In the Media

Thursday, April 28, 2022 - 11:33am - Cascadia Daily News

Whatcom County Executive Satpal Sidhu and Bellingham Mayor Seth Fleetwood used their appearance together at a Bellingham City Club meeting Wednesday as an opportunity to pivot. With the trials of the COVID-19 pandemic mostly in the rearview mirror for the two biggest governments in the county, the executive and the mayor struck an optimistic tone at the online event, even as Fleetwood announced he was ill with COVID-19.

Fleetwood told the City Club audience he tested positive on Monday, in the middle of a full day of virtual City Council meetings. The mayor, who is current on vaccinations and boosters, developed bad cold symptoms but was already recovering by the time Wednesday’s noon City Club session began. 

During the 90-minute meeting, he proved up to the task of addressing some of the biggest problems faced by the city and society at large, including homelessness, climate change and rising crime.

Thursday, April 28, 2022 - 11:31am - Yakima Herald-Republic

Art Phinney, a 1978 Burlington-Edison High School grad who headed successful softball programs at Skagit Valley College and Western Washington University, will be inducted into Western's Athletics Hall of Fame on May 21, according to a news release from the school's sports information department.

Phinney coached Western from 1995 to 2001, compiling a record of 186-110-1, including the school's first national team championship in 1998. Western won 30 or more games in each of his last four years.

In 1998, the Vikings made a remarkable run to win the NAIA title after receiving the seventh and final at-large berth to nationals. Phinney was named NAIA National Coach of the Year.

Thursday, April 28, 2022 - 8:47am - Cascadia Daily News

Following the 2022 Washington State Legislative Session which ended last month, Western Washington University walks away with more than $6 million added to its operating and capital budgets. The money will fund new programs and expand on existing ones and be used to invest in classroom upgrades, buildings and other minor works.

Notably, the university will also receive $433,000 for its established bachelor of science in nursing program for those who already hold a registered nurse license. The funding will reduce the cost by more than $5,000 per year for nursing students.

“In the past, our program’s higher tuition was a real barrier for many nurses who wanted to continue their education,” program Director William Lonneman said in an email. “This funding will really open Western's doors for many more students.”

They also receive $461,000 to establish a master of science in nursing program, which will focus on administration, nursing education and population health, Lonneman said. The program is projected to open in late 2024.

Additionally, the university received $1.26 million for student support services “to address learning disruption due to the pandemic.” The money will go toward financial aid support, retention programs and mental health support.

Thursday, April 28, 2022 - 8:43am - NPR

Moderna announced Thursday that the company has asked the Food and Drug Administration to authorize a low-dose version of its COVID-19 vaccine as the first vaccine for children younger than age 5.

In a study involving about 6,700 children, the company said two-doses of the vaccine administered 28 days apart to children ages 6 months to less than 6 years triggered levels of antibodies equivalent to what has protected older children and adults.

"We are proud to share that we have submitted for authorization for our COVID-19 vaccine for young children," said Stéphane Bancel, Moderna's chief executive officer, in a statement. "We believe [the vaccine] will be able to safely protect these children against SARS-CoV-2, which is so important in our continued fight against COVID-19, and will be especially welcomed by parents and caregivers."

The vaccine appears to be about 51 percent effective for children ages 6 months to less than 2 years, and 37 percent effective for those ages 2 to less than 6 years, the company says.

"That means that you're going to reduce your chances of getting disease by about a half. That's very important for these kids," Dr. Paul Burton, Moderna's chief medical officer, told NPR in an interview.

Thursday, April 28, 2022 - 8:38am - Associated Press

Russia’s offensive in eastern Ukraine gathered momentum Thursday as the United Nations’ chief surveyed the destruction in towns outside Kyiv that experienced some of the worst horrors of the first onslaught of the war.

U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres condemned the atrocities visited on towns like Bucha where evidence of mass killings of civilians was found after Russia’s retreated from the area in the face of stiffer than expected Ukrainian resistance.

Forced to regroup after failing to take the capital, Russia switched its focus to the vital eastern industrial heartland, where fighting is now picking up pace. Ukraine’s military said several areas in the Donbas have come under intense fire in the past day, and satellite images showed new damage from bombardments on the last known pocket of Ukrainian resistance in Mariupol. 

Ukrainian authorities warned that civilians who are still in the southeastern port city face dangerously unsanitary conditions, while many of the dead from a two-month siege remain unburied.

