Pierce Pioneer

What we learned from Fauci’s emails

Buzzfeed posted on June 1 more than 3,200 pages of emails obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, which allows the public to access documents or other data possessed by government agencies or public authorities. The Washington Post obtained more than 800 pages and published a story highlighting what reporters found.

 

The emails span from January to June 2020 and give a glimpse into the mind of Dr. Anthony Fauci, the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases director. According to the emails, he communicated with a variety of health officials, reporters and billionaires.      

 

Fauci coordinated with Facebook to promote COVID-19 guidance

During the last year, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter made it a priority to censor or debunk fake news on their sites. This year, Facebook announced that it would increase efforts to remove false information regarding vaccines and vaccine hesitancy. Shortly after, the company retracted its previous censorship of claims that COVID-19 was man-made after the Biden administration announced it was investigating the origins of the virus. 

 

Dr. Fauci’s emails revealed coordination between himself and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. On March 15, Zuckerberg invited Dr. Fauci to join a Facebook live stream or produce a video for the newly developed Coronavirus Information Hub. 

 

The CEO planned to feature health experts who represent authoritative information rather than listen to other agencies and political leaders.

 

“This isn’t public yet, but we’re building a Coronavirus Information Hub that we’re going to put at the top of Facebook for everyone (200+ million Americans, 2.5 billion people worldwide) with two goals: (1) make sure people can get authoritative information from reliable sources and (2) encourage people to practice social distance and give people ideas for doing this using internet tools,” Zuckerberg wrote. “This will be live within the next 48 hours.”

 

In his response, Dr. Fauci accepted the offer. 

 

“Your idea and proposal sound terrific. I would be happy to do a video for your hub,” Fauci wrote. “We need to reach as many people as possible and convince them to take mitigation strategies seriously or things will get much, much worse. Also, your idea about [REDACTED] is very exciting.”

 

Fauci was warned the virus looked engineered
Kristian G. Andersen who runs a viral genomics lab at Scripps Research in La Jolla, Calif. attached an article titled “Mining coronavirus genomes for clues to the outbreak’s origins,” citing it for its research on the origins and potential mutations of the virus from bats.

 

On the contrary, Dr. Fauci noted the virus’s abnormal features suggested that there is more involved than bats. 

 

“On a phylogenetic tree the virus looks totally normal and the close clustering with bats suggests that bats serve as the reservoir,” he wrote. “The unusual features of the virus make up a really small part of the genome (<0.1%) so one has to look really closely at all the sequences to see that some of the features (potentially) look engineered.”

 

Andersen continued by writing that all find the genome inconsistent with expectations from evolutionary theory but added that further analyses needs to be done, so those opinions could change.

 

Furthermore, Dr. Fauci’s emails revealed he attached several documents titled “SARS Gain of Function” suggesting he had some knowledge of such research. In multiple testimonies to Congress, the NIAID director has denied gain of function research was funded by his agency at the Wuhan Lab of Virology. 

 

Fauci disregarded an email highlighting a CCP cover-up

In a long email sent to Dr. Fauci by Erik Nilsen, co-founder and chief executive officer at Bio-Signal Technologies in Texas, dove into his theories behind the Chinese government coverup of the COVID-19 outbreak. He pointed to his accredited experience of working with many connections to China through business, friendship and virology institutions.

 

Nilsen said China stopped its COVID-19 death count on Jan. 7, 2020, and pointed to its motive to fabricate and skew the daily data to “save face.” Chinese Communist Party officials wanted to mislead the world and their people that they were flattening the curve when that was not the case. Instead, the government locked down the city of Wuhan and allowed other citizens to travel nationwide or around the world.

 

Additionally, Nilsen believed that COVID-19 had already spread to the United States in late November or early December. Fauci replied that the email was too long to read.

 

Fauci was aware of therapeutics early in the pandemic

In the same email, Nilsen brought up some conflicting ideas to Dr. Fauci, the Centers for Disease Control and World Health Organization by writing he advised his family to acquire Alvesco (ciclesonide) for emergency use only. 

