Phase 2 in Whatcom County! And Other Cool News!

Bellingham Opens Up!

Today, June 5, Washington State Secretary of Health John Wiesman approved 14 counties to move into the next phase of Gov. Jay Inslee’s Safe Start plan.
Clark, Okanogan, Pierce, Skagit, Snohomish and Whatcom counties are approved to move from Phase 1 to Phase 2. King County was approved to move into a modified version of Phase 1. Columbia, Ferry, Garfield, Lincoln, Pend Oreille, Stevens and Wahkiakum counties are approved to move from Phase 2 to Phase 3.
A total of five counties are in Phase 1, one county is in a modified version of Phase 1, 26 counties are in Phase 2 and seven counties are in Phase 3.
Businesses approved to move into a new phase must comply with all health and safety requirements outlined in the guidance to reopen.
On May 29, Governor Jay Inslee, in collaboration with the Washington State Department of Health, established a data-driven approach to reopen Washington and modify social and recreational activities while minimizing the health impacts of COVID-19. Washington will move through the phased reopening county-by-county, allowing for flexibility and local control to address COVID-19 activity geographically.
This approach reduces the risk of COVID-19 to Washington’s most vulnerable populations and preserves capacity in our health care system, while safely opening up businesses and resuming gatherings, travel, shopping and recreation. The plan allows counties and the secretary of health to holistically review COVID-19 activity and the ability for the county to respond when determining if a county is ready to move into a new phase.
To apply to move to the next phase, counties must submit an application to the Washington State Department of Health. The application process requires support from the local health officer, the local board of health and the county executive or county commission.
Each county must demonstrate they have adequate local hospital bed capacity as well as adequate PPE supplies to keep health care workers safe. The metric goals for moving between phases are intended to be applied as targets, not hardline measures. Where one target is not fully achieved, actions taken with a different target may offset a county’s overall risk. Some of the metrics the secretary of health will evaluate in addition to other information provided by counties include:
COVID-19 activity: The ideal target for new cases will be 25 or fewer per 100,000 residents over a 14-day period. Hospitalizations for COVID should be flat or decreasing.
Healthcare system readiness: The available hospital beds in a given jurisdiction would preferably be at less than 80% occupancy.
Testing: Counties should show they have adequate testing capacity, 50 times as many people per day as they have confirmed new cases per day – which equates to positive test results under 2%. They also need to show rapid turnaround time for test results, ensuring that we can work effectively to contain the virus.
Case and contact investigations: The goal is to contact 90 percent of cases by phone or in person within 24 hours of receipt of a positive lab test result. There is also a goal of reaching all that person’s contacts within 48 hours of a positive test result. Additionally, there are goals to make contact with each case and contact during their home isolation or quarantine to help ensure their success.
Protecting high-risk populations: The ideal number of outbreaks reported by week – defined as two or more non-household cases where transmission occurred at work, in congregate living, or in an institutional setting – is zero for counties under 75,000, and no higher than three for our largest counties.
Additional information is available in the governor’s plan.
Requests to move into the next phase are reviewed by the secretary of health, who can approve the plan as submitted, approve with modifications or deny the application. If circumstances change within the jurisdiction, the secretary of health can modify the current phase or move the county back into an earlier phase. A county can also identify when they need to return to an earlier phase or eliminate approved activities.
Learn more about reopening and the statewide response to COVID-19 at coronavirus.wa.gov.
Individuals can also find COVID-19 information on the Department of Health’s website or call 1-800-525-0127. Individuals can text the word “coronavirus” to 211-211 to receive information and updates on their phone wherever they are.

BAAY Goes Online!!

