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 It is no longer being updated.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

The United States is poised to hit President Joe Biden’s goal of injecting 100 million coronavirus vaccinations on Friday, weeks ahead of his target date — a milestone that means the country is now in a position to help supply Canada and Mexico with millions of shots.

In Washington, Gov. Jay Inslee has announced an additional 2 million Washingtonians — including restaurant workers and people between 60 and 64 years old — will become eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine on March 31.

We’re updating this page with the latest news about the COVID-19 pandemic and its effects on the Seattle area, the U.S. and the world. Click here to see previous days’ live updates and all our other coronavirus coverage, and here to see how we track the daily spread across Washington and the world.


(Jennifer Luxton / The Seattle Times)

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Scientist behind coronavirus shot says next target is cancer

BERLIN — The scientist who won the race to deliver the first widely used coronavirus vaccine says people can rest assured the shots are safe, and the technology behind it will soon be used to fight another global scourge — cancer.

Ozlem Tureci, who co-founded the German company BioNTech with her husband, was working on a way to harness the body’s immune system to tackle tumors when they learned last year of an unknown virus infecting people in China.

Over breakfast, the couple decided to apply the technology they’d been researching for two decades to the new threat, dubbing the effort “Project Lightspeed.”

Within 11 months, Britain had authorized the use of the mRNA vaccine BioNTech developed with U.S. pharmaceutical giant Pfizer, followed a week later by the United States. Tens of millions of people worldwide have received the shot since December.

“It pays off to make bold decisions and to trust that if you have an extraordinary team, you will be able to solve any problem and obstacle which comes your way in real time,” Tureci told The Associated Press in an interview.

—Associated Press
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Famed Chicago deli promises delicious reward for 30 days of perfect mask-wearing

CHICAGO — Manny’s Cafeteria & Delicatessen is staking a mountain of free corned beef — and pastrami and salami and, yes, even turkey if you must — on keeping that mask on at the legendary Chicago restaurant.

The 79-year-old institution, which has been a backdrop for generations of politicians, celebrities and diners simply in search of a quality corned beef on rye, announced on social media last Sunday night that it would “give away free sandwiches for the day” if staff could go 30 days without needing to remind customers to mask up during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dan Raskin, the fourth-generation owner of Manny’s, said in an interview that he would follow through on the day of free sandwiches should his customers earn it.

He doesn’t think they will.

“It’s ridiculous the amount we have to ask people to do it,” he said of mask reminders. “It’s multiple times a day — probably multiple times an hour.”

—Chicago Tribune

Medical workers conflicted by France’s partial lockdown

PARIS — When nurse Anaelle Aeschliman started her 12-hour night shift caring for unconscious patients with COVID-19, the French prime minister was announcing new restrictions to combat the resurgent coronavirus epidemic in Paris.

She was not impressed. The 26-year-old had been hoping for a full nationwide lockdown to slow the streams of severely ill patients filling ICUs like hers, in the west of Paris.

Instead, Prime Minister Jean Castex unveiled a mishmash of measures — including closures of nonessential shops — that are mostly limited to Paris and northern France and don’t oblige people to spend most of the day indoors. Announced Thursday night, they were taking effect on Friday night, when Aeschliman was due to be back in the ICU, for another 12-hour shift.

“Locking down region by region isn’t enough. I think it’s a sanitary suicide,” she said Friday morning, as she went home for a shower and some sleep after working through the night.

“I admit I was a bit disappointed that we aren’t being locked down nationwide,” she said. “When you look at the numbers, they’re unsustainable, and it is going to become ever-harder as the virus continues to circulate.”

Read the full story here.

—Associated Press

Nike slides after supply-chain woes hit North America revenue

Nike shares fell 4% Friday after its pandemic rebound suffered a setback last quarter, when supply-chain problems kept products from reaching North America, its biggest market.

The athleticwear giant, which posted surprisingly strong growth in the previous quarter, missed Wall Street estimates with its latest results. Sales amounted to $10.4 billion in the third quarter — far below analysts’ projections of $11 billion.

Its revenue in Europe also was disappointing, partly because many stores there remain shuttered due to the pandemic.

