N95’s with exhalation valves were designed only to protect the wearer, and not other people. They not only release unfiltered air, they propel it, like putting your thumb over the end of a garden hose. We can fix this! But we need to do so. Here’s a quote (and link) from the CDC:
“Respirators with exhalation valves can be used in a healthcare setting when it is not important to maintain a sterile field (an example of an acceptable practice would be when taking the temperature or blood pressure of a patient). Respirators with exhalation valves should not be used in situations where a sterile field is required (e.g., during an invasive procedure in an operating or procedure room) because THE EXHALATION VALVE ALLOWS UNFILTERED EXHALED AIR TO ESCAPE into thesterile field.” [Quote from CDC, emphasis mine.]
We’re trying to avoid infecting each other. Prior to this pandemic, it was rare for there to be concern about infecting others through the outflow valve except during surgery. We are now in a new situation in which we all need to be concerned. At the choral rehearsal in Skagit Valley, 45 of the 60 participants came down with the virus, and two died. That group was not touching, and was sitting spaced apart. Singing appears to add power and range to exhalations. And unfortunately, masks with valves appear to do the same. So, put strong tape over the valve intake, on the inside, while touching the mask as little as possible. Wash your hands first.
Please help spread this word, because it hasn’t yet gotten out in the world.
EVERYBODY MASK UP IN PUBLIC
As of today, the recommendations are changing since once we have even homemade masks, it is better to wear one than not. It has become clear that the big deal is that a significant part of our population is infected and don’t know it and so the docs including the surgeon general have changed their minds. See PBS Newshour today. Better to wear a homemade mask than nothing. https://www.pbs.org/newshour/ April 1, 2020 ~ John Egbert
On April 1st, federal officials reported that the national stockpile of equipment for healthcare workers is nearly gone. We’re tackling the problem locally with a volunteer-run production facility to make protective gowns out of Tyvek construction wrap for PeaceHealth St. Joseph Medical Center workers. PeaceHealth has approved this effort, and the workspace is following all social distancing and sanitation rules.
Sign up to assemble Tyvek gowns at Bellingham Makerspace. This form includes the option to get a do-it-yourself kit to make gowns from home if you are strictly limiting your outings. If you can donate supplies, let us know in the form as well!
Here is a link from Makerspace that can be shared with anyone who is requesting cloth masks and such. They can fill this out and then we can begin distributing things in an organized fashion. Should speed things up a bit too.
[Thank you to Michael Kelberer for getting this link, and so many other things on this blog, to work!]
“We would all be dead if not for the grocery-store stockers. The farm workers. The maintenance staff. The nurses, the intake staff at hospitals and doctors’ offices. Without the tech support people. The novel coronavirus has cast the mighty from their offices and lifted up the dignity and irreplaceability of those we thought were lowly workers.” ~ Natalia Imperatori-Lee, National Catholic Reporter, April 2, 2020
This is a cool local publication, with relevant information. WhatcomTalk.com
FOODSTAMPS & WIC CORRECTION
Long ago I worked for WIC. I believe this statement in your newsletter may conflate WIC-approved foods with Food-Stamp approved products: “When you shop for groceries, avoid items with a shelf tag that says WIC. For folks on food stamps, those are the only options they can purchase.” This needs checking, but I’m pretty certain food-stamp recipients can buy the vast majority of food products (just not alcohol and some other excluded items), whereas WIC vouchers are good only for a very small subset of food products, all of which which enhance health for infants, children, and women who are pregnant or breastfeeding–foods such as milk, cheese, eggs, and iron-fortified cereals. ~ Marc Hoffman [Marc has been helping me with this blog, and taught me Flatworld, my favorite tune for many years.]
In search of cardboard boxes, the larger the better, for sheet mulching around my new veggie garden I’ve been digging to ward off cabin fever. I’ll pick up, just text me. Thanks! ~Kendall Scoboria on Victor St (360) 223-0839
FL!P’S PIX FOR MUSIC
SOMEWHERE TO BEGIN
TR Richie spent his last years in Bellingham. I need this song of his from time to time.
TONY TRISCHKA & BRUCE MOLSKEY
Today, Thursday April 2, 4 PM
I’m not sure if a donation is required to access this concert, but I have hosted local concerts over the years for each of these world-class musicians and I’m looking forward to seeing an archived video of them performing together, not that long ago, at the historic Cafe Lena in upstate New York.
Stay home, Stay healthy, Stay Strong Whatcom County Way to go, Whatcom County! Every time you choose to stay home, you are doing your part to protect your neighbors, friends, and family. Staying home isn’t easy for everyone in Whatcom County. Staying home may mean we don’t get paid, we can’t go to school, or we can’t pay rent. Not all of us have the same access to resources like medical care, sick leave, jobs, food, or housing that keep us going and cushion us in these tough times. This puts some of us at greater risk of getting sick, going without basic necessities, losing our income, or even our home. It means some kids can easily access online learning to keep up their education while others can’t. And it means some of us will get COVID-19, and some of us won’t. That’s why it’s so important we stay in this together. Because we can all take action every day to care for our neighbors, our friends, our families, and even the strangers we’ll never see.
Here are ways that you can give back to your community: Check on neighbors. Some may feel isolated, or their home may be unsafe. Consider dropping off a care package to a neighbor, using safe social distancing, or help with getting groceries. If you or someone you know feels unsafe at home, the following resources are here to help. Brigid Collins Family Support Center offers individualized support and resources to families in Whatcom and Skagit counties. To speak to staff in the Whatcom County office call 360-734-4616. Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Services offers support to adults experiencing domestic violence, sexual assault and sexual exploitation. To speak to staff call the 24-hour phone hotline at 360-715-1563. Lummi Victims of Crime offers a variety of support for adults and adolescents who have been affected by domestic violence, sexual assault, elder abuse and other violent crimes. To speak to staff call the 24-hour phone hotline at (360) 312-2015. National Domestic Violence Hotline offers support through the chat feature on the website or over the phone at 1-800-799-7233 or 1-800-787-3224 (TTY). API Chaya specializes in supporting survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, and human trafficking with people from or affiliated with Asian, Pacific Islander, and Middle Eastern communities. If at any time you are questioning the safety of adults or children, Adult Protective Services and Child Protective Services may be the appropriate and necessary option.
The more we can all stay home, the sooner we can get back to business as usual. Reducing our in-person contact with one another is our best tool to slow the spread of COVID-19 in our community. Most of us are doing our part to keep our community healthy: we are staying home. It’s tough. It’s inconvenient. But it will make a difference.
N95 MASK EXHALATION VALVE SAFETY PSA
I hate to be alarmist, but I think we have a genuine problem, and it’s one we can do something about.
We wear masks not just to protect ourselves, but even more, to protect those around us, since we can be infectious without symptoms. It turns out masks with valves make things more dangerous for those around us instead of less. I think this info needs to get spread really fast. Can you help?
I got an urgent response to my post yesterday about exhalation valve problems on N95s.
I went looking on the web, and found this from the CDC about filtering of exhalations:
Respirators with exhalation valves can be used in a healthcare setting when it is not important to maintain a sterile field (an example of an acceptable practice would be when taking the temperature or blood pressure of a patient). Respirators with exhalation valves should not be used in situations where a sterile field is required (e.g., during an invasive procedure in an operating or procedure room) because THE EXHALATION VALVE ALLOWS UNFILTERED EXHALED AIR TO ESCAPE into the sterile field.
We’re trying not to infect each other. Prior to this pandemic, it was rare for there to be concern about infecting others through the outflow valve except during surgery. We are now in a new situation in which we all need to be concerned. At a choral rehearsal in Skagit Valley, 45 of the 60 participants came down with the virus, and two died. That group was not touching, and was sitting spaced apart. Singing appears to add power and range to exhalations. And unfortunately, masks with valves appear to do the same, like putting your thumb over the end of a garden hose. So, tape over the valve intake on the inside, while touching the mask as little as possible. Wash your hands first. Let’s stay safe, and especially keep each other safe.
FOOD SAFETY: GROCERIES & RESTAURANTS
This is a very detailed and thoughtful guide. He thinks we’re generally safe and says why.
