Following the recent announcement about new federal mask guidelines, Americans are struggling to figure out when and where they must continue to mask up — especially since, as many business owners pointed out, there is no easy way to determine who has been vaccinated and who hasn’t.

In Washington state, the pool of those ineligible for a COVID-19 vaccine continues to shrink after federal and state governments added 12- to 15-year-olds to the approved list. Here’s what families need to know now that younger teens are eligible for a COVID vaccine.

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.


Why is COVID-19 killing so many young children in Brazil? Doctors are baffled

RIO DE JANEIRO — Fretting over a fever in her toddler that wouldn’t break, the mother took the young girl, Letícia, to a hospital. Doctors had worrisome news: It was COVID-19.

But they were reassuring, noting that children almost never develop serious symptoms, said the mother, Ariani Roque Marinheiro.

Less than two weeks later, on Feb. 27, Letícia died in the critical care unit of the hospital in Maringá, in southern Brazil, after days of labored breathing.

“It happened so quickly, and she was gone,” said Marinheiro, 33. “She was everything to me.”

COVID-19 is ravaging Brazil, and, in a disturbing new wrinkle that experts are working to understand, it appears to be killing babies and small children at an unusually high rate.

Read more here.

—The New York Times


Seattle’s COVID-19 rules have paid off for delivery-app drivers. What’s next?

Raymond Evans, who delivers for Door Dash, is reflected in the side mirror of his car in a Renton shopping center next to restaurants where he occasionally picks up food for customers Friday, May 14, 2021.217145

Raymond Evans, who delivers for Door Dash, is reflected in the side mirror of his car in a Renton shopping center next to restaurants where he occasionally picks up food for customers Friday, May 14, 2021.217145

Seattle was the first city in the country to pass laws mandating premium pay and sick days for delivery-app drivers during the pandemic, and those laws are still intact a year later in a sector supercharged by the COVID-19 crisis.

But the current laws are set to expire after the pandemic ends, so Seattle leaders may soon consider permanent protections, including legislation requiring delivery apps to pay drivers the equivalent of the city’s $16-per-hour minimum wage, plus expenses. Because the drivers are classified as contractors, they’re somewhat more independent but lack employee rights and benefits.

A worker-advocacy organization that launched a lobbying campaign in early 2020 recently renewed that campaign, and a bill under consideration by the City Council would commit the council to addressing delivery-app pay by September.

Seattle already has passed pay standards for ride-hail drivers and for domestic workers. Now the delivery-app sector has become too consequential for City Hall to ignore, with pandemic job losses forcing more people into the gig economy and virus concerns making deliveries routine for many households.

Read more here.

—Daniel Beekman


CDC chief says any U.S. vaccine mandates to be set locally

Any mandates in the U.S. to require people to be vaccinated against COVID-19 will be set at the local level by companies and institutions such as colleges, the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

“It may very well be that local businesses, local jurisdictions, will work towards vaccine mandates,” CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “That is going to be locally driven and not federally driven.”

Walensky spoke days after the CDC announced that Americans vaccinated against COVID-19 were clear to shed their face masks in public at most times.

The move has created confusion about who should continue to wear masks and who, if anyone, should police Americans’ vaccination status if they’re unmasked in certain settings.

Read more here.

—Bloomberg


Pinball, muscle cars and playing guitar. We’re looking for pre-pandemic hobbies to make us feel better.

When 2020 rolled around, nowhere on the Big-Picture To-Do List for the Forth family of Olympia was this item: “Sell dining room table and hutch/replace with two working pinball machines.”

And yet this is exactly what they wound up doing.

“We always talked about wanting to buy one someday,” writes mom Julie Forth, who says she and her husband regularly hit the arcade for a cheap-date option while growing up in L.A. in the 1980s. “The pandemic was just the kick we needed.”

