Camas Post Record

Former pro fighter opens Champ Camp Training in Washougal
Author: Doug Flanagan

Several years ago, John Watkins struggled with depression after his young son was diagnosed with cancer. But one day, Jess Moore, a Washougal resident, strength and conditioning coach and former professional fighter, invited Watkins, a kickboxing and Jiu Jitsu enthusiast, to train with him — not, he said, because he wanted Watkins’ money, but because he genuinely cared about his friend’s well-being.

That workout session led to another and then another. After a while, Watkins began to feel like his old, exuberant self. Looking back now, he knows that Moore changed his life — or perhaps, he said, even saved it.

“I was down and out. My son had cancer, my daughter wasn’t getting the attention she deserved, and my marriage was falling apart,” said Watkins, a Washougal resident. “Jess brought me back where I needed to be. If it weren’t for him, I’m not sure that I could say that we’d be having this conversation. I’m able to see my growth through his influence. There’s nothing that I can do to repay the guy. It took a great amount of care and heart to do what he did for my family.”

Watkins’ story is an example of what Moore hopes to bring into the local community with his new business, Champ Camp Training and Fitness, which opened in July at 1434 “E” St., in Washougal.

“I want to create a welcoming, personable environment,” Moore said. “I want to know every one of my members’ names and their goals. The owner of a cookie-cutter (gym) couldn’t tell you those things, although they would know their credit card numbers. Their vision is money, and that’s why they go out of business. I don’t want to have 1,000 people here. I know the number of people I need to have to pay my bills. I don’t chase dollars to find happiness. I’m about helping people.”

Champ Camp Training will offer general memberships, private training, semi-private group training, athletic development programs, youth training programs, kickboxing, boxing, movement screening, nutrition counseling and personalized workout plans.

“This is the gym Washougal has been waiting for and needs,” Watkins said. “It has everything you will need to get a top-level workout. It’s not just just filled with bulky items to take up space. Jess put the essentials in there that people need. You’ll get elite-level training at an affordable price.”

Moore said he thinks of his new gym as “a community development project instead of a human development project,” with an emphasis on providing opportunities to low-income youth through scholarship programs.

He’d also like to hold fundraisers, sponsor community events and establish close working relationships with Washougal High School coaches to provide a space for athletes to train.

“It all starts with the base. I’d love to get the kids in here and get them moving,” Moore said. “I just want to be a positive male role model for them, and be able to help out and give back.”

“He’s completely selfless,” Watkins added. “It just screams out of his pores how much he cares about his clients. He has an ability to communicate with any individual in a way that they’ll receive it. He puts himself in his (clients’) shoes and bases his training from that perspective.”

On Aug. 3, Washington Governor Jay Inslee announced new reopening directives for fitness centers, which will now be required to increase distancing to 300 square feet per person; limit occupancy to 25 percent of the facility’s limit; and require all patrons to wear face coverings.

As long as Clark County remains in the second phase of Inslee’s “Safe Start Washington” plan, Moore will allow only up to five people in his gym at one time.

“They’ll have access to the facility for one hour. And, once they leave, we’ll spend a half-hour cleaning everything with antibacterial disinfectant before the next wave of people come in,” Moore said. “I’m doing temperature checks, and I wear a mask all the time. We have health questionnaires, 6-foot markers and cleaning stations. I don’t want to be the place where you hear that two people came down with COVID after being here. I want this thing to die out so that we can go back to normalcy.”

Washougal woman named to state Commission on Hispanic Affairs
Author: Doug Flanagan

A Washougal woman recently appointed to a three-year term on the Washington State Commission on Hispanic Affairs says she is hoping to build relationships between the Latino community in Camas-Washougal and officials in Olympia.

“My goal now is to introduce myself to local leaders and community members and see where there’s a need for some communication between this community and Olympia, and to find out if any projects need attention,” Lina Alvarez recently told the Post-Record. “I would like to build relationships, meet like-minded people in the community who want to see growth and positive change and are willing to do the work, and grow a network like the one I left back home.”

