Editor’s note: This is a live account of COVID-19 updates from Monday, May 3, 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 It is no longer being updated.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.

Pending a Monday assessment by public health officials, businesses in King County are expected to reduce their indoor capacity from 50% to 25% this Friday as the county’s coronavirus cases and hospitalizations appeared to exceed state guidelines for its current reopening phase.

A rush to fill open vaccine appointments in some areas continued over the weekend, with Snohomish County officials staging a last-minute effort to use 600 expiring doses of the Pfizer vaccine by Sunday.

The state Department of Health (DOH) reported 1,653 new coronavirus cases on Saturday. Across the state, gaps where people are vaccinated seem to align with political leanings and appear to be deepening, columnist Danny Westneat wrote.

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


Navigating the pandemic
(Jennifer Luxton / The Seattle Times)

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Wondering why your Mother’s Day bouquet might be more expensive? Blame a flower shortage and the pandemic

A shortage of flowers could have some Mother’s Day gift-givers scrambling for holiday bouquets.

Uncertainty during the early days of the pandemic and lingering supply chain issues have left some varieties of flowers in short supply and raised prices on others, florists said. That could have buyers paying more for their Mother’s Day bouquets or leave them unable to find specific varieties for holiday or wedding arrangements.

At Kennicott Brothers, a wholesaling business in Chicago, roses and carnations have become more expensive. Baby blue eucalyptus has been in short supply recently, and the company has at various times had trouble stocking varieties of white garden roses, burgundy and cafe au lait dahlias, and a type of rose known as quicksand, which is popular for weddings, Chairman Red Kennicott said.

Demand for flowers has been 10% to 20% higher during the pandemic as buyers look for ways to express emotion when other methods are limited, especially on holidays such as Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day, he said.

The supply chain issues are similar to those experienced across all industries since the COVID-19 pandemic began 14 months ago, as businesses dealt with temporary shutdowns and sick employees.

—Chicago Tribune
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In Canada, residents face long waits for 2nd vaccine doses as cases rise

Canada’s slow vaccine rollout has left some people waiting four months between doses. While at least 33% of Canadians have received one shot, just 3% are fully vaccinated.

New daily cases reached a seven-day average over 8,700 in mid-April, according to a New York Times database, levels not seen since a winter surge. Ontario has been among the hardest hit, reporting 3,700 new cases Sunday.

As supply increases, officials have said, the wait between two inoculations is expected to shorten, and some initiatives are trying to shrink the gap.

The vaccines are coming at a crucial time: Amid a third wave, the worst-affected provinces are reporting case numbers per capita that rival those of India — although figures in India are likely to be underestimated.

In Quebec, a curfew, limits on gatherings, and takeout-only dining have helped to quell cases. Jean-Sébastien Guay, 27, of Montreal had his first shot Sunday. “It hasn’t been perfect,” he said, but officials communicated consistently. “They all work pretty hard to make it work.”

—The New York Times

Haven’t been able to get a COVID-19 vaccine? The Mariners will offer them to eligible fans starting Tuesday

Monday, the Mariners announced a partnership with Virginia Mason Franciscan Health and the City of Seattle to offer eligible fans COVID-19 vaccines at T-Mobile Park on game days beginning with the game Tuesday against the Baltimore Orioles.

Gates open for the game at 5:10 p.m.

The vaccinations will be administered by EMS personnel from the Seattle Fire Department. Virginia Mason Franciscan Health also will provide staffing and volunteers to support the vaccination process.

Eligible fans will have the choice of:

  • A single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
  • First dose of the Moderna vaccine.

Those receiving their first dose of Moderna will be able to schedule their second dose at one of the City of Seattle’s community vaccination sites — Lumen Field Event Center, Rainier Beach or West Seattle.

Read the full story here.

—Ryan Divish

Washington state restaurant owners can apply for $28 billion federal fund

Calling all Washington restaurant owners who are working through pandemic-induced challenges: the Restaurant Revitalization Fund is open for applications. The program, which came into effect under President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan, sets aside $28 billion in funding to “help restaurants and other eligible businesses keep their doors open,” according to the U.S. Small Business Association. It began accepting applications Monday.

