Tuesday, December 8, 2020
► LIVE from the Seattle Times — Coronavirus daily news update, Dec. 8 — The latest count of COVID-19 cases in Washington totals 184,404 infections (7-day average of new infections per day: 2,633) and 2,941 deaths (7-day average of deaths per day: 20)
► MUST-READ from the Spokesman-Review — Freedom from face coverings comes at cost of rising COVID-19 cases in North Idaho school district — What pandemic? To travel from Spokane to northern Kootenai County these days is like taking a step back in time – nine months, to be exact. As the lunch-hour crowd filled a small eatery Wednesday in Rathdrum, no one was wearing a mask. That included three young women behind the counter and several customers, among them a woman wearing a badge and uniform from an assisted-living facility. Across the street, hundreds of middle school students — almost none masked — were at recess. It’s called freedom, but purchased with soaring COVID-19 infection rates in schools, overburdened hospitals and one great unknown: How many viruses are hitchhiking from carefree Rathdrum aboard vehicles bound every day for Coeur d’Alene and Spokane? While North Idaho hospitals such as Kootenai Health are near-capacity, Spokane’s hospitals are hovering around 60 to 65% for COVID-19 patients and accepting out-of-state COVID patients while canceling some elective surgeries for local residents.
The Stand (Dec. 7) — A blueprint to safely reopen public schools (by Randi Weingarten) — Americans must summon the collective will to follow science both in and out of schools. If we can do this, we can allow children across the country back to schools for the second semester and then for enriched summer programs.
► From KIRO 7 — Hospitals face shortage of ICU nurses as COVID-19 cases surge — Washington state hospitals are seeing an increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations. The medical director of Harborview’s Emergency Department and the Washington Care Coordination Center is keeping track of the growing number of hospitalizations. And while the beds are available, they’re short of staff to care for patients.
► From the Seattle Times — What seven ICU nurses want you to know about the battle against COVID-19 — Kori Albi an ICU nurse in Boise, Idaho: “Death is a very intimate event that normally involves a lot of family members that help bring closure and that helps everyone process… All of that has been removed. And we now have to try to form those relationships over the telephone. It’s a traumatic experience. And it’s a long drawn-out process. A lot of people don’t make it out of here. It’s a slow, lonely death.”
► From the LA Times — Hospitals face tough choices as ICUs fill up with COVID-19 patients — With intensive care units across California rapidly filling with COVID-19 patients, hospitals have a limited number of tools available to free up more capacity in the coming weeks as cases are expected to surge.
► From the NY Times — Pfizer’s vaccine offers strong protection after first dose — The FDA’s first analysis of the clinical trial data also found that the coronavirus vaccine worked well regardless of a volunteer’s race, weight or age.
► From the NY Times — Trump administration passed on chance to secure more of Pfizer vaccine — Before Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine was proved highly successful in clinical trials last month, the company offered the Trump administration the chance to lock in supplies beyond the 100 million doses the pharmaceutical maker agreed to sell the government as part of a $1.95 billion deal over the summer. But the administration never made the deal, a choice that now raises questions about whether the United States allowed other countries to take its place in line.
► From the Washington Post — Britain launches the West’s first mass coronavirus vaccination
► From the Seattle Times — Boeing loses more 737 MAX orders and delivers zero 787s in November — Boeing delivered only seven commercial jets in November, just one of them a passenger plane. Data released Tuesday shows the deliveries included no 737 MAXs and no 787s. Following FAA clearance in mid-November for the MAX to fly again, deliveries of the 737 are expected to resume this week.
► From the Yakima H-R — Immigrant advocates to hold informative livestream on DACA ruling Tuesday — Young undocumented immigrants for the first time in years will be able to initially apply for protection against deportation. A federal ruling makes way for hundreds of thousands of “Dreamers” nationwide to submit initial applications for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). The program protects undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children while they work or attend school. On Tuesday, attorneys with the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project will explain the process and what the ruling means on Facebook. A livestream will be in English at 4 p.m. followed by a 4:30 p.m. Spanish stream at www.facebook.com/NWIRP.
► From the News Tribune — In a year of plague, Pierce County Republicans attempt to bring down health department (editorial) — As if this pandemic hasn’t created enough chaos and inflicted enough economic uncertainty, Republican council members Doug Richardson and Pam Roach are ready to dismantle a functioning piece of government without the necessary due diligence or public dialogue.
► From the Spokesman-Review — Spokane County draws more than $2 million from reserves, leave positions vacant to balance budget — County commissioners balanced the county’s $675 million budget Monday by pulling about $2.6 million from reserves and delaying the hiring of sheriff deputies, trainees and others planned for next year.
► From the Seattle Times — Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan won’t run for reelection — That decision will make Durkan the fourth mayor out of the past five to last only one term in a city where economic and social change — and occasional scandal — has time and again created political turbulence… Possible candidates include Seattle’s at-large council members, M. Lorena González and Teresa Mosqueda.
► From the (Everett) Herald — Getting climate change and the economy right (editorial) — With both crises past the point of deniability for most, the urgency in taking action is clear, for the sake of the economy and the climate… It is encouraging to see President-elect Biden pledge a return to that international partnership but more so to see recognition of the importance of addressing climate change and economic recovery by pursuing development of clean energy and investment in infrastructure. We can count ourselves as fortunate that during the past four years — rather than simply waiting for a change in the White House — those who took climate change seriously continued their work to develop solutions and find the opportunities in crisis.