Before moving to Washougal in 2012, Alvarez spent most of her life in Yakima, a small central Washington city that boasts a substantial Latino population due to its robust agricultural industry.

While in Yakima, Alvarez served as vice chairwoman for the Central Washington Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors and volunteered as a mentor, fundraiser, translator and advocate in her community.

After moving to Southwest Washington, however, she experienced a strong sense of “culture shock.”

“I think the Camas and Washougal communities are kind of set in their ways, with a mentality of, ‘This is how it’s always been done, and there’s no reason to change what we’re doing,'” Alvarez said. “In Eastern Washington, resources have been in place (for the Latino community) for more than 25 years. Here, there’s still a lot of pushback — the ‘This is America, speak English’ kind of mentality. In terms of where I come from, moving here was like going back in time.”

That’s why Alvarez is excited to begin working for the Washington State Commission on Hispanic Affairs, which serves in an advisory capacity to Governor Jay Inslee, the state legislature and local agencies on issues impacting Latino communities throughout the state.

“I felt that I needed to plant roots and be more involved in my local community,” Alvarez said. “I’ve got the energy to do this because I was waiting for a chance to serve, and this seemed like the right opportunity.”

‘On a mission to break every barrier and build bridges’

Alvarez began her three-year term on the nonpartisan commission on Aug. 2.

“(The Commission) picked a great person,” said Bertha Alicia Garza, co-founder of the Central Washington Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and chief executive officer of Yakima-based Centro Servicios Comunitarios, an economic development organization that endeavors to increase opportunities for Latino- and women-owned businesses. “We need her at a statewide level. Lina is not going to be a token by any means. She wants to make an impact in the community. If anybody can make things happen, it’s her. I’m so proud of her. She’s come a long way. I’m behind her all the way. We’re on a mission to break every barrier and build bridges.”

About 10 percent of Clark County’s 488,241 residents identified as Latino or Hispanic, according to United States Census Bureau’s July 2019 population estimates.

Alvarez hopes to provide “a voice for the Spanish-speaking community in the area, and is particularly keen on the idea of establishing a “resource hub” to help local Latinos find answers to their questions about business ownership and labor laws.

“I want to be able to show the folks here that they do have someone that is going to be listening and open to discussion, and that they can do that freely without fear of having too much attention brought to them,” she said. “There’s a lot of fear right now. I don’t know why, but I sense it. I think people are afraid to speak up. I want to create an open-door policy for the local Latino community. If I can become a conduit of communication, I’ve done my job.”

Alvarez said she remains committed to helping her hometown, too, and is currently assisting Garza’s efforts to revitalize a dilapidated park in Northeast Yakima.

“We’ll take her back anytime,” Garza said of Alvarez. “She’s very talented. She has a great personality and great communication skills. She has a powerful, but eloquent way of speaking. She’s bilingual and can connect with everybody — from the farmworker all the way up to a CEO. I really admire her passion for making a difference. She’s an asset for any community.”

Parkersville Heritage Foundation selling engraved bricks
Author: Doug Flanagan

Interested in helping preserve history, promote educational opportunities and honor a loved one at the same time? The Parkersville Heritage Foundation is once again selling engraved bricks to help raise funds for Parker’s Landing Historical Park in Washougal.

Proceeds from this year’s brick sale will help purchase labels for the park’s historic trees, which commemorate the importance of agriculture in early Camas and Washougal, and be used to fund educational, history themed events at the park.

The bricks sold in 2020 will be placed near the park’s Chinook Plaza water feature.

“You can learn about local history by looking at the bricks,” said Susan Tripp, a member of the Parkersville National Historic Site Advisory Committee. “The bricks really tell a story about the people and the events that were prominent in the area. We hope that the funds raised by the bricks continue to allow us to add to those educational pieces so the history can be fully appreciated.”

The site advisory committee provides input about the historic Parker’s Landing to the Port of Camas-Washougal, which manages the site.

The bricks can be used to “remember a loved one, recognize family members, memorialize a friend, (or) demonstrate business and community support,” said Tripp.

