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It’s still about the PPE ● ‘No Confidence’ at Western ● Prescient Stones

Friday, April 24, 2020




► LIVE from the Seattle Times — Coronavirus daily news update, April 24 — The most recent count of COVID-19 cases in Washington totals 12,753 infections and 711 deaths, according to the state Department of Health.

► From KUOW — ‘We’re going to run out of masks’: Health care workers push back on restarting elective surgeries — This week, Washington state Gov. Jay Inslee said hospitals may be allowed to restart elective surgeries soon. But that has some people worried. The Washington State Nurses Association is calling for health care workers to receive more gear, such as masks, gowns, and gloves, before elective procedures restart. The majority of the union’s nurses are working without sufficient protective wear, according to the union’s analysis. That includes having to wear disposable items for a long time, caring for multiple patients and cleaning them in between — against manufacturers’ recommendations. “This cannot become the new normal,” said Sally Watkins, WSNA’s executive director.

► From SEIU 1199NW — SEIU Healthcare 1199NW nurses at Western State Hospital vote ‘No Confidence’ in nurse administrators — Citing grave, ongoing concerns about safety and staffing levels, which predate and have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 crisis, nurses are calling for the removal and replacement of five nursing administrators. “My coworkers and I are proud of the work we do at WSH, caring for our patients and collaborating with each other to ensure safety for our patients as well as for staff members. We have been trying to partner with nursing leadership for years to implement best practices to improve care and safety and they aren’t interested in working with us,” said Marivic Dellinger, a nurse supervisor at Western State.

The Stand (April 21) — Everyday Heroes: Maria Claudio, WFSE member at Western State — Claudio is sounding the alarm: negligent and faulty testing at WSH likely means COVID-19 infections at the facility are much higher.

► KIRO 7 — Construction workers could learn when they can return to jobs Friday — The decision to restart construction around the state could be the first restrictions under Gov. Jay Inslee’s stay at home order to be lifted.

EDITOR’S NOTE — Gov. Inslee is holding a press conference at 11:30 a.m. today and will be joined by representatives of the Washington State Building & Construction Trades Council and the Building Industry Association of Washington. Watch it live here.

► From the AP — State: More than $1.4 billion in unemployment benefits paid — More than $1.4 billion in unemployment benefits have been paid out in Washington since business closures and layoffs related to the coronavirus pandemic started mid-March, and state officials said Thursday they are preparing for up to 1 million claims to be filed by Sunday. Of the total amount paid out so far, $900 million has been paid out since last Saturday night, after the state updated its system so that previously ineligible employees — like independent contractors and part-time employees who work fewer than 680 hours — could start applying for benefits under the expansion of unemployment benefits passed by Congress.

► From The (Everett) Herald — State Supreme Court denies request to release more inmates — At an online hearing, an attorney for prisoners had said conditions do not allow for adequate social distancing.

► From Crosscut — Poll: Most Washington voters wary of reopening economy too soon — A new Crosscut/Elway Poll finds 76% of voters believe the pandemic restrictions are working, including 92% percent of Democrats and 52% of Republicans, and 61% are concerned about lifting them too soon. People who responded to the statewide poll expressed views very much in contrast to recent protests calling for an end to the governor’s stay-at-home order.

► From the News Tribune — As opponents get louder, Inslee stands his ground on stay-at-home order — “our office will not be guided by irrational forces that would really gamble with our health. And if we placed that bet and lost, we would be giving up the hard-won gains that we’ve already made,” Inslee said.

► From the Skagit Valley Herald — Disturbing words from state lawmaker (letter by Rich Austin) — If State Rep. Robert Sutherland (R-Granite Falls) and other fringe elements and their Republican instigators were only endangering each other with their political rallies (against the governor’s “Stay Home, Stay Safe” restrictions), few would care. But they are endangering entire communities. Sutherland is not representing the people in Granite Falls or those in the rest of the 39th Legislative District. For the good of everyone, he and his ilk need to get voted out of office.