 

“I’ve been told by colleagues on the front-line in Japan, China and Korea, and found several pre-print papers, that it is an effective treatment for late-stage COVID-19 patients,” he wrote. “Some patients on ventilators who were approaching death have fully recovered after treatment with ciclesonide; ciclesonide has much smaller particles than other corticosteroids so it reaches deeper into lungs and alveolis).”

 

Furthermore, Nilsen advised his family and friends to obtain hydroxychloroquine, a drug authorized by the FDA to treat malaria, Lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. Dr. Fauci, the media and Facebook all denounced the usage of hydroxychloroquine as a safe and effective drug to fight COVID-19.

 

Former President Donald Trump was a major proponent using the drug as a preventative. Doctors worldwide prescribed the controversial drug throughout 2020 when those who went public with their knowledge about the drug’s effectiveness were censored on most social media platforms. 

 

Two independent studies published by Henry Ford Health System and medRxiv found hydroxychloroquine to be safe and effective in treating COVID-19. The first study analyzed 2,541 hospitalized covid patients and found that 13% of hospitalized patients treated with hydroxychloroquine alone died of COVID-19, compared to 26.4% who died who were not treated with the drug. The results in the second study analyzed 255 covid patients on ventilators and took hydroxychloroquine with zinc saw a 200% increase in survival rate.

 

Dr. Fauci advised against masks for healthy people

More contradicting guidance came from emails surrounding Dr. Fauci’s beliefs on masks and their effectiveness to slow the spread of COVID-19. In a reply to former Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell, Dr. Fauci advised not to wear a mask when traveling on Feb. 5, 2020.

 

“Masks are really for infected people to prevent them from spreading infection to people who are not infected rather than protecting uninfected people from acquiring infection,” Dr. Fauci wrote. “The typical mask you buy in the drug store is not really effective in keeping out the virus, which is small enough to pass through the material. It might, however, provide some slight benefit in keeping out gross droplets if someone coughs or sneezes on you. I do not recommend that you wear a mask, particularly since you are going to a very low risk location.”

 

Since then, Dr. Fauci has advocated for mass masking.

Washington moving to Phase 3

On May 18, 2021, Gov. Jay Inslee announced that Washington state is moving to Phase 3 and reopening June 30. If at least 70% of Washingtonians over the age of 16 begin to get vaccinated before then, the reopening date could be sooner; currently we are at 56%.

 

The list of permitted activities is on the Roadmap to Recovery. It includes 50 people at an outdoor home event, 50% capacity for indoor sports and fitness facilities and 400 people at outdoor entertainment establishments. 

 

The reopening was recently paused for two weeks, but hopefully it doesn’t need to be pushed back any further. Washington will go back to a lower phase if the statewide ICU capacity exceeds 90%. If all goes well, then Washingtonians should be able to enjoy the sun this summer.

 

To be up to date on Gov. Jay Inslee’s announcements, visit his website here.

Washington State University Becomes the First College to Mandate Vaccines

WSU was the first college in Washington State to mandate vaccines, many other public colleges are following their footsteps.

 

With COVID-19 vaccinations becoming more accessible throughout Washington, several universities such as The University of Washington and Western Washington University are requiring their students to return to campus fully vaccinated. Washington State University was the first public university in the state to require proof of vaccination.

Proof of vaccination will be due Aug. 6, before the fall semester begins, students not living on campus will need to submit their proof of vaccination by Nov. 1, according to President Kirk Schulz. Those who don’t meet this deadline will be unable to register for classes.

However, exemptions may be in place for those not wishing to get their vaccine. “Our desire is that all students, faculty, staff and volunteers are vaccinated by the start of the fall semester. I think you always need to have exemptions in place. We are expanding that exemption category to include personal exemptions because, again, we’re not interested in getting into a debate with individuals. We really want to make sure people are making a conscious choice and are taking action one way or the other,” explains WSU’s spokesman Phil Weiler. 

While exemptions will be allowed, WSU aims to make sure a majority of their students are vaccinated so on-campus classes may be brought back sooner. “If we can get everybody vaccinated, we can have the kind of academic experience that everybody expects and everybody wants,” said Weiler.

