Pierce Pioneer

Fully vaccinated people not required to quarantine

The CDC announced that individuals who are fully vaccinated no longer need to quarantine after being in contact with people diagnosed with COVID-19

 

On February 10, the CDC announced that people who are fully vaccinated no longer need to quarantine if they are in contact with someone that has COVID-19. However, this doesn’t mean that vaccinated people can ignore other CDC guidelines, as stated by CNN reporter Christopher Rios.

“[T]he CDC makes clear that vaccine trials have largely focused on preventing symptomatic cases of Covid-19.” Rios stated. “That doesn’t mean people can’t catch the virus and spread it asymptomatically.”

The CDC states that there are three criteria needed to be met in order to not quarantine:

  • Are fully vaccinated (i.e., ≥2 weeks following receipt of the second dose in a 2-dose series, or ≥2 weeks following receipt of one dose of a single-dose vaccine)
  • Are within 3 months following receipt of the last dose in the series
  • Have remained asymptomatic since the current COVID-19 exposure

“Persons who do not meet all 3 of the above criteria should continue to follow current quarantine guidance after exposure to someone with suspected or confirmed COVID-19.” The CDC stated.

Almost all vaccines in Phase 3 use a two shot method; only one currently requires a single shot. For the vaccines that require two shots, there is a two week to three month window for the second shot to be administered. Currently it’s unknown if every vaccine fits the CDC’s requirements for “skipping quarantine.”

This is an ongoing story; as such, updates will continue to be released here as the CDC provides more future information.

UK COVID Strand Found at University of Washington

Between Dec. 25 and Jan. 20, 1,035 DNA samples were collected and tested at the University of Washington’s virology lab, two of which tested positive for the B.1.1.7 strain previously identified in the UK in September. 

Chris Spitters, a health officer for the Snohomish Health District says the district had already instituted standard case investigation, isolation, and contact tracing prior to learning about these cases; he adds that containment protocols will not be handled any differently than with standard COVID-19 cases.

In regards to vaccinations, UW medicine states that the current Pfitzer and Moderna vaccines will still be effective against new variants, but encourage taking extra precautions until then such as double masking, maintaining social distancing, and keeping your hands clean. “This new variant is 30%-50% more contagious than the original strain, so wearing masks and physical distancing is even more important,” UW stated.

The University of Washington encourages people to take extra care in following the CDC guidelines while awaiting their vaccinations. “[The] B.1.1.7 variant spreads the same way other coronaviruses spread; it’s just better at it,” UW stated. “Strictly following prevention measures is the best way to slow the spread of all variants of the virus that causes COVID-19.”

Recommended steps to take in order to prevent contracting or spreading the B.1.1.7 variant are maintaining a social distance of up to 6-feet with people not in your household, avoiding crowds or poorly ventilated areas, washing your hands, staying home or away from others if you or someone around you is showing signs of COVID-19, getting vaccinated when you are eligible, and/or wearing a properly fitting mask with multiple layers if available.

The University of Washington states that wearing a facial covering with at least two-layers can block up to 80% of exhaled respiratory particles as well as inhaled and adding a double facemask can provide additional filtration.

The B.1.1.7 variant may sound scary and new for the residents of Snohomish and King county, but by taking the necessary prevention steps and staying vigilant with our health as well as our community’s can make the situation easier to contain and manage.

In our want to social distance, has ordering delivery actually brought financial strain to restaurant businesses?

Since the Coronavirus pandemic began, third-party delivery apps such as Doordash, Grubhub, and Ubereats have seen double the amounts of customers and partnered businesses. Despite the large following these delivery apps have gathered, nobody seems to be on the winning side when it comes to ordering from them. To Irene Jiang of the Business Insider, restaurant owners may be losing money. 

“Diners are seeing their costs raised, either by delivery companies that need to pay delivery drivers or by the restaurant owners who raise prices to offset delivery fees,” Jiang stated. “And delivery drivers still make low, unpredictable wages frequently with no benefits.” 

