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Keep on outlying ● Bernie drops out ● NLRB has gone rogue

Wednesday, April 8, 2020




► LIVE from the Seattle Times — Coronavirus daily news update, April 8 — The number of COVID-19 cases in Washington continues to grow, though at a slower rate. As of 11:59 p.m. Monday, the state has confirmed 8,682 cases of COVID-19, including 394 deaths.

► In the Seattle Times — Keep on distancing; it’s making a difference (editorial) — Every sector of Washington society has paid an immense cost to reach this potential turning point. Sacrifices must continue for the curve to flatten instead of rise up again… These times of self-isolation, heroic efforts by the medical community and bold leadership by state officials show Washingtonians at their finest. Stay resolute. Doors must remain closed for months

EDITOR’S NOTE — Some industry lobbying groups are beginning to bristle at the shutdown. For example, residential construction lobbyists are claiming Washington is “an outlier” among other states for continuing to suspend that work. But maybe, being an outlier is saving lives…

► In the Tri-City Herald — 21 Tri-Cities coronavirus deaths now among the highest in the state

► Another MUST-READ from KNKX — ‘One last conversation’: Local nurse says she was honored to connect mother and daughter — Tatyana Huber, a charge nurse at Swedish’s Issaquah campus, suited up head to toe in protective gear. Using FaceTime, the nurse held her personal cellphone up to Carolann Gann’s face in the final hours of her life. Her daughter, Michelle Bennett, spoke her last words to her mom, about love and forgiveness. “I was just so relieved that Michelle was able to give Carolann that permission that she needed to let go,” Huber said. “It was just the greatest thing that she could have given to her mom.” Then, Huber promised Bennett that she’d stay with her mother until the end. And she did — holding her hand, stroking her hair, and talking to her… As more and more people say goodbye to their loved ones this way, nurses are working to make sure that dying in isolation doesn’t mean dying alone. But it also means nurses are shouldering a lot of emotional weight.

► In the Spokesman-Review — Pandemic reflected in newspaper industry’s struggles — Across the country and around Washington, newspapers large and small are staggering under the loss of revenue as some of their regular advertisers evaporate. And this comes on the heels of an unprecedented era in American journalism, when 1 in 5 newspapers in the nation closed over the past 15 years.

► In the (Everett) Herald — Mill Creek police chief under investigation for misconduct — The police union accused Chief Greg Elwin of “a lack of honesty and integrity.” He’s on paid leave.

► In the Seattle Times — ‘It will not go forgotten’: One Seattle business and its tale of two landlords during the coronavirus crisis (by Danny Westneat) — Michael Sauvage, who runs a few teriyaki diners around town decimated by the pandemic, has a tale of two landlords. One is an out-of-state corporate conglomerate with $69 billion in assets. It said no to any rent reduction at Sauvage’s South Lake Union restaurant and insisted that the teriyaki joint cover some untold amount in legal costs just to start talking about whether the rent could be late. The other landlord is a multigeneration local family that announced it would not charge his Capitol Hill restaurant any base rent in either April or May. In Sauvage’s story lies an urgent question as the coronavirus ravages the local economy: Where should the burden lie?




► In the Seattle Times — Washington has already spent 60% of $200 million budgeted to fight coronavirus; 84 million PPEs on order — Washington lawmakers may have to come back for a special legislative session in the coming months to help with the coronavirus response and economic recovery because the state has already distributed 60% of the money — $120 million out of $200 million —  that was budgeted last month, Gov. Jay Inslee said Tuesday.

► From the Olympian — State has enough ventilators, but needs more COVID-19 test kits, Inslee says

► In the Spokesman-Review — DOC evaluates ‘release options’ after employees test positive for COVID-19 at prisons — Washington’s Department of Corrections now has a dozen employees who have tested positive for COVID-19, fueling concerns about the potential for a severe outbreak in the state prison system. The agency said 172 prisoners were in isolation Tuesday for showing possible symptoms of COVID-19, while 1,175 were in quarantine because they had been exposed to someone known to have COVID-19 or another contagious disease. Civil liberties groups have called for the emergency release of prisoners during the COVID-19 pandemic, contending it’s only a matter of time before the new coronavirus spreads through Washington’s prison facilities. They say it’s difficult, if not impossible, for prisoners to practice effective social distancing.

► From the NW News Network — As number of COVID-19 cases rises, alarm grows among staff at Western State Hospital — To date, 22 Western State Hospital (WSH) staff have tested positive for the virus. That number has more than quadrupled in two weeks. In addition, six patients have tested positive and one elderly patient has died. Psychiatric social worker Mario Claudio said with each additional positive case, her fear rises. “We could all potentially already be exposed, but not showing symptoms so the level of anxiety is high,” Claudio said.