 It’s not just the president and spokesman pushing for this requirement either. According to Daryll DeWald, chancellor of WSU’s health sciences, many deans from the pharmaceutical and nursing colleges are advocating for this requirement, while WSU Senate Chair David Trumbull said older and at-risk staff members would be concerned without this mandate.

 “WSU has an obligation to serve the public good and do all it can to ensure the health and safety of citizens in the state of Washington,” said DeWald.

DeWald’s words encourage not just WSU students but all university students and staff to make the choice to get vaccinated so that the community can pave the way back to their campuses in a safe and healthy way.

Fully vaccinated individuals are no longer required to wear masks or social distance

The CDC announced on May 13 that fully vaccinated people no longer need to wear masks or practice social distancing both indoors and outdoors. Unvaccinated people are still encouraged by the CDC to wear masks in public places, as well as practice social distancing.

“You can resume activities without wearing a mask or staying 6 feet apart, except where required by federal, state, local, tribal or territorial laws, incl. local business and workplace guidance,” the CDC stated in a tweet.

As stated on the CDC’s official site, to qualify as being fully vaccinated you must have either received a second dose in a two-dose series such as Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, or a single-dose vaccine such as Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine. You are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after receiving your second or single-dose vaccination.

Public places the CDC still would encourage people to wear masks include hospitals, prisons, doctor’s offices, public transportation and planes. A few more liberties have been granted to fully vaccinated individuals however, alongside being able to ditch the mask and the social distancing. 

According to the CDC, fully vaccinated people no longer need to be tested while traveling within the United States. Fully vaccinated individuals who may have been exposed to someone carrying COVID-19 also no longer need to self quarantine afterwards or get tested.

“However, if you live or work in a correctional or detention facility or a homeless shelter and are around someone who has COVID-19, you should still get tested, even if you don’t have symptoms,” the CDC stated. 

A few unknowns are still being looked at by the CDC as they make their announcement Thursday afternoon. What the CDC is still investigating regarding the vaccines includes how well they fight against other COVID-19 variants, and the vaccines effectiveness for those with weakened immune systems. How long vaccines keep people safe from COVID-19 is also still being studied by the CDC.

Lauren Kirschman of the News Tribune has since stated that the Washington state Department of Health reports 1,090 new COVID-19 cases in Washington since Wednesday. Pierce County reports 162 new cases alongside four deaths. 

More information regarding new COVID-19 cases per Washington county, testing sites and more can be found on this infographic page provided by the Washington DOH.

COVID-19 Self-Test Kits available at local libraries

On April 14, 2021, Tacoma Public Library and Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department partnered up to offer free self-administered COVID-19 test kits, with library cards not being required. The kits can be picked up at any TPL location during their service hours, or by speaking with a librarian at one of their branches; it is unclear if the Eastside Community Center is included.

Afterwards, the kit can be registered online using the included instructions. Once that is complete and the test has been administered, the kit can be dropped off at a UPS store or UPS drop box. Postage has been included since it is required that the kit be mailed to UPS the same day it is taken. TPL advises those interested to not bring kits back to the library after picking one up.

This is a great way to give people more flexibility and privacy while also being safe. For more information regarding TPL’s pickup services and schedules, visit TPL’s Events calendar.

Students and professors share their experiences switching from in-person classrooms to fully virtual learning one year after the fact

On March 16, 2020 Pierce College closed its campuses to students following the sudden uprising of COVID-19 cases in Washington State. One year later, Pierce College has proceeded to do its teaching virtually. 

Announcements to continue in person teaching have since been extended to a small number of classes for Fall 2021. As Pierce prepares to bring students back to campus step by step, and other campuses and school districts begin to open their doors, many students and staff at Pierce feel as though the overall transition from being in person to fully online was mostly successful. 

While some issues regarding communication and overall engagement brought mixed feelings for some, the general consensus seemed positive, with part of this being due to the accommodations made by professors. For Jade Dickinson, writing tutor and Running Start senior, she’s felt that Pierce College has done the best they could do, given the circumstances.

“Pierce and its professors have a strong commitment to quality,” Dickinson said. “I find that I have still been learning in my online classes and that most of the professors that I’ve come across have been really understanding. [However] I know that’s not the case for every professor.”