Delivery services were popular pre-pandemic, but with the loss of dine-in options for many restaurants, delivery has become a way to substitute a loss of business and to help keep restaurants afloat. However, Jiang states that these local businesses are losing a large chunk of their money to pay for these delivery partnerships, approximately 30% in commissions. 

To offset these rates while supporting the community, look for restaurants that offer curbside pickup instead. Curbside pickup gives the restaurant all of the money directly and allows users and the restaurant staff to stay healthy and safe by social-distancing.

For those preferring delivery to takeout, Kerry Breen of Today would encourage checking to see if the restaurant delivers directly. “Third-party sites can charge restaurants a significant amount, meaning that only a small amount of what you’re spending goes to the restaurant you’re trying to support,” Breen stated. 

Delivery drivers are another piece of the food delivery puzzle, with drivers working on low salaries with little to no benefits during the COVID pandemic. Kimiko de Freytas-Tamura of the New York Times revealed that while drivers working for food delivery apps can earn as much as $22 per hour, including tips, many drivers say they’ve never earned anywhere close to that much.

Since many delivery drivers are relying on these apps for full time income while their places of employment are closed, it’s important to tip drivers as much as possible when placing an order. An even better way to help out your delivery drivers is to tip in cash, especially with apps like Doordash that use gratuities to provide their workers’ minimum wages. 

The blog  Maid Sailors backs this up by saying when tipping a Dasher in cash, DoorDash has no record of it. “Instead, they see that the driver has not made the minimum guaranteed amount for the order, so they kick in the amount required to meet that minimum,” Maid Sailors stated. 

“On top of that, the driver receives the cash tip that you provided. This increases the driver’s total pay for the delivery without costing you an extra penny. In addition, paying cash makes the Dasher a happier person as they can readily use the money and not have to wait until payday.”

By following some of the examples above – ordering from local deliveries, doing curbside pickup, and paying attention to the pay models of different delivery apps – customers can help our local businesses and delivery workers while not doubling the cost of a single meal.

Pierce County to Greenlight Behavioral Health Sales Tax Increase

 

During a Pierce County council meeting held on December 22, 2020, members approved a 1/10% sales tax increase meant to fund behavioral health services in the near future. As stated on their official site, by a super-majority vote of 5-1, the small tax increase is estimated to generate $12 million a year and aims to reinvest more Medicaid dollars into Pierce County.

Josephine Peterson from the News Tribune mentions how this tax increase has taken three attempts within the last four years to be passed. In March of 2020, Council Vice Chair Dave Morell was the deciding vote which delayed the passing of said increase. “He told Democrats and the large community turnout that he did not feel comfortable voting for a tax increase until a spending plan was in place,” Peterson stated. “The ordinance was [then] tabled.”

The Accountable Care Organization will oversee this distribution, as it is co-sponsored by Morell and council members Derek Young and Connie Ladenburg. Many within the council feel as though behavioral health is a significant issue facing Pierce County residents. “The ACO pilot plan allows for local engagement, ownership and governance, and Pierce County to build a better healthcare system,” Morell said.

Along with distributing Medicaid dollars, the ACO will use the estimated $12 million generated annually to cover health related sectors not covered by the program or Medicaid. Examples of what this could fund include behavioral health education, empowering those who use behavioral health services and training for first responders and criminal justice professionals interacting with people during behavioral crises.

From the News Tribune, Morell shared their personal experiences involving mental health within their own circle. “I’ve learned a lot about behavioral health through family experiences in dealing with issues of addiction with family members and also dealing with a death in the family that was because of an addictive behavior that went on and on and on,” Morell said. “But I also understand that there has to be guardrails in place to protect the taxpayer.”

Pierce County’s official site states that the status of this sales tax increase has since been sent to state executives. “The county finance director has until April 15, 2021 to certify state and federal agency approval of the ACO model,” the site stated. “Once certified the sales tax increase will be collected. The tax collection will cease after Dec. 31, 2027 unless a future Council extends it.”

More news and updates will be provided as this story unfolds.