► In the Seattle Times — Stop state budget cuts during coronavirus pandemic and focus on tax reform (by Drs. Mark VosslerMax Savishinsky Stephen Bezruchka) — We call for a halt to state budget cuts. We call for tax reform to commence early in the recovery phase from this crisis… Pursuing shortsighted solutions to our current crises — such as cutting spending on public health and education — will not solve our economic and health problems; it will create new ones.

► In the NY Times — The leaders who passed the coronavirus test (by Farhad Manjoo) — California, Ohio and Washington moved early to slow the virus. Here’s what other states can learn from them… There was something very unusual in the places that moved first — actual bipartisanship. “It’s the science of the lifeboat,” Gov. Jay Inslee told me. “When you’re all in the same lifeboat, there just isn’t room. When you’re in the middle of a storm, you got to keep the lifeboat afloat.”

► In the (Everett) Herald — Habib backs Liias to succeed him as lieutenant governor — The state senator picks up key endorsement as Congressman Heck considers entering the race.




► BREAKING from CNN — Bernie Sanders drops out of the 2020 race, clearing Joe Biden’s path to the Democratic nomination — Sanders’ exit caps a stunning reversal of fortune following a strong performance in the first three states that voted in February. The nomination appeared his for the taking until, on the last day of February, Biden surged to a blowout victory in South Carolina that set off a consolidation of moderate voters around the former vice president. The contest ends now as the country continues to grapple with the coronavirus pandemic, which halted in-person campaigning for both Sanders and Biden and has led many states to delay their primary elections.

► From CNN — ‘This is ridiculous’: Wisconsin holds its primary election in the middle of a pandemic — Long lines of voters, many of them wearing face masks, stretched for blocks through Milwaukee early Tuesday as Wisconsin held its primary in the middle of a pandemic… It has positioned Wisconsin as the first battleground over voting rights in a year in which the question of how elections are conducted could be shaped by the coronavirus pandemic, as Democrats seek funding for expanded vote-by-mail options across the nation and Republicans express concerns about election security.

EDITOR’S NOTE — Actually, many Republicans are openly expressing concerns that vote-by-mail would sufficiently increase voter participation that it would harm their chances to get re-elected. Just this morning, Trump tweeted that mail-in voting “for whatever reason, doesn’t work out well for Republicans.” Bottom line: the more people vote, the more Republicans lose. So they intend to block vote-by-mail by citing the potential for voter fraud. We in Washington state, where all elections are conducted by mail, know that such concerns are complete bullshit.

► From Reuters — Most Americans, unlike Trump, want mail-in ballots for November if coronavirus threatens — Most Americans, including a majority of Republicans, want the government to require mail-in ballots for the Nov. 3 presidential election if the coronavirus outbreak still threatens the public this autumn, a Reuters/Ipsos poll found. The poll conducted on Monday and Tuesday found that 72% of all U.S. adults, including 79% of Democrats and 65% of Republicans, supported a requirement for mail-in ballots as a way to protect voters in case of a continued spread of the respiratory disease later this year.




► From The Hill — Senate Democrats propose $25,000 hazard-pay plan for essential workers — Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and other Democrats are proposing to give doctors, nurses, and other essential workers, such as grocery store clerks, up to $25,000 in hazard pay as part of the phase four coronavirus relief bill. The bonus pay, which would amount to a $13-per-hour raise, would also go to truck drivers and janitors, who Democrats say are also essential to keeping the health care system and economy running during the crisis. It would stretch from the start of the public health emergency to the end of the year.

ALSO TODAY at The Stand — Senate Dems seek COVID-19 ‘Heroes Fund’ — Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA): “As we continue our coronavirus response, ensuring frontline workers receive premium pay during this pandemic is the least our country can do to honor these true heroes.”

► From The Hill — Phase-four virus relief hits a wall — Pressure is building on Congress to pass another round of coronavirus relief legislation, but Republicans and Democrats have different ideas about what’s needed and how fast. Democrats want to move swiftly while GOP aides warn it’s unlikely a fourth bill will pass before May.

► From Politico — Trump removes independent watchdog for coronavirus funds, upending oversight panel — Trump has upended the panel of federal watchdogs overseeing implementation of the $2 trillion coronavirus law. Glenn Fine’s removal is Trump’s latest incursion into the community of independent federal watchdogs — punctuated most dramatically by his late Friday ouster of the intelligence community’s inspector general, Michael Atkinson, whose handling of a whistleblower report ultimately led to Trump’s impeachment. Trump has also begun sharply attacking Health and Human Services Inspector General Christi Grimm, following a report from her office that described widespread testing delays and supply issues at the nation’s hospitals.

