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In Our View: Cheers & Jeers: Vaccine milestone, virus variants

Cheers: To COVID vaccines. More than 70 percent of Washington residents 16 and older have received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine, with the state passing the milestone on Wednesday. “We are almost at 8 million doses of vaccines that have been given to almost 4.3 million people across the state of Washington,” Secretary of Health Dr. Umair Shah said. “That is an incredible amount of work and progress.” In Clark County, about 62 percent of residents 16 and older have received at least one dose.

Vaccines have been crucial in slowing the spread of COVID-19, allowing social gatherings to resume and businesses to fully reopen. But vaccine resistance continues to slow that progress. People with concerns about vaccines should speak with health care professionals and seek reliable information rather than believe what they read on social media.

Jeers: To coronavirus variants. Despite increasing vaccination numbers, COVID-19 is sending reminders that it is not finished with us. Health officials have identified Clark County cases of the delta variant, which is highly transmissible and has been blamed for rising infection numbers throughout the country. As of Wednesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said 58 percent of new cases are a result of the variant.

Experts say that vaccines help protect against the delta variant and that they sharply reduce the likelihood of severe symptoms from the disease. Notably, young people appear to be more susceptible to the variant than the original strain of coronavirus. While progress has been made in slowing COVID-19, some caution still is warranted.

Cheers: To opening the border … maybe. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has given hope to those longing for the U.S.-Canada border to be opened. Canada would be in a position to welcome fully vaccinated travelers by early September “if our current positive path of vaccination rate and public health conditions continue,” he said.

OK, that’s not overly hopeful, but any glimmer is an improvement; the border has been closed to nonessential travel since March 2020. That, obviously, has an impact on Washington; the state shares a 427-mile border with our Canadian neighbors, and we might like to visit them sometime.

Jeers: To drought. In an example of the impact of climate change, Gov. Jay Inslee has declared a statewide drought emergency because of poor water supply and hot, dry conditions. A drought emergency declaration is issued when water supply is projected to be below 75 percent of average.

Meanwhile, a deluge — pun intended — of stories about wildfires throughout the Northwest and diminished cherry and wheat crops further reflect the results of climate change. That change not only leads to extreme weather events, but it alters agriculture and the basics necessary to our quality of life.

Cheers: To getting outside. A couple recent articles highlight opportunities to take advantage of pleasant weather. In one, an outdoor exhibit and walking tour has been added to the Fort Vancouver National Historic Site. The exhibit explores barracks life in the 1880s through interpretive panels between the Visitors Center and East Barracks, telling lesser-known stories from the U.S. Army post’s history.

In another, Clark County has resumed taking reservations for picnic shelters at county parks for the first time since the pandemic hit. Those are two reminders of the region’s bounty of outdoor recreation.

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