COVID Corner

Updates on the relief bill, new variants, and King County vaccinations.


Art by Molly Chapin

COVID-19 Relief Bill Overview:

On March 11th, President Joe Biden signed the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 into law, after Congress narrowly passed the package on March 10th. The $1.9 trillion bill marks the first major legislative success for Biden and much-needed emergency relief for many Americans, though it is the third COVID relief bill overall.

The package’s support is split into different categories including individuals, businesses, education, public health, and local governments. Individual relief includes a variable check to many Americans dependent on income, an extension of federal unemployment aid, and an expansion of the child tax credit. The American Rescue Plan Act also amends the Affordable Care Act, extending and increasing ACA subsidies.


Art by Molly Chapin

Current US COVID-19 Variants:

Mutations in the COVID-19 genetic sequence produced new variants of the virus that have taken over Europe and Brazil, leading to a third wave of infections. Variants B.1.1.7, B.1.351, and P.1 are the three such “Variants of Concern” as classified by the Center for Disease Control (CDC). The new variants are quickly outspreading the B.1.1.7 variation, which was originally detected in the UK, and is now is expected to account for the majority of COVID-19 cases in the US by the beginning of April. Variant B.1.351 spread from South Africa and has 180 confirmed cases across 26 US states. Variant P.1 arrived in the US independently from Japan and Brazil. P.1 has 48 confirmed cases in 15 states.

The impact of these variants on hospitalization, illness severity, and vaccination effectiveness is still being analyzed, but the B.1.1.7, B.1.351, and P.1 variants have all demonstrated a significant increase in transmission rates compared to the original virus strain. More information on variants and their spread through the US can be found here:


King County Vaccinations by the Numbers:

Art by Molly Chapin

As of March 18th, 2021, 522,069 King County residents have received their first shot of the COVID-19 vaccination (28.2% of the total KC population), and 285,573 residents have received their second shot (15.4% of the total KC population). 82.2% of the county population over 75 has received at least one dose, while 78.7% of residents over 65 have received their first shot. Across all age categories, 23.0% of Native American and Alaskan Native residents, 16.1% of white residents, 14.2% of Asian residents, 13.9% of Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander residents, 9.9% of Black residents, and 7.2% of Hispanic residents are fully vaccinated.