Editor’s note: This is a live account of COVID-19 updates from Tuesday, Jan. 12, 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 It is no longer being updated.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 pushing forward in its biggest vaccination drive in history, opening football stadiums, major league ballparks, fairgrounds, convention centers and even Disneyland as mass vaccination sites for Americans.

Meanwhile, President-elect Joe Biden received his second dose of the coronavirus vaccine on Monday, three weeks after getting his first one with television cameras rolling in an attempt to reassure the American public that the inoculations are safe.

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.


Navigating the pandemic
(Jennifer Luxton / The Seattle Times)

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California sees bright spot in ‘most intense surge’ of virus

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — California has lifted a stay-at-home order for 13 northern counties with improving hospital conditions but most of the state’s population remains under tight restrictions in the deadly coronavirus pandemic.

The state on Tuesday lifted the order in the Sacramento region — a rare turn of good news as the state pushes through what Gov. Gavin Newsom called its “most intense surge” of the coronavirus.

The order imposed Dec. 10 banned gatherings outside a household and restricted many businesses. With virus cases and hospitalizations more stable, the region can resume outdoor dining and worship services, reopen hair and nail salons and other businesses, and increase capacity at retailers. Gatherings up to three households are allowed.

Newsom made the announcement on social media, reminding people to wear masks and stay home as much as possible and offering the hopeful promise: “There is a light at the end of this tunnel.”

—Associated Press
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Chinese city tests millions amid fresh outbreak

BEIJING — Millions of people were lining up Wednesday in subzero temperatures to receive a second round of coronavirus tests in a city south of Beijing that is at the heart of China’s most serious latest outbreak of COVID-19.

The National Health Commission announced Wednesday that another 90 confirmed cases had been reported in Hebei province, whose capital Shijiazhuang has accounted for the vast majority of recent cases. Another 16 cases were reported in the northeastern province of Heilongjiang and one in the northern province of Shanxi.

China, where the coronavirus was first detected in late 2019, had largely contained domestic spread of the virus and the new outbreaks come even as authorities push to vaccinate 50 million people by the middle February.

The Hebei outbreak is of particular concern because of the province’s close proximity to Beijing. Travel to and from three cities, Shijiazhuang, Xingtai and Langfang, has been suspended and residents of some communities have been told to stay home for the next week.

—Associated Press

Abrupt federal shift on coronavirus vaccinations catches Washington state by surprise

Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, discusses Operation Warp Speed and coronavirus vaccine distribution on Tuesday. (Patrick Semansky / The Associated Press)

Six days after state health officials unveiled careful plans for the next stages of prioritized coronavirus vaccination, the Trump administration asked governors nationwide to scrap much of that work and rapidly expand eligibility to receive doses.

Alex Azar, the federal secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS), called for governors to allow vaccination of anyone over 65 and also anyone with a health condition that exacerbates the risk of COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus, during a news briefing Tuesday.

“State restrictions on eligibility have obstructed speed and accessibility of administration,” Azar said, blaming states for the slow pace of vaccination.

Azar said federal officials would no longer hold back vaccines from states to ensure booster doses were available, offered federal help to establish mass vaccination clinics and said the federal government would allocate shots, in part, based on which states were most successful at administering them. He said the federal government wanted to add access points for vaccination.

The abrupt federal policy shift on prioritization — which will make nearly a third of Americans eligible to be vaccinated — represents a departure from months of state planning and federal guidance on who should be eligible.

Read the full story here.

—Evan Bush

Indonesia starts emergency use of COVID-19 vaccine

JAKARTA, Indonesia — Indonesian President Joko Widodo on Wednesday received the first shot of a Chinese-made COVID-19 vaccine after Indonesia approved it for emergency use and began efforts to vaccine millions of people in the world’s fourth most populated country.

After Widodo, top military, police and medical officials were vaccinated, as well as the secretary of the Indonesian Ulema Council, the clerical body that last week had ruled the vaccine was halal and could be taken by Muslims.

“This vaccine is the instrument we can use to protect us. But more importantly, the vaccine is the instrument to protect our family, our neighbor, Indonesian people and the human civilization,” Health Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin said on Wednesday.

