Editor’s note: This is a live account of COVID-19 updates from Monday, Feb. 22, 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 It is no longer being updated.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.

The United States is approaching a mark almost unimaginable last year — 500,000 lives lost to COVID-19 — at the same time as the nation’s top infectious disease expert offers words of hope. On Sunday, Dr. Anthony Fauci said American life may reach “a significant degree of normality” by fall. He cautioned, though, that Americans may still have cause to wear masks outside their homes a year from now.

In Washington, a handful of high school athletes have resumed football and soccer games. And the nation’s vaccine effort is expected to speed up after winter storms temporarily stalled distribution over the past few weeks.

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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Belgian projections warn not to relax measures too quickly

BRUSSELS — Belgium’s government on Monday presented scientific projections of the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic in the country, indicating it would be very risky to extensively loosen the current restrictions over the coming weeks.

Based on a model that would relax measures as of next week, Belgium could be faced with its biggest spike yet in coronavirus cases, while a similar relaxation on April 1 indicated a far more muted increase. The projections were based on the spread of the more contagious variant first identified in the U.K.

The government will make a decision on Friday whether to extend the restrictions that include a curfew across the nation and continued closure of bars and restaurants while mass events, either indoors or in the open, also continue to be banned.

After Belgium, a nation of 11.5 million, was one of the hardest hit in the first wave of the pandemic and again saw a huge increase in November, the government has been able to keep cases on a manageable level since, even if it was too high to allow of a major relaxation of restrictions.

—Associated Press
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Sanofi to help second rival produce COVID-19 vaccines

PARIS — French drug maker Sanofi, battling development delays with its own vaccine candidates against COVID-19, is turning over more of its vaccine production facilities to industrial competitors, teaming up with Johnson & Johnson to produce millions of doses of its rival coronavirus vaccine.

Johnson & Johnson is the second rival to have struck a deal with Sanofi to use its facilities, an unusual collaboration for the competitive industry now facing intense pressure from governments to speed up the production of vaccines against the devastating global pandemic.

Sanofi’s CEO, Paul Hudson, said the agreement announced by the company on Monday demonstrates its “commitment to the collective effort to ending this crisis as quickly as possible.”

Sanofi is still prioritizing the development of its own two coronavirus vaccine programs, Hudson said in a company statement.

But “where we have the right manufacturing capabilities, we are stepping forward to show solidarity in the industry and continue doing our part in the fight against COVID-19,” he added.

—Associated Press

Louisville’s Mack: ‘Not a good look’ going maskless in video

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Louisville coach Chris Mack admitted it was “not a good look” to be shown maskless in a video while celebrating the Cardinals’ Dec. 26 victory over rival Kentucky.

The 33-second clip, tweeted Saturday night by Kentucky Sports Radio, shows the third-year Louisville coach with former Cardinals football player Eric Wood, celebrating Christmas with family and neighbors who stopped by his house. In the video, Wood yells that former Kentucky associate head coach Kenny Payne, now an assistant with the NBA’s New York Knicks, was responsible for the Wildcats’ previous victories over the Cardinals before noting he’s gone, and that Hall of Fame coach John Calipari “will never beat U of L again.”

Mack tried to offer context for the video during a virtual news conference Monday. He said some of his neighbors were golfing buddies of Payne, a Louisville standout, and wanted to “give him grief” for the game. The coach also recognized the potential fallout for going maskless during the pandemic, even at home.

“When people come over to my house, which hasn’t been very often since last March, I’m probably a violator and obviously was that night,” Mack said. “Neighbors or friends stopped by and not putting on my mask around the house. … Not a good look and for that, I’ve got to do better.”

—Associated Press

Unbeaten No. 2 Baylor back to play after 3-week COVID break

Jared Butler and still-undefeated No. 2 Baylor are ready to get back to playing games after a three-week break because of COVID-19 issues in the program.

The Bears (17-0, 9-0 Big 12) are set to resume their season Tuesday night at home against Iowa State. It will be their first game since Feb. 2 and the first of three games in five days.

“Seeing everybody else play, I kind of feel like I’ve been missing out,” Butler said Monday during a Zoom call from the campus in Waco, Texas. “What do you call it when your parents punish you and you can’t go outside and play with your friends? That’s what it’s been feeling like.”

