Wednesday, April 1, 2020
THE BEST OF US
► From KNKX — Isolated but not alone: Nurses help coronavirus patient say goodbye, offer comfort to the end — Michelle Bennett couldn’t hold her mother’s hand in those final moments, 10 days after Carolann Christine Gann tested positive for the novel coronavirus. Bennett couldn’t even go through her mother’s belongings as she prepared to bury her. So two people in protective gear did what she couldn’t. The first was a nurse at Swedish Issaquah, who suited up to connect mother to daughter one last time. Using FaceTime on her personal cellphone, the nurse allowed Bennett to grant the permission she believes her mom needed to let go. “It’s OK to go, you can go,” Bennett recalled telling her mom, as the nurse holding the phone cried with her. “And an hour later, she left.” The second was an employee at Issaquah Nursing & Rehabilitation Center, who suited up to retrieve Gann’s final resting garments: a beautiful burgundy dress, black shoes and a pearl necklace. Bennett couldn’t retrieve them herself from the contaminated room… “These nurses, this health care staff, they have to endure this pain, as well,” Bennett said, fighting back tears. “They’re the last conduit of life.” … She’s hopeful she’ll have the opportunity to hug those nurses — she only knows their first names, Tatiana and Janine — who are back at work, comforting someone else’s mom. “Those are the heroes of this tragedy.”
EDITOR’S NOTE — And speaking of heroes…
Congrats Gig Harbor nurse Brandy Nakada, “a light in dark times” and Washingtonian of the Day. https://t.co/V1RrUvSEIb
— WSNA (@myWSNA) April 1, 2020
THE WORST OF US
► In the Seattle Times — Authorities warn Washingtonians of scams related to coronavirus stimulus checks — Authorities are warning Washington residents to be wary of scammers taking advantage of economic anxiety amid the coronavirus shutdown, with schemes related to federal stimulus checks expected to be issued in the coming weeks. The federal government won’t ask Americans to confirm personal or banking details by email, phone or text message, nor demand a “processing fee” to receive or rush a stimulus payment, the Attorney General’s Office said. The office advises people to not click on links in email or text messages about stimulus checks, and to avoid providing personal information to anyone who contacts them.
EDITOR’S NOTE — Here’s some important things to know:
1. The government will not ask you to pay anything up front to get this money.
2. The government will not call to ask for your Social Security number, bank account, or credit card number.
► In the Seattle Times — What you need to do to get your government stimulus check — For most people, nothing.
► In the (Everett) Herald — Ferguson calls out price gouging by online sellers — A Mill Creek woman was selling N95 masks at six times regular price, says a cease-and-desist letter.
► In the News Tribune — Gig Harbor vendor one of 5 to receive AG warning over price-gouging
► LIVE from the Seattle Times — Coronavirus daily news update, April 1 — Another recent hurdle for our state: Technical difficulties. The Department of Health hasn’t reported the number of new COVID-19 cases and deaths in several days. The department blames a flood of data swamping the state’s disease-reporting system. The problems are partially blinding health officials and the public to the latest information about the disease’s spread. As of 11:59 p.m. March 28, Washington had 4,896 cases and 195 deaths.
► In the Spokesman-Review — Providence hospitals in Spokane rationing face masks amid global shortage — Some nurses at Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center and Holy Family Hospital have been dismayed by frequent changes in PPE policy. The latest change came Monday, when Providence announced that local nurses and doctors may wear “cloth or personally sourced” masks when treating patients who aren’t isolated due to infectious disease symptoms.
► From KING 5 — Northwest Red Cross refuses to disclose number of surplus masks — Questions for Northwest leadership follow discovery of more than 50,000 unused Red Cross medical masks in California. “I don’t really feel comfortable weighing in on the Red Cross, but what I will say is this: We have been working at every level to try to get the equipment that frontline healthcare workers and first responders need,” UFCW 21’s Marc Auerbach told KING 5. Unions that represent healthcare workers launched “Supplies Save Lives,” which accept donations of personal protective equipment and other supplies to get them in the hands of medical workers immediately.
► In the (Longview) Daily News — Longview mill not included in Weyerhaeuser curtailments — Local union representatives said the Longview mill changed its shifts at the beginning of March, moving from 90-hour “roto-shifts” to 80-hour, 4-10 shifts. The change reduced costs by about 15% at the mill, which might be why Longview was left out of the curtailments, said Steve Garrett of IAM/Woodworkers union Local 536.
► In the (Everett) Herald — The ‘incredibly challenging’ ventilator effort by Ventec, GM — The Bothell company and General Motors wend their way through logistical and political minefields.
► From KING 5 — Washington state prisons take measures to keep coronavirus away — No inmates yet have tested positive for coronavirus, though some tests are pending. Eight Department of Corrections employees have tested positive for coronavirus. Releasing low-risk offenders could be a future option if a big outbreak occurs.