Conditional use of the Sinovac Biotech Ltd. vaccine is scheduled to be rolled out in the coming months with health care workers, civil servants and other at-risk populations prioritized first. It will be free for all Indonesian citizens.

—Associated Press
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Tribal elders are dying from the pandemic, causing a cultural crisis for American Indians

STANDING ROCK RESERVATION, N.D. — The virus took Grandma Delores first, silencing an 86-year-old voice that rang with Lakota songs and stories. Then it came for Uncle Ralph, a stoic Vietnam veteran. And just after Christmas, two more elders of the Taken Alive family were buried on the frozen North Dakota prairie: Jesse and Cheryl, husband and wife, who died a month apart.

“It takes your breath away,” said Ira Taken Alive, the couple’s oldest son. “The amount of knowledge they held, and connection to our past.”

One by one, those connections are being severed as the coronavirus tears through ranks of Native American elders, inflicting an incalculable toll on bonds of language and tradition that flow from older generations to the young.

“It’s like we’re having a cultural book-burning,” said Jason Salsman, a spokesperson for the Muscogee (Creek) Nation in eastern Oklahoma, whose grandparents contracted the virus but survived. “We’re losing a historical record, encyclopedias. One day soon, there won’t be anybody to pass this knowledge down.”

The loss of tribal elders has swelled into a cultural crisis as the pandemic has killed American Indians and Alaska Natives at nearly twice the rate of white people, deepening what critics call the deadly toll of a tattered health system and generations of harm and broken promises by the U.S. government.

—Associated Press

To cancel or not?: IOC, Japan press ahead with Tokyo Games

TOKYO — Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga declared a state of emergency last week for Tokyo and surrounding areas. Amid the surging virus, he again promised the postponed Tokyo Olympics would be “safe and secure” and tried to disconnect the state of emergency from the fate of the Games.

But opposition to the Olympics is growing with calls mounting for a cancellation. The International Olympic Committee and local organizers have already said another postponement is impossible, leaving cancellation — or opening on July 23 — as the only options.

Two polls published in the last few days by the Japanese news agency Kyodo, and Japanese broadcaster TBS, show that just over 80% want the Olympics canceled or postponed, or believe they will not take place. The negative responses are up 15 to 20 percentage points from polls published just last month.

“The Japanese public are already more and more inclined to oppose the hosting of the Olympics this summer, and the state of emergency reinforces the perception that it is a lost cause,” Koichi Nakano, who teaches politics at Tokyo’s Sophia University, said in an email to the Associated Press.

—Associated Press

Attorney Fred Levin, who fought tobacco industry, dies at 83

PENSACOLA, Fla. — Florida attorney Fred Levin, who won a major legal battle against the tobacco industry in the 1990s, died Tuesday, several days after contracting the coronavirus. He was 83.

Levin Papantonio Rafferty attorney Mark Proctor confirmed Levin’s passing from what he described as complications of COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus.

Levin’s career began in 1961 when he joined the Levin and Askew law firm founded by his brother David and Reubin Askew, the Pensacola News Journal reported.

In the 1990s, Levin was able to get the Florida Legislature to change Florida’s Medicaid law, allowing it to recoup money for the cost of treating lung cancer. That change helped Levin lead an effort to reach a $13 billion settlement with the tobacco industry.

Levin used his success in his law career to pursue philanthropy work, donating more than $35 million. The University of Florida named its law school after Levin in 1999 after he gave $10 million to the school where he earned his undergraduate degree in 1958 and his law degree in 1961.

—Associated Press
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Four counties moved back to extreme risk COVID-19 category

SALEM, Ore. — Four Oregon counties are moving back to the extreme risk category after COVID-19 cases there increased. Gov. Kate Brown said Tuesday that Baker, Clatsop, Coos and Morrow counties will move from high risk to extreme risk.

Effective Jan. 15 through Jan. 28, 26 counties including the most populous county, Multnomah, will be at the extreme risk level, with two counties at high risk, two at moderate risk, and six at lower risk, according to a news release from the governor’s office.

Also in Tuesday’s update, Curry County was moved from extreme to moderate and Lake County was moved from lower to moderate.

Different health and safety measures apply for each level of risk.