Baylor has had six games postponed since an 83-69 win at No. 14 Texas, when the Bears matched the best start in school history. They were also 17-0 in 2011-12.

Neither the Big 12 or the school have provided specific details about the postponements, other than to say they were in accordance with the league’s interruption guidelines for men’s basketball. That indicates that the Bears didn’t have the required six scholarship players for games, either because of multiple positive tests or contact tracing.

—Associated Press
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Portugal rolls back virus surge that made it world’s worst

LISBON, Portugal — Portugal’s official daily number of new COVID-19 cases on Monday dropped below 1,000 for the first time since early October, amid a national lockdown and just weeks after it was the worst-hit country in the world by size of population.

The lockdown that began Jan. 15 has brought “a very steep drop” in new cases, André Peralta Santos of the General Health Directorate told a televised meeting of health experts and political leaders.

The 14-day incidence rate of new cases per 100,000 people has fallen to 322. At the end of January, it was 1,628.

The country’s so-called “R” number, showing how many people each person with COVID-19 infects, is around 0.67 — the lowest in Portugal since the pandemic began and currently the lowest in Europe, according to Baltazar Nunes of state laboratory INSA.

Testing for COVID-19 has been erratic, though, and total tests have fallen from more than 70,000 a day at the end of last month to around half that over the past week.

—Associated Press

Pandemic restaurant closures produce glut of used equipment

SAN LEANDRO, Calif. — The pandemic’s heavy toll on the restaurant industry can be seen in Jose Bonilla Jr.’s cavernous warehouse, which is packed with industrial ovens, grills, mixers, refrigerators, dining tables and chairs.

Bonilla’s family business, American Restaurant Supply in San Leandro, Calif., buys used appliances, furniture and other equipment when restaurants close in the San Francisco Bay Area.

“We have an overflow of equipment that’s been coming in,” said Bonilla, whose family started the company more than 40 years ago.

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced tens of thousands of restaurants to permanently shut their doors as dining restrictions keep customers away. But it has also been a boon for commercial auctioneers that buy used equipment and sell them to restaurants that managed to stay afloat, particularly ones that have expanded their takeout business and are eager to snatch up supplies at bargain prices.

“As the pandemic has continued to impact businesses, the auction industry has actually become busier and busier as the economy has weakened, especially in small businesses and in food service equipment,” said John Schultz, a board member of the National Association of Auctioneers.

—Associated Press

‘I am worth it’: Why thousands of doctors in America can’t get a job

Dr. Kristy Cromblin in Pratville, Ala., on Feb. 11, 2021. Medical schools are producing more graduates, but residency programs haven’t kept up, leaving thousands of young doctors “chronically unmatched” and deep in debt. (Charity Rachelle/The New York Times)

Dr. Kristy Cromblin knew that as the descendant of Alabama sharecroppers and the first person in her family to go to college, making it to medical school might seem like an improbable dream. Her parents watched in proud disbelief as she inched closer to that goal, enrolling in a medical school in Barbados and enlisting in the military with plans to serve one day as a flight surgeon.

Then came an unexpected hurdle: A contentious divorce led Cromblin to take seven years away from medical school to care for her two sons. In 2012, she returned for her final year, excited to complete her exams and apply for residency, the final step in her training.

But no one had told Cromblin that hospital residency programs, which have been flooded with a rising number of applications in recent years, sometimes use the Electronic Residency Application Service software program to filter out various applications, whether they’re from students with low test scores or from international medical students. Cromblin had passed all her exams and earned her M.D., but was rejected from 75 programs. In the following years, as she kept applying, she learned that some programs filter out applicants who graduated from medical school more than three years earlier. Her rejection pile kept growing. She is now on unemployment, with $250,000 in student loans.

Cromblin is one of as many as 10,000 chronically unmatched doctors in the United States, people who graduated from medical school but are consistently rejected from residency programs. The National Resident Matching Program promotes its high match rate, with 94% of American medical students matching into residency programs last year on Match Day, which occurs annually on the third Friday in March. But the match rate for Americans who study at medical schools abroad is far lower, with just 61% matching into residency spots.

—The New York Times
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Some Washington state providers to get ‘double delivery’ of COVID-19 vaccine after last week’s storm delays

Pallets of Moderna COVID-19 vaccines inside the storage freezer at an Olive Branch, Mississippi, distribution center. Some 6 million doses were delayed nationwide last week because of extreme weather, according to an update to providers.(Business Wire via The Associated Press)

Some providers in Washington state are slated to receive twice as much vaccine this week, after ice and snow delayed last week’s shipments across the nation.

