In the Media

Friday, October 8, 2021 - 9:45am

With a second pandemic winter approaching, there are promising signs that the worst of the delta surge has run its course, but in America's hospitals — already short-staffed and backlogged from the summer torrent of COVID-19 — the relief may only be short-lived.

Many are staring down a tough stretch of colder months with the threat of a potentially bad influenza season, an influx of patients trying to catch up on delayed care and a depleted workforce that's had little time — if any — to regroup from this latest wave of coronavirus infections.

"It's like a perfect storm, right? High volume, high acuity and low staff," says emergency physician Dr. Gregg Miller, who's chief medical officer for the health care staffing group Vituity. "Winters are already tough for hospitals and emergency departments."

Friday, October 8, 2021 - 9:37am
Seattle Times

A mandatory payroll tax to fund Washington state’s new long-term-care program will start coming out of most workers’ paychecks across the state in January.

The insurance benefit, dubbed the WA Cares Fund, is a first-in-nation public insurance program aimed at helping older residents age in their own homes.

The plan, signed into law in 2019 through the Long Term Care Trust Act, will use a 0.58% payroll tax to pay up to a $36,500 benefit for individuals to pay for home health care and an array of services related to long-term health care including equipment, transportation and meal assistance.

The plan is expected to save $3.9 billion in state Medicaid costs by 2052 and eligible beneficiaries will be able to begin collecting benefits starting in 2025.

Friday, October 8, 2021 - 9:35am
The Bellingham Herald

Two more Whatcom County residents’ deaths have been linked to COVID-19, the Washington State Department of Health’s COVID-19 Data Dashboard reported Thursday, Oct. 7, meaning 10 COVID-related deaths have been reported in the past week. The two deaths bring the county’s pandemic total to 144 linked to coronavirus. They also meant Whatcom’s COVID-related death rate climbed to approximately 1.0% of all cases, which is still better than that the statewide rate of 1.2%.


Friday, October 8, 2021 - 9:11am
The Conversation

In the short time since NASA’s Perseverance rover landed in Mars’ Jezero Crater on Feb. 18, 2021, it’s already made history.

At the moment, Mars and the Earth are on opposite sides of the Sun, and the two planets cannot communicate with each other. After working nonstop for the past 216 Martian days, the science teams are taking the first real break since the mission started.

We are two members of the Perseverance team, and with the rover hunkered down for the 20 days of conjunction, it is the perfect time to step back and reflect on the mission thus far.

Perseverance has tested out all of its engineering capabilities, driven 1.6 miles (2.6 kilometers) over rough terrain and taken tens of thousands of photos with its 19 cameras. Of all of these incredible successes, there are three major milestones that we’re particularly excited about: collecting the first rock core samples, flying the Ingenuity helicopter and publishing our first scientific results about the Jezero Crater delta.

Thursday, October 7, 2021 - 1:34pm
Associated Press

Parents tired of worrying about classroom outbreaks and sick of telling their elementary school-age children no to sleepovers and family gatherings felt a wave of relief Thursday when Pfizer asked the U.S. government to authorize its COVID-19 vaccine for youngsters ages 5 to 11.

If regulators give the go-ahead, reduced-dose kids’ shots could begin within a matter of weeks.

Thursday, October 7, 2021 - 1:28pm
The Bellingham Herald

Whatcom County hit 15,000 total COVID-19 cases during the pandemic and saw two more COVID-related deaths reported Wednesday, Oct. 6. The two deaths are the seventh and eighth reported in the past six days on the Washington State Department of Health’s COVID-19 Data Dashboard and bring the county’s pandemic total to 142 linked to coronavirus.


Wednesday, October 6, 2021 - 11:36am
Associated Press

COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. are coming down again, hospitalizations are dropping, and new cases per day are about to dip below 100,000 for the first time in two months — all signs that the summer surge is waning.

Not wanting to lose momentum, government leaders and employers are looking at strengthening and expanding vaccine requirements.

Los Angeles was poised to enact on Wednesday one of the nation’s strictest vaccine mandates — a sweeping measure that would require the shots for everyone entering a bar, restaurant, nail salon, gym or Lakers game.

Wednesday, October 6, 2021 - 11:15am
The Bellingham Herald

Two Whatcom County school district regions saw triple-digit increases in their COVID-19 infection rates last week, but one region saw an even larger decrease. The regions covered by the Mount Baker and Nooksack Valley school districts each saw their number of new COVID cases per 100,000 residents in the past two weeks climb by more than 100, according to the latest location data released by the Whatcom County Health Department on Tuesday, Oct. 5. Meanwhile, the two-week infection rate in the region covered by the Blaine School District dropped by more than 200 last week, according to the county’s data.

Wednesday, October 6, 2021 - 11:13am
The Bellingham Herald

Whatcom County had another COVID-related death reported on Tuesday, Oct. 5 — the county’s sixth death linked to the respiratory illness reported since Friday, Oct. 1. Whatcom now has seen 140 COVID-related deaths during the pandemic, according to the Washington State Department of Health’s COVID-19 Data Dashboard. The death was for a person who first tested positive for COVID on Sept. 17, according to the state’s epidemiological data — upping the county’s death total in September to nine, The Bellingham Herald’s analysis shows.

Tuesday, October 5, 2021 - 12:27pm
The Bellingham Herald

The poop doesn’t lie — at least in Lynden, where it has helped guide the city’s pandemic response for over a year. The Whatcom city has become home to one of the most thorough COVID-19 wastewater testing programs in the U.S., said Kent Oostra, owner of Ferndale-based Exact Scientific Services. His lab has tested Lynden’s sewage for traces of the virus shed in people’s feces since June 2020. This data can help predict when a COVID-19 outbreak may be on the horizon, he explained, giving about 10 days of notice before one occurs. “They’ve got the tsunami alert 10 second before it comes. This is similar,” said Lynden Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Gary Vis. “It’s just a heads up. This is here, it’s happening.”