Tag Archives: Feature

COVID-19 Forces Pro Sports Teams to Mandate Vaccine Proof for Fans

by Sally James

A late summer surge of the COVID-19 delta variant has schools scrambling to adjust to in-person learning, parents worried about the safety of unvaccinated kids, and sports fans on edge.

Local professional sports teams, including Seattle Seahawks, Seattle Sounders FC, and Seattle Kraken all announced that they would require proof of vaccination from fans who want to attend games. Following those announcements Tuesday, Sept. 7, the Washington Huskies, Washington State Cougars, and Seattle Mariners also announced similar rules to help curb the spread of the coronavirus. 

The rules don’t apply to fans under 12 years old, who cannot yet be vaccinated. In a story this week, the Emerald outlined the updated guidelines for student athletes.

For participants in outdoor sports and fans of all ages, the delta variant continues to spread throughout the community, requiring changes to fall plans and public health guidance.

Off the field, the Washington Hospital Association (WSHA) reported an almost 7% increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations statewide over the previous week. Some of that press conference is in this video from television station KIRO-7. WSHA leader Cassie Sauer explained that overcrowded hospitals anywhere are a problem for all hospitals, because patients are sometimes shifted to other facilities.

King County Executive Dow Constantine said the County is trying to create some vaccine verification standards that could become effective in October. These would help businesses and others quickly verify a person’s vaccine status.

In this week’s Q&A, we hope to help you make sense out of the latest COVID-19 health and safety headlines with links to credible sources.

Send your questions to us at editor@seattleemerald.org.

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Weekend Long Reads: The Evolution of Our Health Care System

by Kevin Schofield

This weekend’s “long read” focuses on two medical research papers exploring how the U.S. health care system has changed over the past two decades: the money going into the system and the outcomes for individuals. And it’s not a pretty picture.

Let’s start with a paper from a group of researchers at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation here in Seattle, looking at health care spending from 2002 through 2016 and broken out by race and ethnicity. Total spending has grown dramatically, from about $1.5 trillion annually in 2002 to over $2.4 trillion in 2016. The amount spent per person increases as they age, from a low of about $3,000 per year for children in 2016 to more than $15,000 per year for those over the age of 65. There are some significant differences in spending across racial and ethnic lines, with Asians, Native Hawaiians, Pacific Islanders, and Hispanics seeing some of the lowest levels of spending across all age groups and white and multiracial individuals seeing the highest spending.

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Mask Mandates, School Openings, Sports, and Other Questions About COVID-19

by Sally James

The COVID-19 delta variant is behind the latest surge of coronavirus cases, prompting new mask mandates, and raising a lot of new questions, including about the safety of unvaccinated school children and playing sports. 

This week we look at some new questions and rely on County and State health officials for the latest guidance.

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Weekend Long Reads: The Kids Are Eating a Lot More Pizza

by Kevin Schofield

This weekend’s “long read” is a report from a 20-year study on the food consumption habits of American youth. The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NAHANES) has been collecting data since 1999, in two-year intervals, on what foods kids are eating, broken out across four categories: unprocessed and minimally processed; processed culinary ingredients such as oils; processed foods like cheeses; and “ultraprocessed” foods such as fast food, sweetened beverages, and store-bought ready-to-heat dishes.

In their most recent cohort, 2017–2018, they found that over two-thirds of the calories consumed by youth are from ultraprocessed food, up from 61.4% in 1999. The ready-to-heat/eat category jumped from 2.2% all the way up to 11.1%; that includes store-bought pizza, hamburgers, and sandwiches, and pizza alone is now over 5% of kids’ total calorie consumption.

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South End Students Lead Push to Install Solar Panels at Highline High School

by Ben Adlin

Dozens of solar panels will eventually cover the roof of Highline High School’s new building in Burien under a student-led plan to build the largest solar-power system ever at a South King County public school.

Installation of the project would occur next year if the project meets its January 2022 fundraising deadline. Once complete, the 100-kilowatt solar array would not only produce clean electricity but also provide experiential, STEM-based learning opportunities for students, who could monitor the system’s flow of energy in real time.

In addition to seeking public grants and funds from private foundations, the students are also gathering individual donations through the Highline Schools Foundation. A related GoFundMe campaign launched earlier this year described the project as “living proof that solar energy is attainable in any neighborhood, even those with modest per capita incomes. And YOU will help us get there!”

