Editor’s note: This is a live account of COVID-19 updates from Wednesday, March 10, 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 It is no longer being updated.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.

Despite united GOP opposition and a narrow Democratic majority, Congress on Wednesday approved a landmark $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill and sent it to President Joe Biden to sign. The package will send $350 billion to cities and states, $130 billion to schools to help them reopen, and devote billions more to a national vaccination program, expanded coronavirus testing, food stamps, rental assistance and more.

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)


New Zealand pushes to end global tariffs on virus supplies

WELLINGTON, New Zealand — New Zealand is pushing for nations around the world to end tariffs on face masks, syringes and other supplies needed to battle the coronavirus pandemic.

New Zealand is making the push as this year’s virtual host of APEC, an economic forum of 21 Asia-Pacific countries that includes Japan, China, Canada and the U.S.

New Zealand hopes that forum members will quickly agree on a list of products that should have tariffs removed, and that the list will then be used as a template by other nations around the world.

“It is a depressing, objective fact that across our region, many economies impose tariffs, even on vaccines,” said Vangelis Vitalis, the chairperson of APEC’s senior officials’ meeting.

—Associated Press

What’s inside the $1.9T COVID-19 bill passed by Congress

The sweeping pandemic relief package awaiting President Joe Biden’s signature aims to help the U.S. defeat the virus and nurse the economy back to health.

Here are some highlights of the legislation, including expanded unemployment benefits, more direct payments to many Americans, increased funding for state, local and tribal governments, aid to schools and students, aid to businesses and expanded testing for COVID-19.

—Associated Press

U.S. releases new coronavirus guidance for nursing homes

WASHINGTON — The Biden administration published revised guidelines Wednesday for nursing home visits during the coronavirus pandemic, allowing guests to go inside to see residents regardless of whether they or the residents have been vaccinated.

The recommendations, released by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services with comment from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, are the first revision to the federal government’s nursing home guidance since September.

Federal officials said in the new guidance that outdoor visits were still preferable because of a lower risk of transmission, even when residents and guests have been fully vaccinated.

In a statement laying out the reasons for updating the recommendations, Dr. Lee A. Fleisher, the chief medical officer at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, cited the millions of vaccines administered to nursing home residents and staff and a decline in coronavirus cases in nursing homes.

—Associated Press

Alaska Senate takes action against member over virus rules

JUNEAU, Alaska — The Alaska Senate voted Wednesday to allow leadership to restrict access to the Capitol by Republican Sen. Lora Reinbold, who fellow lawmakers say has refused to follow measures meant to guard against COVID-19.

The 18-1 vote, allowing leadership to enforce COVID-19 mitigation policies on members “until they are fully compliant,” came 51 days into a legislative session throughout which Reinbold has worn a clear face shield that legislative leaders say runs afoul of masking rules. This week marked the first apparent public signs of pushback against the face shield by leadership.

Senate Rules Chair Gary Stevens, a Kodiak Republican, said Reinbold also is not following testing protocols or submitting to temperature checks and questions that are standard for admittance to the building. “Inordinate” amounts of time have been spent “trying to reason” with her or provide masks that meet U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, he said.

Senators on the floor do not use each other’s names but after recent dustups, including a back-and-forth between Reinbold and Senate President Peter Micciche before Wednesday’s floor session, it was clear who Stevens was speaking about. Reinbold was not present for the vote.

—Associated Press

Mariners have a plan for fans to attend opening day but await approval from King County and state

To ensure social distancing the outfield lawn is sectioned off for fans.  The Cleveland Indians played the Seattle Mariners in Spring Training baseball Tuesday, March 2, 2021 at the Peoria Sports Complex in Peoria, AZ. 216537 (Dean Rutz / The Seattle Times)

PEORIA, Ariz. – When April 1 finally arrives and T-Mobile Park is adorned with the traditional red, white and blue bunting that signifies the unrecognized holiday that is opening day of the baseball season, will there be fans in the stands to celebrate the moment?

The Mariners know there won’t be the packed house of the prepandemic days, but they are holding out hope that some fans will be in the stands when Gonzales throws that first pitch at approximately 7:10 p.m. to kick off Seattle’s 2021 season.