With Pierce, Cowlitz and Whitman counties having rolled back to Phase 2 of Gov. Jay Inslee’s coronavirus reopening plan, and King County likely to follow this week, the introduction of the Restaurant Revitalization Fund is a ray of hope for Washington’s restaurant owners as COVID-19 numbers tick upward. Under Phase 2, indoor dining is again limited to 25% capacity — down from 50% in Phase 3.

The program is open to a wide gamut of businesses that fall under the “restaurant” umbrella — including distilleries, brewpubs, food carts, wineries and inns — and preference will be given to women, minority and veteran-owned businesses. Recipients will be eligible to receive funding equal to pandemic-related revenue loss, minus any grants received, of up to $10 million per business and $5 million per physical location.

Read the full story here.

—Jackie Varriano
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CVS and Walgreens have wasted more vaccine doses than most states combined

Two national pharmacy chains that the federal government entrusted to inoculate people against COVID-19 account for the lion’s share of wasted vaccine doses, according to government data obtained by KHN.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recorded 182,874 wasted doses as of late March, three months into the country’s effort to vaccinate the masses against the coronavirus. Of those, CVS was responsible for nearly half, and Walgreens for 21%, or nearly 128,500 wasted shots combined.

CDC data suggests that the companies have wasted more doses than states, U.S. territories and federal agencies combined. Pfizer’s vaccine, which in December was the first to be deployed and initially required storage at ultracold temperatures, represented nearly 60% of tossed doses.

It’s not completely clear from the CDC data why the two chains wasted so much more vaccine than states and federal agencies. In response to questions, CVS said “nearly all” of its reported vaccine waste occurred during that effort. Walgreens did not specify how many wasted doses were from the long-term care program.

One thing is clear: Months into the nation’s vaccination drive, the CDC has a limited view of how much vaccine is going to waste, where it’s wasted and who is wasting it, potentially complicating efforts to direct doses to where they are needed most. 

—Kaiser Health News

State health officials confirm 1,110 coronavirus cases

The state Department of Health (DOH) reported 1,110 new coronavirus cases and eight new deaths on Monday.

The update brings the state's totals to 407,191 cases and 5,507 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. Sunday. 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 310 duplicates, according to DOH.

In addition, 22,472 people have been hospitalized in the state due to the virus — 139 new hospitalizations. In King County, the state's most populous, state health officials have confirmed a total of 103,117 COVID-19 diagnoses and 1,517 deaths.

Since vaccinations began in mid-December, the state and health care providers have administered 5,587,640 doses and 31.2% of Washingtonians have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to vaccination data, which the state updates on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Providers are giving an average of about 51,039 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

What would it take to vaccinate the whole world? Let’s take a look.

More than 600 million people worldwide have been at least partially vaccinated against COVID-19 — meaning that more than 7 billion still have not. It is a striking achievement in the shadow of a staggering challenge.

Half of all the doses delivered so far have gone into the arms of people in countries with one-seventh of the world’s people, primarily the United States and European nations. Dozens of countries, particularly in Africa, have barely started their inoculation campaigns.

As wealthy countries envision the pandemic retreating within months — while poorer ones face the prospect of years of suffering — frustration has people around the world asking why more vaccine isn’t available.

Nationalism and government actions do much to help explain the stark inequity between the world’s haves and have-nots. So, for that matter, does government inaction. And the power of the pharmaceutical companies, which at times seem to hold all the cards, cannot be ignored.

But much of it comes down to sheer logistics.

—The New York Times
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Restrictions easing in US and Europe amid disaster in India

Air travel in the U.S. hit its highest mark since COVID-19 took hold more than 13 months ago, while European Union officials are proposing to ease restrictions on visitors to the continent as the vaccine rollout sends new cases and deaths tumbling in more affluent countries.

The improving picture in many places contrasts with the worsening disaster in India.

In the U.S., the average number of new cases per day fell below 50,000 for the first time since October. And nearly 1.67 million people were screened at U.S. airport checkpoints on Sunday, according to the Transportation Security Administration, the highest number since mid-March of last year.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press

Anxious about post-vaccine travel? You’re not alone, according to mental-health pros.

For travelers with anxiety and panic disorders, vacations did not always feel like getaways, even before COVID-19. A century ago, Sigmund Freud described these feelings as “reiseangst,” from the German for “travel fear.” Travel anxiety has since become a catchall for symptoms and fears that, left unchecked, might spoil an otherwise relaxing trip.

