Friday, April 10, 2020
► LIVE from the Seattle Times — Coronavirus daily news update, April 10 — The number of COVID-19 cases in Washington continues to grow, though at a slower rate. As of 11:59 p.m. Wednesday, the state has confirmed 9,608 people infected with the virus, including 446 who have died.
► In the (Everett) Herald — Monroe nurses take part in national protest for more PPE — Nurses at EvergreenHealth Monroe and across the country protested Thursday, calling on the federal government to provide more protective masks, gowns and other equipment needed on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic. Nurses at Swedish First Hill in Seattle and St. Joseph’s Medical Center in Tacoma also took part in the protest.
ALSO from SEIU Healthcare 1199NW — Washington, Montana nurses and healthcare workers join nationwide protest demanding PPE
► From HuffPost — Driving a bus through a pandemic — As most workers are staying home to avoid exposure to the coronavirus, bus drivers remain on the front lines, transporting strangers around the city in what one driver referred to as “rolling petri dishes.” With protective equipment such as masks and gloves in short supply, drivers say they have no way of knowing whether they’ve been exposed. Every interaction with a rider, another driver said, is a potential opportunity for infection: “Everybody’s got a gun now, but we don’t know who has bullets.” In Seattle, conversations with nearly a dozen bus drivers revealed widespread anxiety about driver and passenger safety.
The Stand (April 9) — Metro/King County workers seek PPE, hazard pay, transparency
► From KNKX — Grocery workers deal with stressed customers, but also bear witness to acts of kindness — Sue Wilmot, a cashier at a Safeway on Bainbridge Island and a UFCW 21 shop steward, says she and her coworkers, who do not have any training in psychotherapy or how to de-escalate a situation, are dealing with really stressed shoppers. “Some people are angry,” Wilmot said. “You know, they don’t know how to deal with this and they’re angry if we’re out of toilet paper or something that they need.” Wilmot also is seeing a lot of generosity… Over the past few weeks, Wilmot’s union has negotiated an extra two weeks of paid sick leave for people who are affected by COVID-19. Her store installed plexiglass shields at checkout stands and workers now have hazard pay. This is in line with what other unionized grocery stores are offering employees.
► In the Tri-City Herald — Thousands of Hanford workers told to stay home for a 4th week — But contractors are making plans for how the eventual ramp up of work will be done.
► In the News Tribune — Hey, delivery drivers, who’s got your back during COVID-19? The answer should be all of us (editorial) — Not only are these essential workers keeping the economy churning during a near-national shutdown, they’ve made the “stay at home” mandate bearable by delivering to our doorstep everything from mail to meals.
► In the Bellingham Herald — Feds seize coronavirus test kit materials bound for Bellingham hospital and Northwest — A delivery of test kit materials that would have allowed Bellingham’s St. Joseph hospital and other PeaceHealth medical facilities in the Northwest to run COVID-19 tests quicker were seized and diverted by the federal government to the East Coast.
► From Crosscut — Mossback’s Northwest: Tragedy and terror in 1919 Centralia — The deadly Centralia Tragedy saw conflict between the Wobblies and the American Legion — and left behind a debated legacy.
► In the Seattle Times — State nears half a million unemployed from coronavirus, with ‘tsunami’ of more claims expected — Washington’s surge echoed unprecedented national employment numbers, which show 16.8 million Americans have filed for unemployment aid in the last three weeks. And state officials aren’t sure how long that record will last.
► In the (Everett) Herald — After Monroe ‘riot,’ governor plans release for some prisoners — Inslee announced Thursday afternoon that in the coming days some state prisoners could be released to prevent unnecessary illnesses and deaths, as well as to free up space within the complex, so that prisoners are less packed in. Meanwhile, the state Supreme Court could soon intercede in some fashion… Michelle Woodrow of Teamsters 117, the union representing corrections officers, said the union was “extremely proud of our members’ response to the disturbance… These are stressful, frightening times for our entire community. Our members put their lives on the line to protect all of us.”
ALSO from Teamsters 117 — Corrections staff at MCC respond to emergency incident with professionalism
► In the Seattle Times — Inslee should suspend all water-service shut-offs during coronavirus crisis, advocacy groups say — More than 20 organizations (including the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO) plan to send a letter to Inslee on Thursday asking him to suspend all water service disconnections for nonpayment and to require water be restored to homes previously disconnected for nonpayment.
► In the Columbian — Clark County school construction projects continue — While Gov. Jay Inslee has ordered a halt to most construction, contractors are still working at school facilities — albeit with precautions.
► From CNBC — Residential construction is bright spot in jobs report, but more workers start to stay home — A homebuilder survey found 64% of respondents cited problems with the willingness of workers and subs to report to a construction site, up from 42% a week earlier.
EDITOR’S NOTE — So far, Gov. Jay Inslee has resisted a campaign by homebuilder lobbying groups to allow residential construction to continue in Washington state.
► In the Washington State Wire — Tarleton calls on Wyman to condemn attacks on vote-by-mail — Rep. Gael Tarleton (D-Seattle), a Democratic candidate for Secretary of State, has called on Washington’s Republican Secretary of State Kim Wyman to condemn Trump and the Republican Party for engaging in “efforts to disenfranchise voters in Wisconsin and across the country.”
