Editor’s note: This is a live account of COVID-19 updates from Tuesday, Jan. 5, as the day unfolded. It is no longer being updated. Click here to see all the most recent news about the pandemic, and click here to find additional resources.

While the coronavirus death toll in the United States surpassed 350,000 over the weekend, more than 1.3 million people moved through the country’s airport security checkpoints Sunday — the most since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic.

Meanwhile, in Washington, parts of the state are seeing broader backlash, many championed by far-right groups, against restrictions imposed in recent months to try to slow the spread of the pandemic.

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.

Gov. Jay Inslee will hold a press conference at 2:30 p.m. today to give an update on the state’s ongoing response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Watch here:

(Jennifer Luxton / The Seattle Times)

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California orders surgery delays as virus swamps hospitals

LOS ANGELES — Hospitals in California are so swamped by the coronavirus pandemic that the state has ordered those with room to accept patients from others that are out of intensive care beds.

The public health order issued Tuesday night could result in patients being shipped to Northern California from Southern California and the agricultural San Joaquin Valley, where 14 counties were immediately ordered to delay nonessential “and non-life threatening” surgeries in order to provide beds. The order, which will last at least three weeks, will also apply to any county where ICU capacity to treat COVID-19 patients is bottoming out.

“If we continue to see an alarming increase of COVID-19 patient admissions at hospitals statewide, some facilities may not be able to provide the critical and necessary care Californians need, whether those patients have COVID-19 or another medical condition,” said Dr. Tomás J. Aragón, the state’s public health officer.

The order could be a bellwether for California, where officials have warned some hospitals may have to start rationing care if an expected post-holiday surge in COVID-19 cases overwhelms the health care system.

—Associated Press
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China provinces enforce measures as cases spike

BEIJING — China’s Hebei is enforcing stricter control measures following a further rise in coronavirus cases in the province adjacent to the capital Beijing that’s due to host events for next year’s Winter Olympics.

The National Health Commission on Wednesday reported another 20 cases in Hebei, bringing the province’s total to 39 since Sunday.

The top provincial official on Tuesday said residents of areas classified as medium or high risk, primarily neighborhoods in the cities of Shijiazhuang and Xingtai, were being tested and barred from going out. Those in neighborhoods ranked as medium risk could only leave after showing a negative test for the virus. Classes are shifting online and school dormitories are in lockdown.

Also Wednesday, single cases were also reported in Beijing and the provinces of Lioaning and Heilongjiang, where mass testing and limited lockdowns have also been enforced.

—Associated Press

Hank Aaron, civil rights leaders get vaccinated in Georgia

ATLANTA — Baseball Hall of Famer Hank Aaron, former U.N. Ambassador and civil rights leader Andrew Young and former U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Louis Sullivan got vaccinated against COVID-19 in Georgia on Tuesday, hoping to send a message to Black Americans that the shots are safe.

Getting vaccinated “makes me feel wonderful,” Aaron told The Associated Press. “I don’t have any qualms about it at all, you know. I feel quite proud of myself for doing something like this. … It’s just a small thing that can help zillions of people in this country.”

Rolling up their sleeves to take the first of two doses, these octogenarians, their spouses and several other civil rights leaders who received the shots in a brand-new health clinic at the Morehouse School of Medicine acknowledged the legacy of mistrust that many African Americans have toward medical research, stemming from the infamous Tuskegee experiment in which U.S. health workers left syphilis untreated in Black men without their consent, making them suffer needlessly.

“I’ve been taking vaccines now for 88 years and I haven’t been sick,” Young said. “The truth of it is, Black folk have been living by shots, and just because they did something crazy and murderous and evil back in 1931, we’re still thinking about that. We’ve got to get over that.”

—Associated Press

Mulkey positive for COVID-19, UConn-Baylor women’s game off

No. 6 Baylor canceled its anticipated home game Thursday night against No. 3 UConn after Lady Bears coach Kim Mulkey tested positive for COVID-19.

Baylor said it began restricting team activities after Mulkey tested positive on Monday, the same day she had been planning to rejoin the team.

The 58-year-old Mulkey missed Baylor’s win Saturday at TCU because of contact tracing after being exposed on Christmas Day to a family member who tested positive.

