People helping people ● Paid leave… for some ● Wash your hands, but make your rate!

Tuesday, March 17, 2020




► LIVE from the Seattle Times — Coronavirus daily news update, March 17 — The state Department of Health announced 135 new cases Monday, bringing the state total to 904 cases, including 48 deaths. The bulk of cases remain in King County.

► In the Seattle Times — Coronavirus sparks an epidemic of people helping people in Seattle — This pandemic has upended every part of our daily lives and sent social, economic and political shock waves throughout our society. Fear might bring out some of our worst instincts, but crises bring out the best in humanity as well. In the days since the Seattle area became the epicenter of the outbreak, the outpouring of support has been moving and inspiring.

► In the (Everett) Herald — Helping others in a time of ‘social distancing’ (editorial) — Limiting the spread of disease doesn’t mean we stop lending a hand — even if not a literal one — to others.

► In the News Tribune — Another coronavirus casualty: Pierce County’s dangerously low blood supply (editorial) — After 9/11, South Sound residents stepped forward to give blood. They should do the same during the coronavirus emergency.

► From Crosscut — Coronavirus outbreak prompts call for ICE to release at-risk detainees — The suit, filed by the ACLU and Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, calls for the immediate release of detainees in Tacoma.

► In the Kitsap Sun — While others shut down, shipyard and Navy work continues




► In the (Everett) Herald — Companywide, Boeing reports 11 confirmed cases of COVID-19 — With 11 confirmed cases of COVID-19 across its global operations, with nine of those in the Puget Sound region, Boeing plans to redouble efforts to equip more employees to work at home. Those efforts don’t apply to workers whose jobs require they turn a wrench or inspect aircraft or production work. Those who are unable to work at home due to the nature of their jobs “should continue to work on-site until further notice,” a company email said.




► In the Seattle Times — Coronavirus: Underfunding nursing homes has real-life consequences for workers (by Sterling Harders) — Nursing-home workers are always on the front lines of caring for the most vulnerable. Yet due to chronic underfunding of nursing homes at the state and federal level, workers — certified nursing assistants, dietary aides, laundry workers — are stretched to capacity. COVID-19 didn’t create the crisis in nursing homes — it’s shown the reality.

► In the Seattle Times — Coronavirus call centers stumble in state: glitches, lack of staff, contradicting messages — The state and King County both stumbled in setting up public information hotlines, creating confusion and frustration. Too few operators, technical snafus and contradicting messages from health care providers have all hampered the usefulness of the call centers.

► In the Columbia Basin Herald — Governor: Schools to provide childcare for medical workers, first responders — The decision was made to mitigate the impact on staffing in these critical fields, and while districts may consider additional childcare options, the focus should be on those workers, said Inslee and state Superintendent Chris Reykdal.

► In the Olympian — Local school districts offer grab-and-go meals during coronavirus closure — The mass closure introduces a host of challenges for district and school administrators, teachers, families, and students alike. One of the biggest: How to feed students who rely on schools for basic nutrition.




► From The Hill — Congress hit for not doing more on paid leave — Unlike an earlier draft, it excluded companies with over 500 workers from the requirements, and created a path for companies with fewer than 50 employees to seek a waiver. It drew criticism for leaving some workers without protection during a critical time.

► From Vox — Workers at national restaurant chains are not covered by new sick leave bill — New protections from Washington don’t apply to workers from Chipotle and McDonald’s, and some say they’ve faced retaliation for taking sick leave.

► From CNBC — Paid sick leave sticking point in Senate vote on coronavirus relief bill — Some Republican senators say the bill shouldn’t “mandate” that employers pay for sick leave.

► In the Washington Post — Trump administration seeks roughly $850 billion in emergency stimulus to confront coronavirus economic fallout — The Trump administration is asking Congress to approve a massive economic stimulus package of around $850 billion to stanch the economic free-fall caused by the coronavirus.

► From The Hill — Airline industry calls for $50B in assistance — Airlines for America (A4A) on Monday called on Congress and the administration to provide grants, loans and tax relief to a beleaguered industry struggling through a coronavirus epidemic that has upended travel and forced the cancellations of thousands of flights.

► From Reuters — ‘Single biggest shock’: Aviation battles coronavirus cash crunch — To preserve cash, airlines are cutting flights, laying off staff, suspending dividends, selling planes and flying cargo on empty passenger jets.

EDITOR’S NOTE — In recent years, airlines have spent billions in cash reserves on stock buybacks to artificially boost their stock price. American Airlines alone spent more than $15 billion from 2014 to 2020 on stock buybacks. Just sayin’.

