North Notes
December 13, 2021
Happy Holidays!!
Dec. 20, Dec. 27: No meetings.  Rotary lunches resume Jan. 3.
Good crowd:  20 Rotarians and guests filled the Bark meeting room for the Dec. 13 luncheon.
Pile of packages: The hallway to the Bark meeting was jammed along both sides with large bags of presents for 40 Holmes Elementary families.   
                    After the luncheon, a caravan of cars and trucks rove to Holmes and filled a large portion of a large room to store the gifts for distribution. 
                    Special thanks to Lenore for contacting Holmes for the family wish lists, distributing the wishes to club members, and organizing the collection and
                    delivery of the gift bags to Holmes!!!  Thanks to Bob, too, who was also there to support and help Lenore!
Warm coats: Bob and Lenore Romney collected 17 coats that were donated by customers from Burlington Coats                   
on North Division St.  The coats for children and adults were delivered to and will be distributed by Union Gospel Mission.       
The coats were donated to Kids Without Borders and facilitated by our Rotary Club
Special Christmas gift: Mary Joanis, member of the Rotary Club of Los Barriles in Mexico near Cabo San Lucas, enjoyed the birth of her grandson two days earlier in Spokane.  Mary, who will be a speaker at the club in January, spends time in Spokane and Bend, Ore., with her family members.
Happy Buck$: Adding to Mary Joanis’ happy bucks, were Ron Noble for his wife, Bill Simer for his wife, Renee; Lenore Romney for a night at the Spokane Jazz Orchestra; Melinda Keberle, for the Jazz event and friend, Jill, who, with Melinda work in real estate in Spokane and Seattle.  Steve Perry chipped in as a tribute to Whitworth’s holiday music at the Fox.
            A special tribute went to Ron Schurra’s daughter, who worked on scenery for Director Steven Spielberg on the new movie “West Side Story.”  Ron is also looking forward to celebrating the holiday with his entire family.  Ron Noble also asked a contribution to fine Ron Schurra, who had picked up the wrong “Ron” club badge…Bob Romney donated a $20 bid for the Ron Schurra badge!
Health officer shares Covid 101 lessons
            Not taking any chances, Frank Velazquez said he has 35 special masks with matching pocket squares for his suit coats.
            “He is the go-to guy for the Health District,” said Michelle Fossum, Spokane-North board secretary, who handles legal issues for the Health District.
            Fossum’s intro at the Dec. 13 luncheon listed a full page, single-spaced, of Dr. Francisco Velazquez’s titles, accomplishments and activities.
            Dr. Velazquez is former president and CEO of Pathology Associates (PAML) and managing director of the Nichols Institute and Quest Diagnostics, Inc., infectious diseases clinical trials division.  He was trained at the Mallory Institute of Pathology in Boston, Boston University Medical Center and Harvard’s School of Public Health.
            In the private sector, Dr. Velazquez has expertise in mergers, acquisitions in regional healthcare networks and health system integration.  He also was Interim Executive Director of Life Science Washington Institute.  “I was involved in seven companies and started three,” he said.  And he chairs Spokane’s United Way board and is president of the Spokane Symphony Board.
            The affable Velazquez crammed a fact-filled virology lesson about Covid for the club.
            He said there are 4,000 variants, so many that “we have to use Greek letters, because we ran out of numbers.”
            The two most notable current variants are Delta and Omicron, both rapid “transmissives” which are circulating nationwide and globally.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          
             The Omicron version spreads faster, but the Delta is stronger and more worrisome, Velazquez said.  “That’s the one to worry about,” he said.
            About all those masks, Dr. Frank said, “Use them.”  He said each person in one day can transmit 11,000 liter-size bottles of air.  So keep your germs at home.
            He said one side benefit of our 21-month pandemic is that hardly anyone got the flu last year.
            The best ways to mitigate the pandemic effects, Velazquez said, is to get vaccinations, including booster shots – and mixing and matching among shots works fine – wear masks, keep washing hands and keep distances when possible. 
            When asked how the vaccines seemingly were brought to market “so quickly”, he said there were several contributing factors including the unprecedented amount of money worldwide that was thrown into the effort to develop vaccines (great things can be accomplished when a lot of money is put into the effort); collaboration among drug companies working to develop vaccines; and the fact that the mRNA vaccine technology has been around for decades.
            He said people, cautiously, should get out for events, dinners and other socializing because people need to do that for their health.
            Asked about low levels of vaccinations in North Idaho and Eastern Washington, he said, “I don’t tell people what to do.  I just give them information.”
            He added that “mandates are complicated.”
            When can we do away with masks?  Not yet, he said, “but hopefully next spring will be better than this winter.      “
Editors: Chuck Rehberg and Sandy Fink