Wednesday, August 25, 2021
► LIVE from the Seattle Times — Coronavirus daily news update, Aug. 25 — The latest count of COVID-19 cases in Washington totals 536,814 infections (14-day average of cases per day: 2,990) and 6,383 deaths.
► From the Olympian — 10 Thurston residents died of COVID in the past week
► From the Peninsula Daily News — Case rates skyrocket on Olympic Peninsula
► From the Herald — Snohomish County infections near the highs set last winter
► From the Wenatchee World — Fourteen more COVID-19 deaths reported in Grant, Okanogan counties
► From the Bellingham Herald — Whatcom sees another triple-digit weekend in COVID-19 cases and more hospitalizations
► From the Seattle Times — King County says 70% of residents have been vaccinated across all ages, ethnicities — King County is the first large county in the nation to reach this level of parity.
► From the Seattle Times — Dr. Fauci says no end to COVID pandemic before spring 2022 — at the earliest — The world-renowned infectious disease expert predicted the coming months will remain very difficult, with high caseloads and deaths especially in places with low vaccination rates.
► From the News Tribune — With 30% of firefighters unvaccinated, Pierce County may see major staffing shortages — Pierce County firefighter unions are preparing for staffing fallout from the state-mandated vaccination requirement. Fire chiefs and union leaders have estimated that about 30% of their departments or membership have yet to be vaccinated, and worry what the required vaccine will do to their workforce. Some firefighters have told coworkers they are looking at other jobs, leaving the state or retiring early.
► From the Spokesman-Review — Washington’s vaccine mandate guidelines for school workers advocate caution in questioning religious exemptions — The state has released new guidance that will probably affect many school employee COVID-19 vaccine exemption requests, particularly those based on religion. Five days after mandating vaccines for all teachers and staff, the state superintendent’s office came out Monday night with clarifications around religious exemptions. The document will surely add to the burdens of Human Resource managers seeking to determine the depth and sincerity of an employee’s religious beliefs. It also appears to place a high burden of proof on districts who question those beliefs during the processing of exemptions.
EDITOR’S NOTE — Here is the 4-page guidance document, “Guidance for Employers on Evaluating Religious Accommodation Requests.”
► From Q13 FOX — Emails: State sought to make religious vaccine exemption ‘as narrow as possible’ — General Counsel for Gov. Jay Inslee did not want to allow for religious exemptions to the COVID-19 vaccine, but said any such exception should be “as narrow as possible,” according to emails obtained through public disclosure.
► From the Columbian — Vancouver: No plan to mandate vaccines for city employees — Workers categorized under health care must follow state rules.
► From the Washington Post — Companies move to mandate coronavirus shots as FDA grants full approval to Pfizer vaccine — A growing number of companies were moving to impose vaccine requirements as the Food and Drug Administration issued full approval of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine, eliminating one of the central remaining arguments used by the vaccine-hesitant. CVS Health, Deloitte and Walt Disney Co. said they would add or expand vaccine requirements for workers.
► From the AP — Delta Air Lines will make unvaccinated employees pay charge — Delta Air Lines will charge employees on the company health plan $200 a month if they fail to get vaccinated against COVID-19, a policy the airline’s top executive says is necessary because the average hospital stay for the virus costs the airline $40,000.
► From Bloomberg — Worker support grows for harsher vaccine stances from employers — A survey released Tuesday by human resources consultant Eagle Hill showed that 41% of workers polled agreed that nonvaccinated employees should pay higher insurance rates. Almost two-thirds said the unvaccinated shouldn’t get special allowances to work from home. A separate poll of employers found that the share of those imposing vaccine mandates or planning to do so in some way has more than doubled since the start of the year.
► From KIRO 7 — Nursing staff at Tukwila behavioral center on strike due to safety concerns (video)
The Stand (Aug. 13) — Sign the petition: Cascade safety matters! — Healthcare workers walk off job at Cascade Behavioral Health over unsafe conditions and understaffing.
EDITOR’S NOTE — All union members and supporters are invited to show their support on the Cascade picket line at 12844 Military Rd S in Tukwila.
► From the (Everett) Herald — County expects 1,200 Afghans to settle here in coming months — Snohomish County is expected to see about 1,200 Afghans resettle here in coming months after Taliban forces seized control of the country, county Executive Dave Somers said Tuesday. He called helping a “moral obligation.”
