by Sally James
The first case in the United States of the newly identified COVID-19 variant – omicron – was confirmed today in California in a traveler who had recently returned from South Africa.
Word of this was part of a Washington Department of Health press conference, as Secretary of Health Umair Shah, M.D., M.P.H., interrupted the discussion Wednesday, Dec. 1, to make note of it. Officials expect that this variant will eventually be identified in Washington.
Continue reading New COVID-19 Variant – Omicron – Shows Up in California, Washington Tracking Virus
by Sally James
Now is not the time to feel safe in regard to the threat of COVID-19, especially for Latino communities, warns physician Leo Morales, the leader of the Latino Center for Health at the University of Washington (UW). The group just released a policy statement based on vaccination numbers from around the state.
“The greatest risk we face now is to be complacent … We cannot rest until we have reached all unvaccinated and under-vaccinated Latinos in our state,” said Morales in a press statement about the policy brief.
Health disparities that lead to a higher risk of hospitalization and death for Latino people, in comparison to white people, will likely continue, even as boosters and new shots for children ages 5 to 11 become available across the state.
Continue reading Washington Latino Communities Still Lag in Vaccinations, Warns Researcher
by Megan Burbank
At midnight on the first day of September, after the Supreme Court failed to respond to an appeal from abortion providers, a law banning abortions after six weeks of pregnancy went into effect in Texas. SB 8 has ended access to an estimated 85% of procedures, empowered ordinary people to sue fellow citizens for seeking out or facilitating abortion care, and pushed patients to seek care across state lines, some as far as the Pacific Northwest. Less than a month after SB 8’s implementation, Planned Parenthood disclosed to the Emerald that its Central District Health Center had seen its first patient from Texas.
This disruption in care, and rise in anti-abortion vigilanteism, has already been challenged by the Justice Department and drawn widespread criticism. Reproductive health care providers question its use of the term “fetal heartbeat,” a descriptor that’s more emotional than clinical (the sound heard on ultrasounds is caused by electrical activity; heart valves aren’t actually present). Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor offered a blistering, Ruth Bader Ginsburg-esque dissent calling the law “clearly unconstitutional.” The law has even been condemned by private companies like Lyft, which established a defense fund to cover legal fees for drivers sued under the law. In the words of one Slate headline: “The Supreme Court Overturned Roe v. Wade in the Most Cowardly Manner Imaginable.”
But none of these objections lessen the impact the law has already had. SB 8 has had “a chilling effect” on abortion providers in Texas, said Lisa Humes-Schulz, vice president of policy and regulatory affairs at Planned Parenthood Alliance Advocates. “No one wants to get sued,” she added, and the fallout has been swift.
Continue reading Patients Are Traveling From Texas for Abortion Care. This May Be the New Normal.
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.
Continue reading Weekend Long Reads: The Kids Are Eating a Lot More Pizza
by Susan Fried
About a half dozen barbers volunteered their services last weekend so people could get free haircuts at Rainier Beach Community Center plaza. In addition to the cuts, there was food, entertainment, and free COVID-19 vaccines. The event was held in partnership with the Department of Neighborhoods and hosted by Fathers and Sons Together (FAST) — a youth development organization that aims to nurture the relationships between fathers and sons. It also featured three panel discussions around significant issues affecting the community, including one on health and wellness — in particular how they relate to COVID-19 — one on the recent surge in gun violence, and a third to discuss ways to help youth and create positive change in the community.
Continue reading PHOTO ESSAY: Fathers and Sons Together Barbershop Event Encourages Hope
by Mark Van Streefkerk
After over a year of empty stages, live music has officially returned, and Columbia City Beatwalk is one grassroots organizing team that’s making it happen. Now in it’s 27th year, Beatwalk is bringing folks together from all walks of life for free outdoor music and entertainment right in the heart of Columbia City.
Their next Block Party event on Saturday, July 31, is something you don’t want to miss. Partnering for the first time with B.U.I.L.D. 206 — an organization with the vision that Black men are empowered leaders and mentors making positive changes in the lives of Black men and youth — the Block Party will feature games, contests, prizes, and a star-studded lineup of DJs, ending with neo soul and hip hop conscious group Black Stax. The family-friendly event will also include mostly Black and POC vendors with a focus on locally-made wares like oils, jewelry, candles, clothing, and more. The party takes place at “The Patio” on Rainier Avenue South and South Ferdinand Street between Geraldine’s Counter and Lottie’s Lounge.
Continue reading The 27th Year of Beatwalk Brings Free Live Music Back to Columbia City
by Asqual Getaneh, MD
In February 2020, International Community Health Services (ICHS) was the first of the nation’s nearly 1,400 federally qualified health centers — serving 30 million people, most of them low-income immigrants and refugees — with a positive COVID-19 diagnosis.
Our staff have seen the tragic costs of a pandemic that has infected more than 100 million people worldwide and claimed more than 2 million deaths. So, when the first doses of the Moderna vaccine rolled through our doors on Dec. 23, we felt ready.
Continue reading OPINION: More Will Die From Covid Without Meaningful Change to Health Care
The Emerald wants to know how you’re keeping yourselves — and each other — safe these days. We hope you’ll share your stories with us! #StaySafeSouthEnd
by Emerald Staff
For some time, we at the Emerald have been discussing what staying safe during this viral pandemic looks like as we serve our community. Naturally, it looks like following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines for health and safety as well as directives from Public Health — Seattle-King County. But guidelines are just that, leaving plenty of room for interpretation.
Continue reading #StaySafeSouthEnd: This Is How We Do It
Furthermore, since the outbreak hit the Seattle area, there’s been a lot of misinformation and bad advice circulating. It’s hard to keep up, and bottom line — there’s no silver bullet. It’s a daily struggle to effectively prevent the spread of invisible germs and manage ongoing shut downs and life in quarantine.
by Carolyn Bick
Linda Koerber isn’t tall. Sitting at the table in the back room of the Cynthia Green Family Center in South Seattle, Koerber can just barely comfortably rest her arms on the table, as she calmly describes her ongoing fight against cancer as a Black woman. She wears red lipstick, because “I’m not dying today. So, that’s why I wear red lipstick every day.”
Continue reading Misdiagnosis, Missed Opportunities, and Mistrust: How Race Influences Cancer Treatment in Black Women
by Aaron Burkhalter
Ready with their walking shoes, they gathered in a small meeting room at the Rainier Beach Community Center to start. After a brief chat, they were ready to enjoy a stroll in the sun.
Continue reading Weekly Rainier Beach Walking Group Blends Health, Safety, and Community