Monday, March 30, 2020
► LIVE from the Seattle Times — Coronavirus daily news update, March 30 — The state Department of Health announced 586 new cases Tuesday, bringing the state total to 4,896 cases, including 195 deaths. The bulk of cases remain in King County.
► In the (Everett) Herald — Bus driver who worried early about coronavirus dies of it — ATU Local 1576 identified the Community Transit employee as Scott Ryan, 41, who lived in Everett and also was a union shop steward. He left behind a wife and three teenage children. … Community Transit has provided some sanitation kits to drivers, but the union argues they are not sufficient for a full day in the field. A picture posted on Facebook showed a pair of gloves and two packets of alcohol wipes in a plastic baggie. The union says it is now planning to make its own kits, buying hand sanitizer from local distilleries. They’re also recruiting volunteers to sew face masks and gather items such as gloves and disinfectant.
► From KIRO 7 — Community donates thousands of gloves, masks and gowns — “Supplies Save Lives” led by UFCW 21 asked the community for help and over the last week, the community has donated thousands of masks, gloves, gowns, goggles, wipes and more. “We just really want to say thank you to the community for stepping up and making sure that frontline workers like healthcare workers and grocery workers have the protection they need (during the COVID-19 outbreak),” said Sarah Cherin, Chief of Staff of UFCW 21.
The Stand (March 19) — Supplies Save Lives: Donate unused personal protective gear
► In the Seattle Times — Bellingham physician who decried lack of coronavirus protections is… removed, sparking protest — Dr. Ming Lin, an emergency room physician who has worked at PeaceHealth St. Joseph Medical Center for 17 years, publicly decried what he called a lack of protective measures against the novel coronavirus at his workplace. He has been terminated. (TeamHealth, the hospital staffing firm, says he technically hasn’t been fired.) The American Academy of Emergency Medicine condemned Lin’s removal and challenged the legality of TeamHealth’s business structure. It contends the medical staffing firm, owned by a hedge fund, relies on a business model that violates a state law designed to keep profit motives from influencing doctors’ treatment and advice to patients.
► In the Columbian — Vancouver public restrooms closed after workers decry lack of protective equipment, training — A group of staffers at the city of Vancouver reassigned as a result of COVID-19 voiced alarm over their new roles, which involved cleaning bathrooms and picking up trash without some of the personal protection equipment recommended by the CDC.
► In the (Longview) Daily News — Construction reps still determining all shut downs under stay home order — Local construction officials are still trying to determine the exact implications of Gov. Jay Inslee’s stay-at-home order for workers and projects, though they expect some furloughs and reduced progress on some job sites.
► In the Tri-City Herald — Pasco french fry plant shuts down after worker tests positive for coronavirus
► In the (Everett) Herald — Swedish, SEIU reach tentative agreement after year of talks — After nearly a year of contract talks and a three-day strike in January, Swedish Medical Center and the union that represents nearly 8,000 of its employees reached a deal Friday, the union announced. Details of the agreement were not immediately available. Nurses, caregivers and other staff at all Swedish locations, including the Edmonds hospital, are asked to vote on the new contract starting Saturday, SEIU Healthcare 1199NW announced to members. “I am excited to recommend this contract as it will provide us security in this crisis and unstable economy and allow us to continue to focus on our shared goals to provide the best care for our communities during this difficult time,” said Carol Lightle, a nurse in Issaquah, in a statement to members. The new deal sets standards for patient safety, recruitment and retention, and racial justice, the union said.
► In the (Everett) Herald — Feds accuse ex-lawmaker of conducting digital coin scam — The SEC alleges former state legislator Dave Schmidt (R-Mill Creek) and two others bilked $4 million from investors who bought them.
► In the NY Times — Coronavirus slowdown in Seattle suggests restrictions are working — The Seattle area, home of the first known coronavirus case in the United States and the place where the virus claimed 37 of its first 50 victims, is now seeing evidence that strict containment strategies, imposed in the earliest days of the outbreak, are beginning to pay off — at least for now. Deaths are not rising as fast as they are in other states. Dramatic declines in street traffic show that people are staying home. Hospitals have so far not been overwhelmed. And preliminary statistical models provided to public officials in Washington State suggest that the spread of the virus has slowed in the Seattle area in recent days.
