Editor’s note: This is a live account of COVID-19 updates from Monday, March 14, 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 It is no longer being updated.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.
Gov. Jay Inslee announced last month that the state’s COVID-19 mask requirements would lift in grocery stores, bars, gyms, child care facilities and other indoor establishments as COVID cases continue to fall from its omicron surge. But for myriad reasons — they are immunocompromised, or they work in a high-traffic area, or they live with someone who isn’t vaccinated — some say they’ll continue to mask up.
Meanwhile, scientists have recently reported that a hybrid of the omicron and delta coronavirus variants has been popping up in several countries in Europe. Here’s what is known about the hybrid, which has picked up the names deltamicron or deltacron.
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 the rest of our coronavirus coverage and here to see how we track the daily spread across Washington.
Biden to attend first in-person fundraiser since pandemic
President Joe Biden on Monday is holding his first in-person fundraiser since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, marking a return to a traditional form of politics that many Democrats eschewed as a matter of public safety over the past two years.
The big-dollar event in Washington, which will be attended by roughly two dozen donors, has raised at least $3 million for the Democratic National Committee, according to an adviser for the White House who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss private planning details.
Biden has attended several in-person political events in recent months, including a speech he gave at a DNC gathering last week. But his return to in-person fundraisers for the first time since the 2020 presidential primary nonetheless marks a new chapter in the politics of the pandemic, signaling a desire by Democrats to get back to normal after years of social distancing, lockdowns and virtual campaigning.
It comes at a crucial time for Democrats, who are looking to energize their wealthy donors ahead of this year’s midterm elections, when their control of Congress will be on the ballot.
Red Cross say it hasn’t visited Myanmar prisons since COVID
The International Committee of the Red Cross has been unable to visit prisons in Myanmar since the start of the coronavirus pandemic in late 2019, a top official said Monday.
Speaking to The Associated Press, Red Cross director-general Robert Mardini said officials with his organization have, however, remained in contact with Myanmar.
“We are in constant dialogue on this on this question,” he said. “Our access to detention places has been unfortunately disrupted since the pandemic started, so we are now working to start again those important visits. And at the same time, we are stepping up significantly our humanitarian activities in the country.”
Myanmar’s military seized power in February last year, ousting the civilian government of Aung San Suu Kyi, which has likely complicated communication efforts. Resistance to the takeover has now led to what some U.N. experts have characterized as a civil war. Activists say thousands have been arrested.
Masks off? Not everyone will be baring their faces as Seattle area drops the mandate
Rose Bigham has spent the entirety of the pandemic avoiding enclosed spaces and wearing masks whenever she leaves her Maltby home. She bought flu pandemic kits online in February 2020 and wears a mask even when she is alone in her car, because she wants to wash her hands before taking it off.
Her routine won’t change as Washington’sstate’s mask restrictions do. She plans to wear a face mask in public areas that aren’t requiring coverings after the statewide indoor mask mandate officially ended Saturday.
Gov. Jay Inslee announced last month that the state’s COVID-19 mask requirements would lift in grocery stores, bars, gyms, child care facilities and other indoor establishments as COVID cases continue to fall from its omicron surge. But for myriad reasons — they are immunocompromised, or they work in a high-traffic area, or they live with someone who isn’t vaccinated — residents say they’ll continue to mask up.
“I just cannot run the risk of incurring potentially permanent deficits to add to the ones I already have,” said Bigham, who takes medication that suppresses her immune system. “It’s not worth the risk.”
Seattle stem-cell therapy company falsely marketed treatment for COVID-19, WA AG says in lawsuit
A Seattle stem-cell therapy company was sued by the state attorney general’s office Monday for allegedly falsely marketing its procedures as treatments for COVID-19 and other medical conditions.
Attorney General Bob Ferguson named US Stemology, which runs the Seattle Stem Cell Center in Lower Queen Anne, and company owner Dr. Tami Meraglia in the lawsuit, filed in King County Superior Court.
According to the complaint, US Stemology and Meraglia charged 107 patients for giving them “unproven” stem-cell treatments for COVID, diabetes, lupus, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis and other serious medical conditions. Some people were charged up to $10,000 out of pocket for participating in the clinic’s “patient funded research,” the complaint says.
“Dr. Meraglia and US Stemology advertised stem cells as a life-changing miracle cure that could treat almost anything — even COVID,” Ferguson said in a statement Monday. “They preyed on people’s fears and frustrations about their health to sell hundreds of thousands of dollars in unproven treatments. Their conduct brings to mind a 21st century version of snake-oil sales tactics.”
Greek prime minister COVID-positive day after Istanbul visit
Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said Monday he had tested positive for COVID-19 and would be self-isolating at home, a day after a trip to Istanbul.
Mitsotakis held talks Sunday with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and met with Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, who is considered the spiritual leader of the world’s Orthodox Christians.
Mitsotakis, wearing a mask, said in a video posted on Instagram that the result of his daily coronavirus test was positive on Monday, and he would therefore be working from home.
Mitsotakis held talks over lunch with Erdogan in Istanbul on Sunday in a rare meeting between the leaders of the two neighboring countries. Relations between Greece and Turkey are strained over a series of issues, including territorial and energy exploration rights in the Mediterranean, which led to a naval standoff in mid-2020.
