Cheers: To coronavirus testing. A free, no-barrier testing site is up and running in Vancouver. Located at Tower Mall along Mill Plain Boulevard, the drive-thru and walk-up facility has administered about 250 tests a day since opening two weeks ago. It can handle up to 1,000 tests a day if demand increases.
The testing site is a joint effort from the city of Vancouver, Clark County Public Health, the Clark Regional Emergency Services Agency, the state Department of Health, and the nonprofit group Health Commons Project. Tests are provided for free; insurance will be billed if applicable, but nobody desiring a test will be turned away. While vaccination efforts are ramping up throughout the state, fast and accessible testing is equally important for slowing the spread of COVID-19.
Jeers: To cutting in line. Overlake Medical Center & Clinics in the Seattle area last week offered “invitation-only” COVID-19 vaccinations to donors who have given more than $10,000 to the hospital system. At the same time, the system’s online registration for vaccines for regular people was booked through March.
Gov. Jay Inslee said: “If in fact they were giving preference to some VIP list, that’s not the way to do it. That is not acceptable for us. We need to give everybody a fair shot at the vaccine … We’ve got to maintain public credibility in the system.” Overlake officials have closed the invitation-only website. They should have realized that it was a bad idea from the start.
Cheers: To impromptu vaccinations. A handful of travelers in Southern Oregon’s Josephine County have received unexpected COVID-19 vaccines, after public health workers became stranded in a snowstorm while returning from a nearby vaccination event.
With the vaccines in their possession close to expiring, the workers walked among other stranded cars offering inoculations to motorists. The remaining six doses were administered. Despite the success of the operation, we typically would not recommend receiving a shot from somebody who knocks on your car window.
Jeers: To being grounded. A COVID-fueled downturn in the airline industry has had a big impact in Washington. Boeing recently announced a $12 billion loss for 2020, created by the grounding of the 737 Max following two crashes (the plane is now back in the air) and a decline in global air travel. Company officials also announced that the 777X likely will not debut until late 2023 — more than two years behind schedule. “I’m sure glad 2020 is in the rearview mirror,” CEO Dave Calhoun told CNBC.
Meanwhile, Seattle-based Alaska Air Group announced a $1.3 billion loss for 2020. Many industries have struggled through the coronavirus, but few have been hit as hard as aerospace. With that industry supporting hundreds of thousands of Washington workers, here’s hoping for clearer skies in 2021.
Cheers: To polar bears. Nora, a young polar bear who was a popular attraction a few years ago at the Oregon Zoo, is returning to the region in March after spending some time at a zoo in Utah. Nora, 5, will inhabit the Oregon Zoo’s new exhibit, Polar Passage.
Nora, who first came to Oregon after being abandoned by her mother at a zoo in Ohio, has been the subject of a newspaper series, a documentary film, and even a feature in People magazine. Her story has been used to highlight the plight of polar bears in the wild and how the species is threatened by climate change. “We’re so excited to welcome Nora back,” one zoo official said. “She’s kind of like the kid who goes off to college and comes home all grown up.”