Friday, March 27, 2020
► LIVE from the Seattle Times — Coronavirus daily news update, March 27 — The state Department of Health announced 627 new cases Tuesday, bringing the state total to 3,207 cases, including 147 deaths. The bulk of cases remain in King County.
► From WSNA, SEIU Healthcare 1199NW and UFCW 21 — Sign the petition: Stand with Nurses and Health Care Workers! — As the COVID-19 pandemic spreads in Washington and across the United States, nurses and health care workers are stepping up to serve our communities during a public health emergency unlike any we’ve seen in our lifetimes. We need our employers and our government to step up for us. Nurses and health care workers must have the resources to ensure our health and our families are protected as we fight this pandemic.
► From Crosscut — Labor tensions and coronavirus collide at Swedish Hospital ICU — Fresh off a strike and still without a contract, Swedish nurses say they’re struggling to keep up with the pandemic. It’s been nearly two months since Swedish caregivers ended a three-day labor strike over staff ratios and pay, and then were locked out of the hospital when they tried to return. And it’s been one month since the first confirmed death from COVID-19 in Washington state launched a frenzied period for the region’s medical providers. The twin crises at Swedish have now run headlong into one another as nurses are being asked to do more with less because of the coronavirus — at a time when they and their union say they were already being asked to do more with less.
► In the Seattle Times — As advertising dries up amid coronavirus shutdown, Washington news outlets lay off staff — Layoffs and furloughs have followed, putting additional pressure on the remaining reporters and editors, who are already working overtime — and usually working from home — to feed the public’s need for news about the virus. Almost no newspaper in Washington has remained unscathed.
► In the Seattle Times — KeyArena construction set to resume Monday amid coronavirus work stoppages, Tim Leiweke says — Oak View Group CEO Tim Leiweke said Thursday that construction work will resume next week on the KeyArena rebuild because its roof must be put back on to its permanent support posts.
► In the Seattle Times — Shutdown halts construction on many projects, but not all
► In the Seattle Times — West Seattle Bridge so badly cracked it needs shoring before repairs can begin, the city says
► MUST-READ in the NY Times — Seattle is living your coronavirus future (by Timothy Egan) — Social distancing started early. Testing has been broad, though more help from the federal government is needed. A communal fight or flight instinct has moved into something more settled. Even as the president floats an idea that could sacrifice the elderly to keep Wall Street happy, we take care of our own. We will not throw Grandma from the train.
► In the Seattle Times — UW model says social distancing is starting to work — but still projects 1,400 coronavirus deaths in the state — A new analysis from the University of Washington projects that even with strict social distancing from coast to coast, more than 81,000 people in the U.S. — and more than 1,400 in Washington state — could die from COVID-19 by the first of July. Hospitals and intensive care units across the country are likely to be overwhelmed beginning in the second week of April.
ALSO TODAY at The Stand — COVID-19: ‘Now is not the time to retreat’ — We must maintain strong social distancing, or we waste our progress and put lives at risk, say Sen. Murray and Gov. Inslee.
► In the Spokesman-Review — Inslee: Extension of stay-home order in play, despite ‘glimmer of hope’ in COVID-19 data — Washington has a “glimmer of hope” with some good news on efforts to fight the COVID-19 outbreak, but that doesn’t mean the current stay-home order won’t be extended past the original two weeks, Gov. Jay Inslee said Thursday.
► In the (Longview) Daily News — Unemployment claims surge locally, nationally due to COVID-19 layoffs — In an economic tsunami caused by the coronavirus outbreak, a record 3.3 million Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week, a number that included 133,000 Washingtonians.
The Stand (March 25) — Who can get unemployment benefits, how to apply in Washington
► In the Yakima H-R — Inslee, Dept. of Health urge retired medical workers to return
► In the Olympian — Union demands protections after staff, patients fall ill with COVID-19 at Western State Hospital — After news that five employees and two patients have tested positive for the coronavirus at Western State Hospital, the union representing behavioral health care workers there has condemned officials for not doing enough to protect workers. “When you dig deep, some of the things are not as effective as they could be,” said Jane Hopkins, executive vice president of the SEIU Healthcare 1199NW, which represents 1,000 employees across Washington including 400 at Western State.
► Yesterday from the Public News Service — In pandemic, workers question safety at Western State Hospital — Some workers at Washington state’s psychiatric facility near Tacoma are growing increasingly concerned about the health of patients and themselves during the novel coronavirus outbreak. Mike Yestramski, a psychiatric social worker at Western State Hospital and president of the Washington Federation of State Employees, says the hospital staff is scared and doesn’t feel there’s enough transparency from managers about how they’re keeping people safe. “We actually had a nurse who was working with the patient who tested positive — called in, was describing her symptoms and was told to come in anyway,” he relates. “Thankfully, she refused.”
► From The Hill — States brace for massive budget gaps in coronavirus recession — State governments have spent a decade stockpiling billions of dollars in reserve funds for the next economic downturn, scarred by the steep cuts they were forced to make in the midst of the last recession. Now, with the coronavirus grinding the global economy to a virtual halt, those billions could be gone in a matter of months.
► In the Washington Post — Inslee clashes with Trump over his leadership on coronavirus aid: ‘We need a Tom Brady’ — After Trump told governors that his administration was ready to be the “backup” for states, Inslee spoke up and told the president, “We don’t need a backup. We need a Tom Brady.” Inslee alluded to the Defense Production Act and said Washington state needs businesses to be more than encouraged to produce items such as masks and ventilators — they need a federal mandate to force them to act.