► In the Seattle Times — Police, prosecutors and victim advocates worry coronavirus stay-at-home order will cause spike in domestic violence — “We have every reason to believe abuse is escalating at this time,” said Susan Segall, New Beginnings’ executive director. “For any of us that see our homes as a sanctuary, it’s profoundly distressing to think of being home-bound when you’re being abused.” Police say the crisis is cutting domestic violence victims off from their social-support networks and leading to an increase in 911 calls.
Help for domestic-violence survivors — If you are in immediate danger, call 911. If you have been abused by an intimate partner, you can call the 24-hour National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 or 1-800-787-3224 (TTY). A variety of agencies in the area offer assistance, including confidential shelters, counseling, child therapy and legal help. For a list of resources, visit the Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence’s website.
► From the AP — Trump warns governors to be ‘appreciative’ — Trump said he had instructed Vice President Mike Pence not to call the governors of Washington or Michigan — two coronavirus hotspots — because of their public criticism. “If they don’t treat you right, I don’t call,” Trump said. In an interview with Fox News’ Sean Hannity, Trump declared that Washington Gov. Jay Inslee “should be doing more” and “shouldn’t be relying on the federal government.”
► From CNN — Boeing will seek federal help — but won’t give taxpayers a stake — Although the federal government likely will end up owning stakes in the nation’s airlines, taxpayers probably won’t receive shares of Boeing. Airlines and other companies will get direct government grants to weather the crisis, but Boeing said it was looking primarily for loan guarantees, which can lower the cost of borrowing and make it easier to find loans.
► LIVE from the NY Times — U.S. extends social curbs through April after estimate of up to 200,000 deaths — Faced with the grim prospect that 200,000 Americans could die even with aggressive action to slow the spread of the coronavirus, Trump extended the guidelines on avoiding nonessential travel, staying away from work, visiting bars and restaurants and gathering in groups of more than 10 for at least another month.
► In the Washington Post — As dark reality sets in, president beats a retreat on reopening the U.S. — The president said he was convinced by data modeling that showed that the death rate in the United States probably won’t peak for another two weeks.
► From Bloomberg Law — NLRB pressured to resume union elections by mail — Union leaders and worker advocates are criticizing the National Labor Relations Board for changing course and deciding to suspend all union elections until at least early next month because of the coronavirus pandemic, urging the board to allow voting by mail. “Coronavirus must be taken extremely seriously, but the NLRB should be utilizing mail ballots, telephonic hearings, and the panoply of other readily available technologies,” said AFT President Randi Weingarten, adding that the new policy will “suffocate worker voice.”
ALSO TODAY at The Stand — AFL-CIO calls on NLRB to conduct union elections
The Stand (March 24) — Washington unions blast NLRB’s ‘muzzling of workers’
► In the NY Times — The lost month: How a failure to test blinded the U.S. to COVID-19 — Aggressive screening might have helped contain the coronavirus in the United States. But technical flaws, regulatory hurdles, and lapses of leadership let it spread undetected for weeks.
► In the Washington Post — Inside the talks on the largest U.S. bailout: frantic negotiations, partisan tensions and a Trump tweet — Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) was concerned well before the rest of her colleagues based on what she had witnessed in her home state, where most of the early coronavirus cases were concentrated. Even during the impeachment trial that consumed the Senate for the first several weeks of the year, Murray was worried other senators were not taking the emerging public health crisis seriously… At a Feb. 26 retreat with other Senate Democrats, Murray delivered a bracing message as headlines began to trickle out about the mysterious outbreak at a nursing home in Kirkland, Wash.: “What’s happening in Washington state is coming to you.”