Please be careful not to use hot water and bleach at the same time! Too-hot water can release toxic chlorine gas. Also be sure not to mix bleach with anything other than water as the combinations can also produce toxic gases. ~Margie Katz
REASSURING DOCTOR IN WRITING
Here is a written article that corresponds to the video of the NYC doctor I shared a few days ago. Thank you, Morgan Franklin, for sending it to me.
This is a response to the comments from the doctor on your last post. I’m a little concerned with her information saying that people at risk, if wearing a mask could get out in the world again. All the experts are saying stay home, stay home, stay home. It’s great that masks will help with cutting down the spread but I personally wouldn’t want to be giving a sense of false hope. And some to people’s interpretation of this statement.
I do agree that people who are having to get out for essential shopping should definitely start wearing masks. But being a very high risk patient I will continue to heed the warnings and suggestions from the experts not to go out.
I do get out in my yard for fresh air but no further. ~Tami Crawford
ECONOMIC IMPACT SURVEY
Don Goldberg (Port of Bellingham Economic Development Director) is leading an economic recovery task force under Unified Command. They will be coordinating countywide initiatives with the broader agency group. They are distributing a Economic Impact Survey to assess the impacts of COVID 10 on the county economy. I’ve included a link to the survey below. Please distribute the survey as broadly as possible to City contractors, consultants, businesses, gig workers, freelancers, artists etc. The survey is due April 8. Here’s the link to the survey: https://form.responster.com/EsA58H
STONE SOUP PROJECT
Checks may be sent to:
Fellowship of Messengers
1770 Front St. #204
Lynden WA 98264
Paypal to: email@example.com
My neighbor talked to a family biking down our street today, and they had only seen six or so stuffed animals. I put mine in the house in my picture window, facing my neighbors’ big bear in their window. It will add interest to walks and rides through the neighborhoods. ~Zip Jelino
FREE JAPANESE ANEMONE FLOWER STARTS
Free pink Japanese anemone flower starts in a box in front of 2628 Williams Street. ~ Laura Todd, Williams Street
TRUCK AND DRIVER NEEDED FOR 5 YARDS of COMPOST FOR TWO NON-PROFITS
I am helping Animals as Natural Therapy get 5 yards of Compost to Common Threads (school gardens). If you have a truck and time to support the movement of compost between these two organizations, we would LOVE your help. You can contact me and I will get you in touch with folks of the organizations. THANK YOU! ~ Laura Todd, Williams Street, 360-224-0116
Many neighbors have done Map Your Neighborhood on their blocks. Most groups that did, received at least one orange backpack with emergency supplies at that meeting. I had forgotten that among those supplies were one or two N95 masks and a pair of clear goggles that fit over a pair of glasses. Hospital workers really need both of those items right now. Ummm… really, really need them. Can you donate yours? Contact me to set it up, or drop them by Makerspace. Even if your stash didn’t come from Map Your Neighborhood.
PROBLEM WITH MASKS WITH EXHAUST VALVES!
[From my big brother Joe Breskin, who is worth listening to. Some N95 masks come with an exhaust valve. If you have one of those, it is crucial to cover the valve intake on the inside with strong tape. Here’s why:]
To visualize the exhaust valve issue clearly, imagine a hose, and how much farther the water squirts when you obstruct the opening with your thumb. Velocity increases as the area of the opening is reduced, and it works the same with air, increasing velocity and making stuff exhaled through the valve go farther.
“This video demonstrates the phenomena in human sneezes visualized by light scattering toward the camera from multiple optical sources and at different distances. It illustrates how mucosalivary liquid emissions, in the form of droplets of a continuous size range, are coupled with the hot, moist, and high momentum gas cloud, which traps and carries them forward up to 7 to 8 m (26 ft). This newer understanding of respiratory emission dynamics has implications for mask and respiratory design, social distancing recommendations, and other public health interventions during and after the COVID-19 pandemic. ” [Did I say Joe is a scientist?]
WHATCOM ARTS PROJECT
Staying Together While Apart New Whatcom Arts Project Created!
As a gift to the community, during Washington State’s Stay Home – Stay Safe Order, Bellingham and Whatcom County artists, musicians, actors, storytellers, dancers, filmmakers, performers and arts supporters, including museums and libraries have come together to create the Whatcom Arts Project. Free, daily online content is available through this campaign to uplift, educate, and inspire during these difficult times, while we socially distance to slow the spread of COVID-19. All arts and heritage organizations in Whatcom County are welcome to join this effort! If your organization would like to provide content contact firstname.lastname@example.org
HELP HOMELESS TEENS
We have over 100 unaccompanied homeless kids in town. Roxana Parise is the homeless liaison for the school district, which documents over 400 total homeless kids. Roxana has two young women who are now going out to check on the teens on their roles and providing food and gift cards from Fred Meyer and Haggen. Our small women’s group are their major funding source…Here is the website where neighbors may make donations. Our goal is to keep a supply going to these kids until this is over: BellinghamGivingCircle.org
(All donations are tax-deductible. Bellingham Giving Circle is a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit, a registered Washington State charity and holds Federal Tax ID# 36-4750525) ~ Carole Hanaway, 3051 Eldridge Avenue
NEW CASES: 14; ONE ADDITIONAL DEATHS
The newest numbers increase the total confirmed cases in Whatcom County to 139. Eight people who tested positive have died, including another elder from Shuksan Nursing Home.
[From the Bellingham Herald] The federal government will not ask anyone to confirm personal or banking details by email, phone or text message. It also won’t demand a “processing fee” to obtain or expedite your stimulus payment. Do not click on links in email or text messages relating to the stimulus checks and do not provide your personal information.
MASKS, FROM BETSY BROWN MD
[One of my most trusted sources. I await her updates every night. Just got this.]
When I started writing this about a month ago, I realized that this virus was so new that our understanding of it would evolve. I expected to change my advice frequently based on new data. I try to read and stay abreast of updates, but things are moving swiftly. We have to remember that this virus infected it’s first human host in mid November. And here we are 4 1/2 months later (is that all?) and we know amazing amounts of things about, but we still don’t understand it completely.
Sometimes, the theory and directives are vague and not so clear. Data and more information help to clarify. My big shift now is thinking about face masks. At first I thought only health care workers and infected patients needed them. I worried, as many experts do, including the CDC and WHO, that people who wore a mask for their own protection were risking letting down their guard with hand washing, physical distancing, trying not to touch their face, not always wearing them correctly. Worries were real that if everyone used them, health care workers would have none. Next, I thought people, who have been exposed but did not have symptoms, should wear one to protect from transmitting to others. These were reasonable concerns, when it was thought that the virus was in respiratory droplets and not aerosolized.
But the evidence is not so clear anymore about transmission. The risk of asymptomatic transmission is real. Now some evidence shows wearing a mask can protect an uninfected person from the virus. Compelling to my friends who love to sing, is this sad tale out of Mt. Vernon, Washington regarding choir practice. My friends are worried, want to do the right thing, and be safe. So now, my thinking has evolved that wearing a mask can be protective from infection, if done well, when shopping or going into stores, or talking with friends across an enclosed space. For people that have risk factors, this can be a gift of being out in the world with a little less fear. And I know there will be some fancy glamour, if I know my creative friends.
We are in this for the long haul and what we are doing is making a difference. Don’t be discouraged. A Seattle Times story today shows the progress being made, new and old treatments are in trials. People are donating their time and plasma for these efforts. People are following “physical distancing”- such a better description than “social distancing”. Yes, a few outliers, but generally people show they care by following the guidelines. And there are opportunities to help those that are suffering. I know of many ways here where I live and you can find ways wherever you live. We are all in this together.
Wash your hands.