Nike shares lost $5.68 to close at $137.49 Friday after results were released after the end of trading Thursday. The stock had been up 1.2% this year through Thursday.

The recovery has been uneven for Nike around the world. In China, where the virus has largely receded, sales have been robust: They jumped 51% in the quarter ended Feb. 28 and beat estimates. North American revenue declined 10%, partly because of port congestion and container shortages.

—Bloomberg
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Microsoft unveils new vaccine management software to address earlier failures

Microsoft unveiled new technology to boost government and health care organizations’ vaccine management systems, including scheduling shot appointments and monitoring results, to fix shortcomings weeks after the company’s initial custom-built programs ran aground in a few states.

The Microsoft Vaccine Management product released Friday is made up of features and new apps that the software company said will improve upon and fix the glitches that occurred when its previous effort, the Vaccination Registration and Application System, failed to work properly in New Jersey and Washington, D.C.

The new software “incorporates lessons learned from VRAS regarding scalable architecture, improved user experiences for residents and health care workers,” the company said in an email. It also uses health care standards for information transfer so data can be exported more quickly to other record systems, such as electronic medical records. The software also addresses other issues that hampered the previous option, including requiring users to preregister before seeking a COVID-19 vaccine appointment and providing a way to proactively handle spikes in demand.

Microsoft, based in Redmond, has put considerable effort over the past few years to building and promoting cloud-computing tools for health care providers, as well as selling its ability to manage complex systems that combine older programs and data sources with newer internet-based apps and information. That meant complaints about its initial custom-built vaccine management systems from high-profile politicians and unhappy patients stung.

—Bloomberg

State health officials confirm 895 new coronavirus cases in Washington

The state Department of Health (DOH) reported 895 new coronavirus cases and 6 new deaths on Friday.

The update brings the state's totals to 353,792 cases and 5,174 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. Thursday.

In addition, 20,041 people have been hospitalized in the state due to the virus — 42 new hospitalizations. In King County, the state's most populous, state health officials have confirmed a total of 87,393 COVID-19 diagnoses and 1,449 deaths.

Since vaccinations began in mid-December, the state and health care providers have administered 2,621,510 doses and 12.94% 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 43,737 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.

—Taylor Blatchford

LA mayor says vaccines by ZIP code would have saved lives

SAN FRANCISCO — Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said many deaths could have been prevented if the state focused earlier on vaccinating those in the most disadvantaged neighborhoods, tacit criticism of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s decision to initially focus inoculation efforts by age and profession.

Garcetti also said he’s eager for the day when the state and federal governments take “the handcuffs off us completely” and allow local officials to vaccinate those who they feel are most at risk.

“From a public health perspective, we should have gone in with surge teams to ZIP codes that were hardest hit (by the coronavirus) and just say, ‘Anybody in this ZIP code gets a vaccine,’” Garcetti said during an online interview with the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. “And we could of — I think — really prevented a lot of deaths.”

Garcetti and Newsom are fellow Democrats and close friends. And while the mayor didn’t name Newsom, his comments ultimately are criticism of the governor’s approach, which were modified earlier this month when he announced 40% of all vaccine doses will go to people in the state’s poorest ZIP codes.

—Associated Press
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G7 suggest boosting IMF reserves to help vulnerable nations

LONDON — The Group of Seven leading industrial nations on Friday proposed bolstering the International Monetary Fund’s reserves for the first time since 2009, so the Washington D.C.-based institution can provide more financial support to developing nations during the coronavirus crisis.

At a virtual discussion hosted by Britain’s Treasury chief, Rishi Sunak, the seven finance ministers backed a “new and sizeable” increase in the IMF’s Special Drawing Rights, a type of reserve that effectively supplements existing reserves of member countries.

No financial details were disclosed and any increase will have to be signed off by other countries at the IMF’s spring meeting in April.

So-called SDRs, which were last issued in 2009 as part of the international response to the global financial crisis, could free up resources for developing nations to pay for coronavirus vaccines and food imports, as well as providing them with further financial buffers.