Mariners chairman John Stanton made an appearance at the team’s spring training complex Wednesday and talked with the media in attendance. They were his first public comments since the resignation of Kevin Mather. And while much of the discussion was about replacing Mather and a new leadership structure, he was happy to talk about fans being able to attend games after a shortened 60-game season in 2020 with only cardboard cutouts in the seats.

“I have to confess that I have spent a good deal of my time, really the last month plus, working King County and working with the state of Washington,” he said. “Right now, we are hopeful that that we will have fans in the building. We are excited about that, and we’re planning for it. We’re training our staff and doing all things we need to able to accommodate fans.”

Read the full story here.

—Ryan Divish

Washington state to get billions of dollars for schools, transit and cities as COVID-19 relief bill clears Congress

OLYMPIA — Dollars for COVID-19 vaccinations and contact-tracing. Relief for K-12 schools. Child-care funding. Aid to state and local governments. Help for transit.

Wednesday’s approval in the U.S. House of the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package will channel billions of dollars to Washington state as schools, businesses, governments and people begin to chart a course toward recovery from a year living with a global pandemic.

Dubbed the American Rescue Plan, the legislation directs a fire hose of money to Washington, including its cities and counties. The state is set to receive $1.9 billion for K-12 schools; $655 million for higher-education institutions; and $635 million for child care, according to numbers shared by the office of Rep. Suzan DelBene, D-Medina.

Washington will also receive $7.1 billion in aid for local, county and state governments that saw tax collections drop last year amid the economic downturn caused by the virus and restrictions to stem outbreaks.

Read the full story here.

—Joseph O'Sullivan

Music? Yes. Dancing? No, as New Orleans eases virus rules

NEW ORLEANS — Live indoor music can resume in New Orleans beginning this weekend, city officials announced Wednesday, but dancing will remain prohibited, while venues, performers and audiences will be under strict requirements to employ measures to control the spread of the coronavirus.

The new rules take effect Friday morning, in response to a decline of new coronavirus cases and hospitalizations in the city. It was not immediately clear how many bars and other live music venues will be able to meet them and begin hosting live entertainment again in a city where music is ingrained in cultural history and vital to tourism.

Brian Greenberg, general manager of Tipitina’s, said he thinks the historic music club and bar may be able to pull it off, although not right away. “We have a floor plan that we’ve already mapped out,” he said Wednesday afternoon. “We’re a big room, so we have that advantage.”

Greenberg added that he and the bar’s owners and staff still need to review the extensive regulations, which are based on guidelines already in effect statewide. They require mask wearing, social distancing, proper ventilation and also include details on when singers are required to wear face coverings and how trumpet players should empty their spit valves.

—Associated Press

State health officials confirm 789 new coronavirus cases in Washington

The state Department of Health (DOH) reported 789 new coronavirus cases and 23 new deaths on Wednesday.

The update brings the state's totals to 347,131 cases and 5,100 deaths, meaning that 1.5% of people diagnosed in Washington have died, according to the DOH. The data is as of 11:59 p.m. Tuesday.

The new cases may include up to 400 duplicates and several backlogged cases from February, according to DOH.

In addition, 19,729 people have been hospitalized in the state due to the virus — 52 new hospitalizations. In King County, the state's most populous, state health officials have confirmed a total of 85,596 COVID-19 diagnoses and 1,433 deaths.

Since vaccinations began in mid-December, the state and health care providers have administered 2,140,418 doses and 10.26% of Washingtonians have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to vaccination data, which the state updates on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Providers are currently giving an average of about 46,119 vaccine shots per day.

The DOH says its daily case reports may also include duplicate test results, results assigned to the wrong county, results that are reported for today but are actually from a previous day, occasional false positive tests and other data discrepancies. Because of this, the previous day’s total number of cases plus the number of new daily cases does not add up to the new day’s total number of cases. State health officials recommend reviewing the dashboard's epidemiologic curves tab for the most accurate representation of the state's COVID-19 spread.