“If it’s fear of riding on an airplane, for instance, it doesn’t take too much to stir that up in certain people,” explains Lily Brown, the director at the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for the Treatment and Study of Anxiety. Once, Brown had a patient who would get nauseous whenever they got a whiff of the airplane’s “cabin smell.”

In most travel contexts, the pandemic has exacerbated our anxieties. And it’s no longer only fears of contracting the virus. For a significant share of the traveling public, the thought of getting back out into the world weighs heavily on their minds even after inoculation.

As the U.S. vaccination campaign continues, there is now a term for these concerns: Mental health professionals say “reentry anxiety” is on the rise. According to a recent study by the American Psychological Association, nearly half of adults are anxious about returning to in-person activities, with little variation between unvaccinated and vaccinated respondents’ worries.

Read the story here.

—JD Shadel, The Washington Post

FDA set to authorize Pfizer for 12- to 15-year-olds by next week

The Food and Drug Administration is preparing to authorize use of the Pfizer vaccine for 12 to 15 years old by early next week, The New York Times reported Monday.

Pfizer earlier announced results from its adolescent trials showing the vaccine is at least as effective in that age group as it is in adults.

If it is granted, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s vaccine advisory panel will likely meet the following day to review the clinical trial data and make recommendations for the vaccine’s use in adolescents.

Last week, Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech submitted a request to the European drug regulator for the approval of their coronavirus vaccine to be extended to include children 12 to 15 years old.

The two pharmaceuticals said their submission to the European Medicines Agency is based on an advanced study in more than 2,000 adolescents that showed their vaccine to be safe and effective. The children will continue to be monitored for longer-term protection and safety for another two years.

—The New York Times
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Choice of Pfizer, Moderna or J&J at Rainier Beach and W. Seattle vaccine hubs

The West Seattle and Rainier Beach vaccination hubs will be offering a choice among Moderna, Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson starting Wednesday, Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan announced.

The COVID-19 shots are free and available without appointments at Rainier Beach, West Seattle and Lumen Field to anyone who lives or works in King County.

On May 3 and 4:

Rainier Beach Vaccination Hub: Pfizer

West Seattle Vaccination Hub: Moderna, Pfizer

From May 5:

Rainier Beach Vaccination Hub: Johnson & Johnson, Moderna, and Pfizer

West Seattle Vaccination Hub: Johnson & Johnson, Moderna, and Pfizer

May 6 and on:

Lumen Field Event Center: Pfizer

Rainier Beach Vaccination Hub: Johnson & Johnson, Moderna, and Pfizer

West Seattle Vaccination Hub: Johnson & Johnson, Moderna, and Pfizer

The address and hours of operation at these three city vaccination sites are:

  • Lumen Field Event Center: 330 S. Royal Brougham Way, Seattle 98134; Thursdays and Saturdays, 11:15 a.m.-5:45 p.m.
  • Rainier Beach Vaccination Hub: 8702 Seward Park Ave. S., Seattle 98118; Monday-Saturday, 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. On Tuesday, May 4, this hub will be open until 7:30 p.m.
  • West Seattle Vaccination Hub: 2801 S.W. Thistle St., Seattle 98126; Monday- Saturday, 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. On Wednesday, May 5, this hub will be open until 7:30 p.m.

For more information, visit the city’s vaccination website here.

—Christine Clarridge

All students need to be vaccinated by fall, University of Washington announces

By fall, students on all three University of Washington campuses will need to be vaccinated against COVID-19, the state’s largest university announced Monday.

UW students will need to show proof of vaccination or claim a “medical, religious or philosophical exemption,” according to a letter sent to students from the university’s president, Ana Mari Cauce. Instructions on how to do that will be released “early summer,” the letter said.

The university, whose medical school has been at the forefront of vaccine research and distribution, has not yet announced information about a requirement for staff and faculty.

“Decisions about vaccine requirements for faculty, academic personnel and staff will be made after further consultation with faculty, academic personnel and staff leadership, and the state,” Cauce wrote.

In March, universities across the state reported a surge in positive cases of the virus. An uptick in cases at the UW’s Seattle campus caused a doubling of the percentage positive cases within the university’s coronavirus testing program, from 0.6% to 1.3%.

Read the story here.

