Friday, August 27, 2021
► From the Tri-City Herald — ‘Unprecedented’ COVID stress. Tri-Cities hospitals diverting ambulances daily this month. — One or more Tri-City hospitals was too busy to take any more patients coming by ambulance for significant periods nearly every day this month. The busy hospitals and packed emergency rooms are causing substantial problems for Tri-Cities emergency medical services and the patients who call 911, either because they have COVID-19 or because of other medical emergencies. The high number of new cases is putting “unprecedented” stress on an already stressed health care system, said Dr. Kevin Hodges, emergency medical director for Benton and Franklin counties.
MORE local coverage of skyrocketing COVID-19 case rates, hospitalizations and deaths in the (Aberdeen) Daily World, Bellingham Herald, (Yakima) KIMA, (Longview) Daily News, Peninsula Daily News, (Tacoma) News Tribune, (Vancouver) Columbian, and (Yakima) KIMA.
► From KXLY (Spokane) — Hospitals desperate to hire during critical staffing shortages — Hospitals are strapped thin. Healthcare workers are battling a relentless pandemic and more people are needed to keep the community safe. Providence, Panhandle Health and Multicare all have a record number of job openings. More people retired from healthcare during the pandemic and others are burnt out. These low staffing levels couldn’t come at a worse time than with more COVID-19 and trauma patients are flooding in.
► From the Kitsap Sun — Outbreaks reported at St. Michael Medical Center, Kitsap County Jail — The Kitsap Public Health District reported active outbreaks with 13 linked cases at the hospital and 10 at the jail on Thursday.
► From the Washington Post — As Florida faces record deaths, DeSantis says Biden should follow his lead — Florida is now reporting an average of 228 covid-19 deaths each day — a state record and by far the highest count in the nation.
MASK AND VACCINE MANDATES
► From KING 5 — COVID-19 vaccinations increase in Washington following mandates, spike in cases — Vaccine rates for this week were 21% higher than the week before and 34% higher compared to two weeks ago, according to DOH data.
► From the American Prospect — Building trades union imposes vaccine mandate on itself — The International Union of Painters and Allied Trades (IUPAT) issued a statement urging the labor movement to “lead by example.” It goes further than other unions, which have generally stated that any vaccine requirement should be negotiated first at the bargaining table. “We’re not looking for anything at the bargaining table, and we’re not looking at our support in return for something else,” said incoming IUPAT General President Jim Williams Jr. “We feel COVID is a true health and safety risk on the job site, and if the employers mandate it, we want to be supportive. There’s a ton of mandates that employers already put out for health and safety.”
The Stand (Aug. 9) — WSLC outlines position on vaccine mandates
► From the Kitsap Sun — Kitsap firefighter unions push back on state vaccine mandate for health care workers — Those representing South Kitsap, Bremerton, Central Kitsap, Poulsbo and North Kitsap firefighters joined union leaders for Tacoma, Pierce County and South King County departments in signing on to a letter to Gov. Jay Inslee this week opposing the requirement, saying that it, as written, will have “significant impacts on frontline workers, our communities, and emergency services.”
► From KOMO — Some local firefighters and their unions differ on whether to follow vaccine mandate — The Tacoma Firefighters union says a recent survey of its members found that more than 30 percent were not planning to get the COVID-19 vaccine. Asked he is prepared to lose his job over it, Seattle firefighter Jason Allen said, “To stand on my convictions and principals, yes.”
► From the Skagit Valley Herald — Rally held against vaccine mandates — Bryan Luchi, the vice president of International Association of Fire Fighters Local 1983, was among the first to take the stage. He said while he’s vaccinated, he opposes measures mandating his colleagues to get vaccinated.
► From the News Tribune — ‘These are extraordinary times.’ Teaches weigh return to school, vaccine requirements –While Pierce County teachers and other staff have different views on the vaccine mandate, most feel comfortable about the return to the classroom. The News Tribune spoke with teachers and educational staff at school districts across Pierce County, who all have been vaccinated, but see the mandate differently.