Dickinson can recall earlier March of 2020 when Pierce first closed its campuses and transitioned to online learning. “At the beginning of the pandemic, everybody was really really confused—including Pierce,” Dickinson said. 

“I remember, we actually went online four days before classes ended and I had to do my last week of classes online. I think there was just so much fear around what could happen and we didn’t know anything about the virus. We barely knew how it spread, and we didn’t even have a mask mandate at that point.”

Mika Asiag, another Running Start student, also thought Pierce handled it well but felt that not everyone likes online learning and would have preferred other methods instead of fully online classes.

“I think they honestly could have done hybrid,” Asiag said. “I just feel like not everyone likes online learning—especially me. I hate online learning, and it’s hard for me to grasp ideas when [I] have to learn on [my] own.”

Students were not the only ones affected by the switch to online. For math professor Claire Gibbons, Ph.D., she’s been trying to view the whole ordeal in a positive light, not just for herself, but for those around her as well. “I think if I have the privilege, that I need to be using that to make a good situation out of this,” Gibbons said.

“If I’m just kind of feeling bad for myself—when I actually have so much—I don’t think that is the right way to handle it. The empathy that I can feel for my coworkers who are going through this I can try to share with my students, because my students also might have things going on at home—they might have kids, they might have jobs. I have lots of stuff that’s been impacted,so to be warm and understanding of that is good I think.”

Gibbons shared how a small disconnect between admin and higher-ups and the actual experience of faculty in their classes felt present at times. Overall though, Gibbons is grateful that Pierce was able to provide the needed support for this transition. “I think that [the higher-ups have] done a lot, especially with transparent communication and trying to be as supportive as possible; so I’ve been overall really impressed, personally.”

For math professor Cody Fouts, this was his first time having to teach full time online. Fouts had to adapt his class to online, as he’s been attempting to find different methods of teaching that may help his future students.

“I actually, prior to the beginning of the pandemic, had no desire to teach online because I think that one of my strengths as an educator and a teacher is in-person interactions with students, and I thought that was gonna be really hard to replicate online—, which has been true,” Fouts said.

For Fouts, getting students to register to the proper locations for his class, such as WAMAP, proved to be a small issue, as Pierce’s primary work-space for students is Canvas. But one thing in particular that has been difficult for Fouts has been interpersonal relationships with students and being available to his students while juggling his schedule.

“I think one of my biggest struggles as an educator—online or not—is trying to meet all students where they’re at, but I also want to keep myself in mind,” Fouts said. “I have things that I want to do in the evenings and weekends too that are not work. And it’s not that I don’t care about my students; I just only have so much time during the week.”

For Dickinson, she felt as though the school should do more to make their basic information more visible to students. Dickinson further said how she thinks sometimes info needs to be shoved in peoples’ faces.

“I think they’re doing a great job and making the right decisions personally, but just remind students through email [and] Canvas when tuition is due, when registration starts and any other important dates they should know about instead of relying on the students themselves to look in the handbook or look in the calendar,” Dickinson said.

For Fouts, what he felt could have been done differently had less to do with Pierce and more to do with himself personally. “I don’t know [if] I would have been as optimistic that things were going to be as short lived as they were,” Fouts said.

“I also would have really sought out more resources for how to effectively facilitate an online course. I think again during those first initial quarters, [it] was in my mind [that] all this was still very temporary, so I was still trying to do a very similar version of what I do in person; I was trying to do that online.”

Pierce has been trying their best given the situation. A year ago they were scrambling to move everything online as soon as they could. Some people understandably disliked online learning; others have tried to make the best of it despite the isolation. One thing Fouts misses most about in-person learning includes the simple “good mornings” and the relationships that could be built from getting to know students personally. 

 

“You just know that when you’re seeing someone every day or even every couple of days you get to know things about their lives,” Fouts said. “You know maybe their families or things they’re looking forward to, or even just why students are in school, and then [you’re] able to ask them about that,” Fouts said.

 

“I am really goofy and silly in the way that I teach generally and so I really miss being able to do that every day with my students and see the look on their faces when they roll their eyes at my stupid math and dad jokes.”

