In the Media

Thursday, July 7, 2022 - 11:57am - Seattle Times

More than two years into the COVID-19 pandemic, when Dr. Anthony Fauci tested positive for the coronavirus, his federal agency announced that he would “continue to work from his home.”

So did U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg, who announced on Twitter that after testing positive, “I plan to work remotely.” And so did San Francisco Mayor London Breed, whose office announced she would conduct meetings from home after testing positive.

As vaccines and new treatments have eased some of the alarm around a COVID-19 diagnosis, continuing to work — but from home — has become a familiar practice among professionals who can do their jobs remotely. Fauci was vaccinated and boosted and said he was experiencing mild symptoms, like other officials who said they would stay on the job from home.

Physicians caution, however, that rest is an important part of weathering a COVID-19 infection. Plugging away from home is better than putting others at risk of getting infected, but it can still strain the immune system, worsening the toll of a COVID infection, experts say.

Wednesday, July 6, 2022 - 2:01pm - Seattle Times

Most Americans say their lives are at least approaching pre-pandemic normalcy, according to a recent study.

While 12% of adults think their life is the same as it was before the pandemic, 54% think their lives are somewhat the same, according to the poll, published Tuesday by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research and The SCAN Foundation.

A smaller proportion, 34%, think that their lives are not the same.

The poll was conducted in mid-May, when, as now, hospitalizations were rising nationally.

According to the survey, a slim majority of 51% of Americans think that getting a COVID-19 vaccine is essential for them, while 39% think that nearly all people need to receive the vaccine before things can go back to the way they were.

Fifty percent of Americans think that the availability of effective treatments for COVID-19 is essential for participating in public life. Only 22% think that wearing masks in public indoor places is essential to going back to pre-pandemic life, while 20% think regular testing is essential.

Wednesday, July 6, 2022 - 1:48pm - Associated Press

Pharmacists can prescribe the leading COVID-19 pill directly to patients under a new U.S. policy announced Wednesday that’s intended to expand use of Pfizer’s drug Paxlovid.

The Food and Drug Administration said pharmacists can begin screening patients to see if they are eligible for Paxlovid and then prescribe the medication, which has been shown to curb the worst effects of COVID-19. Previously only physicians could prescribe the antiviral drug.

The announcement comes as COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths are rising again, though they remain near their lowest levels since the coronavirus outbreak began in 2020.

Biden administration officials have expressed frustration that several hundred Americans continue to die of COVID-19 daily, despite the availability of vaccines and treatments.

Administration officials have been working for months to increase access to Paxlovid, opening thousands of sites where patients who test positive can fill a prescription for Paxlovid. The FDA change will make thousands more pharmacies eligible to quickly prescribe and dispense the pill, which must be used early to be effective.

Wednesday, July 6, 2022 - 1:46pm - Associated Press

New rules proposed by the Biden administration on Wednesday would make it easier for borrowers to get their federal student debt forgiven through several existing programs.

The action is intended to overhaul relief programs that have been criticized for their burdensome paperwork requirements and long processing times. It builds on the administration’s efforts to expand targeted debt cancellation for certain borrowers while President Joe Biden considers broader student debt forgiveness.

“We are committed to fixing a broken system,” Education Secretary Miguel Cardona said in a statement. “If a borrower qualifies for student loan relief, it shouldn’t take mountains of paperwork or a law degree to obtain it.”

The proposal would reshape a debt forgiveness process for students whose colleges deceive them, along with other programs for borrowers who are disabled and those with careers in public service.

Wednesday, July 6, 2022 - 1:42pm - Cascadia Daily New

A familiar face to followers of the Western Washington University women’s basketball team will make regular appearances in the Blaine High School gym this winter.

Former Western guard Gracie Castaneda has been hired as the new head coach of the Blaine girls basketball program.

At Western, Castaneda spent six years in the program and was a key senior this past season during the Vikings’ incredible postseason run that ended in a loss in the Division II national title game.

Castaneda, originally from Arlington, will take over a Borderites squad that posted a 9-10 record last season and made it to the second round of the district tournament before being knocked out.

The head coaching job at Blaine wasn’t on Castaneda’s radar until Western women’s basketball head coach Carmen Dolfo reached out to her.

“I’m excited to get to know the girls and build relationships with them,” Castaneda said. “From a coaching standpoint, I’m excited to figure out what their strengths are, what we can work on and how I can do that and bring out the best in all of them individually and together as a team. That’s something I’m really looking forward to learning how to do. I’m excited to be challenged in that way.”

