As vaccinations ramp up past a pace of 3 million a day in the U.S, the NHL is in a tougher spot than the other three major North American professional sports leagues because seven of its 31 teams are based in Canada, the Associated Press reports. While the NFL, NBA and Major League Baseball are relaxing virus protocols when a certain percentage of each team is fully vaccinated, the top hockey league in the world is facing a severe outbreak with the Vancouver Canucks and grappling with vaccine inequity on opposite sides of the border. Canada has lagged in vaccinations because, like many other countries, it lacks the ability to manufacture vaccines and has had to rely on the global supply chain. As of Thursday, over a third of the U.S. general population had received at least one dose and 19.9% was fully vaccinated, compared to 16.5% with one shot and 1.98% fully vaccinated in Canada.
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Washingtonians seeking open appointments make long treks to COVID vaccine sites, but health officials discourage it
On a bright and early weekend morning, Annie Lai got into a car in Seattle with her friends and headed east. Their destination, 142 miles away: Yakima. More specifically: a COVID-19 vaccine dose in Yakima.
Lai and her friends, all in their mid-20s who work from home, had learned about available vaccine appointments when one of them received a mass Slack message through her employer on April 2.
“The message said, ‘There’s a mass vaccination site in Yakima, here’s the link,’ ” Lai said. She clicked it, answered the eligibility questions truthfully — “no” to all of them — and was able to book an appointment anyway.
The group arrived in Yakima at noon the next day and waited for hours at the site as cars snaked around the block. Many of the people in line likely had the same idea: Travel several hours to a vaccine site in another area of Washington than where they live or work to secure a shot ahead of April 15, the day all Washingtonians 16 and older become eligible for a vaccine.
The Yakima vaccination site, administering 1,200 doses each day, in particular has been a popular destination for eligible and not-yet-eligible residents west of the Cascades. But people across the state — and beyond — told The Seattle Times of their long trips taken in hopes of getting vaccinated, despite eligibility requirements.
A family drove from Spokane to Grand Coulee after finding an appointment for their teenage son. A college student in Bellingham got a ride from a friend and then hopped a bus to a site in Monroe. And an extreme version: A couple living in Arizona boarded a plane to Washington when they heard the husband’s mother’s assisted-living facility had excess doses.
Reports of trips like these, consistent since the start of the vaccine rollout, have prompted local and state health officials to discourage traveling far for a vaccine, for several reasons. Doses are allocated to counties based on population and equity, and making an appointment could potentially take one away from a someone who lives or works in that area, they say. It’s also better to be closer to home, in case of side effects, said Dr. Umair Shah, Washington’s health secretary, in a Department of Health briefing this week.
Yosemite and other national parks to limit summer visitors due to COVID-19
YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK, Calif. — Yosemite National Park will require advanced reservations for day visitors during the peak summer season to limit the number of visitors and allow social distancing amid the pandemic.
Under the new rules, advance reservations will be required for day use visitors who enter Yosemite from May 21 to Sept. 30, the San Jose Mercury News reported.
The park’s superintendent, Cicely Muldoon, said large crowds already have been coming to the park in recent weeks, and there are still cases of COVID-19 spreading in California, and other states and countries where visitors are coming from.
“The basic plan is to protect human health and safety and provide as much access as we can,” Muldoon said Thursday during a meeting with government and business leaders of the communities surrounding the park.
Rocky Mountain National Park and Glacier National Park are putting in place similar rules, which have been encouraged for decades by environmental groups but resisted by gateway communities whose economies depend heavily on tourism.
Inslee to announce possible new COVID restrictions Monday
OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — Gov. Jay Inslee will announce Monday whether some counties in Washington state will have to roll back to Phase 2 of the state’s COVID-19 reopening plan because of rising cases.
At a news conference Thursday Inslee said “we’ve let our guard down to some degree.”
All of Washington’s 39 counties are currently in Phase 3 of Inslee’s reopening plan, meaning all indoor spaces — including indoor dining at restaurants, indoor fitness centers, and retail — have been able to increase capacity from 25% to 50%. Larger events like concerts and graduation ceremonies are OK since up to 400 people will be allowed to gather for indoor and outdoor activities as long as physical distancing and masking are enforced.
To stay in Phase 3, counties must meet two metrics, and the metrics are different for counties that have fewer than 50,000 people.
Larger counties must have less than 200 new cases per 100,000 people over a two-week period and have fewer than five new COVID hospitalizations per 100,000 people over a one-week period.
The era of overzealous coronavirus cleaning can finally end
When the coronavirus began to spread in the United States last spring, many experts warned of the danger posed by surfaces. Researchers reported that the virus could survive for days on plastic or stainless steel, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advised that if someone touched one of these contaminated surfaces — and then touched their eyes, nose or mouth — they could become infected.
Americans responded in kind, wiping down groceries, quarantining mail and clearing drugstore shelves of Clorox wipes. Facebook closed two of its offices for a “deep cleaning.” New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority began disinfecting subway cars every night.
But the era of “hygiene theater” may have come to an unofficial end this week, when the CDC updated its surface cleaning guidelines and noted that the risk of contracting the virus from touching a contaminated surface was less than 1 in 10,000.
“People can be affected with the virus that causes COVID-19 through contact with contaminated surfaces and objects,” Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the director of the CDC, said at a White House briefing on Monday. “However, evidence has demonstrated that the risk by this route of infection of transmission is actually low.”