Pierce has been in quarantine for over a year now with signs of returning to campus in Fall 2021. If there’s anything the pandemic has taught us, it’s to not take things for granted and the importance of compassion. 

Reach out to people; no one is above burnout. Find little things to be grateful for—they exist everywhere. Be proud for making it an entire year.

Joe Biden Instills 12 New Executive Orders

Newly elected President Joe Biden signed a record amount of executive actions just within his first week of office. Twelve of which directly reversed former president Trump administration policies in a progressive push towards immigration, climate and COVID-19 relief initiatives. 

With over 30 executive actions in his first week of office, President Biden continues to separate himself from the previous administration. Here are all the reversed policies in week one:

Health

On his first day in office, President Joe Biden rejoined the World Health Organization after the previous administration cut all funding to the organization in May 2020. In this decision, the President appointed Dr. Anthony Fauci to represent the United States on WHO’s delegation committee. 

Former president Donald Trump rescinded from WHO last spring after claiming that the organization helped cover up the mishandling of COVID-19 by China. The Chinese government faced criticism throughout 2020 by not accurately reporting the full danger of COVID-19. After long negotiation, WHO sent a team to investigate the origins of the virus in late January of 2021, over a year after the first known case was detected in 2019.

Five days later, COVID-19 travel restrictions were reinstated for non-citizens travelling from the United Kingdom, Ireland, Brazil, most of Europe, and South Africa. The Biden administration pointed to new discoveries of a second strand of COVID-19 that was detected in England and South Africa. 

Immigration

Of President Biden’s 19 executive actions on day one of his presidency, three of those reversed previous immigration policies. The first was to halt the construction of Trump’s border wall that broke ground in 2017. Over 450 miles of border wall have been installed since 2017, where 47 miles of that were in previously non-existing locations. Biden’s executive order gave him the power to divert $10 billion dollars of allocated funds to other resources that haven’t been determined at this time. 

Additionally, President Biden reversed the controversial travel ban on Muslim majority countries. The travel ban faced several court obstructions until 2018 when the Supreme Court upheld the executive order on Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Yemen, and restricted North Korea and Venezuela. President Trump defended his ban in regards to improving the vetting process of refugees and safety concerns for U.S. citizens.

In an effort to revise and evaluate the United State’s immigration, President Biden reversed the Trump administration’s expanded immigration enforcement. Trump’s reversed executive order prioritized the deportation of illegal aliens who have committed a crime and sanctuary cities that housed illegal immigrants. Cities who didn’t cooperate with federal law enforcement would be at risk of losing federal grants, but this policy has been deemed unconstitutional. 

Equity

LGBTQ rights were included in President Biden’s plethora of executive actions by reversing Trump’s ban of transgender individuals from serving in the military. This previously would not allow the military to turn away or discharge people for their gender identity. Trump pointed to financial costs and distractions to military operations in a tweet in 2017. 

“Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail,” Trump stated.

As a counter to the Pulitzer Prize-winning 1619 Project, former president Trump founded the 1776 Commission that was to promote “patriotic education.” The commission is composed of 18 members appointed by Trump in December of 2020. Present Biden rescinded this commission through executive order, claiming that the report attempts to “erase America’s history of racial injustice.” 

Environment

Included in his Jan. 20 executive actions, President Biden rejoined the Paris Climate accord after former president Trump left the agreement in 2017. Trump left after calling the agreement harmful to the U.S. economy and claimed it to be a flawed plan. The agreement attempts to limit global warming to well below 2, preferably to 1.5 degrees Celsius, and binds over 190 countries into cutting their carbon emissions each year. 

Although, the agreement allows China to increase their carbon emissions until 2030, where they have then vowed to decrease emissions after reaching their energy peak. China produces the most amount of carbon emissions in the world at 10.43 gigatonnes which equals 29% of all emissions. The U.S. is second, behind China and makes up 14% percent of all world emissions. 