She purchased a brick in her great-grandfather’s name after moving to Vancouver from California in 2012, and said her passion for early Clark County history is deeply personal. Tripp’s great-grandparents immigrated to Washougal from Norway by way of Illinois in the 1860s and secured a 160-acre homestead near Mount Norway. Tripp’s grandmother, the last of 10 children, was born in 1889. The family then moved a land claim donated by Joseph Gibbons, one of Washougal’s more prominent settlers.

“I have a deep love and appreciation for local history,” Tripp said. “I learned about it from my parents and grandparents, and I’m teaching my kids about it. I want to pay it forward. Visual reminders are necessary. We’re a visual species, so to not only hear about things, but see them allows us to hold them in our minds.”

In addition to the bricks, the Parker’s Landing Historical Park includes story plaques, historic trees and kiosks.

“The purpose of promoting our local heritage is to remember the hardships and early opportunities that gave us today’s Camas and Washougal, to make future generations proud of their roots and (aware of) what we did for them in keeping this history alive and well,” Tripp said.

Bricks cost $75 and hold up to 18 spaces, including the blank spaces between words, on two lines.

To order a brick, email or fill out a form available in a self-serve box at the park. Mail orders or donations may be sent to to Parkersville Heritage Foundation, P.O. Box 567, Camas, WA 98607.

Death Notices for Aug. 13, 2020

Alagar, Zosima M., 86, Camas, died July 30, 2020. All County Cremation and Burial Services, 360-718-7948.

Carl, Gertrud, 91, Washougal, died Aug. 4, 2020. Straub’s Funeral Home & Columbia River Cremation, 360-834-4563.

Ellenz, Jean A., 90, Camas, died Aug. 9, 2020. Straub’s Funeral Home & Columbia River Cremation, 360-834-4563.

Feucht, Buffy M., 45, Washougal, died July 29, 2020. All County Cremation and Burial Services, 360-718-7948.

Ford, Betty J., 90, Washougal, died Aug. 4, 2020. Straub’s Funeral Home & Columbia River Cremation, 360-834-4563.

Jonason, James F., 56, Vancouver, died Aug. 9, 2020. Straub’s Funeral Home & Columbia River Cremation, 360-834-4563.

Jud, Lori A., 55, Camas, died Aug. 6, 2020. All County Cremation and Burial Services, 360-718-7948.

Kjelland, Mark Curtis, 61, Washougal, died Aug. 5, 2020. Brown’s Funeral Home, 360-834-3692.

Maurer, Evadine Margaret, 99, Vancouver, died Aug. 2, 2020. Brown’s Funeral Home, 360-834-3692.

Powell, Harvey Gordon, 80, Washougal, died Aug. 8, 2020. Brown’s Funeral Home, 360-834-3692.

Sheldon, Karrie L., 60, Camas, died July 22, 2020. All County Cremation and Burial Services, 360-718-7948.

Green New Deal is incomplete

Our environmental quality strategy must be encompassing and not just focus on climate change.

Since Democrats announced their Green New Deal, the emphasis is reducing greenhouse gases, particularly CO2, which contribute to global warming. Their goal is to replace gasoline and diesel burning vehicles with those operated by batteries and to eliminate coal and natural gas burning power plants.

It is understandable, since the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions from human activities is from burning fossil fuels for electricity, heat and transportation, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. By comparison, the world’s largest CO2 producer is China (23 percent). It emits twice the amount of the United States.

Under the Green New Deal, the U.S. would become 100-percent reliant on renewable electricity by 2030. Democrat presidential nominee Joe Biden wants to spend $2 trillion to make the conversion by 2035.

While reducing greenhouse gases is vital, we cannot ignore the fact that, in 2019, about 63 percent of our nation’s electricity was generated from coal, natural gas and petroleum. Combined hydropower, biomass, geothermal, wind and solar provided 22 percent.

Lithium-ion batteries will run more electric vehicles in the next decade and wind and solar power will be augmented by large storage new batteries to electrify the grind during the night and slack winds.

Batteries also come with environmental challenges. There is significant water pollution caused from extracting and processing copper, lithium, nickel and cobalt ore — which are also the primary elements used in batteries for cell phones and laptops.