Brown said in a news release that with four counties moving to extreme risk, it’s a reminder that health and safety measures continue to be of utmost importance.

Metro League aiming for Feb. 22 to return to play for football

The Metro League announced Tuesday that it is hoping for athletics to return starting Feb. 22.

Returning to play is contingent on the Puget Sound Region making it to Phase 2 of the state’s “Healthy Washington” plan.

The Metro League has divided up its athletic calendar into two seasons for this academic year only. The first, which will contain football along with girls soccer, volleyball, gymnastics, girls swimming and diving, slowpitch softball, bowling and coed sports cross country and golf, will begin practice Feb. 22 and run until April 17.

The second season, which will have boys and girls basketball, boys soccer, boys swimming and diving, baseball and fastpitch softball and the coed sports of track and field, wrestling and tennis, will run from April 19 to June 12.

The Washington Interscholastic Activities Association redesigned its sports calendar last week, aiming for a Feb. 1 start for the football season (and other sports).

Read the full story here.

—Nathan Joyce

State reports 2,502 new coronavirus cases and 90 deaths

The state Department of Health (DOH) reported 2,502 new coronavirus cases and 90 new deaths on Tuesday. The DOH says today’s unusually high number of reported deaths is due to a data backlog. Until today, the agency had not reported death data since Jan. 8.

The update brings the state's totals to 278,544 cases and 3,789 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.

In addition, 16,068 people have been hospitalized in the state due to the virus, with 90 new hospitalizations reported since yesterday. In King County, the state's most populous, state health officials have confirmed a total of 70,545 COVID-19 diagnoses and 1,122 deaths.

On Dec. 16, 2020 DOH began including both confirmed cases and probable cases in its total case, hospitalization and death counts. 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 agency says today’s new cases may include up to 550 duplicates and that negative results are incomplete from Nov. 21-30, 2020 and Dec. 29 through today.

The DOH says its daily case reports may also include 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.

—Brendan Kiley
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US to require all arriving passengers to get COVID-19 test

Anyone flying to the U.S. will soon need to show proof of a negative test for COVID-19, health officials announced Tuesday.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention requirement expands on a similar one announced late last month for passengers coming from the United Kingdom.

COVID is already widespread in the U.S., with more than 22 million cases reported to date, including more than 375,000 deaths. The new measures are designed to try to prevent travelers from bringing in newer forms of the virus that scientists say can spread more easily.

The CDC order is to take effect in about two weeks, on Jan. 26. It requires air passengers to get a COVID-19 test within three days before their flight departs to the U.S., and to provide written proof of the test result to the airline. Travelers can also provide documentation that they had the infection in the past and recovered.

Read the story here.

—Mike Stobbe and David Koeing, The Associated Press

No choice: Dutch PM extends coronavirus lockdown by 3 weeks

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte extended his country’s tough five-week lockdown by a further three weeks Tuesday amid concerns that infection rates are not falling quickly enough and fears about the new more transmissible variant first detected in the United Kingdom.

The lockdown will last until Feb. 9.

Under the lockdown, all schools and nonessential shops are closed, along with public venues such as cinemas, museums and libraries. There also are strict limits on the size of gatherings both indoors and outside.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press

The future of the coronavirus? An annoying childhood infection

As millions are inoculated against the coronavirus, and the pandemic’s end finally seems to glimmer into view, scientists are envisioning what a postvaccine world might look like — and what they see is comforting.

The coronavirus is here to stay, but once most adults are immune — following natural infection or vaccination — the virus will be no more of a threat than the common cold, according to a study published in the journal Science on Tuesday.

The virus is a grim menace now because it is an unfamiliar pathogen that can overwhelm the adult immune system, which has not been trained to fight it. That will no longer be the case once everyone has been exposed to either the virus or vaccine.

Children, on the other hand, are constantly challenged by pathogens that are new to their bodies, and that is one reason they are more adept than adults at fending off the coronavirus. Eventually, the study suggests, the virus will be of concern only in children younger than 5, subjecting even them to mere sniffles — or no symptoms at all.

In other words, the coronavirus will become “endemic,” a pathogen that circulates at low levels and only rarely causes serious illness.

Read the story.