—Elise Takahama

5 workers allege Dick’s Drive-In is violating COVID-19 and other health requirements

People walk past Dick’s Drive-In on Broadway in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood Wednesday. Employees from this Dick’s location and the one in Lower Queen Anne have come forward with allegations of mismanagement and COVID-19 violations. (Dean Rutz / The Seattle Times)

Five workers at Dick’s Drive-In have filed formal complaints with the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries (L&I) alleging that workplace conditions at two branches of the Seattle-area hamburger chain are in violation of COVID-19 operations guidelines and other health requirements.

Per the complaints filed with L&I, all of the workers say that they never received any form of training on COVID-19 signs or symptoms, nor on workplace prevention of the spread of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

One worker alleges that they “have been instructed not to turn away maskless customers … but rather to serve customers faster to avoid prolonged contact.” Another says they and others were pressured to come in to work despite the fact that they were awaiting coronavirus test results. A worker at the Broadway location reported, according to the complaint: “There is mold or mildew in multiple places in the restaurant … including the icebox, the walk-in freezer, and in the dip wells for ice cream scoops.” Another says that “An electrical heater is often placed in the middle of a pool of water” that they must stand in to work at a register.

Read the full story here.

—Bethany Jean Clement

‘Hoping for a flood’: States prepare for a surge in vaccine supply

Staff of Ochsner Health carry trays filled with syringes containing the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine as people come into the Castine Center in Pelican Park to be vaccinated in Mandeville, La., on Wednesday, March 10, 2021. (Chris Granger /The Advocate via AP)

Margaret Fisher, a special adviser to New Jersey’s health commissioner, has grown accustomed to saying no — no to people vying for vaccines, no to businesses jockeying to reopen and no to anyone asking for predictions about when this plague might end.

But with more vaccine supply on the way, the pediatric infectious-disease specialist is familiarizing herself with a new word. “We’re hoping for a flood by April, and we will be enthusiastically ready to say, ‘yes,'” Fisher said.

State and local health officials who have spent months rationing shots are now racing to be ready for a surge in supply — enough for every adult by the end of May, as President Joe Biden promised last week. They’ve been advised to plan for between 22 and 24 million doses a week by early April, an increase of as much as 50% from current allocations, according to two people familiar with the estimates who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss them.

Biden on Wednesday said his administration would purchase another 100 million doses of Johnson & Johnson’s single-shot vaccine. The doses, expected to be delivered in the second half of the year, will position the country to inoculate children and provide booster shots if needed against new variants of the virus.

Read the story here.

—Isaac Stanley-Becker, The Washington Post

Nursing home residents can get hugs again, feds say

FILE – In this June 26, 2020, file photo Southern Pines nursing home resident Wayne Swint gets a birthday visit from his mother, Clemittee Swint, in Warner Robins, Ga. Nursing home residents vaccinated against COVID-19 can get hugs again from their loved ones, and indoor visits may be allowed for all residents, the government said Wednesday, March 10, 2021 in a step toward pre-pandemic normalcy. (AP Photo/John Bazemore, File)

Nursing home residents vaccinated against COVID-19 can get hugs again from their loved ones, and indoor visits may be allowed for all residents, the government said Wednesday in a step toward pre-pandemic normalcy.

The policy guidance from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, or CMS, comes as coronavirus cases and deaths among nursing home residents have plummeted in recent weeks at the same time that vaccination accelerated. People living in long-term care facilities have borne a cruel toll from the pandemic. They represent about 1% of the U.S. population, but account for 1 in 3 deaths, according to the COVID Tracking Project.

Government officials acknowledged that isolation deepened the misery for residents and their loved ones as long-term care facilities remained locked down much of last year. The ban on visits went into effect almost one year ago and only in the fall were facilities allowed to begin socially distanced outdoor visits and limited indoor ones.

“There is no substitute for physical contact, such as the warm embrace between a resident and their loved one,” CMS said in its new guidance, “Therefore, if the resident is fully vaccinated, they can choose to have close contact (including touch) with their visitor while wearing a well-fitting face mask and performing hand-hygiene before and after.”

So while hugs are OK again for residents who have completed their vaccination, precautions such as wearing masks and using hand sanitizer remain in place as a counterbalance to risk. CMS also underscored that maintaining 6 feet of separation is still the safest policy, and outdoor visits are preferable even when residents and visitors have been vaccinated.

Read the story here.

—Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar, The Associated Press

Biden intent on selling benefits of virus aid plan to public

 Final congressional approval of the $1.9 trillion COVID relief bill Wednesday represents an undeniable victory for President Joe Biden — and one the White House knows it needs to sell to the public.

The White House is poised to begin an ambitious campaign that will showcase the bill’s contents to people while looking to build momentum for the next, perhaps thornier, parts of the president’s ambitious agenda.

Animating the public relations outreach is a determination to avoid repeating the mistakes from when President Barack Obama’s administration did not fully educate the public about the benefits of its own economic recovery plan.

Biden will make the first prime-time address of his presidency on Thursday to mark the one-year anniversary of the COVID-19 lockdowns and pitch the nearly $2 trillion aid package he will sign into law on Friday.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press

A weary world looks back a year after WHO declared a pandemic

On March 11, 2020, when the World Health Organization declared a pandemic, few could foresee the long road ahead or the many ways in which they would suffer — the deaths and agonies of millions, the ruined economies, the disrupted lives and near-universal loneliness and isolation.

A year later, some are dreaming of a return to normal, thanks to vaccines that seemed to materialize as if by magic. Others live in places where the magic seems to be reserved for wealthier worlds.

At the same time, people are looking back at where they were when they first understood how drastically life would change.

On March 11, 2020, confirmed cases of COVID-19 stood at 125,000 and reported deaths stood at fewer than 5,000. Today, 117 million people are confirmed to have been infected, and according to Johns Hopkins, more than 2.6 million people have died.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press

New York City's jails are crowded again, stoking COVID-19 fears

NEW YORK — New York City’s jails were under such threat from the coronavirus last spring that city officials moved swiftly to let hundreds of people out of the crowded, airless, old buildings. The effort shrank the jail population to its lowest point in more than half a century.

But it did not last. A year later, jails are more crowded than they were when the pandemic began. And there has been an increase in infections in recent months that could pose a public health risk even beyond the jail walls.

There are now more than 5,500 people in the city’s jails, slightly more than were detained last March. About three quarters of the people being held have not been convicted. Many are awaiting trial much longer than usual, as the court system continues to operate at a near standstill during the pandemic.

In lawsuits, prisoners and guards alike have called the living conditions inside unsanitary and dangerous. Incarcerated people who were recently held at Rikers Island say social distancing has again become impossible in some jail units and that soap, sanitation wipes and disinfectants are scarce or unavailable. Many correctional officers, they say, still do not regularly wear face coverings.

Prisons, jails and work release facilities in Washington have been hard hit by COVID-19. Hundreds were sickened in the Coyote Ridge Corrections Center during late spring and summer. There have also been outbreaks in the Airway Heights Corrections Center in Spokane County, Washington Corrections Center in Mason County and the Stafford Creek Corrections Center in Grays Harbor County.

Read the story here.

—The New York Times

West Virginia governor announces 168 unreported COVID-19 deaths

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice announced Wednesday that an estimated 168 coronavirus deaths went unreported, throwing into question the data that officials used to justify lifting pandemic restrictions.

Justice said officials discovered that 70 facilities — mostly hospitals and nursing homes — did not report the deaths to the state’s health department. The Republican governor on Monday had heralded a sharp drop in COVID-19 deaths since the beginning of the year, metrics health officials cited to support the governor easing restrictions on businesses.

“This is absolutely not acceptable,” Justice said. “I’m really sorry.”

Dr. Ayne Amjad, the state’s health officer, said officials are waiting to find out if there are more unreported deaths. She blamed it on facilities not filling out death reports online to the state’s health department in a timely matter.

“We are trying to find a way to hold people more accountable and their feet to the fire, because we want numbers faster,” she said. “We do not want to have numbers like these again.”

Washington's state Department of Health (DOH) has also struggled with data reporting during the pandemic. Some of DOH's data problems were with duplicate counts of negative tests, its disease reporting system being overwhelmed by test results and an over-reporting of negative test results.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press

A homebound year has meant rethinking our rooms, belongings

This image provided by Nick Nanton shows his converted garage in Orlando, Fla., Designers and architects say people are realizing what they do and don’t need, and how familiar spaces can serve them better. We’re repurposing the rooms we now spend so much time in. We’re carving out separate spaces so family members can have alone time too. (Nick Nanton via AP)

In normal times, new trends in home design and home decorating bubble up simply because it’s time for something different. A few years of bold color and homeowners start painting things gray. After enough minimalism, a hunger for plaids and florals comes roaring back.

