A new Methow-based Community Learning Program has just concluded its pilot summer initiative. Nine Western Washington University undergraduate fellows lived and worked in the Methow Valley while researching and implementing various sustainability initiatives.
Community organizations that hosted students included the Methow Valley Citizens Council, the Shafer Historical Museum and the Cascades Carnivore Project. Interns explored issues such as climate action inequity, studied local carbon offset programs, and planned an eco-share housing facility for future fellows.
The COVID-19 pandemic did shrink the program to about half its original size, but with added precautions, some initiatives were able to continue.
“Human health, economic vitality, social equity and justice — all these layers intersect in sustainability work,” Joshua Porter, the WWU adjunct professor spearheading the program, explained. “I love programs that provide real-world student learning and at the same time advance really needed projects.”
Only two of Whatcom County’s seven school district regions saw their infection rates decrease last week, according to data released by the Whatcom County Health Department.
The health department releases data on the location of COVID-19 positive tests by school district and, published new data on its website Monday, Sept. 21, with new data through Sept. 19.
The U.S. death toll from the coronavirus topped 200,000 Tuesday, by far the highest in the world, hitting the once-unimaginable threshold six weeks before an election that is certain to be a referendum in part on President Donald Trump’s handling of the crisis.
“It is completely unfathomable that we’ve reached this point,” said Jennifer Nuzzo, a Johns Hopkins University public health researcher, eight months after the scourge first reached the world’s richest nation, with its state-of-the-art laboratories, top-flight scientists and stockpiles of medical supplies.
The number of dead is equivalent to a 9/11 attack every day for 67 days. It is roughly equal to the population of Salt Lake City or Huntsville, Alabama.
Things are looking better to those of us who track the rise and fall of COVID-19 cases in earnest.
Daily confirmed case counts, hospitalizations and deaths have all dropped since spiking over the summer. The percentage of positive test results, averaged over a week, stood at about 3.3% in early September. That figure spiked to nearly 6% in mid-July, according to state data. The state’s goal is 2%.
“We are pleased to see the testing positivity rate come down. We know the number of cases are decreasing across the state,” said Dr. Cathy Wasserman, a state epidemiologist with the Department of Health (DOH), who added that people must remain vigilant, keep their distance and avoid gatherings. “Human behavior is driving transmission changes.”
Canadian Minister of Public Safety Bill Blair tweeted that the U.S.-Canadian border will remain closed to non-essential travel until Oct. 21 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We are extending non-essential travel restrictions with the United States until Oct. 21, 2020,” Blair’s Friday, Sept. 18, tweet read. “We will continue to base our decisions on the best public health advice available to keep Canadians safe.”
The Kitsap and Olympic Peninsulas are some of the most underserved areas in the state in terms of access to a four-year college degree, and this deficit takes on even more urgency as the COVID-19 pandemic has starkly exposed how important educational attainment is to job security.
For the past 25 years, Western’s Huxley College of the Environment, the first interdisciplinary college of the environment in the United States, has provided residents of the Peninsulas with access to bachelor’s degrees in environmental policy and environmental science.
Since then, working closely with local partners from Olympic College branches in Poulsbo and Bremerton and Peninsula College in Port Angeles, Western has expanded access to bachelor’s degrees in various disciplines, including Business Administration, Business and Sustainability, Cybersecurity, Early Childhood Education, Education with Dual Endorsements in Elementary and Special Education, Human Services and Multidisciplinary Studies.
When Western Washington University professor and longtime champion of nonviolence and civic engagement Vernon Damani Johnson learned that he was receiving the Rosemary and Howard Harris Lifetime Peacemaker Award from the Whatcom Peace and Justice Center, he called it a “reprieve.”
Western Washington University and a student government organization there will soon launch a social media campaign to help young adults take steps to slow the spread of COVID-19.
Called “COVID-19 in Real Life,” it now has 13 messages meant to reach college students ages 18 to 26 years old, Associated Students spokesman Hunter Stuehm said.
Western already has been aggressively messaging what it calls the three Ws — wash your hands, watch your distance and wear your mask, according to Sislena Ledbetter, executive director for counseling, health and wellness at WWU.
Gov. Jay Inslee and mental health experts talked Thursday about the importance of Washingtonians seeking help when they need it and looking out for one another during disasters.
“The ongoing pandemic, the historic protests for change, the wildfires, the bad air quality, the loss of our loved ones — people are fighting for their lives, their livelihoods and their homes,” Inslee said during the virtual press conference. “It’s a lot to take in, and that’s tough.”
He said it’s normal not to feel OK and that it’s important to look for signs and symptoms in ourselves and others that it’s time to ask for help.
When Gov. Jay Inslee announced in April that the state was training more than 1,000 people to do case- and contact-tracing investigations, it was hailed as a key component to slowing the spread of the new coronavirus.
Now, nearly five months since that plan was revealed, a report released Wednesday by the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) shows the state has yet to meet its goals for the program.
The report, which will be updated weekly, shows DOH case and contact investigators have reached within 24 hours 49% of people who have tested positive for the virus that causes COVID-19. Within 48 hours, they’ve reached 70% of people who have been in close contact with an infected person.
DOH’s goals are to reach 90% of diagnosed people within one day and 80% of contacts within two days.