—Dahlia Bazzaz

24-hour subway service returning to city that never sleeps

New York City’s subway will begin rolling all night again and capacity restrictions for most types of businesses will end statewide in mid-May as COVID-19 infection rates continues to decline, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Monday.

City subway service will return to 24-hour operation on May 17 after being closed for cleaning during overnight hours since the early days of the coronavirus pandemic last year, the Democratic governor said.

Capacity restrictions on businesses — including restaurants, offices, beauty salons, gyms — will be lifted in New York and its neighboring states of New Jersey and Connecticut on May 19, Cuomo said.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press
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Australia warns its citizens of jail and $50,000 fine if they return from India

People gather to watch the sunset from a seawall at Brunswick Heads, Australia, last week. Australia saw a sevenfold increase in the percentage of people traveling from India who tested positive for the coronavirus, the prime minister said, in defending strict new limits. (Matthew Abbott / The New York Times)

Even in the pandemic era of closed borders, Australia’s latest travel restriction stands out: Anyone, including Australians citizens, who arrives in the country after visiting India in the previous 14 days can face up to five years in jail, a $50,000 fine or both.

On Monday, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison defended the move. Morrison pushed back against critics who said the new restrictions were racist because of their large impact on Australian citizens of Indian heritage.

“This is about health,” Morrison said during a Monday radio interview, adding that he was “deeply, deeply concerned about the humanitarian crisis in India.”

Australia had seen a sevenfold increase in the percentage of people traveling from India who tested positive for the coronavirus, the prime minister told Sydney’s 2GB radio station.

Read the story here.

—Michael E. Miller and Adam Taylor The Washington Post

Florida governor signs law preempting local COVID edicts

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis moved to suspend all remaining COVID-19 restrictions imposed by communities across his state, signing into law on Monday freshly passed legislation giving him sweeping powers to invalidate local emergency measures put in place during the pandemic — including mask mandates, limitations on business operations and the shuttering of schools.

Some mayors, particularly those aligned with the Democratic Party, decried Republican-led preemptions as a power grab against local government’s ability to control a potential resurgence of the coronavirus but also restrict their ability to respond to future public health emergencies.

Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber, whose city is within a county that was among the hardest hit by the coronavirus outbreak, said, “He’s been following political ideology more than science during this whole pandemic.”

While the law DeSantis signed Monday goes into effect July 1, the Republican governor said he would issue an executive order to more quickly enact some provisions of the new law, including the preemption of existing coronavirus measures enacted by local governments such as mask mandates.

Read the story here.

—Bobby Caina Calvan, The Associated Press

Yakima Health Board wants state to relax masking rules for outdoor youth sports

The Yakima County Board of Health plans to petition the state to change masking requirements for youth so facial coverings are not required when they’re outdoors and involved in extreme physical play.

The proposal was approved by the board last week in lieu of making its own recommendation after the director of the health district warned that could put the health district in a precarious legal position.

The motion was approved despite concerns among some at the meeting about the potential negative impact on community health that a change could cause.

During a Wednesday morning board of health meeting, County Commissioner Amanda McKinney proposed the reduction in requirements for youth up to 18 who were outdoors and in “extreme physical play.”

Read the story here.

—Janelle Retka, Yakima Herald-Republic, Wash.
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More than a year into the pandemic, we’re still figuring out what risks we’re willing to take

People take advantage of warm spring weather along Lake Michigan on April 27, 2021, at Montrose Beach in Chicago. The CDC’s new guidelines for what vaccinated people can safely do is open to interpretation. More than a year into this, we’re still trying to perform complicated risk calculations. And risk analysis is not something humans are necessarily good at. (Shafkat Anowar / The Associated Press)

When the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last week issued guidelines for what vaccinated people can safely do, the agency employed the word “risk” 43 times.

The word often carried a modifier, like so: increased risk, residual risk, low risk, potential risk, minimal risk, higher risk. The CDC did not define “low,” “minimal” or “higher,” instead using broad brush strokes to paint a picture of post-vaccination life.

For example: “Indoor visits or small gatherings likely represent minimal risk to fully vaccinated people.”

The situation has left people where they’ve been since the start of the pandemic: forced to play the role of amateur epidemiologist and defining what risks they're willing to take.

Read the story here.

