Monday, August 16, 2021
► LIVE from the Seattle Times — Coronavirus daily news update, Aug. 16 — The latest count of COVID-19 cases in Washington totals 507,294 infections (14-day average of cases per day: 2,446) and 6,239 deaths.
► From the AP — Delta variant causing cases to spread ‘like wildfire’ in Washington — Health officials said COVID-19 cases are approaching levels last seen in the winter 2020 surge.
► From the Seattle Times — UW Medicine offering third vaccinations, rescheduling surgeries as delta variant surges — The CDC has recommended a third vaccine shot for people who are moderately or severely immunocompromised.
► From the Seattle Times — What happened this week is that patience from the vaccinated finally ran out (by Danny Westneat) — There’s a palpable tension rising between the roughly 60% who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, and the 40% who still are not — especially as it sinks in that we’re not headed back to normal now as we’d once hoped. A recent poll asked the provocative question: Who do you blame that we’re right back in the thick of this mess again? It’s the unvaccinated who are at fault, the vaccinated answered. While the unvaccinated pointed the finger at anybody but themselves — at “foreign travelers entering the U.S.,” at “the mainstream media,” at Joe Biden… It’s obvious after 18 months of this that America is too riven to ever agree how to end this pandemic.
► From the Olympian — Hundreds gather at Capitol to protest Inslee’s vaccine mandate for state workers — The event was organized by Waking Up Washington, a faith-based anti-vaccine mandate group from Vancouver. The organization’s founder, Palmer Davis, told the crowd, “It’s more important that you don’t take this injection than you keep your job,” then she added, “but I want you to keep your jobs.”
The Stand (Aug. 9) — WSLC outlines position on vaccine mandates
► From the Spokesman-Review — Survey finds Washington’s nurses are stressed, and some are seeking jobs elsewhere in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic — The statewide and nationwide nursing shortage existed long before the pandemic began, but the stress of the past year has led some nurses to rethink their careers. A new survey of more than 400 nurses statewide, published by the Washington Center for Nursing, found that 51% of nurses were laid off or furloughed at some point during the pandemic; 49% actually got COVID-19 last year; and 42% are considering or have made plans to leave nursing altogether.
► From the Washington Post — New study says wildfire smoke linked to increased COVID cases, deaths — A team of researchers at Harvard University found evidence that exposure to elevated levels of fine particle pollution found in wildfire smoke may have led to thousands more cases of COVID-19 and more deaths among those who tested positive for the coronavirus.
► From HuffPost — Texas judge says there are no kid ICU beds: Have to ‘wait for another child to die’ — “That means if your child’s in a car wreck … and needs an ICU bed … we don’t have one,” said Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins.
► From the (Everett) Herald — Frustration and fear as closures at Monroe prison begin — Frustration, fear and anger are being stirred by the state Department of Corrections as it moves to close units at the Monroe Correctional Complex and other prisons around the state. Already, one of two cell blocks of the Washington State Reformatory at Monroe has been emptied, its minimum security prisoners moved into the other block, where they now share smaller cells with medium security inmates. Eventually, the rest of the reformatory living units, plus two minimum security units at Monroe, could be shuttered as part of the state’s response to the challenges of empty beds, staffing shortages and funding cuts.
► From the Olympian — Thurston County school districts face a key shortage as the new year approaches — The COVID-19 pandemic has created shortages of workers, supplies and now, school bus drivers. Thurston County’s largest school districts — North Thurston, Olympia and Tumwater — say they are facing bus driver shortages as the beginning of the school year approaches.
► From the Spokesman-Review — Spokane County Jail, Geiger offering $10K signing bonuses
SOUTH OF THE BORDER
► From KOIN — AFL-CIO joins striking Nabisco workers on picket line — Striking workers at the Nabisco Bakery in Northeast Portland held a rally Saturday to highlight their demands for a fair contract. Bakery workers, who walked off the job on Tuesday, were joined by members of other unions, including the AFL-CIO on Saturday. They want a better contract amid the fear their jobs will be moved out of the country.
► From the NY Times — As a big wildfire is contained in Oregon, others force thousands to evacuate across the West — Residents of Southern Oregon were waking up on Monday to find that the Bootleg Fire, which had ravaged more 400,000 acres of their state since early July, had been fully contained over the weekend. But elsewhere in the West, dozens of blazes have been burning in states parched by drought and scorching temperatures.
► From Roll Call — Pelosi offers to ‘advance’ budget and infrastructure measures together — Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Sunday sought to reach a compromise with nine moderate House Democrats, who have threatened to vote against adopting the budget resolution unless the House first votes on a Senate-passed bipartisan infrastructure bill. In a “Dear Colleague” letter to House Democrats, Pelosi said she “requested that the Rules Committee explore the possibility of a rule that advances both the budget resolution and the bipartisan infrastructure package.”