“I immediately self-quarantined and did not re-join the team when our staff and players came back from our holiday break,” Mulkey said in a statement Tuesday. “I produced three negative tests leading up to our game at TCU (on Saturday). However, I decided that it was important to continue quarantining in case the virus took time to come to fruition.”

Mulkey now hopes to rejoin the program Jan. 15, if she shows no symptoms.

—Associated Press
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Thailand scrambles to contain outbreak, secure vaccines

BANGKOK — For much of 2020, Thailand had the coronavirus under control. After a strict nationwide lockdown in April and May, the number of new local infections dropped to zero, where they remained for the next six months.

Thailand closed its borders, enforcing mandatory quarantines for its own citizens and the handful of foreigners allowed to visit. But aside from a few outward signs of the “new normal,” like the ubiquitous wearing of masks and reminders to practice social distancing, life resumed as though the pandemic had largely run its course.

A new outbreak discovered in mid-December threatens to put the country back where it was in the toughest days of early 2020, when it tallied 3,045 cases and 59 deaths. Thailand’s COVID-19 coordinating center has warned that the number of new daily cases could rise to more than 10,000 by later this month under a worst-case scenario if the government does not do more to curtail the virus’s spread.

Thailand now has 8,966 total confirmed cases with 65 deaths.

Complicating its path to recovery, Thailand is playing catch-up in its bid to secure vaccines. 

—Associated Press

UW women’s basketball game against Arizona State on Jan. 10 postponed due to COVID-19

For the second time this season, the Washington women’s basketball team has had a game postponed due to COVID-19 developments in other programs. 

Washington’s home game against Arizona State scheduled for Sunday has been postponed following a COVID-19 outbreak among the Sun Devils, and both teams will seek to reschedule the matchup, according to the Pac-12. 

Arizona State, which played last week without two players presumably due to COVID-19 issues, is also not traveling for Friday’s game at Washington State. [ASU does not release specific player information regarding COVID-19 due to privacy rights.] 

On Dec. 21, Washington didn’t host Oregon State after the Beavers had positive COVID-19 tests. 

Read the full story here.

—Percy Allen

Kent sports bar defies state health department’s order to shut down after violating Washington’s COVID-19 indoor-dining ban

Public-health officials ordered Stimpy’s Sports Bar & Grill in Kent to close on Monday after an inspector witnessed “30 to 40 customers” inside the bar on Dec. 29, despite the state’s indoor dining-room ban.

But in an act of defiance, Stimpy’s stayed open, with owner Steven Siler welcoming diners and vowing to keep his doors open during the pandemic.

“This is a survival thing. It’s my business. It is either this or die. Throw it away or fight for it. And I am fighting for it,” Siler said, in an emotional phone interview Tuesday night. 

Despite the state mandate, reopening was the only way to continue to pay his $8,000 monthly lease to save his 10-year old business, Siler said.

Siler is not alone in his defiance of Inslee’s restrictions. On Sunday, several restaurants in the state, including Brock’s Bar & Grill in Cowlitz County, opened for indoor dining on what they termed a “Day of Defiance.” 

Read the full story here.

—Tan Vinh
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Oregon officials present plan to vaccinate more people

PORTLAND, Ore. — Oregon health officials had a goal of administering 100,000 coronavirus vaccines by the end of 2020, but as of Tuesday had only administered 51,283.

Now, Gov. Kate Brown has set a new goal of 12,000 vaccinations per day within the next two weeks. Health authority officials said Tuesday if they expand the number of administration sites and adjust prioritization requirements, they are confident they will reach that goal.

“In the first 19 days of COVID-19 vaccinations, we’ve learned some key lessons we’ll use to speed our vaccination efforts,” Oregon Health Authority Director Patrick Allen said.

In the first phase of vaccination prioritization, health care workers and residents and staff in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities.

Effective this week, Oregon Health Authority will offer vaccinations to hospice programs, mobile crisis care, outpatient settings serving specific high-risk group, in-home care services, non-emergency medical transport, health care providers in other outpatient, and public health workers.

“So far, Oregon has been good at getting vaccinations into the arms of people assigned to a specific location – like a hospital worker or a resident at a skilled nursing facility,” Allen said. “Now we need to up our game for people outside those locations.”