But this time last year, a cultural experiment began that changed our relationships with houses and condos and apartments around the world.

Suddenly, constantly, we were inside them.

So much of public life – work, school, exercise, shopping, dining and (virtually) socializing – began happening entirely within the walls of home, at least for those able to do so.

Architects and interior designers say that after 12 months of varying degrees of lockdown, people are discovering what does and doesn’t work in their homes, and becoming more confident about acting on it. They’re realizing how familiar spaces can serve them better.

“Out of frustration comes brilliant ideas,” says Lisa Cini, founder and president of Mosaic Design Studio.

The trends include dividing larger spaces into smaller ones and re-purposing rooms.

Read the story here.

—Melissa Rayworth, The Associated Press

Expert says origins of pandemic could be known in few years

People hold a Chinese flag as they gather outside of a park where an official memorial was held for victims of coronavirus in Wuhan in central China’s Hubei Province, Saturday, April 4, 2020. With air raid sirens wailing and flags at half-mast, China held a three-minute nationwide moment of reflection to honor those who have died in the coronavirus outbreak. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)

The global community will find out “fairly soon, within the next few years” what started the coronavirus pandemic, a key member of a World Health Organization-led investigation into the pandemic’s origins said on Wednesday.

In a press briefing organized by the think tank Chatham House in London, Peter Daszak estimated that collective scientific research might be able to pin down how animals carrying COVID-19 infected the first people in Wuhan identified last December.

“There was a conduit from Wuhan to the provinces in South China, where the closest relative viruses to (the coronavirus) are found in bats,” said Daszak, the president of the New York based group, EcoHealth Alliance. He said the wildlife trade was the most likely explanation of how COVID-19 arrived in Wuhan, where the first human cases were detected.

That hypothesis, Daszak said, is “the one that’s most strongly supported both on the WHO (and) the China side.” Daszak and his co-authors are set to release a report as early as next week, on the initial conclusions of their recent mission to Wuhan.

“I am convinced we’re going to find out fairly soon within the next few years,” Daszak said regarding the outbreak’s origins. “We can have real significant data on where this came from and how it emerged.”

Read the story here.

—Maria Cheng, The Associated Press

Tire company Bridgestone offers employees $100 to vaccinate

Bridgestone said Wednesday it will offer its 33,000 U.S. employees $100 payments to get vaccinated against COVID-19, joining a group of large companies offering incentives for the shots.

The tire company is also exploring the possibility of similar programs for employees in Canada and Latin America, according to a news release.

Bridgestone said it is providing the payments to make it easier for employees to get vaccinated but is not requiring they be vaccinated.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press

Germany expects steady rise in vaccine supply through July

The German government said Wednesday it expects the supply of coronavirus vaccines to rise steadily in the coming months, hitting a peak of almost 10 million doses a week in July.

Government spokesman Steffen Seibert dampened hopes of a sudden surge, but said mathematical models used by the government indicate the weekly supply could reach nearly 5 million by the end of April.

Germany’s vaccine campaign has lagged behind far behind countries such as Britain and the United States. By Wednesday, about 5.6 million people in Germany had received at least a first dose of vaccine, compared with 22.6 million in Britain, which was among the European countries hardest hit by the pandemic.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press

Iraq pilgrims defy virus protocols as case numbers rise

Thousands of pilgrims clad in black walked the streets of Baghdad on Wednesday, part of a weeklong procession to a revered shrine, bypassing barbed wire set up by security forces and spurring fears of another wave of coronavirus on the heels of the papal visit.

Shiite worshippers carry a symbolic coffin at the golden-domed shrine of Imam Moussa al-Kadhim, who died at the end of the 8th century, during the annual commemoration of his death, in Baghdad, Iraq, Wednesday, March 10, 2021. (AP Photo/Hadi Mizban)

Crowds of men and women defied the tight security measures set up by Iraqi authorities to contain the spread of the virus during the annual pilgrimage, expected to reach its peak number of worshippers on Wednesday to commemorate the death of Imam al-Kadhim, a revered figure in Shiite Islam.