► From the Seattle Times — State superintendent’s emergency rule will penalize Washington schools not complying with mask, vaccine requirements — Washington school districts that “willfully” violate state COVID-19 health mandates are at risk of losing state funding, the state’s top school official said Wednesday, but they will be given at least two chances to come into compliance. Chris Reykdal, state superintendent of public instruction, filed an emergency rule outlining the penalties for school districts that fail to comply with Washington’s COVID-19 health measures, including the statewide mask mandate and the vaccine requirement for school employees.
► From the (Everett) Herald — Here and elsewhere, angry unmasked parents disrupt school board meetings — In Marysville, they shouted obscenities at board members who must comply with a state mask mandate.
► From the Wenatchee World — Maskless group disrupts school board meeting
► From the Ellensburg Daily Record — Kittitas School District will not police the mask mandate — The Kittitas School Board and Superintendent stated Wednesday night that while they will be enforcing the state’s mask mandate, they will not be policing it.
► From the Spokesman-Review — Durham faces $7,000 fine for ‘serious’ COVID-19 safety violations at Spokane Public Schools — Durham School Services, which provides transportation to thousands of students in Spokane Public School, is facing a $7,000 fine for “serious” COVID-19 violations last winter during the height of the pandemic. Durham faced an investigation following the death of Dave Simpson, a 62-year-old bus attendant, who was diagnosed with COVID-19 on Feb. 22 and died several days later.
► From KING 5 — Shipping delays caused by full cargo ships waiting to unload along West Coast — The delays are due to ongoing backups to unload cargo ships at West Coast ports, including the Northwest Seaport Alliance, which operates the cargo portions of the ports of Seattle and Tacoma. Ships that arrive in the inland waters of Puget Sound are finding themselves anchored from seven to 10 days before they can tie up and offload, and that’s on top of delays they may have already experienced at a previous stop, such as the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. The situation has been building about a year, in part because of increased demand on imports due to the coronavirus pandemic.
► From the Seattle Times — Sound Transit spends $4.2 million to study ways to lower costs — Sound Transit’s governing board voted Thursday to pay its light-rail design consultants another $4.2 million — to help the board find ways to save money.
► From the Tri-City Herald — Tri-Cities police piecing together path of Kennewick construction worker’s deadly rage — During Wednesday’s rampage, he is suspected of breaking in and setting fire to two union halls in Kennewick belonging to the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. No serious damage was reported, however.
► From NPR — There’s a march on Washington for voting rights. Here’s what is holding up action. — Thousands of activists are expected to converge Saturday in Washington and other cities across the country on the anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington as part of the national fight over access to the ballot box. Democrats and voting rights activists want federal legislation to fight back against new rules in Republican-led states that they say are intended to make it harder to vote, particularly for voters of color and young people. But on Capitol Hill, such bills have faced stiff Republican opposition, leaving Democrats so far unable to pass fresh legislation.
EDITOR’S NOTE — In this Washington, there will be a virtual march tomorrow (Saturday, Aug. 28) starting at noon. Register here. Fix Democracy First, WA Indivisible Network, and League of Women Voters of WA have organized this statewide non-partisan event to stand up for voting rights. Speakers and music will include:
- MC – Rebecca M. Davis
- Music from Cameron Lavi-Jones & band members from King Youngblood
- Music from Songs for Good
- Crystal Langhorne – Director of Community Relations, Seattle Storm & two-time WNBA champion
- Senator Rebecca Saldaña – WA LD 37
- Senator Mona Das – WA LD 47
- Senator David Frockt – WA LD 46
- Representative Mia Gregerson – WA LD 33
- Former WA Representative Jesse Wineberry
- Julie Wise – King County Elections Director
- Paul Benz – Co-director of Faith Action Network
- Plus Special Video Messages from Martin Luther King, III & Reverend Terrance McKinley
► From Roll Call — Ahead of march, King says voting rights effort will focus on Senate ‘like a laser’ — Son of slain civil rights leader will speak on anniversary of “dream” speech.