The idea began with a question last summer from then-Highline senior Nha Khuc, who was in the midst of an environmental internship through King County. What would it take, Khuc asked one of the professionals she met in the program, to put solar panels on Highline’s new roof?

Continue reading South End Students Lead Push to Install Solar Panels at Highline High School

Weekend Long Reads: The Climate Change Report

by Kevin Schofield

This week the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued its new Sixth Assessment Report on the current scientific consensus on where things stand with regard to our changing global climate. It’s an update on its last report (the Fifth Assessment) from 2013, with hundreds of scientists from all over the world collaborating to provide both assessments of the current climate and also updated models of what is most likely to happen from here.

The new report is 3,949 pages. That is a “long read” even outside of my tolerance, so I’m not going to suggest that you read it.  Instead, I’m going to point you to three much shorter documents to read:

  • IPCC’s Summary for Policymakers;
  • IPCC’s Regional Fact Sheet for Central and North America, which focuses on the present and future impacts of climate change here in our own backyard; and
  • An excellent summary by the news site Quartz on the key findings from the full report.
Continue reading Weekend Long Reads: The Climate Change Report

Weekend Long Reads: Long COVID

by Kevin Schofield

This weekend’s main “long read” deals with a scary topic: “long COVID.” This is how the medical community has come to refer to incidents where a patient diagnosed with COVID-19 initially seems to recover but continues to suffer ongoing symptoms for weeks or even months. Doctors have established two categories of long COVID: “ongoing symptomatic COVID” (OSC), in which symptoms continue on for four to 12 weeks after the initial illness; and “post-COVID syndrome” for symptoms that persist after 12 weeks.

Long COVID is still an emerging phenomenon since COVID-19 has barely been around long enough to start to complete longitudinal studies, but by existing estimates, 10% or more of the general population who contract COVID-19 will have some form of long COVID to follow, and the percentage is much higher in some high-risk populations (including those hospitalized with COVID-19). But little is still known about exactly what the risk factors are for long COVID, and how they compare to COVID-19 itself.

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Delta Variant Poses New Questions About COVID Risk

by Sally James

From time to time the Emerald hopes to help people navigate the complicated landscape of the pandemic. Below we have compiled some answers to some pressing questions about the new COVID-19 Delta variant. 

White House chief medical advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci told NPR last week, “We are dealing with a different virus now.” It has different capabilities and can be transmitted from person to person more easily. An internal report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) called the new variant as contagious as chickenpox.

Here in Washington State, test positivity rates are increasing and hospitalizations for COVID-19 are on the rise. According to the state Department of Health, the Delta variant now comprises 76% of COVID-19 cases.

Secretary of Health Umair A. Shah, M.D., M.P.H., says, “If there was ever a time to get vaccinated, it is now in the race against this variant.”

Here are some questions and answers to help you make decisions for your family: 

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Boon Boona Brings Coffee’s African Roots to Capitol Hill

by Alexa Peters

In 2016, Black coffee professional Michelle Johnson in an article titled, “The Black Cup of Excellence: Being Black in Specialty Coffee,” wrote the following: 

“Specialty coffee is a progressive industry, but being Black in a community majority of [w]hites still lends itself to the same oppression felt across multiple industries in our country and around the world.”

The article, which has since been taken down, shook the coffee industry to its core, and it began an industry-wide conversation that has intensified since the murder of George Floyd in May 2020 and has prompted more industry experts to speak out against what coffee writer Umeko Motoyoshi calls “anti-blackness in specialty coffee.” From her perspective, the industry’s persistent racism is born largely from its reluctance to acknowledge and learn about the African roots of coffee itself.

That’s where Efrem Fesaha, the owner of Seattle’s Boon Boona Coffee, comes in. Raised in West Seattle as the son of two Eritrean immigrants, Fesaha has spent the last three years establishing his Renton and Capitol Hill coffee shops dedicated to spreading the rich African coffee history to local java aficionados.

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Weekend Long Reads: Philadelphia’s Basic Systems Repair Program

by Kevin Schofield

This weekend’s “long read” is a study on Philadelphia’s Basic Systems Repair Program — and the surprising impact that it had.

The Basic Systems Repair Program is a grant program run by the City that makes awards of up to $20,000 to low-income homeowners for structural repairs of electrical, plumbing, heating, and roof damage to their homes. To enroll in the program, homeowners must apply, meet the income qualifications (the same as for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Section 8 vouchers), and then be placed on a waiting list — currently for up to three years.

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