Tuesday, January 5, 2021
► LIVE from the Seattle Times — Coronavirus daily news update, Jan. 5 — The latest count of COVID-19 cases in Washington totals 256,435 infections (7-day average of new infections per day: 2,147) and 3,482 deaths (7-day average of deaths per day: 10)
► From the (Aberdeen) Daily World — Stafford Creek corrections officer dies from complications of COVID-19 — Stafford Creek Corrections Center reported the death of corrections officer David A. Christensen, 62, Dec. 30. As of that date Christensen was the second corrections officer in the state to die from complications of COVID-19.
► From the Columbia Basin Herald — Sheriff’s deputy’s death caused by COVID-19
► From the Columbian — PeaceHealth COVID-19 outbreak reaches 11 staff and 19 patients — PeaceHealth confirmed Monday afternoon that 19 patients were infected in the coronavirus cluster, which broke out on or around Dec. 27 in a medical surgery ward at the hospital. Another 11 hospital staff were infected, the hospital said.
► From KIMA — Workers union pushes for COVID-19 vaccines for grocery store employees — Pointing to a growing number of COVID-19 outbreaks at grocery stores and supermarkets, the UFCW union is pushing for those frontline workers to receive the vaccine as soon as possible. In Washington state, the union represents some 62,000 workers. “It has been a battle we’ve been fighting for a long time,” said Angel Gonzalez, the president of UFCW Local 367. “Grocery store workers have been tossed into the trenches without notice. They didn’t sign up for this.” Local 367 represents roughly 8,300 workers in Pierce, Thurston, Mason, Pacific, and Grays Harbor County. Gonzalez says in the last week, one grocery store worker, a mother of five, died due to complications of COVID-19.
► LIVE from the Washington Post — U.S. again shatters records after 2,800 new patients require hospitalization in a single day — More than 128,000 people across the United States are currently hospitalized with COVID-19 on Monday. That number is a record and represents an increase of 2,800 patients in a single day.
► From the LA Times — Short on equipment, ambulances and space, L.A. County medical system reaches ‘a point of crisis’— Ambulance operators are being told not to bring patients who have virtually no chance of survival to hospitals, as officials scramble to ensure they can provide enough lifesaving oxygen for critically ill patients.
► From the Washington Post — Third national lockdown announced in England amid coronavirus surge driven by variant strain — Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday ordered a third national lockdown for England amid a surging coronavirus outbreak driven by a U.K. variant that appears to be more contagious and may have greater implications for children.
► From the Washington Post — New coronavirus variants could lead to a surge. The vaccine rollout is more urgent than ever. (editorial) — The implications of new variants of the coronavirus, detected in the United Kingdom and South Africa, are potentially grave for the United States. We don’t say that to be alarmist, but to be realistic. Although the new variants do not appear to be more lethal or more able to evade vaccines, the epidemiological data in recent weeks strongly suggests the virus is more transmissible by 50 percent or so. In the United States, that could lead to a surge like nothing we have yet seen. It makes the vaccine rollout more urgent than ever.
► From the Seattle Times — Restaurants defy COVID-19 restrictions in uprising embraced by Northwest far-right groups — The movement has gained support among residents in some communities wary of government pronouncements and angry over rules that have kept big-box stores open while shutting down indoor-dining services… Their tactics this fall have included singling out state L&I staff for harassment. One employee involved in an investigation of indoor service by Spiffy’s Restaurant & Bakery in Chehalis. His name and age were publicized, and protesters appeared outside his home.
► From the Seattle Times — School nurses key to reopening schools, but new research shows equity gaps in Washington — Just as a slew of Washington school districts are planning to bring more students back into buildings this year, a new study from University of Washington researchers suggests that many districts are short of school nurses, who will play a critical role in developing pandemic-related health and safety plans and will care for sick students. Statewide, schools employed an estimated 978 full-time equivalent nurses in 2019-20, up from 625 two years ago, the researchers found. But Washington has more than 2,000 public schools, suggesting that many buildings still don’t employ a nurse full time. The findings also suggest vast gaps, like in the health care system at large, in who has access to medical care at school.
► From the Seattle Times — AG Ferguson, with tribes and historic groups, sues feds over Seattle National Archives closure — As the battle continues between state Attorney General Bob Ferguson and the federal government over the closure and sale of the National Archives facility at Seattle, on Monday Ferguson filed an 87-page lawsuit to stop the sale. He was joined by a long list of 28 tribes and tribal entities, historic preservation groups and museums in the suit.
► From the Peninsula Daily News — Child care openings, staffing remain struggles for Clallam County providers — Federal support is coming for child care facilities and families through the $900 billion federal COVID-19 relief package, but Clallam County providers continue to say space is limited and potential employee pools are sparse. Finding a spot for a child was difficult prior to the pandemic, and it remains difficult nine months after the region’s COVID-19 outbreak.
EDITOR’S NOTE — Are you a working parent struggling to find/afford child care, or a child-care professional frustrated with low pay and benefits? Share your story!
► From the Tri-City Herald — Deadline delayed again to start treating millions of gallons of Hanford radioactive waste — The Department of Energy has again been granted more time to start treatment of radioactive waste at the Hanford site’s $17 billion vitrification plant.