Furthermore, in an effort to continue his climate activism, President Biden stopped the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline that connected oil reserves from Alberta, Canada to Steele City, Nebraska. This decision came at a cost as 1,000 jobs were immediately lost and an extra 10,000 employees won’t be hired after the pipeline contract was canceled. The Biden administration has made it a priority to step away from oil usage and expand the country’s reliance on clean energy.

Census

In President Biden’s early actions to address U.S. immigration, he revoked the previous administration’s action to not count illegal immigrants in the 2020 Census. In his executive order, Biden addressed the 14th Amendment and its call to count whole numbers of persons in each state. The Census is the deciding tactic for assigning each state’s amount of electoral votes that deviate the 435 members in the house based on each state’s count. 

Economy

On the campaign trail, Biden presented his plan on raising the federal minimum wage to $15 and took the first steps to achieving this through an executive order. In his action Biden provided federal employees with emergency paid leave, and restored collective bargaining rights and protections. This would give federal employees more mandatory work compensation that was rescinded by the previous administration.

Since this executive order, Biden continues to advocate for a federal minimum wage of $15, but the policy was not included in the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill passed by the house of representatives. The Biden administration’s hope for an increase for low wage earners would have to come from a separate congressional bill. 

Regulation

With an increase in regulations on the agenda for the new administration, President Biden aimed to change how the White House reviews regulations. These changes attempt to emphasize the benefits of regulation and turn away review of weighing the cost of regulation. This executive action paves the way for an increase in federal regulations as the Biden administration continues to go around Congress in their first week in office.

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.

Pierce College Athletic’s Road to Recovery

Pierce College reopens sports and practices on campus following a 2020 press release

In a press release on Dec. 13, 2021 the Northwest Athletic Conference confirmed that all sports would return to play during the Winter quarter. After competition was suspended on March 17, 2020, no NWAC programs have stepped on the field together in official contests. The Covid-19 pandemic has barred student-athletes from competing and practicing when some programs haven’t competed since fall of 2019.

During the first week of February, all Pierce College sports were up and running, beginning their safe return to play. This marks the first time that all sports have competed during the same quarter, which adds pressure to scheduling and safety measures. 

According to the NWAC’s Covid-19 Health and Safety Policies manual, each NWAC competition will conduct a four-phase plan that will ease restrictions going forward. 

The first phase or grey phase includes a mandatory shelter-in-place where student-athletes are limited to essential travel only. This travel includes work, food shopping, mandatory labs and school-related responsibilities. Coaches are not permitted to hold in-person meetings or engage in socially distant workouts for two weeks.

Once the shelter-in-place is completed, practices are able to occur in person. Full team practices are not permitted, as small team training in pods of five or six must be followed. Each pod could practice on the same field, but no contacts between each divided group are allowed. Once two weeks of this process is finished, teams will be able to resume full team practices. 

Moving into the yellow phase, teams will be allowed to resume full team practices and sports facility gyms will be allowed to open. In every phase, teams are required to wear masks at all times, including in games. Although, these protocols are subject to change as the NWAC and Pierce College follows the guidelines set by Pierce County and Washington State health officials.

Since Pierce County is in phase two of Governor Inslee’s Road Map to Recovery, Pierce College competitions are allowed to practice in full roster capacity. Other counties who remain in phase one will have to stay in small group practices until they meet three out of the four Covid-19 restrictions. 

According to the NWAC, these restrictions include a 10% decrease in biweekly cases per 100,000 people, a 10% decrease in biweekly Covid-19 hospitalizations, an ICU occupancy of less than 90%, and a test positivity rate of less than 10%.

When the NWAC enters the blue phase, all competitions are allowed to resume. Although, competitions this year will look different due to the banning of all fan attendance. This came as a measure to mediate the risk of Covid-19 exposure to NWAC student-athletes.

Before each game and practice, each player and coach is required to complete an online Health Check form to be eligible for competition. Furthermore, before each team meeting, all players and staff must have their temperature taken to ensure no symptoms of Covid-19 are shown.

Games are expected to take place on March 1 and have a window to complete all competition until June 15. This wide window allows each program to complete approximately 20 games for all sports. All games are subject to change as Covid-19 restrictions can alter the road to recovery laid out by the conference and state.