Demand for copper is soaring as electric cars replace internal combustion engines. The average electric vehicle requires three times the amount of copper (165 pounds) and there is an estimated 6,600 pounds to 7,700 pounds in the wind turbines we see in central Washington.

Copper mining creates open pits and deep shafts — many of which are abandoned. Smelting produces air toxics and acid heavy-metal laden water. Wastes are often dumped in slag piles.

Lithium requires vast volumes of water to inject into the ground only to emerge contaminated. reports Chilean farmers and local residents are already trucking in water. Mining activities in Salar de Atacama, the largest salt flat in Chile and rich in lithium, consumes 65 percent of the region’s water.

In Tagong, a Chinese city on the eastern edge of the Tibetan plateau, water has been contaminated by lithium mining operations owned by BYD, the world’s largest supplier of lithium-ion batteries and Chinese automaker which made 10,000 electrics (more than Tesla) in 2017.

As lithium-ion batteries reach the end of their useful life, disposal becomes a giant headache. The average lifespan of a lithium-iron phosphate (LFP) battery, the dominant type in China’s electric vehicles, is around five years.

According to Quartz, in 2020 nearly 250,000 metric tons (276,000 tons) of batteries are set to be retired — nearly 20 times those depleted in 2016. But recycling these batteries isn’t easy due to the sophisticated chemical procedures involved. If it’s not done properly the heavy metal contained in the battery can lead to contamination of soil and water in landfills.

The point is our environmental strategies must be more encompassing.

Hopefully, as companies consider new climate strategies investments, they can broaden their focus.

For example, in announcing its Climate Pledge Fund, Amazon will be investing in recycling and water quality projects as well as transportation, energy generation, battery storage, manufacturing and food and agriculture.

Amazon plans to buy all of its electricity from renewable sources and purchase 11,000 electric vehicles. Hopefully, it can invest in battery recycling technology as well so all of the metals in lithium-ion batteries can be recovered and reprocessed — not tossed in landfills.

Don Brunell, retired as president of the Association of Washington Business, is a business analyst, writer and columnist. He lives in Vancouver and can be contacted at TheBrunells@

Local physical therapy clinic helps fix ‘debilitating’ vertigo
Author: Kelly Moyer

There was nothing particularly unusual about the day Anne Haller’s world started spinning.

The 60-year-old Camas woman was in the middle of her normal morning yoga postures, something she’d done for years, when she felt like the room had tilted.

“It was just a little blip. So quick, I didn’t even know it had actually happened,” Haller said. “And then it happened again.”

Haller lost her balance. She felt as if the entire room was spinning around her body. Slowly, she made her way to a seated position on her mat.

“I didn’t know what was going on,” Haller said. “I thought maybe I was having a brain aneurysm.”

A call to 911 brought emergency medical workers to Haller’s side.

“I couldn’t even move,” Haller said. “I knew there was something wrong with me.”

The paramedics had taken her vitals and said they looked fine, but they still wanted Haller to go to the emergency room.

Normally, that would have been fine, especially since Haller still couldn’t move without her world spinning out of control around her. But this was in early April and the COVID-19 pandemic had just been declared.

“I just didn’t want to go to the ER,” Haller said. “So I called my doctor and she diagnosed it.”

What Haller had just experienced is known as benign paroxysmal positional vertigo, or BPPV. One of the most common causes of vertigo, BPPV is more common in people, especially women, over the age of 50, and can cause intense dizziness, nausea and, as Haller realized, the sensation that you are spinning out of control.

“It’s like motion sickness. I literally could just sit on my bed. I couldn’t lie down. I couldn’t even move my head side to side. I just sat and kept my head still,” Haller said. “It was debilitating.”

Luckily, Haller’s doctor knew a local physical therapy clinic — the same clinic Haller had gone to before for an elbow injury — that specialized in helping patients with BPPV.

Tiny crystals cause big problems

Physical therapist and orthopedic clinical specialist Mike Teater is the clinic manager of FYZICAL Therapy & Balance Centers in Camas, a business he co-owns with his wife, Kristin.

When Haller called for an appointment to treat her BPPV, Teater knew exactly what to do.

“Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo is a mouthful, but it can happen to anybody,” Teater said. “It is especially common in (patients older than) 50 or 60, and it can be pretty intense.”

What happens before the classic “room spinning” vertigo is that tiny calcium crystals in the inner ear, which help maintain a body’s balance, break off — sometimes due to age, other times due to a head injury — and become lodged inside one of the six canals located deep inside the ears.

“When the crystals break off, it creates turbulence in the brain,” Teater said. “One ear is sending information (telling the body where it is in space), but the other ear is now sending something totally wacky.”

The mixed messages disrupt a person’s equilibrium and can make them feel like they’re spinning, extremely dizzy and nauseous, Teater said.

To help a patient suffering from BPPV, Teater must first figure out which of the six ear canals contain the misplaced crystals. Using infrared goggles with a camera in them, Teater records a patient’s eyes and watches for the movement of the pupils. Tilting the person’s head into various positions and then watching for specific eye movements lets the therapist know which canal contains the tiny crystal pieces.

“As soon as we know this, we can take them into the clearing maneuvers,” Teater said. “Patients with BPPV are usually miserable, so we want to give them relief right away.”

Some patients require more than one round of the crystal-clearing maneuvers, but many, including Haller, feel relief after just one session, usually within 15 or 20 minutes.

“We also want to make sure that the BPPV isn’t causing other issues with balance,” Teater said.

Spreading the word

For Haller, she said the treatment she received at the FYZICAL clinic was life-altering.

“I was definitely very impressed,” Haller said of her treatment with Teater. “I felt better right away, and I’m so thankful that I know someone who can treat it.”

The few days she spent in bed, wondering if her world would ever feel normal again “gutted” Haller. “It was really scary,” she said. “And there’s nothing really preventative you can do. It could happen again. They don’t know why it happens, but they do know it is more common in women over 50, so I’ve been telling all my friends, ‘If you have these symptoms, this is what it might be.'”

A Texas native, Haller moved to Camas in 2014 and said she loves her new community.

Now, she’s hoping to spread the word about BPPV, the FYZICAL center’s treatment.

“I want to let other people know about this. And let them know that there is a treatment,” Haller said. “The treatment is really bizarre, but the manipulations work. I had that one treatment and it was just gone. It was just amazing.”

To find more information about BPPV and other inner-ear or brain balance disorders, visit The Camas FYZICAL Therapy & Balance Center is located at 1905 S.E. 192nd Ave., Ste. 109. The center is open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday. For more information, visit, call 360-210-5440 or email

Washougal to start work on Columbia River Trail
Author: Doug Flanagan

One of the city of Washougal’s major projects for 2020, the Columbia River Trail, is scheduled to get under way later this year after a slight delay; while another, the Schmid Ballfields project, has been pushed back to 2021.

The city will start accepting construction bids for its Columbia River Trail project later this month, and hopes to begin work in late September or early October with the goal of completing the trail by Jan. 31, 2021.

“I don’t know how many times people have asked me when that trail will be done. People are excited for it, and I’m glad it’s happening,” said Port of Camas-Washougal Commissioner Cassi Marshall, who also is a member of the Camas Parks and Recreation Commission. “We’ve been eagerly waiting for this connection to get finished. It’s really important, and will be a huge amenity.”

The project will construct a 3,500-foot trail that will connect the Washougal Waterfront Park and Trail with Steamboat Landing.

“When the Port of Camas-Washougal built its trail four years ago, we started getting pressured to complete that section of the trail,” said city of Washougal engineer Rob Charles. “We always planned to make that connection. It just took longer than we anticipated, but that’s how things go when dealing with agencies and property owners.”

The trail will provide recreation access in both directions along the riverfront. To the west, it will connect directly to the Waterfront Trail and other popular recreation destinations, including the Washougal River Greenway and Lacamas and Heritage parks. To the east, the U.S. Corps of Engineers Levee trail will lead trail users from Steamboat Landing Park through the state Route 14 pedestrian tunnel into downtown Washougal or beyond to Captain William Clark Regional Park, Steigerwald Lake National Wildlife Refuge and Gibbons Creek Wildlife Art Trail.

