This past weekend took quite the toll on Seattle's physical and mental health. On Saturday, the city awoke to a flaxen tint from hazardous wildfire smoke. After weeks of venturing outside to stretch our quarantine legs and distance ourselves from the coronavirus pandemic, we were once again trapped in our homes, lest we inhale pollutants in addition to infected respiratory droplets.
And Sunday afternoon brought the scary news that part of Pier 58 had collapsed into the Sound, taking two construction workers with it. (One of the workers has already been released from Harborview Medical Center, and the other is in “satisfactory condition,” according to The Seattle Times.)
At this point it’s fair to wonder what calamity 2020 has in store for us next. But while we all wait for more wind and rain to clear this air, there are a few reasons not to hibernate until 2021.
Our coronavirus numbers have never looked better. Don’t let the haze from our latest catastrophe cloud our progress toward eradicating our most dire one. Public Health—Seattle and King County’s “Key Indicators” dashboard has some promising updates on our local outbreak of the novel coronavirus. Sure, case tallies aren’t quite as low as they were in late spring, but the area is now seeing more than 50 tests for every positive result, the first time we’ve achieved such a rate since the initial outbreak. Even more importantly, the effective reproductive number has dipped to its lowest level, 0.6, of the pandemic. Anything below one indicates that cases will continue to decline, which they have for weeks. In Seattle, the seven-day case average is just 18. Eighteen! The state’s latest situation report says face coverings and social distancing are helping even as our mobility increases, so keep masking up.
Our sports teams are dominating. Did you catch the Seahawks’ easy win over Atlanta in the season-opener? How about the Storm’s 18-4 run in the WNBA bubble, leading to a playoff double-bye? Or the Sounders’ seven-goal demolition of San Jose the other night? Whether or not you support leagues playing amid a pandemic, you can at least draw some comfort in seeing local athletes perform at a high level again. Even the Mariners still have a chance at the playoffs.
In case you missed it: Tahlequah had another baby orca. Remember Tahlequah, the southern resident orca who carried her dead calf for more than two weeks, and 1,000 miles, back in 2018? In July, reports emerged that she was pregnant again. And early this September, whale experts confirmed that she had given birth to a new calf, J57, in the Salish Sea. “Her new calf appeared healthy and precocious, swimming vigorously alongside its mother in its second day of free-swimming life,” noted the Center for Whale Research. The Friday Harbor-based organization mentions that young calves have a 40 percent mortality rate, so there’s no guarantee that we won't see a repeat of 2018's "Tour of Grief." But that would be cruel, even for 2020.