Wednesday, April 27, 2022 - 10:22am - The Bellingham Herald

As the COVID-19 pandemic eases but economic uncertainty continues, Bellingham Mayor Seth Fleetwood set his budget priorities for the final two years of his term in a briefing Monday to a City Council committee. His guidance came as City Council members began initial discussions about a timeline for the 2023-2024 budget at a committee meeting Monday, April 25.

“I expect a moderate budget cycle this year, again,” said Forrest Longman, deputy finance director.

In a memo to department heads shared with the council, Fleetwood outlined five areas of importance:

▪ Public safety, including alternative responses.

▪ Continuing investment in climate action and reducing the city’s climate impact.

▪ Maintaining and expanding investments in affordable housing

▪ Supporting vulnerable populations

▪ Easing the effects of the new coronavirus pandemic and supporting recovery efforts.

 

Wednesday, April 27, 2022 - 10:21am - Cascadia Daily News

Historic change is coming to historic Fairhaven.

For the first time ever, visitors to the commercial center on Bellingham’s south side must pay for parking starting May 1 — unless Dirty Dan Harris managed a horse-and-buggy parking structure we don’t know about.

Paid parking comes after decades of studies and a number of measures intended to manage the neighborhood’s increasing parking demand. Eventually, parking became enough of a squeeze that a study in late 2018 recommended charging drivers a fee for the privilege of taking up spaces. 

Hence the pay stations installed on just about every street corner in Fairhaven, ready to accept money starting May 2 (since May 1 is a Sunday).

Change is never easy, and it’s no surprise that people are unhappy with Bellingham's new parking regime, which is coming to Fairhaven and downtown both. 

The hourly rate for parking downtown increases to $1, which is the same rate that will be charged in Fairhaven. Paid parking will be enforced on Saturdays, too, not just weekdays. The City Council also voted to increase the citation for illegal parking from $15 to $30.

Wednesday, April 27, 2022 - 10:05am - Seattle Times

The common perception that nearly everyone in the U.S. seemed to have been infected with the omicron variant in the winter might not have been far from the truth. By February, nearly 60% of the population had been exposed to the coronavirus, almost double the proportion seen in December 2021, according to data released Tuesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“By February 2022, evidence of previous COVID-19 infections substantially increased among every age group,” Dr. Kristie Clarke, the agency researcher who led the study, said at a news briefing.

The new research suggests that three out of four children and adolescents in the United States had been exposed to the coronavirus by February 2022, compared with one-third of older adults. By February 2022, roughly 64% of adults 18 to 49, about half those 50 to 64 and about one-third of older adults had been exposed to the virus, according to the study.

While some studies suggest that prior infection offers a weaker shield against the virus than vaccines do, exposure to the virus should provide a reasonable degree of protection against severe illness, at least in the short term.

Wednesday, April 27, 2022 - 9:57am - NPR

The United States is no longer in the grip of the COVID-19 pandemic, despite the coronavirus' continuing global threat, according to Dr. Anthony Fauci, chief medical adviser to President Biden. But Fauci also warns that people should still be mindful of the disease.

"We are certainly right now in this country out of the pandemic phase," Fauci said in an interview with PBS Newshour. "Namely, we don't have 900,000 new infections a day and tens and tens and tens of thousands of hospitalizations and thousands of deaths. We are at a low level right now."

"So, if you're saying, are we out of the pandemic phase in this country, we are."

Despite a recent rise of COVID-19 cases, including Vice President Kamala Harris, Fauci reiterated that hospitalization rates are only rising slowly, unlike during the surge driven by delta variant. And CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said on Tuesday that U.S. coronavirus deaths have fallen to a seven-day average of about 300 per day.

The U.S. also has more tools to prevent worst-case scenarios, such as the powerful antiviral pill Paxlovid, which cuts the risk of getting hospitalized with COVID by nearly 90% and was authorized by the FDA at the end of 2021.

Wednesday, April 27, 2022 - 9:50am - Associated Press

The Mexican government said Tuesday that COVID-19 has passed from a pandemic to an endemic stage in Mexico, meaning authorities will treat it as a seasonally recurring disease.

Mexico never enforced face mask requirements, and the few partial shutdowns of businesses and activities were lifted weeks ago.

“It is now retreating almost completely,” said President Andrés Manuel López Obrador.

New case numbers have declined. But that may be because Mexico, which never did much testing, is now offering even fewer tests.

Daily death rates have also dropped sharply.

Mexico has recorded almost 325,000 test-confirmed deaths, but government reviews of death certificates suggest the real toll is almost 490,000.

About 90% of adult Mexicans have recieved at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine.