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COVID-19 updates: FDA says Johnson & Johnson one-dose shot protects against COVID

Rocky Mountain Regional VA Medical Center investigational pharmacy technician Sara Berech holds a dose of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine before it is administered in a clinical trial on Dec. 15, 2020 in Aurora, Colorado. (Photo by Michael Ciaglo/Getty Images)

The state Department of Health says there have been over 318,000 confirmed coronavirus cases in Washington, and 4,912 people have died from the virus statewide. The state says 1,411,453 doses of vaccine have been administered. Check below for more updates.

We are currently in Phase 1B, tier 1, of vaccine distribution, which means the vaccine is available to anyone 65 and older, and all people 50 and older who also live in a multigenerational household.

Find a vaccine location near you.

Confirmed coronavirus cases across Washington state

Wednesday, Feb. 24

5:19pm – Health officials say there have been 318,510 cases of coronavirus in Washington state, and 4,912 deaths since the outbreak began.

3:40pm – A King County Superior Court judge upheld a trio of Seattle pandemic eviction protection ordinances Wednesday, in the face of a legal challenge levied by a coalition of local landlords. Read more.

2:14pm – As many school districts across the state are starting to return to in-person learning or making plans for a return, KIRO Radio’s Gee & Ursula Show opened the phone lines for parents to share how they feel about what’s happening in their kids’ district. Read more.

12:17pm -Virologist Dr. Angela Rasmussen believes that if more people are vaccinated in the coming weeks and months, if the public continues to take precautions to limit the spread of COVID-19, and if cases keep trending downward, a relaxation of the restrictions could come as soon as late spring or early summer. Read more.

10:11am – The grace period for people having trouble paying electric and natural gas bills during the pandemic is extended to July 31. The previous state order preventing investor-owned energy companies from disconnecting customers was set to expire at the end of April.

Utilities must also continue to waive late fees and deposits.

8:49am – The King County Library System used part of the CARES Act funding distributed to KCLS by the Washington State Library to install or improve external Wi-Fi access points at 44 library locations while the buildings remain closed to the public. No library card or password is required to access the free wireless network, which will operate 24 hours a day.

7:03am – Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose vaccine protects against COVID-19, according to an analysis by U.S. regulators Wednesday that sets the stage for a final decision on a new and easier-to-use shot to help tame the pandemic.

The Food and Drug Administration’s scientists confirmed that overall the vaccine is about 66% effective at preventing moderate to severe COVID-19. The agency also said J&J’s shot — one that could help speed vaccinations by requiring just one dose instead of two — is safe to use.

That’s just one step in the FDA’s evaluation of a third vaccine option for the U.S. On Friday, the agency’s independent advisers will debate if the evidence is strong enough to recommend the long-anticipated shot. Armed with that advice, FDA is expected to make a final decision within days. Read more from the Associated Press.

5:40am – Some Tacoma public school employees are staging a sick-out on Wednesday. The group “Safe Return Tacoma,” which claims to be nearly 100 members of the Tacoma teachers union, posted about the sick out on social media. They say it will have a minimal negative impact on students due to Wednesday’s asynchronous late-state. According to KIRO 7 TV, employees demand that they only return to in-person learning when the entire community has had access to vaccinations.

The Tacoma School District says they’re ready for staff and students to return to school, and have followed the guidance of the state and local health department, as well as the CDC.

Tuesday, Feb. 23

4:55pm – Health officials say there have been 317,805 cases of coronavirus in Washington state, and 4,881 deaths since the outbreak began.

3:30pm A new tool developed by the University of Washington is allowing Seattle city officials to pinpoint neighborhoods most affected by the pandemic, and then direct mobile teams, pop-up clinics, and vaccination efforts toward those areas.

The hope is to use the tool to better prioritize the parts of the city that are most in need of vaccines.

“This tool is critical to ensure our limited supply goes to communities who have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19,” Mayor Jenny Durkan said in a written release.

1:12pm – While limitations imposed to reduce the spread of COVID-19 have continued to burden Americans, a ramping up of vaccine distribution by the end of spring could have the country on its way to a return to some semblance of normal life. Read more.