State health officials confirm new coronavirus cases, deaths
The state Department of Health (DOH) reported 1,535 new coronavirus cases on Friday, 958 on Saturday and 304 cases on Sunday. It also reported 36 more deaths over those days.
The update brings the state's totals to 1,440,632 cases and 12,219 deaths, meaning that 0.85% of people diagnosed in Washington have died, according to the DOH. The data is as of 11:59 p.m. Sunday. New state data is reported on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
DOH is still working to clear backlogged cases, hospitalizations and deaths, the agency said.
In addition, 58,609 people have been hospitalized in the state due to the virus — 127 new hospitalizations. In King County, the state's most populous, state health officials have confirmed a total of 369,569 COVID-19 diagnoses and 2,599 deaths.
Since vaccinations began in late 2020, the state and health care providers have administered 13,132,749 doses and 67% 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 5,854 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.
Seattle, King County prepare for return to in-person work, lifting mask requirements
With COVID-19 caseloads waning and statewide mask requirements lifted, the City of Seattle and King County are bringing employees back to in-person work and preparing to lift mask mandates for the first time in two years.
City employees who have worked remotely for the last two years will begin the return to working in person on Wednesday, as announced by Mayor Bruce Harrell in February.
According to the Mayor’s Office, only about 35% of the city’s employees are still working remotely, with the majority already working in the field because of the nature of their jobs. And details of those returns will vary.
“The City’s largest departments, like utilities and public safety, have operational functions, and many staff have worked in person or on a hybrid schedule throughout the pandemic. Alternatively, many of the city’s smaller departments have been 100% remote, so they will be coming back on a hybrid schedule,” Communications Director Jamie Housen said Friday.
For kids with COVID-19, everyday life can be a struggle
Youth and COVID-19: Among the puzzling outcomes of the coronavirus, which has killed more than 6 million people worldwide since it first emerged in 2019, are the symptoms suffered by children.
Doctors at Children’s National Hospital and multiple other hospitals are studying the long-term effects of COVID-19 on children. The ultimate goal is to evaluate the impact on their overall health and development, both physically and mentally — and tease out how their still-developing immune systems respond to the virus to learn why some fare well and others don’t.
Not everyone will be baring their faces as Seattle area drops the mandate
Mask off? Rose Bigham has spent the entirety of the pandemic avoiding enclosed spaces and wearing masks whenever she leaves her Maltby home.
Her routine won’t change as Washington’s state’s mask restrictions do. She plans to wear a face mask in public areas that aren’t requiring coverings after the statewide indoor mask mandate officially ended Saturday.
China battles multiple outbreaks, driven by stealth omicron
Another wave: China banned most people from leaving a coronavirus-hit northeastern province and mobilized military reservists Monday as the fast-spreading “stealth omicron” variant fuels the country’s biggest outbreak since the start of the pandemic two years ago.
8 tips you need to know before your next international trip
Traveling again? If you can overcome your worries about international travel, there’s a reward: lower prices, no crowds and a better overall experience. Question is, how do you get that?
It boils down to a few essential tips that will help you survive your next trip abroad.
COVID’s new ‘deltacron’ variant: What’s known and what isn’t
Recombinant virus: Scientists have reported that a hybrid of the omicron and delta coronavirus variants has been popping up in several countries in Europe.
The thought of a hybrid might sound worrisome. But there are a number of reasons not to panic. Read more here.
France lifts COVID-19 rules on unvaccinated, mask wearing
Reopening continues: France lifted most COVID-19 restrictions on Monday, abolishing the need to wear face masks in most settings and allowing people who aren’t vaccinated back into restaurants, sports arenas and other venues.
But in recent days, the number of new infections has started increasing again, raising concerns from some scientists it may be too soon to lift restrictions.
Hospital staff shortages, health equity, pandemic response among issues tackled by WA legislators
Democratic lawmakers this week announced a state budget deal that would use more than $1 billion in remaining federal coronavirus aid, including $345 million to stabilize school districts and $215 million for the hospitality and convention industries, the arts sector, and small businesses.
The new supplemental budget also includes $125 million for the state’s ongoing pandemic response, including for vaccine distribution, diagnostic testing, disease surveillance and community outreach.
4th COVID shot will be ‘necessary,’ says Pfizer CEO
An annual vaccine: COVID-19 shots could soon become a yearly tradition.
Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla recently shared that in order to keep hospitalization and deaths at bay, Americans may need a fourth COVID vaccine shot.
Bourla also announced that the company hopes to have data on a vaccine for children under the age of 5 by next month, which could get shots as early as May.
Catch up on the past 24 hours
The mandate is gone, but the masks aren't. Rose Bigham has a suppressed immune system and will keep wearing hers. So will bartender Matt Pachmayr, who's basking in not having gotten a cold for the past two years. Here are some of the reasons people around you are still masking up. Out on city streets this weekend, masking decisions were mixed, and marked by both joy and understanding.
Workers for Seattle and King County are coming back to offices and taking off their masks, but city and county leaders will keep meeting remotely.
How worried should you be about "deltacron"? Here's what is and isn't known about the mishmash of delta and omicron variants.
Former President Barack Obama has tested positive for the coronavirus.
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