“It’s the missing link,” Charles said. “Actually, people are already (walking through there) right now. They see that connection and wander through there; we’ve heard about that from property owners. It will be nice to actually have a marked (trail) for people, who can walk down the middle of a road and hopefully feel safer with a sidewalk and an actual trail that’s marked and wide enough to use and feel safe.”

“This connection will be vital moving forward as the waterfront develops and downtown continues to grow and thrive,” Marshall added. “I’m thinking it’s going to be a win-win for the waterfront and the downtown. It will be a boon to businesses as well. When the trail goes through, the ‘walkability’ of our community will increase. People will be able to walk to businesses and restaurants from their homes and not have to drive. And outside of the economic benefits, it’s just an enjoyable walk.”

The $1.75 million project is being funded by a $1 million grant, awarded to the city by the Washington Department of Commerce in 2018, and monies from the city’s general projects fund.

“There was a little bit of delay with the consultants (due to the COVID-19 pandemic),” Charles said. “We’re probably a month or so behind where we normally would have been. I had anticipated that we’d have started construction by now. But the projects that we had outside funding for — this one, the George Schmid Ballfields, the Jemtegaard trail — we wanted to get those done.”

The city is waiting until 2021, however, to begin the Schmid Ballfields project.

“The delay is not financial, so it does not affect the budgets, other than funds will carry over into 2021,” Washougal City Manager David Scott said. “The delay was around the planning and design, and those delays were COVID-19 related — impacts to consultants and our operations pushed things just enough to require us to move the project to 2021. We are still tracking for that project and look forward to getting it constructed next year.”

The $2.6 million project will build a third field, pave the parking lot, and add water, sanitary and electrical services, permanent restroom facilities, lighting, and accessible paths and seating.

“We’re well into the process of design and permitting, so we probably could’ve (began) construction in the winter, but we’ll push it to next spring and hope to get a better building climate,” Scott said. “We’ll start advertising in December or January, if all goes according to plan.”

NYT Politics

The Democratic contenders pledge a path forward out of crises.
Author: Katie Glueck and Thomas Kaplan

Columbian Newspaper

‘One of us’: South Asians celebrate Harris as VP choice
Author: SOPHIA TAREEN, Associated Press

CHICAGO — Two words summed up Tamani Jayasinghe’s exuberance for the first Indian American and Black woman to run for vice president: “Kamala Aunty.”

That title of respect that goes beyond family in Asian circles immediately came to mind when Joe Biden announced Kamala Harris as his running mate. So the 27-year-old with Sri Lankan roots tweeted it as a wink to others who understood the significance of the term.

“The fact that she is both Black and brown is what makes this so exciting. The Asian American experience is one that is complicated and nuanced and robust,” said Jayasinghe, who works in financial communications in New York. “I feel connected to that.”

Harris, the daughter of a Jamaican father and an Indian mother, often focuses on her identity as a Black woman. At times during her political career, as she ran for California attorney general and senator, some didn’t realize she was of Indian descent. In her first remarks as Biden’s running mate on Wednesday, she spoke of her mother’s roots but described herself as the “first Black woman” to be nominated for the vice presidency on a major party ticket.

Still, the possibility she would be the U.S. vice president, which has already triggered sexist and racist commentary, created instantaneous glee among South Asians worldwide and put the spotlight on her as the first person of Asian descent on a major party presidential ticket.

Asian Americans are the fastest-growing racial or ethnic group of eligible voters. More than 11 million Asian Americans will be able to vote in November, according to a May report by the Pew Research Center.

The choice — Biden and Harris made their debut Wednesday — inspired social media musings of celebrating the Hindu festival Diwali at the White House and drawing room talks about the U.S. senator’s mother’s journey from Chennai to California. Indian government officials of all parties noted the choice as historic, while actress Mindy Kaling — she once made masala dosa with Harris — deemed it “thrilling.” A top headline in the The Times of India, one of the world’s most widely read English-language newspapers, read, “‘A daughter of Chennai, Kamala blooms in US.”

