As we head into uncharted waters of possibly fewer pandemic restrictions and a huge financial stimulus package, Whatcom County’s economy could see some good and not-so-good scenarios in 2021.
Local economists Hart Hodges and James McCafferty hit on a wide range of topics during their annual economic forecast, held Tuesday, March 30, through a Zoom presentation by the Bellingham Regional Chamber of Commerce.
Inflation seemed to be foremost on their minds, given that around $1.9 trillion is starting to be injected into the national economy. Hodges, who co-directs Western Washington University’s Center for Economic and Business Research with McCafferty, is interested in how the federal reserve handles the expected arrival of inflation.
Perseverance and the Martian Clock
What is “Mars Time”? Are you excited about machines flying on another planet? Or Martian rocks coming back to Earth?
If you are curious about spacecraft on the Red Planet then check out our Season 7 Premiere featuring one of the best communicators in town, NASA Scientist and Western Washington University Geophysicist, Dr. Melissa Rice.
Of this story's five profiles, two have WWU ties: Political Science alumna Ijeoma Iluo and former Fairhaven professor and current state Supreme Court Justice Raquel Montoya-Lewis.
This is the week when 38,000 more Whatcom County residents become eligible for COVID-19 vaccination as of Wednesday, March 31. That’s when phase 1B, tiers 3 and 4, of the vaccine rollout in Washington state kick in and include people as young as 60, those with underlying health conditions, and more people who live or work in congregate settings, including restaurants and manufacturing.
Whatcom County saw 35 new confirmed COVID-19 cases on the Washington State Department of Health’s coronavirus dashboard Monday, March 29, and no related deaths were reported over the weekend.
Overall, Whatcom County has seen 7,256 confirmed cases and 87 related deaths during the pandemic, according to state data as of 11:59 p.m. Sunday, March 28. An additional 227 probable cases — up one from Saturday’s report — have been reported in Whatcom County during the pandemic, resulting from positive antigen tests not confirmed by a molecular test.
That means that 1.2% of Whatcom’s 7,483 total cases (confirmed and probable cases combined) have resulted in death — better than the statewide 1.4% average of total cases.
The Pfizer and Moderna Covid-19 vaccines are extremely effective in the real world, reducing infections by 90 percent in fully vaccinated people, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Monday.
CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky called the study "tremendously encouraging" in a briefing Monday, adding that it "underscored the importance of getting both of the recommended doses of the vaccine in order to get the greatest level of protection against Covid-19, especially as our concerns about variants escalate."
Whatcom County saw 26 new confirmed COVID-19 cases on the Washington State Department of Health’s coronavirus dashboard Saturday, March 27. The state does not report deaths on weekends.
Overall, Whatcom County has seen 7,221 confirmed cases and 87 related deaths during the pandemic, according to state data as of 11:59 p.m. Friday, March 26. An additional 226 probable cases — an increase of four from Friday’s report — have been reported in Whatcom County during the pandemic, resulting from positive antigen tests not confirmed by a molecular test.
That means that 1.2% of Whatcom’s 7,447 total cases (confirmed and probable cases combined) have resulted in death — better than the statewide 1.5% average of total cases.
While the labs, halls and dorms at Western Washington University's Shannon Point Marine Center remain quieter than normal, some research has resumed, and plans are taking shape to make way for more.
"It has definitely been a slowdown," the center's Director of Marine and Coastal Science Brian Bingham said earlier this week. "We're crawling back."
The COVID-19 outbreak at Western Washington University has swelled to 30 positive cases involving students living in the Fairhaven and Nash residence areas in the past week, according to a school alert sent out Monday, March 29.
Initially thought to be tied to off-campus parties and other large social gatherings, the advisory said Western’s Student Health Center and the Whatcom County Health Department have now tied the dramatic increase of new cases to the residence areas.
“Further contact tracing will be needed to determine the cause for these increases,” the alert stated.