For some hospitals, “there is essentially going to be a double delivery,” said Cassie Sauer, of the Washington State Hospital Association (WSHA), adding that many facilities had already received delivery confirmations.

Sauer said hospitals were not slated for a large proportion of the overall state allocation for first doses this week or last and should be able to manage the influx.

“We’re confident, on the hospital side, we’re going to be able to work through our doses quite quickly,” Sauer said.

Shipping delays closed the four state-operated mass vaccination sites over the weekend, with most slated to open early this week, contingent on supply. Washington health officials told vaccine providers on Friday that it expected shipping backlogs to be resolved by this Wednesday. Some 6 million doses were delayed nationwide, according to a state update to providers.

Read the full story here.

—Evan Bush

In-person school for young Seattle kids won’t begin until “at least” March 8, district says

Still locked in negotiations with its teachers union, Seattle Public Schools announced Monday that in-person instruction for pre-K through first-graders and some students with disabilities won’t begin until “at least” March 8. That’s a week after the March 1 start date originally announced by the district, Washington state’s largest.

It’s unclear how realistic the new timeline will be. The Seattle Education Association (SEA) union, which represents 6,000 of the district’s school employees, including teachers, has said from the outset of bargaining that the district’s target date to reopen was not guaranteed. In a Monday statement, SEA said the district had not yet addressed concerns from educators currently working in person who say the district doesn’t have enough necessary personal protective equipment (PPE) and hasn’t followed safety protocols.

“We understand the desire to get students back to in-person learning — many of us are parents of SPS students too and as educators we miss seeing our students in person,” the statement said. “SEA’s bargaining team is working tirelessly to reach an agreement with SPS as quickly as we can, but we’re unwilling to cut corners on safety precautions in order to meet arbitrary deadlines.”

Seattle Public Schools officials sought to speed up the process by bringing a mediator into the discussion. But the union officials say they are “making progress” and don’t see a need to bring a mediator to the table.

Read the full story here.

—Dahlia Bazzaz

State confirms 509 new coronavirus cases and 35 new deaths

The state Department of Health (DOH) reported 509 new coronavirus cases and 35 new deaths on Monday.

The update brings the state's totals to 334,962 cases and 4,857deaths, 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, 19,110 people have been hospitalized in the state due to the virus — 77 new hospitalizations. In King County, the state's most populous, state health officials have confirmed a total of 83,071 COVID-19 diagnoses and 1,370 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.

—Nicole Brodeur
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In a virus-ravaged U.S. city, nearly 400 million vaccine doses are being made — and shipped elsewhere

Employees work in a Baltimore, Md., lab that is manufacturing coronavirus vaccines for AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson. (Washington Post photo by Michael Robinson Chavez)

BALTIMORE, Md. — In a city battered by the coronavirus, one biomedical plant is churning out enough vaccine doses to inoculate every resident hundreds of times over.

The lifesaving medicine is brewed in stainless steel vats and bottled at subfreezing temperatures — then loaded into trucks that carry the vaccines hundreds of miles away. Most will never return.

At the eastern edge of Baltimore, Emergent BioSolutions is manufacturing almost all of the yet-to-be approved Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccines for the U.S. population — an anticipated hundreds of millions of doses in the coming months. But in a sign of the complexities in a global supply chain that is struggling beneath the weight of demand, most of those doses will not go to residents of this city, or even the state of Maryland.

Instead, the active vaccine ingredients created in the company’s biomedical reactors just north of the Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center are shipped to plants in other states and possibly other countries. After the two vaccines are authorized for emergency use by the Food and Drug Administration, which in the case of Johnson & Johnson could happen by early next month, they will be distributed across the United States.

Americans have struggled to discern the logic behind their country’s long-awaited vaccine rollout. Every day, millions scour the internet for scarce appointments while simultaneously reading news of unused doses and widespread reluctance to get the shot.

The scarcity of medicines that many hope will end the pandemic has led to intense debates over efficiency and equity. Federal, state, county and city health officials — not to mention national retailers and pharmacies — have adopted overlapping and sometimes contradictory rules about whom they will vaccinate, and how.

Read the full story here.