The Stand (Aug. 24) — How you can show solidarity with Afghan people here, abroad
► From the Seattle Times — Former Washington state employment chief leaves job in Biden Labor Department — Suzi LeVine, former head of the Washington Employment Security Department, has resigned from the Biden administration post she took less than seven months ago over concerns about the job’s impacts on her family.
► From the AP — House passes $3.5T Biden blueprint after deal with moderates — Striking a deal with moderates, House Democratic leaders have muscled President Joe Biden’s multitrillion-dollar budget blueprint over a key hurdle, ending a risky standoff and putting the party’s domestic infrastructure agenda back on track. The 220-212 vote Tuesday was a first move toward drafting Biden’s $3.5 trillion rebuilding plan this fall, and the narrow outcome, in the face of unanimous Republican opposition, signaled the power a few voices have to alter the debate and the challenges ahead still threatening to upend the president’s agenda. From the White House, Biden praised the outcome as “a step closer to truly investing in the American people.”
► From the Washington Post — House passes $3.5 trillion budget plan — The measure also sets in motion a potential House vote on a $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill in late September.
► From the AFL-CIO — Historic day for investment in working families — AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler:
“By passing the $3.5 trillion budget resolution and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, the House has taken a critical step forward for working families. Passage of this resolution puts America one step closer to providing major new funding for good jobs and our care infrastructure—including the first ever federal paid family and medical leave benefit, affordable health care, education and enhanced enforcement of our labor laws. President Biden’s Build Back Better agenda already has made an impact on the lives of so many across this country and today represents yet another victory for America’s working families. With discriminatory voting laws also proliferating across the country, passage of the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act could not come at a more critical time. Thanks to the tireless efforts of House leadership, our country is on its way to building back better and stronger and protecting our democracy; and we look forward to the final passage of these bills and the bipartisan infrastructure legislation as soon as possible.”
► From The Hill — House approves John Lewis voting rights measure — The House approved the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act on Tuesday in a party-line vote, kicking the legislation to the Senate — where it faces longer odds of passage. The bill was approved 219-212, with zero Republicans voting for it. The bill approved Tuesday centers around restoring the federal preclearance originally instituted by the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which was eroded by a 2013 Supreme Court decision. The preclearance required states and jurisdictions with histories of racial discrimination — largely the Jim Crow South — to gain approval from the Department of Justice before implementing any change to voting procedure.
► From NPR — New laws have basically ended voter registration drives in some parts of the U.S. — New state laws tightening voting restrictions come in two basic varieties: those that make it harder to cast a vote, and those making it more difficult to get registered to vote in the first place. In Kansas, one law effectively shuts down voter registration drives.
► From the Washington Post — Supreme Court says Biden administration must comply with ruling to restart ‘remain in Mexico’ program for asylum seekers — The Supreme Court on Tuesday said the Biden administration must comply with a lower court’s ruling to reinstate President Donald Trump’s policy that required many asylum seekers to wait outside the United States for their cases to be decided.
► From Vox — The Supreme Court’s stunning, radical immigration decision, explained — The court’s decision on Trump’s “Remain in Mexico” policy upends decades of precedent warning that judges shouldn’t mess with foreign affairs.
► From the Hollywood Reporter — MSNBC staff votes to unionize with Writers Guild East — According to a NLRB tally, 141 editorial staffers voted to have the union represent their unit in collective bargaining and 58 voted against it. The NLRB counted the votes on Tuesday after MSNBC chose not to voluntarily recognize the union in June. Composed of 300 members, the covered group includes writers, producers, booking producers, fact-checkers and planners on MSNBC programs and Peacock’s The Choice. When the bargaining unit announced their unionization campaign in June, they said in a statement that they wanted to join the Guild to promote greater diversity in the newsroom, fair pay and strong benefits,
EDITOR’S NOTE — Tired of being disrespected? 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!
► From CNN Business — Kroger’s stock is at a record high — Amazon, Walmart and Target have stepped up their games in the grocery business. So it may come as a surprise that shares of traditional supermarket chain Kroger are up nearly 50% this year and trading at an all-time high.
EDITOR’S NOTE — Kroger can afford hazard pay for frontline grocery workers who are facing exposure to the highly contagious Delta variant of COVID-19 every day they go to work.
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.