► In the Seattle Times — With coronavirus, prison and jail sentences could become death sentences — Under current conditions, COVID-19 will likely have especially devastating effects on prisoners as well as Department of Corrections (DOC) staff and their families. Unfortunately, several Washington state correctional officers have already tested positive for COVID-19. The Washington state DOC lacks the staff, beds and equipment to address this crisis effectively. Staff shortages are likely to become especially acute in the near future as employees fall ill. Enhanced prevention efforts should be implemented immediately to avoid needless deaths.
► In the (Aberdeen) Daily World — Retroactive unemployment payments ensure full benefits for eligible Washingtonians
► From Politico — Trump rejects Obamacare special enrollment period amid pandemic — The Trump administration has decided against reopening Obamacare enrollment to uninsured Americans during the coronavirus pandemic, defying calls from health insurers and Democrats to create a special sign-up window amid the health crisis.
EDITOR’S NOTE — If you are uninsured in Washington state, the Washington Health Care Authority created a special open enrollment period on the state’s Health Benefit Exchange, which is running through
April 8 May 8 (deadline extended today). Sign up at Washington HealthplanFinder. Meanwhile, Apple Health (Medicaid) enrollment is year-round.
► From The Week — Washington Gov. Jay Inslee is what real coronavirus leadership looks like (by Ryan Cooper) — Washington state, despite being the site of the earliest cluster of confirmed cases in the U.S., has contained its outbreak better than any state, and many other sub-national regions as well. This simply must be because Governor Inslee started testing earlier, implemented clampdown measures earlier, and tightened them earlier.
► In the Washington Post — Trump projects up to 240,000 coronavirus deaths in U.S., even with mitigation efforts — Trump and the physicians advising the federal pandemic response on Tuesday delivered a bleak outlook for the novel coronavirus’s spread across the country, predicting a best-case scenario of 100,000 to 240,000 fatalities in the United States and summoning all Americans to make additional sacrifices to slow the spread. Trump adopted a newly somber and sedate tone — and contradicted many of his own previous assessments of the virus — as he instructed Americans to continue social distancing, school closures and other mitigation efforts for an additional 30 days and to think of the choices they make as matters of life and death.
► From The Hill — Infrastructure bill gains new steam as coronavirus worsens — Trump on Tuesday called for $2 trillion in new public works programs as a national economic lifeline, backing an idea promoted by Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) just a day earlier. Rank-and-file lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have quickly joined the chorus, framing infrastructure as a commonsense strategy for creating jobs amid mass layoffs sparked by the fast-spreading coronavirus pandemic.
► From The Hill — McConnell hits brakes on next economic stimulus package — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) hit the brakes Tuesday on Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) plan to move ahead with a fourth stimulus package that would include major infrastructure spending and other Democratic priorities.
► From TPM — McConnell blames impeachment for Trump admin’s slow response to coronavirus — He defended Trump’s sluggish response to the COVID-19 pandemic by passing the buck to Democrats’ impeachment efforts.
► From The Hill — ICE under pressure to release detainees threatened by coronavirus — The Trump administration is facing calls to release thousands of nonviolent detainees amid growing fears of coronavirus breakouts at immigrant detention centers.
► In the NY Times — The wall that didn’t stop the coronavirus (editorial) — Rounding up undocumented immigrants and shutting down the border is something Trump has yearned to do since long before the coronavirus began its fateful spread. And his animosity toward undocumented immigrants is affecting the efforts to contain the coronavirus far beyond the border.
► In the Washington Post — As coronavirus spreads, so do reports of companies mistreating workers — Since the viral pandemic started ravaging the country in recent weeks, workers, unions and attorneys are seeing a dramatic rise in cases they say illustrate a wave of bad employer behavior, forcing workers into conditions they fear are unsafe, withholding protective equipment and retaliating against those who speak up or walk out.
The Stand (March 27) — Sign petition urging Macy’s to protect their workers amid crisis
EDITOR’S NOTE — Report Bad Actors! Do you know of other employers in Washington state that are not stepping up in this time of crisis to protect their workers and customers/clients? Let us know.
► From Bloomberg — Hospitals tell doctors they’ll be fired if they speak out about lack of gear — “Hospitals are muzzling nurses and other health-care workers in an attempt to preserve their image,” said Ruth Schubert, a spokeswoman for the Washington State Nurses Association. “It is outrageous.” Health-care workers “must have the ability to tell the public what is really going on inside the facilities where they are caring for Covid-19 patients,” she said.
► From CNBC — With strikes and a ‘sick out,’ some grocery and delivery workers take defiant stance: One-time bonuses, temporary pay hikes aren’t enough — Employees at Amazon-owned Whole Foods planned a “sick out” Tuesday, while some drivers who deliver Whole Foods groceries are calling for more protections. Thousands of people have signed an online petition circulated by Trader Joe’s employees. On Monday, some Instacart workers held a nationwide strike. And a major grocery union, United Food and Commercial Workers Union, is advocating for workers to have access to coronavirus testing and protective gear.
EDITOR’S NOTE — If you work for a company that doesn’t value your work enough to protect your life, you need a union. One day this outbreak will end, but your employer’s indifference to your well-being and that of your family will not. NOW is the time to get more information about how you can join together with your co-workers and negotiate not only a fair return for your hard work, but also better health and safety protections on the job. Contact a union organizer today!
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.