 

 

Remembering Denise Yochum

Pierce College Historical Archives / Courtesy Photo

Pierce College Fort Steilacoom mourns the death of Denise Yochum, after a long battle with cancer. On Jan. 13, chancellor Michele Johnson announced the news of the former college president’s passing, which sparked commemorative responses from the community she impacted.

Yochum served as Pierce College’s president for 13 years before retiring last January; she remained an active member of the community even after, Johnson stated in an email. Yochum oversaw the expansion of many projects on Fort Steilacoom’s campus, including making the Science Dome interactive and renovating classrooms and student services spaces.

“Denise’s commitment to student success and her dedicated service to the college was exemplary,” Johnson stated in an email. “She has also been an active and beloved member in the local community, a state leader, and was a shining example of leadership that was grounded in integrity, skill, and courage.”

Not only was Yochum a leader, she was also a friend to many. “Denise’s quick wit has made us laugh, and we appreciated her fun and free flowing ways,” Johnson stated. “Denise’s thoughtful, caring, outgoing personality and sharp mind has endeared her to us now and long into the future.”

For Daniel Dino-Slofer, Pierce College’s media assistant, he admired Yochum’s ability to inspire others. One of his favorite memories of her was when he trained with Student Life in 2015.

“She shared her inspiring experiences with us on how she started her career path that ultimately led her to be the President of the Fort Steilacoom campus,” said Dino-Slofer. “Her story gave us student leaders a lot of encouragement on how far your efforts and goals can take you when you put your mind to it.”

Yochum will be remembered for her leadership and service for the Pierce College community. Yochum is survived by her husband Eric, sons Eric and Kyle, five grandchildren, and a large extended family, Johnson stated in an email. Yochum’s memorial will be held at Pierce College Fort Steilacoom on Feb. 9 at 1 p.m. in the Performance Lounge.

Tips for bad weather

12019 / Pixabay / Courtesy Photo
Trucks in Chicago, Illinois clearing the streets of snow.

Your hands are numb from the freezing cold. You can barely feel your face as the harsh wind cuts across your cheeks as you wait for your car to warm up. As winter approaches, bad weather curses the streets with black ice and racks up electric bills. Here are some tips for how to fight off the cold.

To remove ice from windshields, invest in a de-icer spray or make one by combining two thirds of rubbing alcohol with a third of tap water. Start the car but put the heater on medium, not full blast. As it defrosts, spray the de-icer onto the frozen windshield and let it sit for about a minute before carefully scraping the ice.

Some people buy an ice scraper to scrape away ice as long as it’s used carefully but using a school ID, or a card similar to it, can also work. Do not use metal items to scrape ice. Pouring regular water onto a windshield would also be ineffective as it will only freeze again. One way to reduce ice altogether is to cover it with bedsheets, cardboard, towels, or a tarp overnight.

Once the car is drivable, keep your regular headlights on so other drivers can see you. The lights can help show where black ice is. Black ice is hard to see but tends to be reflective and located on the back roads and bridges.

If you’re brave enough to drive on icy streets, invest in snow chains for your tires. If not, don’t tailgate others and be sure to pump the brakes at a reasonable distance. Sudden movements when braking or turning can be dangerous, so it would be best to avoid that. Slow down when the roads are covered with snow or ice. It’s also important to keep your gas tank filled due to the high usage of gas when the car works to stay warm.

To keep your body warm, wear layers of clothing that are insulated and windproof. Wearing wool is more beneficial during the winter season rather than cotton or denim, which gets wet and cold faster. Keep clothing loose so your circulation doesn’t get cut off. Scarves are also best at protecting your face. 

Carry hand warmers to place into your mittens to trap the heat. For feet, boots are preferable to keep water out, but breathable shoes are not. Toe warmers can be worn with shoes to keep your feet from going numb.

In houses, keep the doors to rooms that aren’t being occupied closed so warm air is not lost through circulation. Cover up the windows at night with curtains or hang a blanket on walls and doors to insulate the heat. Set the temperature to heaters at a medium setting because the higher the temperature, the faster it gets lost to the cold air outside. Space heaters save electricity by focusing heat for the room in use.