—Apoorva Mandavilli, The New York Times
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Salem gym fined record $126,749 for violating state coronavirus restrictions

Oregon has levied a $126,749 fine on a Salem gym that has repeatedly refused to shut down in compliance with coronavirus restrictions, the largest fine that the state has issued for coronavirus workplace violations.

Oregon Occupational Safety and Health (Oregon OSHA) announced Tuesday that it had issued the fine to Capitol Racquet Sports for willfully refusing to comply with state health orders at one of its Courthouse Club Fitness locations in Salem.

Courthouse Club did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Tuesday. The gym will have 30 days to decide whether to appeal the fine. It appealed prior sanctions.

Gyms in counties deemed “extreme risk” for COVID-19 spread have not been allowed to conduct indoor operations since late November under Gov. Kate Brown’s new framework for COVID-19 restrictions. 

Read the story here.

—Jamie Goldberg, oregonlive.com

COVID-19 could double homelessness, new study finds

A recession following the coronavirus pandemic could cause twice as much homelessness nationwide as the Great Recession did more than a decade ago, says a grim study released Tuesday by Economic Roundtable, an L.A. research group.

Using detailed data on unemployment and homelessness from L.A. County social services, authors of the study project that people at the “thin edge of the labor market” — restaurant employees, temporary workers, seasonal labor — are in particular danger of drifting into homelessness in the coming years as the economy recovers.

Daniel Flaming, the president of Economic Roundtable, said though the report uses L.A. data, the pandemic recession will likely have long-term effects in Seattle and other major cities.

By 2023, the number of people who’ve lost work and become homeless as a ripple effect of a pandemic-induced recession could tip over 600,000 beyond current numbers, doubling the last nationwide count, which was roughly 568,000 in January 2019.

Read the story here.

—Scott Greenstone

As pandemic worsens, most US states resist restrictions

 As the U.S. goes through the most lethal phase of the coronavirus outbreak yet, governors and local officials in hard-hit parts of the country are showing little willingness to impose any new restrictions on businesses to stop the spread.

Both Democratic and Republican leaders are signaling their opposition to forced closings and other measures.

FILE – In this Jan. 11, 2021, file photo, Grace Mathre, server at Longfellow Grill, checks on University of St. Thomas students Lundsey Schulz and Maren Daggett in Minneapolis. As the U.S. finds itself in the most lethal phase of the coronavirus outbreak yet, governors and local officials in hard-hit parts of the country are showing little willingness to impose any new restrictions on businesses to stop the spread. (Glen Stubbe/Star Tribune via AP, File)

The most notable change of tune came from New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, who imposed a tough shutdown last spring as the state became the epicenter of the U.S. outbreak.

“We simply cannot stay closed until the vaccine hits critical mass. The cost is too high. We will have nothing left to open,” Cuomo said.

Governors in other hot spots, including Texas, have expressed similar sentiments, while other states are loosening restrictions even as the U.S. death toll closes in on 380,000 and cases top 22.7 million. Deaths nationwide are running at more than 3,200 a day on average.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press
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Ontario issues stay at home order, extends school closure

 Canada’s most populous province has imposed a stay-at-home order as coronavirus cases surge, Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced Tuesday.

Police will be able to issue tickets for violations of the order that takes effect Thursday.

Ontario reported 2,903 new confirmed infections on Tuesday, including eight new cases of a variant from the United Kingdom that is feared to be more contagious than the original strain.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press

Inslee waives in-person requirement for oath of office

Gov. Jay Inslee on Tuesday issued a proclamation suspending the requirement that statewide elected officials be sworn in while physically at the capitol in Olympia

This waiver allows statewide elected officials to choose to either be sworn in remotely or in person.

The order is effective until midnight on January 15.

—Christine Clarridge

UW women’s basketball coach Jody Wynn on team’s COVID-19 quarantine: ‘This has just been so hard’

Washington women’s basketball coach Jody Wynn spoke publicly Monday night for the first time since the Huskies paused activities due to positive COVID-19 tests within the program.

Jody Wynn’s Huskies have had two positive COVID-19 cases and have been forced to quarantine for 10 days beginning Jan. 6. (Dean Rutz / The Seattle Times)

On her weekly radio show, Wynn said the UW traveling squad – players, coaches and support staff who made the trip to Utah and Colorado last week – was placed into a 10-day quarantine on Jan. 6.

