With beautiful weather continuing for another day in the Seattle area and vaccinations available to all Washingtonians 16 and older, it’s possible to glimpse something like normalcy. Area beaches and restaurants saw major crowds Saturday and along with social distancing, once again people had to think about how they appear in public.

But the pandemic rages on, now with more than 3 million dead globally.

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.

Some vehicles, bargains hard to find thanks to pandemic disruptions

Car shoppers may find that bargains are scarce this year. But better prices on trade-ins may help ease the pain.

Last year’s pandemic-induced production delays, combined with a continued shortage of computer chips and other automotive components, have tightened the supply of new models — especially popular sport utility vehicles and pickup trucks.

The inventory of new vehicles at dealerships in March was down more than a third from a year earlier, according to an estimate from the automotive website Edmunds.

That means it may be challenging to find a new ride with the colors and features you want at a price you can afford. “It’s harder to get exactly what you want,” said Ivan Drury, senior manager of insights at Edmunds. “Don’t expect heavy discounts.”

Read the whole story here.

—Ann Carrns, The New York Times

Months before season, NFL and players clash over pandemic workouts

Five months before the regular season starts, the NFL and its players are facing their first clash over playing in the pandemic, with players for nearly half of the teams vowing to skip voluntary offseason workouts.

Players on 15 of the league’s 32 teams, including the New York Giants, the New York Jets and the Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers, said in statements released by the NFL Players Association that they would not participate in the workouts scheduled to begin Monday because of concerns it would be unsafe to gather.

Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady was among players who spoke out to the news media and on social media.

“We feel very strongly about the game, the short- and long-term health of the players, and there is no game without strong, healthy players,” Brady said in a conference call with The New York Times and the union’s leadership. “People within the league may think, ‘Oh, let’s just get back to business, let’s go back to what we’ve usually done.’ But I think it’s really smart for people and players to think, ‘Is this the best possible way to do things?’ Not, ‘Is this tolerable, but is it the best way to deal with the situation?’”

The NFL declined to comment.

Read the whole story here.

—Emmanuel Morgan, The New York Times

Oregon considers indefinite mask rule, as others end COVID-19 restrictions

As states around the country lift COVID-19 restrictions, Oregon is poised to go the opposite direction — and many residents are fuming about it.

A top health official is considering indefinitely extending rules requiring masks and social distancing in all businesses in the state.

The proposal would keep the rules in place until they are “no longer necessary to address the effects of the pandemic in the workplace.”

Michael Wood, administrator of the state’s department of Occupational Safety and Health, said the move is necessary to address a technicality in state law that requires a “permanent” rule to keep current restrictions from expiring.

“We are not out of the woods yet,” he said.

Read the whole story here.

—Sara Cline, The Associated Press

Ways to deal with anxiety about post-COVID lockdown appearance

People are confronting re-entry into society with weight gain or loss, new wrinkles and "wisdom spots," less hair or fewer teeth and other outward signs of wear-and-tear from the year we've all endured.

In one survey of Americans in January, 43% of women and 26% of men said COVID-19 negatively affected how attractive they felt.

But experts on body image suggest re-framing how we think of ourselves as we look to life after the pandemic: Instead of thinking about your body’s imperfections, why not focus on the fact that your body carried you through a global pandemic, emerging as a survivor on the other side? That’s remarkable and worth celebrating.

Read the whole story for specific strategies to help quiet your inner critic and go boldly back into the world.

— A.C. Shilton, The New York Times

COVID-19 survivors respond well to vaccines, may only need single dose, studies suggest

Coronavirus vaccines were just rolling out in December when more than 1,000 staffers at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles volunteered for a sweeping study. The goal: pinpoint how immune reactions to the jab might vary.

By last month, a clear pattern in the data “popped out at us,” said research leader Susan Cheng. Those who had recovered from covid-19 responded to their first shot so robustly that the results rivaled never-infected colleagues who had received both shots. The implication was clear. If you’ve had covid, you may only need one of the two doses recommended by Pfizer and Moderna.

“We did not expect that this was going to jump out like a smoking gun,” said Cheng, who co-authored the Nature Medicine write-up. In fact, if you already had the virus, your immune response after one vaccine is likely to be even better than a never-infected person’s after two, according to Italian research just out in the New England Journal of Medicine.

The issue of giving only a single dose to people who have had covid has become all the more urgent since safety concerns have been raised about Johnson & Johnson’s and AstraZeneca’s vaccines. The implications at a time of strained global supply are striking: giving previously infected people just one mRNA vaccine shot could free up more than 110 million doses worldwide, according to a calculation by University of Maryland School of Medicine immunologist Mohammad Sajadi and colleagues.

Read the whole story here.

— Carey Goldberg, Bloomberg

CDC says keeping middle seats empty is safer, but airlines plan to fill them

Keeping middle seats empty on airplanes could sharply reduce passenger exposure to the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, according to study results released Wednesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

But most major U.S. airlines aren’t restricting access to those seats. And the last major holdout, Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines, earlier announced it will open up middle seats on flights starting May 1. A Delta spokesman reiterated Wednesday its plans have not changed.

Using modeling based on earlier lab studies at Kansas State University, the CDC found that aerosol exposures were reduced by 23 percent to 57 percent when middle seats were vacant compared to full flights. The tests used a surrogate virus.

However, because some of the research was based on work done before the pandemic, the results don’t account for the impact of U.S. airline passengers wearing masks, which they are required to do except when eating or drinking. Also, the studies looked at exposure, rather than actual virus transmission.

Read the whole story here.

— Matt Kempner, The New York Times

Evaluating the toll of Oregon’s decision to delay vaccines for seniors

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown’s decided to prioritize vaccinations for teachers over seniors, starting Jan 25. That highly controversial decision delayed the rollout for seniors 65 and older living outside long-term care facilities by anywhere from two to five weeks.

Public health officials say it’s impossible to know for sure what the ultimate impact of that decision will be due to a number of complicating factors, from initial vaccine shortages to the difficulty seniors had trying to secure appointments online, not to mention the unknown number who are hesitant to get the shots.

But the decision to delay eligibility for some 700,000 seniors living independently undoubtedly took a toll, experts say. And the number of fatalities could increase, as deaths trail cases and hospitalizations – both of which are on the rise again.

At least 148 individuals 65 and older have died this year who tested positive for COVID-19 after Jan. 25, according to an analysis by The Oregonian/OregonLive of death information disclosed by the state. They tested positive an average of 27 days after the date Brown originally made teachers instead of seniors eligible. More than half of those seniors tested positive after their actual eligibility date for a vaccine – an average of three weeks afterward.

Read the whole story here.

— Ted Sickinger, The Oregonian

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