have been hospitalized in the state due to the virus; the state does not report new hospitalizations on weekends. In King County, the state's most populous, state health officials have confirmed a total of 81,330 COVID-19 diagnoses and 1,311 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.
Did the winter weather cancel your Covid-19 vaccination? Here's what you need to know:
Many COVID-19 vaccination sites canceled their scheduled vaccinations Saturday due to the region’s snowy winter weather.
If you were not able to make your vaccination appointment today or if it was canceled, here’s what you should know about rescheduling:
- The health care provider will either automatically reschedule your appointment or contact you with next steps.
Public Health - Seattle & King County said that it would call people who were on Saturday’s vaccination schedule for its Auburn and Kent sites. Both sites were closed Saturday due to the weather. People can also reschedule online.
Virginia Mason’s helpline said that it will automatically reschedule appointments for anyone who wasn’t able to make it Saturday. And Fred Hutch said on its website that impacted individuals will receive an email and text message with further directions.
- You’ve got some wiggle room to get your second dose.
If you were scheduled to receive your second dose of the Pfizer or Modern vaccine Saturday, Virginia Mason’s website told people not to worry.
The second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine can be “administered up to six weeks, or 42 days, after the first dose.”
- Some vaccination sites remain open.
Despite blustery conditions, University of Washington’s testing and vaccination sites remain open.
For an up-to-date list of COVID-19 vaccination locations across Washington state, visit the Washington State Department of Health’s website.
Oxford-AstraZeneca begins a vaccine trial for children
Oxford University announced Friday it started testing its coronavirus vaccine in children as young as six in a move that expands coronavirus vaccine trials to the youngest age group yet.
The Oxford trial will include 300 child volunteers ages 6 to 17, with 240 of them receiving the vaccine codeveloped with drugmaker AstraZeneca; the remaining participants will receive a control meningitis vaccine that has been proven safe in children but is expected to mimic similar side effects of a COVID-19 shot, the university said in a statement.
Before the Oxford/AstraZeneca trial, testing had not included children younger than 12. Three other companies — Pfizer, Moderna and Janssen — have announced plans to start trials for younger children this spring.
After a sluggish start, vaccine rollout is improving in every state
The slow start to the COVID-19 vaccine rollout in the United States has been no secret: Seniors have waited in long lines for a dose, vaccine registration websites have crashed and public health resources were tied up during the country’s biggest surge yet in early January.
But health officials say that while current vaccine supply levels still limit how many vaccines they can administer, states are becoming more efficient at immunizing people as shipments arrive.
On Jan. 1, just a quarter of vaccine doses delivered across the country had been used, compared to 68% of doses on Feb. 11. A handful of states have administered more than 80% of the doses they have received. And even states with slower vaccine uptake are making strides. Alabama, for example, where the share of doses used has consistently ranked among the country’s lowest, is in the process of opening new mass vaccination sites in eight cities.
“Every state is improving,” said Claire Hannan, executive director of the Association of Immunization Managers. “We still don’t have enough to vaccinate everyone over 75, so it doesn’t necessarily feel different for people who are trying to find the vaccine, but we are in a much better place now.”
Long vaccine wait leaves young people with disabilities feeling disregarded
WASHINGTON – The one reassurance that came in the 42 days Lauren Cooper watched her 17-year-old daughter, Molly, lay in a hospital bed, fighting pneumonia, was that the nurses around her were getting their first doses of the coronavirus vaccine.
Finally, the shot was available in D.C., she thought. Finally, her daughter, who has chronic lung disease and a neurological disorder, might soon have some defense against a virus that is much more likely to kill her than others her age.
“I thought for sure they would open it up to people like Molly,” Cooper says. “Everyone said that to me. ‘Molly will be first. You guys should be excited that Molly will be first.’ ”
But Molly wasn’t first. Or second. Or anywhere near the front of the line for a vaccine, even though one was approved for those 16 and up.
On Inauguration Day, while the rest of the world was focused on a different part of the city, Cooper watched her daughter leave a hospital in Northwest Washington, on oxygen, without having received the shot.
Then, in the weeks that followed, she saw the teenager, along with other young people with chronic conditions, fall from priority group 1b to group 1c.