11:28am – The Washington State Department of Health, along with Public Health — Seattle & King County and the UW Medicine Virology Lab, announced that the B.1.351 variant of SARS-CoV-2 has been detected in King County. This is a variant that originated in South Africa. Read more.

9:09am – If you live in a more crowded urban county, it may be tougher to get an appointment for a COVID-19 shot, only because there’s more eligible people than available doses at this point.

“The urban counties — they’re not behind because they are slow, they’re behind because they have gotten less vaccine in proportion to their population,” said Cassie Sauer, Washington State Hospital Association CEO on Monday.

However, hospitals across the state are starting to get the vaccines that were delayed due to last week’s bad weather. Sauer says most providers will be able to catch up on missed shots by the end of this week.

7:41am – Dr. Keith Jerome, head of the UW Virology Lab, told KIRO Radio’s Dave Ross that we should expect to hear more news about variants in the coming weeks. But the good news is that we know the vaccines we have now do protect against variants in general. Read more.

6:32am – Pierce County’s Health Department will open registration Tuesday at noon for a vaccine clinic in DuPont this week. You must be in Phase 1A, or 1B, Tier 1, and preferably work or live in the county.

5:15am – After a year that has darkened doorways across the U.S., the pandemic surpassed a milestone Monday that once seemed unimaginable, a stark confirmation of the virus’s reach into all corners of the country and communities of every size and makeup.

“It’s very hard for me to imagine an American who doesn’t know someone who has died or have a family member who has died,” said Ali Mokdad, a professor of health metrics at the University of Washington in Seattle. “We haven’t really fully understood how bad it is, how devastating it is, for all of us.”

Experts warn that about 90,000 more deaths are likely in the next few months, despite a massive campaign to vaccinate people. Read more from the Associated Press.

Monday, Feb. 22

5:43pm – The Washington Department of Health is now reporting 317,223 confirmed COVID-19 cases since the start of the pandemic, along with 4,857 deaths.

3:29pm – Seattle Public Schools announced Monday that it will be delaying its in-person start date for preschool, kindergarten, first grade, and Pathway students for at least one more week. Read more.

2:04pm – Washington Rep. Pramila Jayapal expressed confidence on Sunday that a plan to raise the national minimum wage to $15 an hour will remain in the current COVID-19 relief package being considered in Congress. Read more.

11:47am – Most of the COVID-19 vaccines that got stuck in transit because of ice and snow should make it to Washington state by Wednesday. It will essentially be, as Washington State Hospital Association CEO Cassie Sauer said, a “double-delivery” of last week’s vaccine doses and this week’s doses.

“I’m actually quite confident that on the hospital side, we are going to be able to work through our vaccine doses for both last week and this week quite quickly,” Sauer said.

10:25am – The Snohomish School District will be part of a COVID-19 testing project with researchers at the University of Washington to gain new insights into the transmission of the virus at schools. Students in kindergarten through second grade can participate. Enrollment is voluntary and will start Monday.

The study is also available to staff working with in-person students in special education, and those in kindergarten through sixth grade. Staff who have been vaccinated are encouraged to participate.

9:06am – COVID-19 cases are continuing on a steady path downward in King County, but Health Officer Dr. Jeff Duchin is warning residents to remain vigilant, especially as a more infectious variant strain becomes more and more prevalent. Read more.

8:41am – Costco is offering COVID vaccines in several states, including in Washington. The Issaquah-based warehouse giant is taking part in the federal retail pharmacy program. If you’re eligible, Costco is asking that you sign up online for appointments and not contact the pharmacy directly.

7:34am – With most children out of school for nearly a year, a Washington state senator is proposing that districts swap spring break with summer break. Read more.

6:05am – The University of Washington in Seattle made national headlines after a large group of students on Greek Row gathered for a snow party during the recent winter storm.

“A large group of students, including many from the Greek community, flagrantly disregarded state, local and UW health guidance and restrictions with a large, outdoor gathering,” writes the university in a letter to Seattle students. “Social media posts and formal complaints from other students show hundreds of students packed together, without face coverings, for extended periods.”

Those who attended the party have been banned from classes until the end of the month. The UW says students who do not follow the order will be suspended. The students are also strongly advised to quarantine for 14 days.

Check for last week’s updates.

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