And finally, my caveat is that this is my experience and my opinions, which are subject to change as more information is available, and not related to the organization I work for. Thanks for reading. ~Betsy Brown, MD
MASK MATERIAL COMPARISONS
Here, perhaps biased since from air purifier company, but interesting:
Making DIY Masks with Household Materials
Bottom line: Test data shows that the best choices for DIY masks are cotton t-shirts, pillowcases, or other cotton materials. These materials filter out approximately 50% of 0.2 micron particles, similar in size to the coronavirus. They are also as easy to breathe through as surgical masks, which makes them more comfortable, enough to wear for several hours. Doubling the layers of material for your DIY mask gives a very small increase in filtration effectiveness, but makes the mask much more difficult to breathe through. (Paper towels are less than half as effective.) https://smartairfilters.com/en/blog/best-materials-make-diy-face-mask-virus/ ~Millie Johnson
WIC: WOMEN, INFANTS, CHILDREN
When you shop for groceries, avoid items with a shelf tag that says WIC. For folks on food stamps, those are the only options they can purchase. With shelves pretty bare already, please leave those items for neighbors who have no alternative if you possibly can. In some areas, WIC cards are renewed on the first of the month so there is an early surge and bare shelves have an even bigger impact. Here, recipients cards renew on whatever day of the month they signed up on. So all month long, if you buy the last WIC bag of macaroni, someone’s kids may have no alternative. Please be kind.
I just got word that in Whatcom County, we can donate expired N95 masks! The only thing that wears out is the elastic. I’m so excited, because years ago I organized a group buy for cases of those masks for earthquake preparedness. Our front entry was stacked with big cartons for weeks. I’m hoping a bunch of folks who got them from me back then still have some. I just checked my stash, and I have 3 boxes of 10 3M 8511 N95s. Makerspace folks will seal the exhale valves on these ones so they are safe for this use. I am SO excited that we can donate them! If you have an earthquake stash, or sheetrock or construction or whatever stash, of unused N95s, you can donate them! If you’re not going out, check in with me tomorrow. I’ll organize to get the masks where they need to go. Or if you’re going out, just take them by Makerspace. See the next post.
MAKERSPACE DONATIONS LOCATION
12 – 5, Mon -Fri
Someone will be available to receive donations at Bellingham Makerspace which is located at the Bellis Fair Mall. If you are in the parking lot and driving toward Dick’s Sporting Goods, there is a loading cu-lde-sac on the right. That’s where.
COVID PROJECTIONS FROM UW
National and state-by-state detailed projections. Click on the home page where it says USA to get the state listings.
Have you made arrangements for your pets if you should contract the virus and be unable to care for them yourself? It’s not a likely scenario, but not one we’d like to see ever. Please talk with your neighbors and set up care just in case.
FOOD CO-OP UPDATE
The Co-op is open, and has posted senior hours and procedures for bulk foods on their website, which is updated often. They are not accepting any returns, including glass milk bottles at this time. It will make the workers lives easier if you check the website before you go, or before you phone. Please make only essential food runs wherever you shop. [And if you really have to go anyway, please check with me. I’ve got some items I could use a re-stock on sometime this week.] https://communityfood.coop/
DELIVERY FOLKS & TIPPING
I heard yesterday that tips have fallen dramatically for pizza delivery folks, and worry that it’s true for other workers as well. I wonder if it has to do with so many people getting laid off. If you can afford to tip extra well, please do!
M.A.S.H. AND CORONA VIRUS
Sorry, I couldn’t find this except on Facebook. But I loved it!
BOX SPRING NEEDED
My daughter has had to move out unexpectedly and is in need of a full-size box spring. We could pick it up as soon as possible if someone offered. ~ Christy Raper 360-441-5905
The backpack left outside our house has been claimed. ~ Sue Hodges
We’re way hunkered down. It’s now been over 2 weeks, so we’re likely to be fine. Friends and neighbors drop off groceries (and I adore them for it – talking about YOU Reisa, Jamie, Heather & Ellen!). Everything joins the 3-day queue unless it needs refrigeration, in which case Zeke deals with it. He’s got a nodding acquaintance with laboratory decontamination from his university days, half a century ago but procedures haven’t changed all that much. Mostly he just washes things. We’re planting our own salad greens (thank you Carol Brach!) and have a bunch of frozen beans and broccoli to tide us over. Starting to figure out how to host Passover Over The Internet this year. Starting to learn Zoom. Crazy busy! If you’re bored, you’re invited to help me transition to a different email program, or figure out break-out rooms on Zoom, or help me learn to do a better layout job on my new virus blog: columbianeighborhood.org.
My shoulder misses you, dear stranger,
how we would brush by each other on the crowded street,
unaware of the gift of this barely noticed moment of intimacy.
How could we have guessed that we would be asked next time
to give each other such a wide berth,
to cross to the other side of the street,
to avoid each other like the plague;
our shoulders now pulled in imperceptibly towards our own center,
as if the whole world were out to get us, could be the death of us.
Who would’ve thought I would miss so many people I did not even know;
the sweating panting crowd I would push my way through
to get to the stage, to hear the music closer, closer to the band.
How could I have known how much I would miss you,
the ones who barely registered as a blur, how we would all move together like one living organism, this crowd of bodies.
How could I not have known how much I would miss you;
the hand that would touch my arm lightly,
then reach around me with a smile to grab a pint of milk at the grocery store.
How could I have missed the exquisite beauty of that moment?
If I had known what I know now,
perhaps I would’ve turned around and embraced you,
breathed in the smell of your perfume,
or the sweet-sour scent that your baby left on your blouse
after her mornings feeding.
Of course, if I did so, you would have thought I was a lunatic,
because, at the time, you did not have a crystal ball to see
all that would be suddenly taken from us.
You would not have any idea how, in the blink of an eye,
the same grocery isle would be like a ghost town,
and a lonely box of produce would be sitting on your front door,
ready to be washed, and then washed again, and again.
I did not know I would miss the handyman who came to fix the leak;
I did not know I would miss the simple warmth of his knuckles as I passed him a glass of water,
or how he would laugh hearty and full, just inches from me,
when my child came running in asking if the handyman could join us for our lunch of SpaghettiOs,
if he could be her friend.
How could I have known I would miss the promiscuous pen,
passed casually by the bank teller into my waiting hand,
while I thought of nothing else but how bright red her nails were,
and how I liked the way she smiled?
I could not know what a gift it was to linger with her for a few seconds,
to find her eyes, and to tell her that I hoped that she had nice day,
to have her offer me the same.
When we find each other again, and we will,
let us not go back to sleep;
let us take every chance to pull close, to pat each other’s backs, shake each others hands, embrace.
When all of this is done,
let us crowd into the smallest church, or temple, we can find,
until there is barely enough room to move, or breathe–
And then let us lift all our voices in one cacophonous chorus;
let us sing songs of gratitude for this sacred moment of flesh to flesh,
breath to breath–
as if we were Adam and Eve, dropped down from the heavens,
seeing each other for the first time.
It’s an hour long video, but he looks both credible and calm. He says we should only wear masks to keep us from touching our faces. I took a few notes as best I could, but there’s more here.
1. Wash your hands! Know where your hands are; have sanitizer with you when you leave home and use it constantly, every time you touch anything. 2. Learn to stop touching your face – wear a mask to keep you from touching your face when you’re not at home. Not a medical mask – just a training mask. 3. Stay at least six feet apart. 4. Shrink your social circle down to 2 – 4 people. None of your immediate circle should see anyone else at all.
Most transmission is within families. If you develop a fever and are otherwise fine, isolate yourself, just like in the list above. Use a separate room if you’re able, and your own bathroom if possible. If you have to come out, wash hands and wear a mask. Don’t be scared to stay home with your family, but stay in your room. After you’ve been feeling better for 7 days, you can come back out, but keep wearing the mask and keep washing your hands. You can avoid passing it on. With one exception: Elders & frail, vulnerable family members. Move them or isolate them. No physical interaction at all. Don’t go in the same room. Transmission is still from touching a surface or person. So don’t touch vulnerable folks at all.
If you do get Covid, only go to the hospital if you’re short of breath. Of those who go to hospital, lots of them will be checked out and sent home; some will go onto the floor and be short of breath for 5 – 7 days and then go home. Of everybody who gets it, maybe 10% need to go to the hospital because they are short of breath. Of folks who are admitted to the hospital, 1 – 3% need care in the ICU with a ventilator. Most people who are on a ventilator survive and come back off in 7 – 10 days. Going to the hospital is not a death sentence. There’s lots more here as well. Please don’t assume my notes are good enough. I wrote them in part because I remember better when I take notes.
Confirmed Cases Yesterday 116, Deaths 7. Covid is now reported at four area nursing homes. The County Health Department website just announced that they will be unable to update numbers by their regular noon update time. Read the Bellingham Herald for details and updates on numbers when they become available.
