Cheers: To high school sports. After being shuttered since March because of the coronavirus pandemic, high school athletics will return to Clark County in the coming weeks. Local leagues have announced plans for cross country, boys tennis and boys golf teams to begin practices Feb. 1, with competitions starting the following week. No firm plans have been announced for close-contact team sports such as football and volleyball.
The decision follows modifications to state guidelines governing the pandemic. “We need to provide our students with an outlet and some sense of normalcy,” said Matt Cooke, athletic director at La Center High School. A little bit of normalcy will be cheered by athletes, coaches and parents.
Jeers: To COVID outbreaks. The difficulty of tamping down the coronavirus pandemic is being demonstrated at Larch Corrections Center in east Clark County. As of Thursday, 280 inmates and 24 staff members had tested positive for COVID, according to the Washington State Department of Corrections. The facility currently has about 300 inmates.
Meanwhile, as of Thursday, more than 15,000 coronavirus cases had been reported in Clark County since the start of the pandemic, and 160 deaths had been attributed to it. Recommendations to wear a mask in public, practice social distancing and frequently wash hands are as important now as they were 10 months ago.
Cheers: To coronavirus testing. Clark County Public Health has taken an important step in the fight against the pandemic. In conjunction with Vancouver Parks and Recreation and Clark County Emergency Services Agency, the department is opening a test site offering a no-cost option for people without insurance.
“If you look at cities around the state in terms of testing, we’re below the average,” Clark County Public Health Officer Dr. Alan Melnick said. “Any tool we can add would be really helpful.” The site, at the former Tower Mall along Mill Plain Boulevard, is supported by a grant from the state Department of Health. Tests will be available to “anyone who’s interested, regardless of their residency, regardless of their insurance status, regardless of their immigration status,” one official said.
Sad: The death of Arch Miller. The founder of Vancouver’s International Air and Hospitality Academy died last week at 82 after battling a pulmonary disease for a decade. Miller was an active community leader for many years, serving as a Port of Vancouver commissioner, a board member of Identity Clark County, and president of the Greater Vancouver Chamber of Commerce and Vancouver Rotary Club.
In 1988, Miller was honored with the Clark County First Citizen award, reflecting his broad contributions to the community. And those who knew him recall his great love of baseball, including being a season-ticket holder of the Hillsboro Hops minor-league team. Miller’s work in the community will be long remembered.
Cheers: To reopenings. Two popular destinations on the other side of Columbia River have opened following extended closures. The Oregon Zoo is allowing a limited number of visitors after closing because of the pandemic. Half-price tickets are available online at oregonzoo.org/discounts.
And the Eagle Creek Trail in the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area has fully opened for the first time since a 2017 wildfire devastated much of the area. As Columbian Sports Editor Micah Rice writes about the 13.1-mile trail, the opening lets “hikers explore both the heart of the fire’s devastation and bask in the resilience of nature.”