Bellingham’s air quality index was 181 at 9 a.m. Wednesday, improving overnight to the “unhealthy” level of 151-200 but below the “hazardous” level of 300 where it had been earlier this week, according to a Northwest Clean Air Agency monitoring station.
Air quality also was in the “unhealthy” range in Ferndale at 187, in the Lynden/Custer area at 157, and in Maple Falls at 150.
Researchers monitoring Pfizer Inc.’s giant trial of an experimental Covid-19 vaccine have reported no safety problems even after more than 12,000 people received their second of two doses.
“So far there has been no safety signal reported,” said Mikael Dolsten, Pfizer’s chief scientific officer, in an online meeting with investors. The trial, now targeted at enrolling 44,000 people, has reached its initial goal of 30,000 subjects, Pfizer executives said. The drugmakers have expanded the trial to to allow inclusion of teenagers and people with certain medical conditions, like HIV.
The Lummi Tribal Health Center will participate in a Phase 3 clinical trial to help determine the efficiency of a COVID-19 vaccine developed by AstraZeneca.
The Lummi Indian Business Council announced that it had unanimously approved participation in the trial for AZD1222 in a release posted to Facebook Wednesday morning, Sept. 16.
“The Lummi Nation has been a public health leader in our proactive response to the COVID-19 pandemic,” Lummi Indian Business Council Chairman Lawrence Solomon said in the release.
Blue skies appeared overhead and the sun shone for the first time in several days, but the air remained at unhealthy levels Tuesday, Sept. 15, across Whatcom County and the entire Puget Sound region.
“There is some clearing and the wind at the upper levels is blowing quite a bit,” said meteorologist Matthew Cullen at the National Weather Service in Seattle.
No relief is expected until at least Thursday afternoon, as a new storm system arrives.
The U.S.-Canadian border closure to non-essential traffic, which is currently set to expire next week, could be extended through Thanksgiving due to the coronavirus pandemic, Reuters Canada reported Tuesday, Sept. 15.
Citing “well-placed,” but unnamed sources in Washington D.C. and Ottawa, Reuters reported that the border could remain closed through at least the end of November.
Despite trade and commerce being allowed during the border closing, both countries’ economies rely heavily on one another, and that is definitely seen here in Whatcom County.
The Western Washington University Border Policy Research Institute has found that Canadians comprise approximately 75% of cross-border travelers to and from Whatcom County, depending on the exchange rate, according to information Director Laurie Trautman emailed to The Bellingham Herald. In 2018, that would have represented approximately 10.5 million southbound Canadian travelers through the Blaine, Lynden, Sumas and Point Roberts points of entry.
Gov. Jay Inslee said Washington has passed 2,000 COVID-19 deaths, 80,000 cases and that the state might be seeing an increase in disease activity.
“We know just how hard these times are for everyone, even if you haven’t had COVID,” Inslee said at a virtual press conference Tuesday, where he talked about the state’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, wildfires and poor air quality.
He presented a graph that shows how many others a person with COVID-19 would infect.
The state Department of Health released a report Friday that said as of Aug. 28 the best estimate for that figure, known as the reproductive number, was 0.86 in Western Washington and 1.22 in Eastern Washington. A number below one suggests COVID-19 transmission is declining.
Inslee said he met with the Washington State University and Pullman communities last week to talk about a spike in cases there and how to prevent that elsewhere.
Mandatory COVID-19 testing, daily symptom checks and masks will be required for the estimated 1,800 students who will attend classes each day on the Western Washington University campus this fall quarter, according to information released by the college on Friday, Aug. 28.
The details lay out what students and faculty can expect heading into Sept. 23, the first day of classes for a scaled-back fall quarter — a decision that was announced at the end of July because of what was then a significant increase in COVID-19 cases nationally.
“While we had hoped to offer more classes in person, the alarming rise in infection rates both locally and nationally made it clear that those plans were not viable for fall if we are to keep the health and safety of students, faculty, staff and the community as our guiding principle,” WWU President President Sabah Randhawa said in the Friday post to students and their families.
More than six months into the new coronavirus pandemic, colleges are struggling to resume in-person classes and, as is the case for most Washington schools, reverting to online courses only days into the new semester.
These challenges raise a question: Is a college degree today worth the actual cost?
Well, Money magazine may be able to help. The publication this week released its annual ranking of the best colleges for the money. The list, which includes 13 schools in Washington, is meant to assuage the financial anxiety associated with the high price of college in the United States.
The 2020 list includes more than 700 colleges and universities.Colleges included in Money’s rankings had to meet certain criteria, such as having a graduation rate at or above the median and having at least 500 students. Colleges were then ranked based on 26 factors in three categories: quality of education, affordability and outcomes.
Like thousands of US colleges and universities this spring, Simmons University in Boston had to adjust to Covid-19 on the fly, closing lecture halls and moving classes online. And like many of its peer institutions, Simmons is preparing for a remote fall.
Simmons, however, is going further. Not only will all classes go online this fall, but it’s launching a new undergraduate online program that extends into the future. Offered through 2U, a education tech company, the online undergraduate program will serve not just current Simmons students but “new types of students as well, those who would not otherwise be able to participate in the distinctive, excellent education that Simmons provides,” Simmons then-president Helen Drinan said in a May 8 letter to students and alumni.
New unemployment claims in Washington state fell for the sixth consecutive week and hiring has picked up in some sectors. But experts warned that a sustainable recovery from the COVID-19 recession may not emerge anytime soon.
Workers in Washington filed 18,389 new, or initial, claims for regular unemployment insurance during the week ending Aug. 22, the state Employment Security Department (ESD) reported Thursday. That’s down 16.2% from the prior week and 36% from a month ago.