Update: If you tweet, write, or call about this issue, please keep the focus on getting safe practices and adequate PPE for the hospital, per Dr. Lin. “I want to REMIND people that in a time of National Emergency its important to stay focused on being Civil and Positive and helpful to each other. Despite its flaws, Peacehealth St Joseph Hospital has many Staff and Colleagues who have my respect and are doing their best to provide care to the community. I hold no animosity toward Peacehealth St Joseph as I enter my next chapter in my life. Thank you for working together as a community.”
From the Whatcom County Covid-19 Community Helpers:
If you know someone who is not on Facebook but wants to request help, here is a multi-lingual Hotline phone number people can call to make a request. This phone number is not just for the Columbia neighborhood. Follow instructions to leave a voicemail and they have a team of dispatchers who will get back to you. Nina LaMetterey spearheaded the entire project- dealing with Comcast, bringing on board a solid team of dispatchers and interpreters covering 34 languages and getting each of them trained on the processes we have set up for dispatching incoming calls.
STONE SOUP PROJECT
Covid Helpers have joined forces with the Fellowship of Messengers, a registered 501(c)3 non profit organization, to raise emergency funds for food and medication to help our most vulnerable Neighbors in Need. 100% of donations go to the Bellingham COVID-19 Community Helper network.
The Fellowship of Messengers, an interfaith registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, and the Bellingham COVID-19 Community Helpers, are joining forces to carry out The Stone Soup Project. The “Stone Soup” has been practiced all over the world, by many different faiths. With a Stone Soup – many people of a town come together to each share a small amount of their food in order to make a meal that everyone enjoys. With the community coming together for this appropriately-named initiative, we will be able to provide immediate assistance to many of our neighbors in need (NINs). All donations made to The Stone Soup Project will be distributed through The Bellingham COVID-19 Community Helper network. [I’m trying to find a non-facebook way for folks to donate.]
While the health realties of the COVID-19 pandemic are changing daily, there is also a growing silent pandemic emerging: people are going without essential food and medicine in our community. Since Governor Inslee’s mandate to close all “non-essential” businesses, the numbers of those facing critical poverty and vital food insecurity are multiplying.
With government systems overburdened and struggling, it is now up to our own communities to provide for our most vulnerable citizens. Washington State is receiving national recognition for independently saving as many lives as possible, through joint efforts by community groups and Non-profits who are working together to provide direct assistance to the vulnerable.
MORE DETAILS ON MASK SAFETY
Some masks do not protect others. From my big brother, Joe Breskin: There are situations where social distancing is not going to cut it, like grocery shopping when other people may not be thinking. There are two issues that are NOT the same. 1) Protecting oneself and 2) protecting others. Ultimately, they are connected, but the form of mask you wear reflects design decisions made by people considering lots of factors. Surgical masks are designed to protect both parties. Particle masks are designed to protect the wearer. Particle masks with exhaust valves were designed for conditions like sanding sheetrock or installing insulation. They do not protect other people. A turtleneck pulled up over the bridge of your nose will do it, or one of these: https://benchmarkfr.com/collections/fr-accessories/products/fr-face-muffler-gaiter. (Free shipping.) The following link is good too. Really clear and old enough to not be seen as government PR .
From Dr Frank James: This pandemic is causing financial hardship and uncertainty for many of us. Let’s look at some of the resources that might help.
The federal stimulus bill has just passed, and Employment Security Department Commissioner Suzi LeVine has a brief video on YouTube to explain some of the changes that benefit Washingtonians. Go to esd.wa.gov to sign up for COVID-19 action alerts so you can take action as things change and apply for benefits you are eligible for.
The state’s coronavirus website has information to help sort through other benefits that may be available to you, such as paid family leave, workers compensation, and resources for small businesses (https://coronavirus.wa.gov/business-workers).
Department of Financial Institutions (DFI)has developed a list of resources that might help address the financial impacts of the coronavirus, including mortgage assistance, financial resources, and financial scams.
The federal stimulus package included about $1,200 per person. This money has not been distributed yet, but some scammers are trying to take advantage of people. Remember—the government will not ask you to pay anything up front to get this money. No fees. No charges. No nothing. The government will not call to ask for your Social Security number, bank account, or credit card number. Anyone who does is a scammer.
My teenage boys walked the neighborhood and made up a scavenger hunt for anyone who might be looking for things to do. The items with the stars are challenge items.
Little Lending Library
New house being built
Statue of an animal
Slow down sign
Painted gingko leaves
Bike in a tree
Pig on a pole in a tree
Blue metal horse
Green and blue lizards on a house
Thank you, Kim Ragsdale, Lynn Street
SCRATCH PAPER OFFERED FOR KIDS’ DRAWINGS
I have a few colored pencils and lots of scratch paper (printed on one side but clean on the other) for cooped up kids to draw on. I’ve been “organizing” (funny what an apocalypse will do toward spring cleaning) and I hate to just throw it away… We don’t have a free library or anywhere to just leave it out, but if you want it, e-mail me and I’ll leave it in a paper bag outside our house. We are very isolated and have worn gloves every time we’ve left the house, washing hands frequently. If you want this paper and pencils, the paper bag it will be in will be safe to carry home by the handles, especially if you wear gloves. Any concerns (and best practice just now anyway) is to leave it sitting somewhere when you get it home (on a shelf where kids can’t get it, in the garage, etc.) for three days, after which it would be safe to handle. Any corrections to that practice and I’m happy to know about it myself… ~ Leslie Glen, Elizabeth Street, email@example.com
FL!P’S PIX FOR MUSIC
STREETS OF LONDON
I learned this Ralph McTell song back in the 1970s. He has written a new verse. Here is a link with him singing the original, and another with him singing just the new verse. We’re all in this together.
In shop doorways, under bridges, in all our towns and cities / You can glimpse the makeshift bedding from the corner of your eye / Remember what you’re seeing barely hides a human being / We’re all in this together, brother, sister, you and I.
John Prine was reported in critical condition with Covid yesterday. News just came in that he is now considered stable. I’m in tears. If there a folks on this list who don’t know his music, go look him up. His songs have been a profound gift to our world.
Whatcom Unified Command Donations Location & Times
From Dr Ming Lin
From A Local Health Care Worker
Bread Subscription With Local Pickup
Repost Request: Zoofari
Need Emergency Plumber
Flip’s Pix For Music
Editor’s Corner: Yawning
CONFIRMED CASES 116 DEATHS 7
Whatcom county reports 116 positive tests as of Sunday noon. More Shuksan residents have died, and more nursing homes are now involved. Because there are so few tests available, we have no clear picture of how widespread the virus is in our community. The Whatcom County Health Department posts new numbers around noon daily. Check the Bellingham Herald for more details.
MAKERSPACE DONATIONS LOCATION
12 – 5, Mon -Friday: Someone will be available to receive donations at Bellingham Makerspace which is located at the Bellis Fair Mall. If you are in the parking lot and driving toward Dick’s Sporting Goods, there is a loading cu-lde-sac on the right. That’s where.
WHATCOM UNIFIED COMMAND DONATIONS LOCATION
4-6 pm Monday – Friday: You mentioned Friday that WUC is out by the airport. I just dropped off supplies to them today Saturday, and they are now behind the mattress place on Meridian, 4233 Guide Meridian. Because of the street barriers, if you are driving on the northbound side of The Guide, you have to turn left on Kellogg and turn around so that you are heading south. Then take the first right to go along the side of the mattress store towards back of building. Here is the contact info. [from Caryn Friedlander]
It has been widely shared (including by me) that wearing masks in this pandemic isn’t a good idea. Of course people in the general public should not be wearing masks specifically made for healthcare workers, because supplies are so low. But apparently, we should be wearing something else – anything else. Why? Because even ones made from two t-shirts, work. Here is a link to an article from the Washington Post. I found it convincing. If you can’t get at it, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will send you the text.
On the other hand, my cousin Alex Breskin is an epidemiologist. I wrote him about masks, this morning. Here’s his reply: Transmission in closed spaces is way higher than open spaces. If you are maintaining your 6 foot distance from others when outside then a mask is not needed. It’s not going to hurt to cover your mouth and nose when indoors with others, but I haven’t seen any meaningful evidence that cotton fabric will help much.