TODAY at The Stand — Washington can exit the race to the bottom (by Gaylan Z. Prescott) — The “Buy Clean and Buy Fair Washington Act” would use our state tax dollars to support our labor and environmental values.
► From the News Tribune — Inslee to speak Tuesday about state’s COVID-19 response, economic relief — The news conference will be livestreamed today at 10:30 a.m. by TVW.
► From the Bloomberg — McConnell refuses to endorse bipartisan stimulus, risking deal — Almost a week after Democratic congressional leaders climbed down from their demand for a multitrillion dollar stimulus package, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) continued to tout his own plan, endangering prospects for a compromise. McConnell’s top priority — federal limits on covid-19 related lawsuits against businesses — has emerged as the key potential dealbreaker. Republicans have balked at the six-month moratorium proposed in a bipartisan stimulus package, saying it’s too limited, and talks have stalled.
► From The Guardian — Tucked into the COVID-19 stimulus package? Protection for corporations — The legislation to shield corporations from lawsuits when their lax safety standards kill workers, which is being tucked into a larger COVID relief package, is a holiday-season gift for corporate donors: it would strip frontline workers of their last remaining legal tool to protect themselves in the workplace.
► From the NY Times — The stimulus compromise is $908 billion better than nothing (editorial) — Americans urgently need Congress to deliver a fresh round of economic aid. Millions of people who lost jobs in the spring are reaching the end of their unemployment benefits. Many have fallen behind on rent or mortgage payments. Many do not have enough to eat… The compromise now on the table is flawed. It does not provide enough help for state and local governments or for workers. In addition to providing necessary financial help for businesses, it includes a twisted provision providing special legal protections to businesses that fail to protect their workers. But there is no obvious benefit in turning it down. Millions of Americans are suffering. The situation is deteriorating. Send money now.
► From The Hill — Workplace safety is not a game: It’s the law (by NIOSH’s Jessica Martinez and Marcy Goldstein-Gelb) — With political leaders now rallying around a relief package that could include a moratorium on COVID-19 lawsuits against employers, we cannot forget just how brazenly many large corporations continue to disregard the lives of frontline workers. Supervisors at a Tyson Foods pork processing plant in Waterloo, Iowa, reportedly made a game out of their own deliberate ignorance on workplace health and safety. As 1,000 workers at the plant contracted COVID-19, and six of them died, a manager at the facility “organized a cash buy-in, winner-take-all betting pool… to wager how many employees would test positive for COVID-19.” Just last week, new reports surfaced about additional misconduct at the same plant as the result of a wrongful death lawsuit filed by the family of one of the Tyson workers who died. Supervisors allegedly provided false information to interpreters, claiming the plant was free from the coronavirus, even as infections were raging. We’d never know about these kinds of egregious violations — much less be able to address them — if corporations like Tyson are shielded from accountability.
► From The Hill — Congress dares Trump to veto defense bill — The House is scheduled to take up the National Defense Authorization Act today, and the Senate is expected to follow shortly after. Both chambers are expected to have strong bipartisan votes in favor, even as Trump has repeatedly threatened to veto the $740 billion measure. If he follows through with his threat, it’s unclear how many Republicans would buck Trump and hand him the first veto override of his presidency.
TODAY at The Stand — NDAA will let federal workers carry over leave amid pandemic
► From Politico — Biden pledged to undo Trump’s immigration policies. It will take time. — A few policies can be changed on Day One. But many can only be unwound through a lengthy regulatory process, months of court battles and legislative movement.
► From Politico — Trump’s options dwindle as safe harbor deadline looms — Dec. 8 is the so-called “safe harbor” date for the presidential election, a milestone established in federal law for states to conclude any disputes over the results. Trump’s failure to gain traction in litigation, with his lawyers and allies failing to block crucial states from declaring Joe Biden the winner, means the safe harbor deadline stands as another potentially insurmountable reason for the courts to decline to intervene.
► From the Washington Post — Trump asks Pennsylvania House speaker for help overturning election results, personally intervening in a third state
► From the Washington Post — McConnell, McCarthy say they believe in democracy — but stand by as Trump incinerates it (editorial) — In the days after Trump lost his bid for reelection, congressional Republicans argued for patience as he denied the results. Allowing Trump to exhaust his legal challenges would promote faith in the outcome, they said. Giving the president time to process his defeat would encourage a smooth transition. Five weeks on, Trump has instead entrenched the lie that the election was stolen, with polls showing that many GOP voters believe him. Worse: Trump has progressed from lying about the result to adopting the tactics of a tinpot authoritarian, trying to overturn a free and fair election by pressuring and corrupting voting officials. It is beyond our understanding how Republicans who claim to believe in democracy, such as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (Calif.), can remain silent. The president is incinerating belief in American democracy, and almost the entire leadership of the Republican Party is complicit.
► From the Washington Post — A Black Michigan lawmaker criticized Giuliani’s voter fraud claims. Now she’s getting racist, lynching threats.
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.