► In the Washington Post — Trump’s dismissal of competent officials is an attack on accountability (by David Ignatius) — Trump’s vengeful dismissal Friday of the intelligence community’s inspector general was part of a relentless campaign — waged even in the midst of the pandemic — against people and institutions that can hold him accountable.

► From Reuters — Wobbly U.S. fiscal response could deepen coronavirus recession — The U.S. government’s massive effort to nurse the economy through the crisis was billed as a send-money-and-don’t-sweat-the-details flood of cash to people and businesses. So far, the checks are not in the mail. From technological glitches to confusion over the fine points of policy, the delays are mounting. The federal government’s muddled response risks deepening and lengthening a recession already historic for the speed of its onset.

► From Vox — This nurse is treating the sickest coronavirus patients. Trump still wants to deport him. — He’s one of thousands of DACA recipients who could imminently lose their status.

EDITOR’S NOTE — And finally, if you needed any more evidence that the commander-in-chief is either a pathological liar or dangerously delusional…

► From Vox — Trump claims that his daughter created 10 percent of all the jobs in the U.S. — On Tuesday, Trump hosted a call with business leaders to discuss efforts to provide financial relief to small businesses. During that call, he made an astounding claim: that his daughter Ivanka personally created 15 million jobs.




► In the Washington Post — The coronavirus is infecting and killing black Americans at an alarmingly high rate — A Post analysis of available data and census demographics shows that counties that are majority-black have three times the rate of infections and almost six times the rate of deaths as counties where white residents are in the majority. The emerging stark racial disparity led the surgeon general Tuesday to acknowledge in personal terms the increased risk for African Americans amid growing demands that public-health officials release more data on the race of those who are sick, hospitalized and dying of a contagion that has killed more than 12,000 people in the United States.


► In the Seattle Times — 100 American Airlines flight attendants have been diagnosed with COVID-19, union says — Approximately 100 American Airlines flight attendants have tested positive for COVID-19, a number union leaders say is likely to increase. American Airlines did confirm that one flight attendant in Philadelphia, Paul Frishkorn, died from COVID-19 on March 23.

► In the NY Times — 33 transit workers dead: Crisis takes staggering toll on subways — NYC’s M.T.A. has been criticized for its response to the outbreak. Now a staffing shortage has made it difficult to keep even a diminished system running.

► From NPR — Doctors say hospitals are stopping them from wearing masks — When traveling doctor Neilly Buckalew asked hospital administrators why she was asked to remove her personal N95 mask, the reasons kept changing. First, Buckalew said she was told it was against hospital policy for health care workers to bring their own gear. Then, she said, administrators told her if she wore her own N95 mask, others would want to wear the masks as well and the hospital didn’t have enough. Finally, Buckalew said, it was that CDC guidelines don’t require the mask at all times. Refusing to take off her mask, she said, got her terminated. Then, she said, after complaining she was reinstated and then terminated again — all within three days.

The Stand (April 3) — WSNA: Speak up for PPE, because #SilenceKills

► From In These Times — Striking McDonald’s workers say their lives are more essential than fast food — The fast food industry has long insulated itself from organized labor by building a legal wall between the parent company and the individual franchised stores. That imaginary separation is being tested by the reality of the coronavirus pandemic, as McDonald’s workers across the country have held strikes and walked out, unwilling to risk their lives for fries with no safety net.

► From Bloomberg — When working means deadly risk, backlash brews — The pandemic has provoked new activism from union members and non-union workers in many sectors. More dramatic disruption could be coming soon. Transport Workers Union President John Samuelsen says some cities’ transit workers, many of whom are legally prohibited from striking, could soon do it anyway if their safety demands aren’t met. “A strike to protect the lives of workers is a morally justifiable strike, regardless of what state law says,” Samuelsen said. “It’s not like we’re going to comply with the law and die.”




► From The Nation — Under Trump the NLRB has gone completely rogue (by Lynn Rhinehart) — The board is currently composed of three white male NLRB members and another white male general counsel (prosecutor)—all Republicans, three with careers representing corporations and one as a Republican Capitol Hill staffer. Both Democratic seats are currently vacant. There is nobody currently on the NLRB with experience representing workers or unions. Through these appointees, an agency that is supposed to protect workers’ right to organize has taken the law in exactly the opposite direction. In decision after decision, the NLRB has stripped workers of their protections under the law, restricted their ability to organize at their workplace, slowed down the union election process to give employers more time to campaign against the union, repealed rules holding employers accountable for their actions, and undermined workers’ bargaining rights.


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

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