Iraq is in the midst of a second wave of the coronavirus, spurred chiefly by a more infectious strain that was first discovered in the U.K. The country has imposed a full lockdown from Friday to Sunday, but pilgrims continue on their way to the shrine despite these regulations.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press

Biden to order 100 million more J&J doses, boosting supply

President Joe Biden will double the U.S. order of Johnson & Johnson’s one-shot vaccine — seeking another 100 million doses — bringing the country’s total vaccine supply to enough for 500 million people.

Biden will make the announcement Wednesday during an event with the chief executives of J&J and Merck & Co., who struck a collaboration to boost production of J&J’s recently authorized COVID-19 vaccine, officials familiar with the plan say. The U.S. had previously ordered 100 million doses, which the company has said will be delivered before the end of June. J&J and the government will finalize the new order in the coming weeks, one official said.

“This order allows for the president to plan for the future in the latter part of the year,” COVID adviser Andy Slavitt told reporters at a briefing. “This is wartime and as facts still emerge, it gives us maximum flexibility for our upcoming needs.”

Read the story here.

—Josh Wingrove and Riley Griffin, Bloomberg

Wide resistance to vaccines plagues Ukraine’s COVID-19 fight

A Ukrainian serviceman prepares to receive a dose of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine marketed under the name CoviShield at a military base near the front-line town of Krasnohorivka, eastern Ukraine, Friday, March 5, 2021. The country designated 14,000 doses of its first vaccine shipment for the military, especially those fighting Russia-backed separatists in the east. But only 1,030 troops have been vaccinated thus far. In the front-line town of Krasnohorivka, soldiers widely refuse to vaccinate. (AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka)

After receiving its first shipment of coronavirus vaccine, Ukraine found itself in a new struggle against the pandemic — persuading its widely reluctant people to get the shot.

Although infections are rising sharply, Ukrainians are becoming increasingly opposed to vaccination: an opinion poll released earlier this month by the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology found 60% of the country’s people don’t want to get vaccinated, up from 40% a month earlier. The nationwide poll of 1,207 had a margin of error of 2.9 percentage points.

The resistance appears to be rooted in longstanding suspicion of vaccines dating back to the Soviet era, amplified by politicians’ allegations about low-quality vaccines, corruption scandals and misinformation spread through social media. Even more surprisingly, the reluctance still appears even among those highest at risk who administer lifesaving drugs to others every day: medical workers.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press

Volunteers are key at vaccine sites. It pays off with a shot

Sally Avenson, a nurse working as a volunteer at a mass vaccination clinic at Seattle University, holds up a sign to indicate she needs more doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine at her station, Friday, Feb. 26, 2021, in Seattle. As states ramp up vaccination distribution in the fight against the coronavirus, volunteers are needed to do everything from direct traffic to check people in to keep vaccination sites running smoothly.  (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

When Seattle’s largest health care system got a mandate from Washington state to create a mass COVID-19 vaccination site, organizers knew that gathering enough volunteers would be almost as crucial as the vaccine itself.

“We could not do this without volunteers,” said Renee Rassilyer-Bomers, chief quality officer for Swedish Health Services and head of its vaccination site at Seattle University. “The sheer volume and number of folks that we wanted to be able to serve and bring in requires … 320 individuals each day.”

As states ramp up vaccination distribution in the fight against the coronavirus, volunteers are needed to do everything from direct traffic to check people in so vaccination sites run smoothly. In return for their work, they’re often given a shot. Many people who don’t yet qualify for a vaccine — including those who are young and healthy — have been volunteering in hopes of getting a dose they otherwise may not receive for months.

It’s raised questions at a time when supplies are limited and some Americans have struggled to get vaccinated even if they are eligible. But medical ethicists say volunteers are key to the public health effort and there’s nothing wrong with them wanting protection from the virus.

Read the story here.

—Manuel Valdes and Terry Tang, The Associated Press

Idaho man thought ‘the virus would disappear the day after the election.’ He was wrong.