—Joel Achenbach, The Washington Post

Scientists scramble to see why, in rare cases, even the vaccinated can get COVID-19

Carey Alexander Washington, 80, a practicing clinical psychologist, called his daughter in January as soon as he received his first dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine.

“He was just so excited that he had gotten it,” said Tanya Washington, 49, a resident of Atlanta who works at an investment firm.

Carey received his second shot Feb. 4. A little more than a month later, the South Carolina resident experienced shortness of breath. His internist did not test him for the virus. Carey, after all, was fully vaccinated. The doctor sent him to a cardiologist instead, who also didn’t test for the coronavirus.

On March 25, Carey died after nearly two weeks in the hospital, his final days in intensive care. COVID-19 had destroyed his lungs.

Carey was among a tiny proportion of people who had been vaccinated against COVID-19 and then contracted the virus. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have reported that about .008% of the fully vaccinated have become infected and about 1% of them have died.

Researchers want to know more about such cases, including the role different strains of the virus may play and whether infected people share traits or behavior that made them more vulnerable.

Read the story here.

—Maura Dolan, Los Angeles Times

Germany cancels Oktoberfest for 2nd year over virus fears

FILE – In this Sept. 19, 2015 file photo, people celebrate the opening of the 182nd Oktoberfest beer festival in Munich, southern Germany. Bavarian state governor Markus Soeder and Munich mayor Dieter Reiter announced at a news conference that the Oktoberfest is cancelled again this year because of the coronavirus outbreak. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader, file)

Bavarian officials on Monday canceled Oktoberfest festivities for a second year in a row due to concerns over the spread of COVID-19, saying there are too many risks in hosting the celebrations — which bring in visitors from around the world — during a global pandemic.

Bavarian Governor Markus Soeder said it was with “heavy hearts” that they decided to call off the festival for which the state is known globally, but that with coronavirus numbers still stubbornly high and German hospitals already struggling, it had to be done.

Germany is in the middle of a coronavirus lockdown that includes a ban on large gatherings, with an infection rate of 146.9 new weekly infections per 100,000 residents.

Read the story here.

—David Rising, The Associated Press
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Denmark removes J&J from vaccination program over clot fears

Denmark on Monday removed the single-dose Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 shot from its vaccination program to investigate reports of rare but potentially dangerous blood clots.

Denmark, which has been very cautious with all vaccines, has already taken the AstraZeneca shot out of its vaccination program for the same reason. Both the J&J and AstraZeneca shots are made with similar technology.

The Danish Health Authority said in a statement that it “has concluded that the benefits of using the COVID-19 vaccine from Johnson & Johnson do not outweigh the risk of causing the possible adverse effect.”

“As the COVID-19 epidemic in Denmark is currently under control, and the vaccination rollout is progressing satisfactorily with other available vaccines, the Danish Health Authority has decided to continue the national vaccination campaign without the COVID-19 vaccine from Johnson & Johnson.”

Read the story here.

—Jan M. Olsen, The Associated Press

Despite virus, Atlantic City casinos reinvesting millions

FILE- In this July 2, 2020 file photo, Gary Royster of Atlantic City holds up a wad of cash he used to gamble at the Hard Rock casino in Atlantic City on the day the casino reopened after being shut down for months amid the coronavirus outbreak. On May 3, 2021, Hard Rock officials told The Associated Press they will spend $20 million on renovations, the latest in a line of Atlantic City casinos to reinvest during the coronavirus pandemic. (AP Photo/Wayne Parry, FILE)

With COVID-19 restrictions limiting how many people can gamble inside, and revenue and profits plunging, this might not sound like the best time for Atlantic City’s casinos to be spending big on renovations.

And yet they are, looking to a post-pandemic future when gamblers will be looking for the latest thing. They’re investing hundreds of millions of dollars with those days in mind.

The latest to open the corporate checkbook is Hard Rock, which told The Associated Press on Monday it will spend $20 million to renovate hotel suites, open a Starbucks outlet, purchase new slot machines and tables games, add a new restaurant and upgrade its beachfront amenities.

The renovations come in a span of a few weeks in which the Ocean Casino Resort announced it is spending $15 million on upgrades to the casino floor, as well as outdoor amenities like pools, cabanas and the beach, and Harrah’s unveiled three new restaurants, a new spa and a renovated lobby bar.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press

Impact of devastating Indian virus surge spreads to politics

As a catastrophic surge of the coronavirus sweeps through India, the leaders of 13 opposition parties urged the government to launch a free vaccination drive and ensure an uninterrupted flow of oxygen to all hospitals.