—Associated Press

Puerto Rico to reopen beaches, relax coronavirus curfew

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — Puerto Rico’s new governor announced Tuesday that he will reopen beaches, marinas and pools, eliminate a Sunday lockdown and shorten a curfew that has been in place since the pandemic began to control the number of COVID-19 cases.

Gov. Pedro Pierluisi stressed alcohol will be banned at beaches and other places, and that social distancing is required between people who are not family members, with no large groups allowed to gather. Meanwhile, the new curfew will run from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. and face masks remain mandatory.

He said the new measures go into effect Jan. 8 and will be in place for 30 days but can be amended any time if there’s a spike in cases.

The announcement was cheered by many across Puerto Rico who have long sought to visit the U.S. territory’s beaches that had remained off limits to all except those doing exercise.

—Associated Press

Health officials report 2,337 new coronavirus cases in Washington

The state Department of Health (DOH) reported 2,337 new coronavirus cases and 59 new deaths on Tuesday.

The update brings the state's totals to 258,767 cases and 3,541 deaths, meaning that 1.4% of people diagnosed in Washington have died, according to the DOH. The data is as of 11:59 p.m. Monday. Tallies may be higher earlier in the week because new state data isn’t reported on Sundays and COVID-related deaths aren’t reported on the weekends.

The new cases may include up to 700 duplicates, according to DOH, and negative test results from Nov. 21 through today are incomplete.

In addition, 15,327 people have been hospitalized in the state due to the virus — 167 new hospitalizations. In King County, the state's most populous, state health officials have confirmed a total of 65,834 COVID-19 diagnoses and 1,068 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.

—Megan Burbank
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Inslee announces plan to reopen Washington state restaurants, other businesses based on COVID-19, hospitalization rates in regions

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee speaks during a news conference, on Nov. 30, 2020, at the Capitol in Olympia.  Inslee on 
Wednesday announced the state will allow businesses to reopen based on regional COVID-19 and hospitalization rates.  (Ted S. Warren / AP, file)
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee speaks during a news conference, on Nov. 30, 2020, at the Capitol in Olympia. Inslee on Wednesday announced the state will allow businesses to reopen based on regional COVID-19 and hospitalization rates. (Ted S. Warren / AP, file)

Gov. Jay Inslee announced Tuesday a plan that will eventually allow businesses like restaurants to open back up once the state gets a better handle on the coronavirus pandemic.

The Health Washington plan breaks the state into regions that are tied together by health care systems and uses metrics to determine when the counties in designated regions can begin to open.

Each region will need to meet four metrics, which include a 10% decreasing trend in case rates; a 10% decrease in COVID-19 hospital administration rates; an ICU occupancy rate that’s less than 90%; and a test positivity rate of less than 10%.

—Ryan Blethen

Talk-show host Larry King, hospitalized with COVID, moved out of ICU

FILE – In this Nov. 20, 2017, file photo, Larry King attends the 45th International Emmy Awards at the New York Hilton, in New York. Former CNN talk show host King has been hospitalized with COVID-19 for more than a week, the news channel reported Saturday, Jan. 2, 2021. CNN reported the 87-year-old King contracted the coronavirus and was undergoing treatment at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. (Photo by Andy Kropa/Invision/AP, File)
FILE – In this Nov. 20, 2017, file photo, Larry King attends the 45th International Emmy Awards at the New York Hilton, in New York. Former CNN talk show host King has been hospitalized with COVID-19 for more than a week, the news channel reported Saturday, Jan. 2, 2021. CNN reported the 87-year-old King contracted the coronavirus and was undergoing treatment at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. (Photo by Andy Kropa/Invision/AP, File)

Veteran talk show host Larry King, suffering from COVID-19, has been moved out of the intensive care unit at a Los Angeles hospital and is breathing on his own, a spokesman said Monday.

King was moved to the ICU on New Year’s Eve and was receiving oxygen but is now breathing on his own, said David Theall, a spokesman for Ora Media, a production company formed by King.

The 87-year-old broadcasting legend shared a video phone call with his three sons, Theall said.

King, who spent many years as an overnight radio DJ, is best known as host of the “Larry King Live” interview show that ran in prime time on CNN from 1985 to 2010.

