‘We’re not out of the woods yet’

Testing for COVID -19 is strongly recommended for anyone experiencing symptoms. Ditto for anyone exposed to the illness but without symptoms. (Photo credit: dragana991 / iStock via Getty Images Plus)

“We’re not out of the woods yet,” said Dr. Albert A. Rizzo, chief medical officer for the American Lung Association. “That’s why it’s so important for those at high risk to understand when to test for the disease and to learn more about available treatment options.”

In response to the evolving science, the American Lung Association, with support from Pfizer, maker of a COVID vaccine, encourages older adults, people living with chronic lung disease, and other high-risk individuals to speak with their healthcare provider about their treatment options if they test positive for COVID-19.

Cold and flu season is upon us, bringing increased cases of infectious respiratory diseases, including flu, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and COVID-19. If you experience symptoms that could be COVID-19, get tested right away. Keep in mind that many infectious respiratory illnesses have similar symptoms, so during flu season, it’s especially important to find out which virus you have and which treatment is right for you.

If you’re exposed to COVID-19 but don’t experience symptoms, you should also test at least five days after the exposure. You may also consider getting tested prior to visiting someone at high risk for severe COVID-19 illness.

If you test positive for COVID-19 and are high-risk, speak with your healthcare provider right away about available treatment options.

Treatment may help prevent severe illness and reduce the risk of hospitalization. Depending on your situation, your healthcare provider may prescribe one of the following:

  • Oral antiviral medications, which may reduce the spread of COVID-19 throughout the body by stopping the virus from making copies of itself. This medication should be taken as soon as possible after diagnosis and within five days of symptom onset.
  • Monoclonal antibody treatment, an IV infusion antiviral medication, can help immune systems fight off the virus by blocking and limiting the amount of virus within the body. This medication should be given as soon as possible, and within seven days of when you started feeling ill.

After treatment, monitor your condition and report any lingering or worsening symptoms to your healthcare provider. If you begin having difficulty breathing or any other symptom indicating severe illness, seek urgent care.

More information about COVID-19 testing (including where and how to be tested) and treatment is available at lung.org/treating-COVID and from local health authorities, such as the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department (tpchd.org, 253-649-1412) and Seattle-King County Public Health (kingcounty.gov/covid, 206-296-4600)).

Officials for the latter note that people experiencing mild to moderate illness can test themselves at home with test kits that are available free at public libraries. There also are free test sites for the public.

County and the state health departments monitor communicable illnesses, including COVID-19 and flu, and issue weekly updates on their prevalence. The information, which is obtained through hospitals and urgent-care clinics, lab tests, and reports of any outbreaks at congregate settings such as long-term care facilities, are made available online and through the news media.

COVID-19 report a wide range of symptoms, from mild to severe, that may occur two to 14 days after exposure. They include:

  • Cough.
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing.
  • Fever.
  • Chills.
  • Muscle pain.
  • Headache.
  • Sore throat.
  • Loss of taste or smell.

“While effective treatments can help prevent severe illness after infection, vaccination is still the best protection against COVID-19,” Rizzo said. “Keep your vaccinations up to date. Check with your healthcare provider to see if you’re eligible for an updated booster.”


StatePoint Media contributed to this report.

People who do the hiring admit it: ‘Yes, there is age bias’

In a national survey of hiring managers, four out of every 10 admitted to age bias when reviewing resumes of older job applicants.

The survey of 800 hiring managers across the U.S. also revealed age bias on both ends of the chronological spectrum: 80 percent of the managers said they have concerns about taking on employees who are 60-plus and under 25. This is despite a labor shortage that prompted many employers to reach out to retirees to expand the pool of possible workers, an admission of the value of older, experienced workers, according to Resume Builder, an online source of career of job-hunting advice that conducted the survey in February.

“Yes, there is age bias in hiring,” said Lori Rassas, an attorney and human resources consultant. “The good news is that we’re making some progress in this regard, but the bad news is that it continues to be a lose-lose situation, as older candidates are being denied opportunities and employers are missing out on dedicated and talented candidates.”

For applicants aged 60 and up, survey respondents said their main concerns are that the employee may retire not long after starting and may not be proficient in the technology needed to do the job.