► In the Seattle Times — Trump administration backs off a deal for Bothell’s Ventec and GM to produce ‘up to 20,000’ ventilators a month amid coronavirus crisis — Bothell-based Ventec Life Systems was at the center of a national storm late Thursday when it was reported the Trump administration pulled back from a deal for the company and General Motors to begin producing what one supplier said would soon be “up to 20,000” life-saving ventilators a month.
► From Politico — Trump downplays need for ventilators
► In the Seattle Times — Rules required if Boeing needs coronavirus bailout (editorial) — Federal leaders are right to make rescue money available, and to attach meaningful conditions to it. Along with the equity stake, stimulus money would require limiting executive salaries and forbid stock buybacks to shore up the price. In Boeing’s specific case, the requirements should also include systemic reforms to corporate governance, including a reform of the board of directors, so oversight lapses that enabled past mistakes don’t recur. The loan terms set in the stimulus establish well-considered corporate limitations. Boeing should prepare to accept them if need be.
► UPDATE from The Hill — House passes $2 trillion coronavirus relief bill, with Trump to sign quickly
► From the NCSL — COVID-19 stimulus bill: What it means for states
► From the CEPR — What’s in the federal bill and what’s not, but still needed
► From The Hill — Democratic leaders say $2 trillion stimulus will pass House on Friday — House Democratic leaders vowed Friday morning that the lower chamber will pass a massive $2 trillion coronavirus relief bill later in the day, despite last-minute hurdles erected by conservative Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) that have sent lawmakers scrambling to return to Washington.
► From Fox Business — AFL-CIO’s Trumka: Coronavirus relief package ‘not perfect’ but ‘going to do a lot of good’ — AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka expressed support for the coronavirus stimulus package moving through Congress, although he said it’s “not perfect” on Thursday. “But it’s going to do a lot of good and we need to have it done very, very quickly,” Trumka said. “There are some things not in the bill that are very important that will have to be included very quickly. It doesn’t do enough with health and safety of our front line workers. It does nothing to protect U.S. pensions.”
► From Forbes — How labor unions won historic pay protection for aviation workers — Airline labor unions appear to have achieved unprecedented success in extending its protections to their workers. The bill provides $31 billion in direct grants to pay as many as 750,000 airline industry workers, many but not all union members, through Sept. 30. Of the total, $25 billion is allocated for passenger airlines, $4 billion for cargo airlines, and $3 billion for contractors, including those who employ caterers and airport workers, according to the Transportation Trades Department of the AFL-CIO.
► From Bloomberg Law — Virus loans to come with union neutrality pledge for companies — Mid-size businesses seeking loans under new coronavirus stimulus legislation moving in Congress would have to agree not to oppose unions looking to organize their workers.
EDITOR’S NOTE — Now, we must demand that the politicized NLRB end its unnecessary and undemocratic ban on all union recognition elections.
► In the Washington Post — Cruise lines, early source of coronavirus infections, out of bailout package — Unlike most hotel and airline companies, major cruise operators have located their primary headquarters overseas, which for years has allowed them to pay almost no federal taxes and avoid some U.S. regulations.
► In the Washington Post — The Postal Service was in trouble before covid-19. Now it’s fighting for its life. — Unless Congress acts quickly, the decline in mail because of covid-19 could soon close the constitutionally mandated mail service, according to some congressional leaders. They called the situation “a national emergency” as they proposed postal relief measures.
► From Politico — Could Obamacare save jobless Americans from coronavirus? — The law’s backers say it will prove a crucial safety net during the pandemic. The Trump administration may soon agree.
► In the NY Times — Why is America choosing mass unemployment? (editorial) — European countries are paying to preserve jobs during the coronavirus crisis. Sadly for American workers, the United States is charting its own path.
► From HuffPost — British Prime Minister Boris Johnson tests positive
► In the Washington Post — It was the worst week for the economy in decades. The pain is just beginning. — The record 3.3 million jobless claims reported Thursday mark the beginning of an economic crisis facing American workers and businesses — a slump, experts say, that will only end when the coronavirus pandemic is contained.
► From NBC Bay Area — Union locates 39 million N95 masks for healthcare workers, local governments — SEIU United Healthcare Workers West announced that it located 39 million N95 masks and will make them available to state and local governments and health care systems that are fighting the novel coronavirus outbreak. The union found a distributor with the masks, which are cleared for surgical use, after pleas from health care workers as new coronavirus cases surge across the state and the country as a whole.
The Stand (March 19) — Your supplies save lives: Donate unused personal protective gear
► In the Seattle Times — It was a quiet death (by Leonard Pitts Jr.) — You always wonder who you’ll be in the moment of crisis, how you’ll acquit yourself when stuff gets real. Will you do the right thing? Even if it’s hard? Even if it demands sacrifice? Even if it means your poll numbers drop or, God forbid, you miss out on a party? Are you the soldier who throws himself on the grenade? Or are you the one who knocks down his buddies trying to get away? There’s a temptation to give the easy answer, the one that flatters self-image. The truth is, this moment is testing us, and many are coming up short, all too ready to abandon the “we” and embrace the “me.” And yet, facing a crisis far greater than lack of Charmin, Father Giuseppe Berardelli made a different call.
► Which brings us to our TGIF video.
Nurses, doctors and other healthcare workers; fire fighters, medics and police; nursing home employees and long-term care providers; janitors and sanitation workers; grocery and supply chain workers; hotel, airline and airport workers; public health employees and journalists; and so many others. All of us putting our lives at rish to fight the COVID-19 outbreak — and all of us who are honoring the stay-at-home order and caring for our families while checking in with our neighbors…
“We can be heroes, just for one day (longer).”
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.