Since then, the Huskies have remained in isolation and restricted from leaving their residence. Players are having meals delivered to them and undergoing coronavirus tests every three days at their dorms that are administered by athletic trainers.

Wynn referenced two players as those who produced positive COVID-19 tests and said, with the exception of a loss of taste, no one has experienced anything more than mild flu-like symptoms.

Washington (4-5, 1-5 Pac-12) has postponed four straight games due to the outbreak.

The Huskies were scheduled to host No. 11 Arizona last Friday and Arizona State on Sunday. This week’s game at No. 8 UCLA and USC were also postponed.

Read the story here.

—Percy Allen
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Seattle Fire will go door-to-door with coronavirus vaccines to adult family homes

The Seattle Fire Department, on Thursday, will begin vaccinating residents of adult family homes throughout the city, after the city was approved late last week as a distributor of COVID-19 vaccines, Mayor Jenny Durkan announced.

Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan and fire Chief Harold Scoggins, shown here in May 2019, on Tuesday announced a plan to vaccinate residents and staff of adult family homes.  (Ken Lambert / The Seattle Times, 2019)

Firefighters will go door to door at adult family homes not served by a federal partnership with CVS and Walgreens, Durkan said.

The mayor’s office also said the city is prepared to launch mass vaccination sites, similar to its free testing sites, once more vaccine is available.

Seattle Fire is the first emergency medical services agency in the Washington to receive state approval to begin vaccinations, Fire Chief Harold Scoggins said. The Washington state Department of Health, on Saturday, approved Seattle Fire as a vaccine distributor.

The city has asked for an initial shipment of 1,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine, which they plan to distribute within two weeks.

“We know that Seattle’s road to reopening and economic recovery starts with vaccinations, and today is the first step in the City’s efforts to significantly increase the vaccination rate and ensure the vaccine is easy and accessible to our City’s workers and residents,” Durkan said.

Read the story here.

—David Gutman

Pandemic has imperiled plans to retrieve Titanic’s radio

FILE – In this April 10, 1912 file photo the Titanic leaves Southampton, England on her maiden voyage. (AP Photo/File)

Fallout from the coronavirus pandemic is threatening a company’s plans to retrieve and exhibit the radio that had broadcast distress calls from the sinking Titanic, according to a court filing made by the firm.

The company, RMS Titanic Inc., said Monday that its revenues plummeted after coronavirus restrictions closed its exhibits of Titanic artifacts, causing the firm to seek funding through its parent company. Some of the exhibitions, which are scattered across the country, are still closed, while others that have reopened are seeing limited attendance.

RMS Titanic Inc. recently missed a deadline with a federal admiralty court in Virginia to submit a funding plan for the radio expedition. The company left open the possibility that it may no longer seek the court’s approval for the undertaking if a plan isn’t submitted in the coming weeks.

The company’s update, filed with a U.S. District Court in Norfolk, was made in the midst of an ongoing court battle with the United States over whether the expedition is legal.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press

Official: Africa securing close to 300 million vaccine doses

The African Union has secured close to 300 million COVID-19 vaccine doses in the largest such agreement yet for Africa, a continental official said Tuesday.

Nicaise Ndembi, senior science adviser for the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told The Associated Press in an interview that the current AU chair, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, is expected to announce the news on Wednesday.

The 300 million doses are being secured independently of the global COVAX effort aimed at distributing COVID-19 vaccines to lower-income countries, Ndembi said..

The news comes as coronavirus infections spike again in parts of Africa, especially South Africa, where a rapidly spreading variant of the coronavirus now makes up most of the new cases. The continent over the weekend surpassed 3 million confirmed cases since the start of the pandemic, with more than 1.2 million in South Africa.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press
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IRS gets more relief payments out after delays

FILE – In this April 23, 2020 file photo, President Donald J.Trump’s name is printed on a stimulus check issued by the IRS to help combat the adverse economic effects of the COVID-19 outbreak in San Antonio.  The IRS said that after initial problems, it is getting more of the second round of relief payments to taxpayers. A number of people who filed their taxes with an online preparation service initially found that their economic impact payment did not make it to them directly.   (Eric Gay / The Associated Press)

The IRS said that after initial problems, it is getting more of the second round of relief payments to taxpayers.