Paul Russell, 63, once thought the coronavirus wasn’t a real threat. He didn’t believe in masks. All that has changed.

“Before I came down with the virus, I was one of those jackasses who thought the virus would disappear the day after the election. I was one of those conspiracy theorists,” he said.

Russell was driving back to Boise from Florida, by way of Houston. It was early November, and somewhere along his route, the long-haul trucker caught the coronavirus.

The next few weeks are a blur, Russell said. He spent more than two weeks in a St. Luke’s Health System hospital, becoming one of 19 patients enrolled in a clinical trial to test a new drug for use in COVID-19.

Since he got infected on the job, Russell said he’s receiving workers’ compensation. But it’s not enough to afford house payments, so he’s selling his family home to move to a less expensive suburb.

After a life-saving hospital stay, his perspective has changed, he said.

—The Idaho Statesman

Doctors urge Spain to use AstraZeneca vaccine more widely

A resident wearing a face mask to protect against the spread of coronavirus looks on though a window at DomusVi nursing home in Leganes, Spain, Wednesday, March 10, 2021. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)

Chafing under Spain’s sluggish vaccination rollout, regional health authorities and doctors are urging the central government in Madrid to widen the categories of people who can receive the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine.

While other European countries like Germany, France and Italy have expanded the use of vaccine made by the British-Swedish company to include more elderly patients, Spain has stuck with administering it to those 55 and under.

But critics say Spain’s reluctance to use AstraZeneca, which is going to essential workers 55 and under like teachers and police officers.

When the first coronavirus vaccines arrived in January, Spain’s government pledged to have vaccinated 70% of its adult population by the summer. So far, only 1.4 million of Spain’s 47 million residents have been inoculated.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press

EU-UK relations take a new dip over ‘vaccine ban’ comments

FILE – In this Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2020 file photo, a worker raises the Union Flag prior a meeting between European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson at EU headquarters in Brussels. Relations between the European Union and recently departed Britain took another diplomatic dip on Wednesday, March 10, 2021 when the EU envoy in London was summoned to explain comments that Britain had issued a vaccine export ban. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco, File)

The leaders of the European Union and the United Kingdom went head-to-head in an angry exchange over vaccine exports as relations between the bloc and its former member took another diplomatic dip on Wednesday.

After the British government summoned the EU envoy to explain comments by European Council President Charles Michel that Britain had issued a vaccine export ban, U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson told the House of Commons that it was his “wish to correct the suggestion from the European Council president that the U.K. has blocked vaccine exports.”

“Let me be clear: we have not blocked the export of a single COVID-19 vaccine or vaccine components,” Johnson said.

The spat comes against a background that the COVID-19 vaccination drive in Britain is seen as a huge success while that in the 27-nation bloc has been a major failure. The United Kingdom has given about 35% of its adults a vaccine shot while the EU is further back with 9.5%.

EU rumors, unproven, of British hoarding of vaccines at the expense of the continent have always been there, but Michel issued a statement Tuesday saying that “the United Kingdom and the United States have imposed an outright ban on the export of vaccines or vaccine components produced on their territory.”

Read the story here.

—Raf Casert, The Associated Press

Catch up on the past 24 hours

Seattle's Lumen Field Event Center has morphed into a mass vaccination clinic. Boat shows, concerts and art fairs have given way to 144 vaccination stations in the cavernous event center, which will open Saturday with the capability to vaccinate 22,000 people a day when the shots become more readily available. How will they pack that many people in without getting everyone sick? Here's how it will work, along with our updating guide to getting your vaccine in the Puget Sound area.

The verdict is in on who did the vaccines right, Washington or Oregon. Hint: It wasn’t us, columnist Danny Westneat writes. Meanwhile, one U.S. state has thrown the doors open to every adult who wants a shot … but some nations haven't even started vaccinations yet.

Hundreds of King County grocery workers will start getting $4-an-hour hazard pay this month. The County Council approved the pay bump in unincorporated areas.

Many COVID-19 "long-haulers" had no symptoms until well after they tested positive, according to a new study that also found more than 30 types of long-term problems stemming from the virus.

One university is offering "staycation" cash to students who skip spring break and stay put.

—Kris Higginson

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