Several hospital authorities sought court intervention over the weekend to provide oxygen supplies in New Delhi, where a lockdown has been extended by a week in an attempt to contain the wave of infections.

The New Delhi High Court said it would start punishing government officials if supplies of oxygen allocated to hospitals are not delivered.

“Water has gone above the head. Enough is enough,” it said.

India reported 368,147 new coronavirus cases and 3,417 deaths on Monday. The health ministry says it has confirmed 19.9 million COVID-19 cases since the start of the pandemic, behind only the U.S., which has counted more than 32.4 million. It says more than 218,000 people have died.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press
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Cafes, restaurants reopen in Greece for outdoor service

People drink coffee outside a coffee shop in Psiri district of Athens, Monday, May 3, 2021. Cafes and restaurants have reopened in Greece for sit-down service for the first time in nearly six months, as the country began easing coronavirus-related restrictions with a view to opening to the vital tourism industry in the summer. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)

Cafes and restaurants reopened in Greece on Monday for sit-down service for the first time in nearly six months, as the country began easing coronavirus-related restrictions with a view to opening the vital tourism industry in the summer.

Cafes, restaurants and bars, which had been shut to all but takeout and delivery services when lockdown-type measures were imposed in early November, reopened for outdoor seated service only. Tables are set a certain distance apart to maintain social distancing, while standing customers and music aren’t allowed.

The reopening comes on a national holiday, the day after Orthodox Easter, and many people took advantage of the unseasonably warm weather to head to sidewalk cafes.

Read the story here.

—Elena Becatoros, The Associated Press

Russia lags behind others in its COVID-19 vaccination drive

Russia boasted last year of being first in the world to authorize a coronavirus vaccine, but it now finds itself lagging in getting its population immunized. That has cast doubt on whether authorities will reach their ambitious goal of vaccinating more than 30 million of country’s 146 million people by mid-June and nearly 69 million by August.

The vaccine reluctance comes as shots are readily available in the capital to anyone 18 or older at more than 200 state and private clinics, shopping malls, food courts, hospitals — even a theater.

With most virus restrictions lifted and government officials praising the Kremlin’s pandemic response, few have motivation to get the shot, he said, citing an attitude of, “If the outbreak is over, why would I get vaccinated?”

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press

Attention travelers! EU proposes reopening external borders

A waiter works in St. Mark’s Square in Venice, northern Italy, Saturday, May 1, 2021. Italy is gradually reopening after six months of rotating virus closures allowing outdoor dining. (Filippo Ciappi/LaPresse via AP)

In an announcement sure to be welcomed by travelers worldwide, EU officials on Monday proposed easing restrictions on visiting the 27-nation bloc as vaccination campaigns across the continent gather speed.

Travel to the European Union is currently extremely limited except for a handful of countries with low infection rates. But with the summer tourist season looming, the bloc’s European Commission hopes the new recommendations will dramatically expand that list.

The Commission hopes the move will soon allow travelers reunite with their friends and relatives living in Europe and support the bloc’s economy this summer.

Under the Commission’s proposal, entry would be granted to all those fully vaccinated with EU-authorized shots. Coronavirus vaccines authorized by the European Medicines Agency, the bloc’s drug regulator, include Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson. The EMA has not approved any vaccines from Russia or China as of yet but is looking at data for Russia’s Sputnik V jab.

Read the story here.

—Samuel Petrequin, The Associated Press
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Pandemic leaves Kosovo without printed daily newspapers

A view of archived copies of Koha Ditore newspaper are displayed, near the capital Pristina, Wednesday, April 28, 2021. The printing presses stopped running at the start of the pandemic in Kosovo. The country’s five dailies all stopped printing physical newspapers and turned into online media portals. But these do not reach all the people as before, and many fear they prioritise speed over accuracy. (AP Photo/Visar Kryeziu)

Ibrahim Gashi sold daily newspapers in downtown Pristina for 35 years, until they didn’t come anymore.

Azem Qerkini, an accountant and newspaper collector, misses the time when he went to Skopje, the capital of neighboring North Macedonia, in search of a copy he needed.