The government began distributing the payments, worth $600 per eligible adult and dependent, at the end of December.

However, many people who filed their taxes with an online preparation service initially found that their payment did not make it to them directly. That is because money may have been sent to a temporary bank account established by the tax preparer, which is no long active. By law, the financial institution must return payments sent to closed or inactive accounts.

Up to 20 million Americans may have been impacted by the administrative issue. The IRS said it is continuing to deliver the payments, but those eligible taxpayers who don’t receive a payment, or received an insufficient amount, can claim it using the Recovery Rebate Credit when they file their 2020 tax return.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press

EU regulator is considering Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine

The European Medicines Agency said Tuesday that AstraZeneca and Oxford University have submitted an application for their COVID-19 vaccine to be licensed across the European Union.

The EU regulator said it received a request for the vaccine to be green-lighted under an expedited process and that it could be approved by Jan. 29 “provided that the data submitted on the quality, safety and efficacy of the vaccine are sufficiently robust and complete.”

The EMA, the drugs agency for the 27-nation EU, has already approved two other coronavirus vaccines, one made by American drugmaker Pfizer and Germany’s BioNTech and another made by U.S. biotechnology company Moderna.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press

U.S. high court to hear case on virus relief for tribes

The U.S. Supreme Court will hear a case that centers on who gets a share of $8 billion in federal coronavirus relief allocated for Native American tribes.

Lower courts split on whether Alaska Native corporations, which own most Native land in the state under a 1971 settlement, should be in the mix. The U.S. Treasury Department sought review from the high court after a federal appeals court ruled in September that the corporations aren’t eligible.

The Treasury Department said if the decision stands, the corporations will lose out on “hundreds of millions of dollars” in funding and be deprived of their ability to help Alaska Natives when it comes to health care, education and economic well-being.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press
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Portugal’s president awaits virus advice in self-isolation

Portuguese president Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa has tested negative for the coronavirus in results of two consecutive tests disclosed Tuesday, a day after a single positive result.

Rebelo de Sousa, 72, took office in 2016 and is seeking a second term in the country’s presidential election on Jan. 24.

FILE – In this file photo dated Wednesday June 17, 2020, Portuguese President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa after addressing the media at the Belem presidential palace in Lisbon.  The office of the Portuguese president said Tuesday Jan. 12, 2021, that Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa has tested positive for coronavirus although the veteran politician has no symptoms for the COVID-19 disease. (AP Photo/Armando Franca, FILE)

He was self-isolating in a residential area in the west of Lisbon without any symptoms and had suspended his entire agenda for the coming days, but was awaiting instructions from health authorities, a series of statements from the presidential office said.

A laboratory test using the so-called PCR method on Monday revealed that the president was positive for the virus, despite an antigen test having come out negative earlier in the day, his office first reported. The president then took two more PCR tests, one on Monday evening and another one on Tuesday, and both of them were negative.

False positive results in PCR tests, although rare, can occur.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press

Third lawmaker in lockdown tests positive for COVID-19

A third Democratic member of the House who was forced to go into lockdown during last week’s violent siege at the U.S. Capitol has tested positive for COVID-19.

Rep. Brad Schneider, D-Ill., said on Twitter that he tested positive Tuesday morning. He said he is not feeling symptoms but expressed dismay at the spate of positive test results and blamed Republican members of Congress who declined to wear a mask when it was offered to them during the lockdown.

Schneider’s comments came a few hours after similar remarks from Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., who said she had tested positive and criticized GOP members of Congress.

Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman of New Jersey said Monday that she had tested positive for COVID-19.

They were among dozens of lawmakers whisked to a secure location when pro-Trump insurrectionists stormed the Capitol. Some members of Congress huddled for hours in the large room, while others were there for a shorter period.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press

India starts shipping COVID-19 vaccine to cities

India has started shipping COVID-19 vaccines to multiple cities, four days ahead of a nationwide inoculation drive.