► From The Hill — Texas House advances GOP voting restrictions bill
► From The Hill — Texas state House speaker bans the word ‘racism’ amid voting bill debate
► From the NY Times — Supreme Court ends Biden’s eviction moratorium — The Supreme Court on Thursday rejected the Biden administration’s latest moratorium on evictions, ending a political and legal dispute during a public health crisis in which the administration’s shifting positions had subjected it to criticism from adversaries and allies alike. The court issued an eight-page majority opinion, an unusual move in a ruling on an application for emergency relief, where terse orders are more common. The court’s three liberal justices dissented. The decision puts hundreds of thousands of tenants at risk of losing shelter, while the administration struggles to speed the flow of billions of dollars in federal funding to people who are behind in rent because of the coronavirus pandemic and its associated economic hardship.
EDITOR’S NOTE — Washington state remains under Gov. Jay Inslee’s eviction moratorium “bridge” proclamation through September 30. Under that order, tenants are expected to pay full rent unless they negotiate a lower amount with their landlord or actively seek rental assistance. Landlords must offer tenants a reasonable repayment plan before starting the eviction process and provide them a list of services and support available to them under the assistance programs. The problem is, those federal assistance programs are mired in the bureaucracy and most renters still don’t have access to any assistance. As the NY Times report above notes, only about $5.1 billion of the $46.5 billion in federal aid had been disbursed by the end of July.
► From the NY Times — Justice Breyer on retirement and the role of politics at the Supreme Court — In an interview prompted by his new book, the 83-year-old leader of the court’s liberal wing said he is working on a decision about when to step down.
► From Politico — Health lobbies aim to scale back Democrats’ Medicare ambitions — Congressional Democrats’ push to add dental, vision and hearing coverage to Medicare is running into resistance from powerful health industry lobbies — an early sign of the battles facing lawmakers when they return to debate a $3.5 trillion social spending package.
► From Politico — $3.5T or bust? Sanders goes all-out to protect Dems’ social spending plans — Bernie Sanders is shifting into a new phase of his legacy-defining work on Democrats’ $3.5 trillion spending plan: Protecting it from members of his own party and selling it to the public.
— AFL-CIO ✊ Pass the #PROAct (@AFLCIO) August 26, 2021
► From HuffPost — Liz Shuler, new AFL-CIO president, takes helm of labor federation at pivotal moment — The AFL-CIO is not a union but a league of 56 of them, responsible for advancing the interests of member unions and the labor movement as a whole. With Joe Biden in the White House and Democrats holding threadbare control of Congress, unions have an invaluable but probably short window to accomplish big legislative goals, like passing an infrastructure package and landmark labor law reforms… Shuler said the federation needs to operate on two tracks: trying to pass legislation like the PRO Act, but also looking at “new strategies” even though they might fail. She said:
“You have to take risks and experiment. A lot of people are afraid to make those mistakes, you’ll be criticized. But if you’re not making mistakes you’re not doing anything. You’re sitting around comfortably.”
► From the IUPAT — IUPAT enters a new era — The General Executive Board of the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades voted unanimously to elect a new Executive Board helmed by Jimmy Williams Jr. as the new General President. Gregg Smith will serve as the new General Secretary-Treasurer. This comes after the retirement of General President Ken Rigmaiden and General Secretary-Treasurer George Galis on Aug. 31. Jimmy Williams Jr. enters as the youngest General President in IUPAT’s history, the youngest president of any building trades union in the United States and the youngest among unions affiliated with the AFL-CIO.
► From The Guardian — ‘I don’t like being treated like crap’: gig workers aim to retool a system they say is rigged — Uber, Lyft, DoorDash, Instacart and a coalition of other gig companies and business groups in Massachusetts are fighting a lawsuit brought by the Massachusetts attorney general Maura Healey, who is seeking to classify gig workers as employees under Massachusetts law and end what she calls the companies’ “unfair and exploitative practices.”
► Thirty years ago today, Seattle’s own Pearl Jam released their debut album, Ten. Ten albums later, Ten remains the band’s most commercially successful record. “Alive,” its debut single, was recorded in the studio when the band was known as Mookie Blaylock, named after an NBA player of that era. After the band signed to Epic Records, company executives worried about intellectual property and naming rights made them change their name to something else, so the band settled for naming their first album after Blaylock’s jersey number (10). Enjoy.
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.