In the Media

Friday, March 20, 2020 - 2:00pm
The Bellingham Herald

A man in his 60s who tested positive for COVID-19, the coronavirus, has become the first person to die of the illness in Whatcom County, according to the Whatcom County Health Department.

He died Thursday, March 19, according to the Health Department.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020 - 11:14am
The Bellingham Herald

It’s best to assume we’ve all had some contact with the novel coronavirus and to take measures to make sure it doesn’t spread further, Western Washington University told its campus community in a health advisory Tuesday afternoon.

In a March 17 letter from WWU Vice President for Enrollment and Student Services Melynda Huskey, she stated that the school has received new guidance from the Whatcom County Health Department in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Whatcom county is still small, even as we are able to perform more tests,” Huskey wrote. “But there is strong evidence that the virus is widespread in our area."

Wednesday, March 18, 2020 - 11:11am
Associated Press

The United States and Canada have agreed to temporarily close their shared border to nonessential travel due to the coronavirus pandemic, President Donald Trump announced Wednesday, and his administration is considering turning back all people who cross illegally from Mexico into the U.S., two administration officials said.

Trump tweeted that the restrictions on the Canadian border will not affect the flow of trade between the countries, which are eager to maintain their vital economic relationship. Canada relies on the U.S. for 75% of its exports and about 18% of American exports go to Canada.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020 - 11:05am
Seattle Times

Life is different in the Puget Sound region as most people — by choice or by order — practice “social distancing” to slow the spread of SARS-CoV-2, the new type of coronavirus that causes a disease called COVID-19. Gov. Jay Inslee said late Sunday he would further restrict public gatherings and temporarily close places of entertainment and recreation statewide. He made the order official Monday morning.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020 - 11:03am
The Bellingham Herald

The Lummi Nation confirmed two positive cases of COVID-19, the novel coronavirus, in Whatcom County residents, according to a press release Tuesday evening, March 17.

It is unclear how the two cases impact Whatcom County’s number of residents diagnosed with the respiratory illness, which was reported at six by the Washington State Department of Health on Tuesday.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020 - 11:02am
Seattle Times

When Dakotah Lane decided to change careers and become a doctor, to come home and serve his people, he never thought he’d be in the middle of trying to protect his tribe from a pandemic.

Now Lummi Nation’s first physician from its own community is in self-quarantine, in an empty house. Lane determined he was exposed to the first person at the reservation to test positive for the coronavirus.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020 - 11:01am
Washington Post

It was less than a week ago that Ohio became the first state to close schools for several weeks amid the global coronavirus pandemic. By Tuesday night, nearly 40 states had followed suit. And then Kansas became the first state to announce it was shutting down campuses for the rest of the academic year. California’s governor said it was likely it would happen there, too.

Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly (D) announced at a news conference Tuesday in Topeka that she was issuing an executive order to close all state-accredited schools — including public, private and parochial campuses, affecting almost 500,000 students — through the spring semester.

“This was not an easy decision to make,” Kelly said. “It came after close consultation with the education professionals who represent local school boards, school administrators and local teachers. These unprecedented circumstances threaten the safety of our students and the professionals who work with them every day and we must respond accordingly.”

Tuesday, March 17, 2020 - 1:02pm
The Bellingham Herald

The number of people in Whatcom County who tested negative for COVID-19 has grown to 129 as of Monday morning, March 16, according to the Whatcom County Health Department.

That was up from the 111 as of Sunday, March 15.

The Whatcom County numbers come through the Washington Disease Reporting System.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020 - 1:00pm

Amid the bad news piling up from COVID-19, one positive development emerged on Friday: Interest on federal student loans would be waived until further notice. 

That’s never happened before and is an acknowledgment by the government of how tightly this pandemic could squeeze Americans’ finances. Over the last decade, the average interest rate on federal student loans has been around 5.5%, according to higher education expert Mark Kantrowitz. Meanwhile, the typical monthly student loan bill is close to $400. 

As of midday Monday, it appeared lenders were still waiting on the government for instructions on how to roll out the unprecedented policy. (The U.S. Department of Education’s federal student loans are serviced by some nine different companies.)