Imer Mushkolaj, a journalist, dreams of once more drinking his morning coffee while flipping through the daily papers.

Until March last year Kosovo had five daily newspapers, though they all had small circulations. One of them, Koha, sold about 10,000 copies a day at times when the news was most interesting.

Since the start of the pandemic, there have been no more newspapers physically printed in Kosovo, only online versions. The pandemic was “the final straw, unfortunately turning Kosovo into the only country in Europe, maybe wider, without a daily paper,” said Mushkolaj.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press

Business class opens to the flying masses as a refuge from COVID-19

Business class was that silent and spacious sanctuary for the well-heeled, at least until the pandemic destroyed global aviation. But as flights creep back, this once-exclusive haven is being invaded by the masses.

Flush with cash and a record number of air miles after a year on the ground, leisure travelers are splurging on premium seats for their first trips back. They’re not just after the plated food, champagne and little cosmetics that typically come with the higher fares. Rather, they’re trying to minimize the risk of catching COVID-19 in the cheek-to-cheek jostle of coach.

The popularity of these lucrative seats — especially among passengers who’d usually shoehorn into economy — is an unexpected boon for airlines weathering a crisis that’s forecast to have cost them a staggering $174 billion in losses by the end of 2021. As vaccinations roll out at pace in the Middle East, the U.K. and the U.S., free-spending vacationers are emerging as a new market to exploit for carriers desperate to claw back revenue.

Read the story here.

—Angus Whitley, Bloomberg News

UN program inks Moderna deal on 500M doses, starting in Q4

U.S. biotech company Moderna will provide up to 500 million doses for the U.N.-backed program to ship coronavirus vaccines to needy people in low- and middle-income countries, but shipments won’t begin until the fourth quarter, the company and program leaders said Monday.

The advance purchase agreement from Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, comes just days after the World Health Organization announced emergency approval of the Moderna vaccine that paves the way for its inclusion in the U.N.-backed COVAX program.

Gavi, a Geneva-based public-private partnership, has been scrambling to try to strike deals with vaccine makers at the same time as trying to persuade rich countries that have secured millions of doses — some of which they aren’t even using — to donate them to poorer ones.

Also Monday, the alliance announced that Sweden’s government has committed to donate 1 million doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine “to help COVAX urgently address immediate-term supply delays.”

Read the story here.

—Jamey Keaten, The Associated Press
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EU drug regulator evaluating Pfizer vaccine for youngsters

A volunteer vaccinator prepares to administer a dose of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine at a vaccine centre in the Swaminarayan School in Neasden, north London, Saturday, May 1, 2021. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

The European Union’s drug regulator said Monday it has begun evaluating a request by Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech to extend approval of their coronavirus vaccine to include children ranging in age from 12 to 15.

The European Medicines Agency’s human medicines committee will carry out an accelerated assessment of data submitted by Pfizer and BioNTech and is expected to reach a decision in June, unless it requires extra information, the agency said.

In a statement Friday, the two pharmaceuticals said their request is based on an advanced study in more than 2,000 adolescents that showed their vaccine to be safe and effective. The children will continue to be monitored for longer-term protection and safety for another two years.

The companies’ vaccine is currently approved for use in people ages 16 years and older. Extending that approval to the younger age group could offer younger and less at-risk populations in Europe access to the shot for the first time.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press

Catch up on the past 24 hours

Which Washington counties will get yanked back to a more restricted phase of reopening after the state assesses metrics today? For starters, the prospects are looking grim for King County as cases surge. Here's what you can and can't do in each phase. 

Reaching herd immunity is unlikely in the U.S., experts now believe as daily vaccination rates slip. Forget that "mystical" phrase, Dr. Anthony Fauci says as scientists turn their hopes to a different future in which vaccination is still the key.

Social media has become a "godsend" as cries for help spread in India, and everyone from doctors to tuk-tuk drivers responds. Aid from outside is flowing into India, too, including desperately needed oxygen from the U.S.

"The first taste of life we've all been missing": Eddie Vedder, the Foo Fighters, President Joe Biden, Prince Harry and many others last night joined in one of the largest concert gatherings in Southern California since the pandemic hit. "Vax Live," a taped fundraising concert focusing on wider and more equitable vaccine distribution, will air Saturday.

—Kris Higginson