DR MING LIN SPEAKS
I want to be sure that Dr Lin gets the first word:
“It has been obvious from my contact with the media that the story of my firing has distracted from my message of providing optimal safety for the healthcare staff.
I am touched at what people have been doing on my behalf.
But we are in a National Emergency of unprecedented times. PLEASE NO PETITIONS, NO PROTESTING , and please realize ANY NEGATIVE ACTION MAY HARM patients who need care from the hospital.
We need to channel our energy toward preparing for a potential pandemic. Wash your hands, keep your distance and put on a mask.
LETTER FROM A LOCAL NURSE
Many of you know that Dr. Ming Lin, a 17-year veteran emergency department physician at PeaceHealth St. Joseph Medical Center, was fired for speaking out publicly pertaining to his concerns about the lack of proper safety protections and protocols for frontline doctors and nurses at our community’s only hospital, and what that means for their health and the health of patients and the greater community. Dr. Lin has been a physician for over 30 years. He worked at St. Vincent’s Hospital in New York City when 9/11 happened — he has experience in health and community crisis situations.
COVID-19 eclipses every other story in the news. The public is understandably desperate for accurate, honest, transparent information, clarity and guidance. That is why it is essential that PeaceHealth re-evaluate how they have (mis)handled their communications and preparedness to date. Some may say, this is not a time for recriminations. This isn’t about recriminations, it’s about reminding PeaceHealth — during this pandemic — that they must be honest, going forward. The truth will always emerge, so why not be transparent and sensibly proactive — and admit fault where needed? Admitting you haven’t done some things right is never easy, but it is a sign of strength and leadership.
I am a nurse and a former PeaceHealth employee, so I have some knowledge of the “culture of intimidation” that can occur within the organization; a fear of consequences if one points out short-falls or failings — ranging from embarrassment and isolation to low performance ratings, lost promotions, even firing, as happened to Dr. Lin.
Nurses at St. Joe’s have filed complaints with the Washington State Nurses Association pertaining to PeaceHealth’s actions and inaction. WSNA’s complaint was filed with the Washington state Department of Labor and Industries Division of Occupational Safety and Health over what they believe is the hospital’s failure to provide a safe work environment. Also, the American Academy of Emergency Medicine issued their position and statement on Dr. Lin’s firing. AAEM, stating in part,
“…It is an essential duty of a physician to advocate for the health of others. Dr. Lin, as a member of the medical staff, is entitled to full due process and a fair hearing from his peers on the medical staff. TeamHealth, a lay corporation owned by the private equity company the Blackstone Group, should not be the employer of Dr. Lin according to the laws of the state of Washington. Their hand in this termination is not only inexcusable but likely impermissible. We call on the WA state Attorney General and the State Board of Medicine to investigate this circumstance….”
A foundational principle of safety, that must be adhered to by all hospitals and health systems is, “If you see something, say something.” That’s precisely what Dr. Lin did.
I urge you to join me in support of Dr. Lin. Please contact Bev Mathew, local communications/PR for PeaceHealth, email@example.com. I don’t know if Dr. Lin would want to be reinstated, or not, but tell them their actions are not congruent with PeaceHealth’s mission statement. Their actions are detrimental to not only St. Joe’s frontline providers, but to patients, the community and our future. Be polite, but let them know, they are ethically obligated to tell us the truth and adequately support the dedicated staff at St. Joe’s.
Thank you, Rebecca Cutler, Broadway Street
BREAD SUBSCRIPTION WITH LOCAL PICKUP
Local baker, Sophie Williams, owns Raven Breads and primarily sells to individuals through the Farmer’s Market. To continue operations during the stay-at-home situation, Raven Breads will be running an April Bread Subscription with local self-pickup location in Columbia Neighborhood (on our porch)! Her website does a much better job of describing her amazing bread and business. Check it out and sign up at https://squareup.com/store/raven-breads/ (signup deadline is today, 3.29) Best, Dan Stone
REPOST REQUEST: ZOOFARI
Could you please re-post the March 23 suggestion from Maureen Standish titled “Zoofari”? My neighbor talked to a family biking down our street today, and they had only seen six or so stuffed animals. I put mine in the house in my picture window, facing my neighbors’ big bear in their window. It will add interest to walks and rides through the neighborhoods. Thanks ~ Zip Jelino
Place a stuffed animal, statue of animal, or plastic animal somewhere in your front yard. Or draw an animal and tape it to a window. When families are walking or biking they can try and find as many animals as possible. You might use binoculars! [My Velveteen Rabbit is now in my front window! ~Fl!p]
NEED EMERGENCY PLUMBER
Can I get a shout-out for an emergency plumber? I’m at 2415 Williams St and my water is turned off, but that is not a viable long term solution. ~ Lynne Pendleton 360-738-2780 360-220-4075
I absolutely vouch for how responsible & kind Anna is. She would be a wonderful tenant or housemate. ~ Oona Sherman
$850 (incl. utilities) Single musician/full time employed woman+dog seek housing by 6/1/2020
We have been living in a wonderful mother-in-law in the Puget neighborhood for the past couple of years, but due to our current economic crisis, the people I rent from lost their income and need to move into our rental property. I work full-time at a very successful and reputable cannabis grow called SubX, and feel confident that my job will remain secure. I am also a songwriter/performer/cellist, and play all around the PNW but mainly Bellingham and Seattle. This community is my home, and I am invested in staying here and making it a better place. Bluebelle is my sweet 8 year old pit bull, and we go on 2 or more walks/hikes every day. She is very well-behaved and I am in the habit of cleaning up all her poops right away! I am a non-smoker, neat, quiet, happy to help with yard work etc. Because I write music,I would prefer to live in my own space with a decent amount of privacy. I can move any time between May 1 and June 1. Thank you very much!! ~ Anna Arvin (360) 685-3634 firstname.lastname@example.org
FLIP’S PIX FOR MUSIC
Hello musician friends! If you see any video where people are singing or playing music all together with no lag issues-that is a separate recordings edited together. There are no online platforms without lag. It is not something wrong with your computer or your internet..it’s just impossible to not have lag for technical reasons that are really smart and convincing. I am being asked this many times a day. If there was an online platform without lag-we would all be using it! Just try calling your friend on the phone and sing a song at the same time..it also won’t sync up. So back to zooming and doing the best we can or have everyone record their parts and develop some mad editing skills. From Karla Mundy, choir director, Vancouver BC
[I have been getting helpful suggestions from other musicians, but haven’t been able to get any of them to feel like live jamming. If I’m wrong, and I’d love to be, please let me know.]
If you are experiencing major lag with Zoom or any platform like that it’s worth it to really make sure there are no other streaming devices in the house. For me, that has meant putting Other devices right on to airplane mode not just making sure any apps are closed. From Emily Villavicencio
YAWNING TO RELIEVE STRESS
Every creature that has a spine yawns. Every one. Not just dogs, cats & horses, but birds, fish, snakes… It’s a built-in repair circuit which triggers the parasympathetic nervous system, which calms everything down in your body. Particularly useful when your body is stressed, injured, ill, or when you’re scared or upset. Try for at least three minutes of non-stop yawns, including very gentle stretching, making little noises, gently rubbing anything that itches. If you’re doing it well, your eyes should water and you may get little strings of saliva between your teeth. If you’re doing it really well, your stomach may growl. Twenty to forty minutes of non-stop yawning can also decommission stage fright. Do it until just before you walk out on stage. These days I even yawn between songs when I’m onstage, and invite my audience to yawn with me. Enjoy!
A 17-year veteran Emergency Room doctor in town was fired yesterday and escorted off campus. The situation is being covered regionally and nationally today, including AP and Washington Post.
There seem to be two aspects to this controversy: Whether PeaceHealth has done everything in its power to protect our health care workers, and whether they have leveled with us as a community about the situation at our hospital. Workers’ concerns are being raised, and our community deserves clear, complete answers. The Washington State Nurses Association issued a statement that they are “appalled” and have filed a complaint with the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries.
NWCitizen article yesterday and today. They originally broke the story.
