In the Media

Monday, July 18, 2022 - 1:08pm - The Bellingham Herald

The Bellingham Pride Parade, organized by Rumors Cabaret, Sunday, July 17, started at Waypoint Park on the waterfront and ended at a festival at Depot Market Square. The Whatcom Pride organization continues celebrating the LGBTQIA2S+ community with a pop-up parade at noon Saturday, July 30, that starts at Depot Market Square and ends at a resource fair and block party from 1-4 p.m. at Kulshan Trackside Beer Garden, 298 W. Laurel St. on the Bellingham waterfront.

See a gallery of photos from the event here.

Friday, July 15, 2022 - 2:04pm - Associated Press

he number of new coronavirus cases reported worldwide rose for the fifth week in a row while the number of deaths remained relatively stable, the World Health Organization reported Thursday.

In the U.N. health agency’s weekly review of the COVID-19 pandemic, WHO said there were 5.7 million new infections confirmed last week, marking a 6% increase. There were 9.800 deaths, roughly similar to the previous week’s figure.

Earlier this week, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the pandemic still qualifies as a global emergency and he was “concerned” about the recent spike.

“The virus is running freely, and countries are not effectively managing the disease burden,” he said during a Tuesday press briefing. “New waves of the virus demonstrate again that COVID-19 is nowhere near over.”

In the last two weeks, cases of COVID-19 reported to WHO surged 30%, driven largely by the hugely infectious omicron relatives, BA.4 and BA.5. The two omicron subvariants have shown a worrisome ability to re-infect people previously vaccinated or who have recovered from COVID.

 

Friday, July 15, 2022 - 1:43pm - Seattle Times

Omicron’s BA.5 subvariant continued to tear through Washington state in June, more than tripling its share of the state’s sequenced COVID-19 cases and contributing to high levels of infection in King County.

As of the week ending June 25, BA.5 constituted 37.3% of sequenced COVID cases, up from 9.8% during the week of May 29, according to the most recently available data released Wednesday.

The BA.5 variant is now the dominant version of SARS-CoV-2 in the country, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And while it’s hard to get an exact count — given the popularity of at-home testing — there are indications that reinfections and hospitalizations are increasing.

In King County, rates of COVID community transmission remain high — higher than they were during the peak of last summer’s delta surge, but still far from January’s omicron-wave levels, county health officer Dr. Jeff Duchin said in a Thursday news briefing.

As of Thursday, the county counted an average of about 941 daily cases, compared to about 620 daily cases in mid-August last year.

Friday, July 15, 2022 - 1:25pm - NPR

Starting July 16, people in mental health crisis will have a new way to reach out for help. Instead of dialing the current 10-digit National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, they can simply call or text the numbers 9-8-8.

Modeled after 911, the new 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline is designed to be a memorable and quick number that connects people who are suicidal or in any other mental health crisis to a trained mental health professional.

"If you are willing to turn to someone in your moment of crisis, 988 will be there," said Xavier Becerra, the secretary of health and human services, at a recent press briefing. "988 won't be a busy signal, and 988 won't put you on hold. You will get help."

The primary goal of the new number is to make it easier for people to call for help. But lawmakers and mental health advocates see this as an opportunity to transform the mental health care system and make behavioral health care easily accessible everywhere in the United States.

Thursday, July 14, 2022 - 12:41pm - The Northern Light

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) promoted Harmit Gill to serve as the Blaine area port director at the end of March. The Northern Light sat down with Gill to discuss what he hopes to accomplish in his first year, how he’s improving transparency within the agency and his background growing up in Blaine.


Gill moved from California to Blaine in sixth grade and attended Blaine schools before earning his bachelor’s degree in computer science at Western Washington University. He worked as a systems analyst at Microsoft in Seattle before returning to Blaine to start his career at CBP. Previous to his new role, Gill worked as chief of staff for CBP’s Seattle Field Office since 2019.


As Blaine area port director, Gill oversees 17 ports and stations on the border of Washington state and B.C. as well as a general aviation facility and seaport operations in Bellingham, Anacortes and Friday Harbor. He is in charge of 700 employees who process over 17 million travelers and $20 billion in commercial trade annually.

Thursday, July 14, 2022 - 12:38pm - Seattle Times

Nick Barragan is used to wearing a mask because his job in the Hollywood film industry has long required it. So he won’t be fazed if the county that’s home to Tinseltown soon becomes the first major population center this summer to reinstate rules requiring face coverings indoors because of another spike in coronavirus cases.

“I feel fine about it because I’ve worn one pretty much constantly for the last few years. It’s become a habit,” said Barragan, masked up while out running errands Wednesday.

Los Angeles is the most populous county, home to 10 million residents. It faces a return to a broad indoor mask mandate on July 29 if current trends in hospital admissions continue, county health Director Barbara Ferrer said this week.

Nationwide, the latest COVID-19 surge is driven by the highly transmissible BA.5 variant, which now accounts for 65% of cases with its cousin BA.4 contributing another 16%. The variants have shown a remarkable ability to get around the protection offered by vaccination.

 

Thursday, July 14, 2022 - 12:34pm - Associated Press

nflation’s relentless surge didn’t merely persist in June. It accelerated.

For the 12 months ending in June, the government’s consumer price index rocketed 9.1%, the fastest year-over-year jump since 1981.