Health workers shift a box containing COVID-19 vaccine from a vehicle to a cold storage at Commissionerate of Health and Family Welfare in Hyderabad, India, Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021. On Jan. 16 India will start the massive undertaking of inoculating an estimated 30 million doctors, nurses and other front line workers, before attention turns to around 270 million people who are either aged over 50 or have co-morbidities. (Mahesh Kumar A. /The Associated Press)

The first consignment of vaccines developed by the Serum Institute of India left the city of Pune on Tuesday. The vaccines rolled out from Serum Institute of India’s facility in temperature-controlled trucks to the city’s airport, from where they were loaded into private air carriers for distribution all over the country.

Civil aviation minister Hardeep Singh Puri called the shipping of vaccines a “momentous mission.”

Beginning Saturday, India will start the massive undertaking of inoculating an estimated 30 million doctors, nurses and other front-line workers. The effort will then turn to inoculating around 270 million people who are either older than 50 or have secondary health conditions that raise their risks of dying from COVID-19.

The first vaccine shipments contain the COVISHIELD vaccine made by the Serum Institute and developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press
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In Greek city, segregated graves extend COVID-19 isolation

Workers shovel soil over a coffin during a funeral ceremony for a person who died of COVID-19, in the northern city of Thessaloniki, Greece, Saturday, Dec. 5, 2020. In Greece’s second-largest city, Thessaloniki, victims of the pandemic are buried in quarantined sections of two cemeteries, angering many relatives already heartbroken that their loved ones died with no or little family contact. (AP Photo/Giannis Papanikos)

 Even after death, COVID-19 victims endure harrowing isolation in Thessaloniki, the city in Greece most acutely affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

Efcharis Gunseer, 84, couldn’t see her daughter during any part of a losing battle with the virus, not at the nursing home where she first became ill or at the hospital where she spent several weeks. The staff of the overwhelmed intensive care ward also was too busy to set up phone calls, the daughter said..

When Gunseer died in late August, her body was wrapped in two plastic bags and placed in a shrink-wrapped casket. Under rules set by city authorities, she wasn’t buried next to her late husband but in a section of a cemetery reserved for people infected with the virus. Her grave remains off-limits to visitors.

“I think to die alone that way is the worst thing that can happen,” daughter Mikaela Triandafyllidou, 45, told The Associated Press. “I only saw my mother for a moment, from a distance at the morgue for identification….People are dying with no one there for them, like dogs.”

More than 300 people have been buried so far in the segregated plots, according to Thessaloniki officials.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press

More than 40% of Alaska inmates have contracted coronavirus

Data from the Alaska Department of Corrections show that more than 40% of the people incarcerated in Alaska have been infected with the coronavirus.

Case counts have exceeded 100 inmates in at least six Alaska prisons, Alaska Public Media reported Monday.

Advocates and families of inmates have said that overcrowding, inconsistent precautions and a general lack of transparency from the department are among the causes for the high infection rate.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press

Thousands party in streets after Alabama win despite virus

Alabama fans celebrate in the street in Tuscaloosa, Ala., Monday night, Jan. 11, 2021, after Alabama defeated Ohio State 52-24 in the NCAA college football national championship game in Miami Gardens, Fla. Many of the fans didn’t take basic precautions against the coronavirus like wearing face masks. (Benjamin Flanagan/Alabama Media Group via AP)

Thousands of excited football fans partied in streets around the University of Alabama after the Crimson Tide defeated Ohio State 52-24 for the national championship, ignoring pleas for common sense and safety at the height of the coronavirus pandemic.

Students and others poured out of jam-packed bars near campus as time expired in Miami late Monday, traffic cameras and images posted on social media show, gathering on University Boulevard in an area called “The Strip.”

Many of the fans screaming and cheering as they pressed against each other in the street didn’t wear face masks. The scene was exactly what officials feared before the game as they urged people to watch at home and celebrate privately.

More than 5,300 people have died in Alabama from the illness caused by the coronavirus, and about 404,000 have tested positive. About 14,200 people have tested positive in Tuscaloosa County, making it one of the worst in the state for the virus in overall numbers, and about 175 COVID-19 patients are being treated by DCH Regional Medical Center, located in the city.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press
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Mexico sees holiday bump in tourism amid coronavirus pandemic surge

U.S. tourist Latron Evans and his partner Nika, frolicking ocean waters at the beach in Tulum, Quintana Roo state, Mexico, Monday, Jan. 4, 2021. Evans, a Mississippi firefighter, said he was impressed by the health measures due to the new coronavirus pandemic. “They’re taking temperatures when you enter the building and giving you hand sanitizer every place you go, it’s required. It’s not that way in the states,” he said. (AP Photo/Emilio Espejel)

Tens of thousands of American tourists descended on Mexico’s glittering Caribbean beaches at the close of 2020 and start of this year. Quintana Roo state, the country’s tourism crown jewel, home to Cancun, the Riviera Maya and Tulum, received 961,000 tourists during that stretch — nearly half from the U.S. — down only 25% from the previous year.

“You come here and it’s a sigh of relief from all the turmoil of the COVID,” said Latron Evans, a 40-year-old firefighter from Jackson, Mississippi.

But concern is spreading that the winter holiday success could be fleeting, because it came as COVID-19 infections in both Mexico and the United States, the main source of the foreign tourists, were reaching new heights — and as a new, more easily spread variant was beginning to emerge in the U.S.

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—The Associated Press

Dutch see new coronavirus infections fall, credit lockdown

The number of new coronavirus infections in the Netherlands has fallen for the second week in a row, its public health institute said Tuesday, calling the decrease “the first effect” of a nationwide lockdown that began in mid-December.

The announcement came hours before Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte was expected to extend the lockdown in an attempt to further slow the spread of the virus and rein in the new, more transmissible variant first detected in the U.K.

Confirmed new COVID-19 infections over the last week fell 12% to 49,398, the institute said, while hospital admissions for people with the coronavirus fell 18% and new COVID-19 patients in intensive care units declined by 12%.

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—The Associated Press

Bodies pile up at crematorium in Germany’s virus hot spot

FILE – In this Tuesday, Dec. 22, 2020 file photo, the word ‘Covid 19’ is written in chalk on a coffin containing a deceased person who died of or with the corona virus at the crematorium in Meissen, Germany. German authorities have reported more than 1,000 coronavirus-related deaths in one day for the first time since the pandemic began. The national disease control center, the Robert Koch Institute, said Wednesday that 1,129 more deaths were reported over the past 24 hours. (Robert Michael/dpa via AP, file)

The caskets are stacked three high in the Meissen crematorium’s somber memorial hall, piled up in empty offices and stored in hallways. Many are sealed with plastic wrapping, others are labeled “infection risk,” “urgent” or simply “COVID.”

A surge of coronavirus deaths in this corner of eastern Germany has boosted business for crematorium manager Joerg Schaldach and his staff, but nobody is celebrating.

The crematorium would typically have 70 to 100 caskets on site at this time of year, when the flu season takes its toll on the elderly. Now he has 300 bodies waiting to be cremated and each day dozens more are delivered to the modernist building on a hill overlooking Meissen, an ancient town better known for its delicate porcelain and impressive Gothic castle.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press
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Catch up on the past 24 hours

The CDC will tell states to open up vaccines to people older than 65 and stop holding back the second dose.

Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Seattle, has tested positive for the coronavirus after being locked down during the Capitol siege with lawmakers who “not only cruelly refused to wear a mask but mocked colleagues and staff who offered them one,” her office says.

Are we at the beginning of the end of COVID-19? The answer hinges on herd immunity, which is highly unlikely this year, according to the World Health Organization. Three researchers explain what herd immunity really means and why achieving it will be so tricky.

Should you get a vaccine if you’ve had COVID-19? Yes, and here's why.

"I am truly and forever grateful." A Seattle doctor has penned a letter of thanks to those who made the COVID-19 vaccine possible, from ethicists to truck drivers to the person who stuck the needle in his arm. It's part wonky, part poetry.

One thing the Seahawks did right: finishing the season as the only NFL team without a positive COVID-19 test.

"The happiest place on Earth" is now a vaccination destination, as California aims to pump a million shots into arms this week.
 
Imagine wearing a sticker that warns you if you catch the coronavirus. It's among the gadgets on display as the tech industry's biggest showcase goes full pandemic.

—Kris Higginson

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