With the number of new COVID-19 cases decreasing and the county inching toward the state’s threshold of 25 new cases per 100,000 over the past two weeks, Whatcom County Health Department Director Erika Lautenbach admitted “the ongoing million dollar question” is when can the county begin to lighten more restrictions.
Unfortunately, Lautenbach said during an online health department briefing Tuesday, Aug. 25, she doesn’t have a good answer.
In a pandemic era rife with unknowns, here’s another one: What happens when flu season collides with the novel coronavirus pandemic?
The optimistic scenario says shuttered schools and measures like mask wearing and social distancing will keep influenza in check along with COVID-19.
But there’s a bleaker possibility that has health officials pushing for unprecedented levels of flu vaccination this fall.
Bellingham City Council members discussed the recent Listening Series on Race and Justice and said they took its messages to heart — especially what they said was courageous personal testimony about prejudice and bigotry faced by local Black, indigenous and other people of color.
“If there was one thing that seemed to permeate, it was that there is a lack of trust from people in marginalized communities,” Mayor Seth Fleetwood said during an online committee meeting Monday, Aug. 24.
“The harder work really does begin now,” he said.
At the Republican National Convention, Nikki Haley discussed her Indian-American roots, pointing out that her father “wore a turban” and mother “wore a sari”. On the surface, this dovetails well with President Donald Trump’s declaration at last year’s “Howdy Modi!” rally in Houston, that he is proud to have Indian immigrants “as Americans.”
Trump has followed that up with periodic tweets and statements about his love for India. But, his immigration record tells a different story. The Trump administration has systematically attacked pathways to legal immigration, and this has hurt the Indian American community.
Prior to last winter, Western Washington University’s Kitsap Small Business Development Center (SBDC), which opened in July 2019, was seeing a typical mix of entrepreneurs wanting help to get financing, Boomers ready to sell, owners of well-established businesses looking for marketing support, developers wanting expansion plan input, and inventors needing help on an investor pitch. And added to the mix there were the dreamers -- the budding entrepreneurs who need some guidance to start moving forward from an idea to a plan to the launch of a new business.
Then the pandemic hit.
Johann N. Neem was born in India. Before he turned 3, his parents immigrated from Mumbai to San Francisco, part of the first wave of newcomers admitted to the United States after the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965. He didn’t feel any conflict between his immigrant identity and his American identity. He grew up surrounded by other recent immigrants, joining their families for trips into Berkeley to eat masala dosas. But he and his friends also “rode bikes, played football on our muddy lawn … and pretended to be motorcycle officers Ponch and Jon from the TV series CHiPs,” as he wrote in a recent essay in The Hedgehog Review. “Together, we made up games and celebrated birthdays. We grew up knowing about our differences but caring about what we shared. What bound us together was America.”
Now a professor at Western Washington University, where he specializes in early American history, he feels as though he is losing his country––as though he is being stripped of his very Americanness by two different factions in U.S. politics. He feels excluded by Donald Trump’s flagrant xenophobia and by progressives who center the role of white identity in American society.
The U.S. Forest Service said this week the roads allowing public access to the Mason County lake, day spots, trails and the Staircase entrance to Olympic National Park will be closed starting Saturday, for safety and health reasons.
A huge increase in visits to the area recently resulted in gridlock on the narrow road and hazardous conditions in which emergency vehicles could not respond to requests for help, Forest Service officials said in a statement.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has granted an emergency use authorization for convalescent plasma, an experimental treatment option which utilizes blood from patients who have recovered from COVID-19, opening up access as clinical trials of the treatment continue.
Alex Azar, the U.S. health and human services secretary, said during a White House press briefing on Sunday that the treatment has been delivered to more than 70,000 American patients so far. The treatment, according to the FDA's evaluation, "may be effective in lessening the severity or shortening the length of COVID-19 illness in some hospitalized patients."
“Coach didn’t want us dating,” recalled Doug. “He said it robbed us of our energy.”
An avid sports enthusiast, Karen loved watching him on the court, and off the court, too.
“He played rhythm guitar in ‘The Cruisers,’ a rock ’n’ roll band,” said Karen. “I was a groupie.”
After graduating from Central Valley in 1966, they both attended Western Washington University in Bellingham.
By their junior year, they knew they’d be married and had looked at engagement rings, but Doug still managed to surprise Karen with his proposal.
“I took her to Vancouver, B.C., and hid the ring in the back seat,” he said. “Then I had her look for it.”
They graduated in 1970; Doug with a chemistry degree and Karen with an education degree.
Worried about a one-two punch from a bad flu season combined with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, public health officials are urging Whatcom County residents to get the flu vaccine this year.
The fear is that too many people could be hospitalized because of what’s been called a “twindemic,” straining the health care system.
“We’re strongly recommending people get their influenza vaccine. A primary reason is that flu can cause people to be severely ill and need hospital services,” said Dr. Greg Stern, Whatcom County health officer. “If we can do everything we can to avoid that, we’ll be reserving hospital capacity to take care of things that aren’t preventable.”