► From the (Everett) Herald — Boeing Dreamliner’s defects spur $7.5 billion cash drain — Boeing faces a new cash drain from structural flaws on its marquee 787 Dreamliner jets, potentially slowing the company’s recovery from the coronavirus pandemic and the grounding of the 737 Max, said a Bernstein analyst… Boeing intends to repair 787 planes for months at its factory in Everett after ending production of the model there in March.
► LIVE from the Washington Post — Control of the U.S. Senate hangs in the balance as Georgia polls open — Voters in Georgia head to the polls Tuesday to decide a pair of Senate runoffs that will determine whether Democrats or Republicans control the chamber in Washington. The races pit Sen. David Perdue (R) against Democrat John Ossoff and Sen. Kelly Loeffler, another Republican incumbent, against Democrat Raphael Warnock.
► From NBC News — Thousands of Atlanta ballots at risk ahead of pivotal Georgia Senate runoffs as mail delays drag on — Atlanta-area mail delays, which Postmaster Louis DeJoy promised would improve following a national slowdown last summer, remain far below US Postal Service standards, threatening to disenfranchise thousands of legal voters who mailed in ballots in a pair of pivotal U.S. Senate runoffs this week.
► From CNN — The final Trump loyalty test for Congress is coming — The test for what the Republican Party will be in the wake of Trump’s presidency is coming in a little over 24 hours and on the heels of Georgia Senate runoffs that will finally determine the balance of the U.S. Senate. It is a gamble members are taking on whether the GOP can finally shake Trump going forward or whether there is no way to win the White House again without him on their side.
► From the Seattle Times — Rep. Dan Newhouse won’t join GOP effort to block Biden electoral votes — “The Constitution is clear. States select electors. Congress does not. … We must count the electoral votes submitted by the states,” Newhouse said.
► From the Spokesman-Review — ‘It’s undermining our system of government’: Kim Wyman responds to Trump pressuring Georgia official to change votes — “When I hear anyone making an appeal to an election official based on party loyalty, it’s disturbing and alarming,” Wyman said. “That’s asking Brad Raffensperger to violate his oath of office, to break the law and change the outcome of an election for political gain.”
► From the NY Times — Pence’s choice: Side with the Constitution or his boss — The vice president will preside on Wednesday when Congress ceremonially convenes to ratify Joe Biden’s victory. Trump still seems to hold out hope that his loyal No. 2 could change the outcome… Pence does not have unilateral power to affect the outcome of Wednesday’s proceedings. But he has carefully tried to look like he is loyally following the president’s lead even as he goes through a process that is expected to end with him reading out a declaration that Biden is the winner.
► From Politico — MAGA activists plot revenge on Republican ‘traitors’ — MAGA figureheads and pro-Trump activists are vowing to excommunicate Republicans who vigorously oppose the doomed effort to keep Trump in power.
► From the Washington Post — Cleta Mitchell, a key figure in president’s phone call, was an early backer of Trump’s election fraud claims — Mitchell’s role as a Trump legal adviser, which received widespread attention after The Washington Post on Sunday published audio and a transcript of the call, has surprised some colleagues, particularly because she is a partner at a major law firm, Foley & Lardner, that immediately faced questions about whether it endorsed such work.
EDITOR’S NOTE — A few years back, Cleta Mitchell was keynote speaker at a fundraising event for the Freedom Foundation. These days, in addition to harassing public employees with solicitations to quit their unions, the Washington state-based foundation is defending businesses that defy COVID-19 restrictions and claiming COVID-19 death rates are inflated.
► From Roll Call — Democratic unity on budget rules masks schism under the surface — An intraparty split among House Democrats over budgets and deficits spilled into the open on the first full day of legislative business for the 117th Congress, even as the chamber adopted its rules package without any defections.
► From The Hill — Washington state neighbors underscore internal Democratic tensions — As House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) counts the votes she will need to craft a Democratic agenda this year, she will keep Reps. Pramila Jayapal and Suzan DelBene on speed dial. The two Washington state Democrats hold adjoining districts based in and around Seattle, and they routinely find themselves on the same flights to and from the other Washington. They also hold the keys to important factions within the House Democratic Caucus: Jayapal chairs the House Progressive Caucus, while DelBene heads the New Democrat Coalition. Their positions — geographically proximate, ideologically distanced — illustrate the fundamental tensions within a Democratic Party that is riven by angst and plagued by finger-pointing over an election in which they won the White House but lost seats in the House of Representatives.
► From The Hill — Google workers make waves with first labor union — This week’s move by more than 200 workers at Alphabet to form a union is being seen as an alternative framework for organizing at other Silicon Valley giants. The Alphabet Workers Union was organized with the help of the CWA as what’s known as a minority or non-contract union, meaning the group is not seeking recognition from the NLRB, nor will it have formal collective bargaining power. The model has primarily been used to organize workers at universities and in states that prohibit collective bargaining by government employees, but its roots stretch back to earlier labor movements.
TODAY at The Stand — New union at Google invites all Alphabet employees to join
► From Vox — Google’s new union, briefly explained — On Monday morning, more than 220 Google tech employees announced they have formed a union. It’s a sign that worker activism is still kicking at Google, as the company faces political scrutiny over its size and power over the economy. But in a company of more than 100,000 employees, the new union is trying to grow membership significantly to exert meaningful force on Google’s management.
EDITOR’S NOTE — Want to exert meaningful force on management? Get a union! Find out more information about how you can join together with co-workers and negotiate a fair return for your hard work. Or go ahead and contact a union organizer today!
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.