Today so far: time to have a Covid context

We’ve been getting punched in the gut for a few years — by a coronavirus right, then a left jab from Delta. Now we are being slapped by Omicron, knocking out our hospitals, our supply chains, our courses and other services. Would you rather be punched in the stomach or slapped in the face?

Answer: It doesn’t matter; either way, we get beat up.

This post originally appeared in KUOW’s Today So Far newsletter on January 20, 2022.

Why the tense metaphor? You’ve probably noticed that lately I’ve been a bit uncomfortable when writing about the tendency of the Omicron variant to cause milder disease, or the slowing of cases in Washington State (as in yesterday’s newsletter). I think a lot of people get distracted by this and forget that we are affected in other ways.

Omicron may mean that you could, statistically, deal with “mild” illness, but its effective spread increases the number of people going to the hospital. This, in turn, makes it quite difficult for you if/when you need emergency treatment (Harborview Medical Center is now busier than ever). And that means more people are being pushed out of the workforce, like those keeping your grocery store stocked or our jails working (Covid was also the leading cause of death for law enforcement in 2021).

There is definitely some positive news coming out. But I encourage everyone not to let their guard down completely just yet. At the very least, for your family, friends and neighbors who can’t take another hit.

I know I’ve been hitting the covid beat pretty hard lately, but there are a few other health titles you should know about.

Syphilis is back. It’s so weird to type. If you’re like me, the last time you heard of it was in high school sex ed. This is probably because after HIV became more common, STI prevention methods gained popularity. And it prevented the spread of other diseases.

But as KUOW’s Anna Boiko-Weyrauch reports, modern advances in HIV medicine have become more popular. And all these other prevention methods have declined. Now, there is an increase in syphilis cases in Washington state – about 10 times more than a few decades ago. In addition, chlamydia rates increased by 85% over the same period; and gonorrhea rates nearly quadrupled. Read more here.

This next story is not pandemic or health related, but it has to do with the health of our Puget Sound environment (and shellfish economy). KUOW previously reported how local tribes have declared an emergency over this invasive species.

Now, Governor Jay Inslee has declared an emergency over European green crab invasion. The crabs have been spreading locally for over 20 years, but have now reached a point where they threaten the shellfish harvest and local habitats. You’re probably familiar with the native Dungeness crabs that pop up on your plate. Green crabs are taking over, taking over and replacing the Dungeness variety, and that’s bad news for the harvest and the environment. Technically, you could eat the green crabs, but they’re much smaller and just plain different. Imagine that your chicken eggs are replaced by quail eggs – it’s a bit like that. Some solutions have been proposed, but nothing matches the level of this threat. Read more here.


When it comes to ride quality, Washington ranks among the worst states in the country.

According to an assessment by WalletHub nerds, Washington comes in at 45th place. That means we’re the sixth worst state in which to drive. A few measures have been taken into account: ownership costs; traffic; Infrastructure; maintenance. Washington suffers when it comes to our high gas prices. We also have a very low score in terms of traffic/infrastructure and cost of owning a car.

And because I know you’re wondering, Hawaii is the worst state to drive in. And Iowa is the best.

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