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Posts Tagged ‘Covid-19’

Whidbey News-Times Sports Editor Jim Waller (right) shares a chat with CHS girls basketball coach David King. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

The adults are back.

After three months-plus with no sports coverage, the Whidbey News-Times and South Whidbey Record have returned the dean of local sportswriting to his desk.

Longtime Sports Editor Jim Waller was one of several employees who accepted a furlough back in March as the COVID-19 pandemic threw the newspaper industry into turmoil.

His last stories, a profile of Coupeville three-sport star Scout Smith and a piece on South Whidbey soccer announcer Crispin Roberts, posted to the internet March 24.

After that, my former high school journalism teacher lived the home life of “honey to-do lists”, leaving Whidbey sports fans with only my hyperventilating to get by on.

That changed as of Monday.

Waller has been at the core of Whidbey Island sports since his birth, as a player, teacher, coach, and writer.

He was born into the life, one of the sons of revered local coach Mert Waller, who led all four Coupeville High School programs (football, basketball, baseball, and track), before moving into similar positions in Oak Harbor.

Jim Waller was a standout athlete who went on to teach and coach multiple sports at OHHS.

Of the two people writing about sports on Whidbey, he is the only one to be a member of a real Hall of Fame, honored in 2001 by the Washington State Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame.

Waller led the OHHS baseball program for 30 years, taking the Wildcats to the Class 3A state title game.

A graduate of the University of Washington, he is in his second go-round with Whidbey’s newspapers.

Waller first wrote for the News-Times as a youngster, then returned to the post after retiring from the Oak Harbor School District.

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Welcome to Ferryageddon.

If you were thinking of sailing to Whidbey Island in July, maybe step back, take a deep breath (from underneath your mask) and just say no.

Otherwise, get ready for deep, deep frustration.

A day after revealing several workers have tested positive for COVID-19, Washington State Ferries officials announced a reduction in service on two of the busiest routes.

The changes will be in place every weekend in July.

The Mukilteo/Clinton route, which is the busiest in the system, and the Edmonds/Kingston route, will both run just one boat, and not the normal two, on weekends.

In a news blurb released Wednesday, it was stated the move was “due to a shortage of available crew during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The dates affected are:

July 4-5
July 11-12
July 18-19
July 25-26

On those weekends, only the #1 sailings on the schedule will be used.

Washington State Ferries officials ask those wishing to sail to “plan ahead by checking schedules online and expect long waits if driving onto a ferry over each weekend, particularly during the Fourth of July holiday weekend.”

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The movies remain on pause. (Photo property Oak Harbor Cinemas)

My former home away from home will stay dark for a while longer.

With Island County now in Phase 3 of Washington state Governor Jay Inslee’s four-phase reopening plan, Oak Harbor Cinemas is allowed to reopen, under certain guidelines.

But, for now, the show won’t go on.

The three-screen institution, which sits across from Dairy Queen, has been closed since March as the country deals with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Oak Harbor Cinemas released the following statement on Facebook Tuesday afternoon:

 

We are still closed due to increase in cases for COVID-19.

We feel it is prudent to not open too early based on the recent new Governor’s proclamation regarding mandatory masks when in public when you are unable to maintain six feet of distancing.

In addition, there are no new movies scheduled until July 31st with the release of “Unhinged.”

“Tenet” has been moved to Aug. 12 and “Mulan” has been moved to Aug. 21.

All three films were originally scheduled to be released between July 1 and the 24th.

As the COVID-19 new cases start another decline, we hope that other film companies will move up the dates to July or early August, but until then we are at their mercy so to speak.

Rest assured that when we do open you will see improvements to 100% of the cinema including new luxury motorized recliners, new rockers, new screens, speakers, amplifiers, bathrooms, floors, paint and carpets.

Plus we still have our beer and wine bar open for business.

We ask that you be patient and when we do open up you will see a clean, safe theater again and that you support us like you did prior to COVID-19.

We will serve you to the absolute best of our ability.

Thank you,

JS
Owner

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A Washington state ferry idles in the water during happier times. (Sarah Kirkconnell photo)

Multiple workers on the Clinton/Mukilteo ferry run have tested positive for COVID-19.

The route, which is the busiest in the state in vehicle traffic, has already been running with just one boat, and not the normal two, the past two weekends.

For a complete report, pop over to the Everett Herald:

COVID-19 outbreak strikes Mukilteo-Clinton ferry workers

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The return of Friday Night Lights could be a ways away. (Katy Wells photo)

Island County is in Phase 3 of Washington state’s four-phase COVID-19 reopening plan.

But it won’t be going to Phase 4 any time soon.

And, for that matter, neither will any other counties.

The Washington State Department of Health issued a press release Saturday announcing a “pause on counties moving to Phase 4.”

“Phase 4 would mean a return to normal activity and we can’t do that now due to the continued rise in cases across the state,” Washington state Governor Jay Inslee said in the press release.

“We all want to get back to doing all the things we love in Washington during the summer, and fully open our economy, but we aren’t there yet.

“This is an evolving situation and we will continue to make decisions based on the data.”

State Secretary of Health John Weisman issued the following letter:

 

Dear Local and Tribal Health Leaders,

I am writing to let you know Governor Inslee and I have decided to pause progression to Phase 4 statewide. 

We decided to prohibit any counties from moving into phase 4 at this time due to increasing COVID-19 activity across the state and significant rebounds in COVID-19 activity in several other states.

The changes between Phase 3 and Phase 4, especially with regards to gathering size and occupancy rates, could further increase the spread of COVID-19 in our state, even in communities that have very low rates of disease.

The progress we’ve made thus far is at risk, therefore we are making the prudent choice to slow down our phased approach to reopening.

In the next couple of weeks, I will work with Governor Inslee and his team to assess the need for a modified approach for moving beyond Phase 3.

I will communicate that decision to you when we have more information.

Counties that are currently able to apply to move from Phase 1 or 2 are still able to apply when eligible.

Thank you for your continued work to protect the health of Washingtonians during this unprecedented time.

 

For those looking at this from a sports perspective, current Washington Interscholastic Activities Association guidelines state “low risk” sports, such as cross country and swimming, can begin competition in Phase 3.

“Moderate risk” sports, such as volleyball, basketball, and soccer, can begin games when a county is in Phase 4.

Three “high risk” sports — football, wrestling, and competitive cheer — have no current timeline for when games will be allowed to restart.

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