—The Associated Press

Fauci: US could soon give 1 million vaccinations a day

FILE – In this Dec. 22, 2020, file photo, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, prepares to receive his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md. The U.S. could soon be giving at least a million COVID-19 vaccinations a day despite the sluggish start, Fauci said Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2021, even as he warned of a dangerous next few weeks as the coronavirus surges. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, Pool, File)
FILE – In this Dec. 22, 2020, file photo, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, prepares to receive his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md. The U.S. could soon be giving at least a million COVID-19 vaccinations a day despite the sluggish start, Fauci said Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2021, even as he warned of a dangerous next few weeks as the coronavirus surges. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, Pool, File)

The U.S. could soon be giving at least a million COVID-19 vaccinations a day despite the sluggish start, Dr. Anthony Fauci said Tuesday, even as he warned of a dangerous next few weeks as the coronavirus surges.

The slow pace is frustrating health officials and a desperate public alike, with only about a third of the first supplies shipped to states used as of Tuesday morning, just over three weeks into the vaccination campaign.

“Any time you start a big program, there’s always glitches. I think the glitches have been worked out,” the nation’s top infectious disease expert told The Associated Press.

Vaccinations have already begun speeding up, reaching roughly half a million injections a day, he pointed out.

Read the full story.

—Lauran Neergaard, The Associated Press
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Los Angeles is running out of oxygen for patients as COVID hospitalizations hit record highs nationwide

Oxygen tanks are stored in a tent outside Martin Luther King Jr. Community Hospital in Los Angeles on Dec. 29, 2020. Hospital officials in Southern California said in January they were running low on ICU beds, ventilators, oxygen supplies and morgue space. (Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times / TNS)
Oxygen tanks are stored in a tent outside Martin Luther King Jr. Community Hospital in Los Angeles on Dec. 29, 2020. Hospital officials in Southern California said in January they were running low on ICU beds, ventilators, oxygen supplies and morgue space. (Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times / TNS)

The United States has entered the new year with record numbers of Americans hospitalized with coronavirus, straining a health care system bracing for a post-holidays surge that has the potential to further stretch hospitals.

At least 128,000 COVID patients were hospitalized nationwide as of Monday, eclipsing the record set in the last week of 2020. Facilities across the West and South are especially burdened.

Los Angeles County has been so overwhelmed it is running out of oxygen, with ambulance crews instructed to use oxygen only for their worst-case patients. Crews were told not bring patients to the hospital if they have little hope of survival and to treat and declare such patients dead on the scene to preserve hospital capacity. Several Los Angeles hospitals have turned away ambulance traffic in recent days because they can’t provide the air flow needed to treat patients.

Read the full story.

—Fenit Nirappil and William Wan, The Washington Post

Without tourism, life in a Tuscan village slides back in time

One of the main squares in Castellina, Italy, which has been mostly empty as people stay at home amid the coronavirus pandemic on Dec. 16, 2020. Much of Castellina’s economy relies on tourism, and the lack of visitors has sent the town backward to more modest times and has forced local shopkeepers to get creative in attracting business. (Nadia Shira Cohen/The New York Times)
One of the main squares in Castellina, Italy, which has been mostly empty as people stay at home amid the coronavirus pandemic on Dec. 16, 2020. Much of Castellina’s economy relies on tourism, and the lack of visitors has sent the town backward to more modest times and has forced local shopkeepers to get creative in attracting business. (Nadia Shira Cohen/The New York Times)

For decades, the rolling hills of Chianti in Tuscany have been a holiday destination for tourists from all over the world. Nearly year-round, visitors take on the region’s winding roads in their rental cars, admiring the landscape laboriously sculpted by farmers, where vineyards blend into olive groves, and forests of oak trees give way to cypress-lined drives.

More than 114,000 tourists passed through the village in 2019, and the number was even higher in previous years.

But the pandemic — which has unsettled the globe and taken more than 75,000 lives in Italy alone — has brought tourism to a halt across the country and the village, Castellina in Chianti, a hamlet of 2,800. This year, foreigners, who usually would be sipping espressos on the local bar’s terrace or grocery shopping at the farmers market, are nowhere to be seen. And without them, the town seems to have slid back in time.

Read the story here.