“She is one of us,” said Aleyamma Keny, a retired nurse in suburban Chicago.

The 74-year-old woman, who immigrated from southern India to the U.S. in the 1970s, said Harris joining the ticket felt like a family member had accomplished something. Like many others, Keny saw her own immigration story in the candidate’s mother.

Harris has called her late mother, Shyamala Gopalan, her biggest influence and frequently invoked stories about the cancer researcher and civil rights activist who died in 2009. Gopalan first came to America in 1958. She attended the University of California at Berkeley, where she met and married Jamaican immigrant Donald Harris and had Kamala and her sister before the couple divorced.

Gopalan took the sisters to India to visit relatives and gave both, Kamala Devi Harris and Maya Lakshmi Harris, names rooted in Indian culture. (Kamala means lotus, Devi means goddess. Lakshmi is the Hindu goddess of wealth.)

Harris’ mother came to the U.S. at a time when Indians were scarce and raised her biracial daughters with the understanding that the larger American society would see them as Black. She took them to civil rights protests, and wanted them to become “confident, proud Black women,” Harris wrote in her 2019 book, “The Truths We Hold: An American Journey.”

A graduate of Howard University, Harris has made clear that she is both confident and proud of her Black identity. In a March 2019 radio interview, she answered a question about her identity by saying: “I’m Black, and I’m proud of being Black. I was born Black. I will die Black, and I’m not going to make excuses for anybody because they don’t understand.”

She did take steps during her presidential campaign, before she dropped out in December, to talk about her Indian heritage. Without much fanfare, she released a video via social media featuring photos of her Indian grandfather and talked of her visits as a child to see him.

In her speech Wednesday, Harris noted her parents’ heritages but ended with saying Biden is the only person “who’s served alongside the first Black president and has chosen the first Black woman as his running mate.”

President Donald Trump struggled Wednesday to define her candidacy, repeatedly calling her “nasty.” She’s already been the subject of the false notion that she’s ineligible to run because her parents were not born in America.

Harris was elected to the Senate in 2016, the same year three other Indian Americans won their first House terms including Pramila Jayapal of Washington. The first Indian American congresswoman, she and Asians also celebrated Harris as a Black woman.

“It isn’t just that we want her to be an Asian American sister for us. She really is representative, this biracial piece is representative of the experiences that so many immigrant communities have had, learning from the leadership of Black communities,” she said. “So we want her to claim all of us and we will all claim her.”

Madhuri Patel, who immigrated from Gujrat, India, at the age of 6 and grew up in predominantly white Iowa, said Harris’ multi-layered identity would make her a more effective leader. She hoped Harris could unify the country.

“For me, it’s always been really important that you have someone who understands the experience of being marginalized within our communities,” said the 45-year-old Chicago attorney.

Zafar Bokhari, a Chicago State University professor who immigrated from Pakistan in the 1980s, said Harris was a role model for his children.

Despite skepticism about her foreign policy if elected, he said seeing a woman from the Indian subcontinent as a possible vice president was inspiring.

“This is quite an achievement and I really admire the way she has presented herself,” he said. “She has earned this position and I respect that.”

Hundreds quarantined in schools that followed Trump’s advice
Author: Margaret Newkirk, Kristen V. Brown and Jordan Fabian, Bloomberg News

President Donald Trump is pushing U.S. schools to open classroom doors wide. In some districts that have followed his instructions, they’re slamming shut again.

Schools that reopened fully and early are seeing hundreds of students, staff and teachers put into quarantine as COVID-19 spreads. Some are closing buildings opened just days ago. Others are frantically looking for workarounds and for the money to pay for them. In Memphis, Tennessee and Irvine, California, teachers must sign liability waivers in case they get sick.

Nationally, most districts are ignoring Trump’s full-speed-ahead advice. New Jersey on Wednesday reversed course on mandatory in-person classes, and Boston won’t attempt them.

Still, too many insist on putting educators and communities at risk, said Lily Eskelsen Garcia, president of the National Education Association and a sixth-grade teacher in Salt Lake City.

“There is no one, maybe besides parents, who wants kids back in school as much as teachers do,” Eskelsen Garcia said. “We hate online learning, too. We’re throwing our computers against the wall, too. But we want to do it when and where we can do it without killing anybody.”

Trump has been demanding schools reopen so that parents are able to work part of a bid to restart the economy and create the impression the U.S. is returning to normal ahead of the November election. Yet the virus is continuing to rage across parts of the U.S., with the country’s death toll at about 165,000.

The president has tried to force reopenings by saying that half the money for schools in the next round of stimulus legislation should be reserved for those that open their doors. On Wednesday, at an event with parents and educators, he criticized districts trying to use halfway measures to bring students back to class, like combining virtual learning with class time, and having fewer kids in the school at a time.

At a later briefing, the White House released simple advice for reopening: Students and staff should assess their own health, understand the symptoms of COVID-19, wash their hands, socially distance around vulnerable people, and maintain good ventilation. The guidelines also said schools should “encourage” wearing masks.

Trump said there’s no substitute for traditional schooling.

“When you have students sitting at home playing with a computer, it’s not the same,” he said at the briefing. “When you sit at home in a basement looking at a computer, your brain starts to wither away.”

Nationally, just over half of students in kindergarten through high school will attend school virtually in the fall, while 44% will take classes in person in some form, according to a survey of public-school districts by Burbio, a New York-based data service. And many of those going back to in-person classes won’t be going back full-time, with schools staggering attendance to groups small enough to maintain social distancing. Some 66% of students across the 200 largest districts are taking virtual-only classes, Burbio found.

Large urban districts that are starting the year online include Atlanta, Houston, Boston, Los Angeles and Chicago. Some have written off the entire semester for in-person classes.

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh announced Wednesday that public-school students will not be showing up in person in the fall. In New Jersey, Gov. Phil Murphy abandoned a requirement that New Jersey’s 2,500 public schools conduct in-person teaching, allowing some to use distance-only learning when the academic year begins in early September.

Others are setting dates for students to come back to class that may roll forward, depending on the pandemic’s spread. In metro Atlanta, Fulton County schools in March the first in Georgia to shut down will bring in the youngest children and special-education students for limited hours in September, and then phase in the rest. But that’s only if the infection rates in the county are low enough and dropping, said Superintendent Mike Looney.

Other metro Atlanta districts have pushed forward with reopening and paid an immediate price in an area with high community spread.

In Cherokee County, north of the city, more than 900 people most of them students, but also teachers and staff are in quarantine just nine days after the school opened its doors because students reported infections. The high school had to close again.

The district required masks of teachers and staff but not of students, spokeswoman Barbara Jacoby said.

Nearby Paulding County also had to close its high school for cleaning this week, after students, teachers and staff tested positive. The district’s Aug. 3 opening day became briefly famous after a student sent out a photo of a throng of maskless students in a hallway there. She was promptly suspended and then unsuspended.

Trump has asserted that children are “virtually immune” to the coronavirus. The president appears to be referring to the notion that children are less likely to become ill from the virus, even though they can spread it to adults.

Relatively little is known about how COVID-19 is transmitted to and from children. On one hand, some early evidence has suggested that children and especially younger children don’t transmit it as frequently as adults or even older children.

But children can certainly still contract the virus, and a growing number have as the virus has surged throughout the country. COVID-19 infections among U.S. kids grew 40% in the second half of July, according to a report this week from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children’s Hospital Association.Advocates for reopening schools often point to regions that have already done so successfully, or never closed schools to begin with, such as several nations in Northern Europe. Experts, though, stress that those regions have had far less viral transmission than the U.S.

Paul Peterson, director of the Program on Education Policy and Governance at Harvard University, said at the White House that students who miss school likely will earn less money when they’re older.

To Eskelsen Garcia, the NEA president, the superiority of in-school teaching isn’t in question. “This is not about pedagogy,” she said. “This disease kills people.”

Eskelsen Garcia said she’s been heartened by the number of districts resisting Trump’s pressure and that schools should reopen only when the community infection rate is low.

Her advice: “Listen to what Trump says. Then do the exact opposite of whatever comes out of his mouth.”