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Not enough nurses ● Political violence ● Come on, Congress

Thursday, December 10, 2020




► LIVE from the Seattle Times — Coronavirus daily news update, Dec. 9 — The latest count of COVID-19 cases in Washington totals 189,863 infections (7-day average of new infections per day: 2,568) and 3,016 deaths (7-day average of deaths per day: 22)

► From the Wenatchee World — Central Washington Hospital starts to divert patients to the other hospitals — The hospital can still make more beds available, but it does not have enough staffing to handle more patients. The hospital still has about 50 to 60 open nursing positions and they are using a lot of traveling nurses. The concern is that the remaining nurses are working a lot of overtime and getting burned out.

TODAY at The StandNNU’s ‘Deadly Shame’ report: Nurses devalued amid COVID

► From the Yakima H-R — Hospitalizations rising, with more staff out because of COVID-19 in Yakima — COVID-19 hospitalizations have reached the highest point since July at Virginia Mason Memorial hospital in Yakima, with more than 70 staff out for COVID-related reasons.

► From the Tri-City Herald — Pasco schools to stay open despite teacher fears over COVID rates and staffing shortages — The Pasco Association of Educators called on the school district to return to distance learning amid concerns that parents weren’t cooperating with contact tracing, the growing number of teacher absences and rising COVID cases in staff and students.

► From Reuters — U.S. on cusp of COVID-19 vaccine as deaths surpass 3,000 in a day — The United States prepared to roll out a coronavirus vaccine within days as the country’s daily death toll surpassed 3,000 for the first time, exceeding the number of lives lost from the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. COVID-19 deaths reached 3,253 on Wednesday, pushing up the U.S. total since the start of the pandemic to 289,740, with a record 106,219 people hospitalized with the highly infectious respiratory disease. Healthcare professionals and support staff, exhausted by the demands of the pandemic, have been watching patients die alone as millions of Americans refuse to follow medical advice to wear masks and avoid crowds in order to curb the virus’ spread.

► From The Hill — New CDC coronavirus forecast: 362,000 dead by Jan. 2

► From the Washington Post — A rural S.D. community ignored the virus for months. Then people started dying. — In a state where the Republican governor has defied calls for a statewide mask mandate even as cases hit record levels, many in Mitchell, a rural community an hour west of Sioux Falls, ignored the virus for months, not bothering with masks or social distancing. Restaurants were packed. Big weddings and funerals went on as planned. Then people started dying. The wife of the former bank president. A state legislator. The guy whose family has owned the bike shop since 1959. Then Buck Timmins, a mild-spoken 72-year-old who had worked with hundreds of local kids during six decades as a Little League and high school coach and referee. His death shook Mitchell just as its leaders were contemplating something previously denounced and dismissed: a requirement that its staunchly conservative residents wear masks.




► From the News Tribune — State Department of Health says first vaccine doses could come this month — Updated estimates from the federal government indicate Washington state could receive enough COVID-19 vaccine this month for 400,000 people to receive their first dose, according to state health officials. The first group who will get the vaccine are high-risk health care workers, along with residents and staff at long-term care facilities. There are an estimated 300,000 health care workers that fall in the high-risk category.




► From the (Everett) Herald — Boeing’s rebound ought to include a new jetliner, experts say — The Boeing Co. has a history of developing new commercial airplanes during turbulent times, so why not launch one now? The 757 and the 767 programs were launched in the mid- to late-1970s — a period marked by economic instability, aerospace analyst Richard Aboulafia, who is vice president of the Teal Group, told a virtual panel of experts this week. Another economic downturn in the early 1980s gave birth to the 777, he added. The virtual conference brought together three industry mavens to discuss Boeing’s future and steps it should consider to regain its footing. The event was sponsored by the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers District 751.




► From KXLY — WA Democrats: Bomb threat at Spokane office was politically motivated — Washington State Democrats believe an alleged bombing attempt at a Spokane office Wednesday was politically motivated. Police say a man walked into the Teamsters building — where the Spokane County Democrats office is located — wearing a backpack with wires sticking out and saying it was a bomb. The man then took an employee hostage for some time… Officers arrived and took the man into custody. Following a search of the building, police said no explosives were found, but the man did spark a fire in one office.

► From the Kitsap Sun — Kitsap man arrested for shooting at pro-Trump rally also protested outside Inslee’s house — A Port Orchard man accused of shooting a counter-protester during a confrontation Saturday at a pro-President Trump demonstration in Olympia was identified by police through videos posted to social media. He was also present at a Thanksgiving protest outside Gov. Jay Inslee’s house on Bainbridge Island, where he was armed with a pistol.