“As much as age bias is still alive and well, this current marketplace is allowing older applicants to display that they are technically capable and adaptable and able to function well in a remote environment,” said Stacie Haller, a career consultant for Resume Builder.

When considering applicants who are younger than 25, hiring managers have different concerns—mostly that young workers are likely to leave the job within a short period of time and lack the necessary experience.

Heller said older and younger applicants “can express during the interview process how they individually don’t fit the stereotype of their cohorts and how and why they are the perfect candidate for the position.”

Resume Builder asked hiring managers what applicants can do to avoid falling prey to age-based bias. The managers advised not to include a photo with resumes, as that can make age bias more likely. But they also said applicants should always include all relevant work experience, even if it spans 25 years or more.

Heller said experience from past decades isn’t necessarily applicable, especially in professions such as IT, (“The workplace over 20 years ago doesn’t resemble today’s world”). But she said “there are ways to include this info without specific dates if it adds to their experience and value as a candidate. Other tips, like not using an AOL e-mail address and taking off the words ‘cell’ and ‘e-mail,’” are examples of ways to eliminate potential ageism on a resume.

The moral of Resume Builder’s survey results is that the job-search process must be “geared toward eliminating any preconceived notions a prospective employer has about your age,” Rassas said. “Is that unfair? Perhaps, but look at it this way: The more you do to dispel these preconceived notions, the more level the playing field becomes—and the less your age becomes a factor.”

The survey was commissioned by ResumeBuilder.com and conducted online by the survey platform Pollfish last February

When it comes to getting hired, workers 60 and older face age bias. So do some of their younger co-workers. (Photo illustration/U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)

. Respondents were either a supervisor, business administrator, or HR manager.

The big switch is plugging along

For National Drive Electric Week last September, Steilacoom was the scene of a gathering of electric-car motorists and their vehicles.

The future of car travel in Washington is looking electric.

The Evergreen state will join California in requiring auto companies to require that, starting with 2035 models, new cars have zero tailpipe emissions. Many governments are adopting similar measures. It’s a matter of planetary necessity to reduce carbon emissions, according to advocates of switching from gas to electric.

In 2020, Washington’s Legislature adopted a law directing the state Department of Ecology to adopt California vehicle emissions standards. This summer, California announced that cars with model years of 2035 or later must have zero tailpipe emissions to be sold within the state. Washington will adopt matching regulations, but the Legislature had already set a goal of its own. The transportation plan approved by the lawmakers last spring set a goal five years more aggressive: Cars and light-duty vehicles of model year 2030 or later must be electric.

The 2030 target is not a mandate but a goal, one that the state is developing a strategy to achieve. The 2035 measure would be a law and a requirement once enacted. The Department of Ecology is accepting public comment on the proposal.

“We think of the California regulation as the floor, and we’ve set a new ceiling of trying to get that done by 2030,” said Anna Lising, senior climate advisor to Washington Governor Jay Inslee.

Electric transportation has been an ongoing priority for Inslee, including carsbusesferries, and rail. Lising has been instrumental in helping craft those policies. She has answers to some common questions about EVs (electric vehicles).

The town of Steilacoom, WA kicked off this year’s National Drive Electric Week with a gathering of electric car drivers on Sept. 10. Dealerships showed off new models like the Ford F-150 Lightning, and locals brought 28 different EV models to show off. Photos courtesy of Steilacoom Mayor Dick Muri.

Washington and California have just committed to electrify personal vehicles. Why now?

Lising: This goal wasn’t set overnight — it’s been years in the making. There’s a sense of urgency. Transportation is the number-one contributor of carbon emissions in Washington, and our biggest opportunity to make a difference. EVs have entered mass-market production and they are increasingly affordable. We’re at a tipping point. The threat of climate change is clear. EVs have matured. The private sector is on board. Washington’s leadership has helped the state, the nation, and the world get where we are now.

Electric cars may be zero-emissions, but not zero-footprint. Are they definitively better for the environment?

