Mask up when you're visiting indoor public spaces: That's the latest recommendation from not only King County’s health officer, Dr. Jeff Duchin, who issued that guidance last Friday, but also from health officials in Pierce, Snohomish, Kitsap, Clallam, Jefferson, San Juan, and Grays Harbor counties. The officers released a joint statement this afternoon, urging "all residents" to "wear facial coverings when in indoor public settings where the vaccination status of those around you is unknown."
Health officers from across the Puget Sound...are recommending facial coverings for everyone in indoor public spaces regardless of vaccine status. Wearing a high-quality, well-fitting face mask is a simple & effective way to reduce risk for our community.https://t.co/WnX5MYXlc3
— Jeffrey Duchin, MD (@DocJeffD) July 26, 2021
Cities, counties, and states are working hard — some harder than others — to ward off increasing COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations as we battle the very contagious Delta variant. (FYI: In King County, Delta is "now the dominant variant, making up 70.1% of all variants of concern in the most recent 14 days," said Dr. Duchin this afternoon.) Vaccines greatly protect people from the worst COVID has to offer, but the long-term impacts of COVID are still largely unknown.
Good news for COVID long-haulers: Today, President Biden announced that some Americans with "long COVID" may qualify for disability resources and protections.
President Biden announces Americans with “long COVID” will “have access to the rights and resources that are due under the disability law.” pic.twitter.com/W7d5K8N2lR
— The Recount (@therecount) July 26, 2021
Need a COVID-19 test? Here are some resources from King County.
The only part of the Olympics I really like is the opening ceremony, which this year featured zentai-suited performers (kinky!) and Naomi Osaka lighting the Olympic flame (lit!) — if you want to watch the whole thing, I recommend dropping a few bucks on NBC's streaming service, Peacock, which lets you replay signature Olympic events in full, at your own pace. Tokyo 2020 also has its own app, which is pretty user-friendly and lets you toggle between live calendars and blogs. Want to watch a sporting event in live time? NBC and its partners are your best live options. This evening's big events are beach volleyball, swimming, and surfing. (Not-so-great timing: A tropical storm is headed toward Tokyo. Weather people expect it to hit tomorrow.)
The world's #1 Olympic street skaters are from Japan: Yuto Horigome, 22, won gold in the Olympics' first-ever skateboarding event, the men's street competition. Horigome beat out Team USA’s Nyjah Houston; he was the favorite going into the event but finished 7th.
And two teenage skaters from Japan earned gold and bronze in the women's street skateboarding event. Momiji Nishiya, age 13 (!!!!), earned gold with her easy-breezy, bold style, and Funa Nakayama, 16, took home the bronze for Team Japan.
I recommend watching both these events if you missed them: The two-hour men's street finals is available now to watch on Peacock, and the women's street finals will be available for replay starting tomorrow. The next skateboarding events are the park competitions, which kick off next week.
One more skateboarding blurb: Team USA's Alana Smith made history on Sunday as the first out non-binary athlete to represent the United States at the Olympics. They skated in the Women's Skateboarding Street event, flashing their pronouns on their board — but that didn't stop commentators across the world from misgendering them. Smith wasn't the lone LGBTQ player; Team USA's Alexis Sablone, who placed fourth in the street finals, is queer.
Let's do a kickflip from Japan to the USA: Specifically, Capitol Hill, where you shouldn't park in front of fire hydrants.
On Sunday, a fire broke out in the upper unit of an apartment building on the 1700 block of Summit Ave in Capitol Hill: Fortunately, Seattle Fire Department crews found no occupants inside and the fire was quickly put out. Capitol Hill Seattle blog reports that SFD ruled the fire accidental ("electrical malfunction in the range control panel"). The damage? $42.5K. The price of seeing fire crews bust up a car's windows so they could access a fire hydrant? Priceless.
The final victim in the Florida condo collapse has been identified: Over a month ago, a condo collapsed in the middle of the night in Surfside, Florida, killing 98 people. The last victim, 54-year-old Estelle Hedaya, was identified by a relative today, reports the Guardian.
ICYMI: Seattle might get a new cop-less crisis response team, tentatively called Triage One, by next summer. The Seattle Fire Department might house the team, and the city intends for it to "provide an alternative model for some non-criminal 9-1-1 calls and reduce the need for a sworn officer response for some calls," notes a press release from the mayor's office.
During a recent presser, Interim Seattle Police Chief Adrian Diaz suggested this new team could respond to calls about people asleep or unconscious in public. Currently, SPD dispatches at least two officers to those types of calls, reports Paul Kiefer for Publicola. Details about the team are still in flux — even fundamental details, like its name, aren't settled — but Kiefer has more info here.
A Boeing exodus: "More than 3,200 engineers and technical workers have left the company’s Seattle airplane manufacturing hub since the start of last year, about 18% of the union that represents them, with only a scant number added behind," reports Bloomberg.
Looking for a bonkers story to read this evening? Here ya go: "Washington State Patrol’s toxicology lab ran tests in office contaminated by meth, possibly jeopardizing thousands of cases." A snippet:
Scientists noticed the first drug-testing discrepancy in October 2018, when meth showed up in a blood screening but wasn’t corroborated in subsequent confirmation tests. Over the next eight months, two more cases with false positive meth tests emerged. Then, in June, six more cases were found, but this time at a hooded workstation in the main lab. All six had ties to scientists who also worked in the annex.
Republicans are fighting:
Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) responds to House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy calling her a “Pelosi Republican”:
“I think that’s pretty childish.” pic.twitter.com/mpTviN7xCJ
— The Recount (@therecount) July 26, 2021
Portland is expecting one of the worst environmental catastrophes in the world when the major Cascadia earthquake hits: A new report has confirmed this threat, reports our sister paper the Portland Mercury. The report underscores the damage that could be caused by the fuel-holding tanks that sit on the banks of the Willamette River.
Do you still need to register to vote in King County's upcoming primary election next Tuesday? You can register to vote online or by mail until eight days before an election—that makes today the last day to do so!! Here's how to do it. If you miss today's deadline, you can still register to vote in-person at a vote center or at King County Election HQ. And once you do all that, here's how you should vote. Just do it.
It's time to log off for the day: But before we close out, let's vibe to "Washington's newest buzz band," Enumclaw. They played an epic opening set at Neumos last Friday, before Chastity Belt came onstage and made everyone cry to "Seattle Party."