—Peter Jamison, The Washington Post

Biden mourns 500,000 dead while balancing grief and hope

President Joe Biden marked the U.S. crossing 500,000 lives lost from COVID-19 with a moment of silence and candle lighting ceremony at the White House. The nation was expected to pass the grim milestone on Monday, just over a year after the first confirmed U.S. fatality due to the novel coronavirus. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, file)

WASHINGTON —With sunset remarks and a national moment of silence, President Joe Biden held a head-on acknowledgement of the country’s once-unimaginable loss — half a million Americans in the COVID-19 pandemic — in striking contrast to the approach of his predecessor.

Confronting the grim milestone directly and publicly, Biden tried to strike a balance between gravity and hope, while Donald Trump generally avoided constructs of collective grief for the deaths on his watch.

Monday’s bleak threshold was playing out against contradictory crosscurrents: an encouraging drop in coronavirus cases and worries about the spread of more contagious variants.

A president whose own life has been marked by family tragedy, Biden ordered flags on federal property lowered to half staff for five days as he prepared to lead a moment of communal mourning for those lost to a virus that often prevents people from gathering to remember their loved ones.

Biden’s management of the pandemic will surely define at least the first year of his presidency, and his response has showcased the inherent tension between preparing the nation for dark weeks ahead while also offering optimism about pushing out vaccines that could, eventually, bring the pandemic to a close.

“I believe we’ll be approaching normalcy by the end of this year. And God willing, this Christmas will be different than the last,” Biden said Friday while touring a Pfizer vaccine manufacturing plant in Michigan.

Read the full story here.

— Josh Boak and Jonathan Lemire, The Associated Press

Hamas-ruled Gaza launches coronavirus vaccination drive

A Palestinian medic prepares a shot of the Russian-made Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine, in Gaza City, Monday, Feb. 22, 2021. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)

The Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip began its coronavirus vaccination drive on Monday following the arrival of the first vaccines to the blockaded coastal area.

Former health ministers and several medical workers were inoculated with Russia’s Sputnik V jabs in front of dozens of cameras. More medical workers and patients with chronic diseases are to start receiving injections on Tuesday.

The area has received just 22,000 doses of vaccines, a tiny fraction of what is needed to immunize the strip’s 2 million people, including some 1.4 million people over age 18.

The shortage of vaccines in both the Gaza Strip and the West Bank stands in stark contrast to Israel, which is on pace to immunize almost all of its adult population in the coming weeks. Already, roughly one-third of Israel’s 9.3 million people have received two doses of the Pfizer vaccine. The disparity has drawn attention to the worldwide inequity in vaccine distribution between rich and poor nations.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press
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Germany reopens some schools amid fears pandemic may rebound

Pupils attend a lesson at the ‘Russee’ elementary school in Kiel, northern Germany, Monday, Feb. 22, 2021. Elementary schools and kindergartens in more than half of Germany’s 16 states reopened Monday after two months of closure due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The move comes despite growing signs that the decline in case numbers in Germany is flattening out again and even rising in some areas.
(Gregor Fischer/dpa via AP)

Elementary students in more than half of Germany’s 16 states returned to school Monday after more than two months at home, the first major relaxation of the country’s pandemic measures since before Christmas.

Kindergartens also reopened their doors for pre-school children, giving much-anticipated relief to stressed parents trying to juggle working from home and childcare during the lockdown.

The move was agreed at a meeting between German Chancellor Angela Merkel and state governors two weeks ago, and stuck to despite signs that the decline in case numbers seen in the country is flattening out again and even rising in some areas.

Education Minister Anja Karliczek has defended the decision to reopen schools, saying younger children in particular benefit from learning together in groups.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press

People who wear glasses less likely to catch COVID-19, new study suggests

People who wear glasses could be up to three times less likely to get coronavirus, according to a new study conducted in India.

The preliminary study suggests that glass-wearers may have the extra protection because they tend to touch their eyes less frequently than most people.

“Touching and rubbing of the eyes with contaminated hands may be a significant route of infection” for COVID-19, the authors wrote in a report published on medRxiv, a website that compiles medical studies before they are peer-reviewed.

The new study found that the risk of infection was two to three times lower among those who wear glasses for “long periods of time,” meaning at least eight hours a day, according to the report.

Indian researchers described the findings as “statistically significant.”

Read the full story here.