An interview with Dr Ming Lin
PPE DELIVERY: NEW LOCATION
Home sewn masks, gowns, printed face shields can be delivered to Bellingham MakerSpace 12 – 5 Monday through Friday. (They can also be delivered to the Unified Command out near the airport, from 4 – 6 PM only Monday – Friday.) The Grabow Center asks people now to deliver to these two spaces. They were happily overwhelmed with our community’s generosity, but were unable to keep up with the largess in order to properly sanitize the gifts prior to delivery. Bellingham Makerspace will now coordinate county efforts for providing medical professionals with the protective equipment they need. Bring them by Bellingham Makerspace which is located at the Bellis Fair Mall. If you are in the parking lot and driving toward Dick’s Sporting Goods, there is a loading culdesac on the right. We will have someone available to receive donations between 12 – 5, Mon -Fri.
CONFIRMED CASES 102 DEATHS 3
Whatcom county now has 102 positive tests. Another Shuksan resident has died, bringing the total there to three. Five deaths in the county. More nursing homes are now involved. Check the Bellingham Herald for more details.
DR FAUCI ON CORONAVIRUS
SUPPORT SHUKSAN & HOSPITAL WORKERS
Shuksan health care workers (and likely hospital workers) could use the following:
1. Cases of Gatorade and vitamin water
2. Coffee (starbucks sells cartons of hot coffee with cups, creamer, etc)
3. Also thinking they may like cases of energy drinks
MAP YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD
I heard from three different blocks today that they are working on connecting or re-connecting! I could be more delighted!!! Here’s a report from Walnut Street. If you’re trying to figure out how to get started, this is a great description:
Just want to let you know that I did a round of updates to our MYN 2700-2800 Walnut St. contact list and the Skills/Knowledge & Stuff to Share in an Emergency list as well. I started by emailing everyone I had on the list since our last update 8/18. One of my neighbors I then went door to door reaching out to all the folks who hadn’t updated via email. We left a note at the households who didn’t answer the door asking them to call/email me with any changes to their info. Next step was updating the lists and sending the info out to everyone via email so they could check for accuracy. Gene & I then got copies of the final version made at CopySource, and then Lynne & I left one at each person’s house. Feeling good to have that done and to have met my new neighbors, even if only from a distance. ~Mardi S
My dog finally found tennis balls are fun.
Anyone have a “chuck-it” they no longer want or use?
The Short Form: Infectious Virus Only For 72 Hours On Objects
Don’t Panic About Deliveries (Wa Post Article)
Keeping Things Really Clean
Decontamination: From A Scientist
If we take the long view, centuries long, pandemics are actually normal. They have happened many, many times before. And this time, we know more and have more tools for dealing with it: Healthcare workers giving everything they’ve got to save as many people as possible; Dedicated scientists all over the planet helping us understand the virus, and researching treatments and vaccines; The internet that connects so many of us as we stay home to protect one another. There is one thing that is different in a less helpful way, at least in cities in the USA. We don’t know our neighbors as well as our parents and grandparents knew theirs. Or as well as folks in small towns know their neighbors even now. Neighbors can make a huge difference in how well we get through this next period, from waving out the window to calling for aid if we can’t do it for ourselves. Please begin trading contact information with your next-door neighbors. Try to get a list for your whole block. Anybody who agrees to be on the list gets a copy of the list. And, please, let me know if you’re doing it, and how I can assist you. This is the single thing that I most want to have happen in this next period.
If you have joined the Columbia Helpers Facebook page – or feel free to do so now: https://www.facebook.com/groups/helpers.columbia , please check it a couple of times a day to see if there is a Neighbor in Need. If you see a post from someone saying they need help and you are able to help, please jump in and help. You can message that person directly or leave a comment under the person’s request. Here is a hotline number people can call if they are not on Facebook: 360-778-2762 and follow instructions to leave a voicemail. Someone will get back to you.
Thank you for helping out! We’ll get through this together!
Colleen and Erin, your Columbia Neighborhood Co-Captains
92 CONFIRMED CASES
Whatcom County now has a total of 92 cases, including four deaths.
BELLINGHAM POST OFFICE OPEN
The Postal Service is classified as an essential government service, and will remain open wherever possible.
315 Prospect St, Bellingham, WA 98225
Just left the post office in prospect. Still normal hours and services. ~ Ryan Johnson
COLUMBIA NEIGHBORHOOD SPECIFICS
VISIT FROM A CHICKEN
[The owner has already been found, but I couldn’t resist sharing the headline!]
Barred rock chicken. Corner of Park and Jefferson hanging out with my chickens.
IN SEARCH OF PEDAL BIKE
My daughter is turning 4 next month. My hope is to get her her first pedal bike. I wanted to check to see if any family in the neighborhood has one they have outgrown that they would be willing to sell me. Size 14″ or 16″ wheels.
*Also open to receiving tips on how to have a successful quarantine celebration.
March 29th Guest: (BBC Award Winning!) Jefferson Hamer
JOHN MILLER GUITAR INSTRUCTION
I have fifty years experience as a guitar instructor, teaching privately and offering classes at music camps. I teach Folk, Old-Time, Country Blues fingerpicking, Jazz, Brazilian guitar, chord theory and voicing, and composition. I’ve written five books and have 18 instructional videos released by Stefan Grossman’s Guitar Workshop. I have already done a lot of on-line teaching and am comfortable doing that using Mac FaceTime or Zoom. Interested parties can check out my website at www.johnmillerguitar.com or contact me at email@example.com
[I can’t print this without giving a shout-out. John is an internationally recognized guitar teacher and player. I stand in awe of this man’s musicianship, breadth of knowledge, and scholarship in a wide range of musical styles. He is a musical sage. And he lives here in town! ~Fl!p]
LOTS OF SHOPPING SAFETY INFO
THE SHORT FORM:
INFECTIOUS VIRUS ONLY FOR 72 HOURS ON OBJECTS
CDC clarifies that live, infectious virus was NOT found 17 days later on the Princess ship. Virus survives on surfaces only up to 72 hours, and only 24 on cardboard. I currently have a front entry “parking lot” for pretty much everything but milk and ice cream. I don’t stack anything but one day’s mail. Much easier than cleaning everything to just wait 3 days. Wash your produce like you wash your hands.
DON’T PANIC ABOUT DELIVERIES
I asked my cousin Alex Breskin, who is an epidemiologist, about this article from the Washington Post, before sharing it. He says wash your hands anyway, but he’s not too concerned in this regard, because the virus decays pretty quickly. It has a “half-life.” (You don’t have to have a subscription to view this article about it. At least one friend was having difficulty, so I have copied and pasted the article here, right after the link:
Joseph G. Allen is an assistant professor of exposure and assessment science and director of the Healthy Buildings Program at Harvard University’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
A recent study in the New England Journal of Medicine is making people think twice about how they might be exposed to covid-19 if they open a box delivered by UPS, touch packages at the grocery store or accept food delivery.
The risk is low. Let me explain.
First, disease transmission from inanimate surfaces is real, so I don’t want to minimize that. It’s something we have known for a long time; as early as the 1500s, infected surfaces were thought of as “seeds of disease,” able to transfer disease from one person to another.
In that new NEJM study, here’s the finding that is grabbing headlines: The coronavirus that causes covid-19 “was detectable . . . up to four hours on copper, up to 24 hours on cardboard and up to two to three days on plastic and stainless steel.”
The key word here is “detectable.”
Yes, the virus can be detected on some surfaces for up to a day, but the reality is that the levels drop off quickly. For example, the article shows that the virus’s half-life on stainless steel and plastic was 5.6 hours and 6.8 hours, respectively. (Half-life is how long it takes the viral concentration to decrease by half, then half of that half, and so on until it’s gone.)
Now, let’s examine the full causal chain that would have to exist for you to get sick from a contaminated Amazon package at your door or a gallon of milk from the grocery store.
In the case of the Amazon package, the driver would have to be infected and still working despite limited symptoms. (If they were very ill, they would most likely be home; if they had no symptoms, it’s unlikely they would be coughing or sneezing frequently.) Let’s say they wipe their nose, don’t wash their hands and then transfer some virus to your package.