UK coronavirus variant is probably deadlier, scientists say
LONDON — British government scientists are increasingly finding the coronavirus variant first detected in Britain to be deadlier than the original virus, a trend that highlights the risks of this new phase of the pandemic.
The scientists said last month that there was a “realistic possibility” that the variant was more lethal. Now, they say in a new document that it is “likely” that the variant is connected to an increased risk of hospitalization and death.
The updated findings are based on roughly twice as many studies as their earlier assessment and include more deaths from cases of COVID-19 caused by the new variant, known as B.1.1.7.
The variant is known to be in 82 countries. American scientists have said that it could be the dominant version of the virus in the United States by March.
Most COVID-19 cases, even those caused by the new variant, are not fatal. And the government scientists were relying on studies that examined a small proportion of overall deaths, making it difficult to pinpoint how much increased risk may be associated with the variant.
But the strongest studies they relied on estimated that the variant could be 30% to 70% more lethal than the original virus.
As new variants spread in France, some want a 3rd lockdown
PARIS (AP) — New virus variants are spreading fast in multiple regions of France, causing local authorities to order tougher mask rules and a curfew crackdown around the English Channel coast, and prompting growing calls for a new lockdown in the east.
Although France closed its borders with Britain in December, the virus variant first identified in Kent, England is now responsible for a large majority of recent virus cases around the French port city of Dunkirk, according to a statement Saturday from the regional health agency.
The regional administration ordered tougher mask rules and urged people in Dunkirk and some other areas not to leave town to limit the spread. The city’s saturated hospitals are sending COVID-19 patients to other regions amid a spike in the number of people needing intensive care.
France’s national public health agency warned Thursday that the spreading variants could worsen the country’s virus situation in the coming weeks after a protracted period of stable infections and hospitalizations since the last lockdown was lifted in December.
Brazil governors seek own vaccine supplies as stocks run low
SAO PAULO (AP) — Brazilian state governors are pursuing their own vaccine supply plans, with some expressing concern that President Jair Bolsonaro’s government won’t deliver the shots required to avoid interrupting immunization efforts.
Governors are under pressure from mayors, some of whose vaccine stocks have already been depleted, including three cities in the metropolitan area of Rio de Janeiro. Northeastern Bahia state’s capital Salvador suspended vaccination on Thursday because supplies are dwindling. Brazil’s two biggest cities, Rio and Sao Paulo, are expected to be without shots in a matter of days.
The governor who has pushed hardest to shore up his state’s own vaccine supply during the pandemic is Sao Paulo’s João Doria, a former Bolsonaro ally turned adversary. The president repeatedly criticized Doria’s deal to purchase 100 million CoronaVac shots from Chinese pharmaceutical company Sinovac and said the federal government wouldn’t buy them.
Bolsonaro reversed course in January, facing delay in the delivery of the only vaccine his administration purchased and watching as other nations began immunizing their citizens while Brazil’s 210 million people were on hold.
“It it weren’t for this (CoronaVac) shot, Brazil today would be a country without vaccines,” Doria told The Associated Press in an interview. He added that he is negotiating for 20 million more doses and, if the federal government doesn’t buy them, he could sell them to other governors. “It is not for a state government to secure vaccines, but here we are.”
Union says meatpacking workers should be vaccinated sooner
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Hundreds of meatpacking workers have been vaccinated against the coronavirus but the union that represents many of them says several hundred thousand more have not, despite the risks they continue to face at work.
The United Food and Commercial Workers International union is lobbying for workers to be moved up vaccination priority lists, and major meat companies have launched campaigns to educate employees and dispel rumors about the vaccines. One has offered bonuses to workers who get vaccinated.
But in most states, meatpacking workers are still waiting for their turn to be vaccinated and are ranked behind health care workers, residents of long-term care centers and people aged 65 and older.
Meet the 'real angels' helping others make COVID-19 vaccine appointments in Washington state
Angela Rozmyn has spent much of her adult life working for sustainable justice and equity.
That’s why the Eastside resident, who works in affordable housing, serves on the Kirkland Planning Commission and writes a financial blog for women, jumped at the chance to use her tech savvy to help her community find and make frustratingly elusive COVID-19 vaccine appointments through a new Facebook group called Find a COVID shot WA.