—By Nelson Oliveira, New York Daily News

Dubai’s Emirates seeks key role in global vaccine delivery

An Emirates Airlines Boing 777 arrives from Brussels to deliver Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 coronavirus vaccines shipment at Dubai International Airport in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, early Sunday, Feb. 21, 2021. As the coronavirus pandemic continues to clobber the aviation industry, Emirates Airlines, the Middle East’s biggest airline is seeking to play a vital role in the global vaccine delivery effort. (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili)

The belly of the Emirates plane that touched down in Dubai early Sunday from Brussels was stuffed with precious cargo: tens of thousands of doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

The arrival was part of an effort by the Middle East’s biggest airline to pivot from shuttling people to shipping cargo — and grabbing a central role in the global vaccine delivery race.

As the coronavirus pandemic continues to clobber the aviation industry, the disaster has hit long-haul carriers like Emirates hardest. So the airline is ferrying around the very substance it hopes will get passengers back into its seats and revive the flagging travel sector.

Read the story here.

—Malak Harb, The Associated Press
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False claims tying coronavirus vaccines to infertility drive doubts among women of childbearing age

Niharika Sathe, a 34-year-old internal medicine physician in New Jersey, first heard the fertility rumor from another doctor.

The friend confided that she would decline the coronavirus vaccine because of something she’d seen online — that the shot could cause the immune system to attack the placenta, potentially leading to miscarriage and infertility. Sathe, who was early in her pregnancy at the time but had not told anyone, spent the next few weeks scrutinizing information from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine and calling trusted experts to investigate the report.

In the end, she determined the rumor had no basis in fact, and both she and her friend wound up getting the vaccine. But the experience left her rattled.

“That kind of misinformation is really scary,” Sathe said, adding, “It has enough science to sound potentially plausible.”

As the rollout of the coronavirus vaccine ramps up across the United States, women of childbearing age have emerged as a surprising roadblock to efforts to halt the pandemic by achieving herd immunity.

Officials have encountered hesitancy among other groups, including some Black and Hispanic adults and those who believe the pandemic is a hoax. But the reluctance of women in their 20s and 30s — largely around disinformation spread on Facebook, Twitter and other social media — has been more unexpected. With such women making up a large share of the health-care workforce, vaccine uptake at nursing homes and hospitals has been as low as 20 to 50 percent in some places — a far cry from the 70 to 85 percent population target that health officials say may be needed to stop the virus.

“I’m worried, frankly,” said Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health. “There are stories out there on the internet about how vaccination can lead to infertility. There’s absolutely nothing to that. But when we look at people who are expressing hesitancy, in many instances those are women of childbearing age.”

Click here to read the full story.

—By Ariana Eunjung Cha, The Washington Post

FDA says vaccines adapted for new variants won’t need lengthy clinical trials

The Food and Drug Administration said Monday that vaccine developers would not need to conduct lengthy randomized controlled trials to evaluate vaccines that have been adapted to target concerning coronavirus variants.

The recommendations, which call for small trials more like what’s required for annual flu vaccines, would greatly accelerate the review process at a time when scientists are increasingly anxious about how the variants might slow or reverse progress made against the virus.

The guidance was part of a slate of new documents the agency released Monday, including others addressing how antibody treatments and diagnostic tests might need to be retooled to respond to the virus variants. Together, they amounted to the federal government’s most detailed acknowledgment of the threat the variants pose to existing vaccines, treatments and tests for the coronavirus and come weeks after the FDA’s acting commissioner, Dr. Janet Woodcock, said the agency was developing a plan.

“We want the American public to know that we are using every tool in our toolbox to fight this pandemic, including pivoting as the virus adapts,” Woodcock said in a statement Monday.

Click here to read the full story.

—The New York Times

Shops, haircuts return in April as UK lifts lockdown slowly

FILE – In this Friday, Jan. 15, 2021 file photo, Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks during a media briefing on COVID-19, in Downing Street, London. Johnson is setting out a road map for lifting one of Europe’s strictest national lockdowns — but millions of Britons longing for a haircut or an evening out still face a long wait. Johnson is announcing plans Monday, Feb. 22, 2021 to ease restrictions in increments, starting by reopening schools in England on March 8. People will be allowed to meet one friend or relative for a chat or picnic outdoors from the same day. Three weeks later, people will be able to meet outdoors in groups of up to six outdoors. But restaurants, pubs, gyms and hairdressers are likely to remain closed until at least April. (Dominic Lipinski/Pool via AP, File)

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a slow easing of one of Europe’s strictest pandemic lockdowns on Monday, saying children will return to class and people will be able to meet a friend outside for coffee in two weeks’ time.

