In the Media

Thursday, June 30, 2022 - 11:03am - Cascadia Daily News

The Wild Buffalo House of Music knows what it’s doing. For more than 20 years, the venue has held on to its unofficial status as the “premier music venue and dance club in Bellingham,” regularly packing out shows with hundreds of young patrons and generating a considerable buzz around upcoming performances, despite the challenge of consistently appealing to a demographic that — in a college town like Bellingham — is ever-changing.

To combat the transient nature of the city and avoid losing relatability with the community, Wild Buffalo marketing director Zack Fijal created the Street Team — a promotional marketing squad uniting a diverse range of individuals with varying tastes in music to lend insight to the venue on which artists and genres are particularly popular amid their peers.

For many members, the Street Team serves as a way to meet new people and engage with live music on the side while attending Western Washington University, resulting in a steady ebb and flow of teammates. But for others, like 23-year-old Zubeid Janif who joined the team in 2019, a spot on the Street Team was the beginning of a full-time career in the music industry.

Wednesday, June 29, 2022 - 2:01pm - Seattle Times

As schools and communities scramble to find more ways to support the well-being of youth amid a pandemic-fueled mental health crisis, some think part of the answer lies with students helping other students.

The basic idea behind these peer support programs is straightforward: They rely on students trained to offer a listening ear to those who reach out, provide direct mentorship and guidance, or spot struggling students and help connect them with an adult or professional resources.

Many people — especially students — want to see more licensed mental health experts in schools, but finding enough trained professionals takes time and money. While peer support systems aren’t meant to replace trained adults, they can be the first line of early intervention and empowerment — though experts point out that research on their effectiveness remains limited.  

There’s a wide range of peer-based support methods, including mentorship programs designed to keep kids going to school and achieving academically and peer leadership programs aimed at specific problems like substance misuse and suicide prevention. 

Wednesday, June 29, 2022 - 1:38pm - The Bellingham Herald

Washington state health officials used their time at a Wednesday news briefing to emphasize the importance of COVID-19 vaccines for children and staying safe over the holiday weekend and summer months.

Michele Roberts, assistant secretary for prevention and health with the Department of Health, told reporters that statewide, nearly 75% of those 5 and older are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

“Now the focus shifts to young children,” she said, “and I’m really excited to share that we have vaccination in our communities happening for kids that are under age 5. Vaccination is now recommended for everyone, ages 6 months and older.”

She said that as of June 27 more than 7,000 children in the state ages 6 months through 4 years had started their vaccination series, one week after vaccination began for the group.

However, she noted, “when it comes to kids ages 5 to 11, less than a third of that group has been fully vaccinated against COVID-19. This is a big concern for us.”

Wednesday, June 29, 2022 - 1:31pm - Cascadia Daily News

Congregation Beth Israel is partnering with Village Books to present author Diane Sue, who will discuss her new book, “Remarkable Resilience: The Life and Legacy of Noémi Bán Beyond the Holocaust,” in person at 7 p.m. Wednesday, July 6 at Congregation Beth Israel.

The book is written in Bán’s voice by one of her closest friends and preserves Bán’s messages of hope and healing. The author will be joined by Bán’s son, Dr. Steven Bán, and by Ray Wolpow, professor emeritus and former director of the Ray Wolpow Institute for the Study of the Holocaust, Genocide, and Crimes against Humanity at Western Washington University. Masks will be required by all at this event. The event is free, but registration is advised. More information about the author and the book is at villagebooks.com/event

Wednesday, June 29, 2022 - 1:25pm - New York Times

You can get from Seattle to Bellingham, Wash., by driving 90 miles straight up the interstate, but you shouldn’t. The best route to this small city tucked where the mighty Cascade mountain range meets the sea can be more scenic and pleasurable. Veer off Interstate 5 about 15 miles south of Bellingham to make the final approach via Chuckanut Drive, one of the state’s more than 20 official Scenic Byways.

Another terrific place to meander is Western Washington University. The hilltop campus, with expansive views of Bellingham Bay, was founded in 1893 and is now home to 15,000 students. It also hosts 70 species of trees and a world-class outdoor sculpture collection. You can’t miss the bright red, 27-foot-tall steel creation, by Mark di Suvero, or giant tipped cube by Isamu Noguchi, but there are many other works by artists, including Richard Serra and Beverly Pepper. Washington State takes its trees seriously and the university offers online tree tours so you can learn about the campus flora, including the umbrella tree with its 20-inch leaves. One of the largest Giant Sequoias in the state stands there at 120 feet.