► From The Hill — Unions urge Chamber of Commerce to stop lobbying against Defense Production Act — “In times of extreme national crisis, we must put politics and profits aside, and we must come together to do what’s best for people: that means producing and distributing more equipment, quickly, by any means necessary. Lives literally depend on it,” reads the letter from several union leaders to Chamber President Tom Donohue.
► In the NY Times — Inside GM’s race to build ventilators, before Trump’s attack — Trump on Friday accused G.M. and its chief executive, Mary T. Barra, of dragging their feet on the project and directed his administration to force the company to make ventilators under a 1950s law. But accounts from five people with knowledge of the automaker’s plans depict an attempt by G.M. and its partner, Ventec Life Systems, a small maker of ventilators based in Bothell, Wash., to accelerate production of the devices.
► In the NY Times — The U.S. tried to build a new fleet of ventilators. The mission failed. — As the coronavirus spreads, the collapse of the project helps explain America’s acute shortage. The stalled efforts to create a new class of cheap, easy-to-use ventilators highlight the perils of outsourcing projects with critical public-health implications to private companies; their focus on maximizing profits is not always consistent with the government’s goal of preparing for a future crisis.
► In the Washington Post — Instacart’s workers will strike for safety protections and hazard pay. A lifeline of food could be at stake. — Instacart workers who deliver groceries announced a strike demanding COVID-19 protections, a better default tip and hazard pay. The strike will continue until Instacart, which has raised $1.95 billion in venture capital, according to Pitchbook, agrees to the terms, according to a Medium post outlining their terms.
► From CNBC — Amazon workers plan strike at Staten Island warehouse to demand coronavirus protections — Amazon warehouse workers on New York’s Staten Island plan to strike Monday to call attention to what they called a lack of protections for employees who continue to come to work amid the coronavirus outbreak.
► In the NY Times — They don’t want to risk your lives to flip your burger (by Steven Greenhouse) — Fearing retaliation, American workers are generally far more reluctant to stick their necks out and protest working conditions than are workers in other industrial countries. But with greater fear of the disease than of their bosses, workers have set off a burst of walkouts, sickouts and wildcat strikes.
► In the NY Times — ‘We have lost it all:’ The shock felt by millions of unemployed Americans — For the millions of Americans who found themselves without a job in recent weeks, the sharp and painful change brought a profound sense of disorientation. They were going about their lives, bartending, cleaning, managing events, waiting tables, loading luggage and teaching yoga. And then suddenly they were in free fall, grabbing at any financial help they could find, which in many states this week remained locked away behind crashing websites and overloaded phone lines.
► In the Washington Post — The coronavirus crisis is exposing how the economy was not strong as it seemed — A record-long expansion and years of ultra-low interest rates could make it harder to recover from a recession, economists said.
► From the AP — Farmworkers key to keeping U.S. fed are wary of virus spread — Agriculture groups and union leaders are urging employers to take extra precautions to prevent the outbreak from spreading among California’s farmworkers, who are already in short supply. Workers getting sidelined by illness could jeopardize crop yields and disrupt the food supply. Some farms are heeding the call, union officials and growers say.
► From The Hill — Teen who may have died of coronavirus was turned away from urgent care due to lack of insurance — Lancaster Mayor R. Rex Parris said in a video that the 17-year-old had no previous health conditions and was healthy Friday, socializing with friends, before he passed away Wednesday. “Wednesday, he had gone to an urgent care,” he said. “He didn’t have insurance, so they did not treat him.”
► From The Hill — Equal Pay Day more important than ever amid COVID-19 (by Chirlane McCray and Jacqueline Ebanks) — Equal Pay Day, observed this year on March 31, marks the average amount of additional time it takes for a woman to earn what her male counterpart earned in 12 months in the previous year. Look for supporters (in your social media feed) wearing red on March 31 to symbolize just how far in the red women are when it comes to pay… The coronavirus pandemic is revealing the country’s economic inequity with painful contrasts. Some workers are able to work from home, pay for child care and stock up on food. Others are pushed out of low-wage hourly jobs because of social distancing and must juggle childcare for children released from shuttered schools. Women are disproportionately those workers at the bottom.
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.