But those longing for a haircut, a restaurant meal or a pint in a pub have almost two months to wait, and people won’t be able to hug loved ones that they don’t live with until May at the earliest.

Johnson said the government’s plan would move the country “cautiously but irreversibly” out of lockdown.

Britain has had Europe’s deadliest coronavirus outbreak, with more than 120,000 deaths. Faced with a dominant virus variant that scientists say is both more transmissible and more deadly than the original virus, the country has spent much of the winter under a tight lockdown. Bars, restaurants, gyms, schools, hair salons and nonessential shops are closed, people are urged not to travel out of their local area and foreign holidays are illegal.

That will begin to change, slowly, on March 8, when schools reopen and people are allowed to meet one friend or relative for a chat or picnic outdoors. Three weeks later, people will be able to meet in small groups outdoors for sports or relaxation.

Read the story here.

—Jill Lawless and Danica Kirka, The Associated Press
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UN to rich nations: Don’t undermine COVAX vaccine program

The head of the World Health Organization pleaded with rich countries on Monday to check before ordering additional COVID-19 vaccine shots for themselves whether that undermines efforts to get vaccine shots to poorer nations.

Wealthy nations have snapped up several billion vaccine doses while some countries in the developing world have little or none.

German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, right, and Director General of the World Health Organization Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, left on the screen, brief the media on a virtual joint news conference at Bellevue Palace in Berlin, Germany, Monday, Feb. 22, 2021. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said some rich countries’ approaches to manufacturers to secure more vaccines are “affecting the deals with COVAX, and even the amount that was allocated for COVAX was reduced because of this.”

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press

CDC study: Teachers key to COVID-19 infections in 1 district

ATLANTA (AP) — A new study finds that teachers may be more important drivers of COVID-19 transmission in schools than students.

The paper released Monday by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention studies nine COVID-19 transmission clusters in elementary schools in the Atlanta suburb of Marietta in December and January, That included one cluster where 16 teachers, students and relatives of students at home were infected.

In only one of the nine clusters was a student clearly the first documented case, while a teacher was the first documented case in four clusters. In another four, the first case was unclear. Of the nine clusters, eight involved probable teacher-to-student transmission. Two clusters saw teachers infect one another during in-person meetings or lunches, with a teacher then infecting other students.

“Educators were central to in-school transmission networks,” the authors wrote.

Click here to read the full story.

—By Jeff Amy, The Associated Press

Look to refugee schools for lessons on teaching kids after COVID, some experts say

“I think our kids are amazing. We need to give them hope,” says Washington state Rep. My-Linh Thai, who came to the United States as a teenager from Vietnam. Educators concerned about learning loss during the COVID-19 pandemic are looking to the refugee experience for guidance in how to help students.  (Ellen M. Banner / The Seattle Times)

Eleventh-grader My-Linh Thai sat with her guidance counselor at Federal Way High, Vietnamese-English dictionary in her bag. “I want to go to the University of Washington and become a doctor,” she said.

“That’s not possible,” the counselor said. 

Thai had entered the state school system near the end of 10th grade, part of a wave of Southeast Asian refugees who came to Washington between 1975 and the early 1980s. She didn’t know English, and although Thai was at the top of her class in her home country, her small town had no library, the school was so crowded it had to take kids in shifts, and the power cut out at 6 o’clock.

Now she was an English-language learner who couldn’t stay after school for tutoring because she had to work. The culture shock was like plunging into an ice bath on a steamy day. Kids called teachers by their first names!

Still, Thai dreamed of being a doctor. She asked the counselor to write down exactly what she needed to do to graduate and go to university.  

“I completed everything on that list,” said Thai, now a Washington state legislator. “It was possible.”   

It’s hard to feel hopeful right now as we read terrifying stories about the amount of learning students might be losing during the pandemic, and it’s doubly crushing when we know how incredibly hard teachers, parents and children are working.

Even so, educators who work with refugee students say children who come to this country at a disadvantage in every way — recovering from trauma, struggling to parse a new language, behind academically — can catch up to their peers and even excel, if they’re given the right support.

