In the Media
Although the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic seems to be behind us, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is still urging communities to be careful of illness as some Washington counties have high numbers of cases. Twelve Washington counties were categorized as “high” COVID-19 community levels on Friday, with the state still having 18,490 current cases.
The counties with the high COVID-19 community levels included Thurston, King, Snohomish, Mason, Spokane, Klickitat, Adams, Grays Harbor, Skagit, Lincoln, Franklin and Benton. Only seven counties are considered to be at a “low” level: Whatcom, Kittitas, Okanogan, Columbia, Garfield, Whitman and Asotin.
A funny thing used to happen to the ODESZA guys. Back in the Washington electronic duo’s early days, before the online buzz blossomed into packed concert halls and Grammy nominations, it wasn’t uncommon for local fans at some of their first shows to be a little confused about the Bellingham-formed, Seattle-based group’s geographic origins.
“It was funny,” Harrison Mills recalled in 2019, “in Seattle, people all thought we were from Australia. We would get asked all the time after our show, ‘Where are you guys from?’ I live six blocks from this venue.”
Yeah, that hasn’t happened in a while.
Over the past decade, ODESZA has grown into an electronic music juggernaut defying categorization — a ticket-selling, dance music force that raised the live performance bar for electronic artists while flourishing outside of the mainstream.
This spring, the college buddies since their Western Washington University days made a splash when they announced “The Last Goodbye,” ODESZA’s first album in five years, arriving July 22. The group’s post-lockdown comeback tour would get a jump-start with a Climate Pledge Arena date, but as tickets were quickly gobbled up, two more shows were added.
Bellingham Public Library has reported a data breach affecting “a limited number” of patrons, part of a recent attack on the Whatcom County Library System, city officials said Thursday, July 21.
“A recent data breach affecting Whatcom County Library System’s computer networks also resulted in the unauthorized downloading of some Bellingham Public Library patron data. No data was downloaded directly from Bellingham Public Library or city of Bellingham computer systems,” said Janice Keller, the city’s communications director. A total of 735 Bellingham Public Library patrons are affected, Keller said in the emailed statement.
“Our library and city teams, in collaboration with Whatcom County Library System, are working swiftly to address this incident and take all necessary and required steps to address it. The investigation into this incident is ongoing,” she said. Bellingham Public Library has some 89,898 total accounts, Keller said. There are about 60,000 active card holders, according to the library website.
From the start of the pandemic, patients and doctors alike have been frustrated by the sizable minority of coronavirus infections that turn into long COVID, a perplexing collection of lingering and often disabling symptoms that persist weeks, months or years after the initial infection subsides.
The condition has been reported in both children and adults; in those who had preexisting conditions and those in robust health; in patients hospitalized with COVID-19; and those who experienced only mild symptoms during their initial infection.
A new study from researchers at the University of Southern California offers some insights into the prevalence of long COVID and suggests some early clues for who might be more likely to develop long-term symptoms.
Several previous studies have identified women as being at greater risk. But the USC study found no relationship in its sample between long COVID and age, gender, race and preexisting health conditions including cancer, diabetes, hypertension and heart disease.
It did note a higher risk in patients who had obesity prior to infection. And it also spotted some associations between specific symptoms people experienced during their initial infection and the likelihood of developing long COVID. Patients who reported sore throats, headaches and, intriguingly, hair loss after testing positive were more likely to have lingering symptoms months later.
President Joe Biden tested positive for COVID-19 on Thursday and is experiencing “very mild symptoms,” the White House said, as new variants of the highly contagious virus challenge the nation’s efforts to get back to normal after two and a half years of pandemic disruptions.
White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Biden has begun taking Paxlovid, an antiviral drug designed to reduce the severity of the disease. He was isolating at the White House and “continuing to carry out all of his duties fully,” she said.
Biden’s physician, Dr. Kevin O’Connor, said in a letter that Biden had a runny nose and “fatigue, with an occasional dry cough, which started yesterday evening.”
“I really appreciate your inquiries and concerns,” Biden said in a video posted on Twitter. “But I’m doing well, getting a lot of work done.“
Biden, 79, is fully vaccinated, after getting two doses of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine shortly before taking office, a first booster shot in September and an additional dose March 30.
Bellingham and Whatcom County residents will be facing the warmest temperatures of the year next week as high pressure builds over Western Washington, threatening to push thermometers into record territory.
Daytime highs in the upper 80s and higher are forecast for Western Washington starting Monday, July 25, as the National Weather Service warns of a possible extended heat wave.