► From The (Everett) Herald — Public health isn’t part of Sheriff Fortney’s beat (editorial) — We would like to advise Snohomish County Sheriff Adam Fortney to stick to the duties of law enforcement for which he was elected in November, but — based on a post he made to his political campaign’s Facebook page Tuesday night — he’s already excused himself from those responsibilities when it comes to enforcing the state’s “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” orders in the county.




► From the Tri-City Herald — Tyson plant near Tri-Cities to close Friday. 1,400 workers being tested — The Tyson Fresh Meats plant near the Tri-Cities will temporarily halt production while all of its 1,400 workers undergo testing for COVID-19. The testing will start on Friday with results expected in three to four days. Resuming operations will depend on several factors, including the results of testing and how long it takes to get test results, Tyson Foods said. As of Thursday afternoon, 105 cases of COVID-19 were associated with the plant south of Pasco at Wallula. One worker, Guadalupe “Lupe” Olivera, has died from complications of COVID-19… Teamster Local Union No. 839, which represents 550 workers at the Lamb Weston french fry plant in Pasco has said the outbreak there was handled very differently than at the nearby Tyson plant. “Tyson isn’t doing nearly enough to keep there workers safe,” said Russell Shjerven, secretary-treasurer of the local union.

The Stand (April 23) — The Union Difference: A tale of two plants — Teamsters at the Lamb Weston potato plant in Pasco have workplace safety and respect on the job. Nonunion workers at the Tyson beef plant down the road have Washington’s biggest COVID-19 hotspot. And they’re still open for business.

► From the Seattle Times — Severe coronavirus outbreaks stagger some meat-packing plants in Washington — Jose Trinidad Corral is a “chuck boner,” an almost-20-year veteran of the Tyson Fresh Meats packing plant in Wallula. In the days after being deemed “essential workers,” he and his colleagues performed this frontline duty largely without what are now deemed to be basic workplace protections to reduce the risk of COVID-19. By the time Tyson management began new safety procedures, the disease already had slipped into the plant, morphing into a severe outbreak that has spread to some 100 workers and family members. One longtime plant worker has died. “We are afraid … we have no voice,” Corral said. “We knew there would be positive cases. We didn’t expect this many.”

► From the AP — Sea-Tac Airport will lose $251 million in 2020 amid pandemic — The losses are mainly from retail and dining rents, parking, car rentals and ground transportation.




► From the Seattle Times — As Boeing goes back to work, employees who got sick earlier are confirmed coronavirus cases — According to Boeing’s latest update to its daily internal listing of the company’s COVID-19 cases, two Everett employees were confirmed as positive for the novel coronavirus on Tuesday — the day thousands of workers on the 747, 767 and 777 jet programs returned to work at the factory. Understandably, some among the Everett workforce were alarmed at the possibility of new infections. A Boeing spokeswoman said Thursday both of those infected employees had fallen ill in mid-March — before the four-week factory shutdown that began March 25 — and stayed home after becoming sick. She said both employees have recovered and have been cleared to return to work.




► From The NY Times — Protecting workers from coronavirus: OSHA leaves it to employers — Critics say the federal agency charged with protecting worker safety has played a conspicuously small role during the pandemic. The OSHA, part of the Labor Department, announced last week that there would be few inspections of workplaces aside from those in high-risk activities like health care and emergency response. Instead, it called on employers to investigate coronavirus-related issues on their own, even in hot spots such as the food supply chain.

► From The Columbian — Congress must help, protect Postal Service (editorial) — Trump’s attacks on the agency dovetail with long-held Republican desires to turn mail delivery over to private companies. For all Americans, that would be a disappointing abdication on the part of the federal government. For rural Americans, it would be disastrous; delivery to rural areas would not be profitable for private companies, leading to questions about how the good people of say, Yacolt, would receive their mail… Throughout the coronavirus-related shutdown, the Postal Service has continued to deliver. That indicates its status as an essential agency — a status that Congress should be quick to reinforce.

The Stand (April 13) — Tell Congress to support our Postal Service!

