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Wrist slapped ● Prison reform ● Sick of smoke ● Gig workers’ aid to expire

Thursday, September 17, 2020




► LIVE from the Seattle Times — Coronavirus daily news update, Sept. 17 — The latest count of COVID-19 cases in Washington totals 80,812 infections (7-day average of new infections per day: 418) and 2,020 deaths (7-day average of deaths per day: 7)

► From the News Tribune — Probe continues in Gig Harbor hospital COVID-19 outbreak; 4 workers in quarantine — A CHI Franciscan representative said full test results are still pending after a COVID-19 outbreak at its St. Anthony Hospital in Gig Harbor.

► From The Columbian — Chiropractic COVID-19 exposure might have spread virus to over 300 people

► From The Hill — Colorado meatpacking union protests ‘ineffectual’ federal fine amid coronavirus — OSHA fined the JBS meatpacking company in Greeley, Colo., $15,615 on Friday. UFCW’s response: “Please note ironically, that the OSHA bureaucrats are not working from this office because it is deemed too dangerous during the pandemic, while JPS’s workers were not protected and six of our members died, almost 300 were infected.” Last week, OSHA fined Smithfield Foods $13,494 for failing to protect workers at its Sioux Falls, S.D. facility where four workers were killed by COVID-19, at least 1,294 infected and 43 hospitalized.

► From the NY Times — Trump scorns his own scientists over virus data — A public scolding of the C.D.C. chief was only the latest but perhaps the starkest instance when the president has rejected not just the policy advice of his public health officials but the facts and information that they provided.




► From the Seattle Times — Washington’s prison system backs reforms as it faces COVID-19, budget cuts and protests over racial injustice — The state’s prison system now appears ready to lead the type of changes supported for years by activists and some legislators to counter increasingly long sentences, startling racial disproportionality and what is often termed mass incarceration. While the state’s incarceration rate has dipped roughly 9% over the last decade, and is lower than the national average, it is still more than double what it was in 1980… The DOC will recommend bills to the Legislature — from minimizing prison time for some nonviolent offenders to increasing time off for good behavior to bringing back a version of parole.

► From KNKX — Beware of scams when buying individual health plans in Washington — If you’re trying to find an individual health plan because you lost your job, beware of scammers. That’s the warning from Washington’s Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler. He says right now there are a lot of people desperate to find affordable coverage and they’re easy marks for con artists.

The Stand (Aug. 19) — Limited-time enrollment period open for WA Healthplanfinder — Folks who have lost health coverage during the pandemic, have until Sept. 30 to sign up for coverage through Washington Healthplanfinder during a special limited enrollment period.




► From Crosscut — PNW wildfire smoke has outdoor workers worried — and sick — Over the last week, as wildfires raged across the West, people who had to work outside in the smoke-choked Seattle region complained of nausea, dizziness and employers who weren’t looking out for the health of their workers. Health experts say the effects from exposure to smoky skies could linger for months and even make some more susceptible to the coronavirus.

► From the Seattle Times — Wildfire smoke likely to linger over the Puget Sound region until at least this weekend

► From the Spokesman-Review — Air quality in Spokane moves out of ‘hazardous’ range — But it was still “very unhealthy” on Wednesday, progressing slightly to “unhealthy” by the end of the day.

► From the News Tribune — Pierce County faces reckoning as report shows Black people arrested disproportionately — The Pierce County Sheriff’s Department needs body and vehicle cameras, bias training that includes the community, and officers that reflect the population, the Pierce County Council was told Wednesday in a report by senior staff.

► From the NW Labor Press — Three more years for Clay and Anderson — UFCW Local 555, which has seen fast growth and contract and legislative breakthroughs, has re-elected President Dan Clay and Secretary-Treasurer Jeff Anderson.

► From the NW Labor Press — Jeffrey P. Washburn, 1957-2020 — Jeffrey Washburn, a former president of the Cowlitz Wahkiakum Labor Council and the Longview/ Kelso Building Trades Council, died at his home Sept. 8 after battling cancer. He was 63.




► From Reuters — Southwest temporarily grounds 130 Boeing 737-800 airplanes over weight data — Southwest Airlines said late Wednesday it temporarily grounded 130 Boeing 737-800 aircraft after it discovered discrepancies in aircraft weight data.




► From the Washington Post — A scrapped plan to ship masks to Americans. A standoff with Amazon amid pressure from Trump. New documents detail USPS’s spring in crisis. — Nearly 10,000 pages of emails, memos and other private documents offer new details about the agency’s struggles and the pro-Trump figures to whom it turned for advice.

► From the NY Times — Expect vote-by-mail fireworks today as the postmaster general talks with dozens of secretaries of state.




► From NPR — Millions of gig workers depend on new unemployment program, but fear it’ll end soon — In March, Congress quickly stitched together a new safety net program, modeled on the kind of help the government usually provides after a natural disaster. More than 14 million people were collecting benefits under the new program at the end of August. That’s more than were collecting regular unemployment benefits. Unless Congress acts to extend it, this new program is set to expire altogether at the end of this year.

► From The Hill — Democrats scramble on COVID-19 relief amid division, Trump surprise — The Democrats are seeking a bill that can provide broad-based relief to struggling Americans, energize the party’s progressive base ahead of November and appease the various factions of the caucus now feuding over the right path forward. Stirring the debate, Trump pressed Republicans on Capitol Hill to seek “much higher” levels of funding in the next emergency package — a message that Pelosi reiterated to Mnuchin during their phone call a few hours later.

► From The Hill — Senate Republicans eye early exit — Senate Republican leaders are hoping to let their colleagues hit the campaign trail at the end of next week, acknowledging the slim chances of passing significant legislation other than a government funding stopgap before Election Day.

► From HuffPost — What it’s like to be held by ICE during the COVID-19 pandemic — More than 5,000 people have contracted the coronavirus while in immigration detention centers, including more than 800 in the last week.

► From the Washington Post — Federal officials stockpiled munitions, sought ‘heat ray’ device before clearing Lafayette Square, whistleblower says




► From the Alabama Political Reporter — Faith and labor partnership launched on Birmingham bombing anniversary — The Rev. William Barber, who heads the nonprofit Repairers of the Breach and the Poor People’s Campaign, joined AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka at the 16th Street Baptist Church to announce a formal partnership to work for social, racial and economic justice.

► From Reuters — U.S. weekly jobless claims stuck at higher levels

► From the WSJ — Factory workers stay home to watch their children — Many factory workers are staying home to watch children who aren’t at day care or school because of the coronavirus pandemic, in another challenge to U.S. manufacturers working to rev up assembly lines.

► From In These Times — Healthcare workers are leading the largest strike ever at the University of Illinois-Chicago — Nearly 5,000 workers at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) are on strike this week in the biggest work stoppage the cam­pus has ever seen. The strikers — who are pri­mar­i­ly Black and Lati­no hos­pi­tal work­ers — are fight­ing for bet­ter health­care, work­place safe­ty, liv­able wages and racial jus­tice as the Covid-19 pandemic rages on.

► From MLive — Graduate employees reach deal with University of Michigan to end strike — The deal came after GEO accepted the second offer it had received from the university since going on strike on Sept. 8.

► From ProPublica — A doctor went to his own employer for a COVID-19 antibody test. It cost $10,984. — Physicians Premier ER charged Dr. Zachary Sussman’s insurance $10,984 for his COVID-19 antibody test even though Sussman worked for the chain and knows the testing materials only cost about $8. Even more surprising: The insurer paid in full.


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

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