“Today’s milestone agreement among the G-7 paves the way for crucial and concerted action to support the world’s low-income countries, ensuring that no country is left behind in the global economic recovery from coronavirus,” said Sunak, who chaired the meeting as part of Britain’s presidency of the G-7 this year.

—Associated Press

Powell: US economy gaining, but recovery ‘far from complete’

WASHINGTON — Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell reiterated his belief Friday that while the U.S. economy has been steadily rebounding from the devastation caused by the pandemic recession, the recovery is far from complete and needs continued support from the Fed.

In an opinion piece posted Friday in the Wall Street Journal, Powell characterizes the economy as much improved, with about half the 20 million jobs that were lost to the pandemic having been recovered and with the outlook brightening as vaccinations are more widely administered.

Yet he adds, “The recovery is far from complete, so at the Fed we will continue to provide the economy with the support that it needs for as long as it takes.”

Powell’s message reinforces points he made Wednesday at a news conference after the Fed’s latest policy meeting. When the meeting ended, the central bank’s policymakers issued updated forecasts that sharply upgraded their outlook, with the economy expected to accelerate quickly this year. At the same time, their consensus forecast showed that the officials expect to keep their benchmark rate pinned near zero through 2023, despite concerns in financial markets about potentially higher inflation.

—Associated Press

Are you visiting a loved one in a long-term care facility? We would like to hear from you

On Thursday, Gov. Jay Inslee announced that the state’s nursing homes, assisted-living facilities and other long-term care sites can reopen their doors for visits. Indoor visits are now allowed if a resident or visitor is fully vaccinated, Inslee announced at a briefing in Olympia.

Are you reuniting with a loved one after a year of lockdowns at Washington’s nursing homes, assisted-living facilities and other long-term care sites? Seattle Times reporter Paige Cornwell would like to hear from you.

She can be reached at pcornwell@seattletimes.com or 206-464-2530.

—Paige Cornwell
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Michigan ups stadium capacity, requires teen athlete testing

LANSING, Mich. — Michigan on Friday eased outdoor stadium capacity restrictions before baseball’s opening day but ordered weekly rapid testing of teen athletes amid a climbing coronavirus case rate that ranks fourth nationally over the past week.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said, for now, she does not plan to tighten COVID-19 restrictions her administration had gradually loosened in recent months — noting ongoing vaccinations while also citing concerns about virus variants that more easily spread.

“If we all take our own personal responsibility here, we can keep these things reengaged and do it safely,” the Democratic governor said during a news conference, in which a top state health official warned the state may be at the beginning of a third surge.

Under a revised health order that takes effect Monday, certain outdoor arenas and stadiums — including the Detroit Tigers’ Comerica Park — can seat 20% of their capacity if they have an infection-control plan that complies with state guidance. The cap, which has been 1,000, will rise to around 8,200 for Tigers games.

Detroit was the 29th of 30 major league teams to announce its plans. Only Houston still had not. The Tigers said limited individual game tickets will be available on the team’s website beginning Thursday.

—Associated Press

Manhattan courthouses adapt to COVID so trials can return

NEW YORK — The two big, busy federal courthouses in Manhattan took the adage that justice delayed is justice denied to heart when the coronavirus hit, creating a pandemic-safe environment for jurors that could be a blueprint for courts elsewhere.

After months of inactivity, they are holding trials again with a safety system that includes an air-filtered plexiglass booth for witnesses, an audio system that lets socially distant lawyers exchange whispers without putting their heads together and protocols to ensure that no document changes hands without being sprayed with disinfectant.

More than 100 trials are already scheduled this year, and a month after jury trials resumed following a post-Thanksgiving halt, there has been no traceable spread of COVID-19 at the courthouse, according to its chief administrator, District Executive Edward Friedland.

That’s important because some of the nation’s oldest judges are among the 70 or so who sit in the two courthouses. One, 93-year-old Louis L. Stanton, has come into work almost every day since the pandemic arrived.

“We wanted to protect them. But also, you know, the justice system has to move forward,” Friedland said.

—Associated Press

Plans solidify for 93rd Oscars: No Zoom, no sweatshirts

With nominations set and just over a month until showtime, details are trickling out about the 93rd Oscars and neither sweatshirts nor Zoom made the cut.