► From the (Everett) Herald — What the infrastructure bill could mean for Snohomish County — Portions of the $550 billion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act could be funneled to the U.S. 2 trestle replacement, low-emission and zero-emission buses and ferries, removing at-grade rail crossings in Edmonds and Marysville and securing light rail to Everett.
► From the Washington Post — Struggling transit agencies preparing for record federal investment — While transit agencies worry about the slow pace of riders returning amid the pandemic and the effect telecommuting could have on revenue, they simultaneously are looking to make expensive service upgrades. Most are eyeing electric buses, expanding rapid transit buses, installing high-tech fare gates or adding mobile fare payment systems.
► From the Columbian — Infrastructure bill a win for Washington, U.S. (editorial) — Investment in the future of this nation is necessary. Long-ignored infrastructure spending will help improve the United States’ economy and livability for decades to come.
► From Politico — ‘Lay out the strategy’: Corporate America grows impatient on Biden’s China trade review — American companies were glad to see Biden review Trump’s trade policies toward China, but eight months later, they have seen little change on tariffs or other issues bedeviling their business in the world’s second-largest economy.
The Stand (Aug. 10) — USTR Tai, DelBene meet with labor on worker-centered trade
► From The Hill — Biden administration approves record permanent jump in food stamps — Under new rules expected to be announced Monday and taking effect in October, average monthly benefits are slated to increase by $36 from a pre-pandemic average of $121, or about 25 percent.
► From the Washington Post — Nearly a third of U.S. workers under 40 considered changing careers during the pandemic — Many people told The Post that the pandemic altered how they think about what is important in life and their careers. It has given them a heightened understanding that life is short and now is the time to make the changes they have long dreamed of doing. The result is a great reassessment of work, as Americans fundamentally reimagine their relationships to their jobs.
► From the Daily Beast — NY Times lawyers accidentally send private strategy memo to staff union — The New York Times is engaged in a contentious back and forth with several hundred of the paper’s technology and product staffers who announced a unionization drive earlier this year. So it was likely a bit embarrassing when the law firm representing the paper’s management accidentally sent a private strategy memo to representatives for the newly unionized staff.
RICHARD TRUMKA (1949-2021)
► From the AFL-CIO — Richard L. Trumka’s lifelong devotion to family and democracy — Richard Louis Trumka dedicated his entire life to making sure every institution he touched—the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA), the AFL-CIO, the U.S. government and the world community—served working people and the public interest, comforted the afflicted and afflicted the comfortable. In that sense Trumka’s legacy above all was his fight for democracy, from the UMWA of his youth to the AFL-CIO to the United States in 2020 to the world that he influenced through the global labor movement. Every day of his career, Trumka fought for the right of working people to be heard everywhere it mattered—and the people he remembered were those who suffered in that cause—his friend the Colombian mine worker assassinated as he rode a bus to work, the miners he worked side by side with who gave life and breath to power our communities, the nurses, grocery workers, meatpackers, hotel workers, taxi drivers, steelworkers and autoworkers whose picket lines he joined and whose stories he heard through a lifetime of leading their fights.
► From NPR — The future of the labor movement after Richard Trumka — Author and former New York Times labor reporter Steven Greenhouse: “A big question now is we have this very pro-union president who really wants to lift workers and help unions. But the legal playing field makes it very hard for unions to win unionization drives. And that’s why people say it’s so important for Biden and the Senate to end the filibuster to enact pro-union legislation. If that doesn’t happen, it’s going to be really hard to turn around the decline of unions and enable unions to unionize millions more members.”
► From KNKX — ‘They all back the blue.’ Peace evades Manuel Ellis’ sister despite cops being charged — The day the state attorney general charged three Tacoma police officers with felonies in the killing of Manuel Ellis, nearly a third of Tacoma’s police force didn’t show up to work. “In that community they all back each other,” Monét Carter-Mixon, Ellis’ sister, told KNKX. “They all back the blue.” All three of them remain employed by the Tacoma Police Department, pending an internal investigation… “Our state’s government has determined that what they did was unjust and unlawful,” Carter-Mixonsaid. “So why are you still saying they were just doing their job? Why are you condoning that behavior, when someone lost their life?” Carter-Mixon said she has experienced verbal harassment from someone in her neighborhood. Shortly after, she says, her car was vandalized. She believes she’s being followed, even now more than two months later. Carter-Mixon believes all of it is related to how vocal she’s been about her brother’s case.
ALSO see the Seattle Times version of this story done in partnership with KNKX — Thin blue line thickens after murder charges for Tacoma police officers in Manuel Ellis’ death
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.