The NWAC and Pierce College sports will not be the same without fans and the support of Pierce students but there are several ways to catch every competition. All games will be streamed online through the NWAC website where all games can be viewed online. Another location for streamed games is through the NWAC Youtube channel that will broadcast all competitions.

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.

The pandemic’s impact on seasonal depression and mental health overall

A year defined by loneliness and anxiety, but also resilience is finally behind us.

Over the past few months, there were days that I would suddenly have dark thoughts. I’d be in the middle of homework and suddenly think, “Why am I doing this? What’s the point?” and then continue before stopping shortly after because I lost my motivation.

It’s no surprise that 2020 became sluggish towards the end. With the days getting shorter approaching the winter solstice, it’s important to shed light on something that affects up to one in 10 people in the Pacific Northwest—Seasonal Affective Disorder. 

SAD is just one part of the bigger conversation around mental health. Though the stigma around it has gone down, it’s far from gone. As quarantine fatigue lingers, it’s more important than ever that we normalize discussion around mental health. 

SAD is characterised as a depression that comes around during certain parts of the year; usually during the winter months. There are many similarities between SAD and clinical depression, but what differentiates them is that SAD has a pattern. 

According to Faculty Counselor Jennifer Wright, the most common symptom is a lack of motivation. Grief and loss are common themes that people with SAD express, whether it be direct or indirect.

For Megan Irby, Faculty Counselor, she feels that quarantine will only make the effects of SAD worse for those experiencing it. “Everything has been exacerbated by the quarantine, especially with the second wave and more limitations,” Irby said.

“People are starting to get out a little bit more, [but] now with the new restrictions, they won’t have as many options to see people. It is going to get worse for people that already struggle with it.”

I myself wonder if people with SAD have noticed a difference between this winter and last winter. Is it hard to tell what is causing a lack of motivation? Or is last winter just a blur that no one remembers? 

According to Jennifer Wright, she doesn’t hear a trend one way or another. “[On] the flip side of that, I wonder if people were already so well practiced at it that it’s like, ‘Eh, I’m already used to being indoors,’” Wright said.

I try not to self diagnose. I don’t know if others have had similar feelings or what caused them. What I do know is that my feelings happened and that the pandemic might’ve been a factor. 

Covid fatigue is a pain. The past year felt like a jumbled mess to me, which is why it’s been hard for me to pinpoint exactly what I’m going through. So, I stick with what I know. I started writing down my thoughts in a journal so I can look back for patterns. This isn’t an immediate solution; it’s going to take some time.

There are things you can do if you suspect you have SAD. According to Irby—if you’re able—getting your blood levels check during a doctor visit can tell you if there are any deficiencies. Taking vitamin D supplements is a good idea for anyone living in the Pacific Northwest since we don’t get much natural sunlight. There are also light boxes that mimic sunlight on places like Amazon.

While discussing the stigma around mental health, Faculty Counselor Brenda Rogers mentions how she wants mental health to be an easier topic to talk about. “I wish seeing a counselor seemed like a tool—like having a trainer [at the gym],” Rogers said.

The conversation around mental health needs to be normalized. Speaking from personal experience, it’s no coincidence that Millennials and Gen Z joke about their mental health; It’s our way of coping. 

Even before the pandemic hit, the rate of depression among teens and young adults was on the rise. As an Asian-American student, I’m too familiar with how mental health issues are brushed to the side by family. 

Pierce College has a website with mental health resources and counselors who provide short-term therapy. I have been seeing a counselor for a couple months now and would honestly recommend it even if you don’t think what you’re going through is ‘serious enough.’

To say quarantine sucks is an oversimplification. The pandemic has taken a toll on everyone’s mental health, whether they admit it or not. “If someone’s telling me, ‘I feel great! Everything is fine.’ I don’t believe them,” Wright said. “Nobody should be feeling fine right now, that’s not normal. It’s ok [not feeling fine], we’re in this together, and this is a time to support and love one another.”

You don’t always have to keep your chin up; what you feel is what you feel. Don’t be afraid to reach out. Whether it’s to the resources listed above to your friends. Brighter days—quite literally—lay ahead.

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