That bodes well for the millions of children who have been left behind by COVID-19. 

Read the story here.

—Danielle Dreilinger, Special to The Seattle Times
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An uptick in eating disorders is another side effect of the COVID-19 pandemic

To say that things have felt a little out of control for the past year or so is a bit of an understatement.

If you have a lot of inner resilience, you may be doing just fine, even in the face of pandemic fatigue. But many people are not doing fine. The effects of our lingering collective uncertainty may be especially harsh for people who struggle with disordered eating. Disordered eating may manifest as anything from restrictive dieting to stress/emotional eating to orthorexia (an unhealthy obsession with eating healthy) to clinical eating disorders such as anorexia, bulimia and binge eating.

Research on the impact of COVID-19 on eating disorders began almost as soon as COVID-19 did. A July 2020 article in the journal Eating Disorders warned that people with eating disorders would be disproportionately affected by quarantine. A study published in November in the International Journal of Eating Disorders that surveyed participants in the U.S. and the Netherlands found that many individuals with anorexia reported restricting their eating more, while those with bulimia and binge eating disorder reported more bingeing. 

Read the story here.

—Carrie Dennett, Special to The Seattle Times

India sees new lockdowns as coronavirus cases rise again

People crowd Juhu beach in Mumbai, India, Friday, Feb. 19, 2021. Health officials have detected a spike in COVID-19 cases in several pockets of Maharashtra state, including in Mumbai, the country’s financial capital. (Rafiq Maqbool / The Associated Press)

Cases of COVID-19 are increasing in some parts of India after months of a steady nationwide decline, prompting authorities to impose lockdowns and other virus restrictions.

Infections have been plummeting in India since September, and life has already returned to normal in large parts of the country. In many cities, markets are bustling, roads are crowded and restaurants are nearly full.

But experts have been warning that the reasons behind India’s success aren’t really understood, and that the country of nearly 1.4 billion people can’t afford to let its guard down.

The spike has been most pronounced in the western state of Maharashtra, where nearly 7,000 cases were detected in the past 24-hours, accounting for almost half of India’s over 14,000 cases confirmed on Monday. The weekly average for infections has nearly doubled to 5,229 in the state in the past two weeks.

Lockdowns have been reimposed in some parts of the state and authorities have banned all religious or cultural programs.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press

Russia’s COVID-19 vaccination drive slowly picking up speed

Elderly residents of Ikhala were relieved when they heard that doctors were finally bringing a few doses of the coronavirus vaccine to their remote, snowy village in the Russian region of Karelia, near the border with Finland.

The village of wooden houses — carved out of a dense forest of fir trees about 12 miles from the Finnish border and 60 miles north of St. Petersburg — is one of several in the Karelia region where Russia’s vaccination campaign has arrived in recent weeks.

More than 18,000 people have gotten their first dose of the Sputnik V vaccine in the region of 600,000 with the highest rate of COVID-19 cases in Russia as a whole.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press
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Catch up on the past 24 hours

The pace of vaccine deliveries is about to take off as the U.S. nears a supply breakthrough. (Here's an updating guide to getting your vaccine doses.) This comes as we hit a grim milestone: a half-million Americans dead of COVID-19 in roughly a year, more than in World War I, World War II and the Vietnam War combined. The ripple effects are profound. Our Lives Remembered project tells the stories of some of those we've lost in the Seattle area.

What will it take to end the mask era? Americans may still be wearing them in 2022, Dr. Anthony Fauci said yesterday, even as he predicted the U.S. will return to "a significant degree of normality" by fall. Other experts expect a tiered reawakening for our social lives as they outline what the science is teaching us.

President Joe Biden is boosting pandemic lending to small businesses, starting this week with a short window in which only the smallest can apply for forgivable loans.

"I tested positive for COVID-19 before anyone even knew it was in the U.S." A year after Seattle freelancer Christy Karras fell ill, she's writing about how her life has changed, and how she's navigating daily decisions. 

Dreaming of flying to a sunnier place? As air travel picks up, here's what to expect on planes this summer and when to lock in the best fares. Amid the new signs of optimism about travel: Three major Las Vegas casinos are resuming 24/7 operations, and Disney World has unveiled plans for an 18-month bash to celebrate its 50th anniversary.

—Kris Higginson

How is the pandemic affecting you?

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