There are many other ways to keep warm during the winter season. These are just a few tips to handle the bad weather that may come along.

For information about school emergencies, delays or closure procedures and how to stay up to date, check out this link for more information.

Affirmative Action Rejected

R. Wilfing / Courtesy Photo / Pixabay

Affirmative Action to be denied in Washington State’s November 2019 Elections, reinstating Initiative 200.

During the Washington State elections on November 5, citizens voted against Referendum 88 and the restoration of Affirmative Action – a policy favoring individuals belonging to previously discriminated groups within America. This practice would have allowed for colleges, universities, and businesses to increase opportunities for minority groups by giving them further support.

Previously in April 2019, Washington State legislatures passed Initiative 1000, repealing the ban on Affirmative Action which had been placed 20 years ago. This ban was originally passed by Washington voters in 1998 via I-200; however, recent elections have since reinstated this ban by the people. With its rejection, this leaves the state facing a number of concerns from both sides of the vote.

For Washington State government officials such as April Sims, co-chair of Washington Fairness, Affirmative Action being rejected is disheartening. As reported by NBC News, Sims states how Affirmative Action would have been a great way to level the playing fields for everyone in Washington State. Jay Inslee, the Governor of Washington State, also saw Referendum 88 as a way to address what he referred to as systemic inequalities.

Despite this, not everyone in Washington saw Affirmative Action as a solution to inequality. Shortly after the passing of I-1000, a petition was led by Washington Asians for Equality. This petition was created as an attempt to keep Affirmative Action banned in Washington State by giving the vote back to the people.

“I-1000 can be summed up in one sentence: It would abolish the standard of equality for all, regardless of race, as required by I-200, and replace it with a system that uses different rules for people of different races,” states the petition. As such, petitioners felt that this vote should be in the hands of the people.

Those sharing this sentiment see Affirmative Action and Referendum 88 as an attack on equality in Washington State. However, while some feel as though I-200 allows for true equality, certain statistics state otherwise.

According to the Stranger, many legislatures within Washington viewed I-200 as a step backwards for the state when it comes to providing underrepresented groups positions in business. With both women and minorities having less than 4% of the state’s contracting dollars post I-200, this has left Washington state below its established goals.

Javier Valdez, a Seattle representative, believes that I-1000 would have been a fix to I-200. “I-200 was sold 20 years ago as something that would be fair to everyone, and that’s clearly not the case,” he said.

While both sides hold claims still in search of a proper solution, it’s not difficult to see what demographics tend to dominate college campuses, Pierce College included. But whether or not something like Affirmative Action could help with this, or if this is even a problem that needs help, is a question for another time.

Professor Alan Kemp Retiring in 2020

The sociology professor reflects back on his three decades at Pierce.

After thirty years of teaching, sociology professor Alan Kemp will be retiring after this school year. Kemp says that his experience at Pierce has for the most part been wonderful, and he is very grateful to have held this position. “I don’t think there’s been a day that goes by when I haven’t appreciated what a really great job I have,” he said.

Kemp will not be teaching any classes next summer, and will officially retire on Sept. 11. As of now, he has not made any plans for retirement. However, he expects to be keeping pretty busy working on his property.

Before Pierce, most of Kemp’s career was in social service or mental health. He worked as a mental health professional at Good Samaritan Hospital. He then worked as a mental health provider at McChord Air Force base, as part of the Family Advocacy Program. He worked with families of military personnel, including people who had experienced neglect or abuse in the military system.

Kemp’s love of both learning and instructing is what brought him to teaching. “It’s pretty cool to see lightbulbs go off from time to time,” he said. “People make discoveries and make connections to understand things better than they did before. It’s really a privilege to be part of that process.” 

Kemp also says that it is inspiring to see students who have to overcome hardships to pursue an education, finding whatever it is they need to pull it off. One thing he’ll miss after retiring is interacting with students in the classroom, whether it be teaching, talking, joking, or occasionally being outrageous.

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