he United States will soon have a new federal holiday commemorating the end of slavery.
The House voted 415-14 Wednesday to make Juneteenth, or June 19th, the 12th federal holiday. The bill now goes to President Joe Biden’s desk, and he is expected to sign it into law.
Juneteenth commemorates June 19, 1865, when Union soldiers brought the news of freedom to enslaved Black people in Galveston, Texas — two months after the Confederacy had surrendered. That was also about 2 1/2 years after the Emancipation Proclamation freed slaves in the Southern states.
It’s the first new federal holiday since Martin Luther King Jr. Day was created in 1983.
“Our federal holidays are purposely few in number and recognize the most important milestones,” said Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y. “I cannot think of a more important milestone to commemorate than the end of slavery in the United States.”
The 14 House Republicans who voted against the bill were Andy Biggs of Arizona, Mo Brooks of Alabama, Andrew Clyde of Georgia, Scott DesJarlais of Tennessee, Paul Gosar of Arizona, Ronny Jackson of Texas, Doug LaMalfa of California, Thomas Massie of Kentucky, Tom McClintock of California, Ralph Norman of South Carolina, Mike Rogers of Alabama, Rosendale of Montana, Chip Roy of Texas and Tom Tiffany of Wisconsin.
Jerry Ramos spent his final days in a California hospital, hooked to an oxygen machine with blood clots in his lungs from COVID-19, his 3-year-old daughter in his thoughts.
“I have to be here to watch my princess grow up,” the Mexican American restaurant worker wrote on Facebook. “My heart feels broken into pieces.”
Ramos didn't live to see it. He died Feb. 15 at age 32, becoming not just one of the nearly 600,000 Americans who have now perished in the coronavirus outbreak but another example of the outbreak's strikingly uneven and ever-shifting toll on the nation's racial and ethnic groups.
According to the data in the release, between April 3 and May 29, Whatcom County saw 103 hospitalizations of unvaccinated people, while only one fully vaccinated person was hospitalized with COVID illnesses.
The news comes as the county continues to battle a recent surge in hospitalizations despite a recent decrease in the number of COVID-19 cases.
Whatcom County saw 18 new COVID-19 cases and another related death reported by the Washington State Department of Health’s coronavirus dashboard Thursday, June 10.
Overall, the state reports Whatcom County has seen 9,288 confirmed cases, 464 hospitalizations and 99 related deaths during the pandemic. An additional 403 probable cases — up one from the last report — have been reported in Whatcom County during the pandemic, resulting from positive antigen tests not confirmed by a molecular test.
St. Joseph hospital in Bellingham reported it was treating 19 patients who have tested positive for COVID-19 on Friday, June 11, down five.
If reopening the U.S.-Canada border becomes a reality later this month, Whatcom County could become a popular destination for Canadians seeking a second shot of the COVID-19 vaccine.
It’s possible, given how few Canadians are fully vaccinated at this point. While more than 60% of the Canadian adults have received one shot of the vaccine, only 7% are fully vaccinated, according to Canadian government data through May 29.
How the two governments handle the reopening of the border will play a key role in whether Canadians can get vaccine shots in Whatcom County, said Laurie Trautman, director at Western Washington University’s Border Policy Research Institute. One possible Canadian policy for partially vaccinated and unvaccinated travelers would be to get tested at the border. This would allow Canadians to get a shot while potentially avoiding the 14-day mandatory quarantine if it were lifted based on a negative test.
Whatcom County saw its smallest reported increase in COVID-19 cases in more than six weeks, as the Washington State Department of Health’s coronavirus dashboard showed just eight new confirmed cases on Wednesday, June 9.
Column by WWU Professor of Political Science Bidisha Biswas; depending on how often you access the Washington Post, the content may be behind a paywall.
National media reports indicate Canada is warming up to the idea of easing some border restrictions on Tuesday, June 22.
Politico reported that the Canadian government is open to the idea of easing COVID-19 restrictions at the Canada-U.S. border as the country’s vaccination rates for COVID-19 get close to 75% of the country’s adult population. In late May, Canada had vaccinated more than 68% of adults with at least one shot, according to the article posted Monday, June 7.
Canada appears to be pushing for a phased approach and wanting to make sure those entering the country are fully vaccinated.
It is unclear what the reaction of travelers will be if the border does open later this month, said Laurie Trautman, director at Western Washington University’s Border Policy Research Institute. On the Canadian side, there will be a rush of people who want to see their Whatcom County friends and family, as well as check on property.
While much of the Canadian population has had at least one shot, very few are fully vaccinated. That, and the fact that Canadian public opinion is still fragile when it comes to opening back up, leads Trautman to believe there might be an initial rush, but that it will take time for normal cross-border traffic to return.
“Will we get the same-day shoppers crossing the border? Not right away,” Trautman said. “Canadians are still really sensitive to this issue, more than in the U.S. where more people are fully vaccinated. They are still at a very different place than we are.”
The Salish Sea stretches almost 400 miles from the southern end of Puget Sound near Olympia, to the northern boundary of the Strait of Georgia in British Columbia. It's easy to take for granted, and a new study suggests we do so at our peril.
Dr. Kathryn Sobocinski is an assistant professor in the Department of Environmental Science at Western Washington University. She's the lead author of a new study looking at the current health of the Salish Sea. She told KUOW’s Kim Malcolm what she learned.