—Gaia Pianigiani, The New York Times

Grammy Awards shift to March due to pandemic conditions

NEW YORK — The 2021 Grammy Awards will no longer take place this month in Los Angeles and will broadcast in March due to a recent surge in coronavirus cases and deaths.

The Recording Academy told The Associated Press on Tuesday that the annual show would shift from its original Jan. 31 broadcast to a later date in March.

The Grammys will be held in Los Angeles at the Staples Center. Los Angeles County, the epicenter of the crisis in California, has surpassed 10,000 COVID-19 deaths and has had 40% of the deaths in California. It is the third state to reach the 25,000 death count.

Click here to read the full story.

—By Mesfin Fekadu, The Associated Press
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If I’ve already had the coronavirus, can I get it again?

AP Illustration/Peter Hamlin
AP Illustration/Peter Hamlin

If I’ve already had the coronavirus, can I get it again?

It’s possible, but such cases seem to be rare. Evidence is growing that people whose bodies mounted a strong defense to the virus are unlikely to test positive again for at least several months and maybe longer.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press

Survey: Divided U.S., not COVID-19, is the biggest risk to world in 2021

With the global economy still in the teeth of the COVID-19 crisis, the Eurasia Group sees a divided U.S. as a key risk this year for a world lacking leadership.

“In decades past, the world would look to the U.S. to restore predictability in times of crisis. But the world’s preeminent superpower faces big challenges of its own,” said Eurasia Group President Ian Bremmer and Chairman Cliff Kupchan in a report on the top risks for 2021.

Starting with the difficulties facing the administration of President-elect Joe Biden in a divided U.S., the report flags 10 geopolitical, climate and individual country risks that could derail the global economic recovery. An extended COVID-19 impact and K-shaped recoveries in both developed and emerging economies is the second biggest risk factor cited in the report.

Biden will have difficulty gaining new confidence in U.S. global leadership as he struggles to manage domestic crises, the report said. With a large segment of the U.S. casting doubt over his legitimacy, the political effectiveness and longevity of his “asterisk presidency,” the future of the Republican Party, and the very legitimacy of the U.S. political model are all in question, it added.

“A superpower torn down the middle cannot return to business as usual. And when the most powerful country is so divided, everybody has a problem,” said Bremmer and Kupchan.

Read the story here.

—Alexandra Veroude, Bloomberg News

Netherlands called 'village idiot of Europe' for late vaccine start

The Dutch government came under heavy criticism from lawmakers Tuesday over a COVID-19 vaccination plan that has the first shots set to be administered on Wednesday, making the Netherlands the last European Union nation to begin vaccinations.

Staff members wait for the next in line at a COVID-19 testing facility of the Municipal Health Authority GGD, in Utrecht, Netherlands, Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2020. Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte imposed a tough lockdown Monday night in a speech to the nation ordering all non-essential shops and businesses such as hair salons, museums and theaters to close as coronavirus infection rates in the Netherlands rise sharply despite a two-month partial lockdown. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)
Staff members wait for the next in line at a COVID-19 testing facility of the Municipal Health Authority GGD, in Utrecht, Netherlands, Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2020. Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte imposed a tough lockdown Monday night in a speech to the nation ordering all non-essential shops and businesses such as hair salons, museums and theaters to close as coronavirus infection rates in the Netherlands rise sharply despite a two-month partial lockdown. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)

Prime Minister Mark Rutte conceded that his government had focused in its preparations on the easy-to-handle AstraZeneca vaccine, which has not yet been cleared for use in the EU, and not the vaccine produced by U.S. drugmaker Pfizer and Germany’s BioNTech, which is the only shot so far given the green light by the EU’s medicines agency.

The Netherlands took delivery of thousands of doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine late last year. But they have remained in freezers in a central storage location while the government finalized its vaccination plans, despite having months to work out how and where to administer the shots.

Last month, the Netherlands watched from the sidelines as other EU nations began vaccinations on Dec. 27 in what European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen called a “ a touching moment of unity.”

Geert Wilders, leader of the largest Dutch opposition party, called the Netherlands “the village idiot of Europe.”

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press
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EXPLAINER: How do I know when to get my 2nd vaccine shot?