The group, just 12 days old and with more than 16,000 members and scores of carefully trained volunteers, tries to find open vaccine appointments for people with the highest risk factors: elderly people, people with chronic underlying medical conditions and Black, Indigenous and people of color.
A simple contraption, and a simple touch, ease COVID-19 isolation
A mother and daughter. A sister and brother. Two close friends.
Finally, after nearly a year of COVID-19-inspired FaceTime chats or looking at each other through windows, loved ones at a pair of nursing homes in Orange and Riverside counties are getting the chance to touch each other again.
They can hold hands. Even hug.
These simple acts of physical contact are possible because of a simple contraption made out of PVC pipe, polycarbonate sheeting, disposable shoulder-length food handler gloves and, of course, human ingenuity.
It’s called the SmileMakers Station, named after the philanthropic volunteer group that assists the Council on Aging — Southern California in bringing comfort to older people.
Prototypes of the portable, freestanding device were presented this week to La Palma Nursing Center in Anaheim and Magnolia Rehabilitation & Nursing Center in Riverside.
Visually impaired face new challenges navigating a world remade by COVID-19
Will Butler breezed through the entrance of the Silver Lake Trader Joe’s, bypassing a small line of shoppers waiting to get in. An employee monitoring access said nothing as Butler swept a red-tipped white cane to find his way inside.
Butler had no idea he’d cut in front.
“How would I find the line?” the legally blind 31-year-old asked.
This time, there were no problems, but that’s not always the case. On Sundays, “when the line is super long and everyone’s like really scared and grumpy, no one will offer any help,” he said. On those days, Butler makes his way to the back of the queue, trying to maintain a socially distanced space without being able to see it.
Like so many challenges wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic, grocery store lines are just one of the new impediments thrown, literally, into the way of the visually impaired.
More than 188,000 people in Los Angeles County have “vision difficulty,” including those who are “blind or having serious difficulty seeing, even when wearing glasses,” according to U.S. census data from 2019. The Braille Institute, a nonprofit organization based in L.A., serves nearly 12,900 adults and children across the county.
Those in the blind and low-vision community have long faced challenges now synonymous with the pandemic: social isolation, mobility limitations, classroom dynamics that are less than ideal. But the crisis has exacerbated those problems.
Biden’s vaccine push runs into distrust in the Black community
Former Tuskegee, Ala., mayor Johnny Ford rolled up his right sleeve and smiled behind his mask as the first dose of coronavirus vaccine entered his arm — a televised display of faith he hoped would save Black families from suffering.
Ford became mayor soon after the disclosure of the infamous Tuskegee Study of Untreated Syphilis in the Negro Male in 1972, and he spent years seeking justice for victims of the abominable government-run program. Now he’s trying to persuade Black people that vaccines fast-tracked by that same government are not only safe, but vital.
Ford, whose wife nearly died of the virus this winter, is frustrated that so many African Americans are still resisting the vaccine. “For those folks who want to stand around and debate, let them debate,” Ford said. “I’m sorry for them and regret that they want to do that. But if they don’t want to take it, then please move out of the way of those who do want to take it.”
The vaccine hesitancy that Ford is fighting has emerged as a crucial test for the Biden White House, which has repeatedly said racial equity will be central to his presidency. The administration is planning a sweeping campaign to promote the vaccine to minorities, but activists like Ford say the problem is already critical.
Washington state will focus on second vaccine dose
The state will focus on administering second vaccine doses next week and because of that, appointments to get a first dose next week will be extremely limited, Washington state health officials said Friday.
Providers requested about 170,000 second doses for next week, an amount significantly higher than the state’s allocation of 92,325 second doses, the Department of Health said in a news release. The difference is likely because some providers in Washington used doses of vaccine intended to complete the two-dose vaccine series as the initial dose in January.
Unfortunately, officials said, this means a portion of next week’s available first doses will need to be used to fully vaccinate these people. This focus on second dose administration is anticipated to be less so in upcoming weeks, officials said.
For first doses next week, the Department of Health plans to prioritize long term care facilities, adult family homes, mass vaccination sites in King, Pierce, Snohomish and Spokane counties and other sites that address equity.
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