“Our plan is that this year’s Oscars will look like a movie, not a television show,” said show producers Jesse Collins, Stacy Sher and Steven Soderbergh in a statement Friday. They’ve enlisted Emmy and Tony Award winning director Glenn Weiss to direct the live broadcast on April 25.

Although considerably scaled down from a normal year, the producers have said they are committed to holding an in-person event at Los Angeles’ Union Station for nominees, presenters and limited guests. There will also be a live component at the Dolby Theatre, which has been home to the Academy Awards since 2001.

But unlike the Golden Globes, which combined in-person and Zoom elements in its bi-coastal broadcast, the Oscars are not making a virtual element possible for nominees who either can’t or don’t feel comfortable attending. The producers said they plan to treat the event like an active movie set with on-site COVID safety teams and testing protocols.

—Associated Press
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A hopeful pandemic note: Tanglewood music festival to resume

If you’re a fan of classical music, this is music to your ears: One of the nation’s premier summer festivals is coming back after the coronavirus pandemic silenced it for the first time since World War II.

The Boston Symphony Orchestra announced Friday that its 2021 outdoor season at Tanglewood, the acclaimed symphony’s summer home in the Berkshires of western Massachusetts, will feature a return to live, in-person concerts from July 9 to Aug. 16.

Concerts at Tanglewood, where fans spread blankets on the manicured lawns, sip wine and picnic beneath the stars, have been a rite of summer in New England since 1937.

But the pandemic forced organizers to scrap the 2020 festival, switching to online performances and muting a tradition that annually draws nearly 350,000 visitors from around the world and funnels $100 million into the region’s economy. Until last year, the live music had flowed virtually uninterrupted, canceled outright only in 1943 at the height of WWII.

“I am sure we will all experience music’s incredible power on a whole new level,” Andris Nelsons, the BSO’s music director, said in a statement.

—Associated Press

South Korea’s capital scraps testing mandate on foreigners

A health official checks names of migrant workers as they wait for coronavirus testing at a makeshift clinic in Seoul, South Korea, Friday, March 19, 2021. Britain’s ambassador to South Korea on Thursday criticized South Korean health authorities for mandating coronavirus tests on all foreign workers in capital Seoul and nearby Gyeonggi Province in a mass testing campaign that has triggered complaints about racial discrimination. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

The South Korean capital on Friday withdrew its mandate that all foreign workers in the city be tested for the coronavirus — an order that had caused huge lines at testing centers and prompted accusations of discrimination.

The city will still recommend tests for foreigners employed at workplaces that are at risk of spreading infections, such as bars and small factories, said Lee Hae-seon, an official from the Seoul metropolitan government.

Seoul’s move came shortly after the Health Ministry asked the city to scrap the order and replace it with measures that “don’t discriminate between Korean and foreign nationals and don’t infringe on human rights.”

The National Human Rights Commission also had said it was reviewing Seoul’s testing mandate and similar measures in other areas after receiving complaints that they were discriminatory.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press

Mexico: 2.7M U.S. vaccine doses to arrive next week

Mexico’s top diplomat said Friday the U.S. will send 2.7 million doses of unused AstraZeneca vaccine next week, and acknowledged continuing questions about whether Mexico agreed to close its southern border in exchange.

Mexico has already received vaccines from Russia and China.

Foreign Relations Secretary Marcelo Ebrard suggested that, rather than a quid-pro-quo, Mexico’s desire to get more vaccines happened to mesh with U.S. concerns, including an upsurge in migrants reaching the U.S. southern border through Mexico.

Read the story here.

—Maria Verza, The Associated Press
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No immediate change in school reopening plans based on new CDC guidelines, Washington state officials say

Washington state officials in Gov. Jay Inslee’s office say they are reviewing new federal guidelines allowing schools to place students 3 feet apart in elementary school classrooms, a change that could give schools leeway to open up to more in-person learning.

Federal health officials had previously recommended 6 feet of physical distance.

The state’s top education official Chris Reykdal told districts Friday that there was no immediate change to in-school distancing guidance, but that Inslee and health officials were expected to make a statement on the federal guidance later in the day.

