Masks off, vaxxed, ready to go out … what’s next with COVID-19?
Washington residents won’t be required to wear masks inside many public areas starting March 12. But experts advise not to throw out those masks yet and caution that vulnerable groups are still at high risk of infection from COVID-19.
Confrontations, demands for parents’ rights challenge local school boards
Impassioned conversations are occurring nationwide as sometimes large groups of parents show up at once sparsely attended school board meetings — including in Whatcom County — with local issues including COVID-19 mask mandates, critical race theory and sexual health education.
Ferry delays are beyond inconvenience, islanders stress at community meeting
Islanders gave Washington State Ferries staff an earful at a community meeting about how disruptions on the San Juan-Anacortes ferry route hamper access to healthcare, education, jobs, supplies and families. With COVID-19, freezing weather and crew shortages, ferry riders have endured a chaotic year and want to know what the state will do to improve the situation.
Community Voices / MLK Day in Bellingham: looking backward, stepping forward
Community organizers of Bellingham’s 30-plus-year-old Martin Luther King Jr. Day event are refocusing this year from an in-person gathering to a call for voting rights action — and asking the community to urge Bellingham officials to commit to support for the community-based observance going forward.
For the people: what local legislators plan for the 2022 session
Dealing with climate change, providing economic relief post-COVID-19 and ensuring sustainability for the Washington State Ferries system made the priority lists of elected officials returning to take care of the people’s business when the 2022 session opens Jan. 10.
2021: A look back at some stories from the first full year of Salish Current
2021 was a year like no other, with themes such as public health vis-à-vis COVID-19 and opioid addiction; social justice in the courts, the arts, housing and policing; and climate change and natural resources including water rights management. Salish Current offers a look back via articles published during the nonprofit newsroom’s first full year.
Not taking it: the hows and whys of religious exemption from the COVID-19 vaccination requirement
With some employees seeking religious or medical exemption from the state’s COVID-19 mandate, employers and workers both have continued to adapt over the past month to how that plays out in the workplace. Receiving a medical exemption is often relatively straightforward, but religious exemptions are less so, in the application and the approval processes.
Continuing case backlog slows wheels of justice for Whatcom public defenders — and their clients
Public defenders report having hard conversations about what they see as “completely unfair” options with in-custody clients, as the pandemic-driven halt to jury trials keeps people who are denied or unable to afford bail incarcerated and unsure of when their days in court will arrive.
COVID-19 cases highest among 18- to 24-year-olds as students return to campuses
At the same time students were returning to university, community college and technical college campuses that had been closed to in-person instruction for a year and a half — and where full vaccination against COVID-19 is now required — the 18- to 24-year-old age group was reporting the highest number of cases.
Election 2021: Addressing homelessness is priority for city, county candidates — and there’s agreement on how to do so
Candidates for Bellingham city and Whatcom County councils share concern that there are not enough options for people living unhoused in the area, and incumbents and challengers both say they want to do more to address the housing crisis.
‘Where’s the ferry?’ islanders ask as crew shortages stymie scheduled sailings
In San Juan County, where ferry service is an integral part of the state highway system, recent cancellations of ferry sailings related to crew shortages have resulted in some residents unable to get home, to work or to doctor appointments, and have delayed arrival of groceries and other vital supplies.
‘Food hub plus’ part of ambitious collaboration to meet housing and food needs
A complex housing and food resources proposal for the Bellingham waterfront aims to employ a fusion of community and economic development in “a once in a lifetime opportunity” to meet local food supply needs — with the help of local farmers and suppliers.
Vaccine mandate becoming latest COVID ‘new normal’ for work or play
As the Delta variant of COVID-19 ravages the unvaccinated population, killing some and filling hospitals, public, private, and government entities have renewed masking mandates, and more are enacting vaccination mandates and requiring proof of testing to stamp out the virus from places of both work and play.
Pack a lunch, don a mask: kids go back to school in person as COVID-19 persists
In the midst of the ongoing pandemic, students are dusting off backpacks, packing lunches — and picking out masks to accompany their back-to-school outfits.
No new reservations, for now: Living and working around ferry delays, cancellations in the San Juans
This year’s peak-season summer Washington State Ferries sailing schedule has been plagued by delayed and canceled sailings, some due to a shortage of crew and some to mechanical problems. For the long Labor Day weekend, things are not looking much brighter for the San Juan Islands runs.
Skagit fair sates longing for fun and ‘normalcy’ in face of COVID-19
After a year’s hiatus, the Skagit County Fair resumed Aug. 11-14 with an increased attendance over past years — despite COVID-19 infections spiking in the county.