“Above-normal temperatures and dry conditions are on tap for the long-term period as confidence continues to increase that a strong upper-level ridge will set up across the West Coast and build into the Pacific Northwest next week,” the National Weather Service said online.
Temperatures could reach into the 90s for several days next week, starting Tuesday, July 26.
Dick Stark, a businessman and radio announcer who was the beloved voice of Whatcom County sports for six decades, died Tuesday, July 19, in Bellingham.
He was 88, and the cause was brain and lung cancer, said his longtime friend and colleague Keith Shipman, who is president and CEO of the Washington State Association of Broadcasters.
“He’s a guy who had such a profound impact on the county over the years,” Shipman told The Bellingham Herald.
A lifelong Bellingham resident, Stark graduated from Bellingham High and Western Washington State College, which eventually became Western Washington University, according to biographical information provided by Shipman, and from a March 2021 tribute produced by Puget Sound Media.
Stark was an advertising sales executive and account manager for KPUG-AM, where he worked his entire career, from 1962 until 2018.
In addition, he ran a TV and video store in the 1980s and 90s, founded the Mavericks youth basketball league, and was instrumental in bringing the Boys and Girls Clubs to Bellingham, Shipman said.
But it was his radio broadcasts for Whatcom County high schools and for WWU football and basketball on KPUG-AM and KGMI-AM that brought him acclaim.
The rapid evolution of the coronavirus into an alphabet soup of subvariants presents a vexing challenge to health officials: They must make far-reaching policy decisions based on little biological certainty of which viral variants will be dominant this fall or winter.
The Food and Drug Administration said at the end of June that it would update virus vaccines for a booster campaign in the fall targeting highly contagious omicron subvariants. But the ground is shifting beneath its feet.
In just eight weeks, the subvariant known as BA.5 has gone from a blip in U.S. case counts to the dominant version of the virus, now making up more than three-quarters of new cases. Perhaps the most transmissible subvariant yet, it is pushing up positive tests, hospitalizations and intensive care admissions across the country,
There is no evidence that BA.5 causes more severe disease, but the latest metrics certainly bust the myth that the virus will become milder as it evolves.
For those who know how to read them, the signs have long been there. Like the towering mound of 20 million oyster shells all but obscured by the lush greenery of central Florida’s Gulf Coast. Or the arcing lines of wave-weathered stone walls strung along British Columbia’s shores like a necklace. Such features, hidden in the landscape, tell a rich and varied story of Indigenous stewardship. They reveal how humans carefully transformed the world’s coasts into gardens of the sea—gardens that produced vibrant, varied communities of marine life that sustained Indigenous peoples for millennia. And in certain places, like on the west coast of North America in what is now Washington State and where the Swinomish are building a new sea garden, these ancient practices are poised to sustain them once again.
“I see it as a way for our people to be reconnected to our place, to be reconnected to each other, and to have a purpose, to have a responsibility that goes beyond us,” says Alana Quintasket (siwəlcəʔ) of the Swinomish Tribal Senate.
These gardening efforts included a continuum of features, such as seasonal or size limits on harvest, that may be invisible to the eye, Salomon says. And as Marco Hatch, a member of the Samish Indian Nation and a marine ecologist at Western Washington University who was involved in Rick’s study of oyster gardens points out, “these features aren’t just physical features, they’re cultural features and spiritual features.”
The cultural and spiritual aspects make recent momentum to revitalize sea gardening especially meaningful. “All of these practices, I think, are centered around this idea of growing food and growing community,” says Hatch. A community focus—passing on traditional knowledge between generations and improving health through access to local foods—is at the heart of the effort to build what is likely the first modern clam garden in the United States.
The COVID-19 pandemic prevented her from experiencing a premier for the first film she was a part of, but there was no way Bellingham mountain biker Hannah Bergemann was going to let an opportunity for her second film pass — especially when it’s being shown in the town she now calls home.
Bergemann will be one of several current and future stars of mountain biking featured in Teton Gravity Research’s latest film “Esperanto,” which will have a special showing at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, July 20, at the Mount Baker Theatre. The movie takes its name from a new language created in 1887 by Polish-Jewish doctor LL. Zamenhoff, according to a news release on the movie, after he combined a number of existing, widely-spoken European languages.
In a way, Bergemann said mountain biking has been her own personal universal language — or Esperanto — right here in Bellingham or when she travels as a professional rider. “I go to a variety of locations to ride around the world, and wherever you go you have this form of connecting with people that is really strong,” Bergemann said.
Bergemann grew up in Hood River, Oregon, but it was her love of mountain biking that drew her to Western Washington University and Bellingham when she was choosing a college in 2015. She never left Bellingham after graduating in 2019.