Absolutely. EVs leave a much smaller carbon footprint than vehicles with internal combustion engines. Once built, they don’t keep consuming non-renewable resources and belching carbon emissions. In a state like Washington with such clean electricity, EVs are even better. That said, there’s more work to be done to ensure batteries can be reused and recycled. Reduced emissions will also improve air quality near roadways. Low-income communities and communities of color are disproportionately located in polluted areas, diminishing life expectancy. EVs are better for the environment, and our communities and people.

President Joe Biden sits at the wheel of a new Cadillac EV concept at the 2022 Detroit Auto Show. Recent federal legislation has invested more than $135 billion to advance electric transportation. Photo courtesy of The White House.

EVs accounted for 3.2 percent of light vehicles sold in 2021. What will change by 2030 for EVs to become the popular choice?

EV market share is accelerating — fast. EV registration in Washington has increased nearly fivefold in five years. This past July, 8 percent of new vehicles registered in Washington were battery-powered. New models are shipping and price parity is improving. The most encouraging sign is carmakers leaning in. New models by Audi, Cadillac, Chevrolet, Genesis, GMC, Honda, Hyundai, Jeep, Kia, Lexus, Lincoln, Mercedes-Benz, Nissan, Tesla, Toyota, and Volkswagen are coming this year. Your favorite car will soon be electric.

Cost is key to any car shopper. How do EVs compare in price and cost of ownership?

EVs are cheaper to own in the long term — especially factoring Washington’s affordable electricity. Electricity in Seattle is about 29 percent cheaper than the national average. Fuel savings can quickly overcome a sticker price premium. EVs have a higher sticker price right now. Clean technology cant be exclusive to wealthy urbanites. That’s why a renewed $7,500 federal tax credit for the purchase of a qualifying EV is important. That’s why the sales tax exemption in Washington is important.

If it breaks, who can fix it? Are EVs reliable?

People love their EVs — an EV manufacturer took the top spot for consumer satisfaction in a recent study by Consumer Reports. EVs have fewer moving parts, which means fewer things that can break down and fewer pieces to maintain. You might also be able to fix a problem with a simple firmware update. EVs still need tire changes. They rely on hydraulic brakes. You still need to take care of them. Some manufacturers might be more reliable than others, but there are advantages to fewer moving parts.

Weather has stressed electrical grids in California and Texas. Is Washington’s grid ready to charge the population’s personal vehicles?

Research by the federal government projects that the nation’s grid is ready for EVs. State forecasting shows that our grid can support EVs through the next decade. We’re actively working with utilities to build new clean energy in the state to meet growing demand. A new wind farm at Rattlesnake Flat is generating 160 megawatts and it created 250 jobs. More than 40 solar farm projects are proposed across the state.

China is out-building America in the production of EVs. Will EV adoption benefit domestic industry?

EVs create jobs. Their “fuel” is made by Washingtonians operating our wind and solar farms, clean power plants, and utilities. Manufacturers like Kenworth are building electric trucks here already. Nationally, the Inflation Reduction Act established incentives for domestic EV manufacture. Lithium is being processed in Nevada. Cars, batteries, and other components can and will be made in America.

Few enjoy 240-volt service near their parking spot. What measures may help the average driver charge overnight?

Everyone should have access to cleaner cars and the means to charge them. Our top priorities include rural distribution, chargers serving multi-family housing, community charging locations, charging to serve low-income residents, and charging along residential streets. We’re working with regional housing authorities to install chargers in lower-income housing developments. We’re also working on “right to charge” laws that prevent landlords and HOAs from prohibiting charging. As we work towards mass adoption, we want everyone to have a place to charge.

Fast chargers seem few and far between. How will future charging infrastructure be distributed?

Right now, the private sector has built chargers where profitable. That hasn’t been good enough. The federal Infrastructure and Jobs Act allocated funding for states to install fast charging stations every 50 miles along highways. The state received $71 million from the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Program — at least 40 percent of that prioritizes rural and disadvantaged communities. The state Department of Transportation is launching a mapping tool that shows where chargers are going, and where they’re needed. Washingtonians can use it to suggest charging locations in their communities.

Chargers often require different apps, adapters, and payment methods. Will drivers have to hunt for compatible chargers?

