250,000 dead, and counting ● Tyson’s inhumanity ● What we subsidize

Thursday, November 19, 2020




► LIVE from the Seattle Times — Coronavirus daily news update, Nov. 19 — The latest count of COVID-19 cases in Washington totals 135,424 infections (7-day average of new infections per day: 1,710) and 2,592 deaths (7-day average of deaths per day: 13)

► From the News Tribune — Coronavirus spread now as bad as it was in March, state says. Hospitals could be overwhelmed. — If the current coronavirus infection and hospitalization rates continue on their upward climb, Washington state hospitals could soon be overwhelmed by COVID-19 patients.

► From KING 5 — Latinos in Washington disproportionately hurt by COVID-19 pandemic — While Latinos make up 13% of the population in Washington state, at one point, they represented 44% of coronavirus cases.

► From the NY Times — Virus cases rise, but hazard pay for retail workers doesn’t — They were hailed as heroes during the first wave of the pandemic, but wage increases were fleeting, and companies, whose businesses are booming, have been slow to pay out more. Amazon, which said last month that its quarterly profit had increased nearly 200 percent, ended its $2-an-hour pay raise for workers earlier this year, but a spokeswoman said no new hazard pay was planned. Walmart, which reported another big increase in quarterly sales on Tuesday, had paid a series of special cash bonuses, but the company has not raised wages broadly as a way to reward workers during the pandemic. The grocery chain Kroger offered raises at the start of the pandemic and bonuses through mid-June, but those have ended. Employees nationwide have staged protests outside stores asking Kroger to reinstate the pay, especially given its booming business — sales are soaring, and it recently said its 2021 business results “will be higher than we would have expected prior to the Covid-19 pandemic.” This week, the company told workers that they would receive discounts at its fuel centers and a $100 store credit as a “holiday appreciation.”

TODAY at The StandUFCW 367 to grocers: Improve safety, reinstate hazard pay

► From KING 5 — Monroe 1st graders return to remote learning after backlash — Monroe first graders will return to remote learning after just two days back in the classroom. The Washington Education Association said “educators raised our health and safety concerns and refused to return to classrooms.” Staff said it was irresponsible to return to in-person learning with COVID-19 cases surging and 39 Monroe kindergartners in quarantine.

► From the (Longview) Daily News — Longview schools move to full remote learning as virus rates increase

► In today’s Washington Post — America’s 250,000 COVID deaths: People die, but little changes — From the start of the pandemic, public health officials and many political leaders hoped that COVID’s frightening lethality — the death toll will hit 250,000 this week — might unite the country in common cause against the virus’s spread. But the nation’s deep divisions — political and cultural — as well as the virus’s concentrated impact on crowded urban areas in the early months, set the country on a different path. Now, more than eight months into a pandemic that shows no sign of abating, it has become clear that although close experiences with COVID-19 do change some people’s attitudes, many Americans stick to their original notions, no matter what sorrows they’ve seen, no matter where they live.

► From the AP — Frontline workers, hospitals overwhelmed with virus cases — The number of people in the hospital with COVID-19 in the U.S. has doubled in the past month and set new records every day this week.

► From the NY Times — States that imposed few restrictions now have the worst outbreaks — Coronavirus cases are rising in almost every U.S. state. But the surge is worst now in places where leaders neglected to keep up forceful virus containment efforts or failed to implement basic measures like mask mandates in the first place

► From the Washington Post — Tyson Foods managers had a ‘winner-take-all’ bet on how many workers would get COVID-19, lawsuit alleges — As the novel coronavirus ripped through a pork processing plant in Waterloo, Iowa, in April, Tyson Foods supervisors not only kept the facility open — they also placed bets on how many workers would catch the virus, a recent wrongful death lawsuit claims. More than 1,000 employees eventually tested positive amid the outbreak and at least six died, which eventually shutting down the meat-processing plant and spurred harsh condemnations from local officials who said the company had failed to provide the necessary protections for its workforce.




► From KIRO — How safety could be in jeopardy with Seattle’s plan to defund probation counselors — Seattle City Councilmembers are in budget discussions this week and plan to make a 25% cut to Probation Services. Some probation counselors will be among those fired. Caseloads are already overwhelming for Seattle Municipal Court probation counselors. “I have 400 people,” said probation counselor Levi Gonzalez, who is assigned to clients convicted of DUI. Gonzalez is among the probation officers being fired. His caseload will have to be absorbed by other probation counselors.