► From the Washington Post — The danger is growing that Trump’s lies about the election will lead to violence (editorial) — Trump’s lying about the election has become dangerous — and not just in the sense that it damages democratic norms. It also increasingly threatens to spur physical violence against Americans who have done their duty to oversee a free and fair vote. Officials in Arizona, Colorado, Georgia, Kentucky, Minnesota, Vermont and Wisconsin have reported receiving threats or harassment. The Arizona Republican Party asked its Twitter followers Tuesday if they were willing to give their lives to overturn the election and “die for something.” … Republicans across the country, from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) down to county GOP chairs, are inflaming them with their encouragement or their acquiescence. Violence seems ever more possible when President-elect Joe Biden’s victory becomes official — if not before. Short of that, Trump is creating a new playbook for failed candidates: Rile the base; delegitimize your opponent’s victory; pressure state officials to flip the results. This strategy could be far more potent in a closer election. It threatens the foundations of U.S. democracy.




► From the AP — U.S. jobless claims jump to 853,000, most since September, amid resurgence of COVID-19 — All told, more than 19 million people are still dependent on some type of unemployment benefit. And unless Congress acts soon, nearly half of them will lose that aid in just over two weeks. That’s when two jobless aid programs that the federal government created in the spring are set to expire.

► From the Spokesman-Review — ‘Come on, Congress, just get it done’: Northwest lawmakers weigh in on COVID relief talks as deadline looms — The House of Representatives passed a one-week stopgap spending bill Wednesday, a first step toward averting a government shutdown at week’s end and buying time for the 116th Congress to take one last shot at passing another round of pandemic relief legislation as COVID-19 strains the nation’s hospitals… “Over the last two years, and certainly over the last six months, my frustration with Congress has grown,” said Rep. Kim Schrier (D-WA, 8th). “I suspect it very much reflects the way my constituents feel, which is, ‘Come on, Congress, just get it done.’”

► From The Hill — Momentum stalls for COVID-19 relief bill — Momentum appeared to stall Wednesday on a COVID-19 relief bill amid differences not only between the parties, but between Senate Republicans and the White House over what should be included in the legislation.

► From The Hill — Relief talks show GOP divisions — Splits among Republicans are complicating GOP efforts to get on the same page in talks on a coronavirus relief deal, underscoring intraparty divisions. Republican senators say that White House’s eleventh-hour proposal to include $600 stimulus checks in the deal — and offset the cost in part by significantly reducing supplemental federal unemployment benefits — has added a big new wrinkle to the talks. “It’s not helpful,” said one Republican senator, who requested anonymity.

► From the NY Times — States try to rescue small businesses as U.S. aid is snarled — State governments (including Washington) are offering loans, grants and tax rebates, but budget constraints limit their impact.

► From the Seattle Times — Lack of federal aid to scorched Whitman County is inexcusable (editorial) — Months after summer wildfires eviscerated swaths of the West, scorched Eastern Washington communities are still awaiting federal government relief. The Trump administration’s foot-dragging on a disaster declaration is inexcusable, especially given the times.

► From the Kitsap Sun — Pay hike for servicemembers, vacation rollover for federal workers in defense bill — A 3% pay increase for members of the armed services and giving federal workers like those at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard the ability to roll over unused 2020 vacation are among the provisions in this year’s defense bill, which passed the House on a 335-78 vote Tuesday. “If you serve this country, Congress should have your back,” said Rep. Derek Kilmer (D-WA, 6th), who supported its passage. “This bipartisan legislation makes vital investments in servicemembers and their families, including a number of measures that I championed.”

The Stand (Dec. 8) — NDAA will let federal workers carry over leave amid pandemic




► This week, we marked the 40th anniversary of the murder of John Lennon, at the age of 40, by a crazed gunman angered by Lennon’s lifestyle and public statements. It’s a reminder that there are people out there who can easily be incited to horrific, senseless acts of violence.

As for the following immortal Beatles song, it wasn’t a simple message of unity. In fact, it was inspired by psychedelic psychologist Timothy Leary, who asked Lennon to write a song using this slogan for his campaign for governor of California against Ronald Reagan. That campaign promptly ended when Leary was arrested and jailed for marijuana possession — which apparently was considered illegal back then. Enjoy.


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