The state Department of Health has its own guidance that requires students and staff to stay 6 feet apart in classrooms and hallways, in addition to a host of other safety measures such as universal masking.

The guidance has kept many schools from operating at full capacity.

Read the story here.

—Hannah Furfaro and Dahlia Bazzaz

Vaccine delay in Britain stirs equity debate in India

A health worker administers the Covishield vaccine, developed by AstraZeneca Plc. and the University of Oxford and manufactured by Serum Institute of India Ltd., to a senior citizens at Rajiv Gandhi Super Speciality Hospital in New Delhi, India. Photographer: T.Narayan/Bloomberg (Photographer: T.Narayan/Bloomberg)

Indian health experts and activists on Friday said it was hypocritical for Britain to blame vaccine delays on India’s Serum Institute, amid a debate over equitable access stirred by comments from top officials in London.

Activists are saying the Serum Institute wasn’t meant to make vaccines for wealthy countries like Britain, and that after hoarding vaccines, London is now trying to get at supply chains meant for poorer nations. However, the exact details of the licensing agreements between the Serum Institute and AstraZeneca aren’t known.

“A deep level of hypocrisy and self-serving behavior is on display,” said Malini Aisola of the All India Drug Action Network, a health watchdog.

Read the story here.

—Aniruddha Ghosal and Krutika Pathi, The Associated Press

Belgium pauses re-opening plans as virus infections mount

Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo said Friday that the country faces a few “crucial weeks” as the number of coronavirus infections rise, and that the government has decided to pause its plans to gradually ease restrictions.

The plan had been to offer some relief to long-suffering citizens by resuming some outdoor activities from April 1.

A carpet seller sits outside his store on a nearly empty shopping street in Antwerp, Belgium, Friday, March 18, 2021. Belgian health authorities are urging residents to limit their social contacts to a bare minimum and to massively opt for remote working to avoid another wave of COVID-19 infections. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)

Earlier Friday, health authorities said the number of confirmed new daily infections had risen by a third over the past seven days with COVID-19 hospitalizations up by 27%.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press
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Happiness Report: World shows resilience in face of COVID19

People enjoy hot summer day in a lake in Espoo, Finland, on June 26, 2020.  In a year of untimely deaths from the coronavirus, economic decline and social loneliness, The World Happiness Report revealing the world’s happiest countries shows Friday March 19, 2021, Nordic countries topped the index, with Finland leading for the fourth consecutive year. (Heikki Saukkomaa/Lehtikuva via AP)

The coronavirus brought a year of fear and anxiety, loneliness and lockdown, and illness and death, but an annual report on happiness around the world released Friday suggests the pandemic has not crushed people’s spirits.

The editors of the 2021 World Happiness Report found that while emotions changed as the pandemic set in, longer-term satisfaction with life was less affected.

“What we have found is that when people take the long view, they’ve shown a lot of resilience in this past year,” Columbia University economist Jeffrey Sachs, one of the report’s co-author, said from New York.

The annual report, produced by the U.N Sustainable Development Solutions Network, ranks 149 countries based on gross domestic product per person, healthy life expectancy and the opinions of residents.

Finland was the happiest country for the fourth year in a row. The United States, which was at No. 13 five years ago, slipped from 18th to 19th place.

Read the story here.

—David Keyton, The Associated Press

Idaho Legislature shuts down due to COVID-19 outbreak

The Idaho Legislature voted Friday to shut down for several weeks due to an outbreak of COVID-19.

Lawmakers in the House and Senate made the unprecedented move with significant unfinished business, including setting budgets and pushing through a huge income tax cut.

At least five of the 70 House members tested positive for the illness in the last week, and there are fears a highly contagious variant of COVID-19 is in the Statehouse.

Four of those who tested positive are Republicans and one is Democrat. Another Republican lawmaker is self-isolating. The chamber has a super-majority of 58 Republicans, most of whom rarely or never wear masks. All the Democratic lawmakers typically wear masks.

Read the story here.