► From the Washington Post — Trump administration considers leveraging emergency coronavirus loan to force Postal Service changes — The Treasury Department is considering taking unprecedented control over key operations of the USPS by imposing tough terms on an emergency coronavirus loan from Congress, which would fulfill Trump’s longtime goal of changing how the service does business. Treasury officials have said they are interested in raising rates on the Postal Service’s lucrative package business, pressing the agency to demand tougher concessions from its powerful postal unions, and giving Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin authority to review hiring decisions at the agency’s senior levels, including the selection of the next postmaster general.

The Stand (Dec. 6, 2019) — Say NO to privatizer as Postmaster General

► From The Guardian — Governors’ push to reopen states risks second wave of infection, experts warn — A wave of reopenings is set to spread across the south and midwest of the U.S., led by Republican governors.

► MUST-READ from The NY Times — How Republicans became the party of death (by Timothy Egan) — People are disposable. So is income. But for the “pro-life” party, one is more important. And all of this follows Trump’s obsession with money over human life, with markets over medicine… When I think about how many doctors and nurses, how many cops, firefighters and other first responders, how many grocery store clerks and delivery people, how many parents and grandparents would lose their lives to get to that immunity threshold, I realize there’s only one choice. That is: to err on the side of life. Lucky for us, most Americans already feel that way. Most Americans expect no quick fix. Most Americans are willing to be patient. And if this holds, most Americans will reject the party of death in November.

► From The Hill — McConnell sparks bipartisan backlash with state bankruptcy remarks — The debate over providing more federal funding for state and local governments is emerging as an early lightning rod in the next coronavirus bill, with Democrats and some Republicans asking for hundreds of billions in additional assistance.

► From The NY Times — McConnell to every state: Drop dead (by Paul Krugman) — Think of who would be hurt if state and local governments are forced to make drastic cuts. A lot of state money goes to Medicaid, a program that should be expanding, not shrinking, as millions of Americans are losing their health insurance along with their jobs. As for the state and local government workers who may be either losing their jobs or facing pay cuts, most are employed in education, policing, firefighting and highways. So if McConnell gets his way, America’s de facto policy will be one of bailing out the owners of giant restaurant chains while firing schoolteachers and police officers.

► From Politico — Trump’s poor poll numbers trigger GOP alarms over November

► From The Washington Post — Trump asked if disinfectants could be injected to kill the coronavirus inside the body. Doctors answered: ‘People will die.’

► From HuffPost — Lysol maker warns people not to inject disinfectants

► From The Onion — Potentially promising COVID-19 vaccine hits roadblock after testing reveals it’s just a shotgun




► From Vox — Essential workers are taking care of America. Are we taking care of them? (by Emily Stewart) — The reality is that essential workers in the midst of the coronavirus crisis are fast food workers, social workers, cleaners, retail associates, transit workers, home health aides, and even those who provide support for victims of domestic violence. They’re often not highly paid individuals, and they’re risking their lives… The coronavirus crisis has exposed many ugly truths about America, how underrecognized and underappreciated essential workers are, not just during a pandemic but always. I spoke with nearly two dozen essential workers across the country in recent days, some on the condition of anonymity to protect their jobs, to ask them about their experiences: what it means to be essential right now, how they’re feeling, what they’re worried about, and what they want people to know. The picture that emerged was not the one I expected.




► The Rolling Stones dropped a surprise single yesterday, the septuagenarians’ first original song in eight years. It was written a year ago, long before the COVID-19 pandemic and stay-at-home restrictions, but has proven prescient. Mick Jagger says he changed some of the lyrics to reflect the times: “Keith Richards and I both had the idea that we should release it. But I said, ‘Well I’ve got to rewrite it.’ Some of it is not going to work and some of it was a bit weird and a bit too dark. So I slightly rewrote it. I didn’t have to rewrite very much, to be honest. It’s very much how I originally did it.” Yes, Keith Richards is alive and well, and will probably outlive us all. Must have been all the “disinfectants.” Enjoy — and stay safe.


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

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