A flood watch was issued for several Western Washington rivers, including the Nooksack in Whatcom County, as the threat of torrential rain increased from a moisture-laden storm called an atmospheric river. About an inch or so of rain is forecast for Bellingham and the Whatcom County lowlands from Wednesday, Oct. 27, through Friday morning, Oct. 29, but some 3 to 5 inches of rain is possible for the Mount Baker wilderness, said Brent Bower, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Seattle. “It’s a moderate atmospheric river,” said Bower, who specializes in hydrology.
The U.S. moved a step closer to expanding COVID-19 vaccinations for millions more children as government advisers on Tuesday endorsed kid-size doses of Pfizer’s shots for 5- to 11-year-olds.
A Food and Drug Administration advisory panel voted unanimously, with one abstention, that the vaccine’s benefits in preventing COVID-19 in that age group outweigh any potential risks. That includes questions about a heart-related side effect that’s been very rare in teens and young adults despite their use of a much higher vaccine dose.
While children are far less likely than older people to get severe COVID-19, ultimately many panelists decided it’s important to give parents the choice to protect their youngsters — especially those at high risk of illness or who live in places where other precautions, like masks in schools, aren’t being used.
A week after COVID-19 infection rates in all seven Whatcom County school district regions dropped, all seven regions saw increases last week. While areas covered by the Lynden and Nooksack Valley school districts saw their number of new cases per 100,000 residents over the past two weeks swell to more than 660, no region in the county had a rate lower than 250, according to the latest location data released by the Whatcom County Health Department on Tuesday, Oct. 26. Every region except Meridian saw its pandemic total number of cases increase by more than 3% last week.
Whatcom County surpassed 15,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases during the pandemic and had another related death added to its total, according to the Washington State Department of Health’s COVID-19 Data Dashboard on Tuesday, Oct. 26. Meanwhile, St. Joseph’s hospital in Bellingham reported that the number of COVID-related patients it was treating had dropped 14% from Tuesday’s pandemic record high. With 49 new confirmed cases reported Tuesday, Whatcom County now has had 15,016 confirmed cases during the first 20 months of the pandemic.
Enrollment at U.S. colleges and universities is on track to fall by another nearly 500,000 undergraduate students this fall, continuing the historic drops that began with the start of the coronavirus pandemic, according to new data out Tuesday.
The decline of 3.2% in undergraduate enrollment this fall follows a similar drop of 3.4% the previous year, the first fall of the pandemic, according to the research from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center.
Drs. Larry Corey and Donna Hansel joined moderator Benjamin Woodard of The Seattle Times to discuss the state of the COVID-19 pandemic and what to expect this fall and winter.
Corey, a virologist and past president and director at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, helped to lead trials for the COVID-19 vaccines.
Hansel, a professor and chair of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine at Oregon Health and Science University, helped to launch a coronavirus screening program at K-12 schools in Oregon.
The panel discussion covered topics such as vaccine boosters, kids and COVID-19, treatments, breakthrough cases, rapid testing, vaccine mandates and distrust and misinformation.
Two “bomb cyclones” that skirted Western Washington blew open the door for what meteorologists call an “atmospheric river” — a series of moisture-laden storms that are on track to drench Whatcom County this week. Exactly where the heaviest rain will fall remained unclear Tuesday, Oct. 26, said meteorologist Gary Schneider at the National Weather Service in Seattle. “Wednesday night and Thursday are looking soggy with an atmospheric river aimed at the Pacific Northwest,” Schneider said in the online forecast discussion. “There are still some uncertainties with where exactly the heaviest rains will occur but the general idea is there will be an increased threat of river flooding from this event.”
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Bad news came in threes for Whatcom County, as it continued to try to fight its way free from the grips of the latest surge of COVID-19: ▪ The county had its 12th-straight triple-digit weekend increase in COVID cases reported by the Washington State Department of Health’s COVID-19 Data Dashboard on Monday, Oct. 25. ▪ It also had its 155th COVID-related death of the pandemic reported by the state on Monday.
Whatcom County’s weekly COVID-19 infection rate among its fully-vaccinated residents dropped to its lowest mark since the Whatcom County Health Department began reporting weekly data in mid-August, while its rate among unvaccinated or partially vaccinated residents climbed slightly. During the week of Oct. 10-16, Whatcom County saw 101 breakthrough COVID cases, according to data released by the health department on Friday, Oct. 22. Based on data previously released by the Washington State Department of Health, 136,814 Whatcom residents were fully vaccinated as of Oct. 10, meaning the weekly infection rate was approximately 74 breakthrough cases per 100,000 vaccinated residents, according to The Bellingham Herald’s data analysis.
It appears the big hole in the ground near Waypoint Park will soon be seeing construction activity that will result in waterfront condominiums. On Tuesday, Oct. 19, the Port of Bellingham commissioners unanimously approved a revised plan with developer Harcourt to build the 94 condominium units, which will also come with underground parking and some commercial space.