Cheers: To jobs. Clark County added 1,200 jobs in March — the increase was 700 if seasonally adjusted — marking the third straight month of increased employment. The unemployment rate remains higher than a year ago, but the situation 13 months into the coronavirus pandemic could be worse. “We’re doing better than previously expected,” said Scott Bailey, the Employment Security Department’s regional economist.
That is the good news, and worthy of cheers. But caution is warranted as COVID-19 infections continue to rise. Several Washington counties have been rolled back to Phase 2 of the state’s reopening plan, and Clark County residents must remain vigilant to avoid a fate that would compel further business restrictions. For now, we will laud the increase in jobs — while keeping our fingers crossed.
Jeers: To softening vaccine demand. Speaking of COVID-19, state officials said this week that the state has entered a fourth wave of infections and that vaccine demand is lessening. “We are seeing some concerns over demand and the willingness of Washingtonians to seek vaccines,” the state’s top health officer said.
Some gaps are noticeable. Latinos make up 13 percent of Washington’s population but have received 8 percent of the vaccinations; men have accounted for 42 percent of the shots. Officials are increasing their goals for delivering vaccines, but they need willing recipients if Washington is to get past the pandemic.
Cheers: To the Rapids. Students at Columbia River High School have chosen a new nickname for their athletic teams, with Rapids winning out over Captains.
The name replaces Chieftains, which was retired by the Vancouver school board last year as part of a national movement to re-examine offensive nicknames and mascots. Last week, the Legislature voted to ban Native American nicknames throughout the state — an appropriate move to recognize Native Americans as people rather than mascots. The only question now is what prevails when the Rapids meet a (Skyview) Storm.
Jeers: To wild cats. A Clark County firefighter was bitten on the hand by a cat this week while responding to a house fire. As The Columbian reported, “This wasn’t your average Felida feline.” Instead, it was an African Serval weighing 60-70 pounds.
Servals are legal to own in Washington, and kittens can cost more than $2,000. But BigCatRescue.org lists many reasons why they don’t make good pets. Among them: “Even the ‘tamest’ servals hiss all the time and no one wants a pet that hates them” and “servals are the best hunters of all of the exotic cat species … a loose serval is a real threat to the environment and pets.” The cat and the firefighter were unharmed in the incident, but there is a lesson to be learned: Wild animals should remain in the wild.
Cheers: To cleaning up. The Portland City Council has allocated $750,000 to kickstart a Clean and Green initiative designed to clean up the city. Oregonlive.com reports that the effort is “in response to Portland’s trash problem, which has spiraled out of control in the last year.”
That might sound like an understatement to anybody who has visited the city lately. And while the cleanup effort is worthy of cheers, the leadership that allowed that state of affairs deserves jeers. Portland has been unable to get a handle on homelessness, trash and violent protests that have resulted in widespread vandalism and graffiti. The situation reflects poorly on the entire metropolitan area.