Forth was one of dozens of readers who responded to a recent plea for confessions of nostalgia-themed hobbies they’ve taken up over the past pandemic year — descriptions of not just what they’re feeling nostalgic for, but what sort of action they’re taking to dive headlong back into the nostalgia pool, as it were.

We were happy to see all of them — and are even happier to share them, in the hope they might inspire someone else to fly their old-days freak flag a bit higher, whenever those “old” days might be.

We’re even happier to do so on the advice of psychologists, who agreed that nostalgia — particularly during the recent trying times — is a normal, longstanding human coping mechanism, and a generally healthy exercise.

Read more here.

—Ron Judd


Virus testing strategies, opinions vary widely in US schools

MISSION, Kan. (AP) — Children are having their noses swabbed or saliva sampled at school to test for the coronavirus in cities such as Baltimore, New York and Chicago. In other parts of the U.S., school districts are reluctant to check even students showing signs of illness for COVID-19.

Education and health officials around the country have taken different approaches to testing students and staff members — and widely varying positions or whether to test them at all as more children give up virtual classrooms for in-person learning. Some states have rejected their share of the billions of dollars the Biden administration made available for conducting virus tests in schools.

Officials in districts that have embraced testing note that the virus might otherwise elude detection since young people with the virus often are asymptomatic and most teachers have been vaccinated.

But many school administrators and families, weary of pandemic-related disruptions, see little benefit in screening children, who tend not to become as sick from COVID-19 as adults. Meanwhile, each positive test that turns up at a school can trigger quarantine orders that force students back into learning from home.

Read more here.

—The Associated Press


Florida’s amusement parks loosen pandemic mask requirements

FILE – IN this Dec. 21, 2020 file photo, A family walks past Cinderella Castle in the Magic Kingdom, at Walt Disney World in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. Florida’s major theme parks are adjusting their face mask policies after the federal government loosened its recommendations as more people get vaccinated for the coronavirus. Visitors to Walt Disney World and Universal Studios-Orlando were allowed Saturday, May 15, 2021 to remove their masks when they are outdoors except when they are on attractions, in line or riding a tram or other transportation.(Joe Burbank/Orlando Sentinel via AP, File)

FILE – IN this Dec. 21, 2020 file photo, A family walks past Cinderella Castle in the Magic Kingdom, at Walt Disney World in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. Florida’s major theme parks are adjusting their face mask policies after the federal government loosened its recommendations as more people get vaccinated for the coronavirus. Visitors to Walt Disney World and Universal Studios-Orlando were allowed Saturday, May 15, 2021 to remove their masks when they are outdoors except when they are on attractions, in line or riding a tram or other transportation.(Joe Burbank/Orlando Sentinel via AP, File)

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Florida’s major theme parks are adjusting their face mask policies after the federal government loosened its recommendations as more people get vaccinated for the coronavirus.

Visitors to Walt Disney World and Universal Studios-Orlando were allowed Saturday to remove their masks when they are outdoors except when they are on attractions, in line or riding a tram or other transportation.

SeaWorld Orlando and its sister park, Tampa’s Busch Gardens, are going even further, allowing guests who say they are fully vaccinated to to remove their masks throughout the parks. The two parks will not require proof of vaccination, but are asking guests to “respectfully comply.”

Read more here.

—The Associated Press


Some aren’t ready to give up masks despite new CDC guidance

Like more than 120 million other Americans, Jan Massie is fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and can pretty much give up wearing a mask under the latest guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But she’s still covering her face, even as the temperature rises in her native Alabama, because of benefits she says are too great to give up.

“I’ve worn a mask where it really wasn’t required,” Massie, who lives in suburban Birmingham, said Saturday. “Many people, more than I expected, still are, too.”

With COVID-19 cases on the decline after more than 580,000 deaths and with more than a third of the U.S. population fully vaccinated, millions are deciding whether to continue wearing face masks, which were both a shield against infection and a point of heated political debate over the last year. People have myriad reasons for deciding to stop, or continuing to wear, a mask.

Read more here.

—The Associated Press



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