ALSO from PROTEC 17 — Seattle Probation Counselors work to save vital services for court-involved community members — Probation Counselors at the Seattle Municipal Court dedicate their days to moving their clients away from the circumstances that landed them in court, towards a productive, healthy, and fulfilling life. They are case workers, connecting clients to crucial services such as housing, drug and alcohol rehabilitation, job resources, and much more. For these union members of PROTEC17, it’s a vocation more than a job.




► From the Seattle Times — A milestone for 737 MAX, but Boeing has more to do (editorial) — Aviation regulators in Europe and Canada are still demanding further improvements but the MAX may be flying passengers in the U.S. before year-end. Then begins the harder task of convincing the world that Boeing has fixed itself, and that the FAA is reformed and less cozy with America’s largest plane maker. Restoring trust and their reputations for excellence may take years and potentially another generation of airliners… One test will come with the next plane. Will Boeing continue building where there are experienced and skilled workers and deep technical expertise, or seek locales offering cheaper labor?




► From the (Everett) Herald — Uncertainty remains, but Washington sees revenues increase — Washington’s revenues continued to improve over the past few months, but officials warned there is significant uncertainty moving forward as the state continues to struggle with a surge in coronavirus cases that has led to a new round of business closures. Updated numbers released Wednesday show that projected revenue collections through mid-2023 are more than $900 million above what had been originally forecast. But the state’s revenue projection for that same time frame remains nearly $2.4 billion below what it was before the pandemic hit.

► From the (Everett) Herald — Democratic lawmakers ask Inslee to lift ban on indoor dining — Seven Democratic senators and two representatives sent Inslee a letter Monday in which they agreed on the need to respond to a recent explosion in coronavirus infections. But, they wrote, shutting down indoor service “is not the right first step” because it will put thousands out of work and damage the food service and accommodation industry. They ask the governor to consider letting restaurants operate at 25% of their indoor capacity.

► From the Spokesman-Review — GOP lawmakers decry Inslee’s statewide restrictions as COVID-19 cases climb — After Washington’s new statewide restrictions on businesses and gatherings went into effect Tuesday and Wednesday, the three Republicans who represent the state in Congress criticized Gov. Jay Inslee’s move and called for more local control to keep businesses open.

EDITOR’S NOTE — Three related stories…

► From the NY Times — States that imposed few restrictions now have the worst outbreaks — Coronavirus cases are rising in almost every U.S. state. But the surge is worst now in places where leaders neglected to keep up forceful virus containment efforts or failed to implement basic measures like mask mandates in the first place.

► From the Spokesman-Review — Central Washington Congressman Dan Newhouse tests positive for COVID-19 — U.S. Rep. Dan Newhouse (R-4th, WA) announced Wednesday he had tested positive for COVID-19 a day earlier, becoming the eighth lawmaker to test positive since Congress returned from recess last week.

► Meanwhile in Newhouse’s district, from the Tri-City Herald — Kennewick bar holds ‘resistance’ protest, staying open against WA state COVID rules

► From the (Everett) Herald — Eyman trial halted; family member of AG staffer falls ill — A Thurston County Superior Court judge halted Tim Eyman’s civil trial Wednesday after a state attorney informed the court that a family member of one member of its legal team had taken ill.




► From The Hill — Jobless claims rise to 742,000 in sign of stalling recovery — Initial jobless claims rose to a seasonally adjusted total of 742,000, a jump of 31,000, in the second week of November, a sign of a stalling recovery amid the most recent COVID-19 outbreak… By the end of December, nearly 4.5 million people will have already run through two emergency relief programs Congress set up in March. For months, Congress has stalled on a fifth COVID-19 relief bill, which would extend those programs, restore some level of additional weekly benefit, and provide stimulus to boost the economy.

► From The Hill — Senate Democrats introduce bill to shore up PPE supply

EDITOR’S NOTE — Meanwhile, here’s what Senate Republicans are focused on…

► From Politico — Republicans seek to stymie Biden with final Trump nominees — Two months before Joe Biden assumes the presidency, Senate Republicans are racing to install a series of conservative nominees that will outlast Donald Trump.

► From HuffPost — Republicans confirm another one of Trump’s unqualified court picks — Kathryn Kimball Mizelle has been practicing law only since 2012 and has never tried a case. The Senate made her a lifetime federal judge anyway.