—Keith Ridler, The Associated Press

Biden eyes new goal after US clears 100M shots since Jan. 20

U.S. President Joe Biden speaks during an event in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, March 10, 2021. (Bloomberg)

The U.S. on Friday cleared President Joe Biden’s goal of injecting 100 million coronavirus shots, more than a month before his target date of his 100th day in office, as the president prepared to set his sights higher in the nationwide vaccination effort.

With the nation now administering about 2.5 million shots per day, Biden, who promised to set a new goal for vaccinations next week, teased the possibility of setting a 200 million dose goal by his 100th day in office.

“We may be able to double it,” he told reporters before leaving the White House for Atlanta. His comments come as the U.S. is on pace to have enough of the three currently authorized vaccines to cover the entire adult population just 10 weeks from now.

As the pace of U.S. vaccinations and supply improves, the White House said the nation is now in position to help supply neighbors Canada and Mexico with millions of lifesaving shots.

The Biden administration on Thursday revealed the outlines of a plan to “loan” a limited number of vaccines to Canada and Mexico as the president announced the U.S. was on the cusp of meeting his 100-day injection goal “way ahead” of schedule.

Read the story here.

—Zeke Miller, The Associated Press
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Indonesian Muslim body clears AstraZeneca use in emergency

In this photo released by Indonesian Presidential Palace, a worker attaches a sticker on a container containing AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine upon its arrival at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport in Tangerang on the outskirts of Jakarta, Indonesia March 8, 2021 . Indonesia on Friday, March 19, 2021 cleared the AstraZeneca vaccine for use again after the European Union’s drug regulator said the vaccine didn’t increase the overall incidence of blood clots. (Indonesian President Palace via AP)

AstraZeneca’s vaccine against COVID-19 was cleared Friday for use in Indonesia after the drug regulator declared it safe and clerics in the world’s most populous Muslim nation said a pig-derived element was acceptable in a pandemic.

Southeast Asia’s biggest economy had delayed using AstraZeneca’s product after more than a dozen countries in Europe suspended the vaccine due to concerns of some people who received the vaccine developing blood clots. The World Health Organization said it saw no evidence the vaccine was to blame for the clots, and some European countries were resuming its use.

“The benefits of using the COVID-19 vaccine AstraZeneca outweigh the possible risks, so that we can start to use it,” Indonesia’s Food and Drug Authority said in its announcement.

The Indonesian agency said the risk of death from COVID-19 was much greater, “Therefore, the community still has to get vaccination against COVID-19 according to the designated schedule.”

At the same news conference, an official from Indonesia’s highest Islamic body declared the AstraZeneca vaccine “haram,” or forbidden in Islam, for containing materials derived from pigs but still approved its use by Muslims given the emergency situation.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press

Tokyo Olympics ready to announce ban on fans from abroad

Tokyo organizers and the International Olympic Committee are poised to finally make it official that most fans from abroad will be prohibited from attending the postponed Olympics when they open in four months.

The announcement is expected to come after “five-party” talks on Saturday with the IOC, local organizers, the Japanese government, the Tokyo metropolitan government and the International Paralympic Committee.

Despite some calls to delay it, officials have promised a decision before the torch relay opens on Thursday from the northeastern prefecture of Fukushima.

Seiko Hashimoto, the president of the organizing committee, said Friday in a news briefing that all five parties will have to agree on the decision. But she said two have more influence than others: the IOC and the Japanese national government.

“All decisions will be made by the IOC in the end,” Hashimoto said. “When it comes to immigration, this is a matter for the national government at the border.”

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press

Michigan restaurant owner defying virus orders is arrested

A western Michigan woman who has defied coronavirus restrictions while operating her restaurant was stopped in her car and arrested before dawn Friday, authorities said.

Marlena Pavlos-Hackney, 55, was operating a restaurant without a license and had refused to surrender by Thursday, Attorney General Dana Nessel said.

State investigators said the owner had ignored caps on restaurant capacity at Marlena’s Bistro and Pizzeria and wasn’t enforcing mask rules. Her food license was suspended Jan. 20, but the eatery remained open.