► In the Seattle Times — Bankruptcy judge orders Tim Eyman to pay $270,000 in state court contempt fines by April 19 — The longtime anti-tax activist and initiative promoter — and now Republican candidate for governor — must pay fines and attorneys’ fees accrued for refusing to follow court orders in a Washington state campaign finance case. Sanctions continue to accrue.. Attorney General Bob Ferguson says Eyman has spent years laundering political donations, accepting kickbacks and taking campaign donations for personal use. Eyman could ultimately owe more than $3 million in that case, Ferguson has said.
► From the AP — State Supreme Court: No minimum wage for jurors
► From the AFL-CIO — CDC must revoke latest harmful guidance issued — AFL-CIO President Trumka: “Once again the CDC is putting profits over people with its latest recommendations that downgrade worker protections at a time when they are needed most. These dangerous new guidelines tell employers to keep potentially infected workers at work, which does not protect essential workers on the front lines and ignores firmly established science that there is significant transmission from asymptomatic and presymptomatic individuals. These reckless guidelines were not issued to protect workers, but rather to ensure the continuity of business profits. These recommendations will lead to many more deaths of those working on our front lines. They must be immediately revoked.”
► From The Hill — Unions push White House for more protective equipment for essential workers — Unions for workers outside of the health care field who have been deemed essential are pushing the Trump administration to do more to route protective equipment to workers. In a Thursday letter to the president signed by more than 100 unions, advocacy organizations and environmental groups, leaders said the administration needs to immediately provide equipment not just to hospital workers but cleaning staff, restaurant workers, manufacturers and others who cannot work from home.
► From The Hill — New round of stimulus talks face Republican roadblock — Senate Republicans on Thursday signaled they won’t be ready to launch into another round of economic stimulus talks until next month.
The Stand (April 8) — Senate Democrats seek COVID-19 ‘Heroes Fund’
► In the Washington Post — A liberal congresswoman and a conservative senator want the federal government to pay workers’ salaries — Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) and Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) independently offered this idea, which, in a different time, some could label socialist for its dependence on the federal government. The details of the proposals — which Jayapal introduced in legislation Friday and Hawley recommended in a Washington Post op-ed Thursday — differ, but the general concept is the same.
► In the Washington Post — New Trump attack ad appears to suggest Washington state’s former Asian American governor is a Chinese official — A new attack ad by Trump’s campaign that portrays former vice president Joe Biden as too cozy with China to confront the country over the coronavirus pandemic includes an image of Gary Locke, a former governor of Washington state, that appears to falsely suggest he is a Chinese official.
And then, there’s this…
This chart really puts America’s COVID-19 response into perspective pic.twitter.com/5QXNnWefIo
— NowThis (@nowthisnews) April 10, 2020
► From the AFL-CIO — Shame on corporations using COVID-19 pandemic to attack workers — Some greedy corporations — including Amazon and Powell’s Book Store in Portland –are using this time to attack these working people, attempting to use a crisis to roll back the rights of the very people who are dying while keeping America running.
► In the NY Times — America will struggle after coronavirus. These charts show why. (by David Leonhardt and ) — America’s economy has almost doubled in size over the last four decades, but broad measures of the nation’s economic health conceal the unequal distribution of gains. A small portion of the population has pocketed most of the new wealth, and the coronavirus pandemic is laying bare the consequences of the unequal distribution of prosperity.
► A MUST-READ in the NY Times — The America we need (editorial) — This nation was ailing long before the coronavirus reached its shores. A great divide separates affluent Americans, who fully enjoy the benefits of life in the wealthiest nation on earth, from the growing portion of the population whose lives lack stability or any real prospect of betterment… Advocates of a minimalist conception of government claim they too are defenders of liberty. But theirs is a narrow and negative definition of freedom: the freedom from civic duty, from mutual obligation, from taxation. This impoverished view of freedom has in practice protected wealth and privilege. It has perpetuated the nation’s defining racial inequalities and kept the poor trapped in poverty, and their children, and their children’s children.
The nation’s hierarchies are starkly visible during periods of crisis. The coronavirus pandemic has necessitated extraordinary sacrifices, but the distribution is profoundly unequal. The wealthy and famous and politically powerful have laid first claim to the available lifeboats. Less affluent Americans will bear the brunt in health and wealth. The crisis has also exposed the federal government’s lack of resources, competence and ambition. A major reason for the faltering response is a chimerical expectation that markets will perform the work of government. Americans need to recover the optimism that has so often lighted the path forward. The United States has a chance to emerge from this latest crisis as a stronger nation, more just, more free and more resilient. We must seize the opportunity.
► In the past week, the nation lost two of its most brilliant songwriters, both of whom came from working-class backgrounds and wrote “everyman” songs about identifiable people and situations. Today in their memory, The Entire Staff of The Stand offers two TGIF videos. The first features John Prine, feted as a “working-class Bob Dylan” in a lovely editorial in today’s Seattle Times, who died after contracting COVID-19. The second features the amazing Bill Withers, a U.S. Navy veteran and former assembler for the Douglas Aircraft Corp., who died from complications of heart disease. R.I.P. to two American legends.
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.