Even then, there would be a time lag from when they transferred the virus until you picked up the package at your door, with the virus degrading all the while. In the worst-case scenario, a visibly sick driver picks up your package from the truck, walks to your front door and sneezes into their hands or directly on the package immediately before handing it to you.
Even in that highly unlikely scenario, you can break this causal chain.
In the epidemiological world, we have a helpful way to think about it: the “Sufficient-Component Cause model.” Think of this model as pieces of a pie. For disease to happen, all of the pieces of the pie have to be there: sick driver, sneezing/coughing, viral particles transferred to the package, a very short time lapse before delivery, you touching the exact same spot on the package as the sneeze, you then touching your face or mouth before hand-washing.
In this model, the virus on the package is a necessary component, but it alone is not sufficient to get you sick. Many other pieces of the pie would have to be in place.
So this is what you can do to disassemble the pie — to cut the chain.
You can leave that cardboard package at your door for a few hours — or bring it inside and leave it right inside your door, then wash your hands again. If you’re still concerned there was any virus on the package, you could wipe down the exterior with a disinfectant, or open it outdoors and put the packaging in the recycling can. (Then wash your hands again.)
What about going to the grocery store? The same approach applies.
Shop when you need to (keeping six feet from other customers) and load items into your cart or basket. Keep your hands away from your face while shopping, and wash them as soon as you’re home. Put away your groceries, and then wash your hands again. If you wait even a few hours before using anything you just purchased, most of the virus that was on any package will be significantly reduced. If you need to use something immediately, and want to take extra precautions, wipe the package down with a disinfectant. Last, wash all fruits and vegetables as you normally would.
We should all be grateful for those who continue to work in food production, distribution and sales, and for all those delivery drivers. They’re keeping us all safer by allowing us to stay home. And, as I said, the risk of disease transmission from surfaces is real. We can never eliminate all risk; the goal is to minimize it — because we all will occasionally need to go grocery shopping and receive supplies in the mail.
But if you take basic precautions, including washing your hands frequently, the danger from accepting a package from a delivery driver or from takeout from a local restaurant or from buying groceries is de minimis. That’s a scientific way of saying, “The risks are small, and manageable.”
KEEPING THINGS REALLY CLEAN
You don’t have to read this next article. But if you have cancer or are otherwise severely immune compromised, this article will give you detailed and precise procedures and ways to think about about dealing with groceries.
My big brother Joe is a scientist, among many other things. This was written by a personal friend of Joe’s, who is also a scientist. She explains in great detail how to clean things and then keep them clean. I believe her to be accurate.
I had to stop and laugh helplessly half a dozen times as I was reading this. I imagined myself in a Charlie Chaplin routine. I’m glad I’m staying home at this point! We only have to deal with objects coming into the house: mail, packages, groceries. Everything is in a front entry Parking Lot for 3 days, unless it needs to go to the fridge or freezer. So the task isn’t really that overwhelming after all, at least for people who aren’t going out.
My husband Zeke, who worked in a lab in college, says these procedures get easier pretty quickly. It’s a mind-set, a routine, and a habit of noticing. Ariel also summarizes at the end of this article. The CDC says to date they are not seeing much evidence of transmission from objects. None-the-less, I’ve put Zeke in charge of incoming objects at our house.
So take a deep breath and consider reading this long, detailed article. One good way to do it would be to read it aloud over the phone to a friend, with frequent stops to laugh or explode. I’m guessing all of us who never worked in a lab may have a lot of feelings about this! ~ Love/Fl!p
I’ve had quite a few friends ask how they can reduce their chances of catching the nCOVID-19 virus. It works just as well for the cold and flu viruses.
I’ve spent a huge part of my adult life in various microbiology labs, working with actual and potential pathogens. I’d like to share some of the principles that were drilled into my head from day one. From minute one.
In the lab, assume that every surface is contaminated. Bench tops, door handles, faucet controls, phones, everything. During cold, flu, and COVID-19 season, you may assume that anything other people touch is contaminated. The more people touch it; the greater the likelihood.
We humans are actually pretty pathogen-proof. Our skin is, for the most part, an excellent barrier. Pathogens need a way in, either through our eyes, nose, mouth, mucosal membranes, or from cuts or breaks in our skin. For this reason, DO NOT put your fingers in your eyes, nose or mouth. You are inoculating yourself.
If personal items go into the lab, they will be contaminated. Keep them out, if you can. If you can’t (like eyeglasses), be aware that they might be contaminated. Limit their use as much as possible, and make a habit of sterilizing them when you leave. It’s complicated at first – wash your hands thoroughly. Then, disinfect your glasses, or phone, or whatever. Then wash your hands again.
If you use the restroom, wash your hands before and after. Use a paper towel on the exit door. Wash your hands before you leave the building, and the minute you get home.
When you go into the lab, wash your hands, and without touching anything, put on sterile protective equipment. When you leave, remove your gear (gloves last) then wash your hands. Exit the lab, then wash your hands. The point is to keep the germs from getting out.
During cold and flu (and COVID-19) season, we’re trying to keep germs where they are. We’re keeping them from getting IN to our homes, and of course, our bodies.
If you’re exposed to aerosol-spreading organisms in the lab, you wear a mask and eye protection. This doesn’t apply to COVID-19, but it does to the cold and flus. During cold and flu season, I often wear a scarf or muffler over my nose and mouth when I’m in high-risk areas, like crowds and the light rail. It’s usually cold anyway.
Know that most surfaces where people frequent might be contaminated. Infected people are shedding (and spreading) huge quantities of virus. Anything they touch or sneeze on is contaminated. Assume anything people touch is contaminated.
When you go to the supermarket, you disinfect the cart handle, and that’s very good. You open the door to the freezer case, and now your hands are “germy”. They’re contaminated. If you eat a sample, or rub your eye, you’ve inoculated yourself. Now you touch your cart handle, so now it’s contaminated. You pick up a can of tomatoes. If it wasn’t contaminated before, it is now. You take out your glasses to read the label, so now your glasses are contaminated. You put the can back, and pick up a larger one, leaving germs on the first can for someone else.
You pick up a box of pasta that someone with contaminated hands has touched, and put it in your cart. Now you take out your phone and call home. You just contaminated your phone. You use your debit card at the register, and contaminated your fingers, because lots of germy, infected people have used the keypad. You put your debit card back in your wallet or purse – now your debit card and your wallet/purse are contaminated with the virus.
If you’re smart, you grab a disinfecting wipe on your way out, and disinfect your hands and cart. Excellent.
You stop at the gas station, and when you use the keypad and pump handle, you contaminated your hands. Now you use your pen to write down your milage, and get back in the car. Now your car handle and pen are contaminated.
You go to the Chinese takeout. You touch the door handle (contaminated), you give the cashier $40 (contaminated) and she gives $17 in (contaminated) change. Money is frequently very germy. You give her $7 for a tip, then put the ten dollar bill in your pocket. Now everything in your pocket is contaminated – your keys, you package of gum, your chapstick. You use the restroom and wash your hands, then take your keys out. You’ve just contaminated your hands again. If you hadn’t, you would on your car door handle and your steering wheel. You contaminated those at the gas station.
When you get home, you immediately wash your hands, which is good, but remember, your phone, your pen, your wallet, your keys, your debit card, your eyeglasses, everything in your pocket, AND your can of tomatoes and box of pasta are all contaminated. You take a shower before bed. Your hands are clean. You take your money and change out of your pocket and throw your pants in the laundry basket. Now your hands are contaminated again.
It helps to imagine that germs, especially viruses, are invisible, non-drying ink. It helps to understand how it spreads, and how we become infected. How the germs get into our bodies, and our homes. And, understand, it only takes a very small amount to get you sick. Another important thing about viruses: they don’t grow *on* you – they hijack your own cells, and turn them into virus-making factories. One sick person can produce an astonishing number of infectious viral units.
It may seem like a hopeless battle, but awareness is a vital tool during the cold, flu and COVID-19 season.
*Limit your exposure to infected people, when possible.
*Wash your hands. All the time. At home; at work; out and about.
*Keep your fingers out of your eyes, nose and mouth, unless you KNOW they’re clean. Do not put a pen, or gum, or anything else in your mouth without consideration.
*Be especially aware of ‘in commune’ fomites, or inanimate objects that we move freely between contaminated area and clean area, like phones, eyeglasses and pens.