BAAY Bellingham Arts Academy for Youth is excited to premiere “The Land of Nod” featuring Pixie performers ages 5-8, at 5 p.m. today, June 5. These students had been rehearsing through the early months of 2020, but never got their moment on stage. Help celebrate their efforts through BAAY’s first-ever digital performance!
“The Land of Nod” will premiere on BAAY’s YouTube channel via the link above on June 5 at 5:00 PM. The performance is 15 minutes in length and will remain available at that same link for later viewing. A big thanks to families for taking the time to record their young performers at home!
BAAY at Home online programming cannot exist without the support of our generous community. To learn more about how you can help local children access this arts during this challenging time, visit baay.org/donate.
In lieu of the monthly in-person Art Walk, artists and makers are creating a virtual, collaborative, shopping experience. Participants can follow the hashtag #virtualbhamartwalk on Instagram to view prints, jewelry, pottery, stickers, paintings and more with the option to purchase items to support local artists and retailers during these times.

Virtual Art Walk Downtown

Today, June 5, from 4 to 8 p.m., the monthly  Virtual Bellingham Art Walk begins and the public can scroll through posts with the hashtag #virtualbhamartwalk to shop for art and products available for purchase right then from local makers and retailers. Purchases can be made directly with the artist through their preferred platform or on retailer’s websites. Arrangements can also be made directly with artists for shipping or safe drop-off/pick-up options. All artists, makers and businesses are encouraged to participate! The event is free for all. For more information please email lindsey@downtownbellingham.com.
However, Downtown Bellingham values diversity and rejects intolerance. Systemic racism is a threat to our global and local community. We stand in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement and commit to pursuing equity in the heart of our city.
In that vein, Downtown Bellingham Partnership will be stepping back from actively promoting June Virtual Bham Art Walk and Downtown’s Curbside Cocktail Party this weekend, and instead would like to promote local opportunities to create a positive impact on the national issue of systemic racism.
For local art dealing with these themes, WWU will host a virtual exhibition of Ed Bereal: “With Liberty and Justice For All?”.
In addition, many of the businesses planning to participate in these events are donating to social equity and racial justice organizations. We invite businesses and community members to share known promotions below.
#DTBham #bstrongbham #BKind

Free Fun at State Parks

The Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission is offering free access to state parks on three days in June: Saturday, June 6 (National Trails Day), Sunday, June 7 (Free Fishing Weekend) and Saturday, June 13 (National Get Outdoors Day.)
Typically, parking at state parks for day use requires a $30 Discover Pass or a $10 one-day permit. Overnight visitors in state parks are charged fees for camping and other overnight accommodations, and day access is included in the overnight fee.
Remaining free days at state parks this year are:
– Tuesday, August 25 (National Park Service Birthday)
– Saturday, September 26 (National Public Lands Day)
– Friday, November 27 (Autumn Day)
State parks also plans to reschedule two free days in April that were canceled because parks were closed due to Covid-19.
The Discover Pass is required for vehicle access to state recreation lands managed by Washington State Parks, WDFW and DNR. The free days apply only at state parks; the Discover Pass is still required on WDFW and DNR lands.
The parks commission encourages visitors to minimize the spread of Covid-19 by recreating responsibly. That includes staying close to home, checking what’s open before heading out, having a backup plan if a park is too crowded, bringing hand sanitizer, masks and other personal items, keeping six feet from others and packing out what you pack in.

Virtual Art at WWU with Ed Bereal

Western Washington University’s Viking Union Gallery and ASP are excited to finally announce that the VU Gallery’s FIRST #virtualexhibition , Ed Bereal: “With Liberty and Justice for All?” will soon be published for public access! Monday, June 8.Ed Bereal is an experienced artist who has been creating drawings, paintings, sculptures, and performances nearly his entire life. Bereal was an Associate Professor in the Art Department at WWU from 1993-2007 and since living in the Bellingham area, he has continued to produce paintings and sculptural installations critiquing the socio-political climate of the United States.
Most recently included in Bereal’s retrospective at the Whatcom Museum entitled, “Wanted: Ed Bereal for Disturbing the Peace,” the featured paintings range from 1993-2019. With these paintings, which he describes as “political cartoons”, Bereal illustrates his perspective of the complex and layered realities of America, a country in which one’s class, race, and creed determine the America they experience.