Wednesday, July 6, 2022 - 1:39pm - The Bellingham Herald

June 2022 was cooler and wetter in Whatcom County than last year, according to National Weather Service Seattle unofficial records.

The National Weather Service’s outlook discussion for July, issued June 30, “indicates enhanced probabilities of below-normal temperatures for coastal areas of the Pacific Northwest.” Here’s what June 2022 looked like, as recorded at Whatcom County’s Bellingham International Airport:

▪ June had 3.11 inches of rain — more than an inch higher than the area saw in any of the previous four Junes, dating back to 2018.

▪ The month’s highest recorded temperature of 85 degrees was 14 degrees cooler than June 2021’s warmest temperature (99).

 

 

Tuesday, July 5, 2022 - 1:20pm - Seattle Times

Navigating a special education plan or getting a child the support services they need can be complicated. So how do you communicate and advocate for your kid if you’re deaf, blind or don’t speak English? 

Families say finding interpreters in a timely manner who can both speak their language — whether that’s Amharic or American Sign Language — and also understand education jargon can be challenging and frustrating

A new, comprehensive Washington state law that passed this spring will make it easier for students and families facing language barriers to access free, high-quality interpretation and support services. It also supports a training and credentialing program for interpreters working in educational settings, much like existing programs for medical and social services interpreters. Advocates say the legislation will have far-reaching effects, including increased family and student engagement, which leads to higher rates of academic achievement and graduation and overall self-esteem. 

Tuesday, July 5, 2022 - 1:15pm - Seattle Times

Seattle was recently named one of the nation’s most creative cities based on the percentage of people who are makers or creators, whether for a living or for fun.

The Emerald City ranked seventh in the poll by online art gallery Singulart. The findings were based on the percentage of people working or training to work in a creative industry and the percentage who enjoy creative hobbies, including photography, performing, sewing, writing, making music, designing, decorating, gardening, crafting and upcycling.

Among the Top 10 cities, Seattle had a notably high percentage of crafters.

We asked Seattle area readers to share their creations and were rewarded with pictures of sculpted bird baths, mosaic garden art, pottery, hand-sewn clothing, a re-imagined Seattle flag, murals of the sea and much more.

Mary Johnston, of Kenmore, also shared her creativity with us.

She had studied art as a student at Western Washington University and taught art for a while before pursing interior design, she said in a recent phone interview.

She wants her upcycled garden art to simply bring joy to observers.

A few years ago, she had a longing to return to her earlier artistic passions. She saw an old vessel sink that was being given away on a buy-nothing group and she kept looking at it, thinking it wanted to be part of a bird bath.

But she couldn’t find the base she wanted and she didn’t know how to weld. She was talking to another person she met in the upcycling community, whose partner was a welder.

“He taught me and I was absolutely thrilled with the way my birdbath came out,” she said.

Tuesday, July 5, 2022 - 1:08pm - Spokesman-Review

Jacquelyn High-Edward has spent her legal career dedicated to ensuring equal access to justice, something she’ll be tasked with on a larger scale now that she is a Spokane County Superior Court judge.

High-Edward, 49, was appointed by Gov. Jay Inslee to fill the vacancy left by Judge Maryann Moreno’s retirement at the end of June. She was sworn in Friday morning.

A lifelong Spokanite, High-Edward attended North Central High School before earning a degree in political science from Western Washington University.

After college, she worked at a technology company in its human resources department. She had always been interested in law, so when the company downsized, High-Edward took a chance and went back to school.

She graduated from the Gonzaga University School of Law in 2005. She also has a master’s degree in criminal justice from Washington State University.

Tuesday, July 5, 2022 - 1:01pm - Associated Press

The fast-changing coronavirus has kicked off summer in the U.S. with lots of infections but relatively few deaths compared to its prior incarnations.

COVID-19 is still killing hundreds of Americans each day, but is not nearly as dangerous as it was last fall and winter.

“It’s going to be a good summer and we deserve this break,” said Ali Mokdad, a professor of health metrics sciences at the University of Washington in Seattle.

With more Americans shielded from severe illness through vaccination and infection, COVID-19 has transformed — for now at least — into an unpleasant, inconvenient nuisance for many.

“It feels cautiously good right now,” said Dr. Dan Kaul, an infectious diseases specialist at the University of Michigan Medical Center in Ann Arbor. “For the first time that I can remember, pretty much since it started, we don’t have any (COVID-19) patients in the ICU.”

As the nation marks July Fourth, the average number of daily deaths from COVID-19 in the United States is hovering around 360. Last year, during a similar summer lull, it was around 228 in early July. That remains the lowest threshold in U.S. daily deaths since March 2020, when the virus first began its U.S. spread.