As U.S. health officials try to get COVID-19 vaccines to people more quickly, it’s already time for some people to get their second shots.

So who’s keeping track to make sure you get the correct second dose, and on time? And who can see that information?

It’s one of the many logistical issues health officials have been sorting out to pull off the country’s largest vaccination campaign. The first COVID-19 vaccines available in the U.S. require two doses taken weeks apart. Other vaccines in the pipeline might not require two doses, but the record keeping for those would work the same way.

Read more about how vaccinations are being tracked here.

—The Associated Press

Germany set to extend hard lockdown as daily deaths mount

Germany’s disease control center on Tuesday reported 944 more COVID-19 deaths, fueling expectations that Chancellor Angela Merkel and the country’s 16 state governors will extend the country’s lockdown until the end of the month.

Germany’s latest lockdown took effect Dec. 16 after a partial shutdown starting in early November failed to reduce the number of daily new coronavirus infections. It was initially set to expire Jan. 10.

Merkel’s meeting with the governors on Tuesday will decide how long the lockdown should go on and to what extent schools will reopen.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press

WHO ‘disappointed’ at Chinese delays letting experts in

The head of the World Health Organization said Tuesday that he is “disappointed” that Chinese officials haven’t finalized permissions for the arrival of team of experts into China to examine origins of COVID-19.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, in a rare critique of Beijing, said members of the international scientific team have begun over the last 24 hours to leave from their home countries to China as part of an arrangement between WHO and the Chinese government.

“I’m very disappointed with this news, given that two members had already begun their journeys and others were not able to travel at the last minute, but had been in contact with senior Chinese officials,” he said.

The experts, drawn from around the world, are expected to visit the city of Wuhan that is suspected as the place that the coronavirus first emerged over a year ago.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press
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Pandemic haunts new year as virus growth outpaces vaccines

A person walks with an umbrella in light rain in the City of London financial district in London, Jan. 5, 2021, on the first morning of England entering a third national lockdown since the coronavirus outbreak began. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday night announced a tough new stay-at-home order, as authorities struggle to stem a surge in COVID-19 infections that threatens to overwhelm hospitals around the U.K. (Matt Dunham / The Associated Press)
A person walks with an umbrella in light rain in the City of London financial district in London, Jan. 5, 2021, on the first morning of England entering a third national lockdown since the coronavirus outbreak began. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday night announced a tough new stay-at-home order, as authorities struggle to stem a surge in COVID-19 infections that threatens to overwhelm hospitals around the U.K. (Matt Dunham / The Associated Press)

Despite growing vaccine access, January is looking grim around the globe as the coronavirus resurges and reshapes itself from Britain to Japan to California, filling hospitals and threatening livelihoods anew as governments lock down businesses and race to find solutions.

England headed back into lockdown. Mexico City’s hospitals hold more virus patients than ever. Germany reported one of its highest daily death tolls to date Tuesday. South Africa and Brazil are struggling to find space for the dead. Even pandemic success story Thailand is fighting an unexpected wave of infections.

And as doctors face or brace for rising numbers of COVID-19 patients after end-of-year holiday gatherings, more and more countries are reporting cases of a new, more contagious variant that has already swept across Britain.

January is going to be “a tough one,” said Dr. Margaret Harris, a spokeswoman for the World Health Organization. “This idea that seems to be ‘Ah, we’re all sick of it. We want to look at something else. Oh, this doesn’t apply to me’ … that’s got to go away. It really is all hands on deck.”

While Britain rolled out a second vaccine this week and some U.S. states are starting to give the second round of shots, access to inoculations globally is sharply unequal. The supply isn’t remotely close to meeting the epic demand needed to vanquish a foe that has already killed over 1.85 million people.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press

India says it hasn’t banned the export of COVID-19 vaccines

India’s government had not banned the export of any vaccines for COVID-19, the health ministry said Tuesday, days after the head of the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer said it got emergency authorization to produce the shots as long as it didn’t send them overseas.

Indian commuters wearing face mask as a precaution against the coronavirus arrive at a bus station in Bengaluru, India, Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2021. India authorized two COVID-19 vaccines on Sunday, paving the way for a huge inoculation program to stem the coronavirus pandemic in the world’s second most populous country. (AP Photo/Aijaz Rahi)
Indian commuters wearing face mask as a precaution against the coronavirus arrive at a bus station in Bengaluru, India, Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2021. India authorized two COVID-19 vaccines on Sunday, paving the way for a huge inoculation program to stem the coronavirus pandemic in the world’s second most populous country. (AP Photo/Aijaz Rahi)

Adar Poonawalla, chief executive of Serum Institute of India, told The Associated Press in an interview Sunday that the company got the green light for its version of the AstraZeneca/Oxford University vaccine on the condition that it not export shots to ensure that vulnerable populations in India are protected.

AstraZeneca contracted Serum Institute of India to manufacture 1 billion doses for developing nations. That vaccine and another developed by Indian company Bharat Biotech were granted licenses for emergency use by Indian regulators Sunday.

India’s health ministry said at a news briefing Tuesday that no agency of the federal government had banned exports.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press

Its freezer kaput, this NorCal hospital had two hours to give out 600 vaccine shots

About the time Gov. Newsom took to Facebook on Monday to lament the pace of vaccine distribution statewide, one Northern California hospital was injecting local residents at a furious pace — providing an unintentional roadmap for how a mass inoculation program could work.

At 11:35 on Monday morning, senior staff at Adventist Health Ukiah Valley Medical Center in Mendocino County were holding their first 2021 executive meeting when the hospital pharmacist interrupted: The compressor on a freezer storing 830 doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine had stopped working hours earlier, and the alarm meant to guard against such failure had failed.

The doses were quickly thawing.

The Moderna vaccine is shipped and stored at frozen temperatures, and stays stable up to 8 degrees Celsius in a regular refrigerator for up to 30 days. But once it reaches room temperature, as it did in the Adventist freezer, it must be used within 12 hours. By the time the freezer problem was discovered, the vials had been creeping towards warm for some time.

Medical staff estimated they had two hours to use them before they would no longer be viable.

Read the story here.

—Los Angeles Times
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UK hospitals stagger under toll from the new virus variant

A person walks with an umbrella in light rain in the City of London financial district in London, Jan. 5, 2021, on the first morning of England entering a third national lockdown since the coronavirus outbreak began. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday night announced a tough new stay-at-home order, as authorities struggle to stem a surge in COVID-19 infections that threatens to overwhelm hospitals around the U.K. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
A person walks with an umbrella in light rain in the City of London financial district in London, Jan. 5, 2021, on the first morning of England entering a third national lockdown since the coronavirus outbreak began. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday night announced a tough new stay-at-home order, as authorities struggle to stem a surge in COVID-19 infections that threatens to overwhelm hospitals around the U.K. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

England’s National Health Service is accustomed to tough winters — and caring for people on overcrowded wards sometimes means moving patients into the corridor. But this is different. Now some are lucky just to get medical help as they wait in an ambulance in the parking lot.

Pressure on the nation’s hospitals forced the hand of Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who has plunged the country into its third national lockdown and ordered everyone to stay at home as much as possible for at least the next six weeks. The situation is worsening, said Siva Anandaciva, chief analyst of the King’s Fund think tank.

“It’s not hyperbole to say that the (National Health Service) is going through probably the toughest time in living memory,″ he told The Associated Press. Anandaciva said some emergency rooms have waits of 12 hours.

Johnson announced the tough new stay-at-home order for England that takes effect at midnight Tuesday and won’t be reviewed until at least mid-February.

Johnson and Scotland’s leader Nicola Sturgeon said the restrictions were needed to protect the hard-pressed National Health Service as a new, more contagious variant of coronavirus sweeps across Britain. On Monday, hospitals in England were treating 26,626 COVID-19 patients, 40% more than during the first peak in mid-April.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press

Alaska trying to sort out confusion over COVID-19 vaccine for people over 65

Alaskans over 65 will be able to get their first COVID-19 vaccinations starting next week, a timeline accelerated by state officials following a weekend of eligibility confusion.

The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services announced the change Monday amid continued criticism over the way the state rolled out this latest allocation of limited vaccine.

State officials now say people 65 and older can schedule appointments starting at noon Wednesday by visiting the state’s vaccine website. People scheduling an appointment are asked to choose a date on Jan. 11 or later, officials say. Appointments will start Monday.