Many Washingtonians are underbanked. They may not have tap-to-pay cards or digital payment accounts. Likewise, your native language should not be a barrier. The state Department of Agriculture is working on rules that require payment and language accessibility. Finally, charging hardware must be universal. This is less of an issue than it used to be. Charging standards are consolidating and federal funding requires interoperability. State-funded stations will meet the Level 2 standard at minimum, and most federally-funded stations will support fast charging.

Are EVs ready for the demands of daily driving and long commutes?

Drivers with gas-powered cars seldom leave home with a full tank. Most EV drivers charge overnight and leave home topped off. Federal research shows that only 5 percent of trips exceed 30 miles. The average commuter drives under 15 miles to work. The typical range of a modern EV is over 200 miles. Range improves with each generation of EVs. Additionally, more charging stations are popping up. You’ll see more soon thanks to funding from both the federal government and our state legislature. Not so long from now, chargers will be operating all over the place.



‘The most wonderful time of the year’ can be complicated

By Nick Norman

When it comes to attending therapy around the holidays, clients often fall into one of two camps:  “I’ll be fine without a session next week. It’s the holidays.”  Or, “Oh yes, I’ll definitely need a session next week. It’s the holidays.”

While the song tells us that “it’s the most wonderful time of the year,” the reality can be much more complicated. For some, the holidays can be incredibly lonely. For others, it means returning, however briefly, to old and problematic family dynamics, or even to places where unresolved trauma looms near the surface.

Whatever the holiday season may hold, there are things you can do to make the most of this time of the year.

Plan ahead.

Avoiding decisions gives the decision to others, so be proactive and choose how you’d like to spend your holidays. If you’ll be on your own, how would you like to spend the time? Grant yourself the gift of doing something fulfilling. Solitude can be a true pleasure, so think about your needs and desires, and lead with self-compassion.

While some may gather with relatives, others will gather with chosen family. Reach out to those who have earned your trust and friendship and plan a special holiday gathering. There are few things so fulfilling as sitting around a table with good food, good drink, and good souls.

If you are heading home to be with relatives, it’s still good to plan ahead. Returning to our family of origin can be extremely fulfilling, but it can also bring up a lot of difficult emotions. Think about the troublesome areas in those relationships and how you’ll manage them during your visit. A plan can keep you from being overwhelmed and reacting poorly in the heat of a conflict.

Know your boundaries and your backup plan.

Family has a knack for bringing us back to our old ways. We may tend to blur our boundaries and over-tolerate behavior from family members that we would never put up with in our daily lives.

Decide early where your boundaries are. Keep in mind that boundaries aren’t about controlling others. Instead, they are a clear definition of how you need to be treated and what you will and won’t do. Some family members may be accustomed to your lack of boundaries, so  state clearly and calmly what you need. It may be uncomfortable, but it will be worth speaking up.

You’ll also want to know your backup plan. Some people may be unwilling to respect your boundaries, so be ready to remove yourself if needed. It’s better to step away than to power-struggle, and people may come around if given time to cool down and think. If the disrespect or unkindness merits it, however, give yourself permission to leave. You don’t owe your company to anyone who mistreats you.

Savor the good.

Whether on your own, with friends, or with family the holidays are an opportunity to slow down, return to the present, and savor the good in life. Collectively, it’s been a particularly difficult few years for many of us. We should make room to honor the pain and struggle, but we should also allow ourselves to feel joy and be grateful for the good in our lives, whether big or small. Gratitude has a direct link to happiness and life satisfaction, so take the opportunity to choose positive holiday plans and let the joy sink in.

Lead with compassion.

No matter how we spend our holidays, we should lead with compassion for ourselves as well as for others. It’s easy to become overly critical or impatient, to jump to conclusions or to blame, but these things do little good. They rarely accomplish anything, and they certainly don’t leave us feeling any better. Instead, taking a deep breath and having some patience, including for ourselves, will take us further.

The holiday season is a mixed bag for many, but we can choose how we spend this time and who we spend it with. May we grant ourselves the kindness to meet our own needs without judgment and grant others a gentle word and a grateful smile.


Nick Norman is the business relationship manager at Mindful Therapy Group, a network of mental health clinicians serving Washington and Oregon.