“We don’t want this country to be a communist regime that’s going to dictate what we can do and what we cannot do,” Pavlos-Hackney, a native of Poland, told WOOD-TV as she served customers Thursday.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press
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CDC changes school guidance, allowing desks to be closer

FILE – In this March 18, 2021, file photo, students in teacher Christopher Duggan’s science class clean their work areas at the end of class at Windsor Locks High School in Windsor Locks, Conn. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention relaxed its social distancing guidelines for schools Friday, March 19, saying students can now sit 3 feet apart in classrooms. The new guidelines also remove recommendations for plastic shields or other barriers between desks. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill, File)

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention relaxed its social distancing guidelines for schools Friday, saying students can now sit 3 feet apart in classrooms.

The revised COVID-19 recommendations represent a turn away from the 6-foot standard that has forced some schools to remove desks, stagger scheduling and take other steps to keep children away from one another.

Three feet “gives school districts greater flexibility to have more students in for a prolonged period of time,” said Kevin Quinn, director of maintenance and facilities at Mundelein High School in suburban Chicago.

In recent months, schools in some states have been disregarding the CDC guidelines, using 3 feet as their standard. Studies of what happened in some of them helped sway the agency, said Greta Massetti, who leads the CDC’s community interventions task force.

Read the story here.

—Mike Stobbe, The Associated Press

AstraZeneca vaccinations resume in Germany after clot scare

Germany resumed vaccinations with the coronavirus vaccine made by AstraZeneca on Friday, following a recommendation by European regulators that the benefits of the shot outweigh the risks.

The European Medicines Agency said Thursday that the vaccine is safe but it can’t rule out a link to a small number of rare blood clots reported on the continent, and patients should be told to look out for any warning signs.

The move paved the way for more than a dozen European countries, which had suspended use of the shot over the past week, to begin using it again.

Authorities in Berlin said two large vaccination centers that offer the AstraZeneca shot to people in the German capital will reopen Friday, and people whose appointments were canceled this week will be able to get the vaccine over the weekend without making a new one.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press

England explores proof of vaccine, negative test for sports fans

Model fans made of plumbing supplies seen in the stands before the English Premier League soccer match between Burnley and Arsenal at Turf Moor stadium in Burnley, England, Saturday, March 6, 2021. (Peter Powell/Pool via AP)

England is considering the introduction of coronavirus certificates as a way of getting fans back into large sports events in significant numbers as pandemic restrictions are eased.

The government is exploring asking supporters to provide proof they have been vaccinated or have tested negative, Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said Friday.

“From June 21, if all goes to plan … we hope to get people back in significant numbers,” Dowden told Sky News. “We’re piloting the different things that will enable that to happen. Clearly it will have to be done in a COVID-secure way.”

One of the pilot events is due to be the FA Cup final on May 15, with the government hoping for more than 10,000 fans at the Wembley Stadium game after they have been tested or vaccinated.

The government already has plans to relax coronavirus curbs from May 17 to allow up to 10,000 fans at stadiums but with social distancing. June 21 is the final stage on a road map to remove most restrictions, paving the way to a return to full stadiums for the first time since March 2020.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press
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Catch up on the past 24 hours

Restaurant workers, people between 60 and 64, and several other groups of Washingtonians can get vaccines starting March 31, Gov. Jay Inslee announced yesterday. Here's our guide to getting yours, plus a look at the side effects and what you can do about them.

Nursing homes and other long-term care facilities can allow indoor visits under certain conditions, Inslee also announced.

How important is the second dose of a vaccine? And can you choose which vaccine you get? Our FAQ Friday tackles those questions and looks at whether Seattle-area residents are finishing the vaccine journeys they started.

The United States will send millions of AstraZeneca vaccines to Mexico and Canada. The shots are safe but patients should watch for warning signs of blood clots, European regulators decided yesterday. The vaccine awaits approval in the U.S. as we hit the milestone today of 100 million American injections with other kinds of vaccines, weeks ahead of President Joe Biden's target date.

A famed deli is promising a delicious reward if it gets 30 days of perfect mask-wearing.

—Kris Higginson

Do you have questions about the coronavirus that causes COVID-19?

Ask in the form below and we'll dig for answers. If you're using a mobile device and can't see the form on this page, ask your question here. If you have specific medical questions, please contact your doctor.