A state allocation committee last week made people 65 and older the next phase of recipients. But state officials said the vaccine wouldn’t be available to the more than 90,000 Alaskans in that group until late this month.

Over the weekend, numerous seniors including former state workers reported a confusing scenario where they were able to make appointments for vaccinations at pharmacies and clinics using the state website before they were eligible.

Read the story here.

—Zaz Hollander, Anchorage Daily News, Alaska

Masks, tests, batches: Locked-down Greece swears in Cabinet

Greece’s new Cabinet is being sworn in Tuesday at three separate ceremonies to comply with national lockdown restrictions.

Following a Cabinet reshuffle Monday by conservative Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, ministers were sworn in in groups of six, all wearing masks, and after receiving rapid tests for COVID-19.

A bottle of hand sanitizer was placed on a desk where ministers signed their oaths or affirmations.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press
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With only 1% of Californians vaccinated, virus keeps rising in state

After a relative New Year’s lull in confirmed infections, California posted a new single-day record for coronavirus cases Monday, logging more than 74,000, according to a Los Angeles Times tally of local health jurisdictions.

That is 11% higher than the previous record, when 66,726 cases were registered Dec. 28. The state is now averaging about 37,000 cases a day over the last week, down from a high of about 45,000 in mid-December. But the situation is still far worse than the beginning of last month, when 14,000 cases a day were recorded.

California also posted its sixth-highest daily tally of COVID-19 deaths: 379. That helped pull up the average number of COVID-19 deaths over the last week to 353 a day, the highest number yet.

After a brief New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day drop, COVID-19 hospitalizations continued to break records in L.A. County, rising to 7,898 on Sunday — 201 more than the previous day. Of them, 1,627 were in the ICU, also a record.

The growth in the number of COVID-19 patients in ICU wards has been astonishing — quadrupling since late November.

In the meantime, distribution hiccups and logistical challenges have slowed the initial coronavirus vaccine rollout in California, setting a pace that’s “not good enough,” Gov. Gavin Newsom said.

The state is trying to execute the massive immunization campaign “with a sense of urgency that is required of this moment and the urgency that people demand,” but so far only about 1% of California’s 40 million residents have been vaccinated.

Read the stories here and here.

—Rong-Gong Lin II, Los Angeles Times

Quarantine corner: Diversions to get you through the day

This recipe for crispy oven bacon and eggs is perfect for a weekday: so easy, it practically makes itself.

What to snack on during endless Zoom meetings: Teen chef Sadie has a recipe for simple biscotti.

Our top Paperback Picks include the long-lost stories of beloved author Zora Neale Hurston, and five other books.

—Kris Higginson

Catch up on the past 24 hours

Protesters listen to speakers Monday in the parking lot of Farm Boy restaurant, outside of Olympia, that is defying restrictions against sit-down service. (Steve Ringman / The Seattle Times)
Protesters listen to speakers Monday in the parking lot of Farm Boy restaurant, outside of Olympia, that is defying restrictions against sit-down service. (Steve Ringman / The Seattle Times)

Protesters rallied outside Farm Boy in Olympia (photo above) while table service continued inside yesterday, in defiance of COVID-19 restrictions. Farm Boy has racked up more than $180,000 in fines, but “I stop keeping track because I’m not paying them,” the owner says. As Northwest restaurants flout the rules, far-right groups are championing their actions. And some of those groups' rallies are doing double duty by spreading misinformation about the presidential election.

School nurses will be crucial for restarting in-person classes in Washington, but they're in short supply, according to a new UW story that also suggests vast gaps in which children have access to medical care at school. See the situation in your district.

Ambulance crews have been told not to bring patients to L.A. hospitals if they have virtually no chance of survival. Hospitals are moving to rapidly discharge ill people to make way for a flood of new patients, and things are expected to get worse. California yesterday set a fresh single-day record for newly diagnosed coronavirus cases, roughly equaling the populations of Issaquah, Covington and Newcastle combined.

Infectious disease experts fear that a far more lethal virus will arise and leap from wildlife into humans, with devastating effects. Here's how they're trying to head off the next pandemic.

A Minnesota fitness club manager tackled a gunman who was worked up about people exercising without masks, prosecutors say.

—Kris Higginson
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