And that was nothing next to what energy prices did: Fueled by heavy demand and by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, energy costs shot up nearly 42% in the past 12 months, the largest such jump since 1980.

Even if you toss out food and energy prices — which are notoriously volatile and have driven much of the price spike — so-called core inflation soared 5.9% over the past year.

Consumers have endured the pain in everyday routines. Unleaded gasoline is up 61% in the past year. Men’s suits, jackets and coats, 25%, Airline tickets, 34%. Eggs 33%. Breakfast sausage, 14%.

Under Chair Jerome Powell, the Federal Reserve never anticipated inflation this severe or persistent. Yet after having been merely an afterthought for decades, high inflation reasserted itself with ferocious speed as shortages of labor and supplies ran up against a propulsive rise in demand for goods and services across the economy.

Thursday, July 14, 2022 - 12:29pm - Cascadia Daily News

Do you have a significant other who has developed an aversion to live theater and needs to be convinced what will happen onstage is worth leaving the house for?

If so, I have good news. After attending the opening night performance of “Pump Boys and Dinettes” at the Fishermen's Pavilion at Zuanich Point Park with my somewhat grumpy date, I'm convinced even the most reluctant patrons of the arts will be grinning, singing along and stomping their feet on the cement floor by the night's end — just like my boyfriend did.

Although it's important for readers to know the maritime musical is a collaboration between Bellingham TheatreWorks and Western Washington University's Department of Theatre and Dance, that wasn't what I told my fella to convince him to accompany me. Instead, I informed him Boundary Bay Brewery would be on site with ice-cold beverages, a view of the park and Bellingham Bay would be visible from inside the open-air pavilion, the vibe would be nautical and pie would be served during intermission.

“Pump Boys and Dinettes” shows at 7:30 p.m. Fridays through Sundays through July 31 at the Fishermen's Pavilion at Squalicum Harbor. Tickets are $15–$22. Fairhaven Summer Repertory Theatre shows take place nightly (except on Mondays) through July 24 at the FireHouse, 1314 Harris Ave. Tickets are $20. Info and tickets: bellinghamtheatreworks.org

Wednesday, July 13, 2022 - 2:58pm - The Hedgehog Review

It was the evening before the Fourth of July in the last year of his tumultuous presidency, and I sat in front of my television transfixed and horrified as Donald Trump delivered a speech at Mount Rushmore, ostensibly a celebration of American independence but in fact a call for resistance. Against the dramatic backdrop of the four granite presidential faces and American flags, Trump promised that “the American people…will not allow our country, and all of its values, history, and culture, to be taken from them” by protestors and left-leaning scholars. He condemned so-called cancel culture for demanding absolute devotion to leftist dogma. Two months later, he would reprise that theme at the White House Conference on American History. “Whether it is the mob on the street, or the cancel culture in the boardroom,” Trump proclaimed, “the goal is the same…to bully Americans into abandoning their values, their heritage, and their very way of life.”1

On both occasions, the defiant words were disturbingly compelling. There was something primal about them: the tribal leader defending his tribe’s ground. That is why I felt so uncomfortable, even threatened. As a brown-skinned immigrant, I wondered whether I fit into Trump’s—or the crowd’s—America. Who was the “our” in “our country”? And besides, I thought, he had to be exaggerating. Who would want to take America’s values, history, and culture from us? Yet only three days after the Mount Rushmore speech, the New York Times published an op-ed calling for the removal of the Jefferson Memorial in Washington.2 Maybe Trump’s words could not be so easily dismissed. Maybe something deeper was happening.

 

Essay by WWU Professor of History Johann Neem.

Wednesday, July 13, 2022 - 2:36pm - Next City

When Nico Vargas spent her time mentoring teenage girls in South Seattle last year, they were just trying to make it through another day in high school – all while disproportionately burdened with air pollution.

Vargas, then a senior at Western Washington University studying environmental policy, walked them through neighborhoods in the Duwamish Valley to collect moss that the United States Forest Service (USFS) would later screen for air toxin concentrations. They asked about how to find viable trees to access the moss, but they also asked why navigating high school felt so impossible. It reminded Vargas of lived experiences outside of datasets often reflected in academic papers.

“The experts don’t have to just be someone in a white lab coat. Science can be used as a tool to help people with their advocacy rather than a tool of gatekeeping,” says Vargas, who now works at a salmon recovery non-profit. “Involving the community directly in research about their own neighborhood is a matter of justice. It’s not just numbers in a study, people are really living this.”

That’s one of the reasons why Duwamish River Community Coalition (DRCC) Executive Director Paulina Lopez worked with the USFS to train community scientists to investigate heavy metals around them. More than 73% of people who live in Duwamish Valley’s neighborhoods, Georgetown and South Park, are Black, indigenous and people of color. In the local government’s science-based agencies, they’ve historically been excluded from evidence collecting and evaluation in their own community.

Lopez is sharing what a team of 55 community scientists learned from measuring pollutants in moss tissues from these industry-adjacent neighborhoods. Through a complex air quality investigation, including a newly published study of heavy metal concentrations in the air, they hope to bring environmental justice to an underinvested area with a long history of environmental contamination. After reviewing their data, the government has already agreed to fund several temporary air monitors in the Duwamish Valley this summer.