► From The Hill — President is wild card as shutdown fears grow — Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are wondering if they can trust Trump to sign legislation to keep the government funded and avoid a shutdown before the end of the year. Republican and Democratic lawmakers say a government shutdown is not off the table and see Trump, who has refused to concede the election, as the main wild card.




► From HuffPost — Biden approaches 80 million votes in historic victory — President-elect Joe Biden’s winning tally is approaching a record 80 million votes as Democratic bastions continue to count ballots and the 2020 election cracks turnout records. Biden has already set a record for the highest number of votes for a winning presidential candidate. The rising Biden tally and his popular vote lead — nearly 6 million votes — come as Trump has escalated his false insistence that he actually won the election, and his campaign and supporters intensify their uphill legal fight to stop or delay results from being certified, potentially nullify the votes of Americans.

► From the Washington Post — The self-inflicted agony of Emily Murphy (by Daniel Drezner) — Without the “ascertainment” of Emily Murphy, the administrator of the General Services Administration, Trump can continue to block Biden’s landing teams from engaging with their departments, deny Biden access to intelligence briefings that would allow a seamless transfer of power, and sabotage any effort to bring an end to the pandemic. Right now, without any apparent logic, Murphy is guaranteeing to make the federal government less efficient, less effective and much less responsive to the American people.

► From Politico — Biden mounts lobbying blitz to crack GOP resistance to his transition — Behind the scenes, Biden’s advisers are in the midst of a fierce lobbying blitz to get Trump’s allies to crack. They’re dispatching emissaries from past administrations — Republican and Democrat — along with a wide array of business and interest group leaders to intercede on Biden’s behalf.

► From the Washington Post — Why the GOP is sticking with Trump’s election deceit (by E.J. Dionne) — Going forward, figuring out how Trump won an additional 10 million votes is one of the most important questions in politics. Here’s a plausible and discouraging theory: Given Trump’s intemperate and often wild ranting in the campaign’s final weeks and the growing public role in GOP politics of QAnon conspiracists, the Proud Boys and other previously marginal extremist groups, these voters may well be more radical than the party as a whole. This means that Republicans looking to the future may be more focused on keeping such Trump loyalists in the electorate than on backing away from his abuses. Trump’s bitterest harvest could thus be a Republican Party with absolutely no interest in a more moderate course and every reason to keep its supporters angry and on edge. Ignoring reality and denying Trump’s defeat are part of that effort.




► From NABTU — NABTU, Ørsted sign landmark MOU for U.S. offshore wind workforce transition — Ørsted, the global leader in offshore wind development, announced Wednesday a landmark initiative with North America’s Building Trades Unions, the labor organization representing more than 3 million skilled craft professionals. The partnership will create a national agreement designed to transition U.S. union construction workers into the offshore wind industry in collaboration with the leadership of the 14 U.S. NABTU affiliates and the AFL-CIO.

► From Reuters — Ørsted strikes deal with unions on U.S. offshore wind development

► From the Seattle Times — Walmart and McDonald’s have the most workers on food stamps and Medicaid, new study shows — A sizable number of the recipients of federal aid programs such as Medicaid and food stamps are employed by some of the biggest and more profitable companies in the United States, chief among them Walmart and McDonald’s, according to a new report from Congress’s nonpartisan watchdog. The Government Accountability Office undertook the study at the behest of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), to answer questions about the relationship between employers and the federal assistance programs. Walmart was one of the top four employers of SNAP and Medicaid beneficiaries in every state. McDonald’s was in the top five of employers with employees receiving federal benefits in at least nine states, which included Washington.

► From the St. Louis Post-Dispatch — Unions to Missouri Supreme Court: GOP labor law ‘rigged’ against workers — A long-running Republican attempt to change Missouri’s public sector union rules is “rigged” against rank-and-file workers, a labor attorney told the state’s highest court Monday. The law creates “Draconian restrictions on collective bargaining,” he said. “All of these restrictions on collective bargaining … are all applied in a discriminatory manner.”




The Entire Staff of The Stand is going on staycation. Our next update will be Monday, Nov. 30. Until then, please stay safe, wear masks, and avoid unnecessary social contact. It’s a small sacrifice to make. And it’s the best way we can honor exhausted healthcare workers, respect frontline essential workers who must work in public, and save local businesses from extended COVID-19 restrictions.

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

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