Most important – if you’re sick, for the love of God stay home. Keep your kids home. If you’re sick and you MUST go out, be aware that you’re putting a lot of other people at risk.
In a recent email, a message with a link to a video on “PSA SAFE GROCERY..” The text in the email said it was a video from the CDC. This is incorrect. This video was made and shared by a private individual, Jeffrey VanWingen, who is neither associated with the CDC nor working in epidemiology or infectious diseases. I think the confusion is due to the ad placement in YouTube. Youtube is putting an advertisement banner from the CDC on lots of videos right now. It’s not an endorsement from the CDC, it’s an advert YouTube has placed there because the content of the video is related to certain included terms such as Coronavirus or COVID-19.
[Thank you Gregory and the other folks who alerted me. Now I know more of what to watch out for, and you do too. I will try to remove that post today. And I appreciate all the potential fact checkers out them. I’ll take all the help I can get! ~ Love/Fl!p
WHATCOM COUNTY CONFIRMED CASES
as of Thursday March 26 at 12:30 PM: 86
Local Facebook Helpers groups, by neighborhood
FindHelp.org is a national site with links to local resources
CHEERS FOR ESSENTIAL WORKERS
It’s abundantly clear that our healthcare workers are working under unbelievably stressful conditions and need our love and support at this time. From the lack of protective equipment, to long hours, to uncertainty about testing, this is a very hard time to be a healthcare provider. They are all working under unusually stressful conditions and need as much love and support we can send their way. In response a group of us have gotten together (not physically obviously) and created signs of support for our healthcare providers. These signs have been placed on people’s lawns as well as at the 2 main entrances at the hospital. So far the feedback we have received has been nothing but positive, and we want to continue sending our love and support in the weeks to come.
So here’s what we are asking: Please make up signs of support for healthcare workers and put them in a visible place outside your home. We want our healthcare providers to see signs of support popping up all over town. We are also asking those people who are close to the hospital and can easily make it over there to make up signs and put them on the lawn leading up to the main entrance to the hospital. We currently have a bunch of signs there now, but how awesome would it be to have hundreds more?!
Please take photos of your signs and post them on what ever social media site(s) you use… let’s spread this far and wide!
Finally, there are many other people out there working to support out community right now (police officers, fire fighters, paramedics, grocery personnel)… so if you’re so moved to support them as well, we think that is a fantastic idea!
We were unable to find replacement batteries for our digital thermometer in town so we ordered some online, but had to order 40 of them. They are 1.5 volt #LR41 which seems to be the same 384 or 392. They fit both thermometers and watches. FREE to anyone who needs them. I will put them in (sterilized) bag on a fence post at 2829 Lynn St.
Or if anyone knows of medical facility that might need them, let me know.
State Launches Web Form To Clarify “Essential” Businesses
Goods Nursery And Produce And Goods Local Brews
Handyman For Critical Needs
Elder Care Co-Op Seeks Workers
Fl!p’s Pix For Music
Musician’s Internet Jamming Programs?
Local Musicians Teaching Online
Emails Will Continue
COME TOGETHER TO HELP
It’s time to come together block by block to help our neighbors. It will be good if every one of us has someone next door who is checking in with us daily, and that we are checking on them as well. And for every block, someone, or even better, everyone, can make sure that no one gets left out.
The first step is to safely connect. Internet, text and phone connections first. Figure out who’s missing and leave a sticky note on their gate, window or door. (First before writing and delivering, wash your hands.) You might even get down to knocking on their front door and then immediately moving back 8 feet. We’ll call it 8 feet because many people underestimate 6 feet. Eight feet is standard ceiling height. You can still talk just fine at that distance.
Some folks stick a piece of colored paper that says OK in their window, and then move it to a new location every day so their neighbors can tell they’re still OK.
Get together a list of everybody on your block, and share with everybody on your block, including back door neighbors if you know them. Now you have a tiny phone book! And a big enough circle of support that you can meet many needs. Your next-door neighbor may not have a spare roll of TP, but somebody on your block almost certainly does!
As you do this, I would love to hear from you that you’re working on it, and how it’s going. I really would!
WHATCOM CONFIRMED CASES
As of today at 5:30 PM, Wednesday March 25, we have 66 confirmed cases, and 2 deaths.
GOOD SITES TO CHECK DAILY
STATE LAUNCHES WEB FORM TO CLARIFY “ESSENTIAL” BUSINESSES
This is for now a two-week closure, and state officials will be evaluating the situation as we move through the expected increase in numbers of people testing positive for COVID-19. In response to widely-circulated rumors, state officials also want to be clear that no one needs to be registered on any list, and no one needs a letter or pass of any kind to continue moving about, conducting essential business and activities. Visit the portal’s Spread the facts page.
GOODS NURSERY AND PRODUCE AND GOODS LOCAL BREWS
Goods Nursery and Produce is open with all your gardening essentials. We have local honey, Joe’s veggie and strawberry starts, herbs, pansies, compost and more! We are sanitizing all surfaces, enforcing social distancing among shoppers and disinfecting constantly. Cory is there daily from 9-4PM.
Goods Local Brews is offering a growler exchange. Bring in your own growler and we will exchange it with a clean, sanitized one with a new cap. Check in with Cory from 9-4PM at the produce stand and he can fill your growler for you. Thank you all for your continued support through this very difficult time. We look forward to when we can open our doors again to the community. Stay safe and healthy!
HANDYMAN FOR CRITICAL NEEDS
Zeke and I were scheduled to get a bunch of little projects done around the house in one big burst. The highly skilled handyman we had chosen had to cancel because of the emergency order. We agree that Zeke and I are elders at risk and our projects are non-urgent. Mark is remaining open on a very limited basis, for hire because he still needs his income. He and Ginger wrote me that, “It’s our intent to honor the spirit of the order while also meeting the urgent needs of homeowners whose projects may be essential for emergency, structural, or safety purposes.” So here’s a personal shout-out to
ELDER CARE CO-OP SEEKS WORKERS
Looking for work? We are currently hiring CNA/HCA ALL shifts available
Join Circle of Life Caregiver Cooperative
a worker-owned cooperative respected in Whatcom County for over a decade. http://www.circleoflife.coop/
What makes our worker-owned cooperative different:
*Our caregivers have part ownership in our cooperative agency.
*Our caregivers have a strong voice in many business decisions.
*Our caregivers have created a work environment where each member feels valued and respected.
At Circle of Life Caregiver Cooperative we offer:
*A connection within our community of caregivers
*Empowerment of our caregivers through teamwork and ownership of the business
$15.25 hour after 3 months
Become a member of our Co-op family! call 360-647-1537
FL!P’S PIX FOR MUSIC
MUSICIAN’S INTERNET JAMMING PROGRAMS?
If you know of effective programs to help musicians jam over the internet, I would love to run those here! I know some friends sent me suggestions last week, but they got buried in the avalanche. If you’d be kind enough to send them again, I would be grateful.
LOCAL MUSICIANS TEACHING ONLINE
All our local performing musicians lost their income, and it is not yet clear to me if they will be able to claim unemployment. Let me know if you know. Many of them also teach lessons, and are figuring out how to do so over the internet. I’ll be glad to post a list of such music teachers. Send me a very short blurb with contact info. Thanks!
EMAILS WILL CONTINUE
My tech buddies to the rescue! You don’t have to do anything. They are just going to help me shift over to a new platform, and you’ll still get the same emails, except there may be some photos here and there. You will get duplicate emails for just a few more days while we make the transition. For tech-savvy folks, you can just click a link to go to the blog site, where there is a cool map of local businesses, with what’s open, and what hours. We would love your help with a form you can fill in to add businesses or tell everyone about what they have in stock on a particular day. Business owners are also welcome to click on the form and speak for themselves. And there will be another form for creating posting requests that will make it easier for me to edit and format. Everything still comes straight to me (except map stuff, which Carol Brach is taking over for me, bless her heart!). And for the folks who just want email, just email me back like you always have. Simple. And we’ll see if we can’t get an unsubscribe button onto everything if case you want to opt out. I don’t want to annoy anybody ever (except back when I was a kid, my beloved siblings from time to time…)