Tuesday, June 28, 2022 - 1:16pm - Seattle Times

All of us who had a little trouble sleeping in the hot, still air during this recent heat wave can collectively thank the Pacific Ocean for the blast of natural air conditioning that came overnight.

Thank you, Pacific Ocean!

That cool marine air means Tuesday’s high temperature will be around 23 degrees lower than Monday’s. Monday’s high temperature at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport was 91 degrees, according to the National Weather Service of Seattle. Tuesday’s high will be around 68 degrees, said meteorologist Dustin Guy.

Tuesday, June 28, 2022 - 1:06pm - Cascadia Daily News

A Whatcom County health official downplayed recent reports of yet another COVID-19 subvariant but advised county residents not to let their guard down.

New medical research says the latest versions of the omicron variant, called BA.4 and BA.5, should become the dominant COVID-19 strains in the U.S. and Europe this summer, according to a CNN report. The two subvariants are on the rise because they can evade the immunities people develop through either vaccination or prior exposure to the virus.

Omicron hit Whatcom County hard but has since subsided. More than half of Whatcom County's COVID-19 cases were recorded after omicron started peaking in late December 2021. And while people who fell ill with COVID-19 this winter or spring might feel confident they won't get sick again, the latest studies indicate that people who have already been infected with omicron remain at risk from the latest subvariants.

Dr. Greg Thompson, co-health officer for the Whatcom County Health Department, said recent COVID-19 trends suggest the public shouldn’t worry too much about BA.4 and BA.5.

“We are always concerned about new variants, but the data we have so far suggests we don’t need to be overly alarmed about BA.4/5 at this time,” Thompson said in an email.

Tuesday, June 28, 2022 - 12:48pm - The Bellingham Herald

COVID-19 infection rates continued to drop in Whatcom County last week, as the state reported 435 new cases within the county.

Whatcom County has now had a total of 42,603 COVID cases during the pandemic, according to the latest report Friday, June 24, by the Washington State Department of Health COVID-19 Data Dashboard, including 37,275 confirmed cases and 5,328 probable cases, resulting from a positive antigen test not confirmed by a molecular test.

The county’s 435 cases were down from the 480 reported by state a week earlier.

Whatcom’s weekly COVID-19 infection rate dropped, though it still remained elevated at 207 new cases per 100,000 residents for the most recently completed epidemiological data from June 9 to 15. That was down from the county’s rate of 267 one week earlier (June 2-8). St. Joseph’s hospital in Bellingham reported it was treating 12 COVID-related patients on Monday, June 27. Over the past week, the hospital’s daily snapshot has averaged 9.9 COVID-related patients per day, which is down from 18.3 one week earlier (June 14-20) and represents 3.9% of the hospital’s 252 inpatient beds.

Tuesday, June 28, 2022 - 12:30pm - The Bellingham Herald

Whatcom County’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic earned good marks for swift action to save lives, according to a preliminary version of a report commissioned to examine how local officials performed in a major crisis, the first global health threat in a century.

But Whatcom Unified Command, the multi-governmental agency that handled the emergency response, was criticized for logistical inefficiencies and a lack of transparency and responsiveness to the public. Part of that friction was linked to a lack of training in emergency management among some county employees, differences in organizational structure and an internal power struggle between the Health Department and Whatcom Unified Command early in the pandemic, according to the 56-page report prepared by Berk Consulting in collaboration with Eric Holdeman and Associates.

The County Council budgeted $100,000 for the report in September 2021. Nevertheless, the report cites successes such as a COVID-19 mortality rate that was among the lowest in Washington state; a collaborative effort on U.S.-Canada trade; addressing homelessness; helping local businesses affected by closures and stay-home orders; and a program to collect and distribute donations from the public.

Monday, June 27, 2022 - 11:04am - Seattle Times

It’s one of the scariest things about testing positive for COVID-19: What if the symptoms persist for months?

Most people with COVID start feeling better within a few days to a few weeks. But for some, a wide range of symptoms can persist for more than a month after the initial infection. These post-COVID conditions, which are often called long COVID, can be debilitating.

And unfortunately, it’s not that rare.

New data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s ongoing Household Pulse Survey shows that nearly one-third of Washington adults who tested positive for COVID experienced symptoms for three months or longer. The survey was conducted from June 1 to 13, and was completed by roughly 63,000 respondents nationally.

According to the data, an estimated 2.1 million Washingtonians age 18 and older have tested positive for the coronavirus or been diagnosed with COVID by a health care provider. Of those, about 31%, an estimated 662,000, had symptoms that persisted for several months or more.