► From CNN — Sweeping restrictions take effect in coronavirus response as health officials warn U.S. is at a tipping point — Scott Steiner, president and CEO of Phoebe Putney Health Systems, told CNN that despite being well-prepared in terms of protective gear — with six months’ worth of inventory stockpiled — the system has gone through five months’ worth of that inventory in six days. Department of Health and Human Services officials said in a call with medical professionals Monday there isn’t enough stockpiled medical equipment like masks, gowns and gloves in the national stockpile to fill in the gaps that states and local communities may see. HHS officials said the government didn’t yet have a solution for possible shortfalls but was working on one.

EDITOR’S NOTE — Unfortunately, much of that protective gear is manufactured in China, which is hoarding it. Globalization!

► In the NY Times — U.S. lags in coronavirus testing after slow response to outbreak — The COVID Tracking Project’s data lays bare just how behind the United States has been in responding to the pandemic, which by Monday night had sickened more than 178,000 people worldwide. Recent data shows that about 125 people per million have been tested in the United States — far fewer than most other countries where data is available.

► In the Washington Post — How U.S. coronavirus testing stalled: Flawed tests, red tape and resistance to using the millions of tests produced by the WHO

► From HuffPost — 200 Connecticut nurses exposed to coronavirus sidelined due to lack of testing

► In the Seattle Times — ‘Try getting it yourselves,’ Trump tells governors seeking ventilators

► In today’s LA Times — With masks at the ready, ICE agents make arrests on first day of California lockdown

► From Politico — Poll: Most Americans don’t trust Trump on coronavirus information — Few Americans trust Trump when it comes to the coronavirus pandemic, according to a new survey, and less than half of respondents believe the federal government is taking sufficient steps to combat the public health crisis.

► From Politico — A chastened Trump presents a newly somber tone — As many Americans started a new week with shuttered shops, schools and offices, the president traded his trademark defiance for a series of serious warnings.

► In the Washington Post — On Fox News, suddenly a very different tune about the coronavirus — For weeks, some of Fox News’s most popular hosts downplayed the threat of the coronavirus, characterizing it as a conspiracy by media organizations and Democrats to undermine President Trump. But with Trump’s declaration on Friday that the virus constitutes a national emergency, the tone on Fox News has quickly shifted. Now they are lauding the president’s handling of what hosts now, belatedly, refer to as a “crisis.”

► In the Washington Post — The U.S. government is failing catastrophically at its most basic function (by Dana Milbank) — The government, and the U.S. political system, had failed for years at such routine tasks as balancing its books and forging policy consensus. Now, it is failing catastrophically at its most basic function: protecting the American people… It’s tempting to blame Trump for the dysfunction, and he has unquestionably made things worse. But he merely exploited a political system that has been unraveling for a quarter-century or more.




► In the Washington Post — Amazon’s warehouse workers sound alarms about coronavirus spread — As Amazon sales surge from shoppers stocking up on consumer staples, the e-commerce giant’s warehouse workers are raising alarms that the company is not doing enough to protect them from the novel coronavirus. Workers are calling on the company to close and clean warehouses exposed to the coronavirus and to adopt rules that encourage employees to practice sanitary habits. Amazon says it’s following guidance from health officials and providing workers time to use the restrooms to wash their hands. But an Amazon warehouse worker in New York says it takes minutes to walk to the nearest bathroom and they still get written up if they fail to “make rate,” so many are skipping the hand-washing. “If a worker is to cough or sneeze, there is no way for them to practice good sanitary habits” and run to a restroom to wash hands, he said. “It’s going to affect your stow rate.” That’s one reason the worker petition calls for eliminating rate-based write-ups. The petition also demands the company provide paid sick leave even if workers don’t have a covid-19 diagnosis because testing remains difficult to get.

EDITOR’S NOTE — That’s right. Apparently, you don’t get paid sick leave at Amazon unless you have a doctor’s note or proof of diagnosis. Nice place you’re running there, Jeff.

► From the AP — Amazon seeks to hire 100,000 to keep up with surge in orders

► In the NY Times — As coronavirus deepens inequality, inequality worsens its spreadThe pandemic is widening social and economic divisions that also make the virus deadlier, a self-reinforcing cycle that experts warn could have consequences for years to come.

► From the AP — Ohio postpones Democratic primary, Florida workers a no-show — Leaders in Ohio called off their primary just hours before polls were set to open. Voting moved forward in Florida, Illinois and Arizona, but challenges emerged as some poll workers didn’t show up and those who did tried to create distance among voters to comply with new health guidelines limiting large gatherings.


The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.

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