Washington state racks up one million cases of COVID-19: Nearly two years after our first recorded case of the disease, our state hit the landmark number largely "thanks" to the highly contagious omicron variant, which caused nearly vertical case growth in the past month. According to the Seattle Times, we hit 500,000 cases in August and officially lost over 10,000 Washingtonians to the virus as of last Friday. While there's talk of a rapid drop in cases in the U.S. and U.K., there's still a lot more people who will get sick between now and then.
Speaking of: Today, President Biden is scheduled to give a speech on his administration's response to the pandemic and will be joined by Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and FEMA administrator Deanne Criswell. They are expected to announce a federal deployment of medical teams to six states where the teams will be "providing relief, triaging patients, and helping to decompress overwhelmed emergency departments" according to one official, reports CNN.
He will also announce the purchase of 500 million more at-home COVID tests, bringing the federal government's order to 1 billion. It's still unclear when and how those tests will be distributed to Americans. Watch his remarks here:
Meanwhile in Quebec, Canada: The province will impose a "significant" health tax on residents who have not gotten vaccinated against COVID-19, reports BBC. Since the announcement, vaccination bookings have spiked.
U.S. jobless claims rose to 230,000 last week: In total, 1.6 million people were on unemployment for the week that ended on January 1, reports ABC News.
Stevens Pass and Tumwater Canyon are set to open at 10 a.m. this morning: After being forced to shut down one week ago due to inclimate weather, crews have been working day and night to clear U.S. 2 of the massive amounts of snow and debris, reports KIRO 7. Drive careful!
Stoners rejoice: A new peer-reviewed study out this week says that cannabis could possibly be a tool to fight against COVID-19 infection. According to Salon, the paper says "at least three compounds naturally occurring in the cannabis plant were shown in lab tests to be effective at stopping coronavirus molecules from entering human cells." Right on! It's still too early to tell what this precisely means for weed consumers, but perhaps this info will give you some solace as you pop your nightly weed gummy this evening.
And make it a gummy:
Don't reach for that joint just yet — the compounds, CBD-A, CBG-A, and THC-A, are non-psychoactive and degrade at high temperatures, which makes smoking or baking less-than-ideal ways to consume them. Pills or gummies are better, not to mention concentrates that have been designed to maximize the content of these specific substances.
Bigg's killer whales "had a pandemic baby boom": 11 calves were born in the last year alone. Scientists also spotted 21 humpback whale babies swimming with their moms in the Salish Sea in 2021, reports KING 5. Experts hope that this exponential growth in whale calves over the past year will continue into 2022.
SPD-Proud Boys Ruse update: A cop who played a key role in the dangerous Proud Boys hoax on June 8, 2020 was rehired by the Seattle Police Department last month, reports Daniel Beekman at the Seattle Times. More from Beekman:
An OPA report released last week identified six Police Department employees as having been involved in the radio chatter. Four of those employees subsequently left the department, the report by OPA Director Andrew Myerberg said.
Yet one of the employees who left, in September 2020, returned last month, Brian Maxey, the department’s chief operating officer, said Wednesday. Neither the OPA report nor the Police Department have named the officer, who’s referred to in the OPA report, Maxey said, as Named Employee #4.
Weather break: Expect some rain this morning, but things will get progressively less soggy throughout the day. I'm surprised at how balmy yesterday and the day before were. I slept with my window open for the first time in ages.
Some rain spreading across the area this morning, so be sure to plan ahead if you're heading out this morning. Rain decreases through the day, with mostly dry weather by tomorrow! #wawx pic.twitter.com/gC7FJdQTM1
— NWS Seattle (@NWSSeattle) January 13, 2022
The House select committee on the January 6 insurrection asked Rep. Kevin McCarthy to cooperate with their inquiry—and the House Republican minority leader refused to play ball. In a statement released yesterday, McCarthy called the investigation "illegitimate" and said the "committee's only objective is to attempt to damage its political opponents." The committee is interested in McCarthy because he spoke with President Trump as rioters ravaged the Capitol building and "may also have been involved in conversations afterward about the president's culpability in the assault," reports the New York Times.
College enrollment hits record lows: Over 1 million fewer students are currently enrolled in college than before COVID hit the United States, the lowest that number has been in 50 years, reports NPR. Wild that the prospect of racking up tens of thousands of dollars in debt while attending Zoom school isn't appealing to Generation Z. Maybe Biden can help by, say, canceling all student debt and making public school more affordable?? Just spitballing!
According to Kittitas County officials, the Washington State Department of Transportation refused their help to clear record-levels of snow from the roads because the county has no vaccine mandate for their employees, reports KOMO. "During these times, we need to be able to put differences aside and work to support one another," complained Kittitas County Commissioner Laura Osiadacz. Dude, look in the mirror...
Sad day for "we noticed you from across the bar" couples everywhere: After 16 years together, hotties Jason Momoa and Lisa Bonet are consciously uncoupling.
I am not a pet owner: But big news for those who are. As of yesterday, cats and dogs are allowed to take rides on the West Seattle and Vashon Water Taxi. However, dogs must be leashed and cats must be in a pet carrier in order to board the water vessel. Ahoy!
Now boarding the West Seattle and Vashon Water Taxi: cats, and dogs! 🐶🐱
Starting today, January 12, our furry friends can ride with their pet parents. Dogs must be on a leash and cats must ride in an enclosed pet carrier. Welcome aboard! pic.twitter.com/lRSJLPv2NW
— King County Metro 🚏 🚌🚎⛴🚐 (@kcmetrobus) January 13, 2022
For your listening pleasure: Jay Z & Linkin Park's "Encore/Numb." This song is the best part of Michael Mann's sluggish Miami Vice.