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The cold, Covid, and the bird flu: Today So Far

  • The Northwest's cold, rainy weather is not going anywhere, anytime soon.
  • Colds are back. Covid is surging again. And while we're at it, the bird flu has arrived.

This post originally appeared in KUOW's Today So Far newsletter for May 9, 2022.

I gotta say, I'm loving the weather. Maybe I am a little too Northwest (I hiss at the sun and secretly wish that parasols were more socially acceptable). It looks like our cold mornings and rain aren't going anywhere soon. The National Weather Service reports that the Seattle area already exceeded the average rainfall for May within the first few days of the month. April was historically cold for our region. So much that, as Northwest News Network reports, some Washington vineyard buds were killed off before they could bloom (OK, maybe I'm not so happy about that). These buds would have produced wine like Chardonnay. This cold trend has continued into May. Last week, the Seattle area was about 7 degrees colder than its average for that time (56 degrees). And Snoqualmie Pass just got another round of snow. Stay cool Washington.

Another cold is spreading in our area — the cold. You know, the classic sniffles that we used to talk about before the pandemic. Dr. Janet Englund is a professor of pediatric infectious diseases at the University of Washington and at Seattle Children’s. She told KUOW's Eilis O'Neill that the common cold is back to "normal levels" in kids. She also notes that colds are responsible for quite a lot of hospital admissions at Seattle Children's. Read more here.

It seems like most folks aren't thinking too much about that other virus we've been worried about for the past two years. King County is now closing three Covid testing sites due to decreased demand, and the increased availability of rapid tests. The county's Federal Way and Tukwila sites will close May 27. Auburn will close June 1.

Here's the thing: While folks may be over Covid, Covid is not over us. A good friend of mine just found out the hard way — Covid is kicking her butt. And she's not alone. Cases have shot up across the state. Washington's Department of Health has our region back in the red, meaning we have very high levels of Covid going around. The days of a hundred, maybe a couple hundred daily cases are behind us. King County is now averaging 984 daily cases and rising. Hospitalizations are ticking back up, too. Are we at winter omicron levels of Covid? No. But it's worth putting those N95 masks back on if you want to keep your upcoming camping and BBQ plans.

And while I'm at it, I might as well mention that the bird flu has arrived in Washington. It doesn't pose any threat to humans, but it does threaten poultry farms. Which goes back to those BBQ plans that I mentioned. Boo bird flu. Yay beer can chicken.

RELATED: NW allergies and climate change

Finally, I have something for you from KUOW's Online Managing Editor Isolde Raftery, who wanted to point to our recent story out of Lopez island.

Several months ago, Liz Brazile asked if I'd be interested in a story about a couple on Lopez Island who had been accused of abusing their adopted Ethiopian child. The mother had been charged criminally, but the case had not made it to trial, because the child was too emotionally fragile.

Today, the child, Getahun, lives with another family in north Seattle. Liz had a mountain of court records, so she would report from the documents — but the story would not be so straightforward to report.

Children are not always reliable narrators, and the adoptive parents had accused Getahun of lying. Liz spoke with child abuse experts who explained that child abuse almost never goes to court for this reason — it's difficult to prove to a jury, beyond a reasonable doubt, that child abuse occurred.

In the end, Liz told this story through that lens. "Child abuse is difficult to discern," she wrote in her story, "and investigators often rely on subtle hints rather than concrete evidence to determine whether a child has been maltreated. And like many personal crimes — in which the victim’s body is the scene of an alleged offense — child abuse cases are tough to prosecute."

We published this story right as the news about Roe v Wade broke, so it was buried. I highly recommend you take a moment to read the story. I'd love your thoughts on it, if you'd care to share: iraftery@kuow.org. Thank you.

AS SEEN ON KUOW

caption: Jen Richards in Framing Agnes
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Jen Richards in Framing Agnes
Credit: Courtesy of Fae Pictures and Level Ground

Jen Richards in "Framing Agnes," a film about a young trans woman named Agnes who entered a sex disorder study clinic at UCLA in 1958. The film is part of the TRANSlations Film Festival. (Courtesy of Fae Pictures and Level Ground)

DID YOU KNOW?

There are a lot of universities in the world, but Huskies can feel a certain sense of pride. The University of Washington ranks 25th globally. The Center for World University Rankings considered the qualities of 2,000 institutions across the planet to determine the very best. It placed UW right in between the University of Toronto and Kyoto University. UW earned high marks for student experience, faculty prestige, and quality of research. So out of all the instructions of higher learning on Earth, UW is among the very best.

And because I know you’re curious, Harvard tops the global list.

ALSO ON OUR MINDS

caption: One of two abortion drugs available without a prescription in some Mexican drugstores.
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One of two abortion drugs available without a prescription in some Mexican drugstores.
Credit: John Burnett/NPR

Mexican border town sees an increase in sales of abortion drugs to women from the US

Since Texas passed a strict anti-abortion law in September, more and more women along the southern border have been going to unregulated pharmacies in Mexico to get abortion pills. Observers say it's a sign of what's to come if the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade.

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